The owners and operators of commercial radio stations serving the Asian community in the UK have written to John Whittingdale MP to ask for measures to help their businesses amid the coronavirus crisis.
Bosses at Sunrise Radio, Lyca Media, Sabras Radio, Sunrise Radio Yorkshire, Panjab Radio and AsianFX, Radio XL and Asian Sound Radio say they need urgent and targeted support from the Government.
They highlight three key areas: the waiving of transmission costs; further investment in advertising by the Government; and an extension of cash grant and business rates holidays for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors to radio and other news media providers.
In asking for the Government to significantly increase its advertising on commercial radio, the letter specifically asks for a focus on Asian audiences, with the dual purpose of providing listeners with vital updates on COVID-19 and other matters, as well as ensuring that Asian commercial stations have a viable future.
The UK was the first country in the world to issue an Asian radio licence in 1989 and many companies have been operating for between 25-30 years. T
In the letter, they say: “The content of Asian radio stations is valued highly by Asian listeners of all ages, nationalities and languages, as well as being a crucial means of advertising for Asian businesses and traders seeking to target those audiences. However, drops in advertising revenue across the commercial radio industry as a whole are already very substantial, and likely to be even more severe for Asian stations due to the nature of their advertising.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Radio has also warned that a number of commercial radio stations are at immediate risk of going off air in the next two months unless the Government can find ways to provide additional support.