Community broadcaster, Eava FM has been rapped by Ofcom for not adhering to its Key Commitments, in particular, that it had failed to meet its character of service and was not delivering the programming requirements set out in its Key Commitments during the month of Ramadan.
In Ofcom’s assessment for the May period, the media regulator noticed that the station was not complying with its Character of service, which reads, “Eava FM is for Leicester’s inner-city new migrant and refugee communities, particularly those from East Africa and related areas. It combines music, local news and information with cultural, faith and educational programming.”
It added, “The main type of music broadcast over the course of each week is: music from East Africa and other genres relevant to the target community, including music of Black origin.”
Responding to Ofcom’s observation, Eava FM said, “Eava FM had mainly targeted the mentioned communities of intent”, the service “goes beyond our local community…from the diverse community of East European to Far East, Middle East and [the] whole of Africa”. It said that “indigenous communities become people of one voice through EAVA FM initiatives”. Also, that it had worked to serve its target community all year round, but had covered seasonal cultural events over particular periods so that the target community may “enjoy and learn from each other for cultural diversity of that faith and culture”. The licensee said that the Ramadan period was the time in which it had received the largest boost to its listenership, and also that, while it had broadcast more varied content regularly over the course of the year, this “special programme period” reflected its “audience needs” with the audience for this content being made up of nearly 85% of the East African community that St Mathews intended to serve.”
The licensee said that, throughout the year, it had broadcast programmes promoting local and international music of black origin and from East African communities “be it Somali, Swahili and other East African communities”. However, that it also had a “special programme period for targeting celebration of different events like Diwali, Ramadan and Christmas time”. Similarly, it said it had tried to provide local information throughout the year, but that Ramadan was a period which enabled the licensee to “get listeners and promote our services”.
Ofcom concluded by saying, “During the period monitored, there was no local news broadcast as required by the character of service. Additionally, all of the programming broadcast during the days monitored, including music, local information and cultural, faith and educational programming, appeared to be aimed specifically at the Islamic community. No secular programming, or programming catering to followers of any other religion, was featured.”
Ofcom accepted that the content broadcast on the service over the period monitored was likely to appeal to the Islamic community within the “inner-city new migrant and refugee communities” of Leicester, particularly during Ramadan. Additionally, Ofcom accepted that it was legitimate for the output to have an increased focus on Islamic religious programming over this period, particularly given the increased demand for this type of programming during this time. However, Ofcom considered that the absence of local news, music or any other programming aimed at serving those members of the Licensee’s target community who were not of the Islamic faith, meant that the Licensee had failed to meet both its character of service and its requirements for the broadcast of music output.
Ofcom is also aware of Eava FM’s previous breach on 21st December 2015 for failing to broadcast local news and music aimed at serving its entire target community during the period of Ramadan.
This time, Eava FM has been found in breach of Licence Conditions 2(1) and 2(4) in Part 2 of the Schedule to the community radio licence held by St Mathews Community Solution Centre Limited (Eava FM).