asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the allocation of frequencies for new national radio networks.
One of the United Kingdom's objectives at the international VHF band II planning conference in Geneva in late 1984 was the creation of two new national VHF radio networks to add to the three which already exist. As my noble Friend Lord Whitelaw informed the House on 29 March 1983, at column 90, he envisaged that one of the new networks would be allocated to the BBC so that there could be separate VHF networks for Radios 1 and 2, and the other, provided that satisfactory financing arrangements could be developed, to the IBA for the provision of an independent national radio service.In the light of the satisfactory decisions taken at the Geneva conference, the two new national networks (97·6 to 99·8 MHz and 99·8 to 102 MHz) will become available at the beginning of 1990, although some of the frequencies in the fourth network (97·6 to 99·8 MHz) may be capable of use at an earlier stage. In considering the allocation of the new networks, I have taken account of the fact that legislation would be required to enable the IBA to provide a new national service, and that detailed consideration will need to be given to how such a service might fit into the existing pattern of sound broadcasting and, in particular, to its relationship with independent local radio. I have therefore decided to allocate the fourth network to the BBC to enable progress to he made on the provision of separate services for Radios 1 and 2. The fifth network (99·8 to 102 MHz) will remain available for independent national radio, and I have asked the IBA to develop proposals on the form such a service might take.