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Radio Broadcasting in London during 2012

The closing-date for the submission of preliminary expressions of interest has now passed.

In April 2010, Ofcom invited 'preliminary expression of interest' relating to the operation of short-term digital radio services in London during or around the period of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (the London 2012 Games).

In total we received ten responses, although a number of these did not relate to providing short-term services on a digital broadcasting platform as requested by our invitation.

Ofcom has carefully considered this issue, in consultation with Government and taking into account the expressions of interest which were submitted. The limited number of responses means we have not been able to gauge fully how attractive a proposition this is likely to be to commercial operators, and by extension the benefits to consumers and citizens that may be realised.

The lack of compelling evidence of demand, coupled with the not insignificant process involved (including the drafting of primary legislation) in licensing any such services, has led Ofcom to decide not to proceed with the possible licensing of digital radio services for the period during and around the London 2012 Games.


Invitation to submit 'preliminary expressions of interest'.

The licensing of digital radio services during the Games

Ofcom is today inviting 'preliminary expressions of interest' from individuals and organisations relating to the operation of short-term digital radio services in London during or around the period of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (the London 2012 Games).

These 'preliminary expressions of interest' will help Ofcom both gauge the level of demand for radio services during this period and will inform the design of any possible licensing process, should this be implemented.

Should Ofcom decide that it would be appropriate to proceed with the licensing of temporary digital radio services during the London 2012 Games, we will subsequently need to consult on the details of the required application and licensing process.

The availability of broadcast radio frequencies

Because of the number of permanent radio services operational throughout the United Kingdom, there is a general lack of useable frequencies for additional broadcast radio services. This is particularly the case in major conurbations, and most especially within the Greater London area. We anticipate that demand for additional broadcast radio stations may be particularly high in this area during or around the period of the London 2012 Games. Within the M25 London orbital motorway, the availability of FM spectrum in particular is likely to be minimal. Some limited AM frequency resources may be available, although coverage is likely to be limited to a few kilometres radius, depending upon transmitter location etc.

Digital (DAB etc.) coverage may be more widely available, but the scale of achievable coverage will depend upon the location of transmitters and the nature of the geographical area to be served. Furthermore, additional secondary legislation may be required to allow for the licensing of short-term digital radio multiplex services.

With the above in mind, Ofcom takes the view that it will not be possible to license wide-area analogue (FM or AM) services during or around the period of the London 2012 Games and is therefore inviting preliminary expressions of interest for digital broadcasting services only.

Information required

To help prepare for the possible licensing of services during the London 2012 Games, we are now inviting prospective applicants to send us preliminary details of the types of service they may be interested in providing.

A 'preliminary expression of interest' should include the following information:

  • the name of your organisation
  • the type of service(s) you would like to provide (sports coverage / cultural programming / tourist information / foreign language etc.)
  • the number of programme services you would like to provide and the total data capacity you expect to use in order to provide these
  • the location of the service(s) you would like to operate (i.e. the geographical area you wish to cover)
  • the type of digital technology you would propose to use (DAB etc)
  • the number and approximate locations of transmitters you expect would be required to deliver the proposed service multiplex
  • the duration that such a service or services would operate for
  • a brief outline of your proposed business model
  • your contact details

The submission of a 'preliminary expression of interest' will not form part of any subsequent licensing scheme, and it will not be taken as a binding promise on the part of its author to apply for a licence. Equally, the invitation to apply for a radio licence during or around the period of the London 2012 Games will not be limited only to those who have previously submitted a 'preliminary expression of interest'. In some instances, Ofcom may request clarifications or further information about individual proposals.

Broadcasting rights for the London 2012 Games

Rights to the coverage of the London 2012 Games are strictly controlled. Groups intending to provide coverage of the London 2012 Games as part of their output must have obtained the relevant rights prior to any Ofcom licence award being made.

Analogue Restricted Service Licence Broadcasting

Groups planning to submit applications for small-scale local analogue (AM or FM) Restricted Service Licence (RSL) services during this time should be aware that there may be increased levels of demand for frequency resources. Although short-term RSLs are usually licensed on a first come-first served basis, for periods of expected high demand we may, if necessary, decide between the applications received by way of a draw. In such circumstances we will publish a statement setting out our approach to the licensing process. Further details on RSLs are available at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radio/ifi/rbl/rsls/.

Next steps

Following the closing date of this consultation, Ofcom will assess any submissions received. In light of the limited frequency resources that may be available, Ofcom will evaluate these 'preliminary expressions of interest' before publishing a statement relating to the possible licensing of digital radio services for the period during and around the London 2012 Games later this year.

How to respond to this invitation

Please send your preliminary expression of interest in operating a short-term digital radio service in London during or around the period of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to
radio2012@ofcom.org.uk, or by post to:

Radio Licensing
5th Floor
Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA

The closing-date for the submission of preliminary expressions of interest is 29 April 2010.

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