Commercial Radio Australia CEO addresses the power of tech giants
The new CEO of Commercial Radio Australia is wary about the prospect of global tech giants getting in the way of free and readily accessible radio content.
Ford Ennals – who took over the role from Joan Warner earlier this month – has addressed the increasing power and influence of tech platforms, and people’s reliance upon them.
He believes Australians should not have to face barriers to readily accessible radio.
In an interview with The Australian (subscription required), Mr Ennals warned companies they must not abuse their power by acting as gatekeepers to digital content.
“When people want to listen to their favourite radio podcasts or their favourite show it ought to be easy to access and it ought to be what they get.”
“You do wonder down the road whether these guys who are very powerful and smart will want to change the level at which they deliver those services and use the data in a different way which doesn’t serve the radio industry or the listener.”
Mr Ennals concedes that sometimes there are honest mistakes, where someone might, for example, ask for KIIS in Sydney but instead end up with KIIS in America.
However, he says issues such as these can be addressed.
Mr Ennals – the founding CEO of Digital Radio UK and Digital UK – also pointed to the resilience of radio, commending the industry for its success in the face of a global pandemic.
While many in the industry feared that fewer people would listen to radio because there were fewer car journeys, Mr Ennals says this wasn’t the case.
It remains to be seen whether Australia will adopt the recommendation of a recent review in the UK – that the government consider laws to guarantee free and easy access to radio and content on digital platforms, including smart speakers.
Instead of trying to hang onto the past, Mr Ennals says the radio industry is leaning forward into digital platforms, streaming, podcasting and audio on demand.
He tells the paper “We need to reshape radio so it controls the broader audio market and isn’t just about broadcast radio, and I see that across all markets.”