Ofcom opens consultation on Key Commitments change for Community Voice FM

Middlesborough-based community radio station Community Voice FM is wanting to change its key commitments.

Ofcom has opened a consultation on the request and is seeking views from interested or affected parties before making a final decision.

Community Voice FM wants to:

– Change its music requirement for the main types of music broadcast across the week from “Asian, African, world music, rock, pop, classical and urban” to “Asian (including Pakistani, Indian, Punjabi, Mirpuri, and Qawwali Music), global, rock, pop, urban, and chart music. Additionally, during religious and cultural occasions – such as Ramadan and Diwali, the service may change its music output to include “religious/spiritual tracks only”;

– Alter its speech output from “National and international news, local news, discussions, interviews, and faith-based programming” to “National news, local community information, guest interviews and faith-based programming”;

– Vary its languages of programming from “programming in English and other community languages including Urdu, Mirpuri, Farsi, Punjabi and Arabic” to “programming in alterative community languages during the course of the annual broadcast, with a particular focus on South Asian communities. It intends to alternate its programming during the year to fit in with religious and cultural calendars; and

– Reduce its original output from 8 hours per day (56 hours per week equivalent) to 42 hours per week.

The regulator’s preliminary review is to reject Community Voice FM’s request, saying it has concerns that the removal of languages and other features could constitute a substantial change to Community Voice FM’s character of service and narrow the range of programmes available in the area.

Ofcom says it has not been provided with evidence that, among the station’s relevant community of “the people of Middlesbrough”, especially “isolated and disadvantaged people” and those “of all ages, backgrounds and ethnic origin”, there is a significant demand, or significant support for the changes being requested.

The consultation closes on 9 January 2023.