I thank Deputy Munster for bringing forward this issue. I am acutely aware of the valuable source of reliable and trustworthy news that local radio offers in a time of uncertainty and with much disinformation in circulation. Local radio also plays an important role in bringing communities together, strengthening their bonds of solidarity and mutual support. I recognise the challenges faced by the sector due to Covid-19 and I am pleased the supports in 2020 have provided a valuable source of funding at this challenging time.
During 2020, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI, which is statutorily independent, held two closed rounds for radio targeted at the independent commercial and community radio sectors, respectively. In June 2020, the BAI awarded €2.5 million sound and vision funding to 32 independent commercial radio stations across the country supporting public awareness and understanding of Covid-19. This was in addition to a waiver of the broadcasting levy for the independent radio sector for the first and second quarters of 2020, which saved the sector €1 million. I secured €839,000 in budget 2021 to compensate the BAI for this levy waiver.
LMFM, which the Deputy and I are familiar with, was awarded €95,000 under round 35 and a community radio station, Dundalk FM, was awarded €16,945 under round 36. In addition, the BAI distributed €750,000 in a special round for community radio that Dundalk FM benefited from.
The purpose of the sound and vision scheme is to support eligible content across the broadcasting sector as a whole, ensuring a balanced and fair approach. In light of the ongoing challenge faced by the sector, I secured an additional €2 million in Exchequer funding for the sound and vision scheme under the July stimulus package. This has greatly enhanced the funding available for the final round for the scheme this year, round 37, bringing it to a value of €4.5 million.
The BAI continues to report to me quarterly on the impact of Covid-19 on the commercial radio sector. For the Deputy's information, local radio has been included in the Government's current advertising campaign on resilience.
The BAI is currently finalising the most recent round and no decisions regarding 2021 rounds have yet been made. However, the BAI will be meeting with representatives of the commercial radio sector to discuss the approach to sound and vision in the new year. I very much welcome that. That engagement needs to happen. I will continue to work closely with the BAI to see how best we can support this sector.