Regulation is not killing radio. That is the result of the GMG Debate which took place Monday evening at The Radio Festival, as Radio 4 presenter and former president of the Cambridge Union Society Ed Stourton welcomed almost 300 industry professionals to the Cambridge Union debating chamber.
Starting off the mass debate, Phil Riley from Chrysalis/Global Radio put forward a very good case about how radio is being strangled by over regulation. A witty speech opened the debate, suggesting consolidation is a good thing and will no doubt happen eventually, as with ITV. But radio needs less regulation about what it broadcasts, when it broadcasts and where from.
Ofcom's Tim Suter argues that if radio was dying then why have we now got 400 stations, a recent high peak of listening, and growth in digital platforms.
Speaking for the argument, journalist Sarah Sands talked about how Ofcom is regulating for the sake of it, and how that nice big building on the side of the river Thames is full of staff looking for more things to regulate.
Stephen Whittle then addressed the house by asking the question "Would deregulation actually improve radio in the UK? Or should we run a system similar to America where the bottom line is indeed the bottom line. Regulation is there to protect the public from harm and offence and to make sure competitions are run fairly." How, he asks, is this a bad thing.
Louise Rennison, British author and comedian then stands up and changes her shoes before talking about spontinuity on radio by talking for 10 minutes about anything which pops in to her head. An interesting talk but we are still unsure about it related to the radio debate.
Deregulation produces dribble says David Quantick. He's been writing radio comedy for many years and talks about how dull commercial radio is with regards to comedy. "New ideas come from stability and regulation, not the uncertaity of deregulation", he says.
Martin Cambell from Ofcom was prompted to discuss the current state of the industry, pointing out that regulation is not a problem. Martin said: "I rarely receive phone calls complaining that a fantastic promotional idea is not allowed due to our restrictions, but lots from stations at Lands End wanting to re locate to John O'Groats" he used as an example.
And the result.. 177 votes in favour of some kind of regulation, and just over 70 favouring with Phil Riley that regulation is strangling radio.
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