Banbury Town Council backing application for ‘true local’ radio station for north Oxfordshire
Banbury Town Council is supporting an application for a ‘truly local’ radio station for north Oxfordshire.
The council has voted to back a bid by internet broadcaster Banbury FM for an ‘on air’ licence that will enable the station to be heard on standard home and vehicle radios – including digital sets – as well as on-line.
Banbury FM was one of the forerunners in 2005 when the radio licence for a Banbury station was first advertised – but lost out to another bidder, the Cumbria-based CN Group.
Councillors have voted in favour of a motion proposed by council leader Kieron Mallon to send a letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support Banbury FM’s plans.
Cllr Mallon said: “Banbury FM was born in 2001 with the aim of keeping residents informed and entertained with local news and information and to be a true reflection of life in north Oxfordshire. But in 2005 the licence went to another broadcaster.
“Today, that licence is owned by a large media group (Global Radio) which broadcasts a national brand from London except for three hours on weekdays when a drive time show comes to us from somewhere in Warwickshire. In my opinion we get the minimum amount of local news and information as required by the terms of the licence.”
“Councillors recognised there is a large gap in the market for what they feel would be a more genuine local radio station.”
Banbury FM has continued to operate online and is now lobbying Ofcom for another FM frequency to be made available for Banbury.
Banbury FM is also working with other groups in a bid to be awarded a new local DAB multiplex licence that will be advertised for the area within the next year.
This would enable Banbury FM, hospital station Radio Horton and Banbury United’s Puritans Radio to broadcast on digital radio.
Cllr Mallon said: “Town councillors have given their backing to Banbury FM’s plans which would enable valuable radio frequencies to be used and controlled locally for the benefit of the local community.
“Local radio is an important part of the social fabric of any community. It serves an important purpose – not just to keep us entertained as we travel around or listen at home, but also to keep us up to date with local news and report back on the issues that matter to local people.
“It supports local businesses, publicises local events, and increases the pride people show in their area.
“It seems to me that our town and the surrounding area is under-served by the current broadcasters. A radio station dedicated to the residents of North Oxfordshire is much-needed and we are keen to support Banbury FM where we can.”
Banbury FM is run by Adderbury-based professional broadcaster Andy Green.
He said: “I am delighted to have the support of Banbury Town Council as we try to bring truly local radio to the town and surrounding area.
“I know from experience elsewhere – and our trials back in 2001 and 2002 – what a positive difference a well-run local station can make supporting local charities, businesses and individuals, and promoting the wonderful area in which we live.
“To date Banbury hasn’t been granted that service on traditional radio, but we hope this time the regulator will listen. Exciting times could be ahead.”