Community radio station Uckfield FM has asked the regulator whether it can expand its broadcast area to include Heathfield and Crowborough.
Uckfield FM started broadcasting in the summer of 2003. The station was initially on-air for a four-week period each year in support of the town’s festival, then in 2007 and 2008 it also broadcast in December in the run-up to Christmas.
In 2009 the communications and broadcasting regulator Ofcom granted Uckfield FM a full-time community radio licence, and on 1st July 2010 the station went on air continuously. The station broadcasts on 105FM to the town and surrounding villages, and via the Internet from studios at Bird-in-Eye Farm.
Ofcom has been awarding community radio licences for more than a decade, and there are now nearly 250 stations in the UK. These stations are small, not-for-profit services which bring a range of benefits to their target communities, and are run with the help of volunteers.
Last year, Ofcom announced a review of its community radio licensing policy, and last month they published a statement containing amendments to how they will deal with requests for improvements to coverage and coverage extensions for existing licensees.
Uckfield FM have asked Ofcom consider their request to broadcast to a wider area (Total Survey Area TSA), by allowing the station to increase FM transmitter strength, or either by moving the location of the present transmitter or by adding relay transmitter sites.
Mike Ziolek, Uckfield FM’s Managing Director commented:
During our 7 years of full time service, we have operated a valuable local asset, proving programming, commercial and technical success over an extended period. We have provided employment and training opportunities and continue to support a wide range of community activities, providing continuous social gain for the area. Importantly, we also offer a distinct, high quality service with no media duplication in the TSA. I look forward to the next phase of our development.
Ofcom have said they will not start assessing requests until after July. In 2018 they also expect to begin licensing small-scale DAB services.
Click to see information on the six core considerations Ofcom will use to assess requests: Community Radio: future licensing and technical policy.