RadioCentre calls for government backing of Ofcom's local media recommendations

LONDON - RadioCentre, the commercial radio trade body, has called on the Government to ensure that Ofcom's recommendations on the relaxation of the local media become law before next year's election.

RadioCentre calls for government backing of Ofcom's local media recommendations
RadioCentre calls for government backing of Ofcom's local media recommendations

On Tuesday (17 November), Ofcom recommended the Department for Culture, Media and Sport remove the rules around local radio services and multiplex ownership so that all local commercial radio stations in a local area may be owned by one operator.

Ofcom also recommended the local cross-media ownership rules were liberalised, so the only restriction is on owning a radio station, 50% or more of the local market share of newspapers and the regional channel three licence.

Matt Payton, head of policy at RadioCentre, said the trady body "will be calling on the DCMS to make sure there is parliamentary time for the recommendations to be debated".

Payton added: "After all the work that has gone into this, it would be unfortunate if the changes to the law didn't happen. I don't believe it is too much of a burden on Parliament to get something through that could be beneficial to local media companies."

A spokesman for the DCMS said the secretary of state will consider Ofcom's proposals, but there is no further timetable at this stage. The radio proposals require legislative changes, which are expected to be included in the Digital Economy Bill.

Regional media trade body the Newspaper Society would like the Government to go further than Ofcom's recommendations.

Santha Rasaiah, political, editorial and regulatory affairs director at the Newspaper Sociaty, said the NS continues to believe "all local cross-media ownership rules, including the media public interest test, should be removed completely".

This week's recommendations draw from evidence published in the Ofcom consultation document at the end of July, stakeholder responses to that consultation and Ofcom's analysis of the local media market "Local and Regional Media in the UK" which was published in September.

Ofcom said its recommendations could help maintain local content, by increasing flexibility for media companies and would reduce the regulatory burden on the local media sector and the radio industry in particular while protecting plurality for listeners and viewers.

 

 

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