BAI announces supports for broadcast media sector during COVID-19 crisis

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has, today (08.04.20), announced details of a special funding round to support the independent commercial radio sector in its provision of public awareness and understanding of COVID-19, including the risks and public health measures being implemented to reduce the spread of the disease.

The special funding round will operate under the BAI’s Sound & Vision Scheme. The round was developed and approved by the BAI following a request by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton. In total, €2.5 million has been made available to support this funding round.

From today, independent commercial radio stations can apply for amounts ranging from €45,000 up to €95,000 to assist them in communicating to their listeners on COVID-19. The maximum level of funding to be awarded will have regard to the type of service provided. The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 29th April 2020. Applications will be assessed as a matter of priority and funding awards announced as soon as practicable.

Commenting, BAI chief executive, Michael O’Keeffe said: “The BAI is pleased to support the request of Minister Bruton to make funding available to the independent commercial radio sector. We have moved quickly to establish budget and capacity to administer this funding scheme to help to sustain the commercial radio sector, and enable it to continue its important work in providing public health information and growing awareness of COVID-19.

“Like Minister Bruton, the BAI recognises the role that the independent commercial radio sector plays in supporting public awareness and understanding of this health crisis.”

He added: “This funding round fulfils two key objectives: the first is to enable independent radio to continue to enhance social awareness and understanding of COVID-19, and the public health measures that are being put in place to protect our population.

“The second objective is to help to sustain the sector: like businesses across the country, independent radio has experienced a sharp and sudden decline in revenues. However, the importance of independent radio as an agent in informing and supporting communities through this crisis has grown.”

Features of the funding round Sound & Vision 4 – COVID-19 (S&V4 COVID 19) are as follows:

• The COVID-19 funding initiative is open to BAI licensed commercial sound broadcasting services only, that fulfil the criteria set out in section 3 of the S&V4 COVID-19 Funding Initiative guidelines.
• The maximum level of funding per applicant is €95,000, or for a joint application the maximum of €95,000 is per station member of the joint application.
• Funding is available to cover costs directly related to the achievement of enhanced public awareness and understanding of the worldwide COVID-19 health emergency, including costs that support the achievement of these outcomes.

Further information is available in the S&V4 COVID-19 Funding Initiative guidelines document, which is available here.

Support to community, commercial television and public service broadcasting
In response to additional requests from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the BAI will operate the following additional rounds of the S&V4 scheme in 2020.
• Community radio sector: The BAI will prioritise a funding round exclusively for the community radio sector. This funding will also come under the BAI’s Sound and Vision Funding Scheme.
• Commercial and Community Television broadcasters and public service broadcasters, including RTÉ radio services: In order to continue to provide support to independent producers, commercial and community television and public service broadcasters, the BAI will operate an open funding round through the S&V4 scheme later in 2020, as soon as sufficient funding becomes available.

Details of these rounds will be announced in due course.

Waiving the broadcasting levy
In addition to these COVID-19-specific measures announced under the Sound & Vision Scheme, the BAI has also agreed to waive levy payments from the independent radio sector for the first six months of 2020, as requested by the Minister.

Reporting on the impact of the COVID-19 funding initiative on independent radio
Upon completion of the process, the BAI will also provide the Minister with an assessment on the financial impact of the measures on independent radio stations.

According to Michael O’Keeffe: “In addition to supporting all of the measures requested by the Minister, the BAI is providing advice and assistance to broadcasters at an individual level, across the independent commercial and community radio and television sectors, and to the public service broadcasting sector. We realise the important contribution they are all making during this public health emergency.

“The BAI will continue to monitor impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the broadcasting sector, and we intend to work closely with the sector and the Minister to ensure the public are kept informed of essential information by their local and national broadcasters during this pandemic.”


Media: Joanne Ahern / Catherine Heaney, DHR Communications, Tel: 087-9881837 / 087-2309835

Notes to Editors:
• Full details of the Sound & Vision 4 Scheme are available on the BAI’s website,