Insights Government launches consultation to overhaul regulation of national and local radio


Commercial radio stations will no longer be shackled to an outdated regulatory system under new plans announced by the Government.

At present, commercial radio has to abide by a series of complex rules regarding content that are enforced by Ofcom, many of which were devised in the late 1980s before the emergence of digital technologies.

The Government has announced that it is consulting on changes to the rules that govern much of the programming decisions, and is proposing to give greater flexibility to local radio stations in particular, so that they can have a say in their own content.

It will further mean that DJs will be free to play more of the music and content they and their listeners want, when they want, without their station needing Ofcom’s permission.

Stations will also be able to network more of their services across different stations, allowing them to showcase star presenters throughout the day including at breakfast time.

As part of the plans, local radio stations will be given more choice on what content they broadcast, and how they produce it, whilst protecting commercial radio’s important role in the provision of national and local news and other core information such as travel and traffic information.

Stations will have more resources to invest in new ways of attracting and keeping radio listeners including younger listeners who are at risk of moving away from listening to traditional radio.

Stations will however, still be required to provide national and local news and other local information, services highly valued by listeners. This requirement will be further extended to include digital radio for the first time.

Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radio Centre said: “Radiocentre welcomes the Government’s announcement wholeheartedly as we have been asking for the existing rules on both music output and how and where content is made to be updated. Most of the rules are over 20 years old, so effectively designed for a pre-internet age. With 45% of radio listening now on digital platforms and new competition from streaming services, it is high time legislation caught up. The times have already changed so this is excellent news”. To read the Government’s press release and to access the consultation, click here.