Ofcom has refused to grant permission for Lancashire community radio station Chorley FM to drop its focus on the LGBT community.
The station, which was launched full-time in 2006, currently has commitments as part of its community radio licence to target young people and local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people.
Earlier this year, the station filed a request with broadcast regulator Ofcom to shift to a more universal appeal – explaining that the current remit “infers the station is ‘exclusively for’ rather than ‘inclusive of’ the LGBT community”.
However, Ofcom has today rejected the request – citing concern after the station “proposed to remove every reference to the LGBT community” from its targets.
The Ofcom report said: “Ofcom considered that the cumulative effect of the changes would represent a substantial departure from the character of the service of Chorley FM.
“While Ofcom recognises that it is possible for a community radio station to broaden or otherwise modify the way it defines its target community and still provide an appropriate, if not better, service to its stated target community, it did not consider that this would be the case in respect of the changes requested by Chorley FM.
“This was because, in particular, the Committee noted that Chorley FM proposed to remove every reference to the LGBT community, and all but one reference to youth/young people, from its Key Commitments.
“This made it difficult for the Committee to conclude that the changes would not have the potential to be detrimental in terms of the service provided to the target community.
“While the Committee recognised that the station could be inclusive of young people and the LGBT community within the context of a broadened target community, the proposed changes could not be seen as guaranteeing that Chorley FM would be able to ‘better serve’ the youth and LGBT communities.
“The conclusion of the BLC [broadcast licensing committee], therefore, was that the proposed changes should be rejected.”
Chorley FM said previously: “The intention was to be inclusive, providing a service for this group, without excluding and discriminating against the wider population. That is not how this statement reads. The proposed change of wording allows us to be inclusive and serve all our listeners without being discriminatory.
“It is still our intention to serve the LGBT community with the successful and well regarded news and entertainment show ‘Breakout’ and other specialist shows when possible.
“It was a mistake to assume the taste of our audience was linked to their age. The wording infers the station is ‘exclusively for’ rather than ‘inclusive of’ the LGBT community.”