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MDA calls for bids for two new radio stations

SINGAPORE — Avid radio listeners might soon have two new stations coming their way, bringing the total number of radio stations here to 19, the largest number to date.

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SINGAPORE — Avid radio listeners might soon have two new stations coming their way, bringing the total number of radio stations here to 19, the largest number to date.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) said yesterday that it is seeking proposals for two new FM frequencies — FM 89.3 and FM 96.3.

FM 89.3 is currently a vacant spectrum, while FM 96.3 is occupied by Mediacorp’s Expat Radio 96.3XFM, which will be vacated after its operating licence ends in September.

There are now a total of 18 free-to-air radio stations, mainly under three broadcasters: Mediacorp, SPH Radio and Singapore Armed Forces Reservists’ Association (Safra) Radio.

The MDA said the tender exercise for the Free-To-Air Nationwide Radio Service Licence, which was launched yesterday, will be open until Sept 14.

The results of the tender will be announced in the first quarter of next year.

The last time the MDA called for bids for new radio stations was in 2011, which eventually saw the emergence of English-language radio station Kiss92FM under SPH the following year.

According to the Nielson Radio Diary Survey last year, Mediacorp’s Class 95 station took first place with the highest proportion of listenership, followed by SPH’s Kiss92FM, which also saw its listenership growing every year since its launch.

Chinese-language radio stations also appeared to have mass appeal, with the survey results showing that three Mediacorp Chinese stations — Love 97.2FM, Yes 933 and Capital 95.8FM — taking the top three spots in the 10 most-listened-to radio stations in Singapore.

As for the new radio stations, the MDA said yesterday that it “will not limit proposals to any particular genre or programming format”.

“(This is) to attract the widest range of proposals possible, and inject greater vibrancy into the local radio scene,” an MDA spokesperson said.

Elaborating on the MDA’s reasons to award more radio licences, she said that the authority had “received some expressions of interest over the past years to operate another radio station”.

With the cessation of Expat Radio 96.3FM, there will be two vacant frequencies, and “it is now opportune to call for a tender to introduce new stations that offer greater variety to radio listeners”, the MDA spokesperson added.

Existing radio broadcasters whom TODAY contacted did not commit themselves to submitting a bid for the new radio stations at this point.

A Safra Radio spokesperson said a decision has not been made on whether it will be bidding for the new frequencies, adding that its two radio stations — 88.3Jia FM and Power98FM — are “doing well in terms of meeting the needs of our target audience”.

A SPH Radio spokesperson said that listenership for its three stations — ONE FM 91.3, Kiss 92FM and UFM 100.3 — “have been on an upward trend”.

The company will consider submitting proposals for the new frequencies and arrive at a decision in due time, the spokesperson added.

A Mediacorp spokesperson said the decision to submit bids for the new frequencies is currently under consideration.

“Any consideration to bid for the frequencies will be guided by our commitment to offer listeners with a diverse portfolio of the highest quality programmes that appeal to a variety of interests,” she added.

On the decision to end Expat Radio 96.3XFM on Sept 30, she said this was decided with the MDA after a review, and after considering the changing radio landscape.

“The review of the station and frequency was driven by new technologies and evolving radio listenership preferences,” the Mediacorp spokesperson said.

On whether the licence was revoked because of the small number of listeners, she added that Expat Radio 96.3XFM was meant to serve a niche audience, and not to reach the listenership levels of mass-market radio stations.

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