The Radio Academy Knowledge Bank

UK Radio

Looking for information about UK Radio? The Radio Academy is here to help!

The UK Radio Industry

The British radio market is split roughly 50/50 between stations owned and operated by the BBC and stations owned by commercial groups and licensed by Ofcom.

Most listening is via FM, but digital transmissions via DAB are growing in popularity and there is still some listening via AM frequencies (also known as medium and long wave).

In addition there are about 200 community stations, also licensed by Ofcom, and many student and hospital services.


BBC Radio

BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the UK under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927.

The BBC is primarily funded by the TV licence fee, currently £145.50 a year (£12.13 a month), which is payable by everyone in the UK who watches television programming live. Commercial revenue and grants top up this figure to £4.6 billion a year. Of the monthly £12 it earns from each licence fee, the BBC spends £2 on radio.

The BBC runs ten national domestic radio stations, five of which are only available in a digital format.

[More About BBC Radio Services Here]


Commercial Radio

Commercial Radio has been broadcasting in the UK since 1973. Stations are funded through advertising revenue and their broadcasting licenses are awarded by Ofcom.

There are three national commercial stations broadcasting on FM or AM throughout the UK as well as via DAB, DTV and online. Most commercial stations serve a local or regional area and are owned by one of three big groups which dominate the sector.

Some of them have been collected into networks, sharing some programmes and syndicated output.

[More About Commercial Radio Services Here]


Independent Producers

There is a buoyant independent production sector, mostly making programmes for the five main BBC networks. They are represented by the Radio Independents Group (RIG).

For details of how to sell programme ideas to the BBC click here.


Community & Voluntary Radio

There are over 200 small-scale not-for-profit stations now operating under Ofcom licenses for the benefit of local communities and interest groups. There is a full list of stations on the Ofcom website.

For information about community radio, student radio and hospital radio please visit our voluntary radio section.