Ofcom has started a consultation on the duration of local commercial analogue radio licences in light of the current DAB situation.
Since 2010, Ofcom’s policy has been that re-advertised licences should have a seven year duration. However, the regulator has the power to set the duration up to 12 years.
Ofcom is consulting on two options: retaining a seven year duration for licences or increasing this back up to the 12 year statutory maximum. Following consideration of consultation responses, Ofcom intends to issue a statement in May 2014.
The length was changed in 2010 to offer incentives for operators of radio services to be on the analogue and digital radio platforms, and the need for services to be viable.
Ofcom said: “Our rationale was that seven years would be sufficient for viability, whilst retaining flexibility for future radio policy developments, and not providing incentives for services to come off DAB.
“We said at the time that we expected “to review this policy should the Secretary of State nominate a date for digital switchover or in the event of other significant radio policy developments”.
“We are now considering whether the current policy of seven year licence durations remains appropriate in light of the Minister’s statement in December 2013 setting out a package of new measures for DAB, in particular the funding arrangement between Government, the BBC and the owners of radio multiplex licences in relation to the continued expansion of DAB coverage; and the Government’s conclusion that, in light of progress against benchmarks on listening and coverage “now is not the time to switchover”.
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