151/02

28 November 2002

 


Radio Authority publishes assessment of local digital multiplex licence award for Yorkshire

The Radio Authority has today (28 November) published the details of its assessment of the local digital multiplex licence award for the Yorkshire area. The Authority awarded the licence to MXR Ltd. on 7 November 2002.

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:

YORKSHIRE

ASSESSMENT OF LICENCE AWARD

The local digital radio multiplex service licence for the Yorkshire region was awarded to MXR Ltd. on Thursday 7 November 2002, to run for twelve years from the date the service commences broadcasting.

Applications were invited on 28 February 2002. By the closing date of 18 June 2002, two applications were received, from:

  • MXR Ltd., a company whose shareholders are Chrysalis Group plc, GMG (Guardian Media Group) Radio Holdings Ltd., Capital Radio plc, UBC Digital Ltd., Soul Media Ltd. and Ford Motor Co. Ltd.
  • Yorkshire & Humberside Digital Radio (The Yorkshire Digital Radio Co. Ltd.), a company whose shareholders are the GWR Group plc, SCORE Digital Ltd., Emap Performance Ltd., Saga Regional Digital Radio Ltd., Sunrise Radio Ltd., Passion for the Planet Ltd., Clubmend Ltd., Campus Media plc and Radio First plc.

Consideration of the successful application

  1. Coverage area and timetable
1.  Coverage area and timetable

MXR proposes to commence broadcasting all of its services by the end of June 2003, using ten transmission sites (at Acklam Wold, Beecroft Hill, Belmont, Bilsdale, Cave Wold, Clifton, Emley Moor (x2), Idle and Tapton Hill), which it estimates will provide 'outdoor coverage' of 90%, and 'indoor coverage' of 79%, of the adult population of the 'primary protected area'. Members expressed the hope that further transmitters could be implemented later in the licence period which would improve reception in some towns on the periphery of the coverage area.

2.  Ability to establish and maintain the service

Members considered that MXR had a robust company structure, with shareholders who were all fully committed to the enterprise as programme service providers, and who all had solid financial resources which would contribute to the financial security of the multiplex. The moderate operational costs of the multiplex would contribute to the maintenance of the service over the long term. Members noted that MXR had demonstrated reliability in its operation of existing multiplexes, all of which had delivered the promised services according to the launch timetables proposed in their applications.

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

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

Kids and teens Capital Disney (provider: Capital Radio plc)

Urban music Urban Choice (provider: Soul Media Ltd.)

Melodic adult contemporary Heart (provider: Chrysalis Radio Ltd.)

Jazz, soul and blues Jazz FM (provider: Guardian Media Group)

Adult rock The Arrow (provider: Chrysalis Radio Ltd.)

Easy listening Smooth (provider: Guardian Media Group plc)

Rolling regional news Digital News Network (provider: DNN Ltd.)

Dance and r'n'b Galaxy (provider: Chrysalis Radio Ltd.)

Speech and music Real Radio (provider: Guardian Media Group plc)

MXR’s proposed bouquet of services includes the guaranteed carriage of the two existing regional ILR services in the Yorkshire region, Galaxy 105 and Real Radio. Members welcomed the provision of a well-resourced regional news operation, Digital News Network (DNN), whose journalists would supply regional news material to the other digital channels on the multiplex as well as delivering a dedicated 100% speech channel during daytime. Members felt that MXR achieved a reasonable balance between mainstream and more specialist brands, such as Jazz FM, which would broaden choice in the area. Members also considered that MXR had produced a programming bouquet which would appeal to a range of age groups, with the inclusion of Smooth, the easy listening service, and Capital Disney's channel for kids and teens. The Authority noted an apparent mismatch between the format description of Capital Disney and what it was currently broadcasting elsewhere, and expected that the service would be re-positioned in line with the application description by the time the Yorkshire multiplex comes on air. Members were confident in the commitment of the service providers to deliver their programming proposals.

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. Most of this regional PPA, in population terms, is covered by at least one of the four local multiplexes already established in Yorkshire. MXR will offer a number of formats, including DNN, Jazz FM and The Arrow, which are clearly differentiated from those currently available in the region.

5.  Local support

MXR undertook a promotional campaign to publicise its proposals in the area, and consequently provided direct evidence of local support through personal and business endorsements. As regards MXR’s research, Members noted that none of the survey findings had deflected the group from offering the same package of digital brands as in other regions. This is a longstanding concern that Members have in analysing certain licence applications where the results of the actual research carried out by applicants is not carried forward into the choice of formats and genres offered.

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 section of the applications were made available for public inspection in Sheffield Central Library (reference section), Leeds Central Library (business and research department), Bradford Central Library (business and commerce department), Hull Central Library (arts and humanities library) and York Central Library (reference section), and at the Authority's offices in London. A notice was issued on 18 June 2002 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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Revised: November 28, 2002