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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 April 2006, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Closure threat to community radio
Radio microphones
GTFM advertises itself as 'at the heart of the community'
The first community radio station to be set up in Wales is under threat after an assembly government grant of 80,000 was refused.

GTFM, which was set up in Pontypridd in 2002, was the first radio station in Wales to be supported by the UK Government, with EU backing.

It is run by five full-time staff and volunteers but has warned of closure unless funding can be secured.

The assembly government said it would not comment.

Andrew Jones, the station manager said: "We were funded mainly through Objective One (European Union) monies for the first three years, but that isn't available next year.

This grant that we've lost may seem small, but it's our lifeline
Andrew Jones, GTFM station manager

"We've never asked for or been offered any money from either Rhondda Cynon Taf Council or the assembly, up until now.

"But without the security of this funding for the next three years, we just can't survive.

"Not only are five full-time jobs under threat, but so is the training we give to local people, and the access that they and countless local organisations have to precious airtime.

"Community radio stations are only allowed to receive 50% of their income from any one funding source, including advertising.

"This grant that we've lost may seem small, but it's our lifeline," he said.

He said the refusal of the grant was probably down to the radio station not being recognised as a community service.

"I think part of the problem is that we are such a new type of media organisation, not just in Wales but in the UK.

"I don't think we necessarily at the moment fit in with the categories that are out there for community development," he said.

Support

A number of AMs have pledged their support, including Plaid Cymru's Owen John Thomas, who tabled a motion at the Welsh assembly on Wednesday.

"We are concerned that Wales' first community radio station is facing closure following the end of Objective One support in March 2006 and call for other funding streams to be explored to safeguard the future of the station and its staff," he said.

Another Plaid AM, Leanne Wood, said: "Surely the last thing the government wants is to see money invested in projects and see them come to an abrupt end like this.

"There has got to be some strategic thinking and planning. The government knew this money would be running out, they knew there would be an impact on community projects and it is about time they got together to resolve the problems."




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