A proposed overhaul of the way commercial radio is run will be revealed before the end of the year, the minister for digital and culture Matt Hancock has promised.
The politician, who took the ministerial reins from Ed Vaizey earlier in the summer, made the promise at his first Radio Festival earlier today (26 September). He explained how there are “multiple opportunities” for deregulation, balanced with the continued “need for provision of news and locally-focused content”. Hancock said it is “essential listeners can get these services on these new platforms”.
The minister was quick to point out radio’s resilience against the advent of digital, citing a “rise in commercial radio’s revenues and listening hours” last year as proof of its value to the country’ economy. Commercial radio “supports more than 12,000 jobs and contributes over £680m to the UK economy,” he claimed, before noting that for every £1 spent on radio ads an advertiser gets an average return of £7.70.
Meanwhile, Hancock revealed that he plans to introduce legislation at the “earliest opportunity” for the licensing and regulation of small-scale DAB multiplex services. It follows the successful outcome of Ofcom’s Local DAB trial.
“I have asked my officials to look at options for introducing legislation at the earliest practical opportunity to create a light touch licensing and regulatory framework which would be more appropriate for these types of services,” he added.
Hancock also called on the media industry to be mindful of the wider social value of the medium.
“Radio plays its part in driving social mobility – but I want radio to do more. The Global Academy has welcomed its first students this month, the Bauer Academy focuses on skills training and Creative Access is getting interns in – both in front of and behind the mike,“ he urged.
“But I challenge all media to make improvements in this area. Media should reflect the wider social make-up of the UK from all geographies and backgrounds.”