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OfCom approves Kiss FM to Greatest Hits Radio switchover in East of England

By | Published on Wednesday 12 July 2023


UK media regulator OfCom has approved a proposal by Bauer Media to switch various FM frequencies it currently uses for its Kiss FM station in the East of England over to its Greatest Hits Radio service.

Bauer has been busy for some time now extending the reach of its GHR brand by sticking it onto frequencies previously used by other radio stations the media firm operates.

OfCom is much less opinionated these days about how broadcasters used their AM and FM frequencies. However, Bauer using the FM channels it controls in Cambridge, Peterborough and Suffolk for GHR instead of Kiss FM required a change to the programming format specifically described in the licences covering those frequencies.

In a preliminary opinion, the regulator said that the proposed switchover should be allowed to go ahead. However, it still undertook a consultation about Bauer’s plan. Ten parties made submissions to said consultation, all opposing the plan. Which means, well, OfCom still reckons that the proposed switchover should be allowed to go ahead.

Two of the parties opposing the switchover were rival radio companies: Star Radio, which operates in Cambridge, and Nation Broadcasting, which operates a station in Suffolk. The other submissions came from individuals who, OfCom confirmed yesterday, “were all firmly against the proposed change”.

However, OfCom decided that the various issues raised about the switchover were not sufficiently problematic to block it.

That included the reduction of choice for radio listeners in the affected region, especially younger listeners, given Kiss FM is aimed at a younger demographic than GHR. However, the regulator noted, Kiss FM will still be available via digital channels which, it said, “are all widely used by younger listeners”.

As for GHR creating new competition for other stations targeted at a similar audience in the region, OfCom reckoned: “We do not consider that there is sufficient evidence to conclusively demonstrate that increased competition for audiences aged over 35 in the relevant areas of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk will negatively impact competition and lead to some commercial radio licences becoming unsustainable”.

With all that in mind, OfCom confirmed that the switchover from Kiss FM to GHR in Cambridge, Peterborough and Suffolk can go ahead.