Ofcom grants Sunrise’s Time FM re-location

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor


Media regulator Ofcom has granted Sunrise Radio Group’s English station Time FM (Slough) to move its broadcast studios to outside its licence area – Southall.

The station had requested a re-location of its studios but retain a local sales office in the Slough area, with facility for news/interview input to the studio centre. It had no format change plans in relation to programming.

Sunrise Radio and Time FM argued that its station, which presently operates from the Observatory Shopping Centre premises in Slough have witnessed a hike in rent fees and was under pressure from expanding national brands squeezing out local businesses.

In the request, Time FM said, “Rent currently amounts to �34,000 p.a. which, together with rates, utilities and related charges, results in total occupancy costs of around �100,000 p.a. That represents an
unsustainably high proportion of income and expenditure that can be significantly reduced by the proposed studio move to Southall.

The lease on these premises expires on 17th December 2008. Time FM will therefore have to move in any event which, if not to Southall, would involve significant capital expenditure the station cannot itself afford.”

It also plead that the station has been at financial loss for sometime, the report said, “Unfortunately, the station has almost never proven able to meet its costs or achieve profitability. This is reflected in the accumulated losses of the company carried forward at 31st December 2007 which amount to �1.9 million, despite the write-off of over �660,000 in 2004/5 following the change of ownership.”

Ofcom said whilst this request from Time FM was an “unusual one”, it gave the go-ahead to broadcast from Southall under “exceptional circumstances” such as “Co-location does appear to be a significant factor if the station is to survive, delivers more local programming, most of which is live, and more local news than is required by the Format and “the edge of Time’s Measured Coverage Area reaches within two miles of Southall.”

Time FM in Bexley and Romford will remain unchanged.