RadioCentre dismisses Ofcom deregulation plans as 'immaterial'

LONDON - RadioCentre, the trade body for the commercial radio industry, has called for greater deregulation of local commercial radio than was announced by broadcast regulator Ofcom yesterday.

RadioCentre dismisses Ofcom deregulation plans as 'immaterial'
RadioCentre dismisses Ofcom deregulation plans as 'immaterial'

Though it gave a "cautious welcome" to the changes made by Ofcom,  RadioCentre said it will continue to press for much greater regulatory flexibility, describing the 'modest changes' as not enough to make an impact on the sector.

Following the passing of the Digital Economy Act last week Ofcom has said it will allow local FM stations to co-locate and share programming within approved regions from June.

However, RadioCentre criticised what it said was Ofcom's failure to recommend significant change on co-location or programme sharing, particularly for smaller stations.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive of RadioCentre, said: "These proposals from the regulator do little to change the current operating costs and regulatory burdens on most small stations. In particular, the areas proposed for co-location and programme sharing are so narrowly defined as to make no practical operational difference for many stations.

"Only if Ofcom is true to its commitment to ‘consider co-location and programme sharing across area boundaries', particularly for smaller stations, will these modest proposals have a material impact for the sector."

Yesterday Ofcom set out its policy decisions on regulating for localness, in light of proposals made in a consultation in July 2009 and using the relevant statutory powers afforded Ofcom by the Digital Economy Act 2010.

Other changes included allowing stations to reduce the number of locally made hours in return for committing to local news. RadioCentre said this was a "balanced proposal to reduce heavy handed input costs" which would ensure "enhanced local output for listeners".

The changes take into account the findings in the report "An Independent Review of the Rules Governing Local Content on Commercial Radio" by ex-GMG Radio chief executive John Myers, which was published in April 2009.

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