Media Minister John Whittingdale has announced encouraging plans for UK analogue commercial radio stations, giving them a ten-year licence extension.
Several FM and AM commercial radio licences are due to expire from early 2022. Provided the stations also broadcast on digital radio, the government has decided to allow Ofcom to renew these analogue licences for a further ten-year period.
Nearly 60 per cent of all radio listening is now via digital devices, but analogue stations remain an important platform for millions of listeners who still tune into FM and AM radio services every day.
Minister for Media and Data John Whittingdale said, “As we move into an increasingly digital world we’re making sure the licensing landscape for radio is fair and up-to-date and allows audiences to enjoy a wide range of high-quality stations.
Today’s step ensures there is no disruption for loyal listeners of treasured FM and AM radio services such as Classic FM, Absolute Radio and TalkSport over the next decade.
We will soon be turning our attention to providing similar long-term certainty to support the future growth of digital radio.”
The legislation to amend the Broadcasting Act 1990 to enable Ofcom to renew these licences will be laid in parliament shortly.
Following the decision on analogue licenses, the Government will now consider the position of DAB multiplex licences. Multiplexes consist of a number of digital radio stations transmitted on a single frequency, which is a more efficient method of transmission than analogue radio’s individual frequencies.
Government will consult on changes to extend national and local digital radio multiplex licences by the end of 2020, in order to help futureproof the radio industry’s wider licensing structure.