At East Leeds FM we are not a full time station, although we have done lots of RSLs over the years and were offered a full time licence in 2018. We had decided to stick with internet-based broadcasting but, with the current crisis, we decided we could do an important job, working in partnership with our local COVID support network, of broadcasting in our local community, particularly targeting the large number of isolated, vulnerable older people who have been told to stay at home and don’t have access to the internet. So we asked OFCOM for an ‘emergency’ licence back on 18 March. Since then we have set up remote studios from our base using Cleanfeed and tested the system by broadcasting very successfully on the internet (tech training details of our set up here
Our latest press release giving details of the story is available here, but we also received an email last night from OFCOM copied below (the third week in a row that they say that…oh what a lovely idea we will sort something out next week)
I have a question from my trustees. Is anyone in a similar situation? They are considering options this weekend. You can either reply on here or email me directly at email@example.com
I’m writing following our email earlier this week about your request for an emergency broadcast licence for East Leeds FM.
As you know, Ofcom has been considering how we meet requests like yours to broadcast radio services in order to support communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. We recognise that the licence products that we already offer don’t fit the type of service that you want to provide - for example, short-term restricted service licences (SRSLs) are usually for broadcasts of up to 28 days.
So over the past two weeks we’ve been developing a new, temporary licence for services wanting to broadcast during the pandemic. I know that you have wanted to get on air as quickly as possible, and recognise your frustration with the time this has taken. However, introducing a new licence product does take time for us to develop fairly. For example, when deciding what fees should apply, we’ve had to carefully consider what the impact of our decision would be on our existing licensees, to ensure that we’re acting fairly towards all of our stakeholders and in reaction to the rapidly changing circumstances in the sectors that we regulate.
We must also act fairly to all those who have enquired about services to broadcast during the pandemic - so we could not make an exception for East Leeds and offer a licence to you whilst we were still developing the policies that would apply to the licence.
We will be sharing details of the new temporary licence next week. We will email you an application form to complete, which you will see contains some additional questions to the SRSL form you have already sent us.