94/99 10 June 1999

RADIO AUTHORITY CONSULTS ON INR OPT-OUTS

The Radio Authority is today (10 June) announcing that it wishes to clarify the potential for broadcasting local or regional programming opt-outs on the three Independent National Radio (INR) services: Classic FM, Virgin 1215 and Talk Radio. The Authority is seeking comments on its proposals as set out below.

Background

At the time of advertisement of each of the three INR licences, the Authority’s Notes of Guidance for applicants provided for the possibility of limited regional programme opt-outs, of up to two hours each day, to be broadcast between the hours of 18.00 and 06.00, subject to technical feasibility. To date, no INR service has split its programming, although both Classic FM and Talk Radio have arrangements for separate London advertising content.

Proposals

The Authority is minded to permit the splitting of INR programme services outside peak time (that is between 18.00 and 06.00 daily, and at any time of day at weekends) restricted to a maximum of three hours in any one day, up to a total of ten hours per week.

However, the Authority is not inclined to allow the period of opt-out on any given day to be split; for example, it would not be permissible to have a one-hour opt-out, followed by another hour later in the same day or overnight period.

Licensees would be responsible for satisfying themselves as to any consequential problems with reception which may be caused by splitting transmissions, and for dealing with any complaints from dissatisfied listeners.

All responses should be submitted by Friday 25 June 1999 and addressed to: The Secretary, The Radio Authority, Holbrook House, 14 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5DG.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. The INR1 licence was advertised in January 1991 and was awarded to Classic FM in August 1991. INR2 was advertised in October 1991 and was awarded to Virgin 1215 in April 1992. The INR3 licence was advertised in November 1993 and was awarded to Talk Radio in June 1994.
  2. 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.
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