The Government is to seek additional funds to support community radio, according to Siôn Simon MP, Minister for Creative Industries. The Minister’s comments come in response to a joint letter to the Prime Minister signed by community broadcasters in Sheffield and across the country, calling for a sizeable increase in public funding for community radio.
In the Government reply to the joint open letter, Siôn Simon writes: “the Government recognises the importance of community radio and its contribution to the communities which they serve”. In addition to current Government support, he says: “DCMS will continue to work with other Government Departments and Agencies to identify other sources of funding, specifically where there are community cohesion and social gain objectives, for community radio.”
Steve Buckley, Director of community radio station, Sheffield Live!, said: “We welcome Government recognition that additional funding should be found for community radio but we need more than a vague expression of intent. We are not asking for the sector to be fully, or even majority, publicly funded. All we want is for Government support to be reflected in a funding settlement that reflects the benefits community radio brings to the communities we serve. Government should implement now the recommendations of the Everitt Report.”
Professor Anthony Everitt, author of the 2003 report, New Voices, whose recommendations formed the basis for government legislation, says the sector is “hobbled by its poverty”, and has called on government to implement the recommendations of his report to provide (matched) grant aid of £30,000 per year per station towards core operating costs. Everitt says “this is a modest expenditure when the benefits community radio can confer are taken into account”.
The community radio campaign has gained the support of members of Parliament from all political parties. Lord David Puttnam assured the community radio sector: “…the weight of public support and technological history are with you.” A petition, at http://allthevoices.org, calling on the Government to support the sustainability and growth of community radio by substantially increasing the resources of the Community Radio Fund, has gathered nearly 3000 signatures.
For further information including a copy of the letter from the Minister follow this link