Licence laws force out TWG bid

By Wale Azeez

The Wireless Group has been forced to withdraw its bid for an FM radio licence in Carmarthenshire because it already owns two other licences in overlapping catchment areas.

The bid by Carmarthenshire Sound (CS), fronted by its chairman Sky Sports news anchor Rhodri Williams, was withdrawn last week after the Radio Authority concluded that TWG’s ownership of Swansea Sound, with its FM and AM licences, and CS meant they would together exceed the stated limit.

Had it been successful, CS would have been a bilingual station, covering a survey area of 150,000 and broadcasting to a county where 59 per cent of the population speaks Welsh.

“Because of the degree of population overlap with the neighbouring Swansea FM and AM licences, the application by CS would be incompatible with the Government’s proposed new ownership concentration limits which are expected to be in force by the time that this local licence would be granted,” the Radio Authority said in its ruling.

Under the Government’s proposed rules, no company may own three or more “mutually overlapping” licences if they represent 55 per cent or more of the available “points” in that area.

Points are awarded according to the relative degree of coverage overlap from all commercial local stations in the area.

TWG, which owns talkSPORT, already operates three stations in South Wales – The Wave (Swansea), Swansea Sound and Valleys Radio.

In a joint venture with Emap, TWG was awarded the Digital Radio Multiplex licence for Swansea, which will broadcast The Wave and Swansea Sound. Launching in January 2004, the multiplex will also carry BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru.

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