How difficult is it to gain a radio licence?

Nigel Farage has lost his LBC radio show after comparing the Black Lives Matter movement to the Taliban.

The station announced that Farage was stepping down with immediate effect.

Officially, LBC gave no reasons for his departure. But insiders claimed there had been pressure from staff and fellow presenters who were furious about his comments.

One said there had been long-standing unhappiness over Farage being employed by the station, but the Taliban comment was “the final straw”.

The audience was great, the advertising just fine.

Thus there’s rather an opportunity there. To establish, using a marquee name as the hook, a new radio station specifically aimed at that audience.

Think Sirius radio taking Howard Stern. Or the creation of Fox News, aimed at those ill served – politically – by he extant media.

The question becomes how expensive is it to gain that licence and infrastructure to be able to broadcast?

There would also be the old Ukip problem. To navigate that line between being different and even offensive to current media mores while not falling over the edge into BNP territory. Something Farage did manage at Ukip (I know, I was there and took part) and post-Farage Ukip didn’t, or not entirely.

The selection of the other people to carry other shows therefore becoming something rather important…..

24 thoughts on “How difficult is it to gain a radio licence?”

  1. Deleted LBC from my radio stations. I’d gone off Nick Ferrari couple of months ago…Ian Collins left some time ago…only one I was really listening to was Tom Swarbrick at 10pm. So sod it. Well, there’s always James Delingpole and Jerusalem FM, unfortunately Talkradio at 10am is not always convenient.

    I hear the punch up has been cancelled in London this weekend, the other side bottled it. Well, if the government and the police do nothing for law and order, perhaps the silent majority will.

  2. Looks like about £30,000/month to broadcast nationally on DAB:

    Whether or not there are extra costs to be added to the Freeview/Freesat/Sky/Virgin/BT/etc. list of radio stations is unclear. Could Radio Nigel pull in that kind of revenue while effectively mimicking LBC’s format? I don’t see why not, given his listening numbers. If he can steal away Iain Dale and Nick Ferrari and get Jacob Rees-Mogg on board, they could at least cut LBC’s legs from underneath them. There will be people with the money to fund that out there who genuinely want that to happen.

    Furthermore, he’s got plenty of people onside from his Brexit Party campaign who would no doubt love to come along and pick up a small-ish salary for talking to people on the radio under the Farage banner. Anne Widdecombe, Claire Fox, Richard Tice, Michelle Dewberry… Many more, too, I’m sure.


    Potential obstacles for the leftist establishment to throw in front of Radio Farage:

    Requirement for a licence from Ofcom, well the chairman is a Tory peer and while the CEO Melanie Dawes is a civil service lifer, she is married to an ex-Telegraph hack. Not sure if that’s better or worse for a right wing radio station, bearing in mind the state of the Tories.

    Then you need to find a way of broadcasting, via commercial companies who, when faced with the slightest peep from the usual suspects, would fold like a cheap hooker who’s been punched in the stomach by a fat guy*.

    Online radio is never going to get a wide enough audience.

    *©Joey Tribbiani

  4. @ Jussi

    Despite the likes of Hope Not Hate saying that the DFLA couldn’t get the numbers out, they know themselves that this isn’t true. The BBC always underestimate the numbers at “Far Right” marches and overestimate the numbers at UKBLM. The reality was they were going to have to face people who weren’t going to let them kick off without consequences (unlike supine Plod).

  5. Getting the OFCOM licence and broadcasting on DAB is highly achievable at cost. However, there is then the OFCOM code, which insists that stations are not allowed to be biased – i.e. have to adopt their rules on “Due impartiality”.

  6. LBC I was able to to listen through my TV, freesat and speakers, very good sound quality. Talkradio is not on freesat, I listen to it through Google home speaker and the sound quality is a bit muddled. On the other hand, talkradio sound quality is much better with a small DAB radio in the bedroom.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    Why go to the expense and trouble of getting a licence from Ofcom and paying to transmit when the Internet is effectively free? I sometimes use my phone in the car to listen to radio stations that I can’t get on a standard FM radio eg Planet Rock and TMS.

  8. However, there is then the OFCOM code, which insists that stations are not allowed to be biased

    File that one under quaint old laws never enforced, alongside the Witchcraft act or suchlike.

  9. What BiND said.

    I’d start with podcasting and streaming. Both are pretty much cheap and off-the-shelf now. And penetration of phones in cars via BT is growing. You could get the station onto things like Apple, IHeartRadio.

    And think GLOBAL, baby. All those MAGA guys would love Farage.

