Ofcom has invited applications for community radio licences in the North West of England, along with South, West and East Yorkshire. This marks the fifth region in its current third round of community radio licensing.
Frequency availability in this region is extremely limited, and applications are mainly restricted to areas where previous commercial and community radio stations have ceased broadcasting on FM. The areas where FM frequencies are available are:
- County of Lancashire, including Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen unitary authorities
- Crewe or Nantwich, in south Cheshire
- Former county of Humberside (East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire)
- Huddersfield, Halifax or Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire
- Southport, on Merseyside
Applications for AM licences are, however, being invited for the entire region and Ofcom say a number of suitable frequencies may be available on this waveband.
Two areas in this region have commercial radio stations with a population coverage of 150,000 or fewer adults, meaning any planned community radio station would be prevented from taking paid advertising under current legislation. These are Chester (Dee 106.3) and Grimsby (Compass FM).
Applications close on Tuesday 15 October.
Ofcom have recently completed the round of licensing in Northern Ireland, and are currently considering applications from North East England, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. The next region on the regulator’s list is the West and East Midlands. Applications here are due to be invited in the second half of 2013.