NEW VOICES AN EVALUATION OF 15 ACCESS RADIO PROJECTS

NEW VOICES
Access Radio, or community-based broadcasting where local...
FOREWORD

2

PREFACE

3

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

5

INTRODUCTION

9

WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO?

23

THE FIFTEEN PROJ...
NEW VOICES
AN EVALUATION OF 1 RADIO PROJECTS
5

BY ANTHONY EVERITT

FOREWORD
PREFACE

3

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
...
FOREWORD

Radio has many enduring talents. Foremost
among those is its ability to re-invent itself in
every age, respondin...
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

THE ACCESS RADIO
EXPERIMENT
In 2001 the Radio Authority launched an
experiment into Access Radio, desig...
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

access to the project by local people – and its
qualitative targets for linguistic impact are recorded....
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The constitutional arrangements for Access
Radio stations should reflect a commitment to
transparency, ...
1
.0
INTRODUCTION
THE EVALUATION BRIEF
AND METHODOLOGY
In 2001 the Radio Authority launched
some experiments into Access Radio, a separate
t...
1.0 INTRODUCTION

• needs assessment – to enable the projects
to test their assumptions of viability and also
to provide u...
1.0 INTRODUCTION

broadcasting through cable networks. These
years also saw the rise of pirate pop music
stations, which, ...
1.0 INTRODUCTION

In December 2000 the Government
published a Communications White Paper.
The Foreword indicated that, in ...
1.0 INTRODUCTION

scheme, agree the evaluation processes and
license the services.
In May 2001, the Radio Authority
announ...
1.0 INTRODUCTION

TABLE 1: ACCESS RADIO PROJECTS
and Christians’. Radio Faza is an alliance of
two Asian groups with dissi...
1.0 INTRODUCTION

applications had been received in September,
the Radio Authority gave notice to the BBC from
whom it wou...
2.0
WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO?
A QUESTION OF TERMINOLOGY
The title ‘Access Radio’ raises some
awkward questions of meaning. Is it the same
as ‘community ...
2.0 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO?

Just as in the performing and visual arts,
there is often a confusion – and sometimes an
elisio...
2.0 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO?

THE TECHNOLOGICAL/
MEDIA CONTEXT

2.
19 An increasing number of radio stations
(among them some...
3.0
THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS
The reasons for engagement with
community broadcasting are as various as the
number of those taking part. But three broad
...
3.0 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS

(one of the most deprived areas in the country).
This organisation began as a co-operative of
yo...
3.0 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS

The programming schedule includes
discussions of topics such as education, health,
environment, ...
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt
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A report by Anthony Everitt that evaluates the Radio Authority's pilot access radio projects for a new community radio station licensing scheme in the UK, edited by Grant Goddard in 2003 for The Radio Authority.

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Transcript of "'New Voices: An Evaluation Of 15 Access Radio Projects' by Anthony Everitt"

