Deregulation of commercial radio

Ofcom has announced today changes that will allow commercial stations to become more regional and broadcast less content locally.

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It’s very sad to see this. The more that commercial radio and other media platforms are allowed to disconnect from the people they serve, the more our social fabric and sense of identity is damaged.

If commercial media can’t sustain meaningful local informative and creative content, then we need to advocate for a change in the way media is regulated.

We need long-term state development support that promotes access, diversity, innovation, collaboration and sustainability.

These attributes are all found in alternative, DIY and community media, but Ofcom does not see the right to access, and to self-produced and self-determined media, to be a priority.

If Ofcom’s policy framework is biased to commercial speculation, do we now need to lobby for the break-up of Ofcom? Splitting Ofcom in two, firstly to look at platforms and technology regulation, then a new body to look at content and the social value of media, both market-based and social impact assessment based?

Media in the U.K. runs the risk of becoming sterile and disconnected from the people that it serves. We just become a cash register for international corporations to make their massive profits, and nothing goes back into our local communities to serve our local needs.

How do we go about defining our ‘manifesto’ for media democracy?

My view is very controversially this may not be a bad thing in the long term.

Commercial stations have been skimping on local content for years. This is just another stage in an inevitable process.

However does this not perhaps make community stations even more justified? Leicester for example has just therefore lost the last remnants of a local radio station, as will have many other areas.

Does this not therefore follow pressure could be exerted on dcms to point out all the areas in the country that no longer have a local radio station and push ofcom to run more licensing rounds for stations deliberately targeted at mainstream audiences in areas that no longer have any other local mainstream stations?

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I think this is sound logic @SamHunt

This is indeed an opportunity for community radio stations to fill the local void that is created by any absence left by commercial radio.

However Matt Deegan blogged today with an analysis of the rajar numbers to show that the majority of people actually listen to networked or national programming at peak times.

But we also need to make sure that the minority are catered for, and thats surely a great space for community radio.

@Rob-Watson what is the CMA’s stance on this move by Ofcom and what work is the organisation doing in this area?

My personal view on this @martinsteers is that it’s lamentable, because it’s evidence of a further disconnect between people and their media, and that it’s part of a wider culture of marketisation that fails to know the social value of locally defined media.

I like the phrase that Steve Faragher told me last week up at Liverpool Community Media, that ‘if you want better media, make your own!’

Alliances with the Better Media Campaign, the Community News Network, the NUJ, and so on, remain increasingly important so we can articulate a coherent voice that supports access to platforms that give people a direct voice, independent of commercial or state-led policies.