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AM/FM #8 — February 1993

News from the UK Radio Industry. Edited by Stephen Hebditch.

Ratings Boost For BBC, Classic and Atlantic

The latest audience research figures have been released, for the first time covering both BBC and independent radio. 41.5 million adults in Britain listen to the radio at least once a week — that's 89 percent of the population. 69 percent tune in to the BBC each week, and 53 percent to commercial radio.

Of the national broadcasters, Radio One is the most listened-to station, with 16.5 million people aged 15 and over tuning in each week, followed by Radio Two with 10.2 million, Radio Four with 8.8 million, Atlantic 252 with 4.3 million, Classic FM with 4.2 million, Radio Five with 3.6 million and Radio Three with 2.5 million.

Independent Local Radio did less well in the survey compared to the figures produced just for ILR which were previously published. The old JICRAR figures only surveyed people in the areas to which local stations were directly broadcasting. The new research adds in the areas of the country where there is no ILR or which are outside the primary listening area of a station. ILR stations also believe there may have been some glitches in the way that the new research was carried out, favouring the BBC.

People in London spent 26 percent of their time listening to Capital FM or Capital Gold, 9.1 percent to LBC, 4 percent to Melody FM, 2.8 percent to Kiss FM and just 1.4 percent to Jazz FM.

Virgin Radio Announces Plans

Virgin Radio, Britain's second Independent National Radio station, has revealed details of its programming plans. The station will operate with an adult-oriented rock format, aimed primarily at thirty- somethings. Deejay chat will be kept to a minimum, with most speech items being sponsored. Virgin will be programmed by John Revell and former Radio One and GLR deejay Richard Skinner.

The launch date for the station has been put back to April 30th from its original scheduled launch in March. This is primarily due to a change in plans to to base itself in Central London, rather than at the former studios of County Sound in Woking, Surrey. There were also a number of late management changes. At present, the station is a joint venture between the Virgin group and former breakfast television station TV-am. However, TV-am are now believed to be interested in selling their stake to Virgin.

Capital To Take Over Midland

Capital Radio are to take over Midlands Radio, owners of Birmingham's BRMB and six smaller stations. The move will give Capital its first wholly-owned station outside London. Previously it has maintained small stakes in a number of other ILR stations around the country. The takeover will cost the London station UKP 18 million and give it one third of all ILR revenue in the UK.

New Owners For LBC

LBC has been sold to a new company and its previous owner, Crown Communications, has gone into receivership. The new backer, Chelverton Investments, is run by John Porter, son of Dame Shirley Porter, controversial former politician, and Sir Leslie Porter, former president of Tesco. The deal values LBC at UKP 14 million. Chelverton are to invest UKP 500,000 in the station immediately, with another 2 million to come if they successfully retain their franchise. There will be no major staff changes at the station.

LBC's previous owner, Crown Communications, was forced into receivership after the French broadcasting authority blocked the sale of its French pop network RFM to one of the other French radio networks. The company had been in financial difficulties for some time.

BBC Management Changes

Liz Forgan, former director of programmes at Channel Four Television, has taken over the post of Managing Director of Radio at the BBC. Former ITN executive Bob Phillis will join the BBC as Deputy Director as part of the management shake-up by new Director General John Birt. The current Managing Director of Radio, David Hatch, will become a 'Special Advisor' to Mr Birt.

Meanwhile, a group of listeners are threatening to sue the BBC over its plans for a rolling news station. The 13,000 strong Save Radio Four Campaign are to take the BBC to court for breaking its unwritten relationship of 'constructive trust' with its customers. The group is also organising a march on Broadcasting House on April 3rd.

New Owners For Buzz FM

Loss-making Birmingham dance music station Buzz FM has been bought by Chris Carey for what's described as a 'nominal payment'. Carey was previously involved in Irish super-pirate Radio Nova as well as current interests in satellite radio and the satellite television decoder business. He plans to widen the appeal of programmes, cut costs still further and re-open Buzz's newsroom.

