Radio broadcast update - May 2023

08 June 2023

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

Digital radio

Local/national DAB multiplex variations

The following multiplex variations were agreed during this period:

Addition of Sunrise Smooth – A contemporary mix of smooth Asian/urban music for Asians aged 25-50. London 2
Removal of Jeo Radio – A lively, contemporary Asian/Urban music led station for young Asians aged 15-44.

Radio multiplex licence renewals

The following radio multiplex licences have been granted a renewal during this period:

MultiplexLicensee New expiry date
Swansea Bauer Digital Radio Limited 31 December 2030

Small-scale DAB multiplex licence awards

The following small-scale radio multiplex licence awards were made during this period:

Licence area Successful applicant company
Banbury & Bicester NOxDAB Limited
North Buckinghamshire North Bucks DAB Limited
North Pembrokeshire West Wales DAB Limited
South Pembrokeshire Pure West Radio Limited

Grant of small-scale DAB multiplex licences

The following small-scale radio multiplex licences were granted during this period:

Licence area


Transmitters licensed

Date from

Congleton & Leek Moorlands DAB Ltd Biddulph Moor – Rails Farm 1 May 2023
Crewe, Nantwich & Whitchurch South Cheshire DAB Ltd Crewe – South Cheshire College 15 May 2023

Digital sound programme service (DSP) and digital additional sound (DAS) licences issued during this period

Licensee Service name
Smart Broadcast Ltd Love Life Radio
Smile Radio Ltd Smile Radio
Digris Ltd Open Broadcast Radio

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

Service Name Previous Licensee New Licensee
Fylde Coast Radio Fylde Coast Radio Ltd Fylde Coast Radio Broadcast Ltd
Amber Radio

Amber Radio Ltd

Amber Radio Group Ltd

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

Licensee Service NameArea
Bedrock Radio Bedrock Radio North East London & South West Essex
Gaydio Community Interest Company


British Muslim Heritage Centre Heritage Radio Manchester
Prince Bishops Hospital Radio Prince Bishops Hospital Radio Darlington & Bishop Auckland
Forth Valley Broadcasting Service Radio Royal Stirling & Falkirk

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

Licensee Service NameArea
Spirit of Plymouth Radio Limited Cross Rhythms Plymouth Plymouth
Hospital Radio Plymouth Hospital Radio Plymouth Plymouth
Moorlands Radio CIC Moorlands Radio Congleton & Leek
Reform Radio CIC Reform Radio Manchester
The Cat Community Radio CIC The Cat Crewe & Nantwich
East Cleveland Community Radio Ltd Zetland FM Middlesborough & Redcar

Analogue commercial radio

Cessation of Absolute Radio national AM service

Ofcom has imposed a £25,000 fine on Bauer Radio after it ceased to provide the national AM service Absolute Radio before the end of its licence period.

You can read our decision on the level of financial penalty.

Coverage improvement and extension requests

During the last month the service below had its request for an improvement to its existing coverage provisionally agreed, subject to the new technical arrangements going through our usual formal clearance process (this includes Ofcom liaising with a number of outside agencies before changes can be implemented).

Coverage extensions agreed

Station Sunrise Radio
Current licence area Bradford
Extended licence area Bradford, Keighley, and Halifax
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in licensed area: An extension via a relay in Halifax was AGREED. Ofcom has also agreed a relay to improve coverage in the area of Keighley. The increase in the size of the adult population served was not deemed to be significant.

Exceptional circumstances: Ofcom did not need to consider whether there were ‘exceptional circumstances’ to justify an increase in this case.

Other considerations:

