Applying for your licence

Few prospects in community radio are less appealing than filling in an application for a full time community radio licence. By the time you’ve visited the Ofcom website then downloaded and printed out the document you may well have lost the will to apply, if not the will to live. You really need not panic. If you are ready to run a community radio station, then completing the form should be a straightforward (if exhausting) process.

AUTHOR’S NOTE 2014 Many of the specifics in this section are now historical – i.e. written just as the first licences were issued.  The general principles remain, and if you are applying for a UK licence please make the OFCOM website community radio section your first port of call.  This section was also unofficially vetted by an Ofcom insider.

It is worth remembering how licensed community radio came into existence in the United Kingdom. No Government minister woke up suddenly with a burning passion to initiate it. Instead there was a lengthy process of lobbying and campaigning by the community media sector. This persuaded key politicians and officials that licensing radio stations could offer sustainable social improvements at little to no cost to the Government, and without causing financial damage to the commercial radio industry.

It was community radio activists who told politicians what community radio is, and what it can do. The Radio Authority, Ofcom and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport investigated our claims and with a handful of exceptions they accepted what they were told. The licence application form reflects that lobbying process. With the notable exception of what many feel to be the onerous protection given to small commercial stations, almost everything in it is there because the community radio sector has said that it should be there.

We, as the activists and creators of community radio, need the application form to be detailed. Community radio is a precious gift and if it is to flourish we need to cherish it and protect it. We need to ensure that community radio is used properly to offer access to the excluded, diversity to the airwaves and tangible benefits to the community, rather than simply as a tool of vanity or self-interest. Community radio frequencies are too valuable a resource to be wasted on the greedy, the frivolous or the incompetent.

When Ofcom look at your form they are using it to make three decisions:

  • Does what you are proposing match the legal definition of community radio?
  • Is your group in a position to run a community radio station for five years?
  • If there are more applications for licences in an area than there are frequencies available, would yours make the best community radio project?

In other words you must prove yourself on two fronts: against the basic standards that must be met by all community radio stations, and against rival groups from your own and neighbouring geographical areas. It is the latter which is the bigger potential hurdle for applicants. You could fill in an application that is comfortably good enough for Ofcom on its own terms, but still lose out to a better bid from another group that wants to broadcast to a different community on the same wavelength. While you shouldn’t panic about your application, equally you should not take it lightly. Filling in the form could be the single most important action you ever undertake with a community radio project.

Of course, Ofcom will have to check that there is a frequency available for you –  you should check frequency availability before you apply – the list of excluded areas is on the websites of Ofcom and the CMA.

BOX 3.01

No go zones for community radio

In September 2004 the Government ruled that Ofcom could not license community radio stations if the coverage area for the proposed station overlaps by 50% or more with a commercial radio station that has a population of less than 50,000 adults within its measured coverage area (MCA).

If the proposed area of coverage overlaps by 50% or more with a commercial station with an MCA containing between 50,000 and 150,000 adults, Ofcom must include conditions prohibiting commercial advertising and sponsorship. This could apply even if the community radio station was licensed before the commercial station.

If you’ve found it hard to follow the above explanations, don’t worry, you only need to refer to the list on Ofcom’s website.

Also note that some of these restrictions may change subsequent to the review of community radio licensing planned for 2007 – check  and for details.

It may also be worth investigating which other community radio groups are active in your area. If your fledgling radio project is going to be competing against a long-running, well-established, well-funded community radio station or group, you may wish to think about how your talents and ideas could be incorporated within the bigger project (or if you could take them elsewhere), rather than wasting the £600 fee on a proposal with little realistic chance of success.   If you think you are on a par with a possible rival group it has to make sense to talk to them about a partnership or merger, as it is possible that only one of you will get a license.

The application form is testing because we need to be tested, and the challenge is a fair one. It is written mostly in plain English, there are no trick questions, and there is free advice to be had. If you are ready to run a community radio station you will certainly be ready to fill in the application. Furthermore, the form can itself be considered a useful guide to what is expected of you as a community radio station. If you approach the process in a sensible manner, the form should be your friend.

The frequency of frequencies 

The other consideration before you put pen to paper or finger to keyboard is frequency availability.  The availability spectrum runs from London where things are so squeezed that there might not be any other frequencies available after this year’s application round, through the other big cities (some of which might get hit with the same moratorium), to small cities, towns and villages where frequencies are more readily available.  This may be incredibly unfair on your group if you are based in a big city – if you are so affected join the CMA and lobby to increase frequency availability.

