Belfield FM, UCD’s student radio station, has stated that it plans to become financially independent of the Students’ Union. Volunteers are now asked to contribute financially should they become an active member within the station, in a bid to generate revenue for Belfield FM.
Station Manager, Eoghan Ó Braonáin, told The University Observer that “when Belfield FM launched as a full-time station [in October] we not only set in motion our progression to a ten-year Community Broadcasting Contract, but also the path to financial independence from UCDSU.”
Ó Braonáin has attributed the move to a decrease in funding from UCD SU, under whose constitution the station is established. Belfield FM’s SU budget has been cut by 60 per cent this year, falling from €25,000 in 2008-09 to around €10,000 in this academic year, causing Belfield FM to seek payments of €10 from contributors.
Ó Braonáin said that “this €10 goes towards training cost, a contribution towards the station’s costly defamation insurance, and general station upkeep.” Membership money will also fund training trips off-campus, including an upcoming networking conference hosted by NUI Galway’s Flirt FM, where Belfield FM volunteers will meet with other student broadcasting organisations.
Ó Braonáin explained that the fee was an easier way for him to run the station, stating that “we felt that to ask for a once off contribution of €10, and then have the station subsidise all the other costs, was a fairer and more equitable system than asking for €5 for a t-shirt, €20 for a hoodie, €5 towards a guest lecturer, €60 for training weekend and so on.”
According to Ó Braonáin, the station had seen an increase in initial interest in volunteering despite the new fee. Figures from the station report an increase in membership from 276 people last year to 400 students this year. This number has since been “whittled down to 125 active volunteers”, who will be asked to contribute the €10 fee.
Belfield FM also receives funding from outside sources, in the form of government grant schemes and other third party donations. The international professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers sponsor the station this year, along with The Irish Times, Supermacs and Bord na Gaeilge UCD.