Commercial Radio industry profit down by 53%

In a period hit hard by the world financial crisis, 59 out of Australia’s 261 commercial radio stations suffered a loss last financial year. The figures have been released as part of the ACMA’s Broadcasting Financial Results report for 2008-09, which also shows that 18 of the loss making stations were in capital cities and 41 were in regional markets.


Total reported broadcasting service profit was $122.5 million for commercial radio, a 53.9% decrease on the previous year. Commercial television made an overall profit of  $223.2 million, a 29.8% decrease over the previous financial year. The Broadcasting Financial Results report is based on information supplied by commercial radio and television licensees operating as at 30 June 2009.


The 202 stations which did make a profit generated $270 million, down from $303 million last year. The 59 unprofitable stations made a loss of $147 million overall.

FM stations made more money than AM stations, with $117 million profit generated by FM licencees (down from $226 million last year), compared with $6 million in profit generated by AM stations (down from $40 million last year).


Total revenue for the commercial radio sector was $1,039.4 million, a decrease of 4% on 2007-08. The commercial television sector reported $3,784.4 million in broadcasting services revenue in 2008-09, a 9% decrease from 2007-08.

Total commercial radio expenditure was $914 million, with the highest expenditure going to pay staff wages and salaries. The second highest expenditure item was the flexibly used accounting element of depreciation and amortisation.

The commercial radio industry overall wrote off $3.5 million in bad debts, had $2,822 million in assets and $939 million in liabilities.


Victoria was the most profitable state, with Victorian stations making an overall profit of $41.8 million. Queensland stations made an overall profit of $45.5 million. West Australian stations made an overall profit of $38.5 million. Tasmanian and Northern Territory stations, which are grouped together, made an overall profit of $6.7 million.

NSW stations were the least profitable overall, generating a loss of $5.9 million. South Australian stations made a loss of $3.9 million. Most network head offices, which would carry a greater share of expenses, are in NSW.


Two significant factors to bear in mind when reading the results are the world financial crisis, and the additional expenditure made by capital city stations to begin digital radio services, which would not yet be generating profits.

During the 2008–09 reporting year, 273 commercial radio services were operational. This consisted of 261 broadcasting services band (BSB) services and 12 non-BSB services, usch as off-band commercial operators. The data for commercial radio licensees is derived directly from financial information provided by the licensees in the form ACMA B17. The figures are not verified by the ACMA and appear as reported.

To view all the aggregated results for Radio in an Excel Spreadsheet, click the link below.