NEWS: UNPRECEDENTED RADIO AUTHORITY DECISION REJECTS ALL APPLICANTS FOR NEW GLENROTHES LOCAL COMMERCIAL RADIO LICENCE

by GRANT GODDARD

www.grantgoddard.co.uk September 1992

Thwarted bidders for the Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy independent radio licence have slammed The Radio Authority's failure to explain its unprecedented decision not to appoint a winning applicant. The licence had been advertised as one of the Authority's larger stations, serving a potentially lucrative adult population of 260,000 in East Fife, and had attracted three applicants. But the Authority now says it has "no immediate plans" to re-advertise the licence and has only quoted Section 105 of the Broadcasting Act in explanation. Spurned applicant 'Radio Fife' described the decision as "totally unacceptable" and its Managing Director, Daniel Burke, is instructing solicitors to press the matter with the Authority. He is also asking a local MP to raise the matter in Parliament after the summer recess. "Not only this recent Authority decision needs scrutinising," says Burke, "but several others where it has become apparent that only existing radio groups have any chance of winning local licences." Burke cites Scotland as an example where a single group, Radio Clyde, owns almost the whole country's independent radio services. The Glenrothes licence would have operated within a region of Fife already served by Clyde-owned 'Radio Forth' and 'Radio Tay'. "It's right in their area," says Burke, "and Fife is a very profitable part of radio Forth's advertising." Radio Forth had originally planned to fund 51% of Radio Fife, but withdrew shortly before the application deadline, forcing the group to raise its £350,000 capital elsewhere. Daniel Burke is paradoxically a shareholder in Forth, by virtue of its acquisition of Radio Tay, which he formed as a founder Director in 1979. For the previous ten years, he had operated a successful pirate radio station in Fife without prosecution. Another snubbed bidder, 'Eastsound Radio', is asking the Community Radio Association to take up the decision with The Radio Authority. The group's General Manager, Chris Wraight, said it was "really galling" that not even a provisional licence had been offered. "Our biggest concern," says Wraight, "is the fact that The Radio Authority has denied 260,000 people a radio station that all the applicants' research shows they wanted." But Wraight admitted that only half his group's required £165,000 funding had been secured through grants and sponsorship by the application deadline. The question remains as to why the Authority decided to abandon the licence completely when there is no shortage of available frequencies for new stations in Scotland.
News: Unprecedented Radio Authority Decision Rejects All Applicants For New Glenrothes Local Commercial Radio Licence page 2 ©1992 Grant Goddard

"The staff of The Radio Authority seemed quite happy," says Radio Fife's Daniel Burke. "It was only when the Authority Members met that the sentiment changed." The Radio Authority declined to comment.

[First published in 'Broadcast' magazine as 'Glenrothes Ruling Comes Under Fire', 18 September 1992]

Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk

News: Unprecedented Radio Authority Decision Rejects All Applicants For New Glenrothes Local Commercial Radio Licence page 3 ©1992 Grant Goddard

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