  1. 1. NEW VOICES AN EVALUATION OF 15 ACCESS RADIO PROJECTS NEW VOICES Access Radio, or community-based broadcasting where local people produce and present their own programmes, promises to be the most important new cultural development in the United Kingdom for many years. This is the claim made by New Voices, an independent report which evaluates a pilot scheme, established by the Radio Authority, to test Access Radio’s viability. It concludes that the Government should introduce Access Radio as a third tier of broadcasting alongside the BBC and commercial radio. NEW VOICES AN EVALUATION OF 1 ACCESS RADIO PROJECTS 5 BY ANTHONY EVERITT
  2. 2. FOREWORD 2 PREFACE 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 INTRODUCTION 9 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO? 23 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS 020 7405 7062 info@radioauthority.org.uk www.radioauthority.org.uk 93 APPENDICES FACSIMILE 85 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS TELEPHONE 020 7430 2724 79 REGULATORY ISSUES 14 GREAT QUEEN STREET LONDON WC2B 5DG 49 OUTCOMES HOLBROOK HOUSE 29 PROMISES OF DELIVERY The Radio Authority licenses and regulates independent radio in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996. It plans frequencies, awards licences, regulates programming and advertising and plays an active role in the discussion and formulation of policies which affect the independent radio industry and its listeners. 97 ANTHONY EVERITT is a writer, teacher and cultural consultant. He is Visiting Professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Nottingham Trent University. His publications include Joining In, an investigation into participatory music in the United Kingdom and The Governance of Culture, a study of integrated cultural planning and policies commissioned by the Council of Europe. He advises arts councils and ministries of culture on cultural planning and management. He has written a life of Cicero and is working on a biography of the emperor Augustus. He was SecretaryGeneral of the Arts Council of Great Britain. The Foundation’s UK Branch gives grants across four programmes – arts, education, social welfare and AngloPortuguese cultural relations – to charitable organisations in the UK and Ireland, and has a reputation for recognising and initiating innovative ideas. 98 PORTLAND PLACE LONDON W1B 1ET TELEPHONE 020 7636 5313 FACSIMILE 020 7908 7580 info@gulbenkian.org.uk www.gulbenkian.org.uk DESIGNED AND PRODUCED BY WPA LONDON PRINTED BY EMPRESS LITHO PUBLISHED BY THE RADIO AUTHORITY
  3. 3. NEW VOICES AN EVALUATION OF 1 RADIO PROJECTS 5 BY ANTHONY EVERITT FOREWORD PREFACE 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 4 INTRODUCTION 1 2 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO? 28 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS 36 PROMISES OF DELIVERY 54 OUTCOMES 1 08 REGULATORY ISSUES 1 36 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1 50 APPENDICES 1 56 PUBLISHED BY THE RADIO AUTHORITY © RADIO AUTHORITY 2003 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  4. 4. FOREWORD Radio has many enduring talents. Foremost among those is its ability to re-invent itself in every age, responding to whatever new media or technical challenges arise, whilst still remaining of the highest relevance to listeners and to society as a whole. The present age is no exception. Radio is once again rising to the technical challenges presented by the new media in a response which harnesses digital radio and the internet. At a social level, despite the consolidation of the traditional radio industry, new challenging forms are arising to offer an innovative, meaningful, and at times creditably subversive, response to new directions in our communities. Over the past dozen years, the Radio Authority has facilitated this new social relevance by licensing small-scale commercial radio stations, issuing short-term licences for trial services and events, and substantially expanding longer-term special licences for individual institutions. But in 2000, with the likelihood of new Communications legislation, we were seized with the vision that more could be done. Building upon the experience and enthusiasm of genuinely local commercial radio, and the community media sector, and evidence from other countries, and in the awareness that this might be the crucial time to innovate, we proposed that Government should make possible a new third tier of radio in the UK. This would provide social radio for specific communities, mostly geographically defined, on a non profit-distributing basis. It would build on the achievements of short-term licences in getting ordinary people involved in large numbers in making radio, by offering an entire 2 new sector within the medium where access would be the raison d’être. Thus the sound broadcasting spectrum would be deployed for specific social gain, especially in areas of particular deprivation whether economic, ethnic, cultural or social. To test the validity of that vision, we persuaded Government to allow us to license a batch of experimental stations on a pilot basis. To ensure that the pilot could be properly assessed, and with the extensive help, support and encouragement of the Gulbenkian Foundation, we commissioned Professor Anthony Everitt to undertake an independent evaluation, at arm’s length from the Authority and from Government. This is his report. Anthony Everitt has plunged into Access Radio with energy, enthusiasm, keen perception and wise judgement. On behalf of the Radio Authority, I thank him warmly for being our Evaluator. Particular thanks are due to the Gulbenkian Foundation for supporting and guiding this work, and also to all those who have been so generous with their time and views. PREFACE This report is my evaluation of the Radio Authority’s Access Radio pilot scheme. While noting in Chapter 6 the need for long-term, multi-year research into the impact of Access Radio on local communities, I have found more than enough evidence of its capacity to attract numerous volunteers, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, and train them in broadcasting and other transferable skills and have been favourably impressed by the active engagement with Access Radio of many kinds of local institution and agency. I hope that my conclusions will encourage the government to pursue its plan to introduce Access Radio as a permanent addition to the radio scene. In my judgement, it promises to be the most important cultural development to take place in this country for many years. I would like to thank all those who have facilitated my work. They include, first and foremost, the Access Radio projects themselves, whose members have been extraordinarily co-operative and tolerant of my demands. I am grateful too to Tony Stoller, the Radio Authority’s Chief Executive, and his colleagues for their unstinting support; I owe a special debt to Soo Williams, my assiduous official point of contact with the Authority. The Access Radio Steering Group, which Mark Adair chaired until September 2002 and Thomas Prag thereafter, has provided wise and authoritative guidance. Others who have provided useful information and advice include Steve Buckley and Nicky Edmonds of the Community Media Association; Laurie Hallett; and Liam McCarthy of BBC Radio Leicester, who interviewed me during his research into Access Radio for the BBC. The Radio Authority is grateful to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for its financial support. The Radio Authority made clear that it expected me to act independently of it – an injunction I have been happy to obey. I alone am responsible for the opinions expressed and recommendations proposed in the pages that follow. Anthony Everitt Wivenhoe January 2003 Legislative provision for Access Radio, and for a Fund to support its introduction, now stands poised to be enacted within the Communications Bill. We hope that this report will help the new regulator, Ofcom, to understand how to make the most of the stunning opportunity which now presents itself. Tony Stoller Chief Executive The Radio Authority March 2003 3
  5. 5. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY THE ACCESS RADIO EXPERIMENT In 2001 the Radio Authority launched an experiment into Access Radio, designed to test the sustainability of a separate tier of small-scale community radio services. Fifteen not-for-profit projects, aiming to deliver social gain to specific neighbourhoods or communities of interest, were offered one-year licences. An Evaluation was commissioned to assess the extent to which projects delivered promised benefits and involved local participation; to examine costs and funding models; to test their impact on the local radio ecologies; to provide a differential analysis of AM and FM broadcasting; to propose an appropriate licensing regime for Access Radio; and to assess the experiment’s linguistic impact so far as those taking part in the projects were concerned. The Evaluation methodology has been based on consultation with the Access Radio projects, which set development targets before going on air and have now measured their outcomes. An interim report was produced in September 2002. HISTORY OF COMMUNITY RADIO The development of community radio in the United Kingdom can be traced back to the 1960s, a decade that witnessed a radical new approach to culture and creative expression, based on the principles of community empowerment and individual participation. Competitive pressures and the impact of legislation led BBC local radio and independent local radio stations to re-think their original community-oriented policies. But after 1990 the establishment of Restricted Service Licences led to a growing engagement with radio by community groups. 4 The Report describes the inception of the Access Radio experiment. The process by which the Radio Authority appointed the fifteen Access Radio projects is assessed in detail. The legislative timetable enforced very short deadlines within which the Authority had to make all the necessary arrangements. Nevertheless, despite over-optimism about the speed with which it would be able to allocate frequencies, the Radio Authority acted reasonably and the selected projects represent an adequately balanced cross-section of community radio groups. WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO? The most usual definition of ‘community radio’ emphasises the importance of participation by local people; however, it can also refer to radio provided to communities as distinct from by them. This elision of meanings could make it more difficult for the proposed new tier of radio to distinguish itself convincingly from what the BBC and ILR offers. So the Radio Authority coined the term Access Radio, although the decision to do so has been criticised by the community radio sector. Some argue that Access Radio licences should be restricted to groups offering a general or inclusive neighbourhood service and that those catering exclusively for ‘communities of interest’ (for example, children or old people) should be ineligible. This is because of what they see as the over-riding claim of disadvantaged areas of the country. According to another, more convincing view, the Radio Authority has a duty to ensure that all kinds of people, not simply those living in such areas, have access to radio. However, in the event of severe spectrum scarcity, it may be necessary to encourage different interest groups in a ‘community of place’ to join forces, offering a service to all which includes ‘community of interest’ programme strands. Because of technical convergence, Access Radio should be considered in a wider community media context. The pace of technological change should also be taken into account: Access Radio may turn out to be a transitional medium-term phenomenon and the Government and Ofcom should be aware of the possible need to respond to new circumstances as they arise. THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS The fifteen Access Radio projects – their aims and the motives of some of those who work for them – are briefly described. New Style Radio in Birmingham regards broadcasting as a valuable social tool for the development of African-Caribbean people. Bradford Community Broadcasting aims to serve all those living in a complex multi-cultural city. Radio Regen in Manchester created ALL FM and Wythenshawe FM, both of which target disadvantaged communities in the city. Sound Radio in Hackney sees itself as a ‘local world service’. Forest of Dean Radio promotes community development in a rural area. Takeover Radio in Leicester enables children to run their own radio station, with minimum adult supervision. Cross Rhythms began by focusing on the Christian community of Stoke-on-Trent with a diet of community information and contemporary Christian music, but the Access Radio experience has led it to widen its approach; it now defines itself as a station serving the whole community with a Christian motivation. This is similar to the policy of Shine FM in Banbridge, County Down, another Christian radio project, which speaks to the community at large and promotes social reconciliation. Angel Radio in Havant broadcasts to people over sixty: as a matter of policy it refuses to play any music recorded after 1959. Awaz FM in Glasgow sees itself as a much- needed channel of communication between Glasgow’s Asian community and the public and voluntary sectors. Desi Radio wishes to reconcile the different religious and social strands of Panjabi culture in Southall. Northern Visions places the arts and creative expression at the service of all communities in Belfast. Resonance FM on London’s South Bank defines its community as artists and broadcasts contemporary music and radio art. Two projects are alliances between different interest groups; first, the Asian Women’s Project and the Karimia Institute which came together to run Radio Faza in Nottingham and, secondly, GTFM, a partnership between the residents’ association of a housing estate in Pontypridd and the University of Glamorgan. The Access Radio projects have different approaches to governance, with varying degrees of transparency. No single model will suit everybody, but best practice may suggest a graduated progression to fully democratic constitutions. Most projects are recruiting large numbers of volunteers and providing them with training in specialist radio and transferable skills. There is a wide variety of fund-raising practice and financial philosophies differ. Some projects attract large amounts of public sector subsidy and employ full-time paid staff; others fear that complete professionalisation may damage their voluntaristic ideals. PROMISES OF DELIVERY Each Access Radio project’s quantitative targets for the delivery of social gain – under the headings of training opportunities, work experience opportunities, contribution to tackling social exclusion, contribution to local education, service to neighbourhood or interest groups, 5
