Headlines: June 5th, 2001

Pilot projects will be launched in January 2002 to find out if Access Radio, a scheme for local non commercial, community based, radio stations is viable. The pilot scheme will also be used to explore how permanent arrangements might be licensed, regulated, funded, promoted and organised. The longer term aim would be to create a separate tier of radio licences.The Radio Authority, the radio regulator, wants to harness the individuality and potential of non-commercial radio, and to use radio to assist in the broader aspects of education, social inclusion and social experimentation It plans to set up a new structure to facilitate Access Radio and it has urged the Government to establish a Radio Fund to provide start-up funding for new services.

The benefits claimed for Access Radio include increased community involvement, local educational and social inclusion projects and access to broadcasting resources from specific communities, whether based on locality, ethnic or cultural background or other common interests.

Applications from groups to run one year pilot projects have been invited by the Radio Authority. The pilot projects must not be commercially funded and should demonstrate evidence of social gain or public service aims. They should also be small-scale neighbourhood schemes, or schemes designed to serve a community of interest. The Authority hopes to license up to a dozen pilot services, covering a range of types and locations. The closing date for applications is 29 June 2001. Further information can be obtained from Susan Williams on 020 7887 4321.