September 10th, 2012
In the new Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, three Aberdeen commercial stations were censured for carrying political adverts.
You’d have thought that not carrying political adverts was bread and butter for any station management – and yes, community stations do run under the same rules as our commercial comrades – however, the stations tried to claim that the ads were not political.
Here’s the detail – there’s a big development in Aberdeen that has got local people quite concerned so the city council are holding a referendum. The ads – both for and against – were not made by political parties, or indeed constituted groups of a political or religious nature, and this is what the stations tried to claim made them non political. But the law – the Broadcasting Act – in
Section 321(2) explains that an advertisement contravenes the prohibition on political
advertising if it is:
a) an advertisement which is inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects
are wholly or mainly of a political nature;
b) an advertisement which is directed towards a political end; or
c) an advertisement which has a connection with an industrial dispute.
Ofcom are also clear that a local referendum falls within the remit of these rules.
With such polls likely to multiply in the future, the Toolkit advises caution in this area, giving proper balance in all coverage and avoiding all connected ads like the plague. One exception will be ads designed to encourage turn out – so long as there’s no ‘steer’ in what they say. It’s well worth reading the judgement.
November’s Police Commissioner elections certainly fall within the remit of the election rules.
When in doubt – call Ofcom.
February 17th, 2012
Ofcom has approved a request from the KM Group to share breakfast programming across all seven of its local radio licences in Kent.
At the moment, the group has six breakfast shows for the seven areas with all other programming already networked from its Medway HQ. The changes are to save money, with the group telling the regulator that the sharing of a single breakfast presenter would help them reverse the fortunes of what are currently loss-making stations.
The KM (Kent Messenger) Group hold licences for Ashford, Canterbury, Folkstone/Dover, Maidstone, Medway, Thanet and West Kent.
In each of their seven format request changes, KMFM said:
“The changes we are asking for are within the guidelines set out by Ofcom based on the geographical region Kent. Kmfm radio is running at a loss these changes will help reverse that. We are committed to providing local and relevant information for instance traffic, events and community news will still be relevant to the broadcast area. These changes will not substantially alter the localness and content of the output.”
Ofcom approved the requests saying that they were in line with its policies on co-location and programme sharing and that the changes wouldn’t substantially alter the character of the service.
At the time of writing the breakfast presenters listed on the KMFM websites are as follows:
Ashford – Kirstyn & Webbo
Canterbury – Neil Redding
Folkstone/Dover – Adam Dowling
Maidstone & West Kent – Benedict Smith
Medway – Mike Russell
Thanet – Johnny Lewis
January 20th, 2012
Ssssh! Northumberland’s best kept secret is out! A new community radio station has launched onto the airways, without any fuss, fanfares or celebrity endorsements. Radio Northumberland is currently providing an internet based service broadcasting music, community information and talk based programming. As the station grows, an application will be made to Ofcom for a temporary RSL licence which will enable it to broadcast on an FM radio frequency to the people of Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth, Cramlington and Morpeth. Members of the Northumberland radio station have quietly spent the last six months planning programming; community involvement and scheduling with a view to heavily involve local people in their plans. Station Controller, Stewart Allen from Bedlington, who as a veteran of more than 25 years at Radio Tyneside brings a wealth of knowledge with him, is excited about the possibilities open to Radio Northumberland.
The station has already forged links with a number of schools and community organisations in South East Northumberland as well as securing,
“‘As it happens’ local news reporting for the hourly news”, he said. “There has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken in the background by our volunteers and I am delighted to at last be able to tell everyone about our plans.”
The station will broadcast a variety of music styles and genres with shows by experienced presenters and interviewers as well as running shows presented by schools, scout groups and other community organisations. Northumberland’s best kept secret can be heard online at http://www.radionorthumberland.com/. For media information contact Keith Newman at Highlights PR 07814 397951
December 8th, 2011
Ofcom has announced the award of four new community radio licences, as part of its Third Round of community radio licensing.