  6. 6. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY access to the project by local people – and its qualitative targets for linguistic impact are recorded. These targets are accompanied by reported outcomes, which in many cases exceed projects’ original intentions. The pilot scheme shows that Access Radio will provide a valuable complement to existing provision. ENROLLING THE COMMUNITY The Access Radio projects have recruited many hundreds of volunteers and provided training for most of them in radio and ICT skills. This capacity to attract participation by members of local communities makes Access Radio attractive to regeneration and development agencies. There has been a growing tendency towards individual training or mentoring. Work experience targets have often not been met because of insufficient experienced personnel at the projects. Public sector agencies and voluntary sector organisations are enthusiastic about Access Radio’s power to communicate information to local communities and are co-operating with the pilot projects. Some excellent radio training and programming have been produced with schools and colleges. LINGUISTIC IMPACT Large numbers of people are disempowered and disheartened by an inability to use words fluently and confidently. Many languages, especially from the Middle East and the Asian sub-continent, which are seldom heard on radio in the United Kingdom, have been accorded substantial air-time. 6 A study of selected recordings of broadcast output and reports by station managers suggest that volunteers with low self-esteem and educational attainments have profited from training in radio skills and the experience of broadcasting. They have often been able to transfer what they have learned to real-life situations in the form of greater expressive assertiveness. Most of the projects make a point of encouraging presenters to reflect local patterns of speech and dialects and to avoid the stereotypes of conventional broadcasting. STAFFING NEEDS The human resources required to run an Access Radio service were under-estimated by many of the pilot projects, especially in fund-raising (whether in the form of grants or advertising sales), external liaison with local groups, financial and general administration and management and training of volunteers. Most of the pilot projects did not have the money to pay for all these skills. FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS The financial performance of the pilot projects varies widely (with a few of them in some difficulty). It demonstrates a financial need for projects with no paid staff of about £50,000 per annum and for those with a salaries bill of between £140,000 and £210,000. The fact that most of the projects have succeeded in raising the necessary funding for their licence period suggests that in principle Access Radio promises to be a financially sustainable medium. LOCAL ALLIANCES SPECTRUM Partnerships between different groups in a community to operate an Access Radio station may be a necessary feature of the community broadcasting ecology. Experience during the pilot scheme suggests that they can be difficult to manage. Thorough advance negotiation, administrative transparency and clear decisionmaking procedures are necessary for such alliances to succeed. Although the availability of FM frequencies will be patchy, it will be sufficient to justify proceeding with Access Radio as a new radio tier, especially if unused BBC spectrum is taken into account. AM frequencies are more plentiful in supply, but they have the disadvantages of being much more costly to run and of offering poorer reception. SURVEYS LOCAL RADIO ECOLOGY The Access Radio experiment had little or no negative financial impact on commercial radio stations in the pilot projects’ areas. However, the effects of an Access Radio station that sells advertising could be serious for small ILR stations with similar catchments and advertising markets, few of which make large profits. In the case of very small communities, there will not be enough listeners to sustain two stations. Most of those pilot projects which depend on commercial earnings have found it more difficult to attract advertising and sponsorship than they had anticipated, although this may change in the future. There is a strong case for allowing Access Radio stations to access plural funding sources, including advertising and sponsorship, provided that some protection is put in place for small commercial stations. There is much to be said for limited, practical co-operation between local BBC stations and Access Radio, with the former offering training and technical support and the latter local news information and facilities as well as a talent pool for future staff recruitment. A number of the pilot projects conducted audience surveys, but on small samples. Although of limited value they reinforce numerous anecdotal reports of Access Radio’s popularity. FUTURE FUNDING The need for an Access Radio Fund and the kinds of activity that might be eligible for support are described. The fund should be managed by Ofcom. LICENSING METHODOLOGY AND EVALUATION A methodology for awarding and evaluating Access Radio stations is proposed, which would be administratively lean but robust, especially so far as the measurement of social gain is concerned. Lessons can be learned from the current Evaluation of the pilot scheme. It is argued that weight should be placed on an applicant’s track record of RSLs when judging programming ability, managerial competence and fund-raising potential, that self-evaluation should be a component of the process and that the local community should participate in evaluations. 7
  7. 7. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The constitutional arrangements for Access Radio stations should reflect a commitment to transparency, community empowerment and responsiveness to local demand. The question of ownership and its possible transfer should be carefully controlled. Access Radio licences should last for five years. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS The major conclusion of the Evaluation is that Access Radio promises to be a positive cultural and social development and should be introduced as a third tier of radio broadcasting in the United Kingdom. It is further recommended that 1. Access Radio stations should have access to professional expertise in administration, fund-raising and community liaison (Chapter 5.4 and 5.5) 2. Ofcom should satisfy itself that, in the case of a partnership-based Access Radio applicant, decision-making processes are clearly defined, transparent and robust (Chapter 5.6) 3. an Access Radio station should normally be permitted to receive up to half its income from advertising sales and sponsorship. In exceptional cases, Ofcom should be empowered to vary this rule in the event of a special case being made (Chapter 5.7) 4. where a small commercial radio station shares a comparable coverage area with an Access Radio station that sells advertising, an Access Radio licence 8 could be offered only if the applicant can show that it will present little or no advertising sales and sponsorship competition (Chapter 5.7) 5. Access Radio licences should usually not be granted in areas where a commercial radio station’s measured coverage area (MCA) falls below 40,000 adults (except in the case of ‘micro’ MCAs). However, at the time of ILR licence renewal, commercial and Access Radio applicants should be allowed to compete in such an area and Ofcom should either award a commercial or an Access Radio licence (Chapter 5.7) 6. The BBC should take an early opportunity to set out consultative proposals for collaboration with, and support for, Access Radio (Chapter 5.8) 7. Ofcom should conduct research into overall FM capacity across the entire spectrum and, in the light of its findings, determine allocations for Access Radio provision (Chapter 5.9) 8. Ofcom should determine whether spectrum presently administered by the BBC could be made available for Access Radio (Chapter 5.9) 9. Ofcom should commission a major research project with a view to assessing over a period of years the social and personal outcomes, both quantitative and qualitative, of Access Radio (Chapter 5.10) 10. the Government should establish an Access Radio Fund, which would support the fund-raising capacity of Access Radio stations and the employment of a station manager at a level of £30,000 per annum for three years to be equally matched from other sources (Chapter 6.1) 11. the possible creation of a Community Media Fund should be allowable in the new communications legislation after evaluation of the effectiveness of the Access Radio Fund (Chapter 6.1) 12. Ofcom should administer the Access Radio Fund (Chapter 6.1) 13. the evaluation of Access Radio licensees should be as follows: • an Evaluation Questionnaire (as in the present Evaluation – see Appendix 1) to be completed by an Access Radio station applicant as a licence submission and a promise of delivery • an annual published report by the station of achieved outputs and outcomes • two open facilitated workshops of local stakeholders and residents, once halfway through the licence period and once in the last year of the licence, to be convened by the station, which would comment on the station’s progress against its plan 14. Ofcom should not award licences with large coverage areas. As was the norm for the pilot scheme, MCAs should usually be up to a 5km radius. 15. Ofcom should not award Access Radio licences to stations that belong to chains (Chapter 6.2) 16. Access Radio licence applicants should be required to produce a viable fund-raising plan (Chapter 6.2) 17. Restricted Service Licences (RSLs) should be maintained as evidence of Access radio licence applicants’ • commitment to social gain objectives • programming competence • closeness to its local community (6.2) 18. If more than 50% of an Access Radio station’s board, including the chairman, resign or are replaced at a general meeting, Ofcom should review the licence and either confirm or revoke it (Chapter 6.2) 19. Access Radio licences should last for five years (Chapter 6.2) • the regulator only to intervene on complaint (as now), regarding serious failures to meet targets and on unsatisfactory outcomes of the mid-term open meeting: the end of licence open meeting to be taken into account in the event of a re-application (Chapter 6.2) 9
  8. 8. 1 .0 INTRODUCTION
