A request from Triple MuxCo Somerset Limited ("MuxCo") to change the frequency upon which the local radio multiplex service for Somerset will be provided was approved by Ofcom on 4 September 2014.
This request was submitted by MuxCo in accordance with section 54A of the Broadcasting Act 1996, as amended by the Digital Economy Act 2010 ("the 1996 Act"). These statutory provisions require Ofcom to consult on any such requests before it makes a decision, and so a public consultation was held between 8 and 29 August.
Under section 54A of the 1996 Act, Ofcom may approve a request to extend the coverage area of a local radio multiplex service, and/or change the frequency of a local radio multiplex licence, only if, amongst other requirements which must be met, it is satisfied that doing so would not unacceptably narrow the range of programmes available by way of local digital sound programme services to listeners in the area (to be) served by the local radio multiplex service in question (i.e. Somerset, in this particular case).
As MuxCo's proposal to change the frequency of the local radio multiplex service would have no impact on the range of local digital sound programme services (proposed to be) available in the Somerset area, Ofcom was satisfied that this statutory criterion had been met.
Provided the request meets the statutory requirements, the decision whether or not to agree to the request is at Ofcom's discretion.
Where a request for a licence variation requires a change to the existing frequency, Ofcom's general policy is to approve such requests subject to the availability of a suitable alternative frequency and consideration of the knock-on implications to the frequencies of other multiplexes (and the stations they carry).
The sole respondent to the consultation suggested that if the Somerset multiplex were permitted to change frequency from 10D to 10B, this might cause interference with the Oxfordshire local radio multiplex service which is also broadcast on the 10B frequency. Ofcom can confirm that the change would not result in interference with the Oxfordshire multiplex.
This frequency change is part of proposed revisions to the local DAB frequency plan which seek to enhance the coverage of local DAB services across the UK as a whole. As such, the proposed alternative frequency (10B) is available, and the knock-on implications for other multiplexes is positive, in that changing the frequency of the Somerset local radio multiplex service will reduce the levels of interference between local DAB multiplexes on the same frequencies and thus improve local DAB coverage overall.
The request was therefore approved.
1. Such as the need for an application from the licence holder, including a technical plan meeting certain requirements
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