AER special bulletin – 7th edition – Radios and COVID19 – 28 April 2020



Podcast Research 2020: Awareness and listening continue to grow
According to a recent survey by RadioMedia, popularity of audio continues to grow with a continued rise in podcast listening alongside radio listening. The survey, commissioned by Norstat in February 2020 on a sample of 1043 surveyed participants aged 15-64, reported that podcasts’ awareness and reach have increased of 15% compared to 2018.  Main findings include:
– awareness: 99% of respondents aged <30 were aware of what podcasts were, compared to 61% of those aged 55-64;
– frequency of listening: regular podcast users have increased: 21% of 15-64-year-old listen to podcasts every week, and 39% of surveyed participants listen to podcasts at least once a month; one-third of respondents estimated an increase in listening to podcasts in the next six months;
– genre listened to: entertainment is the most popular podcast genre (49%), followed by news and current affairs (35%), then family issues (32%);
– 52% of 15-29-year-old typically find their podcasts through social media, whereas 59% of 45-55-year-old search via podcasts’ compilation services;
– podcasts are mainly listened to via smartphone, which was mentioned as the primary device by 81% of respondents;
– the majority of surveyed participants listen to podcasts at home (73%), and half (48%) in the car or public transports.
The 2020 Podcast Survey also examined, for the first time, advertising in podcasts. 52% of participants reported finding advertising, 62% commercial collaborations and 48% product placement. The majority perceived advertising, product placement or commercial collaboration as either positive (13%) or neutral (66%). The younger the age group, the more positive the attitude: only 13% of those <29 perceived advertising as negative.


Initial drop in listening of 7 % has been partially recouped
Greek radio saw an initial drop of approximately 7% in general population listening in the first weeks of COVID-19’s quarantine measures. This figure is expected as listening in the car is a major component of general population listening’s habits. However, the most recent figures, show good signs of a bounce back through an increase in listening, with the total drop in listening now estimated to -4% for April.

Digital campaign by EIIRA for radio: “They stay home, they listen to radio”
EIIRA has launched a campaign for radio citing the facts reported in the latest radio audience measurement conducted in Attica from MRB HELLAS companies and LINK GLOBAL in March and April 2020. Main findings are the following:
– 8 out of 10 people continue to listen to radio on a daily basis;
– The average time spent listening to radio is more than 4 hours per day;
– 3 out of 4 people believe that radio is a trustworthy and reliable source of accurate information;
– 7 out of 10 people state that radio keeps them company and/or they cannot live without it.
The campaign was an opportunity for EIIRA to thank the listeners for continuing to listen to radio while confined to their homes.

Greek radio stations “heavily hit” by COVID-19
The Greek Government has taken a series of relief measures and support packages for the months of April and May, to help companies which have been “heavily hit” by COVID-19, including commercial radio stations. The main support measures include:
– suspending the employment contract of all or part of the company’s employees for 45 days, with the government paying 800 euros for each employee who had is contract suspended; the employees, whose contract has been suspended, can lower the rent of their primary residence by 40% and the landlords get a supporting governmental subsidy;
– giving employees the possibility to work alternately, granting 50% of the salary; the measure can be repeated for up to 6 months as many times as needed.
The company can choose to apply either or both on different groups of employees.
In addition, the Greek government announced an 11 million-emergency fund for digital and newspapers in the form of advertising spend, sponsoring an advertising campaign for COVID-19 on digital and newspapers worth 11 million. EIIRA asked the Government to secure a similar advertising package for radios and TV, which is much needed as advertising revenues have dropped by – 80% in April for Greek radios.


Italian Chamber of Deputies approves “Cura Italia” decree
The “Cura Italia” decree was transposed into law following approval from the Chamber of Deputies on April 24. The Decree aims at issuing urgent measures to address the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 emergency and was published in the Official Gazette on March 17, 2020, becoming effective the same day. Among the measures to support people, businesses and professionals adopted by the Italian Government is the tax credit for advertising investments –the so-called bonus pubblicita’ – Art. 98 of the Decree. Bonus pubblicità is applied to certified expenses incurred for advertising in local media for which any company or private investors can obtain a tax credit:
– the tax credit is applicable to up to 30% of the entire amount of the advertising investments planned and carried out in 2020;
– direct beneficiaries are investors in advertising on local media, namely daily press and magazines (also online), local TV and local radio (analogue and digital, and their web sites);
– national TV and radio, as well as social media are excluded;
– it’s applicable to the year 2020 only;
– it is financed via the “Fondo per il pluralismo e l’innovazione dell’informazione” (Fund for pluralism and information’s innovation).


