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.
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.
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”.
Public radio also adapts in Switzerland
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
RTVS, radio and television of Slovakia (Rozhlas a televízia Slovenska) has accounts in the red. In the last ten years, attempts have been made several times to adjust the canon to make up for it, but they have always failed. The last one was in 2016, when the Minister of Culture proposed to raise it to 7 EUR (about 50% more). Today citizens pay 4.64 EUR per month, pensioners 2.32 EUR, rates set 17 years ago. The current proposal (to go up to 8.5 EUR, 83% more) will have a long and difficult path: to be approved, it will have to pass the inter-ministerial evaluation, reach the Council of Ministers and finally be voted by Parliament. More details here
There is also controversy in Germany
When you touch up a concession fee it is never roses and flowers. In Germany in 2022 the increase will only be 86 Cents per month, but in Saxony there is resistance from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Eurosceptic nationalists of AFD (Alternative für Deutschland). The newspaper Nordbayern warns of the possible convergence between the two political forces to block the increase; an approach defined as “typically East German”. But Nordbayern is also critical of those who minimize it by saying that the figure is modest, because in both cases the management of public service is not questioned. This is something to be said about, because during the pandemic (according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Passau) the ARD and ZDF networks with their special programmes created a climate of permanent threat without sufficiently questioning the measures taken by the government.
The situation in other European countries
In Italy, according to a study by Anci (Association of Italian Municipalities) conducted in 2011, the radio and television fee was the most hated tax: it was evaded by 25% of the population. To avoid it, in 2016 the Renzi government reduced it from 116.50 to 90 EUR per year and linked the payment to the electricity bill. In France the annual fee is 139 EUR, but advertising has been abolished from the public networks. In the United Kingdom, on the other hand, the fee is £157.50 (173.50 EUR), and if you use a black and white TV set, reduced to £53. In Spain the tax was abolished in 2010, but according to a study by the University of Santiago de Compostela, it costs citizens 98.80 EUR in fees. More details and rates from other European countries can be found in the article published by AGI Agenzia Giornalistica Italia. Curious also the case of Austria: the amount is not uniform, but between 41.86 EUR in Oberösterreich / Vorarlberg and 53.46 EUR in Steiermark.
FM tuners showing the logo of the broadcasters are being used in the cars. For broadcasters who manage to make the most of technology, it is an opportunity to increase ratings. But some systems rely just on RDS, which was not designed for this purpose: This can create serious image damage to a broadcaster. But to eliminate them you can turn to the experts.
L’articolo (In Italiano)
Si diffondono sulle vetture i sintonizzatori FM che mostrano il logo delle emittenti. Un’opportunità gratuita che aiuta gli editori ad aumentare la notorietà e gli ascolti. E quando il marchio non appare o è sbagliato ci si può rivolgere agli esperti
Nel 2013 sono apparse le prime autoradio che consentono di scegliere la stazione preferita in FM cliccando sui logo visualizzati sullo schermo. La funzione, ispirata dai sintonizzatori Dab (che mostrano i marchi delle radio ricevibili), rende l’impianto multimediale più accattivante e aumenta la sicurezza di guida, perché al conducente basta un colpo d’occhio per individuare la stazione preferita, e non è obbligato a distogliere lo sguardo dalla strada per leggere dall’RDS che radio ha sintonizzato.
Questa innovazione dà un vantaggio non indifferente agli editori, perché offre gratuitamente la possibilità di diffondere il proprio marchio e di farlo riconoscere (la brand awareness, uno degli indicatori che misurano il successo di un’azienda). Se il marchio è ben progettato, infatti, è facilmente riconoscibile e viene memorizzato con facilità. E se poi è accattivante, può attrarre l’attenzione e consentire di intercettare nuovi ascoltatori.
Un’immagine ad hoc per ogni sistema
Per sfruttare al meglio queste opportunità, va tenuto conto che ogni sistema ha caratteristiche diverse, e alcuni parametri (come i colori dello sfondo) non devono essere trascurati nello studio della grafica. Occorre inoltre privilegiare la leggibilità, eliminando elementi che nelle dimensioni del piccolo schermo non risulterebbero decifrabili (come lo slogan o la frequenza, se scritte molto in piccolo). Meglio optare per un simbolo grafico o un disegno, purché stilizzato e ben riconoscibile.
