Monday 11 February 2008

The death of jazz on digital radio

We've been allowed another jazz digital station for just over a year. The Jazz provides the best music on the radio for those of us who don't want to listen to the hundreds of repetitive pop and rock channels. 364,000 listeners, listening for an average of over five hours a week, seemed to agree. Now somebody called Fru Hazlitt has decided that our tastes have no place in her new 'multi platform environment'. The destruction of digital jazz stations is not a new phenomenon. Previously, the Guardian Media Group had exiled Jazz FM by using its DAB slot to broadcast Smooth FM (though the former survives on the Internet). Apparently we're all going to junk our DAB radios for internet radios, according to Ms Hazlitt. I don't believe it for a moment: millions of listeners have paid a lot for these radios, and they are not going to get rid of them when they can still receive BBC stations; cable and satellite TV listeners are also an important part of the digital audience. But I wonder how much credibility the chief executive of GCap, the company that owns the station, has when she tells us that we must accept the closure of The Jazz so that she can develop "brands and content that can win within a multi-platform environment" creating a "national broadband footprint" and "a new flexible inventory policy with up to nine minutes of advertising per hour"? Surely the whole point of digital radio and TV is to provide audiences with programming that meets their distinctive interests, not to force everybody to listen to nine minutes of ads an hour on Capital Radio even in the name of a "flexible inventory policy"?

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