Ofcom has turned down a request by Lancashire community radio station Chorley FM to remove the requirement to specifically target the LGBT community from its licence key commitments.
The station asked earlier this year to change its ‘format’ so as to be inclusive to the whole community, rather than being seen as discriminatory for singling out the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as a separate group of people.
The station’s current key commitments say that it will target “young people (15-25 years of age) and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of Chorley.”
Ofcom launched a public consultation and received 132 responses. 125 were in favour of the change and 5 were against it, but the regulator’s Radio Licensing Committee made the decision to reject the request.
Ofcom said in a statement: “We concluded that the cumulative effect of the changes was likely to affect the delivery of an appropriate service to the stated target community and have a significant impact on the character of service. While Ofcom recognises that it is possible for a community radio station to broaden or otherwise modify the way it defines its target community and still provide an appropriate, if not better, service to its stated target community, it did not consider that this would be the case in respect of the changes requested by Chorley FM. This was because, in particular, the Committee noted that Chorley FM proposed to remove every reference to the LGBT community, and all but one reference to youth/young people, from its Key Commitments. This made it difficult for the Committee to conclude that the changes would not have the potential to be detrimental in terms of the service provided to the target community.”
The Committee also considered that the proposed changes to music and speech output, and in particular the reduction in the variety of music genres during daytime that would result from the changes, would serve to reduce Chorley FM’s distinctiveness and its ability to cater for different tastes and interests from those catered for by existing local services.