After months of lobbying by musicians, industry heavyweights, and lovers of community radio; the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMPRAP) has secured an additional $250,000 from the federal government, less than a week before it was due to run completely out of funding.

AMRAP is an initiative managed by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, which gathers new Australian music, distributes it to community radio for airplay, and empowers broadcasters to promote Australian musicians through station websites and social media.

According to AMRAP, since its launch in 2008 over 4.4 million Australians have tuned into community radio every week, and AMRAP has helped facilitate a 5% lift in Australian music airplay on community radio nationally, bringing the average up to 37%.

Yet, although a 2011 review of AMRAP by the Department of Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy netted positive results, the Federal Government failed to include funding for the program in its 2012 Federal Budget effectively pulling the plug on the service last June.

The backlash against the government came from all corners of the Australian music industry; including heavyweights such as Mushroom Group and Frontier Touring chairman Michael Gudinski, six-time ARIA Award winner John Butler, and ARIA CEO Dan Rosen all lobbying the government to address the funding gap before the end of 2012.“The additional funding will ensure that Australian musicians and community broadcasters can continue to access AMRAP’s services.” – Sr Stephen Conroy

According to Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, the eleventh hour rescue package will serve as a stopgap which will allow AMRAP to continue to operate for a further six months, when the next federal budget will be passed.

“AMRAP has successfully increased the amount of Australian music receiving airplay by working closely with Australian musicians and community broadcasters,” Senator Conroy said. “The additional funding will ensure that Australian musicians and community broadcasters can continue to access AMRAP’s services, pending consideration of the project’s long term funding in the 2013-14 Budget,”

The funding builds upon the $2.4m over four years previously provided by the Australian Government, which had allowed AMRAP to offer a full suite of services to support both Australian musicians and community radio.

The government has indicated that in the 2012-13 budget they will be providing over $14.8 million in support to the community broadcasting sector. In addition, the government will continue to provide community broadcasters with access to spectrum free of charge.

“This renewed funding and the Minister’s statements are good indicators that the government is committed to continuing AMRAP both now and in the future,” added a pleased AMRAP team. “We are delighted with Communication Minister’s announcement and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) and the AMRAP team will continue to work with the government to secure long-term funding in the next Federal Budget.”

“Thank you to everyone who proactively and passionately supported our work to ensure that Amrap can continue. Your letters of support and political lobbying has paid off! This is a major victory for Australian musicians and we thank you for patiently and enthusiastically working with us through this process.”

“A special thanks to the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and the Community Broadcasting Foundation for providing reserve funds to ensure Amrap could keep getting your music to the airwaves through the unfunded period. The determination of the community radio sector to get your great Australian music on the airwaves has never been stronger!”

It’s a major win for AMRAP, community radio, and all the artists it strives to represent, the funding coming at a crucial time not just because the financial well was drying up, but also because the latest figures from a report of 2012’s most played songs on commercial radio demonstrated that mainstream broadcasters are failing dismally and supporting local talent.

The results from last December of the Music Network’s Hot 100, which annually polls commercial radio to list the most heard songs on Australian airwaves, demonstrated a list dominated by international and mainstream fodder, doubly showing that many Australian acts aren’t getting the much-need exposure and support they need – a support system that AMRAP so readily, and necessarily provides.

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