Ofcom’s region by region procedure to invite applications for community radio stations is being challenged by an MP.
Amanda Milling MP, Cannock Chase, Conservative, speaking at Westminster Hall, suggested Ofcom could invite applications from stations with special circumstances at any time along side the current rounds.
She was speaking for Cannock Radio which was created last year after the regional round for the West Midlands closed.
The MP also mentioned a possible Apply On Demand system but admits this would take more resources but with a premium fee attached to it to cover any additional staff which would be required.
In reply, Culture, Communications and Creative Minister Ed Vaizey said he was a fan of community radio and comments it’s one of the tragedies of his life that his home town doesn’t have a station.. and went on to explain the recent history of community radio regulation.
He did acknowledge the request by the Cannock Chase MP, but said any change to the system could make the process even slower, referencing previous rounds where applications were invited from all over the UK at once resulting in some stations having to wait a long time.
The current round is almost complete, at which point, the Minister said, it would be a good time for Ofcom to consider alternative procedures. In addition, he pointed out that DAB is an alternative for Cannock Radio.
Finally, Vaizey revealed Round 4 of community radio licensing will be announced in 2016.