Friday, May 10, 2002

THE BILL: What with all the coverage of the opportunity for Murdoch to buy Channel 5 in the new Broadcasting Bill, something cold and clammy at the ankles of British music fans seems to have been overlooked. What the terms of the bill makes possible for the first time is for Clear Channel, the American group currently strangling the remaining originality out of US radio stations, to take control of British radio stations. Depending on how relaxed the new rules wind up as being, it's not impossible to imagine a swoop for the radio assets of, say, EMAP and Capital or SMG allowing them to turn a relatively benign local duopoly into a life-crushing monopoly.
And don't think they wouldn't - look at what's happened, for example, in Italy, where last december Clear Channel swooped in and picked up the two major concert promotion companies in one go. Maybe we should all stop worrying a little less about whether News International acquires the home of Night Fever, and look at the threat of the most aggressive radio and concert company being offered the chance to throttle what's left of the UK radio industry.

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