Now Even Radio Feels Threatened By BBC Local Plans

It’s one thing <a href="" title="local newspapers grumbling”>local newspapers grumbling about the BBC’s proposal to add 20 minutes of daily news video for its 65 existing local sites – but radio… ? RadioCentre, commercial radio’s umbrella body, says it will strongly oppose the £68 million plan on the same grounds the press has used. Says CEO Andrew Harrison: “A state intervention of this nature would be highly damaging to local media markets which are naturally evolving to take account of changing consumer demands.”

This is like comparing dancing with architecture. Though the BBC is not trying to put out of business the local newspapers who oppose its proposal, one can at least see merit in their fear – some such groups have, after all, got properly underway with their own video initiatives in what is a declining ad market. But commercial local radio is doing hardly anything, if not nothing at all, in the web video space – and, because these are fundamentally different media, it’s unlikely to see much of its audience stolen away by the notional conversion of its listeners in to viewers.

Hard pressed by the ad downturn, audience fragmentation and spiraling DAB costs, the radio industry is in trouble, for sure. Unlike the press, however, it’s risking precious little investment in the online space that could prove its salvation. The BBC Local plan, meanwhile, is fast becoming a focal point for the overlapping concerns of local media execs of all stripes.