Blyth Valley radio wrapped for playing too much music

A RADIO station serving North Suffolk station has been slapped on the wrist – for playing too much music.

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom ruled this week that Blyth Valley Community Radio Station had breached its licence by broadcasting too much music and not enough talk. The ruling comes after one keen-eared listener, who has not been identified, complained to Ofcom that Blyth Valley presenters were not talking enough during the live shows.

The licence, which was set down when the station began broadcasting over the internet back in June 2009, dictates that presenters must deliver 30pc speech and 70pc songs. But in August last year, shows were made up of almost 85pc music.

'We know the rules and we understand why they are there,' said an apologetic Bill Jagger, chairman of directors at the radio station.

'Like we told Ofcom, there were some exceptional circumstances that month.

'We had presenters off sick, we were taking on new people and we had a few people in on work experience.

'We've now changed the licence to 25pc speech and 75pc music to make sure it doesn't happen again.'

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Ofcom said that had 'struggled to consistently deliver the required 30pc speech output'.

Its final report ruled: 'By failing to provide the required 30pc speech output on Blyth Valley Radio during August 2010, the licensee was not providing the service as described in its key commitments, and was therefore in breach of the licence condition referred to above.

'Ofcom has therefore formally recorded this breach by the licensee.

'Community radio stations are, under the terms of the Community Radio Order 2004, defined as local radio stations provided primarily for the good of members of the public or for a particular community, rather than primarily for commercial reasons.

'They are also required to deliver social gain, be run on a not-for-profit basis, involve members of their target communities and be accountable to the communities they serve.'

Describing the Ofcom ruling as fair, Mr Jagger said: 'We are doing what a community radio station is meant to do. When we've got someone who has never presented live before, just like myself when I first started, we don't put them in the hot seat straight away.

'They sit in with someone else and watch on. After a while, if they are looking keen, we'll let them on air for 15 minutes.

'Then, as they improve, they might do the weather report and eventually present their own show.'

Blyth Valley Radio has its main studio at St Felix School in Reydon and is currently converting the Casino building on Gun Hill, Southwold, into a second studio.

It is run by a team of more than 50 volunteers, including 25 presenters aged between 10 and 89.

Teenagers interested in media careers will often do work experience for the station, working both on air and behind the scenes.

'It builds their confidence,' said Mr Jagger. 'And there is always room for more volunteers.'