OPINION: Beckett needs a greater understanding of radio

Having previously shown considerable sure-footedness in media matters, the Labour Government is surprisingly out of step when it comes to the future of commercial radio in Britain.

Having previously shown considerable sure-footedness in media

matters, the Labour Government is surprisingly out of step when it comes

to the future of commercial radio in Britain.



Its reaction to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission’s report on

Capital’s abortive bid for Virgin Radio is blinkered and doesn’t bode

well for the growth prospects of a dynamic medium.



The effect of the insistence of Margaret Beckett, the President of the

Board of Trade, that radio should be regarded as a separate economic

market for competition purposes will be to force it to fight with one

hand tied behind its back. Radio stations will have to compete among

themselves for share of a finite market, rather than present a

formidable collective competition to TV, posters and cinema.



Beckett’s argument that allowing radio groups extra critical mass would

push up ad rates doesn’t hold water. The big advantage of radio to

advertisers is that a campaign can be put on air quickly, with a minimal

amount of pre-planning. The downside is that advertising can be pulled

just as quickly and the revenue lost to rival media.



Beckett has interpreted the MMC report too narrowly and should look at a

wider media picture.



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