Local radio station faces uphill struggle following proposed abolition of FM frequency

A RADIO station in West Norfolk is facing an uphill struggle to avoid extinction as a government plan to abolish the FM frequency picks up speed.

KLFM, which serves an area stretching from Wisbech to the outskirts of Norwich, had hoped a plan put forward by the previous government to switch off the use of FM for many stations in five years would be abandoned.

But the station fears the worst after Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, announced the government will continue to push for a national switchover from FM to DAB with a target date of 2015.

Pam Lawton, KLFM’s managing director, said: “We are not on DAB at the moment and currently most of the DAB digital platforms have been snapped up.

“As things stand, West Norfolk does not have a digital platform because there are limitations about how many there can be and there will only be one station that will serve Norfolk.

“That station will probably be based in Norwich so once the government decides to turn off FM, we will have to switch off for good.

“We accept the future of radio may change but we hope it won’t change until every station has the chance, and the help, to migrate onto DAB.”

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The timeframe for the radio switchover is likely to be confirmed once 50pc of listeners, including TV and online, have switched to using digital platforms.

The managing director continued: “We are not too worried about the increase in competition because it will mean we will have to work harder to retain our audience.

“We have figures that show over a 13 week period, 88pc of the people living in our area listened to our station at some point so we feel there is a need for us to keep going.

“If people want to just listen to music then they could listen to CDs but people want their local travel updates and news and not travel news from places like Yarmouth and Norwich.

“What I am concerned about is that if this is pushed through too quickly then people who don’t have DAB radio in their cars will probably just listen to CDs so listening figures will drop everywhere.

“The digital signal is also really poor in this area so even if people do get a DAB radio, they might not be able to use it.” We don’t think many people are aware of this and it does appear to me that not all the information has been put out there so we will be running a campaign to raise awareness of the plan.”