Written evidence submitted by Banbury FM Ltd


36 Licensing of local services

I welcome this amendment.   FM remains a valuable asset to local radio and I strongly believe its loss of market share is more down to lack of local variety in comparison to a number of years ago, rather than a desire to switch to digital listening.   In smaller local markets, particularly rural ones, FM remains a more robust system than DAB for audio distribution.

The current competitive licencing process is restrictive and prohibits local services being given access to FM spectrum, at a time when local frequencies have been highjacked by national networks.

This amendment appears to allow local services to be administered in a similar way to the RSL (restricted service licence) system which should simplify the process of allowing local broadcasters access to FM spectrum.


Section 362BH Subsection 1

I do not support this amendment.    There is a danger this amendment will encourage some smart speaker app providers to block coverage in the UK rather than adhering to this rule.  

My station, Banbury FM (currently online only and therefore without an Ofcom licence) is, by default, received on smart speakers through the built in app TuneIn.  

TuneIn does not include BBC stations as the BBC are forcing people to listen via BBC Sounds alone.   The effect of this amendment would put TuneIn in a position where they are unable to easily comply with the law and may therefore decide to block access to their app in the UK.   This would be to the detriment of small stations like mine, which are providing a valuable local service, together with the many other stations that are currently enjoyed via their platform.  

The only winners from this clause are the bigger groups who wish to stifle competition.


Section 362BI Subsection 1

I do not support this amendment.    My station, Banbury FM, benefits from being included in portfolio of stations contained in the TuneIn app, which is the default smart speaker radio app.

To pay for their service TuneIn inserts adverts ahead of my station being played.   The benefit of being included in TuneIn vastly outweighs having to put up with one or two pre-roll adverts.   I believe this amendment is only in the interests of the big media groups and hope the amendment will be withdrawn to protect the interests of smaller broadcasters who rely on services such as TuneIn.