ITALY: WILL THE FOOTBALL CLUBS OF SERIE A OPEN A NATIONAL RADIO?

Will football clubs become radio publishers? This was revealed by the business daily Milano Finanza. In the photo, Lorenzo Casini, president of the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A
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The relative ease (budget permitting) of opening a national digital broadcaster in Italy is leading to the emergence of several stations. Thus, after Aci Radio, of the Automobile Club d’Italia, the Roman Radio Cusano Campus Italia, the Venetian Canale Italia and Canale Italia+, all hosted on the RAI-Radiotelevisione Italiana multiplex, now a football radio station could arrive. The possibility of communicating without filters with the more than 20 million Italian fans, in fact, tickles Serie A, the association of football clubs, as revealed by the business daily Milano Finanza. For the production of the programmes, contacts have reportedly been initiated with RTL 102.5 and RDS, while the broadcasting on DAB could be entrusted to RTL 102.5 (which has a national multiplex where it already carries the BBC World Service) or to RAI, even if the coverage by the public broadcaster is less capillary. Also to be understood is the content of the programmes since RAI has exclusive rights for Serie A radio broadcasts until 2024. The investment, estimated at between 4 and 5 million euros, would be recovered through advertising, given the very favourable market trend and the appeal the broadcaster would have.

ITALY: RADIO ZETA BECOMES NATIONAL

Radio Zeta becomes national
Lorenzo Suraci, president of the RTL 102.5 radio group that includes Radio Zeta and Radiofreccia, pictured during the press conference in which he announced the acquisition of the national concession
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From being a multi-regional broadcaster, Radio Zeta has become national, with the purchase (on May 25) of the concession that gives it the right to broadcast its signal no longer over certain regions but throughout Italy. The authorization to broadcast the signal nationwide was held by Monradio, a company in the Mediaset galaxy, the second-largest television hub after RAI (with the Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4 brands) and which through Mediaset Radio owns four radio networks (Radio 105, R101, RMC – Radio Monte Carlo and Virgin Radio) and the superstation Radio Subasio. To keep it from lapsing, the concession had been used for years to broadcast (lately from a single facility located in Valtellina, in the province of Sondrio, in Lombardy) Radio Orbital, a Portuguese broadcaster. Why a foreign broadcaster on Italian soil? Because the concession had been created in the 1990s (requested from the then Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications) by Radio Milano International to repeat a foreign broadcaster, VOA-Voice of America. And when Monradio took over the RMI network (which has since become Radio 101-One O One) from bankruptcy in 2005, turning it into the current R101, it found itself with a second valuable concession to use.

How many national radio stations are there?

In the table produced by Confindustria Radio TV, for each radio network the company that owns it, the publishing group to which it belongs, and the type of concession (public, commercial or community) are indicated
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The announcement of the acquisition was made by Lorenzo Suraci, president of RTL 102.5, during the press conference of “Future Hits Live 2022,” a festival promoted by Radio Zeta. In Suraci’s statement reported on the website of the association Confindustria Radio TV, of which the publisher is also a director, it is stated that “Radio Zeta to all intents and purposes is the 18th national radio station.” However, the same Confindustria, in a study on national advertising some time ago, had published the list that we reproduce, which counts 21. Since then Radiofreccia has turned into a commercial radio station (in 2021) thus leaving Radio Maria as the only national community radio station, while Radio Radicale, which has a commercial concession, does not carry advertising.

Acquisitions restart

Radio Zeta was established 1 January 2016 on the frequencies taken over from the multi-regional radio station of the same name
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Radio Zeta can now complete its national coverage. It has 256 repeaters, less than half the number of Radiofreccia (the group’s other station has 545) and one-third of flagship RTL 102.5 (which can boast 765). After all, the radio station had to concentrate only on certain regions in order not to exceed coverage limits, which the law sets at 15 million potential listeners for superstations (broadcasters with multi-regional coverage). To reach uncovered areas, the broadcaster is acquiring dozens of new frequencies in different regions, either by taking over redundant channels from other broadcasters in the group or by purchasing them. This could revitalize somewhat the frequency market, which has been depressed by the crisis and with prices in free fall. This is a typical anomaly in the Italian market, in that no new authorizations have been issued since 1990 (pending regulation that never happened), so they must be purchased from other publishers.