That’s not to say that every village can get a wavelength, since the distance between stations with the same frequency needs to be pretty large – the nearest other community radio group might be 50 miles away but you may still be bidding for the same frequency.  Still, the less built-up your area is the higher chance you have of  getting a frequency.  The ‘rub’ in all of these considerations is that not even Ofcom know whether you’ll be bidding for the same frequency as your far away neighbours, or if there are two, five or ten frequencies available for your area.  So, ponder these factors, stick your finger in the air and get writing.

When should I apply? 

As with just about everything else in community radio, timing your application is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand you do not want to apply before you are ready. You must have an active community radio group up and running, you must have registered yourselves as a trading company or charity (or be in the process of doing so) (see Company Structures), and you must have gained enough experience to make your application realistic. On the other hand, in many areas of the country available frequencies are scarce.


The licence application form:

  • Is there to ensure you will do a good job of delivering community radio
  • Is not as difficult to complete as you might think
  • Shouldn’t be left too late. The early bird catches the licence

Licences last for five years.  You could easily spend many years getting your funding perfectly in place, training up your staff and volunteers and building solid bridges within your community. But in the meantime, a brash, flash project with a fraction of your credibility but enough potential to satisfy Ofcom could nip in and win a community licence uncontested. It could be five years before you could apply again, and by that time your rivals will probably have built up a solid track record of their own, with all the added advantages of being an established broadcaster. You may never get your licence.

Helpfully, Ofcom has specified that a community licence can be applied for with a starting broadcast date of up to two years after the licence is awarded. So stations awarded a five-year licence in 2005 could delay the start of broadcasting until 2007 without having to shorten their licence period i.e. their licences could be valid until 2012. Our advice would be to use this window, run a few RSLs as quickly as you can and then get your application in at the first opportunity with a later starting date if necessary.

What’s in the form?

The current form has ten sections, each of which is clearly explained both on the form itself and in the accompanying notes of guidance.

  1. Opening statement. This short introductory statement summarises your community, the objectives of your station and your broadcasting philosophy. This is the first impression you will make, and it is vital you make a good one. You have a few paragraphs to explain why the following pages will add up to the most exciting, necessary and important application ever to have been submitted, while simultaneously radiating good organisation, professionalism and efficiency. Spend a long time writing this statement, crafting it with utmost care.  It might be an idea to write this at the end – then you will have a better feel for the strengths of your application.
  1. About your organisation. This section asks you to declare whether you are a company or a registered charity. There are no other options. If you are some other form of organisation or institution, such as a club or school, then you will need to register a separate company before applying for your licence (see Company Structure).
  1. Who owns your organisation? Legally the answer is the company directors. In this section of the form you must tell Ofcom about your board, who they are, their relevant experience and their home contact details. Ofcom is more interested in the track record of the named individuals than they are in the track record of the company, so if your company is new and untested but the board have extensive experience in the field, Ofcom should be suitably impressed.
  1. How is your station to be managed? What staff will you employ? Who are your management committee or steering group? Ofcom wants to know that your project will be run competently, but also that your management is representative of the community it is claiming to serve. If your group currently lacks in areas of expertise or representation, you should explain how you intend to plug those gaps through training or recruitment.
  1. Community to be served. Ofcom specifically defines a community as being either a community of place or a community of interest. They have shown that they are willing to grant licences to relatively small communities of interest. However in the ‘New Voices’ evaluation of the ‘Access Radio’ pilot stations for Ofcom, Professor Anthony Everitt notes that a community of interest can often be served by a larger community of place, and it is our position at Radio Regen that communities of place generally offer broader social gain than communities of interest. Ofcom has recently stated that it doesn’t differentiate between rival applications from communities of place and communities of interest. Nonetheless, if you offer to deliver benefits to only one section of a community, you may risk losing out to a more ambitious bid which promises to deliver more benefits to the whole community, including yours.

You will need to furnish this chapter with demographics and social statistics. You should explain in detail who your community is, what their particular problems are and what their needs may be.  Back up your statements with figures from the National Census, local authorities or other statistical resources – but a street by street breakdown of your area might be counter-productive. Your local library, local authority or National Statistics websites should give you all the help you need. You will also need to offer evidence of local demand and support for your proposal but no petitions!