Scottish ILR On Air In London

Scottish Independent stations have taken a Restricted Service Licence in Central London for four weeks. The transmissions on 100.5 FM put out programmes from Radio Clyde, Radio Forth, West Sound Radio, Radio Tay, Borders Radio, NorthSound, Central Radio and Moray Firth Radio. They are aimed at London advertising executives who would not normally have the chance to hear programming from the Scottish stations. Advertising sales house SIRS hopes it will encourage them to take time on the stations now that they have had a chance to hear their output.

MTV Radio For Europe

MTV Europe and the American ABC Network are to collaborate on a new pan-European music radio station. Amongst the options being considered are a 24-hour satellite network, syndicated programming and stakes in local stations in various European countries. The United Kingdom and Eastern Europe are seen as prime investment opportunities. However, it would be necessary for the companies to set up an EC corporation due to restrictions on outside ownership of media in the EC.

DMX To Launch In Europe

Digital Music Express are to launch in the UK in March. The company provides a satellite-delivered CD-quality music service paid for by subscription rather than advertising. Subscribers have a choice of 30 channels, each with their own music style. Tracks are played off CD by a central computer, with no deejays or announcements. Initially the service will be available on selected cable outlets. DMX hopes to be available later in the year via the new Astra 1c satellite.

Local Licences

Five groups have applied for the Severn area regional Independent licence, reaching 1.6 million adults in the Bath, Bristol and Cardiff area. Amongst the bidders is Bristol pop / dance music station Galaxy FM, which wants to expand its format to the whole area.

The Radio Authority have received three applications for the Aberdeen AM and FM licences. Current holder Northsound Radio has bid for FM, North East Community Radio and Waves FM have bid for AM.

The licences for Coventry, currently held by Mercia FM and Xtra-AM, and Dundee and Perth, currently held by Radio Tay, have been re-advertised.

A new licence for Derry in Northern Ireland has been advertised, serving 100,000 adults in the area.

Radio Wye has been awarded the ILR licence for High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

Haven Radio's bid for an ILR licence for the Pembrokeshire area has been turned down by the Radio Authority. It was the only applicant for the franchise.

Radio Asia, owned by satellite station Asia TV, have put in a bid to run the Luton and Bedford ILR licence, currently held by Chiltern's Hot FM.

Financial News

TV-am has sold its 17 percent stake in the Metro Radio group to institutional investors.

Radio advertising revenue for the 12 months up to September 1992 continued at double the rate of inflation and is recovering faster from the recession that most other advertising media.

People

Terry Wogan has returned to Radio Two to host the breakfast show again after an eight year gap.

Brian Redhead, presenter of Radio Four's Today programme, is to leave the BBC to join the Church of England as a priest.

Pieta O'Shaugnessy, station manager at Sunderland community station Wear FM, is to leave the station to return to a broadcasting position in her native Australia.

Advertising guru Martin Boase has joined Kiss FM as its new chairman. Its financial director, Martin Strivens, is to leave the company and return to Centurion Press, one of Kiss's original shareholders.

Bits

GLR has introduced its new increased-speech format. The change was brought in with some reluctance by station boss Trevor Dann. He believed the BBC's plans to include more speech content on their local stations should not apply in London, where there is a rather different radio market to elsewhere in the country. GLR is also to increase the amount of community programming it provides.

Signal Radio are to launch their new AM oldies service, Signal Gold, at the end of January.

Cricket commentaries on BBC Radio this year will be split between two stations. Radio Five will carry the morning's play, while Radio Three will take afternoons.

Twelve companies have bid for the contract to supply the BBC Radio Five 10pm to Midnight Monday slot currently filled by 'The Mix'. The programme is aimed at 18 to 22 year olds. Amongst the bidders for the UKP 250,000 contract were Noel Gay TV, Unique Broadcasting, Virgin and Jonathan Ross's Channel X company. Other Radio Five youth programmes will also go out to independent production later in the year.

Radio One's Mark Goodier programme is featuring the new 'breakers' chart. This lists the 20 records outside the top forty which are increasing their sales by the fastest amount. The new chart was devised by music industry trade body BPI, chart compilers Gallup and trade magazine Music Week.

Atlantic 252 is to join the Radio Advertising Bureau. It had previously been denied a position because of its status as a cross-frontier broadcasting station.

Inmates at Durham Prison are to become involved in a scheme to train them as deejays and engineers, and will put out a programme on nearby community station Wear FM.