Ofcom has approved format change requests for Global Radio’s Capital FM licences in Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East, which will see specialist programmes cut by half.
The stations’ requirement to provide 26 hours a week of ‘identifiable specialist music programmes’ now becomes a requirement to do 12 hours a week.
Making the format change requests to the regulator, Global Radio said that it would not substantially alter the character of service of the station overall because specialist programming is broadcast outside of daytime when audiences are relatively low. They added: “Specialist music is now also much more widely available to listeners through other media, particularly online, than was the case when the station was licensed and there is therefore less of a need for a regulatory requirement for such output on an analogue radio station.”
The group also pointed out that a cut in specialist hours was approved for Smooth Radio NW’s format in August 2010, changing 45 hours a week of specialist jazz programmes to just 12 hours a week of specialist music programmes. In addition they highlighted that Capital Scotland and Capital Birmingham had recently been approved to reduce their specialist hours to 12 per week.
Approving the changes for Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East, Ofcom said: “We accepted Global’s point that the specialist programming has traditionally been broadcast outside of daytime at times when audiences are relatively low, so the station’s overall character of service would not, therefore, be ‘substantially’ altered. Furthermore, while the change would clearly represent a reduction in the quantity (i.e. number of hours per week) of specialist music programming, it would not necessarily narrow the range of programming on the station, given that the ‘identifiable specialist music programmes’ required by the Format could all reflect the same specialist genre, and that a requirement of 12 hours per week of specialist music programmes will remain in the Format.”