FRANCE Les radios françaises résistent au Covid-19

ABSTRACT (ENGLISH)

After speaking to the Italian radio editors, we asked French editors to tell us about the impact the pandemic has had on them. 97 radio stations replied, most of them community radio stations (83), giving us an insight into the reality they have faced which differs from that of the commercial radio stations monitored by SIRTI, the union that represents them. The radios have increased information (62%), organised fund raising and played a role in social solidarity. Advertising has halved (-49%) but the radio editors have survived the storm. To date only 1% of the staff has been laid off (34% in Italy), however 38% of the respondents have already applied for the advantages of the ‘partial employment’ scheme. Regarding energy consumption, which is a hot topic in Italy (45% of the budget goes in paying the bills), this is regulated in France and the cost is half (25%). At the end of the survey there are proposals made by the editors on how to come out of the crisis.

ARTICLE (EN FRANÇAIS)
La tour Eiffel, un des symboles de la grandeur française, a été sauvée par les radios. Elle devait être démolie au bout de vingt ans, mais elle était considérée comme une excellente antenne: en 1906, l'armée a commencé à l'utiliser, puis la marine. Aujourd'hui, elle est très fréquentée (elle est utilisée par 32 radios) et les loyers sont élevés, de sorte que pour couvrir la ville avec Dab, les compagnies de télécommunications proposent des sites alternatifs.
La tour Eiffel, un des symboles de la grandeur française, a été sauvée par les radios. Elle devait être démolie au bout de vingt ans, mais elle était considérée comme une excellente antenne: en 1906, l’armée a commencé à l’utiliser, puis la marine. Aujourd’hui, elle est très fréquentée (elle est utilisée par 32 radios) et les loyers sont élevés, de sorte que pour couvrir la ville avec Dab, les compagnies de télécommunications proposent des sites alternatifs.
Source

Après avoir interrogé les éditeurs italiens, nous avons demandé aux éditeurs français de nous parler de l’impact de la pandémie sur l’activité de leurs stations de radio. Les deux systèmes de media sont différents: en France, ils exploitent environ 900 radios (CSA – Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel), soit 6% de moins que les radios italiennes (957). Mais seulement une sur cinq est commerciale (environ 200, 22%), tandis que les 700 autres sont “associatives”: formule qui prévoit qu’une radio reste autofinancée et bénéficie d’une aide de l’Etat, avec une publicité qui ne peut dépasser 20% des recettes (et certaines stations ne la fournissent tout simplement pas). En Italie, par contre, les ratios sont inversés: 65% des stations (624) vivent grâce aux recettes publicitaires et pour les 333 stations, il n’y a qu’une limitation du nombre de spots publicitaires à diffuser (10% par heure, soit 6 minutes : pas peu).

Plus d’une station de radio sur dix a répondu

Les studios de RCF (Radio Crétienne Francofone), un réseau de 64 stations communautaires qui font appel à environ 3000 bénévoles
Les studios de RCF (Radio Crétienne Francofone), un réseau de 64 stations communautaires qui font appel à environ 3000 bénévoles
Crédits: Vincent Moncorge

L’enquête a été réalisée par 97 diffuseurs, pour la plupart des associations (83), dont 78 radios locales, 5 régionales, une multirégionale et une nationale. Cela nous a permis d’enquêter sur une réalité complémentaire à celle des radios commerciales, déjà contrôlées par Sirti, le syndicat qui les représente (nous en avons parlé ici). La réponse à l’urgence a été similaire à celle des radios italiennes : au-delà des Alpes également, les radios ont réagi en renforçant l’information, en organisant des collectes de fonds et en jouant un rôle de cohésion sociale.

