The radio industry appeals for government bailout amid falling revenues

The commercial radio industry has asked for a crisis relief package to be issued by the Federal Government, helping broadcasters handle falling ad revenues amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) has already put forward a package of options to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, with the focus on lessening regulatory constraints and compliance burdens.

The commercial radio industry needs help, says Warner

CRA CEO Joan Warner said the industry is struggling.

“The Australian Government can provide much-needed relief and certainty by easing regulatory constraints and the heavy compliance burden on local radio,” Warner said.

“We also call on the Federal Government to divert a proportion of its marketing spend from global digital platforms to local Australian radio at a time when it is needed the most.

“Radio is the most local of all media. The targeted community service, sense of community and live and local content that we provide can’t, and won’t, be replicated by global platforms such as Google and Facebook.”

The radio industry isn’t the first media arm to appeal to the government for support. $5m has already been pledged for regional media, but industry bodies have said that isn’t enough to undo the damage already caused by COVID-19.

Regional radio is currently exempt from the payout, something Warner is ‘deeply disappointed’ about.

“With local print disappearing and TV content being scaled back, Australians will rely on local commercial radio more than ever as a trusted source to keep them informed, entertained and connected,” she said.

Warner’s concern is that the worst of the COVID-19 impacts won’t be seen in revenue reports until the end of June, although the figures released later this month are expected to show a downturn.

“Many advertisers large and small have cancelled or reduced advertising. This has led to job cuts across the industry at a time when the increase in workload of providing live and local radio services to the 95% of Australians who listen to radio, with nearly 80% of those listening to commercial radio, is unprecedented,” Warner said.

The measures requested by CRA include increasing radio’s share of the current COVID-19 information campaign and other government advertising to at least 15% of total government ad spend and providing immediate relief from spectrum licence fees for two years.

The industry would also like the government to change regulation to allow MPs’ to use their electorate communications allowances on local radio, especially in regions. The current rules allow MPs to use their allocations on social media to inform constituents of news and events in their electorates, but not radio.


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