Pennine FM became the latest in a list of smaller commercial radio stations to shut down and hand back its licence to Ofcom. "> Pennine FM became the latest in a list of smaller commercial radio stations to shut down and hand back its licence to Ofcom. "> Saving local radio? - Blog - Transdiffusion Broadcasting System

Saving local radio? 

15 April 2010 tbs.pm/1180

Pennine FM 'back on air' poster

On 5 April 2010 Pennine FM became the latest in a list of smaller commercial radio stations to shut down and hand back its licence to Ofcom.

The station, first launched in 1998, had had a chequered history including several ownership changes and falling into administration in 2009.

Ten days later Ofcom announced new plans to deregulate elements of commercial radio in the UK to help stations cut costs.

Stations will be able to reduce locally made programmes from 10 to 7 hours a day as long as they provide decent local news bulletins. It will be easier for stations to co-locate and share all their programming, essentially meaning smaller stations can merge together.

Perhaps the biggest changes will be for larger regional operations. These will be able to drop their local programming entirely, as long as a national version is provided on DAB.

The most noticeable beneficiaries of this ruling will be stations like Smooth and Real Radio which account for the majority of the regional stations. It will allow them to essentially form a true quasi-national station for the first time, should they desire.

Ultimately they’re changes designed at saving local radio stations by… well… in many ways destroying what they were set up to do in the first place. Although there is absolutely no denying that the current set up is failing in many areas.

It seems unlikely any of the above would have saved Pennine FM though. After being bought out of administration, it became part of a company that operated just one station. Unlike the USA, there are limited syndication options in the UK for smaller radio operators – mainly a plethora of weekly programmes like Pat Sharp’s Weekend Vibe, meaning Pennine FM would have struggled to meaningfully cut its local daytime output and replace it with something that would attract listeners. The dripping tap of station closures seems unlikely to be fixed just yet…