Radio broadcast update October 2020

03 November 2020

Analogue Commercial Radio

Invitations to apply under fast-track

Ofcom has received one declaration for the following licence, from the current licensee. We are therefore inviting the incumbent licensee to re-apply for the licence under the ‘fast track’ procedure as set out in Ofcom’s guidelines:

Area (station)Current Licensee
North London (London Greek Radio)London Greek Radio Limited
Isle of Wight (Isle of Wight Radio)Isle of Wight Radio Limited
Stockport (Imagine Radio)Imagine FM Limited

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
Perth (Pure Radio) D.C Thomson & Company Limited5 November 2020
Rugby (Capital)Rugby Broadcasting Company Limited30 August 2021

Licence renewals granted in this period

A seven year renewal has been granted to the following:

Area (station)Current Licensee
Kendal & Windermere (Smooth Radio)Global Radio Northwest Limited
East Lancashire (Asian Sound Radio)Asian Sound Radio Limited
North West England (Heart)Real Radio (North West) Limited

A five year renewal has been granted to the following:

Area (station)Current Licensee
Stoke-on-Trent, surrounding parts of Staffordhshire and Cheshire (Greatest Hits Radio)Bauer Media Audio Limited LP
Harrogate (Greatest Hits Radio)Stray FM Limited
South Yorkshire (Hallam FM)Bauer Radio Limited
South Yorkshire (Greatest Hits Radio)Bauer Radio Limited

Services which have ceased to be licensed (handed back or revoked) in this period

Service nameLicenseeLocationReason
Smooth RadioGlobal Radio (AM) LtdCardiff/NewportSurrendered

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

Bridge FM Radio (Bridgend)
Published 29|10|20

Radio Carmarthenshire
Published 29|10|20

Radio Pembrokeshire
Published 29|10|20

Ofcom has agreed a simplification of the music description contained in the Format of the North Norfolk licence held by CRB Audio Ltd and broadcasting as ‘Greatest Hits Radio’. This approval is consistent with the policy set out in Ofcom’s 2015 statement on our ‘Review of music in radio Formats’, which enables certain types of music descriptions to be simplified at a licensee’s request without the need for Ofcom to consider any such changes in accordance with the statutory Format change process. The amended Format for the licence is available.

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 improvement agreed

Service nameLocation
Sabras RadioLeicester

Change of Control Reviews

Whenever a local radio licence undergoes a ‘change of control’ (for example when it is sold), Ofcom is required under section 355 of the Communications Act 2003 to undertake a review of its programme output.

Specifically, Ofcom must review the likely effect of the change of control on:

  • The quality and range of programmes included in the service;
  • The character of the service, and;
  • The extent to which local material and locally-made programmes are included in the service.

When the review has been completed, Ofcom may amend the content requirements of the licence.

Radio Plymouth
Published 02|11|2020

High Peak Radio/Ashbourne Radio (Buxton)
Published 28|10|2020

Imagine Radio (Stockport)
Published 28|10|2020

Digital Radio

Small-scale DAB stakeholder events

On 29 September 2020, Ofcom hosted two virtual stakeholder events on small-scale DAB licensing.

These events were open to parties who were interested in applying for small-scale multiplex licences, or C-DSP licences to broadcast programme services on those multiplexes, in the first round of 25 small-scale DAB licence advertisements. The sessions were intended to provide potential applicants with a high-level overview of the licensing processes for these new types of licences.

Each session consisted of an initial presentation which was followed by an opportunity for participants to put questions to Ofcom colleagues. We expect that nearly all of the content from these events will be directly relevant to future small-scale DAB licensing rounds, and we are therefore making them available on our website in the form of videos of the slide presentations, plus written summaries of the Q&A sessions.

Community digital sound programme (C-DSP) licence applications received

Community digital sound programme licence applications received since applications opened on 1 September 2020 can be found on our website. Applications have been made for services in Leeds and Londonderry.

