147/01

19 October 2001

 

Radio Authority publishes assessment of the local digital multiplex licence award for Bradford & Huddersfield

The Radio Authority has today published details of its assessment of the local digital multiplex licence award for Bradford & Huddersfield. The Authority awarded the licence to TWG Digital on 4 October 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:

BRADFORD & HUDDERSFIELD

ASSESSMENT OF LICENCE AWARD

The local digital radio multiplex service licence for the Bradford & Huddersfield area was awarded to the sole applicant, TWG Digital (The Wireless Group Holdings Ltd.), on Thursday 4 October 2001. The licence will run for twelve years from the date the service commences broadcasting. The licence was advertised on 18 May 2001, with a closing date of 21 August.

Consideration of the application

  1. Coverage area and timetable

TWG Digital intends to commence broadcasting from two transmission sites at Holme Moss and Westgate Hill, launching with all programme services in September 2002, subject to frequency clearance. It intends to implement a third transmitter, at Keighley, in the second year of the licence period. This should increase the 'outdoor coverage' from an initial 65% of the population of the 'Primary Protected Area' (PPA) up to more than 75%, according to the applicant's own estimates. Given the very hilly terrain of this licence area, this level of coverage appears acceptable, although some population centres are not fully served and the Authority intends to maintain continuing discussion with TWG over ways in which the coverage might be improved by some further revision of the transmission plans as submitted. The award of this licence is conditional upon the applicant's technical proposals being made fully compliant with the coverage brief for this licence; at present, limits on outgoing interference levels appear to be slightly exceeded.

2. Ability to establish and maintain the service

The Wireless Group holds a substantial number of analogue local licences and has shareholdings in several multiplex operating companies. Members accordingly concluded that TWG Digital has the experience necessary to establish and maintain the service, and the projected sources of income ought to meet operational costs.

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

The commercial programme services proposed by the application are as follows:

Current chart hits                                   The Pulse (provider: The Wireless Group plc)

Classic pop hits                                     Big AM (provider: The Wireless Group plc)

Asian                                                    Sunrise FM (provider: Bradford City Radio Ltd.)

60's, 70's 80's/adult contemporary        Provider: to be advertised

Music from films and shows                  Flix (provider: Infinity Media Ltd.)

Young Asian                                        Provider: Asian Sound Ltd.

Club and pop dance                            Kiss (provider: Emap Performance Ltd.)

The programme bouquet includes simulcasts of all three Bradford-based ILR services: the Pulse, Big AM and Sunrise FM. Members considered that a good range of tastes and interests would be met by this application and noted that this was the first occasion on which two complementary services for the Asian community would be carried on a single multiplex. Members were disappointed, however, by absence of any commitment that the non-simulcast services would provide any local content until the level of digital listening represents one-third of all radio listening.

4. Broadening the range of local digital programme services

As there are no local digital programme services currently available in the Bradford and Huddersfield area, and as this was the sole application, this criterion was effectively satisfied by default.

5. Local support

TWG Digital commissioned audience research in order to demonstrate the demand for the services proposed for inclusion. The group also staged a public briefing in Bradford to promote the concept of digital radio and generate support for its proposals. Endorsements were received from a number of local businesses and organisations.

6. Fair and effective competition

The Authority has no reason to believe that the applicant has not acted 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 section of the application were made available for public inspection in the reference sections of the main public libraries in Bradford and Huddersfield, and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 21 August 2001 inviting public comments on the application.

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 application.

 

 

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