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UK classical public radio strong despite decline on TV; South Florida classical radio in trouble

Ofcom_logo-600x300A somewhat discouraging report, classical music-wise, from the United Kingdom’s broadcast regulator, titled “Public Service Broadcasting in the Internet Age.” It concludes that since the government lifted requirements on content, public media spending on the arts and classical music has dropped by 25 percent.

Still “there continues to be strong classical music provision on radio,” the survey released by Ofcom notes.

The report defines “PSB” (public service broadcasting) as “the provision of TV programmes dealing with a wide range of subjects, of a high standard and catering for as many different audiences as possible.” The content should be “for the public benefit, rather than for purely commercial purposes.” I am not sure why the document focuses on radio only in passing. In any event, it cites “minimal provision” in arts and classical music genres following the removal of content quotas in 2003:

“Provision has all but ceased of religion and ethics (£13m, down 26%) and formal education (£7m, down 77%) . . . . We note that this is happening at a time when matters of religious belief are prominent in public debate.”

The decline is more striking when you go back to 1998. Then investment for arts and classical music stood at £60.9m, so the drop stands at 32 percent since 2014. This means that radio is more important than ever for UK classical music lovers.

Here in the United States, a resident of Palm Beach county Florida has posted an op-ed in the Palm Beach Daily News lamenting the sale of his area’s classical radio station to a Christian rock outlet. The Educational Media Foundation has bought the Florida NPR/classical operation, along with signals in Naples and Miami. The seller is American Public Media.

“Our economy lives, in part, by the arts: The Cultural Council reports that there are 5,438 arts-related businesses that employ 16,066 people here in our county,” Dr. John Strasswimmer writes. “APM’s financial gamble will leave our community permanently without public radio for the first time since 1969.”

WPBI’s website says the station will work with its new owner to “temporarily” provide public radio news programming via an HD channel and on the web:

“The decision to sell our stations in South Florida is painful and deeply disappointing for everyone involved. With your help, we’ve been working to build Classical South Florida for nearly eight years. Despite our best efforts and significant investments, and your Membership gifts, we’ve not succeeded in providing the distinctive value that will earn the support needed to sustain this service.”


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