Volunteers leave radio station over Black Lives Matter ban
Eleven volunteers have departed Huntingdon Community Radio following an instruction that there should be no mention of the Black Lives Matter campaign on air.
Presenters say they were issued with the order from the Station Manager on 6th June, which read: ‘All the management team has decided that Black Lives Matter is not to be mentioned on air.’
Several volunteers at the Cambridgeshire station chose to challenge and question the decision – and say that the following morning they discovered they’d been ‘locked out’ of Huntingdon Community Radio’s computer systems.
In a long statement (posted in full below), the station said that the decision ‘in no way means that HCR104fm as an organisation supports racism’, and went on to add that its priorities were maintaining impartiality and ensuring compliance with the Ofcom code.
“HCR104fm is for the most part, a music and entertainment station,” it said. “Political or other opinion has never had a place on any of our music shows and that will not change. We are not LBC or talkRADIO – they have their commitments, and we have ours.”
Huntingdon Community Radio also said it had not dismissed any volunteers. “We know some of our members have strong views on the decision and those views have been very important to us,” the statement from the Senior Management Team says. “At the same time, some volunteers have decided to leave us, before the matter had been fully discussed. Those people have made a decision and are free to make it. They have not been dismissed.”
A statement issued on behalf of the group of 11 volunteers – who say they have effectively been sacked or compelled to resign – said: “We believe that preventing proper debate about racism is not impartiality, it gives credence to racists and prevents a debate which is as important for the people of Huntingdon as it is for any other community. In short, we believe Huntingdon Community Radio has breached its own commitment to impartiality.”
Huntingdon Community Radio (HCR104fm) Black Lives Matter Statement
The Senior Management Team at HCR104fm would like to explain our decision regarding the discussion of Black Lives Matter on air during shows.
Firstly and most importantly, we wish to emphasise in the strongest possible terms, that the decision, in no way means that HCR104fm as an organisation supports racism. Further, we do support those that wish to protest peacefully and lawfully without violence. Indeed, it is every citizen’s democratic and absolute right to do that in the free society in which we thankfully live. Discussion and reporting news items on the station remain paramount, but we must remain impartial.
The Ofcom rules surrounding due impartiality and balance are however somewhat lengthy and legally complex. They can, of course, be interpreted in many ways and because of this, the Senior Management Team made a decision to ask presenters to refrain from any discussion on the subject of the BLM issue as a temporary measure. Indeed, there have been instances in the past on other matters where we have come perilously close to being reported to Ofcom and we were fortunate that these instances didn’t get that far.
HCR104fm is for the most part, a music and entertainment station. Political or other opinion has never had a place on any of our music shows and that will not change. We are not LBC or Talk Radio – they have their commitments, and we have ours.
It is the Management’s firm view that any local, national (and sometimes, global) political or other discussion may only be within the already excellent platform afforded by our Sunday show County Matters. On that show, due impartiality and balance are rigorously applied – and this will continue to be the case. Indeed, this issue was reported on in last week’s County Matters and it will be further reported on in future County Matters.
We know some of our members have strong views on the decision and those views have been very important to us. At the same time, some volunteers have decided to leave us, before the matter had been fully discussed. Those people have made a decision and are free to make it. They have not been dismissed.
Finally, we would ask all of you to abide by the decision made unanimously and democratically by the Senior Management Team and to understand our reasons for that decision.
With thanks for all the faithful support you continue to give the station.
HCR104fm’s Senior Management Team.