Local Radio Station Found to Have Breached Accountability Commitments

A community radio station serving Rothesay and the Isle of Bute has pledged to increase the involvement of local people, but not quickly enough to avoid earning a ticking off from broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.

Says Ofcom, complaints have been made – including from a former director – about Bute FM, “regarding the station‟s accountability to the community”. The station was set up in July last year and Ofcom regulations require a strict system of accountability to local people.

Said Ofcom: “One complainant said 'under the commitments given at the time of application there was to be a steering group, focus groups, etc to ensure that the community was fully involved with the station. However, these have never materialised'.

“Another complained that 'even the most dedicated supporters and volunteers of Bute FM have absolutely no say in its running'.”

In response, the operators of the station – in correspondence with Ofcom – said that while a steering group had been operating since the station's inception, it had been “difficult to attract members of the business community”, but that various new people had since been recruited, including a local Argyll & Bute Councillor.

Ofcom also quoted the station adding, “in response to the complaints about the community focus group it is true that there have been no meetings to date” and “once the steering group meetings have commenced we will endeavour to discuss and implement the community focus group by the end of the year”.

While the regulators noted the station promising it “expects accountability measures to be fully compliant with the 'key commitments' by the end of the year”, it nevertheless has decided to record that a breach of commitments had taken place.

No other punishment is expected.

Bute FM declined the invitation to comment.

Update (December 23 2010): Bute FM has now commented. See here.

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