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Thursday, 12th February 2004
New commercial radio regulator sets out proposals for FM licencing

The new commercial radio "super-regulator" - Ofcom - has indicated its proposals for FM licencing and hinted at its broader strategy for the rest of the radio sector in 2004.

The regulator proposes to advertise up to 35 commercial FM radio licences over the next two years, which includes two new areas where spare frequencies have been identified: Stoke-on-Trent and Bournemouth.

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In its strategic review of the radio sector, Ofcom is proposing:
  • A new approach to Community Radio, to be set out in separate proposals at the end of February 2004. Community Radio will build on radio's potential for giving local communities a stronger voice

  • A review of digital radio, examining the options for further and faster take-up of all digital radio services

  • Continued support for Restricted Services Licences (RSLs), which give hundreds of organisations each year the opportunity to go on air

  • New guidance on localness in radio

Licences carried over from the Radio Authority's "working list" are planned for advertisement by Ofcom in the following areas:

  • Ashford, Kent

  • Ballymena

  • Banbury

  • Blackburn

  • Cornwall

  • Durham

  • Kidderminster

  • Norwich

  • Torbay

A number of metropolitan areas of the UK have been identified for full-time FM radio licences:

  • Aberdeen

  • Belfast

  • Bristol

  • Cardiff or Newport

  • Dundee and/or Perth

  • Edinburgh

  • Exeter and/or Torbay (additional to the Torbay on the "working list")

  • Humberside (subject to an existing service changing frequency)

  • Liverpool

  • Manchester

  • Middlesbrough

  • Newcastle and/or Sunderland

  • Norwich (additional to that on the "working list")

  • Plymouth

  • South Hampshire

  • Swansea

Meanwhile, ten further areas have been identified for "small-scale" FM radio licences:

  • Abingdon

  • Barrow-in-Furness

  • Chorley (subject to decisions about Manchester licence(s)

  • Devizes and/or Andover

  • Halifax-into-Calderdale

  • Newry

  • Northallerton

  • Swindon

  • Thames Estuary (two licences)

Additionally, both Bournemouth and Stoke-on-Trent are likely to have new FM licences advertised in the future.

Possibilities for regional radio stations to cover the following areas depend on combining frequencies allocated for the specific areas above. Areas identified are:

  • Newcastle and/or Sunderland with Middlesbrough (a North-East "regional" licence)

  • Cornwall with Plymouth and Exeter and/or Torbay (i.e. a South-West "regional" licence) or

  • Plymouth with Exeter and/or Torbay

  • Swansea and Cardiff (but excluding Newport)

  • South Hampshire with Bournemouth (i.e. a Solent "regional" licence)

FM licence allocation table

Related links:
radio stations in the UK, on this website.
Ofcom's FM licencing strategy promo banner

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