E se il logo non appare?
Alcuni sistemi, pur essendo molto diffusi (come quelli montati sulle vetture del gruppo Volkswagen, che comprende le vetture Porsche, Seat, Skoda e le Audi prodotte fino al settembre del 2019), sono soggetti a dei problemi tecnici che possono penalizzare gli editori. Le anomalie in genere dipendono dal fatto che questi apparecchi non utilizzano il Gps (o appositi algoritmi, previsti negli apparati più evoluti) per evitare i conflitti tra le emittenti. Non sono rari anche gli errori dovuti all’aggiornamento del database: come quando non viene visualizzato il marchio dell’emittente o ne viene mostrato uno ormai datato.
Per chi non c’è è un serio danno d’immagine
Ma l’anomalia più grave si verifica quando lo schermo mostra l’RDS dell’emittente abbinandolo al logo di un’altra stazione. Un problema serio, perché l’ascoltatore può essere indotto in errore: potrebbe pensare che la radio non sia ricevibile e orientare la propria scelta su un’altra. Per cercare la radio preferita e memorizzarla dovrà ricorrere alla sintonia manuale della frequenza, e comunque vedrà sempre il marchio di una radio concorrente al posto di quella che ha scelto. Questa incompatibilità si può eliminare, ma non può prescindere da un’analisi preventiva dei database della vettura dove si verifica per individuarne la causa e le soluzioni.
Il supporto degli esperti
Per eliminare le incompatibilità ci si può rivolgere a un gruppo di esperti. Radio Data Center, società tedesca leader nel settore, con otto marchi automobilistici supportati, su richiesta di diversi editori che volevano limitare i danni di immagine, ha analizzato il problema dei sistemi Volkswagen (che non assiste direttamente). Gli editori che notano dei problemi (direttamente o attraverso le segnalazioni degli ascoltatori) dei problemi, hanno la possibilità di chiedere una consulenza breve, un’analisi approfondita delle problematiche e l’individuazione delle soluzioni. Per farlo possono accedere alla piattaforma Etermin, dove è possibile prenotare ciascun servizio all’indirizzo E-Termin Radio Data Center GmbH.
The world of radio continues to give beautiful and incredible stories, such as the one starring Giancarlo Guardabassi, publisher of Radio Aut Marche. After 43 years of activity, the business goes into crisis. The frequencies are sold and broadcasting ends on 31 December, 2019. But two days later the publisher and presenter turns the transmitter back on and starts again, calling himself a “pirate”.
Article (In Italiano)
Il mondo della radiofonia continua a regalare a storie belle e incredibili, come quella che vede come protagonista Giancarlo Guardabassi, editore di Radio Aut Marche
La nascita delle radio libere italiane è stata un’epopea: dal 1975 si andava letteralmente all’arrembaggio dell’etere. Niente regole su frequenze e potenze, finché nel 90 la legge Mammì mise fine al far west. Nel frattempo i giovani pionieri venivano progressivamente sostituiti da editori o fagocitati dai network, e la concorrenza spietata sui prezzi della pubblicità iniziava a minare le basi di sussistenza. Con gli anni sarebbero subentrate la stanchezza e la crisi.
Tra i pionieri c’era anche un conduttore affermato della Rai, Giancarlo Guardabassi, cantante, autore, che nel 1976 decise di aprire la sua emittente. Aveva appena presentato il Festival di Sanremo ed era al culmine del successo, ma decise di fare la sua radio nelle Marche. Dopo 43 anni sono state vendute le frequenze e successivamente è arrivata la chiusura. Un percorso comune a piccole e grandi emittenti (Radio Aut Marche aveva una copertura regionale). Ma dopo la trasmissione di addio, il 31 dicembre 2019, Giancarlo Guardabassi ha riacceso il trasmettitore: il 2 gennaio 2020, sull’unica frequenza non ceduta, i 100.5 di Francavilla d’Ete, ha ripreso a trasmettere, come lui si definisce, da “pirata” solitario.
Il profilo di Giancarlo Guardabassi pubblicato sul sito della radio. La storia invece si può leggere qui.