Ofcom has approved a request from Original 106 in Aberdeen to remove the requirement to be an album-led station from its format.
The regulator received five responses to a public consultation on the change, which began in September after Ofcom decided that the change would result in a substantial change to the character of the service.
One response – from a local MP – did not give an opinion on the change but suggested that Ofcom should consider the effect it would have on other Aberdeenshire stations NECR in Kintore and Waves Radio in Peterhead. The only other non-confidential response was in favour of the format change, suggesting at the same time that the regulator should ‘stick to more serious matters’ and allow audiences to decide whether format changes are acceptable like in America where stations can flip formats over a weekend. “This just sums up the dead hand of state control of broadcasting in the UK,” wrote Robert Preedy. “If the audience doesn’t like the change the station then goes bankrupt – that’s the only control we need of the airwaves.”
After a decision was taken at the Radio Licensing Committee meeting last week, Ofcom noted: “While the current Format’s requirement for music to be album-led has undoubtedly provided distinctiveness from other local stations in the area, it was the view of the RLC that the requirement in the proposed new Format to play particular genres of music (i.e. classic rock and predominantly non-contemporary pop/rock hits), the retention of the requirement to play some album tracks, and the new mandate to target specifically male listeners, should continue to ensure that Original sounds distinctive from other local stations in Aberdeenshire, including NECR and Waves Radio, which all have significantly more ‘generalist’ (and therefore flexible) music formats.”
Ofcom added at that while the removal of the requirement to be ‘album-led’ would reduce the amount of album tracks played by Original, it is replaced in the format by requirements to play specific music genres which aren’t in the format wording of existing local stations in the market.
One change was made to Original’s proposed format wording, which was to include the definition of what constitues an album track.
The new Format for Original 106 (Aberdeen) will now read as follows:
AN ADULT ALTERNATIVE STATION PLAYING ADULT-ORIENTATED ALBUM TRACKS*, CLASSIC ROCK AND PREDOMINANTLY NON-CONTEMPORARY POP/ROCK HITS, WITH PARTICULAR APPEAL FOR 35-59 YEAR OLD MALE LISTENERS, WITH 24-HOUR NEWS.
* Album tracks which became UK Top 20 singles, or UK Top 20 singles subsequently appearing on albums, would not qualify.