James Cridland

What the General Election means to UK radio

Parliament in all its glory

A General Election has been called in the UK, at exactly the same time as The Podcast Show had a number of news podcasters on stage. Cue a lot of hurried running away from the event back to the office (and one podcast that found an empty room in the venue and used the show’s audio producers to record their show from there).

Unlike in the US, elections are bad for media companies: political advertising is banned on broadcast media, for one thing, so there’s no extra money coming in.

But it’s even worse news. Many advertisers will pause their activity to wait and see who wins; and the UK government - once one of the biggest advertisers on-air, with (often harrowing) ads against drink-driving, not playing near rivers, not to import honey, and safely crossing the road - isn’t allowed to advertise anything during the election period, lest it be seen as political, so that means even less money for the industry.

The election also means quite stringent rules about impartiality, which can add significantly to a UK radio station’s workload, given the need to monitor and measure.

The surprise General Election (a UK Prime Minister can call an election whenever they want, rather than the fixed term in the US) has also caused quite the headache for broadcasters, who were all expecting the election to be in November, and contracts sorted accordingly.

And, it’ll also be quite the technical and scheduling headache, especially for the BBC, which is covering Glastonbury the previous weekend, and also covering Wimbledon: two large outside broadcasts that stretch teams anyway, without a General Election to cover. There are 650 MPs, votes for each of which are counted in their local area: most broadcasters would like the option to take many of the results live. Also vying for airtime will be Euro 2024, a soccer competition in Germany.

One thing to keep an eye on is the influence of podcasters. Podcasting isn’t bound by the same impartiality rules as broadcasters, and I suppose they’re fine to take political advertising; and it’s interesting to note that The Rest is Politics is to air on Channel 4 on the run-up to the election, as well as being part of the channel’s coverage that night.

Anyway: I’m not sure I get to vote this time round for various tedious administrative reasons - and this would have been my last UK election I could vote for anyway - so the only thing I’d please suggest is that if you vote Conservative again, Great Britain, you need your bloody head examined.


  • Not sure that people in other countries understand how vicious the press are against the BBC and the ABC. Andrew Bowden shares this classic of the genre from The Telegraph, which has managed to turn a new rail service from Rochdale to London into something created just for the BBC, because, um, it’ll stop in Eccles - which is twenty minutes away from MediaCity UK on the tram. (Manchester Piccadilly is 29 minutes away). The press has been drumming up anti-BBC nonsense like this for more than twenty years.

  • Congratulations to Bauer Media, which officially opened its new radio studios (and other things) in London last week. Plenty of excited LinkedIn posts from people who went to the opening. Also last week, a big Buckingham Palace garden party for plenty of people in podcasting and radio. I was invited to one of these, but not the other: see if you can guess which.

  • Next week, this newsletter will come from Toronto Canada, after I’ve spend the week at Momentum 2024, a large Christian radio event in Orlando. I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you to PlayIt Software, which has become a monthly supporter. They say that this is “an invaluable resource for staying updated on the latest trends in the broadcast radio industry. These insights provide essential information that significantly influences the development at PlayIt Software, particularly for products like PlayIt Live. The comprehensive coverage and expert analysis help shape strategic decisions, ensuring that the software remains at the forefront of industry advancements. James’ dedication to delivering timely and relevant content truly supports ongoing innovation and growth.” That’s exciting!

Thank you too, to David Webb from sunny Australia (“I enjoy your updates on what is happening in radio”), John Pierce from 94.1 FM Gold Coast (“Love what you do. This a great way to keep up with the industry I’ve been a part of for over 50 years.”), and to Chagota (“Invaluable coverage!”) - very kind, all three of you, and I owe Chagota an email.

Want to supercharge your radio show? Here’s a £1 week-long trial of Show Prep - from a world class radio consultant and the best show-prep writer in the UK. Great for UK stations, or for English-language stations everywhere, too. (ad)

Coming up…


Thank you to Radio.co, PlayIt Software, Broadcast Radio, Clyde Broadcast. Richard Hilton, Emma Gibbs, Jocelyn Abbey, James Masterton, Brun Audio Consulting, Soma FM and Media Realm’s MetaRadio for being regular supporters.

If you’d like to support my work in any way, you can BuyMeACoffee - become a member to give regularly or just give a one-off coffee, or five. Here’s where to do that.

My newsletter is supported by: