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Radio industry chief will tell digital platforms to get better at regulating their output

By | Published on Wednesday 31 May 2017


Digital media platforms – whether they call themselves ‘media’ or not – should expect a little bit of regulation and live with it. Not my words people, but the words of Siobhan Kenny, boss of UK commercial radio industry trade group Radiocentre. Well, they were my words actually. But I was paraphrasing her sentiment. Sort of.

According to Radio Today, Kenny will tell a radio industry event in Brussels that she agrees with the Conservative Party manifesto when it says that there should be consistency in the way online and traditional media are regulated, adding that regulation – whether statutory or stemming from industry-led initiatives – is something you have to accept when you are talking to large audiences.

Kenny will say: “We are at a critical turning point in our digital development. Technology has changed consumers’ lives beyond recognition in the past ten years and we have all rightly celebrated the innovation of the companies who have driven this transformation”.

“But it is time for digital companies to fully grasp the ramifications of that rapid change” she will add, “and for governments to act in the interests of their citizens, in line with longstanding practice in broadcasting. The current Conservative Party manifesto notes the need for consistency in regulation for both online and offline media, and there is so much more that can be done, especially in terms of self-regulation”.

Noting how commercial radio in the UK is regulated by OfCom, she will go on to argue that: “Digital media owners have been slow to move to effective self-regulation. Therefore we do now need to ask whether national and international agreements on sanctions for those who continue to broadcast or publish inappropriate or, worse, extremist material on their platforms is the next step. Digital media owners should understand their responsibility as broadcasters, whether they choose to term themselves as such or not”.

The radio industry recently capitalised on criticism thrown at Google for allowing – via automated systems – big brand advertising to appear next to extremist content, telling companies that radio is a safer medium on which to advertise.