Radio industry lobbies to be exempt from virus lockdown

The head of the industry body for commercial radio has called for radio staff to be exempt from a nationwide or state lockdown during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Radio broadcast operations and broadcast staff should be considered essential staff during this time, argues Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) CEO Joan Warner, as they provide important information to audiences.

Warner says radio workers should be considered essential in the event of a lockdown

CRA has contacted the government today to make its claim for the exemption.

“It is vital that provisions are made for radio station staff, including on-air presenters, journalists and technical teams to be exempt from any lockdowns or travel restrictions,” said Warner.

“We want to remind Premiers and Chief Ministers, as they consider urgent state and territory lockdown provisions, that the business of radio should be deemed essential and must go on.

“Radio station staff may need to attend various broadcast facilities and locations, including across state borders, to ensure services remain on air.”

Warner said that as nearly 80% of Australians listen to commercial radio, the service should be exempt from any restrictions so Australians are still able to access a trusted communications channel.

The industry will work with the government on both a federal and state/territory level to ensure Australians are fully informed during the pandemic if allowed to keep operating, said Warner.

Traditionally, the ABC is Australia’s emergency radio broadcaster. Southern Cross Austereo CEO Grant Blackley said, following the bushfire crisis which hit Australia at the end of 2019, that he, and other radio leaders, would be working with the government to establish themselves as an emergency broadcast option in the future.


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