BBC Director General Mark Thompson has told the industry’s Radio Festival that the corporation needs to work more closely with commercial radio, rather than seeing each other as competitors.
Thompson, giving a keynote speech to open the second day of the event in Salford also said that he would listen carefully to what the public have to say about proposed changes to BBC Local Radio.
The Director General said: “This is not an industry facing inevitible decline or eclipse – it’s an industry in the middle of a confident revival which is bringing its audiences with it. Radio’s natural advantages that it’s live, mobile and personal give it an intrinsic resilience.”
Talking about important partnerships, like the BBC’s work to create a public space at its new North headquarters at MediaCityUK, Thompson said: “Radio is perhaps the part of media where partnership comes naturally. Every local radio station – whether BBC or commercial – sits at the centre of its community.”
The DG added: “BBC Radio cannot – and would not be allowed to – thrive in isolation. We need a strong commercial radio sector and so does the public. When I started at the BBC the relationship between the BBC and commercial radio seemed three parts competition and one part collaboration – now I think that is almost reversed.”
He also said the BBC was working on an ‘Audiopedia’ project to create a searchable speech radio archive online.
On the subject of budget cuts under the Delivering Quality First (DQF) programme, the Director General affirmed the BBC’s plans not to shut a complete channel. “Suggesting closing 6 Music turned out to be not only the most effective but also one of the cheapest marketing campaigns in history,” said Thompson.
“BBC Local Radio’s strength is that it’s local and provides a lifeline for people in many communities. I recognise that just as with other proposals affecting other parts of the BBC, the challenge facing people in local radio is very tough. The BBC Trust and I will listen very carefully to what the public have to say,” he added.
Mark Thompson concluded his keynote speech by saying: “We believe in radio – we want BBC Radio to be the undiminished jewel in the crown and that’s why we want to play a full part in helping you succeed as well.”
You can follow our full coverage of the Radio Festival 2011, live from Salford, at www.radiotoday.co.uk/live