Commercial radio trade body RadioCentre has welcomed the news that the government is to review rollover terms for some local and national commercial radio licences.
Speaking at the Radio Festival in Salford, DCMS Minister Ed Vaizey announced a consultation on changes to further extend the durations of many analogue radio stations – around 60 local ones and the national licences held by Classic FM, Absolute and talkSPORT. These stations’ licences currently run to dates between 2017 and 2020, possibly around the time digital radio switchover could happen.
Mr Vaizey said: “We have looked carefully at the issue and have concluded that there are benefits to commercial radio from having a period of stability and not having to re-compete for licences which may only last for a couple of years up the point where switchover is likely to take place. For that reason I can say that we are planning to consult shortly on changes to further extend the durations of analogue radio licences that have received the second and final roll overs and which will start to expire from 2017.
“Our objective will be to carry this out quickly in order to give us the option of bringing in the necessary changes before the end of March next year, subject to sufficient Parliamentary time being available.”
Siobhan Kenny, Chief Executive of RadioCentre said in response: “RadioCentre has long called on the Minister to provide the industry with some certainty around licensing terms, so his commitment to look at this before the election is very welcome. A free-for-all when these licence terms run-out will benefit nobody, least of all the listener who could see significant disruption if multiple services change hands at the same time or start to go off air. The length of these licences is also vital for the stability of commercial radio across the UK and future investment by these companies.”