UK smart speakers must play UK radio stations in new ruling; Ofcom oversight

In what is termed “the biggest governmental overhaul of broadcasting rules in 20 years,” makers of smart speakers must offer all licensed UK radio stations on all their platforms. Amazon (Alexa) and Google (Assistant) are the world’s two largest companies affected by the new requirement.

This rule is forthcoming in a new piece of legislation, planned to enter Parliament this week. UK regulator Ofcom will enjoy oversight of what is being termed a level playing field for UK radio broadcasters.

“It’s only sensible that the government introduces safeguards for the future that will guarantee consumer choice and support the public value provided by UK radio services,” said Matt Payton, chief executive of RadioCentre, as quoted in Financial Times.

This development is based on statistics of radio listening methods. About a quarter of live radio audiences access stations online, and half of that behavior is attributed to smart speakers. “Technology has revolutionised the way people enjoy TV and radio,” said culture secretary Lucy Frazer.

Brad Hill