Following a report published in Radio Today, Ofcom has confirmed in the June Radio Broadcast Update that split idents and commercials can be implemented by existing community radio licensees, primarily because these changes should not impact the delivery of Key Commitments.
There has never been a policy set out by Ofcom to prohibit the use of split idents and advertising and Ofcom recognises the potential benefits this could offer to local communities following the work that has been completed to approve extensions to existing Licensed Areas. However, it is important to set out that this does not allow community radio licensees to split programming between their original Licensed Area and their extended area.
Ofcom considers that any approval of a coverage extension to the existing Licensed Area of a community radio service should extend the existing service to an area outside of the existing locality and therefore, should not make any difference to the programming output – any output in the extended area should be identical to the rest of the Licensed Area, other than the split idents and split commercials.
This is Ofcom’s provisional view on the matter and they will take time to consider the question more thoroughly in the coming months.