Supplementary written evidence submitted
It was good to meet with you once again, at
this week's Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee evidence
session. Hopefully, the evidence that Travis Baxter, Steve Fountain
and I gave helped inform your understanding of the challenges
facing the Commercial Radio industry, and the vision that we have
for its future.
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide
further detail on the specific question that you
asked regarding RadioCentre's representativeness of the industry.
As I stated, it is very unfortunate that UTV felt it to be in
their best interests to resign from RadioCentre. Commercial Radio
is a small sector in a complex and fragmented media landscape,
so we firmly believe we are stronger when we speak with one voice.
I am pleased that UTV (and UKRD/TLRC) have decided to remain as
RadioCentre continues to represent the vast
majority of Commercial Radio stations across the UK. We have 270 member
stations, constituting 93% of national revenue and over 85% of
commercial listening. RadioCentre's membership is a broad collective
with large and small stations, major groups and independents,
rural and metropolitan, digital and analogue operators all in
membership. A full membership list is attached. Inevitably, across
such a broad church, there will be strongly-held differences of
opinion but RadioCentre strives to reflect the views and needs
of all, whether it is through promoting the benefits of our medium
to advertisers and media agencies, or working with parliamentarians,
journalists, regulators and the BBC Trust.
As you are aware, one issue of tension for UTV
is the plan for digital radio upgrade. Clearly, all groups will
have differing start points for their approach to digital transition
based on their current (analogue) business models. However, through
the process of discussion and alignment for Digital Britain we
have achieved a broad consensus, not just within the majority
of Commercial Radio operators but across all interested parties,
including the BBC, the transmission operator Arqiva, and set and
car manufacturers, and we now have the beginnings of a roadmap.
We all firmly believe that a Digital Economy Bill which puts the
listener in charge of the timing (by setting a series of consumer-led
criteria which the sector has to meet before any upgrade timetable
is actioned) is an eminently sensible approach rather than any
scaremongering about possible dates.
In that context, you will be interested to learn
how Commercial Radio's other national AM station, Absolute Radio
(a key competitor to UTV's talkSPORT), is fairing. The industry
has just published audience data for Q3 2009. In this latest
quarter Absolute became the first national radio station to reach
the listening consumer-led criteria for the digital upgradeover
four years ahead of the ambitious plans we are proposing for the
sector. Here is an extract from their press release:
"Absolute Radio is now the first radio group
to hit the 50% national digital listening penetration target set
out in the Digital Britain report earlier this year. Digital innovation
is core to the station's business and Absolute Radio continues
to lead the radio industry. The station recorded 51.5% of the
station's national listening on a digital platform."
In summary, I hope you will see we represent
the vast majority of Commercial Radio groups and listening hours;
there is broad consensus on the right consumer-led criteria to
lead to a digital upgrade plan and some groups are already there.
As we look forward to a bright future for the sector, we hope
for political support to facilitate and enable a smooth transition
to digital for listeners.
I hope that this additional detail has been
of some use. I am, of course, happy to meet with you to discuss
further should you feel that would be useful.
134 Question asked by Philip Davies MP. Back