Communicorp plans to replace XS Manchester with Capital XTRA

Communicorp has asked Ofcom to change the format of rock and speech service XS Manchester into a service playing urban contemporary music of an Afro-Caribbean origin.

Ofcom says it is minded to approve the change, which would lead to Global’s Capital XTRA service being broadcast on 106.1FM in Manchester, closing XS.

Part of the Format change would mean the station only needs to provide three hours a day of local programming – meaning a regular regional Capital XTRA show would be made for the first time.

Communicorp uses a number of brands from Global including Smooth, Capital and Heart.

Capital XTRA broadcasts on FM in London and nationally on DAB.

Views are sought by the regulator on the request by 17th January 2020 at 5pm.

Ofcom writes: “Based on our analysis of the Format and Key Commitment requirements of the radio stations listed above, it appears to us that the changes sought by Real Radio XS would not narrow the range of programmes available to listeners in the Manchester licence area, and therefore we are satisfied on a preliminary basis in relation to statutory criterion.

“We particularly note that, whilst no services are required to provide a service exactly like the existing Real XS format, several services overlap substantially with the 35 to 64 age demographic, and there are significant similarities with Radio X (Manchester) in terms of rock music requirements (albeit with a differing target age-group).”

XS Manchester is the only local radio service owned by Communicorp which isn’t a bought-in brand from Global. It started life as Rock Radio in 2008 and has also been known as Real XS before becoming XS Manchester.

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19 Comments
  1. MARK LEVY says

    Please Ofcom. Turn this request down. This is a 100% local station It would be a shame to lose it

    1. John says

      and 100% unsustainable.
      LOCAL radio is a thing from the past and people need to seriously get over the fact that it’s almost 2020 and things change.

      1. Mr Boltar says

        Thats odd because pirate radio is local and most of them barely make any money yet they’re all over the place.

        The only problem with local radio is the business model, not the concept.

        1. Andy says

          What a ridiculous point! Pirate radio has zero overheads – other than someone’s bedroom. No (legal) wages, rents, licence, PRS etc.

          1. Mr Boltar says

            No, but nor do many of them run much in the way of advertisements either. But then look at community stations – most of them are doing ok.

          2. Owen says

            To be fair, it might provide some competition to the excellent, and somewhat urban, community station Unity Radio, albeit with a narrower playlist and less local content on Capital Xtra’s part.

        2. Lee says

          Of course “Ofcom says it is minded to approve the change”, after all it’s another frequency they are more than happy to give over to a Global station, their mates. For goodness sake OFCOM, put us all out of our misery and just give everything to Global. Thats where we are heading isn’t it?

    2. mb23 says

      It’s making large losses, if the request is turned down the licence may be handed back anyway. There are too many stations in Manchester trying to take a slice of the advertising cake.

  2. Mr Boltar says

    “Ofcom says it is minded to approve the change”

    Of course it is. Anything to promote their mates in Global.

    1. mb23 says

      It has negative reserves of £3.5 million, I think that might be why they are minded to approve it.

      1. Mr Boltar says

        No, if they had a pair they’d say sort it out or we’ll readvertise the license to another local. They wouldn’t just effectively hand yet another frequency over to Ashley.

        1. sj says

          It’s got a 3% reach. Let’s be honest, it’s not working. Capital Xtra will increase this frequency’s audience, while the community stations can scoop up any XS listeners who want local stuff. Everyone’s a winner.

  3. Alice says

    It would be a great shame if we were to lose XS Manchester. When Clint Boon left X FM, he moved to XS Manchester which was great as it meant that there was an easily accessible station to listen to his show on. XS Manchester is unique in that it is a local Manchester-based station purely focusing on rock music – most local stations I’m aware of (apart from community radio stations) either play contemporary pop music or are just local versions of national brands. If the station is unsustainable, then it’s understandable that it will have to close but it will be greatly missed.

  4. Radio Geordie says

    Not much of a surprise really.

  5. LocalRadioListener says

    Not a surprise, but a little sad as it’s a truly local station. However, it was always going to happen (especially as it is losing money) and as LBC or Capital Xtra were the only brands left, it had to be one or the other. I’d love LBC on FM in Manchester, but I think they made the right choice.

  6. David Bell says

    The current format of local music is a winner. This direction change is totally baffling. Unfathomable thinking, IMHO.

  7. Ed says

    As a mid 40s couple why cant we listen to music we grew up with rather than another radio 1 clone for the youngsters?

    Clint and the inspiral carpets shaped a generation…to be wiped out by another corporate decison. People have commented on local radio being dead…ok fair enough but why change the music format that a certain manc generation still pine for

    1. MARK LEVY says

      Global want to destroy anything that comes from Manchester. North/South divide again.

  8. Tim says

    Just to let you know that you can go on the ofcom website and submit an objection, there is also a petition going to save the station. Also, if you want to help then leave the station on even when you go home (it will get the listener figures up; currently XS is only at 2 percent [because it is poorly advertised] that is the real reason they are looking to scrap it). It can be saved; but it needs your interactions. You have until 17th January to submit your objections to ofcom.

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