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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Radio stations 'ignore new music'
By Darren Waters
BBC News Online entertainment staff

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The chairman of the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters has said there is a lack of new music on radio.

David Ferguson told a gathering of music and radio industry executives that commercial radio stations were limiting access to a range of music.

He told the Music Tank forum that he had "serious concerns" over the impact of national playlists and syndication.

The British Academy represents the UK's song-writers and organises the annual Ivor Novello prizes for music writing.

"The range of music available on radio has been in continuous decline," Mr Ferguson said at the forum, held in London.


"As consolidation has taken place in the commercial market, you can almost quantify the decline in range that is available," said Mr Ferguson.

Many in the music industry fear that the UK could become like the United States, with a handful of firms controlling the commercial airwaves and offering a limited range of music.

At the moment what is coming out of research is that people are bored of new music
Matt Deegan, GWR group
Speaking after the forum, Mr Ferguson told BBC News Online: "The programming on many commercial stations is so clearly designed just to persuade people not to switch it off or change channels, rather than present them with something new and interesting."

But Matt Deegan, group corporate development executive at GWR, defended the track record of commercial radio stations.


GWR, which owns 31 local FM radio stations around the UK, as well as Classic FM, was doing its part to promote new music, he said.

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He said: "We engage with unsigned music in a slightly different way."

He said that while the GWR group had a common playlist for all its local FM stations, individual stations could programme their own music.

"We do music research, speaking to 1,000 people a week about the kinds of music they like, and for popular music there is not much difference around the country," he said.

"At the moment, what is coming out of research is that people are bored of new music.

"We, and a lot of our competitors, seem now to be playing a lot more classic tracks.

"As a rule, our stations do not play unsigned bands.

"Our stations target a 25 to 44-year-old female audience, and unsigned bands are not of interest to them."

'Entry point'

Mr Ferguson also said that BBC Radio 1 had a duty to play new music.

"If you can't get a new band played on Radio 1, then you will never penetrate the market place.

"It's the vital entry point for new music in this country."

Mr Ferguson said Radio 1 had to be "open to new music, especially British music."

A look at Radio 1's current playlist reveals that more than half of the songs are from US artists.

Mr Deegan said GWR was using digital radio stations such as The Storm, which plays new rock music, to promote new music.


"We'd love to do that on FM radio and will be applying for licenses across the country," he said.

He said that GWR stations such as Trent FM in Nottingham had regularly promoted local bands to its listeners.

Mr Ferguson agreed that the growing popularity of digital and online radio stations could provide listeners with access to new music.

"With internet and digital radio stations, that balance in the long term will be addressed," he said.

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