Wholesale changes to radio formats proposed

All local and regional commercial radio stations in the UK could easily change music format and network 24/7 if new proposals by the government are approved.

The Department of Culture Media and Sport believes that music requirements in radio formats – other than where they apply to national analogue licences – now serve very little purpose and simply act as a barrier to stations wanting to experiment with the types of music they want to play.

The Commercial Radio Deregulation Consultation, published today, wants to hear views on a package of changes to the current regulatory regime for commercial radio, which aim to bring the analogue and digital licensing arrangements into line. (currently the restrictions for FM/AM stations do not apply to DAB services.)

The proposals include replacing Ofcom’s obligation to secure a range and choice of radio services with a new duty to secure the provision of news and other core information. All current format requirements which stipulate where local radio stations are broadcast from, and how many hours per day can be shared, could be ripped up, provided that the local news/etc content continues to be relevant to listeners in their coverage area and that stations continue to source local news from within the existing editorial areas defined by Ofcom.

There’s also a question over whether Ofcom should continue to licence any more FM stations, instead concentrating on DAB multiplexes.

Rt Hon. Matt Hancock MP Minister of State for Digital and Culture, says: “The Government believes an examination of the regulatory framework for commercial radio is overdue and in this consultation we set out proposals how help support and strengthen the sector”

Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radiocentre says: “Radiocentre welcomes the Government’s announcement wholeheartedly. For some time, we have been asking Government to consider updating some of the existing rules on both music output and how and where content is made. Most of the rules are over 20 years old, so effectively designed for a pre-internet age. With 45% of radio listening now on digital platforms and new competition from streaming services, it is high time legislation caught up. The times have already changed so this is excellent news.”

The Government’s consultation runs until 8 May 2017. Radiocentre, on behalf of DCMS, will shortly be announcing a series of meetings across the UK, providing a forum for discussion of the proposals.

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  1. Rob Ashfield on Facebook says

    Bring back proper commercial radio

    1. Gareth Parr on Facebook says

      Sadly that will never happen radio groups like Global and Bauer hold the monopoly in commercial radio now and we know it’s only going one way

  2. Tony Vale on Facebook says

    Hopefully this will mean an opportunity to present radio drama by aspiring writers. http://www.facebook.com/FourbyFourUK

    1. Paul Flaherty on Facebook says

      If it brings in ad revenue then sure, but stations survive on targeting products to ladies in their 30’s.

    2. Tony Vale on Facebook says

      Plays can be written on any subject and for any audience. Businesses which do not support the arts are missing a trick with their marketing.

    3. Dan Richards on Facebook says

      Maybe, but plays – and recording them – costs far more than music radio.

      1. Paul Mason says

        Strictly BBC territory. In an article on Trsnsdiffusion there was a recording from the early 1970s with of all people HUGHIE GREEN discussing how ILR may start up their own orchestras (!) and drama productions. Didn’t and won’t ever happen!

  3. Dan Maddox on Facebook says

    This was always on the cards. Heart will be one national station within 5 years 🙁

  4. Donald McCrorie on Facebook says

    John Collins what do you make of this?

  5. David Jonas on Facebook says

    All stations rotating the same 300 songs perfection at last.

  6. Brian Smith on Facebook says

    In that case they should remove all restrictions from Community Radio too.

    1. Mark Jones on Facebook says

      Have to agree with you

    2. Brian Smith on Facebook says

      Thanks Mark. At present Ofcom comes down like a ton of bricks on Community Radio stations for minor infractions, such as speech percentages. Like the playground bully, they know the victim won’t fight back.

  7. Colin MacDonald on Facebook says

    Changes may be afoot

  8. Fiona Cole on Facebook says

    the last nail in the coffin of real local radio

  9. Gareth Parr on Facebook says

    Ryan Maddock

  10. Gareth Parr on Facebook says

    I predict Lincs fm will be sold to Global and rebrand to heart

  11. Gareth Parr on Facebook says

    More heart and capital stations to come soon no doubt

  12. Gareth Parr on Facebook says

    More heart and capital stations to come soon no doubt

  13. Craigy Butler on Facebook says

    Its happening now …nothing new GWR days…that’s computers for you…voice tracks work well…just play music less chat simple

  14. Gareth Parr on Facebook says

    Mikey Faulkner

  15. Simon Harrisson on Facebook says

    There is no such thing as local commercial radio it ended tears ago thanks to heart etc

  16. Lee Redmayne on Facebook says

    I wonder if unknown changes are afoot at Sun FM, their RDS text hasn’t changed in a few days!

  17. Jim Trevelyan on Facebook says

    It’s starting again at a whole new level.

  18. Dan Richards on Facebook says

    The thing is, no matter what peoples gripes, they’ll still listen. All you hear when you mention Heart is ‘they play the same song on repeat’…yet a record listenership of 9.7m (ore thereabouts) was recorded by Rajar!

    We’re creatures of habit. There’s some BRILLIANT community stations out there that fill the gap networking left. But they don’t have millions to advertise themselves or let the public know what they’re up to ?

  19. Gareth Parr on Facebook says

    It’s coming ! To Lincolnshire and humberside no a matter of if but when

  20. Daniel Fox on Facebook says

    Woooah! (Which means stop a horse). Just because the regulation is likely to change, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an immediate race to the bottom. For example Heart already have the ability to network the regional licences 24/7 and have had for years. It hasn’t happened. Of course it makes me nervous, but it is a fundamentally flawed concept to be able to do what ever you like on Digital but not on FM. That needs to be tidied up for sure.

  21. Paul moyes says

    After what all the offshore stations achieved we’ve still got shit radio.

  22. Anton Kay says

    The offshore pirate stations have never been bettered,and never will be. They gave what the people wanted,good music and they kept it simple.

  23. John B-S says

    I suspect further relaxation of the rules and guidance means that commercial radio stations will play it safe and simply play the tracks they and their listeners already know. Output will become even lore predictable and bland than it is now, and we will have less choice as a result. A bad idea in my opinion

  24. Len Gurrie says

    Commercial radio under the IBA wasn’t perfect but at least the Authority tried to keep standards high which Ofcom doesn’t except when it comes to the hard-pressed community stations and the IBA stations provided at least a little of somethingfor everyone. When these idiotic proposals go through as they will in the politicians’ frantic search for the youth vote we’ll just have even more pop and little of anything else. Thank heaven for the BBC: we should enjoy it before Ofcom’s new powers take the opportunity to ruin it.

  25. Howard Ellison says

    When one of our West country stations was swallowed up by Heart we lost a well-loved and truly local broadcaster.
    I happened to go to the launch. The new programme director told me he had no freedom to play anything other than what HQ dictated. Worse was he didn’t seem to mind.
    It’s not only the commercial conglomerates though, homogenising it all. A popular morning presenter on our BBC local also told me she has to play to a London formula.
    Never mind, there is still some musical variety in the evenings – when nobody’s listening.

  26. john the trucker says

    Radio 2 have got rid of Alex Lester and Janice Long, therefore I am no longer paying my license fee.

  27. Paul Mason says

    There is very little difference in the type of music most commercial stations play. Frankly all CR should pack up and just play the same tunes with locally relevant news/commercials. Only the BBC outside London does anything different, and that is under threat. There is nothing local any more, just the same gushy drooling narcissists rabbitting away amid the din, with traffic and travel delivered in a garbled nasal tone.
    I hear most of this drivel in cabs, which I am only too glad to get out of. The driver should compensate me for this audio torture. Thank Auntie for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service.

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