Publicité (et recettes) réduite de moitié? Il est “coupé”, mais seulement en grands groupes

Les studios de Azur FM, la première radio associative alzacienne émettant sur cinq fréquences
Les studios de Azur FM, la première radio associative alzacienne émettant sur cinq fréquences
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La publicité a été réduite de moitié en moyenne (-49%), ce qui reflète la situation des stations de radio multirégionales (-50%), tandis que les spots publicitaires (-72%) et les stations de radio nationales (-90%) ont souffert. Le “préjudice” causé aux associations, qui se concentrent moins sur la publicité, a été limité: pour elles, la baisse a été de 24%. Le renforcement des espaces d’information a été en moyenne de 62% (54% en Italie), mais comme nous l’avons observé en Italie, les radios et réseaux nationaux ont fait beaucoup plus, augmentant les nouvelles de 85 et 105% respectivement, contre 63% pour les associations. Un effort organisationnel autofinancé, non indifférent et soutenu. Les éditeurs, grands et petits, ont résisté à l’impact sans recourir aux licenciements: des petites réalités aux stations de radio nationales, seulement 1,34% du personnel a été licencié (en Italie 34%). Mais 38% des entreprises ont demandé un chômage partiel, en particulier les radios multirégionales (55%). Les associations et les commerciaux sont au même niveau (avec respectivement 40 et 41%), aussi parce qu’ils sont gérés en moyenne par 5 employés et 40 bénévoles. Les grands groupes, au contraire, ont déjà commencé à couper : nous en avons parlé ici.

Juste ce qu’il faut au frais de fonctionnement

Le CSA Conseil Supérieur de l'Audivisuel, est l'autorité publique qui réglemente également la planification des fréquences
Le CSA Conseil Supérieur de l’Audivisuel, est l’autorité publique qui réglemente également la planification des fréquences
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En France, l’éther est planifié et l’énergie n’est pas gaspillée: les factures d’électricité n’absorbent qu’un quart du budget annuel d’un radiodiffuseur, alors qu’en Italie, elles sont presque deux fois plus élevées (45 %). Seul un faible pourcentage de répondants (10%) est favorable à la réduction de la puissance des systèmes, mais ils souhaiteraient l’appliquer à tous les émetteurs, même ceux de moins de 100W. Concernant la durée de la réduction, 54% la limiteraient à trois mois, tandis que 27% souhaiteraient la maintenir pour toujours.

De nombreuses idées pour redémarrer

Les droits d'auteur sont gérés par deux sociétés: la Sacem est responsable des droits des auteurs, compositeurs et producteurs de musique; la Spre celle des artistes interprètes et producteurs de musique
Les droits d’auteur sont gérés par deux sociétés: la Sacem est responsable des droits des auteurs, compositeurs et producteurs de musique; la Spre celle des artistes interprètes et producteurs de musique
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Nous avons regroupé les suggestions des éditeurs par thèmes, en essayant de les transformer en propositions dont les associations devront être les porte-parole. Deux radios sur trois (66%) demandent une prime et un fonds de soutien, mais sur le reste des mesures, il y a une nette distinction entre les radios commerciales et associatives. Les premiers demandent une aide financière, une réduction des impôts (ou leur suppression pour 2020 et 2021) et des charges salariales. Il y a ceux qui pointent du doigt les droits d’auteur (gérés par la Sacem et la Spre) et ceux qui suggèrent au gouvernement de prévoir un crédit d’impôt pour les annonceurs, pour relancer la publicité (une mesure également envisagée en Italie). Les radio associatives, quant à elles, réclament des subventions exceptionnelles, une augmentation du Feder (Fonds de soutien à l’expression radiophonique locale) et des formes de soutien indirect, comme la diffusion de messages d’intérêt général (payés par le gouvernement) afin de faire rentrer de l’argent frais dans les caisses désormais vides. Mais aussi des solutions rapides, telles que la réduction de la TVA. En bref, le monde entier est un pays, même le fait que (comme cela s’est produit dans le cadre d’une enquête italienne similaire), un seul éditeur s’est déclaré satisfait de ce que le gouvernement a fait jusqu’à présent pour la radio. 

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RUSSIA: The market is not mature enough for DAB radio

Produced by the Academy of the media industry, a report of 150 pages was drawn up by a team of academics from various universities and research centres
Produced by the Academy of the media industry, a report of 150 pages was drawn up by a team of academics from various universities and research centres
Source: Report on radio in Russia 2019

The annual report on the information industry in Russia covers many aspects of the media. Among these, we have focussed our attention on the move to digital TV, FM band migration and the increase in numbers of transmitters, and digital radio coming to a stop.

