On the sidelines 

6 November 2008 tbs.pm/974

UTV criticises Channel 4 for backing out of digital radio project

It may be true that if Channel 4 Radio had been up and running two years ago it could have survived an economic downturn. But crucially the ad revenue would have still had to have come from somewhere, so someone else would have lost revenue as a result (even TalkSport, heaven forbid) even if Channel 4 Television was forced into providing a subsidy.

Plus with Bauer being forced to close its Mojo radio station at the end of the month as well as keeping previous GCap/Global station closures in mind, now is definitely not the time to launch new commercial radio stations – especially digital ones – regardless of the platform.

So UTV blaming Channel 4 is like blaming a nonexistent messenger for delivering the wrong message, although the intention was perhaps to criticise the general economic models that Channel 4 and its partners were using which have recently become invalidated as a result of economic change that was perhaps inevitable.

And it’s strange that no one is daring to criticise the high transmission costs that seem to be instrumental in DAB’s current woes, not to mention the current licensing arrangements. But there again commercial radio is stuck in the grasp of both Ofcom and Crown Castle unless it tries its hand at internet radio streaming.

At least UTV is still performing reasonably well from a financial perspective, which at least proves that regional television has life left in it. Now if only Ofcom can reconcile regional television with ITV plc’s obligations instead of allowing the horse to bolt before closing the stable door.