Broadcaster regulator Ofcom has found a Belfast radio station in breach of its terms for not serving Belfast’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Earlier this year, a complaint was made to Ofcom about Juice1038, also known as JuiceFM, an LGBT radio station for “failing to comply with its requirement to play LGBT anthems as part of its musical production”.

Ofcom, which regulates television and radio content in the UK, then investigated the complaint by reviewing JuiceFM content between March 28 and April 3, 2022, along with a full schedule and news.

The investigation found that JuiceFM was not “delivering its service character in its key commitments” under the regulators Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin which describes JuiceFM as existing to “create a community for people of all ages who identify with as LGBT to present and discuss the aspirations, concerns, successes and issues that affect them. »

JuiceFM did not provide Ofcom with any comment in response to the view, but said it “stands to fully represent its community and strives at all times to bring about positive change through the through music and programming”.

They added that they encouraged presenters to present their shows in an “open style” to “help bridge the gap between the LGBT+ community and the wider community in Belfast”.

JuiceFM also pointed out that Ofcom’s investigation came shortly after the network changed its name to focus on “non-stop dance” music instead.

The station also provided examples of content which it said demonstrated its commitment to Ofcom’s key commitments, including flagship shows focusing on Pride events and the legalization of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Ofcom’s decision said JuiceFM operated as a dance music station rather than an LGBT-dedicated station, and apart from a weekly bulletin made no reference to the LGBT community in their content.

The regulator said it expects JuiceFM to fix the issue as soon as possible and, if not, may take further regulatory action, including penalties.

Contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Juice FM chief executive Shane Pearce said it “carries the only stable LGBT+ news service available on FM on the island of Ireland”.

Juice FM had “been on the air for several years and no real complaints were made directly to the station,” he added.

If a listener felt the station was not doing its job, they had every right to contact Ofcom, he said.

While Juice FM was an “inclusive organization”, it had broadcast events of interest to the LGBT community extensively, including extensive coverage of Pride and other local events, particularly during the Covid pandemic, Mr Pearce said.

“We have a magazine show that publicizes events, fundraisers and volunteer opportunities in the community as well as coverage of local events that matter to our audience,” he said. The vast majority of their volunteers are from the LGBT+ community, he added.

“When gay marriage was legalized in Northern Ireland, we were at the forefront of the celebrations and facilitated the country’s first live proposal – thankfully the response was an enthusiastic yes – which was covered by the most of the country’s daily and online press.”

“We have also widely publicized the work undertaken by key stakeholders in our community, including mental health charities and support organisations.”

“However, to call Juice a ‘typical dance station’ is grossly unfair given the lengths we go to on a shoestring budget – and sometimes at the producers’ own expense – to represent our community.”

“We ask Ofcom to bear in mind that we are a community group still feeling the aftermath of the long Covid lockdowns and restrictions and to do everything possible not just to do the bare minimum, but to break our key commitments.”