Monday, June 21, 2010

Global rip Heart out of local radio

Just when you think that Global are done making local radio rubbish, they announce new plans to make it even more rubbish. Ofcom has allowed them to cut the number of Heart stations from 33 to 15.

Yes, what were once local radio stations are now going to become something else entirely - vaguely distant radio, perhaps?

Ashley Tabor, the Global Radio founder and Global Group chief executive, said Ofcom's regulatory change "enables commercial radio to organise itself more efficiently and take advantage of new technology to enable our people to work smarter".

"Although this has meant some brave decisions for our business, these changes considerably strengthen our company by providing listeners with higher quality programming and our customers with a far superior service," Tabor added.

Yes. Because why would you want to listen to programming from where you live, when you could tune in to something coming from the other side of the country?

It's fascinating to see Tabor use the phrase "enable our people to work smarter", an irritating and empty cliche which even the hardest-hearted management wonk dropped from their repertoire around the same time as 'do more with less' was recognised to be little more than a polite way of yelling 'do more work for less money' at a browbeaten staff.

Let's take a look at what this all means by seeing what they're doing here in Milton Keynes. What used to be Horizon Radio was turned into Heart Milton Keynes a while ago, and now will become Heart Home Counties:
Another new station, Heart Home Counties, will be made up of four Heart stations currently broadcasting from Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Dunstable.

Because of the changes, Heart is going to double its local news - to one whole minute every hour. But, erm, it's quadrupling the area it covers. So, in effect, you're going to wind up getting half as much local news as you used to.

This is what Global believe to be "higher quality programming".

And 'Home Counties'? Seriously, who calls where they live The Home Counties? Unless you're taking part in Round Britain Quiz, it's not a phrase that people really use in every day life. And Northamptonshire isn't even one of the Home Counties anyway.

Things get worse diagonally across the nation:
Four more stations in Wales and the north-west of England will become Heart North-West and Wales, broadcasting out of Wrexham.

Granada used to have to try and pretend that there was some sort of connection between Chester, Rhyl and Skelmersdale because of an accident of geography. But there isn't, not really, and this sort of 'draw a line around some places and that's a coherent region' approach shows exactly how much contempt Global have for their audiences.

How much longer till the 15 fall into a quasi-national, single blob, then?


J said...

Global management is expected to decide over the next few weeks which 15 of the existing breakfast and drivetime shows will be retained across the newly-expanded networks.

That's easy - Just tell the presenters that the job will go to whichever one of them calls in on Lucky Line Nine. Then ignore the numbers and give it to the one who sounds most likely to scream.

Because of the changes, Heart is going to double its local news - to one whole minute every hour.

And have you heard the sort of thing that counts as 'news' on Heart stations? A few weeks ago they managed to devote a whole bulletin to the fact that the Sex and the City 2 premiere was currently under way in London.

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