HONDURAS: Community radio stations ask for international help

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Community radio stations ask for help
In the photo reproduced by the magazine HolaNews, which devotes an extensive report to the situation of community radios, the studios of RDS Radio, a radio station in Tegucigalpa that broadcasts on 88.9 MHz FM
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With the pandemic, many Honduran radio stations have had to suspend broadcasts for four to five months because staff became ill and because of the economic crisis that has forced many companies to close, increasing unemployment. Now, fearing that the situation in the South American country will worsen, Carlos Enamorado, secretary of the Community Media Association of Honduras (AMCH), is asking for international aid to survive. In Honduras today there are more than 50 community broadcasters (not all of them authorized), of which 35 are active, and three community television channels, authorized but not yet operational due to the investments required to start broadcasting. More than 400 non-Community radio and television stations are active in the country. The HolaNews article discusses the situation in detail.

INDIA: No one listens to digital radio DRM

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In India no one listens to digital radio DRM
Europe has chosen Dab, India opted for DRM because it is less expensive to cover such a vast country. But receivers cost too much and the project is stopping Source

After the great enthusiasm for digital broadcasting in the DRM standard, the Indian government is rethinking the technology to be chosen for the future. Digitization began in 2010, and since then three shortwave and 35 mediumwave systems have been activated; the latter can serve an area of 300-350 km each and two or three are sufficient to cover one of the 29 federal states. However, there are few listeners because the receivers cost too much for the purchasing power of the average Indian: the price is at least 3000 rupees (equal to 42 US$), a huge amount considering that in the country one person out of four lives on 12 US$ per month (below the poverty line). India has been penalized by the fact that it was among the first countries to choose DRM because the industry, concentrating on DAB+ (a technology not considered usable in the country, given the vastness of the areas to be covered) has not realized economies of scale and the price of receivers has remained high. Yet the DRM technology could also be used for the FM band.

Further details in the interesting article by Sreejiraj Eluvangal appeared on ultra news, which reports the statements of Ruxandra Obreja, president of the DRM Consortium and Prakash Javadekar, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

CHINA: Antenna war between Beijing and London

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Antenna war between Beijing and London
In an article in BBC News, the British public broadcaster condemned the Chinese decision to shut down the BBC World News television channel
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In a bureaucratic statement that does not go into detail, the Chinese broadcasting regulator (NRTA-National Radio and Television Administration) has decreed the closure of the BBC World News satellite channel on 12 February 2021. This is despite the fact that the television channel cannot be seen by most Chinese, because in China it can only be viewed in international hotels and some diplomatic compounds. The British public broadcaster condemned the decision and stated on its website that the Chinese government had criticised the reports aired on the coronavirus and the persecution of the Uighur ethnic minorities. London’s response was not long in coming and was symmetrical: Ofcom (the British regulator) revoked the licence of the state broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN), which will no longer be able to broadcast its programmes in the UK. Separately, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) has aligned itself with the Chinese decision, stating that it will stop repeating BBC World Service programming in the region. This is despite the fact that the former British colony must retain certain rights and freedoms, including freedom of the press, until 2047, as part of a transfer agreement between China and Great Britain. More details can be read in the BBC News article available here.

The Chinese regulator’s press release

Pictured on the Chinese regulator’s website: an image of the national broadcasting conference held recently in Beijing
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This is a translation of the statement published on 12 February 2021 on the NRTA National Radio and Television Administration website: “After investigation, the content of BBC World News’ China-related reports seriously violated the relevant provisions of the Regulations on the Administration of Radio and Television and the Measures for the Administration of the Landing of Overseas Satellite Television Channels, violated the requirement that news should be truthful and impartial, harmed China’s national interests and undermined China’s national unity. The State Administration of Radio and Television does not allow BBC World News to continue to operate in China, and will not accept its application to operate in the new year”.

UK: Will Bauer get permission for converting Absolute into Greatest Hits?

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Will Bauer get permission for converting Absolute into Greatest Hits?
Absolute Radio broadcasts on 105.8 MHz FM and can be received in the Greater London area.
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Ofcom, the authority that regulates telecommunications in the United Kingdom, is considering an application in which Bauer asks to change the format (the type of programs broadcast) of Absolute Radio, a station it acquired that broadcasts on 105.8 MHz FM from the Crystal Palace site in London. Ofcom has issued a statement to that effect in which it says that “Because these changes would substantially alter the character of Absolute Radio London, we are seeking the views of listeners and other interested parties before making our final decision.”  A station’s program type is closely tied to its broadcasting license, so the authority is reviewing whether the format change will not eliminate a service to which listeners are accustomed.

On the side of consumers

Ofcom regulates radio, TV, video on demand, fixed and cellular telephony, postal services and the spectrum in which wireless devices operate
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The decision will follow the authority’s guidelines, as detailed on the website: “We also help to make sure people across the UK are satisfied with what they see and hear on TV and radio, and that programmes reflect the audiences they serve. We consider every complaint we receive from viewers and listeners. Often, we investigate further and we sometimes find broadcasters in breach of our rules. We are independent, and funded by fees paid to us by the companies we regulate“.

From Absolute to Greatest Hits Radio

Greatest Hits Radio, born in September 2020, is the most important network in the UK
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If the request is accepted, Absolute Radio on 105.8 MHz will change its name to Greatest Hits Radio and will broadcast pop classics and rock hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as local news and information aimed at Londoners aged 25-54. The consultation will close on March 10, 2021.  Greatest Hits Radio is the new radio network that began broadcasting in September 2020 when Bauer changed formats at 49 of its 56 radio stations. We talked about it here.

