FIVE out of six Town and Country Broadcasting stations have been given permission to share more programming, the regulator has announced. Radio Carmarthenshire, Scarlet FM, Radio Pembrokeshire and Radio Ceredigion can now share programmes 24 hours a day rather than the previously allowed 12 hours a week. Ofcom has also approved a format change request for Bridge FM to share all programming with Nation Hits (previously Swansea Bay Radio). Ofcom agreed the changes, even though the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire licences are not located within the same ‘approved areas’. Pembrokeshire is in the West Wales area and Carmarthenshire falls in the North Wales approved area.
A spokesperson for Ofcom told The Herald: “We were cognisant of the fact that the licence already has limited programme sharing permissions in place with the neighbouring Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Swansea licences, which are located within the West Wales ‘approved area’.” The spokesperson added: “There was also a good case for arguing that, in terms of historical cultural affinity – Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire were all part of Dyfed County Council between 1973 and 1996 – the population of Ceredigion looks to the West Wales ‘approved area’ (notably towns in the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire areas) as much as they do to any of the towns in the North Wales ‘approved area’.
In addition, the small scale of this licence (Measured Coverage Area 72,088) presents an economic case to provide this shared service from premises where overheads may be divided with other radio services.” Speaking to The Herald by telephone, Managing Director of Town and Country Broadcasting, Martin Mumford said: “We’ve recently made some technical changes with the regulator Ofcom to allow our three radio licenses in West Wales to share their programming. We actually implemented these changes on air some time ago. The changes allow us to introduce even more live and local programming into each station and there are no plans to change the identity of any of our highly successful West Wales stations.”
Mr Mumford added: “We are very proud to have built one of Wales’ biggest media companies having originally launched Radio Pembrokeshire back in 2002 – the latest audience figures released today confirm Radio Pembrokeshire as achieving one of the highest percentage reaches in UK radio.” Marc Tierney, a former Programme Manager with Radio Pembrokeshire told The Herald: “When I joined Radio Pembrokeshire it had a really strong local focus, it was on everywhere. Listeners really valued local news and programmes made by people that knew every corner of the county. People are getting their local news and traffic information using social networks or newspaper websites, local information is more accessible than it ever was.
There isn’t any evidence to suggest that this will impact radio listening in the foreseeable future but with Digital Radio becoming more popular, competition for listeners is increasing.” Industry website radiotoday. co.uk said: “If Town and Country Broadcasting change their schedules to meet the new minimum requirements, the company will have a single schedule on Bridge FM / Nation Hits, and a single schedule on Radio Pembrokeshire, Radio Ceredigion and Scarlet FM/Radio Carmarthenshire.”