Ofcom releases local radio guidelines

Regulator Ofcom has published guidelines on localised programming for radio stations.

Localised sports coverage, phone-ins and listener interactivity can now count towards the quotas imposed on operators whose licences specify a local element. 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.

Stations should be providing output that is specific to their area and offers an alternative to national or other regional services, Ofcom said in the second phase of its Radio Review. Ofcom has said 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. Advertising is not regarded as local programming, according to the Communications Act 2003. The review is a move towards "output regulation", where Ofcom will concentrate on what the listener hears, rather than how programmes are produced.

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