The importance of radio as a source of reliable and trusted information has been demonstrated by a surge in listenership figures during the Covid-19 pandemic, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Ciaran Cannon, Fine Gael’s Spokesperson on Arts, Culture and Media, was speaking as a report showed a strong performance by local and national radio stations over the past year.
Deputy Cannon said, “Covid-19 has been challenging for communities up and down the country and now more than ever, people are reliant on trusted, informative and local information as we navigate our way through the pandemic.
“The latest Joint National Listenership Research survey (JNLR) shows large gains for news and current affairs programmes, with 81% of people tuning into the radio on average every day.
“More than half of people tune into their local or regional station and there was also a strong following among the 15-34 age group, with 72% listening to the radio daily.
“Local radio also continued to perform strongly, reaching more than 40% of the local adult population in many areas daily. The figures also show year on year increases for local stations, with an 8% jump for my local station, Galway Bay FM.
“The Government has been focused on keeping the public fully informed of the latest developments and public health messaging since the onset of the Covid pandemic.
“We want to ensure that information is disseminated to people of all ages so that together we can keep communities safe and limit the transmission of this dreadful disease.
“Regional and national radio stations have played a crucial part in this by relaying important messages and giving experts the opportunity to have their say, and I would like to commend them for this. It is also heartening that so many young people are listening to the radio.
“This was an issue I raised this week at a meeting of the Oireachtas committee, making the point that local radio has a major role to play in building and sustaining solidarity across Irish society in the face of this pandemic.
“Earlier this year, my colleague Richard Bruton allocated €2.5 million in funding to independent stations across the country to assist them. He also announced a waiver of the broadcasting levy, with an additional €1 million saved from this supporting local radio stations.
“Nevertheless, we must be cognisant of the fact that the independent radio sector continues to face significant difficulties and will continue to need similar supports for some time to come,” Deputy Cannon concluded.