Independent Local Radio is the collective name given to commercial radio stations in the United Kingdom. As a result of the buyouts and mergers permitted by the Broadcasting Act 1990, and deregulation resulting from the Communications Act 2003, most commercial stations are now neither independent nor local. The same name is used for Independent Local Radio in Ireland.
Until the early 1970s, the BBC had a legal monopoly on radio broadcasting in the UK. Despite competition from the commercial Radio Luxembourg and, for a period in the mid-1960s, the off-shore "pirate" broadcasters, it had remained the policy of both major political parties that radio was to remain under the BBC.
Upon the election of Edward Heath's government in 1970, this policy changed. It is possible that Heath's victory was partly due to younger voters upset by the UK government closing down the popular pirate radio stations.
The new Minister of Post and Telecommunications and former ITN newscaster, Christopher Chataway, announced a bill to allow for the introduction of commercial radio in the United Kingdom. This service would be planned and regulated in a similar manner to the existing ITV service and would compete with the recently developed BBC Local Radio services (rather than the four national BBC services).
The Sound Broadcasting Actreceived royal assent on 12 July 1972 and the Independent Television Authority (ITA) accordingly changed its name to the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) that same day.
The IBA immediately began to plan the new service, placing advertisements encouraging interested groups to apply for medium-term contracts to provide programmes in given areas. The first major areas to be advertised were London and Glasgow, with two contracts available in London, one for "news and information", one for "general and entertainment".
The London news contract was awarded to London Broadcasting Company (LBC) and they began broadcasting on 8 October 1973. The London general contract went to Capital Radio, who began broadcasting on 16 October 1973. In total, 19 contracts were awarded between 1973 and 1976. Due to government limits on capital expenditure and turbulence in the broadcasting field (mainly due to the Annan Report), no further contracts were awarded until 1980, when a second tranche of contracts were awarded. All stations were awarded an AM and an FM frequency, on which they broadcast the same service.
|8 October 1973||London||LBC|
|16 October 1973||London||Capital Radio|
|31 December 1973||Glasgow||Radio Clyde|
|19 February 1974||Birmingham||BRMB|
|2 April 1974||Manchester||Piccadilly Radio|
|15 July 1974||Newcastle-upon-Tyne||Metro Radio|
|30 September 1974||Swansea||Swansea Sound|
|1 October 1974||Sheffield||Radio Hallam|
|21 October 1974||Liverpool||Radio City|
|22 January 1975||Edinburgh||Radio Forth|
|19 May 1975||Plymouth||Plymouth Sound|
|24 June 1975||Stockton-on-Tees||Radio Tees|
|3 July 1975||Nottingham||Radio Trent|
|16 September 1975||Bradford||Pennine Radio|
|14 October 1975||Portsmouth||Radio Victory|
|28 October 1975||Ipswich||Radio Orwell|
|8 March 1976||Reading||Radio 210|
|16 March 1976||Belfast||Downtown Radio|
|12 April 1976||Wolverhampton||Beacon Radio|
|11 April 1980||Cardiff||CBC (Cardiff Broadcasting Company)|
|23 May 1980||Coventry||Mercia Sound|
|10 July 1980||Peterborough||Hereward Radio|
|15 September 1980||Bournemouth||2CR (Two Counties Radio)|
|17 October 1980||Dundee||Radio Tay|
|23 October 1980||Gloucester||Severn Sound|
|7 November 1980||Exeter||DevonAir Radio|
|14 November 1980||Perth||Radio Tay|
|12 December 1980||Torbay||DevonAir Radio|
|27 July 1981||Aberdeen||Northsound Radio|
|1 September 1981||Leeds||Radio Aire|
|7 September 1981||Leicester||Centre Radio|
|12 September 1981||Southend-on-Sea||Essex Radio|
|15 October 1981||Luton||Chiltern Radio|
|27 October 1981||Bristol||Radio West|
|4 December 1981||Ayr and Girvan||West Sound Radio|
|10 December 1981||Chelmsford||Essex Radio|
|23 February 1982||Inverness||Moray Firth Radio|
|1 March 1982||Bedford||Chiltern Radio|
|4 October 1982||Worcester||Radio Wyvern|
|5 October 1982||Preston||Red Rose Radio|
|12 October 1982||Swindon||Wiltshire Radio|
|6 November 1982||Bury St Edmunds||Saxon Radio|
|4 April 1983||Guildford||County Sound|
|13 June 1983||Newport||Gwent Broadcasting|
|29 August 1983||Brighton||Southern Sound Radio|
|5 September 1983||Stoke-on-Trent||Signal Radio|
|5 September 1983||Wrexham||Marcher Sound|
|17 April 1984||Kingston-upon-Hull||Viking Radio|
|5 September 1984||Leicester||Leicester Sound|
|1 October 1984||Norwich||Radio Broadland|
|1 October 1984||Northampton||Hereward Radio|
|1 October 1984||East Kent||Invicta Sound|
|20 October 1984||Crawley||Radio Mercury|
|12 October 1986||Southampton and Portsmouth||Ocean Sound|
|30 November 1986||Northampton and Northamptonshire||Northants 96|
|3 March 1987||Derby||Radio Trent|
|22 May 1987||Bath||GWR Radio Bath|
|4 October 1988||Nottingham and Derby||GEM-AM|
|4 December 1988||Fareham and South Hampshire||Power FM|
|15 September 1989||Oxford and Banbury||Fox FM|