  9. 9. THE EVALUATION BRIEF AND METHODOLOGY In 2001 the Radio Authority launched some experiments into Access Radio, a separate tier of small-scale community radio services. Fifteen groups were licensed to operate pilot services at various locations in the United Kingdom. The aim was to inform the future regulator, Ofcom, whether this small-scale kind of radio service is a tenable and viable concept and, if it is to be introduced in future, how it might be licensed, regulated, funded and organised. 1 .1 1 .0 INTRODUCTION In 2001 the Radio Authority launched some experiments into Access Radio, a separate tier of small-scale community radio services. This chapter reviews the Evaluation brief and methodology, assesses the Radio Authority’s introduction of the pilot scheme and describes the process of Evaluation during the past year. The criteria for considering projects for the pilot scheme include • evidence of social gain and/or public service aims • variety of funding models, excluding purely commercial funding • ring-fencing from Independent Local Radio • a focus on specific neighbourhoods or communities of interest • widest possible access for those within the target group to the operation of the service • not-for-profit status 1 .2 To assess the outcome, the Radio Authority appointed the author of this Report as Evaluator of the Access Radio Pilot Scheme. He was guided by an Access Radio Steering Group, whose members were Mark Adair (until September 2002), Sheila Hewitt, Thomas Prag, Geraint Talfan Davies (from September 2002), Tony Stoller and Soo Williams from the Radio Authority, Stuart Brand from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Sian Ede from The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. 1 .3 The Evaluation Brief requires a review of the adequacy of the above criteria in the light of 1 .4 12 the experience afforded by the pilots and an appropriate definition for Access Radio, if it is to be introduced. A range of measurable outcomes is expected, which include • social gain • benefits which might have been generated if the projects had not taken place • delivery as promised • costs and funding models • impact on the radio ecology • quality and range of local service (social inclusion etc.) • success in attracting the operational involvement of local people • differential analysis of AM and FM broadcasting • best duration and appropriate licensing regime for Access Radio projects • impact in terms of speech output and language used The methodology adopted for the Evaluation was to set in place a simple and easy-to-manage planning regime, by which much of the gathering of information was undertaken by those running the projects themselves. 1 .5 The process fell into four stages. First, before any of the projects had gone on air, two Evaluation Workshops were held in early 2002, at which an Evaluation Questionnaire (see Appendix 1) was discussed with the projects and tested for its practicality. 1 .6 The Evaluation Questionnaire sought information from the projects concerning the outcomes which the Radio Authority expected them to deliver, following the structure of a basic planning ‘narrative’: namely, • vision – the project’s overall aim 1 .7 13
  10. 10. 1.0 INTRODUCTION • needs assessment – to enable the projects to test their assumptions of viability and also to provide useful baseline information against which eventual results can be measured • ‘promise of delivery’ – namely, intended programme of activity • output targets – did the project take the actions which it promised? (as distinct from an over use of the linguistic conventions of radio broadcasting). Projects submitted regular recordings of broadcast outputs; programmes in Asian languages were assessed by the School of Oriental and African Studies. A linguistic impact assessment questionnaire appears in Appendix 3. The projects completed and submitted the Questionnaires to the Evaluator. They revisited them later towards the end of the pilot period to demonstrate the extent to which they had achieved the programme of activity and met their targets. 1 .8 The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which part-funded the evaluation, is interested in whether Access Radio will empower individuals by enabling them to develop their powers of verbal expression. The linguistic impact on those members of local communities who participated in the pilot projects was measured according to the following criteria 1 .9 1. the range of languages used relative to the language make-up of the constituency which the Access Radio station is serving 2. fluency in the use of language by participants when broadcasting 3. confident expression ‘on air’ of the richness and variety of language or dialect and, in particular of that variety of language considered to be good by its native speakers of the National Cultural Heritage exploits the authority of art to glorify the present social system and its priorities.’2 A brief history of the development of community radio will throw light on fundamental characteristics that distinguish it from other approaches to broadcasting. Its earliest origins can be traced back to the 1940s. However, it did not develop in any significant way in the United Kingdom until the 1960s – a decade that witnessed the arrival of a radical new approach to culture and creative expression. 1 .18 110 . In the second phase, the Evaluator visited each project during the spring of 2002, to gain a first-hand impression of them and meet workers and volunteers. He also interviewed members and officers of the Commercial Radio Companies Association and other leading figures from the commercial radio sector. 11 .1 • outcome targets – did the project deliver the objectives required by the Radio Authority? COMMUNITY RADIO IN THE UNITED KINGDOM – A HISTORICAL SKETCH Thirdly, an Interim Report was prepared, to discuss progress, offer preliminary findings and identify key issues that had arisen to date. Copies were given to interested parties. The Executive Summary was posted on the Radio Authority’s website, and the full document was available to those who requested it. Comments were invited. 11 .2 Fourthly, the Evaluator re-visited each project during the late autumn of 2002 and convened a final Evaluation Workshop, at which the projects were able to share experiences and identify common issues and themes. 11 .3 Fifthly, this final report was completed at the end of January 2003. 11 .4 11 .5 Public institutions such as the BBC and the Arts Council of Great Britain had long been concerned to promote ‘high culture’ – that is, in Matthew Arnold’s phrase, ‘acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit’1; like money it was widely seen to be the preserve of the better off and the better educated and, like money, it was the duty of the state or its agencies to redistribute it to every citizen. 11 .6 Contradicting this view, a generation of cultural activists now emerged who believed that everyone owned his or her own culture, which various forms of disadvantage and exclusion prevented them from expressing and enjoying. They rested their views on a socialist critique of capitalism. The proposition was that art had been expropriated by the ruling classes and was a means of bolstering their authority. The critic and writer, John Berger, spoke of the ‘illusion’ that ‘… art, with its unique, undiminished authority, justifies most other forms of authority, that art makes inequality seem noble and hierarchies seem thrilling. For example, the whole concept 11 .7 Community artists, working in music, drama and the visual arts, placed their skills at the disposal of disadvantaged local communities, hoping to empower people politically as well as individually, through the unlocking of their innate creativity and the ability to express themselves effectively. Over time the sharp political flavour of the community movement was diluted, but its concern for disadvantaged individuals in local communities or neighbourhoods remained. In the following decades its principles have gradually become an inherent tenet of public policy in the cultural sector, first among local authorities and later at the level of national government and its agencies. Very similar concerns about social need, civic participation and community development stimulated the rapid expansion of the not-forprofit social and voluntary sector. Over time, agencies without a primary interest in creative expression came to recognise the contribution which culture could make to the achievement of their objectives. Many are now enthusiastic collaborators with the cultural sector. 119 . In sharp opposition to the BBC’s Reithian vision, those engaged in community development saw that television, video and radio had the potential to play an important part in this far-reaching cultural revolution. However, the exploitation of these media as a means of civic enfranchisement was hampered by the lack of broadcasting platforms, although from the 1970s there were attempts to provide community 1 .20 1 Arnold, Matthew, Literature and Dogma, preface to the 1883 edition 2 Berger, John, Ways of Seeing, BBC and Penguin Books, London 1972 14 15
  11. 11. 1.0 INTRODUCTION broadcasting through cable networks. These years also saw the rise of pirate pop music stations, which, while no supporters of community ideals, demonstrated the powerful relationship radio was capable of forging with interest groups and neighbourhoods. Internationally, community broadcasting took root more rapidly than in the United Kingdom. Community radio in Australia, originally called Public Radio, has been a licensed tier of radio broadcasting since the mid 1970s and has been recognised in Canada for much the same length of time. In France the community radio sector has developed since the late 1960s and early 1970s, inspired by the pirate ships based in the Channel and the Italian ‘Free Radio Stations’: for a decade or more it operated illegally, until licences began to be issued from the mid 1980s. 1 .21 which introduced commercial radio. Despite a delay caused by the Annan Committee’s review of UK broadcasting, whose proposal for a local broadcasting authority was not accepted, 26 Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations were on air by the end of the decade. Initially, they placed considerable emphasis on their community obligations and many of them were in effect community-led operations (for example, Plymouth Sound). A couple of franchises were awarded to community groups in Cardiff and Moray Firth. However, more commercial imperatives soon became dominant. Faced with their success, the BBC also pulled away from its original commitment to community development and its local programming policies began to converge competitively with those of the ILR stations. The 1980s saw little progress for community radio. It did not receive consideration in the 1980 Broadcasting Act, which ushered in an expansion of commercial radio. Shortly afterwards, the Community Radio Association (later to become the Community Media Association) was set up to campaign for a ‘third sector’ of broadcasting alongside the BBC and commercial services. In the middle of the decade the Home Office announced a community radio experiment, but then abruptly abandoned it. 1 .24 Despite a promising start, the BBC, as the country’s publicly-funded public service broadcaster, has not played a leading role in the development of community radio and, today, it has fallen to the regulator for commercial radio to promote its cause. In 1967 the Corporation established its FM local radio service. At the beginning its policies were community-oriented, despite the fact that its stations usually had large county-wide (or in the case of Scotland nationwide) catchments. Frank Gillard, its founder, described the new service in terms strikingly similar to the later aspirations of Access Radio: ‘Local radio will provide a running serial of local life in all its aspects, involving a multitude of local voices; what one might call the people’s radio’.3 1 .22 The situation began to change with the widespread consumer take-up of FM radios and the passage of the Broadcasting Act of 1972, 1 .23 In 1988 licences for 21 ‘incremental’ radio stations were granted: these were designed to allow new community, ethnic and special interest stations to be established in ILR areas. But the aim was to enhance diversity of provision rather than to promote participation in broadcasting by citizens. 1 .25 3 Connecting England, Local Radio: Local television: Local Online, BBC English Regions, 2001. p23 16 The 1990 Broadcasting Act enabled the further growth of commercial radio and did away with many of its public service obligations. The regulator, the Independent Broadcasting Authority, was broken up into three separate bodies, the Independent Television Commission (ITC), NTL and the Radio Authority. The most important consequence for community radio (although not explicitly mentioned in the legislation) was the establishment of Restricted Service Licences (RSLs). Short-term licences were issued for special events (for example, religious festivals) and as trial runs for applicants for permanent licences. Long-term RSLs were awarded to hospital, student and military radio stations. 1 .26 Community groups have energetically grasped this unexpected opportunity. RSLs have severe limitations: although there have been a few exceptions, licences only last for a maximum of 28 days; individual groups may only receive up to two licences a year (one only in London); licences cannot be awarded in the same catchment as other RSL-holders and are limited by frequency availability. Nevertheless, they have provided an invaluable ‘nursery slope’ for those unfamiliar with broadcasting and helped to demonstrate the potential of community radio for local people. As well as building skills and experience, RSLs have enabled the sector to develop its thinking and refine its policies. 1 .27 Recently, the BBC has adopted a different approach to community broadcasting. To address local neighbourhood needs and to foster individual participation, its BBC Online service offers opportunities for interactive involvement by local people and its local stations are seeking to make direct contact with listeners by various means (including the use of special BBC buses which tour local areas). However, the wide extent of its catchments remains an obstacle to close engagement with small communities or neighbourhoods, the central feature of community broadcasting. 1 .28 The Radio Authority was a comparatively recent convert to the cause of community radio, at least so far as any action it might itself take. As late as October 1999, the Radio Authority rejected a request from the Community Media Association, which had been campaigning for a third community media tier, that a number of ‘experimental community radio services on FM’ should be given long-term licences with a view to testing demand and practicality, primarily on the grounds that this would breach the terms of the 1990 Broadcasting Act. 1 .29 In fact, behind the scenes the Authority, influenced by an incoming chairman, was giving serious consideration to the future potential of community radio. During the same month it held a strategy conference for members and senior staff at which the idea of a ‘third tier’ of community broadcasting was privately mooted. It was becoming clear that the Government intended a root-and-branch review of broadcasting and communications and, consequently, that the constraints of existing legislation might no longer exert the same force as they had in the past. The CMA continued to make effective representations. 1 .30 The Radio Authority now saw a once-forall opportunity to fill a gap in the country’s radio services and in June 2000 submitted a paper to its sponsoring government department, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), putting the case for an Access Radio experiment. It proposed that ‘once the direction of Government policy becomes more clearly known the Authority would propose to initiate a range of pilot experiments to cover as many aspects as possible of the proposed Access Radio sector.’ 1 1 .3 17
