27 June 2002



Radio Authority publishes Assessment of Regional ILR Licence Award for East Midlands

The Radio Authority has today (27 June) published the details of its assessment of the regional ILR licence award for the East Midlands. The Authority awarded the licence to Saga 106.6 FM on 12 June.

A copy of the full assessment is attached.







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.






Applications were invited on 26 October 2001. By the closing date of 5 February 2002, fifteen applications were received, as follows:

Capital Disney (Capital Radio [East Midlands] Ltd.)
Fire (Fire East Midlands Ltd.)
Galaxy 106.6 (Galaxy Radio East Midlands Ltd.)
Juice 106.6 (Juice [East Midlands] Ltd.)
106.6 Jump FM (Absolute Radio East Midlands Ltd.)
K Radio (K Radio [East Midlands] Ltd.)
Liquid FM (SMG Regional Radio Ltd.)
Play 106.6 (Ministry of Sound Radio [East Midlands] Ltd.)
Route FM (Route FM Radio Ltd.)
Saga 106.6 FM (Saga Radio Ltd.)
Smooth FM (Smooth Radio East Midlands Ltd.)
Sonic FM (East Midlands Regional Broadcasting Ltd.)
The Storm (East Midlands Radio Ltd.)
Vibe (Vibe [East Midlands] Ltd.)
The Wall (The Wall Media plc)

The licence was awarded to Saga Radio Ltd., to run for eight years from the date the service commences broadcasting.

Assessment of the winning application

This licence award decision was closely fought between applications of impressive quality proposing to serve the youth audience in the East Midlands and those targeting an older listenership, both of which would widen choice. After lengthy consideration, Members concluded that Saga Radio Ltd.ís proposals would do the most to broaden choice, and would have appeal across the entire coverage area of the new licence.

Members considered that the audience research undertaken by Saga Radio provided thorough and compelling evidence of the need for a commercial radio service for the over-50s, who comprise 40% of the adult population in the area, and succeeded in demonstrating that the proposed programme content would cater for the tastes and interests of a good proportion of that target audience. In addition to a broad range of specialist programmes scheduled for evenings and weekends, Saga's music output during the day will also provide a broadening of choice by including tracks drawn from genres such as 'standards' and 'nostalgia' which are currently unavailable by way of ILR services in the area. Members recognised that the applicantís proposals for speech content, which will form 30-45% of daytime output and comprise a substantial range of items including features on health and lifestyle, would be likely to appeal to listeners. The group's proposals also include a fairly comprehensive news schedule, supported by a well-resourced newsroom.

In Members' view, Saga Radio is very well-placed to establish and maintain a service of the scale and range proposed by the application. The board is well balanced and includes directors with a strong connection to the area, while the proposed management structure features experienced radio executives. Members considered that the group's revenue expectations for this region appeared a little ambitious. However, given the groupís expertise in marketing to its target age group and the sustained marketing budget detailed in the business plan, Members saw no reason why the group should not achieve its forecast audience figures, especially since it has already almost done so in the West Midlands region. Members noted that the proximity of the West Midlands service provided numerous operational synergies which would benefit the station and listeners in both areas.

The strength of support for this service among its target audience has been clearly demonstrated. Over 400 letters and well over one hundred e-mails have been submitted with the application, the vast majority from potential listeners.


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 service to persons living in the relevant area or locality, and, in particular, the extent to which the service would cater for tastes and interest 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 the East Midlands licence the Authority invited public comment on the radio needs of listeners in this area, and the type of programme service required. Copies of the non-confidential sections of the applications were made available for public scrutiny in the reference sections of Leicester Central Library, Nottingham City Library and Derby Central Library, and at the Radio Authorityís offices in London. A notice was issued on 5 February 2002 inviting public comments on the applications. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision.

All fifteen applications have been considered carefully by the Authority in accordance with the Act, and as against the advertised criteria set out in the Authorityís 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.


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Revised: June 26, 2002