ITALY: RADIO ZETA BECOMES NATIONAL

Radio Zeta becomes national
Lorenzo Suraci, president of the RTL 102.5 radio group that includes Radio Zeta and Radiofreccia, pictured during the press conference in which he announced the acquisition of the national concession
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From being a multi-regional broadcaster, Radio Zeta has become national, with the purchase (on May 25) of the concession that gives it the right to broadcast its signal no longer over certain regions but throughout Italy. The authorization to broadcast the signal nationwide was held by Monradio, a company in the Mediaset galaxy, the second-largest television hub after RAI (with the Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4 brands) and which through Mediaset Radio owns four radio networks (Radio 105, R101, RMC – Radio Monte Carlo and Virgin Radio) and the superstation Radio Subasio. To keep it from lapsing, the concession had been used for years to broadcast (lately from a single facility located in Valtellina, in the province of Sondrio, in Lombardy) Radio Orbital, a Portuguese broadcaster. Why a foreign broadcaster on Italian soil? Because the concession had been created in the 1990s (requested from the then Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications) by Radio Milano International to repeat a foreign broadcaster, VOA-Voice of America. And when Monradio took over the RMI network (which has since become Radio 101-One O One) from bankruptcy in 2005, turning it into the current R101, it found itself with a second valuable concession to use.

How many national radio stations are there?

In the table produced by Confindustria Radio TV, for each radio network the company that owns it, the publishing group to which it belongs, and the type of concession (public, commercial or community) are indicated
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The announcement of the acquisition was made by Lorenzo Suraci, president of RTL 102.5, during the press conference of “Future Hits Live 2022,” a festival promoted by Radio Zeta. In Suraci’s statement reported on the website of the association Confindustria Radio TV, of which the publisher is also a director, it is stated that “Radio Zeta to all intents and purposes is the 18th national radio station.” However, the same Confindustria, in a study on national advertising some time ago, had published the list that we reproduce, which counts 21. Since then Radiofreccia has turned into a commercial radio station (in 2021) thus leaving Radio Maria as the only national community radio station, while Radio Radicale, which has a commercial concession, does not carry advertising.

Acquisitions restart

Radio Zeta was established 1 January 2016 on the frequencies taken over from the multi-regional radio station of the same name
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Radio Zeta can now complete its national coverage. It has 256 repeaters, less than half the number of Radiofreccia (the group’s other station has 545) and one-third of flagship RTL 102.5 (which can boast 765). After all, the radio station had to concentrate only on certain regions in order not to exceed coverage limits, which the law sets at 15 million potential listeners for superstations (broadcasters with multi-regional coverage). To reach uncovered areas, the broadcaster is acquiring dozens of new frequencies in different regions, either by taking over redundant channels from other broadcasters in the group or by purchasing them. This could revitalize somewhat the frequency market, which has been depressed by the crisis and with prices in free fall. This is a typical anomaly in the Italian market, in that no new authorizations have been issued since 1990 (pending regulation that never happened), so they must be purchased from other publishers.

SPAIN: MAYOR OF MADRID IN WAR AGAINST PIRATE RADIOS

MAYOR OF MADRID IN WAR AGAINST PIRATE RADIOS
The studios of M21 Radio, Madrid’s municipal radio station to which El Confidencial dedicated a long article. It used to be called Onda Imefe. Its equipment was improved under the left-wing city council, but the new PP council decided to close it down and get rid of the equipment
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Many Spanish municipalities make their voice heard on the airwaves: they operate the ‘Emisora Municipal‘ (although not all of them have the word municipal radio in their names), a station that usually has its studios in the municipal building and broadcasts at low power (from 50 to a few hundred watts, just enough to cover the city) between 106 and 108 MHz. Madrid also has one. Or rather, there was: it was closed down three years ago (2019) by the new mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida (Partido Popular, allied with Ciudadanos and Vox to govern the city), who, in order to denigrate the work of the old administration (Manuela Carmena, PSOE socialist), had described the station as a six-million-euro beach bar for 400 people. But three years on, it seems that the capital’s first citizen has had second thoughts (he’s been in government since 2019) and wants to “make radio” as he puts it (El Confidencial has tried to investigate, but the administration has not leaked plans to use it so it’s still not clear what editorial project they’re working on). The mayor had not calculated that leaving the old frequency free would be a big mistake: there are dozens of pirate radio stations in the capital. It would have been enough to leave a low-power, modulated signal on to prevent occupation.

