Ofcom to allow simplified music Formats

Following a consultation in January 2015, Ofcom is to allow local analogue commercial radio stations to simplify its music Format.

This change will allow certain synonymous descriptions to be simplified in to ‘mainstream popular music’ without the need to consider any such changes in accordance with the statutory Format change process, but the character of a radio station must remain unchanged.

Ofcom says it would be for the licensees concerned to ask for the music descriptions in their licences to be simplified in these ways, should they wish to do so.

Three options were offered – No Change, Simplification, and High level Format changes. 11 responses were made – UTV and UKRD supported Option 1, as they considered that the other options risked eroding the range and diversity of local radio services.

Global Radio, Town and Country Broadcasting and Bauer Radio argued for greater flexibility for licensees and endorsed the response from RadioCentre, which proposed an amended version of Option 2 with a wider definition of what constitutes “mainstream popular music’ station and shorter specialist formats, such as rock, dance and gold.”

Global claimed that “the current regime is overly burdensome on licensees” and also wanted rock and dance music to be included as Mainstream.

Option 3 was supported by two individuals, but considered problematic by industry stakeholders.

In practice, it means stations with any of the descriptions below can be simply known as a station with “mainstream popular music”:

Top 40, Contemporary Hit Music, Current Hits, Adult Contemporary (AC),
Contemporary, Soft Contemporary, Soft AC, Hot AC, Soft Pop, Melodic AC, Adult hits,
New Music, Varied Music, Chart Music, Pop, Adult-oriented pop, Mainstream Music.

It does not mean stations which have specialist music in their Formats can suddenly change to a different type of music – so rock, dance and easy listening stations cannot change without applying for a full Format change. However, they can request that this is simplified provided it does not change the core character of the service.

One individual suggested that Ofcom should keep the descriptions proposed under Option 2 and Option 3 under review, “since what might seem sensible now, such as ‘Pop’ or ‘Rock’ are genre descriptions which can be altered and changed over time with the change of music over time.”

Another individual considered that “to pretend that a few well-chosen words can adequately, or even usefully define formats, confronts good logic.”

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2015 at 11:31 am by RadioToday

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