MEDIA: ISBA warns against ownership changes

ISBA has warned that the three national analogue radio licences, held by Classic FM, Virgin Radio and talkSPORT, should not be allowed to fall under single ownership, in its submission on the Draft Communications Bill.

In its report, presented last week to the Parliamentary Joint Committee considering the Bill, ISBA outlined its concern that the existing rule thwarting ownership of more than one national licence is proposed to be deleted.

ISBA's concern is two-fold: first, it argues that single ownership of more than one licence will put Ofcom under heavy pressure to enforce the differences between the existing services, but more importantly, it would pave the way for consolidation among their respective sales houses.

Bob Wootton, ISBA's director of media and advertising affairs, said such consolidation would result in too much power given to the sales side.

He said: "National radio stations offer advertisers convenient national coverage, and each of the current stations have distinct and complementary, if overlapping, listenerships. While they are owned by different companies, the opportunity for a satisfactory level of competition between these three important and valuable stations exists."

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