Apply for a temporary Covid-19 short-term restricted service licence

10 June 2021

Ofcom has made a temporary short-term restricted service licence available during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the start of lockdown, we developed a new temporary licence product in light of the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. This licence is for those wanting to provide a radio service designed specifically to share information, news and updates about the Covid-19 pandemic with their community.

In introducing this licence product, we were mindful of the importance of services coming on air safely, and in line with the instructions given by Governments.

We were also mindful that communities are already being served by existing radio services – such as community, commercial and BBC local radio services – all of which will be providing news and information about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Applicants should particularly be aware that significant potential harm can be caused by material relating to Covid-19, for example, health claims and medical advice which may be harmful, and inaccurate or materially misleading information about the virus or public policy regarding it. Ofcom will consider any breach arising from harmful Covid-19-related programming to be potentially serious and will consider taking appropriate regulatory action.

We ask some additional questions in this application form that reflect these considerations.

Apply for a licence

Taking the above into account, and the information provided in published updates below, if you would like to apply for a licence, please complete the application form and return it to us by email to broadcast.licensing@ofcom.org.uk.

Application form for a temporary Covid-19 short-term restricted service licence (SRSL) (ODT, 86.1 KB)

If you are looking to apply for a restricted service licence for a drive-in service, do not use this application form. Please read the guidance notes for short-term (PDF, 419.2 KB) and long-term restricted service licences (PDF, 607.8 KB) instead, and apply for the licence that meets the need of your proposed service using the relevant application form.

In April 2020, after lockdown restrictions were imposed in the UK, Ofcom offered a temporary Covid-19 short-term restricted service licence (SRSL) for those wanting to provide a radio service designed specifically to share information, news and updates about the Covid-19 pandemic with their community.

In recent months, we have seen social contact restrictions being lifted across the UK. In England, an announcement is expected on 14 June on the future of the remaining restrictions, including legal limits on social contact, re-opening of closed settings, and enabling of large events. The governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are similarly looking ahead to when restrictions will be removed.

Our updates in August and November 2020 (see below) set out that we will continue to make the temporary Covid-19 SRSLs available to apply for if the area being served had restrictions in place, as determined by the relevant government. We do not consider social distancing guidance, mask-wearing rules or international travel restrictions or conditions to be restrictions for this purpose.

Once a government has announced that restrictions are lifted, we will no longer offer temporary Covid-19 SRSLs in the nation affected by the announcement. The temporary Covid-19 SRSLs currently on air will come to end on the expiry date in place when the restrictions are lifted (that is, they will not be expected to come off air on the date the restrictions will end, but should do so on their licence expiry date).

If social contact restrictions remain or are re-imposed in some areas in the UK, we will offer temporary Covid-19 SRSLs while the area being served is subject to restrictions if there is spectrum available for the service to broadcast.

Conventional (that is, non-temporary Covid-19) SRSLs are not affected by this update and remain available to apply for, in line with our published guidance notes for applicants and licensees (PDF, 419.2 KB).