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Lord Inglewood: The noble Lord, Lord Thomson, explained the purpose of his amendment. He hopes that it will encourage community radio services to continue to expand and flourish in the digital era. I share the noble Lord's aim to see community services spread and flourish, but I do not believe that his amendment is necessary for that purpose.

As several Members of the Committee mentioned both in this debate and during Second Reading, there is a real difficulty in defining what is meant by community radio. I hasten to assure the Committee that I do not resort to quibbling over words and with the terms in which the amendment is drafted. There is a clear definitional problem at the heart of the community radio issue. Indeed, many--if not most--local independent radio stations regard themselves as a community service in one way or another.

The Radio Authority is well aware of the anxieties of the community radio lobby and has acted to take those on board in relation to the award of analogue licences. Both I and the noble Baroness, Lady David, mentioned that point. It has set aside capacity in the 107 to 108 megahertz band specifically for small-scale radio stations. On 19th January it published its advertisement for a small scale licence for Cambridge which permits applications for shorter term licences than the normal eight-year period. That was specifically to enable smaller groups which might find it difficult to demonstrate the likely viability of their proposal for the eight year duration of the licence to apply for a shorter term licence. I should stress that a successful applicant for a licence period shorter than eight years cannot extend his licence to the full eight year term. That is not a means for a large commercial operator to secure a full licence on the cheap.

On digital radio I hope that there will be plenty of opportunity for all sorts of programming to be part of a multiplex, and the variety criterion which we have introduced will ensure that is the case. The multiplex system allows flexibility of contractual arrangements which could benefit small-scale radio. Multiplex providers will be looking for new types of programmes. I am sure that small-scale and community radio services will emerge naturally, as a direct consequence of the

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development of DAB, alongside many other types of service catering for all tastes and interests. We do not need to require it and so risk discouraging prospective multiplex providers from applying for licences because they find the conditions unnecessarily prescriptive.

The Radio Authority is proving in its actions that it has the will to look after the whole radio sector including the widest definition of community radio services. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, due to the problems of defining what is meant by a community radio service, would, if enacted, create confusion in the licensing system. The Radio Authority will have taken careful note of the comments made in this debate. I hope that all those who have spoken will see that we share his aim of encouraging the expansion of the smaller scale operators in the radio market, both digital and analogue. We are helping to bring that about.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. We shall want to consider it rather carefully to see whether those who are active in the community radio movement wish to pursue the matter further in later stages of proceedings on the Bill or indeed finally and in another place. I hope that the Minister is right and that the new dimension of multiplexes will offer opportunity for that kind of grassroots activity. There is a difference between that and even the smallest of the commercial radio stations. For instance, Moray Firth Radio Station in Scotland, which I used to know very well, has done splendid service. That is an independent commercial local radio station which has succeeded with a great deal of voluntary help. The boundaries between a pure community radio station and a small commercial radio station are not very firm. On the other hand, in Scotland there is Heartland FM around Pitlochry and Aberfeldy which serves just 5,000 people on a full licence and is doing it remarkably well.

There is an area here which requires further study and needs as much encouragement as is technically possible. But, like the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, I do not profess to understand all the technicalities. At this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 41: [Local radio multiplex licences]:

[Amendment No. 109 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 110 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 111 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendments Nos. 112 to 118 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 119 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 120 not moved.]

Clause 41 agreed to.

Clause 42 [Award of local radio multiplex licences]:

[Amendments Nos. 121 to 123 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 124 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

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[Amendments Nos. 125 to 131 not moved.]

Clause 42 agreed to.

Clauses 43 and 44 agreed to.

Clause 45 [Conditions attached to national or local radio multiplex licence]:

[Amendments Nos. 132 and 133 not moved.]

Clause 45 agreed to.

Clause 46: [Additional payments to be made in respect of national radio multiplex licences]:

[Amendments Nos. 133A and 133B not moved.]

Clause 46 agreed to.

Clauses 47 and 48 agreed to.

Clause 49 [Duration and renewal of national or local radio multiplex licences]:

[Amendments Nos. 133C and 134 not moved.]

Clause 49 agreed to.

Clause 50 [Enforcement of national or local radio multiplex licences]:

[Amendments Nos. 134A and 134B not moved.]

Clause 50 agreed to.

Clause 51 [Licensing of digital sound programme services]:

[Amendments Nos. 134C and 134D not moved.]

Clause 51 agreed to.

6 p.m.

Clause 52 [Duration and conditions of digital sound programme licence]:

[Amendments Nos. 135 and 135A not moved.]

