Bauer’s non-local news experiment in Salisbury results in Ofcom complaint

Ofcom has investigated Bauer following a complaint about the lack of local news on Greatest Hits Radio in Salisbury.

In return for broadcasting a national feed 21 hours a day, and a three hour regional show from the south region, the station (previously known as Spire FM) should be providing an enhanced local news service from 6am till 7pm.

Upon investigation, Bauer said it started experimenting with a mixed Wiltshire/Hampshire bulletin on January 2nd 2024 because it considered that the city-focused news bulletins for Salisbury “sounded jarring and parochial against industry-leading shows such as Ken Bruce and Simon Mayo”.

But after its experimental bulletins for Salisbury contained news about Portsmouth (almost an hour’s drive away, and in a different county), Bauer made a U-turn and brought back locally-focussed bulletins in March.

It’s during this period that Ofcom monitored the service, but was happy to conclude that there is no requirement (or guidance) that a news story can only be of direct relevance to listeners in a particular locality if it is explicitly ‘about’ that locality.

Ofcom added though, that stations which are required to provide an enhanced local news service are expected to include at least one fully-formed local news story, and normally more than this, in each enhanced daytime bulletin.

The regulator now considered the matter resolved because Bauer has returned to providing a specific bulletin for Salisbury on weekdays, and county-wide on weekends.