Representing radio in a crisis

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The current situation with the spread of the Coronavirus is extremely difficult for individuals, families and businesses of all kinds.  As we get used to the new normal, it is reassuring to be able to rely on trusted sources of news, information and entertainment such as radio.  

As Radiocentre pointed out last week, 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.

As the industry body for commercial radio in the UK, Radiocentre’s 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 – including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme here; deferral of VAT and income tax payments; and Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small businesses.

However, we have also been working intensely over the past week 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.  Alongside this work we are in the process of bringing together the most useful and practical resources for sales teams to use with agencies and clients at this time, to be accompanied by a new advertising campaign.

A full list of our activity is outlined below. If you want to know more please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Radiocentre team.

 

POLICY AND GOVERNMENT

Specific steps so far

  • Following requests from Radiocentre, Ofcom has confirmed that it is suspending production and programming regulation for the next 3 months
  • DCMS has confirmed that essential commercial radio staff will be considered key workers which should help ensure business continuity following school closures and any further restrictions on movement
  • Audio Content Fund has announced funding round for public service initiatives on commercial radio during the Covid-19 outbreak
  • Radiocentre has held urgent discussions with Government Ministers, DCMS officials and Ofcom on supporting radio’s crucial role

 

Immediate next steps

  • Regular liaison briefings with DCMS and Ofcom in the coming weeks
  • Seeking clarification from Ofcom on licence fees paid by commercial radio stations
  • Following up with DCMS and other stakeholders on addressing short term costs to commercial radio
  • Seeking clarification on further financial assistance or investment in advertising from Government
  • Gathering data from radio stations and groups regarding the impact of the current crisis
  • Maintaining communication with MPs regarding the enduring strength of radio in providing trusted news, entertainment and companionship for listeners
  • Developing a central resource for MPs to enable them to contact their local radio stations

 

ADVERTISING AND MARKETING

Specific steps so far

 

Immediate next steps

  • Reviewing plans for Radiocentre advertising campaign to support continued use of radio
  • “Grow your SME business with radio advertising” microsite (w/c 23rd March)
  • “Building shelf awareness: radio’s last minute influence for FMCG brands” (undated as yet)
  • Developing bite-sized mobile training programme for local sales (June)

 

CLEARANCE

  • The Clearance team are working from home but operating the service as usual
  • Providing an out of hours service where necessary
  • Supporting the ongoing work on rolling out the Ts&Cs workshops for compliance teams

 

CRISIS MANAGEMENT

  • Events postponed – sadly it has been necessary to postpone the Young Audio Awards (27 March), Radiocentre’s Tuning In conference (19 May) and our Parliamentary Reception (23 June)
  • Discussing contingency arrangements with RAJAR
  • All Radiocentre team now working from home, but available as usual and utilising new and improved video conference facilities

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