POLAND: STOP TO THE NEW MEDIA LAW

TVN is perceived by Polish citizens as a free voice, so much so that some of the demonstrators in favour of media freedom carried signs with the station's logo.
TVN is perceived by Polish citizens as a free voice, so much so that some of the demonstrators in favour of media freedom carried signs with the station’s logo.
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Polish President Andrzej Duda has vetoed the media law passed by the nationalist government, believing that it would be unpopular and undermine the confidence of foreign investors. The measure required companies to reduce their stake in radio and TV stations to 49% to ensure that no non-European companies could control the media that help shape public opinion. The loser would be U.S.-based Discovery, which was forced to relinquish control of TVN, the country’s most important network and the largest U.S. investment in Poland. Many Poles perceived the move by the ruling party (Law and Justice, on whose positions the president is aligned) as an attempt to silence TVN24, an inconvenient station with an evening news program watched by millions of people.

SWITZERLAND: DAB COVERAGE FURTHER IMPROVED

DAB COVERAGE FURTHER IMPROVED
In the latest technical bulletin (December 2021), SRG SSR takes stock of the expansion of the DAB+ digital transmission network
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Despite the fact that DAB+ signals already reach 99 % of the population in Switzerland, as required by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), the public broadcaster has further expanded the digital network in Italian and French-speaking Switzerland. Between 2020 and 2021, ten new transmitters were activated and twelve others were optimized. Improvements were made in the cantons of Jura, in the northwest of the country, and Ticino, located almost entirely south of the Alps, where the network was further expanded at the beginning of 2021 with the activation of the installation in Cardada. In Switzerland, the digital signal is also broadcast in tunnels longer than 300 meters: the list of the 193 road tunnels covered by DAB+ signals can be consulted on broadcast.ch.

FRANCE: VIVENDI ACCELERATES THE “TAKEOVER” OF LAGARDÈRE

Vincent Bolloré, patron of the Vivendi group, should retire in February 2022: it is assumed that accelerating the Opa on Lagardère tries to fix the company before leaving the helm to his children
Vincent Bolloré, patron of the Vivendi group, should retire in February 2022: it is assumed that accelerating the Opa on Lagardère tries to fix the company before leaving the helm to his children
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The conquest of the French media group by the Breton financier Vincent Bolloré is approaching its final stages. The Opa (the takeover bid aimed at shareholders to invite them to sell their shares to the company that would like to take control), initially scheduled for December 15, 2022, has been brought forward to February 2022. Vivendi will take control of Radio Europe 1, the RMF and Virgin Radio networks and the publishing houses Hachette and Editis. The Antitrust Authority and the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel) have yet to pronounce on the acquisition. They could impose the sale of certain assets in the book sector, particularly in France, because with the acquisition of the two big names in publishing and book distribution in France, Vivendi would have a dominant position. This and other aspects are discussed in the Italian monthly Prima Comunicazione, specialized in the world of publishing.

FRANCE: LAGARDÈRE CLOSES THREE LOCAL SITES OF VIRGIN RADIO AND RFM

LAGARDÈRE CLOSES THREE LOCAL SITES OF VIRGIN RADIO AND RFM
Among the Virgin Radio sites affected by the closure is Angers, the capital of Maine and Loire
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The Lagardère group has unveiled a plan to redeploy 30 journalists and 4 presenters involved in closing 26 Virgin Radio and four RFM locations. Ownership attributes the need for the cuts to the music broadcasters’ declining audience due to competition from streaming platforms. But the CFDT union disputes this, attributing the crisis to the group’s management problems, as the other major generalist radio stations have not lost listeners. On the contrary, the stations that will be closed have sent €3.6 million in dividends to the Lagardère group in 2020.

We have already discussed the crisis at the Lagardère Group here and here.

Desertification risk

Closing the network’s regional offices also reduces news coverage in certain territories, particularly rural areas, which are already under stress due to the crisis: since 2009, the number of journalists has fallen by 10%
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In the communiqué issued by the union, the workers are acknowledged for their dedication to working as presenters in the morning, especially in “isolated editorial offices“, with net salaries of less than 1,900 euros per month. And fearing the danger of information desertification in certain areas, particularly rural ones, the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel) is asked to monitor the merger in progress within the group and compliance with agreements. Indeed, operators are obliged to open local offices in order to broadcast local advertising. ”Certainly, shareholders dream of radio stations without journalists or presenters, but the media will die that way.”

