The commercial radio industry and the BBC are joining forces to form a new industry body to promote digital radio, and, in particular, DAB.
The Radio Council, which was unveiled at the Radio Reborn conference in London today and will include the three largest UK commercial radio operators (Global, GMG and Bauer), the BBC, and RadioCentre. Their first task is expected to the be development of a "Radio Plus" system, which will allow the recording of programmes similar to Sky Plus and Freeview Plus services for television.
Additionally, the Radio Council intends to co-ordinate with government the appointment of a CEO for Lord Carter’s Digital Radio Delivery Group. It is anticipated that this new role will focus on delivery across four areas which will be key to securing a switchover timetable: coverage, devices, platforms and marketing.
Tim Davie said: “The partnership between the BBC and Commercial Radio is crucial to the future of the medium. Radio is unique and much-loved, but the media environment is changing and we have to work together to make sure it remains as popular and relevant as ever.”
Andrew Harrison said: “This exciting new initiative kick-starts our collective approach to ensuring radio is at the heart of Digital Britain. We will of course remain competitors for listeners with the BBC, and RadioCentre will continue to lobby for the commercial and regulatory freedom to compete on level terms, but today we recognise that we need to work together in a new partnership to deliver a thriving radio sector for listeners."
Ashley Tabor commented: ”Global Radio fully endorses the formation of the Radio Council at this critical period in the drive to digital.
“It is absolutely right," he added, "that the BBC recognises, as it did with TV, the need to work collaboratively and in partnership with the commercial sector. We appreciate the significant contribution the BBC has the capacity to make to facilitate Digital Britain from a radio perspective, and Global Radio is prepared to play a leading role alongside the BBC, GMG, Bauer and all our other colleagues in commercial radio, to make it happen."
Global Radio has also called on the government this morning to set a switch-over date for DAB. Stephen Miron, CEO said: "Lord Carter has been a huge advocate of radio and deserves praise for delivering a positive vision for our sector. But as his team work away on the next draft of the Digital Britain report I want to send them a clear message.
"Digital Britain has made us focus our minds. Now the government must focus theirs. We have embarked on a clear path to digital – to DAB – and we need to make serious progress and do it quickly. This means naming a date for migration, with a transparent set of criteria for all the relevant parties to meet."
Click [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/live]here[/link] for Radio Today's live blog from the conference.