Analogue TV is dead! (but still operating alongside digital)

The television broadcasting network has 5,040 transmitters broadcasting 20 TV channels and three radio stations (Radio Rossii, Mayak and Vesti FM) covering 98.4% of the country.
The television broadcasting network has 5,040 transmitters broadcasting 20 TV channels and three radio stations (Radio Rossii, Mayak and Vesti FM) covering 98.4% of the country.
Source: Report on radio in Russia 2019

The switchover to digital was completed in 2019. It was proudly announced that the transition took ten years, which was faster than the United States (11 years), Australia (12) and Great Britain (14). In addition, with 98.4% of the population being able to tune in, Russia beats France (97.3%), Austria (96.0%), Switzerland (*) (95.0%) and Portugal (92.7%). However analogue TV is not totally dead. The national channels have been switched off, but the regional channels are still operating. And there are quite a few of them. Our FMLIST correspondent in the Republic of Karelia (east of Finland) confirmed that there are a good five of them in the city where he lives.

(*) Switzerland has switched off terrestrial TV via DVB-T in summer 2019

Radio stations move to FM

In order to listen to Radio Mayak and Vesti FM in big cities, new transmitters will be switched on and the present number of 1,167 will be increased to 2,000 by 2021. 572 have already been ordered

In order to listen to Radio Mayak and Vesti FM in big cities, new transmitters will be switched on and the present number of 1,167 will be increased to 2,000 by 2021. 572 have already been ordered
Source: Report on radio in Russia 2019

The state radio network will be moving from broadcasting on the OIRT band (between 65.8 and 74 MHz) to the European FM band  (87.5-108 MHz), where the commercial radio stations are already present. New licences will be granted to Radio Mayak and Vesti FM in order to allow them to broadcast in all cities with over 100,000 inhabitants. In order to manage the increase in number of channels, they are studying isofrequency networks used abroad in countries like Moldavia, where the radio station Inter-FM can be received with traffic information along the motorway. A solution based on a lot of low power transmitters would also not infringe health regulations that limit the use of high power transmitters.

‘The market is not ready’ for DAB

Digital radio is widespread in many European countries. From 2020 a European law has made it mandatory for automakers to equip all new cars with DAB radios
Digital radio is widespread in many European countries. From 2020 a European law has made it mandatory for automakers to equip all new cars with DAB radios
Source: Report on radio in Russia 2019

The development of digital radio in Europe is analysed in the report. But this ‘revolution’ will not be happening in Russia. Even though frequencies for DAB+ transmissions have been allocated, this does not mean that they will be activated. The Ministry of Communications believes that the advertising market is not mature enough yet to justify the increase in the numbers of radio stations that can use updated technology.

St. Petersburg is experimenting with DRM+

Digital broadcasting on 95.7 MHz FM enables more than one channel to use the same bandwidth as analogue radio and does not interfere with radio stations in the vicinity
Digital broadcasting on 95.7 MHz FM enables more than one channel to use the same bandwidth as analogue radio and does not interfere with radio stations in the vicinity
Source: Report on radio in Russia 2019

Therefore the aim is to develop broadcasting systems such as DRM+ that allow a radio station to also transmit digital channels on the same FM frequency, leaving listeners free to equip themselves to receive transmissions in high quality sound, but not being obliged to replace their radio with a new one (estimated cost of about $10 US). In July 2019 Comedy Radio carried out tests in St. Petersburg by digitally broadcasting three channels on 95.7 MHz FM. The first one was a repeat of their analogue channel with a bitrate of 33 kbps, the other two were Avtoradio (43 kbps) and Evropa Plus (20 kbps).

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FRANCE: Large networks cut costs and staff

In order to compensate for lower advertising revenues caused by the pandemic, the large networks are making savings like this: Altice has closed down the TV channel RMC Sport and laid off a third of its personnel, RTL has dismissed well known radio hosts and television presenters and NRJ has sold a stake to increase liquidity

The TV channel RMC Sport News, at crisis level due to cancellations of sports events, was shut down on June 2nd, 2020
The TV channel RMC Sport News, at crisis level due to cancellations of sports events, was shut down on June 2nd, 2020
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In June 2020 the French subsidiary of the Altice group (a multinational with headquarters in Holland), presented a plan to the unions ‘in order to save the media group’. This involved all the divisions in the NextRadioTV group, including channels BFM TV and RMC. The goal is to streamline both organisation and programming by axing between 330 and 380 full-time staffers in addition to 200 freelancers. According to the union representing the employees at Altice CGT (Confederation generale du travail) ‘This drastic cut in personnel is incomprehensible for a profitable group in constant growth, which had a turnover of € 120 million in 2019, a 300% increase in 5 years’.

