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
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2019, Vicenza (Veneto, Italy): A man was trialled for listening to Radio Maria at high volume during early morning hours
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2018, Biella (Piedmont, Italy): A night worker can’t sleep during the day because of its neighbour listening to Radio Maria all day
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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
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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.
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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
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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.

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Spain: The seventh DAB mux is on air

Transmitter, Antenna, Teide, Spain
Transmitter Teide
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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
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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
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The Netherlands and USA: Sanctions against Pirate Radios: Will they be successful?

Pirate ship in the ocean
Pirate Ship
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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
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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.

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A Radio for Farmers: Farm Radio International

George Atkinson celebration the 40th Anniversary of Farm radio international
George Atkinson, 40th Anniversary
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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.

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General Motors integrates the SiriusXM music platform on one million cars

Car dashboard
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After making its debut in 2018 on the Ram 1500 pick-up truck of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), the 360L multimedia system of Sirius XM was implemented in a million cars from the GM group (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC). In addition to 200 commercial-free music channels, broadcast via satellite or streaming, a library of 10,000 hours of broadcasting that offers an interactive listening experience is available: while you follow a programme, the system proposes to follow insights (such as an interview with the artist or a concert). Furthermore, listening can continue outside the car, with the myChevrolet, myBuick, myGMC or myCadillac apps, which allow you to set customised listening profiles, which once on board synchronise with the system.

Exclusive events for subscribers only

Sirius Sport
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Among the programmes there are also exclusive events, such as the one that will take place on January 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, in The Garage studios of SiriusXM: Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland of Coldplay, accompanied by other artists, will deliver an acoustic performance for a limited audience of platform subscribers; the event will go live between 7 and 10 pm on The Spectrum (channel 28), the replicas on Alt Nation (channel 36).

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Global: Music stars are opening web radios

The chance of broadcasting – and being listened – via internet or using apps, without investing any capital to purchase a radio frequency, has made radio broadcasting way more democratic, even if standing out among the crowd of web radios is not easy. However, being noticed is not a big deal for popular music stars: U2, a famous Irish rock band formed in 1976, 170 million records sold worldwide, are working to launch U2X Radio next year. The channel will feature music, interviews and selected live performances of the band; it will be managed by SiriusXM, an American broadcasting company that provides satellite and online radio services. The company, that broadcasts via satellite the signals of more than 140 radio stations (also listenable in cars), has  acquired Pandora Media last year, becoming the world’s largest audio entertainment company.

U2 Radio
Source

Once you go online, you’ll never go back

Tomorrowland World Radio was created to celebrate the fifteenth-year anniversary of the homonymous electronic music festival held in Belgium annually since 2005, with an attendance of 200,000 people from all around the world. The radio, that technically should have been broadcasted only for six months, is now permanent thanks to its success. It is available both on the website and on the app. It features exclusive tracks and programmes, new releases and the most iconic live sets from the past years.

Italians in the game

TRX Radio
Own source

In Italy there is a similar project on-going: Radio TRX, an online radio dedicated to hip hop music, promoted by six of the most famous Italian rappers. (Clementino, Ensi, Fabri Fibra, Gue Pequeno, Marracash and Salmo) The broadcasting of Radio TRX already started two years ago. However, on the 5th of December 2019, an event to relaunch this radio (only available on the official app) took place in the Radio Italia’s Auditorium in Cologno (near Milan).

The six rappers, together with the producer Paola Zukar explained that the main goal of the project is becoming a curator to promote rap music. Even if rap has become a mainstream genre in Italy, listening to it on the radio is not that common. This is a big difference compared to other European countries such as France or Germany, where there are many thematic radio stations, broadcasting rap 24/7.

Italian rap ambassadors

The event started with a short video, made of interviews where the rappers talked about Radio TRX and its future. The role of radio in a world dominated by social media was mentioned. ‘TRX is like a guiding light for rap music’s audience’, said Ensi. ‘A valid alternative to the algorithm that drives the public choice’, mentioned Salmo.
The slogan of the project is ‘Culture’ so, as the rapper Marracash said, leaving everything in the hands of the public leads to superficiality, that doesn’t help music.
For this reasons, Gue Pequeno added, having an editorial made by some of the most important personalities in the rap scene can give a chance to fill this void.
Thanks to TRX Radio, the rappers are able to be curators; they can explain the rap world from inside, and also promote new talents and organise live events.

Six Italian Rappers (Clementino, Ensi, Fabri Fibra, Gue Pequeno, Marracash and Salmo)
Own source
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New Zealand: Unification of public radio and television?

The New Zealand Government is planning to disestablish public broadcasters (radio and television) and create a new public media entity in order to cut operating costs. The annual funding (25 million US dollars) primarily supports Radio New Zealand, whereas the television (TNZ) counts on advertising revenue. An advisory group is now working to create a new model with new funding options, such as introducing a fee and working on sponsorships (in addition to the actual funding).

Commercial TV crisis

The public radio and television sector is suffering, but also the commercial broadcasting is experiencing difficulties. The online giants, such as Google and Facebook, are draining resources from the advertising market, also affecting the private sector: MediaWorks, a New Zealand-based television, radio and interactive media company entirely owned by an American company, has recently put some of its channels up for sale: Three, Bravo and Three Life. This group also owns 9 national radio brands transmitted on 190 frequencies. 

RNZ & TVNZ
Source

Follow the services of Jane Patterson, political editor of Radio New Zealand here  & here
Find a complete list of frequencies and repeaters on FMList.

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Switzerland: Postcard from the Shortwave’s time

SwissInfo.ch –the international unit of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR)– published a collection of historical photos and recordings on its website to commemorate 70 years of broadcasting. The partners of the “The Sounds of…” project are the international services of Canada, Poland, Romania and Czech Republic whose journalists provided videos to explain how they did their work. Sounds and images that enable to go back in time – when the sounds were disturbed by atmospheric noises and people were smoking cigarettes in their offices.

70 years of shortwave broadcastings

SWI Logo
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Switzerland’s international service started in 1935, called the SOC (Short Wave Swiss Service): in those days these bands represented the only effective way for radio to travel long distance, allowing to receive news from foreign countries.
In 1989, when the Cold War came to an end and propaganda was no longer necessary, the governments started trying to cut the high broadcasting costs (being able to reach the whole world needs transmitters up to hundreds of kW and huge antennas). Operators have reacted in different ways, like turning off some frequencies, reducing the languages offered or changing the broadcastings method.

Optimism in technological transitions

Switzerland, for its part, has turned off the high energy-consuming transmitters and continued to broadcast programs via satellite and – since 1999 – via internet, making it one of the first online radio stations. The editorial staff has been extended adding new languages like Chinese, Japanese and Russian and new audio and video contents. This is the reason why the programme changed its name to Swiss Radio International.

Click here to watch some videos by SWI.

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