AER special bulletin – 2nd edition – Radios and COVID19 – 25 March 2020



Akcija radijskih postaja: Točno u podne Hrvatska će se ujediniti pjesmom – Croatian radio stations united with a song
On March 23, the most-listened-to and most popular Croatian radio stations across the country united in playing same songs – “My Homeland” by the Band Aid and “Insieme” by Toto Cutugno – at the same time to show unity and hope in times of extraordinary suffering for the country.


A word from SIRTI – Le Syndicat des Radio Indépendantes
SIRTI President Alain Liberty talks about the economic uncertainties faced by independent radios. He reminds radio’s trusted role, especially in times of crisis, which he believes should attract advertisers back to the radio. He shares radio’s welcomed response to the pandemic by increasing airtime devoted to news while taking safety measures by having hosts and staff working from home. Liberty adds that positively responded to the health requests for the dissemination of awareness campaigns carried out by the Ministry of Health. Finally, he welcomes the recent communication from the Regulatory Authority, that outlines the latter’s leniency towards radio.

Regulatory reaction
The French National Regulatory Authority, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) wrote to the radio stations on 19 March 2020. The CSA announced it will be tolerant and understanding with regard to the application of the regulatory and conventional frameworks applying to radio. The assessment of radios’ respect of the distribution and production rules will also be done in light of the current circumstances. Lastly, the CSA expressed its support to radio and guaranteed that their concerns will be shared with the government bodies.


Die Bedeutung der privaten Medien in Krisenzeiten. Relevanz der privaten Radiosender – The importance of private media in times of crisis. Relevance of private radio stations
In times of crisis, private radio stations play a decisive role in informing the population. German commercial radios have adapted their programmes to include special editions and podcasts on the Corona virus. Here are some examples: Antenne Bayern started daily children’s news to help families answer questions that are appropriate for children. Antenne Niedersachsen launched an ad campaign called “Together Against Corona”, in which prominent public voices call for protection against the virus. Other radio stations followed Antenne Niedersachsen’s example and are now taking part in the initiative. Berlins Hitradio 104.6 RTL turns the largest radio competition into an aid campaign, where listeners are allowed to be reimbursed of the costs of cancellation of a trip or purchases for children at home. RTL Radio Center Berlin started a 24-hour information channel on the Corona virus, the “Corona Aktuell”, broadcasting non-stop expert interviews, news and services. The 24-hour web channel is produced daily by the newsrooms of 104.6 RTL Berlins Hitradio and 105’5 Spreeradio and can be found on the websites and, as well as on the apps of the stations.


IBI – the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland launched the #TrustRadioChooseRadio campaign to call the Irish Government, including the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, to take serious action and financially support IBI radio stations so they’d be able to continue broadcasting and being a vital source of trusted information during this unprecedented crisis.

Local radio station levy to be waived for six months
John Purcell, chairman of the IBI – the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland group, called for urgent Governmental support to ensure radio stations keep services running despite the dramatic drop in advertising revenues. The broadcasting levy paid by local radio stations will be waived for the first six months of 2020 to help them continue during the coronavirus crisis despite disappearing advertising revenues. Minister for Communications Richard Burton said he would request that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland implement the waiver, which he said would save local radio stations almost €1 million between them.

Government announces new COVID-19 Income Support Scheme
The Irish Government announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme to provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis. The scheme will give businesses, including radio stations, 70% of the wage cost of a staff member to allow them to remain at work.


La radio per l’Italia – Radio for Italy
To show solidarity and offer encouragement to the Italian population in these times of great suffering, for the first time in Italian history, all national and local radios came together for an unprecedented common broadcasting initiative called La radio per l’Italia – Radio for Italy. On Friday 20 March at 11.00AM, at unified frequencies, all Italian radios simultaneously played the Italian anthem and three famous Italian songs as a symbol of unity in these difficult circumstances. The broadcast was simultaneous on FM, DAB, television and streaming platforms, on radio sites and applications.

Radio and TV on the frontlines during the emergency
CRTV President Franco Siddi explained in his interview with Sole 24 Ore that the radio and TV sector plays a fundamental public service role by providing constant, verified and high-quality information and by being a companion during these stressful and challenging times. The sector is struggling, it has already been negatively affected by the COVID19 crisis, with a foreseen loss in advertising revenue for radios of 18%. CRTV President Siddi reiterates that it is important to now focus on the current emergency but, thinking ahead, there are issues waiting for a response like the copyright directive and radio digital transition.

#iorestoacasa – #istayhome
In line with governmental directives, CRTV activated “smart working” (working from home and remotely) to protect the health of its employees and members, as well as to ensure continuity in its services.


La radio comercial pide al Gobierno un plan de ayudas e incentivos para mantener las emisiones y el empleo – Commercial radio calls the Government for state aid and incentives to continue working and broadcasting
Following up on the adoption of an economic measures’ package by the Spanish Government (the so-called Temporary Employment Regulation File – ERTE), AERC – La Asociación Española de Radiodifusión Comercial calls for further measures as the package fails to respond to the needs of commercial radios. The ERTE package includes a provision on the suspension of employment contracts or working time reduction, which cannot be applicable to radio workers as it would inevitably lead to a lack of professionals running radio stations and consequent impossibility to continue broadcasting essential information to the public.
AERC urges the Spanish Government to adopt a plan of state aid and incentives to help radio sector to survive, especially in view of the current loss in advertising revenues now up to 80% compared to last year.


Ofcom and broadcasters in times of coronavirus
Following requests from Radiocentre, Ofcom has confirmed that it is suspending production and programming regulation for the next 3 months. Ofcom stated in their note to broadcasters that, where broadcasters are genuinely unable to continue to meet the programming and production requirements set out in their licence as a result of the disruption due to Covid-19, they would consider the force majeure condition in the licence to be engaged, and a licensee would not be liable to enforcement action as a result.

AudioFund supporting radio audiences during the Coronavirus crisis
Audio Content Fund has announced funding round for public service initiatives on commercial radio during the Covid-19 outbreak. The special fund, financed by the UK Government, has made a minimum of £200,000 of its budget available for content that will support radio audiences during the coronavirus crisis.

Radio bite: A friendly companion
Radiocentre’s recent research study “Audio Now” explores how people use audio to help them survive challenging times. The research finds six different need-states where audio plays a role. During the current climate, radio will not only provide trusted information on the ever changing news but will be a voice for those who are isolated and without companionship, along with the people working remotely who just miss their early morning chats over a cup of coffee in the office kitchen.

Rescue Remedy
Radiocentre circulated a new briefing paper for sales people – Rescue remedy: How radio can help an advertiser’s business during the current crisis – presenting ideas to advertisers to help them stay ahead of the competition across the next few months by using radio.

At 8pm on Thursday 26th March, UK radio stations will pause for a mass applause as a sign of gratitude to NHS workers for their hard work during these difficult times.

For further information, please contact francesca.fabbri(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign) and +32 2 736 91 31.