Preston radio station told to improve by watchdog

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A community radio station has vowed to make improvements after being found in breach of a key broadcasting commitment.

City Beat Preston, which changed its name from Preston FM in April, was investigated by Ofcom after two complaints claimed it was failing to provide the community-focused output required by its licence.

But bosses at the station claim complaints were “sour grapes” and wholesale changes render the report out of date.

The report - issued this week - states inspectors requested samples of three days output from April, and having identified issues, asked the licencee to signpost any examples of local and community news.

As the station was going through several changes, Ofcom gave an opportunity to implement planned changes before considering output further. The watchdog said three more recordings from June were requested, but ongoing issues were identified. The station denies any recordings from June were given.

The report states the station provided weather and news hourly during daytime, as well as regular traffic updates in the morning. It was noted that a Live Lunch programme broadcast every weekday provided community content and information about upcoming events was included in a Sunday arts and music programme. The licencee said a Tuesday evening talk show included local information, but he was seeking to increase “community talk” output by finding volunteers.

The report states: “We considered that this output broadly satisfied the station’s Key Commitment to provide local and community information, interviews, specialist magazine programmes and other programmes focussing on matters of local interest. However, the content we monitored failed to deliver the “local and community news” that is also required by the Key Commitments. The output did not feature any noteworthy local news stories from the Preston area.”

A station spokesman said: “We have undergone many changes recently and the station is bigger and better than ever. We are working hard to fulfill our committments.”

There are no licence implications.