Commercial FM Radio

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of David Morris David Morris Conservative, Morecambe and Lunesdale

What steps he plans to take to increase the provision of FM frequencies for commercial radio in (a) the UK and (b) Morecambe Bay.

Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The UK’s independent broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, is responsible for radio spectrum planning, and Ofcom’s view is that due to the general scarcity of FM spectrum, the scope for additional frequency resources to be made available to commercial radio is extremely limited. Ofcom’s current priority for the use of remaining FM spectrum is community radio, and I hope that will be of benefit to Morecambe Bay.

Photo of David Morris David Morris Conservative, Morecambe and Lunesdale

Will the Minister carry out an investigation of the audit suitability for FM spectrum in the north of Lancashire as soon as possible, to free up any spectrum service that should be licensed, to facilitate a new local service, as we need more local services in that region?

Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

I agree with my hon. Friend that we need more local services, but there is more than one route to that. I cannot undertake to commence a review of the north-west specifically, and it is for the independent regulator Ofcom to distribute remaining FM frequency, but I would like to reassure my hon. Friend that the development of small-scale DAB multiplexes will provide many opportunities for community radio stations, not least in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.