Hillsong Church has announced it is leaving the denomination...
Some of our loyal supporters have had queries about Premier's recent financial challenges and the threat to our national digital licence for Premier Christian Radio. In response, Peter Kerridge (PK), Chief Executive, sat down to answer a few questions about Premier’s funding and fundraising strategy.
Questions about the National Licence Renewal
Q: Are other radio stations in danger of losing their DAB licences? And are other stations experiencing a hike in fees?
PK: Unfortunately it is confidential so we are not party to that information.
Q: Why do you refer to Premier Christian Radio as ‘the Christian voice in the UK’….what about UCB?
PK: We greatly admire the work of UCB – we simply meant that while their output is predominantly music-based, ours is predominantly talk-based.
Q: Are there other cheaper suppliers that Premier can consider for its National Digital Licence?
PK: No, there is only one supplier.
Q: What are the key levers in your negotiations? And can your supporters do anything to help with the outcome?
PK: Please fill in the petition form along with your friends, church and family. And please pray.
Q: What happens if you cannot get enough people to sign the petition? Would Premier go off the air?
PK: Premier could lose its transmission across the UK.
Q: Why are the petitions important?
PK: They give a solid indication of the level of support for Premier and will add weight to any future negotiation about national coverage.
Q: If broadcasting nationally is proving so costly won’t it be more cost effective to work with others like UCB?
PK: We are always open to cost effective solutions which enable Premier’s ministry to flourish.
Q: Why is Premier spending money on Medium Wave transmitters - a dying technology - rather than using the funds towards its National Digital Licence?
PK: There are still tens of thousands of listeners who listen to Premier on Medium Wave. These are some of our most loyal and devoted listeners who due to personal circumstance do not own a digital radio.
Q: Why is Premier always in this sort of crisis position? Is this due to a lack of foresight or poor stewardship?
PK: If Premier were a church we would be half the size of the Church of England. To reach 600,000 people through a network of local churches costs the Church of England £420 million every year.
Average church attendance in the UK is now one visit every 3 weeks and over 90% of the people who do attend will not read the Bible or any other devotional material in between visits.
In comparison with the Church of England’s £420 million per annum, it costs Premier £7.5 million to reach the same number of people in the same time: just 3% of the cost. Our engagement is 15 times stronger at over 10 hours per week.
However, rather than the weekly offerings churches might receive, Premier relies each month on the generous support of committed partners.
Q: How can a Christian organisation justify asking for money by mail or telephone?
PK: The mail and telephone have proved to be very effective communication tools for Premier, as it enables us to keep our supporters informed of our ongoing needs.
I think we would all agree that Satan is actively at work seeking to undermine the work of God's Kingdom here on earth. One of the ways he does this is by disrupting the flow of money needed to do the good works that God has ordained through ministries today! This is important because there are salaries and overheads…not to speak of the direct cost of broadcasting across the UK that must be covered.
One of the main ways we fund this significant cost of spreading the Gospel is through the support of our loyal donors. However, we do understand the vital need for prayer...for it is God who touches the hearts of people to respond to our appeals. We pray daily for the work of Premier and for God's provision...to which He has proved faithful.
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."
Q: How much of your costs are covered by donations and how much by advertising income?
PK: 60% of Premier's income comes from the generosity of our donors – mainly through individual gifts generated by our mailing programme. We also receive legacy gifts and church offerings, with the remaining 40% generated through advertising and sales income.
Q: You mail your donors frequently. How much do you spend on fundraising?
PK: Our regular communication with donors via the mail represents our largest fundraising spend. However, the income we generate from our mailing programme far outweighs the cost. We know that not everyone can respond to every letter or email; however it is incumbent on us to remind our supporters that broadcasting to the UK is expensive and costs Premier a significant amount of money everyday! We are grateful to all those who respond and enable us to continue our broadcast to the nation.
Q: It seems like Premier always has a financial target. Why is that?
PK: The reality is that it costs Premier over £470,000 a month to run its ministry. The majority of this cost being our National Digital Licence fee and staff costs. Although we broadcast to nearly 500,000 regular listeners, only a small percentage of our audience financially support our work. The challenge for us is to help Christians understand just how vital their support is for Premier to fulfill its ministry, especially as the current economic climate is putting a strain on our income. We communicate this ongoing need by highlighting our financial target or shortfall.
Q: Why don't you save costs by cutting back on some of the things you do such as events?
PK: Premier events help raise awareness of our work and increases listenership. It also gives Christians around the country an opportunity to meet with Premier presenters – as we take our broadcast to various regions.
Q: Why do you spend money on campaigns?
PK: Christians are called to be active in the public square, especially when we see injustice. By God's grace we are able to influence communities and government to make a change in our nation. We are especially grateful for the impact we've made through our recent Safetynet campaign, where in October 4 out of 6 key Internet Service Providers will give you the option to block pornography at source. Our audience is highly appreciative of the campaigns we run as it gives them an opportunity to voice their concerns on important issues. We will continue to improve our delivery of events and campaigns, as we believe that this is part of the ministry to which Premier has been called.
"...And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Romans 10:14 (NIV)
Q: Why does Premier extend its activities even during financially challenging times?
PK: The more opportunities we have to reach out to people on the fringe of faith, the more likely they are to get enthused by the message of hope we broadcast.
About 85% of the UK population does not attend any place of worship. It is imperative that the Christian community reaches out beyond its walls. We endeavor to do just that, as cost-effectively as we can…even during challenging times. I don't think Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel providing the economy is favourable, so we must continue the work!
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9
Q: Why doesn't Premier merge with UCB (United Christian Broadcasters) to save costs?
PK: We are in regular contact with the Trustees of UCB and although we have similar ministries, we differ in our focus. Premier is committed to continue its focus on quality speech radio, Christian publishing, campaigns and events ministry which seeks to strengthen Christians across the UK.
Q: What other measures are you taking to address your financial challenges?
PK: The current financial challenges of Europe are putting a significant strain on our nation, our donors and subsequently on the income of Premier. Hence we have had to make some important changes internally, such as reducing budgets and headcount, restructuring and streamlining our processes. We trust that God will supply all that's needed to continue the vital work He has called Premier to do.