  12. 12. 1.0 INTRODUCTION In December 2000 the Government published a Communications White Paper. The Foreword indicated that, in a rapidly changing broadcasting environment, it wished to see a broad range of services which would engage the community at large: ‘We want to ensure the widest possible access to a choice of diverse communications services of the highest quality. All of us can benefit from new services – as citizens, as parents, as workers, as students, and as consumers. We want to include every section of our society in the benefits of these services, and use to the full the opportunities now available for enhancing their diversity and quality.’ 1 .32 The White Paper noted the success with which Restricted Service Licences had allowed the promotion of ‘very local and very niche services’, but recognised that the difficulty of raising non-commercial funding had inhibited the growth of community broadcasting. 1 .33 locality, ethnic or cultural background or other common interests.’ In response to the Radio Authority’s proposal for an Access Radio experiment, the DCMS indicated that it would appreciate further evidence of its desirability. Accordingly, the Authority convened an Access Radio Seminar in February 2001, attended by a wide representation from all parts of the UK radio sector. According to a summary in the conference report4, ‘there was a general 1 .35 consensus among delegates that a new tier of radio services is desirable, and widespread agreement that these services should be nonprofit distributing, with a remit to encourage social inclusion and regeneration and facilitate greater public participation in broadcasting… The issue of funding was… the one which achieved the least degree of consensus’, especially as regards advertising and sponsorship. In March 2001, the Government gave the Radio Authority permission to conduct a pilot scheme to test the viability of Access Radio. A number of appropriate projects would be selected and given licences for up to twelve months; an evaluation would be conducted. 1 .36 It, therefore, sought ‘views on whether the benefits of community radio would justify greater public intervention. Some possible benefits are that: 1 .34 • very local community based radio can help increase active community involvement, and local educational and social inclusion projects; • small radio stations can provide a nursery for the next generation of broadcasters – providing hands-on training and experience; • such stations can also satisfy the demand for access to broadcasting resources from specific communities, whether based on In April 2001, Tony Stoller, the Radio Authority’s Chief Executive, set out nine principles by which the experimental projects should be selected. They were 1 .38 a. Structural Arrangements: ‘the pilots need to replicate as far as possible the approach, patterns and structure which we presently anticipate will govern permanent Access Radio. They should be operated as not-forprofit services, in defined neighbourhoods, with clear public service content remits.’ b. Social Gain: they should ‘contain examples of the types of socially-regenerative and educational links, which offer so much potential, and of training and development of local community capacity.’ c. Variety: they should ‘cover as wide a range as is practical of the different types of locality – urban and rural, socially successful and socially disadvantaged and reflecting the diversity of the Home Countries.’ d. Communities of Interest: in acknowledgement of the needs of minorities, ‘at least some of the services should be aimed at communities of interest’. the pilot scheme Because concerns have been voiced about the way the Radio Authority set up the Access Radio pilot scheme and the possibility that this might affect the experiment’s eventual outcome, the Evaluator was invited to review the selection process. This section gives a detailed description of what took place and assesses the validity of the anxieties raised. 1 .37 e. Funding Models: the pilots should ‘experiment with a range of funding models’, with particular reference to the need to ‘protect existing small-scale services from unsustainable levels of competition’. f. Regulation: ‘the regulations and administrative regime should be modelled upon what we anticipate will be the eventual Ofcom arrangements’. g. Fixed Term Licences: ‘the licences for the pilots will have to be for a fixed term’. Mr Stoller recognised that that ‘will pose problems when they near their end, because they will hopefully have attracted support from listeners’. h. RSLs: the licensing of the pilots should not interfere with the existing and well-established RSL system. i. Evaluation: the pilots should be carefully monitored and evaluated to inform proposals for permanent arrangements. The Radio Authority faced a tight timetable if evaluation of the Access Radio pilot scheme was to fit in with the timing of the forthcoming communications legislation and the proposed establishment of the new regulatory body, Ofcom. The consequence was a series of short deadlines for those wishing to take part. 1 .39 The decision to adopt the pilot scheme could not reasonably have preceded the publication of the Communications White Paper in December 2000 and, as has been seen, emerged from subsequent discussions between the Radio Authority and DCMS. It was expected that the Communications Bill itself might be before Parliament as early as the start of 2002; at the latest, the findings from the experiment needed be available to Ofcom from its own inception, perhaps during the spring or summer of 2003. This meant that the selected Access Radio projects, with their twelve-month licences, should be on air by the end of 2001. Although in the event this provisional timetable slipped, the Radio Authority was obliged to move fast. It had only a few months within which to consult, investigate, design the administration of the 1 .40 4 Access Radio Seminar 12 February 2001, Radio Authority. London, 2001. ‘Summary’. Unpaginated 18 19
  13. 13. 1.0 INTRODUCTION scheme, agree the evaluation processes and license the services. In May 2001, the Radio Authority announced the Access Radio Pilot Scheme and sought Letters of Intent by late June from interested groups, from which about twelve would be selected for licence. This invitation was announced in a nationally distributed Press Release; it was also sent to groups that had held RSL licences in the previous year and had expressed Access Radio-style community objectives. The Community Media Association held a seminar on Access Radio which was attended by 70 organisations. 1 .41 193 groups responded from across the United Kingdom. Almost all of them had practical knowledge of broadcasting, having operated RSLs; some were experienced hospital, student or military radio stations. Although they covered a wide range of interests, there were unexpected gaps in the range of submissions. pirate stations may have reduced the pool of those interested in the Access Radio experiment. Also, black-led groups do not necessarily define themselves as serving the African-Caribbean community since their programming can have about them. It is worth pointing out that, in consequence, the Evaluation has been unable to consider their work; however, some of their policies, as expressed in their Letters of Intent, indicate a growing and potentially constructive a high degree of cross-over to white audiences. trend to extend their coverage to engage with the surrounding communities in which they are located. It is possible that some of these stations could be future candidates for Access Radio licences. Of the thirteen groups whose central motivation was religious, three were Sikh, one Jewish and another Islamic, the remainder being Christian (mostly from an evangelist background). 1 .44 1 .42 Geographical coverage was somewhat uneven: only four responses came from Wales, lower than might have been expected in relation to its population. The explanation for this disparity probably derives from the fact that the RSL tradition is weaker in this part of the UK. Thus in 2001, out of a national total of 423 RSLs, only 13 were in Wales. 1 .42 Among communities of interest, those concerned with non-European communities were best represented, with 34 applicants. Interestingly, of these only one wished to provide an exclusive service to an African-Caribbean community as compared with 27 to an Asian community (the remaining six offered a broad culturally diverse policy). The reason for this imbalance is unclear, but the existence of numerous African-Caribbean 1 .43 20 The selection process consisted of two stages; first, a long-list was prepared and this was then distilled into a short-list, from which the final selection of fifteen groups was made. This slightly higher number than the planned twelve was agreed, partly on the grounds that they represented a comprehensive range of intentions and partly as an insurance policy against any drop-outs (an eventuality which has not yet arisen). 1 .49 21 applicants wished to serve particular age groups, the majority of them with children or young people. Seven were student radio stations and three were concerned with older people. 1 .45 One group offered a science-based service and another avant-garde music and radio art. 1 .46 The majority of submissions, more than 100, came from groups offering a comprehensive service to a geographically defined and usually socially and economically disadvantaged community. Of these about a quarter represented rural areas or small towns. 1 .47 The task of choosing the successful candidates for the pilot scheme was given to the Radio Authority’s Access Radio Sub-Committee (which had approved the design of the scheme and agreed its criteria). It met three times for the purpose. The Letters of Intent were divided into batches for detailed consideration by individual committee members. A number of applicants were rejected for ‘technical’ reasons. It was considered unnecessary to include hospital, student or military radio stations on the grounds that, through the Long-term RSLs awarded to broadcasters in these categories, the Radio Authority was already well enough informed 1 .48 Once chosen the fifteen groups were invited to submit full submissions, which were received in September, analysed and, with three exceptions, endorsed in November. The exceptions were Shine FM (because of its later start date and the lack of a transmitter site at that stage), FODR (again because of the lack of an agreed transmitter site) and Awaz FM (because it was not yet a formally constituted company). 1 .50 The successful candidates were not selected for their known or perceived merit, although applicants with insufficient experience or whose Letters of Intent were thin on content were quickly eliminated. It is acknowledged that there may well be groups with a stronger broadcasting track-record than those eventually chosen. Judgements were made according to the criteria in the Access Radio brief, especially those relating to promised social gain, and to the need to ensure a variety of funding and 1 .51 administrative structures and geographical spread across the United Kingdom. The large number of factors to be taken into account meant that the decision-making process was inevitably complex and to some extent subjective. Questions have been raised about the final project list from different parts of the radio industry. Some voices in the commercial radio sector regret that none of the stations operates in an area already served by a small-scale commercial station (arguably more likely to be affected by competition from an Access Radio broadcaster, both so far as community-based programme content and advertising sales are concerned, than the larger commercial stations). This is a good point, although it is worth noting that a few small-to-medium ILRs do overlap some pilot projects (for example, Sunrise Bradford, The Quay in Portsmouth and Sunrise in London). The Radio Authority’s not unreasonable response is that it did not wish to run the risk of damaging such stations by using them as guinea-pigs. The issue discussed further in the section is on Access Radio’s impact on the radio ecology below (see Chapter 5.7). 1 .52 Surprise has been expressed that as many as three Access Radio projects serve Asian communities in large conurbations (Awaz FM in Glasgow, Desi Radio in Southall and Radio Faza in Nottingham). However, a study of their objectives reveals significant differences of approach: the first seeks, complementing a diet of Asian entertainment, to give ‘local, national and government groups access to deliver their information’ to Glasgow’s geographically and culturally self-contained Asian community, whereas Desi Radio aims to encourage the coming together of the discrete strands of Panjabi culture by serving the ‘needs of all Panjabi Sikhs, Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists 1 .53 21
