Fresh concepts welcomed as MDA launches a public tender for two new radio stations

SINGAPORE - The Media Development Authority (MDA) launched a public tender on June 15 seeking proposals to operate radio stations on two frequencies.

They are FM 89.3, which is vacant, and FM 96.3, currently occupied by Expat Radio 96.3FM until September as its operating licence expires then.

The three-month tender exercise for the "Free-To-Air Nationwide Radio Service Licence" is for commercial or not-for-profit radio stations and will be open until Sept 14.

At present, there are three local radio broadcasters - SPH Radio, Mediacorp and Singapore Armed Forces Reservists Association (Safra) Radio - running 18 radio stations in total. The genres of the free-to-air radio stations range from pop and classical music to news and current affairs.

MDA says that it welcomes new concepts and will not limit proposals to any particular genre or programming format. For those who intend to operate commercial radio stations, a monetary bid will also need to be submitted, while not-for-profit radio stations will be evaluated on the social impact of their programming concepts.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times on putting in a bid for the frequencies, an SPH Radio spokesman says: "SPH Radio will consider and arrive at a decision in due time."

The spokesman noted that listenership on the company's three radio stations, namely Kiss92 FM, ONE FM and UFM 100.3FM, "has been on an upward trend". One FM plays mainstream and classic rock, Kiss92 FM plays adult contemporary and UFM 100.3FM plays Chinese pop.

Mediacorp also responded, saying: "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."

ONE FM radio presenter The Flying Dutchman, whose real name is Mark Van Cuylenburg, says that he would like to see another Malay or Tamil station.

The long-time DJ, who has been in the business since 1978, says that while he hopes there will be more "creative" stations exploring different radio formats entering the fray, he acknowledges that they may not be seen as "commercially viable".

The 60-year-old adds: "At the end of the day, every radio station is a business and it has to make money. And in order to make money, it has to have numbers."

Prior to the tender announcement, home-grown jazz icon and Cultural Medallion recipient Jeremy Monteiro had happened to call for "a real station playing good jazz in all its forms in Singapore" in a Facebook post on June 14.

He wrote: "Every big city has one. We don't. We need this."

Tender documents can be downloaded via the MDA's website, www.mda.gov.sg, and results for the tender will be made known by the first quarter of next year.

anjalir@sph.com.sg