The commercial radio industry has placed the blame for its problems on the 2003 Communications Act, which it said has “increased regulatory burdens and interventions in several unnecessary and detrimental areas.” In its response to Ofcom’s consultation on 'The Future Of Radio', trade body RadioCentre commented that the commercial radio industry is “operating under proportionately onerous regulation” and requires “greater freedoms in ownership, content and production controls [that] would enable the industry to compete more effectively within the radio landscape, but also more widely.” RadioCentre’s criticism of The Communications Act appears at odds with the verdict of its predecessor, the Commercial Radio Companies' Association [CRCA], which had said it “welcomed” the government’s decision in the Act to considerably loosen ownership regulations, in what was viewed as the quid pro quo for increased localness on stations. After the government had conceded to CRCA lobbying for the '2+1' ownership scheme in November 2002, CRCA chief executive Paul Brown had commented: “The government has done much to ensure an environment in which commercial radio can prosper. By updating its local commercial radio ownership proposals, it has encouraged the further development of strong, locally orientated radio companies that will compete strongly for listeners and offer a diversity of services closely reflecting the interests of the communities they serve. We are confident that the positive improvements to commercial radio’s diversity of output and strength that will follow this decision will prompt further ownership de-restriction.” Four years later, the benefits of consolidation that the CRCA promised (greater output diversity, higher audiences, increased revenues) have failed to appear and the blame for those failures is now being placed on the Communications Act. In its response to Ofcom, GCap Media plc commented similarly that the Communications Act is “unwieldy” and is “not very responsive to a rapidly changing world”. It said that “the regulatory burden on radio, both analogue and digital, is onerous and unsustainable, and should be reviewed urgently.”

[First published in 'The Radio Magazine' as 'Commercial Radio Blames Communications Act', #769, 3 January 2007]

Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at

News: Commercial Radio Sector Blames 2003 Communications Act For Its Lack Of Market Competitiveness ©2007 Grant Goddard

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