|Why so long to decide on Andover's Radio Station, demands Sir George
15 Aug 2004
"Three years ago, I tuned in to Radio Andover, when the Milestone Group tested the market for a commercial radio station for the town. A further one month test was carried out the following June. On both occasions, there was wide support for the station. The programmes were professionally presented, there was lots of local news and a local radio station would add stature and confidence to the growing town, as well as providing a platform for our charities and voluntary organisations."
"Over the past two years, there has been radio silence from the organisations that decide whether a licence should be issued. When I prodded them, I got a letter which gave no date for a decision and which simply set out more hurdles that need tob be cleared. (See below) This protracted bureaucratic process is absurd; it can't take nearly three years to decide whether Andover can have a radio station. I am pressing for a swifter decision, and a review of the whole procedure."
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
10 August 2004
Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt, MP
2 Church Close
Dear Sir George,
Thank you for your letter of 6 August to Roger Lowry, in connection with future radio licensing opportunities in Andover, which has been passed to me for reply as radio licensing falls within my area of responsibility.
As I am sure you are aware, community radio is a new form of broadcasting made possible by the Communications Act 2003, that allows for very localised services which operate on a not-for-profit basis and are intended to deliver social gain and provide access to the station for members of the community. It has been established as an alternative to commercial radio, for which different licensing arrangements (and different objectives) apply.
The “proposal launched some three years ago ... to have a local radio station in Andover’ to which you refer relates to the campaign by Milestone Group for a commercial radio licence to be advertised for the town. In pursuit of this ambition, the group conducted month-long broadcasts in November 2001 and June 2002. In March 2003, the Radio Authority, the body responsible for radio licensing prior to the establishment of Ofcom, announced that a frequency had been identified which would be suitable for a service in either Devizes or Andover. In our own consultation on the future licensing of FM commercial radio, which was conducted earlier this year, we retained Andover as a candidate for possible future licence advertisement.
We are currently investigating the availability of suitable FM frequencies in various locations in central southern England, of which Andover is one, so that we are able to announce our commercial radio licensing plans in this region of the UK. This work needs to be carried out because the use of a particular frequency in a particular area has an impact on our ability to use it, or adjacent frequencies, in other nearby locations.
I will ensure that you are notified when we have concluded these investigations.
Head of Radio Planning & Licensing