  14. 14. 1.0 INTRODUCTION TABLE 1: ACCESS RADIO PROJECTS and Christians’. Radio Faza is an alliance of two Asian groups with dissimilar objectives and philosophies, which run separate programme schedules at different times of the week; it was felt to be important to assess partnership models because, in the event of spectrum scarcity, Access Radio groups may have to come together to operate stations jointly (see Chapter 3.61-3.71). It has also been claimed that undue preference has been given to city or town dwellers as against those who live in the countryside. It is true that only one Access Radio station, Forest of Dean Radio, serves an exclusively rural area. However, it can be countered that cultural and social variety is largely to be found in cities or large towns and that, while there are important local variations, the main issues confronting rural communities are nationally generic. Some Letters of Intent were received from Scottish rurally-based groups; however, it was felt that the Radio Authority’s experience of small-scale commercial radio with community-based policies in Scotland (for example, Heartland FM serving Pitlochry and Aberfeldy) meant that it would be more profitable to select a rurally-based group in England. A reading of the Letters of Intent suggests that the addition of further rural projects to the Access Radio list would probably have generated little more evidence of value to the Radio Authority. 1 .54 By the same token, the two Christian groups (Cross Rhythms and Shine FM) are working in dissimilar community contexts (a market town in Northern Ireland and a city in England) and began broadcasting with discrete ends in mind. The former has a strong ‘contemporary Christian music’ basis and sees potential in the United Kingdom for commercial growth in this sector, linked to radio programming. In the United States contemporary Christian 1 .55 22 music, linked to 1,600 Christian radio stations, has become a $3 billion industry. However, Cross Rhythms does not subscribe to the same ethos of niche Christian ‘market’ broadcasting as the majority of US stations. Although it In all the circumstances, the Radio Authority acted reasonably during the selection process. It is possible that the shortness of the deadline for the Letters of Intent deterred some potentially aspirant groups, but it seems unlikely that many well-qualified radio projects failed to learn of the scheme. A substantial number sent in Letters of Intent and they covered a wide range of community interests. The Access Radio Sub-Committee conducted its business thoughtfully and, in the fifteen projects it chose, arrived at an adequately balanced cross-section of the community radio sector and in this way avoided the danger of distorting the experiment. LOCATION COMMUNITY SERVED ALL FM (RADIO REGEN) MANCHESTER ARDWICK, ARDWICK, LEVENSHULME ANGEL RADIO HAVANT, HANTS OLDER PEOPLE AWAZ FM GLASGOW ASIAN COMMUNITY BCB BRADFORD INNER CITY CROSS RHYTHMS CITY RADIO STOKE-ON-TRENT CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY DESI RADIO SOUTHALL, LONDON PANJABI COMMUNITY GTFM PONTYPRIDD PONTYPRIDD NEW STYLE RADIO BIRMINGHAM AFRICAN- CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY FOREST OF DEAN COMMUNITY RADIO FOREST OF DEAN FOREST OF DEAN NORTHERN VISIONS RADIO BELFAST BELFAST RADIO FAZA originally intended to ‘address the needs of the Christian community’, it has also developed a focus of programming that engages with the wider community from a Christian world view (see Chapter 3.27-39). On the other hand, Shine FM, serving a market town in Northern Ireland, sees itself as a broadcaster ‘with a Christian ethos’ rather than as purveying an exclusive Christian message: it seeks to speak to the community at large and to be a ‘catalyst for reconciliation’. Also it was the only project seeking a licence for less than one year (three months); this could be useful, it was felt, in the context of the evaluation of the Access Radio experiment, for in future it is possible that some groups will seek licences for relatively short periods. PROJECT NOTTINGHAM ASIAN COMMUNITY RESONANCE FM LONDON (SOUTH BANK AND BANKSIDE) MUSICIANS AND RADIO ARTISTS SHINE FM BANBRIDGE, BANBRIDGE COUNTY DOWN SOUND RADIO LONDON HACKNEY AND EAST LONDON TAKEOVER RADIO LEICESTER CHILDREN WYTHENSHAWE FM (RADIO REGEN) MANCHESTER WYTHENSHAWE ON AIR 2002 5 JUNE 1 MARCH 29 APRIL 1 MARCH 28 FEBRUARY 10 MAY 27 APRIL 14 AUGUST 19 JULY 9 MARCH 25 MARCH 1 .56 1 MAY 21 SEPTEMBER 26 JULY 23 MARCH 6 MAY Two further issues have arisen, both of them affecting the Evaluation process, which merit comment. First, the Radio Authority had hoped to identify appropriate frequencies for all fifteen projects by January 2002. This turned out to be over-optimistic. After the projects’ full 1 .57 23
  15. 15. 1.0 INTRODUCTION applications had been received in September, the Radio Authority gave notice to the BBC from whom it would be seeking some space on its frequencies and the Radiocommunications Agency (RA), the body in charge of frequency allocations, that it would be approaching them for frequency clearances. A complex process then ensued to identify possible frequencies for each project: this had three stages – a general review of a database comprising current and planned FM transmissions; a second more refined analysis testing identified frequencies for acceptability (for example, taking terrain into account); and a third ‘pass’ to correlate findings with the projects’ specific wishes for coverage. Particular difficulties were encountered in Nottingham, Glasgow and London. Finally, a choice was made between options where more than one frequency was available. Informal discussions were held with the BBC. 1 .58 A number of stations were not ready to go on air for some time thereafter, because of particular technical or planning difficulties (see Table 1 for a list of start dates). 1 .60 Although there are grounds for saying that, for temporary administrative reasons, the Radio Authority was a little slow in expediting the frequency search in autumn 2001, the main reasons for the length of time taken in finding frequencies were, first, complexities of process, secondly, the lack of a dedicated staff resource and, thirdly, the intervals which the BBC and the RA required for consideration of the Radio Authority’s proposals. There is no evidence of dilatoriness. What is clear, though, is that the Radio Authority could have set itself a more realistic deadline than it did. That it failed to do so can be attributed to the pressure of the legislative timetable, which tempted the Authority to rely on hope at the expense of experience.” 1 .61 A subsidiary reason for renouncing listener surveys was their expense: if two fully professional surveys (to demonstrate trends) were to be assumed per Access Radio project at a cost of approximately £5,000 per survey, the total financial requirement could have been as high as £150,000. The Radio Authority does not possess unallocated monies on this scale. The DCMS was invited to make a financial contribution, but it too did not have the necessary resources. 1 .63 Some Access Radio projects have arranged their own volunteer-led listener surveys and advice has been made available to them in the form of a model listener questionnaire prepared for the Radio Authority by Hallett Arendt, a market research company with a media specialty. The outcomes, which are of some, if necessarily limited, value, are described in Appendix 4. 1 .64 Secondly, no funds have been made available for listener surveys. This may seem a significant omission. However, as the central purpose of Access Radio is to contribute to community development and individual empowerment, ratings are not the most appropriate primary measurement. In the Radio Authority’s view, the key issues for evaluation are to demonstrate (or not) social gain and organisational and funding sustainability. If these are convincingly delivered, an adequate listener base can be assumed without having to be specifically measured. 1 .62 By early December the Radio Authority was ready to submit formal proposals to the BBC and the RA. Agreement was reached with the BBC by the end of January (although further revisions turned out to be necessary, for example in the case of ALL FM in Manchester). The RA (acting on an accelerated time-scale) began to issue clearances from the end of February and, apart from Forest of Dean Radio and Shine FM (which last was not due to start broadcasting till the early autumn), all were completed by April. 1 .59 24 25
  16. 16. 2.0 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO?
  17. 17. A QUESTION OF TERMINOLOGY The title ‘Access Radio’ raises some awkward questions of meaning. Is it the same as ‘community radio’, a term that has long been in use? And if so, why the replacement? More broadly, is there general agreement about what the word ‘community’ signifies? 2. 1 A review of international definitions of community radio suggests a consensus on its constituent elements. For example, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission states: ‘A community radio station is owned and controlled by a not-for-profit organisation, the structure of which provides for membership, management, operation and programming primarily by members of the community at large. Programming should reflect the diversity of the market that the station is to serve.’5 The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (formerly Independent Radio and Television Commission) applies a very similar definition, as does the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 in Australia. 2.2 2.0 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO? This chapter defines community radio and sets out the reasons why the Radio Authority adopted the term, Access Radio. It discusses different notions of ‘community’ in relation to Access Radio and notes the rapidly changing technological environment. These principles are reflected in the Radio Authority’s criteria for the Access Radio Pilot Scheme (see Chapter 1.38). As with community arts, the main emphasis is placed on community ownership and participation. 2.3 Seeing this to be the case, some have questioned the need for a new term. Ralph Bernard, (formerly Chief Executive, Chairman since July 2001) of the GWR Group, who spoke 2.4 in favour of community radio at the February 2001 Access Radio Seminar, said: ‘I’ll tell you what I think Access Radio is. I think it’s a title dreamed up by someone who hasn’t the first idea of how radio stations, any radio station, operate. Someone who doesn’t like the term community radio.’6 The suspicion in some quarters is presumably that the Radio Authority wishes to sanitise a possible third radio tier from the long-standing political and campaigning associations attributed to ‘community’ – and, in others, that it seeks a precision that will exclude a broader notion of radio’s contribution to community life. It is further objected that ‘access radio’ is already a term of art, signifying a station with a ‘share-space’ policy; namely, one that offers slots to outside groups rather than produces programmes itself. 2.5 These criticisms might be decisive were the consensus about the meaning of ‘community radio’ watertight. This turns out not to be the case. Also speaking at the Access Radio Seminar, Phil Riley gave Chrysalis Radio’s definition of the term: it was ‘radio whose output provides a service uniquely tailored for a particular audience within a single geographical community and whose purpose is therefore to meet the information and entertainment needs of that community.’7 The emphasis here is on provision rather participation and many commercial radio stations would rightly claim to operate a community radio policy in this sense. 2.6 5 Cited in Price-Davies, Eryl, and Tacchi, Jo, Community Radio in a Global Context: A Comparative Analysis in Six Countries, Community Media Association, 2001. p 20. 6 Bernard, Ralph, A Vision for Access Radio, speech to Radio Authority Access Radio Seminar, February 12, 2001. 7 Access Radio Seminar op. cit. ‘III Seminar Report’. 28 29
