ACF pilot distributed £3.35m and created more than 6,000 freelancer days

  • The ACF has published its latest annual report, concluding the three-year pilot
  • £3.35m funds given to 91 suppliers, for 732 hrs of content, on 350 stations that reach 40m
  • ACF survey indicates funding supported 6,000 freelancer days, and 240 jobs
  • DCMS has begun independent evaluation of the pilot, due to report this Autumn

The Audio Content Fund has today released its third Annual Report, which provides a detailed breakdown of the £992k distributed to 50 projects in 2021-22, and summarises the extraordinary success of the three-year pilot which started in 2019.

The report outlines how £3.35m was distributed to 165 projects across those three years, and includes the findings of an ACF survey that suggests the funding created or supported 6,225 freelancer days, 200 part-time jobs, and 40 full-time roles.

The ACF, which is financed by the UK Government, is now working with the Dept for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport on an independent evaluation of the pilot, led by research consultancy Wavehill.  The evaluation aims to establish how well the fund’s processes worked and the impact of the ACF on indies, stations and audiences, and will report in the autumn.

As well as some observations on the three-year pilot as a whole, the Annual Report breaks down the 2021-22 projects, 70% of which were produced outside London, for broadcast on radio stations in all four nations of the UK.  The projects included factual, drama, sport, music, comedy and children’s content, with an expected reach of 17.4m listeners. 

Sam Bailey, Managing Director of the ACF, said: “The ACF pilot has been a tremendous success.  You can see that success in the figures – quite how far £3.4m has gone in impacting tens of millions of listeners, and how many jobs it’s created for the freelancers and small businesses who’ve received it. But you can also hear that success by listening to the power and quality of each of the incredible projects.”

Helen Boaden, Chair of the ACF Funding panel, said: “I am delighted that the ACF pilot enabled independent audio companies to innovate and expand; it’s ensured that new, diverse talent – on and off air – reached fresh audiences; it’s nurtured programmes in minority UK languages; and it’s been the catalyst for some wonderful partnerships in community radio which did not exist before the Fund. Like the rest of the ACF funding panel, I feel privileged to have had the chance to select the best ideas – oftentimes smart, funny, surprising, risky and sometimes unexpectedly profound. We hope we can find new ways of continuing this great work.

Tim Wilson, AudioUK’s Director of the ACF – said: “For production companies around the UK, the ACF has created exciting new partnerships with commercial and community stations, giving them new outlets for their creativity.”

Matt Payton, Radiocentre’s Director of the ACF, said: “For commercial and community radio, the ACF has enabled stations to experiment with a range of ambitious and innovate programming, which would have been impossible to support solely on a commercial basis.”

You can also download the 2019-2020 Annual Report and the 2020-21 Annual Report.