Chorley FM has been found in breach of its community radio licence by Ofcom, for failing to meet its key commitments.
The regulator monitored output on the Lancashire station over three days in January.
Chorley FM is specifically licensed to serve 15 to 25 year-olds and Chorley’s LGBT community. It also has social gain objectives, such as “discussion and debate on issues affecting the community, including young people and LGBT people.” Ofcom received two complaints that Chorley FM was failing to deliver certain key commitments, and under-delivering on others.
The regulator found that on one of the three days it monitored, the station was heavily automated, and there was no speech throughout daytime other than one short pre-recorded slot per hour, featuring Community News or an Events Diary, and a weather report.
It also found that that there was ‘no evidence of material either targeted specifically at, or of particular relevance to, the audience of young people in the targeted community safety areas or people from the LGBT community of Chorley.’
In response, Chorley FM said that its “untypical absence of some live daytime content” was due to the loss of four of its weekday daytime presenters (all of whom were volunteers) over the weeks immediately preceding the dates for which Ofcom requested recordings.
The station told Ofcom that there was a particular problem with the delivery of local news on 29 January because the producer was unable to get to that station on that day due to a family emergency. It also said that on 31 January all live programming was cancelled until 3pm because it needed to replace hardware and reinstall software following the technical malfunction of its studio databases.
Chorley FM also told the regulator that it broadcasts two weekly programmes aimed at the local LGBT community, both of them between 10pm and midnight. It said that “Breakout”, its Sunday night LGBT programme, features a round-up of the week’s key regional, national and international LGBT news and regularly includes relevant issues. The Wednesday night programming strand targeted at this audience comprised two music shows – “Camp Classics” and “80s Anthems”
Chorley FM also said its schedule included a weekly programme presented by a local philosopher and that its weekly folk music programme often included interviews with local musicians.
However, the regulator concluded that “given the station’s overall character of service, we did not consider that the inclusion of one speech programme aimed specifically at this audience (broadcast late on a Sunday evening) was sufficient for the service to meet the requirement for speech output that includes ‘relevant features for the target community, including national and regional LGBT community news’.” It found the station was failing to deliver its key commitments in speech output, relevant features for the target community and some of its social gain commitments.
Meanwhile, today’s Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin also reveals that the regulator has launched new investigations into Drystone Radio in North Yorkshire, and TCR FM in Tamworth, under its General Procedures for investigating breaches of broadcast licences.