Letter: Radio offers little licence

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Radio Authority scrupulously invited bidders for Independent National Radio 1 and 2 under carefully regulated applications. The bidders had to present detailed business plans, which were equitably vetted. This apparent even-handedness led to many possible applicants withdrawing on the basis of the conditions laid down.

It is therefore necessary to question the propriety of the authority now awarding reductions of nearly 40 per cent in annual licence fees to Classic FM (launched successfully in September) and Virgin rock radio (not yet on the air) and cuts of up to 16 per cent in the fees charged to local radio stations. Part of these generous donations has no doubt been found from the thousands of pounds charged by the authority to 'scrutinise the business and programme plans' of failed applicants.

Surely the business plans of the bidders (and those who aborted their bids) for INR 1 and 2 would have been very different had they known that the licence fee for the eight-year contracts would end up 40 per cent cheaper.

Further, surely this appears to be a tacit admission by the authority that its original conditions were ill-considered if, indeed, it is now acknowledged that even the successful stations cannot be reasonably expected to pay the high licence fees originally requested.

Yours faithfully,

ANTHONY FIELD

London, EC2

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