The radio networks of North America and Britain provide one of the most important promotional outlets for recorded music, setting programming agendas at radio stations and influencing the talent acquisition policies of record labels throughout the world. For many years there have been sharp contrasts in the way in which music radio has operated and been organised in these two countries. The promotion of records in Britain has mainly been directed towards one national non-commercial station, Radio 1, which plays an eclectic mixture of musical styles. In the United States radio promotion has been aimed across a complex of commercial stations which broadcast ‘narrowcast’ music very clearly defined according to various ‘formats’. However, the recent re-regulation of the broadcasting system in Britain has resulted in a proliferation of regional commercial stations that are responding to increasing competition by introducing narrowcasting policies similar to those of North America. With Radio 1's share of listeners declining and the prospect of national commercial stations being granted licences and further challenging Radio 1's dominance of pop broadcasting, it seems particularly pertinent to contrast the practices of record companies and radio stations in Britain and North America and highlight how they directly effect the production and consumption of pop music.
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