ITALY: A MAP SUMMARISES CHANGES IN THE RADIO AND TELEVISION SECTOR SINCE 2017

A MAP SUMMARISES CHANGES IN THE RADIO AND TELEVISION SECTOR SINCE 2017
Events in the radio sector started in 2017, a year of important acquisitions (Mediaset Radio took over the superstation Radio Subasio) and ended in 2021 with RTL 102.5’s acquisition of Radio Freccia, which went from being a community radio station with hourly advertising limits to a commercial radio station
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The study office of Confindustria Radio Televisioni, the association representing the main Italian commercial radio and television networks, has published a chrono table with the significant events in the radio and television sector. The graphic formula is interesting: it represents, divided by year, the main events in the sector: industrial operations, commercial agreements (from the launch of new national broadcasters to acquisitions or sales of shareholdings involving national radio networks). Regulatory or normative interventions in the sector in recent years are also mentioned, including (in the lower section) on-demand streaming services.

Similar work has been done for television, always respecting the scheme mentioned for radio
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SAN MARINO: The republic’s TV will cover Italy

The republic's TV will cover Italy
In the press release published on its website, the San Marino broadcaster does not mention the two radio stations that broadcast from Monte Titano: Radio San Marino (102.7 MHz) and Radio San Marino Classic (103.2 MHz): will these also be broadcast on digital terrestrial TV?
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RTV San Marino will get frequencies from Rai to cover the Italian territory. During a meeting of the board of directors of the Italian public broadcaster, held on June 30, 2021, the proposal to transfer frequencies to the San Marino station was unanimously approved. The general manager of RTV San Marino, Carlo Romeo, recalls that thirty years ago it was the then general manager of Rai Sergio Zavoli who aired this possibility. The agreement between the two governments is now awaited, essential for the decision to become operative. It will probably have to wait until 2023, when, with the passage to DVB T2, Rai’s increased availability of transmissions will allow it to host the San Marino station in its multiplex, thus enabling it to serve the peninsula.

ITALY: Radio and television sector radiography

Radio and television sector radiography
The study on the radio and television sector in Italy, drawn up by Confindustria Radio Televisioni, examines 40 national and 691 local radio and television operators, of which 287 television and 404 radio
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The Confindustria Radio Televisioni association has published the “Economic study of the private radio and television sector“, which from 2020 presents in a single volume the national and local radio and television operators (previously two publications were prepared). The study examines the financial statements filed with the Chambers of Commerce by joint-stock companies (thus excluding community broadcasters, which are not required to publish them), providing a picture of the most structured part of the radio and television industry, within which very different companies coexist. The sector is in a stabilization phase, after two economic crises (2008 and 2012), the entry of some reforms (including that of the fee and contributions to local broadcasting) and a changed competitive environment, due to the rise of OTT platforms that (like Netflix) distribute content via the internet. The financial statements are for 2018, as it was necessary to wait until a fair number were available for the study to be representative.

A summary of key trends can be read here, while the full volume can be downloaded here.

GERMANY: Visual radio lands on satellite (and it’s a boom in Italy)

Schlager Radio can be received on FM, on the digital band on DAB+, via cable, via satellite
Schlager Radio can be received on FM, via DAB+, via cable, via satellite. As well as being available on the web, via a dedicated app, and can be listened to on smart speakers
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Berlin-based Schlager Radio has announced the launch of its own visual radio station, which will be receivable via satellite on Astra and with a smart TV connected to the internet. The station’s intention is to offer additional information, such as displaying the title of the song being broadcast. “The aim”, says press spokesman Heiner Harke, “is to offer our listeners visual added value without being a TV programme“.

Boom in Italy

In Italy, on the other hand, live video broadcasts from radio stations are almost like television programmes and are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, around 19 million Italians now follow them on a screen (TV, smartphone or PC), 11 million of whom use TV. And according to the Censis research “La transizione verso la radiovisione” (“The transition towards radiovision”) “visual radio is strongly in tune with the expectations of Italians: 52% declare that they would like to have more and more the possibility to enjoy radio contents on different devices also in video format. And 50% of those who follow radiovision find it pleasant, 27.5% engaging, 24% innovative”. 

In Italy, the forerunner was RTL 102.5, which has 1.1 million listeners of its video version (1.8 million during lockdown). Many local radio stations followed.
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Rai has also inaugurated live video broadcasts from September 2020 on Radio2. In 2021 it will be the turn of Radio1 and, progressively, other channels of the public broadcaster Source

Public radio also adapts in Switzerland

Switzerland’s Rete Uno began broadcasting in April 2021, announcing it in a statement on its Facebook account
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ITALY: Aid to broadcasters should be distributed fairly

