By Kathryn Richardson

THE oldest radio station on the Costa del Sol has been forced to shut down.

Radio fans are upset after discovering that the 24-year-old station Coastline FM will be taken off the air tonight at 6pm.

Bosses at the radio station, based in the Axarquia, admitted that they had been forced to take the decision after being ordered to stop transmitting by the Junta.

However, station spokesman David Wilcocks hopes the shut-down will only be temporary.

He said: “We’re sorry about having to take the temporary step. However, it’s not the end of Coastline.

“We’d like to thank our loyal advertisers and listeners for their patience during this time.”

It is still not clear why the 100 broadcasters, including the company that owns the station, were given the order, but it is believed it concerns their ‘paperwork’. 

Torrox holidaymaker and artist, Maggie Riordan, 57, said she was alarmed by the news.

“If you, like me, only dip in and out of the internet, I’m going to miss Coastline and hope it comes back on air again as soon as possible,” she said.

“I have many friends in their early 60s who live here and are not computer savvy so will be lost without their radio, and soon, their telly as well. Thank goodness for free English newspapers.”

The station was first broadcast in 1989 and provides news and information to the English speaking community in Axarquia and on the eastern Costa del Sol.

The station will continue online at www.coastline.fm.

59 COMMENTS

  1. A statement from The radio station today.

    “Along with over 100 broadcasters the company which operates COASTLINE FM has received a communication from the Junta De Andalucia & as a result we will have to leave the frequency of 97.6FM at 6.00 pm today.

    We intend to return to provide its service of news and information for the English speaking community in the Axarquia and on the eastern Costa Del Sol.

    COASTLINE FM will continue to have an online presence where our programmes will continue as normal.”

    It goes on to say:
    “We’d like to thank our loyal advertisers and listeners for their patience during this time and hope you’ll stay with us
    on line for now.”

    That should put an end to the speculation.

  2. @ Tony Bishop
    Doesn’t say why the 100 plus broadcasters have had to leave broadcasting on that frequency. May have something to do with this article I found although it is three years old.

    “http://blogs.rnw.nl/medianetwork/spain-to-shut-down-up-to-3000-illegal-radio-stations”

  3. Peter, read the statement again.

    It doesn’t say why the 100 plus broadcasters have had to leave broadcasting on that frequency. That´s because the statement doesn´t say that all the stations were broadcasting on that same frequency.

  4. It is to do with not having a terrestrial broadcasting licence that is all. The junta have a purge every once in a while but they don’t say anything to Spanish stations most of which are also unlicensed.

  5. “BUT before you jump on your soapbox…”
    How to win friends (and potential advertisers) and influence people. You must have read the book. It shows.

    “…at the moment we are soley web based so do not need a terrestrial licence.”
    And before 28 February you were operating like any other terrestrial radio station. So you needed a licence until the a day ago.

    You are being economical with the truth. I don´t like your use of weasel words, or even weasel language, so I will leave you at this point. I don´t even like someone who hides behind a company label.

  6. IDIOT’S GUIDE…

    1)Advertising budgets have been slashed or axed since 2008.

    2)Less money from ads makes it tougher for media businesses to grab what they need to pay for costs and make a profit (assuming that the percentage decline in total ad spend is greater than the percentage decline in media costs etc).

    3)One way to knock out the competition is to have your friends in government do it for you. They may be more than keen to do so: the public purse could benefit from bringing in many millions of euros in fines for unlicensed stations.

    4)Spanish radio stations are affected too – the purge does not apply only to foreign-language ones.

    5)Illegal radio stations in Spain include: full blown commercial operations; small, lifestyle businesses that once made their owners a living return; and volunteer organisations set up as charities and serving communities on a not-for-profit basis (though managers of these can still be making a crust out of them and Spanish scrutiny of these types of entity is somewhat lax to say the least).

