Kelvin MacKenzie, chairman of the Wireless Group, has criticised what he sees as the BBC’s domination of speech-based radio outside London.
The former Sun editor launched his latest attack on the BBC while campaigning for support from the West Midlands business community for NewsTALK 105.2FM, his company’s bid for the first commercial, speech-based radio station outside London.
At a gathering of up to 60 members of the community at the West Midlands hub of the Institute of Directors in Birmingham last week, MacKenzie said the region was “fed up of playing second fiddle to London” for its news and information. Nowhere is this more apparent than in speech radio, where London is seen as important enough to have two speech stations already. Is London more important than the West Midlands? Not to most people in this room.”
MacKenzie also rounded on BBC WM, calling the only speech-based radio station in the region “an anachronism”.
“Up to now, speech formats outside of London have been monopolised by the BBC. Take BBC WM. It gets older and tireder by the day. As I’ve said, this is in area of enormous regeneration. Listening to BBC WM all day, you’d be forgiven for thinking degeneration. NewsTALK 105.2FM will correct that balance and give people in the West Midlands a vibrant, lively and compelling alternative.” He also stressed the local make up of the 105.2FM bid, which includes veteran Central News presenter Bob Warman and Carlton TV controller of sport Gary Newbon.
“Awarding the licence to yet another music station, on the other hand will merely add to an already crowded commercial marketplace, be it kitsch lounge or jazz. On the subject of jazz, I should point out that Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham has closed down and is now a lap dancing club. Now there’s a talking point worthy of a speech radio station.”
By Wale Azeez