Round 4 is now open - plus, our timeline for 2020

The ACF will operate three funding rounds this year, including a High Impact round for major projects.

21st February 2020, by Sam Bailey.

NEW UPDATE 27 MAR: The events of March 2020 have been all-consuming for people in radio, working hard to keep stations on air and keep audiences informed about a rapidly changing situation. Because of this, we have decided to extend the March 2020 Funding Round so that it closes on 27 April. We have also launched a special round to support audiences during coronavirus restrictions. These decisions will have an impact on the rest of the year’s timeline, which we can’t predict at this time – so, we have marked the timings and values of Rounds 5 and 6 as tentative for now. We will update again once we have confidence of the industry’s needs later in the year

UPDATE: Our March 2020 funding round is now open. This is our fourth funding round, and it will remain open for entries until 29th March at 23:59.

Building on the success of the Audio Content Fund in 2019 – in which we distributed £656k to 25 projects – we’re pleased to announce our funding timeline for 2020, for which our grant budget is set at £1,000,000.

In the spirit of the pilot project the ACF is part of, our aim in 2020 remains to distribute those funds as widely as possible, whilst also exploring some different ways for the budget to have an impact on commercial and community radio, and the independent audio production sector. 

As such, we are announcing two standard rounds of funding, modelled on the successful template of 2019’s distribution, and a third round of funding focused on high impact projects with higher budgets. The assessment criteria will be same for all three rounds (since these are derived from the overall aims of DCMS’s Contestable Fund pilot), but there will be differences in the expected scale of the projects.

  • Round 4 – Standard Round – 2 March to 30 March 2020 27 April 2020*
  • Round 5 – Tentative – High Impact Round – 29 June to 27 July 2020
  • Round 6 – Tentative – Standard Round – 28 Sept to 26 Oct 2020

Standard Rounds – The guidelines and procedures for these two rounds will be familiar to anyone who submitted a bid in 2019.  Each round will seek to distribute approximately £333,000 (a third of the year’s grant budget), and it is our expectation that most bids will be in the range of £10,000 – £50,000.  These rounds will open on 2 March and 28 September, and both run for four weeks.

High Impact Round – In July, we will run a High Impact round, also allocated £333,000 to distribute. While the assessment criteria will be broadly the same, we will expect ideas in this round to deliver a higher level of audience impact.  We would expect audience reach in the region of 1,000,000 listeners or higher, with output generating significant hours, and available on at least one UK-wide national radio brand.  For this round, it is our expectation to receive bids of up to £100,000, but we may consider higher bids for projects of significant ambition.  This round will open on 29 June for four weeks.  We would welcome ideas that maximise impact by featuring on multiple radio brands, and ideas that come about through indies working together in partnership.

Through this combination of approaches, we hope to further demonstrate the breadth of commercial and community radio in the UK, and showcase the extensive range of production skills in the independent production sector.

In the spirit of a pilot project, we remain open to feedback on this approach from suppliers and broadcasters, and welcome your thoughts via