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

Licensee
UKMusicGroup Ltd
Coast Community Radio and Media CIC
BlitzKids Radio Holdings Ltd
This is the Coast Limited
Radio Bath Ltd
Outreach Community Radio C.I.C

DAB multiplex variations

The following multiplex variations were agreed during this period:

ChangeMultiplex
Addition of This Is The Coast – A commercial local radio service for Scarborough, Filey, Whitby and Bridlington providing local news and information along with music, competitions and great entertainment.North Yorkshire

Addition of Bayside Radio – A community orientated, music and bilingual speech service serving the North Wales Coast.

North West Wales
Addition of Radio Bath – A community station focused on Bath & West Wiltshire playing popular music and providing content covering the wide-ranging cultural aspects of the area.West & South Wiltshire

Addition of Greatest Hits Radio (Ipswich) – A broad music service for a 35+ audience, with a strong commitment to Ipswich news and local information.

Removal of Ipswich 102 – An Ipswich based, broad music service for a 35+ audience, with a strong commitment to Ipswich news and local information.

Addition of Hits Radio –  A service offering a broad range of hits from current and non-current chart music. The station will appeal to a broad 25 – 44 adult audience and include entertainment news and features relevant to the target audience.

Removal of Greatest Hits Radio (UK) – A classic hits led pop music-led service aimed primarily at the over-40s.

Suffolk

Addition of Greatest Hits Radio  (Plymouth) – A locally focussed station specifically for Plymouth with a full service of local news and information, entertaining speech, features and conversation with mainstream popular music.

Removal of Radio Plymouth – A locally focussed station specifically for Plymouth with a full service of local news and information, entertaining speech, features and conversation with mainstream popular music.

Addition of Country Hits Radio – A genre-based music station playing primarily a range of modern country music (including American and UK) aimed at all adults.

Removal of Greatest Hits Radio (UK) – A Classic Hits led pop music service aimed primarily at the over 40s.

Plymouth
Temporary addition of Heart Christmas (From 25 Oct to 27 Dec): A music station playing a selection of Christmas feel good music, mostly from the last 50 years.London 1

Temporary addition of Heart Christmas (From 25 Oct to 27 Dec):  A music station playing a selection of Christmas feel good music, mostly from the last 50 years.

Temporary removal of Capital UK (From 25 Oct to 27 Dec): A contemporary and chart music led service for under 40s.

Berkshire/North Hampshire, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Essex, Herts/Beds/Bucks, Kent, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Peterborough, Plymouth, Swindon, West Wiltshire, Somerset.

Temporary addition of Heart Christmas (From 25 Oct to 27 Dec):  A music station playing a selection of Christmas feel good music, mostly from the last 50 years.

Temporary removal of Heart UK (From 25 Oct to 27 Dec): A service featuring music from the last three decades with particular appeal to audiences aged 25-44.

Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Hereford/Worcestershire, Lincolnshire.

Temporary addition of Heart Christmas (From 25 Oct to 27 Dec):  A music station playing a selection of Christmas feel good music, mostly from the last 50 years.

Temporary removal of Smooth UK (From 25 Oct to 27 Dec): An easy listening station targeting listeners aged 50 plus.

Humberside, Leeds, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire.

Analogue Community Radio

Licences issued in this period

Service nameLicenseeLocation
SkylarkSkylark SoundsDartmoor, Devon
Coast and County RadioScarborough Radio LtdScarborough

Licence extensions granted in this period

A five year extension has been granted to the following:

Service nameLicenseeLocationNew expiry date
Cando FMFurness Broadcast Media CICBarrow-in-Furness22 November 2025
Koast RadioKoast Radio LimitedAshington, Northumberland and surrounding areas10 December 2025

Services which have ceased to be licensed (handed back or revoked) in this period

Service nameLicenseeLocationReason
Merthyr RadioThe 3Gs Development TrustMerthyr TydfilLicence award handed back

