More details from petition creator
As reported in the Sunday Telegraph on the 28th September 2008, Ofcom wants to bring "market forces" into the maritime and aviation communications. The RNLI will have to pay £250,000 a year, and "smaller search and rescue charities fear they may have to close". This proposal must be rejected wholeheartedly.
Basing a petition on nothing more than a newspaper article hardly lends it great credibility. Referencing the Ofcom consultation document would surely be the most basic starting point.
The October update
from Ofcom states:
* Ofcom continues to support the established principle of applying discounts to spectrum fees payable by charities.
* The RNLI may see its charges fall as a result of our proposal to offer a single, lower cost licence for multiple users.
* Ofcom is making no proposals to impose charges on Mountain Rescue teams for radio spectrum.
* Consultation still open – no decisions have been made.
It also says:
Most radio channels used by search and rescue teams are assigned to, and paid for by, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) which is an executive agency of the Department for Transport funded by general taxation. The fees which the MCA pays for these channels already reflect the value of the spectrum (rather than just the administrative cost of processing licences). So there is unlikely to be any significant increase, if any, in what the MCA pays for these search and rescue channels.
Mountain rescue teams are covered by these arrangements with MCA and do not pay any fees for the use of these channels. Ofcom has no plans to impose a charge on mountain rescue teams for the use of these channels.
The RNLI uses some of the search and rescue radio channels held by the MCA. Ofcom has no plans to impose a charge on RNLI for the use of these channels either.
The RNLI and some other maritime rescue organisations are also licensed to use specific communications channels in their own right. Like other users they currently pay fees for those radio channels, but as a charity they enjoy a 50% discount. Ofcom has proposed that the basis on which fees for some maritime radio channels are set should be changed. There is understandable concern about the possible impact on the RNLI.
Their figures suggest that the total cost to the RNLI would be £20,000 which is rather less than the £250,000 quoted on the petition web site. Where does the £2,000 figure for GAFIRS come from by the way?
The consultation is still open. Rather than signing yet another petition, if anyone is really interested in influencing the decision then it would be much more useful to take a bit of time and complete Ofcom's consultation response