In the next couple of weeks Ofcom will be announcing the locations they have chosen for the first bids for licences to run multiplexes for Small Scale Digital Audio Broadcasting.
This new level of coverage of digital radio might potentially give Leicester an additional thirty radio stations, on top of the analogue and digital radio services that already serve the city and the county.
It’s believed that Leicester will be one of the first areas to be open to applications, which is because the geographic location for transmission in Leicester has minimal overlap with any other regionally provided DAB services, and because of the strong demand and interest for FM Community Radio licences that has been demonstrated in recent years.
The legislation passed by the DCMS mean that licences can be run either commercially, or on a not-for-profit basis.
There is a compelling case for a strictly not-for-profit consortium bid for the licence in Leicester, which can bring people and groups together to collaborate and support the existing community media services in the city, and to nurture and foster new community media services that extend access and which reach more people by building strong relationships between our different communities.
There is a small window of opportunity to pull together a consortium of existing community radio stations, community organisations, social enterprises and independent media practitioners, and their allies from across Leicester.
It proposed that a Community Interest Co-operative is established, with an asset lock and a specific public benefit purpose to serve the needs of the people of Leicester and Leicestershire, which can put together a business plan and an application to run a not-for-profit multiplex for the city.
The co-operative would be run as a social enterprise, with a mix of community services, social enterprises, and commercial services
The aim is to provide greater access and diversity of radio content which is originated in Leicester, and is designed to serve the needs and interests of the diverse range of communities and people of Leicester and Leicestershire.
Help is going to be needed to put together the business plan, the technical requirements for running the service, and a governance model that can ensure that decisions are taken in a transparent, inclusive and democratic way.
If you are interested in supporting and helping to develop this application, there are a number of ways that you can register interest:
- Discuss this with your colleagues and reply to this post.
- Discuss this with your network partners and stakeholders, and ask them to reply to this post.
- Ask to join the Decentered Media Forum https://forum.decentered.co.uk/
- Share this message online in your networks and with your supporters.
- Register to attend an initial meeting, taking place on Saturday 28th March from 10.30 am to 12pm at the Documentary Media Centre, 14 Northampton Street, Leicester LE1 1PA. (It’s just off Granby Street).
This is a starting point for conversations and discussions, so I’m not precious about feedback, and I’ll do my best to incorporate comments and flag issues that might need to be thought through in more detail.
The objective is to establish a mutually supportive co-operative, which can secure the principles of social gain and benefit in the management of a sustainable and viable social enterprise.
If you have any comments, observations and suggestions, please reply here, on the forum, or via social media.
If you want to chat about this in more detail, it’s relatively easy to talk on the phone, or arrange a joint conversation on Skype or Zoom.