UK Commercial Radio Attack Pre-empts BBC Expansion

28 February 2006

In a pre-emptive attack on the feared expansion of BBC radio services under the corporation's recent licence-fee settlement, the Commercial Radio Companies Association paints a bleak picture of its own future if the BBC's ambitions are not curbed.

The horrors in store - if the CRCA's report is to be believed - are on a par with War of the Worlds and Independence Day. And the report's timing, in advance of a forthcoming government white paper, is aimed to cause maximum impact.

Pejoratively titled A Licence to Kill?, the report has been prepared for the CRCA by Indepen, a management and economic consultancy that describes its thinking as "independent, distinctive and rigorous".

Such thinking, according to Indepen, suggests that an unrestrained BBC would create 9,000 job losses within the commercial sector - to say nothing of a £1.1 billion ($1.92bn; €1.62bn) charge on the UK economy.

Indepen also claims the compulsory licence fee - which covers both radio and TV - could exceed £200 a year by end of the BBC's next charter period in 2016.

It argues that the BBC could waste millions of pounds when there is no need for additional publicly funded radio stations. It also points out that many commercial radio stations already operate at a loss.

Says CRCA chairman David Elstein, a passionate advocate of hamstringing the BBC: "Uncapped BBC spending on radio will ultimately cost not just the commercial radio industry but also, through a reduction in choice of valuable public services, listeners and the communities in which they live.

Indepen urges that the newly formed BBC Trust be compelled to examine whether the corporation should withdraw from existing media markets where its intervention is no longer in the public interest, rather than simply judge its entry into new markets.

Data sourced from and CRCA website; additional content by WARC staff