Today’s emergency funding package for the arts didn’t hit the right note with commercial radio.

Soon after the federal government announced a lump of cash for Support Act and for regional and First Nations artists, Commercial Radio Australia issued a plea for help as advertising dries up amid the Coronavirus emergency.

Peak body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) already pitched a range of measures with federal communications minister Paul Fletcher in recent weeks, which were aimed at easing the burden on compliance and regulation in the short-term.

Among those options put forward by CRA is “immediate relief” from spectrum licence fees for two years, and a change in regulation to allow MPs to use their electorate communications allowances on local radio, with a focus on regions.

“The Australian Government can provide much-needed relief and certainty by easing regulatory constraints and the heavy compliance burden on local radio,” CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner says in a statement issued Thursday morning.

“We also call on the Federal Government to divert a proportion of its marketing spend from global digital platforms to local Australian radio at a time when it is needed the most.”

Joan Warner
Joan Warner

Warner and CRA warned radio ad revenues would likely head south when Deloitte posts results for the March quarter later this month. The full impact of the downturn, however, won’t be seen until the June quarter figures are released.

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“Many advertisers large and small have cancelled or reduced advertising,” explains Warner. “This has led to job cuts across the industry at a time when the increase in workload of providing live and local radio services to the 95% of Australians who listen to radio, with nearly 80% of those listening to commercial radio, is unprecedented.”

The federal government has already pledged $5 million for regional media, but regional radio misses out, something Warner is “deeply disappointed” with.

The radio industry isn’t the only arm of the media and entertainment sector still left in the dark.

Since the federal government took drastic steps to try contain the spread of COVID-19, the live entertainment has repeatedly warned of a total collapse without a significant financial boost.

Evelyn Richardson
Evelyn Richardson

Live Performance Australia today welcomed the government’s additional $27 million of funding for arts, but its only scratching the surface of the issue.

LPA had previously put forward a bailout package worth $650 million.

“Our industry will need much, much more in the form of direct assistance from all levels of government if we are to have a live performance industry of any scale following the pandemic crisis,” LPA’s CEO Evelyn Richardson said in a statement issued today.

The $4 billion live entertainment industry was “the first impacted and will be the last to come out,” Richardson warns.

“We stand ready to work with government now and during the recovery. Additional targeted measures are urgently required and a ‘Bounce back’ plan is going to be vital. “Much more must be done, and time is running out.”