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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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BBC and Commercial Radio announce partnership plans

Tim Davie

The BBC and Commercial Radio today announced a new partnership initiative designed to place radio at the heart of Digital Britain and secure its digital future.

The plans were revealed by Tim Davie from the BBC, Andrew Harrison from RadioCentre and Ashley Tabor from Global Radio at the Radio Reborn conference in central London.

The initiative intends to establish The Radio Council, which will lead a range of partnership initiatives between the BBC and Commercial Radio, bringing the industry together to secure radio's future in the digital age.

The intended new leadership group will initially comprise the BBC and the three largest commercial groups (Global Radio, Bauer Media and GMG), as well as RadioCentre representing the rest of the commercial sector.

It is anticipated that The Radio Council will meet quarterly and its chairmanship will rotate annually between the BBC and the commercial sector, with Tim Davie holding the chair for the first year.

The initiative is now tabled for agreement at the next RadioCentre board meeting.

The Council will kick-start three cross sector digital projects:

  • develop an online live radio player – an open platform that streams all live UK radio in one place
  • develop a common user interface and electronic programme guide (EPG) for listeners across all devices – DAB, DTV, online and mobile phones
  • develop a calendar of exclusive digital-only content for listeners on DAB

These projects would be subject to the usual approvals, including BBC Trust and RadioCentre board, prior to launch.

Additionally, the Radio Council intends to co-ordinate with government the appointment of a CEO for Lord Carter's Digital Radio Delivery Group.

It is anticipated that this new role will focus on delivery across four areas which will be key to securing a switchover timetable: coverage, devices, platforms and marketing.

Tim Davie, Director, Audio & Music, BBC, said: "The partnership between the BBC and Commercial Radio is crucial to the future of the medium. Radio is unique and much-loved, but the media environment is changing and we have to work together to make sure it remains as popular and relevant as ever."

Andrew Harrison said: "This exciting new initiative kick-starts our collective approach to ensuring radio is at the heart of Digital Britain. We will of course remain competitors for listeners with the BBC, and RadioCentre will continue to lobby for the commercial and regulatory freedom to compete on level terms, but today we recognise that we need to work together in a new partnership to deliver a thriving radio sector for listeners."

Ashley Tabor commented: "Global Radio fully endorses the formation of the Radio Council at this critical period in the drive to digital."

"It is absolutely right," he added, "that the BBC recognises, as it did with TV, the need to work collaboratively and in partnership with the commercial sector. We appreciate the significant contribution the BBC has the capacity to make to facilitate Digital Britain from a radio perspective, and Global Radio is prepared to play a leading role alongside the BBC, GMG, Bauer and all our other colleagues in commercial radio, to make it happen."


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