136/01

26 September 2001

 

Radio Authority publishes assessment of the local digital multiplex licence award for Dundee & Perth

The Radio Authority has today published details of its assessment of the local digital multiplex licence award for Dundee & Perth. The Authority awarded the licence to SCORE Digital Ltd. on 6 September 2001.

A copy of the full assessment is attached.

 

ENDS

 

NOTE TO EDITORS

The Radio Authority is responsible for licensing and regulating Independent Radio in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996. It plans frequencies, awards licences, regulates programming and advertising, and plays an active role in the discussion and formulation of policies which affect the Independent Radio industry and its listeners.

 

LOCAL DIGITAL RADIO MULTIPLEX SERVICE:

DUNDEE & PERTH

ASSESSMENT OF LICENCE AWARD

The local digital radio multiplex service licence for the Dundee & Perth area was awarded to SCORE Digital Ltd. on Thursday 6 September 2001, to run for twelve years from the date the service commences broadcasting.

Applications were invited on 14 March 2001. By the closing date of 19 June 2001, two applications were received, from:

  • SCORE Digital Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Scottish Radio Holdings plc.
  • Switchdigital (Scotland) Ltd., a company whose shareholders are The Wireless Group plc, Clear Channel International Ltd. and The Carphone Warehouse plc.

Consideration of the successful application

  1. Coverage area and timetable

Both applicants' coverage proposals were fully compliant with the Authority's coverage brief. SCORE Digital proposes a transmission network which will utilise transmitters in Angus, Kirkton Mailer, Purin Hill, Faire Mhor and Kinross to provide 'outdoor coverage' of (according to the applicant's own estimate) some 88.7% of the adult (aged 15+) population of the 'Primary Protected Area' (PPA). The target launch date for the multiplex is April 2002, with all programme services apart from the progressive music channel (which would begin within the following six months) to be provided from the outset.

2. Ability to establish and maintain the service

SCORE Digital is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Scottish Radio Holdings, the major radio operator in Scotland, which has existing interests as a digital multiplex operator. The Authority took the view that SCORE Digital had demonstrated a firm commitment to the establishment of digital radio services in Scotland, and would be a reliable and long-term investor in that industry. The business plan in SCORE's application showed a good , if rather sober, awareness of the practicalities of multiplex operation in this part of the UK, and consequently Members had no concerns regarding the viability of maintaining the proposed service. SCORE has a well-resourced management team based in Scotland.

3. Catering for tastes and interests of people in the area

The commercial programme services proposed by the successful applicant are as follows:

Contemporary and hit radio with                      Tay FM (provider: Radio Tay Ltd.)
information (Tayside and Angus)

Chart and classic hits with sport                        Tay AM (provider: Radio Tay Ltd.)
(Tayside and Angus)

Pop country                                                     3C (provider: SCORE Digital Ltd.)

Progressive music                                             Provider: to be decided

Soft AC and easy listening                                Wave 102 (provider: the Wireless Group plc)
(Dundee)

Music and information (Fife)                              Kingdom FM (Kingdom FM Radio Ltd.)

Community access channel                                The Bridge (provider: Bridge FM)

Members welcomed the fact that the major local analogue services, Tay FM, Tay AM and – subject to their agreement - Kingdom FM and Wave 102, would be included in the bouquet of programme services offered on the multiplex. Other existing community-oriented services, each currently serving only a small portion of the overall coverage area (in terms of population), together with a range of educational, campus and hospital radio services, will also have the opportunity to broadcast digitally as part of The Bridge, a community access channel. Members considered that this shared service, which would broadcast in mono, was an appropriate use of scarce digital spectrum and was a good idea given the current stage of digital radio’s development. While the identity of the provider of the progressive music format had yet to be confirmed, the Broadcasting Act 1996 requires Members to judge how well the proposed formats, rather than individual service providers, in the multiplex programme bouquet will cater for the tastes and interests of local listeners.

4. Broadening the range of local digital programme services

This statutory criterion requires the Authority to judge applicants' programming packages against existing local digital sound programme services. In this case, the amount of overlap between the Edinburgh local and Central Scotland regional multiplexes and the proposed coverage area of the Dundee & Perth multiplex is, in practice, very limited. Consequently, Members did not view this criterion as significant for the purposes of this award.

5. Local support

SCORE Digital has obtained substantial evidence of support for its application from local organisations, businesses and prominent locally elected representatives. It also commissioned a market research survey and focus group discussions with listeners of mixed ages and socio-economic backgrounds in order to demonstrate demand for its proposed package of services.

6. Fair and effective competition

The Authority has been given no reason to believe that the applicants did not each act in a manner calculated to ensure fair and effective competition when contracting or offering to contract with potential or proposed service providers. In accordance with the licence conditions pursuant to the Broadcasting Act 1996, the Authority will keep matters of fair and effective competition and undue discrimination under regular review.

BACKGROUND

Copies of the non-confidential sections of the applications were made available for public inspection in the reference sections of Dundee Central Library and the A.K. Bell Library in Perth, and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 19 June 2001 inviting public comments on the applications.

Under the terms of section 51(2) of the Broadcasting Act 1996, when considering whether, or to whom, to award a local digital radio multiplex licence, the Authority must have regard to the following specific matters:

  1. the extent of the coverage area as proposed by the applicant;
  2. the timetable relating to achievement of the proposed coverage area and the start of broadcast services;
  3. the ability of the applicant to establish the proposed service and to maintain it throughout the period for which the licence will be in force;
  4. the extent to which the digital programme services proposed to be included in the service would cater for the tastes and interests of persons living in the area and, where it is proposed to cater for particular tastes and interests, the extent to which those services would in fact cater for those tastes and interests;
  5. the extent to which any proposed digital sound programme services would broaden the range of programmes available by way of local digital programme services in that area and, in particular, the extent to which they would cater for tastes and interests different from those already catered for by local digital programme services already provided in that area;
  6. the extent to which the application is supported by persons living in the area; and
  7. whether, in contracting or offering to contract with persons providing digital programme services or digital additional services, the applicant has acted in a manner calculated to ensure fair and effective competition in the provision of such services.

The Authority is also required to take account of any representations made in respect of the applications.

 

 

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