Radio broadcast update March 2020

07 April 2020

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
Warwick (Capital)Touch Warwick Ltd3 April 2032 

Local radio licence transfers

Ofcom has approved the transfer of the following local commercial licences:

AreaStation namePrevious licenseeNew licensee
Ullapool and surrounding areaLochbroom FMLochbroom FM LtdWester Ross Radio Ltd

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.

Alpha Radio (Darlington) (PDF, 266.1 KB)
Published 07|04|20

Durham Radio (Darlington) (PDF, 266.0 KB)
Published 07|04|20

Sun FM (Sunderland) (PDF, 257.4 KB)
Published 07|04|20

Digital Radio

Digital sound programme service (DSPS) licences issued during in this period

Licensee
Release Radio Broadcasting Ltd
Sound Wave Radio Limited

DAB multiplex variations

The following multiplex variations were agreed during this period:

ChangeMultiplex
Removal of Love Sport – A 24-hour speech service for Londoners focussing on sports plus some topical content and local information.London 3
Addition of Radio Plymouth – a locally-focused station specifically for Plymouth with a full service of local news and information, entertaining speech, features and conversation with mainstream popular music.Plymouth & Cornwall

Analogue Community Radio

Licences awarded in this period

Ofcom has announced, and published the reasons for, the award of 6 community radio licences:

Service nameCompanyArea
Cheshire FMCheshire Radio LtdNorthwich
Coast and County RadioScarborough Radio LtdScarborough Town
Cross Counties RadioCross Counties RadioLutterworth
West Kent RadioWest Kent Community RadioSouthborough and surrounding areas
Radio ScarboroughRadio Scarborough LimitedScarborough Town
Elastic FMElastic FM LtdChesterfield

The full statement can be viewed on our website.

Licences issued in this period

Service nameLicenseeLocation
ShorelineRetrocadia LtdRomney Marsh
Riviera FMRiviera FM LtdTorquay
Cumbernauld FMCumbernauld FM LimitedCumbernauld

Licence extensions granted in this period

A five year extension has been granted to the following:

Service nameLicenseeLocationNew expiry date
TD1Borders Community Radio and Media LtdGalashiels23/03/2020
Radio LabUniversity of BedfordshireLuton11/04/2025
RedroadRedroad FM LimitedHarthill, South Yorkshire25/03/2025
Erewash SoundErewash Sound Community Interest CompanyErewash05/03/2025
Healthy N HappyCamGlen RadioCambuslang18/03/2025

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, as well as an application form, are on our website.

Changes to Key Commitments agreed in this period:

Seahaven FM (Newhaven) (PDF, 177.9 KB)
Published 30|03|20

Your FM (Stockport)
Published 09|03|20

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). We have considered the following requests to constitute coverage improvements.

Coverage improvements agreed:

Service nameLocation
Celtic Music RadioGlasgow
Crescent RadioRochdale
Air 107.2Weymouth
Big City RadioBirmingham (Aston)
Wycombe SoundHigh Wycombe
Sedgemoor FMBridgewater

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).

StationHope FM
Current licence areaBournemouth
Extended licence areaBournemouth
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: A power increase has been agreed to extend the licensed area of this service. The increase in the adult population served was deemed not to be significant.

The addition of a relay for Christchurch has NOT been agreed because this was considered to be a significant addition to the existing coverage of the service. The guidance in the invitation to apply stated that Ofcom were more likely to approve requests which applied to include small, low population towns/villages adjacent to the existing coverage area. Predictions demonstrate that this relay would have significantly increase the total adult population for the service.

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

Other considerations:

  • The applicant said that they had received a number of complaints of poor and weak signal strength since they first launched, which they explained is partially down to the topography of the area but also down to low transmitter power.
  • The power increase will improve patches of poor coverage within the Licensed Area, particularly in Northbourne, West Parley and Throop, as well as extend coverage into parts of Bournemouth not currently served.
  • The service is based on a Christian ethos and helps young people and  disadvantaged groups. Hope FM will continue to provide social gain to the target community across the wider area.
  • The licensee provided evidence of demand and support for extending the coverage of the service.
  
StationDiverse FM
Current licence areaLuton
Extended licence areaLuton and surrounding areas
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: A power increase has been agreed to extend the licensed area of this service. The increase in the adult population served was 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 request was designed to increase coverage in the communities on the outskirts of Luton which have a close affinity with the Licensed Area.
  • These communities experienced either no or extremely limited signal and felt excluded from engaging with the community radio station because they could not engage with the service or the events it staged.

The service has already committed to extending its promotional campaigns to these areas to ensure that they feel a valued part of their audience.

  
StationMearns FM
Current licence areaStonehaven, Inverbervie and Laurencekirk
Extended licence areaStonehaven, Inverbervie, Laurencekirk and Porthlethen
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: the addition of a relay to extend the service to Portlethen was agreed, along with a power increase at the existing transmission sites. 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:

  • While in terms of percentages, the increase to the size of the adult population could be deemed  as significant, the area is sparsely populated and the new adult population figures cannot be deemed significant.
  • Mearns FM have the support Church of Scotland who wish to provide them with studio space and a transmission site, if required.

A number of presenters live in the town of Portlethen, while local members of the community have supported the addition of Portlethen to the coverage area. The service has guaranteed specific programming to cover the area of Portlethen and will provide free charity coverage and advertising for the area.

  
StationCross Rhythms (Stoke)
Current licence areaStoke-on-Trent
Extended licence areaStoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: the addition of a relay to extend the service to Newcastle-Under-Lyme was agreed, along with a power increase at the existing transmission site. 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 towns of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme are very strongly linked in terms of geography and affinity. While there are two separate local authorities, they work in collaboration with each other on a number of development plans.
  • There are strong Christian communities that run across both Stoke and Newcastle-under-Lyme. Significant Christian initiatives and organisations work across both areas.
  • Large Christian events attract members of both communities, while the biggest church congregation in both areas is based within Newcastle-under-Lyme.
  • This extension will further strengthen cultural and Christian links between the two locations.

The licensee provided evidence of poor reception from listeners and demand for the proposed extension.

  
StationExmouthAir Radio
Current licence areaExmouth
Extended licence areaExmouth and Sidmouth
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: the addition of a relay to extend the service to Sidmouth 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 cannot reach the low-lying valley town   of Sidmouth. Analysis concluded that Sidmouth could not be reached via a   power increase.
  • The applicant highlighted that Sid-Valley is underserved by local services due to the difficult terrain. The extension will therefore enable the target  population to be served by an FM service which provides targeted/vital local news and information.
  • The licensee provided significant evidence of demand and support for extending the coverage of the service.

The applicant demonstrated the relationship and affinities between the towns, including considerable cultural, educational and commercial links. Both towns are under the jurisdiction of East Devon, residents have a work-related association, while students from both towns participate in the station’s ‘Radio Club’ and actively participate as volunteers.

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, 325.1 KB) for further information.