89/03

22 July 2003


Radio Authority publishes assessment of local licence award for Buxton

The Radio Authority has today (22 July) published the details of its assessment of the local licence award for a service covering the town of Buxton and other parts of the High Peak district in Derbyshire. The Authority awarded the licence to High Peak Radio Ltd. on 10 July 2003.

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 LICENCE AWARD: BUXTON

ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION

BY HIGH PEAK RADIO

Applications for a licence to serve the town of Buxton and other parts of the High Peak district, in Derbyshire, were invited on 24 December 2002. The licence was offered for for the provision of a service on either the FM or the AM waveband. By the closing date of 8 April 2003, five applications were received (four for an FM licence, and one for an AM licence), as follows:

FM The Edge Ltd.

High Peak Radio Ltd.

Spring FM Ltd.

Temple FM (The Radio Game Ltd.)

Peak AM Ltd.

The licence, for a service to be broadcast on FM, was awarded on 10 July 2003 to High Peak Radio, to run for eight years from the date that the service commences broadcasting.

Assessment of the successful application

Members noted that, for an area of relatively small population size, in which the terrain would present difficulties for transmission coverage, the licence for Buxton and the High Peak district had generated an impressive number of applications, and the decision between the strongest of the candidates was a finely judged one.

Members considered that High Peak Radio is a group with strong local roots, which has established a high level of recognition locally as a result of carrying out a series of five trial broadcasts in the area. This local commitment is enhanced by the involvement of board members with direct experience of starting up small-scale radio stations. Members considered that the business plan presented in the application was realistic, containing reasonable audience forecasts and prudent local revenue estimates. Members noted that the group had existing relationships with many local advertisers through its previous broadcasts, many of whom had written letters of endorsement to the Authority.

High Peak Radio will provide a full service local radio station, primarily targeting 25-54 year olds. Speech content will comprise 20-35% of the output during weekday daytimes, 15-30% on Saturdays and 10-25% on Sundays. The group has committed to the provision of eight locally-orientated speech features which will include a weekday mid-afternoon 'News Focus', a local expert slot, community group appeals, and an item on outdoor pursuits and activities in the Peak District National Park scheduled at breakfast time at the weekends. The news bulletins will include two minutes of local news during weekday peak times. The music output will consist of hits from the last four decades. The Members accepted that High Peak Radio's proposed service would utilise a relatively high amount of automated output.

The high degree of local support demonstrated by High Peak Radio was notable. As a consequence of its trial broadcasts the Authority received two petitions initiated by listeners who had enjoyed the service, as well as many personal letters of endorsement. Support letters were also received from local businesses, public bodies and local community groups.

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 Buxton and the High Peak district, 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 Buxton and Glossop, and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 8 April 2003 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.

 

 

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Revised: July 21, 2003