Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Michael Colmer Esq (IW 48)


  Submission to the Environment, Transport & Regional Affairs Committee seeking the Committee's support for a feasibility study into an innovative proposal for private or public and private investment into a new broadcasting station, dedicated to Britain's waterways with the working title; RADIO TOWPATH.

  This proposal identifies clear audience segments currently neglected by other broadcasting stations, namely the millions who enjoy Britain's canals and rivers on a daily basis, be they boaters, anglers, ramblers, cyclists, walkers, property owners and local waterway communities.

  Provenance; the co-partnership deal betwixt BW and Marconi; FIBREWAY, has already completed half its fibre optic cable insertion plans. Eventually all of the UK's 6,000 miles of canal and river towpaths will all be fully equipped. Since this fibre optic cable offers access every two kilometres it would be a straightforward matter to erect simple broadcasting "repeater" stations the length of each towpath. This offers potential for a network spanning the UK and in a prime position to offer a unique broadcasting opportunity under the control/guidance of British Waterways.

  The advantages of such a "Radio Towpath" station include; An immediate extension of BW's emergency coverage service (by means of listener phone-in warnings of canal and river emergencies). Editorial programmes specifically designed for all towpath users including angling programmes, marine engine maintenance, as well as historical background to Britain's much-loved waterways and its own distinctive lifestyle as well as reaching isolated local waterway communities. It would also provide the platform to educate visiting boaters, anglers and walkers on local amenities, culture and history.

  Since such a dedicated broadcasting station would reach a hitherto neglected audience catchment areas counted in millions, advertising revenue is anticipated at highly profitable annual levels. The very nature of these priceless waterways is tranquillity. Radio Towpath listeners would, for example, avoid the excess of testosterone to be found on the majority of radio stations. It is in this genre that we find newly retired couples enjoying six months cruising on their own boats every season—one of many similar audience segments that are high profile natural targets for advertisers.

  The writer has already piqued the interest of a divisional branch of the waterways system; based at Devizes, Wilts. A pilot study is under discussion at this local level but the concept requires a national feasibility study.

  This proposal respectfully submitted by the author and broadcaster Michael Colmer—a boat owner and Life Member of the Inland Waterways Association for over 20 years.

September 2000

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