Tuesday, August 03, 2004

PIRATES ENCOURAGED TO DRY LAND: We've not been entirely convinced by some of Ofcom's moves since it took over responsibility for virtually all aspects of communication and media regulation, but we find it slightly heartening that it's announced that in future, Pirate stations may be encouraged to apply for proper licences. Under previous admnistrations, even having once listened to Laser558 was deemed to be offence enough to rule out any further attachment to the proper broadcasting industry, although, to be fair, Kiss and X-FM were able to take advantage of a truce that allowed their guilty pasts to be overlooked providing the illegal incarnation of the stations kept off the air during the licencing run-up. Presumably because the Radio Authority knew they'd be able to wave through a quick sell-off to a 'safer' company fairly soon anyway.


Aaron said...

Actually, despite the Guardian's enthusiasm, this isn't a new thing. The Radio Authority started working at it in the arse end of the last millenium - I used to do a lot of student radio, and went to some of the preparatory meetings on it. My personal fear is that the original proposal has been heavily watered down - at the start, these stations weren't going to be allowed to take any advertising - while that wasn't ever going to be viable, I see these stations moving further and further along, and eventually competing with the small commercial stations, at which point they'll be attractive to certain media groups. I'm not aware of any safeguards to prevent a radio group buying a host of them and repacking similar content around the country, although I could be wrong. I think the Guardian's take is wildly optimistic. Especially given that most of the stations available in inner city areas will be AM only.

And I think I remember something in the original plan which said that anyone with a conviction for working on a pirate radio station wouldn't be allowed to get involved... but that may also have been dropped.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Oh, yes, the community radio proposals themselves aren't new - they were a panicky measure after the Radio Auhtority screwed up the 'additional licences' tier of local stations (the licences which produced The Wolf, Crash, Wire, Surf and so on) and allowed them to be sucked into bigger radio groups and almost entirely turned into Top 40 stations.

But the encouraging pirate broadcasters to turn legitimate: that is a major development, and something, to be fair, the Radio Authority couldn't really have done as they didn't have the legal responsibility to keep the airwaves free of pirates: that used to be the job of the Department for Trade and Industry.

How they'll work without advertising isn't clear: selling jam for the breakfast show?

Aaron said...

Exactly right about community radio. However I think they will be allowed to take advertising. I'm not sure this 'pirate radio' initiative is that big a deal - it sounds more like an admission to me that OFCOM is losing the fight. Or the Guardian desperately sexing up a story with a single quote from an unnamed source.

I haven't been able to recieve XFM in my corner of London for nearly a year now, due to pirates. Obviously I don't miss it, but you'd think Capital would be a bit cross..

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I have a funny feeling that Capital's long-term game plan will be to wait until X-FM on digital has reached a certain point of market share, and then drop it from FM, asking the nice people at Ofcom if they could move Capital Gold onto the frequency - presumably having pirates blocking out the signal helps at this stage.

Post a comment

As a general rule, posts will only be deleted if they reek of spam.