  1. Social gain, accountability and access to station. While every section in the application form is important, it is the quality of your promises on social gain that could make or break your application. The form asks you to explain how you will assess and meet your community’s needs, including social inclusion, training, access to the airwaves and all the other benefits which community radio is obliged and expected to bring (see p. **). You must also state how you will ensure that members of your community can become involved in the management of the station, and how it can be sure that you are accountable to the community you serve.

This section is your opportunity to display your wide-ranging links to the community through community groups, schools, agencies and so on. It is in the nature of community radio that bids from economically and socially disadvantaged communities offer greater opportunity for social gain than bids from comparatively wealthy communities. Nevertheless your application should stress the areas in which your project can make the biggest practical differences. You won’t get a licence out of sympathy.

  1. What will you be broadcasting? Ofcom’s responsibilities include securing diversity of broadcasting and they are looking to the community radio sector to help provide it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t provide material (such as pop music in all its many forms) that is already being provided elsewhere, but it does mean you should be delivering it in a different way, or reaching a different audience. Programming which is truly unique in your location (such as foreign language broadcasting or specialist music/interest shows) will be looked upon favourably.

In broad terms, Ofcom are likely to give greater weight to access and social gain issues than they are to quality of programming. A roster of paid professional broadcasters making Sony Award-winning radio on a so-called community station will not impress them. Diversity, originality and the practical usefulness of programming are favoured above production values. Likewise, you will have to declare how many hours of live radio you expect to broadcast each week, as against pre-recorded shows and automated output. With commercial stations broadcasting pre-recorded shows is considered a negative factor – stations are expected to mostly broadcast live. However Ofcom is pragmatic about the issue in relation to community radio stations, accepting that pre-recording can be an efficient use of limited resources and that much of a station’s most useful work may be conducted off air.

  1. How are you to be funded? Ofcom has a duty to consider the viability of any new radio service, so it’s important to demonstrate that you’ve thought about financial planning. This section may look daunting, with its columns of budgets and projected expenditure, but really you (or your finance person) should have most of the information at your fingertips already. If you don’t, you will soon have to assemble it, as similar information will be required by innumerable funding agencies and auditors. If the process of completing this section of the form is a real test for you, remember that getting your budgets in order is time well spent.

Ofcom will not expect you to be flush with cash. They are experienced enough to know that community radio is often a bootstraps operation. Nor will they expect you to have all your funding already in place. However they do want to see that you are realistic in regard to your budgets and your financial planning. It is also true that if they were deciding between two bids, everything else being equal they would be likely to favour the one that had more secure long-term funding.

At the time of writing – with Ofcom part way through sifting the first round of applicants – one unofficial comment on reasons for failure was that applicants were either wildly generous or too penny  pinching with their budgets.  The key word is realism.


The licence application form:

  • is in ten sections
  • really isn’t so scary when you break it down

 9. How are you going to broadcast? Ofcom is only really interested in your transmission equipment (see p. **). What sort of transmitter is it, and where exactly are you going to put it? They even want a photograph. The purpose is to allow their technical specialists to calculate which frequency might be available to you, and to ensure that you can broadcast without endangering the signals of other radio stations and wireless telecommunications.

10.Really a checklist of everything you should have stated in your application or included as additional material. You must also verify that you have paid your non-returnable fee of £600. Please note that the money must be in Ofcom’s bank account before the application deadline – in other words your cheque must have cleared before this deadline.

Filling in your form: background information

 Who will be judging your application?

 Your form will be read and considered by the Radio Licensing Committee, a small team of experts who specialise in areas such as programming and finance. This Committee is currently guided by Ofcom’s resident community radio specialists Soo Williams and Lawrie Hallett, both of whom have been highly supportive of the community radio sector.  They will not be trying to catch you out or looking for excuses to block your licence out of spite. They want you to succeed, and if you make an honest factual mistake or miss something small out from your application they are likely to contact you for the necessary information rather than throwing your form in the bin with the cackle of a pantomime villain. Of course, that’s not to say that errors and sloppiness in your application will not reflect on your abilities to run a station. They may well do.     

 How will they judge it?

The Ofcom group will first assess your application and then, if they think you deserve a licence, they’ll go looking for a frequency for you to broadcast on.

A high priority will be to ensure that you meet the requirements for mandatory social gain (see p. **) In other words that you are promising to deliver tangible improvements to people’s lives and offer access to the airwaves to those excluded elsewhere. They will also confirm that you are structured as a non-profit company and that you are in some way representative of the community you hope to serve.

