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James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: Australia – don’t link to our stuff; UK says bye to local breakfast

James Cridland, radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.


You can’t link to that! Call the police!

When lobbying government, as Commercial Radio Australia did last week, you need to be careful what you wish for, I said in an opinion piece – after discovering that Commercial Radio Australia want to add legal restrictions against unauthorised links to radio station streams and podcasts. They said:

“Commercial radio stations are increasingly directing their resources towards the removal of their intellectual property from third party aggregator sites and mobile apps. Typically, such sites provide ‘listen live’ links to station broadcasts or enable consumers to access stations’ podcasts. This diverts traffic – and ultimately advertising revenue – away from the stations’ own websites.”

Joan Warner wrote an opinion piece back, saying I misunderstand the issues, and adds:

“Our submission does not propose restricted access to podcasts; podcasting has grown and thrived because of access via a multitude of third party podcast apps. The Australian radio industry is Australia’s leading investor in podcast creation and promotion, and has benefited from having its content being available everywhere.”

Well, quite.

If content is king, distribution is queen. If you really don’t want people linking to your ad-funded stuff, it’s relatively easy to protect those streams, rather than misguidedly attempting to change the law.

The CRA’s work to make smart speakers work better for radio is highlighted in Radio World, meanwhile.

The UK cuts out local radio

Meanwhile, in the UK, Tuesday was a black day for UK radio, as Global decided to remove 43 local breakfast shows, 24 local drivetime shows, and 10 studio buildings gone. I think I make this around 100 talented, excellent programming staff going from Global alone. RadioToday think that if Bauer exercises its options in a similar way, that could impact 250 presenters.

To put this in context: Global made £25m in profit last year, and sales revenue is growing. Unlike many parts of the North American radio business, this is not being driven by impending (or actual) bankruptcy; rather, as Phil Riley explains, a requirement to invest in marketing and grow the business. This frees up money for marketing – £10m of it perhaps – but also (and just as importantly) means that the marketing can actually promote a consistent product and personality. The UK’s media market is a national one, not local.

Listeners to Capital, Heart and Smooth will still hear local news and weather, pointless traffic reports, and local advertising. In fact, many of these stations have already been taking a lot of national content anyway (typically they had local breakfast and afternoon drive, and national everything else). The data suggests that listeners will not tune away. (Indeed, perhaps the contrary).

And, lest we forget, the UK is very small – the size of the states of Oregon or Victoria. You can’t drive in a straight line in the UK for more than 6 hours without falling off. “National” radio, which might not work in the totality of the US, probably would work at a state-wide scale.

As Adam Bowie says, there’s lots of change for UK commercial radio here. Bauer could make similar changes, too, and they could well be more severe. I gather Global are being good to their people (as much as is possible under the circumstances).

It’s been the subject of a lot of news in the UK – here’s The Media Show on BBC Radio 4 covering it; I was on Rhod Sharpe’s “Up All Night”; and Dirk Anthony is a cool, calm and sensible voice on the RadioToday Programme.

BBC Local Radio? This is an opportunity for you to get better talent, and focus on your local area.

In other news

UK: The BBC is running a 5G broadcast trial. It’s just a technical trial, and it’s unlikely that this means much – if anything – for radio broadcasting over the next five years. I’m trying to understand more about it – there are some important differences between 5G Broadcast and earlier eMBMS stuff.

US: Pandora Stories launches, “combining music and podcasting in a new format”: apparently, this blisteringly new format allows a playlist curator to talk between songs and tell us more about the stuff we’re about to hear. (Snark aside: you do wonder what took them so long to replicate the very thing that makes music radio so unique.)

RCS buys Radiojar, a cloud-based playout system. Only last year they were touting their own playout-in-a-cloud system, so unsure what to make of this.

Want to wake up with the latest news? The alarm clock on Android phones can now play news bulletins, turn on lights, or play songs – oddly, they’ve not added the functionality to play a radio station quite yet, but that’ll come, right?

This week’s Lazy Buggles Headline comes to you courtesy of City AM newspaper in London. Let’s fight it with this more acceptable Lazy Buggles Headline.

Struggling for a talk radio topic? This one looks like a winner.

Record labels in the US now get 75% of their revenue from streaming.

James Cridland

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