Ofcom reject bid for Banbury to have FM community radio licence


Whilst Witney and Oxford already have FM community stations the regulator says no to Banbury

Banbury will not get its own community radio station on FM.   The regulator Ofcom has told Banbury FM that they have rejected the station’s case for an FM licence to be made available for the town.

Support for people to be able to listen to Banbury FM on traditional radios had been given by Banbury Town, Cherwell District and Oxfordshire County Councils.   MP Victoria Prentis also wrote in support alongside a number of local individuals, businesses and charities.

In rejecting the Banbury FM case the regulator said they did not feel Banbury’s case was “exceptional”.   Only exceptional cases would be considered as a reason to spend time advertising further FM licences during a period when the broadcast team’s main work was rolling out Small Scale Digital Radio multiplex licences.

The regulator did not investigate Banbury FM’s assertion as to how well Banbury was served by other radio stations, but noted a similar case could be put forward elsewhere in the country.

They did accept that a community station for our town would have benefits.

In summary the regulator said: “We do not consider the circumstances you have set out in your email to warrant Ofcom departing from its current policy prioritisation to license small-scale DAB services instead of analogue community (or commercial) radio licences.”

Banbury FM’s Managing Director Andy Green said: “This is very disappointing.   We have an FM waveband full of stations that at best pay lip service to our area.

“Access for local stations to broadcast digitally via Small Scale DAB will provide some opportunity to connect with local audiences if this is locally owned and controlled, but there will be people who can’t receive digital radio at home or in their cars and it remains unclear as to how well local digital broadcasts will cover more rural and hilly areas.

“We will continue to campaign for an FM frequency so that truly local, community focused stations like Banbury FM can be on a level playing field with the big groups that currently occupy large swathes of the FM dial as well as digital radio.”

Elsewhere in Oxfordshire both Witney and Oxford already have their own community FM licences.  Services also exist in Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Whilst Ofcom is not currently considering any new FM licences the regulator is continuing to allow existing broadcasters the chance to enhance their coverage.   Yesterday (Wednesday) Surrey based radio station Wey Valley Radio posted a message confirming that Ofcom had approved their plans to extend their coverage area with the addition of a new FM transmitter. This is one of a number of new FM transmitters recently allowed by the regulator.

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

Reader's opinions
  1. Steve Kilsby   On   28/01/2022 at 9:01 am

    Such a shame after all that hard work. It is hard to credit. I once read that Banbury has the largest hinterland of any town on southern England. That may or may may not be true, but we certainly have a huge area to cover – which Witney, for instance, certainly doesn’t!

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