Radio broadcast update September 2019

01 October 2019

Short-term restricted service licensing

Consultation and upcoming high demand window

This coming Thursday 3 October 2019, Ofcom will publish a consultation on two aspects of short-term restricted licensing. The consultation will remain open until 5pm on Thursday 31 October 2019.

After Ofcom has considered responses and published a statement, we will open the window of opportunity for any SRSL applicant wishing to apply to hold a licence during for any dates between 20 April and 26 May 2020 – the period of high demand identified for next year.

Our current plan is to open the window on Monday 18 November 2019 for one week. (This may be delayed should we need extra time to consider responses to the consultation fully.)

Potential applicants wishing to broadcast during the period acknowledged as high demand should not apply until we publish details of the application window.

Compliance workshop

Ofcom will be holding a broadcasting compliance workshop in Cardiff this November, as part of a series of compliance workshops taking place across the UK.

The workshop will take place on 7 November 2019 at the Ofcom office in Cardiff. Ofcom staff will provide an overview of licensees’ obligations under the terms of their Ofcom licence, including compliance with the Broadcasting Code, and members of Ofcom’s Broadcast Licensing team and Standards and Audience Protection team will be present to answer any questions licensees may have. At the workshop, Ofcom staff will be able to provide general advice, but will not be able to give detailed compliance advice.

If you are a broadcaster in Wales and would like to attend please email Broadcast Licensing (Broadcast.Licensing@ofcom.org.uk), stating the name of the individuals who will be attending from your organisation. Space at the event is limited, so initially attendance is restricted to one individual per organisation but may be able to allow second guests once final numbers are known.

Analogue commercial radio

Invitations to apply under fast-track

Ofcom has received one declaration for the following licences, 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
Perth (Wave FM) D.C. Thomson & Co. Limited
Warminster (The Breeze) Celador Radio Limited

Re-awards

Ofcom has announced that it has re-awarded the following local FM commercial radio licences to the current licensees. The licences have 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 licensee Current expiry date
The Breeze (Alton and Haslemere) Celador Radio Limited 21 November 2019

Licence renewals granted in this period

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

Area (station) Current licensee
East Midlands (GEM) Orion Media (East Midlands) Limited

Ofcom has postponed consideration of the application made by Global Radio Northwest Limited for renewal of the Morecambe Bay FM licence for a period of up to six months under s104A(8) of the Broadcasting Act 1990 while we complete the award process for local radio multiplex licences in Cumbria. Accordingly, under s104A(9), the Morecambe Bay FM licence has been extended for a period of six months, to 28 August 2020.

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.

Dee 106.3 (Chester) (PDF, 266.6 KB)
Published 27|09|19

Silk FM (Macclesfield) (PDF, 253.4 KB)
Published 27|09|19

Sun FM (Sunderland) (PDF, 264.6 KB)
Published 27|09|19

Smooth Radio (East Midlands) (PDF, 299.2 KB)
Published 27|09|19

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.

Sam FM (Solent) (PDF, 185.8 KB)
Published 16|09|19

Digital radio

Digital sound programme service (DSPS) licences issued this period

Licensee
Little Radio Ltd

DAB multiplex variations

The following multiplex variations were agreed during this period:

ChangeMultiplex
Addition of Dubai Now – An Arabic language music radio station which specialises in a modern and youthful style, targeting the UK audience of Arabic expats and visitors. Cambridge
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. Central Scotland 
Addition of Kingdom FM – A highly locally-focused broad music and information station for Fire, with community involvement.
Removal of Rocksport – A mix of rock and sport.

Addition of Radio Up – A music-led service aimed primarily at people aged 25-44 living in the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough areas.

Herts, Beds and Bucks, Peterborough, Northampton

Removal of Connect FM – A music-led service aimed primarily at people aged 25-44 living in the four counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

Removal of Gold – A classic pop hits station, targeted primarily at 35 – 54 year-olds. Humberside, Lancashire
Addition of Smooth Country – A music-led service playing predominantly country music.
Removal of Baikal Radio – A music radio service featuring British and American pop music, and popular hits in other languages including Russian, with local and world news in English and Russian, and DJ links mostly in Russian. London 2
Addition of Fun Kids Junior – A radio station for pre-school children and their families, with music and relevant speech content. North East Wales and West Cheshire
Addition of Gold – A classic pop hits station, targeted primarily at 35 – 54 year olds. Peterborough, Northampton, Cambridge
Removal of Smooth Radio – A melodic music station from a broad range of decades and targeting an audience aged 45.

DAB multiplex applications

Ofcom has received two applications for the Morecambe Bay, North and West Cumbria and Southwest Scotland local radio multiplex licence. You can see the applications and details on how to provide comments on our website.

Analogue community radio

Update on our priorities

We have published an update on recent work and our priorities for community radio licensing (PDF, 197.3 KB).

Community Radio Fund – Round 2, 2019-20

The second round of the Community Radio Fund 2019-20 opens for applications from eligible stations on 8 October and will close at 5pm on 5 November 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 Ofcom's Community Radio team at communityradiofund@ofcom.org.uk

Licences issued in this period

Service nameLicenseeLocation
Heritage Radio British Muslim Heritage Centre South Manchester

Licence extensions granted in this period

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

Service nameLicenseeLocation New expiry date
Takeover Radio 106.9 Sutton Youth Sutton-in-Ashfield 28 February 2025
Hermitage FM Carillon Broadcasting Limited Coalville 13 November 2024
Felixstowe Radio Felixstowe Radio Community Interest Company Felixstowe 5 November 2024

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 available on our website.

Changes to Key Commitments agreed in this period:

105.9 Academy FM Folkestone (PDF, 204.4 KB)
Published 27|09|19

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
Akash Radio Leeds (on AM)
Pendle Community Radio Nelson, Lancashire
Ribble FM Clitheroe, Lancashire
Sine FM Doncaster
Tone FM Taunton, Somerset

Please note:

Ofcom received 127 requests for an improvement or an extension from existing community radio stations and the work is nearing completion.

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.