The majority of the UK’s talk radio shows are fronted these days by men and women with direct ties to the establishment that they are supposed to be holding to account. You may have heard me discuss this on my radio show.
Journalists have been supplanted by current and former politicians, political aides and lobbyists. Tony Blair’s henchman Alistair Campbell has guest hosted Good Morning Britain twice. Nigel Farage has worked for LBC. He’s just been signed by GB News.
LBC has given radio shows to Jacob Rees-Mogg, Rachel Johnson and David Lammy. Iain Dale has tried and failed several times to win a seat for the Tories. He’s written several gushing tributes to his heroine Margaret Thatcher. Dale has a daily show on LBC. He’s not a journalist and he’s a wretched presenter. It matters not. He’s establishment to the bone.
I don’t know if anyone has ever complained to Ofcom, the UK’s broadcasting regulatory authority. It probably wouldn’t make any difference.
UK radio stations have been embedded by the establishment. It began with the broadcasting act of 1990. A year earlier, the EU issued a directive to member states that they should deregulate their broadcasting industries to promote competition.
The directive wasn’t issued to promote competition. Its aim was to destroy it. That might seem counterintuitive. After all, then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claimed that the act would lead to the opening of many new regional and commercial stations, ultimately leading to more choice and a greater diversity of opinion.
But the opposite happened. Inevitably, local radio stations which had been providing a vital public service for years, began to flounder. The creation of so many new radio stations led to a sharp decline in advertising revenues. The end was nigh for local radio and local news.
Before the broadcasting act of 1990, local/commercial radio was regulated by the Independent Broadcasting Authority. Broadcasting standards were exemplary across the board. The stations were usually run by local business people. Programmes were produced and presented to an exceptional standard. Local news, sport and community affairs were prioritised by these stations.
Thatcher’s broadcasting act replaced the Independent Broadcasting Authority with the Independent Television Commission and Radio Authority. This meant that technical standards and programme content were no longer being monitored. It also led to a rapid dumbing down of UK radio.
Simply put, local stations which had served their communities for decades were wiped out by deregulation. This was the purpose of the EU’s 1989 directive which led to Thatcher’s 1990 act. Hundreds of stations closed and were hoovered up by holding company’s and international media groups.
Today, two companies own the majority of commercial radio stations in the UK. Global and Bauer between them, control nearly 70% of all local commercial analogue radio stations and 60% of national commercial digital stations.
The establishment has embedded the media. There is no local radio now. Sure, Hallam FM in Sheffield (owned by Bauer) will cover Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and Yorkshire cricket, but the majority of its output is homogenised.
None of the political party’s in this country attempted to stop it. The print media refused to report it. I don’t need to tell you why. It was a brilliant coup. They deregulated the market to destroy the radio stations of the day. The stations were swallowed up by the very corporations who lobbied the EU to do it.
Now they’re in the process of replacing journalists and presenters with current and former politicians, political aides and lobbyists. Every time I see a shill like Iain Dale, a Tory to the bone, interview a government minister, I have to pinch myself.
At least Dale never made it to Westminster. David Lammy is a sitting MP. If you’d said to me ten years ago, that a member of parliament would be presenting current affairs on national radio, I’d have told you where to get off.
You’ve got to hand it to them. It’s very clever.