Unions jump into action

This press release, giving information on the progress of their negotiations, appeared on June 29th, 2020, on the Facebook page of the union representing Altice staff
This press release, giving information on the progress of their negotiations, appeared on June 29th, 2020, on the Facebook page of the union representing Altice staff
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Following a number of strikes and union action, the company softened its stance on June 29th, 2020. It undertook to ‘offer voluntary redundancies to a maximum of 330 staffers and not proceed with layoffs until November 31st, 2021’. It will also try ‘to find alternative employment for staffers who cannot be placed in other positions inside the organisation and find a solution for freelancers’.

Capital gain of € 300 million in 2018

On June 8th, 2020, Capital printed this article which explains the real estate operation that led to a sizeable capital gain on the sale of the premises of some of the group's headquarters
On June 8th, 2020, Capital printed this article which explains the real estate operation that led to a sizeable capital gain on the sale of the premises of some of the group’s headquarters
Source

Up to a short time ago the group was flourishing to the point that the owner, Patrick Drahi, and Alan Weill, the Chief Executive Officer of NextRadioTV, made €300 million gross from the capital gain on the sale of some buildings. These four towers, located in the 15th arrondissement in Paris, are the headquarters of SFR (Societe francaise du radiotelephone, the second largest mobile communications company), BFM TV and the daily newspaper Liberation. The 85,800 square metres of floorspace accommodates 7,000 employees. Apparently in 2018 Drahi and Weill bought the buildings in their own names to then resell them to the group at a higher price.

RTL dismiss well known radio hosts and television presenters

The RTL Group with headquarters in Luxembourg is one of the leading companies in the field of broadcasting and digital media with interests in 68 television stations, 8 streaming platforms, 30 radio stations and a production company in many countries worldwide
The RTL Group with headquarters in Luxembourg is one of the leading companies in the field of broadcasting and digital media with interests in 68 television stations, 8 streaming platforms, 30 radio stations and a production company in many countries worldwide
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The RTL group’s accounts for the first quarter this year closed with a fall of 3.14%. Two months later, the French headquarters announced the dismissals of a number of well known television presenters and radio hosts, the departure of the head of the political service and a cut in the budget of the correspondent in the United States. Details can be found on Jean Marc Morandini’s website

NRJ sells a stake to increase liquidity

The NRJ Group has four national radio stations (NRJ, Cherie FM, Nostalgie and Rire & Chansons), two free national TV channels (NRJ 12 and Cherie 25), a pay TV channel (NRJ HITS) and, with their subsidiary Towercast, is the second largest operator of infrastructure and transmission towers
The NRJ Group has four national radio stations (NRJ, Cherie FM, Nostalgie and Rire & Chansons), two free national TV channels (NRJ 12 and Cherie 25), a pay TV channel (NRJ HITS) and, with their subsidiary Towercast, is the second largest operator of infrastructure and transmission towers
Source

Despite its leading position in the French market, NRJ is also feeling the pinch. On June 24th, 2020, NRJ sold a 5% stake in Euro-Information Telecom for €50 million. The company stated that the sale proceedswill be used for the needs of the group’s business‘. See details here

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FRANCE: Independent radio stations in alarm

SIRTI, the union of independent radio stations, brings together 172 French independent, local, regional, thematic and generalist radio channels.
SIRTI, the union of independent radio stations, brings together 172 French independent, local, regional, thematic and generalist radio channels.
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Radio stations in France have also been hit hard by the impact of Covid-19 according to SIRTI, the union of independent radio stations, that has been monitoring the situation by carrying out monthly surveys. Up to April 2020 75% of the radio stations had not applied for the advantages of the ‘partial employment’ scheme (teleworking is not viable for 50% of the staff) because of the bureaucratic procedures being too complicated according to 39% of the respondents. No one had been dismissed (the 112 members in the survey answered) but if the crisis was to last longer, 55% planned to apply for aid from the solidarity fund that has been set up for businesses. More than half of the respondents did not have the resources to face further financial difficulty. After recording a drop of 56% in advertising in March (-32% for the national radio stations) a collapse was foreseen in April: -78% (-75% for national broadcasters).

