Market forces cannot be relied upon to protect the role of radio providing local news, according to the broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.
Yesterday, Ofcom published its conclusions from a consultation paper, The Future of Radio, published in April. And its main conclusion is that it “is not convinced by the argument that the market alone would provide this content without regulatory intervention”.
Says Ofcom: “New research [has] found that listeners perceive radio to be the default medium for delivering key local information such as local traffic and travel, weather and news. Furthermore, listeners took the view that the quality of information would suffer if it was not made and delivered locally.”
Ofcom is therefore proposing that all FM local radio stations should provide at least ten hours of locally-made programming each weekday (including breakfast) and at least four hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
But it has said that smaller stations may be able to share a large proportion of this programming (outside breakfast) with other nearby stations. It also says that, outside of locally-made programming requirements, stations may choose to broadcast network programming for a maximum of three hours a day during weekdays at day time and more at weekends.
The public have until the 21st of next month to comment on these conclusions.
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