Ofcom has developed a new temporary licence product in light of the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic for those wanting to provide a radio service designed specifically to share information, news and updates about the Covid-19 pandemic with their community.
Ofcom, like all of us, must act responsibly at this time. The Government’s instructions to all of us are to say at home and:
To set up and broadcast a radio service will involve sourcing, connecting and installing specialist equipment. It is important that broadcasters consider carefully how they propose to do so without putting themselves or the public at greater risk. Ofcom will require applicants to explain how they will set up and provide the service without any of those involved leaving their homes any more than they would have done anyway.
Ofcom is also mindful that communities are already being served by existing radio services – such as community, commercial and BBC local radio services – all of which will be providing news and information about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ofcom will require applicants to demonstrate they are broadcasting in an area that is not already served by a community radio service and to have made arrangements with local leaders and/or public servants to provide Covid-19 related coverage at a local level.
Applicants should particularly be aware that significant potential harm can be caused by material relating to Covid-19, for example, health claims and medical advice which may be harmful, and inaccurate or materially misleading information about the virus or public policy regarding it. Ofcom will consider any breach arising from harmful Covid-19-related programming to be potentially serious and will consider taking appropriate regulatory action.
Ofcom will require applicants to explain the arrangements they have put in place to secure that information provided about Covid-19 is accurate and responsible.
Applicants should also consider whether there will be any other challenges to your proposed service being able to broadcast, and how you will overcome these. For example, if you are planning to broadcast music you may require a separate licence from the music licensing organisations PPL and PRS, which may involve an additional cost for you.
Taking the above into account, if you would like to apply for a licence, please complete the application form for a Temporary Covid-19 Short-term Restricted Service Licence (SRSL, ODT, 87.4 KB) and return it to Ofcom by email to email@example.com.
If you do not feel that a Temporary Covid-19 SRSL is the right option to meet the needs of your community, you may want to consider other ways to provide a service to them. For example, there are many easy-to-use apps, downloadable for free, that offer ways to share information through video conferencing/live streaming. These may be easier to set up and allow you to serve your community more quickly and cheaply. These may be particularly useful for organisations such as religious institutions looking to share their services with their community.
Application form for a Temporary Covid-19 Short-term Restricted Service Licence (SRSL, ODT, 87.4 KB).