Eight out of ten community radio stations are struggling to pay the bills, a new survey has found.
David Duffy from consultants The Radio People said the survey was designed to build up a picture of how community stations are faring, what resources they have available to them and what support stations need for the future.
Radio People Partner John Evington says the feedback bears out recent concerns over sustainability: “Managers are clearly spending too much of their valuable time chasing revenue and funding rather than focusing on content, production values and compliance”.
The survey also reveals that around three quarters of stations surveyed rely on their own resources for producing advertisements and imaging. John believes this is a risky strategy: “There are some truly amazing community stations out there, but these are the exception rather than the rule. The majority of what is being aired falls painfully short of the most basic standards. Shoddily-produced ads simply don’t work, leaving clients with a lasting negative attitude towards community radio”.
Compliance is considered less of an issue by many stations. The Radio People believes this is largely down to Ofcom’s passive regulatory policy, only checking on licensees when they receive a complaint: “I dread to think how many stations are failing to deliver their Key Commitments”, says John. “It’s a blessing for those stations that Ofcom doesn’t monitor and, when it comes to complaining, most listeners take the easy option and simply hit the ‘off’ button”.
The Radio People has welcomed the recently announced DCMS Consultation which could be a lifeline for the sector. The results of this survey will contribute to the debate over relaxing the regulations that are impeding community radio.
Visit theradiopeople.co.uk to see the report in full.