4 April 2002
Radio Authority publishes assessment of local FM licence for Chester
The Radio Authority has today (4 April) published the details of its assessment of the local licence award for Chester. The Authority awarded the licence to Chester FM on 14 March 2002.
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.
ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION
BY CHESTER FM
Applications for a licence to serve either the city of Chester or the towns in South Flintshire were invited on 27 July 2001. By the closing date of 30 October 2001, five applications were received, all of them proposing a service for Chester, as follows:
Chester Broadcasting Ltd. (Chester 106)
Chester FM Ltd.
Chester Radio Ltd.
Dee FM Ltd. (DFM)
Deva FM Ltd.
The licence was awarded to Chester FM, to run for eight years from the date that the service commences broadcasting.
Assessment of the winning application
In Members' view, the board of Chester FM Ltd. combines strong local business credentials and radio expertise. The majority of the group's funding comes from local sources, but it also benefits from the involvement of Town and Country Broadcasting, a company linked to The Wireless Group, the operator of several other local radio stations in the North West of England.
Chester FM plans to broadcast a music-led, full-service station for listeners aged over 25, playing a mixture of current hits and popular tracks from the last four decades, with locally-focused news and information. On weekdays speech content will comprise at least 25% of the daytime output and will include features such as tourist information and a ‘talkback’ phone-in, where local political issues will be discussed. On Saturdays the proportion of speech will rise to a minimum of 30%, to allow for a speech-intensive sports show planned for the afternoon. Chester FM will broadcast live, locally produced, mixed content news bulletins of three minutes duration each weekday between 06.00 and 19.00, with local news continuing to be provided until 22.00. The group is also proposing to broadcast three extended bulletins each weekday, at 08.00, 13.00 and 18.00. The station will employ three full-time journalists in addition to a part-time news presenter in order to deliver these proposals, but will also benefit from the proposed news-sharing arrangement with the Chester Chronicle, and the opportunity to pool resources with other stations owned by The Wireless Group in the area. Members considered that Chester FM’s plans for programming output, in particular its proposals for speech and news, were interesting, well developed, and resourced appropriately. Members were of the view that the business plan for this new entrant was suitably realistic.
Chester FM has built a significant presence in the community through its efforts to involve local people in its plans for a local radio station. These activities have included a trial broadcast in September 2000, a series of presentations and a Chester FM website. Members noted the impressive level of local support demonstrated by endorsements accompanying the group’s application.
Background to award
When licensing Independent Radio services, it is the duty of the Authority under the Broadcasting Act 1990 ("the Act") to do all that it can to secure the provision within the UK of a range and diversity of local services (section 85(2)(b) of the Act). Furthermore, under section 85(3) of the Act the Authority must discharge its functions in the manner which it considers is best calculated to:
(a) facilitate the provision of licensed services which (taken as a whole) are of high quality and offer a wide range of programmes calculated to appeal to a variety of tastes and interests; and
(b) ensure fair and effective competition in the provision of such services and services connected with them.
Under section 105 of the Act, the matters to which the Authority shall have regard when determining whether, or to whom, to grant a local licence are:
(a) the ability of each applicant to maintain the proposed service throughout the licence period;
(b) the extent to which the proposed service would cater for the tastes and interests of persons living in the area or locality for which the service would be provided, and, where it is proposed to cater for any particular tastes and interests of such persons, the extent to which the service would so cater;
(c) the extent to which the proposed service would broaden the range of programmes available by way of local services to persons living in the relevant area or locality, and, in particular, the extent to which the service would cater for tastes and interests which are different from those already catered for by existing local services in the area; and
(d) the extent to which any application is supported by persons living in that area.
While the requirements of sections 85 and 105 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 will invariably form the basis of all awards, each licence award will be made on an individual basis, with regard to the factors which, in the view of the Authority, are particularly relevant to that case.
When it advertised the availability of a local licence for Chester or South Flintshire, the Authority invited public comment on the local radio needs of listeners in these areas, and the type of programme service required. Copies of the non-confidential sections of the applications were made available for public inspection in the reference sections of the public libraries in Chester and Mold, and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 30 October 2001 inviting public comments on the applications. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision.
All of the applications have been considered carefully by the Authority in accordance with the Act, and as against the advertised criteria set out in the Authority’s Notes of Guidance for Local Licence Applicants and the coverage brief for this licence, issued at the date of the licence advertisement. The applicants were invited to respond to written questions on programming, audience and support, and finance. Telephone interviews were conducted on the composition and history of the applicant groups.
Revised: April 04, 2002