The future of the radio industry’s unified marketing operation, the Radio Advertising Bureau, is under threat as stations start to compete against each other.
The effectiveness of RAB’s even-handed approach to all stations has been attacked by a number of national commercial stations. The stations are led by Classic FM, which wants it to highlight the Rajar results of national stations separate to those of local stations. They also want RAB to be more aggressive in attacking the BBC.
“RAB is about promoting radio as a brand,” says RAB’s managing director, Douglas McArthur. “It is not about promoting individual radio stations.”
RAB is unlikely to step up pressure on the BBC because it needs the BBC to part-fund Rajar.
At the same time, Capital Radio and Virgin Radio have refused to co-operate with each other on the issue of accountability – giving agencies more airtime information on availability to justify their prices. At an RAB board session on accountability last week, Capital declined to disclose its plans because Virgin advertises its airtime accountability system as a competitive advantage.
McArthur declines to comment on RAB meetings, but says: “One of my jobs for the past five years has been to stop stations attacking each other and to remind them that there is still 95 per cent of revenue out there to go for, instead of the five per cent we’ve already got.”
RAB is funded by a levy of 1.5 per cent of the net national ad revenue of each member station. It will cost 1.8m to run this year.