West Wilts Digital Radio plans to bid again after broadcasting industry regulator Ofcom revoked its small-scale DAB licence award for Warminster, Devizes and Trowbridge.

The statutory move was made after West Wilts Digital Radio at West Lavington near Devizes said it could not start broadcasting within the 18-month launch window.

Ofcom said: “We have reasonable grounds for believing that the person to whom the licence was awarded will not provide the service within 18 months of the date of the award.”

West Wilts Digital Radio says it wants the DAB licence to be re-advertised as the company is still committed to operating the service. Ofcom says it will now re-advertise the licence in round six of the small-scale licence applications.

A spokesperson for three community radio stations with links to West Wilts Digital Radio - Fantasy Radio, Frome FM and Warminster Community Radio - told industry magazine RadioToday: “We are totally committed to bringing local DAB to the area and had informed Ofcom we were ready to re-apply.

“The three community stations and our other service provider partners all wish to broadcast on DAB in the area and we are very pleased that Ofcom has agreed to relist West Wiltshire in the next round of licence offers.”

Wiltshire Times: Warminster Community Radio is involved in the West Wilts Digital Radio scheme.Photo: Trevor Porter 70552Warminster Community Radio is involved in the West Wilts Digital Radio scheme.Photo: Trevor Porter 70552 (Image: Trevor Porter)

The broadcasters said they reviewed the original technical plan in the light of the current economic climate and recent financial difficulties faced by some other multiplexes.

The redesign meant the Ofcom on-air deadline of March 2024 was at risk of being missed, and the licence offer being revoked prior to getting on-air.

Quentin Howard, chair of West Wiltshire Digital Radio, said: “We redesigned the network to create a prudent and viable long-term business but did not feel it was appropriate to risk spending charity money up front only to miss the strict on-air deadline imposed by Ofcom. Our only option was to ask Ofcom to repeat the licensing process.”

West Wiltshire Digital Radio is a consortium of community radio stations in Frome, Devizes and Warminster that won the licence for the area in autumn 2022.

It currently broadcasts to thousands of people living in the Devizes, Melksham, Frome and Warminster areas. The new licence would extend its broadcast coverage to people in Bradford on Avon, Corsham and Trowbridge.

It plans to use two transmitters with a 30-metre-high antenna at Naish Hill and a 20-metre-tall antenna at Park Hill. This would enable it to achieve a coverage of 83 per cent of the population in its target broadcast areas.