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.

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
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
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

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

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 

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

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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RadioReporter invites you to ‘WRITE WITH US’

RadioReporter’s World Radio and TV News Blog has been running since 8 months now. We hope you enjoy our topics and articles! Please know, we are always open to receive your feedback either as a comment or via e-mail: blog@radioreporter.org

Some news to share with you

We decided to open up our blog for our community and are inviting guest writers to publish their articles on here!
Our goal is to engage more and more with fellow radio enthusiasts and make people curious about radio itself, especially those coming from outside the industry.
Help us grow our community and join us! Write with us!

Are you a (hobby) writer, a journalist or simply a radio-lover who has interest in writing about radio and / or TV?

RadioReporter gives you the opportunity to publish your article in your mother tongue right on here.
A multi-cultural blog on radio and TV news of international relevance hosted by a community of radio enthusiasts from all around the globe. Your contribution will be in a voluntary capacity. 

Get in touch with us blog@radioreporter.org

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Coronavirus: US Christian radio stations in crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the largest Christian group of radio stations in the United States into crisis.

The Christian radio group’s business plan was to charge pastors for time on their transmissions to broadcast their sermons

The Salem Media Group had a business model that protected them from the highs and lows of the advertising market. In 2019 they made US$79 million by selling pastors time on their transmissions to deliver their sermons. However, they certainly did not forgo both local and national commercials that brought in $68 million. Nevertheless, the Covid-19 pandemic caused their shares to plummet to 80 cents (they were at US$8 in 2018 and US$30 in 2004). Moody’s, an American credit rating agency, has classified investments in the company as high risk.

The report published by Cristianity Today provides more details on the financial crisis in Salem

The Salem Media Group has a network of 3,100 radio stations (100 of which they own) with a guaranteed 298 million listeners per week. The board of directors have announced a dividend block, a reduction of 10% in managers’ salaries and they are now considering personnel cuts (a total of over 1,400 employees). In this article the magazine Christianity Today outlines the situation in-depth.

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India: Community radio stations fight the pandemic

The report in Asian Review opens with a photograph of the studio of Radio Namaskar, located in the state of Odisha on the east coast of India
The report in Asian Review opens with a photograph of the studio of Radio Namaskar, located in the state of Odisha on the east coast of India

‘The radio saved my life. By listening to doctors being interviewed on the radio, I discovered that I had Covid-19 symptoms and managed to be treated in time and recover’. This is the opening statement in the Asian Review’s report on the role played by the Indian community radio stations, which are often the only means available for millions of people to access information in the most remote rural communities. During the pandemic the usual programmes speaking about agricultural techniques were substituted by explanations of how to put social distancing into effect and how to recognise Covid-19 symptoms. Together with the government authorities, they also helped to coordinate the distribution of food and medicines. This was an enormous job considering that there are only 276 community radio stations in the whole country. The government’s intention was to see an increase to 4000 broadcasters, which is a number equal to the commercial stations, but the main obstacle to this is the cost of equipment, which is very high for a community (starting from INR ₹ 1.9 million, which is more than US $ 25.000), as explained in detail in this article.

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UAE: A radio station entertains everyone getting tested

Coronavirus Screening Center in Abu Dhabi
Coronavirus Screening Center

To date the United Arab Emirates ministry of health has opened 24 drive-through centres enabling them to carry out 115,000 coronavirus tests per week. Coinciding with the mass screening campaign launched by the DoH (Department of Health) in the United Arab Emirates, a number of radio stations broadcasting on the FM band have also been opened. A welcome message is broadcast on air as citizens arrive at the centres in their cars for a throat swab (free of charge for those at risk, otherwise it costs 370 AED, equivalent to US$ 101) to check if they are positive for Covid-19. At the first centre, opened in Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, messages are transmitted on 104.6 MHz. The acronym SEHA (the Abu Dhabi Healthcare Company that manages the tests) appears in RDS.

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The Greek public broadcaster ERT restructures

After replacing their transmitters (we spoke about this here) they are tackling organisation, radio formats and regional radio stations.

The Athens headquarters of the public radio and television stations in Greece

The public radio station has an antiquated, boring style. Their news reporting is not very objective and they have lost 10% of their listeners in the last 10 years. This is a summary of the grim analysis in the presentation given by Grant Thorton, the international consultancy firm chosen to guide them towards the future (see PDF below).

Compared to the 2009-2010 budget, the 2020 budget has been halved (from € 300 million to € 150 million) and investments have been decreased (with the exception of sport). The personnel has been reduced by over 50% (from 4,550, 1,000 are on open-ended contracts, to the present 2,180) and this is in line with other public broadcasters. However, the average age of the staff is high (50 years old), and they are not very flexible. The organigram also needs to be reviewed. It is not easy to recruit competent managers because manager salaries have been cut by 200-300%, thus losing appeal.

