UKRAINE: Will religious broadcasters be the only voice in the desert?

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In an interview with the portal 'Public. Media Detector' portal, Dmytro Gruzynsky, head of the Ukrainian National Radio and Television networks, reiterated a few months ago his desire to decommission the old FM band
In an interview with the ‘Public. Media Detector’ portal, Dmytro Gruzynsky, head of the Ukrainian National Radio and Television networks, reiterated a few months ago his desire to decommission the old FM band
Source

We continue our journey through the airwaves of Eastern European countries where the “oldFM OIRT band (between 65.8 and 74 MHz) is about to be completely abandoned. The situation in this band in Ukraine should be examined taking into account the presence of three public radio channels and some private broadcasters, of religious or informative nature. The head of the organization responsible for the development of the radio and television networks, National Radio and Television of Ukraine (NSTU), Dmytro Gruzynsky, in an interview in December 2020, affirmed the intention of the organization to soon dismantle almost all the installations still operating in the OIRT band.

The situation of the public broadcaster’s national programmes

Radio Ukraine is the oldest radio station in the country. The first broadcast went out on 16 November 1924 at 19:00. Services continued without interruption, even during the Second World War
Source

In the plans of the company, about ten transmitters should have remained on air for Persha Program, as many for Radio Promin’ and 15 for Radio Kult’ura. The reason for the cuts was, on the one hand, the obsolescence and inefficiency of many systems, and on the other hand the possibility of being assigned FM frequencies in the same basins. Typically, new concessions are awarded through a tender and the state broadcaster must always beat competition from the numerous commercial radio stations. In some cases, the authorized powers have proved to be insufficient to satisfactorily cover the service area, so much so that NTSU asked to increase the power of a concession for UR1 from 500 watts to 1 KW). The fact remains that the presence of the three Ukrainian public broadcasters in the OIRT band is destined to be increasingly residual.

Commercial radio stations in the OIRT band?

RadioM declares on its website that it is ‘an independent information and entertainment station’ which aims to ‘convey patriotic and moral ideas’. It has seven frequencies between 87.5 and 108 MHz, and in the Odessa region it transmits on 101.7 MHz.
Source

As far as private broadcasting is concerned, both OIRT band frequencies of Yaskrave Radio and two out of three OIRT band frequencies of Hromads’ke Radio have been switched off. In addition, at the end of 2020, RadioM let lapse the concession for 68.36 from Odessa, which was the only OIRT band frequency of the station.

Two religious radio stations broadcast only in the OIRT band

Radio Maria began broadcasting in Ukraine on 1 June 2010 on 69.68 MHz in Kiev. In ten years, the number of active frequencies in the OIRT band has risen to 11. The station has branches and transmitters in seventy countries worldwide.
Source

The installations of two religious radio stations remain active; at the moment they only have frequencies in the OIRT band and therefore it is likely that they will not be switched off, since listeners still have devices and car radios to receive the programs broadcast in this band. To date, the Catholic Radio Mariya has 11 different frequencies, Svitle Radio Emmanuyil (close to the Pentecostal Church) has 8, while Golos Nadiyi (“Voice of Hope“, an Adventist radio station) has only 4 in the OIRT band and 3 in the “new” FM band and it can be assumed that it takes over some of the licenses issued by the NSTU.

Analogue TV channels remain on air – for political reasons

On the website of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, there is a report of a 2019 meeting in which one of the members, Serhii Kostynskyi, proposes to continue broadcasting in the territories bordering Russia and near occupied Crimea
Source

As a curiosity, the OIRT FM band is adjacent to a band used for TV and there are still some analogue TV channels on air, and can be received on 65.75 MHz (the audio frequency related to the TV channel R2). It seems in fact that not all analogue Ukrainian TV stations have completed the switch off; moreover Ukrainian authorities intend to keep on analogue transmissions serving the Donbass area and in several settlements in the Kherson region near occupied Crimea (for obvious political reasons).

