Ofcom recently published its plans for the second round of Community Radio licensing. The regulator completed the first round on 17 May when it announced the award of a further eight Community Radio licences, bringing the total number of licences awarded to 107.
Ofcom has decided that it would be more appropriate to invite applications for the second round of licensing for Community Radio on a region-by-region basis. It is believed that this approach would enable the regulator to deal with a large volume of applications in a timely manner.
lan Fransman, Deputy Director of the Community Media Association said: ?We welcome the second round of licensing for what has proved to be a highly successful innovation in UK broadcasting, Community Radio! The CMA lobbied for better communications and shorter lead times between applications and response. We are pleased to note that this has been taken into account by Ofcom in their planning of the next round.?
In its statement Ofcom published a draft timetable which sets out the regions, and the order in which it proposes to invite applications. An updated timetable will be published by the end of 2006. For each region, the period between the invitation of applications and closing-date will be 12 weeks:
1. Southwest England and South Wales – Applications invited (16 August) – deadline for applications (7 November)
2. Scotland and Northern Ireland – Applications invited (25 October) – deadline for applications (16 January 2007)
3. North and North East England (incl North Yorkshire) – applications invited (3 January 2007) – deadline for applications (27 March 2007)
4. West and South Yorkshire and the Humber – To be decided
5. North Wales and Northwest England – To be decided
6. West Midlands, East Midlands and Lincolnshire – To be decided
7. East and Southeast England – To be decided
The revised application form and accompanying notes of guidance will be published, alongside the first invitation for applications, on 16 August 2006.
Alan Fransman added: ?The CMA will be doing more of its highly popular courses on ‘How to apply for a Community Radio Licence’, working with Ofcom and experienced Community Radio stations’ so that we can share knowledge and experience, both in running a radio station and in applying for a licence.?
The CMA?s first Community Radio Licence Application workshop will be in the South West and others will follow. E mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be kept informed. The courses will be discounted for CMA members.’
Ofcom states that it had serious difficulty in identifying suitable FM frequencies in some areas in the first round. The regulator expects that frequency availability will be a bigger issue in the second round. Ofcom has identified a number of areas where it is unlikely that suitable frequency resources remain available for further community stations to be licensed on FM (VHF Band II) spectrum (even taking into consideration the possibility of licensing some services for mono-only broadcasting, for example) in this round.
As a result, Ofcom will not accept applications proposing to serve on FM localities in certain areas of the UK, in this round. The list of areas where Ofcom cannot consider applications for FM services follows.
Ofcom invited groups interested in applying for a Community Radio licence to send a ?letter of intent? to help plan prepare for the next round. The demand and enthusiasm for Community Radio continues to be high and by the closing date in April the regulator had received over 180 such letters from all over the United Kingdom.
The list of areas where Ofcom cannot consider applications for FM services
Scotland and Northern Ireland
? City of Edinburgh Unitary Authority
? Glasgow City Unitary Authority
West and South Yorkshire and the Humber
? Leeds Metropolitan District
North Wales and northwest England
? Cheshire ? Vale Royal District
? Lancashire ? Chorley District
? Oldham Metropolitan District
? Tameside District
? Wirral Metropolitan District
West Midlands, east Midlands and Lincolnshire
? Birmingham Metropolitan District
? City of Nottingham
? Nottinghamshire ? Gedling District
? Telford & Wrekin Unitary Authority
? City of Wolverhampton Metropolitan District
East and southeast England, including London
? Harlow District
? London (Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Redbridge, Richmond Upon Thames, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth.)*
? Stevenage District
*(N.B. The London Boroughs of Harrow, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Sutton, Croydon and Bromley are not on this list. There remains the possibility that suitable frequencies may be identified in these areas.)