Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Commercial Radio Companies Association

  In advance of your Committee's forthcoming session with the BBC, I would like to bring to your attention some relevant matters which are of particular concern to commercial radio.

  As you will be aware, the commercial radio industry is firmly committed to digital radio broadcasting and has invested over £100 million into this new technology. Commercial digital radio stations now cover almost 85 per cent of the UK population. In contrast, the BBC's coverage is little over 60 per cent. We are most concerned that, particularly given the recent approval and impending launch of new digital radio services, the BBC should improve its digital radio coverage.

  Consumer awareness and confidence in digital radio technology will be as essential to its success as manufacturer commitment. Commercial radio has been devoting advertising airtime to digital radio promotion for over two years. With the BBC accounting for around half of all radio listening, its local and national networks are well placed to promote digital radio, both as a carrier of new BBC programmes, but also as an exciting development in its own right. The BBC's own marketing plan for digital radio does not appear to address this (see We believe that the BBC should be obliged to promote digital radio take-up.

  Commercial radio has long been concerned about the corporation's increasingly commercial and competitive behaviour. Despite this, we do not ask for greater regulation of the BBC, simply external regulation, which will ensure that its focus returns to delivering the type of broadcasting which needs to be publicly-funded.

  I hope these points will prove useful to your discussions.

21 January 2002

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