The BBC should do more to support Wales’ network of community radio stations, a National Assembly for Wales Committee has said.
A closer relationship between community radio and the BBC and commercial radio stations would allow them to share knowledge, resources and help with talent development, according to a report from the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.
Community radio was introduced following legislation, in order to introduce a new tier of radio broadcasting in the UK, focused specifically on community engagement.
There are currently eleven community radio stations in Wales. Ten stations, Calon FM, Tudno FM, BRfm, Radio Tircoed, Radio Glan Clwyd, Môn FM, Radio Cardiff, Rhondda Radio, Bro Radio and GTFM are already on air with Radio Aber aiming to start broadcasting soon.
The Committee’s short report into community radio in Wales contains a total of eight recommendations, including:
- That the Welsh Government should fund a community radio body for Wales to offer practical support to stations, such as marketing or grant writing.
- That the body should also help forge links between community stations and commercial and BBC radio, to help volunteers gain experience and develop skills across Wales.
- That community radio is given access to the output of the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service and are given first refusal with a preferential rate when the BBC sell off equipment they no longer need.
Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, said that radio stations must be given opportunities to share knowledge and help each other.
“During our work into community radio stations in Wales, we discovered the wide range of benefits that these stations provide the communities they serve, as a community link and hyperlocal news provide,” she said.
“They also provide a route for people to gain valuable training and experience in radio, whether they are interested in a career or just want to learn new skills and meet new people.
“A Community Radio Body, funded by the Welsh Government, would co-ordinate this network and provide much needed practical support for both on-air and non-studio roles.
“We also believe that the sector would benefit greatly from closer co-operation with the BBC and commercial radio stations and sharing access to the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service would enable them to cover their local authority proceedings as part of a valuable hyperlocal service.”
The report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.