MPs demand ‘action plan’ to protect radio for smart-speaker age

MPs demand ‘action plan’ to protect radio for smart-speaker age

The Government needs an urgent “action plan” for radio to ensure it remains freely available online and on smart speakers in future, a group of MPs have warned.

The Future of Radio report, on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Radio, is a response from politicians to the Government’s own Digital Radio and Audio Review that was published last week by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The APPG, chaired by former group MD for GMG Radio Andy Carter MP, highlights the need for “swift and decisive action”, to ensure that platforms continue to support the availability and prominence of commercial and BBC radio services online and on voice-activated smart speakers.

But the report also expresses concern at proposals by Ofcom to “dilute or remove public service requirements” on BBC radio, which could “threaten the viability of commercial stations”.

These requirements ensure a diverse and distinctive mix of radio services through quotas that guarantee, for example, local speech output on BBC Local Radio and new British music on Radio 1, the MPs said.

The report also calls for a strengthening of public service requirements for BBC radio.

It is estimated that around 33% of UK adults now have access to smart speakers, with radio being one of the most popular uses, the report said.

The MPs report sets out proposals to turn the wide-ranging Government review and its recommendations into reality through a new Government Action Plan for Radio with a rapid timetable.

Carter said: “Radio plays a vital role in the daily lives of audiences across the UK. It connects with people from all backgrounds providing them with trusted news, information, companionship and entertainment.

“But, as listening habits change, there needs to be a concerted effort to help the radio industry evolve and secure the tremendous value it provides to listeners.”

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