Licences have been awarded to:
- Blandford Garrison FM (Blandford Forum, Dorset)
- Bradley Stoke Radio (Bradley Stoke, South Gloucestershire)
- Radio Sherborne (Sherborne, Dorset)
- Radio Winchcombe (Winchcombe, Gloucestershire)
Further details about these four new community radio services are available here.
Radio Regen would like to offer particular congratulations to the Radio Sherborne team, the first of our consultancy clients so far to win a licence in this application round.
This post was submitted by Bill Best.
November 30th, 2011
Drawing on the recent Guardian article (quoted below) the Community Radio Toolkit has spoken to local community stations for their thoughts on the difficulties of the economic climate.
“Tough economic climate hits community radio as average income falls 19%. The tough economic climate is taking its toll on community radio, with nearly half the stations who returned financial results to Ofcom reporting a deficit.
“Community radio has been flagged up by both the government and the radio industry as a central part of the medium’s future, filling the void left by commercial operators who have dumped local stations for national brands. However, the average income of community radio stations in the 12 months to the end of March 2011 fell 19% on the previous year to £63,000. Average expenditure was also down, but did not fall as fast as income. Some 71 stations – 44% that returned financial data to Ofcom – lost money in 2010/11. Of those, more than half – 39 – reported a deficit in excess of £10,000, with one station losing £90,000, according to Ofcom’s annual report on the sector.”
“Despite the financial difficulties being encountered by many community stations Ofcom said it would no longer publish an annual report on the sector because it was now “relatively mature”"
November 29th, 2011
Ofcom has published its Community Radio Annual Report. Each station that has been broadcasting for more than a year is required to complete an annual report. The reports, which cover the period of April 2010 to March 2011, detail how each station has performed against its key commitments and identifies its sources of income and expenditure. These are used by Ofcom to compile its annual report on the sector.
October 24th, 2011
The second round for funding applications in 2011/12 opened on 19 October and will close at 5pm on 16 November 2011. The Community Radio Fund Panel will meet to consider applications on 30 January 2012. Grants can only be made to community radio licensees who are broadcasting under a community radio licence (and not an RSL, for example).
The latest application form and guidance notes are available here. Please also see statements detailing the outcome of previous Panel meetings before writing your application as this contains useful advice.
The Community Radio Fund end of year report: 2010/11 is available here (pdf) which details recent grants made and feedback from recipients. It also highlights the grant reduction over the next 4 years which sees the grant reduced from £465,000 in 2007/08 to £430,000 for the financial year 2014/15. This is despite the sector continuing to grow. Ofcom cite that “at the end of the 2010/11 financial year there were 187 stations broadcasting with a further 23 preparing to launch. This compares to 137 broadcasting in 2008/09 and 175 in 2009/10.”
October 24th, 2011
Ofcom are continuing to pay close attention to music playlists and their compliance to generally accepted standards. The latest Broadcast Bulletin features repeated breaches by Rinse FM and ONFM for broadcasting songs which featured very strong language at a time when younger listeners were likely to be tuned in.
In the case of Rinse FM, they cited the need to vacate the building due to the riots during early August. In the volunteer’s haste they scheduled podcasts suitable for night time broadcasts only to play during the day. It contained a song with seriously adult content performed by an unsigned artist. In response to Ofcom …
September 25th, 2011
Three stations in Wiltshire and Somerset have been awarded 5-year community radio licences by Ofcom. Fantasy Radio in Devizes, Frome FM in Frome and WCR in Warminster are the first stations to be approved from the third round of licensing in the sector.
September 19th, 2011
Dear all in radio
As you will be aware, Ofcom informed broadcasters in a ‘Note to Broadcasters’ in Broadcast Bulletin 189 (links to pdf) of their concern about offensive language in radio programming. This concern arose from a number of findings which featured offensive language in sound recordings and live music performances broadcast on radio services, especially those broadcast when children were particularly likely to be listening.
We strongly suggest that you read Ofcom’s note, and we will be attending a special meeting in late October called by Ofcom to discuss the issue, we will feed back the outcomes from the meeting.
Director, Community Media Association
Community Media Association