Radio welcomes Government relief package but warns more is needed

Managing Editor
Lawrence Mooney, Paul Fletcher, Grant Blackley

Government leaders have heard media industry pleas for targeted support during the global pandemic, announcing a range of measure today designed to prop the sector up.

Content quotas will be suspended for the rest of the year, $41 million in tax rebates have been offered and a $50m regional journalism program has been created.

“We are acting to offer urgent short-term support to the media sector,” said Communications Minister Paul Fletcher. “At the same time, we are progressing our December 2019 commitment to consult on the future framework to support Australian stories on our screens.

“The Government recognises that public-interest journalism is essential in informing and strengthening local communities,” said Fletcher.

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

CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner said its members, including the big four radio networks, are disappointed that hyper-local stations have been overlooked.

“We welcome the move to waive spectrum fees but the measures announced today do not go far enough in addressing the pressures facing the radio industry,” said Warner.

“We are grateful for the one-year waiver of spectrum taxes which amounts to about $1.2 million for radio, spread across the large number of networks and stations.

“Radio is an essential service and it’s vital that we are able to continue to meet local content and emergency broadcasting obligations.

Warner added that CRA is now in discussions directly with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to discuss urgent action to reduce red tape.

“We would also like to see not just video content harmonised across local services and global giants,” said Warner, “but the delivery of Australian music requirements also harmonised across radio and global music streaming services such as Spotify.”

Nine chief High Marks, owned of Nine Radio, responded to today’s announcement by thanking Fletcher and also taking aim at big tech.

“We thank the Minister for his efforts and the measures announced today which provide some short term relief to Australia’s media businesses,” said Marks.

“However, the current COVID- 19 crisis only serves to further highlight the need for urgent long term solutions to the regulatory imbalance between highly regulated domestic media players and unregulated international technology companies.”

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Nick
15 Apr 2020 - 2:45 pm

Disappointing to see content quotas have been suspended during a time when Australian artists need as much airplay as possible, this will only give commercial radio another excuse to play less local music.

Steve Wilkins
15 Apr 2020 - 6:00 pm

How does the suspension of content quotas help anybody, especially Australian artists? If anything, double the quotas on Aussie music and lets get some fresh sounds on radio.

Opportunistic at best.
16 Apr 2020 - 1:09 am

Give me 1 example of a “Hyper-Local Station”

They’re all carrying networked programming, music logs from other markets, traffic and news from other states.

Hyperlocal is dead, and you’re trying to kill local now as well. Let’s all shut up shop and call our signals MMM and HIT and be done with it.

Geoff
16 Apr 2020 - 9:27 pm

How does reducing Australian content on radio help anyone? Am I missing something here? When I turn on radio in the USA or Canada or UK do I hear less or more local content. When in France or Fiji do I not hear French or Fijian music in abundance. Yet in Australia when I turn on the radio I hear USA, UK, Canadian etc music, not Australian music. Now that’s not the whole industry but just 90% of Commercial Radio in Australia. Joan do your job, support Australian Music and content. It’s a false argument that Australian content rules restrict profitability because Spotify doesn’t have content rules. Radio is curated not a streaming service. When it comes to local news, that’s your job. Networking and reducing local content over the last 10-15 years is the problem. Look at today’s ratings. Time for an attitude readjustment at CRA.

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