Public Letter to the Labour Party from CMA Chair

July 5, 2024
Terry Lee
Public Letter to the Labour Party

Dear Sir Keir Starmer,

On behalf of the Community Media Association (CMA), I extend our heartfelt congratulations to you and the Labour Party on your successful election campaign. Your party’s victory is a testament to your dedication and vision for a better future for the UK.

As the members-based representative organisation for Community Radio in the UK, writing on behalf of over 200 stations, the CMA is excited about the prospect of working closely with your government to support and enhance the Community Radio sector.

Community Radio is an established and growing sector that plays a crucial role in our local communities by fostering cultural and creative expression, community development, and entertainment.

We are eager to discuss the following policy interventions that we believe will greatly benefit Community Radio and, in turn, our local communities:

Increased Investment

Community Radio Fund (CRF):

  • Expansion to Meet Sector Growth: Given the increase in the number of stations eligible to apply for the CRF, we advocate for expanding the fund to ensure meaningful support for all successful stations.
  • Index-Linking to Inflation: Adjusting the CRF annually to reflect inflation will maintain its value in real terms, ensuring sustained support for Community Radio.
  • Broader Scope for Projects: Expanding the focus of the CRF to include a wider range of projects will allow Community Radio to deliver more significant social benefits, such as employment and training, education, social cohesion, media literacy, health, and intercultural communication.

Policy Support

Future of FM/AM (Analogue) Broadcasting:

  • Preservation of Analogue Frequencies: Retaining FM and AM broadcasting platforms is vital given the continued listener base for analogue radio.
  • Support for SSDAB: Assisting community radio stations in transitioning to Small-Scale DAB (SSDAB) where appropriate will enhance their reach and impact.
  • IP-Based Solutions: Ensuring affordable and reliable simulcast transmission over IP platforms for all Ofcom-licensed Community Radio stations is essential.

Analogue Licence Extensions:

  • Extension in Perpetuity or Longer Terms: Reconsidering the current five-year extension for analogue licenses to provide greater stability for Community Radio stations.

Advertising Restrictions:

  • Significant Increase in ‘Fixed Revenue Allowance’: Doubling the current annual allowance (currently £15k) and linking it to inflation for advertising and sponsorship – this will enhance the financial sustainability of volunteer-driven, not-for-profit stations.

Partnership Opportunities

Community Radio is a quick, low-cost, and effective means of delivering various social benefits. We propose partnering with your government to utilise the 350+ Community Radio stations for future social-gain projects. These projects could focus on areas such as:

  • Employment and Training: Providing opportunities for skills development and job training.
  • Education and Oracy: Promoting educational initiatives and enhancing communication skills.
  • Social Cohesion: Strengthening community bonds through local engagement.
  • Media Literacy: Enhancing public understanding of media processes and consumption.
  • Health Initiatives: Promoting public health campaigns and wellness plans.
  • Intercultural Communication: Bridging cultural gaps and fostering inclusive communities.

We are pleased with the election outcome and look forward to continuing our regular meetings with civil servants from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). We believe Community Radio can also play a significant role in other Government departments, including Education, Health, and Levelling-up. We welcome the opportunity to meet with relevant Ministers and Civil Servants at the earliest convenience to discuss how we can work together to support these important initiatives.

Additionally, we are in the process of establishing an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) dedicated to Community Radio. We will be approaching some of your back-bench MPs who have a specific interest in this area and would appreciate your support in this endeavour.

Once again, congratulations on your victory. Community Radio in the UK owes much of its development to the vision and support of a previous Labour administration (not least the passing of The Community Radio Order in 2004).

We look forward to a productive and collaborative relationship with your government.

Yours sincerely,

Terry Lee
Chair, Community Media Association

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