Radio released from shackles of an outdated regulatory system

Illustration: London.

UK: Commercial radio stations will no longer be shackled to an outdated regulatory system under new plans announced by Government. If approved radio stations across the UK could easily change music format and network 24/7 without seeking the approval of the industry watchdog Ofcom.

At present, commercial radio has to abide by a series of complex rules regarding content which are enforced by Ofcom, many of which were devised in the late 1980s before the emergence of digital technologies.

The UK Government announced this week that it is consulting on changes to the rules that govern much of the programming decisions, and is proposing to give greater flexibility to local radio stations in particular, so that they can have a say in their own content.

It will further mean that DJs will be free to play more of the music and content they and their listeners want, when they want, without their station needing Ofcom’s permission.

Stations will also be able to network more of their services across different stations, allowing them to showcase star presenters throughout the day including at breakfast time.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said:

– In a time of extraordinary change, radio has thrived. But the way commercial radio is regulated is increasingly outdated and holding it back from investing in new content, services and platforms. All these things are essential for radio to stay relevant, especially in an age of unregulated internet audio services.

Government argues that the deregulation will allow radio stations to channel resources to invest in new ways of attracting and keeping radio listeners, in particular the younger listeners.

The deregulation will not remove the obligation to provide national and local news and other core information such as travel and traffic information. This requirement will be further extended to include digital radio for the first time.

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