If the pandemic has forced radio stations to set up emergency studios in presenters’ homes in order to keep broadcasting and protect them from contagion, in Austria draconian measures were taken. The national radio station literally ‘locked up’ the presenters working for Hitradio Ö3, the pop channel of Austrian public radio ORF. Their studios in Heiligenstadt, in the 19th district of Vienna, were converted into housing and 22 people (after medical checkups) were put into isolation from March 19th to March 26th, 2020. As well as presenting their programmes live, they lived and slept in the flat for two weeks. (Hopefully none of them had tested positive after the lock in).
All the most famous voices
Apart from the Station Manager, Georg Spatt, who accompanied the team on this adventure, there were six presenters and DJs: Robert Kratky, Andi Knoll, Sheyda Kharrazi, Verena Kicker, Tina Ritschi and Tarek Adamski. The other fifteen members of staff included journalists, programming specialists and technicians. The offices were converted into rooms with bathrooms, communal areas such as a coffee bar and all essentials, from a TV to a washing machine, without forgetting the keep fit equipment. Meals were delivered through a security gate.
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improved to boost the TV signal (five digital channels and two analogue) to Crimea, where Ukrainian channels have been replaced by the Russian ones.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
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
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.
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.
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 ofthe 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’
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)
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.