Community radio station, Awaaz FM in Southampton has been found in breach by Ofcom overs its ‘Key Commitments’.
Like all holders of a community radio licence, Awaaz FM must meet a number of ‘Key Commitments’ which form part of its licence. These set out how the station will serve its target community and deliver social gain (community benefits), and also include a description of the programme service.
In May this year, Ofcom found Awaaz FM in breach of Licence Conditions 2(1) and 2(4) of its licence for failing to meet its minimum requirement to deliver 77 hours per week of original output. In this finding, Ofcom made clear that it expected Awaaz FM to rectify the issue immediately and that it would monitor its compliance in this area in future. The Licensee stated that it aimed to meet the minimum requirement of 77 hours per week by “summer 2019”.
For this reason, Ofcom requested audio recordings of the service’s output in September 2019 alongside an explanation of how the Licensee was complying with the requirements. In response, the Licensee expressed that it was still currently failing to meet the minimum requirement of 77 original output hours per week.
Awaaz FM said that it had recently attended an event that resulted in a marked increase in the number of people interested in volunteering. It said it was in the process of training five new presenters which meant that some new programmes had already been added to the schedule and that its original output would significantly increase over the course of the next two months. However, it stated that it was currently delivering just 64 hours of original output per week and that it aimed to broadcast around 60 hours of original output per week by the end of October. It said that its current minimum level of 77 hours per week of original output was not maintainable and that it intended to submit a request to Ofcom to reduce this figure.
Ofcom concluded by saying Awaaz FM previously stated that it aimed to meet its minimum requirement of 77 hours of original output by “summer 2019”. However, in September 2019, Awaaz FM conceded that it was still failing to meet this figure. Ofcom acknowledged that the Licensee appears to have taken steps to increase its capacity for original output since Ofcom found it in breach of the requirement in June 2019. It has also submitted a formal request to reduce the minimum number of hours of original output per week for Ofcom to consider. However, it remains that, since May 2019, the Licensee has failed to meet its minimum requirement to deliver 77 hours per week of original output.
It was found in breach of Licence Conditions 2(1) and 2(4) in Part 2 of the Schedule to the community radio licence.