Concerns expressed in Parliament over Small Scale DAB ownership

Concerns have been raised in Parliament over the future ownership of Small-Scale DAB and funding options for Community Radio stations.

In a session to consider the draft Small-scale Radio Multiplex and Community Digital Radio Order 2019, Margot James MP explained the restrictions in place to prevent single companies owning multiple Small Scale multiplexes in the same or adjoining areas.

Operators of the Small-Scale DAB multiplexes will be required by law to reserve space for Community DSP licence holders and publish information about the carriage fees charged.

Margot James said today that no body corporate will be able to own more than 20% of the entire number of licences that are issued – a change from the previously announced figure of 25%. Big companies such as Bauer and Global will be only be allowed to invest a maximum of 30% in a licence, and be involved in no more than six Small Scale Multiplex licences.

Also in the session, Kevin Brennan, Shadow Minister at DCMS, raised a large number of concerns on behalf of the Community Media Association and the Local Radio Group.

They included the consolidation in the radio industry/concentration of ownership, concerns that Ofcom only listens to the big commercial radio operators, and asked if the Small-Scale DAB multiplexes will be large enough to be viable.

Margot also explained the current limit for Community Radio stations to earn up to £15,000 without fund matching is needed to ensure the stations stay true to their not-for-profit model.

The Small-scale Radio Multiplex and Community Digital Radio Order 2019 will now go to the House of Lords for debate on July 23rd.

You can watch the full session below.

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10 Comments
  1. mb23 says

    Parliament is dissolved for the summer recess on 25 July,. Will this be passed before then or will it have to wait until September?

    1. Dave says

      If it don,t get though in time in Parliament, you can blame the CMA.

    2. Ian Scott says

      If it receives the nod on 23 July in the Lords, it becomes law the following day, before the recess.

  2. Dave says

    if the Small-Scale DAB multiplexes will be large enough to be viable.
    Thats a very good question & looking at some of the proposed areas???.

  3. Lee says

    I totally agree with Kevin Brennan, Shadow Minister at DCMS, who raised a large number of concerns. One of which was his concern that Ofcom only listens to the big commercial radio operators. So true. Ofcom are a spineless regulator.

    1. mb23 says

      Someone should remind Kevin Brennan that it was a Labour Government that put the legislation on the statute book (Communications Act 2003) to give Ofcom the powers to remove localness from commercial radio without any further permission from the elected Parliaments in Westminster, Holyrood or Cardiff Bay.

      He was in the House of Commons in 2003 and I assume he voted for the legislation. Does he regret giving Ofcom those powers now?

  4. Ian Scott says

    It seems that the £15,000 limit isn’t being raised, despite the additional cost of being on SSDAB. Think mux rent, Ofcom and extra PRS/PPL costs.

    The £15,000 needs to be increased to help SSDAB to be viable.

  5. Radio Geordie says

    “no body corporate will be able to own more than 20% of the entire number of licences that are issued”.
    Yeah!
    Then OFCON will change it to become 30%, then 40% then 50% and so on until they own the lot.
    The big corporate companies should not be allowed to own any percentage of a licence as its supposed to be for small and community companies to be able to afford to broadcast on DAB, not a means for the greedy corporates to make more money at the expense of genuine choice.

    1. mb23 says

      Ofcom don’t have the powers to change the ownership rules, the order would have to be changed by parliament.

      1. Radio Geordie says

        And the politicians are in the pocket of big companies as well.

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