Industry News

Radiocentre welcomes first steps towards commercial radio deregulation

Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio, has welcomed new proposals from Ofcom to give radio stations greater flexibility in how they produce their output and provide the best possible service for listeners.

Ofcom’s latest consultation on commercial radio content rules released today (22 June) follows confirmation from the Government at the end of 2017 that it would like to see stations given more freedom.

The full range of changes outlined by the Government will require new legislation, which Ministers have acknowledged will only happen when Parliamentary time allows. However, in the interim the Government has said it would support any moves by Ofcom to change its rules and guidance, providing as much flexibility as possible.

Ofcom has now considered the evidence and proposed several changes to its localness guidelines. These changes will not affect commercial radio’s continuing commitment to local news and information output, but will provide stations with the option to seek more flexibility in how and where they make programmes in future.

Specifically, Ofcom is proposing a reduction in the minimum number of daytime hours that are made in a local studio during weekdays from 7hrs to 3hrs (where stations provide regular local news) and 10hrs to 6hrs (for others). These local hours would not need to include breakfast/ peak and there would be no requirement for local hours at weekends.

On approved areas (regions where the remaining locally-made content is produced), Ofcom proposes merging 31 current areas to mirror the 12 local regions used by ITV. This would enable stations to co-locate or share local programming across larger areas than at present.

Siobhan Kenny, Radiocentre CEO, said:

“These proposals from Ofcom are a welcome first step towards implementing the plans announced last year by Government to reform the pre-internet rules that still govern commercial radio

“Radio stations need to be able to address and embrace technological change, not be shackled to an outdated regulatory system.

“Once enacted these changes will help unlock the potential of commercial radio, giving stations greater flexibility in how they operate and the ability to provide an even better service for listeners.”