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Commercial radio welcomes OfCom rules change, wants more

By | Published on Friday 26 June 2015


The commercial radio sector has welcomed plans by media regulator OfCom to simplify the way music formats are described in each station’s licence, though it would actually like even more simplification. Well, really it would like no restrictions on music format at all. Which, to be fair, would definitely be very simple.

AM and FM radio stations are obliged under their licences from OfCom to provide a specific kind of service, with restrictions on speech v music and local v national content, and on what kinds of music they can play, in terms of loose genres.

Amongst the changes to the system announced by OfCom this week are that the ways in which pop music is defined will be simplified, the number of music categories will be reduced and specialist stations will be able to simplify their overall format descriptions.

Commenting on the changes, Matt Payton, Director of External Affairs for commercial radio trade group RadioCentre, told reporters: “The changes announced by OfCom are a step in the right direction. They go some way to recognising the dramatic shifts in music consumption over the last few years and expansion of consumer choice”

But there was a but. This but. “But in a digital age where consumers have access to a huge variety of music content at their fingertips, the concept of music formats being set by a regulator is clearly outdated. Ultimately radio stations need to be as free as possible to choose the music they play, so that they can react to the needs of listeners. At least OfCom now appears to recognise this – even acknowledging the case for a change in legislation to provide greater flexibility”.

It remains to be seen if the radio station owners can persuade OfCom to make further concessions. You never know, maybe one day they’ll finally achieve their dream of being able to play back-to-back Olly Murs on every channel. Fear not people, that day may as yet come.