The Community Media Association recently raised the issue with Ofcom of the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) possibly impacting on the ability of community radio stations to meet their Key Commitments.
Ofcom advises that in any situation where they are assessing whether or not a station is complying with its Key Commitments (or Format for commercial radio stations), they always take into account the individual circumstances of every case. As a result, Ofcom cannot advise whether they would or would not find a licensee in breach of its licence conditions relating to the delivery of its Key Commitments (or Format) without knowing the full circumstances of the situation.
With respect to coronavirus (COVID-19), licensees should have contingency plans in place where possible. However, the safety of employees and volunteers should be treated as a priority and Ofcom would of course take into account any external issues beyond of the control of the licensee in considering whether or not to record a breach of a station’s licence conditions.
Ofcom would expect any licensee who experienced problems with the delivery of their Key Commitments to notify them of the issues they were facing and keep them updated regularly as the situation progressed insofar as that was possible (via firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ofcom accepts that community radio stations will be doing all they can to continue to communicate important information to their listeners including about coronavirus (COVID-19).
Radio comes into its own during times of crisis and local community radio stations are uniquely positioned to provide local targeted information to the communities which they serve.
The latest updated information for the public from Public Health England is here.