Millions in the wind (the value of a valuable canal in a capital city)

M21’s Facebook page is sleek and curated. You can still find it online, with the latest posts of 2019, such as the one about the Madrid jazz festival. A large part of the M21 staff were students from CES (Escuela Superior de Imagen y Sonido), who were doing their internship at the municipal radio station. Only the managers were professionals
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Madrid’s 88.6 is a valuable frequency, located at the lower end of the FM band, where the most important radio stations are and where most listeners cross. When manually tuned receivers were used, the channels at the beginning of the band were the most sought-after. El Confidencial examines the case in detail, talking about the labyrinth in which the administration has got itself into in order to identify which of the many territorial and state administrations is competent to intervene and resolve the problem. So a pirate radio station occupied the frequency and the administration filed a complaint against unknown persons. Waiting for something to move in the organizational machine of the State or of whoever should control the airwaves. Difficult, given that in the country there are not only pirate radio stations but thousands of unauthorised broadcasters who are also national networks. The final hoax: the Madrid City Council is continuing to pay the State the annual fee for the use of the frequency. This and more in the article, in which you can also find information on the old municipal radio station: M21 (the radio station is nicknamed Radio Carmena, after the mayor who started the station: Manuela Carmena, judge emeritus of the Supreme Court of Spain).

ITALY: A MAP SUMMARISES CHANGES IN THE RADIO AND TELEVISION SECTOR SINCE 2017

A MAP SUMMARISES CHANGES IN THE RADIO AND TELEVISION SECTOR SINCE 2017
Events in the radio sector started in 2017, a year of important acquisitions (Mediaset Radio took over the superstation Radio Subasio) and ended in 2021 with RTL 102.5’s acquisition of Radio Freccia, which went from being a community radio station with hourly advertising limits to a commercial radio station
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The study office of Confindustria Radio Televisioni, the association representing the main Italian commercial radio and television networks, has published a chrono table with the significant events in the radio and television sector. The graphic formula is interesting: it represents, divided by year, the main events in the sector: industrial operations, commercial agreements (from the launch of new national broadcasters to acquisitions or sales of shareholdings involving national radio networks). Regulatory or normative interventions in the sector in recent years are also mentioned, including (in the lower section) on-demand streaming services.

Similar work has been done for television, always respecting the scheme mentioned for radio
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UKRAINE: MEDIUM WAVE SWITCHED BACK ON TO SUPPORT FM NETWORK

The map drawn up on the basis of data from the FMLIST-FMSCAN database shows the map of repeaters broadcasting Ukrainian radio (UR1 Pershiy Kanal). In addition to those on Ukrainian territory, there are also DAB channels activated by Poland and the Czech Republic to inform refugees
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To counter possible damage to its FM repeater network, Ukraine has switched back on some radio stations operating on medium waves. They had been switched off in 2018, like so many energy-intensive installations supplanted over the years by the frequency modulation network, which has the advantage of offering better audio quality. But reactivating them has become strategic because they are installations that can serve large areas of the country and are often located in areas far from those affected by the conflict, and could operate undisturbed. Of the six reactivated, mainly between 24 and 26 February 2022, only one was damaged. They all broadcast the first programme (UR1 Pershiy Kanal).

