Radio chiefs call for fewer hours

BROADCASTING regulators, Ofcom, should allow smaller commercial radio stations outside London to cut their local content to as little as three hours a day – the UK’s biggest commercial radio groups have said.

UTV Radio chief executive, Scott Taunton, GMG Radio chief executive, John Myers, and Emap Radio group managing director, Dee Ford, are among a group of radio executives who have asked for an overhaul of regulations in a proposal submitted by industry body, Radio Centre.

The change would allow stations with a potential audience of fewer than 500,000 listeners to reduce local content to as little as three hours a day, in favour of networked programmes.

The submission says: “Commercial radio could then have the best of both worlds: quality programming to compete effectively with the BBC, but with something the national BBC stations can’t deliver – local output at the relevant times of day.”

Were it to happen, it could see smaller stations in Scotland – particularly those outside Edinburgh and Glasgow, such as Tay, Northsound and soon-to-be-established Original – transmit only a local breakfast show and local news while buying in other programming.

Ofcom is currently examining the way radio is regulated under a consultation exercise called ‘Future of Radio’.