Over the last week I’ve had two experiences which have reminded me what is truly important for our industry.
I spent Monday morning at a conference looking into the future of TV in the UK- it was a truly bleak start to the week. On the agenda a discussion around reducing regulation, improving audience measurement, ‘revolutionary’ new ways of gaining increased share of revenues from national agencies, (all of which looked like traditional S&P in the radio world) a key note speaker defending his position for the city in light of falling revenues and all against a backdrop of uncertainty and vigorous change. Interestingly, not one speaker mentioned anything about making unmissable TV.
On Tuesday I spent a couple of hours down the road from my office in Salford Quays at Media City. Occasionally I found myself standing mouth open at the incredible scale of investment. If you’ve not looked at what’s happening there I urge you to log on (www.mediacityuk.co.uk) and see beyond the BBC’s move north, as the developers create what in time will become a global media hub. As I was whisked through the media incubation centre I listened to my tour guide’s take on who’ll inhabit Manchester’s new super structures. Gaming, IP development, digital publishers, content aggregators – ‘new media’ creating new forms of audience engagement that will compete vigorously for the attention or our listeners.
In radio, it’s right that we debate what our future in a digital world should be. It’s right that the commercial sector, along with politicians and the Daily Mail fight to keep the BBC in check, ensuring they deliver maximum public value to the licence fee payer without crowding out the market place. It’s right that the BBC should defend their position as an outstanding provider of PSB content on radio.
But the real win for radio is much larger – maintaining the amount of time our audience spends with radio by delivering great content and innovating through and with technology to ensure we are available wherever and whenever out listeners demand.
Developments like UK radio player, genuine collaboration between BBC and commercial radio need to be encouraged further. Difficult business decisions which stem from regulatory reform, meaning local content producers can be judged by what comes out of the speakers rather than where their programmes are made, need to be taken.
All heritage media needs remember that the audience is at the heart of their operation, with great content the lever by which they can influences their scale of operation. If we overlook this then the space being allocated to ‘emerging media will grow well beyond the size of an incubator.
Andy Carter is Managing Director of GMG Radio North West