The aim is to increase advertising by 50%

The international consultancy Grant Thorton has analysed the state of affairs in the public broadcaster and proposed a recovery plan

According to the Thorton consultants there is a great deal to do in order to capture the public’s attention and gain their trust. The broadcaster’s image needs to be changed, starting from the logo (tenders for redesigning it have already been called) to the formats of the television channels and radio stations. The organisation will be completely overhauled. Six divisions will be set up to produce a more dynamic structure. The objective is to increase advertising by at least 50% by 2022. Today the public broadcaster has only a 3% share of the pie chart comparing advertising volumes (investments in the media in the country), covering only 5% of the costs, whereas other public broadcasters in Europe cover about 20% of their costs with advertising. 

Drastic measures

The news for people with impaired hearing on air on EPT 1

In 2020 the personnel nearing pension age will be offered incentives to take early retirement so that the broadcaster will be in a position to recruit between 100 and 150 applicants on fixed-term contracts. Following this, they will try to attract competent managers by offering special benefits packages. Regarding the format of the TV channels, ERT 1 will be a general channel covering information and entertainment, ERT 2 will concentrate on the arts and culture, and ERT 3 will be dedicated to information about Greece. The radio stations will see fewer changes, apart from ERA2 which will play Greek music of all genres, and ERA Sport which will no longer only talk about football. The regional stations (19 today) do not risk closure but will be subdivided into 11 administrative regions. Time will show: Since the 2009 crisis Greece has become a case study and the population has made enormous sacrifices to stay attached to the European train. The country has picked up and is now trying to make up for lost time. Covid-19 permitting.

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Who invented radio – and how did it all start?

When Guglielmo Marconi started practical experiments with wireless communication, he had a problem to solve: How could one communicate with ships on sea, or with a remote place somewhere on this planet, where no cable telegraph line had yet arrived? Fast communication already then was essential for business because a lot of time could be saved. The first „radio“ transmissions were business communication, in the form of telegrams transmitted in Morse code.

Marconi’s practical work started in 1895 and was based on research by Ferdinand Braun, Heinrich Hertz, Nikola Tesla and Alexander Popow. In 1903, the first trans-Atlantic messages were exchanged.

Guglielmo Marconi, 1901
Published on LIFE / Public domain

On Christmas Eve 1906, the first program consisting of talk and music was transmitted by researchers in Brant Rock (Massachusetts). Listeners were seamen on ships in the Atlantic.

Tube-based transmitters were patented in 1913, and the first real radio programme was broadcast in November 1919 in the Netherlands, from a private apartment. Commercial radio started 1920 in Pittsburgh (USA), and Westinghouse provided the first receivers. Between 1920 and 1924, radio transmissions started also in Europe. This website has many dates and details from this period.

In the beginning, the number of listeners was really low. Not only did you have to buy or construct the equipment, but in some countries you also needed a license to be allowed to listen. By 1926, easy-to-use tube-based receiver had replaced the “crystal detector” which had required some patience in tuning and a headphone for listening. 

Precision cat’s whisker detector
Alfred Powell Morgan / Public domain

During WW2, radio was popular – not only because it was the cheapest form of entertainment – but as it reached everyone, it was used as a means of mass communication and propaganda. After the war, radio continued as mass media, entertaining, informing and educating the listeners. While tube radios were still used in the 1960s, the invention of the transistor allowed small receivers that could run on battery, and the radio made its way into the car and into our pockets.

Two tiny transistor radios, shown with AAA size battery for size comparison
Own source
Tube-based desktop radio with Bakelite case
Own source

Günter Lorenz

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Venezuela: Radio stations self-censor to avoid closure

connate, gobierno bolivariano de Venezuela - Venezuelan government body
The website of Conatel, the Venezuelan government body that ‘monitors’ the broadcasters

President Nicolas Maduro’s regime holds broadcasters in check by imposing sanctions or closures. Hence journalists are self-censoring to avoid trouble. The radio stations are kept a check on by Conatel (Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones), the Venezuelan telecommunications regulator, which is very quick to revoke broadcast licenses of ‘rogue’ radio stations. They closed over 60 broadcasters in 2018. The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Prensa has reported that another 27 radio stations have suffered loss of equipment due to theft.

Rumbera has relocated to the Internet

rumba network, venezuela valles del tuy online radio station
Rumbera Network from Los Valles del Tuy’s website
After the radio station’s closure they continue with online transmissions

The latest broadcaster to end up in the sights of the inspectors is a radio station of Rumbera Network (one of 21 stations) that transmitted on 106.9 FM from Los Valles del Tuy, in the state of Miranda. In February 2020 their antenna was damaged and then on May 15th, 2020 Conatel closed them down because their broadcasting license had expired. This was a decision that the owner, Eliu Ramos, deemed discriminatory because a large number of radio stations transmitting in the country have not been authorised and are not sanctioned. He added that he had applied for a renewal of the license several times, but the application had always been declined. Transmissions now continue on the Internet.

To find out more 

Día de la radio en venezuela: radio day in venezuela existing since 1926
The subject of journalists’ self-censorship is tackled on the Carabobeña website

The Venezuelan periodical, El Carabobeño gives more details on the situation of broadcasters here. It was published on May 20th, 2020, on the occasion of National Radio Day which was established in 1926 when the country began radio transmissions on mediumwave. FM transmissions, on the other hand, began on January 1st, 1975.

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