The Covid-19 bill

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Cuts for five major broadcasters in Europe are on their way. While in Italy some radio stations are asking their listeners for help.

Austria: ORF is cutting outgoings

APA News reporting on Horizont about Austria's ORF planned cost cutting due to Covid-19
APA News reporting on Horizont about Austrians ORF’s planned cost cuttings
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The director general of ORF, Alexander Wrabetz, has announced cuts of € 75 million are to be made by the end of 2021. These will be implemented in all areas in the company, from equipment to the cost of personnel. This year the broadcasting station is predicting losses that go from a minimum of € 28.6 million to up to € 54 million, should the worst scenario play out. The budgets allocated for major events will not be touched (€ 40 million for the rights of the European Football Championship and the Olympics). This is also the case for other investments which include digitalisation. Click here for more details from the article on Horizont.

France: Cost cutting plans for the public radio causes controversy

Radio France cutting costs for radio broadcasting due to the Coronavirus pandemic
Report on Le Figaro.fr
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Cuts in the budget had already been decided on in 2018, in a period long before the present crisis. The Government had demanded a reduction of € 190 million in funds to public broadcasters (by 2022). € 20 million of spending cuts were destined for Radio France and in 2019 the CEO Sibyle Veil had prepared a plan that involved cutting 250 jobs. This provoked the longest strike in the history of public radio. The strike lasted 63 days (in total) during the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. The trade unions consider the cuts unjustified and after a period of truce due to the Covid-19 crisis, the unrest could restart. 

Germany: NDR raises the crossbar by € 60 million

NDR, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, cutting costs due to coronavirus.
NDR logo located in Osnabrück
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The German broadcasting company Norddeutscher Rundfunk, NDR, wants to cut € 60 million more than the € 240 million that had been already decided on for the next four years.
The director, Joachim Knuth, is not going to reduce personnel but will not be employing new staff for 200 vacant positions. Furthermore, programmes and a series of events will be cancelled. Among those to go are crime series, entertainment and game shows on TV. Click here for more details from the article on Der Spiegel.

Italy: Onda d’Urto is banking on subscriptions

Radio Onda d'Urto has launched a campaign for subscriptions to compensate for the missing revenues
‘Take care of the black cat’
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Radio Onda d’Urto in Brescia has launched a campaign for subscriptions to compensate for the missing revenues caused by the probable cancellation of the Festival of Radio Onda. The event, that is to be held in August, is the main source of finance for the broadcaster and even if it is not cancelled, it will be much smaller.

United Kingdom: £ 125 million have gone ‘missing’ at the BBC

BBC needs to make 125 million pound sterling savings this year due to the coronavirus crisis
BBC TV studio
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The coffers of the public broadcasting station, BBC, are down £ 75 million due to
a delay: Listeners over seventy five were due to pay TV fees from June 1st, 2020, but this has been postponed to August 1st, 2020. This amount rises further because of losses caused by a drop in advertising and the postponement of a plan to reduce the workforce by cutting 450 jobs. According to the director general, Tony Hall, the cuts need to total £ 125 million. Upper management salaries will be frozen until August 2021 and a freeze will be put on all recruitment that is not indispensable. Other TV stations are not doing any better. ITV, free-to-air, has made a cut of £ 100 million to their budget and Channel 4 (a public broadcaster) has made a cut of £ 150 million. Further details can be found here.

Spain: SER cuts cost of personnel

the Spanish network, Cadena SER, is reducing cost of labour. Article from inertia, el espanol.
Cadena SER radio studio in Madrid
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Spains main network, Cadena SER, owned by the Prisa group (they own the daily newspaper El Pais and have business interests in 24 countries) is reducing the cost of labour. Of the personnel employed by the radio, 256 workers have been laid off until July 12th, 2020, (on unemployment benefit) while another 924 have a salary reduction of 10% until December 31st, 2020. Cadena Ser has 202 stations and the Prisa group also owns Cadena 100 and Los 40 Principales.
Click here for details in the article of El Español.

Snapshots of radio broadcasting during the crisis

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Everything will fade into past memories, but it is worth seeing some of the photographs taken in these last few months again. They include announcers and journalists broadcasting live from home, and courses for listeners on how to make their own radio programmes. It is also worth mentioning the vade mecums that have appeared in online magazines and on the websites of various associations. Their advice goes from how to choose equipment and software for a home studio to the procedures needed to protect radio station studios from contagion. There are even broadcasters that have put their studio disinfection procedures on show or have used their facemasks for self-promotion.

