Lord David Puttnam has pledged his “.. absolute support..” to a campaign by community radio stations in Sheffield and across the country who are pressing the government for access to adequate and reliable funds.
Community radio, acclaimed by industry regulator Ofcom as a “broadcasting success story”, is under constant fear of closure, according to Professor Anthony Everitt, author of the 2003 report, New Voices, whose recommendations formed the basis for government legislation.
The Community Radio Order 2004 is currently under review as are the funding arrangements for public service broadcasting content outside the BBC. Funding for community radio has not kept pace with growth in the number of services. The Community Radio Fund was set up in 2005, with £500,000 per annum when there were only 14 community radio licensees. Today there are around 150 community radio services on air, while the Fund has not grown in size.
Everitt, in a letter to the Department for Culture Media and Sport, 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”, and it is needed “to place community radio on a sound financial footing”.
Community broadcasters have called on government, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, to implement the funding recommendations of the Everitt report to ensure the sustainability and development of community radio. And a petition to the Prime Minister, calling for increased funding for the sector, is also gathering momentum with over 1700 signatures already confirmed.
Lord David Puttnam assured the community radio sector: “…the weight of public support and technological history are with you…”
Sangita Basudev, Chief Executive of Sheffield Live! 93.2 FM welcomed Lord Puttnam’s support and said: “Community radio stations around the country have demonstrated their effectiveness in giving voice to and involving local people from diverse communities. But the growth of the sector needs to be matched by increased investment in line with the recommendations of the Everitt report.”
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