Two more community radio stations – Brick FM in Scotland and OnFM in Hammersmith – have had breaches recorded against their licences by Ofcom.
Brick FM failed to provide the regulator with satisfactory recordings of output, while OnFM was found to be not meeting the required 8 hours of live programmes and 60 percent speech content in daytimes as agreed as part of its key commitments.
Brick FM – which covers St Boswells, Newton St Boswells and the surrounding area in the Scottish Borders – was asked in April last year to provide recordings of four specified days' output so that Ofcom could address a complaint raised that the station wasn't meeting its key commitments. The regulator received a limited analysis of the recordings and signposting information but it was inadequate to enable them to properly assess whether the station was delivering against its key commitments.
In August they wrote again to Brick FM to ask for further recordings – these weren't provided since the station said its studio had been hit by a lightning strike that damaged recording equipment. Ofcom extended a deadline to November, and subsequently received eight discs containing output but no supplementary information to highlight the specific key commitment delivery or even the dates or times of broadcast. Ofcom returned the discs to the licensee and asked that the recordings be re-submitted labelled with the supplementary information required. The stations says it posted these on 13 December, although Ofcom has never received them.
Brick FM told Ofcom: "Only on certain occasions do we give time and date, as the format of our station required the shows to repeat at different hours on different days by the request of Brick FM listeners on a 24 hour basis."
Ofcom said: "By failing to provide the recordings of output and the other information we have requested we have not been able to assess whether the licensee is delivering against its key commitments, which form part of its licence. Therefore we have not been able to reach a decision on the licensee's compliance in this regard. The failure by Brick FM Ltd. to supply the recording in this instance is a serious and significant breach of Condition 8(2) of its licence to broadcast and should there be any similar contraventions, we will consider further regulatory action."
OnFM covers Hammersmith in west London and in its key commitments as part of the community radio licence it holds, says that its daytime output overall will 'typically comprise 40 percent music and 60 percent speech' and 'by the end of the first 12 months on air, the service will typically be
live, for at least 8 hours per day'. It went on air in May 2008.
Ofcom received a complaint in November that the station wasn't complying with these elements of its licence agreement so asked the station for comment and recordings of output. The station provided recordings but offered no explanation of whether it felt it was complying with the speech and live programming requirements. Ofcom listened to the recordings and determined that neither promise was being kept.
After contacting the station again, Ofcom were told that during the monitored period: "We were not able to meet the target of eight hours of live shows and sustain our original undertaking to supply 60 per cent speech between 8am and 8pm. OnFM's fulfilment of its promise to deliver a high standard of
speech broadcasting throughout the daytime output is well within the current team's capabilities." The station also said it intends to apply to Ofcom to amend its key commitments.
Ofcom recorded a breach of Licence Condition 2(4) against OnFM Ltd's community radio licence, since it was failing to provide the service set out in its Key Commitments.