It’s been an eventful week in broadcast. Yesterday, the thorny issue of the license fee was back on the news agenda, as Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan launched a public consultation on whether non-payment of the TV licence fee should remain a criminal offence. If it were to go through, decriminalisation would have a considerable impact on BBC funding and with 92% of UK adults using BBC services each week, this is something which affects almost all of us.
Approximately £2 in the £12.88 households typically spend on the license fee every month goes to radio (TV takes the lion’s share). The latest RAJAR results out today highlight what incredible value this is, with 87% of the population tuning in to an average of more than 20hrs of live radio (51% of which is BBC programming) each week.
What and how we consume media is of course changing quickly. Earlier this week, Ofcom revealed half of 10 year olds in the UK now own a smartphone and 5 to fifteen year olds are more likely to have used a smart speaker (27%) last year than a traditional radio (22%). But broadcasters are responding to these changes in how we consume audio.
Just this week, Jonathan Wall, Controller of BBC Sounds, confirmed 3 million people are now using the streaming and download service for radio, music and podcasts each week. No wonder they’re launching 20 new radio shows on Sounds, featuring the likes of Fearne Cotton, Matt Lucas, James Acaster and Emily Maitlis.
But whilst media convergence and new formats of audio are exciting, the importance of radio in the lives of adults of all ages must not be overlooked. It remains the most trusted form of media in the UK and important source of national and local news. In addition to informing the masses, it also entertains and delivers a wide range of psychological benefits.
So with that in mind, I’d like to thank all the station controllers, producers and presenters who work so hard to make radio such an enduringly popular and important medium. I’d also like to congratulate the many stations celebrating positive RAJAR results, not least of which BBC York (38% increase quarter on quarter), BBC Coventry and Warwickshire (28% up), BBC Kent (24% up) and – proving it’s not just for grownups – Fun Kids Radio (29% up).