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Are Radio Audiences Choosing to Reject Greater Choice?. Guy Starkey, University of Sunderland. Greater Choice for Radio Audiences. BBC monopoly until 1972 Act Monopoly-busting from continent & sea Licensed: from 27 in 1972 to 300+ in 2001 New methods of delivery: Astra/DAB/web

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Are Radio Audiences Choosing to Reject Greater Choice?

Guy Starkey,

University of Sunderland


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Greater Choice for Radio Audiences

  • BBC monopoly until 1972 Act

  • Monopoly-busting from continent & sea

  • Licensed: from 27 in 1972 to 300+ in 2001

  • New methods of delivery: Astra/DAB/web

  • 1991: AIRC optimism over ILR 37.1% share

  • Increased choice may be of limited appeal – at least in its present form


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In Q1

All commercial

All BBC (national/ regional/ local)

1982

40

4/3/22

1991

115

5/4/39

1996

172

5/5/41

1997

183

5/5/41

1998

201

5/6/41

1999

225

5/6/41

2000

246

5/6/40

2001

255

5/6/41

Growth of Licensed AM & FM Radio


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Share of All Radio Listening(Source: RAJAR/*JICRAR 1982 Excluding BBC regionals and Radio Luxembourg)


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Reasons to Reject Greater Choice?

  • Commercial audiences being fragmented

    • Geographical near-saturation achieved

    • Incremental and small-scale licences awarded

    • eg Star TSA also targeted by more stations per

      head than would be the case in NY or LA

  • Relaxation of rules on ownership

    • Loss of local identity

    • 50.58% of ‘all commercial’ stations in 6 groups


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Concentration of Ownership

GroupStations licensed by the Radio AuthorityMarch 2001

GWR 47

Capital 20

EMAP 18

Scottish Radio Holdings 16

The Wireless Radio Group 16

UKRD 12


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Reasons to Reject Greater Choice?

  • Dilution of locally-originated speech content

    • The death of ‘meaningful speech’

    • Quasi-national AM services created

    • Presenters reduced to reading from cue cards

  • New technology

    • Music scheduling more formulaic?

    • Automation and the ‘empty chair’

  • Music formats: diversity or anarchy?


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Top 10 Commercial Formats (by Frequency)

FormatStations

classic & contemporary hits 31

contemporary hits 19

classic hits 18

adult contemporary 17

60s to today 14

Today’s Better Music Mix 14

(specified gold) 11

(ethnic minority) 9

chart & adult contemporary 8

(specified gold & today) 8

  • NB (unspecified) 45


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Other Specified Music Formats

classic hits/AC (3); rock & AC (1); rock & pop (2); alternative rock (1); soft AC (4); soft AC/gold (2); easy favourites & soft AC (1); soft (1); easy listening & soft AC (1); soft melodic (1); easy listening (3); classic hits and easy listening favourites (1); melodic popular (1); quality popular (1); popular contemporary (1); melodic AC (1); easy favourites 60s-90s (1); adult popular (2); dance (2); dance & soul (1); classic & contemporary dance (1); chart/AOR/dance (1); dance & indie (2); soul/dance/R&B/reggae (2); jazz/soul/blues/R&B (2); classic soul/soft rock (1); Christian (1); mainstream chart (1); chart & contemporary (2); mainstream chart/AOR (1); rhythmic contemporary (1); contemporary & Scottish (1); Scots originated (1); classical (1); youth (1); black (1); country (1); for females (1); personality radio with hits & oldies (1)


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Reasons to Reject Greater Choice?

  • The repositioning of BBC Radios One & Two

    • 10% and 13.6% share of all listening in Q4 2000

    • All four national commercial networks: only 8%

    • Less formulaic

    • Personality-led

    • Led to calls for a regulatory ‘level playing field’

    • Radio is for the many, not the few!


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