Since around 20 years ago Britain has been awash with commercial radio stations all broadcasting non-government endorsed content. Before the start of the 80s the only choice for radio was the 4 BBC channels. At that point however stations started to be granted the right to broadcast via certain frequencies – this came as a result of the increasing listenership of “pirate radio stations”. At one point just under half the British population actively listened to the then illegal off shore stations.
Now in Britain around 200 privately owned stations broadcast rock, pop, alternative, rap and pretty much every type of music 24 7. All of these are forced to play adverts and take up film/product promotions in order to stay profitable although it seems unlikely that the radio audience will decrease, despite the increasing TV “culture”. However, commercial radio does suffer from some problems that are almost inevitable when you are trying to run radio to be profitable. For example it would cost a great deal of money to expand your main playlist to be too large and thus radio stations are forced to play a relatively narrow selection of tracks in order to cut costs. The next problem is presenter costs; unlike Radio 4 it would be unfeasible to have many different presenters doing many programs each day – because of this stations are likely to keep DJs on air for up to 5-6 hours at one time.
I will conclude by saying that commercial radio is one of the best things that happened to the radio industry in the UK but in order to remain competitive they must keep reinventing the wheel and adapting to an ever changing market.