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Community radio will come to Channel Islands



The United Kingdom’s broadcast regulatory agency says that it has authorized the licensing of community radio stations on the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which includes the islands of Alderney and Sark, all part of the Channel Islands. This is a bit complicated, because Guernsey, which is located off the coast of northern France, is not actually part of the UK. It remains a British Crown Dependency, however, and so the UK’s Ofcom agency still oversees telecommunications and broadcasting there. Radio broadcasting is shared by BBC Radio Guernsey and Island FM, which is a commercial radio outlet.

Guernsey is also part of the Common Travel Area of the European Union, but is not part of the EU proper. Thinking about these relationships makes my head hurt. But all EU and UK sovereign complexities aside, one of the reasons that I like community radio regulation in Britain (and thereabouts) is that Ofcom actually defines “community,” as opposed to here in the United States, where the concept remains statutorily vague.

Here are the parameters as outlined in the Guernsey, Alderney, Sark announcement:

• Be provided primarily for the good of members of the public, or of particular communities, and in order to deliver social gain, rather than primarily for commercial reasons or for the financial or other material gain of the individuals providing the service.

• Be intended primarily to serve one or more communities (whether or not it also serves other members of the public). (‘Community’ is defined as “a) the persons who live or work or undergo education or training in a particular Island of Guernsey or an area or locality therein, or b) persons who (whether or not they fall within paragraph a)) have one or more interests or characteristics in common”).

• Not be provided in order to make a financial profit, and uses any profit produced wholly and exclusively to secure or improve the future provision of the service or for the delivery of social gain to members of the public or the target community.

• Offer members of the target community opportunities to participate in the operation and management of the service.

• Be accountable to the target community.

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