The owner of Revolution Radio has sent a heartfelt letter to the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, expressing his concern, anger and frustration over recent industry developments that he claims have hindered his station, and forced many others off the air.
Steve Penk also called the Radio Amnesty farcical, misleading and dishonest.
The former television presenter and Virgin Radio breakfast host insists that his intention is to offer the new Coalition Government some timely, meaningful and actionable advice “from the coalface” with a view to potentially saving the country millions of pounds whilst preserving jobs and enabling the few remaining traditional local radio stations to continue providing a service that is truly valued by the listening public.
Echoing comments made earlier this week on RadioToday.co.uk by UKRD Chief Executive, William Rogers, Penk regards the recently introduced Radio Amnesty initiative as “farcical, misleading and dishonest”.
“An ‘Amnesty’ is generally understood to be when something dangerous, illegal or harmful can be handed in with no risk of penalty” says Penk. “The inference of the ‘Radio Amnesty’ campaign – now being advertised heavily on BBC Radio – is that conventional FM radio sets are about to become ‘white elephants’ and that the only way to listen in the future will be via DAB. What utter nonsense!”
This is Penk’s advice to Cameron:
“I urge you to seriously consider an immediate end to the madness that is DAB. I’m deadly serious. Draw a line and move on. Yes, FM will one day face the same fate as short wave and medium wave platforms, (although they both still exist), as online and wifi radio listening grows but the industry will deal with it. By calling an immediate end to the proliferation of DAB you will save countless millions of pounds, face zero risk of upsetting the general public and, bizarrely, this strategy could save thousands of jobs up and down the country at radio stations just like my own”.
Ofcom also comes under fire with Penk calling for a new “dedicated ‘Champion’ for Commercial and Community Radio” as opposed to what he describes as a “super Regulator that is seemingly making life as difficult as possible for us”. Penk highlights an apparent ‘disconnect’ within Ofcom that has led to neighbouring radio stations receiving wildly contrasting treatment.
“When Ofcom slapped a £50,000 License re-application fee on me I had to take out a bridging loan in order to stay in business. They were totally intransigent and unsympathetic to my plight”, claims Penk. “Then I discover that they’ve handed £40,000 on a plate to my competitors to pay for a new Regional Sales Manager. And these are supposedly ‘not for profit’ Community Radio stations. How can that be right?” asks Penk.
Today, RadioToday.co.uk has asked for comments from Digital Radio UK and the commercial radio body RadioCentre, but neither have anything further to add on the strong objections some of the UK's radio groups hold.