New Northampton radio station responds after Ofcom investigation threatens sanctions

Ofcom concluded that the service was in breach of its licence

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:53 am
Revolution Radio managing director Chris Gregg.

A new Northampton radio station has responded after an Ofcom investigation found them in breach of their licence.

Revolution Radio station, in Abington Street, started in June this year after being granted a license by Ofcom to cater for diverse ethnic communities in Northampton.

However, in its first months on air, Ofcom said it received four complaints about the station’s compliance with its 'key commitments', which include providing 126 hours of original content per week and catering for the diverse ethnic communities in the town.

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Following these complaints, Ofcom opened an investigation and listened back to the station's shows on June 12 and 13, and August 6 and 12.

Ofcom found in its report that Revolution was not delivering, as part of its key commitments, 'music, information and entertainment for the diverse ethnic communities of Northampton, including the Black British, Asian, mixed ethnic and non-British white communities', nor was it providing 'original output' for a minimum of 126 hours per week.

Ofcom also said it was 'concerned' that, although Revolution was refused a license to cater for an under-35s audience, it 'proceeded to broadcast a service aimed at under-35s in Northampton regardless'.

Ofcom concluded its report by saying: "[We] will monitor this service to ensure that Revolution is complying with the key commitments. We will consider taking further regulatory action, which may include the imposition of a statutory sanction."

Revolution Radio managing director Chris Gregg responded saying: "When we applied for our license from Ofcom it was because the multi-ethnic station Inspiration FM had failed to renew their license and it had been re-advertised.

"We therefore expected to be replacing that service if we were successful, which formed the basis of our application.

"In the end, both stations were licensed, so the radio market was very different from what we had expected.

"We therefore asked Ofcom before we launched our proposed service if we could adjust our format to allow for this and minimise the overlap with Inspiration FM's audience.

"The change was subtle - from being a radio station 'targetting diverse communities with crossover appeal for a mainstream audience' to a radio station 'for a mainstream audience with crossover appeal to diverse communities'.

"However, Ofcom responded saying radio stations must wait a year to change its 'key commitments'.

"Our launch format was a service, which was designed to appeal to the whole community rather than to divide our output into niche programmes as we felt that this was the best way for us to build bridges between diverse communities.

"However, Ofcom has now given us some clear direction as to its expectations and asked for us to provide additional dedicated programmes for 'Asian, mixed ethnic and non-British white communities', which we will be launching in the coming weeks and welcome volunteers to come forward to present these shows

"We would like to emphasise that Ofcom did not find any issue with our music format, our specialist shows, which play music specific to diverse communities (e.g. reggae, grime, RnB, hip hop, soul, blues), or our lunchtime programme which has covered issues including Black Lives Matter, knife crime and institutionalised racism.

"We have been trying to resolve the issue with the regulator and they have agreed to meet us now that the investigation has been completed and we are hopeful that we will be able to reach a solution."