AudioUK and Radiocentre welcome ‘highly positive’ ACF evaluation

AudioUK, the trade body for independent audio production companies and Radiocentre, the trade organisation for commercial radio, today welcomed the publication of the formal evaluation of the Audio Content Fund.

The ACF is a pilot scheme which was given three years’ worth of grant funding, at £1m per year between 2019 and 2022. It received two further grants of £400k and £300k respectively during the pandemic period to provide rounds to lift the national mood and tackle issues of loneliness. The ACF is currently seeing through the final projects awarded funding. 

The report, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport and produced by independent consultants Wavehill, concluded that: “the Fund has been successful in achieving its objectives across all of the eight eligibility criteria set by DCMS” and among other things pointed to the fact that a third of the funded projects had a life beyond their original broadcast, demonstrating real value for money.

Wavehill also found that the Fund created 9,842 freelancer days, as well as up to 40 full-time jobs and 240 part-time jobs. The fund also created new partnerships between independent production companies and the commercial radio sector, leading in some cases to further commissions.

Overall the fund commissioned 165 projects from 91 different suppliers broadcast on 350 stations across the UK. 71% of the grants were awarded outside London and 7% of the fund was spent on non–English indigenous languages, above the 5% limit set by government. 

Tim Wilson, AudioUK’s Director of the ACF, said: 

“The Audio Content Fund ‘s wide range of projects has introduced new genres onto some stations for the first time, the first children’s soap opera on radio, the first drama, documentary and comedy on some stations and overall has brought unique public service often to many millions of listeners. For a relatively small investment it has produced a terrific way of getting important content to the public on their stations of choice. The opportunity still remains for the Government to continue to support this project and we hope it will consider doing so”.

Matt Payton, Radiocentre’s CEO and Director of the ACF, said:

“This official evaluation provides compelling evidence that the Audio Content Fund was successful in achieving the objectives it was set by Government. Contestable funding in audio has delivered great content for audiences in an effective and efficient way, on a range of different radio stations across the country. Given this track record, the lack of any clear commitment to future funding feels like a missed opportunity”.