The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has announced an allocation of €2.5m to independent commercial radio stations across the country supporting public awareness and understanding of COVID-19.
In April, independent commercial radio stations were invited to apply for funding to assist them in communicating to their listeners on COVID-19. Many stations had sought some form of assistance after suffering a significant decline in advertising revenue.
The special COVID-19 funding initiative was operated by the BAI under the BAI’s Sound & Vision 4 Scheme, following a request from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, TD.
The BAI received a total of 32 applications from independent commercial radio stations seeking total funding in the region of €2.75m. Multi-award winning station Clare FM was one of those stations an is now in line to receive €95,000 to help fund Covid-19 coverage and programming.
The applications were evaluated according to the COVID-19 Fund assessment criteria, which included: the public value of the proposals; the feasibility; the value for money; and, the track record of the applicant. All 32 applications qualified for consideration for funding.
The projects vary in approach, and focus on a range of themes, including the everyday impact of COVID-19, the celebration of frontline workers and special on-air concerts. Formats include factual; educational; health; human interest; community / social outreach; business; arts and culture; religious, and agriculture. The content will also serve a range of audiences, including adults, the 15–34-year age group, and parents and children, at a local, regional and national level.
Commenting on the funding initiative Clare FM/Tipp FM’s Managing Director Liam O’Shea said: “The BAI Coronavirus Sound and Vision Funding has been allocated to thirty two radio stations across the Country, including our Stations.
I’d like to thank all of our local politicians who lobbied the Minister for Communications initially, as well as our representative body the IBI (Independent Broadcasters of Ireland). It’s a much needed boost to our industry from the BAI, who along with Minister Bruton, have openly acknowledged the huge contribution and the importance local radio is in each County”.
Commenting, BAI chief executive, Michael O’Keeffe said: “Radio continues to be a key source of information for people in Ireland. The purpose of this funding round was two-fold: 1) to raise awareness and understanding of COVID-19, and 2) to support the sustainability of the independent commercial broadcasting sector.
“Overall, we were very pleased with the standard of the applications, which showed a varied and innovative approach to project content. This funding will have a significant impact on the independent commercial broadcasting sector, facilitating them to provide bespoke COVID-19 programme content that speaks directly to and for its audience. It will facilitate a more structured and planned approach to the pandemic which will include informed and effective engagement with, and by, local groups representing a broad range of expertise across health, social, business, community and voluntary groups. It will also offer content that is interactive, engaging and provides for a high level of social content and community outreach that would otherwise not be possible.”
In response to additional requests from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, under the Sound & Vision 4 scheme, the BAI will operate a round specifically for the community radio sector over the summer months, and then later this year, a separate round for the commercial and community television broadcasters and public service broadcasters, including RTÉ radio services. Details of these rounds will be announced in due course.
In addition to these measures, the BAI has also agreed to waive levy payments from the independent radio sector for the first six months of 2020, as requested by the Minister. Upon completion of the process, it will also provide the Minister with an assessment on the financial impact of the measures on independent radio stations.
Details of the successful projects are available here.