  18. 18. 2.0 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO? Just as in the performing and visual arts, there is often a confusion – and sometimes an elision – between ‘community arts’ (local people making the art) and ‘arts in the community’ (local people being supplied with the art), so in local radio there is a danger of overlapping meanings between radio which serves a community and that which belongs to a community. Broadly speaking, the former is what commercial radio does at its best and the latter is what Access Radio aims to provide. COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST V COMMUNITIES OF PLACE . The Radio Authority takes the view that it would be unhelpful to give a third radio tier a title which embodied any ambiguity and, in particular, which failed to draw the clearest of distinctions between its offering and that of commercial radio. The term ‘Access Radio’ avoids this danger. This is a rational argument and the current report will refer to ‘community radio’ when discussing general principles and practice and ‘Access Radio’ when referring to the pilot scheme. 2.11 2.7 2.8 In the 1960s and 1970s the pioneers of community development were quite clear that a community could be defined by the physical space that it occupied. A loose working definition of the time was: ‘… a variety of social contexts in which groups of people recognise a relationship between each other and a defined geographical area or administrative structure.’8 2.10 However, while it is true that everyone is in the nature of things geographically based, where people live is no longer how many people define their social or individual identities. For an increasing number, place is where they happen to be at a given time, as traditional family structures weaken and social and job mobility becomes increasingly common. ‘The growth of individualisation and “active consumption” means that we tend to make opportunistic use of multiple communities to construct a confident, customised sense of ourselves, as distinct from defining ourselves in terms of a fixed community of which we are fully paid-up members.’9 These two approaches to community are reflected in the Access Radio criteria (which speak of ‘communities of interest’ as well as of defined neighbourhoods) and in the range of selected projects. Obviously, any radio station is only able to broadcast in a given place to a given population; however, Wythenshawe FM’s purpose is to serve all the residents of a clearly 2.12 defined part of Greater Manchester, while Takeover Radio in Leicester and Angel Community Radio in Havant are concerned, respectively and exclusively, with children and older people. While the latter inflect their programming with coverage of local concerns, there is a sense in which they could just as well operate on a national basis or, through their web-sites, globally. Indeed, it is Takeover’s explicit ambition to found a national channel for children. Cross Rhythms, the Christian radio project in Stoke-on-Trent, is broadcasting its Access Radio output, not only on FM for local people, but as a replacement for its original international service on its web-site; it is doing so because of financial constraints, but reports that, despite local content, it appears to be maintaining international listener interest. 2.13 2.1 It has been proposed that the remit of 4 Access Radio should be restricted to geographical communities and that ‘communities of interest’ be handled in some other way. The primary justification for this is the over-riding social need of disadvantaged areas of the country, to the alleviation of which community radio can make a unique contribution. society which are to a greater or lesser extent excluded from access to radio – for example, older people or children – to which the Radio Authority properly owes a duty. The reason for promoting Asian or African-Caribbean broadcasting is partly because of economic disadvantage, but also to counter cultural and social exclusion (although the issues are interrelated). If it did not acknowledge the claims of communities of interest, the Radio Authority could reasonably be charged with a failure to fulfil its obligations. 2.1 Accordingly, in the Evaluator’s 6 judgement, it is appropriate for the Radio Authority to include communities both of interest and of place in its criteria for eligibility for Access Radio status. That said, there is one circumstance where it could be right to prioritise communities of place. In the event of severe spectrum scarcity, the regulator may wish to encourage different interest groups in a given place to join forces, offering a service to the whole community, but, within that, enabling ‘community of interest’ programme strands (on project alliances see Chapter 5.6). 2.1 However, the Radio Authority is not a 5 social services agency. Its primary remit relates to radio and to the assurance of maximum access to the medium. In that light, targeting social deprivation cannot be the only purpose of Access Radio. There are other groupings in 8 Artists and People, op. cit. p 107. 9 Everitt, Anthony, Joining In, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, London 1997. p 86. 30 31
  19. 19. 2.0 WHAT IS ACCESS RADIO? THE TECHNOLOGICAL/ MEDIA CONTEXT 2. 19 An increasing number of radio stations (among them some of the Access Radio projects) broadcast on the Internet. Web technology allows for the possibility of text, audio and video to interact in a new form of programming in which the consumer could have an active role, although, at present, web radio tends to be offered in traditional formats. 2.1 Community radio in general, and the 7 Access Radio pilot scheme in particular, should not be seen in isolation from other media developments. The notion of a ‘third tier’ for television is current. Proposals to establish a decentralised Channel 5 to be included in the 1990 Broadcasting Act failed, but, with the growing success of radio RSLs, campaigners began to put the case for a regime of television RSLs. This was eventually introduced in the 1996 Broadcasting Act and by the end of 2000 eight TV stations were on air. In December 2000 the Local Broadcasting Group (LBG), backed by two media groups, was formed and announced that, with approval from the Independent Television Commission and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, it intended to raise funding to launch up to 40 TV RSL stations, bringing forward the prospect of commercially oriented as well as not-for-profit local television. Later the LBG went into administration and for the time being progress has been halted, but it can be assumed that the further development of community television will be resumed in due course. 2.20 In 1999 the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Learning Centres initiative was launched by the Government (through a Capital Modernisation Fund) and the New Opportunities Fund. The aim is to support the creation of 1,200 ICT Learning Centres (now called On-Line Centres). The CMA has successfully argued for an integrated approach to ICT learning, incorporating wider cultural practice as well as business skills. As a result a growing number of community media centres is emerging, equipped with multimedia computers, digital editing software and permanent high speed Internet access, digital radio studios for production and broadcast, a digital video editing suite and television studio, broadcast transmission facilities and links to local cable and ADSL networks. 2. 18 Digitisation and the growth of computer processing power are contributing to a converging technological media environment. As Steve Buckley, Director of the CMA, noted: ‘Convergence is taking place at the level of production between sound-based media and visual and moving image media and also at the level of distribution between broadcasting systems, radio and television, and telecommunications systems, which are developing from one-to-one systems to one-to-many.’10 able to respond flexibly to changing needs as technologies become more sophisticated and interdependent. 2.23 It is difficult to predict the rate at which consumers will invest in these technologies and in the current economic climate a conservative estimate may be appropriate. It may be that within the next ten years or less the situation will be transformed; in any event it would be sensible to plan for the eventuality. This would mean recognising that a largely FM-based system of Access Radio may be a transitional medium-term phenomenon. (A further possibility could be that mainstream broadcasters will abandon analogue frequencies, creating room for the future expansion of Access Radio). As the Community Media Association argues in its response to the draft Communications Bill,11 2.2 It follows that an overall, cross-media 1 approach would make better sense than treating media delivery systems separately, in order to reflect the ways in which communications media are developing in the electronic marketplace. As will be discussed below (see Chapter 6.1.8), it may be appropriate to consider the funding of the community media sector in an integrated manner; so in place of the proposed Access Radio Fund there is an arguable case for the creation of a Cross-Media Fund, which would be 10 Buckley, Steve, ‘Community Media Centres’, Airflash 2-2000. p 12. 32 2.22 The speed of technical change should be taken into account when planning for Access Radio. Digital multiplexes are being established and (as already noted) web-casting, free from regulation, is a cheap and effective means of broadcasting. Where does that leave locallybased FM services? So far as consumers are concerned, the digital revolution is yet to take place and, until the penetration of digital radio sets approaches universality, offers little to a tier of broadcasting aimed at disadvantaged and socially excluded communities whose members will be the last purchasers of new receiving equipment (and a significant number of whom do not even rent telephone land lines). Again, for all its advantages the Internet will be of little use to community broadcasters until access to it has also become nearly universal, for the present a distant prospect. the Government and Ofcom will need to keep consumer and technical developments under review and to respond flexibly to changed circumstances as they arise. 11 Response to the Draft Communications Bill, Community Media Association, August 2002. Paragraph 16 33
  20. 20. 3.0 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS
  21. 21. The reasons for engagement with community broadcasting are as various as the number of those taking part. But three broad strands of originating motivation can be discerned. First, there are those whose involvement sprang from delight in the medium. Tony Smith, one of the founders of Angel Radio, built his first transmitter at school: he went home during lunch and broadcast records to his fellow students. Later, during the late 1980s, he and his wife, Lorna Adlam, lived in a country area where there was no local radio service and set themselves up as pirate broadcasters (although never taken to court). ‘Everyone knew we were pirates. The Department of Trade and Industry people only raided us on complaint. We used to leave a key in the front door for them.’ With the availability of RSLs they went legitimate in the mid-1990s. 3. 1 3.0 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS A married man with three children, Graham Coley works for the Midland Co-operative Society. Radio has been a longstanding interest. His involvement with the medium began in 1978 when he prepared features and presented for BBC Radio Leicester. In 1986 he was one of the founders of a hospital radio station, with which he is still involved. He and Phil Solo collaborated on a number of RSLs in Leicestershire before they founded Takeover Radio in 1997 and launched the first full-time UK children’s radio network on the world-wide web. 3.2 This chapter is descriptive, rather than analytical. It seeks to give an impression of the fifteen Access Radio projects and the people involved, their motives and their aims. The approach is selective and, although each project is described (its name is printed in bold at its main entry), relevant examples, rather than comprehensive accounts, illustrate key themes. 36 There are others who stumbled on radio more or less by chance and found it a means of promoting larger causes. Nathan Asiimwe and his wife, Annmarie Asiimwe, of Shine FM in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, are Christian activists, he with a background in theology and she in computing. They worked in Northern Ireland for a multi-denominational project, Youth with a Mission. ‘We prayed about our future ministry and we felt that God wanted us working 3.3 here in the media.’ Some training soon convinced them that radio was ideal for communicating with young people and applying Christian values to community development and social reconciliation. Lol Gellor of Sound Radio in Hackney was a song-writer, producer and musician, who later became interested in film and video. In the mid-1990s he worked for the multicultural arts promotion agency, Cultural Partnerships, for whom he produced his first RSL for the Clapton Park estate in Hackney in 1995. ‘Not coming from a radio background, I discovered what radio can be – a catalyst for the community. The skills needed for radio are the skills needed for life – an ability to communicate, to take criticism, to meet deadlines, to put up with disappointments. To turn up on time. There is no medium like it.’ 3.4 The third strand is the growing number of local volunteers who gained experience through RSLs and have seized on community radio as a means of self-empowerment and personal development. One of these is Jason Kenyon: originally a manual worker with few educational qualifications, he became involved in a cross-media project run by a media training agency, Radio Regen, because he wanted to ‘do something different.’ He now works full-time for Wythenshawe FM in Manchester as manager, producer and presenter. 3.5 COMMUNITIES OF PLACE Some of the Access Radio projects have greater institutional security than others and, in a few cases, are merely one element in a larger enterprise. New Style Radio (NSR) is a promotion of the Afro-Caribbean Resources Centre (ACRC) in Winson Green, Birmingham 3.6 37