If you fail to meet any of the above requirements, it would actually be against the law for Ofcom to give you a licence, however nicely you might ask. So don’t waste their time. If you do meet them, then Ofcom is legally permitted to give you a licence, which is not to say they will. They may be unconvinced by your financial plans or your management structure, or they may think that the community you represent is not large enough or willing enough to sustain your plans. But if your application is basically sound, if your licence is refused it will most probably be because there is another bid in your locality that the regulator prefers.

How will they compare rival bids?

At present, Ofcom has no plans to publish scores or detailed breakdowns regarding its decisions. However Ofcom is striving to improve transparency in their decisions, so something like this may yet come, and there is a new undertaking that a letter outlining the basic reasons for refusal is sent to any unsuccessful applicant.  We also hope to present the transcript of Ofcom’s feedback on the 2004/2005 process at the CommunityFM2005 conference and on this book’s website by the end of November 2005.


Your application will be judged:

  • By expert assessors who are on your side
  • Subjectively by real people, rather than by computer or tick box
  • Quickly or slowly or somewhere in between

For the time being we must work with some assumptions. The most important factors are likely to include the quality of your promises on social gain, programming and ability to deliver. Which proposal would bring the greatest improvements to the lives of the most people? Other factors will be how well structured the organisation is, how much confidence Ofcom has in the personnel involved, and so on. Often the relative merits of different bids will be highly subjective and impossible to quantify. The bid that wins could be the one which was the most persuasive to the panel. In other words, if everything else is roughly equal, the licence may go to the applicant who best presents and phrases their application.

When will you know if you’ve succeeded? 

At present Ofcom is making the easiest decisions first. So in the round of licences submitted in November 2004, the first licence to be granted was for Forest of Dean Radio, an established and acclaimed Medium Wave community radio station in Gloucestershire (see p. **) where there were no other applicants. Other decisions took considerably longer, as the claims and merits of rival applicants were considered. Ofcom will not commit itself to a decision date, so depending on the nature and location of your bid it could take anything from around three to nine months or more. The expectation at present is that Ofcom will give only the broadest explanations for its decisions. So if the application is unsuccessful they may say for example that there was no frequency available, or that the application failed to demonstrate mandatory social gain requirements. The assessors will not be drawn into detail or debate about decisions.

Filling in your form: practical tips

Make sure someone is responsible


“It’s a very daunting process. You’ve got these 35 blank pages, which increase to around 55 when you’ve filled them in. You’ve got to break it down into smaller pieces. Then it’s not so daunting. I booked three weeks clear in my diary and at the end of that it was written. So it wasn’t something that was done over a massive period of time, but equally it’s not going to be done in an afternoon.

“We finally submitted it about 30 minutes before the deadline. It’s the fine-tuning of it – sending it back and forward between ourselves, quibbling about words. We could have gone on forever. Eventually you have to just give up and press ‘send’ ”.

Alex Green, station manager, ALL FM

While it may be possible to apply for a licence by committee, the potential for disaster is enormous. If one person fails to do their duties properly the whole application could collapse. While it may be that some members of your team are better placed to complete different sections of the form, make sure there is one person (usually the station manager or equivalent) with whom the buck will stop. 

Start early, finish early

It is envisaged that every year Ofcom will invite new applications for community radio licences, and that there will then be a period of 12 weeks to the closing deadline. In 2004/5, the applicants faced a tough task since the forms were only published when the invitation was announced. Future applicants have the advantage of seeing the forms with plenty of time to prepare, although the paperwork may change as Ofcom develops its approach to licensing. Tedious paperwork tends to be put off until the last minute, but amazingly it doesn’t get any easier as the deadline approaches. Assume the process of completing the form will take you several weeks (see box 3:02 **). If you finish it earlier, then you have time to fine-tune the details before the deadline, rather than submitting a hasty, error-strewn application. We are aware of more than one well-established, ambitious, apparently well-organised community radio group that has failed to get its application in before the deadline. Others have faced enormous stress as they have realised that they need to form a registered company a few days before the deadline, for example, as they hadn’t read the form until the final week.

Do your background reading first

As soon as you even begin to contemplate applying for a full time licence, begin to do your homework. Read through the application form and guidance notes carefully. Then read them again. Then read the New Voices report, read everything on, and Then go to the Ofcom online archive and read some examples of successful bids. Keep reading them until you start spouting training budget projections and transmitter wattages in your sleep. Once you are convinced you understand absolutely everything that you are being asked for, then you should begin to think about filling in the form.

