New Media Bill gets its first reading in parliament following the King’s Speech

The parliamentary process for the new Media Bill has started just hours after being introduced in the King’s Speech.

This formal introduction and first reading, which took place on Wednesday 8th November, marks the beginning of the legislative parliamentary process of the Bill required for it to become law.

The Media Bill includes key measures to support UK radio on voice-activated devices such as smart speakers.

The clauses for radio will guarantee:

  • A listeners’ station of choice must be reliably provided in response to a voice command.
  • Smart speaker platforms must provide unfettered access (without charging) to radio stations licenced by Ofcom.
  • Broadcasters can request a default route for their stations to be delivered to listeners on smart speakers, for example via Global Player, Rayo, BBC Sounds, Radioplayer or TuneIn.
  • Platforms are prevented from overlaying content (such as advertising) over the top of radio services.

The Media Bill also includes clauses that reduce regulatory burdens on commercial stations, potentially changing the entire radio landscape with relaxed rules on music formats and local shows in return for more local news and information.

Radiocentre will continue to work with all parties as the Bill progresses through the House of Commons and House of Lords. The parliamentary process does not have a set timetable, but it is unlikely that the Media Bill will receive Royal Assent (and become law) before early summer 2024. In the meantime, the full Bill has now been published on the parliament website here.

Radiocentre’s CEO Matt Payton explained more to RadioToday: “The swift introduction of the Media Bill after the King’s Speech is welcome and underscores the importance of this legislation.

“Political consensus for the measures that support the UK radio industry is strong, reflecting the important public value delivered by broadcasters to millions of listeners every day. The extent of this support also recognises that as technology develops it is important that legislation keeps pace. We will continue to work with MPs and peers as this vital Bill makes its way through parliament.”