Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti: UK Radio industry decides it has done enough

Radio Today floated an idea earlier in the week suggesting that the earthquake in Haiti might warrant a repeat of the UK Radio Aid campaign, when commercial radio stations came together to raise funds to help out with the Boxing Day Tsunami relief effort.

It didn't take long for the idea to be dumped on. Radio Today reports:

an email to Justin [Kings, who wrote the original article] from Jonathan Richards, who is the Group News Editor and Programme Director of LBC, says: "Whilst we appreciate the sentiment of your Radio Today article the idea is not something we feel is appropriate at this time.

"All Global Radio brands are proud to be playing a full role in supporting the DEC appeal, and, in our view this is the correct way to proceed in terms of co-ordinating the fund raising efforts of UK commercial radio stations. Our news bulletins have covered the Haiti story extensively (and continue to do so). In line with other UK commercial radio stations Global brands including LBC 97.3 and 95.8 Capital FM are broadcasting the DEC appeal commercials. As you are probably aware the DEC campaign is already the most successful since their tsunami appeal five years ago."

That might seem to be a little mean-spirited - it's not quite 'we've mentioned the earthquake on the news, what more do you want us to do?' but certainly heading in that direction.

The reference to the DEC ads and appeal as a reason for inaction is puzzling - yes, DEC have raised more than in any appeal since the tsunami. But they'd raised more for tsunami victims - which was when the last Radio Aid happened.

The real difference, you have to conclude, is that there are fewer radio companies around now. Back in 2005, there were more groups, and presumably the sense of not wanting to be the group that said 'no' persuaded people to say yes. Now, with great swathes of the country dominated by Global, there's less of that competitive push to do the right thing.

Still, they'll be sure to report on the money other people are donating on the news. Let's not lose sight of that.