Community radio stations condemn radio report

A group of community radio stations has jointly condemned a report commissioned by industry body Radiocentre as inaccurate and misleading.

The report, written by David Lloyd and published by Radiocentre, explains the current state of small-scale radio and suggests more regulation for the sector.

In the joint statement, the group says: “At a time when Radiocentre has been lobbying hard and successfully achieved further deregulation for the commercial radio sector in recent weeks, it seems strange that they would argue for a huge increase in regulatory burden to be placed on the community radio sector.

“The report makes a number of baseless allegations, including raising the possibility that stations may have attributed revenue to online services, taken cash payments or direct payments to contributors to circumvent the strict rules in place by the broadcast regulator regarding on-air advertising. No stations are named in the report nor are any examples given.

“The report also appears to undermine the crucial social gain work undertaken by the vast majority of stations, and in places even suggests that this should be relegated away from the FM airwaves and placed onto online podcasts instead. Commercial radio should not be threatened by the presence of community radio stations who, through key commitments and existing regulation, are both required to and are happy to deliver high levels of social gain for the areas they provide a valuable lifeline to.

“At a time of increasing co-location and programme sharing between commercial radio licences, which we have not objected to, community radio could in some cases be left as the ‘last station in town’ providing a crucial local service. An implementation of the recommendations in this report would jeopardise this and we urge the broadcast regulator to take its own view on the matter rather than that of the commercial radio lobby group.”

The Community Media Association also responded to the report saying it offered ‘an unusual perspective on the way that community radio in the United Kingdom is perceived to operate that few people in the community radio sector would recognise’.

Lucinda Guy, Chair of the Community Media Association says: “Every day around the UK, community radio studios are opening their doors to all kinds of users, offering a welcoming space where people can speak in their own languages, bring their babies and dogs along, get support for mental health problems, and broadcast deep meaningful discussions about the things that affect their lives. This tiring, complex work is undervalued, underpaid and immensely fulfilling.

“In a changing world of media, where listeners can access the music they love via online platforms, communities are taking radio down a path little explored in previous generations, but absolutely in tune with current concerns about loneliness, media ownership, misinformation and the importance of vibrant and sustainable local economies.”

The Community Media Association says it welcomes any opportunity to work with commercial organisations, public service media providers, and all levels of Government, that have an interest in civic engagement, social value investment, and democratic participation in the life of our communities.

In response, Radiocentre Chief Executive Siobhan Kenny said: “We are sorry that the directors and managers of 48 community radio stations appear to misunderstand not only the motivation and the conclusions of David Lloyd’s in-depth report but also the role of Radiocentre. As we said on publication, we commissioned the report at this critical time to stimulate a debate on the future of small-scale commercial radio and community radio in the UK. We look forward to having that debate with our friends in the community radio sector.”

David Lloyd, author of the report, will be our guest on the RadioToday Programme podcast next week to offer his reaction.

The radio stations unhappy with the report are:

