One of the more interesting permits that Britain’s radio/telecom regulator offers radio broadcasters is short term restricted service licenses (SRSLs for you acronym lovers). They’re reserved for community events, festivals, non-profit offerings, those kind of things. Some noted restricted license holders of the past have included Radio Caroline, Radio Avalon (the Glastonbury Festival), and Takeover Radio (a children’s radio service in Leister).
Looks like Ofcom, the UK’s broadcast regulator, has been getting a lot of SRSL requests for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which covers July 20 through August 18 this year, and July 9 through August 7 of next year. A new notice explains the somewhat revised procedures for applicants who request SRSLs in 2013 for the July/August window.
“Ramadan falls within this period and, based on previous experience, we expect to receive a large number of applications to run radio stations at this time,” Ofcom’s announcement explains. “As a result, in some locations in the UK, due to the high demand for SRSLs and the limited FM frequencies available, we expect to have to allocate licences by way of a draw.”
The notice continues:
In places where only one application is received we may be able to offer a licence to that applicant. However in areas where we receive a number of competing applications, we will draw lots to decide between them, as we have done in previous years. All licence awards are subject to the availability of suitable frequencies. Due to the general lack of suitable FM frequencies, particularly in major conurbations, groups in the same region may be competing for frequencies with one another, even though the areas they wish to cover do not overlap. This may apply to some applications which may appear to be in ‘uncontested’ areas. In such cases, we may have to put applications into a draw to decide between them. If SRSL applications for other purposes are received during this period but for overlapping dates, they may be considered alongside applications for broadcasting for the Ramadan period, and as a result may be included in any draw.
Obviously there is a brisk interest in these short term licenses. Has the Federal Communications Commission ever offered anything like this in the United States?