Garrison FM to close after losing MoD contractBy Nick Edmondson
November 22, 2012
ALDERSHOT’S Garrison FM looks set to close in March after its broadcasting company lost its Ministry of Defence contract.
Garrison Radio, which transmits to armed forces personnel from stations across Britain, was beaten to the MoD contract by the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC).
The SSVC, which broadcasts as British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), will take over the contract from Garrison Radio when it closes in March of next year. The station currently broadcasts in Aldershot, as well as other military towns such as Colchester and Catterick.
Garrison Radio’s founder has railed against the MoD decision, branding its tender process “flawed”, allowing it to “hand the contract on a plate” to the larger contractor.
The MoD decided in October 2011 to open an invitation to tender for its Future Forces Broadcasting Service, which would see one provider for all forces radio and TV broadcasting at home or overseas.
The new large contract would encompass the existing provision at the bases served by Garrison Radio, which formed a consortium with a satellite TV operator.
However the bid failed, along with a bid to challenge the process at the High Court.
Garrison Radio claimed that it was not viable for a smaller provider to cover the costs of expensive equipment and studios which it argued had already been paid for by the taxpayer
The equipment, worth tens of millions of pounds, would have been freely available to BFBS when it won the contract, while a new provider would have to supply and install new equipment.
Mark Page, founder and chairman of Garrison Radio, said: “This latest tender process was flawed in that it was structured in a way that favoured one bidder against all others.
“Garrison Radio has proved an effective and popular broadcaster and has delivered value for money programming to serving soldiers and their families.
“However we have not had the chance to make a case based on the quality or cost of our programmes because the capital costs of new equipment for a larger contract would instantly rule our company out.”
“BFBS has equipment in places that was paid for by the taxpayer but was unavailable to us at the time of tendering.
“The effect of the MOD’s tendering criteria has been to hand the contract on a plate to the larger existing contractor by running a process that appears prejudicial against any other bid from the very start.”
“Aldershot Garrison FM has been hugely successful in reaching its target audience, year on year, yet its business has effectively been gifted to another company.”
An MoD spokesman said: “The Future Force Broadcasting Service contract was open to all competitors, in line with the 2006 Public Contract Regulations.
“The MoD’s procurement procedures were comprehensive, scrupulously fair and legally compliant.
“The MoD made it clear what infrastructure and services it owned and could make available to potential bidders.
“The High Court judge reviewed Garrison Radio’s case and decided that the MoD could award the contract.”