Coronavirus weakens Radio

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The slowdown or lockdown of businesses has led to a decrease in advertising on radio and television. The national broadcasters are increasing their programmes, but those not receiving state funding are suffering. Networks are cutting fixed costs and broadcasters are closing their less important frequencies.  And if a transmitter breaks down … the risk is it’s not going to be fixed.

The BBC flexes its muscles

Headquarters of BBC in London, United Kingdom
BBC Headquarters
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‘We need to pull together to get through this. That’s why the BBC will be using all of its resources – channels, stations and output – to help keep the nation informed, educated and entertained’ declared, Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC. The many measures the BBC is implementing, include their commitment not to discontinue any of their most listened to programmes on Radio One, to bring listeners up-to-date information on the Coronavirus through 5 Live, and the launching of Make a Difference, that will see every local radio station joining up with volunteer groups to help, co-ordinate and support the elderly by informing them of what help is available in their area. Their full package of measures can be found here.

Those depending on advertising are suffering

Transmission Towers
Transmission Towers
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The closure of businesses has led to a collapse in commercials and a rise in unpaid invoices. These are the complaints of some of the Italian radio producers we interviewed.  Some, after terminating their agreements with freelance staff and asking for government aid for their employees, are only playing music on air.  However, the electricity bills for their transmitters have to be paid.  In order to cut the bills, a group of broadcasters in Puglia, Italy, unable to lower radiated power (in Italy the authorisation process takes considerable time), have remediated by turning off their smaller sites. Tower operators are also having a bad time (they get paid rent for providing antenna space on their towers). Some have already received requests by some radio networks for hefty discounts on the rent. At the same time, given that the power of the transmitters are in excess, it would only need the authorities to allow radio stations to halve it. It would be a reform at zero cost and nobody would be disadvantaged.

In a breakdown, spare parts at risk

Elenos Group, Website, transmitter manufacturers
Website Elenos
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The lockdown of businesses has also hit transmitter manufacturers like Elenos, the internationally renowned company located near Ferrara.  Leonardo Busi, the Chief Executive Officer, stated in an interview on Radio Globo (Lazio, Italy) that they have had to stop production due to no longer receiving the components that are indispensable for assembling the structures. The supplies are down to the bone and a radio or TV station with a breakdown could have to stop their service.