Media regulator Ofcom has granted multicultural commercial station Spectrum Radio two extra hours a day of Asian programming output.

To date, Spectrum Radio has only been allowed to broadcast eight hours per day of Asian shows, however, this will now increase to ten hours per day.

However, Ofcom has specified that the new time block should only consist of programmes targeted at the Sikh community. Amrit Vela Radio will broadcast every morning between 4 and 6am.

Amrit Vela Radio’s programme on Spectrum Radio is fronted by Lucky Dhillon. The programme also holds exclusive radio rights for coverage from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.

In its proposal to Ofcom, Spectrum Radio said, “It is our intention that this additional airtime is used to broadcast our highly popular Sikh programme at 4am. This programme comes partly live from the Golden Temple and is of huge benefit to the Sikh community in London. The programme is presented by Lucky Dhillon, a leading figure in the Sikh community, who won the Media Professional of the Year award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2007. In addition to presenting programming live from Amritsar there is music, phone in discussions and readings.”

Spectrum Radio was previously denied an increase of four extra hours of Asian output during the day. Ofcom felt the proposed change would represent a substantial change to the character of service as it would allow Spectrum Radio to allocate 50% of its output to programming for the Asian community. The submission by Spectrum Radio was also opposed by rival station Sunrise Radio.

Ofcom has clearly stated the extra ‘Asian’ hours it has allowed must be used outside daytime/primetime hours and for Sikh community shows only.

Ofcom confirmed, “The extra programming will be allowed out of daytime only and, therefore, will not impinge on the character of service of the station. It is clearly defined and targeted specialist programming, which had not been the case with the previous request. The programming has a following that indicates demand. Whilst not a legislative concern, Ofcom noted that Spectrum is over-delivering with respect to the numbers of communities served.”

A source at Spectrum Radio also confirmed that it had agreed carriage with ZEE Radio, which will take over from Sabras Radio’s output. Sabras Radio has been broadcasting on Spectrum Radio since 2005 but had decided against renewing its contract, paving the way for ZEE Radio.