Radio broadcast update – December 2023

Cyhoeddwyd: 12 Ionawr 2024

A round-up of Ofcom’s broadcast radio licensing activity in December 2023.

Digital Radio

Local/national DAB multiplex variations

The following multiplex variations were agreed during this period:

Addition of Smooth RelaxDigital One (national)
Removal of Cando FMMorecambe Bay
Removal of Nation’s Easy RadioSouth East Wales
Addition of Nation 80s

North Wales South East Wales

Removal of Nation HitsMid and West Wales
Removal of Great British Radio

Surrey & North Sussex South Hampshire

Removal of Central FMCentral Scotland

Small-scale DAB: Extension of trial licences

The small-scale DAB trial multiplex licences for London, Portsmouth, Brighton and Aldershot which were due to expire on 31 December 2023 have been extended for a further period, until 31 December 2025. Ofcom is currently assessing applications for small-scale DAB multiplexes in the south east of England area.

Small-scale DAB: Coverage change consultations

We have recently published two consultations on proposed coverage changes for small-scale DAB multiplexes:

Winchester – consultation closes 30 January

Bradford – consultation closes 08 February

In addition, the small-scale DAB guidance notes have been updated to include a new Section 7, which provides more detail on how we will deal with post-launch coverage change requests from small-scale radio multiplex licensees

Digital sound programme service (DSP) and Digital additional sound (DAS) licences transferred during in this period

Service namePrevious LicenseeNew Licensee
Asian Sound RadioAsian Sound Radio LimitedLyca Media II Limited

Digital sound programme service (DSP) and Digital additional sound (DAS) licences which have ceased to be licensed (handed back, rescinded or revoked) in this period

LicenseeService name
The Hits Club Radio LtdThe Hardest Choice, THC Radio LDN
Noods Radio LtdNoods Radio
Ultimate Beats Radio LtdUltimate Beats

Community digital sound programme service (C-DSP) applications received during this period

LicenseeService nameArea
Station House Media UnitshmuFMNorth Aberdeen

Community digital sound programme service (C-DSP) licences issued during this period

LicenseeService nameArea
Merseyside Dementia Friendly Radio CICMDFRLiverpool
Wirral Christian Media LimitedFlame CCRLiverpool

Analogue Commercial Radio

Licence renewals granted in this period

A ten year renewal has been granted to the following:

AreaService nameCurrent Licensee
Bradford/HuddersfieldPulse 1Bauer Media Audio Limited acting as a general partner for Bauer Media Audio LP
Glasgow & West Central ScotlandClyde 1Bauer Radio Limited

A five year renewal has been granted to the following:

AreaService nameCurrent Licensee
South HamsHeartSouth Hams Radio Limited

Local radio licence transfers

Ofcom has approved the transfer of the following local commercial licences:

AreaService namePrevious LicenseeNew Licensee
East LancashireAsian Sound RadioAsian Sound Radio LimitedLyca Media II Limited

Technical change requests

During the last month the service listed below has had their requests for a change in its technical parameters agreed. Details of the change requested and rationale for our decision are set out below.

StationSunshine Radio (AM)
Current licence areaLudlow and South Shropshire
Reasons for the decision


Norgate Limited (“the Licensee”) holds a local commercial radio licence (AL000138) to serve the area of Ludlow and South Shropshire via the provision of its service, Sunshine Radio. When this licence was originally awarded in 1992, it was to broadcast the service via AM. This licence provides for the provision of a service on both AM and FM. Sunshine Radio is also available on two local DAB coverage areas (Gloucester and Hereford & Worcester). On 29 September 2023, the Licensee submitted a proposal to switch off their AM transmitter, while keeping the FM transmitters operational.

On 6 October 2023, we published the Licensee’s proposal on the Ofcom website and invited comments. Ofcom received one response from a stakeholder which supported the proposal.

For the reasons set out below, Ofcom has decided to approve the licence variation request submitted by Norgate Limited to remove the obligation to broadcast its Sunshine Radio service via AM. The Licensee will continue to provide its service on its FM frequencies.

The proposal

The Licensee provided the following reasons for its proposal. First, its AM coverage is limited to daytime hours only due to interference from European stations which reduces listening hours significantly during the autumn and winter months. Second, the results of a listener survey indicated that only a very small proportion of listeners still accessed the service via AM. When the AM transmitter was forced off-air due to damage caused by Storm Afwen in November 2021, Sunshine Radio received no complaints from affected listeners, providing further support for the view that there are likely very few individuals accessing the service via this platform.

