UK: BBC EXITS RADIOPLAYER

A message that appears on RadioPlayer when trying to tune in to one of the BBC stations
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Despite being one of the founding members of the British streaming platform, the British public broadcaster has removed its radio channels from RadioPlayer since January 2023. Listeners now only have to use ‘BBC Sounds‘, which is available as an app and can be accessed on the web in a special area of the British broadcaster’s official website. Retaining control of content with a proprietary app is a trend that is spreading especially among large broadcasters. In the UK, it was already put into practice by Global (owner of seven stations including Radio Capital, Heart Radio, Classic FM, and LBC), which created its own ‘Global Player‘ in 2017, while Bauer Media Group (owner of 150 radio brands in nine countries) has never directed listeners to the UK streaming platform.

The company is doing just fine! (but has few radio stations)

The home page of the Luxembourg version of RadioPlayer shows ten broadcasters. We tried browsing through the menus to see if there were any others but to no avail
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The founder and CEO of RadioPlayer downplays. On the contrary, he raises the bar: Michael Hill says that the company is booming (the nineteenth foreign office was opened in March, with the launch of the app in Luxembourg). The platform, which claims to contain the best of radio, hosts the most important networks and commercial radio stations. These, however, are only a fraction of the stations that exist in each country. Two examples: in Luxembourg, you can listen to only ten, half of which belong to the RTL Group. In Italy, there are over 1100 active radio stations, but with RadioPlayer, you can listen to 125 of them, which is just a bit more than 10% of the mentioned number. This also includes 107 radio stations that only broadcast on DAB.

Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini

JAPAN: MINILINKS DONATED TO UKRAINIAN TV

The handover ceremony of transmission equipment to the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Ukraine (PBC), performed in Kyiv by Japanese Ambassador Matsuda Kuninori
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Among the many infrastructures damaged by the conflict in Ukraine, there is also the link network that enabled the connection between the regional TV offices and the central newsroom in Kyiv. The main antenna was on the capital’s broadcasting tower, which was damaged in March 2022. Since then, mobile crews who rely on the cellular network to send video footage have been handicapped due to the use of portable equipment which only allows for low-resolution transmission. To solve the problem, Japan thus donated a number of portable mini-repeaters to the public broadcasting company Nacional’na Suspil’na Teleradiokompanija Ukraïny.


(Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

BELARUS: RADIOPLAYER COPIED

Minsk launches a clone of the British aggregator. In defiance of copyright

The aggregator’s Internet page, excerpted from Belarus’ 1 state TV report “Panorama”, in which several broadcasters were interviewed
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As of February 2023, Belarusian citizens also have an app for listening to radio stations on the web, mobile devices, and smart TVs, Radio Player‘s website explains. Promoted by the Belarusian Broadcasting Industry Association, however, the app is a copy of one launched in 2010 in the United Kingdom and which has since spread to 13 other countries, not only in Europe. It allows listeners to listen only to radio stations based in the country, a feature designed by the British to protect copyright, but which in an authoritarian regime also allows citizens’ freedom of choice to be restricted. It is unclear whether it allows content to be sent to car infotainment systems-the Belarusian version’s website makes no mention of it. But how is it possible to violate copyright? Thanks to an “ad hoclaw that allows Western content to be used without the rights holder’s consent and without paying royalties. Approved on December 21, 2022, by the Belarusian parliament and signed by President Aleksander Lukashenko.


(From a post by Michel Fremy on Linkedin, edited by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

CANADA: TUNNEL CLOSURE CAUSES TRAFFIC RADIO STATION’S RATINGS TO SOAR

The station’s studios are like a control centre: the animators always have one eye on the monitors showing the focal points of the roads leading into the city
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With the pandemic, traffic had plummeted and the ratings of Radio Circulation, Montreal’s traffic radio station, had declined. But since the renovation of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel (opened in 1967) began, the station has become very popular again. The tunnel to be renovated, to ensure its operation for another 40 years, passes under the St. Lawrence River and connects the island of Montréal with the south bank of the river in Longueuil, Quebec. It is a vital access route to the city and since three of the six lanes will remain closed until November 2025, many have thrown in the towel and opted for the train or the metro (+15%), while those in cars rely on the radio to seek alternative routes.

A bet won

The futuristic Turcot interchange, a vital local and regional link as it is located on a key route between Montreal-Trudeau International Airport and the city centre
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Moreover, Radio Circulation owes its fortune to traffic jams: it opened in 2011, a year before the opening of the major construction site for the Turcot interchange, a multi-level elevated road system linking three motorways: Autoroute 15, 20, and 720. The station broadcasts on 98.5 FM and 730 kHz mediumwave, and in the studio, two editors take turns every half-hour in conducting and answering listener calls, never losing sight of the twenty or so monitors that show the hot spots at risk of traffic jams. The radio competes with online navigation platforms but manages to give faster and more up-to-date information than Google Maps and Waze, both in the portfolio of Alphabet, the web giant.

Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini

QATAR: SPANISH-LANGUAGE RADIO SET UP FOR THE WORLD CUP

The new station aims to provide good entertainment and raise awareness of Qatar’s history, traditions and heritage
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After twelve years of preparations to organise the World Cup, with an expenditure estimated by Forbes at between USD 6.5 billion and USD 10 billion, a Spanish-language radio station is among the supporting initiatives. Hola Qatar Radio, which opened on 2 November 2022, broadcasts on 92.0 MHz from Doha, taking over from MBC FM in Arabic. Run by the Qatar Media Corporation, a public media organisation, it is aimed more at Spanish-speaking Qataris than at World Cup fans who come in droves to watch the matches. In fact, among the ten nations that have bought the most tickets (almost three million have been sold) are Mexico and Argentina.

More entertainment than sport

After monitoring the broadcasts of Hola Qatar Radio, the iProfesional journalist described the commentators as ‘bar sports’ level
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The aim of the broadcaster is to introduce visitors to Qatari culture, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Thani Al Thani, CEO of the Qatar Media Corporation, said at the press conference. According to the Argentinian website iProfesional, which monitored the broadcasts, there is a relaxed atmosphere but few, if any, of the presenters give the impression of being professionals or journalists. Scattered reports are given on match developments, but there are no radio commentaries or real-time information on the progress of the matches. The commentaries are not comparable to an in-depth sports analysis and there are no guest players in the studio. Here is the site’s in-depth analysis in which the Qatari media system’s broadcaster is mentioned as well. And Hola Quatar Radio? What future will it have after the World Cup?
(Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

UK: HEART ATTACK LIVE

Suffolk's GenX Radio presenter Tim Gough dies on air
The BBC website dedicated a lengthy article, with testimonies from former colleagues who remember him for the time they spent together behind the microphone
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It’s as good a day as any in Ipswich, a Suffolk town where GenX Radio is based, a web station that within a year has been so successful that it has taken the leap into the airwaves, submitting an application to Ofcom to open a DAB channel (the authorisation will come a few days after Tim’s death). Even though it has no competition, because it is the only commercial station in the region, it needs to upgrade its palimpsest in order to land in the digital band. So it recruited a veteran of the airwaves for its most important programme: the breakfast slot, which between 6am and 9am takes listeners from waking up to resuming their activities. And Tim Gough is an exceptional presenter: he has decades in the business behind him and, above all, began his career in 1986 at Radio Orwell, a station based in Ipswich (transmitted on 1170 kHz on medium wave and 97.1 MHz on FM).

A morning like any other

A still from Green Day's video clip, in which Madness depicts the daily grind of getting up to go to the office even when you got home very late.
A still from Green Day’s video clip, in which Madness depicts the daily grind of getting up to go to the office even when you got home very late. But work calls!
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The sun rose at 7.37am. The sky is grey but not cold, it’s 13 degrees. It’s Monday, a new week begins and it’s time to get the energy going. Tim is happy. These are the first broadcasts he is conducting after ten years away from the microphones. He lives 30 km from the station and to avoid travelling to the studios before dawn he has equipped himself at home. He has been on the air for almost an hour when he plays Grey Day by Madness, a ska group that in 1981 with this song parodied a grey morning like that, but in which you still have to get up and drag yourself like zombies to the office after a night of revelry.

Suddenly the music stops

In the BBC report, there is an image taken at Saxon Radio (used to broadcast on 96.4 FM, and merged with Radio Orwell) showing a Tim in his early twenties preparing the setlist
In the BBC report, there is an image taken at Saxon Radio (used to broadcast on 96.4 FM, and merged with Radio Orwell) showing a Tim in his early twenties preparing the setlist (he made his debut at the age of 19, in 1986)
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Grey Day is a track full of energy, evoking for Tim the years when he took his first steps at Radio Orwell, in 1986, and he thinks it’s the right push to face a new cloudy week. But shortly afterwards, at 7.50, the music suddenly stops: Tim is taken ill, probably from a heart attack. The ambulance arrived and the paramedics tried to revive him, but after 25 minutes of effort, they had to throw in the towel. Tim left live. As soon as the news spreads, the emails start arriving: hundreds of messages of love. After all, Tim is a well-known personality: after his debut on Radio Orwell in 1986, he became a specialist in morning host. He moved on to Saxon Radio and SGR-FM and made appearances on Smooth Radio, several stations in the East Midlands and other national radio stations. The BBC article collects several testimonials from former colleagues, who agree that he is a friendly, funny and very talented guy. (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

SPAIN: WILL THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OPEN UP TO DIGITAL RADIO?

