The chairman of Radio Adelaide has savaged the ABC for its plans to rename its local radio station, 891 ABC Adelaide, to ABC Radio Adelaide, as the name bears remarkable resemblance to that of the long-running community radio station. The decision, Iain Evans said in a statement, reeks of “breathtaking arrogance”, and, he adds, Radio Adelaide intends to fight back.

The name change is part of a nationwide rebrand that would have all metropolitan ABC stations drop the frequency from their names, instead naming themselves after their host city. The new names will be rolled out in early January.

Evans, a former state Liberal leader who retired from state parliament in 2014, said there had been no consultation or communication to Radio Adelaide from the ABC “prior to us finding out just minutes before it was announced today in the media”.

“Radio Adelaide has been in existence for 43 years and is Australia’s first and oldest community radio station. It is simply unbelievable that the ABC with all its media resources were aware that the name Radio Adelaide was already being used by a radio station and decided to hijack our name anyway.

“It is breathtakingly arrogant of the ABC — a taxpayer funded monolith based in Sydney — to decide to take on a primarily volunteer run community radio station in Adelaide.”

Radio Adelaide, Evans said, “is now entering into a David and Goliath battle against the ABC”, having sent letters to the public broadcaster “expressing our outrage”.

“Radio Adelaide intend to take every measure available to us to protect our name. It may well be ‘your ABC’, but it’s our name!”

Radio Adelaide is owned by the University of Adelaide, though it is funded mainly by listener memberships. A trademark for the words ‘5UV Radio Adelaide’ (5UV is the station’s former name) was lodged by the university in 2000, and is valid until 2020.

An ABC spokesperson says the ABC has received “communication” from Radio Adelaide, but “won’t be commenting on legal discussions”.

The new names — also rolling out in other cities — are part of a broader attempt to make the ABC’s branding more consistent. Radio boss Michael Mason said on Thurday:

“It’s important to make a coordinated approach to our visual and aural identity in a transforming radio world where audiences can access content whenever and wherever they desire. This update will ensure a consistent and positive experience for audiences. It will strengthen ABC Radio’s position at the heart of our capital cities, delivering topical, intelligent, and relevant content about the issues that matter to Australians.”

Peter Fray

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