by Franco Martelli, part 2-continues

POLAND: RMF FM still remains the leader

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RMF FM still remains the ratings' leader
RMF FM, the most listened to station in Poland, further increased its audience during the pandemic from 28.53% to 29.49%
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The pandemic does not seem to have had much effect on the listening habits of Poles, 72% of whom tune into a radio station every day, while another 19% turn on the device once a week. On the other hand, the ways in which radio is enjoyed have changed, with 60% following it in the car in 2019, a percentage that has been drastically reduced due to the limitations imposed by Covid-19. Almost one in three Poles choose RMF FM (29.49%), a leading station whose followers increased by an additional 1% during the pandemic. Second in terms of audience is Radio Zet, albeit at a considerable distance: it has almost a third of listeners (12.48%) but its site (radiozet.pl) is the most followed, with over seven million users.

Catholic radio stations are also very popular

The Catholic news agency Sir has analyzed the ratings of Catholic radio stations in Poland
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Diocesan radio stations are also gaining an audience (but with very different numbers), but they have been overtaken by Radio Maryja (one of the seventy affiliated to the “World Family”, an association that promotes its development throughout the world) which, with a total audience of 1.73%, is in fifteenth place in the ranking. And to think that space on the media for programs of a religious nature was prohibited until 1980: it was the Solidarity movement that imposed on the authorities free access to all religious denominations, previously prohibited by censorship. So much so that today religious programs are very much present in the programming schedule of broadcasters: even the state TV broadcasts the rosary live every day in connection with the sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Łagiewniki. More details about Poland’s leading Catholic radio stations can be read in the article published by the Catholic news agency Sir.

ITALY: Radio and television sector radiography

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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.

UK: BBC shuts down ten more local Medium Wave radio stations

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BBC ad alerts listeners to medium-wave shutdown and shows how to inquire about listening alternatives
BBC ad alerts listeners to medium-wave shutdown and shows how to inquire about listening alternatives
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Between May and June 2021 the British public broadcaster will switch off the medium-wave transmitters of another ten local radio stations, because the installations on this frequency range “no longer offer an advantageous quality-price ratio for British citizens”. The migration to digital had been announced ten years ago (in 2011): the first closures began in 2018, followed in 2020 by further deactivations in Scotland, Wales and England. Today, all BBC local radio is receivable on digital terrestrial TV and local DAB multiplexes, on FM or online (via smartphones, computers or smart speakers). Abandoning amplitude modulation will be: BBC Essex; BBC Radio Cambridgeshire; BBC Radio Devon; BBC Radio Leeds; BBC Radio Sheffield; BBC Hereford & Worcester; BBC Radio Stoke; BBC Radio Lancashire; BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle. Two other stations, however, will reduce their coverage area: Radio Wales and Radio Gloucestershire. Listeners are provided with a website https://www.bbc.co.uk/reception/ with alternative listening options, a help line and a telephone for listening advice.

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

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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
Source

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.
Source
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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HOLLAND: Listening surveys revolutionised

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The Nationaal Media Onderzoek (NMO) is the national media research conducted in the Netherlands by the research companies Kantar and Ipsos.
The Nationaal Media Onderzoek (NMO) is the national media research conducted in the Netherlands by the research companies Kantar and Ipsos. The survey integrates all platforms: television, radio, print and online. Source

A world first is about to be launched in the Netherlands. For the first time, listening will be measured by integrating all platforms (television, radio, press and online) into a single survey, replacing the current standards. This will be carried out by two market research giants, Kantar and Ipsos, which won the tender launched by the investors’ associations. The two companies will work closely together to create the NMO-Nationaal Media Onderzoek (National Media Research). In the course of 2021, the introduction of NMO will take place in phases and the first data will be published, which can be used immediately by agencies, advertisers and media operators. Several systems will be used to accurately map online viewing, reading and listening: for radio, there will be a smartphone app (MediaCell by Ipsos) that passively measures listening behaviour across all devices and platforms, as well as online behaviour with the smartphone. For TV, Kantar’s People Meter 7 will be used. For online, the Focal Meter, a router (with which the sample households will be equipped) will measure all distributed IP content. Additional datasets will be added on those who watch TV via websites and apps on devices other than TV or read newspapers and magazines online.

