How Far Does Contemporary Radio Provide Audiences With Genuine Diversity of Listening Choice

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It is generally believed that audiences are provided with a diverse listening choice but this only seems to be true for national radio stations. These are the BBC stations, Talk Sport, Virgin and Classic FM. The BBC also provides regional radio stations which are different to the independent local radio stations on offer which are based on middle of the road popular music as it attracts the masses and, therefore, the advertisers. The regional BBC stations focus more on local issues and discussions with less music.

The BBC provides five national radio stations each with a different remit. Radio One is based on modern music with different types at different times of day, which are aimed at different audiences. It is aimed at sixteen to twenty-five year olds and plays all types of modern music. However, around 1995 changes were made as it was going out of date. The target audience was twenty-five to forty as the original DJs were still being used. The BBC was being assessed for privatisation so a new controller was taken on and became more diverse and cutting edge, which was different to the independent national and local stations.

Radio Two also went through changes. Its audience was also ageing and didn’t have a unique selling point. In an effort to attract a younger audience Terry Wogan was hired in 1993. When Radio One began to change Radio 2 was able to accept it’s old listeners with easy listening music, interviews, advice and comedy. It is seen to be the station to listen to when a person has outgrown Radio One.

Radio Three is seen to be very elitist as it plays almost uninterrupted classical music. When Classic FM started in 1992 Radio Three also underwent a change by lightening the tone and having shorter pieces. Its target audience is social-economic grades A and B.

Radio Four provides hard political news aimed at age thirty-five plus grades A and B. It has in depth comment and contains drama, the arts, a soap, quizzes, documentaries and interviews. It has hundreds of correspondents, which a commercial station could not compete with. Like Radio Three it is also seen to be elitist and has been accused of having a south-east bias. The station has also tried to become more accessible by rescheduling.

Radio Five Live provides rolling news and sport with a target audience of ages twenty-two to forty-four grades B to D. It also has a male bias, which it is trying to change. The station also aims to attract minority groups like cultural groups. It provides a friendlier style than that of Radio Four. As Radio Five Live plays lots of live sport it has gained listeners who do not have access to Sky.

So it can be seen that the BBC alone provides a genuine diversity with each station having its own audience. However, with the 1990 Broadcasting Act competition has come from independent national radio.

When Classic FM started in 1992 it provided an accessible alternative to Radio Three as it is has a lighter tone and plays shorter and better known pieces. It is a popular station, which attracts grades A, B and C1. Because of this it is also popular advertisers.

Virgin provides an alternative to Radio One as it plays modern music to a younger audience. However, Virgin does not offer the musical diversity that Radio One does as it plays only middle of the road popular music, which attracts high audience ratings. Talk, or more recently Talk Sport has provided competition for Radio Five Live. It is also speech based and is friendly, accessible and often controversial.

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