The situation worsens

The radio stations in SIRTI have 9 million listeners on an average day, employ 33% of people working in the sector and have 25% of total radio advertising
The radio stations in SIRTI have 9 million listeners on an average day, employ 33% of people working in the sector and have 25% of total radio advertising
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In the second survey carried out in May 2020, 72% were not confident of resuming normal business quickly, and 38% believed that the crisis could jeopardise businesses in the short term. A return to normality, according to 95% of the respondents, would not happen before the beginning of the academic year, and for 21% not before the beginning of 2021. The reason for this was because advertisers, having been hit hard during the crisis, either cancelled their advertising campaigns or negotiated lower prices. More than one out of two radio stations have had to apply for bank loans and one in three has applied for aid from the solidarity funds or other means of support.

Cutting personnel is inevitable

During the pandemic radio stations increased the amount of information given out, supported French artists, contributed to social cohesion and entertained those at home in lockdown. They promoted solidarity and raised funds. They also broadcast free commercial spots giving useful information to the public for a value of €6.5 million
During the pandemic radio stations increased the amount of information given out, supported French artists, contributed to social cohesion and entertained those at home in lockdown. They promoted solidarity and raised funds. They also broadcast free commercial spots giving useful information to the public for a value of €6.5 million
Source

In order to curb the number of dismissals, radio stations are considering implementing the partial employment scheme to balance their books and 32% predict extending this policy to the end of August 2020. 36% have not renewed or have terminated fixed-term contracts and have terminated employment for those employees working probationary periods. However these measures are not sufficient and if financial aid is not available by the end of the year, each radio station will most probably have to cut between one to three jobs. Due to the crisis there will be a reduction in events and concerts. 41% of radio stations predict reducing the number of events they organise at local levels.

Requests to the government

The pandemic has brought broadcasters to their knees. 38% consider that their businesses will be in danger shortly, 95% believe that a return to normality will not be seen before September 2020 and 75% will have to reduce personnel
The pandemic has brought broadcasters to their knees. 38% consider that their businesses will be in danger shortly, 95% believe that a return to normality will not be seen before September 2020 and 75% will have to reduce personnel
Source

In June 2020 SIRTI estimated that three out of four radio stations will have to cut jobs in the next few weeks. Annual revenues from advertising could be down by at least 25% (€35 million) according to a more optimistic prognosis but could drop by €45 million if investments in advertising does not restart at the beginning of the academic year. The union is asking for a waiver of the last three months payment of both the employee’s and employer’s social security contributions. This is believed to amount to €10 million which could compensate for about a third of lost revenues.

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RUSSIA: Radio stations say no to reducing power

According to the ministry, a radio station could cut costs by 25% if they reduce power and turn off transmitters at night
Source

Due to the Covid-19 crisis the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation offered radio and television broadcasters the opportunity to reduce the power of their transmitters and to turn them off at night (from 24.00 to 6.00) in order to save energy. This measure is in place from 24th April to 31st December, 2020. However, very few radio stations have taken this up. They are afraid that reducing power and coverage area could cause a drop in the numbers of listeners and commercials. Advertising is already going very badly. Advertising spots have dropped by 70% and 80% in many areas of the country and the ministry believes that broadcasters’ budgets will be more than halved this year (their revenues will be down by about 8 billion rubles)

Subsidies and cuts to rent and royalties

This article on the website, RadioPortal, goes into depth on the subject and includes statements from radio editors from some large media holdings
Source

In order to compensate for financial losses, radio stations are asking for funding as well as a lowering of RTRS fees (Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network, the company that manages transmitters), which are considered two or three times higher than those of private companies. They would also appreciate a respite with a lowering of royalties for music rights. The Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, Alexey Volin, declared that their request for subsidies was unrealistic and stated that the measures currently in place were sufficient. However, he was more open on the subject of lowering royalties which he declared was a more reasonable request.

