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Ofcom censures BRFM in Sheppey after admits breaching licence conditions

By John Nurden

A community radio station has had its wrists slapped by media watchdog Ofcom.

BRFM, which transmits across Sheppey from an old shipping container in Oak Lane, Minster, admitted breaching its licence on three days last summer.

Ofcom demanded to hear recordings of its output on August 19, 20 and 21 after receiving a complaint there had been no community news or discussion programmes broadcast.

DJ Doug Patterson from BRFM. Picture: Phil Lee
DJ Doug Patterson from BRFM. Picture: Phil Lee

BRFM accepted its content was insufficient but blamed it on a “general lack” of volunteers because of holidays and record high temperatures which made it unsafe to stage interviews in the metal container after its air-conditioning failed.

Ofcom said: “Over the period monitored, BRFM failed to deliver the speech and local news content requirements of its key commitments or meet the description of its character of service which states that ‘Local news and information is a mainstay of daily programming.’”

The watchdog acknowledged BRFM’s explanation but said it was concerned the station had failed to notify it or introduce alternative measures.

It added: “We are putting the licensee on notice that we will monitor this service again to check its key commitments compliance.”

Work in progress at BRFM's new radio studio last summer
Work in progress at BRFM's new radio studio last summer

BRFM’s studio manager Karen Day said the station had been upfront with Ofcom and supplied them with all the information they requested.

“After a lengthy investigation and talks, the final outcome was reached and we didn’t argue it,” she said.

“The weather in August was a major concern for all our volunteer presenters broadcasting from a converted shipping container,” she said.

“Even the air-conditioning unit couldn’t cool it down enough.

“On top of it being holiday season, we were short staffed and didn’t meet all our key commitments.

BRFM Roadshow trailer (7073930)
BRFM Roadshow trailer (7073930)

“We have put in place new strategies and our two new studios should be on air in the next few months so we shouldn’t be in the same position again.”

She added: “Our volunteers are proud to be part of this station. We have big plans for the future.”

The new studios will have built-in air-conditioning and full disabled access.

The station has been serving Sheppey for more than 12 years.

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