Audience Dialogue

Participative Marketing for Local Radio, Chapter 9
Selling programs and airtime: section 1

9.1 Program sales

Another source of revenue is selling your programs: either to other stations, or to listeners. Because of copyright laws, this is usually possible only for programs you produce yourself. If you think you'll be able to sell a new program, first of all check the copyright situation in your country. If you use recorded music within the program, the copyright agency may demand a very high fee. So it might be better to record a local band playing their own composition, and to get specific permission from them for you to sell the program with their music.

The same applies with actors and others appearing on the program who are not employees of your station.

Of course, to sell a program you have produced, you need to let your target market - whether listeners or other stations - know it's available.

If you want to sell these recordings to listeners, it won't be difficult. You can promote them on air, in newsletters, and through your website.

To sell the programs to other stations, you may need to spend some time working out which stations, in which countries, might be interested. Because you could waste a lot of time trying to identify possible buyers of your programs, it might be best to work through an association of radio stations, such as a community broadcasters' association. Another possibility is a program exchange (such as that run by One World through their website - but this is barter: it produces not money for you, but externally produced programs that you can broadcast.)

By aggregating potential sellers, such an organization is more likely to find potential buyers.

Many radio stations aren't in a position to sell their programs, because their programs are so local and so bound to their broadcast dates that they would be of no interest in a different place, at a different time.

Because of the effort involved in preparing programs for sale, there's no point in trying to sell a single program. But if you are producing a continuous flow of interesting programs, it will be more worthwhile to try to sell them - specially if they are of universal appeal or lasting value. The types of programs most readily sold include:

Documentary programs (which a lot of people think of first) are not so good: they take a lot of money and time to produce well, may not interest your local audience much, and produce only a single program for sale.  A low-budget fiction serial or music series is usually more successful financially.


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