Written evidence from KM Group (FLM 49)

 

To: Mr John Whittingdale OBE MP

 

I am writing to thank you and the members of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee for giving me the opportunity to give evidence to your inquiry on local and regional media last Tuesday 27 October. I am aware that Andrew Harrison of the Radio Centre has already written to you and thought that it may be useful if I echo some of his points that we feel are important:

 

1) That Commercial Radio is facing its greatest ever financial challenges, with revenues and profitability declining due to a combination of high fixed costs, structural change and recession.

 

2) There is an urgent need for regulatory relief and legislative change for the industry. The focus must be on securing viable local services that provide the output that listeners want, rather than measuring quotas of hours or prescribing where content is made. The Digital Economy Bill is central to achieving this new framework, along with reform of Ofcom's rules on localness and music formats.

 

3) Commercial Radio's difficulties are exacerbated by the strength and size of the BBC. In particular, commercial stations are finding it difficult to compete against the BBC's national pop music stations (Radio 1 and 2) that are targeting their heartland audience of 15-44 year olds. In addition, the sheer scale of the BBC's radio budget, and the nature by which it procures programming inputs such as exclusive sports rights, is squeezing commercial stations out of the radio market.

 

For us at KM this is an issue across all our media - I attach for your information a press release sent out by the BBC Trust which shows that the BBC are committed to strengthening their local news service - I believe this initiative alone will cost 49.7m over the next three years.

 

I look forward to seeing your final report on the future of local media and if there is anything further I can do for the Committee please let me know.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Steve Fountain

Head of Radio

 

November 2009