Cornish radio station in appeal over FM merger

A Cornish radio station applying for a local commercial licence has complained to broadcast regulator Ofcom, objecting to its plans to amalgamate the area covered under the proposed licence with neighbouring Devon.

Cornwall Kernow FM (CKFM), which plans to broadcast music and local news and information specific to Cornwall, began its application for a licence to cover the county more than four years ago, when tenders were still under the control of the now defunct Radio Authority.

However, following a year’s delay and Ofcom’s eventual takeover, the regulator has expressed plans to merge the licence to cover Devon as part of a larger South West licence.

John Grierson, CKFM’s managing director, told Press Gazette that he had written to Ofcom before 11 March, the deadline for responses to the watchdog’s expansion plans.

He said the station’s business model and the recruitment of a local news director within Cornwall were based on getting a licence exclusively for the region.

“We see no justification for this idea of joining Cornwall and Devon together. We did a lot of groundwork.

“This is a radio station for Cornwall and we never had a desire to extend our boundaries beyond Cornwall.

“It doesn’t have to be bigger,” he said.

Grierson also voiced fears that a licence that could incorporate relatively highly populated areas of Devon, such as Plymouth and Exeter, would sideline the Cornish listeners.

He added that, “Cornwall would just be tacked on as an add-on” to the coverage.

Ofcom announced plans for a public consultation on proposals to change the way that local FM commercial radio licences were advertised and awarded on 5 February this year.

By Wale Azeez

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