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Ofcom publishes process for the future licensing of FM commercial radio

Ofcom today announced its new FM local commercial radio licensing process.

The process reflects the views of stakeholders in response to the public consultation which launched in February 2004. The statement, which includes Ofcom’s response to comments made by stakeholders responding to the consultation, can be obtained from the Ofcom website.

Key points include:

Strategy

Ofcom expects to be able to offer at least 30 new FM local licences for commercial radio.
Between June 2004 and June 2005, Ofcom will advertise one smaller (i.e. non-metropolitan) licence each month, and one larger (i.e. metropolitan or regional) licence every 2-3 months.
Ofcom will advertise separate licences in Cornwall, Plymouth and Exeter (subject to frequency clearance), rather than the proposed South-West regional service.

New regional licences will be advertised in North-East England, the Solent area, and South Wales (subject to frequency clearance).

Licensing process

Each licence advertisement will contain information specially tailored for that licence.
Each licence advertisement will include clear guidance on how Ofcom intends to apply the statutory criteria in that particular case.
Ofcom will publish information at the time of licence advertisement about existing commercial radio provision in the area of the new licence.
Advertisement notices will be published on the Ofcom website.

Applications for commercial radio licences will be published online.

After a licence has been awarded, Ofcom will publish a statement setting out the determining factors for the licence award.

Following requests from the industry and other stakeholders for a slower pace of licensing, Ofcom has changed the phasing of licence advertisements to allow longer intervals between the advertisement of larger licences. Larger licences will now be advertised once every 2-3 months, rather than once a month. The new timetable for the first six licences is now as follows:

Timetable for the first six licences

June 2004 Edinburgh and Blackburn
July 2004 Ashford
August 2004 Kidderminster
September 2004 Belfast
November 2004 Manchester

A further three smaller licences will be added to the above list for advertisement between September and November 2004. These areas will be announced in June, along with a full timetable of licence advertisements for the period December 2004 – May 2004.

Ofcom has established a Radio Licensing Committee to process the awards of new radio licences. The committee will be chaired jointly by Ian Hargreaves and Kip Meek.

The statement being published today is available from the Ofcom website at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/licensing_numbering/
radio_sound_broadcasting/commercial_radio/fut_comcl_rad/

Non-confidential responses to the consultation can be obtained from: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/past/future_fm/responses/

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