CMA Ofcom Meeting 30th May 2019

The Community Media Association met with Ofcom on Thursday 30th May.

Some questions to Ofcom were supplied by members and the wider sector. The questions and answers are given below. Some notes from the meeting are available to download here: Meeting_Notes_300519.pdf (117.6 KB).

1. The £15,000 cap on CR stations where there is a small commercial station needs to be reviewed and removed. At best it is outdated, at worst it a restrictive trade practice.

Ofcom has no power to remove the £15,000 cap and it would require an Amendment to the Community Radio Order to change this. This measure currently only affects fewer than a dozen stations and is likely to continue to decline.

2. Ofcom has announced that it plans to advertise two new muxes, one for the Morecambe Bay area, and one designed to cover North and West Cumbria and Southwest Scotland. We would like to understand how these might work. Initially we thought SSDAB would cover approximately the same area as an FM community licence (5 miles radius). Given that Cumbria is approximately 120 km long and 100km wide predominantly rural, undulating and mountainous topography, two muxes only would need to cover an area of at least 60km radius with enough power.

Ofcom announced that it plans to advertise two new multiplexes: one for the Morecambe Bay area, and one designed to cover North and West Cumbria and Southwest Scotland. These are two regional DAB multiplexes and not small-scale DAB multiplexes. A number of commercial radio stations in those areas have indicated that they would like to extend their licence by being able to broadcast on DAB.

However, Ofcom now intends to advertise the availability of three DAB frequency-blocks which can be used (on their own, or in different combinations) to provide DAB coverage across part, or the whole, of the area. It will be up to applicants to decide which frequency-block(s) they wish to use to achieve their desired coverage for their proposed programme service providers. Ofcom will then award a local radio multiplex licence, or licences (up to a maximum of three) having regard to the criteria in section 51 of the Broadcasting Act 1996, and the available spectrum

3. What will be the likely licence fees required to be paid in order with regard to the proposed C-DSP licence (BA/WTA)?

Ofcom’s forthcoming consultation on licensing small-scale Dab will address this. There will be no WTA fee to be paid as no spectrum is attached to the C-DSP licence which is just a content licence. Multiplex operators will pay the BA and WTA fees. The C-DSP licence will just attract the BA licence fee.

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