BRO0019

Written evidence submitted by MônFM

 

Thanks for providing the opportunity to respond to the Welsh Affairs Committee’s recent evidence session on local radio.

 

I’m delighted to provide a written submission addressing some of the questions that were raised in the session – most of which had been typed out in advance for Anwen to deliver at the meeting since I wasn’t able to be present. Below are the written responses to the questions asked:-

 

  1. What are the main difficulties faced by local radio?
     

a)     The Audio Content Fund provides copious funding to the private sector for producing content to be played out on community radio stations. This takes absolutely no account of the broadcast costs of transmission – with dozens of private companies contacting community radio stations to askcan you play our audio which we’ve been paid to produce’. How can this be fair? Develop a package whereby community radio stations receive an annual grant (if they apply) to develop good local or National content by their own volunteers – thereby helping to sustain the community radio sector for the future. At the very least, there needs to be a fee for broadcasting, since everything costs, and it isn’t fair that the private sector benefits from Government funding to produce content that the Public will never hear on the radio without a community radio broadcaster to facilitate such. Imagine buying a new car for someone, giving them the keys, but not having the money to pay for fuel to make it go!
 

b)     The BBC and the Government receive funding from the Public License Fee – why not use some of that funding to develop a better partnership between the BBC and Community Radio stations to help create local news and information content which can be used by both entities? Over the last decade, several community radio presenters from MônFM have been taken on by both the BBC and Commercial Radio stations here in North Wales, so it would be beneficial for both organisations to collaborate on a more formal basis to provide career opportunities for future talent. Likewise, content paid for by the Public purse in use by the BBC should be available for use on Community Stations (who is also a not for profit local Public Service Broadcaster).
 

c)      Not enough Government Advertising or Public Service Advertising or promotion contracts are offered to Community Radio Stations – who provide excellent coverage and who’s audiences penetrate deeper into a wider cross-section of communities than some of the commercial stations. Community Radio could benefit from more advertising revenue income – not to make a profit but to sustain some of its critical infrastructure to keep going. The Welsh Government held a conference with Community Radio Stations in Wales recently, and have listened to the plea, and they’ve instructed their advertising agents to work with and offer Government Advertising to Community Radio stations via their contracted media agents. However, there’s a long way to go with UK government for wider sponsored advertising and promotional campaigns, and Local Government and other Public Services such as the Police or Fire and Health who are missing an opportunity to target a wider profile of the population e.g. one commercial station has a target audience age of 16 to 24 years, however community radio listeners rage from 6 to 106 years, so the audience profile is much wider and more suitable for some campaigns e.g. electoral commission etc. 
 

d)     WCRN Cymru recently obtained a grant of £5k from Cardiff University to give PR & Publicity to a few of its community radio stations. A series of newspaper articles were prepared for public consumption (see attached SAMPLE). This helped to ‘announce’ the existence of stations and to highlight the good work they’re achieving – further campaigns of this nature should be sponsored by the Government to highlight local visibility and collaborative opportunities, but also to highlight what can be done for the welsh language.

 

  1. Do you feel that Wales is losing its voice among Britain’s radio stations? What are you doing to counteract this?

 

  1. How would you assess listening trends to have changed over the last five to ten years?

 

 

  1. What steps have you taken to attract young people, both to listen to and to become involved with MônFM?

 

 

  1. Do you think that local radio should have a role in supporting and promoting the Welsh language?

 

 

  1. Should there be a regulatory requirement that local news about Wales be produced and presented in Wales?

 

 

  1. Only 3% of all applications to the UK Government’s Community Radio Fund were from Welsh radio stations and only 1% of those were successful in their applications. Do you believe that there needs to be more help in accessing these funds?

 

 

  1. What additional support would you like to see from the UK and Welsh Governments?

 

 

  1. How would you assess the performance of BBC radio in Wales?
     
  1. How would you assess the role and performance of Ofcom?

 

 

  1. Do there need to be reforms to the availability and offering of FM and DAB radio licences?
     

 

  1. Witnesses have proposed that community stations should be free to become wholly commercial services. What are your views on this?

 

 

 

12 April 2023