David Morris MP asks for a review in FM spectrum availability in North Lancashire and South Cumbria.

David Morris MP recently met with Bill Johnston formerly of the Bay and Jason Bryant from Radio Centre, about the availability of FM spectrum in North Lancashire and the possibility of finding spectrum for a new FM service.

Following the meeting David Morris MP promised to ask the Digital and Creative Industries Minister in Parliament if she would ask OFCOM to carry out a scope of the spectrum in the area and if they find spare spectrum to open up a licensing process to enable a new service.

Speaking during Digital, Culture, Media and Sport questions on Thursday David Morris MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale asked:

6. What steps he plans to take to increase the provision of FM frequencies for commercial radio in (a) the UK and (b) Morecambe Bay. [911745]

In response The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP said:

The UK’s independent broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, is responsible for radio spectrum planning, and Ofcom’s view is that due to the general scarcity of FM spectrum, the scope for additional frequency resources to be made available to commercial radio is extremely limited. Ofcom’s current priority for the use of remaining FM spectrum is community radio, and I hope that will be of benefit to Morecambe Bay.

As a supplementary David Morris MP asked:

Will the Minister carry out an investigation of the audit suitability for FM spectrum in the north of Lancashire as soon as possible, to free up any spectrum service that should be licensed, to facilitate a new local service, as we need more local services in that region?

In response The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP said:

I agree with my hon. Friend that we need more local services, but there is more than one route to that. I cannot undertake to commence a review of the north-west specifically, and it is for the independent regulator Ofcom to distribute remaining FM frequency, but I would like to reassure my hon. Friend that the development of small-scale DAB multiplexes will provide many opportunities for community radio stations, not least in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

David Morris MP

‘I was pleased that the Minister said that Ofcom’s priority was community radio for remaining FM spectrum. I have written to OFCOM and have asked them to review the spectrum in our area.’