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Signal 107 faces challenger in licence renewal

By James Cridland for media.info
Posted 25 March 2015, 6.45am edt

Lee Jordan
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Ofcom have today announced that there are two applicants for the renewal of the Wolverhampton FM licence.

The licence, formerly operating as The Wolf, is currently part of Signal 107, run by UTV Media; it holds four combined licences overall. Signal 107 broadcasts from studios and a tower at its Wolverhampton base.

Signal's application describes the station as "on a firm path to profitability" as a direct result of the combined licenses, and says that it would not be viable as a standalone service.

Signal's application also highlights the service's audience decline, and a sharp reverse in that decline after Richard 'Dicky' Dodd started broadcasting on breakfast.

Wolverhampton listeners get local news, advertising and information, says the application.

The challenger application is from Asian FX, a radio station to be run by Panjab Radio.

The application lists John Evington as a director: John was Programme Director at Signal Radio for 22 years, and also launched a youth-focused Asian service while at Steve Penk's The Revolution.

The Asian FX application suggests it would take over tenancy of Signal's studios and tower (and, if you're interested, contains photographs of it).

There is also a community radio station, WCR FM in the area, and it lies within the transmission area of Free Radio and Heart.

More information

Signal 107
Wolverhampton, Telford, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Kidderminster
James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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Comments

2 years, 8 months ago

Every commercial radio licence (except Weston-Super-Mare) that Ofcom have re-advertised has received at least one competing application. Although many have been pre-advertised without challenge.

2 years, 8 months ago

Can't see this other station being popular away from the Wolverhampton area.... don't it also cover parts of Shropshire?

PRO2 years, 7 months ago

The closest example of an Asian bid challenging a full service format is Asian Star in Slough, who bid for the Time 106.6 licence.

Despite putting in a credible bid, Ofcom re-awarded the licence to Litt Corp based on the premise of the station being supported by Sunrise's sister stations. A few months later, the company went into administration and Time was sold to Lycamobile.

While I doubt UTV will have these problems, Ofcom have been more likely to re-award the licence to the incumbent holder, even if it means that the TSA has less choice in listening than providing something new into the market.

For UTV, they need Wolverhampton to prop up the viability of the ex MNA licences they own, even if it means the city continues to get another Heart/Free clone.

2 years, 7 months ago

Martin, Panjab Radio (owners of Asian FX) also challenged Touch FM for the Coventry FM licence.

PRO2 years, 7 months ago

...and is on the Coventry DAB multiplex.

PRO2 years, 7 months ago

Martin, Panjab Radio (owners of Asian FX) also challenged Touch FM for the Coventry FM licence.

I forgot about Asian FX's previous bid in Coventry.

It does back up however that we've had two previous Asian bids for licences where the current format has been a full service station where they've lost to the incumbent.

2 years, 7 months ago

As I said on RT - how will a niche service be viable if a full-service station struggles to be?!

PRO2 years, 7 months ago

As I said on RT - how will a niche service be viable if a full-service station struggles to be?!

I think you underestimate the Asian audience James. London and Bradford both support various Asian stations, although Sunrise did go bust in 2014.

The problem with Signal 107 despite it's licence bid claim that it's music is distinctive, it offers nothing that Free or Heart offer and the community station WCR plays the local card to a mainstream audience.

So you're left with a supposed 'local' full service station which covers an area from Kidderminster to Telford where the local content is minimum with the Wolverhampton licence propping up the others.

Ofcom have to look at, do we re award the licence to UTV to save the rural licences but offer nothing new in the TSA or provide a new service for another market in Wolverhampton?

PRO2 years, 7 months ago

My guess is that the rural licences could quite happily come from Stoke on Trent, with perhaps a split breakfast show if required?

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