Klubrádió, the last independent Hungarian radio station, switched off its FM transmitter at midnight on February 14th, 2021. It was broadcasting on 92.9 MHz from Budapest: its license was not renewed by NMHH (National Media and Telecommunications Authority) because the station had not communicated in time the contents of its programming. But the station’s director, András Arató, defied Viktor Mihály Orbán’s government by continuing online broadcasting and airing the official anthem of the European Union, a piece from the final movement of the Ninth Symphony composed in 1824 by Ludwig van Beethoven, also called the Ode to Joy, which the EU has adopted since 1972. The EU, through a spokesman, asked Hungary to allow Klubrádió to continue broadcasting on FM.
CHINA: Antenna war between Beijing and London
In a bureaucratic statement that does not go into detail, the Chinese broadcasting regulator (NRTA-National Radio and Television Administration) has decreed the closure of the BBC World News satellite channel on 12 February 2021. This is despite the fact that the television channel cannot be seen by most Chinese, because in China it can only be viewed in international hotels and some diplomatic compounds. The British public broadcaster condemned the decision and stated on its website that the Chinese government had criticised the reports aired on the coronavirus and the persecution of the Uighur ethnic minorities. London’s response was not long in coming and was symmetrical: Ofcom (the British regulator) revoked the licence of the state broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN), which will no longer be able to broadcast its programmes in the UK. Separately, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) has aligned itself with the Chinese decision, stating that it will stop repeating BBC World Service programming in the region. This is despite the fact that the former British colony must retain certain rights and freedoms, including freedom of the press, until 2047, as part of a transfer agreement between China and Great Britain. More details can be read in the BBC News article available here.
The Chinese regulator’s press release
This is a translation of the statement published on 12 February 2021 on the NRTA National Radio and Television Administration website: “After investigation, the content of BBC World News’ China-related reports seriously violated the relevant provisions of the Regulations on the Administration of Radio and Television and the Measures for the Administration of the Landing of Overseas Satellite Television Channels, violated the requirement that news should be truthful and impartial, harmed China’s national interests and undermined China’s national unity. The State Administration of Radio and Television does not allow BBC World News to continue to operate in China, and will not accept its application to operate in the new year”.
VATICAN CITY: The Pope’s radio has been on the air for ninety years
It was February 12, 1931, when at 4:49 p.m. the first broadcast of the station was aired from Vatican City. On the notes of Christus Vincit, the “Statio Radiofonica Vaticana” thus emits its first wail. In the first message, “In Nomine Domini” (In the name of God), Pope Pius XI recited a prayer-appeal in Latin that called upon creation and the suffering, God and rulers, rich and poor, subjects and workers to gather before the “admirable Marconian invention”. The transmitter was designed by Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, whom the Pope named a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Pius XI had already been thinking about providing the Church with a radio station since 1925, but this was made possible by the Lateran Pacts of 1929, which entrusted the Italian State with the commitment to provide the Church with radiotelegraphic, radiotelephone, telephone and postal services. The management was entrusted to the Jesuits and the direction to Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, rector of the Gregorian University and scientist.
More details in the service of La Voce e il Tempo.
UK: Will Bauer get permission for converting Absolute into Greatest Hits?
Ofcom, the authority that regulates telecommunications in the United Kingdom, is considering an application in which Bauer asks to change the format (the type of programs broadcast) of Absolute Radio, a station it acquired that broadcasts on 105.8 MHz FM from the Crystal Palace site in London. Ofcom has issued a statement to that effect in which it says that “Because these changes would substantially alter the character of Absolute Radio London, we are seeking the views of listeners and other interested parties before making our final decision.” A station’s program type is closely tied to its broadcasting license, so the authority is reviewing whether the format change will not eliminate a service to which listeners are accustomed.
On the side of consumers
The decision will follow the authority’s guidelines, as detailed on the website: “We also help to make sure people across the UK are satisfied with what they see and hear on TV and radio, and that programmes reflect the audiences they serve. We consider every complaint we receive from viewers and listeners. Often, we investigate further and we sometimes find broadcasters in breach of our rules. We are independent, and funded by fees paid to us by the companies we regulate“.
From Absolute to Greatest Hits Radio
If the request is accepted, Absolute Radio on 105.8 MHz will change its name to Greatest Hits Radio and will broadcast pop classics and rock hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as local news and information aimed at Londoners aged 25-54. The consultation will close on March 10, 2021. Greatest Hits Radio is the new radio network that began broadcasting in September 2020 when Bauer changed formats at 49 of its 56 radio stations. We talked about it here.
Greatest Hits Radio is already now available to Londoners on digital radio (DAB) on the London 1 multiplex on block 12C, in the standard MP2 flavour. On the same multiplex, Londoners also can listen digitally to their beloved Absolute Radio. It will be interesting to read OFCOMs decision – will the DAB presence have any influence?
What is your view? Who should be on 105.8 MHz FM in London?
