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:

CategoryGuidance Notes
Company RegistrationUK Companies House
Building costs / rent / rates
Utility costsElectricity, Gas, Water
InsuranceBuildings / contents / Public liability
Computers, servers & software
Office furniture & equipment
Phone system and phone lines
Business broadbandSuitable for office, studio and optional streaming radio service
Accountant / PayrollAnnual company returns / salaries / client invoicing
Security / Fire SafetyAlarm system / CCTV / Fire extinguiser maintenance
Staff WelfareKitchen / supplies / cleaning, etc
AdminStationery / postage / consumables


Community Radio Licences

Some possible licences that your commuinity station may require:

CategoryGuidance Notes
Ofcom Licence Application feeA one-off non-refundable fee – £600 as of May 2013
Annual Broadcast LicenceOfcom fee and Wireless Telegraphy Licence – £850 as of May 2013
Music: PRSDependant on revenue. Minimum annual fee as of May 2013 was £688
Music: PPLDependant on revenue. Minimum annual fee as of May 2013 was £597
Music: MCPSAnnual fee. As of May 2013, £198
PRS / PPL (Streaming service)Dependant on audience, and hours. Estimated amount – £600 minimum
News Service SubscriptionSubscription to IRN news service
Streaming radio server licenceIf 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:

CategoryGuidance Notes
Station ManagerSetting the policy for the station and responsible for the day-to-day running
Programme ControllerResponsible for the station output and the presenters
SalesGenerating the revenue, working with the clients, getting the commercials recorded
AdminAnwsering the phones, paperwork, sales support
TrainingPresenter training – technical, style, broadcast law / libel
TechnicalSetup setup, maintenance, transmitter maintenance, IT systems and servers. Emergency on-call
FinanceAnnual returns, supplier payment, client collections, expenses, salaries
Marketing / promotionsPress coverage, advertsing, sponsorship deals, photo opportunities, etc
Community / NewsGathering local news, reporting, travel news, what’s on, local programming, outside broadcasts
PresentersShow presenters, as well as production staff
Expenses for volunteersTravel and lunch
Training costsExpenses, 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

CategoryGuidance Notes
Construction / SoundproofingConverting a room to make it work as a studio
Mixing deskBroadcast desk and woodwork
Studio computersPlayout system, Internet terminal, text systems, webcams, recorders
Playout softwareStudio system, sustaining service
Studio equipmentCDs, Mini-disk, Recorders, Microphones, Headphones, etc
Studio phone systemPhone line, switchboard, telephone hybrid
Station output logging systemRecording system – stations have to log 24 hours a day for 42 days
Other Transmission equipmentIRN receiver, signal processing, monitoring, etc
Production facilitiesFor making commercials, jingles, promos, etc
Outside broadcast equipmentPortable transmission / recording equipment, vehicle, signage, speakers, mixing desk, studio connectivitiy
Equipment installation & set-upInstallation and setup of studio equipment and transmission chain
Maintenance & repair budgetAnnual budget for fixing faults, repairs, replacement equipment


Transmission System:

Costs involved with broadcasting your community radio station:

CategoryGuidance Notes
Site rentalCosts associated with renting the transmitter site
Site insuranceBuilding and Equipment insurance
Studio-to-transmitter linkConnecting 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 costPurchase (or rental) of a transmitter. Consider a backup or contingency plan
Transmitter installationProfessional setup of transmitter and antenna in accordance with OfCom rules
Antenna installationAntenna cost, siting the antenna, transmitter tower, and planning permission
Annual maintenanceRegular maintenance and repairs. Emergency cover
RDS TravelEquipment 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:

WebsiteSite design, updates and annual hosting
AdvertisingPosters, signage, leaflets, press ads, etc
Audience researchOften required by prospective advertising clients



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