New Media Bill gets passed by House of Commons and moves closer to reality

The Media Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Commons bringing the major changes for UK radio closer to reality.

The move on Tuesday afternoon follows scrutiny by MPs of the new legislation since its introduction to parliament in November last year.

The legislation will now move up to the House of Lords for the remaining stages which are required before it can become law. It will likely receive Royal Assent (and become law) before early summer, when Ofcom will start consulting on how it will implement the new measures outlined in the legislation.

The Media Bill includes clauses that reduce regulation for commercial radio stations, such as music formats, local broadcasting hours and networking.

It also 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

Radiocentre has been working with MPs from across the political spectrum to support measures for radio as the Bill made its way through its second reading, committee and report stage debates, before a successful vote at third reading.

Radiocentre’s CEO Matt Payton said: “The fact that the Media Bill has been approved by the House of Commons is welcome news. The Bill includes important measures to help safeguard the future of. radio in the UK and has been backed by MPs of all parties during the debates. We are grateful for all the support the Bill has received and look forward to working with members of the House of Lords as scrutiny of this important legislation continues.”