Third, maintaining the AM transmitter would be very expensive given that the transmitter and associated equipment is coming to the end of their projected service life.

The Licensee said that switching off their AM transmitter would only affect a very small number of listeners. Sunshine’s FM transmitters serve the majority of the major population conurbations in the licensed area so listeners would be able to access the service on FM within the licensed area. It is also possible to access its licensed DAB service where it overlaps with the licensed area. The Licensee has set out its intention to provide the service on Small-scale DAB when it becomes available in the licensed area, subject to a successful application, while the service is also available online.

Legal framework

When carrying out its functions, Ofcom must act in accordance with its duties in Section 3 of the Communications Act 2003. These include its principal duty to further the interests of citizens and consumers and its duties to have regard to the matters in section 3(3) and (4), including the opinions of consumers and the different interests of persons in different parts of the UK.

We have considered the Licensee’s request to vary its licence to remove the requirement to provide its service on AM in the context of its licence condition to secure that the licensed service serves so much of the licensed area as is for the time being reasonably practicable.

This document comprises an impact assessment as defined in Section 7 of the 2003 Act. We have also conducted an equality impact assessment in light of our duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.  We have not identified any impact specific to a group with protected characteristics.

Ofcom’s decision

Within the current licensed area, there are a number of areas which are only able to access the Sunshine Radio service on the AM platform. However, we accept that the AM service is only able to broadcast during daytime hours as a result of interference from overseas services.

According to Ofcom’s analysis, the population within the AM only coverage of the Sunshine Radio service comprises of 106,549 individuals.

The survey data provided by the Licensee indicates that only a very small proportion of this number are likely to access the service via the AM signal.  In a survey conducted by the Licensee, respondents were asked to how they accessed the service. Only a handful selected the ‘AM’ option and when asked follow-up questions by the Licensee, they amended their answer to ‘FM’.

Ofcom did not receive any objections in response to our invitation to comment on the Licensee’s proposal to switch off its AM signal. We also note that the Licensee did not receive any complaints from listeners when its AM transmitter was not broadcasting during a storm in 2021. The available evidence therefore tends to confirm the Licensee’s position that very few individuals are likely to access the service via AM.

In all other areas, Sunshine Radio’s listeners will continue to be able to access the service via the FM signal and/or on DAB. In areas where there is no corresponding FM/DAB access, listeners still have the option of listening to the service online. We therefore consider that the potential impact on listeners if the AM transmitter is switched off is minimal.

We have also taken into account that the costs of maintaining the AM transmitter are material.

For these reasons, we consider that it is no longer reasonably practicable for the Licensee to continue to provide its service on AM. Therefore, we have decided to agree to Norgate Limited’s request to vary its licence to remove reference to the AM transmitter site.  The variation will take effect from Friday 19th January 2024.

Analogue commercial radio licences which have ceased to be licensed in this period

LicenseeService nameReason
Bauer Radio LimitedWestSound (Ayr)Surrender
Bauer Radio LimitedGreatest Hits Radio (Tayside)Surrender
Bauer Radio LimitedGreatest Hits Radio (Perth, N Scotland)Surrender
Bauer Radio LimitedGreatest Hits Radio (Glasgow)Surrender
Bauer Radio LimitedGreatest Hits Radio (Tyne and Wear)Surrender
Bauer Radio LimitedGreatest Hits Radio (South Yorkshire)Surrender
Bauer Radio LimitedGreatest Hits Radio (Edinburgh)Surrender
Bauer Radio LimitedGreatest Hits Radio (Greater Belfast)Surrender

Analogue Community Radio

Licence extensions granted in this period

A five year extension has been granted to the following:

Service nameLicenseeLocationNew expiry date
Radio SeerahSeerah AcademyLeicester9 January 2028
Vixen 101Vixen Broadcasting LimitedYork9 January 2028
Raaj FMCommunity Development Horizons LtdSandwell West Bromwich11 January 2029
Somer Valley FMSomer Valley Community Radio LimitedMidsomer Norton11 January 2029
Soundart RadioSoundart Radio LimitedTotnes25 January 2029
The SourceFalmouth and Penryn Community Radio CICFalmouth27 February 2029
Mighty RadioMighty Radio LtdSouthport3 March 2029

Key Commitments changes

Each station has as part of its licence, ‘Key Commitments’ which outline what the essential nature of the service is and details any specific expectations of that service. Licensees may request changes to a station’s Key Commitments. Information about the process, as well as an application form, are on our website here

Changes to Key Commitments agreed in this period:

Radio Ashford

Published 01|12|23

Celtic Music Radio

Published 15|12|23

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