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Radiocentre welcomes OfCom’s radio regulations report

By | Published on Friday 4 March 2016


Commercial radio trade group Radiocentre has welcomed a new report from media regulator OfCom on the regulatory framework covering commercial radio stations in the UK, and in particular the obligations put on AM and FM stations by their licences.

The big commercial radio groups have long been lobbying for a relaxation of the rules governing AM and FM stations which, the broadcasters say, now have to compete with digital and online radio-style services which are not subject to the obligations and restrictions of those broadcasting on the traditional analogue platforms.

Said rules have been significantly relaxed over the years, but some radio firms still want less regulation, mainly to allow more flexibility to change music and programming policies on the fly, and to network more programming to save money, so that content can be created in regional hubs even when a station is technically a local service.

The report from OfCom boss Sharon White, backed by research from Kantar Media, was requested by the government’s media minister Ed Vaizey last year, and may inform decision making on how regulation of the radio market should now further evolve.

Radiocentre particularly notes Kantar’s findings on commercial radio’s local news provision which, the research firm says, reaches a large number of people, and a more diverse audience than BBC radio (in terms of age, social class and ethnicity), and which is seen by many as “more accessible” than print and online news.

But, says the report, “where local news programmes are made is of less concern to listeners than their quality and local relevance”. Which is a key finding for those broadcasters seeking to make local news out of the local locale.

Welcoming the report, Radiocentre boss Siobhan Kenny said: “We welcome OfCom’s report and look forward to the next phase of consultation when the government brings forward detailed proposals. This initial phase of thinking lays the ground work for developing a sensible regulatory framework allowing commercial radio to continue to compete and thrive in future”.