THE WELSH speaking communities of north Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion were dealt a blow this week as media regulator Ofcom revoked a community licence given to a new radio station.
Radio Beca aimed to provide the Welsh speaking communities of west Wales with a service that was both linguistically and culturally specific to their needs and aspirations.
Peak time broadcasting, both workdays and weekends, was to be predominantly Welsh medium so that the indigenous culture of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and north Pembrokeshire was made prevalent.
The station was committed to the principle of ‘empowering the Welsh speaking communities of the west of Wales and transform the latent energy of the 155,000 disenfranchised Welsh speakers of the west of Wales into a positive energy that would raise communal ambition and enhance self-sustainability.’
The station also planned to train local people of all ‘social, cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds’ in the art of radio broadcasting, which would have provided numerous people with an enhanced skill set and vastly increased prospects of employability.
The station was awarded a community radio licence in May 2012, but failed to launch within the two year window stated by the regulator, after delaying its proposed launch in April 2014.
Elinor Williams from Ofcom told S4C’s Newyddion 9 that two further extensions had been granted since this date, and based on this it had decided to withdraw its license.
The station failed to obtain Welsh government grant funding and there was also uncertainty about a permanent home being found for it, whilst there was also concern Radio Beca had only managed to raise £20,000 when it was required to raise £320,000. This is in spite of the fact that the station has recently submitted a bid for £100,000 in grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund.
Director of the station Euros Lewis was disappointed with the regulators decision and said it had taken three years for the station to be able to “stand on its own to feet”.
Mr Lewis said: “Unfortunately, it’s only during the past few months that Radio Beca has been able to raise money through sponsorship and adverts.
“What’s disappointing is that it’s only now that we have been able to put forward a prospectus that shows that Radio Beca can stand on its own two feet.”
Despite the disappointment it is worth noting that this is not necessarily the end for the fledgling station, as there is opportunity to re-apply for a licence in the future, should they put in place the necessary arrangements.