See the Forest, not Just the Trees: The Misdirected Dreams of UK Community Broadcasters
Authors: Loeser, H.
Publisher: Radio Regen
While having much in common, commercial and community radio broadcasters in the United Kingdom are different animals and should be recognized as such. Some would argue that commercial radio broadcasters have the right of protection in their advertising markets against new competition from community radio. This is a contentious issue among all broadcasters, and often becomes the dominant point of disagreement in UK regulatory discussions. That however, is usually a mistake. With the exception of a precious few, community radios in the UK are not effective advertising vehicles in the same sense as commercial radios. Technical similarities are apparent, such as FM transmission, local coverage areas, and studio facilities. Externally, listeners hear news, entertainment, some opinion, and similar presentations from both provider types. The chief difference lies in the differing missions of community versus commercial: one to serve, the other to profit. But even in this context, similarities exist. Obviously commercial broadcasters exist only for the money, but every broadcaster – commercial and community - needs money to survive and prosper. In countries where advertising is allowed, such as in the United Kingdom, the overlap of interests often occurs in the field of competition for advertising revenue. In the UK, much of the community radio sector mistakenly covets the commercial advertising paradigm, whilst overlooking the real keys to their own success. Should these operators reexamine their mission, goals and strategy, they might find the local radio advertising market a much more hospitable environment.