Federal Council rejects request for support from private radio stations
Swiss private radio stations raised the alarm about the corona crisis, liquidity shortages and loss of income due to advertising sudden drop. Therefore, they called the Federal Government for an immediate emergency relief contribution of CHF 12 millions. The request was rejected. Private radio stations, which currently have high program costs but hardly any income, will look for new ways to get the urgently needed emergency aid and until then fulfil their service mandate as usual.

CTT-E adopts temporary aid to support Swiss media
The drop in advertising revenues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic – between 60% and 95% – has worsen very quickly the media’s economic situation despite the current high demand for journalistic offer. For these reasons, the Committee responsible for transports and telecommunications (CTT-E -Commission des transports et des télécommunications du Conseil des Etats) has decided, by vast majority, to table two motions aimed at supporting the media sector:
       1. The first motion calls the Federal Council to take immediate temporary measures while waiting for the Parliament to formally adopt the package of measures to support media, namely:
– Provide the Swiss Telegraph Agency (ATS) with additional financial aid to continue offering its basic services to its subscribers in three languages  and free of charge,
– provide the necessary resources for the free distribution of local and regional newspapers by the Swiss Post (approximately CHF 25 millions) and,
– reduce in the distribution price of other daily newspapers (approximately CHF 10 millions);
       2. The second motion, which the Committee adopted unanimously, aims at ensuring that local radios and TVs get an additional CHF 30 millions compared to 2019. This emergency aid can be drawn from the radio and TV tax reserves set up to counter the risk of fluctuation.

Less daily reach, but longer time
According to the latest Media Pulse’s audience measurements, daily reach for radio stations has seen a moderate drop from 81% to 77%. The lower figure can be attributed to commuters not listening to radio in the car anymore. Despite a slightly lower reach, listening duration has increased. The daily audience of around 5.4 million people aged 15 and over, was reported listening to radio 127 minutes instead of 119, which, in proportion to the total population, means an increase in daily listening time from 96 to 97 minutes. Jürg Bachmann, President of VSP, commented on the figures and said:” while radio lost some reach, its usage time has increased. If you can report that your business is stable at a time when everything is falling back, you can be satisfied. Stability is [synonym of] success nowadays”. However, Jürg Bachmann notes “private radios are economically in a difficult position. They keep their business running and are close to their listeners even in these demanding times. Nevertheless, revenues currently hardly offset the normal operating costs of private radios, because radio advertising collapsed from one hour to the next. The request to the Federal Government for an emergency package was rejected and that is disappointing for the private radios, which flourish thanks to advertising. Advertising keeps them alive. The current audience measurement’s data show that radios continue to reach their audience and will be listened to even longer, [which means] it is the right time for advertising on radio!


Local content quotas suspended in $54m package for Australia’s coronavirus-hit media
Communications minister Paul Fletcher announced a tax waiver for TV and radio, and new money for regional journalism. To help the news media sector struggling with the economic impacts of the corona crisis, the Australian Government:
– has suspended its local content quotas for broadcasters for the rest of 2020, with the option to extend through 2021;
– has deployed extra $54million AUD into Australia’s television, radio and regional publishers;
– will also provide a 12-month waiver of spectrum tax for commercial television and radio broadcasters, at a cost of $41m, and invest $50m in regional journalism, of which $13.4m is new money.
Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia – CRA welcomes the measures but calls for further actions: “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”. “However, we are disappointed that commercial radio, as the most hyper local of the mediums, has been largely overlooked in spite of its continued delivery of service to the Australian community during the pandemic, and before that, during the bushfires and the drought”, Warner said.

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