|28 August 1990||Coventry||Radio Harmony|
|3 April 1992||Cornwall||Pirate FM|
|24 May 1996||Warwickshire, Worcestershire and The Cotswolds||FM102 The Bear|
|29 September 1996||North Suffolk and East Norfolk||The Beach|
|1 December 1999||South Hams||South Hams Radio|
In the late 1980s, the expansion of ILR continued at a similar rate. Under the Broadcasting Acts, the IBA had a duty to ensure that any area it licensed for radio could support a station with the available advertising revenue. Therefore, many areas were not included in the IBA's ILR plans as it was felt that they were not viable.This did not prevent Radio West in Bristol getting into financial trouble and having to merge with Wiltshire Radio on 1 October 1985; nor did it prevent Centre Radio going into receivership on 6 October 1983.
Nevertheless, the areas served by ILR continued to increase and 1986 the IBA sanctioned in principle the idea that different services could be broadcast on each station's FM and AM frequency although the first experimental part-time split service was provided by Radio Forth, who created Festival City Radio for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival in 1984[ citation needed ]. The first station to permanently split their frequencies was Guildford's County Sound who rebranded the FM output as Premier Radio and turned the AM output into a new golden oldies station, County Sound Gold in 1988. Other stations then followed suit.
By 1988, the government had decided that the practice of splitting was beneficial and a quick way to increase choice for listeners. The IBA then began a programme of encouraging ILR stations to split their services and most stations had soon complied. The usual format was to have a "gold" (oldies) service on AM and pop music on FM, although Radio City tried "City Talk" on AM before abandoning the format.
The Broadcasting Act 1990 provided for the abolition of the IBA and its replacement by the Independent Television Commission. The IBA continued to regulate radio under the new name of the Radio Authority, but with a different remit.
As a "light-touch" regulator (although heavier than the ITC), the Radio Authority was to issue licences to the highest bidder and promote the development of commercial radio choice.
This led to the awarding of three national contracts, known as Independent National Radio to Classic FM, Virgin 1215 (later Virgin Radio and then rebranded Absolute Radio) and Talk Radio (later Talksport).
The Radio Authority also began to license Restricted Service Licence (RSL) stations – low-power temporary radio stations for special events, operating for up to 28 days a year – and to reduce the criteria for a "viable service area" with the introduction of Small Scale Local Licences (SALLIES) for villages, special interest groups and small communities.
By this time the medium wave band had become unpopular with radio groups and the majority of new stations were awarded an FM licence only, even when an AM licence was jointly available.
The Radio Authority also introduced regional stations (Independent Regional Radio, again usually grouped under the banner "ILR" by most commentators) and began to license the commercial Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) multiplexes in October 1998.
The Radio Authority was replaced by the Office of Communications (Ofcom) in 2004, which also replaced the ITC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Radio Communications Agency and the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel). Ofcom has stated that they plan to continue the development of Independent Local Radio, with an emphasis on digital broadcasting, and to "ensure the character" of local stations, following the mergers and loss of local identities that followed the 1990 Act.
As of 2005, there are 217 licensed analogue ILR and IRR services in England; 16 in Wales; 34 in Scotland; eight in Northern Ireland; and two in the Channel Islands. These are licences rather than franchises. Some licences are grouped nationally, regionally or by format to provide one service; other licences cover two or more services.
There are three national analogue services. There is one national DAB service (Digital One) and 47 regional DAB services, owned by 10 and operated by nine companies.
The first licensed commercial radio station in the United Kingdom is often stated to be Manx Radio, which launched in June 1964. [ citation needed ] Manx Radio is funded by a mixture of commercial advertising and a yearly £860,000 Manx Government subvention.However, since the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom, Manx Radio is not considered to be an ILR station and launched with a Post Office licence.
The Independent Television Commission (ITC) licensed and regulated commercial television services in the United Kingdom between 1 January 1991 and 28 December 2003.
Licensed radio broadcasting in Ireland is one element of the wider media of Ireland, with 85% of the population listening to a licensed radio broadcasting service on any given day.