    6)Most of the stations affected are illegal and have known for years that they are illegal. As I understand it from a layman’s perspective, they are potentially liable for fines running up to more than half a million euros per station. Again, as I understand it, if the Junta were to apply the full force of the law, administrators and socios/directors who knew the law but ignored it could find themselves having to sell off their own assets to cover financial penalties no matter how the business/charity is structured.
    Like I say, I am not a lawyer, but I reckon it would be common sense for anyone who is, or has been, involved in a managerial or directorial role with an unlicensed local radio station in Andalucia to seek advice on their potential liabilities if the Junta decided to follow-up the ban with prosecutions.
    Many people have given freely of their times, money and expertise to keep much loved and valued local stations going. It would be a tragedy if they found their houses were on the line.

  7. I have no sympathy for them at all! The owners must have been aware of Spanish law but chose to ignore it! They wouldn’t have got away with it in the UK so how on earth did they expect to here. I trust their employment and tax issues are in order? Coastline was run as a fully Commercial operation with advertisers and paid employees, in fact they have been advertising for additional sales staff in the last month. They should not be allowed to transmit again until they are totally legal by complying with Spanish Law.

  8. Ah Mr Toad, yet again you are wrong, spreading lies and instigating rumors!

    NO, We have never, as yet, been a terrestrial station but we are working at it and when we are I would be pleased to entertain your live phone calls on air but THIS time under my own rules of engagement.

    Oh no, not hiding behind anything, you know who I am. Andrew Charles…

  9. The station name – Coastline FM – suggests it was operating as a terrestrial station and their own website states “COASTLINE FM is heard on FM in the Axarquia and Gudalhorce (sic) regions, plus part of the Costa Tropical, from our two transmitter sites, and around the world via internet radios or from our website coastline.fm” Someone being economical with the truth?

  10. Coastline recently started transmitting from another site closer to Malaga. I think this course of action may have ruffled a few feathers! All the other popular English stations are still on air. Maybe there being economical with the truth.

  11. This action by the Junta is to close down unlicensed radio and TV stations, regardless of nationality. This is because the concurso (tender process) has passed, and those stations who gained a frequency and have to pay the license fees won’t tolerate stations working alongside them as pirates, undercutting the market. Also, practically none of the unlicensed stations abide by the regulations of the Consejal Audiovisual (OFCOM equivalent). As no more FM concursos are to be held, the Junta have concluded that any station without a license now will never have one in the future, so must be closed.
    The exceptions are the dozen or so radio stations that the Junta have classified as community stations. In these cases the Junta are checking and cross checking the stations documents to validate that they are administered by genuine ONG’s, associations or foundations. By a national law which was passed three years ago, these must be allowed to broadcast if the autonomous community has not held a specific concurso for this sector.
    But all of the unlicensed commercial stations have been notified by the Junta with a threat of a sanction of 100,000€ per frequency if they do not switch off. As this is a sanction from a public administration, the fines can be enforced with embargoes on property, vehicles, bank accounts and salaries, which is why many stations are now closing down.

  12. James, you seem to know what you are talking about, and for that reason we all owe you our thanks for posting that..

    That includes the representative on here of Coastline FM. Or maybe that should be Castle Radio FM. Who knows, and who cares?

    “Ah Mr Toad, yet again you are wrong, spreading lies and instigating rumors!”
    I see that Andrew Charles has been on a charm offensive once more. Well done. Keep it up.

  13. Thanks Tony, I don’t wish to be involved with issues between rival stations, but as I work within the audio-visual legal sector in Spain I hope I can help to clarify the issue. Just a small point regarding the Olive Press headline “Coastline FM forced off air by Junta”, this is not strictly correct, as a public administration can only sanction a media broadcaster and cannot order its closure. Within the Spanish Constitution with very few exceptions (imminent hazard to health and safety, for example), only a court order can result in the forced closure of a radio or TV station, whether it is licensed or not. However, the Junta could easily apply for such a court order and would invariably obtain it.