Aid to broadcasters should be distributed fairly
The article in Start Magazine examines in detail the decision of the guarantor on funds for broadcasters
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The 50 million EUR allocated by the Italian government to support broadcasters affected by the drastic drop in advertising due to the pandemic have not been distributed fairly. Stopping the decision of the old executive (Conte II) is Agcom, the Italian Communications Authority. The “Fund for emergencies relating to local broadcasters” had been established by Article 195 of the Decree Law of May 19, 2020, but the implementing decree had been issued by the Ministry of Economic Development only on October 12, 2020. The text defined the procedures for the allocation of the contribution, reserving 95% of the resources for the first hundred television stations in the ranking, and dividing the remaining 5% among those from the hundredth place onwards.  This choice, which had already aroused controversy, was rejected by Agcom because it could create market distortions, and the authority hopes to divide it into two portions: one among all the broadcasters meeting the eligibility requirements, in proportion to the score in the ranking list, and the other, in equal parts among the broadcasters, taking care to ensure that the latter portion of resources has a sufficient amount to guarantee adequate subsidizing for the smaller broadcasters.

VATICAN CITY: The Pope’s radio has been on the air for ninety years

The Pope's radio has been on the air for ninety years
Guglielmo Marconi and Pope Pius XI portrayed in a vintage photo while inaugurating the Vatican station.
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It was February 12, 1931, when at 4:49 p.m. the first broadcast of the station was aired from Vatican City. On the notes of Christus Vincit, the “Statio Radiofonica Vaticana” thus emits its first wail. In the first message, “In Nomine Domini” (In the name of God), Pope Pius XI recited a prayer-appeal in Latin that called upon creation and the suffering, God and rulers, rich and poor, subjects and workers to gather before the “admirable Marconian invention”. The transmitter was designed by Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, whom the Pope named a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Pius XI had already been thinking about providing the Church with a radio station since 1925, but this was made possible by the Lateran Pacts of 1929, which entrusted the Italian State with the commitment to provide the Church with radiotelegraphic, radiotelephone, telephone and postal services. The management was entrusted to the Jesuits and the direction to Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, rector of the Gregorian University and scientist.

More details in the service of La Voce e il Tempo.

ITALY: Radiofreccia becomes a commercial broadcaster

Radiofreccia becomes a commercial broadcaster
The article published on Prima Comunicazione Online, with statements by Lorenzo Suraci, now owner of Radiofreccia
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Although in December 2020 he told Prima Comunicazione “it is not a gift”, Lorenzo Suraci, publisher of nationwide RTL 102.5 and Radio Zeta (a so-called “superstation”), then took advantage of the opportunity offered by Law 176/2020, which allows a national network to transform a community licence into a commercial one. It thus had Radiofreccia purchased by RTL 102.5, making it its second licence and transforming it from a national community radio station into a commercial one. This removes the advertising limit of 10% per hour, which can be raised to 20%.

Reconstructing the history of the broadcaster7

The Newslinet article examines the transformation of the licence from a legal point of view
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In July 2016, Mediaset took control (72.12%) of the Finelco Group (owner of Radio 105 and Virgin Radio) and formed a partnership with RMC-Radio Monte Carlo (later acquired in 2018), exceeding 10 million listeners on the average day (including R101, already owned by the group). Suraci, who can count on the 7 million listeners of RTL 102.5 (first in Italy for ratings) and Radio Zeta, found himself bypassed. In order to counter the firepower of Mediaset, which can sell advertising on its radio stations on a “package” basis, he tried to grow his group by buying Radio Padania (a Lega Nord station with a national community licence) for 2.1 million euros, transforming it into Radiofreccia, a station with a rock format. The community licence allows the broadcaster to turn on hundreds of repeaters without buying them from other radio stations (the law was tailored to favour the Lega Nord and allow it to extend Radio Padania’s coverage throughout the Peninsula), but limits advertising to 10% per hour. Now the “cap” has been blown off, and the only national community radio station remains Radio Maria, which has never used this loophole to turn on new equipment.

ITALY: To promote DAB, FM radio reception is being removed from mobile phones

to promote dab, remove FM radio from mobile phone
The magazine Newsline reported about the message displayed by Samsung smartphone to their owners before downloading the new update that would have disabled the FM radio reception
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A boomerang effect has been caused by the government decree that, in order to promote the development of DAB radio, requires radio manufacturers to stop selling devices in 2021 if they were not equipped with a digital receiver. This includes smartphones equipped with an FM tuner. Samsung (which has almost 40% of the market) has circumvented the regulatory requirement by deactivating the FM receiver with a change to its operating system. Moreover, the legislation (which applies only in Italy) would have required manufacturers to fit a digital receiver and antenna only to devices sold in Italy.

While this may seem a necessary action for newly sold devices, it seems pretty strange that it is applied to devices that have been sold before the law came into effect.

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