The Guardian Media Group has won the gold award at this year’s Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards for its decision to invest in documentaries to compete with the BBC.
GMG Radio, which owns a dozen stations around the UK, set up the £1m documentary fund in July 2007 and received 300 pitches from independent production companies.
The commissioned documentaries included a series on the realities of war in Afghanistan as told by serving soldiers and a series on censorship over the decades.
The programmes were broadcast last summer on GMG Radio’s network of Smooth, Real and Rock Radio stations.
The Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards judges said: “In an area where the BBC has a stranglehold, GMG proved that Commercial Radio can work well with independent production companies and achieve very impressive results.”
Pirate FM in Cornwall won the Arqiva award for best news coverage at the ceremony in London on Friday night.
National speech radio station TalkSport was named station of the year. The judges said of TalkSport: “Huge resources and great courage have been put into the station – and the impressive array of on-air talent is supported by excellent production.”
Arqiva head of radio Paul Eaton said: “The number of submissions again this year has been very encouraging, and the level of expertise among all entries is forever increasing.”