Ofcom has approved the request from Bauer Radio to drop local programming content from its three Kiss FM stations, creating a national service.
It's on the condition that Kiss is available on 35 local DAB multiplexes on the day the local information is dropped, rising to 38 within 3 months.
Bauer [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.6419.2]submitted the format change requests[/link] for Kiss 100 (London), Kiss 101 (Severn Estuary) and Kiss 105 (East of England) last month and the plans were discussed by Ofcom's Radio Licensing Committee earlier this week. It followed a public and industry consultation about whether the proposed 'national coverage' by Bauer was sufficient to meet the expected level for a national station. There were [link=http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/kiss100-101-105/]six responses[/link] to that consultation.
Bauer's request was to remove the current requirement in each format to broadcast local content and local news and replace this with a single networked service which would also be broadcast nationally on DAB. Bauer did not propose to change the music content of the three licensed analogue services from the description given in each format.
Ofcom's Radio Licensing Committee decided to accept Bauer's proposal to drop local material and the need for locally made programming on all three Kiss stations, on the condition that the Kiss service is carried on 35 local DAB multiplex areas from the date on which local programming is removed, rising to 38 within three months of that date, so providing carriage in all existing local multiplex areas. Should such DAB carriage not be provided, the requirement for local programming would revert to being a requirement under the stations' formats.
Bauer say they will start work immediately on rolling out Kiss on DAB and production from regional studios will then relocate to Mappin House in London.
A spokesman for the firm said the decision reflects thier commitment to broadcast quality programming that excites audiences and advertisers. She added that audience research consistently cites music and mood, rather than geography, as key drivers to strong listener engagement amongst the regional Kiss demographic.
Steve Parkinson, MD of Kiss told RadioToday.co.uk: "We believe taking this award-winning brand truly nationwide is a great opportunity for Kiss to attract new audiences to its successful mood and music formula. We are not changing the name or format – just satisfying the ever-increasing appetite for Kiss from consumers and advertisers right across the UK."