Community radio station has knuckles rapped by regulator

mixer 226177 640 pixabay 460A Southampton community radio station has been found in breach of its licence conditions by regulator Ofcom.


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Fiesta FM, which broadcasts on 95mhz FM, says in its ‘key commitments’ licence document that it “provides a service primarily for people with Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese heritage living in Southampton.

“It reflects and celebrates the achievements, aspirations, and culture of Latino, Portuguese and Spanish people and promotes community cohesion,” says the document.

But it was found in breach last month following a complaint, particularly for failing to provide recordings of a specified period, for not serving its target audience and not producing enough hours of original content during a particular week in February.

The station acknowledged human error over providing recordings and information, and cited a range of challenges in producing enough locally-produced output and attracting enough volunteers.

Ofcom, which regulates stations broadcasting over the airwaves, said it would monitor the service to make sure it’s complying with its key commitments in future.

It’s not uncommon for community stations, which are generally run by volunteers with few resources and caps on their ability to generate income, to struggle to produce enough local programming hours in line with their key commitments. Some are also hauled up for other transgressions, and the regulator has the power to impose sanctions for what it considers more serious offences.

Meanwhile expectations for community stations to plug ever increasing gaps in local broadcasting grow given the ever increasing homogeneity of the radio landscape.

But the technology is also developing, providing new opportunities for community stations: as well as the popularity of smart speakers, Fiesta is one of several expected to also appear on a new Southampton small-scale DAB ‘multiplex’, which was awarded a licence in February to allow more stations to broadcast to the city. And similar systems are already operational in many parts of the UK, including Portsmouth and Winchester, with some community stations available across several. 

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