Has Consolidation of Local Radio Gone Too Far?

Another day, and another round of consolidation of radio stations by the international conglomerates. The news this week that Bauer has bought a raft of stations from the Wireless Group:

Wireless stations Radio Wave, Wish FM, Tower FM, Wire FM, Peak FM, Signal 1, Signal 2, Signal 107, The Wave, Swansea Sound, Pulse 1 and Pulse 2 are all part of the deal. Wireless’s 80s digital services are also part of the deal.

According to Radio Today, Paul Keenan, CEO Bauer Media and European Radio commented:

“The Wireless local stations acquisition further underlines our belief in the UK and in radio. Outstanding content and growing audiences have driven three years of consecutive records for UK radio ad revenue. As the medium grows ever-more digital and adapts to new listening devices the opportunity expands to offer new and interesting services for listeners and advertisers. It’s a very exciting time to be in the audio business.“

The deregulation of the Radio Industry is continuing at a growing pace, but when was the last time that the government organised a public debate about the role of local radio, and allowed people in their localities and communities to have a say about the commercial or public service media that is provided for them?

We’ve just seen the publication of the Cairncross Review into Local Journalism, so these kind of debates and policy reviews are possible. It’s just that with broadcast media a different set of rules seems to be played out.

Commercial media lobbyists are constantly bragging about record profits from consolodated advertising, but local radio services are continually cut back, automated and centralised.

We have to ask the question, in who’s interest is local radio in the UK being run? The international media conglomerates, or the local communities that radio should be serving with distinctive and creative independent content?

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There’s no ‘sad face’ option on this platform. But, yes, in answer to your question Rob, I fear for localness in radio broadcasting. Thank goodness for the community sector, eh?

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