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USA: IBA, united we stand

The logo of the Independent Broadcasters Association, a new association for American radio stations: 2.700 have already joined and the target number is 3.000
The logo of the Independent Broadcasters Association, a new association for American radio stations: 2.700 have already joined and the target number is 3.000
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IBA (Independent Broadcasters Association) is about to be set up in the United States. The aim is to increase the impact of thousands of member radio stations when communicating with record companies, selling airtime for advertisements (from the radio and social network to smart speakers like Alexa) and negotiating savings on services (from accountancy to putting programmes on air). We put three questions to Ron Stone, the promoter of the initiative.

Ron Stone, President and CEO of Adams Radio Group, is about to launch IBA that already has 2.700 member radio stations
Ron Stone, President and CEO of Adams Radio Group, is about to launch IBA that already has 2.700 member radio stations
Source

RR: IBA not only offers its members the sale of commercials that will be broadcast on 3.000 radio stations, on as many apps and Facebook pages, but also to reduce the fees for music rights by negotiating royalties as a group of broadcasters. What difficulties did you encounter when explaining your proposal? Wasn’t getting 3.000 “heads” to agree a problem? Or has the prospect of earnings (and savings) made prospective members more willing to listen? 
RS: The goal is to represent the stations that become members as an unwired network, offering this network to clients that have a national presence. In addition, we will create a digital platform for all the members to participate in that will allow for the first time, a true digital sale opportunity by radio on a national scale to compete for digital spending.

RR: Could this model also work in other countries? Associations usually do lobbying or offer services, but none of them have thought of taking such an active role.
RS: I really cannot answer this as I am not familiar with broadcasting in other countries. We will not be a lobbying group. We will leave that to the NAB, unless we find that there is a particular issue that we are being harmed by and not fairly represented.

RR: In order to sell advertising for 3.000 radio stations, are you going to create an independent advertising agency or rely on existing structures?
RS: With an unwired network, it becomes fairly easy. It is an all or none sale. Clients cannot cherry pick stations.

The objectives of the Independent Broadcasters Association

This is not only an association, but an organisation offering services. This could start a trend that may be followed in other countries in order to achieve economies of scale, which are essential after the collapse in advertising due to the Coronavirus crisis
Here is the form to request information
This is not only an association, but an organisation offering services. This could start a trend that may be followed in other countries in order to achieve economies of scale, which are essential after the collapse in advertising due to the Coronavirus crisis
Here is the form to request information
Source
Excerpt of the program of the association, from Radio IBA

The concept is to serve independent radio stations in ways we are NOT being served by existing organizations and provide independent operators with ways to drive revenue and achieve cost benefits from scale that cannot be achieved alone.

Below reflects my thoughts on what the organization would focus on right away and during the first two years.

Group employee benefits Better coverage and lower prices, and potentially add additional benefits for our employees.

Revenue generation An unwired network & digital platform supported by a national sales team to monetize for us.

Digital services group This would enable continuity across independent stations giving us the opportunity to accomplish double digit digital revenue through Web, Mobile, Alexa, & Streaming

Shared resources A system that allows sharing of that talent in non-competitive situations and reduces our dependence on national syndication that requires cash, barter and sometimes both.

Proprietary systems and services Under the umbrella of a member owned association, we can create proprietary systems that we control and eliminate some of the costly monthly per station fees for traffic, accounting, CRM, Yield Management, even automation and music scheduling.

This will of course take time, like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. But as independents, we are 7,000 stations strong, and multiply what each of us pay for any one service, it becomes crystal clear that through a membership owned organization, we would have the wherewithal to accomplish this, and the revenue growth and savings would be astronomical.
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Turkey: Further delays for the TV radio tower in Istanbul

All Photos by NAARO, Architectural Photography Studio in London

After having announced over and over again that the official opening of the telecommunications tower on Kucuk Camlica hill would take place in a few months, progress was thwarted by the arrival of Covid-19. Then on May 3rd, 2020, a fire broke out, which, fortunately, was small and quickly under control by the workers.

A video showing the area where the fire broke out can be seen on the website of Haber Global, TV and Radio tower in Istanbul, Turkey
Fire.  A video showing the area where the fire broke out can be seen on the website of Haber Global.
Source

Construction of the tower began in March 2016 and a year later the Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication, Ahmet Arslan, hoped it would be completed by the end of Ramadan (May 2017) with a cost of USD 48.5.  This was repeated the following year and again in July 2019 because they had to confront technical problems and delays caused by the wind, which when over 30km/h impedes work on the exterior.