  1. Darren Dorrington, MKFM, Milton Keynes
  2. Nathan Spackman, BRO Radio, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
  3. Philippa Sawyer, Wycombe Sound, High Wycombe
  4. Kevin Scott, Voice FM, Southampton
  5. Kath Lord-Green, Ribble FM, Clitheroe
  6. Martyn Haynes, WCR FM, Wolverhampton
  7. Matthew Sargeant and Andrew Cope, Stafford FM, Stafford
  8. Julian Swift-Hook, Kennet Radio, Newbury and Thatchum
  9. Tim Ashburner, Marlow FM, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
  10. Chris Ruff, Neil Povey and Pat Bradley, Hailsham FM, Hailsham
  11. Ian Perry, Erewash Sound, Ilkeston, Derbyshire
  12. Jim Keddie, TD1 Radio, Galashiels, Central Borders
  13. Paul Crockett, Matthew Garrod and Paul Hopper, The Voice, Barnstaple, Bideford & Ilfracombe, North Devon
  14. Dave Sommers, Harbour Radio, Great Yarmouth
  15. Andy Green, David Matthews, Chris Collman and Julie Green, ExmouthAiR Radio, Exmouth, Devon
  16. Jerry Bradford, Burgess Hill Radio, Burgess Hill
  17. Jeremy Gartland, Zetland FM, Redcar and surrounding areas in East Cleveland
  18. Jonathan Morrell, Pride FM, Newcastle and Gateshead
  19. Steven Normyle, Beyond Radio, Lancashire
  20. Nick Dent and Dave Pascoe, Coast FM, Penzance, Cornwall
  21. Tam Curry, CamGlen Radio, Cambuslang & Rutherglen
  22. Jon Sketchley and Jan Sketchley, Hermitage FM, Coalville, Ibstock & Ashby de la Zouch
  23. Alex Jenkins, Celtic Music Radio, Glasgow
  24. Sue Bright, Hot Radio 102.8, Poole
  25. Chris Brookbanks, Beyond Radio, Lancashire
  26. John Weller, Nevis Radio, Fort William
  27. Nick Mallinson, Seahaven FM, Newhaven and surrounding areas
  28. Peter Flynn, SFM 106.9, Sittingbourne
  29. Ronny Davies, Pulse Community Radio, Barrhead
  30. Jonathan Cohen, First FM, OX4 area of Oxford
  31. Mark Blackman, Canalside’s The Thread 102.8 FM, Bollington
  32. Tom Walker, Black Country Radio, Stourbridge
  33. Andy Coote, The Source, Falmouth and Penryn
  34. Brian Dobson, Black Cat Radio, St Neots
  35. Greg Butler, Cambridge 105 FM, Cambridge
  36. Chris Jones, Harborough FM (Hfm), Market Harborough
  37. Barry Clark, Witney Radio, Witney and immediate surrounding area
  38. David Sharp, Academy FM 105.9, Folkestone, Kent
  39. Ian Hickling, BGFM, Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent
  40. Jane Hughes, Cannock Chase Radio, Cannock and Rugeley, Staffordshire
  41. Jeremy Rees, Radio Cardiff, Cardiff
  42. Ryan McClean and Julie MacLeod, RWS FM 103.3, Bury St Edmunds
  43. Lee Quinn, Eden FM, Penrith
  44. Tim Cooper, GTFM Pontypridd, Pontypridd
  45. Eddie Stuart, KCR, Moray
  46. Paul Golder, Phoenix FM, Brentwood
  47. Stu Wright, Tone FM, Taunton, Somerset
  48. Alan Walters, Gravity FM, Grantham

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  1. Adrian says

    Quite right too-if Ofcom actually cares about any local radio being left in this country they will relax the rules for community stations not restrict them further,but then we know who Ofcom seems to favour.It really is a scandal that commercial radio is going the way of being a monopoly not providing local programmes,having a licence seemingly for ever to put out anything they want (increasingly similar pop music) and stamping on anyone who would dare challenge their audience-how many community stations are doing them any harm and in any case if DAB is the future why not be satisfied with that and let the community stations be on FM?.

    1. mb23 says

      This isn’t about the big groups, it’s about securing the future of small stations like Radio Exe, Radio Plymouth, Yorkshire Coast & Ipswich 102. They are putting out a full local service, and not receiving any public funding.

      1. Pat says

        They are not putting out a full local service(or what I would call full anyway).Non -stop music from 7pm in the case of the Devon ones -admittedly later on the other two but with Yorkshire Coast radio getting record figures last time around you can hardly say they are being impacted by community radio.They are also not providing any specialist programmes which the most of the community ones do.UKRD/.Lincs and Nation all have many hours of automation and non-stop music while the community stations don’t have the luxury of the amount of advertising the others can take nor the backing of a big group to save costs.Everyone shouldn’t have to join the spiral downwards in local broadcasting just to please the people in commercial radio who seem to think-‘If we’re not providing it you shouldn’t be allowed to either’-what are they afraid of that people might actually turn away to a more local service? and if so why not do more to keep listeners instead of trying to blame everyone else?.

  2. Russ says

    “Radiocentre Chief Executive Siobhan Kenny said: “We are sorry that the directors and managers of 48 community radio stations appear to misunderstand not only the motivation and the conclusions of David Lloyd’s in-depth report but also the role of Radiocentre”.


    All 48 directors / managers listed are wrong?

    I think the undertones here are that CR will finally get DAB access, even on a low powered scale. The giants have manage to keep competition away through sky high DAB transmission costs.

    Radio, should be fair and equal to all operators.

    Something which is also being ignored is the amount of online only stations that will also join these low powered DAB multiplexes.

    Many have been waiting in the wings, waiting for the development.

  3. neal says

    I hope all these stations the small and community ones will win through but they have one almighty hurdle to climb with Ofcom who have happily allowed the big boys to take on the human equivalent of the Borg in Star Trek! How appropriate is their line of ” resistance is futile you will be assimilated” !!!!

