Catterick-based Garrison Radio to close

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

THE founder of a radio station based at Europe’s biggest Army base has criticised the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after announcing the station is to shut down.

Garrison Radio will close in March next year following the MoD's decision to award a contract to provide all forces broadcasting to a charity, Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC).

Garrison Radio is based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, and broadcasts to 20 UK military bases from six studios around the country.

Mark Page, the station’s founder and former Radio One DJ, has accused the MoD of running a flawed tendering exercise to find a broadcaster for all bases at home and abroad.

Mr Page said that although Garrison Radio worked together with television companies to prepare a bid, it was unable to submit a proposal because of the costs involved in providing technology for bases around the world.

However, Mr Page said SSVC, which runs the British Forces Broadcasting Service, already had the technology in place.

He said: “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 place that was paid for by the taxpayer but was unavailable to us at the time of tendering.”

Garrison Radio took its case to the High Court, but failed to force the MoD to alter the tendering process.

Garrison Radio is due to close in March next year.

The MoD said its procurement procedures were “comprehensive, scrupulously fair and legally compliant”.

A spokesman added: “The MoD made it clear what infrastructure and services it owned and could make available to potential bidders.”

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