Ofcom discovers station off-air for months
Ofcom has found Isles FM in Scotland in breach of its licence for not broadcasting for a period of four months.
The commercial station, which serves the Western Isles, went off air from 19 January 2017 and didn’t return until 16 April 2017 without telling the regulator about the break in service.
Ofcom noted Isles FM is still not covering the full area it should, due to transmitter problems. The regulator found out about the lack of broadcasting from the station’s website.
Comments supplied by a third party contractor, on behalf of the Licensee, explained that on 19 January 2017 an issue with the electrical supply caused “catastrophic damage to [the Licensee’s] transmission plant”, with the “impact being Total Service Outage”. It stated that the service was still down at that time and it was continuing its investigation to try to resolve the issue.
In a later response, the third party contractor informed Ofcom that an interim solution had been implemented and that service had been restored from 16 April 2017 (but to a smaller coverage area due to the reduced transmission power used) with local programming recommencing on 18 April 2017. It added that work was ongoing to implement a permanent solution, which they looked to complete in the next two to three months.
Provision by a licensee of its licensed service on the frequency assigned to it is the fundamental purpose for which a commercial radio licence is granted, so Ofcom has found the station in breach of licence conditions 2(1) and 2(4) in Part 2 of the Schedule to the commercial radio licence held by Western Isles Community Radio Limited.