Commercial radio revenue down 12.4% in March quarter

Former Publisher

Commercial Radio Australia says the coronavirus has had a bigger initial impact than the GFC.

Advertising revenue for Australian metropolitan commercial radio stations fell by 12.4% in the March quarter to $159.404 million, compared to $182.025 million a year ago.

The Sydney market was the hardest hit, with revenue down 16.4% to $47.360 million, while Melbourne stations were down 11.3% to $52.220 million.

Revenue for Brisbane-based stations fell 8.3% for the quarter to $25.321 million, Perth was down 14.5% to $19.819 million and Adelaide was 6.5% lower at $14.684 million.

It’s the first set of Deloitte-compiled figures since the December quarter figures in January, with multiple radio insiders telling Radio Today that today’s results are “better than expected”.

“Radio is usually resilient in downturns but the coronavirus has had a bigger initial impact than the GFC. The real and full effect of business closures on revenue won’t be known until the June quarter,” said CRA’s chief executive, Joan Warner.

The Deloitte figures report actual revenue received by metropolitan commercial radio stations in the five major capital city markets and include agency and direct ad revenue.

On Wednesday, the Government announced a $54 million relief package for media. In addition to suspending some content quotas, spectrum fees were waived, $41 million in tax rebates offered and a $50m regional journalism program was unveiled.

Commercial Radio Australia welcomed the relief package but said “much more action was needed” to address the severity of the impact of COVID-19 on radio broadcasters.

The industry’s advertising holdings platform RadioMATRIX indicated a decline in agency ad spend in March across a number of categories, including live entertainment, motor vehicles, restaurants and property.

“Radio has evolved to stay competitive, but these results have magnified the issues facing free-to-air broadcasters. We’re now competing for ad revenue with global tech giants that do not operate under the same rules and regulations as we do, and this needs to be addressed quickly by regulators,” she added.

Ad revenues had already been impacted prior to the pandemic.

The Deloitte figures show radio ad revenue over the nine months of the financial year to date totalled $528.943 million, an 11% decline over the same period a year ago.

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