Radio stations broadcasting live from home

StuBru, Flemish speaking public radio station from Brussels in Belgium, broadcasting from home
Stu Bru, studio at home
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Belgium:  While a lot of broadcasters, in spite of homely backgrounds, are narrowing the field of view with close-ups to give a professional touch, with the photographs of VRT Studio Brussel, a Flemish speaking public radio station, your eye tends to be drawn to the furnishings which reflect the personality of the announcer and goes from the large philodendron in the foreground to the bookcase on the right, and the door opening onto another room, making you wonder where it goes to. 

Radio 3 Modo, Italy broadcasting from home with a cat as their helper
Radio3 Mondo, studio at home
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Italy: When Roberto Zicchitella was conducting Radio3 Mondo live from his flat, his curious cat leapt onto his desk to sniff his tablet. The international news programme is on air on the public radio station, Rai Radio 3.

Spain:  The SER network teaching listeners how to make a radio programme

Cadena SER, Spain, initiative about turadio, teaching workshops for listeners how to make their own programme
#turadio, a new initiative from SER in Spain
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The journalist, Pedro Blanco of Cadena Ser (a network of 202 radio stations we have  spoken about in a previous article) on air with a radio workshop teaching listeners how to make their own programmes to then send to the radio station.

Canada:  How to go on air from a distance

ARC du Canada, explaining how to work from home as a radio station
ARC explaining how radio stations can work from home
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ARC, a Canadian alliance of community radio stations, explains how to equip yourself to produce your own show from home without excessive costs.  They suggest a selection of hardware and software, some free of charge.

An antivirus guide for radio stations

Inside Radio, 12 tips for creating a safer radio studio in a coronavirus reality
A guide for a safer radio station, Inside Radio
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This guide in the American magazine ‘Inside Radio’ lists 12 things to do in order to prevent contagion in radio stations.

And in Italy?

Radio millenium, Milan, Italy disinfecting the studio
Cleaning session in Radio Millennium’s studio, Italy
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After disinfecting the Milan studios of Radio Millennium, the ‘ghostbusters’ pose for a photograph.

Instagram photo from radio rock, Rome, Italy
Radio Rock created their own face mask design
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Radio Rock ‘designer’ masks:
Back in the golden years of free radio, listeners used to stick adhesives of their favourite radio stations onto their cars. Today the Roman station, Radio Rock, has made face masks with their own logos on them. Will this become a fashion with other stations?

Italy: More resources for radio from the government

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the publication of the relaunch decree in italy
The publication of the ‘Relaunch Decree’
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The ‘Relaunch Decree’, published late in the evening on May 19th, 2020, contained a wonderful surprise. The radio and TV stations, that have been broadcasting information on the pandemic, will be receiving € 50 million (in the first draft it was 20 million, which became 40 after protests made by the broadcasting associations). The allocation of the funds will be according to a points system, which is used by the fund that has the task to promote pluralism and innovation of the media. The only obligation for the broadcasters is to put government  information campaigns on air during the Covid-19 health crisis. In addition, in order to relaunch advertising (that saw a fall of up to 80%) companies that buy radio and TV spots will be able to deduct 50% off their taxes (€ 20 million have been allocated, but considering that the deduction has been extended to national TV stations, the effectiveness of this measure will be largely diminished).

More advantages and simpler procedures

the relaunch decree from may 2020, italy
The ‘Relaunch Decree’, May 19th, 2020
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The decree includes other concessions for businesses which the broadcasting stations will be able to benefit from. For example, a tax credit of 60% on rents in March, April and May 2020 (for both studios and repeater stations) if revenues are not over € 5 million and there is a drop of 50% in turnover compared to the same period last year. There is also a postponement of tax deadlines from April 16th to May 16th, 2020, for companies with a fall in turnover of at least 33% in the months of March and April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Furthermore, companies will not be obliged to pay IRAP (Italian Regional Production Tax) in June 2020 (balance and advance payment for the following year) if turnover is not over € 250 million. The procedures for applying for furloughing of staff and for having a reduction in the electricity bills will be simplified. Some expenses (cost of energy transport, electricity meter management and general expenses) will be reduced for three months (May to July 2020), but this will not affect energy consumed, which would have been welcomed by the associations.