§ Lady Hermon
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what organisation is responsible for the issuing of radio broadcasting licences in Northern Ireland; what criteria are used in the issuing of licences; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Estelle Morris
Responsibility for issuing radio broadcast licences in Northern Ireland lies with the Radio Authority. From 29 December 2003, responsibility will pass to Ofcom.
The criteria used for the award of Independent Local Radio licences are set out in Section 105 of the Broadcasting Act 1990. Independent National Radio licences are awarded on a highest cash-bid basis in accordance with the provisions of Sections 85 and 98–100 of the Broadcasting Act 1990. Section 51(2) of the Broadcasting Act 1996 sets out the criteria for the award of digital multiplex licences. All other licences (i.e. cable, satellite, restricted service licences, digital sound programme licences) are issued in accordance with either Part III of the 1990 Act or part II of the 1996 Act, and the Radio Authority's published guidelines, copies of which I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses.