UK Radio Group Reports Tough Conditions

24 November 2004

Radio advertising revenues in the UK are facing a bleak midwinter, says the boss of commercial radio group GWR.

Chairman Ralph Bernard has revealed that income for the owner of Classic FM and 33 other stations fell 8.7% in October and is predicted to be 6.6% down in November, with a small improvement for December.

Despite the lack of seasonal cheer, Bernard remains upbeat that the present tough conditions, caused by a downturn in consumer spending, are a blip rather than a long-term trend.

In announcing half-year figures GWR says turnover has grown to £61.3 million (€87.3m, $114m) in the six months between April and September, up 3% from £59.3m in the same period last year.

Pre-tax profit is £6.9m for the six-month period, up 12% from £6.1m in 2003.

Bernard also argues that the state-funded radio broadcaster, the BBC, is putting extra pressure on commercial rivals, thereby justifying the proposed merger between GWR and Capital Radio. The move would create the largest radio group in Britain [WAMN 20-Sept-2004].

He claims the BBC is abandoning its traditional audiences and trying to target commercial station listeners. The result, he says, is a sector of the UK public with nowhere to go.

Bernards, no stranger to taking sideswipes at the BBC, maintains it should be regulated by the UK broadcast watchdog Ofcom, rather than the present board of governors. A change would, he says, create a "fair competitive market for all".

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff