Italy: The State speeds up funds

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Website of Aeranti-Corallo
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A breath of fresh air for broadcasters has arrived in the form of state funds, albeit years overdue.  Outstanding government subsidies for both 2017 and 2018 were paid at the end of April this year. About a thousand community and commercial radio and TV stations benefit from this aid, which is calculated by following a points system.  Further help has arrived through ‘extra revenues’ from the RAI license fees. Since monthly instalments of  the public broadcaster’s license fee have been added to the citizens’ electricity bills, evasion has been reduced. This little ‘nest egg’ (higher revenues than before the law passed) is divided between RAI and the local broadcasting stations.

How the funds have been allocated

Website of Italian Ministry of Economic Development
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The attached documents show how the funds have been divided.

216 commercial radio stations have been allocated € 12,383,220.26 for 2017.

207 commercial radio stations have been allocated € 6,073,587.90 for 2018.  

314 community radio stations have been allocated € 4,127,740.09 for 2017.  

207 community radio stations have been allocated € 2,024,529.30 for 2018.  

These, on the other hand, are the allocations of the extra payments of RAI license fees in 2018 which were distributed to 26 commercial radio stations.

and to 25 community radio stations.

Not much choice: Even frequencies have lost value

Frequency auction
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Some time ago radio stations that had multiple frequencies could sell them off to networks. In this way they could balance their budgets and, hopefully all being well, renovate their studios.  However, due to the financial crisis in 2008 the going prices were more than halved and a surplus of channels on sale was created. The Florentine radio station RTR957 bankruptcy auction,  that had no bidders on two occasions, is evidence of this. The prices the liquidator was asking for were those of the past, the quality control head of one of the large networks pointed out:  € 118,000 for the Monte Morello station (in the municipality of Sesto Fiorentino in the suburbs of the Tuscan capital), and € 63,000 for the one in Poggio Ciliegio in the municipality of Carmignano in the province of Prato.

Local authorities are more generous

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relaunching tourism in the region Emilia-Romagna, italy - 2 million euro campaign to promote tourism
Emilia-Romagna, Italy, relaunching tourism
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Luckily measures have been taken by some Regional Governments.  Emilia-Romagna has allocated  € two million for a campaign on the radio, TV and social media in order to relaunch the tourist season. While in Abruzzo (even though it is still a proposed bill) €300,000 are arriving to support local radio and TV stations, newspapers and online press.

Public radio stations ask Trump for help

CPB, corporation for public broadcasting seeking for additional emergency funding
CPB seeking additional US$ 175 million
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The US$ 75 million received from Congress (we have spoken about in one of our previous articles) is not enough. The Corporation of Public Broadcasting, that distributes funds to about 1500 public radio and television stations, had originally asked for US$ 250 million and insists on having the other US$ 175 million, which is indispensable to guarantee the survival of the public and university stations.

Italy: Radio stations ask for adequate funds

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radio studio, female host with headphones and microphone, currently broadcasting
Insight into the studio
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The crisis funds to support local radio and TV stations are ‘totally inadequate’.  This is how the associations representing broadcasters have branded the funds allocated for the sector in the draft copy of the ‘ Revival Decree’, which the Government is preparing in order to shore up the Italian economy which has been weakened by the pandemic. The Italian Publishers Association reaffirmed in a brief press release that ‘while undergoing a drastic reduction in revenues (often up to 80%) radio and TV stations have continually carried out the role of public interest nationwide’.  Aeranti-Corallo, Confindustria Radio Televisioni and Associazione Alpi are therefore asking for ‘an adequate allocation of funds’. This is because the sector is ‘strategic in order to restart the economy, which is based on small and medium-sized companies that produce 58% of the turnover of industry in Italy’. The  40 million euros planned in the Cura Italia Decree (March 16th, 2020) were cancelled at the last moment.

The complaints have had an effect.  According to the latest draft of the decree (May 19th, 2020) which has not been published yet, the funds have apparently returned to € 40 million. We will update you shortly.

In previous articles we spoke about the collapse in advertising, the request made by Aeranti-Corallo for funds of 130 million euros and the allocations of funds made by other governments from Spain to the United States.

Coronavirus: Funds arrive for broadcasters, but many are cutting costs

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Several countries have allocated funds to support broadcasting stations suffering from the drop in advertising.  However, some are reducing salaries or putting their personnel on holiday leave. The USA has allocated 75 million dollars to the American non-commercial radio and TV stations.

President Donald trump signing mega financial package for economy during coronavirus state of emergency
President Donald Trump as he signs the mega financial stimulus package worth  2,000 billion dollars to support the economy during the coronavirus state of emergency
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Included in the act, passed by the House of Representatives on March 27th, 2020  to support the American economy during the state of emergency, there are also 75 million dollars allocated to the public radio and TV stations. This is in addition to the annual 445 million dollars, managed by the CPB – Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an independent non-profit corporation that distributes the funding to about 1,500 radio and television stations. President Trump wanted to cancel the annual funds in 2017, even though, according to the President of CPB Patricia Harrisins, the cost to each American citizen was only 1.35 dollars a year. 

Spain:  15 million for television, cuts for Cope

Spanish Government press conference
At the post Cabinet meeting press conference held on March 31st, 2020.  Those present (from the left): Pablo Iglesias, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda, Maria Jesus Montero,  Spokesperson of the Minister of Finance and the Government, and Nadia Calvino, Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation
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President of Spanish radio station Cadena Cope
Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, President of Spanish radio station Cadena Cope
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On March 31st, 2020, the Spanish government allocated 15 million euros in support of television stations provided that they guarantee identical territorial coverage for the next six months. The funding will take advertising income into account in order to give greater help to stations with lower revenues.
A Spanish radio station is cost cutting: The President of Cadena Cope, Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, has written to the staff suggesting a 20% cut in salaries. They are currently negotiating with the trade unions.

France:  National networks economising 

Facebook page of Radios du monde
Radios du monde on Facebook
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Aiming to limit the consequences of a considerable drop in business caused by the epidemic, the Lagardere group has decided to lay off journalists in Europe 1, RFM, and Virgin Radio.  This went into effect for Europe 1 on April 1st, 2020. The group, in reply to President Macron’s appeal to not pay dividends to their shareholders, has set aside 5 million euros. The group is present in over 40 countries, employing more than 30,000 people and had a turnover in 2019 of 7,211 million euros.
The Radio France management, according to the national trade union centre CGT,  have encouraged their employees to take at least five days holiday by the middle of May.

UK: Sport news station ‘tightens the belt’

Love Sport Radio, Website
Love Sport Radio, Website
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Due to pausing sports transmissions because of the pandemic, Love Sport Radio, broadcasting nationwide on DAB, has streamlined its programming schedules.  Listeners were informed in a pre-recorded announcement  by the owner,  Kelvin MacKenzie, who had also furloughed a large number of staff.