House of Lords support for Banbury FM as Media Bill scrutinised


Viscount Colville: “In this climate, it has never been more important to encourage local radio stations”

Banbury FM was highlighted in the House of Lords yesterday.  Your radio station was mentioned a number of times during a debate on the Media Bill.

Three Lords were speaking in favour of changes to the proposed legislation so Ofcom would be forced to grant new local commercial FM radio licences on an on-going basis and specifically in more rural areas.

Lord Storey presented an amendment which had been drafted by Banbury FM, which received support from a number of Lords.   He commented on how most local radio stations around the country had been bought up by one of two groups with most programmes coming from London.   At the same time Ofcom were refusing to issue new FM licences to help local radio survive.

Baroness Berridge told Lords of the costs involved for Banbury FM in setting up digital radio transmitters and of how FM was a much cheaper and technically robust solution.

Viscount Colville highlighted how he felt Ofcom had too much power and it should be parliament making the decisions, not the regulator.

He said: “In this climate, it has never been more important to encourage local radio stations.

“I have been speaking to Andy Green of the ironically named the Banbury FM, which doesn’t broadcast on FM but is online daily with five minutes of news six times a day, three minutes of which is local.   There’s also local events broadcast throughout the day, giving local listeners a schedule of what’s going on in the area.   

“This station is manned by local people from the Banbury area, so the chitchat in between the music will be about their lives locally and reflect black the locality to its people.    But it cannot get an FM licence.

“The present national grouping of most commercial radio stations compounds the leaching of the sources away from local areas.   Most local businesses can’t afford the advertising on the Bauer and Global so-called local brands, however, new online local radio stations do give an outlet for these local businesses to advertise at a price they can afford.”

However, following all the statements Lord Parkinson, who represented the government in the debate, rejected the amendments.   He told the chamber forcing Ofcom to create a process for issuing new FM licences would be “unduly prescriptive” and “Ofcom should continue to have wide discretion in how it carries out its functions in respect of its regulation of radio services.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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