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Mackenzie and Branson might bid for Classic FM’s licence

By | Published on Tuesday 17 February 2009

Kelvin MacKenzie and Richard Branson are both reportedly lobbying media regulator OfCom to sell off the current national commercial radio licences when they come up for renewal, seemingly because both would be keen on bidding for the FM licence currently used by Global Radio’s Classic FM.

That licence in theory comes up for renewal in 2011. Some previously thought that by that point analogue radio licences would no longer be of interest because digital and internet radio would have taken over. But with FM stations still dominating the radio industry, Classic FM’s frequency will be much sought after if OfCom decide to auction it off.

Branson wanted the natonal FM licence for his Virgin Radio service back in the day, and was never happy with the AM licence he eventually got. MacKenzie’s dabblings in commercial radio – as the boss of TalkSport – were also restricted to AM.

If the Classic FM licence was up for grabs and if Branson won it, that might mean a super new Virgin Radio FM service going head to head with Absolute, which only stopped using the Virgin Radio name itself last year.

However, it is not yet clear what OfCom plan to do with the national analogue licences when they come up for renewal.