HF Broadcasting

Peter Eckersley made this Freedom of Information request to Office of Communications

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Peter Eckersley

Dear Office of Communications,

Please provide a list of UK radio stations which have a current licence to broadcast on HF (Shortwave) broadcast frequencies.

Please provide the licencing criteria used by Ofcom in order to grant a licence to use a frequency in the short-wave bands.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Eckersley

Information Requests, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Eckersley,

 

Thank you for your request. Please find our response attached.

 

Kind regards,

 

Jenny

 

Information Requests

 

:: Ofcom

Riverside House

2a Southwark Bridge Road

London SE1 9HA

[1]www.ofcom.org.uk

 

 

 

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Peter Eckersley

Dear Information Requests,

Thank you for providing the information requested from which I understand

1. No broadcasting station other than the BBC currently broadcasts on shortwave
2. Ofcom grants licences to transmit on shortwave (HF) frequencies to the BBC under powers granted to Ofcom in the BBC's Royal Charter
3. There is existing no law or Ofcom policy prohibiting the grant of Wireless Telegraphy transmitting licenses for HF frequencies to broadcasters other than the BBC. (I can see no prohibition in the Charter or Agreement).

HOWEVER
3. HF frequencies require to be co-ordinated internationally.
4. Ofcom currently has no criteria or procedures for deciding application to broadcast on HF frequencies from broadcasting organisations other than the BBC.

Please confirm if the above understanding is correct?

Yours sincerely,

Peter Eckersley

Information Requests, Office of Communications

Dear Mr Eckersley,

Please accept this as acknowledgment of your email. You will receive a response from us shortly.

Kind regards,
Jenny

Information Requests
:: Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
www.ofcom.org.uk

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Jon Heasman, Office of Communications

Dear Mr. Eckersley,

 

Your information request re: shortwave licensing  – ref 1-297677035

 

Regarding your e-mail dated 23 July, your understanding is correct that HF
frequencies require to be co-ordinated internationally, and that Ofcom has
no plans to license any new shortwave frequencies. This is because  the
government’s stated policy is for broadcast radio to gradually move away
from analogue transmission towards digital means of transmission, and DAB
in particular.

 

One factual correction I would like to make from our previous response on
this issue….Ofcom licenses the HF transmissions of the BBC World Service
under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, and not under powers granted to
Ofcom in the BBC's Charter.

 

I hope this answers your questions.

 

Best wishes,

 

Jon Heasman

 

 

 

:: Jon Heasman

   Radio Licensing Manager

   Tel: 020 7783 4509

   [mobile number]

    Email: jon.heasman[1]@ofcom.org.uk

 

:: Ofcom

   Riverside House

   2a Southwark Bridge Road

   London SE1 9HA

   020 7981 3000

   [2]www.ofcom.org.uk

  

 

 

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Dear Jon Heasman,

I very much appreciate the further clarifications.

From the information disclosed, I now understand
1. Ofcom licences HF Broadcasting under powers contained within the Wireless Telegraphy Act.
2. Ofcom policy is to permit no new broadcaster to broadcast on HF frequencies.

FURTHER REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
A. Please provide copies of the Ofcom policy regarding the moratorium on allocated new HF Broadcasting frequencies disclosed by you.

B. On the Ofcom website you state: "However, other than the specific cases set out in the Communications Act 2003 where the Secretary of State has power of direction to Ofcom, Ofcom is independent of Government. While it is certainly appropriate for Ofcom to take account of the views of Ministers, it would be improper for Ofcom to direct its actions purely on that basis."

Accordingly please provide copies of the Directions from the Government to Ofcom on the subject of the policy of not permitting new HF Broadcasting to be established.

If there is none, please provide copies of the internal Ofcom policy in this regard, and the date on which it was adopted.

C. Please confirm whether the Secretary of State's Direction (if any) extends to the Isle of Man or any of the other Crown Dependencies.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Eckersley

Jon Heasman, Office of Communications

Hello,

I am away on holiday until Tuesday 18 August.

If it's something urgent, please use one of the following e-mail addresses:

[email address] (for commercial radio)

[email address] (for community radio)

[email address] (for temporary RSL licences)

Otherwise, I will aim to respond when I'm back in the office.

Regards,

Jon

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David Evans left an annotation ()

So in short -
1) Ofcom is independant from Governement

2) Ofcom follows Government Policy in not Licensing HF Broadcasters; and supports the stated Governement Policy to shift to DAB, etc. as a brodcasting alternative method of delivery.

3) There is apparently no legal barrier to the Licensing of HF broadcast providers except by the choice of Ofcom to follow a Governement Policy of not licensing such.

Does anyone else see this as a 'non sequiter'. I look forward to a response regarding any ministerial directive to implement this policy (or not).

Information Requests, Office of Communications

Ref: 1-304745395

 

Dear Mr Eckersley,

 

Thank you for your request to Ofcom’s Jon Heasman, which was received by
Ofcom on 9 August 2015.

We are handling your request under the terms of the Freedom of Information
and aim to respond within 20 working days of the date of receipt.

 

If you have any questions, please reply to
[1][Ofcom request email], quoting the above reference number.

 

Kind regards,

 

Information Requests

::Ofcom

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Jon Heasman, Office of Communications

Dear Mr. Eckersley,

 

Thank you for your email dated 24 August in response to my previous email
to you regarding shortwave licensing.

 

To clarify, there is no formal Ofcom moratorium on the licensing of short
wave broadcasting, therefore there is no document in existence about this
issue. You need to bear in mind that Ofcom has never itself licensed any
shortwave licences since it came into being in 2003, so there was never an
active decision taken to ‘stop’ licensing shortwave frequencies as such.

 

The situation is rather, as I said previously, that we do not have any
current plans to actively advertise any new shortwave frequencies for
licensing. This is because we do not believe there is currently any
significant demand from potential operators of such licences which would
cause us to start advertising such licences. As radio licensing manager, I
am contacted almost every day by groups wanting to broadcast stations on
FM (and more rarely AM) or on various digital platforms such as DAB, but I
cannot recall any individual or company in recent years expressing a
desire to broadcast on the shortwave band.

 

Similarly, I am not aware of direction from the secretary of state
preventing Ofcom from issuing shortwave licences, as this would be a
matter for Ofcom to decide. However, what I was trying to say in my
previous email was that Ofcom has to take stated government policy,
alongside many other factors, into account when formulating its own
policies and views. On the matter of radio broadcasting, the government
has consistently stated that it views DAB as being the main broadcast
radio platform in future (rather than analogue radio bands), alongside of
course other non-broadcast platforms such as the internet.

 

I hope this further clarifies matters for you.

 

Regards,

 

Jon Heasman

 

:: Jon Heasman

   Radio Licensing Manager

   Tel: 020 7783 4509

   [mobile number]

    Email: jon.heasman[1]@ofcom.org.uk

 

:: Ofcom

   Riverside House

   2a Southwark Bridge Road

   London SE1 9HA

   020 7981 3000

   [2]www.ofcom.org.uk

  

 

 

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