The new Minister of state for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, has told delegates at the Radio Festival that proposals for deregulation of radio will be put forward before the end of the year.
Mr Hancock said: “We asked Ofcom to examine the scope last year on formats, local content and local production requirements. The disparity between analogue radio and digital is obvious, with a lighter touch regulation on digital services. There are multiple opportunities for deregulation, balanced with the continued need for provision of news and locally-focussed content. It’s essential listeners can get these services on these new platforms.”
The minister added that DCMS would bring forward proposals for consultation before the end of the year.
He also detailed the outcome of Ofcom’s trial of Local DAB and indicated that the government could now move forward with creating new small-scale multiplexes. “We are looking at introducing legislation at the earliest opportunity for the licensing and regulation of these services with a light-touch approach,” he said.
Mr Hancock, who was appointed to the Ministerial position last month, was appearing at his first Radio Festival. “I wanted to come, two months into my time in this job to talk and to listen to you,” he said. “I think that radio is such an important and vibrant part of British life. I worked on the student radio station Oxygen 107.9 as minority sports correspondent – maybe it’s fate that all that experience was going to be what I bring to being the minister for radio.”
Asked by host Paddy O’Connell if he was a fan of FM rather than DAB for the future of radio, he answered he was a fan of FM, DAB and the whole shebang.
The commercial radio trade body, Radiocentre, has welcomed the commitment from the minister to lay out plans before the end of 2016 for the deregulation of commercial radio. Radiocentre CEO Siobhan Kenny said: “I am really pleased that the Minister has used his first address to the radio industry to confirm plans to review some of the outdated content rules for commercial radio. We look forward to working with him on the detail over the next few months.”