Radio: a much loved medium in decline?

Lee Waters sets out the challenge for radio within the Wales Media Audit’s draft findings.

Radio is a much neglected medium in the debate around media provision in Wales. But ‘voice’ has remained a resilient medium for people accessing information and entertainment at a time of rapid technological development.

Of all the UK nations, more people in Wales listen to radio, and they also listen for the longest period of time. Radio services reached 94.5% of the adult population in Wales and listeners tuned in for an average of 22.4 hours per week in 2014, compared to a UK average of 89.4%.

IWA Wales Media Audit

Monday: Read Lee Waters’ introduction to the IWA Wales Media Audit

Yesterday: See section 1 of the draft Wales Media Audit in full here. 

Today: Read the Wales Media Audit’s findings on Radio in full. 

However, shifting market forces and technological changes have posed challenges to the radio industry in Wales.  Several commercial radio services have closed and ownership of those that remain has consolidated into three main groups, with greater networked programming and reduced ‘local’ content.

According to Ofcom, on an aggregated basis, the reach of BBC Radio Cymru and Radio Wales, taken together saw a bigger year on year decrease in 2014 than any of the other national and local BBC services, driven primarily by a 1.9% fall in reach for Radio Wales.

The IWA’s Wales Media Audit sets out these trends in detail. Click here to read the draft section on radio. If you would like to feedback on any of the drafts so far please email [email protected].

Lee Waters is Director of the IWA.

One thought on “Radio: a much loved medium in decline?

  1. Very informative, illustrating the complexities of radio broadcasting in Wales! One factual error – BBC Radio Cymru was launched in 1977 (*not 1979 – see January 1977 edition of Radio Times for confirmation, including the start of the iconic “Helo Bobol” at breakfast time). What happened in 1979 was an extended daily programme schedule for Radio Cymru, comparable with Radio Wales’ on AM, but the FM skeleton network was already in place in 1977 – the “hard sell” to get listeners to invest in new VHF radio sets had been well under way since 1976.
    Also worth noting looking forward to the prospects for FM switch off (circa 2020 being latest date), regarding the 10% of the Welsh population unable to hear either DAB or FM after that date, it’s unclear exactly what proportion of those people not serviced by DAB will be Welsh speakers. An educated guesstimate however would hazard that a greater proportion of Welsh speakers than the norm would be amongst that 10% – given Wales’ topography, linguistic demographics and the fact that (due to the current mid and west Wales multiplex footprint) a large chunk of the country would not currently be serviced at all by DAB. Therefore one could argue that for Welsh speakers, wanting to hear local/nation radio services through the medium of Welsh, the equivalent “90% Welsh speaking population” threshold for “local” FM switch off in 2020 would not actually be met….

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