23 September 2003
Radio Authority publishes assessment of local licence award for Carmarthenshire
The Radio Authority has today (23 September) published the details of its assessment of the local licence award for a service covering the county of Carmarthenshire, in Wales. The Authority awarded the licence to Radio Carmarthenshire/Radio Sir Gâr on 11 September 2003.
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.
LOCAL LICENCE AWARD: CARMARTHENSHIRE
ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION
BY RADIO CARMARTHENSHIRE
Applications for a licence to serve the county of Carmarthenshire in Wales were invited on 12 March 2003. By the closing date of 17 June 2003, two applications were received, as follows:
Radio Carmarthenshire / Radio Sir Gar (Radio Carmarthenshire Ltd.).
Carmarthenshire Sound / Sain Sir Gar (Carmarthenshire Sound Ltd.) - subsequently withdrawn (see press release 87/03).
The licence was awarded on 11 September 2003 to Radio Carmarthenshire Ltd. to run for eight years from the date that the service commences broadcasting.
Assessment of the successful application
Members considered that Radio Carmarthenshire Ltd. benefited from investors who could offer relevant experience and a commitment to local radio. These included its major shareholder Haven FM, the licensee for the adjacent area of Pembrokeshire (broadcasting as Radio Pembrokeshire), and Tindle Radio Holdings Ltd., owner of nearby Bridge FM. Members recognised that the proximity of these stations afforded numerous opportunities for resource sharing and staff training, and that the management of Radio Pembrokeshire will be heavily involved in Radio Carmarthenshire throughout its launch period. The application presented a sensible business plan, which despite the competitive nature of the local market, was justified by the experience of the station in Pembrokeshire.
Radio Carmarthenshire Ltd. will provide a full service station with a generous commitment to a minimum of 25% speech during weekday daytimes. This will enable it to broaden listening choice in relation to other commercial radio stations available. The wide range of short speech features to which the station has committed itself include surf reports, local obituaries and 'Cool
Cymru', a programme about contemporary Welsh bands. In addition to being broadcast in English, Members welcomed the fact that the majority of those features would be regularly produced in Welsh during daytime programming. The group has also made a commitment to a youth-orientated Welsh language show which will be broadcast from 19.00 to 22.00 on weekday evenings. As well as the three proposed
Carmarthenshire-based journalists, including one dedicated to sport, Radio Carmarthenshire will have a reciprocal news-sharing arrangement with Bridge FM and will receive support from the journalists in Pembrokeshire. Daytime news will have local bulletins of two minutes, rising to five minutes at peak times, and will be supplemented by three short bulletins in Welsh during early evening programming and one minute local reports reviewing the day's news throughout the night. There will be a Friday evening rugby programme plus a Saturday afternoon sports show. The music output will consist of a mix of music from the past four decades with evening programming highlighting a more current feel, including Welsh language artists. Strands such as local music in
'Centrestage', a weekly arts programme, current hits in the Student show and choral and contemporary Christian tracks in the religious programme on Sunday evening would be broadcast.
All the presenters being employed by the station speak Welsh, and Members took the view that the group's proposals demonstrated that it had considered the issue of what might represent an appropriate level and style of Welsh language provision in an area where a substantial number of listeners would be Welsh speakers, whilst at the same time taking account of commercial sustainability. Members hoped that the station might be able to build further on its Welsh language commitments as its licence term progressed.
Although not local in origin, the group has worked to establish a network of contacts with the local community in Carmarthenshire through its trial broadcast and consultations, and through the constitution of its board of directors. Consequently the application was accompanied by a good deal of support from local organisations and businesses, elected representatives and listeners who had enjoyed its temporary broadcast.
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:
(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
Carmarthenshire, 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 Carmarthen and Llanelli, and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 17 June 2003 inviting public comments on the applications. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision.
The application by Radio Carmarthenshire has 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 applicant was invited to respond to written questions on programming, audience and support, and finance. A telephone interview was conducted on the composition and history of the applicant group.