  14. James, I wonder if you can clarify one thing for me.

    “We have never, as yet, been a terrestrial station…”
    That is what was posted by Castle Radio FM (MARCH 3RD, 2013 7:15 PM).

    I really don´t understand why an online radio station needs an FM frequency. Maybe that´s because I am totally ignorant in these matters.

    There´s no need to go into the technical details here. Just a “Yes, they do” or a “No, they don´t” will suffice.

    Reading the post by Confused (MARCH 4TH, 2013 8:59 AM) it seems that I am not alone.

  15. Tony, to answer your question, a broadcaster can decide (permissions allowing) which format(s) to use. Most FM broadcasters use web-streaming to complement FM activities, whilst some online only stations are voluntarily or involuntarily repeated by 3rd party FM broadcasters. But the two types of diffusion do not automatically go hand in hand, and most of the online stations are just that. At present, there are zero license restrictions for online radio stations in Spain, and as yet there is not even a music royalty payment obligation in place (SGAE, equivalent of UK’s PRS, have no protocol as yet).

  16. Thank you, James, for shedding light rather than heat on this. Glad to hear that genuine not-for-profit community stations can continue with all the voluntary hours put in by their contributors. I do not know how current this list is (“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_radio_stations_in_Spain” )but does anyone know which of the English language stations here are community stations and so (probably) in the clear? Perhaps local advertisers could pick them out and support them more.

  17. Spain switch over to dabplus, so the FM stations have to apply now. FM will be switched off in europe according to EBU. too much freedom is forbidden in europe nowadays.
    Radiostations can continue on AM in AMStereo 15 kHz if they want.

  18. Lenny, the list on Wiki looks quite outdated. I don’t have precise details of which radio stations in Andalucia operate as “non-profits”, but I am aware through colleagues in the Junta that they are currently examining over a dozen such stations to verify that they have the correct criteria. I’m sure that any station which is a non-profit would have the relative information freely available on its website.

  19. Roy, the applications for DAB+ cannot yet be made in Andalucia because the DAB concurso has not yet been prepared. The Interior Ministry announced recently that there was no date planned for the digitalisation of terrestrial radio, but FM will remain on for at least 15 years because the licenses which have recently been granted are binding for 15 years, no matter what the EU try to impose (this is reflected in the BOE issued by central government in March 2010). The DAB+ concurso has only been held in the Balearics, and was not successful as very few stations applied.

  20. James, I hope so that AM/FM will continue for ever, course AM/FM are broadcasting bands in ITU and EU’s directive say we have full rigth to use these bands for analog broadcastings.As you did see, lot of stations around Spain, Mallorca, Canarias. I’m now by my self, working for unlicenced am radio low power with stereo and 15 khz audio. Plenty of place and space for free am radio with FM=quality !!

  21. Some interesting informative comments thank you. Final question…..If no new licenses are being given how can Coastline ever start broadcasting again on FM or AM legally? Perhaps it’s a question the Olive Press could ask Coastline directly.

  22. The broadcasting in the AM band is more liberal today of more bandwidth of more than 4,5 kHz. it can be 7,5 10, 12,5 or even 15 kHz and in AMStereo too. FM is mostly overcrowded, so an AM station can reach much more radius.

  23. John and other great friends, you can allways apply for a AM licence in each and every EU country.The law says that we are free to use all broadcasting-bands, All AM bands LW MW SW, FM DAB+ DRM, DRM+. etc.In the bitter end, you have allways to do an application.!!!Even i Spain.

