The intention of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) to leave the medium wave band in Perth (western capital of the continent and fourth-most populous city with over 2 million inhabitants) in favour of FM is seen as a threat by commercial radio stations. Five public channels would move into the FM band: 6PR, 6iX, ABC Radio Perth, Radio National and ABC News. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is exploring different solutions, but the commercial stations are against this migration. They do not find it acceptable that the ABC does not pay licensing fees to carry out this move, given that the public broadcaster receives funding of more than one billion Australian dollars a year. Radio operators complain of their own difficulties: the advertising market, still under the effects of the pandemic, does not yet allow for a return to 2019 revenue levels and having to share advertising resources with five new heavyweight competitors would be a problem.
It is the first experiment in cross-media by a social network: TikTok has launched a radio station in Australia. It is a channel on the Australian version of the digital platform iHeartRadio. The new radio station, available online and on DAB, will let you know what music is popular on the video sharing app at the moment and listen to it in full. The presenters will be famous artists and influencers on TikTok. The project will run for three months: it has not yet been decided whether it will continue after that and be exported to other countries.
The economic crisis generated by the pandemic is also making itself felt in Australia: Southern Cross Austereo restructures and cuts 38 jobs. The company’s revenues fell by 18.2%. Details in the article on the ABC website.
The move comes on top of others already announced: News Corp announced in May that 100 regional and local newspapers would close the print edition and continue as digital edition, and thirteen newspapers will merge with others.
The Ten television network will produce the news in its Sydney and Melbourne offices, with a number of prestigious news signatures. Weather forecasts will no longer be made on a regional basis but will be unified into a single national bulletin. As far as jobs are concerned, the extent of the cuts has not yet been announced because negotiations with staff are ongoing.
The New Zealand Government is planning to disestablish public broadcasters (radio and television) and create a new public media entity in order to cut operating costs. The annual funding (25 million US dollars) primarily supports Radio New Zealand, whereas the television (TNZ) counts on advertising revenue. An advisory group is now working to create a new model with new funding options, such as introducing a fee and working on sponsorships (in addition to the actual funding).
Commercial TV crisis
The public radio and television sector is suffering, but also the commercial broadcasting is experiencing difficulties. The online giants, such as Google and Facebook, are draining resources from the advertising market, also affecting the private sector: MediaWorks, a New Zealand-based television, radio and interactive media company entirely owned by an American company, has recently put some of its channels up for sale: Three, Bravo and Three Life. This group also owns 9 national radio brands transmitted on 190 frequencies.