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State of the Industry Survey Results & COVID-19 Impacts

This post is copied from the newsletter from the Alliance for Community Media. Written by the alliance’s president, Mike Wassenaar

We’ve gotten results of our flash poll of how ACM members are weathering the Covid-19 crisis.  Here’s a look:- Over half of respondents have decreased services because of stay-at-home orders (55%); However, about a third of all members reported an INCREASE of activity because of emergency communications, virtual training, remote meeting work and other production services.- About three quarters reported no change in their funding levels yet; about a quarter reported revenue losses due to lack of underwriting, event and production income they would normally receive in March and April.- The effects on staffing roughly parallel funding:  Three quarters report no change in staffing, while one quarter report staff reductions tied to seasonal revenue losses, like sports production.

The bigger question for our operations is what the coming months and year will look like.  Sixty percent of all respondents believed their budgets next year will be reduced as a result of Covid-19.  
Respondents predicted reductions in travel (61 percent), staffing (19 percent), professional education (35 percent) and equipment purchasing (31 percent).  

The concern? One is how cable subscriber rates will be affected in the next year. A report this last week, indicates that cable companies lost 600,000 cable subscribers in the first quarter. Companies like Comcast and Charter have made up the losses mostly in broadband customer growth, but these reports only cover the period of January to March, and the extreme job losses of April and beyond are not factored in subscriber numbers yet.

The other concern is what impact Covid-19 will have on local government budgets and how next year’s budgets will be affected. Those numbers are mostly being set now with July 1 budget years, but we can expect that cratering tax bases combined with increase demands for services will not help local government’s bottom line.

That concern about local and state government is driving talk in Washington DC about relief for states and cities – but there’s no guarantee anything will come soon.  

Another initiative being considered is a proposal to support local media during the crisis.  Our allies at Free Press just today have put forward a plan that would increase aid to local media across the US, including support for PEG operations.View Plan Here. ACM consulted on the plan and endorses it.

In all of this we want to help our member organizations survive tough circumstances and serve their communities better.  And we want to thank you for your commitment to our association.

Mike WassenaarPresident & CEOThe Alliance for Community Media
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