“WE won’t take this lying down” – that’s the message from a Wisford based community radio station who are outraged at a Government decision not to offer them an FM license.
The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, has told Mid-Cheshire Radio (MCR) that they won’t be able to apply for the 92.5 FM bandwidth.
Cheshire FM Ltd, which collapsed in January 2012, previously used the frequency, and internet-based successors MCR hoped to acquire the license.
But chairman Karen Burns, who has developed MCR into an internet station gaining 82,435 unique ‘hits’ during the past week alone, accused Ofcom of ‘moving the goalposts’.
“We are extremely disappointed and at the same time annoyed at Ofcom's decision to restrict us for applying for a community radio licence for the area we are aiming our programming towards,” she said.
After Cheshire FM collapsed, MCR purchased its assets and remained in the original broadcast centre in the Verdin Exchange, Winsford.
They recruited a full schedule of volunteer presenters, offering young people a valuable chance to learn media and broadcasting skills.
But with everything in place to make the leap from internet radio to the airwaves, Ofcom now say they can’t offer 92.5 because it would produce poor reception and interfere with other nearby stations’ broadcasts.
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “When Cheshire FM was broadcasting Ofcom received some complaints about poor reception from listeners and the licensee, but we were not able to identify ways to alleviate them.”
Ofcom added they previously ‘received feedback from a number of existing community radio licensees that a small coverage area threatens their sustainability’ and particularly ‘their ability to attract support from potential funders or advertisers’.
Karen claims Cheshire FM were never made aware of poor reception complaints.
She said: “We will be applying under the Freedom of Information Act to see this correspondence between listeners and Ofcom.
“And if there was such a major issue with interference on the 92.5 FM frequency, then why was a five year extension issued by Ofcom in October 2011?
“We have decided to not take Ofcom's decision lying down and we owe it to the listeners of Mid-Cheshire Radio and our excellent team of volunteers who want their local radio station back on the air.”