Kiss is a British digital radio station owned and operated by Bauer as part of the Kiss Network. It is primarily aimed at the 15-34 age group and broadcasts nationally to the UK on DAB Digital Radio, as well as on FM in London, Bristol and the Severn Estuary, and East Anglia. The station started as Kiss FM - a 1980s pirate radio station that was to become the UK's first legal radio station specialising in black and dance music.
Greatest Hits Radio South Wales is Independent Local Radio station serving Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and East Carmarthenshire.
Heart 96.3 is a radio station serving Bristol and surrounding areas and broadcasting on 96.3 MHz in Bristol and Weston-super-Mare. Launched in 1981 as Radio West, it was merged with neighbouring Wiltshire Radio and relaunched under the name GWR in 1985, retaining the name through several changes of ownership until rebranding in March 2009. Heart Bristol merged with sister stations in Somerset and Bath to form Heart West Country.
107 JACK fm Berkshire was an Independent Local Radio station in the English town of Reading. The station was based at studios in the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading F.C. and London Irish. The station's transmitter is located on the Tilehurst Water Tower.
102.2 Jazz FM was a local jazz and soul music station for London run by GMG Radio. The station was based in and broadcast from Castlereagh Street in London. The station experimented with its core playlist over its fifteen-year history, incorporating smooth jazz, mainstream jazz, soul, jazz fusion, acid jazz, blues and rhythm and blues. In 1994 the station changed its name to JFM to encourage more listeners who were put off by the 'Jazz' in the station's name. Richard Wheatly was appointed in 1995 to turn the station around when there was only three months' money left to run the station. Wheatly made a number of sweeping changes to the playlist, selling a sister station and changing the name back to Jazz FM, as well as starting up a record label and spin-off business deals and opportunities which helped Jazz FM swing into the black and make a profit in 2001.
BOB fm was a radio station broadcasting to north Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Programming originated from studios at the Old Pump House in Knebworth Park. Launched as HertBeat in 2001, it was subsumed into Heart Hertfordshire on 31 May 2019 shortly after acquisition by media group Communicorp.
Digital One is a national commercial digital radio multiplex in the United Kingdom, owned by Arqiva. As of March 2010, the multiplex covered more than 90% of the population from 137 transmitters. Coverage was extended to Northern Ireland in July 2013. It contains a list of DAB and DAB+ radio stations operated by Bauer Radio, Global and Wireless Group.
Arqiva is a British telecommunications company which provides infrastructure, broadcast transmission and smart meter facilities in the United Kingdom. The company headquarters is located at Crawley Court in the village of Crawley, Hampshire, just outside Winchester. Its main customers are broadcasters and utility companies, and its main asset is a network of circa. 1,500 radio and television transmission sites. It is owned by a consortium of investors led by CPP and the Australian investment house Macquarie Bank. Arqiva is a patron of the Radio Academy.
Radio enjoys a huge following in the United Kingdom. There are around 600 licensed radio stations in the country. For a more comprehensive list see List of radio stations in the United Kingdom.
Radio Clyde is a group of two Independent Local Radio stations serving Glasgow and West Central Scotland. Radio Clyde is owned and operated by Bauer Radio, based at studios in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire and forms part of Bauer's City network of local stations.
The Lincs FM Group was based in Lincolnshire, in the UK and was the parent company of several Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations. As of Q2 2019 the group had a combined audience of 524,000.
FM sound broadcasting began in the United Kingdom on 2 May 1955 when the BBC started an FM broadcasting service the Light Programme, the Third Programme and the Home Service to the south east of England. There are now over 40 BBC and over 250 commercial FM sound broadcasting stations in the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom, the roll-out of digital radio has been proceeding since engineering test transmissions were started by the BBC in 1990 followed by a public launch in September 1995. The UK currently has one of the world's biggest digital radio networks, with about 500 transmitters, three national DAB ensembles and 48 local and regional DAB ensembles broadcasting over 250 commercial and 34 BBC radio stations across the UK. In London there are already more than 100 different digital stations available. In addition to DAB and DAB+, radio stations are also broadcast on digital television platform as well as internet radio in the UK. Digital radio ensemble operators and stations need a broadcasting licence from the UK's media regulator Ofcom to broadcast.
Incremental Radio was a new type of radio licence given out by the IBA in the United Kingdom between 1989 and 1990. In essence, these were additional radio services introduced into areas already served by an ILR station.
This is a timeline of the development of independent radio in the UK.
This is a list of notable events in the timeline of digital audio broadcasting in the UK.
Heart West is a regional radio station owned and operated by Global as part of the Heart network. It broadcasts to the West and the South West of England from studios in Bristol.