In May 2017 the Minister of Communication, Ahmet Arslan, announcing the opening in a few months on a visit to the tower
In May 2017 the Minister of Communication, Ahmet Arslan, announcing the opening in a few months on a visit to the tower
Source
A year later (February 2018) the same minister can be seen on a visit to the tower stating that the construction would be completed by the end of the year
A year later (February 2018) the same minister can be seen on a visit to the tower stating that the construction would be completed by the end of the year
Source
On 16th June 2019 an announcement stating that they were starting tests appeared on a page of the Ministry of Communication's website
On 16th June 2019 an announcement stating that they were starting tests appeared on a page of the Ministry of Communication’s website
Source

An elegant, futuristic silhouette

The designers' architectural rendering showing what the tower will look like, view over Istanbul, Turkey
The designers’ architectural rendering showing what the tower will look like

The tower is one of ten major projects (including Istanbul airport, which is the largest in the world, and the tunnel under the Bosporus) that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had promised to give Turkey, one of the ten major world economies.  “Complicated problems have been confronted and solved” states Melike Altinisik, Turkish architect, designer and founder of the international architectural design studio of the same name that is in charge of carrying out the project. ‘Designing a TV tower of almost 369 metres high is a complex and unique process, not only from the design but also from a technical point of view’.

Starting from the height:  369 metres from the cement base to the 145.5-metre steel mast which houses the antennas.  The mast is made up of 12 pieces each weighing 1,400 tons. These were assembled inside the cement core and lifted by jacks to over 220 metres in height. Three hundred people, including technicians and engineers worked on the building site. 30,000 m3 of concrete and 3,000 tons of structural steel were used on a construction surface of 32,000 m2. 

Particular engineering techniques

close up of the Tv and radio tower in Istanbul, Turkey
The tower floors were assembled on the ground and lifted by jacks onto the reinforced concrete mast

The engineering techniques used to construct the tower are particular.  It was decided to build a circular cement core (220.5 metres high with foundations 21 metres deep) and to assemble the floors on the ground in groups of three or four. Each one is 4.5 metres high (the total weight of each module is about 1,000-1,200 tons, the equivalent weight of 1,000 cars).  The modules (eight) were then lifted to the top by jacks and attached. Following this, a 2.5-metre-thick layer of reinforced concrete was laid between one module and the next. The tower is expected to draw 4.5 million visitors annually.

A breathtaking view of the city you'll be able to see at night
A breathtaking view of the city you’ll be able to see at night

Like all telecommunication towers, apart from better reception of radio and TV signals and a lower impact on the environment (the hill is still covered with dozens of pylons) the structure is also a tourist attraction. The observation decks give you a breathtaking view of the Bosporus and both the eastern and western areas of Istanbul.  It is expected to attract about 4.5 million visitors a year. The observation decks are on the 33rd and 34th floors (at 366.5 and 371 metres above sea level. The hill is 220 metres high). The 39th and 40th floors (at the heights of 393.5 and 398 metres above sea level) will host a restaurant and a cafeteria. Libraries and exhibition halls will be located in the four basement floors. 
The radio stations will be the first to be moved in.

 The tower seen from the Bosporus, on the left you can see the present telecommunication masts which are due to be dismantled, Istanbul turkey
The tower seen from the Bosporus, on the left you can see the present telecommunication masts which are due to be dismantled

The tower will be able to host 125 transmitters, thus replacing a large number of pylons on the two hills nearby.  These will be dismantled.  In this way both the impact on the environment and electromagnetic emissions, which are harmful to health, will be reduced. The remaining broadcasters, that cannot find a place, will be integrated into the television tower on Buyuk Camlica hill, owned by TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation).

From FMList, the radio stations that broadcast from Camlica

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PIRATE RADIO STATIONS: Illegal broadcasting is proliferating ‘from the Apennines to the Andes’

Transmitting without a license is a criminal offence but the desire to start one’s own radio station drives people to break the law in every country. This time we talk about Peru and Italy

PERU: 20,000 enforcement actions to catch a thousand illegal broadcasters 

The antenna of an illegal radio station was destroyed by an enforcement team
Source

About 5,000 licensed radio stations and 1,000 illegal broadcasters operate in the Andean country. The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) is very active. In 2020 the ministry has planned 20,000 enforcement actions. They closed down 14 radio stations in the region of Lima in January 2020 and in 2019 they confiscated 1,072 pieces of transmission equipment and closed 200 stations. The fine for those who get caught is 200,000 Peruvian soles (about US$ 58,000). 