The Collserola tower, a daring construction designed by British architect Norman Foster in 1992 for the Olympic Games, is 288 metres high and also houses the antennas of the DAB multiplex for Barcelona
The Collserola tower, a daring construction designed by British architect Norman Foster in 1992 for the Olympic Games, is 288 meters high and also houses the antennas of the DAB multiplex for Barcelona

The Iberian country is lagging behind in the transition of radio to DAB. Eighteen years after the activation of multiplexes, digital broadcasting seems not to have emerged from the experimental phase: they are active in Madrid and Barcelona, and a few other cities, still broadcasting in the old standard DAB and not in DAB+. The few programs carried are those of Radio Nacional de Espana (Radio 1, Radio 5: Radio Clásica, and Radio 3 remain excluded), and the main networks (the missing ones are, for example, Cadena Dial, Los 40, Rock FM). Similarly to FM, where inertia in granting authorizations has proliferated illegal frequencies, to which networks also resort, unauthorized multiplexes have been turned on. The number of official ones active mainly in tourist areas (the Costa del Sol and Canary Islands) is doubled.

Avalanche of appeals

Panorama Audiovisual to reconstruct the situation interviewed Jaime Rodriguez Diez, the lawyer who advised the radio stations to file the appeals
Panorama Audiovisual to reconstruct the situation interviewed Jaime Rodriguez Diez, the lawyer who advised the radio stations to file the appeals
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Given the competition made to official radio stations by unauthorized ones, many broadcasters interested in digital broadcasting have appealed to the Spanish Constitutional Court, which between September and October 2022 upheld sixteen “recurso de amparo”, which added to those already pending bringing the total to 22. This ”recurso” is a legal formula that allows Spanish citizens to appeal to the supreme court when they believe constitutional norms have been violated. Giving an accurate picture of the situation is the magazine Panorama Audiovisual, which reconstructs its evolution since 2018 when broadcasters began turning to autonomous communities to apply for authorizations. Since some regions have refused, despite having an obligation to grant them, even though they did not proceed with the allocations, a law firm has recommended appeals to the Constitutional Court. Will they be upheld? Let’s keep our fingers crossed! (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

ANGOLA: NATIONAL RADIO TO BE UPGRADED

Founded in 1977, two years after the end of the civil war for independence, Radio Nacional de Angola is based in the capital Luanda
Founded in 1977, two years after the end of the civil war for independence, Radio Nacional de Angola is based in the capital Luanda
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The Angolan government has earmarked USD 40 million to modernize Rádio Nacional de Angola (RNA), which will enable it to complete its coverage of the territory (currently 52.77%) to 95%. The announcement was made by Pedro Afonso Cabral, chairman of the public broadcaster’s board of directors, on the occasion of the station’s 45th anniversary, celebrated on October 5, 2022. The station, said Cabral in an interview with the Jornal de Angola, spends 98% of its state funding on staff salaries (1795 people) and has not received investment support for eight years. The broadcaster operates national radio stations (Canal A, Ngola Yetu, Rádio Cinco, and Rádio Cultura, three regional, 18 provincial, and seven municipal. It has 29 production centers and 80 repeaters throughout the country.

JAPAN: MEDIUM-WAVE RADIO STATIONS WILL MIGRATE TO FM

MEDIUM-WAVE RADIO STATIONS WILL MIGRATE TO FM
The image of the advertising campaign informs of the switch from medium waves to FM
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Within six years, more than 90% of Japan’s commercial stations (44 out of 47) will leave medium-wave to switch to frequency modulation. In September 2028, only three stations will remain active in northern Japans Hokkaido and Akita Prefecture. But the airwaves will begin to empty from next year: the first channels will be turned off in the fall of 2023. The advertising crisis has prompted broadcasters to ask the communications ministry to migrate to FM to reduce operating costs: AM systems are energy-intensive, maintenance expenses are high, and antennas at least 100 meters high are needed to transmit. The last to leave the airwaves will be three Tokyo-based broadcasters-TBS Radio, Nippon Cultural Broadcasting and Nippon Broadcasting System-and some will continue to keep AM transmitters on after 2028. In Japan, the FM band goes from 76 to 95 MHz because the higher channels, before the digital switchover, were occupied by television.
Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini

COSTA RICA: AN FM LICENCE COSTS THE SAME AS A PIZZA

In Costa Rica, an FM licence costs the same as a pizza. The list published on the Costa Rican magazine's website shows for each frequency the name of the concessionaire, the licence and the fee paid in 2021
The list published on the Costa Rican magazine’s website shows for each frequency the name of the concessionaire, the licence and the fee paid in 2021
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It was the El Guardián, a newspaper in Costa Rica, that shed light on the amounts paid to the state by radio stations as frequency licence fees. It wrote to the press office of the Ministry of Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT), which provided the list of stations with the relevant amounts in Costa Rican colón (it takes 667 for one US dollar, at the current exchange rate). The amounts are small, considering that the annual average income in 2020 was USD 12,076.81 and the monthly minimum wage USD 402. FM stations pay an average of 6,000 colóns per year (about 9 US dollars); 1,000 to 2,000 for medium-wave broadcasters (1.5 to 3 US dollars) and 1,500 to 5,000 for transfer bridges (2.25 to 7.50 US dollars). Here is the list of broadcasters, whose names are listed in the concession.

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