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:

EAVA FM (PDF, 247.4 KB)
Published 28|10|2020

Bro Radio (PDF, 184.8 KB)
Published 05|10|2020

Big City Radio (PDF, 198.9 KB)
Published 05|10|2020

Coverage improvement and extension requests

Coverage extensions agreed:

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

StationSeahaven FM
Current licence areaNewhaven and surrounding areas
Extended licence areaNewhaven, Eastbourne and surrounding areas
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: An extension via a power increase in Newhaven along with a relay in Eastbourne was AGREED, because, while the resulting coverage was considered to be a significant increase in the licensed area, 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. The increase in the adult population figures, in terms of actual numbers, is high (approving both relay and power increase would equate to an increase of approximately six times the existing adult population figures). In 2019, the licensee applied for an extension to cover the area of Eastbourne via relay. This request was rejected for two reasons: 1) the transmission parameters resulted in a lack of contiguous coverage between the two locations and, 2) the decision-maker considered that, due to the significance of the adult population increase, the applicant had not demonstrated why this should be considered an exceptional circumstance. However, in their revised application, the combination of the power increase at their existing site resulted in contiguous coverage between the transmitter in Newhaven and the proposed relay in Eastbourne. Further, the licensee provided a large amount of evidence to demonstrate both the affinities between the two locations and the demand/support from the local population, specifically from the local council, MP and the Mayor.

Other considerations:

  • The applicant highlighted that a significant proportion of the current target audience work, shop and seek entertainment in the extended area of Eastbourne and noted the similarity in demographics, thus demonstrating an affinity between the neighbouring areas.
  • Ofcom noted that there is no local radio service that specifically serves the area of Eastbourne and that the existing radio services are commercial operators. The extension will therefore enable the target population to be served by an FM service which provides targeted/vital local news and information.
  • The applicant provided a significant amount of evidence of demand and support for the extension into Eastbourne in particular, while also demonstrating the affinities and relationships between the two areas. This evidence, combined with the fact that there is no other community radio service which serves Eastbourne, demonstrated to the decision-maker that there were sufficient exceptional circumstances to justify this request.
  • By allowing Seahaven FM to extend its licensed area to include Eastbourne and the opportunity to increase its popularity within its revised licensed area, the decision-maker suggested that this could support the licensee in its ability to maintain the service for the duration of the licence.
  • Further, the licensee demonstrated in its application that by serving a wider community, it would be able to increase the amount of community-based activities such as local news, outside broadcasts, increased local volunteering and employment opportunities.
  • Whilst the power increase will improve patches of poor coverage within the licensed area, including areas of Newhaven and Seaford, the area of Peacehaven is still not able to receive the service.
  • Analysis demonstrates that the combination of the relay and the power increase will result in contiguous coverage between the two transmitter locations.
StationDesi Radio
Current licence areaWest London centred on Southall
Extended licence areaWest London
Reasons for agreeing to the extension

Increase in the licensed area: A power increase was AGREED to combat the substantial increase in ‘noise floor’ and interference. While the subsequent increase in adult population and coverage 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 2002, the licenced area has seen a substantial rise in the ‘noise floor’, due to the proliferation of electronic devices and the increase of buildings with steel structures. The cumulative impact of these factors, which are outside of the licensee’s control, has resulted in poor signal reception throughout the current licence area meaning that parts of the community are underserved. The only means by which an increase in the noise floor  can be managed is by a power increase.

Other considerations:

  • The applicant also highlighted that since the station’s launch, a generation of the target community have migrated from Southall into the neighbouring areas which are not currently served. The power increase will facilitate the reconnection with the original listeners and provide them with targeted news and information of interest to the Punjabi community.
  • There is an affinity between the existing coverage area and the wider surrounding area as the Punjabi community are prevalent in both areas meaning a connection through cultural and family ties. Station volunteers and editorial coverage also come from 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.