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A call has been made for the Scottish Government to provide financial support to community radio stations including Fort-William based Nevis Radio.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron wants the Scottish Government to help the sector which has been hit hard by the loss of advertising revenues as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Cameron wrote to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes after being contacted by representatives of Nevis Radio, which broadcasts across Lochaber in the West Highlands.
Mr Cameron said: ‘Stations like Nevis Radio play a valued role in their communities and are often the first news providers local people go to if they are seeking information on matters like school closures or, in the case of Nevis Radio, whether there are problems with the A82 trunk road which is vulnerable to traffic delays.
‘These stations are also invaluable to people who lack access to the internet and are, perhaps, isolated and take comfort from the sound of a friendly local voice.
‘Nevis Radio performs an important public service and deserves to be supported. Given she is the local MSP, I hope Kate Forbes will be receptive to this request.
‘A relatively modest sum of money from the Scottish Government would help stations like Nevis Radio over this difficult period to secure their future, which is all I am asking for.’
Simon Abberley, from Nevis Radio, added: ‘Due to the pandemic, many of our sources of advertising have dried up as they have had to cease trading and other potential sources, such as the charitable sector, have been over-subscribed.
‘We have been operating for 27 years and, for some communities, are still the only radio station they can receive at home.
‘Even temporarily closing is not an option, as the nature of broadcasting regulations means we may well be unable to restart, leaving our listeners without any service.
‘We are just looking for modest support so that we can plan ahead and get through to the other side of the pandemic.’
Ms Forbes, also the constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, told the Lochaber Times: ‘There has been financial support available, although I appreciate that funding hasn’t compensated for all the lost income.
‘Financial support has been available for community radio stations, with details on Ofcom’s website. The scheme closed in the middle of January.
‘Separately, the Scottish Government significantly increased the advertising spend and I would like that to include Nevis Radio.
‘I have separately written to Nevis Radio with contact details about the increased advertising budget if Nevis Radio isn’t being sufficiently included in that additional advertising.
‘There are also community and Third Sector funds which are open and will run until March 2021.’
NO F52 Nevis Radio