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Transmitter switch-off lands Bauer £25k fine

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has imposed a fine of £25,000 on Bauer Radio for their decision to switch off all AM transmitters for Absolute Radio across the country. This penalty comes after Bauer Radio confirmed to Ofcom in January of this year that Absolute Radio would no longer be broadcast on AM frequencies. As a result, Ofcom subsequently revoked the AM licence for Absolute Radio on the 13th of February, 2023. However, it is important to note that Absolute Radio remains available nationally on DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting).

The imposition of the £25,000 financial penalty on Bauer Radio is in accordance with section 101(3) of the Broadcasting Act 1990. This section mandates that when a national licence is revoked, the licence holder is required to pay a financial penalty to Ofcom. In determining the amount of the penalty, Ofcom took into consideration the reasons provided by Bauer Radio for discontinuing the AM service. These reasons included a decline in listenership on AM frequencies and concerns about the commercial viability of the service.

It is worth noting that the financial penalty imposed on Bauer Radio could have amounted to £250,000, but it was ultimately set at £25,000. The penalty is payable to HM Paymaster General, as specified by Ofcom.

The decision to revoke the AM licence for Absolute Radio and the subsequent financial penalty reflect the changing landscape of radio broadcasting and the shift towards digital platforms. AM frequencies have seen a decline in popularity in recent years, as listeners increasingly turn to DAB, FM, and online streaming for their audio content. Bauer Radio’s decision to discontinue the AM service for Absolute Radio aligns with this trend and their assessment of the commercial viability of the AM platform.

Absolute Radio continues to maintain its presence on the national broadcasting scene through its availability on DAB. The DAB platform offers improved sound quality, greater choice of stations, and enhanced reception compared to AM frequencies. As the radio industry continues to evolve and adapt to the preferences of listeners, broadcasters must carefully consider their distribution strategies and platforms to ensure maximum audience reach and engagement.

The fine imposed by Ofcom serves as a reminder to radio broadcasters of their obligations and responsibilities in the ever-changing media landscape. It emphasises the importance of complying with regulatory requirements and making informed decisions about broadcasting platforms to best serve audiences and maintain a commercially sustainable operation.

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