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Capital FM set to expand on the FM dial after Quidem deal gets OfCom go-ahead

By | Published on Monday 18 November 2019


Global’s Capital FM brand is set to further expand its reach on the FM dial after media regulator OfCom last week approved format changes proposed by another radio firm called Quidem, which runs stations in the Midlands.

Global and Quidem announced a new alliance in September under which the latter will replace its Touch FM, Banbury Sound and Rugby FM stations with output pumped out by the former. It’s similar to Global’s existing deal with Irish broadcaster Communicorp Media, which operates a number of local stations in the UK which simply utilise the brands, format and much of the programming of Global’s Capital, Heart and Smooth outlets.

Quidem’s new arrangement needed OfCom approval because it will reduce the amount of locally-made programming and change the format of the company’s various stations from that previously described in their respective licences. The regulator put the latter shift out to consultation, but last week confirmed that it was approving the change.

OfCom said in a statement that it had “decided to approve the format change requests submitted by Quidem relating to the FM commercial radio licences for Banbury, Coventry, Rugby, South East Staffordshire, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick”.

Although it’s not been confirmed which Global brand will arrive on Quidem’s frequencies, the OfCom statement said: “The ‘character of service’ contained in the published format for all [Quidem] licences will change to: ‘A rhythmic-based music-led service for 15-29 year-olds supplemented with news, information and entertainment'”. Which sounds like Capital.

The deal between Global and Quidem is further proof that it is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller independent radio businesses to operate in a market where they increasingly compete with online services for both listeners and advertisers. It will also continue a long-running trend for locally based radio stations to become part of national networks where most programmes come out of one national hub.

Under pressure from the commercial radio sector, OfCom has repeatedly reduced the obligations for local radio stations regarding locally made programmes. To that end it confirmed last week that, in that respect, Quidem’s Global alliance is “consistent with the minimum expectations set out in OfCom’s localness guidelines”, which is why that element of the change didn’t even go out to consultation.