Ofcom outlines local radio remit

Media regulator Ofcom has published guidelines for radio stations on what to include in their programming to meet the remit of localness in their licences.

The second phase of the Radio Review lays down Localness Guidelines, setting out how stations can best deliver local elements of their output. Previously Ofcom said localness could be delivered using a number of different elements, which included news, comment, outside broadcasts, what's-on, travel news, interviews, charity involvement, weather, local artists and local arts and culture. Ofcom has now added sport coverage, phone-ins and listener interactivity to this.
Stations should be providing output that is specific to their area and offers an alternative to national or other regional services.
Ofcom has stated that pure promotional off-air activity such as roadshows and promotional vehicles would not constitute localness without on-air activity involving something more than self-promotion. Adverts are not regarding as local programming according to the Communications Act 2003.
The review represents a move towards "output regulation" where Ofcom will concentrate on what the listener hears rather than how programmes are produced.
Each station will be required to establish a Public File reporting their activities including programme schedule, automated hours and contact details. This information should be available both in hard copy in via the station's web site by June.
The review also outlines a procedure for handling format change requests for analogue local commercial radio services and covers the next steps regarding the removal of restrictions on daytime automation on stations and the location of studios within licensed areas.
The new procedures were proposed in a consultation, which closed on 11 January. The first phase of the Radio Review was published in December 2004.

 

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