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 www.bbc.co.uk/info/news/news372.shtml).
We believe that the BBC should be obliged to promote digital radio
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
21 January 2002