  22. 22. 3.0 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS (one of the most deprived areas in the country). This organisation began as a co-operative of young black people in the late 1970s, which aimed to empower ‘Caribbean people’ by addressing inequality, unemployment and economic, social and cultural exclusion. It acts as a social welfare organisation and in 1995 it formed an Employment Resource Centre (as a friendlier alternative to Job Centres). It is supported by the city council (and two of its staff have become local councillors). The centre is a member of a collaborative group of local black cultural organisations, including the Drum performing arts and media centre, Black Voices and Kajun as well as the black reggae star, Pato Banton. 3.7 ACRC’s involvement with radio began more than twenty years ago when, with support from the Cadbury Trust, it was invited to work with a pirate station PCRL, which wished to enter mainstream broadcasting, and help manage its development as a licensed commercial radio station. Training courses were arranged and a major conference was convened in association with the BBC. The plan came to nothing when PCRL failed to win an ILR licence. PCRL reverted to piracy, but ACRC maintained its interest in radio and has subsequently been awarded a number of RSLs. 3.8 The centre strongly believes in the social power of radio. Martin Blissett, its chair, said: ‘It is essential to have a black-led station. Black people’s image is to do with crime, drugs and poor educational attainment. We need a medium with which to dispel myths.’ Although its mission is primarily directed at the African-Caribbean community, it welcomes all-comers and a 3.9 38 number of its radio volunteers are white or Asian. Many young black people are ‘brought up’ on pirate radio, sometimes without being aware of their non-legal status, and the centre suspects that New Style Radio will have the beneficial to participate directly in community radio: they are offered in outreach settings as well as at BCB’s studios. The project has conducted 17 RSLs for communities both of place and of interest. It has broadcast on cable and the effect of introducing them to legitimate broadcasting. Broadcasting is round the clock and the programming aims to keep the AfricanCaribbean community informed on civic matters, health, education, regeneration initiatives and environmental issues. The project provides both local and international news – in the latter case with an emphasis on the homelands of target listeners. Radio drama, story telling and comedy sketches are produced. NSR’s music policy focuses on Black music – Reggae, Soul, Soca, Calypso, Zouk, jazz, Latin, African, Gospel, HipHop and World. The project played a major part in last year’s Black History Month in Birmingham and sourced information and comment for national broadcasters about the much-publicised murder of two young black women in Handsworth. Internet for several years. The centre is now engaged on a major capital development, with support from the Millennium Commission, the Arts Council of England and the city council; it expects to move into new, purpose-built premises within two years. Wanting to avoid overstretch, BCB has initially restricted itself to 6 live hours broadcasting a day, with six hours speech-led and two hours of music. Programming is mainly locally produced (although the project has entered into partnerships in the past with other community radio stations in England and is cautiously interested in broadcasting shared programmes) and focuses on community issues. An emphasis is placed on news, information, discussion and debate, with programming in various languages (including Urdu, and Panjabi), and strands reflecting the needs of young people, older people and minority communities. Cultural issues are addressed and there is arts and specialist music programming. 3. 2 1 3. 10 Bradford Community Broadcasting (BCB) came into being as a direct result of the 3. 1 1 Broadcasting Act 1990, from which the system of RSLs emerged. Three people, among them Mary Dowson, now BCB’s full-time Project Director, asked themselves: ‘Why can’t we get into this?’ They set themselves up as Bradford Festival Radio in 1992 (becoming Bradford Community Broadcasting in 1994). Since then the organisation has run accredited training courses giving local people the skills they need Two aspects of BCB deserve special attention. First, it operates a ‘hub and spokes’ policy in order to bring broadcasting facilities as close to local communities as possible. It occupies a shop in Bradford’s city centre, although with only two studios it is finding it difficult to maintain pre-recording, live broadcasting and training, while running the Access Radio project. A search is on for new premises. At the same time the project maintains an outlying studio at a centre for disabled people in Manningham and also wishes to establish a permanent base at Shipley. 3. 3 1 Secondly, BCB has scored a remarkable success in its sports coverage. Its sports RSLs, offering live commentaries on local fixtures, have attracted audiences of between 10,000 and 12,000 listeners. It filled a gap left by a local ILR station, The Pulse, when it abandoned sports programming for a time. There may be a lesson here for Access Radio projects which are looking for ways of fostering a broadly-based and loyal listenership. 3. 4 1 Sound Radio conducted four RSLs before being selected as an Access Radio project. It is based in a large housing estate in Hackney and serves a wide swathe of East London (with an AM transmitter it can reach a 10 kilometre radius). Its catchment is multicultural not only in the sense of including settled AfricanCaribbean communities, but expatriates (some now UK citizens) from many parts of the world. Lol Gellor, the chief executive of its promoting body, Sound Vision Trust, aware that much of this constituency has a continuing connection with, or interest in, distant countries and cultures of origin, sees Sound Radio as ‘a local world service’. Examples of programming with a global dimension include a commentary in Spanish on World Cup matches in Japan for the area’s large Spanish-speaking community and a weekly linkup with 173 community stations in Latin America as part of the “voices of the kidnapped” – a project dealing with people kidnapped in Colombia. 3. 5 1 The project is committed to drawing the boundaries of free speech as broadly as possible, but invariably with a right to reply. As an illustration of the point, Sound Radio juxtaposed two programmes in a recent RSL with the selfexplanatory titles of Yids with Attitude and Talk Black (which featured a spokesman for the Nation of Islam). 3. 6 1 39
  23. 23. 3.0 THE FIFTEEN PROJECTS The programming schedule includes discussions of topics such as education, health, environment, housing and employment and a daily news and sports round-up. National and international news sources is being developed as part of non-English language programming. Music in the day-time covers a wide range of genres and focuses on urban music at nights, with more specialised material at the weekends (for example blues, jazz and rock). Sound Radio aims to offer a round-the-clock schedule, broadcasting 24 hours a day, mainly live between 7am and 3am; also simulcasts on the web 24 hours a day. 3. 7 1 COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST KIDS Solo criticises the BBC approach to children’s radio programming, which he sees as diametrically opposite to his own. ‘Go For It is an adult venture aimed at kids, not something they take part in. Also, it’s on Radio 4. It’s too uncool for kids even to be seen listening to it.’ 3.21 Takeover Radio is not alone in its field. There are a number of schools radio stations, running RSLs, and a Radio in Schools group has been formed. KidsFM in Reading is a noncommercial RSL-based station offering a service to schools and production and other training opportunities for children. The Disney Corporation intends to establish a national Disney channel in association with Capital Radio. 3.22 Takeover Radio’s core target audience is children between 8 and 15 years old. Its underpinning principle is that ‘kids take over the airwaves and do their own thing.’ In practice, this means that all the management positions are held by adults, who deal with overall policy, strategic development, institutional issues and fund-raising. Two adults are always present when children are broadcasting. All Takeover’s activities, including the Access Radio project, are controlled by the Children’s Media Trust. Recruitment, induction and training are carefully managed and parents are kept closely involved from the outset. There is a Child Protection Policy. Children who become members of Takeover Radio Kidz Crew are taught the ‘basic rules’ of radio. All music is listened to in advance by an adult and checked by Graham Coley, the station manager. 3.23 Phil Solo and Graham Coley, the founders of Takeover Radio, discovered the excitement of children’s radio by chance; during an RSL two children in their early teens were allowed, at their mother’s suggestion, to produce a programme. Its success suggested to him the potential of radio for and by children. Solo and Coley were also influenced by the work of Susan Stranks of the Children 2000 campaign, which argues for a UK-wide children’s radio station. 3. 18 Takeover Radio has staked out a claim for it to be such a station by offering a broadcasting service on the Internet. The aim is to demonstrate that a national station is a practical proposition and believes that, by its track record, Takeover Radio deserves to run it. 3. 19 DRG, a London digital radio multiplex, is including among its channels Abracadabra, aimed at under-10s, which it will seek to offer other multiplexes: Takeover has been invited to provide programme content. 3.20 40 However, production and (except during school hours) presentation are exclusively handled by children, who are expected to develop programme ideas and to work them up into written proposals with content briefs. In addition to entertainment programmes, they address serious subjects, including drugs, 3.24 alcohol and (handled by older children) sexual questions – or what the station calls ‘personal relations’. They present programmes and are responsible for the day-to-day running of the studio. They provide Takeover’s news service and scan local, national and international news for items of interest to children. In effect, the more experienced children run Takeover Radio with light-touch supervision by adults. Solo recognises that ‘what we do is inherently risky’. Young adults present day-time programmes during school terms. Children volunteers were involved in the process of recruiting them, from planning newspaper advertisements to attending appointment interviews. They also contribute to the development of merchandising and outside events. 3.25 Takeover Radio has been broadcasting on a 24-hour uninterrupted basis since March 2002. The project believes that the socioeconomic and ethnic composition of Takeover’s membership reflects that of the local population in Leicester and hopes to be able to produce evidence of this by the end of the Access Radio Pilot Scheme. 3.26 CHRISTIANS As already noted, Cross Rhythms in Stoke-on-Trent and Shine FM share the same fundamental, cross-denominational Christian principles, but at the outset their broadcasting policies differ in emphasis. The former was essentially concerned to reach a Christian audience and the latter the local community as a whole, but representing a Christian ethos. 3.27 Cross Rhythms aims to communicate ‘eternal faith in 20th century cultural terms’. It wishes to reverse the disaffection of many young people from Christianity, which it traces 3.28 back to the attitudinal revolution of the 1960s. It is influenced by the Jesus Movement, which began in California at that time and pioneered ‘Jesus Music’, now called Contemporary Christian Music. This kind of music is the staple diet of the 1,600 Christian radio stations in the United States, which make up a multi-million dollar industry. Cross Rhythms believes that the churches’ traditional music culture has become inaccessible to younger generations and needs to be replaced by genres more in keeping with young people’s tastes. Until the 1990 Broadcasting Act, there were serious obstacles to the creation of Christian radio stations. Even today there are few in existence. They include Premier in London, with two stations, Trans World Radio on Sky Digital, United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) with four stations on Sky Digital and the Internet and Cross Rhythms itself with one web-based station, one Sky Digital channel and the Access Radio project. 3.29 Cross Rhythms began 19 years ago when Chris Cole, now its chief executive, launched a one-hour weekly programme for Plymouth Sound ILR. In 1991 he joined forces with a Christian music magazine, Cross Rhythms, which Cole bought for a nominal sum. Cole also took over the running of a Christian festival. In addition, Cross Rhythms provided Christian programming for other ILR stations. 3.30 United Christian Broadcasters, based in Stoke-on-Trent and with a £5 million annual turnover, funded Cross Rhythms at £120,000 per annum to provide a full-time youth radio station on satellite and the Internet. In October 2000 the two organisations decided to disengage and since then UCB’s funding has gradually been reduced: it came to an end in December 2002. 3.3 1 41

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