UK communications infrastructure and media services provider Arqiva has confirmed details of the additional financial support it is providing to smaller local commercial stations – a segment that is feeling some of the heaviest financial effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Covid-related restrictions continue to impact business up and down the country, local radio revenues are seeing a significant drop in advertising spend. These stations are disproportionately dependent on local businesses and the high street. Despite strong listening during the pandemic the short fall from local advertising and limited opportunity to furlough, given they are using skeleton staffing already, has led to a material shortfall in their income.
Arqiva will provide 77 of its small station customers with a 50% discount on transmission fees for the three months to the end of January 2021.
This follows Arqiva’s package of support announced in June 2020 which saw transmission fees waived for smaller customers and discounts for all others.
Shuja Khan, Chief Commercial Officer, Arqiva, said: “The radio industry is worth £1.4 billion to the UK economy, but more importantly touches almost every person in the UK on a weekly basis, employing many thousands of people. We answered the call earlier in the year with a significant package of support, as the pandemic hit advertising revenues by as much as 40%, which helped ensure that none of our customers had to take their services off air.
“While the current impact may not be as widespread as earlier in the year with most of the radio market showing a recovery, the local and community stations continue to face challenges. Given the important role this group of customers play in our communities, we stand behind them during this difficult period.”
John Whittingdale, Minister for Media and Data, said: “Commercial radio has yet again proven its immense public value during this time of need by providing audiences with high-quality and trusted news and entertainment. It continues to do this despite the economic pressure on the sector and I welcome Arqiva’s fresh support for the smaller stations. I remain committed to doing what I can to assist our radio broadcasters and so we are also making funding available to help those commercial stations which are not Arqiva customers and so could not benefit from its recent suspension of transmission fees.”