Rumours coming from the back

The reactivation of the medium waves makes it possible to serve the areas of Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Odessa lacking good FM coverage, especially in rural areas
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549 kHz from Mykolaiv (Миколаїв) (100 km east of Odessa) with 400 kW: reactivated on 24 February 2022, on air until 6 March 2022 (it had been off since 1 January 2022).
657 kHz from Chernivtsi (Чернівці́) (400 km south of Kiev, near the border with Romania) with 25 kW: reactivated on 26 February 2022 (no longer active since 1 February 2018).
837 kHz from Kharkiv (Ха́рків) (150 kW): on-air since 25 February 2022, discontinued the next day (had ended broadcasting on 1 February 2018, broadcasting the cultural programme UR 3 Radio Kul’tura).
873 kHz from Chasiv Yar (Часів Яр) (25 kW): this is in the Donetsk region, in the self-proclaimed Doneck People’s Republic (it had been off the air since June 2017).
1278 kHz from Kurisove (Курісове), near Odessa (100 kW): reinstated on 8 March 2022 (it had been broadcasting the cultural programme UR 3 Radio Kul’tura until 1 February 2018).
1404 kHz from Izmail (Ізмаї́л) (in the Odessa region, but close to the border with Romania): restored since 26 February 2022.

UKRAINE: MANY RADIO STATIONS ACTIVE FROM THE KIEV TOWER

The video of the impact of a missile on the tower, posted on Telegram by Vitali Klitschko and taken up by the website of the Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano
The video of the impact of a missile on the tower, posted on Telegram by Vitali Klitschko and taken up by the website of the Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano
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Radio Mariya stopped transmitting. But then it was reactivated

Compared to what one read in the newspapers about the FM stations housed in the Kiev tower, the numbers are different: before 1 March, in the “old” FM band (called OIRT, ranging from 65.8 to 74 MHz) only Radio Mariya was active (suspended transmissions after the attack, but has informed RadioReporter that it is back). The other stations in this band, mainly state-owned, had been discontinued due to budget problems, as they had been replaced by frequencies in the new band, where broadcasts were in stereo rather than mono. Between 87.5 and 108 MHz (CCIR band), there were fifteen stations. Of these, only two have suspended broadcasting:

Of the 12 transmitters in Ukraine, all in the Oirt band, ten remain active: in addition to Kiev, the Kharkiv plant has also been shut down following damage to the transmission tower by the Russian army
Of the 12 transmitters in Ukraine, all in the Oirt band, eleven remain active: the Kharkiv plant has also been shut down following damage to the transmission tower by the Russian army
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Here’s what was on the air on 30 March 2022 on the various channels:
69.68 Radio Mariya: inactive in March. Reactivated. (Listen now in streaming).
88.40 Radio Pryamyy FM: inactive since 25 March. The “news” section of the website is updated with short flashes of the situation. Audio in parallel with UR1. (Listen now in streaming) (not working on 4 April 2022).
91.76 TV channel audio of Telekanal 1+1: news on the situation (video streaming).
94.60 Armiya FM: is the official radio of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, it was already active before the conflict. News on the website. (Listen now in streaming).
96.00 Radio NV: not in parallel with the unified channel on 30 March and 4 April 2022. (Listen now in streaming)
96.80 DJ FM: has the website down, but the radio station keeps its Facebook and Instagram pages up to date. (Listen now in streaming).
98.00 Radio Kyiv (only the Facebook page works).
98.50 Radio Bayraktar (inactive since 23 March).
99.00 Radio Nostalgie: music(Listen now in streaming)
100.00 Krayina FM: music. (Listen now in streaming)
100.50 Radio Miami: in parallel with UR1. (Listen now in streaming)
101.90 Radio Shanson (commercial radio, no hint of war on the site): in parallel with UR1 national programme. (Listen now in streaming)
102.50 Prosto Radi.O: audio streaming off.
104.00 Power FM: Parallel with UR1. (Listen now in streaming)
105.00 UR 1 Persha Programa: news. (Listen now in streaming)
105.50 Styl’noye radio Perets’ FM: in parallel with UR1. (Listen now in streaming)

Travelling around the websites of broadcasters

An overview of the websites of the broadcasters transmitting from the Kiev radio TV tower, with indications of what was being heard and links to the site and to streaming audio.

