To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the community radio sector.
The Government has for a number of years provided financial support to the community radio sector by way of the Community Radio Fund (CRF), which distributes £400,000 on an annual basis to help fund the core costs of running licensed community radio stations and enable the sector to move towards self-sustainability. Furthermore, in the last two financial years, we have supported the CRF to go beyond this core funding, with significant uplifts targeted on tackling loneliness and to reflect the sector’s important contribution to the government’s ambitions on levelling up.
We have also recently commissioned a full external evaluation of the CRF, the report of which will be published shortly. We will be working closely with Ofcom, as the administrators of the Fund, on potential improvements to the running of the Fund in the light of the findings of that evaluation, to ensure that it works as efficiently and effectively as possible.
In addition, we have in recent years worked to support the growth of small-scale Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), both through passing the necessary legislation and in working with sector stakeholders to support the rollout of licences. Small-scale DAB represents a low-cost route to broadcasting on a terrestrial digital platform, and we envisage it enabling a significant number of new community services to launch as well as allowing existing stations to move onto digital over the coming months and years.