BBC Radio and commercial sector create digital venture

The BBC and the commercial radio sector have formed a new partnership called The Radio Council in an effort to secure radio’s place in the digital age.

The initiative follows mounting criticism of BBC Radio’s financial and technological resources, which threaten commercial radio’s ability to innovate and generate revenues from digital.

Mindshare head of radio Howard Bareham welcomed the initiative and says: “The BBC can’t do it on its own and neither can commercial radio. The more co-operation, the brighter the future”.

However, he adds that radio still needs clarity from the Government about when digital switchover will take place, because it affects interested parties’ digital strategies. For example, car manufacturers need certainty before putting DAB players into cars.

The Radio Council has prioritised three cross-sector digital projects – the development of an online live radio player streaming all UK radio in one place, an electronic programme guide for listeners across all devices including DAB, DTV, online and mobile phones, and the development of a calendar of exclusive digital-only content.

The council will be made up of the BBC, the RadioCentre, Global Radio, Bauer Media and GMG. The group will meet quarterly and its chairmanship will move each year between the BBC and the commercial sector. Tim Davie, BBC director of audio and music, is chairman for the first year.

The initiative is tabled for agreement at the next RadioCentre board meeting, but all the proposed projects will also need approval from the BBC Trust.

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