Find some peace

Community radio stations are often chaotic, noisy places with volunteers and colleagues placing continual demands on your attention. Although you will need access to your office records and files, it is worth trying finding a room where you can hide from unwelcome visitors and phone calls, or completing as much of the application as possible elsewhere – at home, a library or wherever suits you.

Send it to Ofcom the way they want it

Your application is to be completed on a computer using the same ‘rich text format’ document which you download from the Ofcom website. Do not print it out and write in your answers by hand. When you submit, you can send it by post if you must but Ofcom’s stated preference is that you send it by e-mail, so that is what you should do. It is best to assume there will be a server crash at the last minute, so be wary of holding off until the last five minutes – or even the last few hours. All accompanying documents should be posted in plenty of time – those too should have arrived before the deadline. Your £600 cheque must have cleared before the date too, so pay early.  Please note that the Ofcom server did slow down on the last day of submissions in 2004 – read and be warned.

Use the same style of English as Ofcom use

If you read the form and the guidance notes, you will notice that Ofcom use plain, simple vocabulary where possible. They don’t try to make things sound more complicated than they are. Their documents are written in an accessible yet formal style, they certainly don’t try to be funny or use slang or trivial turns of phrase.  Take that as your guide.

Right you’re English write 

While Ofcom will assure you that it will not hold the occasional spelling or grammatical mistake against you, many people find nothing more irritating than persistent errors in English. Such mistakes can even change the meaning of your sentences. Take great care and get your application read by an experienced proof-reader before submitting. Bad English suggests an ill-prepared bid – inviting the panel to wonder what else you may have failed to check.

Write as much as you have to say

As a general guide, we would return to our mantra: the form is your friend. If there is a large box to be completed, it generally means they want a lot of information, if there is a smaller box they want less. You can continue your answers on another page, but only do so if you really need to. If you are especially proud of your achievements in getting access to the airwaves for under-represented sections of society, then you may wish to flesh out the relevant sections with plenty of hard facts, figures and examples. On the other hand if your performance in that area so far has been less than impressive, don’t try to hoodwink the panel by padding out your form with spurious connections or complicated but meaningless statistical tables. Instead, use the space to explain what you plan to do to improve your access performance. Avoid adjectives unless in quotes from authoritative supporters. 

Answer all the questions

There will be questions asked which clearly do not apply to you and your bid – if you are sure they don’t apply to you, write in ‘n/a’ or something equivalent. And unless it is really obvious, explain exactly why the question doesn’t apply to you. Do not leave any boxes blank – that way both you and the assessors are sure you haven’t just failed to answer. 

Answer the questions you are asked

Read the form carefully and make sure you’ve understood what you are being asked for.  Then only write what is relevant to that question. Don’t go off on tangents or pad out your answers with irrelevant information.

Don’t tell them everything

At several points the application form offers you the opportunity to add ‘any other information’. Only tell them what they really need to know, and they don’t need to know your shoe sizes. With very rare exceptions, all the information that Ofcom will use to make its decision has already been asked for on the form. Try to use the questions as they are presented to you. If Ofcom feels that it does want to know more about your proposal, they will write to you and ask for more information (but do check if this still applies in the year you intend to apply). 

Don’t send the kitchen sink

Whatever else the panel might use to judge your application, it won’t be a set of scales. While there will be additional documents and materials you will want to include – and some which Ofcom asks for – resist the temptation to send a copy of every complimentary letter and email you have ever received, or every press cutting or photograph from the studio wall. It might well be worth including meaty testimonials from important key partners (e.g. if your council leader has written to you saying your RSLs have been marvellous and they don’t know what they’d do without you) but make sure they carry real punch before you bother the Radio Licensing Committee with them. If you are desperate to include lots of letters, photos, cuttings etc. then scan them all onto one CDR and let the assessors look at their leisure. Letter-writing campaigns by your listeners and volunteers in support of your bid are not welcome and may even be counter-productive.

Phone a friend

If you’ve been active in community radio for a while, you should have met community radio activists from around the country. Some of them will also be filling in the form at the same time as you, others may have done so in previous years. Unless they are your immediate competitors for a licence, they are likely to be highly sympathetic to your plight, and probably more than willing to talk you through whatever problem areas you may have. It could be a valuable phone call even if the other person is in a worse mess than you are and you end up offering an understanding shoulder to cry on. 

