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Some static in the statistics this World Radio Day

February 10, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EST)


Today is World Radio Day. The statistics suggest there is some static in the industry.

While the number of radio stations across Canada in 2021 remained near a record high, there were fewer Canadians working in the industry compared with one year earlier and radio broadcasters nationally reported a record net loss after income taxes, due in part to lower advertising sales.

Operating revenue falls for radio broadcasters

The total operating revenue of radio broadcasters across Canada fell 2.0% from 2020 to $1.5 billion in 2021. Operating revenue was down 17.2% from prior to the pandemic, in 2019, and almost one-quarter (-23.8%) lower from the record high $2.0 billion reported in 2011.

Advertising sales for private broadcasters down since the onset of the pandemic

Radio broadcasters’ local advertising sales were down 9.1% from 2020 to $661.6 million in 2021, while national and network advertising sales rose 0.9% to $400.3 million. In 2021, the industry’s local sales were down by almost one-third (-31.0%) compared with prior to the pandemic, in 2019, while national and network sales were down by one-fifth (-19.9%).

Operating expenses are at lowest level in almost two decades, interest expenses rise by almost half from one year earlier

Operating expenses for radio broadcasters fell 4.2% from one year earlier to $142.2 billion in 2021, their lowest level since 2003. Conversely, interest expenses rose 46.4% from one year earlier to $37.4 million—their highest level since 2003.

Radio broadcasting industry in the red since the onset of the pandemic

Radio broadcasters reported a net loss after income taxes of $102.4 million in 2021, by far the largest annual loss for this industry on record. This net loss in 2021 followed a $26.9 million loss in 2020. Since 2000, the only other net annual loss in the radio broadcasting industry occurred in 2010 (-$41.1 million).

The losses of 2021 are a far cry from just five years earlier, when radio broadcasters posted a record high $401.4 million annual net profit.

Fewer employees working in the radio broadcasting industry compared with one year earlier

There were 561 fewer people working in the radio broadcasting industry in 2021 compared with one year earlier. Employment in the industry was down by over one-quarter (-27.9%) from the record high one decade earlier, falling from 14,022 jobs in 2011 to 10,115 in 2021.

There were 961 radio stations broadcasting in Canada in 2021, 3 fewer than the record high reported in 2020.

Don’t turn that dial, radio broadcasting data for 2022 will be released this May.

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