Sheffield MPs are getting behind a campaign for community radio to get a fair share of government funding arrangements for broadcasting. The campaign, launched in July to mark the fifth anniversary of community radio legislation, is led by Sheffield Live! 93.2 FM and by local community broadcasters throughout the UK.
Since legislation was passed, in 2004, more than 200 community radio services have been licensed and around 150 are on air, creating around 400 jobs, involving over 10,000 volunteers, and serving a potential audience of more than 10 million people.
But despite the widely acknowledged success of community radio, stations like Sheffield Live! 93.2 FM are economically precarious with no core funding support. A Community Radio Fund, set up in 2004, has not been increased despite the rapid growth in the number of community radio stations. There is now less than £500,000 per annum to distribute to 150 not-for-profit stations.
Lib Dem Leader and Sheffield Hallam MP, Nick Clegg, who recently visited Sheffield Live! 93.2 FM city centre studios, said: “I am happy to lend my support to your campaign and have written to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on your behalf”.
Sheffield’s Labour MPs have also voiced their support. Sheffield Attercliffe MP, Clive Betts said he is “happy to support the campaign”. Sheffield Heeley MP Meg Munn, Sheffield Hillsborough MP Angela Smith, Sheffield Central MP Richard Caborn and Sheffield Brightside MP David Blunkett have also confirmed they have written to the Government Minister responsible and are awaiting a response.
Sangita Basudev, Chief Executive of Sheffield Live! 93.2 FM said: “We are delighted our local MPs are with us on this issue. We have over 200 volunteers involved in Sheffield Live! 93.2 FM, but it is a day to day challenge making ends meet in the current economic climate. The Community Radio Fund should support our core operating expenses, but with 150 community radio stations on the air there is just not enough to go round.”
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