Ofcom has awarded five new medium wave community radio licences, including one for Radio Caroline to cover Suffolk and North Essex.
Other new AM services will go live in Glasgow, West Leicestershire, Leicester and Yeovil.
In its application Radio Caroline had asked for 1kW of power – compared to the usual 50 watts that community services operate at. It proposed to cover an area bounded by Ipswich in the South, Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket in the West, Saxmundham to the East and Diss to the North. The station’s application said it would broadcast most of the programmes from Kent and from the Ross Revenge ship using 4G. The station also said that if awarded a licence it could be on-air in time for the 50th anniversary of the Marine Offences Act on 14th August this year.
An Ofcom spokesperson told RadioToday: “Radio Caroline has been awarded the coverage area it requested (Suffolk and Northern parts of Essex), but we’re still working through the final details of the transmission power.”
Peter Moore from Radio Caroline told RadioToday: “It is our ambition to get on air by August 14th as that would be the most fitting date to take the whole story full circle and it may be the last significant anniversary where most of the people who were there at the start can get together again. But, the application process took a while and we don’t have as much time as we would have wished. We will do our best – it would be a pity to miss that date.”
Making the decision to award a licence, the regulator said: “Ofcom noted that the application was from a well-established group with a long history of providing a radio service, and was satisfied that it had demonstrated its ability to maintain a service. Ofcom considered that the service would broaden choice in relation to existing radio services available in the area by having a strong album focus. The applicant provided evidence of support for the service including a Radio Caroline Support Group that has supported the station for over 20 years, and has raised funds to support the service. As part of its accountability arrangements, at least one member of the Radio Caroline Support Group will be elected to the licensee’s board. The station will offer training in its ship-board studios.”
In a statement on its website, Radio Caroline told listeners: “We are pleased to announce that Ofcom have just informed us that our application for an AM licence has been approved and that a licence will be awarded. Further details will be sent to us by Ofcom in due course. Power levels and frequency are yet to be decided. This is the end of – or a further step in – a process started by Bob Lawrence in 2010 and enthusiastically supported by Tracey Crouch MP. We thank them both and further thank the many other people who have helped along the way. There are many preparations to be made and these may take some time. I am sure we will make further announcements in the future. The basis of our application was that our traditional heartland was Essex and Suffolk, where the signal from our ships made first landfall and that we wished to entertain on AM, an audience that we have not been able to serve in this way since 1990. We said that this audience may hear music radio of a style they remember and in some cases presented by the same people they remember. That in essence is what we intend to do.”