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UK media report: total community radio revenue up, but average income down

The United Kingdom’s broadcast regulator Ofcom has released a new report on UK media. Among the findings: the average income for a community radio license in 2012 declined by 5.4% to £57,000, despite the fact that total revenue for the country’s 207 community stations grew to £10.5 million.

Why the seemingly contradictory pattern? As we’ve noted in earlier posts, the UK has been authorizing new community radio stations at a record pace. The country now has 207 of them, and is launching a new one on average every 13 days. But thanks to the global recession, grant income for these stations has declined. Most grants come directly from the UK’s central government, local and municipal agencies, or Ofcom’s Community Radio Fund.

The last mentioned grantor does still give out awards. Earlier this month a dozen stations received some CRF love, among them Leicester’s “Takeover Radio,” a children’s community station. But, not surprisingly, this kind of largesse is harder to come by these days. The CRF now focuses its grants on funding community radio staffers who specialize in generating income elsewhere.

As a result, in 2012: “For the first time income from grants and income from on-air advertising and sponsorship were equal, at 29% each,” Ofcom notes.

Ofcom community radio chart

The pie chart on the right shows some interesting trends. As Ofcom notes in the report, community radio stations that serve cities generate the most income, over 40 percent of it from grants. Stations that focus on ethnic minorities sell the most advertising. “The trend remains for stations serving religious communities to receive the largest single part of their income, 36%, from donations.”

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