Community Radio Station Setup Costs

If you’re planning to set up a community radio station in the UK, then you’ll need to think seriously about the budget. Here are some notes on what you need to consider.

UK Community Radio Budget

The information on this page is for guidance only, and was prepared by one of our team as part of a proposal for a community radio station. When helping to prepare costings, we found that information on what needs to be considered was in short supply, so have created this page to help anyone planning to set up a station and looking to prepare a budget.

The information os for guidance only. You might find our Setting Up A Radio Station and Setting Up An Onine Radio Station pages of interest too.


Setting up the company

Here is a list of considerations for setting up the company. This is largesly the same as seting up any business:

Category Guidance Notes
Company Registration UK Companies House
Building costs / rent / rates
Utility costs Electricity, Gas, Water
Insurance Buildings / contents / Public liability
Computers, servers & software
Office furniture & equipment
Phone system and phone lines
Business broadband Suitable for office, studio and optional streaming radio service
Accountant / Payroll Annual company returns / salaries / client invoicing
Security / Fire Safety Alarm system / CCTV / Fire extinguiser maintenance
Staff Welfare Kitchen / supplies / cleaning, etc
Admin Stationery / postage / consumables


Community Radio Licences

Some possible licences that your commuinity station may require:

Category Guidance Notes
Ofcom Licence Application fee A one-off non-refundable fee – £600 as of May 2013
Annual Broadcast Licence Ofcom fee and Wireless Telegraphy Licence – £850 as of May 2013
Music: PRS Dependant on revenue. Minimum annual fee as of May 2013 was £688
Music: PPL Dependant on revenue. Minimum annual fee as of May 2013 was £597
Music: MCPS Annual fee. As of May 2013, £198
PRS / PPL (Streaming service) Dependant on audience, and hours. Estimated amount – £600 minimum
News Service Subscription Subscription to IRN news service
Streaming radio server licence If running a streaming service, a streaming server licence is needed – cost dependant on number of concurrent connections


Community Radio Staffing

Many community radio stations reply on volunteer staff, but other stations find that they get better results and more commitment by using paid staff. Staffing is a tricky one, but here are some key roles and groups that may need consideration:

Category Guidance Notes
Station Manager Setting the policy for the station and responsible for the day-to-day running
Programme Controller Responsible for the station output and the presenters
Sales Generating the revenue, working with the clients, getting the commercials recorded
Admin Anwsering the phones, paperwork, sales support
Training Presenter training – technical, style, broadcast law / libel
Technical Setup setup, maintenance, transmitter maintenance, IT systems and servers. Emergency on-call
Finance Annual returns, supplier payment, client collections, expenses, salaries
Marketing / promotions Press coverage, advertsing, sponsorship deals, photo opportunities, etc
Community / News Gathering local news, reporting, travel news, what’s on, local programming, outside broadcasts
Presenters Show presenters, as well as production staff
Expenses for volunteers Travel and lunch
Training costs Expenses, studio hire, outside training contractors


Community Radio Studios

The big question here is “one or two”. Whilst single studio operation is fine,what happens if your studio develoips a fault? Also, where will you record programmes and make your adverts and jingles. Two studios gives you a lot more flexibilty, but can double your costs

Category Guidance Notes
Construction / Soundproofing Converting a room to make it work as a studio
Mixing desk Broadcast desk and woodwork
Studio computers Playout system, Internet terminal, text systems, webcams, recorders
Playout software Studio system, sustaining service
Studio equipment CDs, Mini-disk, Recorders, Microphones, Headphones, etc
Studio phone system Phone line, switchboard, telephone hybrid
Station output logging system Recording system – stations have to log 24 hours a day for 42 days
Other Transmission equipment IRN receiver, signal processing, monitoring, etc
Production facilities For making commercials, jingles, promos, etc
Outside broadcast equipment Portable transmission / recording equipment, vehicle, signage, speakers, mixing desk, studio connectivitiy
Equipment installation & set-up Installation and setup of studio equipment and transmission chain
Maintenance & repair budget Annual budget for fixing faults, repairs, replacement equipment


Transmission System:

Costs involved with broadcasting your community radio station:

Category Guidance Notes
Site rental Costs associated with renting the transmitter site
Site insurance Building and Equipment insurance
Studio-to-transmitter link Connecting the studio to the transmitter – via phone line, Internet, radio or microwave. If radio link, then also consider the JFMG licence fee for transmission from studio to site
Transmitter cost Purchase (or rental) of a transmitter. Consider a backup or contingency plan
Transmitter installation Professional setup of transmitter and antenna in accordance with OfCom rules
Antenna installation Antenna cost, siting the antenna, transmitter tower, and planning permission
Annual maintenance Regular maintenance and repairs. Emergency cover
RDS Travel Equipment for transmission of RDS data, and Travel flag


Promotion & Marketing

Getting thw ork out about your radio station – vital to building an audience and getting advertisers on board:

Website Site design, updates and annual hosting
Advertising Posters, signage, leaflets, press ads, etc
Audience research Often required by prospective advertising clients



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  • katumba

    kindly give me a tentative price for setting up a complete radio station.

  • Tony Williams

    I would like the cost of setting up, a community radio station in London

  • Tosca

    I would be grateful if you could send me full price setting up a community music radio station in Derbyshire.

  • Imran

    I would like the cost of setting up, a community radio station for UK

  • This information is really helpful, but can you let me know the rough minimum cost to set up a radio station? And what is the minimum time needed to set up?

  • Hi

    I am currently researching towards setting up a charity radio station for UK armed forces veterans, are their any exemptions towards licence and royalty fees that can be perused?

  • james macharia

    i would like to set one in kenya
    full cost please

  • Patrick Amoah

    I would like to set up a radio station in Manchester, could you please send me the expenses or full money involve.
    Thank you

  • Jawaid khan

    Hi there,
    Could some one please give me an idea of the complete costs of setting up a radio station. For example station in the UK there is a radio station called Lyca radio, which operates all over the uk or England.
    And also how does it work I mean do they have to pay for each song they play on radio or taking any calls.
    As you might have figured out that I do not know
    much about it. I would be very grateful if you could give me as much information as possible
    Many thanks

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