€2.5 million funding available for local and independent radio

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton has announced €2.5 million in “urgent funding” for local and independent radio stations.

Commenting on the funding, Minister Bruton said: “Our local and independent radio stations have a crucial role to play as we respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Communities everywhere rely on their local station as a trusted source of information and this is especially important now as we manage this pandemic.

“In recognition of the significant and immediate financial impact on the sector as a result of the fall-off in advertising revenue arising from the virus, I am today announcing that further support will be provided,” the minister added.

I have written to the BAI [Broadcasting Authority of Ireland] to ask them to put in place urgent funding of up to €2.5 million for the commercial independent radio sector through a repurposing of existing Sound and Vision funding towards a special round under that scheme.

“I have asked the BAI to report to me on the impact of these measures and the government-wide actions on independent radio and to keep me updated on the financial well-being of the sector in general in the current environment,” the minister explained.

This funding will come from ringfencing funds under the Sound and Vision 4 Scheme, recently approved by the minister. He has asked that a call be issued to support stations providing “reliable, trusted information” on Covid-19.

The Sound & Vision Scheme is funded by the TV licence fee from the Broadcasting Fund and is administered by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The Scheme supports the production of TV and radio programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience.

The Sound and Vision Scheme also provides for funding of the community radio sector in respect of their social benefit obligations. The minister has asked that the authority consider this is a matter of urgency, and puts in place funding of €750,000 for community radio in 2020.

Minister Bruton has requested that the call is issued as soon as possible over the coming days for all commercial independent radio stations to apply, with a review and approval period for applications kept to an “absolute minimum”.

Local radio stations are entitled to support of up to 70% of wage costs announced by the government earlier this week, as well as the range of forbearance measures announced by Revenue and the banks.