Newly licenced commercial radio stations serving a population of 250,000 people or under will be allowed to request a change of Format for co-location purposes before they even start broadcasting, Ofcom announced today.
New guidelines published this morning says any station with under a 250,000 TSA, including those yet-to-launch are likely to have a co-location request approved on a sub-regional basis. This will give smaller stations the green light to save costs by basing themselves outside of their broadcast area with sister stations.
Stations already gained approvel for this during the last 24 months include Kettering's Connect FM (moving to Peterborough), Bath FM (moving to Swindon) and Bolton and Bury's Tower FM moving to Merseyside.
Ofcom's other proposals on local content for commercial stations published in November have also now come into effect. It mean FM local radio stations should broadcast at least ten hours of locally-made programmes each weekday during daytime (including breakfast) and at least four hours at weekends. In addition, AM stations should provide at least four hours of locally-made programming every day of the week. Stations based in the nations (Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland) will be required to provide a further six weekday hours of programming from their home nation.
Andrew Harrison, chief executive of industry body RadioCentre welcomed the news: "Ofcom's revised regulatory approach begins to recognise that in the modern media world great local content can be produced in new and innovative ways. This partial relaxation of some of the out-dated constraints on the sector will help ensure that the valuable services provided by our local Commercial Radio stations are safeguarded in the long-term.”