Restricted Service Licence

Restricted Service Licence

A UK Restricted Service Licence (often called an RSL), is typically granted to radio stations and television stations broadcasting within the UK to serve a local community or a special event. Licences are granted by the broadcasting authority Ofcom (formerly the Radio Authority and the Independent Television Commission, respectively).


In 1972, the Independent Broadcasting Authority was created and given responsibility for regulating independent television and radio services in the UK. Over time, the demand for local services increased, and finally prompted an Act of Parliament to deregulate the respective industries and facilitate new long-term and short-term broadcast licences. In 1990, the [ Broadcasting Act (1990)] became law, and led to the establishment of two licencing authorities: the Radio Authority to licence new radio services and monitor existing licences, and the Independent Television Commission, to licence new short-term television services. While the 1990 act proved successful, licencing procedures to this day remain restrictive compared to those in other countries.

In 2004, the Radio Authority and ITC were folded into the Office of Communications. Today Ofcom handles all licencing for frequencies used by television and radio services, except short-range broadcasts and wireless links, which are licenced by JFMG ( Joint Frequency Management Group ).


Short-term RSLs are typically broadcast on low-power (1-25W) FM or (1W) AM and can generally last a maximum of 28 consecutive days and can only be applied for twice in twelve months with four complete months separating the two broadcast periods (and only once in twelve months inside Greater London) by the same applicant/group.

They are generally used for special events, sporting events, religious festivals, student radio, hospital radio or to trial a radio project in preparation for an application for a permanent licence. Long-term RSLs (typically broadcast on low-power AM, but more recently in remote areas on low-power FM as well) are used for radio stations broadcasting to closed areas of private land such as university campuses and hospitals. They can be compared with the Low-power broadcasting movement in the United States.


RSLs are also issued to television stations and other organisations which wish to cover a very small area. These licences (Also known as Restricted Television Service Licences or RTS licences) restrict power, and hence range, but not operating hours. These licences are valid for 4 years, and must be competed for on renewal.

In light of the expected switch-off of analogue television beginning in 2008, Ofcom had extended all licences to 30 June 2007, by which time a review of the future of local broadcasting will have been completed.

Channels broadcasting under RTSs

*C9TV – Coleraine [] , Derry [] , Limavady []
*Capital TV – Cardiff []
*Carlisle TV – Carlisle []
*Channel m – Manchester []
*City Broadcasting Ltd. – Teeside []
*Lanarkshire TV – Lanarkshire []
*MATV – Leicester []
*NvTv – Belfast []
*Oxford Channel (now Six TV) – Oxford []
*Six TV Portsmouth – Portsmouth []
*Six TV Reading – Reading []
*Six TV Southampton – Fawley [] , Southampton []
*Solent TV – Isle of Wight []
*TV Norwich – Norwich []
*York@54 – York []

Note that not all of these services may currently be broadcasting. Some of these stations also broadcast on other platforms such as cable and satellite.

ee also

*Low-power broadcasting - the United States pirate radio version of legal British stations broadcasting with a Restricted Service Licence.
*Community television in Australia - a similar Australian television concept
*Community channel - a Canadian equivalent to British RSL and American LPTV stations

External links

* [ Ofcom RSL (Radio) information]
* [ Ofcom RSL (Television) information]

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