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Should Local Radio remain local?

As the deadline for Ofcom's Digital Britain consultation closes, RadioCentre is calling on the Government to offer greater flexibility to Commercial Radio stations on how and where they produce local content.

"Greater flexibility would enable them to serve listeners better," the industry body says.

RadioCentre continues: "These changes are particularly important for smaller stations, which offer a vital local service for communities but need greater freedom to re-organise their operations in order to face up to the challenges of the digital age."

RadioCentre response urges Ofcom to move quickly to implement some of the specific changes that are being considered. These include measures enabling stations to focus on content that is most valued by listeners, such as local news and information, in return for a reduction in the quota of locally produced hours for other content. It also supports the greater flexibility for stations to co-locate or share programming in new local regions, but recognises that this will require a change in legislation that is expected as part of the Digital Economy Bill.

Earlier this year, the former GMG Radio chief executive John Myers also urged Ofcom to concentrate on how much local output a local station provides, rather than where it is based.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive of RadioCentre says: “Locally relevant material is of far more interest to listeners than the importance of where the content was made. We need to be clear that we are not asking for relaxed regulation to reduce localness, far from it – in today’s complex media landscape, the localness of a local radio station can only become a more important way for it to distinguish its product form its competitors. We welcome the opportunity to work together in moving as quickly as is possible to implement these deregulatory changes.”

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