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Community radio – the next phase

Radio presenter mainOver the past five years community radio stations have provided a new voice for hundreds of local communities across the UK.

These stations are now spread out across the length and breadth of the country and can be heard by more than 8 million listeners.

They reflect a diverse mix of cultures and interests. For example, you can listen to stations which cater for urban or experimental music, while others are aimed at younger people, religious communities or the Armed Forces and their families.

Stations have also provided an opportunity for thousands of people to gain their first experience in broadcasting.

Community stations

The first community radio station was the The Eye in Melton Mowbray, which started broadcasting in November 2005.

Since then Ofcom has awarded 221 community radio licences and stations typically cover small geographical areas of up to a 5km radius.

They can cater for whole communities or for different areas of interest and typically provide 81 hours of original and distinctive output a week, mostly locally produced.

On average, stations operate with 74 volunteers who together give around 214 hours of their time a week.

Radio licensing

Ofcom launched the first phase of community radio licensing back in September 2004 and the second round will draw to a close in the next few months.

We’re now looking at a possible third phase of community radio development and want to hear from anyone interested in launching a new community radio station in their area.

Prospective applicants should submit an ‘expression of interest’, outlining their intention to apply.

Expression of interest

An ‘expression of interest’ should include:

  • the name of your organisation
  • the area you wish to broadcast to (or location of the service)
  • a short description of the community you wish to serve
  • your contact details

These ‘expressions of interest’ will help Ofcom plan how to proceed with the next phase of community radio development.

If we do conduct this third round of community radio licensing, the majority of services will be on FM frequencies.

However, FM frequencies are not expected to be available in some areas of the UK.

Click here to learn more about these areas, as well as details of how to register your interest

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