ITALY: One of Radio Maria’s antennas was illegal

Radio Maria’s list of frequencies (over 900 in Italy) also includes one in Amalfi, broadcasting on 105.5 MHz from the transmitter site in Conca dei Marini, now under seizure 
Source

A repeater transmitting on 105.5 MHz, operated by Radio Maria in the province of Salerno, was closed down on June 13th, 2020. After receiving a number of reports from local citizens, the carabinieri in Amalfi confirmed that the radio antenna, that had been installed years ago in the courtyard of a privately owned building in Via dei Naviganti in Conca dei Marini, a municipality on the Amalfi coast, did not have a license. The Regional Environmental Protection Agency (Arpac) in Campania also established (after multiple inspections) that the electromagnetic emissions exceeded the limits allowed by the law. As a result the radio station was subject to criminal seizure. The broadcaster’s lawyers opposed the shutdown but the appeal at the Court of Appeal in Salerno was rejected. 

Record number of criminal charges for a pirate in Palermo

The antenna of the illegal broadcaster: a simple dipole antenna on the roof of a house in the hills of Ciaculli in the suburbs of Palermo 
Source: Press office of the Carabinieri provincial command in Palermo

The phenomenon of illegal radio stations is limited on the peninsula because they not only face fines, but also criminal charges. On June 11th, 2020, the carabinieri assisted by officials of the Ministry of Economic Development (the body that carries out enforcement actions) deactivated a radio station that modulated on 97.4 MHz. The owner was charged on three counts: The first for violation of the electronics communication code (the transmitter was not licensed): the second for damage (it interfered with the frequency of a licensed radio station) by broadcasting from a residential building on a hill. In fact, it interfered with RMC – Radio Monte Carlo transmitting on 97.6 MHz from Via Barone Manfredi 8, in Monreale. However, what really takes the biscuit is that the whole building (where the owner had set up studios and put an antenna on the roof) was illegally connected to the city’s electricity grid. In this way, the 44-year-old man was charged with the third count of theft of electrical energy. 

In another city on Sicily, a radio station, that only broadcast music without commentary, appeared in Syracuse in April 2020. It modulated on 88.6 MHz and later moved to 93.8 MHz. We have recently been informed that it has now been shut down. 

Another closedown one week later

A photograph of the ‘studio’. On the left, with his back to the camera, an officer from the Radio Monitoring unit in the Ministry of Economic Development 
Source: Press office of the Carabinieri provincial command in Palermo

After the enforcement action in Ciaculli, investigations were continued in the province of Palermo. These led to the deactivation of another unlicensed radio station a week later, this time in Pioppo, a part of the municipality of Monreale. The transmitter operated in the same way as a licensed commercial radio by not only broadcasting music but also commercials. It caused interference with the frequencies of two national networks: RMC Radio Monte Carlo and R101.

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Ecuador: Covid-19 the final nail in the coffin, silencing a voice that has been on air for 72 years

The article in the daily newspaper El Universo with a photograph of the Ondas Azuayas headquarters, the radio station that closed on June 7th, 2020 after its last programme saying goodbye
Source

Radio Ondas Azuayas, the historical Ecuadorian radio station with headquarters in Cuenca, permanently closed down broadcasting on June 7th, 2020, after being on air for 72 years. They used to transmit on medium wave on 1110 kHz AM from Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca, the third most populated city in the country and capital of the province of Azuay. Broadcasting started on April 12th, 1948. After lengthy discussions on whether to continue transmitting, the director Fausto Cardoso, in an editorial broadcast, confirmed their decision to close after a last transmission saying goodbye. The radio station was already in a financial crisis due to continuous sanctions imposed on them by Supercom (Superintendencia de Comunicacion) with the purpose of persecution. This control and censorship body against the media was created by the ex-president, Rafael Correa. It was closed in July 2019, thus cancelling the sanctions (more information can be found in this article in the Quito daily newspaper El Comercio). However, by that time it was too late and the economic crisis caused by the pandemic brought the radio station to its knees. Details can be found here

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