21 January 2003


Radio Authority publishes assessment of local digital multiplex licence award for Sussex Coast

The Radio Authority has today (21 January) published the details of its assessment of the local digital multiplex licence award for the Sussex Coast. The Authority awarded the licence to Capital Radio Digital Ltd. on 9 January 2003.

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.




The local digital radio multiplex service licence for Brighton and other parts of the coastal area of West and East Sussex was awarded to Capital Radio Digital Ltd. on Thursday 9 January 2003, to run for twelve years from the date the service commences broadcasting.

Applications were invited on 19 July 2002. By the closing date of 29 October 2002, one application was received, from Capital Radio Digital Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital Radio plc.

Consideration of the successful application

1.       Coverage area and timetable

Capital Radio Digital (CRD) proposes to commence broadcasting all of its services, subject to contract and the completion of frequency clearance, in January 2004, using six transmitters (at Brighton, Burton Down, Hastings, Beddingham, Eastbourne and Findon), which the applicant estimates will provide 'outdoor coverage' of 91% of the adult population of the Sussex Coast 'primary protected area' (PPA). Should it be financially viable, at a later date, CDR proposes enhancing its robust coverage plan still further by supplementing its transmitter network with additional transmitters in some areas of the PPA.

2.       Ability to establish and maintain the service

Capital Radio Digital Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital Radio, formed with the intention of applying for digital multiplex licences in areas where Capital already operates local analogue services. Capital is already involved in multiplex operations elsewhere, either in its own right or as a partner or participant in other companies running digital multiplexes. Members considered that it had the funding and experience necessary to establish and maintain this local multiplex. Members noted that all of the multiplex capacity had already been allocated to identified programme service providers, which provided the project with a good level of security in its financial planning.

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

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

Contemporary hit radio Southern FM (provider: Southern Radio Ltd.)

Gold Capital Gold (provider: Southern Radio Ltd.)

Rhythmic modern hits Juice 107.2 (provider: Brighton and Hove Local Radio Ltd.)

Credible new music Xfm (provider: Capital Radio plc)

Easy listening Saga (provider: Saga Regional Digital Radio Ltd.)

Dance Kiss (provider: Emap Performance Ltd.)

Service for lesbians and

gay men Gaydar Radio (provider: Q Soft Media Ltd.)

and a channel to be shared between:

Local music mix/news (S.W. Spirit FM (provider: South West Sussex Radio Sussex) (06.00 - 18.00) Ltd.)

Alternative specialist Totally Radio (provider: Festival Productions (18.00 - 06.00) Ltd.)

CRD is proposing to offer full digital simulcasts of three local commercial radio services, Southern FM, Capital Gold and Juice 107.2 FM. It is also planned that Spirit FM, the local radio service for South West Sussex will be carried during daytime hours. Local content will primarily be provided by these simulcast services, although Totally Radio also has an emphasis on the Brighton and South Coast music scene, and will include local listings, local band information and interviews with local or visiting artists. Local content will be provided on Xfm, Saga, Kiss and Gaydar when digital radio penetration reaches one-third of homes. Whilst the programming bouquet demonstrated some bias towards services targeting younger age groups, Members considered that, overall, it provided a good mix of services.

4.      Broadening the range of local digital programme services

This will be the only multiplex to be licensed in the Sussex Coast area, now and for the forseeable future. Therefore the 'broadening of choice' criterion is effectively satisfied by default, on this occasion.

5.       Local support

Support for CRD's proposals for a digital multiplex in the Sussex Coast area was largely generated by Southern FM, through a presentation, advertisement, and its local contacts. These initiatives succeeded in eliciting endorsements from local businesses and organisations.

6.      Fair and effective competition

The Authority has been given no reason to believe that the applicant did not 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 section of the application were made available for public inspection in the reference sections of Brighton Central Library, and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 29 October 2002 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 applications.


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Revised: January 21, 2003