NEW DELHI :
Facing a major financial crisis, private FM radio operators have once again approached the government to resolve their long-pending demand for a financial package to survive the adverse impact of Covid-19. In a fresh SOS message to the information and broadcasting ministry, the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) said the radio industry is in crisis elsewhere also but they have got help.
The industry body of private FM channels pointed out how the Canadian government agreed to waive the licence fee for broadcasters for the financial year 2020-21. The step would save 100 radio and television stations over $30 million. The Canadian government has already committed $30 million spending on federal ad spending for newspapers, magazines, radio and television on a Covid-19 awareness campaign.
In India, private FM radio operators have been struggling to stay afloat as advertising budgets have shrunk across sectors. In its multiple representations to the government, the AROI has underscored that the radio industry was on a ventilator and may have trouble surviving if it does not receive help from the government.
AROI had reached out to the government seeking a bailout package in March. It has been asking the government for a one-year waiver on all licence fees and charges by the government and Prasar Bharti, restoration of government advertising on radio, besides clearing payments from the government’s publicity department.
In response, the government had given the industry a three-month extension of license fee payments without interest. The ministry has been prodding the government to do more.
“We trust that the government is reviewing our request in interest of survival of this critical media , which is also in interest of the nation, as radio contributes annually almost ₹800 crore a year (other than one time entry fee) to the government for every year of its license period and extensions thereof," the AROI said in a communication to the government.