Parliament is being urged to examine the case for relaxing commercial radio regulation, following the publication of a new report.
“Action Stations” was launched at a reception in the House of Commons yesterday where Chairman of the All Party Group for Commercial Radio, Andrew Bingham MP is looking for some parliamentary time to debate whether commercial radio needs a more level playing field in face of competition from digital entrants to the audio market, such as Spotify, Deezer and itunes, which are largely unregulated.
The report published by RadioCentre, the industry body for commercial radio, highlights the important role commercial radio plays in its local communities and the value of its output, including:
- Broadcasting an average of 10 hours 21 minutes public value content each week (news, travel, weather, sport, charity appeals)
- Raising over £18m a year for charity (through initiatives like Have a Heart, Cash for Kids and Free Radio Walks)
- Attending more than 1,000 local events each week
- Investing in community and outreach programmes with schools (78% of stations)
- Supporting live music (80% of stations) and specialist music (75% of stations)
In contrast to digital services, commercial radio is required to comply with rules on music content, local production and licence renewals, devised in a pre-internet age.
Siobhan Kenny, Chief Executive of RadioCentre said: “Today’s report shows that commercial radio continues to play a central role in the life of local communities across the UK, even within an ever-changing digital landscape. Radio is evolving rapidly to meet these new challenges, but we ask Government to ensure that the industry is not fettered by outdated regulation, and welcome this chance to discuss the issue in Parliament”.
Andrew Bingham commented: “The report published by RadioCentre highlights the enormous amount of good work by commercial radio stations. I don’t want to see this value put at risk, so I will be looking for some time for a debate in the House, to highlight the benefits of and challenges facing commercial radio. As technology moves forward bringing new platforms and services I think it could be time for the Government to conduct a review of these issues – for the benefit of the industry and its listeners”.
Photo credit: Hayley Madden – photo of the audience including Smooth Radio presenter Kate Garraway