A new report on regulation in radio from Ofcom has been welcomed by Radiocentre.
The commercial radio body sees it as a step towards providing a “sensible regulatory framework” ensuring that commercial radio “can thrive and compete for generations ahead”.
The report from Ofcom CEO Sharon White, accompanied by research from Kantar Media on listener perceptions of local commercial radio content, was submitted to Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Minister originally wrote to Ofcom in September 2015, asking the regulator to consider options to reform the current regulatory requirements against the background of growth in choice and listening to digital platforms. These digital services are not subject to the same range of regulatory requirements as traditional radio services on FM or AM.
Ofcom was asked to examine the scope for deregulation wherever possible and to consider how to create a level playing field for analogue and DAB radio services. The key areas (of difference) covered by the review include: music formats; local news and content; and locally-made material.
Kantar Media’s findings on the provision of local news on commercial radio are:
- commercial radio remains a highly effective way of reaching large numbers of people with local news, with 27 m adults (51% of the UK population) listening to commercial radio each week
- commercial radio listeners are typically not only younger but also more socially and ethnically diverse than listeners to other radio services
- radio news is more accessible than other news sources, such as press or online, so it is a significant contributor to a plurality of local news sources across the UK
- quantitative research suggests that 45% of local commercial radio listeners particularly value local news on it.
Ofcom also found that where local news programmes are made is of less concern to listeners than their quality and local relevance.
Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radiocentre says: “We welcome Ofcom’s report to DCMS and look forward to the next phase of consultation when the Government brings forward detailed proposals. This initial phase of thinking lays the ground work for developing a sensible regulatory framework allowing commercial radio to continue to compete and thrive in future.”