  4. Dan Dean says

    The reason local radio died was because nobody gave a monkeys about. All this Local output, what???…back to back hits from down the road rather than 300 miles away…truth is 300 miles away do it better. The whole thing was on its backside before the Big boys and only being kept alive,.. just!!…by banks who did not want the publicity of shutting them down, which would not happen in the current climate. Had they not been taken over, by now they would have gone to the wall. Community radio is dreadful, run by never been and Mr Bean, just playing at it pretending to be “a radio station”….making programme’s for themselves and their friends….kidding themselves that someone is listening to them….total dross

    1. Andy says

      By far the smartest and most truthful comment I’ve read on Radio Today. Couldn’t agree more.

  5. Glyn says

    That’s a trifle harsh and generalistic Dean. Yes some community radio is dreadful. But some is excellent. Even on the dreadful stations there are often hidden gems to be found. Give me choice with some blemishes anyday over bland homegenised radio simulcast on multiple frequencies and wavebands up and down the dial, and presented by “celebs”!

    There you go, you’ve got me generalising now!

  6. Wally Sawyer says

    If a commercial radio station is not viable in it’s own transmission area, for at least 14 hours a day, it should not be on the air!
    Their are just too many stations aiming at the same market, in that many of them sound very similar!
    If the big boys want national stations then perhaps a limited number of national licenses could be made available? It would mean the number of higher powered local or regional stations would have to be lost but as the big boys don’t really care about local programming this shouldn’t be an issue for them. Local and community stations could be better placed to succeed and be better funded!

  7. Paul Golder says

    Hey, Siobhan. I didn’t misunderstand the report. This patronising attitude shows us all exactly what Radiocentre thinks of the people who work hard to make Community Radio a success.

  8. Ian Chambers says

    The report shouldn’t have been called “Independent” as it was poor and far from that, just a lobbying document from small commercial radio to Ofcom.

    Russ sums it up well with “Radio, should be fair and equal to all operators.” instead of any silly in-fighting.

    Happy to remain on the “more radio localness” side – I am NOT voting for Localexit!

  9. Dan says

    Reading this made me think several things

    1) commercial radio you have lost the battle as streaming avoids what is far too much waffle and adverts on a dying medium.

    2) DAB was a dream, spoilt by (1)

    3) community radio is awful with droning presenters, however it is a 1000 percent better than commercial radio with various commercial stations networked together so you hear the same carp from county to county as you drive through.

    Radio for me is a dead medium killed by waffling imbeciles and advertising overload- premium streaming clearly the way forward

  10. Dave says

    The radiocentre are a very powerful lobbying group for commershal radio.
    They are very clever professionals in broadcast.
    I would guess they would know exactly the reachtion to this report would bring from the CMA & community radio stations.
    Before they published it .

  11. Adrian says

    Here’s my experience in Wales.Nation operate a regional licence originally to play guitar based and rock music (originally provided by XFM).This has changed quite a few times over the years and is now an M.O.R pop station.They also operate a number of small stations each of which used to have their own local shows.They then decided to try their luck in London with a DAB station employing some famous names,at around the same time putting the same presenters on all the small stations in Wales removing local output except for news (what’s ons etc) which became outsourced often from outside Wales.The London station is still going with less listeners than most of their Welsh stations.They have now expanded into Sunderland (where at times they use the Wales service presenters) and Scotland (with apparently voicetracking from various locations).They used to offer several hours of Welsh output per day which is now down to an hour a week.My question is none of this is against the rules but why should one have any sympathy when a community station comes along and says they want to supply the local service that the original licenses no longer does?.

  12. Gregory Butler says

    I hope Trevor shows no mercy when he interviews David next week. This was a terrible, poorly researched and ill judged report made for all the wrong reasons – taking the “Mans” dirty money.

    He should be ashamed, and he won’t be easily forgiven by a whole sector of the radio world.

    A sector that has far more passion and people in it than Commercial radio ever will have.

  13. Michael says

    Mainstream commercial local radio were always scared stiff of the emergence of community radio because they knew community radio has the potential to deliver a unique service to the communities, they serve, which mainstream commercial local radio used to deliver – sort of, but have failed to deliver since the late 1980’s. Why does mainstream local commercial radio, think we still have a plethora of ‘ un-licensed ‘ ( pirate ) radio stations broadcasting in our major towns and cities?. Its mainly because mainstream local commercial radio did away with breaking new music/specialist music programmes, in the late 1980’s – opting for the ‘ same-old same-old ‘ music playlists.

    It is no surprise mainstream local commercial radio have called for greater regulation of community radio stations, fearing they may lose new/existing listeners.

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