Eleven years after the last authorizations, new medium wave (AM) and FM radio stations will be opened in the South American country. The intention, for the Minister of Telecommunications Karen Cecilia Abudinen Abuchaibe, is to “strengthen this means of communication, recognizing it as a tool that consolidates the spread of regional culture, social responsibility and facilitates the development of the regions”. The project is divided into several phases: after the submission of the application, expected by September 17, 2020, the availability of the channels will be verified and the project can be submitted. Then the assignment and the feasibility statement will follow. Details will be added to FMLIST and MWLIST as soon as the information becomes available.
USA: Less constraints for US radios
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has lifted the ban on broadcasting the same programme (simulcast) on several FM and AM stations. The regulation was introduced in 1964 and has been updated several times (the last time in 1992) to take account of developments in a market where competition is increasingly fierce. It is estimated that in FM no broadcaster will be able to repeat the entire programming (until now the limit was 25%), but the greater flexibility should help to overcome the crisis, favouring format changes and facilitating the transition of medium wave channels to digital. Ultimately, it should be the service offered to listeners that gains. More details and official statements can be found here.
USA: A black radio for black people
In the wake of the racial protests following George Floyd’s death, the iHeartMedia group launched an all-news radio for the black community. BIN, which stands for Black Information Network, offers 24 hours of news seven days a week and according to the promoters is “an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a black voice and perspective”. The publisher has also carried out a study according to which 86% of black listeners believe that this service is necessary and that they will probably use it as an important source of news, while 83% think that it provides information that today cannot be received on the radio or TV. The broadcasts will have no advertising, but will be funded by a group of companies: Bank of America, CVS Health, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon, “who share and support the mission of BIN”. This line-up suggests that the “black” have been identified as potential consumers.
JAPAN: NHK closes some radio and TV channels
The Japanese public broadcaster reduces the offer of radio and TV channels. Three satellite TV channels (BS1, BS Premium and BS4K) will be merged into one channel, and consideration is being given to closing down BS8K. With regard to radio, two medium wave channel should become one. The operation will reduce expenses by 120 billion yen (1.34 billion dollars). The broadcaster has not stated the timing of the closures, but the operation could be part of the three-year plan starting in 2021. NHK in 2019 increased revenues by 10% and is criticized by commercial stations because it collects not only the tax on television sets, but in addition generates revenues from advertising . Details in the Nikkei Asian Review article
Mexico: Distance learning for 30 million students on 16 TV channels
Schools started distance learning in Mexico, one of the countries that has been hardest hit by the pandemic (in fourth place for the number of contagions). Since August 24th, 2020, 30 million pupils are able to follow programmes on air from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on 16 channels transmitted by four TV broadcasters: Televisa, TV Azteca, Grupo Imagen and Grupo Multimedios. All those who do not have access to television will be able to follow the lessons on the radio and study from books. Over 4,550 TV programmes (640 in indigenous languages) will be transmitted. The programmes do not include entertainment , but follow the school syllabus and pupils will be tested on the contents. Educational programmes do not have advertising. Here is the article with details from the daily newspaper, El Universal.
PHILIPPINE: ABS-CBN, goodbye frequencies
The ABS-CBN frequencies, shut down on May 5th, 2020, will be used by a television station for distance learning lessons given that Manila is back in lockdown (27 million people are in quarantine) and Covid-19 is running rife in the rest of the country. It is not clear how this will be put into action and ABS-CBN has wisely offered the use of their infrastructure and educational programmes produced over the last twenty years. What is going to happen? This is the fourth episode of the soap opera…
Here are the previous events:
THE PHILIPPINES: IF THIS TV IS INCONVENIENT MAYBE I’LL SHUT IT DOWN… OR MAYBE NOT
THE PHILIPPINES: ABS-CBN SHUT DOWN ON MAY 5TH, 2020
THE PHILIPPINES: PARLIAMENT REFUSES TO RENEW LICENCE AND ABS-CBN APPEALS
UK: Largest network of commercial radios launched
From September 2020, 49 of the 56 stations acquired in 2019 by the Bauer Group will change their name to Greatest Hits Radio, making the network the most important in the UK. Only four stations will retain their names under the Hits Radio brand: Pulse 1 in Bradford, Signal 1 in Stoke, The Wave 96.4 in Swansea and Fire Radio in Bournemouth. Three others will remain autonomous (Lincs FM in Lincoln, Pirate FM in Cornwall and Sam FM in Bristol). All the digital-only radio stations acquired last year (from UKRD, Lincs, Wireless and Celador) will be closed down. The closure of the local offices has resulted in staff cuts and protests from listeners as they had to say goodbye to their favourite presenters. Here are the details of the operation.
