GWR chief calls on Government to relax radio ownership act

Ralph Bernard, the chief executive of the UK’s largest radio group, GWR, has hit out at the trend for media mega-mergers. He said that, by comparison, the restrictions on commercial radio ownership are unfair and ’arcane’.

Ralph Bernard, the chief executive of the UK’s largest radio group,

GWR, has hit out at the trend for media mega-mergers. He said that, by

comparison, the restrictions on commercial radio ownership are unfair

and ’arcane’.



In a statement to the all-party Parliamentary media group on Wednesday,

Bernard said that his concern that the UK’s broadcasting industry was at

risk from predatory groups coming in from abroad had come true -

especially in the light of the merger of EMI Music and Time Warner

AOL.



He said: ’If Time Warner and EMI Music can succumb so unexpectedly, what

chance for UK commercial radio?’



Bernard called for a relaxation of the onerous ownership regulations set

out in the 1995 Broadcasting Act, which effectively restricts radio

stations to owning a 7.5 per cent share of voice. He said this would be

necessary to enable Britain’s broadcasters to be strong enough to face

the competition that will come with convergence.



Bernard’s talk concluded with a plea to the Government to accelerate the

timetable for a review of the Act, ’because in two or three years’ time,

there may not be a UK-owned broadcasting industry left to regulate’.



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