Is the future of the sector of independent radio doubted? More restrictive laws on royalties and the shutdown of the Live 365 platform in 2016, that had encouraged web radios in the past, now is putting doubts on the future of the independent radios sector.
Those tiny realities are not capable of paying the amount of money required for royalties to a commercial radio: some web platforms that tried to replace Live 365 (paying a forfait to record companies) didn’t last and, increasing costs for the radios they’ve contributed to reduce the number of online broadcasters. The future is uncertain, as Paul Riismandel’s analysis said, a media producer, who analysed this phaenomenon in an interesting article on Radio Survivor. The article contains practical comparison on costs and on the financial effort that the radio stations had to handle in order to continue. To view the article please click here.
Codogno, one of the first Italian towns put into quarantine on February 21st, 2020, with all access roads blocked until midnight on March 9th, 2020, has a half hour programme called ‘Radio Zona Rossa’ on the parish radio station Radio Codogno. The aim of the transmission is to give information through brief, live news updates to all those confined at home in the town. Community broadcasters serve the local populations more efficiently in emergencies and their work should be much more appreciated by governments.
More funds less bureaucracy
In Italy funding is required. The associations of broadcasters are asking the government for financial aid due to them not being able to continue giving information about the coronavirus crisis because of lack of investment in advertising.
Whereas in India a simplified bureaucratic system would be sufficient. The national association of Indian community broadcasters has asked for more streamlined bureaucratic procedures to enable them to restart transmitting immediately when radio studios suffer damage by natural disasters. This is in order not to have a repetition of the calamity on May 3rd, 2019, when Cyclone Fani interrupted broadcasting of a number of radio stations in the municipality of Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
The right words to prevent panic
Managing emergency transmissions involves enormous responsibility. Radio presenters must choose the words they use with great care to avoid spreading panic. In countries like Australia, where bush fires devastated the continent until the middle of February, broadcasters are obliged to follow the guidance of the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience. They provide specific measures to be followed when deciding not only if and when to report the news and the way it should be made public, but they also outline how to structure the content and choice of words.
Less commercials, cancelled events and audience loss: in Italy, first European country to quarantine its citizens, also the radio is suffering from Coronavirus.
With companies closed and consumptions limited to basic commodities (shopping at the pharmacy or at the supermarket) the consequences on advertisings revenue is the same for every media. Consequently, the Italian government had planned (and later cancelled) to assign 40 million Euros as a bonus to help radio-television broadcasters, out of the 25 billion Euros allocated to support economy (decree of March 16th, 2020, called “Cura Italia”) . This was based on the relevant cuts in advertising’s investments reported by Confindustria Radio Televisioni, an association that represents the main networks.
Record audience for TV
According to Auditel’s data, however, during the first quarantine week a boom of TV-audience has been noticed, forcing the research institute (that does the scan with the meter) to postpone the report’s publication. On March 10th, 2020, the first day of quarantine for the whole country, the viewers increased by 1,7 million against one week before, with 2,65 million more during prime time.
On March 15th, 2020, despite sport programmes and other popular shows had been cancelled, the prime time viewers increased by 5,1 million. A rise in audience like this surely increases the value of commercials, but is still not enough to make up for the general loss in advertising investment.
And what about Radio?
Radio broadcasters did register a loss of audience especially during the morning, usually rich in commercials: in car the traditional radio listening still prevails, but will the quarantined commuters still listen to the transmission that accompanied them on their way to work? Or are they going to sleep for an extra hour?
On the other hand, the ones that are experiencing smart working, or the ones that are at home forced by the temporary closure of their companies, are they going to turn on their radios or their TV sets? In a couple of months we’ll have some statistics that will tell us if radios took advantage of this epidemic, or if TV or other media prevail. To know that, we have to wait for the next Ter’s research ( the “Tavolo Editori Radiofonici” published on March 10th, 2020, the results of the first round, made of 30.000 surveys done since January 21st, 2020)
Starting March 1st, ‘Dom’ has been turned on: a TV channel through which the Ukrainean government is transmitting its voice to the regions where control was lost in 2014. Those regions are the Donbass, in the hand of Russian separatists, and Crimea, occupied by the Russian Federation (see red circle on the image above). This initiative is just one part of a strategy promoted by the government in Kiev: in 2018 the transmitters were already improved to boost the TV signal (five digital channels and two analogue) to Crimea, where Ukrainian channels have been replaced by the Russian ones.
Ukrainians, come back home
The channel has been created to spread the message : ‘Ukraine is our home’, said the general manager of the broadcaster Yuliya Ostrovska ; during a press conference she also reported that ‘54% of the inhabitants of occupied territories can’t watch Ukrainian TV channels, and the 43% of them can’t view Ukrainian websites’. The design of the channel logo is interesting : it has been created to be read as ‘Dim’ (Ukrainian) and also as Dom (Russian), two different words that have one meaning : home. The languages used for the transmission will be Russian and Ukrainian.
A showcase for the country
The broadcaster, now in a testing phase, is going to transmit TV series and sport programmes, selected from the premium content provided by different groups: 1+1 Media, StarLight Media, Inter Media Group and Media Group Ukraine. The 15% of the quota allocated to 1+1 will be realized by Kwartal 95 studio: a production company founded by the current President Volodymyr Zelensky, that has helped forge his notoriety as actor and comedian. The schedule will be enriched with news (national and local) and talk shows, aiming to become capable of creating all the content autonomously.
But all those efforts may be compromised by electronic interference, said Mykyta Poturayev, a parliamentary responsible for information that attended the press conference. Just like during Cold War, when high power transmitters with giant antennas were active from the USSR territory, spreading noise, to make listening of Western broadcasters very difficult. Dom is like a foreign channel: it is dedicated to the occupied regions by being transmitted only over air. Once the autonomy of programmes’ production is reached, it will be transmitted via satellite and by cable.
After the Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte told the press his intention to stop the renewal of the ABS-CBN TV station’s licence in March 2020, he accepted the apologies of the television network. It is considered being critical ofthe government after broadcasting a negative speech and not airing his campaign ads.
On February 26th, 2020, answering some journalists questions during an event held by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the President said that he’s going to leave the decision of the renewal entirely to the Congress.
‘We acted properly’
In a statement on February 27th, 2020, ABS-CBN took the opportunity of thanking the President and to explain their version of what had happened: During 2016, a video of Duterte swearing, and some children asking the President if his actions were right.
During a hearing on the franchising’s conformity in the Senate, Carlo Katigbak (CEO of ABS-CBN group) told that he has ‘only respected the laws and the broadcasting regulations for political ads’ and that the TV was unable to air Duterte’s ads due to the limit in broadcasting time, at a value of approximately 7 million Philippine peso (PHP) (approximately US $ 138.000). The TV station immediately gave back 4 million PHP, meanwhile the return of the remaining 2.6 million ($ 51.000) has been delayed by the President himself: Duterte, accepting the apologies, told the TV to give the money to charity.
A group that covers TV and radio (both AM and FM)
ABS-CBN is a multimedia group born in 1967 by the fusion of Alto Broadcasting System (ABS, founded in 1946) and Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN, founded in 1956). The company manages various TV networks such as ABS-CBN, which provides 50 to 60% of the turnover, and ABS-CBN Sports + Action. Radio includes regional stations like Radyo Patrol (medium wave) and My Only Radio, with 16 FM transmitters in the whole country. The activities of this group are manyfold: They include broadcasting of international TV channels and pay TV, a film production company, a record label and a publishing house.