The value of commercial radio, 100 years on: report

Monday, 07 August, 2023

The value of commercial radio, 100 years on: report

Commercial Radio & Audio (CRA) is celebrating 100 years of radio in Australia, having last week launched a report by Deloitte Access Economics on the economic and social contribution of commercial radio.

The first radio broadcast went to air in Australia on the evening of 23 November 1923, when people across Sydney gathered in their homes to hear St Andrews Choir performing ‘The Swan’ on 2SB (now ABC Radio Sydney). By the 1930s the majority of Australians were within reach of a station, with early programming focusing on music, news, weather, radio dramas and quiz shows. Today there are more than 260 commercial radio stations across Australia, 220 of which are located in regional areas, with radio continuing to find new audiences through mobile apps, streaming and podcasts.

The report ‘Connecting Communities: The Economic and Social Contribution of Commercial Radio and Audio in Australia’ was launched at a special event at Parliament House, hosted by 3AW breakfast presenter Russel Howcroft, and draws on data from a range of sources including a citizen survey, existing CRA research, consultation with various stakeholders, broader desktop research and an industry survey of CRA member stations. It is understood to mark the first time that CRA has evaluated the economic contribution of radio and its role in delivering trusted, local content to listeners all over the country.

The report shows that the commercial radio industry contributes $1 billion to the nation’s annual GDP, including a $320 million boost to regional Australia. The industry also supports 6600 full-time equivalent jobs, with 38% of these being located in regional Australia. Commercial radio stations broadcast 1.1 million hours of Australian content, 160,000 hours of Australian music, 42,000 hours of news and 2200 hours of emergency service content in 2022, the study found.

“The industry creates an enormous quantity of local audio content, with 1.1 million hours of programs across broadcast, streaming and podcasts,” said Ciaran Davis, CRA Chair and CEO of ARN Media. “It also remains the lifeblood of regional media, producing 251,000 hours of locally significant regional content in areas where other local media have disappeared.”

The report found that 17 million Australians listen to commercial radio, with 74% believing that radio and audio build a sense of community and 58% having listened to hear emergency broadcasts. According to Deloitte partner John O’Mahony, this shows that Australians value commercial radio as “a trusted source of news in times of crisis, and part of a thriving Australian music ecosystem”.

The Parliament House event was attended by Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, who cut a cake in honour of commercial radio’s 100th birthday. Rowland also made a speech in which she recognised the integral role that radio has played in the lives of all Australians, and said she was committed to considering the prominence of Australian radio services as the government undertakes its media reform agenda.

CRA’s centenary celebrations will continue at the 2023 Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRAs), to be held in Sydney on 14 October.

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