Community radio licensing on the medium wave (AM) band

The majority of community radio services licensed operate on FM, but in many parts of the UK there is a lack of suitable FM frequencies.  Few applicants apply to broadcast in the medium wave (AM) band, but there are suitable AM frequencies available in most parts of the UK.  (In particular please see Ofcom’s Radio Broadcast Update for October 2012 with regard to 648 kHz; and Radio Broadcast Update for November 2012 which refers to two AM licences in London being surrendered ).

Ofcom has decided to invite applications for community radio licences to operate on the medium wave (AM) band only, for locations anywhere throughout the UK, later this year (2013).  It is important to note that broadcasting on medium wave brings different technical, site and cost considerations, for example, from FM services.  Applicants will need to address these and demonstrate a thorough understanding of requirements of broadcasting on medium wave in their application. 

Ofcom is willing to consider licensing (daytime) coverage areas that are larger than is our usual policy for community services on FM (around a 5km radius), regardless of whether the service wishes to target an urban or rural area.  Each applicant needs to consider who their target community is, and where it is, in order to justify the target area they require (as a guide, we are willing to consider licensing services of around a 10km radius or more, in daytime, subject to the availability of suitable frequencies).

This invitation will be in addition to the application areas set out in our timetable, and is not expected to impact on the estimated dates for inviting applications from the remaining regions referred to .  We currently estimate that we will invite applications for services to broadcast on the medium wave (AM) band in the second half of 2013.


January 2013