  10. Here’s how to listen to LBC while driving to/from work:
    1. Start the car engine.

    Here’s how to listen to internet radio;
    1. Take your phone out of your pocket
    2. Unlock your phone
    3. Find your “internet radio” app
    4. Launch the app, wait
    5. Find the Nigel Farage station
    6. Start the car engine
    7. Go to Bluetooth Settings on the car radio
    8. Go to Bluetooth Settings on your phone
    9. oh I give up, let’s just listen to Nick Ferrari

    Is DAB standard in cars yet? Neither my car (2012) nor my wife’s (2015) has DAB.

  11. Agreed with Andrew M. Online radio in cars may be getting “growing penetration”, as Bloke on M4 says, but it’s still far, far below the near-universal simple access we’ve got to FM stations.

    No doubt it will come, but for now there’s a huge difference in reach between online and proper radio.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    Andrew M,

    My set up is far simpler. Start engine, podcasts automatically start. Admittedly I do have to start an app to listen to TMS and other stations, but I do that walking to the car.

    Setting up Bluetooth is a once only pain, but even that’s getting better.

  13. “Online radio is never going to get a wide enough audience.”

    Maybe because the format is not online “radio”…
    Streaming broadcasts over the interwebs is the de-facto new standard, especially since you can listen to them where and when you want to hear someone talk, or ..well.. listen to/view anything that interests you. Radio, especially for the younger generation(s) is dead.

    Like most of the glossy mag industry and to a certain extent newspapers. It’s obsolete, and most people under 40 or so have completely abandoned those media.
    And you really want to reach the “younger generations” if you want to get your message Out There and hopefully affect at least a couple of bright minds with more sense than your average cabbage.
    And you don’t do that with “radio”, especially talk-radio. That’d be a complete waste of money, because it’d be preaching to the choir all the way, and a rather geriatric choir at that.

    If you toss that 50k or so you need to set up for “radio” for just a month at a proper webcast and hosting solution, you are basically set. And most of that is equipment/software, most of the rest of the recurring cost is data use after that.
    And much, much more flexible in your setup for anything than you’d ever be with a radio studio.
    And have a much better chance at actually reaching the people you want/need.

    Why piss away good money at radio?

  14. If that might not work IO’d settle for “No cant, no can’ts.”

    Subtlety, that’s the thing.

  15. Why worry about impartiality and having bias, just say we are free speech and anyone can come make a statement, no cancelling/de-platforming, but you will be challenged and asked proper questions, show the left for the hypocrites they are

  16. I imagine if you took 2 real life examples of kids from a sink estate of different ethnicity and said one is now in prison for drugs and assault and has 3 kids by different mothers and the other is a married professional with 2 kids doing well in school and asked a leftie to explain why one was more privileged than the other they would immediately launch into a racism rant without even checking the ethnicity of the 2 people. Could make for a fun gotcha moment if the media wanted I suppose.

  17. Andrew M,

    It’s not even all of that. I take my phone, open podcasts, press play, get in the car and go.

    The trade off is that I get to listen to the things I really want to listen to. The few interesting things on Radio 4 and LBC are going to get boosted on social media anyway.

  18. Another thing that has changed is the listening of radio in the workplace.
    When I were a lad, any factory or building site would have had a plethora of radios on the go at any one time.
    All that has changed though and the advent of elf ‘n safety among other things has knocked that on the head.
    A few years back in my place of work, the Performing Rights lot rocked up and informed the boss that if we were playing any music on site, then we would have to cough up several £££ every year. The boss was narked at their attitude and told them to do one. So no more music.
    That it’s totally counter productive doesn’t matter to the bureaucrats.
    My kids watch YouTube. The few times they’re exposed to the radio (in the car) has pretty much convinced them that listening to moronic presenters and the crap music they play isn’t worth the effort.
    They won’t be paying the licence fee when they grow up.

  19. Regarding DAB radio in cars. Fairly high end cars now have it as standard but my wife’s Hyundai i10 is fairly new but, as a budget car, doesn’t have it. If your car doesn’t have DAB it is near impossible to upgrade due to modern built in radio designs. One exception is my 2012 Ssangyong Korando which came with a Kenwood package with the old style rectangular header unit. I spent about £140 on an almost identical unit that had DAB as well as all the modern tech.

  20. @ Ummmm
    Well, there are a lot of environmental effects outside the home that impact upon the individual child as well as those inside the home – and having a solid two-parent family is the single most important factor for promoting a child’s chance in life.
    There have been “sink estates” for many decades – 60-odd years ago I was under strict orders to avoid Swainby Road (a few years later the police abandoned the houses at the end of the road) although I was allowed to go into other tough estates that were off limits for my sisters.
    Just because most Indians work their way up from the bottom – as did my Hanoverian great-great-grandfather and my half-Welsh great-grandfather and my seven-eighths Welsh father (all of whom were younger sons) – that doesn’t mean that Britain is racially prejudiced in favour of Indians.

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