CZECH REPUBLIC: MW SWITCH-OFF BY 2021

The image published on the public radio site shows a detail of the mediumwave facility in Libice
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Czech public radio ‘Český Rozhlas‘ is stepping up its information campaign for listeners receiving mediumwave programmes, ahead of the planned switch-off of transmitters by the end of 2021. Since 1 November, more announcements have been broadcast to warn users and a call centre has been set up to explain the possible listening alternatives (from FM to DAB). In the run-up to Christmas, public radio will launch an intensive advertising campaign in the print media and online magazines on 22 November to promote the purchase of digital DAB receivers to replace analogue radio. The shift away from medium-wave has been underway since the 2000s, affecting countries that have an alternative FM network or are in the process of creating one in DAB. But AM (amplitude modulation) still remains a resource for countries with large territorial coverage that can reach the entire population with a few installations.

GERMANY: A NEW ROLE FOR RADIO IN EMERGENCIES

A NEW ROLE FOR RADIO IN EMERGENCIES
Radio Wuppertal received a special award from the 
German Radio Prize for the report on the night of the flood of 14-15 July 2021
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After the floods that devastated North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate in July 2021, the role of the media in emergencies is being discussed. With such large-scale disasters, which increasingly strike suddenly, in addition to an early warning system such as sirens, it’s necessary to manage the rescue effort and inform the population. Radio is the most reliable medium for these tasks because it has been shown that mobile phones and internet networks tend to overload quickly and break down in such emergencies. Georg Rose, editor-in-chief of Radio Wuppertal, which received an award for its work during the floods, talks in an interview with Radioszene about how broadcasters can support the civil protection network, for example by being equipped with generators to keep the signal on the air and the editorial staff active for the crucial first 24 hours.

The management of WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk, North Rhine-Westphalia’s public broadcaster) has set up a study group to develop a digital offering that operates in adverse weather conditions, reaching as many people as possible in dangerous situations
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RadioSzene, a website for radio producers, published several articles on the role of the media during the flood emergency and possible countermeasures. Among them is an interview with Michael Radomski, in which the managing director of the Uplink group (over-the-air connection services) suggests the use of VHF channels (radio, TV, Internet, alarm applications and SMS) because they have proved to be less prone to interference and interruptions. There is also talk of the task force set up by the management of the WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk, public radio and television in North Rhine-Westphalia), which is to develop a digital offering capable of operating in adverse weather conditions, reaching as many people as possible in dangerous situations.

Ahrtal radio broadcast from Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler on 107.9 MHz 
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To support the reconstruction, a temporary local radio station was even set up for the Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler area, which had no local station. Ahrtalradio, broadcasting on 107.9, was created with the support of 20 radio producers from all over Germany to boost the economy, trade, tourism, society and associations. Listeners can introduce themselves, make suggestions and offer jobs. Companies, restaurateurs and service providers affected by the flooding receive 60 free spots to inform customers about the resumption of business.

Initially, Ahrtalradio was supposed to broadcast for one month, but the authorities extended the authorisation until 2 January 2022
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UK: NO FM SWITCH-OFF UNTIL AT LEAST 2030

 NO FM SWITCH-OFF UNTIL AT LEAST 2030
In the media ministry’s report on new rules for smart speakers, the future of radio is also discussed with predictions for the next ten years
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In the UK, frequency modulation will not be switched off, at least not for the next ten years, media minister Julia Lopez said a few days ago. Although it is estimated that analogue radio will only account for 12 to 14% of all radio listening in 2030, FM remains popular with many listeners, particularly the elderly or vulnerable, who drive older cars or live in areas with limited DAB coverage. The fate of mediumwave broadcasters is sealed: with 3% of all listeners, they will have to plan to switch off, to reduce the costs of a substantially duplicated network. There are currently more than 300 analogue stations operating in the UK and over 570 in DAB. Sixty percent of all listening comes from DAB or other digital platforms. Programme offerings are expanding as new franchises in DAB are giving many small local stations the opportunity to broadcast.

