Following this week’s surprise announcement that a general election will be held on 8th June, it’s worth examining what this might mean for commercial radio’s regulation.
Most industry people know that the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is currently in the middle of consulting on commercial radio deregulation. DCMS announced that ‘radio will no longer be shackled to an outdated regulatory system’ when the consultation was launched in February and Radiocentre welcomed the proposals. The consultation closes on 8th May and I am pleased to say that following the announcement of the election DCMS have confirmed that they expect the current consultation process to continue to run as planned.
Once the consultation has closed, DCMS will work on a formal response but it is likely that publication might not be as swift as we had hoped. A government response should typically be published within eight weeks of a consultation closing but the election will obviously delay this process. There is also the possibility that ministerial posts may change once a new government is formed. Over the past year, we have built an excellent relationship with radio enthusiast Matt Hancock MP, Minister for Digital and Culture, who has been a real champion for our sector. Clearly no one knows if he will still be in this post after the election.
The industry has been calling on the government for deregulation for some time and are pleased that the changes have received broad cross-party support. It would be a huge shame if the consultation and subsequent proposals were further delayed. There has never been a more important time to unlock the potential of commercial radio. Our sector is part of a wonderfully creative advertising industry and directly supports £683m in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy so I certainly agree with our friends at the Advertising Association when they say that “advertising is the oxygen of a modern, innovative and dynamic economy”. We will of course work with whoever is in power to ensure that this continues.
Whatever the outcome of the election, Radiocentre will be calling on the new government and all parliamentarians to support, approve and enact these sensible changes so that a thriving commercial radio sector can compete effectively beyond 2017.