88.40 Radio Pryamyy FM (inactive since 25 March). The news section is updated with short flashes of the situation. Audio in parallel with UR1 30 March. Listen now in streaming (not working on 4 April 2022).
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91.76 TV channel audio of Telekanal 1+1, news on the situation (video)
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94.60 Armiya FM Is the official radio station of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, it was already active before the conflict. News on the website. Listen now in streaming
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96.00 Radio NV not in parallel with the unified channel on 30 March and 4 April 2022. Listen now in streaming
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96.80 DJ FM has the website down, but the radio station keeps its Facebook and Instagram page up to date. Listen now in streaming
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99.00 Radio Nostalgie Music. Listen now in streaming
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100.000 Krayina FM Music. Listen now in streaming
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100.50 Radio Miami: in parallel with UR1. Listen now in streaming
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101.90 Radio Shanson (commercial radio, no hint of war on the site). In parallel with UR1 national programme. Listen now in streaming
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102.50 Prosto Radi.O audio off
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104.00 Power FM In parallel with UR1, Listen now in streaming
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105.00 UR 1 Persha Programa. News. Listen now in streaming
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105.50 Styl’noye radio Perets’ FM: in parallel with UR1. Listen now in streaming
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UKRAINE: THE MEDIA CONFLICT/PART 4 (1-2 March 2022)

1 March: Moscow tries to switch off the capital’s broadcasters

At the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia targeted social networks, which in response raised their defences to prevent tracking of users in the occupied territories and blocked Kremlin-controlled media. But since March, the target has been extended to radio and television infrastructures, even though the Russian army is keeping Ukrainian mobile phone networks intact for use due to technical problems with encrypted military communication systems). Europe’s response is not long in coming.

The moment of impact of one of the two Russian missiles that hit the transmission tower
The moment of impact of one of the two Russian missiles that hit the transmission tower
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Ukraine is a largely flat country, and in the capital, even if antennas were placed on a skyscraper (the tallest, the 178-metre Klovsky Descent 7A, was inaugurated in 2015), the signal would be absorbed by the ground after a few tens of kilometres, due to the earth’s curvature. A respectable transmission tower is therefore used to extend coverage. Built between 1968 and 1973, during the time of the Soviet Union, it has a diameter at the base of 90 metres and is 380 metres high. It is the tallest in the world (among those made entirely of metal) and the tallest building in Ukraine. (Wikipedia info here).

On GoogleMaps, there are several pictures and with StreetView you can ‘walk’ around the tower, changing perspective.

2 March: BBC responds by dusting off the short waves

The BBC World Service tweet shows the coverage area of the broadcasts on 15735 and 5875 kHz, which can be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia
The BBC World Service tweet shows the coverage area of the broadcasts on 15735 and 5875 kHz, which can be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia
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In order to inform the Ukrainian population, the BBC is reactivating two short-wave frequencies that used to broadcast the news of the World Service for four hours a day (broadcasts to Europe had ended in 2008). These are the British transmitters in Woofferton. Built during World War II, and privatised at the end of the Cold War, it is still used by the BBC to broadcast the World Service and leased to other broadcasters (Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, Voice of Vietnam).

UKRAINE: THE MEDIA CONFLICT/PART 3 (26-28 FEBRUARY 2022)

ADN-Kronos agency reports on the blocking of media that depend on the Russian government
ADN-Kronos agency reports on the blocking of media that depend on the Russian government
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February 26: Social networks react

After Facebook, Meta extends profile protection to Instagram; YouTube blocks some Kremlin-run media (preventing ads and revenue generation) and puts videos at the bottom of the recommendation list. Twitter restricts access to major telecom providers.

February 27: After Facebook, it’s Twitter’s turn. The EU takes the field and shuts down state media

Without making official announcements, activity on Twitter is slowed down, as Netblocks, which does global-scale monitoring of how the Internet works, notes. Users can get around the obstacles by masking their identity by accessing from a VPN network (which by preventing localization ensures privacy). European Union blocks Russia Today and Sputnik: the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, during a press conference in Brussels announces that Russian state-controlled media and their subsidiaries will no longer be allowed to broadcast their lies. YouTube also blocks Russia Today and prevents it from monetizing content globally.

