Radio broadcast update July 2021

03 August 2021

Digital radio

Small-scale DAB multiplex licence awards

The following small-scale radio multiplex licence awards were announced during this period (please click on the links in the first column of the table below to view the award statements):

Alnwick & Morpeth (PDF, 146.7 KB) UK DAB Networks Limited
Bradford (PDF, 131.1 KB) Bradford Digital Media Limited
Exeter (PDF, 113.4 KB) ExeDAB Limited
Isles of Scilly (PDF, 130.8 KB) Like DAB Limited
North Birmingham (PDF, 111.7 KB) Switch Radio
South Birmingham (PDF, 117.0 KB) South Birmingham Digital Radio Limited

DAB multiplex variations

The following multiplex variations were agreed during this period:

ChangeMultiplex
Addition of Pure Radio - A music-based radio service with regular local travel news delivering high energy personality led shows with a focus on Scottish content and humour.

Aberdeen

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

LicenceeService name
Grim Up North Ltd Durham OnAir
Like Broadcasting North Limited Like Radio and POP DAB
All Oldies Radio HBB Limited All Oldies Radio
Alderney Broadcasting Company Ltd Quay FM
Dance Revolution Media Ltd Dance Revolution

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

LicenceeService name
Biscuit Broadcasting Ltd Radio Biscuit

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

LicenceeService name
Exeter Community Radio t/a Phonic FM Phonic FM
Pride Community Network Ltd Pride Radio

Analogue commercial radio

Re-awards

Ofcom has announced that it has re-awarded the following local FM commercial radio licence to the current licensee. The licence has been re-awarded under Ofcom’s ‘fast-track’ process, as set out in published guidelines, and will be for a period of 12 years from the current expiry date:

Area (station)Current LicenseeCurrent expiry date
Tunbridge Wells/Sevenoaks (KMFM) KM Media Group Limited 7 July 2022

Licence renewals granted in this period

A five year renewal has been granted to the following:

Area (station)Current Licensee
Peterborough (Smooth Radio) Connect Radio Limited  

Analogue community radio

Licence extensions granted in this period

A five-year extension has been granted to the following:

Service nameLicenseeLocation New expiry date
BFBS Salisbury Plain BFBS Salisbury Plain Limited Bulford/Tidworth 10 December 2026
Black Cat Radio Black Cat Radio Limited Saint Neots 16 April 2027
Radio Panj Radio PANJ Limited Coventry 31 December 2026

Coverage improvement and extension requests

Coverage extensions agreed:

See the guidance notes (PDF, 284.2 KB) for the range of factors we take into account when considering these requests (in particular, paragraphs 2.46-2.49).

StationUckfield FM
Current licence area Uckfield and the surrounding villages
Extended licence area

Uckfield, Crowborough and the surrounding villages

Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in licensed area: An extension via a relay at Crowborough was AGREED. 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:

  • Due to the topography of the area, coverage from the current site does not reach the desired area.
  • Crowborough is not currently served by any other local service. The extension will therefore provide the town with targeted local news and information.
  • The licensee highlighted many people commute between the two towns and that some members and guests of the station live in the extended coverage area demonstrating an affinity and relationship between the two. Furthermore, Crowborough and Uckfield are under the jurisdiction of Wealden District Council.
  • The applicant demonstrated that they currently provide a platform for community organisations in Crowborough and have a presence in the town by virtue of being a member of the Crowborough & District Chamber of Commerce.
  • The licensee also provided evidence of demand and support for extending the coverage of the service.
StationWitney Radio
Current licence area

Witney and surrounding areas

Extended licence area

Witney and surrounding areas

Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: An extension via relay at Stonesfield was AGREED. 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 applicant demonstrated the proximity between its current coverage area and the areas it seeks to service via this extension. The target area of the relay is adjacent to its existing coverage in terms of postcodes, while the areas of Stonesfield and Combe are within the council boundary which includes its current licensed area. Further, the applicant has demonstrated that while current coverage can reach parts of the extended area, general coverage is poor due to the local topography.
  • The applicant highlighted the recent roll out of student training with one of the local secondary schools in Witney and will seek to get other secondary schools involved in this project in the extended area, which would establish social gain in the extended area.
  • The extended area is currently underserved by local analogue radio and the applicant has suggested that once an additional relay is in place, they will ensure that local news, local content and traffic information relevant for the extended area would be broadcast on their service.
StationRadio Caroline
Current licence area Suffolk and northern parts of Essex
Extended licence area Suffolk, northern parts of Essex, and parts of Kent and East Sussex

Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in licensed area: A power increase was AGREED to combat man made noise and interference in the existing coverage area, and to extend coverage to adjoining areas.  While the subsequent increase in the licensed area was considered to be significant, the decision-maker deemed there to be exceptional circumstances in order to approve this request.

Exceptional circumstances: Ofcom considered that there were ‘exceptional circumstances’ to justify an increase that would be reasonably considered to be significant. Since the award of this AM licence in 2018, the service has experienced high levels of background noise and interference, particularly in urban areas. The licensee also serves a ‘community of interest’ as opposed to a defined geographic community meaning the service is positioned to be accessible to the community of interest in the proposed extended areas.

Other considerations

  • There is an affinity between the existing and extended coverage area as the sea path from the existing transmitter at Orford means that the service is already receivable in parts of the extended coverage area, although existing reception is currently poor. Furthermore, the studio location means that the station attracts and engages volunteers from both the existing and extended coverage areas. The power increase will therefore improve signal in the extended coverage area, where some of the station’s volunteers live and work.
  • The applicant cited demand from its online audience base for access to the service via analogue. The power increase will therefore contribute to fulfilling this demand and broaden choice in how the community of interest in the extended area access the service.
  • The licensee set out their approach to how it would raise awareness of the improved coverage in the extended areas
  • The licensee provided plans of how it would further engage audiences in the extended areas noting that the social gain prospects would be greatly enhanced in Kent, Essex and elsewhere as a consequence of the proposed extended coverage.
  • Specifically, the extended coverage would result in their iconic and historically important Radioship becoming part of the licensed area. This will enable the use of this museum space to serve as an educational tool in offshore radio, and an additional education and training resource for potential volunteer radio presenters and technicians, which alongside the studio facilities in Kent will provide additional social gain capabilities.
  • No additional frequency resource is required to extend the service to the community of interest in the extended area.

Please note:
The success of an application is, amongst other things, dependent on frequency availability and whether there may be an increase in harmful outgoing interference to other stations. In every case we need to take account of other services (community, commercial and BBC) on the same frequency or an adjacent one to yours (or to a frequency that we may be considering for a relay). Please see the guidance document (PDF, 284.2 KB) for further information.

Short-term Restricted Service Licensing

High demand window

On Monday 13 September 2021, Ofcom will open an application window for short-term restricted service licence (SRSL) applicants hoping to broadcast on any dates between Wednesday 30 March and Tuesday 3 May 2022. This window is slightly earlier than anticipated due to the implementation of a new system at Ofcom.

The application window will remain open until 5pm on Friday 17 September 2021.

Applicants should ensure they are familiar with the application criteria detailed in the guidance note (PDF, 419.2 KB) and must use the current version of the application form (ODT, 71.2 KB). The guidance note explains what will happen after the window closes.