---Apologies for cross-posting---
Full report at:
1.1 Community radio stations are not-for-profit radio services
designed to operate on a small scale and to deliver community
benefits, known as 'social gain'. The legislation enabling community
radio services to be licensed was introduced in 2004 and amended in
January 2010. The first community radio station launched in November
2005. This is Ofcom's fourth annual report on the community radio
1.2 Ofcom has to date licensed 231 stations over three rounds of
licensing. 196 of these are broadcasting and a further 23 have
either decided not to launch or have handed their licence back,
largely due to funding problems. The remainder are preparing to
start broadcasting. The second round of licensing concluded in
August 2010 and a third round of community radio licensing commenced
in April 2011.
1.3 Community radio serves a diverse range of communities. The
majority of stations serve a general audience in either an
urban/suburban area (16%) or a town/rural area (43%). Many services,
however, serve smaller communities of interest. This includes, for
example, those aimed at minority ethnic groups (13%), a youth
audience (11%) and those with a religious focus (6%). Of the
licences awarded, 187 are in England, 14 in Northern Ireland, 20 in
Scotland and 10 in Wales.
1.4 The legislation governing community radio sets out the
characteristics of community radio services and defines social gain.
Each station has a set of 'key commitments', which forms part of its
licence and sets out how it will meet these characteristics and
deliver social gain. The key commitments includes how a station will
make itself accountable to its target community and ensure access,
its programming aims and its commitments with regard to training and
other social gain objectives.
1.5 The legislation also requires that Ofcom sets licence conditions
limiting the amount of income that individual stations can generate
from on-air advertising and sponsorship. For the majority of
stations this limit is 50%. However, two stations have lower limits
(25% and 10%) and a further 18 stations cannot take income from
on-air advertising and sponsorship at all. These additional
restrictions have been put in place to protect existing small
commercial services whose coverage areas overlap with the community
1.6 Each station that has been broadcasting for more than a year is
required to complete an annual report. The reports detail how each
station has performed against its key commitments and identifies its
sources of income and expenditure. The financial aspect of the
reporting enables Ofcom to check whether the station has stayed
within the legislative restrictions on funding.
1.7 For the period April 2010 to March 2011 Ofcom received key
commitments annual reports from 163 stations and financial annual
reports from 161 stations. One station was excused from providing a
financial report and one station did not provide its financial
report in time to be included in this report. Another station did
not submit either its key commitments or financial reports.
1.8 Annual reports were not required from stations that launched
during this period or subsequently and are therefore not included in
1.9 In 2010/11 the average (mean) station's income was around
£63,000. The median figure, the mid-point in the distribution of
stations' income, was considerably lower at £42,000. This is because
a small number of stations are earning significantly more than the
1.10 The total reported income of the four highest earning stations,
each reporting over £250,000 income for the relevant period and
earning a total of just over £1.5m, equates roughly to the total
income of the 74 lowest income stations. If we exclude the four
highest earning stations' income then the average income drops to
£54,500. The median figure remains relatively similar at £41,000.
1.11 Stations targeting a community of interest (rather than a
geographic community) reported a higher income than the sector
average. Stations serving a general audience in an urban area
reported a higher average income than town/rural stations (£89,500
as opposed to £45,000).
1.12 The average (mean) sector income is down by around 19% on the
previous year's reported figure. In the 2009/10 period income had
dropped by around 6% compared to the period prior to this. The
median income for the current reporting period has dropped by 7%
compared to the 2009/10 period.
1.13 Trend analysis undertaken on the stations which have reported
in each of the last two years (i.e. 2009/10 and 2010/11) indicates
that the average (mean) income for these stations has dropped by
only 0.05% (£70,500 in 2010/11 compared to £74,500 in 2009/10 for
the same group of stations). This may indicate that the financial
situation for those stations that have submitted annual reports for
the last two financial periods has remained relatively stable.
1.14 When compared to previous years, the proportion of income from
specified sources appears relatively similar. The most significant
type of income for the sector is grant funding, which accounts for
37% of the total. Income from on-air advertising or sponsorship
accounted for around 21% of total income across the sector. 23% of
stations submitting financial returns did not take income from
advertising and sponsorship in this reporting period. Of these 37
stations, 25 chose not to take this type of income as a matter of
choice or policy. The remaining 12 stations were prohibited under
their licence from doing so.
1.15 Public sources of funding accounted for 25% of the total sector
income. Local authorities accounted for around 13% of the sector's
total income. 8% of income came from other public bodies such as the
Arts Council, health providers, educational establishments and
various national lottery award schemes.
1.16 The Community Radio Fund, which is administered by Ofcom on
behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, accounted for
£321,500 (around 3% of the sector's total reported income). The
Community Radio Fund continues to be the largest single source of
income for the sector.
1.17 Community radio stations, on average, are spending slightly
more than their income. Stations cost, on average, around £64,500 to
run. This has declined by 13% compared to the previous reporting
period. The median expenditure for this reporting period has dropped
to £40,000 compared to £52,000 the 2009/10 period.
1.18 Trend analysis undertaken on the stations which have reported
in each of the last two years (i.e. 2009/10 and 2010/11) indicates
that the average (mean) expenditure for these stations has dropped
by only 0.03% (£72,000 in 2010/11 compared to £74,500 in 2009/10 for
the same group of stations). This analysis gives some insight into
how those stations reporting for two full financial periods have
1.19 The highest cost for community radio stations remains staff
expenditure, which accounted for around 50% of stations' costs.
Premises and technical costs, as in previous years, accounted for
the next most significant outlay.
1.20 Around 44% of stations that returned a financial annual report
were in deficit. Of these 71 stations in deficit, 24% (39 stations)
reported this to be in excess of £10,000 (the highest was £90,000).
At the other end of the scale, one station had a surplus of £75,000.
In most cases, large deficits are being funded by parent
organisations; any surpluses are typically invested in the operation
of the service.
1.21 Community radio stations broadcast live for around 82 hours per
week on average, and, in general, broadcast a further 12 hours per
week of original pre-recorded material. On average around 32% of
daytime output is speech which can feature a wide range of local
organisations and community initiatives.
1.22 Some stations focus on particular genres of music, while those
serving a geographic audience generally broadcast more mainstream
music during daytime programming, moving to specialist output in the
1.23 The average station reports the involvement of around 78
volunteers annually, although there is a wide variation. Together
these volunteers give on average of around 295 hours a week of their
time in total. Time given by volunteers can vary considerably from
an hour or two to over 1,000 hours per week.
1.24 At a cost of just over £10 million pounds, based on the reports
received from stations in this reporting period, community radio in
the UK delivered:
A total of more than 12,500 volunteering opportunities
Over 45,000 volunteer hours each week
Over 15,000 hours of original radio output each week
Output broadcast in a wide range of community languages
1.25 There are now over 190 stations broadcasting and Ofcom
estimates that volunteers contribute close to 250,000 hours a month
to community radio.
1.26 Given that the community radio sector is now relatively mature,
Ofcom does not intend to publish an annual report of this type for
2011/12. However, all relevant stations will still be required to
submit an annual report as part of their demonstration of compliance
with licence and other statutory requirements.
Vice-President, Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE)
E: [log in to unmask] W: http://www.cmfe.eu
CMFE is a network of policy experts, organizations and federations, which aim to support the role of Community Media in Europe.
Registered in Belgium as an International NGO, business n.0822992342
Supported by the EU under the 'Europe for Citizens Programma 2011'