Relaxation needed for Radio
Speaking at the Radio 3.0 conference in London today, Andrew Harrison, CEO of RadioCentre called for for a relaxation on Commercial Radio regulation to enable the sector to compete in the dynamic wider media market. Harrison used the upcoming UK Music Week as an example of how commercial radio can work together.
He spoke about how anachronistic analogue regulation was the biggest threat facing the Commercial Radio industry in the modern digital age.
"Every licence holder has criteria which need to be met in terms of both content – what type and how much – and where it is produced. Even the smallest local stations have minimum thresholds for locally produced content and this means that Commercial Radio cannot be as fleet of foot and flexible as it needs to be," he said.
The Commercial sector has not been helped in this area with the proliferation of online stations in recent years all of whom have no regulations or obligations in terms of content and exist on an unregulated basis.
Added Harrison, “Historically, Commercial Radio has been regulated into 300 small local stations, with a tight remit in formats and content, across a bewildering plurality of providers. That lack of scale and restriction to localness has the obvious consequent effect on the sector’s ability to secure or retain talent, to acquire entertainment rights and to secure its financial future with economies of scale.
We are delighted that Ofcom has already proposed some modest reduction in the regulatory and legislative burden on Commercial Radio as part of their Future of Radio Consultation, but this needs to go much further. In our response to the consultation we’ll be proposing: Much greater relaxation of local content regulation; a much faster timetable for relaxation to facilitate digital migration; a timetable to secure a relaxation on ownership rules to deliver more scale without losing plurality and a plan on spectrum coverage and financial support to enable digital migration for both the commercial sector and the BBC.”
Harrison also spoke about how the industry was looking to work together more closely where it could and highlighted next week’s UK Music Week as an example. The event which kicks off on 21st May will see all of Commercial Radio coming together for a week-long activity to showcase UK talent. Over 250 stations are taking part across 5 networks — the gold stations, the CHR, AC, Rock and rhythmic stations — with a shared output by genre, regardless of station ownership.
Added Harrison, “We’re not going to sit still and wait for other people to decide our future, and initiatives like UK Music Week can only benefit our industry.
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