Temporary Covid-19 short-term restricted service licences

21 August 2020

Information about the temporary short-term restricted service licences (‘SRSLs’) Ofcom has made 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, 431.5 KB) and long-term restricted service licences (PDF, 730.0 KB) instead, and apply for the licence that meets the need of your proposed service using the relevant application form.

Further update on the expiry date for temporary Covid-19 short-term restricted service licences – 21 August 2020

The five existing temporary Covid-19 short-term restricted service licences (‘SRSLs’) will expire at midnight on 5 September 2020. The update we published on 7 July (see below) provides information about the setting of that expiry date.

Today we are publishing details regarding the future of this licence type, in the context of local lockdowns.

We will consider an application for a service if the area to be served has additional local restrictions in place as reported on the Government website for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. The area applied for must continue to have such restrictions at the point Ofcom is ready (if appropriate) to grant the licence. If the area has come out of lockdown during the period between the application being received and the decision to grant being taken, then no licence will be granted.

The licence will be granted for a period of sixty days. This is derived from the application period for standard SRSL applications and ensures that temporary Covid-19 stations will not prevent the spectrum being used for its usual purpose. Standard SRSL applicants should apply with at least sixty clear days between the date we receive their application and the proposed start date.

Where a licence is already in place and the licensee wishes for us to consider a licence extension, we will grant the extension (if appropriate) one week before the current expiry date. We will grant an extension for sixty days minus one week, i.e. 53 days.

The area in question must still be under official lockdown at the point the extension is granted.

In both cases, the licences will not expire early should the additional local restrictions be lifted. The licence term/extended period will be as originally granted.