More FM channels available for Launceston

Following the clearance of ABC tv channels from the FM band recently, there is space for the further development of FM services in Launceston, Tasmania.

The ABA is proposing to convert commercial radio station, 7LA, from the AM band to FM and to make a frequency available for a SBS retransmission service.

Because of interference problems, all of Launceston’s commercial radio stations have been operating on the AM band. The proposals to change this are part of a draft variation to the Launceston radio licence area plan.

Macquarie Media Fund (previously RG Capital) owns 7LA and has expressed interest in conversion from AM 1098 to the FM band and the ABA has tentatively allocated FM 89.3, subject to finalisation of the proposal.

Acting ABA Chair, Giles Tanner, says: “The ABA is concerned that there are no commercial FM radio services in Launceston. The ABA’s proposal would result in residents of Launceston having access to such services in line with the rest of Australia.”

The licensee of the 7EX commercial radio service has also expressed an interest in conversion to the FM band, but under certain conditions.

The ABA is proposing that 7EX continue to operate on AM 1008, but is proposing that FM channel capacity be shown as available in the frequency allotment plan in the event that circumstances change in the future.

Aspirant broadcaster, World Music Radio, has advised the ABA that it is interested in providing a multicultural community radio service, designed to meet the needs of various ethnic communities of Launceston. The ABA is not proposing to make an additional community radio service available in Launceston, as its preliminary view is that these needs can be met by the existing community radio service, 7LTN, and an SBS retransmission service to operate from Trevallyn.

Other services in the area include a permanent community local coverage service in Northern Midlands and a temporary community service in the George Town area. There are two wide coverage community radio services (7LTN and 7WAY) and a Print Handicapped relay from Hobart is also available in the listening area.

The ABC is also interested in converting its AM local radio service to the FM band, subject to a listener survey, and the ABA proposes to reserve channel capacity for that purpose, pending the outcome of the ABC’s survey.
Comments on the proposal can be made to the ABA by 29 October 2004.