Local Capital and Heart Drivetime programmes remain in Wales

Five Capital and Heart stations in Wales will need to continue providing their own drivetime programmes, despite Ofcom creating an “Approved Area” for the entire nation.

In the new approved area, under normal circumstances, Heart in Cardiff and Heart in Wrexham would be able to share all programmes because they are in the same approved area, similarly with Capital.

But whilst Global owns Heart South and Capital North, they can’t share programmes with Heart North and Capital South, because those are owned by Communicorp.

Ofcom says stations can only share all programmes within approved areas if there is a common owner. The localness guidelines state a station owner must be able to prove they have control of their own output.

In addition, Capital Cymru will continue providing Welsh-language programmes meaning a separate breakfast, afternoon and drive show for Caernarfon.

The presenters for the local drive shows have not yet been announced.

The same rule applies in the North West of England – with Communicorp-owned Smooth NW unable to share its three-hour local show with Global-owned Smooth Lake District. Global will instead provide a drivetime show for Kendal and Windermere from its office in Manchester, having already announced the closure of Kendal and Lancaster buildings.

RadioToday’s take

In the North West, it’s unknown if Global knew this situation would arise when buying Lakeland Radio. The industry assumed it would become a relay of the larger NW station once rules were relaxed. Official coverage for Smooth NW ends in North Lancashire just before Lakeland Radio’s starts.

It turns out the tiny Kendal licence, with a TSA of just 51,000 people, can share a breakfast show with England and Scotland but can’t share a drivetime show (or other daily three hour show) with Manchester.

In Wales, these stations under the same brand in Cardiff and Wrexham can share breakfast with London and Edinburgh, but not drivetime with each other, due to ownership rules.

I suspect this particular common ownership rule is something Global and Communicorp will be fighting against should the opportunity arise. One way to get around it, for now, would be an asset swap – where Global would own the same brand in the South and the North, and likewise with Communicorp.

So, once the network breakfast shows kick in, the five drivetime shows for the population of Wales, one for Capital South, one for Heart South, one for Capital North and one for Heart North, plus breakfast and drive on Capital Cymru, will continue.

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14 Comments
  1. David King says

    I’m very sorry for those affected but I’m beginning to lose interest in the radio industry itself after 50 years of fascination in the medium of local radio and press. I think maybe it’s time to move on from the local media scene. Quite depressing really but when Facebook and Google have such an enormous slice of the advertising market I believe that local media is most likely doomed!

  2. David King says

    Perhaps I should have said ‘advertising and sponsorship led’ local media.

  3. Loomesy1984 says

    I take it the same applies to Smooth West Midlands (Global) and Smooth East Midlands (Communicorp)

    1. Radio Geordie says

      Yes, and it does.
      The same thing should’ve also applied when Communicorp bought the Connect FM services and re-branded them as Smooth, taking the East Midlands opt-outs rather than providing their own, even though they are in different approved areas.

      1. mb23 says

        If Smooth Extra is replaced by Smooth London on D1, the West Midlands station wouldn’t need to do any local opt-outs.

  4. David Forbes says

    I expect they will tidy that oversight up at the next review of completing the annihilation of local radio. Good luck everbody.

  5. Christopher Stringer says

    It looks like they will most probably sell the new Kendal licence to Communicorp prity soon rather than make a specific programmes with costs associated with that.
    In Wales it’s two separate area’s North Wales has the A5 route and South Wales the M4 corridor never the twine shall meet. The weather forecast is different from North to that experienced South where’s local radio purpose during bad weather? Phone in programmes during these emergencies.
    I’m a member of the Welsh language society we welcome the clarification from Radio Today that no thanks to Ofcom who approved the change request for Capital Cymru to remove the requirement and obligation for a breakfast programmes and weekend programmes in Welsh and relay the London breakfast programmes won’t be going ahead on Capital Cymru.
    Changes at Sain Abertawe Swansea Sound last year with the change from Welsh programmes between 7 and 10 ,
    7 nights a week to a single programme on Sunday with weeknight programmes pushed to a late night 75/25 split in favour of English songs played.
    They have stated obligation to 15 hours of Welsh language material and sister station The Wave also acquired by Bauer recently must play Welsh language music at appropriate times it stated in the licence applications but on monitoring they don’t.
    Cymdeithas appreciate the response from local DAB minimux applicants who responded to our enquiries recently and for promising local services and 24/7 Welsh language radio on the Cardiff and Pembrokeshire DAB minimux applicants.
    We’re enthusiastic for the soon to be announced funding for local news provision from Y Cynulliad. But we hope this doesn’t all go to the BBC radio stations in Wales for a Welsh opt out at the top of the hour but to consider how community radio stations could benefit from financial support which could be used towards cost of producing Welsh language content and local Journalism. And be used for youth training.

    https://cymdeithas.cymru/datganolidarlledu

    1. Michael V says

      @Chris Stringer. Thanks for posting the link. I hope that we see some more Welsh language services when SS-DAB / Small Scale DAB Multiplexes launch. Global will certainly find a way to drop the Welsh programming from North Wales. This may be the end of local commercial radio, but with the SS-DAB landscape growing this could bring in new opportunities.

  6. Radio Geordie says

    Basically, what’s happened is that Global tried to be clever and got caught out.
    As for the situation in the North West, Global could easily get around that by ‘selling’ the Kendal licence to Communicorp.

    1. keep it local says

      Your Absolutely Right , What baffles me WHY did Global Buy LAKELAND RADIO IN THE FIRST PLACE. Lakeland Started as a community Station The Team Built it up from nothing , When getting its full time licence the Station went from strength to strength with a great team , Presenter’s , Sales Team , Management , and volunteers , THIS WAS A LOCAL STATION FOR THE AREA COVERING EVERYTHING , Weekend outdoor Events , Concerts etc, It was a Fantastic LOCAL Station.

  7. Adrian says

    The only one which really matters in all this is Capital Cymru which will still have its 10 hours separate on weekdays and 8 hours at weekends.A three hour programme in the afternoon on weekdays only is ridiculous on the rest of the Global stations in Wales and if the audiences fall they only have themselves to blame.It’s pathetic for Ofcom to allow such a small amount of programming from Wales and Scotland.

  8. Brad says

    Jagger & Woody no longer at breakfast in Wales with Kevin Hughes remaining on drivetime. Is Jason Harrold still going to be on Saturday breakfast and Sunday afternoons?

    1. Pat says

      No requirement for weekend opt out programming so it will just be from London at the weekend,ridiculous but so is not having breakfast from Wales on weekdays

  9. Michael V says

    Well, I guess we get to keep one local-ish show hehe in South East Wales for a while longer, but Global will find a way around it.

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