A community radio station in Larne, Northern Ireland, has handed back its licence to Ofcom before launching.
Larne Community Media, operator of radio station Chaine FM, has announced an abandonment of plans to start a full-time community radio station for the area.
Chaine FM was awarded a five year license in June 2013 after operating six RSLs. The station was due to launch by June 2015 covering not just Larne Town but also the other areas of the borough such as Ballycarry, Carnlough and Glenarm.
The Directors of the radio station have cited a much changed funding landscape for their decision to hand back their licence.
“Efforts to obtain capital grant funding to pay for start-up costs, including the transmitter network, have proved unsuccessful,” the station says. “As a not for profit company, such grants would be required as there was no possibility of funding this in any other way.”
The original business plan for the station involved grant assistance in funding the annual running costs, normally from the Arts & Heritage, Health or Education Sectors. Due to the current spending cuts, these sources of funding – normally in return for programming commitments – have almost completely dried up, the station told us.
“Under current rules, it is not permissible for a Community Radio station to raise more than 50% of income from advertising and sponsorship. This created a major shortfall which station management could not fill. Proposed changes to these rules are said to have arrived too late to be considered and the station also believes that their advertising expectations were already maximised so the more relaxed income rules around advertising would have been unlikely to assist.”
Around 25 community radio stations have ceased broadcasting in recent years, including Indigo FM in Cumbria and Sound of Mull Radio.
A spokesman for the station added; “It is very disappointing to the Directors of Larne Community Media, as well as the volunteers at Chaine FM that our full-time station is not going to be possible, especially after the many years of hard work to get so far. However, we have been left in an impossible situation by the funding situation. It would have been irresponsible to proceed in the circumstances.
“We would like to place on record our thanks to our past Christmas advertisers along with the many community groups and elected representatives who have supported our endeavours to date.”
Larne Community Media is now exploring the future role of Chaine FM in serving the Larne Community and invites suggestions from the public in this regard. To get In touch with the station, email [email protected]