Southport’s Community FM Radio started in 2006 by the initiative and vision of local residents Jon Jessop an experienced radio professional & Sarah Graves. Their work continued over 5 FM RSL broadcast periods, each at least 6 months apart and as specified by the broadcast regulator.
RSL mean Restricted Service Licence, what’s restricted is the duration of the transmissions i.e. 28 days as the maximum ~ the gaps between transmissions i.e. 6 months and the power of the signal. Plus the height of the mast radiating the output.
A lot was learnt during those 5 test broadcast periods in Southport ~ commerciality, audience data and Southport’s topography especially impacting coverage & signal strengths.
The internet is also now a significant factor in business planning and understanding current trends. Viability is an issue.
The UK broadcast regulator very recently (2015) rejected a bid (by David Quinn & Trevor Ford) in the last NW round, for a full time community FM radio station serving Southport.
Coverage area/s for FM Restricted radio service licences.
The regulator and issuer of licences says. “Licensees should not expect every part of their desired coverage area to receive a perfect signal. There may be some parts of the coverage area that will have poor reception, or no reception at all. This will arise particularly where terrain and building density obstruct signals to a greater extent than typical, and all the more so when the frequency is subject to other incoming signals on the same and adjacent frequencies.
Your transmitter site must be appropriate for the town/location you wish to cover. We reserve the right to reject high sites which may deliver an inappropriately large coverage area for this type of licence. Generally, field strengths and the ease of reception increase closer to the transmitter, so you may have to make a trade-off between the overall area covered and the ease of reception in the core of the target area.
It is important that you provide the correct national grid reference (NGR)and full address of your chosen transmitter site.
Coverage area and power levels.
SRSL licences are issued for coverage of a town or part of a city, typically a 3km (2 mile) radius in an urban area, or a 5-7km (3-4 mile) radius in a rural
Power levels are set accordingly, with account also taken of interference levels, which limit coverage of the service. Coverage areas and transmitter sites, particularly for the higher power levels on FM, will be scrutinised carefully. Please note the following:
- The maximum power for which we can license these services is 25 watts effective radiated power (ERP) on FM. This is typically used for rural locations, with a usual 10 watts maximum in urban areas.
- A low power (1 watt ERP) option is available on FM, where very localised coverage only is required (e.g. for a drive-in cinema, or to cover a campsite).”
Switching on a radio transmitter however local, does not bring an audience to a station, it takes time to grow and develop an identity, many listeners will switch back to existing stations and in the NW of England there is a lot of choice or in the words of the broadcast regulator, The Spectrum is congested. With regional offers overlapping from the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackburn plus national stations covering the area.
With a FM restricted service licence, just as audience arrives the 28 day period ends.
FM is a declining platform……Digital radio is growing at a dramatic rate and across multiple platforms i.e DAB ~ The internet & Cable. Last wk HM Government’s Minister ED Vaziey confirmed that over 70% of new cars in the UK this year had Digital radio as standard and that the future of radio is digital !
The FM radio switch off in UK is in Governments mind, remember the switch off and switch over of TV………Norway the first country to switch off analogue TV has announced the close down of it’s FM radio, Switzerland is not far behind.
Why listen to radio……………and When………?
Does FM radio in Southport have a viable future……….?
Would you look for customers with a low wattage light bulb ?
Current ‘on line’ radio listeners for Southport based digital radio…….!
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