Saturday, 1 June 2013

Have Sunrise Radio run out of Time?

Following on from Brian Lister's blog post about the news that Sunrise Radio have asked for listener contributions to keep the radio stations on-air, speculation is rife that the Litt Corporation who run Sunrise Radio Group will sell or cut back even more on their stations.

Since last year, Litt Corporation have sold their share in Exeter FM (which is now called Radio Exe) and more recently Radio Plymouth, leaving them with three mainstream format stations.  Time 106.6 in Slough (which is based at Sunrise HQ in Southall) which was recently re-awarded to Time beating a bid from Slough community station Asian Star claiming that Sunrise can support the station with it's shared resources, Time 107.5 in Romford which last year had it's own problems when the former pirate station Centreforce who provided the off-peak output on the station to meet it's licence requirements resigned after Litt Corp decided to reduce their hours to weekday evenings, Palm FM in Torquay, alongside their Asian brands, Sunrise Radio, Kismat Radio and youth station Buzz Radio.

The company has also cut costs by closing Sunrise TV on Sky and removing Sunrise and Kismat Radio from Sky and Virgin Media and on Friday removed Sunrise from DAB in Glasgow and Edinburgh leaving the station only available in London on 1458 AM and DAB. 

Sunrise have had financial issues in recent years, in 2009, their two stations in South East London, Time 106.8 and South London Radio were put up for sale.  It's hard to find confirmation, however it was alleged that Sunrise sold these two stations to an Asian owner who kept the two stations on-air.   There were also mysterious 'For Sale' posts on the station websites.  However the station licences were handed into Ofcom and were re awarded to community organisations Rinse FM and Reprezent who are providing an alternative service which was much needed in London in comparison to the poor contemporary pop services that were provided previously.

Will Litt Corp sell more stations?

Possibly.  Time 106.6 is in the Thames Valley approved area which allows local licences to network all output together.  This would allow Celador's The Breeze to broadcast a bespoke version of the station from it's Thames Valley base in Basingstoke, alongside networked programming from Southampton.  The Breeze already broadcasts in the approved area in Newbury, Andover and Basingstoke, however the Litt family may put an inflated price tag on the licence considering the TSA is within the Greater London area.  Asian Star Radio may also offer to buy the licence, but would have to request a format change from Ofcom which would surely go to consultation and in that time would still have to provide an AC service.

Palm FM and Time 107.5 could be sold as part of a management buy-out.   There's also the possibility of Adventure Radio (Southend and Chelmsford Radio) acquiring the Time Romford licence, however it's not in the Essex approved area and would have to adhere to Time's format which includes playing soul music, although it could network from Southend expect for 7 hours per day on weekdays and 4 hours at weekends.  This would mean Time would continue to have a local base for peak shows.

Litt Corp would be left with the core Asian services in London without the burden of the contemporary stations

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