Ofcom has approved a co-location request from Touch Radio Staffordshire to move from Tamworth to Oak FM in Coalville 18 miles away.
The move goes against Ofcom’s “Approved Areas” policy but takes account pratical issues such as cultural affinity and financial viability.
An application was made by station owners Quidem saying “When Ofcom drew the original designated area maps the East and West Midlands border bisected the Touch Staffordshire TSA with Burton and Swadlincote cleaving to the East whilst Tamworth and Lichfield fell in the West. Such is the proximity of Coalvile to the Touch fm TSA there would be no diminution of cultural affinity resulting from this move.”
In separate Format change requests, both Oak FM stations now have permission to co-locate together in Coalville and (continue to) share all programming. Touch can now share programmes with Oak instead of the rest of the Touch network, but must keep its own breakfast show for South East Staffordshire.
When Quidem purchased the two Oak stations from Lincs FM in March, Lincs FM Chief Executive Michael Betton hinted at the benefits sharing with Tamworth could bring: “Given Quidem’s Touch FM base in Tamworth lies adjacent to Oak FM’s Coalville studios it seemed, to both groups, the perfect fit enabling better sharing of resources for Quidem and strengthening the Oak FM operation, something the Lincs FM Group couldn’t have easily done.”
In approving the request, Ofcom said “We have said that we will treat such applications on a case-by-case basis in line with [our] ‘out of area’ policy, which takes account of issues such as, size of coverage area and financial viability.”