Radio Ceredigion to become Nation Radio relay

Ofcom has awarded the Ceredigion licence to Nation Broadcasting despite “barely any evidence that the station would broaden choice for listeners”.

The regulator said the application had a lack of commitment to provide any Ceredigion-specific local content, or provide Welsh language content in an area with a relatively high proportion of Welsh speakers.

Ofcom also said it was preferable for listeners in the Ceredigion area to continue to be able to have a choice of local analogue commercial radio services.

In making the award to the only applicant, Ofcom felt that the ability of Nation Broadcasting to maintain the service was of key importance, made possible by replacing the existing Radio Ceredigion service with a relay of the South Wales licenced service Nation Radio.

It was noted that, historically, the Ceredigion licence has been a challenging one to operate profitably because of the large coverage area requiring three different frequencies and a small population and low potential commercial revenue base.

Although the station has become loss-making, having been marginally profitable for the last few years, its parent company Nation Broadcasting is cash generative and free of external debt, with positive shareholders’ funds. Because the proposed new service will be a 100% simulcast of Nation Radio, it will essentially only require expenditure on marketing and transmission, while the station will still be able to obtain local advertising revenues from the licence.

Ofcom considered that barely any evidence had been provided that the proposal to provide the Nation Radio service would cater for the tastes and interests of listeners in the Ceredigion area.

The lack of a commitment to provide any Ceredigion-specific local content for the new licence period, and the removal of any obligation to provide content in the Welsh language in an area with a relatively high proportion of Welsh speakers, contributed to this view. They also felt that the proposed Nation Radio service would be less likely to broaden choice for listeners in the Ceredigion area than the current Radio Ceredigion service.

They further considered that Nation Radio’s Format would allow its music output potentially to overlap considerably with that of the Heart service which is also available in the area.

The proposed commitment to produce 21 hours of output a day from within Radio Ceredigion’s existing approved licence area was noted. In spite of this, because of recent amendments to Ofcom’s localness guidelines, a commitment to locally-made programming does not necessarily equate to content which is local in character. Providing Welsh national news at peak-time was however considered to represent a potential point of difference for the service.

Ofcom said it was difficult to take a view on whether Nation Radio would be more or less popular with listeners in Ceredigion than the existing Radio Ceredigion service, which currently achieves a 4.7% share of listening hours because the station hadn’t conducted any market research in the area to test the potential appeal of broadcasting Nation Radio to Ceredigion.

In reaching its decision, Ofcom felt that Radio Ceredigion was in a very strong position to sustain the licence. Their view was, that given the significant economic difficulties the Ceredigion licence has faced in the past under a variety of different ownership models, and that no company other than Radio Ceredigion Limited submitted a valid application for this licence, it would be preferable for listeners in the Ceredigion area to continue to be able to have a choice of local analogue commercial radio services.

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  1. Gareth Rees says

    Very disappointing on the Welsh language front of course but also I pity the listeners of Ceredigion as they’ll be subjected to a frugal musical playlist that’ll consist surely of Stereophonics ,Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Iris’ & Snow Patrols’ ‘Chasing Cars’ played ad infinitum…..aarrrrggghhhh!!! ):

    1. Adrian says

      Well actually the mix now includes Stevie Wonder,Dolly Parton,Kelly Clarkson,Madonna,George Ezra,Wham and basically lots of 70’s-OO’s chart hits with 80’s being the most featured-all 80’s is now on Nation Sunday’s for 12 hours.On the other hand the current Radio Ceredigion which shares with the other Wales locals is much more current chart based which I find worse.The days of Nation playing what they used to (rock and alternative) have gone.Seeing as all the news from Nation or the locals including Ceredigion has already been outsourced to the radio hub in Leeds and nothing comes from Ceredigion anyway that won’t be much of a loss.The Welsh output is already down to one hour a week tucked away at a time when nobody is likely to be listening.I assume the change to making a loss recently has been since they dropped most of the Welsh shows and any programme specifically for Ceredigion.The point is should the Nation group have been allowed to cut down the local output of their local stations whilst venturing outside Wales to ventures in London and now Sunderland and Scotland but that was up to the regulator-not much good them moaning now when they have facilitated the reduction in local output across the OK.The only hope now for local radio in Ceredigion is the new community station from Aberystwyth which is due to open next year.

  2. James says

    Disappointing. An effort could have been made to provide something more for the county. Nation is on West Wales DAB & goes quite a far distance up past Tregaron towards Aberystwyth. Another broadcaster should have jumped in & done something with the FM licence. Oh well, Seems like ofcom didn’t have any care for it anyway.

  3. Pat says

    Come on Ofcom- a commitment to produce 21 hours per day from within the existing approved licence area means nothing-that includes most of South Wales and none of it currently comes or will come from Ceredigion.That 21 hours includes,of course,many hours of automation and shows with no presenters,what a mess this country is in all round!.

    1. mb23 says

      There was only one applicant so the only other option for Ofcom was to not award it and just have static on the frequency. If there is only one application it suggests that the licence isn’t viable as an independent station.

      1. Adrian says

        It either makes a small loss or a small profit apparently-certainly isn’t going to make anyone rich!.They could have given the community station the other frequencies.Looking at it another way Radio Ceredigion has never been on DAB like it’s sister stations.Nation Radio hasn’t up to now been on FM in Ceredigion whilst if you really like the music and schedule on Ceredigion at the moment you will still be able to get them in most parts of the county as DAB Radio Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire which most can receive carry the same programmes.As for Nation-If only it had more of a Welsh feel-apart from the regular Love music,Love Wales jingle,ads and news headlines it sounds to me like it could be from anywhere,suppose they don’t hire too many Welsh born presenters as they also have to do shows for London and other parts of the UK.

  4. Jeff Featherstone says

    If the news bulletins are sourced from Leeds the committment to provide hourly Welsh bulletins should be an interesting challenge!

    1. Pat says

      They aren’t in Welsh though otherwise they would struggle I’d imagine!.

  5. Bill says

    The Radio Hub is good but will struggle with Welsh place names — outsourcing is really a poor sign of Nation’s commitment to local radio.

  6. Chris says

    You’ve got Radio Cymru and also S4C so I think Welsh speakers are not too badly done by.

  7. Pat says

    Sad thing is I would have been delighted if it had been the old Nation which was different from all the others around.Now it’s just,Whitney,Come On Eileen,Red Red Wine and all the others songs played nearly everywhere else which is just boring as far as i’m concerned-there is nothing exciting abou5 the presentation either-three quick links an hour often voicetracked presumably.

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