Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Capital Radio: Hazlitt outlines action

Capital Radio has been put at the heart of trying to turn around GCap's disappointing-though-not-disaterous figures for the year, and Fru Hazlitt, the company's London managing director, has some ideas:

"In London, commercial radio is driven by three things - its music, its breakfast show and its London information," she said.

"What we're seeing is that Capital performs very well in two of those - it has always done well with its London-ness.

"The breakfast show we know we have to keep progressing but it has been performing very well.

"We are still working on it but are very confident.

"And in the past with music, we tried to move genre but should have stayed with contemporary pop music because we know we don't have commercial competition in that genre."

This is interesting - firstly, because GCap's XFM has just abandoned daytime djs, which would seem to raise a question on how they intend to stress their 'London-ness' when there's nothing but the music, a text number and a few inserts of "anyone else who knows me" audience participation.

Secondly, it demonstrates again that radio executives don't understand that average listeners can't tell the difference between a myriad of different formats that play fairly recent stuff from the charts. Sure, Capital might focus on "contemporary pop", but most listeners don't think "ooh, I fancy some contemporary pop right now..."; they might have a vague idea about what's chart and what isn't, but there are very few tracks produced that would exclusively fit on just Capital's playlist and no other commercial service in the capital, and to try and make that your distinctive selling point is, frankly, as ridiculous as promising a network where "every singer has a beard" or "all tracks last precisely 2 minutes 18 seconds." Are Scissor Sisters contemporary pop? What about The Gossip? Or do you mean Scooch followed by McFly, but only when McFly aren't doing an Ugly Kid Joe cover or whatever?

And why only worry about not facing competition from commercial rivals? If I was a shareholder in GCap, I'd be a little confused as to why the company I've invested my money is is only trying to compete with half the radio market. Shouldn't they be trying to win back the million or so who prefer Moyles to Vaughan instead of focusing on the shifting of a few thousand between Heart, Magic and Capital every month?

Hazlitt is also interesting on the idea of using the web as an income stream:
[S]he said that web ads complemented on-air advertising and gave powerful brands a huge advantage in a new space relatively free of regulation.

"Radio now operates in a multiplatform environment.

"In the past it has operated on one platform that has been tightly regulated, but now it can operate in a space that is more like a free market and that's a huge advantage for powerful brands like Capital and Classic."

Oh, yes, somebody please free Capital from the beastly constraints of regulation. Leaving aside the question of how unregulated the industry is anyway - ooh, I got a limp rebuke from the Advertising Standards Authority and told to try not to do it again, again - is Hazlitt actually suggesting that Capital is itching to break free of the bonds of regulation which is there to protect the consumer? What are these tiresome regulations she is seeking to loosen? Is she promising that boilerroom financial opportunities and direct-to-consumer medication ads will soon be smothering GCap radio sites? And does she not realise that internet adverts are regulated by the ASA under the same basic terms of conduct that radio adverts are?

1 comment:

Robin Carmody said...

Commercial radio in Britain was tightly regulated before 1990, but I don't think anyone could honestly say it is now. Unless, of course, that "anyone" was someone who thinks Thatcherism didn't go far enough, and there are an awful lot of those people in commercial radio today ...

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