Ofcom approves output changes to Bradford Asian Radio

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Community station, Bradford Asian Radio will be able to switch from its current “speech-led” format to music, after Ofcom approved several changes in favour of the station.

In October 2019, Bradford Asian Radio Limited Company submitted a request to Ofcom to make changes to the AM community radio licence it holds for Bradford. Today, the station has been granted the changes, which include:

• A change to Bradford Asian Radio’s description of character of service so that it is no longer a “speech-led” radio station for the “Asian population of Bradford”, but instead a “music and speech radio station” for the “Asian (primarily Pakistani) population of Bradford”, which also offers “special programming on religious and cultural occasions”.
• A change to Bradford Asian Radio’s music output requirements from music “from the Indian sub-continent”, to “Pakistani, Indian, Punjabi, Mirpuri and Qawwali Music”, and to allow the service to change its music output to “religious/spiritual tracks only” during religious and cultural occasions.
• A change to Bradford Asian Radio’s speech output requirements so it is able to limit output to “religious and cultural programming only” during moments of religious significance, relevant to its target community.
• A reduction in Bradford Asian Radio’s original output requirement from “a minimum of 13 hours per day” to “a minimum of 42 hours per week”.

During the consultation period, The Community Media Association threw support beind Bradford Asian Radio’s request. It said:

• Change its  [Bradford Asian Radio] description of character of service so that it is no longer a “speech-led” radio station for the “Asian population of Bradford”, but a “music and speech radio station” for the “Asian (primarily Pakistani) population of Bradford”, which also offers “special programming on religious and cultural occasions”.

Sunrise FM objected to the changes during the consultation period. Sunrise FM was critical of the proposed change of target community from the “Asian population” to “primarily Pakistani”, arguing that this would mitigate against the ethos of community cohesion that Bradford Asian Radio says it wants to create, because the less populous Asian communities in Bradford would be marginalised. It argued that this would “naturally discourage, be it unintentionally, non-Pakistanis’ to access or use training services thereby negatively impacting the overall social gain key commitment of the station.”

Ofcom said it had noted that, whilst reducing original output and shifting focus away from speech and towards music, the changes also provide more specificity regarding the types of music covered, and refer to changes in the balance of programming around religious and cultural events (albeit not a requirement to cover such events). We consider that part of the reason for the change is therefore to provide additional specificity about the manner in which the target community is to be served.

Ofcom said it was approving the changes to Bradford Asian Radio’s Key Commitments, because Ofcom was satisfied in relation to one of the statutory criteria and, on balance, Ofcom considered the policy criteria make it appropriate to approve the request.

Updated: 18/03/20
(Modified after error in reporting with Community Media Association’s response to Ofcom)

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