FRANCE: The sale of M6 and RTL triggers a media earthquake

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Vincent Bolloré is the majority shareholder of the Vivendi group, which, in addition to TF1 (France’s most watched TV channel), owns 28.8% of Mediaset in Italy
Source

The decision by the German group Bertelsmann to sell two leading broadcasters in terms of ratings (TV M6 and radio RTL are both in second place) has opened up competition between major French patrons. Four bids have already been submitted and the competition is expected to be fierce. There are also political interests: in 2022 there will be presidential elections, and the transfer of the two stations could reshape the media landscape. Especially if Vincent Bolloré, who has changed the political line of CNews (all news network) and shifted it to extreme right-wing positions, wins the elections. Details on the protagonists and the political balances at stake in the article of the Italian newspaper ‘Corriere della sera’.

VENEZUELA: Another uncomfortable voice has been turned off

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Another uncomfortable voice has been turned off
The news of Selecta FM’s closure was spread by the journalists’ union in two tweets.
Source

The repression of President Nicolás Maduro’s regime has claimed another victim: Selecta FM, which operated on 102.7 MHz from Machiques, in the state of Zulia, in the northwest of the South American country. It was deactivated by Conatel (Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones) officials, who seized the equipment on the evening of Friday, 5 March 2021. This was reported by the SNTP (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa), which wrote on Twitter that the station had already been intimidated on 26 February, when its premises were attacked during an interview with an opposition leader. More details in the Swissinfo.ch article.

Selecta continues broadcasting on the web

Another uncomfortable voice has been turned off
On the radio station’s website, you can see to the right of the station’s name the words “online”. But if you scroll down the page you see the image of the app for Android smartphones which still mentions the FM frequency (in the following image).
Source

SPAIN: Pandemic dries up budgets and radios cut back

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Commercial radio stations have lost more than 20 percent of their turnover and need to save money
Pepa Bueno and Carlos Herrera, like other Iberian radio stars, risk a cut in their salaries for the whole of 2021: commercial radio stations have lost more than 20 percent of their turnover and need to save money
Source

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic is having an impact on broadcasters’ turnover, which according to the InfoAdex study on advertising investment in Spain in 2020 will drop by 22.9% for all stations. This is a total of 111.5 million euros that will be lost and which will impact mainly on the large commercial networks such as Cadena Ser and Cope (which have lost 25.4 and 24.4% respectively). Broadcasters consider intervening again in the contracts of the big stars (including Pepa Bueno and Carlos Herrera), cutting them for the second consecutive year and probably until the end of 2021. And the situation shows no sign of improving, as the January 2021 InfoAdex figures put the decline at 26.7%.

More details on the smaller radio stations in the article by the independent newspaper El Español.

IRELAND: RTÉ shuts down DAB but channels continue on digital

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RTÉ shuts down DAB but channels continue on digital
Like public radio stations in other countries, RTÉ has allocated a specific portion of the FM band to the main channels. Radio 1 can be heard between 88 and 90 MHz; 2fm between 90 and 92; lyric FM (classical music channel) between 96 and 99 and Raidió na Gaeltachta (in Gaelic) between 93 and 95.
Source

As we anticipated in 2019 (news here), Ireland’s public broadcaster (Raidió Teilifís Éireann or RTÉ) will switch off the DAB channels on 31 March 2021, but will not close the RTÉ Gold, RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ Pulse and RTÉjr Radio channels, which it will make available on other digital platforms. The decision was taken for three reasons: to reduce costs, the small number of listeners in the DAB band and the fact that RTÉ is the only Irish broadcaster in the digital band. The majority of Irish people (77%) listen to FM radio, compared to 0.5% for DAB. This is according to the latest radio listening survey (JNLR, Radio in a Digital World), conducted by market research institute Ipsos MRBI.

More details here.