Ofcom recommends a ‘simplification’ of radio ownership rules

Ofcom is recommending a “simplification” of rules for radio ownership to allow further consolidation. The plans have been announced following its Future of Radio consultation.

The report, which will be published fully this afternoon (Thursday), will also reveal plans to simplify the regulations around FM formats to bring them in line with digital audio broadcasting (DAB).

The watchdog has decided against removing regulations for local programming and has proposed that stations should provide at least ten hours of locally made programmes each day.

The decision will disappoint radio operators, such as GCap Media and EMAP, which have argued for it to be reduced to three hours. It will allow smaller stations to share programming and will allow a maximum of three hours of networked programming during the week and more at the weekend. The local content plans are subject to a second consultation, which will be published on December 21.

Ofcom says it welcomes the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s decision to set up a Digital Radio Working Group. It adds that it will play a “major role” in working on the transition to digital radio.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, says: “We are confident that our revised proposals strike the right balance between easing financial pressures faced by the industry and safeguarding the interests of listeners.”

The plans have been “broadly welcomed” by industry body Radio Centre. Chief executive Andrew Harrison (pictured) says: “Whilst we won’t see the full document from Ofcom until this afternoon, on first inspection of the press release it would seem that Ofcom has listened to the six main points raised in our consultation. We look forward to understanding the full detail in due course.”

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