Commercial radio has called on the Labour Party to take the opportunity of the upcoming Charter Review to renew its policies on the future of the BBC.
Speaking at a fringe meeting on Sunday 21st September organised by The Guardian, Siobhan Kenny the Chief Executive of RadioCentre said that the BBC remained a force for good and a vital part of the broadcasting landscape.
The official commercial radio body says all the evidence suggests it needs an overhaul of regulation, with a set of clear service licences that help it focus on its strengths and limit the overlap with commercial operators.
Speaking at the Labour Party Conference fringe meeting, Siobhan Kenny said: “A strong BBC, funded by the licence fee and producing high quality content, is in everybody’s interests and is a source of national pride. In a rapidly changing media landscape, the BBC has a special responsibility to offer compelling and exciting programming to the broadest possible audiences. It has to be distinctive.
“Emerging findings from independent research commissioned by RadioCentre shows that over three quarters of Radio 1 and Radio 2 listeners believe that the BBC should produce content that is distinctive from commercial radio. Yet according to CompareMyRadio, a service which tracks the music broadcast on UK radio stations, 6 out of 10 tracks played on Radio 1 and Radio 2 during weekday daytime are also being played on commercial radio. The BBC Trust should have greater powers to tackle these shortfalls.”
Kenny also stressed the need for more effective, independent regulation of the BBC, with a power to act on service changes and licence breaches: such as the inability of Radio 1 station management to bring the average listener age within its service remit.
“After the general election next year, debate will begin in earnest on the future of the BBC. The aim of the exercise should be to ensure a level playing field in regulation for the BBC which allows it to fulfil its public service broadcastings obligations alongside a flourishing commercial broadcasting sector.”