UKRD’s Chief Executive Officer is urging a cautious response to recent calls for further de-regulation to Ofcom and is to make representations to the industry regulator and politicians.
William Rogers said that whilst there were always some things that need reviewing in a changing media landscape, the nature of local commercial radio in the UK was in danger of collapsing into a mish-mash of blurred geographies and merged licences “even where this was neither necessary nor appropriate.”
“Any further substantial de-regulation of the regulatory regime for local commercial radio needs to be undertaken with great caution,” said Rogers. “There is no question that there is an increasing detachment taking place between local stations and their local communities and we are not in favour of a further substantial erosion of this relationship. Furthermore, I don’t believe politicians will be either.”
Rogers, who in the past has been an outspoken critic of the old regulatory regime and was the first CEO in the country to hand back a radio licence to Ofcom in protest against it, said that moves to de-regulate over the last five years or so had “changed the landscape considerably and any further significant steps should not simply be waved through as though the whole industry was pleading for them. It is not.”
“Local commercial radio licences are granted to businesses by Ofcom so that they can serve specific local communities and if there is a further move which allows too much erosion of this relationship, there will be little point in having local commercial radio licences of this nature at all. Of course there needs to be some flexibility and discretion in terms of geographical areas and management of them but there is a point at which the very essence of genuinely local commercial radio becomes threatened and that is not something we can or will support.”
He told his management teams that UKRD’s approach to this issue was based upon its own success at station level and he was determined to defend the style and approach adopted by the company in relation to regulatory matters. “We represent a particular strand of local commercial radio which seems to be unfashionable in certain quarters. I am very proud of our steadily growing audiences, our increasing revenues and operating profits, the dividends we pay our shareholders and our innovative approach to using the full range of digital platforms and I’m going to speak up for genuinely local radio wherever and whenever I can.”