The Westminster Forum on the future of the UK radio industry is taking place today, with a number of radio execs having their say.
The focus is on DAB, with Bauer Media’s Steve Parkinson championing the platform, saying it allows much more choice and is free at the point of delivery.
Digital Radio UK’s Ford Ennals says radio should be united for a digital future, with more choice and national and local coverage buildout. “The future for radio is digital but it is also collaborative. Big and small, local and national working together to ensure radio does remain competitive and relevant in a multiplatform digital age,” Ford said.
However, Phil Riley, the founder of UK commercial radio group Orion Media, said a radical new approach should be adopted embracing a “multi-platform world”, in which FM/AM and DAB operate side by side for at least the next decade.
Phil calls on the Government to delay the “Flawed” switchover policy.
He said the radio industry should stop planning for switchover any time soon, get on with running their businesses in the most sensible way for them, and the Government should end regulatory uncertainty by agreeing to keep the FM frequency for the foreseeable future, and issue new longer term FM licences as a result.
“When consumers simply expect content to be delivered whenever, wherever, in the most convenient manner possible, why have we in radio come to the conclusion that we can simply impose a diminution of platform availability on people, simply because it’s currently costing us more money. I’m not sure it’s a defendable position,” said Riley.
“Riley added: “I believe multi-platform availability is simply the price we need to pay for being in business in the 21st century.”
“Let’s end the uncertainty of switchover by scrapping it for now. Relieve existing local layer DAB service providers of the threat of increased costs, and free the industry from the stranglehold of licensing/formats in this new world of plenty. Radio is in great shape right now – let’s keep it that way.”
James Cridland spoke at the event too – and promoted the use of RadioDNS – saying: “We need to work together as broadcasters to ensure that radio’s future on mobile phones isn’t just a battery-hungry, data-hungry streaming app. That means working together to get broadcast radio into mobile phones – with technical solutions to make radio look better, by using the broadcast chip alongside the internet to deliver a great radio experience.”
James says the mobile phone is a threat to traditional radio, along with the car. He says radio needs to be part of the “connected dashboard” of new cars, some of which now just have an “audio” button rather than a dedicated “radio” button.
Daniel Nathan, CEO of Brighton’s Juice 107.2 agrees we need to work together on technology. He called for Ofcom to remove the compulsion that forces stations like Juice to pay over the odds for linked DAB carriage “a market distortion that has sucked investment out of the sector and paradoxically held back DAB as a viable local radio platform into the bargain”, he said.
“Now that mandated switchover is off the table, 12 year licences should be reinstated, allowing us to plan and invest,” Daniel added.
On the panel was Roger Darlington, Chair, Consumer Expert Group, Paul Smith, General Manager, PURE, Imagination Technologies, Phil Riley, Chief Executive, Orion Media, Daniel Nathan, Chief Executive Officer, Brighton’s Juice 107.2 and totallyradio.com and Jimmy Buckland, Director of Strategy, UTV Media (GB) plus Ford Ennals, Chief Executive, Digital Radio UK.