Ofcom has started a consultation looking at how community radio services’ ‘Key Commitments’ could be simplified.
The radio regulator is proposing to adopt a new approach, simplifying how these commitments should be set out in each licence. “Ofcom believes this will ensure the core elements of a community radio licence continue to be delivered, while allowing greater flexibility for services to make best use of their resources and respond to changing circumstances,” Ofcom says.
Community radio stations have been operating under Key Commitments since the Community Radio Order 2004 (the Order) came into force. But now Ofcom has found:
i) they can be too detailed and specific, and not flexible enough to allow the station to adapt to changing circumstances in the way a service is delivered and changing community needs.
ii) they can be too vague or aspirational and as a result not give a real sense of
what benefits the service would deliver for the community;
iii) they are not always a complete reflection of the most important
characteristics of the service that are set out in the rest of the application,
leaving out essential benefits that will be delivered for the community; and
iv) because we have taken different approaches to the process of drafting Key
Commitments in the different phases of licensing community radio services, there
is a significant difference in length and tone between Key Commitments for
different stations, making it difficult for stakeholders to compare services.
Ofcom thinks the new Key Commitments should continue to include the following information about the community radio service:
i) A definition of the target community;
ii) The social gain objectives, e.g. how it will strengthen community links,
arrangements for providing training;
iii) Access and participation arrangements for the target community, e.g. how it
will involve volunteers and members of the target community in the running of
iv) How it will be accountable to the community it serves;
v) The amount and type of programming to be broadcast, e.g. the main types of
music and speech output, the amount of original output, amount of locallyproduced
output, the languages in which the services will broadcast; and
vi) Where the studio is based
Ofcom welcomes views on its consultation, which closes on 21 October 2015.