Five community radio stations in the South East have been each awarded a new five year licence today, whilst one has been rejected.
Bexhill FM and Hailsham FM in in East Sussex, Red Kite Radio in Haddenham and Thame, Witney Radio in Oxfordshire and Wycombe Sound all have two years to start broadcasting.
In addition, Love FM (OMpassion CIC), based in Bracknell, Berkshire was not offered a licence for reasons unknown.
At Witney Radio, Station Director Barry Clack said: “After 4 years of proving that we have what it takes to provide a service to our community we can finally begin to bring local radio back to Witney. Our volunteers at the station work extremely hard to provide a quality product containing varied and mixed shows to appeal to all tastes.”
They mark the first awards of the year by Ofcom – and come nine months after previous awards. Ofcom received 26 applications for the South East region and more awards are expected over the coming months.
Community radio services are provided on a not-for-profit basis, focusing on the delivery of specific social benefits to a particular geographical community or a community of interest.
Here are the full details of the five new stations from Ofcom’s website:
Red Kite Radio
Red Kite Radio will be for the people of Haddenham and Thame, with a service featuring community voices provided via the station’s open access approach to speech content. Ofcom considered that the applicant’s proposed output, with its focus on Haddenham and Thame community news and features, and the inclusion of local voices as described above, would broaden the range of output available in this area (1c). In Ofcom’s view, the applicant’s previous broadcasting experience and the other relevant experience of group members, and its reasonable financial proposals for set-up and year one, demonstrated its ability to maintain the service (1a). The applicant provided evidence of demand and support for its service, including partnerships with local organisations (1d).
Wycombe Sound is for people aged 35 and over in High Wycombe. Ofcom was satisfied that the applicant had demonstrated its ability to maintain its proposed service. It had operated the station as a temporary FM service; and group members had relevant experience in broadcasting, further education and local business, as well as links with a number of local organisations (1a). Ofcom noted the applicant’s social gain proposals, which will encourage interaction with the station, and give a platform to local organisations and for charity campaigns (1e). The applicant has a strong volunteer base (1g), and notable level of local support and demand for the service (1d).
Witney Radio will serve the community of Witney and surrounding villages, with a locally-focused service including local news, as well as information about life in Witney. Ofcom thought that such a service would be distinctive and broaden radio choice in the area (1c). Ofcom also considered that the applicant showed its ability to maintain the proposed service through its proposals for a low-cost operation, which is volunteer-run, and for which premises have already been secured (1a). The applicant also demonstrated good levels of support and demand for the station (1d), which should help to ensure that the service retains strong links to its target community.
Hailsham FM will be a service for the whole community in Hailsham, an area which is not the sole editorial focus of any existing radio services. Ofcom felt that group members had useful relevant experience in a range of fields including small business, training, music, radio broadcasting and sound engineering, and that the applicant had presented a sound business plan for a relatively low-cost service. As a result Ofcom considered that it had the ability to maintain the service (1a). The proposed service has a good range of social gain objectives, including a focus on training, and ideas to involve and inform a range of people including vulnerable groups such as the elderly (1e). Ofcom also recognised that the applicant had good links to the local community through its connections with local organisations, and had gathered support from a range of businesses, charities and other groups (1d).
Bexhill FM will provide a service for the community of Bexhill-on-Sea. The applicant has strong links to Bexhill Academy, with which it will continue to work, for example, in devising a programme to provide training (1g). Ofcom was satisfied that the applicant had demonstrated its ability to maintain the proposed service – it had operated temporary radio services in Bexhill, developed links with local organisations and businesses (both of which will be promoted on-air), and has studio premises in place (1a). Ofcom considered that the proposed service’s focus on Bexhill, including local news and community information, as well as music from unsigned artists, would distinguish its output from that of existing commercial stations in the area (1c). In addition, the applicant demonstrated a good level of local support for its proposals (1d).