SPAIN: CATHOLIC NETWORK CONDEMNED, IT HAD FIRED AN EMPLOYEE FOR HIS IDEOLOGY

The article in CincoDías, a column in the economics section of the Spanish daily El País, discusses the subject in-depth and also offers a link to read the ruling
The article in CincoDías, a column in the economics section of the Spanish daily El País, discusses the subject in-depth and also offers a link to read the ruling
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The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (Tribunal Superior de Justicia – TSJ) annulled the dismissal of a sound technician of Cope (Cadena de Ondas Populares Españolas, owned by the Spanish Episcopal Conference), and ordered the company to reinstate him and pay his back wages. The employee had written a comment on Twitter about a Spanish satirical film where Jesus is portrayed as a homosexual. The court upheld the appeal because an employee is not obliged to share a company’s ideology or decalogue of good practices and cannot be expelled for this reason. Moreover, he was not a journalist, broadcasting news or opinions, but a sound recording assistant; his Twitter profile was personal and did not indicate that he was an employee of the Catholic radio station. Therefore, the followers of the post could not have damaged the company’s image, as they were unaware of who he worked for.

GERMANY: Bye Bye manual tuning. The car radio decides

Among the car radios on display at the IAA Mobility in Munich, this model of Volkswagen offers a unified list of programmes for FM stations, DAB and web radio.
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Markus Weidner, an editor since 1999 of the telecommunications site teltarif.de, has published on his blog a report on the new car radios on display at the IAA Mobility in Munich, the fair that replaces the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show, overwhelmed (like the Geneva Motor Show) by the pandemic. According to Markus, after having integrated the car radio more and more into the car (making it difficult to replace with third-party products), car manufacturers are now limiting its functionality. In the most recent models, the receivers offer a list that integrates FM and DAB stations, updated in the background. The function is useful because it avoids searching and memorizing the station, which can be recalled (more and more often) with a voice command. Such an organized list is convenient for those who listen to the most powerful radio stations, but it limits the choice: if the signal is not strong enough or slightly interfered, or without RDS (in FM there are still some) it is completely ignored. Weidner suggests an expert mode that enables the old manual tuning in FM and DAB. Otherwise, this “rationalization”, prevents you from freely choosing the radio of your heart.

More details and photos of the new receivers can be found here and here.

I want my radio on DAB!

The petition in favour of independent broadcasters promoted by the Belgian association Radio Z on the website Change.org
The petition in favour of independent broadcasters promoted by the Belgian association Radio Z on the website Change.org
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The transition to digital requires investments that not all broadcasters can afford. Especially community radio stations, which have little advertising (or are self-financing) and therefore lack the necessary resources. This is a common situation in many countries, but in Belgium, the association of independent voices Radio Z has launched a petition to urge the government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation to take action. The stations it represents are followed by hundreds of thousands of listeners in the region, employ more than a thousand volunteers who inform, entertain and promote the territory and the community; and above all train presenters, technicians and journalists. Unfortunately, these independent voices are financially exhausted and would need to double their revenues to survive. Despite warning signs, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation is not taking action and the diversity of the radio landscape is in danger of being destroyed. By 2030, in fact, 50-60% of them could disappear, due to the lack of economic, technical and logistical aid and a penalising digital frequency allocation plan.

A four-point plan

Radio Z brings together licensed independent radio stations operating in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation
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The association calls for annual funding for independent radio stations, similar to that provided for the press and local television, which receive, respectively, 10.9 and 10.4 million EUR a year, not counting municipal, provincial, Brussels region and French Community Commission (Cocof) subsidies. More support and flexibility is also needed from the operators who will carry the DAB signal to avoid any stations being excluded. It is also necessary to immediately optimise the frequency plan, which today does not allow the proper broadcasting of independent radio stations. Finally, the procedure for allocating funding to guarantee the transition to digital broadcasting must be reviewed.

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