Don’t fib

You may wonder how many of the facts you provide will be checked. After all, if you are in Aberdeen or Plymouth, submitting an application to distant bureaucrats, you might not expect them to know much about your community. You may even think that with a couple of hundred applications to consider, Ofcom assessors are unlikely to phone up all the agencies you name as your supportive partners to check if they have even heard of you. And you would probably be right. However, if you have any temptation to add a few embellishments you should think again. While Ofcom may not know much about your area, it may well be that you have local competitors who know just as much as you do. Any sensible applicant is going to look at their rivals’ applications as soon as they are published on Ofcom’s website. If Ofcom doesn’t spot your little white lies, someone else is highly likely to point them in the right direction (see p. **). Needless to say, Ofcom will thoroughly investigate any possible dishonesty that is brought to its attention.

Don’t make unrealistic promises


When filling in your licence application form you should:

  • Be thoroughly prepared and informed
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space
  • Tell Ofcom as much as they want to know, but don’t overload them
  • Check you are answering the questions that are being asked
  • Take great care with your English and presentation
  • Be honest and realistic

Obviously you are trying to impress Ofcom, and there may be a big temptation to overstate your ambitions and your abilities. While of course you can give your application an optimistic sheen, your promises of service delivery and social gain should all be fundamentally realistic and attainable. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, Ofcom are looking at many community radio applications. They know better than anyone else what can be achieved within certain budgets. If other applicants of your approximate size and financial turnover are promising to train 20 volunteers in their first year, and you are promising to train 200, they will be rightly suspicious. Secondly, the promises you make on your licence application will become your performance targets when you begin broadcasting. When your annual reports begin to show up a massive gap between your promises and your delivery, Ofcom can withdraw your licence and allow an honest broadcaster to take over.

Other bits and pieces

If you are successful in your application to Ofcom for a broadcast licence, there are some other licenses that you will then need to sort out – namely your PRS and PPL licenses and possibly also a JFMG license.  See more details about these in the ‘Money and Resources’ chapter, but just to say here that getting these licenses is simply a matter of filling in a very short form and paying up.

After you apply

Put your feet up and have a cup of tea

Go on. You deserve it.

Check out the competition

As soon as Ofcom has checked that applications are legitimate, that all attachments have been attached and that all cheques have cleared, they will publish all the applications received on their website – which should be within a few weeks/months of the deadline passing. You can then look to see who else has applied in your geographical area. You won’t know for sure which bids conflict directly with yours and which do not, as only when the Ofcom engineers have mapped the applicants will they know how many frequencies can be made available. But you can generally assume that any bids that overlap with your area of transmission, or are within a few kilometres of you, could be potential rivals.

You are entirely within your rights to look closely at any applications that potentially conflict with yours. If you spot a glaring inaccuracy in their application you are entitled to raise it with Ofcom. But be very wary of appearing to interfere. It would be one thing to point out that a rival applicant is claiming to be training volunteers at a college that in fact closed down last century. It is entirely different to pester Ofcom with e-mails saying things like ‘So-and-so FM claim to serve a community of 120,000 people but we’ve checked and there are only 100,000.’ Nobody likes a smart Alec.

Be on best behaviour


After you have applied for your licence:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Check the competition
  • Be on your best behaviour on air
  • Keep yourselves busy

If you are broadcasting between your application being submitted and the judgement being made (on a training RSL for example), then be even more cautious than usual in standards of behaviour on air. Nothing would do more damage to your licence application than a successful complaint.  Make sure all your volunteers are even more disciplined than usual in avoiding offensive language, libels, contempts and other on-air transgressions (see p. **). It was rumoured that some of the Access Pilot managers were seen to be patrolling studios with big sticks in the run-up to license announcements.

As community radio romantics we like to believe that everyone in the sector would play scrupulously fair while applications were being considered. But the truth is, we should assume that someone, somewhere is listening to our broadcasts with an unusually keen and critical ear at such times.

Keep busy

The period of time between your application being submitted and your licence being granted could feel like a near-interminable limbo – it certainly felt like it in 2005. There is a danger you could lose momentum as a group while you wait to hear Ofcom’s judgement. So there is no reason why you shouldn’t apply to run another RSL while you wait. It gives you a great opportunity to gather pace in your training and community outreach work while you wait for the big decision.

Of course you can increase your training and community activities off air too, not to mention your alternative radio activities such as webcasting (see p. **). Whatever you do, make sure it is helping you get ready for the main event.

Further reading and links