Radio must be exempt from lockdown: CRA

Commercial Radio Australia has called on Federal and State/Territory Governments to ensure radio broadcast operations and broadcast staff are exempt from any lockdowns due to the coronavirus crisis and are able to stay on air to provide essential information.
CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner said that CRA has contacted the office of the Prime Minister, Communications Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers today.
“It is vital that provisions are made for radio station staff, including on-air presenters, journalists and technical teams to be exempt from any lockdowns or travel restrictions,” she said.
“We want to remind Premiers and Chief Ministers, as they consider urgent state and territory lockdown provisions, that the business of radio should be deemed essential and must go on.
“Radio station staff may need to attend various broadcast facilities and locations, including across state borders, to ensure services remain on air.
“Nearly 80% of Australians listen to commercial radio and we are committed to continuing to provide a trusted communications channel for Australians through our live broadcasts and working closely with Federal and State/Territory governments to keep Australians fully informed through this crisis.”


As we reported earlier this week, Essential Services Legislation is state-based (eg NSW Legislation). The legislative precedents for essential services go back to ‘reserved occupations’ during war time. In 1939, reserved occupations included the designation Wireless Stations and Radio Manufacture announcers, electrical mechanics, engineers, leading hands, maintenance tradesmen, managers, valve makers; cabinet makers, wiremen.

In 1942, radio stations were listed in the second highest essential services category, just below munitians manufacturers, aerodromes and hospitals. “They include State Government administration, newspapers, road transport, wireless radio stations, and dairy farniing,” according to documents in the National Library’s Trove collection.

In other countries, particularly throughout Asia, there is much more explicit designation of media as an essential service. For example, in Malaysia, “Radio communication including broadcasting and television” are listed in that country’s essential services designation, along with other primary services that must be allowed to stay open during a crisis.

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