Fifteen community radio stations across the country have found themselves in breach of their licence conditions after failing to submit annual reports to Ofcom on time.
One of the 15 and another station have also been found in breach for obtaining more than half their income through on air advertising and sponsorship.
Under the terms of community radio licences, stations are required to send Ofcom a report annually setting out how they've been meeting their 'key commitments'. One of these commitments is to produce the report itself.
Ofcom says failure to submit it represents a 'serious and fundamental breach of a community radio licence', as the absence of the information contained in the report means they're unable properly to carry out its regulatory duties.
Thirteen stations failed to submit the reports on time – with most missing the deadline by around four to six weeks. The stations are the 5 Garrison Radio licences (Colchester, Edinburgh, Salisbury Plain, Aldershot and Catterick) as well as Youthcomm in Worcester, Hayes FM in Middlesex, Leith FM in Midlothian, Black Diamond FM in Midlothian, Somer Valley FM in Somerset, Bro Radio in Glamorgan, Gravity FM in Grantham and Cheshire FM.
Along with Seaside FM in Withernsea (East Yorks), Cheshire FM were also found in breach of the advertising and sponsorship clauses of their licences. These stipulate that stations must obtain no more than 50% of their income from on air advertising and sponsorship and no more than 25% from volunteer in-kind support.
Two licensees – Voice of Africa Radio in Newham, East London and Burngreave Community Radio in Sheffield – have been found in breach for, at the time of writing, not having sent in their completed annual reports. Burngreave has sent Ofcom the key committments report but not the financial report. In these two cases, Ofcom say they're putting licensees on notice that their present contravention of their licences is being considered for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Community Radio was born out of the 2004 Community Radio Order to provide local radio stations delivering social gain that are run on a not-for-profit basis, involve members of their target communities and are accountable to the communities they serve.