Friday, 8 April 2011

Commercial radio: "so keen to hold back the BBC?"

House of Lords Select Committee on Communications
Inquiry on Governance & Regulation Of The BBC [excerpt]
22 March 2011 @ 1515

Baroness Deech: Listening to you, I am a bit puzzled about why you are so keen to hold back the BBC. Can’t Virgin Media and the local commercial radio stations stand on their own two feet? Why have they got to hold back the BBC?

Mr Andrew Harrison [chief executive officer, RadioCentre]: I would not characterise it at all as wanting to hold back the BBC; I would characterise it as wanting a level playing field for the commercial sector to compete. The truth is that, in radio, the BBC is hardly held back. It has 55% national market share, it has the vast majority of national FM spectrum and it has a huge raft of local radio stations, so it is hardly held back. We seek the opportunity to build our own commercial businesses, entrepreneurially and innovatively, without facing the elephant in the room that, every time we try to do something new, there is a BBC service that pops up to squash it before it has time to be established.

Mr Andrew Barron [chief operating officer, Virgin Media]: With great respect, I think we are in slightly different places. I would argue that Virgin Media is one of the companies pushing the BBC forward in many instances.

[This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and webcast on Any public use of, or reference to, the contents should make clear that neither Members nor witnesses have had the opportunity to correct the record.]


Anonymous said...

Grant... and your point is?

RadioCentre make a genuine point about BBC Radio's dominance of national FM spectrum and you try to offset this by quoting Virgin Media, a TV distributor and ISP talking about something else.

Virgin's on demand services probably are pushing the BBC (but not much in my opinion) but I fail to see how this has any bearing on Andrew Harrion's point about radio.

Terry Purvis said...

It's not a genuine point about the BBC's dominance of FM at all.

Why do the BBC have a 55% market share? Because people prefer their stations to those operated by the commercial sector.

The commercial operators could reverse the trend and "level the playing field" by creating programming people would prefer over that of the BBC's, instead of moaning that it's unfair.