BOLIVIA: After decimation, rural radios will be reactivated
After the 2019 coup, the “radios de los pueblos originales” (RPOs) had almost been silenced: intimidation, fires, and theft of equipment had reduced their number drastically. The green light for the raids had been given by the then Minister of Communications, Roxana Lizárraga, who accused the RPOs of being “seditious voices” and called for them to be stripped of their equipment; journalists had also been persecuted. But after the elections and the formation of the new government, the situation has changed: Gabriela Alcón, deputy minister of Communication, reiterated that the government will rebuild the national system of Radios de los Pueblos Originales (RPOs) to give back a voice to the country’s rural and indigenous communities. She added that “from more than 100 RPOs, only 16 are left, and only two are functioning properly”. But this is going to change.
More details in the article published by GRA-Gruppo Radioescucha Argentino.
GLOBAL: Saturday, February 13, 2021 is the 10th World Radio Day
World Radio Day (WRD) was established in 2011 by Unesco member states and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day. The date of February 13 was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the first United Nations radio broadcast, which occurred 65 years earlier in 1946. The proposal had been made the year before, in 2010, by the Spanish Academia de la radio, and the project was endorsed and supported by the major broadcasting associations, including the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA), the Organización de Telecomunicaciones Ibeoramericanas (OTI) and major international broadcasters, such as the BBC and Vatican Radio.
The function of radio
“Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and provides a platform for democratic discourse. Globally, radio remains the most widely used medium. This unique ability to reach the widest audience means that radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, serve as an arena in which all voices can speak, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities by offering a wide variety of programming, viewpoints and content and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations”.
2021 WRD is about Evolution, Innovation & Connection
Broadcasters are also offered 13 ideas for organizing initiatives: talk about your evolution; open up the debate; broadcast a special program; open your doors; engage (interact with your audience); have fun!; organize a quiz; renew yourself (offer a workshop with your team around the theme “new world, new radio”); produce a radio series (a specific podcast); imagine the future; remember your “radio”.
UK: Radio for Baby Boomers to start on February 14
Boom Radio is a new British radio station that aims to intercept the tastes of Baby Boomers, the generation of over 57s (born between 1946 and 1964, now aged between 57 and 75). The station offers a mix of music, characters and conversations and will be on air on DAB (digital radio) in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Glasgow. The radio station is the brainchild of two radio managers, Phil Riley and David Lloyd, who after realizing that the baby boomers audience, while listening to the radio a lot, did not have a station that intercepted their musical tastes, set out to fill this gap. Their biographies are interesting, both are driven by a sincere passion for radio. Despite the long career behind them, which began as a disc jockey, they decided to get involved (they are also baby boomers), also committing financially in this adventure. But if they have been able to realize it, as they themselves have declared, it is because as soon as they started talking about their idea they immediately had a great response from radio hosts and especially financiers.
MEXICO: Institutional advertising and aid to community radios
To support Mexican community radio stations, new legislation requires government institutions, states and municipalities to spend one per cent of the budget allocated to social communication by purchasing advertising space on community radio stations (Article 89, Section VII of the Federal Law on Telecommunications and Broadcasting). The first to implement the legal provision is the Federal Institute of Communications (IFT), which has created a special space on its Internet portal to make it transparent that access to resources is fair.
Support from Unesco for indigenous radios
Another support comes from Unesco, which with its ‘Design of public policies‘ project launched in 2020 seeks to bring indigenous content into public and commercial media. Funded by the European Union and the EU-Uesco Expert Bank, it aims to produce programmes in indigenous languages with content that reflects the country’s cultural and linguistic diversity. Strengthening them helps preserve indigenous languages, cultures and ancestral knowledge. Without forgetting that in the event of natural disasters, their role is irreplaceable, so it is necessary to remove the obstacles that prevent them from obtaining broadcasting authorisation.
ITALY: Radiofreccia becomes a commercial broadcaster
Although in December 2020 he told Prima Comunicazione “it is not a gift”, Lorenzo Suraci, publisher of nationwide RTL 102.5 and Radio Zeta (a so-called “superstation”), then took advantage of the opportunity offered by Law 176/2020, which allows a national network to transform a community licence into a commercial one. It thus had Radiofreccia purchased by RTL 102.5, making it its second licence and transforming it from a national community radio station into a commercial one. This removes the advertising limit of 10% per hour, which can be raised to 20%.
Reconstructing the history of the broadcaster7
In July 2016, Mediaset took control (72.12%) of the Finelco Group (owner of Radio 105 and Virgin Radio) and formed a partnership with RMC-Radio Monte Carlo (later acquired in 2018), exceeding 10 million listeners on the average day (including R101, already owned by the group). Suraci, who can count on the 7 million listeners of RTL 102.5 (first in Italy for ratings) and Radio Zeta, found himself bypassed. In order to counter the firepower of Mediaset, which can sell advertising on its radio stations on a “package” basis, he tried to grow his group by buying Radio Padania (a Lega Nord station with a national community licence) for 2.1 million euros, transforming it into Radiofreccia, a station with a rock format. The community licence allows the broadcaster to turn on hundreds of repeaters without buying them from other radio stations (the law was tailored to favour the Lega Nord and allow it to extend Radio Padania’s coverage throughout the Peninsula), but limits advertising to 10% per hour. Now the “cap” has been blown off, and the only national community radio station remains Radio Maria, which has never used this loophole to turn on new equipment.