  24. John, in answer to your first question, a station cannot apply for an FM license at any time. Each autonomous community has a concurso (tender process) which is open for applications about 30 to 40 days, then takes from 6 months to 2 years to resolve who is allocated a frequency. The Junta de Andalucia ran the concurso in 2007, and cannot run another one because the national frequency planning has stated to the Junta that there are no more FM frequencies after this concurso, exept for some which are reserved for municipal and state run stations. So nobody can apply for an FM license in Andalucia, as there are none to apply for.
    Regarding AM, any broadcaster who uses the airwaves in Spanish territory must apply for a license. These Am-MW bands are not administered by autonomous communities, but by central government. Here is the government link which explains the law for AM licenses, etc. “http://www.minetur.gob.es/telecomunicaciones/Espectro/RadioTV/OM/Paginas/ondasmediasOM.aspx”

  25. I wish I could raise as much discussion and passion for my petition for parliamentary representation for ex pats as a couple of unlicensed radio stations does. People need to get their priorities in order, of course those living down on the coast pretending they live in Spain probably don’t care as they are rich enough to just go back to the UK when Britain leaves the EU.

    Hopefully that may ruffle a few apathetic feathers but I doubt it, much better to sit around and moan rather than actually do something.

    “http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43238”

  26. James, most of them out of air and low power is 1 kW, but can be more if needed.Approx. distance 200km between TX at the same frequency. Where do i apply for such licence in Spain?? I suppose it can be open for applications, even other frequencies if they are low powers e.g. less than 1 kW. Hope for AMStereo 10 -15 khz audio = FM quality.

  27. Roy, these frequencies are generally allocated by a public tender every 10 years or so, but you might possibly be able to make a floating application, which would have to be via (A) an application to the Industry Ministry with full technical plan signed by a certified engineer, stamped by the Spanish Engineers College, followed by (B) permission to operate the allocated frequency with the Junta and town hall, which would also require engineers reports, etc. To make any such application, you will have to have available Spanish company registration and certificates from the tax office and social security administrations, proving you are up to date.
    On another note, any format is only successful if enough listeners have compatible devices. I’m not sure how many mobiles, car radios, iPads, etc, are AM compatible.

  28. James my great friend, do you live in Spain?? I wrote om the dep. web site a mail to them and asked them the simple question, how do I apply for a licence in Malag areas for a licence on one of these frequencies or another frequency in the power of 1 kW??? hope for a response in the next 3 months ;-). in case I ask for a test licence. Now, just to await. Hope some live in the areas and able tohelp me if needed.

  29. Roy, yes I have lived in Spain almost all of my adult life, and have worked within the audiovisual sector for over 20 years (mainly for Spanish media). Good luck with your question to the MITYC. Yes,there are a lot of AM stations, this is because Spanish network stations on FM are quite often obliged to provide a service to rural areas as part of their license agreements. Many find it more economical to use AM than to set up countless small repeaters just to cover hundreds of square km of farmland. Most operators on AM don’t consider the band economically viable, and just use it because they have to. Obviously, RNE and regional state-funded stations just operate on AM as a public service.

  30. James, I do hope that I get a response from the government about to use the 3 low powers, course I noted some years ago that a lot of the low powers were switched off. I do have a list of ALL incordinated spanish AM frequencies from 1987 so it can be possible to find out wich of all the low powers are off air.Perhaps an experimental am stereo licence. Nothing is impossible.

  31. With all the austerity protests going on around the country one can not help but thinking that maybe this crack down has a more worrying aspect , that of controlling the amount of publicity these demonstrations by desperate people gets,. With over 100 stations affected by this move and each station providing employment or income to 10 or more people is the intention of the junta to also swell the unemployed by another 1000 + and cause even more hardship and despair to these people and their families … oh well what the Heck … the general public won’t be able to hear about this if there is only controlled media news :-(

  32. Andy, I understand your point of view, but there is another side to the coin. The licensed stations who pay their license fees (tasas) to broadcast employ far more staff than the unlicensed stations. They are claiming that they are being undercut by pirate stations who do not pay any tasas, and many do not pay any tax or social security either.
    Many of the licensed stations have had to lay off over 40% of their staff, partly due to the crisis, partly because they say that they cannot compete with competition who do not pay the same obligatory overheads. For example, just a few days ago, the ABC-Punto network, one of Spain’s largest broadcasters, closed down their operation nationally. Whereas the Junta’s actions might cause a few thousand job losses, in their view it will probably save many more jobs in the long run.

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