Representing radio during COVID-19

Key information for broadcasters

Representing broadcasters

As we highlighted early on in this national emergency, radio stations have an important role to play in a crisis, not only for accurate, high quality news and information but also as a companion for listeners of all ages when they need it most.

Our key responsibility at times like this is to ensure these crucial services can stay on air and that they get the support they need to ride out the significant economic shock that is already starting to affect businesses in all sectors.

We have welcomed some of the unprecedented measures that the Government has outlined to support business. However, we have also been working intensely to outline the immediate concerns of the commercial radio industry to Government and Ofcom, in order to highlight the particular value of the sector and urgent situation that it faces. 

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A list of much of our latest activity is outlined below. 

Policy and Government 

Recent developments (as of 7th January 2021)

  • DCMS announced a series of support packages for the radio sector worth £1.1 million, including £600,000 for transmission costs
  • This was in addition to further financial support for small stations announced by Arqiva
  • Launched new research (Beyond the Bubble) on different types of commercial radio news consumers
  • DCMS confirmed support for non-Arqiva customers that received no benefit from the earlier support package
  • Parliament passed legislation that means 10-year licence rollovers are formally confirmed
  • Pressing DCMS and Ofcom to urgently revisit the issue of broadcast licensing fees and WTA fees paid to Ofcom
  • Confirmation from Ofcom that regulatory ‘forbearance’ will be extended until 30 June 2021
  • Submitted detailed response to Ofcom call for evidence on BBC Sounds
  • Met with Chris Burns, Head of BBC Local Radio, to discuss concerns about new temporary BBC Local Radio services  

Next steps

  • Continue to highlight the difficulties facing the sector with MPs alongside calls for support
  • Lobby the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Local Government Association to make funding available to support local commercial radio businesses
  • Prepare briefings on an Advertising Tax Credit for UK media to be shared with Ministers and parliamentarians
  • Hold an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Commercial Radio meeting in February

Useful information 

  • On 5 January the Government announced £4.6bn in new lockdown grants which includes a £594m discretionary fund that has been made available to Local authorities and Devolved Administrations to support impacted businesses outside of the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries
  • More information is available (here) for businesses on one-off grants of up to £9000. The grants are made by local authorities and you are encouraged to apply directly even if doubt about your eligibility in order for them to assess your claim. Find your local authority here
  • You can find out more about coronavirus financial support for businesses here. Check (here) if you’re eligible for the coronavirus Local Restrictions Support Grant (for open businesses).
  • The furlough scheme has been extended to April and 100% government-backed loans extended until March
  • The Government’s COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses page (here) is updated regularly.
  • The Government Business Support Hub is available here.
  • Government Bounce Back Loans for small businesses. More details here.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The extended scheme (until March 2021) will see HMRC reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. More details here.
  • Increased support for self-employed. More details here.
  • Support for businesses during local lockdowns. More details here.
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs. More details here.
  • Improved access to business support grants from local authorities.  Businesses can apply directly to their local authorities, even if they are not legally required to close. More details here.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme by the British Business Bank. More details here.
  • Information for businesses based in the Nations is also available. Scotland here, Wales here and Northern Ireland here.
  • Free legal advice: through our partnership with Croner Consulting, we ensure members have access to advice on business issues including employment law, HR, tax, VAT, PAYE, NIC and payroll.

Radiocentre’s COVID-19 hub 

We’ve created a hub with up-to-date news and information on issues surrounding coronavirus here.

Contact us 

Should you have any specific queries, please contact the Policy team

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