BELFIELD FM has pushed back its target date to begin full-time FM broadcasting by nine months. The station, which will only broadcast online for the first semester, has moved its target date for year round FM broadcast to from January 2010 to September 2010.
The station, which last year broadcasted for 22 weeks, both online and on FM, were notified last November by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) that they were eligible for a community radio licence.
Current Station Manager, Eoghan Ó Braonáin stated that “on the 22nd November last year, we were accepted as a region whose area is in need of a community licence, and that licence itself will be advertised some time within twelve months. [We] should be advertised in November… it’ll probably take another nine months after that before the contract is signed. So it’s my intention, hopefully, that we’ll be going from September of next year, and that we’ll have a full-time licence”.
However, Belfield FM’s original target for broadcasting on a full-time FM licence was January 2010, according to former station manager, Graham Harkness, who stated that “the plan was to do another six weeks this year, and then as of January to go full-time as a community station, which is a more significant licence… you’re on it effectively for the 365 days.”
He said that the delay could be due to a number of reasons, including disagreements within the radio station. “There was a little bit of a falling out between me and the Production Manager [Ó Braonáin] over issues that may have cost us a licence; we just had a disagreement about broadcasting times, or it could be profanity or blasphemy on the radio last year that I’m unaware of.”
Ó Braonáin however cited a lack of government funding as well as an impending reformation of the BCI as the main causes for the delay. “The government have pulled back the funding from community radios and at the same time, the BCI are changing from the Broadcasting Commission to the Broadcasting Authority, and therefore there’s been a six-month slow down.”
Until the station goes full-time it will continue to stream online, and also plans to apply for a temporary FM licence in January 2010. If they are successful, they will be able to broadcast on the FM frequency for between thirty and one-hundred days in 2010, similar to the format the radio station ran last year.
“We chose to do our six weeks of FM broadcasting last term en bloc, so that when people knew we were on the FM, not just the internet, they kept the radio on and were tuned into us everyday. So therefore we used up the thirty days for the 2009 year already, and we cannot get any further days until the new calendar year.”