sub community

Community radio in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, community radio refers to a recently-established system of licensing small, micro-local, non-profit radio stations. In its early days, the scheme was known as access radio.


The idea for this new level of radio broadcasting was piloted by the regulator at the time, the Radio Authority in 2002 with the licensing of 15 so-called Access Radio stations for a trial period of one year in order to test the feasibility of such stations.

The licences were extended in 2003 for a further year, and in 2004 a consultation was issued by the Authority's successor, Ofcom, on the creation of Community Radio. Following this, an invitation to groups to apply for community radio licences nationwide was issued. 192 stations applied and of those, 106 were awarded licences. The first new community station to be licensed was youth-based AfanFM in Neath-Port Talbot and the first to go on-air was 103 The Eye in Melton Mowbray. Many stations awarded licences in this first wave are currently in the process of launching.


As of 2007, Ofcom is currently inviting applications in a so-called second wave of licensing on a region-by-region basis. Unlike in commercial radio licensing, which is generally advertised to cover a specific region, prospective operators are able to specify the target area and format of their station.

In order to obtain a community radio licence, applicants must demonstrate that the proposed station will meet the needs of a specified target community, together with required "social gain" objectives set out in the application. These usually take the form of a commitment to train local people in broadcasting skills or provide a certain amount of programming aimed at an underserved section of the population.

A target community can be defined either by geography or by reference to a particular sub-community in an area, otherwise known as a community of interest. A geographic community can be any defined local area, particularly those which would not sustain a fully commercial broadcaster. A community of interest can be any identifiable local community; existing community stations are aimed at groups as diverse as the elderly or youth, religious groups, speakers of languages other than English, lifestyle groups such as gay and transgender and cultural/recreational groups such as artists.

While there are exceptions in certain rural areas, community radio stations are usually limited to broadcast areas smaller than commercial or BBC local stations, nominally a 5 kilometre radius of their transmitter. The normal allocated power for a new community station in an urban area is 30 watts.


Following pressure from the UK's Commercial Radio Companies Association, the Community Radio Order 2003 includes varying funding stipulations based on a community station's proximity to a commercial radio broadcaster. No community radio station is permitted to raise more than 50% of its operating costs from a single source, including on-air sponsorship and advertising. The remainder of operating costs must be met through other sources. These can include public funding via grants, donor income, National Lottery funding or charities. Regulator Ofcom also makes available an amount of funding annually through its Community Radio Fund. Stations may apply for this money in the same way as other grant funding.

However, where a community radio station lies within the transmission area of a commercial station with a population coverage of under 250,000, no sponsorship or advertising may be sought and all funding must come from alternative sources. In a small number of areas where a commercial station covers a population of under 100,000, a community station may not be licensed at all. This is in order to protect the financial interests of these small commercial stations.

Access Radio pilot stations

The following stations took part in the Access Radio pilot beginning in 2002:

Station Location Format Frequency
ALL FM South Manchester Multicultural 96.9 FM
Angel Radio Havant, Hampshire Over-60s 101.1 FM
Awaz FM Glasgow Asian 107.2 FM
Bradford Community Broadcasting Bradford Multicultural 96.7 FM (now 106.6 FM)
Cross Rhythms City Radio Stoke-on-Trent Christian music 101.8 FM
Desi Radio Southall, West London Punjabi 1602 AM
Radio Faza Nottingham Asian women's station 97.1 FM
Forest of Dean Radio Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Rural community station 1521 AM, 1503 AM
GTFM Pontypridd, Glamorgan Local talk and music 106.9 FM (now 107.9 FM)
New Style Radio Birmingham Afro-Caribbean talk/music 98.7 FM
Northern Visions Radio Belfast General 100.6 FM (now closed)
Resonance FM Central London Artistic community 104.4 FM
Shine FM Banbridge, County Down Christian music 106.1 FM
Sound Radio Hackney, East London Multicultural 1503 AM (temporarily off-air)
Takeover Radio Leicester Children's radio 103.2 FM
Wythenshawe FM Wythenshawe, South Manchester Music and local talk 97.2 FM

See also


External links

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