COLOMBIA: Radio stations teaching peace
Colombia had almost been destroyed by over fifty years of armed conflict between guerrillas, private armies fighting for the drug cartels and the army. After 2016, when a Peace Accord was signed in Havana by the government and the largest guerrilla movement, a process of reconciliation was initiated. Part of this process included opening 20 radio stations in order to teach the pedagogy of peace. The first station was opened on June 25th, 2019, in Chaparral (in the department of Tolima) broadcasting on 103.5 MHz FM, followed by the second on July 2nd, 2019, in Ituango (Antioquia) on 92.3 MHz FM. They are equipping another three in San Jacinto (Bolivar), Fonseca (La Guajira) and Convención (Norte de Santander). They have recently decided where another six radio stations, all with 5 kW power output, will be located: Algeciras (Huila), Puerto Leguízamo (Putumayo), Bojayá (Chocó), Florida (Valle), Arauquita (Arauca) and El Tambo (Cauca). In this way the number of radio stations goes up to eleven out of the 20 planned until 2026.
Each radio station team is made up of six professionals who have been carefully selected and taken on by RTVC Public Media System. They have been trained to face the challenge of explaining the implementation of the Agreement (for example, explaining the conversion of large areas of the country from coca cultivation to that of cacao). The radio programmes are also checked by a committee made up of government bodies (such as the Ministry of Stabilization and the Office of the High Commissioner of Peace) and FARC delegates. FARC today is a political party.
Three strong points
The extensive and varied programming combines objective information and entertainment. The aim is to build a relationship between public radio stations and historically isolated communities that have suffered violence and poverty. It is a means to open a new window for dialogue and to promote peaceful coexistence. The radio programming content includes a block of time for information, another for building social networks and yet another for discussions with experts, whose aims are to explain new perspectives without sparking off heated debates.
Belarus: Propaganda against Lukashenko is back on air
In order to smother the protests after the rigged elections that reconfirmed Alexander Lukashenko as the President of Belarus for the sixth time, the regime has censored radio transmissions and they now only broadcast music and entertainment programmes. As a result, Poland has begun transmitting programmes in Belarusian (with three news broadcasts per day) from the long wave radio station, Solec Kujawski, that transmits on 225 kHz and, with its 1000 kW power, can be received all over Europe. In addition, Radio Liberty (financed by the United States Congress) has been reactivated on 1386 kHz from Viesintos, Lithuania. The transmitter was formerly used in Germany by the American Forces Network (the broadcast service for American troops) on 873 kHz. When transmissions from Weisskirchen (near Frankfurt) ceased in May 2013, the relatively new transmitter was mothballed and later taken to Lithuania. The portal Radios du Monde dedicated an article to this.
QATAR: A radio station broadcasting in Bengali to raise awareness of Covid-19
The Qataris employ a massive number of Asian workers. The number is so high that the native population only makes up 15% of all inhabitants. The Bangladeshi community is one of the largest (with a population of about 137,000 according to the last estimate). The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has launched a temporary radio station in Bengali to raise awareness of the risks of the pandemic and to inform Bangladeshi workers of how to take appropriate precautions.
The radio station broadcasting in Bengali on 95.3 FM in Doha is overseen by QMC (Qatar Media Corporation), a state organisation that also manages Qatar Radio Urdu on air on 107.0 FM. There are also commercial radio stations for the Asian public based in the capital: Qabayan Radio on 94.3 FM transmitting in Filipino and Malayalam Radio on 98.6 FM (in Malayalam, the language spoken in the Indian state of Kerala).