MPs back future of radio for upcoming Media Bill

media-bill-and-radio

An influential committee of MPs has strongly endorsed measures to support the future of radio as part of the proposed Media Bill.

Media Bill and radio

A parliamentary inquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, chaired by Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, concluded that it is vital for Government to act to protect radio’s availability on voice-activated devices.

It also supported steps to modernise commercial radio regulation.

There has been a rapid growth of radio listening on voice-activated platforms in recent years, driven by smart speaker devices.

Live radio is the most widely accessed form of audio on smart speakers, accounting for 70% of listeners’ time, according to commercial radio body Radiocentre.

This growth, it said, provides opportunities for radio but also presents serious risks if tech platforms abuse their market power.

These risks could include pushing listeners to their own radio-like services, limiting free access to UK radio or inserting their own advertising around radio content.

The Media Bill, said Radiocentre, will address these issues with new obligations for the main voice assistant platforms, such as those operated by Amazon and Google.

The report from the cross-party committee of MPs was prepared as part of parliament’s scrutiny on the Draft Media Bill, which is expected to be announced as part of the government’s legislative programme in the King’s Speech on 7 November.

Matt Payton, CEO of Radiocentre, said: “This report is a ringing endorsement of the proposals in the Draft Media Bill to help secure the future of radio.

“Its recommendations are a welcome contribution to the debate and demonstrate the strong case for action to support radio’s place on smart speakers.

“I’d like to thank the committee for listening to the evidence and for reflecting this in its report to government. We look forward to these important protections becoming law in the next parliamentary session.”