Community radio station Gateway 97.8, which covers Basildon and East Thurrock, has been given permission to reduce the number of hours of live programming it broadcasts each day.
The station asked Ofcom to change its key commitments so that it could have more flexibility to broadcast pre-recorded programmes instead of live ones. Ofcom approved the amendment.
Previous Key Commitment:
The service will typically be live for at least 12 hours per day. (Live programming may include pre-recorded inserts, if applicable). The majority of the output will be locally produced.
New Key Commitment:
The service will typically be original output 8 hours a day. Original includes live and prerecorded material. The majority of the output will be locally produced.
The station says it encourages local people to make programmes, creating opportunities for disabled people or people not able to work live, so being able to broadcast recorded programmes will create a more diverse output.
Ofcom said that the change would not substanatially alter the character of service and that “the commitment to provide live and prerecorded locally produced output remains, albeit with a lower minimum number of hours than previously.” Ofcom agreed that changing ‘live’ to ‘original’ gives flexibility for pre-recorded material from volunteers who prefer not to broadcast live.
Gateway launched full time in September 2010 and had its licence extended for a further five years last year. The station has won several awards for its volunteering projects. It was recently awarded £15,600 from the Ofcom Community Radio Fund to pay for a Business Development/Fundraiser post.
Danny Lawrence, a director of Gateway 97.8, told RadioToday: “Even though our KC has been changed to a commitment of 8 hours a day we are still broadcasting on average 15 and there is no change. Like every business things need to be looked at after a period of time, a bit like adjusting a menu in a restaurant.”