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.
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:
Consideration of the successful application
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.)
Chart and classic hits with sport
Tay AM (provider: Radio Tay Ltd.)
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)
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.
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:
The Authority is also required to take account of any representations made in respect of the applications.
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