Radio broadcast update June 2019

02 July 2019

Analogue commercial radio

Licence 'pre-advertisements'

Ofcom has today invited declarations of intent to apply for the following FM local commercial radio licence. Please click on the ‘area’ in the first column for further detail on the pre-advertisements:

Area/current licensee (station)Current expiryProposed expiry date following re-awardClosing date for declarations of intent
Weymouth and Dorchester/Wessex Broadcasting Limited (Wessex FM) (PDF, 167.3 KB)3 September 20203 September 203219 July 2019

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
Hertford (Heart)Shadow Radio Holdings Limited2 March 2020
Kintyre, Islay and Jura (Argyll FM)Argyll FM Ltd9 July 2019

Licence renewals granted in this period

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

Area (station) Current licensee
Greater London (Heart) Global Radio London Limited

Analogue station Format changes

Each station has as part of its licence, a ‘Format’ which outlines what the essential nature of the service is and details any specific expectations of that service.

Any changes to a format can only be made by following the correct procedure and with the appropriate permission from Ofcom.

Bob FM (Hertford) (PDF, 218.3 KB)
Published 28|06|19

Heart (St Albans and Watford) (PDF, 283.9 KB)
Published 28|06|19

Digital radio

Digital sound programme service (DSPS) licences issued this period

Licensee
Noods Radio Ltd

DAB multiplex variations

The following multiplex variations were agreed during this period:

ChangeMultiplex

Addition of Gold UK – A classic pop hits station, targeted primarily at 35-54 year-olds.

Addition of Heart Dance – A dance music station playing the biggest club classics.

Digital One (national)

Addition of Like Radio – A popular music service aimed at 15-30 year-olds.

Somerset
Addition of Hope FM – A Christian radio station involved in promoting the Gospel.Hereford and Worcester, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, North East Wales and West Cheshire

Analogue community radio

Community Radio Fund – Round One, 2019-20

The awarding Panel met on 25 June 2019 to consider the applications for Round One, 2019-20. Issues of note arising from the Panel meeting and a summary of the grants awarded are available to see in the statement, Awards of grants 2019-20 Round One.

The next round of funding will be Round Two 2019-20, which is due to open for applications from eligible stations in October 2019. The awarding Panel will meet in January 2020 to consider the applications.

Grants can only be made to community radio licensees in the UK, who are broadcasting under a community radio licence. 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.

For further information, please contact: communityradiofund@ofcom.org.uk

Licence extensions granted in this period

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

Service nameLicenseeLocation New expiry date
Community Voice FMCommunity Voice FM LtdMiddlesbrough 9 August 2024
Gateway 97.8Gateway Community Media Community Interest CompanyBasildon, Essex 24 September 2025

Licence transfers in this period

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

Service nameLocationNew licensee
Radio CardiffCardiffSafer Wales

Coverage improvement and extension requests

During 2018, Ofcom invited community radio stations to submit requests for coverage improvements and extensions if they wished. During the last month the services listed below have had their requests 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 improvements agreed:

Service nameLocation
Ambur RadioWalsall, West Midlands

Coverage extensions agreed:

See the invitation to apply (PDF, 325.1 KB) for the range of factors we take into account when considering these requests (in particular, paragraphs 2.46-2.49).

StationEden FM
Current licence areaPenrith town and key villages in the rural areas around
Extended licence areaPenrith, Appleby and Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding rural area
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Significant increase in the licensed area: An extension via a relay to add Appleby and Kirkby Stephen to the licence was AGREED. Ofcom considered that the change would amount to a large increase in the licensed area, but not a significant increase. We considered that there were clear relationships and affinities between the locations, which are all in the Eden Valley.

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

Other considerations:

  • One relay transmitter would facilitate an extension into Appleby, Kirkby Stephen and the rural area around all three towns (including Penrith). (A null to the north-east will help ensure there is little overspill into other areas.)
  • FM frequency availability is less problematic in Cumbria than in many other parts of the UK, and the ‘opportunity cost’ is considered to be low (the use of an additional frequency is unlikely to impact on commercial or community radio licensing). Due to the local terrain, a power increase at the Penrith site would not achieve the desired area extension.
  • The adult population of the area served by the existing service is very low (16,133); while the percentage increase to the population is high, the adult population served with the new relay will be 30,549. This was still considered to be a modest figure. However, any increase in the population served by the service will help make the station more viable, in particular in its ability to recruit more volunteers.
  • Eden FM’s application highlighted the benefits of improved communication between towns and villages across the wider area.
  • Eden FM already “spends many hours away from its studio” working with people in different parts of the Eden Valley. It has plans to facilitate access for programme contributors, without them having to travel to the current studios in Penrith. Eden FM considers that “The future of radio is [dependent] on reaching people and giving people access to radio in the community”.
  • The extended area would not overlap with any other community radio stations.
  • A second relay to serve Carlisle was not agreed.
StationEndeavour Radio
Current licence areaBoston and the surrounding area
Extended licence areaBoston and the surrounding area
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Significant increase in the licensed area: a power increase was AGREED because the impact was considered not to result in a significant increase in the licensed area. The increase in the adult population figures served by the services is relatively small, so the increase in the licensed area is therefore deemed not 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 increase does not require a change in the licensed area of the service. It continues to serve Boston (town) and surrounding areas.
  • Our predictions indicated that the surrounding areas of Boston would be properly served by increasing the power, which would improve the weak signal that listeners in the surrounding areas currently have available to them.
  • The application clearly states that there is an affinity between Boston and its surrounding areas. We said in our invitation we would take into account the whether there was a relationship or affinity to the existing licensed area and whether a coverage extension would be appropriate in view of a station’s stated target community as described in its Key Commitments.
  • The station argued that this is a very rural area with strong community values. Being able to 'connect the dots' between Boston and surrounding villages will enable the station to make them part of a greater community and showcase them. Boston is seen as the central hub, joining the surrounding villages together.
  • The station provided evidence of demand and support for its proposal, including from the local MP, local organisations, listeners and supporters from surrounding villages.
  • Predictions indicate that although the power for Endeavour FM is to be increased, there will be very little impact to other services in the area.
StationLincoln City Radio
Current licence areaLincoln
Extended licence areaLincoln and surrounding villages
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Significant increase in the licensed area: An extension via a power increase was AGREED. While predictions show that the power increase does not necessarily equate to all the villages highlighted by the licensee receiving the signal, the increase does mean that villages within a 5km radius of the transmission site can be served.

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

Other considerations:

  • Due to heavy interference from other services, it is not possible to extend to all the areas which the licensee has requested.
  • Villages on the outer ring of the existing coverage would now be served; namely, Branston, Washingborough, Riseholme and Burton Waters.
  • Our predictions indicated that by approving this request some of the surrounding villages would be properly served by increasing the power, however restrictions are required to reduce the risk of interference to other services.
  • We said in our invitation we would take into account the whether there was a relationship or affinity to the existing licensed area and whether a coverage extension would be appropriate in view of a station’s stated target community as described in its Key Commitments. For Lincoln City Radio, it explained in its application that organisations in the areas it wishes to extend to already contact the radio station to be included on their ‘noticeboard’ and are featured in output covering community events for example, but they are on the fringe of good signal reception on indoor radios.

Please note:

Ofcom received over 130 requests in total for an improvement or an extension from existing community radio stations. It is taking us some time to complete all the work required to assess each one; we have dealt first with requests for improvements before we turned our attention to extension requests.

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, 325.1 KB) for further information.