Deregulation of Local Commercial Radio

By James Martin
Posted 21 February 2017, 7.53pm est

Nearly two weeks ago, the Government set out its' stall on the deregulation of the final shackles ILR finds itself in. I am astonished to find no response, or opinion on this important subject on what was once the hub of the UK radio industry.

I think the bloggers and commentators have got it right, however - this has been a long time coming. The issue I take is that the way that it has been assumed that this will mean every operator will network every single programme.

It won't.

The abolishment of the requirement to produce local content does NOT mean all operators will automatically abolish it! The market will decide: if local programmes at peak continue to deliver audience and profit, why wouldn't they continue? Localness now will be driven by commercial and business decisions rather than obligation. Global re-introduced local programming to Smooth remember, directly turning their back on the national policy instigated by GMG. The revenue opportunities that local S&P allows was surely behind that decision. They had no obligation to re-introduce those local shows.

Radio will be left to market forces, and I don't see that as a bad thing.


2 years, 9 months ago

Smooth went regional again when Global had to sell some of the stations to Communicorp. So, at least partly for regulatory reasons, although there may be commercial reasons too.

2 years, 9 months ago

I don't understand the full implications for networking output across different owned licences, but if groups can network output between all of the stations regardless, this would see big changes for the Communicorp/Adventure stations that have Global programming on them.

I mentioned on the 'other place' about the potential for small scale licences to be finally viable as they can network programming from within a nation without the 7 hour local opts. This would see stations such as Fire and Juice targets for the larger groups to network their output on them from London without those current obligations.

However, I don't think we'll see a massive spending spree if these changes are approved, you'll still have UKRD, Jackie, Sunshine etc who'll want to market those stations with local as their USP. However for Bauer, it could be the catalyst to finally network those heritage ILR's in England at least with one of their national brands.

2 years, 9 months ago

I'd doubt that Bauer want to network - that would be a total u-turn from their previous position that local is better.

I'd think that Heart and Capital would probably get a national breakfast and drive show. My assumption is that they'd want to keep a local show if only because of the enhanced local advertising opportunities that potentially gives.

Australian radio can network all the time if they want to, but the stations here have local breakfast and national drive.

2 years, 9 months ago

I think for Global, national drive will probably arrive quite quickly. As James says, the easy sum will be looking at local-specific revenue vs cost of making that show. If revenue is higher, the shows will stay. I think the other thing at Breakfast we might see is the grouping together of some shows as super-regions.

I don't think Bauer are religiously wedded to local shows. The Bauer City Network position is already pressured by Global/national stations hence the recent changes - if networking etc creates an even stronger competition (not just ratings, but national advertising revenue, Global moving local spend into stronger marketing/events etc) then I imagine Bauer will have to make further changes.

The 'other' stations represent such a small % of radio listening what they choose to do, or not, isn't going to make much of difference in the grand scheme of things.

2 years, 9 months ago

Thinking further - national drive for Bauer (with a big name) would make quite a bit of sense. It's interesting here where KIIS (a top40 station quite similar to KISS) and 97.3 (quite close to Heart) take the same drive show. As far as I can tell, they essentially tape the links in Sydney (with a clean feed) and run them in Queensland five minutes later (in winter) or an hour later (in summer - there's a different timezone). Occasionally you even have a local presenter back announcing the songs and then linking into the next, um, link. Sounds really strange but works quite well.

2 years, 9 months ago

The domination by large radio groups can happen with some broadcasters out-bidding specialist or local broadcasters for space on DAB multiplexes or by a large radio operator broadcasting a very similar format on both local and national DAB multiplexes.

A current example found in East Yorkshire, as well as other parts of the country, is where Smooth UK is broadcast on the local Humberside DAB multiplex and Smooth Extra is on the national Digital 1 DAB multiplex with an almost identical sound, apart from the Smooth UK and Smooth Extra ID jingles and a different set of commercials, and with what appears to be exactly the same playlist in exactly the same rotation. A similar thing happens with Capital Yorkshire on local DAB & FM and Capital UK on Digital 1.

In the past listener choice was extended by radio stations being told by the regulator and Minister to split their FM and AM/MW transmissions into two separate services or lose one of the frequencies. A similar thing should be incorporated in any future legislation in order that we extend listener choice not have it limited by some commercial broadcasters simulcasting the same programming on both local and national DAB multiplexes.

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