  • The licensee submitted an application which sought an improvement to their existing coverage and an extension to an area not currently served by their analogue service.
  • While Ofcom would not usually publish information with regard to an approval of an improvement request, we have added reasoning on this occasion because the published application form references requests to both improve and extend the service, which we have considered together.
  • The proposal to improve coverage in Keighley has been approved. Keighley was included in the coverage brief for the analogue commercial radio licence when it was first advertised, but local topography has made coverage of this area challenging from the existing transmission site. The provision of a relay to improve coverage will therefore allow the licensee to provide coverage to listeners within Keighley, who are currently unable to access the service on the analogue platform.
  • Ofcom’s analysis has demonstrated that there is sufficient spectrum resource to facilitate this request, and the extension proposal into Halifax. There are no other current applications to use the spectrum in these locations in which to consider the opportunity costs of this resource. Additionally, we consider that the proposal submitted by Sunrise Radio makes the best use of the frequency resource in this area.
  • The applicant provided information with regard to the relationship and affinities that exist between Bradford and Halifax, with specific focus on the target demographic of the Sunrise service (Asian/British Asian). It has stated that since Sunrise first commenced broadcasting in 1989, many of the original listeners have migrated outside of Bradford into neighbouring communities. According to Sunrise, the cultural links and relationships that these listeners have with Sunrise’s radio service still remain strong, though members of this demographic are unable to listen to the service on analogue radio since they moved away from Bradford.
  • The proposal seeks to reinforce this relationship. The current output of the service is culturally-focused (rather than locally-focused) but the licensee has confirmed that it will produce targeted local information programming for listeners in the extended area, such as local news relevant to the extended area and coverage of local events. The licensee will continue to organise events both in its current licensed area and in areas where coverage has been improved/extended. We are therefore satisfied the extended service will meet the needs of listeners in the extended area.
  • The licensee provided letters of demand and support for the extension of the service into Halifax. The local MP for Halifax, Holly Lynch, provided a letter of support for the proposal. In this letter, Sunrise Radio was cited as a valuable community asset and provided specific commendation for the way it works with local authorities to facilitate and organise events in the local area.
  • The licensee also provided letters of support from local Councillors from Halifax and letters of demand from local listeners who regard the service not just as an essential service in terms of the programming it delivers, but also the engagement it provides for its target demographic and how involved it is in this community off-air.
  • The licensee provided a helpful overview of the coverage of its service across different listening platforms with an explanation of why this is relevant for this proposal. Sunrise will be migrating its digital service onto the Bradford Small-scale DAB multiplex when this is launched. This will result in the Sunrise service being removed from the Bradford and Huddersfield local DAB multiplex, which will result in residents of Halifax being unable to access the service on any platform because the SSDAB multiplex will not provide digital coverage into Halifax. By approving this proposal, residents of Halifax will be able to continue to listen to the Sunrise service on an analogue platform.
  • With regard to the Halifax extension, Ofcom considered the impact of the overlap with existing services. Our analysis demonstrated that this extension would result in a 66% overlap with the existing community radio service based in Halifax. Additionally, the Sunrise Radio service would increase its overlap with two existing commercial radio services broadcasting in the area.
  • However, the target audience of the three existing services is significantly different to that of Sunrise Radio (the local community radio service is not targeted at a specific demographic and is instead a general service with local news, issues and information for the people of Halifax). The existing commercial radio services are generic services broadcasting to the general population and do not serve a particular demographic. Ofcom therefore considers that there would be minimal impact to these services as a result of this extension because of the differences between the target audiences of the respective services.

Analogue community radio

Community Radio Fund – Round 1, 2023-24

The first round of the Community Radio Fund 2023-24 opened for applications from eligible stations on Friday 19 May 2023 and will close at 5pm on Tuesday 13 June 2023. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has made £400,000 available over the 2023-2024 financial year. There is also £4,020.27 available from previous underspends, meaning that the total amount available is £404,020.27 for application.

The Fund supports the core costs of running Ofcom-licensed community radio stations as set out in the guidance notes published below. Applicants should read these guidance notes in full before submitting an application.

Licensees that hold a Community Digital Sound Programme (C-DSP) licence are eligible to apply for the Fund if the station is broadcasting on a digital radio multiplex at the date of their application.

Grants can only be made to Ofcom-licensed community radio stations in the UK, broadcasting on AM, FM, or via a C-DSP licence on a digital radio multiplex. Applications from eligible licence-holders may be submitted in Welsh. Any application submitted in Welsh will be treated no less favourably than an application submitted in English.

We expect that the Community Radio Fund Panel will meet in July 2023 to consider the applications. However, scheduling will depend on the volume of applications we receive.

For further information, please contact the Community Radio Fund team at

Licence extensions granted in this period

A five year extension has been granted to the following:

Service nameLicenseeLocation New expiry date
Radio Newquay Radio Newquay and Media Limited Cornwall 21 August 2028
Awaaz FM Awaaz FM Community Radio CIC Eastleigh 11 September 2028
Winchester Radio Winchester Radio Winchester 9 March 2029
Great Driffield Radio Great Driffield Radio Limited


3 November 2028
Rhondda Radio Rhondda Radio Ltd Rhondda & Rhondda Valley 16 July 2028

Licence transfers in this period

Ofcom has approved the transfer of the following community radio licence.

Service nameLocation Previous Licensee New Licensee
Gravity FM Grantham Gravity FM CIC South Lincolnshire Blind Society
Revival FM Cumbernauld Revival Radio Limited Home Church Scotland

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, including an application form, is available on our website.

Changes to Key Commitments agreed in this period:

Alive Radio (PDF, 231.6 KB)
Published 26 May 2023

Coverage extensions received

During the last month the services listed below have requested an extension to their licence area. The application(s) are published on the community radio page of our website. Ofcom will accept representations up to one month following publication before we make a formal decision. Representations can be sent to

Service nameLocation
Coast FM Penwith

Restricted service licences

Licences issued during in this period

Licensee Service name
BFBS Shorncliffe Ltd BFBS Gurkha Radio (Normandy Barracks)
BFBS Shorncliffe Ltd BFBS Gurkha Radio (Blandford Camp)