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|Formation||1 July 2006|
|Purpose||Representing interests of UK commercial radio|
|Headquarters||55 New Oxford Street, London|
RadioCentre is the industry body for UK commercial radio. It exists to maintain and build a strong and successful commercial radio industry. It does this by lobbying on behalf of members for: more freedom in how and where they produce content; deregulation of commercial messages; tighter rules on the prominence of commercial brands on the BBC; and the removal of local media ownership rules.
RadioCentre is a co-founder of Digital Radio UK and part of the Board, the body set-up to encourage digital switchover in the UK. It is a patron of cross-industry registered charity the Radio Academy as well as being the joint owner of the national radio ratings analyst Radio Joint Audience Research Ltd (RAJAR) and online audio player Radioplayer alongside the BBC.
RadioCentre was established on 1 July 2006 after merging the Commercial Radio Companies Association (CRCA) with the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). RadioCentre’s Chief Executive Andrew Harrison was appointed in October 2006. The current non-executive Chairman Dianne Thompson was appointed in November 2008, replacing the long serving Paul Brown CBE.
The CRCA was originally founded by the first radio companies under the name Association of Independent Radio Companies (AIRC) when independent radio began with LBC and Capital in 1973. It became the CRCA in 1996. Since it was founded the body has always represented the interests of UK commercial radio to Government, Parliament, Ofcom, the European Commission, the European Parliament and other organisations concerned with radio and broadcasting. These functions continue to be administered under the RadioCentre name by the External Affairs department.
Radiocentre offers three areas of expertise each with different functions: Policy, Advertising (formerly the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB)) and Clearance (formerly the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC)).
The RAB was founded in 1992. It is the marketing body for radio, funded entirely by the UK commercial radio industry. The RAB works for the commercial success of radio, raising its profile with advertisers and agencies and helping them use the medium more effectively and creatively.
The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC), which since 1996 has been the UK commercial radio industry's advertising clearance body, is responsible for clearing up to 25,000 ads per year against the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) as developed by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). This regulatory code, plus nearly 60 Acts of UK Parliament, determine what can and cannot be said in all UK radio advertisements. All stations contribute to the cost via their broadcasting licence fees.
RadioCentre member stations together represent approximately 90% of commercial radio listening. Any commercial radio station in the UK holding a terrestrial radio broadcasting licence from Ofcom is eligible to become a station member of the RadioCentre. Subscription rates are calculated in relation to a radio company's net broadcasting revenue (NBR) figure so the smallest stations pay least. Major member groups are Global Radio, Bauer Media, GMG Radio, Orion Media and The Times of India Media Group that owns Absolute Radio.
RadioCentre is also responsible for running the commercial radio awards, which are currently sponsored by Arqiva. The nominations for these awards are usually undertaken in May, with the awards ceremony being in June or July. The 2012 winners are located here.
RadioCentre and the BBC
As RadioCentre members and BBC stations make-up the majority of radio listening in the UK, they work together in several areas to advance the interests of radio as a whole. In 1992, the two organisations founded RAJAR to operate a single audience measurement system for the radio industry. On 31 March 2011 Radioplayer – a cross industry application with the backing of both organisations – launched to bring all UK radio together in one place. Both the BBC and RadioCentre are members of the Digital Radio UK Board, and engage in ongoing discussions with the UK Government regarding digital radio switch-over.
As the organisations are in direct competition, RadioCentre regularly comments on BBC policy. Much of this surrounds arguments regarding the public value RadioCentre believes the BBC has an obligation to provide. To this end, it has criticised Radio 1 and Radio 2 as not focusing on their core demographics; and Radio 5 as having an “identity crisis”. The most widely publicised criticism was in 2009, when it accused the BBC of breaching its own editorial guidelines through the unfair promotion of commercial entities. RadioCentre submitted official complaints that bands Coldplay and U2 and ‘Harry Potter Day’ on BBC Radio 1 were given excessive product prominence by BBC Radio. These were upheld by the BBC Trust.
- Digital Radio Switchover: what is in it for consumers? (PDF). London: DCMS. 2010. p. 45. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- "BBC and commercial radio in world first with launch of Radioplayer". BBC Press Office. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- "Dianne Thompson to replace Paul Brown at RadioCentre". Guardian. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- Commercial radio history
- Commercial radio history
- RAJAR listening figures
- About RAJAR
- "RadioCentre says BBC fails to recognise radio’s true public value potential". Marketing Week. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- "BBC Radio must refocus its remit, says RadioCentre". Marketing Week. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- "Radiocentre: BBC Radio 5 Live has "identity crisis"". Broadcast Now. 22 July 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- "BBC 'giving Coldplay and U2 unfair advantage', commercial rivals claim". Marketing Week. 30 Mar 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- "Harry Potter day on Radio 1 'breached BBC guidelines'". Guardian. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2012.