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
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