Vaizey confirms no FM switch-off

Broadcast Minister Ed Vaizey has confirmed to a group of MP’s that the FM waveband will not be switched off and will remain as one of a number of multi platform transmission options for local commercial radio.

He also confirmed that he was prepared to take a look at the recent decision by Ofcom to limit licence renewal terms for local commercial stations to just seven years.

He advised MP’s present that the 2015 switchover date will only proceed if certain criteria are met and the listeners are clearly behind the policy.

Almost twenty MP’s from across the UK met with the Minister, and the Secretary of State who was also present, to express their concerns about the implications of Government policy on local radio and expressed strong support for their respective local stations and their desire to see them prosper and flourish in the future.

The Minister confirmed that FM will remain as a broadcast platform for years to come and also, in response to questioning from MP’s about the recently imposed seven year licence term on commercial licence renewals, agreed that he would review the matter and would welcome the input of MP’s in reviewing this matter sometime in the next twelve months or so.

William Rogers, Chief Executive of UKRD, said he was delighted with the outcome of the meeting and expressed his thanks and appreciation to all the MP’s who attended to press the case for “critically important reviews” in key areas of policy.

“That the Minister has confirmed that FM will remain for years to come, especially for those stations with no DAB future, is of course welcome but what is also really helpful, and something we should all welcome as an industry, was his open and constructive response to the question raised by MP’s to review the length of licences for local commercial stations which were in effect cut from 12 to 7 years in the latest Ofcom review,” said Rogers.

“MP’s were encouraged to make representations on this matter and, indeed, to even propose a policy position in this respect and we will be working with them over the coming months to ensure that this issue remains firmly on the Governments agenda of things that need to be looked at again.”

“We need a dynamic and vibrant local radio sector with a bright and genuinely multi-platform digital future. Of course DAB is one of many such platforms but the prescriptive, poorly planned and inappropriate imposition of this single platform simply gets in the way of what consumer choice is all about.”

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