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Radio and television licensing

A major reorganisation of the regulation of communications was made by the Office of Communications Act 2002, which established the Office of Communications, and by the Communications Act 2003, which makes provision with respect to:

(1) the functions of the Office of Communications;
(2) networks, services and the radio spectrum;
(3) television and radio services;
(4) the licensing of television reception; and
(5) competition in communications markets.

This has been the result of the implementation in the United Kingdom of five Directives (the 'EC Communications Directives'), which set out a package of measures for a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services. These Directives are:

(a) the Framework Directive;
(b) the Authorisation Directive;
(c) the Access Directive;
(d) the Universal Service Directive; and
(e) the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive

Provisions of the Radio Spectrum Decision, the Competition Directive, the Directive on competition in the markets in telecommunications terminal equipment, the Regulation on unbundled access to the local loop, the Regulation on roaming on public mobile telephone networks within the Community, and the Regulation establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications ('BEREC') and the Office, have also had some impact.

The Communications Act 2003 implemented a significant proportion of the new regulatory package. The Digital Economy Act 2010. The Act includes provisions relating to the communications infrastructure in the United Kingdom, public service broadcasting, copyright licensing and online infringement of copyright, and security and safety online and in video games.

Radio licensing

Amateur radio, sometimes known as ham radio, is both a hobby and a service that uses various types of radio equipment allowing communication with other radio amateurs for the purpose of self-training, recreation and public service. If you use a radio system for your business then you will need a licence from Ofcom. Business radio users range from taxi companies and factories, to hospitals, care homes, industrial sites and transport operators. To begin the licensing process – and learn more about the specific licence you’ll need - click on the ‘Apply online’ link below. For further information, see the Ofcom licensing pages.

The main legislation affecting the use of radio equipment is the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 (the “‘2006 Act”’). This empowers Ofcom to issue and charge for licences for the installation and use of radio, make and enforce regulations on the requirements to be met by users.

Ofcom may also make and enforce regulations on the requirements to be met by manufacturers and importers of radio apparatus and of equipment which could cause radio interference. Ofcom may also restrict manufacture, sale, import and possession of specified radio apparatus.

The 2006 Act forbids the installation or use of wireless telegraphy equipment (radio) in the UK mainland, including Northern Ireland and territorial waters, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, unless an appropriate licence has been obtained from Ofcom, or there is an exemption in the relevant regulations in force exempting it from the licensing requirements.
Exemptions: Ofcom is required to exempt radio stations, equipment or apparatus from the need to hold a wireless telegraphy licence where their use is not likely to involve any undue interference to other legitimate use of radio spectrum. Exemption Regulations set out the particular technical requirements which equipment must meet in order to not require a licence. Walkie-talkie radios, Citizens Band and various other types of radio equipment are covered by exemptions.

Guidance for Business Radio
Business Radio online enables users to apply for a range of licences covering the use of radio for mostly short range localised radio networks for factories, shopping centres. Other licences cover communication requirements for courier firms, bus companies, taxis and utility firms. There is also a radio supplier’s licence covering demonstration and short term hire of equipment.

Television licensing

Ofcom is responsible for licensing all UK commercial television services.

Local digital television programme services (L-DTPS) are individual services broadcast in specific local areas on Freeview (DTT) via the local television multiplex. Below you will find information on how to apply for both the local television multiplex licence and the L-DTPS licences. This includes Invitations to Apply for both types of licence, and the Application Form for an L-DTPS licence. Applications (excepting any confidential information) and awards are also published below as they become available

See Ofcom

[Page updated: 07/01/2013]

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