Ofcom wants to relax radio rules
Radio regulator Ofcom has issued a report recommending the rules on the ownership of local media and cross-media ownership should be relaxed.
Ofcom proposes to remove the rules which prevents one company owning all local radio stations in one area.
This is a major shift for Ofcom, who has previously, along with its predecessors, been strict on the 2+1 ownership rule, meaning there are at least two owners of local radio in any area.
"These recommendations could help maintain local content, by increasing flexibility for media companies," Ofcom says.
"They would reduce the regulatory burden on the local media sector and the radio industry in particular. Any decisions on these issues are a matter for Government and Parliament. Our radio proposals require legislative changes that the Government has proposed to include in its planned Digital Economy Bill."
Ofcom also wants local newspapers and television stations to be able to own radio stations without other media operators locally. The only combination that would not be allowed is the ownership of a local radio station, a local newspaper with a market share of 50 per cent plus, and a regional television licence.
Such proposals would make it possible, [i]for example[/i], the Guardian Media Group to own all commercial radio stations in Manchester (Smooth, Real, Rock, Xfm, Galaxy, Gold, Key 103 and Magic) plus Channel M and the Manchester Evening News.
Ed Richards, Ofcoms Chief Executive, says: "In line with our statutory duties, we have today set out recommendations for Government and Parliament. These proposals would allow local media companies more flexibility to respond to the challenges that they are facing while at the same time protecting plurality for listeners and viewers; it is for Government and Parliament to take any decisions in this area."