As the British radio industry prepares itself for the forthcoming review of its functions by media regulator Ofcom, commercial stations are vigorously defending their public service honour.
A six-week study by the Commercial Radio Companies Association revealed the "value and importance of the work of 280 commercial radio stations across the UK" according to ceo Paul Brown.
During the four-year period since the last study, news broadcasts have increased by 60% to almost eight hours a week per station. About 150 weather reports and 100 traffic bulletins are now aired per week.
Although local news stories make up almost half of total news broadcasts, local events are less well supported. Their promotion fell by 25%, reflecting a shift towards coverage by radio station websites.
CRCA chairman David Elstein admits that "no one is denying that commercial radio is there to make a profit and provide a commercial service", but believes that stations can "meet and extend … regulatory requirements."
The coveted licence will be the first to be awarded by Ofcom as part of its move to add an extra thirty radio stations to the airwaves by the end of next year.
With ad revenues expected to be worth £15 million ($26.8m: €22m), bidders are jostling to make today's application deadline (September 23).
They include GWR (now linked with potential new partner Capital Radio), Emap and Scottish Media Group.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff