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Nation and Star Radio object to plans for Greatest Hits Radio to replace KISS

Nation Broadcasting and Star Radio have raised objections to Bauer’s proposed change of KISS to Greatest Hits Radio in the East of England. While Bauer plans to replace KISS on FM in Cambridge, Peterborough, and Suffolk, they intend to continue broadcasting KISS on the 106.1 MHz Norwich transmitter, which serves Norfolk. Ofcom is currently consulting on the format change request and has indicated a preliminary inclination to grant it.

However, all ten responses received thus far, including those from the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and various local individuals, express opposition to the move. Nation Broadcasting, a local radio operator, argues that the proposed change would significantly alter the service’s character and limit the available range of services. They assert that Bauer’s submission lacks evidence of “significant demand” or “significant support” for this departure, suggesting that it aligns more with Bauer’s strategic plans than with the preferences of listeners in the East of England.

Nation Broadcasting points out that Bauer’s decision to maintain KISS on FM in Norwich and Norfolk is not truly evidence-based. Rather, it appears to be driven by the current locations where Bauer already has FM coverage for Greatest Hits Radio in the East. Under Bauer’s proposal, Norwich would effectively become a small, local license for KISS, exempt from the local programming obligations associated with running a local service as opposed to a regional one.

Moreover, Nation Broadcasting raises a policy concern about the allocation of regional licenses. The East of England region was granted just a single regional license, making it a scarce resource. Allocating it primarily to a music service that replicates the output of existing services across most of its MCA (Multiplex Coverage Area) would be an inefficient use of this public resource, according to Nation Broadcasting.

Star Radio, the owners of another station in Cambridge, also disagree with Bauer’s claim of significant demand or support for the change. They argue that removing KISS from these transmitters would limit the range of programs available from independent radio services in the licensed area, thereby impeding fair and effective competition.

A concerned individual notes that the proposed change not only deprives Cambridgeshire of a station focused on EDM and Urban music but also duplicates the adult-oriented stations already offered by Star on FM and Smooth on AM. This, along with the adult-focused output of national services like Radio 2 and community stations like Cambridge 105, severely reduces listener choice, prompting strong opposition.

The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough expresses concern that disenfranchised younger radio listeners in the region, who may lack access to DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), would be adversely affected by the proposed change.

The deadline for comments was April 13th, and a decision from Ofcom is expected soon.

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