Global: Facing state of emergency on the front line

Facebook News Radio Bona Rossa in times of Coronavirus
Coping in times of Coronavirus at Radio Zona Rossa
Source

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

Cyclone Fani
Cyclone Fani
Source

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

CBAA Emergency Broadcasting in Australia
Article from CBAA: Emergency Broadcasting in Australia
Source

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.

Share on

The consequences of Coronavirus on radio stations

Website of Radio Energy Turin
Website of Radio Energy Turin
Source

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

Website of Auditel
Website of Auditel
Source

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?

Website of TER (Tavolo Editori Radio)
Website of TER (Tavolo Editori Radio)
Source

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)

Share on

Ukraine: A new TV channel for the occupied territories

Map of Ukraine, the Russian occupied regions in focus: Donbass and Crimea
Map of Ukraine, the Russian occupied regions: Donbass and Crimea in red
Source
Modification by Editor

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

Traditionally dressed local Ukrainians
Locals
Source

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

city view on Kiev, Ukraine, capital of Ukraine
View on Kiev
Source

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.

Jamming

Giant antenna causing jamming
Source

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. 

Share on

The Philippines: If this TV is inconvenient maybe I’ll shut it down… or maybe not

News Release, Republic of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
News Release: It’s up to Lower House to tackle ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, says President Duterte
Source

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 of the 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’

ABS-CBN grateful humbled by Duterte acceptance of apology, article
ABS-CBN News: ABS-CBN ‘grateful, humbled’ by Duterte acceptance of apology
Source

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)

Homepage of Mor - My only radio, Philippines
MOR – My only radio, Philippines
Source

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.

Share on

Italy: Radio tormenting – someone uses the rosary

If your neighbour is listening to radio at high volume, do you use earplugs or are you gonna start a watt-war?
It is also possible trying to solve the problem by knocking at your neighbours door or, in more serious cases, by calling the police. But when the noise occurs often and is intentional, it becomes stalking and thus a lawyer is necessary. 

Hard Rock or Radio Maria?

Italian website of Radio Maria
Radio Maria Website
Source

Checking on the web, it’s possible to find a great number of people convicted of  tormenting their neighbours, using noise made by TV or radio programmes. It’s funny that, in Italy, people seem to prefer using religious programmes, such as the rosary (transmitted by the national and most famous religious broadcaster: Radio Maria), instead of music.
Here follows a brief list of the most interesting and funny cases:

2020, Divignano (near Novara, in Piedmont, Italy): A married couple persecuted their neighbour using various religious functions transmitted by Radio Maria
Read more

2019, Vicenza (Veneto, Italy): A man was trialled for listening to Radio Maria at high volume during early morning hours
Read more

2018, Biella (Piedmont, Italy): A night worker can’t sleep during the day because of its neighbour listening to Radio Maria all day
Read more

2012 Golfo Aranci (Sardinia, Italy): 8 months of imprisonment for the two sisters that persecuted their brother during his restaurant opening hours, using Radio Maria as their weapon
Read more

There are also people who use the rosary to defend themselves.
2013 Fiesole (Tuscany, Italy): A family listened to Radio Maria at high volume to drown out the noise made by the neighbours parrot.
Read more

Share on

Spain: the legendary “cupón de la ONCE”, the main character of Spanish radio commercials

Everyone who had a chance to listen to Spanish radio programmes, especially the ones on Radio Nacional de España or the private stations Cope and Cadena Ser (on FM and medium wave), has noticed that one of the most common commercials talks about the “cupón de la ONCE”: a ticket of a very popular lottery managed by the homonymous organisation, managed by blind people. Created in the 1930s as a non state lottery, it was promoted by some blind people associations in Andalusia, Catalunya and Levante, which merged in 1939 in the official national organisation that started calling the ticket “cupón”.

The 80s boom

With the advent of democracy in Spain, also the organisation renews itself: the lottery becomes national (1984) and the prize reaches 100.000 pesetas (1987), multiplying by a million the ticket’s value, sold for 100 pesetas. Since then, the lottery took off, becoming more and more popular, and radio broadcasters started being flooded with commercials promoting the tickets’ sale. Lottery’s proceeds, from the 60’s, are invested in the opening of educational centers and libraries, to promote cultural events, and to finance fundamental services such as rehabilitation.

El Cuponazo
Source
Share on

TV Antennas resisting modernity

Antennas on roof
Source

Despite technological innovations, the reception of television programmes transmitted over air (with an antenna on the roof) still remains the most used system for watching TV. This is what emerges from a report on TV audience made by Deloitte, the worlds biggest consulting company. Today, it is estimated that at least 1.6 billion people worldwide (450 million families) are watching traditional antenna TV. However, those numbers may be low: in fact considering the countries where it’s impossible having verified data, it’s estimated that this number could raise to 2 billion users, 50% more than pay-TV by cable, IPTV and satellite subscribers.

The advertising pie is still rich

Deloitte
Source

The study is based on data from 83 countries with a total population of 6.6 billion. The analysis included nations with a low level of digitalisation and audience maturity level. This is the case in India (130 million users of over-air TV), Indonesia (251 million) and Nigeria (127 million); Italy, with 42 million users is on place 42. The research analyses the trend of advertising investments (that will raise to 4 billion dollars in 2020, reaching 184 billion in 2021), on traditional TV vitality and on its resilience to new technologies.

