UTV head ridicules switchover
Scott Taunton, head of TalkSport's parent UTV Radio GB, has told the Guardian newspaper that he considers the government’s target for planned digital switchover and the removal of the AM and FM frequencies from the radio spectrum by 2015 as “farcical”.
This comes after UTV quit membership of the RadioCentre trade body earlier this month with Taunton claiming they left over a beef with Global Radio and the way they did business.
"For us it came down to Global,” said Taunton, “As the largest funder of the RadioCentre, [they were] making sure that the policies of the RadioCentre were in the interests of Global Radio," says Taunton.
"At times, for me, that meant the [trade body] was pursuing an agenda that wasn't necessarily in the interests of all its members.”
Taunton has never made an attempt to hide his dislike of Global Radio’s group chief executive, Ashley Tabor. Referring to him as a “rich man’s son” and someone who, “is used to getting his own way.”
Tabor responded with equal vehemence, seeming to belittle the company as a minor player as well as it’s decision to jump ship, saying: “For UTV or any other small radio group not to align themselves with the RadioCentre in the drive to digital is tantamount to commercial suicide."
And while Global has given its backing to an early digital switchover target; Taunton reckons it's a non-starter. "I don't think there is anyone who genuinely believes 2015 is realistic," he says.
Taunton was also called to comment on the BBC Trust’s decision to uphold a complaint from talkSPORT over the bullish way the BBC bought exclusive radio rights to the FA Cup.
Never backwards in coming forwards, Taunton said: "Our view is always, why does the BBC incessantly try and prevent TalkSport from getting any rights whatsoever? In my five years here I have never bid for exclusive rights against the BBC and won."
He also passed comment on the departure of James Whale, ousted after voicing his support on air for Boris Johnson in the run up to the London mayoral elections. For Whale, it seems, the door is always open.
“I think he was great at talkSport,” says Taunton, “It's his natural home, and at some point I would like to think he would be back on the airwaves nationally and not just in London."
Radio Today is currently awaiting a response to Taunton’s comments from Global.
To read the interview in full click [link=http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/26/talksport-radio-head-interview]here[/link].