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UK commercial radio sector calls for more COVID support as new restrictions impact on local advertisers

By | Published on Monday 26 October 2020


The commercial radio sector has called for more financial support from the UK government arguing that the introduction of new COVID restrictions on a regional basis makes the output of local broadcasters all the more important, but puts a new strain on those broadcasters’ commercial operations.

Trade group Radiocentre points out that for smaller broadcasters in particular, advertising from local businesses accounts for most of their revenues. As new COVID restrictions go into force – especially so called tier three restrictions which force more businesses to close – there will be another slump in local ad bookings.

On Friday, the boss of Radiocentre, Siobhan Kenny, wrote to John Whittingdale, Minister for Media at the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

In the letter, she wrote: “Smaller operators, whose revenues derive significantly – up to 90% – from local advertisers have been particularly hard hit. This means that there is an immediate crisis that still needs to be addressed, as high fixed costs and dramatic falls in revenue still beset stations across the country”.

Commenting on the letter, Kenny told reporters: “Commercial radio broadcasters continue to provide an essential public service role to listeners through news bulletins and information, which is even more important as regional restrictions are introduced”.

“It’s imperative that the government understands that while economic recovery is important, many broadcasters are still under significant pressure right now”, she went on. “This pressure will only increase as tiered restrictions are introduced as these inevitably hit local revenues that disproportionally impact smaller stations”.