Share on

Spain: The seventh DAB mux is on air

Transmitter, Antenna, Teide, Spain
Transmitter Teide
Source

Digital transmissions on DAB waveband, channel 9C, started in Tenerife in December 2019. The transmitter is located on the Teide, the highest active volcano in the Atlantic ocean and also the highest mountain in Spain (3.718 m). In total there are nine programmes transmitted: Axel24, BBR and XPR2 are exclusively aired on the Canary Islands, whereas Coast FM, Energy FM, Europa FM, Loca FM, Loca Latino and Magica FM, are also transmitted in Spain. Since February, Gran Via Radio from Barcelona has been added, a well-known station on 91.2 in the Catalonian metropolis.

The installation, made by Techworld Sur from Tenerife, uses a technology called BCAST, by a Polish company which provides small and medium sized radio transmitters and the software platform DABCAST for the digital transmission. In this way, the radio station is just paying a fee for the service without the need of buying any hardware equipment or the transmitter (an initiative funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme). The radio station uses the software Virtual Studio to put together the audio stream with other elements that must be transmitted, such as album covers, the logo and extended text information. Then, the signal is sent to the cloud where it goes through the multiplexing process, it is encrypted with an algorithm that protects it from losing data and then is submitted to the transmitter.

BCAST Transmitter, DAB
Transmitter BCAST
Source

Illegal vs. legal match ended 4-3, but Navarra started a “remuntada”

At this stage seven multiplexes are active in Spain, but only three of them are official: the ones presumably without a license are those located in Costa del Sol (channel 7B in Marbella) and on the Canary Islands (7B in Gran Canaria, 7D and 9C in Tenerife). But Navarra’s government is going to even the score: on January 8th, 2020 it announced a call for the release of six licences for DAB transmission. A regional block, on channel 11D named FU-NAV, with 6 regional channels and another 72 channels for local broadcasters divided into two blocks made of 6 broadcasters in Pamplona, and 10 local blocks. Navarra is the first autonomous community granting regional licenses for digital radio: are other regions going to follow this path?

Pamplona, bull run, Spain, torreros
Pamplona, well-known for the bulls run during the San Fermin festival, will be the first city in Spain having 3 mux DAB, with two of them being local.
Source
Share on

The Netherlands and USA: Sanctions against Pirate Radios: Will they be successful?

Pirate ship in the ocean
Pirate Ship
Source

Since December 2019 The Dutch telecommunication agency (TT-Agentschap Telecom) toughened the penalties for unauthorised radio broadcasting. In the Netherlands, pirate radio stations have been a mass phenomenon since the 60’s. Back then, broadcasters like Radio Caroline introduced beat music on the airwaves. This has resulted in the Dutch being infected with ‘piracy’s virus’ and they started transmitting local folk music, especially in rural areas with radio programmes spoken in dialects. The phenomenon became really big: the Dutch Telecommunication Agency estimated the existence of 10,000 to 60,000 unauthorised broadcasters operating in the country during 1984, this equals to one pirate per 250 inhabitants. The radio stations were operating on shortwave (above the 49 metre band), between 1620 and 1700 kHz (X-Band), and also on FM. The programmes were usually broadcasted on evenings or weekends.

The ‘ghost radio’ signals are going to increase

Pirate Antenna Image
Pirate Image
Source

During 2003, with the first crackdown, the illegal signals decreased by 73% and now, to restrict them further, the minimum penalty has been set at € 2.500.
But why do pirate broadcasters want to transmit over air, when they can easily do it via web?
The reason is the thrill of being caught, according to what one of the protagonists said to Arno Van Der Hoeven, a student that carried out research on this phenomenon in the Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture at Rotterdam University.

The hypothesis is a possible increase of ghost signals: to not being caught by authorities, the radio transmitter and antenna are installed on a tree and remotely controlled. When the inspectors find them, they usually only deactivate the equipment without looking for the signal source.

USA: record penalty reached US$ 450.000

Radio Tele Boston
Radio Tele Boston
Source

Even the United States has its pirate radios. In the US, the coverage area of every radio and television station is set and verified rigorously (due to their model of planning for the over air transmission). And the fines are hefty: the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) imposed a fine of US$ 453.000 to Radio TeleBoston, a station that broadcasts programmes for the Haitian community and operated illegally on 90.1 and 92 MHz (with a total of three transmitters), interfering with other radio stations duly authorised. After some notices have been sent (since 2017), FCC decided to assign the maximum penalty (US$ 151.000) for every transmitter; in the meantime, TeleBoston is asking listeners for donations in order to finance the radio station.

Share on

A Radio for Farmers: Farm Radio International

George Atkinson celebration the 40th Anniversary of Farm radio international
George Atkinson, 40th Anniversary
Source
The Logo of Farm Radio International
Farm Radio International Logo
Source

Born in 1975 from a brilliant but simple idea by ​​George Atkinson, journalist for the Canadian national network CBC, Farm Radio International is an organisation that produces radio content and programs aimed at farmers mainly from countries in the sub-Saharan belt. The main focus of the transmissions is on cultivation techniques.

A network of nearly 800 radio stations

To give scientific solidity to the programs, Atkinson had put together a team of scientists, experts from the University of Guelph’s Faculty of Agriculture and had contacted journalists around the world to learn about easy-to-use agricultural techniques. After writing scripts, in order to allow broadcasters to translate them into local dialects, he started sending them by post to broadcasters. That was back in January 1979. Today the organisation provides content to over 780 radio stations in 40 countries and works on projects with 100 broadcasters in 11 countries.

Share on