Clause 52 agreed to.

Clause 53 agreed to.

Clause 54 [Digital additional services]:

Baroness O'Cathain moved Amendment No. 136:


Page 51, line 4, leave out ("digital sound programme") and insert ("radio digital").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 136 I hope to encourage the Government to address an issue of interest and concern to them. The Government have proposed a realistic threshold of 10 per cent. on the broadcast of data through each multiplex. I believe that that is intended to restrict the level of business data sold to companies and only available through exclusive subscription.

That is perfectly correct. However, the Government have not defined "data" effectively enough. "Data" as defined in the Bill, will comprise all material that is not listened to at the time of broadcast. That would preclude one of the most interesting features of DAB--digital audio broadcasting. DAB sets will offer the listener access to public broadcast programmes, information and news items that have been broadcast previously. For example, I shall be able to access the midnight news programme at 7 o'clock the following morning; Members of the Committee, if they so wish, will be able to listen to the cricket scores from Australia at their convenience.

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Those features distinguish DAB from analogue broadcasting and form part of the public broadcast nature of the technology. If all data is placed within the umbrella of the 10 per cent. threshold, the incentive to buy a DAB set will be greatly reduced.

The amendment redefines digital additional service by defining the data within the 10 per cent. threshold as excluding radio digital service, rather than excluding digital sound programme. By that definition the 10 per cent. threshold will include business-to-business data but will allow for delayed reception of broadcast audio and other broadcast data to be available to the public at large.

The Bill also excludes advertising from ancillary services. The amendment allows for advertising as an ancillary service, because to edit out of programmes all advertising, including local event information, would be impossible and significantly change the local information content of local radio. I beg to move.

Lord Colwyn: Clause 54 defines digital additional service as not being, among other things, an ancillary service. In so doing it prevents ancillary services consisting in advertising. In that regard I refer to Clause 54(2)(d).

It is difficult to see why an ancillary service to a commercial radio service should not consist in advertising. For example, one can imagine why listeners may wish to hear or see on a small screen or via a coupon dispenser, which I understand may be a part of DAB radio sets, a choice of service or product in a specific category. An ancillary service may carry further details regarding something advertised more briefly on a sound service. I ask the Government to allow commercial DAB participants to utilise the commercial facilities of the technology. I support the amendment.

Lord Inglewood: Perhaps I may go round the general parameters of this general topic. I feel that the matter has been properly addressed but, if Members of the Committee feel that there are deficiencies in the way that we look at it, I shall be grateful to learn what those deficiencies are.

Amendment No. 137 affects advertising in the form of text, or in any other form not part of the sound programme service. Where such advertising is related to the content of sound programmes or to the content of sound advertisements, the amendment would categorise it as an ancillary service. Digital sound programme service providers would therefore no longer need an additional services licence to transmit the advertising concerned.

Let me make entirely clear that sound advertisements provided as part of the main sound programme service will not need any separate licence. Let me make clear also that under the Bill as drafted, text advertising will be permitted. However, it will need to be covered by an additional services licence and will therefore be counted towards the calculation of the percentage of each multiplex used for additional services. That percentage will, under Clause 45, be limited to 10 per cent. I should stress that the limit

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will not be set in stone. It will be amendable, by order, to allow the flexibility to respond to technical advances and market conditions. We touched on that general point earlier this evening.

The Government have made abundantly clear that they welcome the potential that digital technology will provide for broadcasting frequencies to be used for additional services such as text and data. However, I am sure my noble friend Lady O'Cathain will agree that we need to ensure that broadcasting frequencies are used primarily, though not exclusively, for broadcasting.

This amendment would mean that any digital sound programme licence holder could transmit any amount of text advertising, if there were a link to programme content. In the case of, say, a recipe programme, that could lead to a lot of text advertising. The amendment would also permit unlimited amounts of text advertising of records played on the sound service, and of related merchandise. Perhaps even more importantly, any advertiser providing advertisements for the sound service could, with the programme licence holder's agreement, place unlimited text advertisements.

Let us remember that, because digital audio broadcasting technology will provide increased capacity, and is flexible, that does not mean it provides unlimited capacity. Indeed, on radio space will be very tight. Any of that capacity being used for text advertising or other additional services means less for sound broadcasting, and therefore either fewer sound services or lower quality. So the Government's view is, by all means let us have text advertising on radio frequencies, but let us keep it within limits.

Our concern about the amendment is that it would severely restrict our ability to do that. I hope that my noble friend now has a better understanding of the thinking behind our proposal.


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