Commercial radio set for licence boost

Commercial radio owners could all have the chance to bid for up to 32 new FM radio station licences if a recommendation by the Radio Authority gets the green light.

The proposal to release the frequencies is a huge bonus for commercial radio owners, who have had little chance of expanding through new licences outside the digital spectrum.

GWR, EMAP, Chrysalis and Capital Radio may all bid for 16 proposed new FM stations in cities across the country, including Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

The Radio Authority is also proposing additional radio stations for towns such as Abingdon, Barrow-in-Furness and Swindon.

The recommendations are the result of an analysis of the remaining FM frequency and are designed to advise Ofcom, the new TV and telecommunications regulator, which takes over responsibility for radio in the autumn.

The Radio Authority has ruled out the further development of radio licences in Bradford, Derby, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield and the West Midlands.

At present there are 266 analogue FM licences in the UK, three of which are national – Virgin, TalkSport and Classic FM – as well as 60 AM licences.

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