A request from Bauer Radio Ltd to change the Formats of Kiss 100 (Greater London), Kiss 101 (Severn Estuary) and Kiss 105 (East of England), was discussed by the Radio Licensing Committee (RLC) on 13 December 2010.
Bauer's request was to remove the current requirement in each Format to broadcast local content and local news and replace this with a single networked service which would also be broadcast nationally on DAB. Bauer did not propose to change the music content of the three licensed analogue services from the description given in each Format.
Ofcom determined that while the request, if approved, would not result in a substantial change to the character of these music-led services (the music played, rather than the provisional of regional speech content, being the principal reason for awarding these three analogue licences), the degree of 'national coverage' in terms of UK-wide reach on the DAB platform should be subject to public consultation.
This approach was explained in Ofcom's policy statement on commercial radio localness regulation (April 2010) which states:
The consultation question asked whether the DAB coverage proposed by Bauer for Kiss was sufficient to constitute 'national' coverage. The public consultation ran for four weeks.
There were six responses to the consultation.
Ofcom has the discretion to consent to Format changes under conditions included in each local analogue commercial radio licence, in accordance with Section 106 (1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1990, if it is satisfied that at least one of the following criteria is met:
a.The departure would not substantially alter the character of the service
b.The change would not narrow the range of programmes available in the area by way of relevant independent radio services
c.The change would be conducive to the maintenance or promotion of fair or effective competition, or
d.There is evidence that, amongst persons living in the affected areas, there is a significant demand for, or significant support for, the change.
e.That the change would result from programmes in the licensed service ceasing to be made at premises in the area, or those programmes would continue to be made wholly or partly at premises within an area approved by Ofcom.
As noted above, and for the reason set out above, Ofcom determined that the first criterion (a.) above was satisfied.
Having determined that the request satisfied one of the statutory criteria set out in section 106(1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1990, the Committee then went on to consider whether the request was consistent with Ofcom's published policy on regional analogue stations 'going national on DAB, as set out above.
The RLC decided to accept Bauer's proposal to drop local material and the need for locally made programming on all three Kiss stations, on the condition that the Kiss service is carried on 35 local DAB multiplex areas from the date on which local programming is removed, rising to 38 within three months of that date, so providing carriage in all existing local multiplex areas. Should such DAB carriage not be provided, the requirement for local programming would revert to being a requirement under the stations' Formats.