104/03

1 October 2003

Radio Authority publishes assessment of re-advertised local licence award for Dumfries & Galloway

The Radio Authority has today (1 October) published the details of its assessment of the re-advertised local licence award for Dumfries & Galloway. The Authority re-awarded the licence to South West Sound Ltd. on 11 September 2003.

A copy of the full assessment is attached.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. 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.

2. At the end of this year, the Radio Authority will cease to exist, and its responsibilities for licensing and regulating Independent Radio will pass to Ofcom, the new converged regulator for the communications sector. See the Ofcom transitional website at www.ofcom.org.uk for more details.

 

RE-ADVERTISED LICENCE AWARD: DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY

ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY

SOUTH WEST SOUND LTD.

 

Applications for the re-advertised licence for the Dumfries & Galloway area in South-West Scotland were invited on 9 April 2003. By the closing date of 15 July 2003, two applications were received, from:

D-G-Radio Ltd.

South West Sound Ltd., the existing licence holder.

The licence was re-awarded to South West Sound Ltd., to run for a further licence period from 1 January 2005.

Assessment of the application

In Members' view, South West Sound has proved itself to be a viable operation within the Scottish Radio Holdings group, and it was evident that the station has attracted a substantial audience during its current licence period. Members considered that the station has enjoyed substantial financial benefits from sharing resources with West FM and West Sound AM in Ayr, and that there was no doubt that the service would be sustainable for a further licence term.

South West Sound plans to increase locally-originated programmes to 80 hours per week and the proportion of speech within its daytime programmes to 35% during the next licence period. An additional freelance presenter will be added to the staff, and local news bulletins will be extended to evenings and weekends. Programming will continue to be aimed at 15-55 year olds, with a music policy of "classic hits mixed with adult-appeal current hits, complemented by non-daytime specialist music programmes." The station intends to add a three-hour Ceilidh show and a three-hour religious music show to its Format. Members welcomed these proposals, appreciating that the changes would increase genuinely local programming and would make weekday daytime and evening programming more speech-orientated.

Members noted that South West Sound had demonstrated consistently impressive audience figures during its licence term. Letters of support from local community organisations and representatives accompanied the application.

Background

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 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 and re-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.

The existing licence for the Dumfries & Galloway area, held by South West Sound Ltd., expires on 31 December 2004. The licence was 'pre-advertised' in February 2003 under the provisions of the 'special application procedure' introduced in the 1996 Broadcasting Act. Two 'declarations of intent to apply' were received, and therefore the licence was fully re-advertised. The Authority invited public comment on the local radio needs of listeners in the area, and the type of programme service required. Copies of the non-confidential sections of the applications were made available for scrutiny in the reference sections of the public libraries in Dumfries (Ewart Library) and Newton Stewart, and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 15 July 2003 inviting public comments on the applications. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision.

The applications were 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 (Re-advertised Licences) and the coverage brief for this licence, issued at the date of the licence re-advertisement.

 

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