The government has announced that funding will available within weeks to help community radio stations that have been hit hard by the current crisis.
DCMS says the £400,000 Community Radio Fund administered by Ofcom will be redirected ‘to provide a lifeline for radio stations hit hardest by the coronavirus’.
Relevant stations will be invited to bid for emergency grants through Ofcom to help meet their core costs.
The government provides £400,000 each year through the fund to support the work of community radio stations across the UK, but it’s usually spread out across the 12-month period. It says money will be made available to stations ‘within weeks’ to help out at the current time.
Data suggests advertising revenues for community stations – which make up around 25-30 percent of income in most cases – have dropped significantly as a result of the pandemic
John Whittingdale, Minister for Media and Data, said: “Community stations across the country are helping people through the pandemic with up-to-date news and entertainment and through their role coordinating volunteer networks. We recognise the difficulties they face and are releasing emergency funding to help them continue providing programming and services for the communities they serve.”
Danny Lawrence, Chair of the Community Media Association, said: “We are encouraged that DCMS has listened to our presentation of how the coronavirus is affecting our members and the wider community radio sector. The quick and early release of funds from the Community Radio Fund, administered by Ofcom, will provide immediate short-term relief for those community radio stations facing immediate hardship. We look forward to working with DCMS to continue to explore options to fund community radio in the long term to support stations keeping their communities connected and informed during the crisis. We profoundly thank DCMS and Ofcom for acting so quickly at this difficult time.”
Kevin Bakhurst, Group Director of Content and Media Policy at Ofcom, said: “During this challenging period, community radio can provide a reassuring local voice to millions of people. We know many community stations are facing significant challenges as a result of coronavirus, and we will be working as quickly as possible to administer this fund so they can continue to reach local listeners.”
Ofcom says it only expects to hold one funding round in 2020-21 to ensure that emergency funding can be accessed as soon as possible. The window for applications will open on Monday (4th May) and close a week later at 5pm on 11th May 2020.
Find out more details about the application process on the Ofcom website here.