The commercial radio industry has requested the Federal Government provide a crisis relief package to assist radio broadcasters who are experiencing falling ad revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commercial Radio Australia covered a series of potential financial and regulatory measures with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher several weeks ago to assist with the fallout from the pandemic.
Chief Executive officer Joan Warner said: “The Australian Government can provide much-needed relief and certainty by easing regulatory constraints and the heavy compliance burden on local radio.”
“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.”
Warner said the full impact of the pandemic is not expected to be seen until the June quarter figures are released, with Radio ad revenues expected to show a downturn when Deloitte ad revenue figures for the March quarter are released later this month,
“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.”
CRA has called on the Government to implement measures to support the industry’s sustainability, including:
• Increase radio’s share of the current COVID-19 information campaign and other government advertising to at least 15% of total government ad spend
• Provide immediate relief from spectrum licence fees for two years
• 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.
Warner added that CRA is deeply disappointed that regional radio is still excluded from the Regional and Small Publishers’ Innovation Fund after the Minister’s announcement that $5 million is being released from that fund to support regional news and journalism. While the Minister announced eligibility had been expanded, local radio news is still excluded.
“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.”