February 28: Foiled by social hacking of Ukrainian public figures

Facebook removes fake accounts activated by Russia and Kyiv to target public figures in Ukraine. Twitter suspends more than a dozen accounts and blocks the sharing of several links.

UKRAINE: THE ‘VOICE OF KIEV’ BROADCAST ON DAB IN POLAND AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC

THE 'VOICE OF KIEV' BROADCAST ON DAB IN POLAND AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC
A coverage map showing where the digital signal can be received on Czech territory
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To inform millions of refugees, who have arrived in neighbouring countries, Poland has been broadcasting Українське Rадіо (Radio Ukraine) on a DAB channel since 4 March to inform Ukrainians in their mother tongue. The digital network reaches 70 per cent of the Polish population, focusing on urban areas and main communication routes. Similar situation in the Czech Republic: Radio Ukraine has been included in digital radio multiplexes since 11 a.m. on Friday, 4 March and is repeated on the website of the national radio station, Český Rozhlas. Pictured is a coverage map showing where the digital signal can be received on Czech territory.

Longwaves cover the whole of Ukraine and the Russians can’t “switch them off”

The programmes are also broadcast on the Polish radio website and can be listened to with the app
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But Poland has done more: Polskie Radio Jedynka (the first Polish public radio programme), shortly after the invasion, started broadcasting news items in Ukrainian, produced by the native speakers working on the international radio programmes. The channel is also broadcast on long waves, on 225 kHz, from the Solec Kujawski/Kabat broadcasting centre, which with its 1200 kW of power (reduced to 700 at night) covers most of the Ukrainian territory. In this way, the population in war zones can be informed even if the telecommunications networks are interrupted.

UKRAINE: THE MEDIA CONFLICT/PART 2 (25 FEBRUARY 2022)

The day after the beginning of the invasion, the tension rises on social networks: the protection measures are answered with a partial blockade

Russia to restrict Facebook access for censoring its media
Moscow says on Friday, Feb. 25 that it is partially restricting access to Facebook because it would censor Russian media (Reuters)
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Facebook protects Users? Putin obscures it

Nick Clegg, President, global affairs of Meta (company that controls Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger), in a Tweet warns users that technicians have implemented security measures to protect the accounts of Ukrainian citizens: they will be able to prevent users who are not part of the friends from downloading or sharing the profile photo or see the posts published. The function “profile block“, was created to protect journalists, activists and people “exposed” in high-risk areas, and has already been used during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan to protect the population from Taliban retaliation. An operations center has also been set up, with experts and native speakers to follow developments in the conflict and act promptly, possibly activating other tools designed for emergency areas.

UKRAINE: THE MEDIA CONFLICT/PART 1 (24 February 2022)

Why Russia is using the letter Z?
Some of the images of the ‘Z’, which has become the symbol of the invasion: from those painted on military vehicles to recognise them, to the one drawn on the jersey of the Russian gymnast who wears it on the podium to express his support for the military campaign
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We had talked about the disinformation travelling over the airwaves, in particular pirate transmissions in the 7 MHz amateur radio band. This was before the start of military operations, and especially in the areas of the Donbas, already in the hands of Russian separatists. But since the beginning of the invasion, the parallel war on the airwaves has spread to social networks and the web. Let us reconstruct the chronology of the escalation.

24 February: Russian authorities’ warning to free voices

On the day of his speech to the nation, in which Putin recognised the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and justified the invasion, the Russian authorities intervened to stem the flow of images and news from Ukraine. The Federal Service for the Supervision of Mass Communication (Roskomnadzor), notes that unverified information is on the rise and gives a warning: it reiterates that only official sources are reliable and recalls that the sanctions amount to five million roubles (over 50 thousand euros) and provide for the seizure of materials.

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