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First community radio licence awarded to Forest of Dean

Community radio is a new sector of radio being introduced in the UK . It will become the third tier of radio which will complement the mix of services already provided by the BBC and commercial radio sectors.

The characteristics of community radio are distinct from commercial radio in that the services will cover a small geographical area and be provided on a not-for-profit basis focusing on the delivery of specific social benefits to enrich a particular geographical community or a community of interest.

Ofcom has not specified where these radio stations should be. Instead, it has invited applicants to apply for a licence identifying the community or communities they wish to serve. Licences are available on either the FM or AM waveband in most parts of the UK. However, in some areas the availability of suitable radio frequencies may limit opportunities. Community radio services will use frequencies which would not generally prove viable to support commercial services.

Ofcom is today announcing the first community radio licence award to:

Forest of Dean Community Radio.
Contact details: Amanda Smith,
Tel: 01594 820722,
email: contactus@fodradio.org,
website: www.fodradio.org.
Address: 1 Berisford Court, Cinderford, Gloucestershire GL14 2BS.

The group currently operates one of the pilot community radio services. It began broadcasting in July 2002 and broadcasts on AM (medium wave). The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire is a rural area, and Forest of Dean Community Radio has built a relationship with communities across the varied landscapes and distinct culture of the Forest, through its commitment to social inclusion. Its service is aimed at everyone who lives, works or studies in the area.

Ofcom received one application for this area and the licence awarded to Forest of Dean Community Radio is for a five-year period.

Applications for the first wave of community radio licences were invited in September 2004. Ofcom received 192 applications and is currently assessing those applications and examining frequency availability options.

There are currently 14 pilot community radio stations operating around the UK. Given the large number of applications received for community radio licences, Ofcom decided to assess them in order of priority by first considering applications for areas where the 14 pilot community radio stations are currently broadcasting. This involves over 70 applications, and includes areas such as London, Manchester and Glasgow.

Ofcom is aiming to make decisions in these areas before the end of June, before moving on to look at applications for areas not involved in the pilot scheme. Ofcom expects to complete this round of the community radio awards process by late summer.

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