Community Radio

Local Radio Day: 25th May 2018.

Local Radio: A History

The story of local radio in the UK is, ironically, a story of radio becoming less and less local.

The BBC was a pioneer, but without any licence fee money to pay for it to begin with. It meant the first experiment in local stations in places such as Leicester, Merseyside and Sheffield, was funded by local authorities, tying the eventual success of these fledgling broadcasters to the local areas and ratepayers they served.

With the demise of the offshore pirate stations, a new breed of Independent Local Radio Stations (the clue to the success of which was in the name) appeared from 1973 onwards. These were locally owned, locally controlled, tightly regulated and with an emphasis on public service broadcasting.

There was no networking (where programming is shared) and every radio station was based in the area that it served.

In fact, the original legislation specifically stated that local radio stations should not: “consist of identical or similar material to an extent inconsistent with the character of services as local sound broadcasting services.” Local advisory committees were also legislated for, meaning that local voices from the communities these stations were to serve would be heard and, importantly, listened to.

Applicants competed to out-local their competitors in order to win the licence. Dedicated newsrooms were well staffed, community events were supported with more than simply lip service and local decisions were taken locally.

Since then, however, there has been a delocalisation of local radio, with the public service obligation being removed in 1990 and a gradual march of shared programming, meaning many local radio stations are no longer located in the area that they purport to serve. Indeed, the bulk of much of their output is produced many, many miles away from where listeners actually live – sometimes in another country entirely.

Local Radio Day: 25th May 2018.

Why Are We Doing This?

We believe local radio is more important than many radio companies do. We believe when it is done properly, with the right funding, the right people and the right motives it can help change the lives of listeners and make a real and lasting impact to the area that it serves.

It can help local businesses prosper and thrive, making a real impact on the economy of the areas where it still exists and it can provide skills and training to local people.

We want to make the case for local radio because we feel it can, sometimes, be taken for granted.

Local Radio Day celebrates the partnership that exists between radio stations and their listeners and sets out to demonstrate the difference that local really makes.

Local Radio Day: 25th May 2018.

Community Media Association (CMA)

As the UK representative body for the community broadcasting sector, the Community Media Association (CMA) is committed to promoting access to the media for people and communities. We enable people to establish and develop community-based communications media for empowerment, cultural expression, information and entertainment. The CMA represents the community media sector to Government, industry and regulatory bodies.

Our objectives are to increase recognition of community radio and other forms of community media (including online radio and television, free to air community and local television and community film makers) as an important delivery agent for local aspirations on increasing volunteering, education and employment opportunities; improving local accountability and democracy; increasing community cohesion, safety and understanding and inter-cultural and inter-generational communication; reducing the digital divide through providing access to ICT and media production skills; and support and to increase the ability of the sector to respond to the needs of their communities.

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