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Grassroots radio boosted through community fund

Much-loved community radio stations that are at risk of closure can bid for cash grants to meet their urgent needs during the coronavirus outbreak, the media minister John Whittingdale has announced.

Community radio is an increasingly important part of the UK radio landscape. Around 300 not-for-profit stations, staffed largely by volunteers, broadcast to around a million listeners per week.

But advertising revenues, which make up around 25 to 30 percent of a community station’s income, have dropped significantly as a result of the pandemic.

The government has today announced that the £400,000 Community Radio Fund administered by Ofcom will be used to provide a lifeline for radio stations hit hardest by the coronavirus. Relevant stations will be invited to bid for emergency grants through Ofcom to help meet their core costs.

John Whittingdale, Minister for Media and Data, said:

Community stations across the country are helping people through the pandemic with up-to-date news and entertainment and through their role coordinating volunteer networks.

We recognise the difficulties they face and are releasing emergency funding to help them continue providing programming and services for the communities they serve.

Awards will be determined by the independent Community Radio Fund Panel. Guidance will be provided from Ofcom on how radio stations can bid for funding.

The Community Radio Fund is a grant scheme set up in 2005 to support the community radio sector. Funding has to date been awarded to projects and posts promoting business development and self-sustainability. It has been particularly successful in funding distinctive content tailored to the needs and interests of local audiences offering opportunities for local engagement and fostering community cohesion.