The station-manager of the Bro Radio – the community radio station subsidised by Vale of Glamorgan Council-tax payers – has announced he is relinquishing his post.
Gareth Sweeney was in charge of Bro Radio and has been involved with the operation since it first went on the air in 2009.
The radio station – primarily funded by a grant from the Vale Council – is based in Barry and reception of its signal in Penarth, Dinas Powys other areas of the Vale has always been patchy.
Mr Sweeney’s last show on Bro Radio will be today – because of an “already planned holiday” – and will continue as an unpaid director of the company.
The managing director of the station – Clive Silver – says “We would like to take this opportunity of thanking Gareth for the commitment and support he has given to Bro and wish him well in his new ventures.”
Launched in 2009, ‘Bro Radio’ is in fact a private company called the Vale of Glamorgan Broadcasting Community Interest Company . Companies House records reveal it is run by 3 current directors and has four shareholders – all of whom are private individuals . Twelve previous directors have resigned.
Although the station carries some advertising, the £24,000 a year grant it receives from the Vale Council continues to be a major source of the station’s income.
The station’s OFCOM licence-to-broadcast runs until 2019 . Its £72,000 three-year deed-of-grant from the Vale of Glamorgan Council was renewed by the former Labour-controlled administration in 2015 and the now Conservative-controlled council is going to have to decide whether to renew it next year – in 2018 .
In 2015 Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour Stanwell) praised the station for getting “straightforward advice and information out there”. The fact that it was an “accessible station” – she said – did not mean it was a “tame radio station where you get an easy ride”.
The station has been described as being “half way between a charity and a business”. Additional income to supplement the council grant is derived from “fundraising, grants and sponsorship from some local businesses” . Apart from the salaried Station Manager post Bro Radio is staffed by unpaid volunteers, some of whom are disadvantaged or suffered from physical impairments.
Two years ago Bro Radio told Penarth Council said it was hard to say what the audience size was. The station had not used RAJAR – the officially-recognised radio audience measurement system.
[PDN Note: Unlike other radio and tv broadcasters, there is no requirement on community radio stations to maintain political balance – unless they have undertaken to do so in their licence applications . The House of Commons was told in 1986 that ” as the published guidance notes for prospective licensees make clear, there will be no obligation on them to balance programmes expressing political points of view.” However, as far as funding is concerned, Ofcom lays down that “There must be no influence on the output of a service that is contrary to the public interest, including for political ends.” ]