NEWS: Radio owners push for change in rules of media ownership,

Radio owners look set for a stand-off with the Radio Authority over the thorny issue of ownership.

Radio owners look set for a stand-off with the Radio Authority over the

thorny issue of ownership.



A number of top names, including the GWR Group, are mounting a strong

Parliamentary lobby to overturn the restriction in the 1990 Broadcasting

Act that stops a radio company from owning more than one station per

waveband in any given authority.



They are citing an apparent anomaly in the law to strengthen their case.

At present, a local station may own an FM and AM station in the same

area, but smaller areas with a population of less than one million are

allowed more than one licence on the same waveband. Radio owners claim

the rule should be relaxed in all areas, regardless of population,

allowing them to own up to four stations in any region.



The Radio Authority believes such a move would inhibit multiple

ownership and competition. However, Ralph Bernard, chief executive of

the GWR Group, said: ‘Radio is in competition with other media - why

should it compete with itself? In other countries there is relatively

unrestricted ownership.’



Bernard also highlighted the inferior quality of the AM band as another

reason for relaxing ownership rules.



‘The Radio Authority has said that commercial radio should be consigned

to a mix of AM and FM when the whole world is moving towards FM. It

seems illogical that if one owner has an AM and FM service, it can’t

move the AM to FM when the listeners want it,’ he said.



Approximately 85 per cent of the population listens on FM, according to

industry estimates.



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