Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mergers making relay stations out of regional radio in UK

Is local radio suffering from mergers and networking (i.e. more simulcasting).

Trevor Dann, former chief executive of the Radio Academy, believes there has been a failure to regulate the local radio landscape "on a scale to match the banking crisis". I think he's spot on. There is a dearth of local content on many of the stations I monitor. There's not much local left in local radio. Clever technology can add local station IDs and commercials, but there is not content.
Speaking to the Today programme today, he said that local stations were gradually becoming "not radio stations but relay stations of playlists and DJs making programmes in London".
His comments come as the Office of Fair Trading looks at the takeover by the biggest commercial radio group in the country, Global Radio, of the Guardian Media Group's radio interests, for £70 million.
Independent radio consultant Grant Goddard told Jim Naughtie in BBC Radio 4 the commercial sector has become "increasingly emerged into larger and larger companies", and "listeners to radio in local areas particularly simply don't have as much choice as they used to."
Interview is here. Trevor is also the person behind much better use of radio archives.


T. Carter said...

Sounds a lot like what happened in the U.S. during the 1990s. As ownership consolidated, local programming was replaced, and (for the most part) the airwaves homogenized and lost local flavor.

Unknown said...

In the interview, Grant Goddard says that consolidation has reduced choice. It may have done so for advertisers but listeners receive exactly the same number of different stations as they did before.

Additionally, stations from a large group are programmed to be complimentary, not directly competitive and some of the stations that have transferred to brand-led networks are now significantly better programmed than they were before.

We need some genuinely local stations in the UK but it would be wrong to suggest that market consolidation is all bad for listeners.

Jim Davies said...

There perhaps is the same number of stations but they can be really boring when they sound very similar. Oddly this is quite notable when driving long-distance and tuning across the FM band *away* from one's locality! There's a strange sensation that life is not meant to feel different anywhere, that we should all just be the same and do the same things.

I'm lucky to be able to hear JackFM at my home location in the UK which has a really great music mix which makes it stand out (along with its absence of presenters for the bulk of the day) but I'm enjoying listening to community radio as well. That gives you a truly local feel and is a welcome addition to the dial.