In addition to MuxCo Ltd (85%), our application has an additional shareholder – Forward Media (15%).
Forward Media Ltd was established in 1998 primarily to acquire and operate Lite FM in Peterborough and Connect FM in Kettering. Forward Media previously owned Dune FM in Southport, selling this station to the Local Radio Company in September 2004. Lite FM and Connect FM serve a contiguous area of 385,000 adults.
Forward Media recognise the increasing importance of digital but are only too aware of the financial burden that simulcasting on two platforms brings, especially during the early day of digital’s development. Lite FM did not join the Peterborough multiplex when it launched in 2002 because of cost, and Forward Media is conscious of the cost implications of simulcasting Connect FM on DAB. However, the company took comfort from the model proposed by MuxCo, whereby through inclusion as a shareholder and a service provider, the net cost of investment is significantly reduced. To a small company, this is the only approach that makes a digital radio involvement commercially sensible. In addition, Forward Media recognises that Connect FM has limited growth potential given its analogue footprint (205,000 adults) and competition from within the market.
Connect FM’s inclusion on the local multiplex helps establish new growth opportunities for the station. Whilst the benefits from this will take time to come through, the ability to increase coverage to 0.5m adults will help increase audience numbers and commercial opportunities, as well as enable the development of new media and non traditional revenue streams, whilst protecting against loss of listening through digital migration.