Download the full outcome
Detail of outcome
The government launched a consultation outlining proposals for licensing small scale radio multiplexes on 4 January 2018. The consultation ran for 8 weeks and closed on 28 February 2018. In total, 87 responses were received from a wide range of respondents.
Overall there was strong support from respondents for the government’s proposals for allowing Ofcom to reserve capacity on small scale multiplexes to guarantee access for community radio stations; creating a new C-DSP category of digital sound programme licence for community stations broadcasting on digital; allowing both commercial and not for profit entities to hold a small scale multiplex licence; allowing Ofcom flexibility to set the size of small scale multiplexes within a maximum ceiling; not placing a duty on Ofcom to consider commercial impacts on local multiplexes.
The government now intends to move forward with specific proposals as set out in the response document and develop the detailed secondary legislation, which will be set out in affirmative-resolutions Orders. Our aim is to bring forward the detailed secondary legislation as soon as is practical. However, the Orders are subject to Parliamentary approval and the scheduling of this will be subject to the wider Parliamentary timetable.
Detail of feedback received
We are publishing 86 of the 87 responses received to the consultation. One respondent did not give their consent to their representations being published and therefore it has not been included. Some of the respondents who agreed to have their responses published requested to remain anonymous and therefore their names have been redacted. Personal details such as email addresses and postal addresses have also been redacted.
The emergence of the software enabled approach to broadcasting on DAB radio and its developing maturity as a workable and practical technology has the potential to provide smaller commercial and community radio stations with a practical and cost effective way of broadcasting on a terrestrial digital platform; and ensure these stations will not be left behind by a future shift of radio from FM and AM to digital.
DCMS funded technical work by Ofcom including 10 field trials in towns and cities has demonstrated the viability of using an open source software based approach to broadcasting on DAB at a small scale. However, the licensing arrangements for the 10 trials are not a suitable basis for the long-term licensing of small scale DAB radio multiplexes.
To address this DCMS supported the successful passage of a Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Kevin Foster MP, through Parliament in early 2017. The Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Act 2017 gives the Secretary of State a power to modify through secondary legislation the provisions under existing broadcasting legislation that are concerned with the award of radio multiplex licences. Our aim is create a lighter touch regulatory regime that is more suitable for small scale radio multiplexes. Therefore the Government now wants to take views from commercial radio and community radio on the best approach of licensing small scale DAB radio multiplexes.
We welcome comments from individuals and organisations involved in the commercial and community radio sectors, including members of the public who hold an interest in commercial and/or community radio.