Greatest Hits Radio is already now available to Londoners on digital radio (DAB) on the London 1 multiplex on block 12C, in the standard MP2 flavour. On the same multiplex, Londoners also can listen digitally to their beloved Absolute Radio. It will be interesting to read OFCOMs decision – will the DAB presence have any influence?

What is your view? Who should be on 105.8 MHz FM in London?

Spain: Digital radio sunk by socialists

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The article of Panorama Audivisual dedicated an in-depth analysis to the rejection of the bill "Urgent measures for the promotion of digital terrestrial sound broadcasting" which took place on November 4
The article of Panorama Audivisual dedicated an in-depth analysis to the rejection of the bill “Urgent measures for the promotion of digital terrestrial sound broadcasting” which took place on November 4th, 2020
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If in 2018 it was the PP (Partido Popular) that sank DAB, it now was the Socialists of the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) who rejected the bill presented by Compromís, a political coalition from Valencia, to the Senate. The spokesman in the Senate of the Valencian political coalition, Carles Mulet Garcia, points out that from next December in Spain all cars will have digital radio (as required by European regulations) but that owners will not be able to receive programs, turning the nation into “a technological island of Europe”. In Spain the technical plan for the development of digital radio was launched in 1999. It foresaw the coverage of 80% of the population in 2005, then reduced to 20% in 2011. Today listening is limited to Madrid and Barcelona, although there are unauthorized transmissions on the Costa del Sol and the Canary Islands.

The history of radio in Belgium told by the protagonists

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Article of 1982 on Radio Annick, a very well known Antwerp radio station, to which is dedicated an extensive card
Article of 1982 on Radio Annick, a very well known Antwerp radio station, to which is dedicated an extensive card
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Written in Dutch (well understandable with the translators of Chrome) Vrije Radio describes the history of radio in Belgium, from the dawn of radio broadcasting to the phenomenon of free radios in the 1980s to the present day. There you can find the cards of 326 radio stations, but the number is constantly increasing: only in the last week a dozen have been added. The site is born thanks to the answers of many protagonists who have worked in the radios of the past or still in activity, who have told their experiences. The stories are presented in an objective way and the site managers invite to improve them and add more details. In addition to photos and files on the radio stations you can listen to recordings of programs and announcements (all materials not protected by copyright). The site, which does not use cookies, is supported by the sister sites Archives Radios for the French-speaking channels, and The Flemish Radio Archive for the broadcasters’ logos.

RADIOSTORY: Chiude la radio dopo 43 anni. Ma riparte da “pirata” due giorni dopo

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ABSTRACT (English)

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)
Dalla pagina Facebook della radio, una suggestiva immagine di Giancarlo Guardabassi in studio
Dalla pagina Facebook della radio, una suggestiva immagine di Giancarlo Guardabassi in studio
Fonte: Radio Aut Marche

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

Il post apparso l'1 gennaio sulla pagina Facebook della radio, nella quale si spiegava agli ascoltatori la decisione di chiudere e la nostalgia del primo giorno di inattività
Il post apparso l’1 gennaio sulla pagina Facebook della radio, nella quale si spiegava agli ascoltatori la decisione di chiudere e la nostalgia del primo giorno di inattività
Fonte: Radio Aut Marche
Il post sulla pagina Facebook con il quale due giorni dopo è stata annunciata la ripresa dei programmi
Il post sulla pagina Facebook con il quale due giorni dopo è stata annunciata la ripresa dei programmi
Fonte: 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.

Altre immagini dalla pagina della radio
Altre immagini dalla pagina della radio
Fonte: Radio Aut Marche

Il profilo di Giancarlo Guardabassi pubblicato sul sito della radio. La storia invece si può leggere qui.

Fabrizio Carnevalini

UK: High Court of Justice silences TuneIn

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The Lexology website has published the ruling of the High Court of Justice explaining it in detail
The Lexology website has published the ruling of the High Court of Justice explaining it in detail
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The famous aggregator will have to turn off more than 90% of the audio streams it hosts to prevent UK users from listening to foreign broadcasters. It has in fact lost the lawsuit filed in 2017 by Sony and Warner, two big names in the music business (together they control 43% of the global market). The High Court of Justice has recognised that TuneIn has violated the record rights because it is not a simple intermediary (which publishes only the links) but also inserts advertising. In the UK, therefore, those who want to listen to a foreign broadcaster will have to search the web for the address of the radio and streaming site (or change aggregator). The ruling protects radio stations (TuneIn places advertisements into their programming) and other countries may comply with the decision of the English High Court. But in perspective it calls into question one of the pillars of the web: the ability to listen to radio stations around the world. So far, record companies have considered foreign listeners to be marginal to the web, but now music could change.

AUSTRALIA: Jobs “jump” like kangaroos

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Southern Cross Austereo owns 88 radio stations on the Australian continent
Southern Cross Austereo owns 88 radio stations on the Australian continent
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The economic crisis generated by the pandemic is also making itself felt in Australia: Southern Cross Austereo restructures and cuts 38 jobs. The company’s revenues fell by 18.2%. Details in the article on the ABC website.

News Corp, the conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdock, has reacted to operating losses by restructuring its own premises
News Corp, the conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdock, has reacted to operating losses by restructuring its daily newspapers.
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The move comes on top of others already announced: News Corp announced in May that 100 regional and local newspapers would close the print edition and continue as digital edition, and thirteen newspapers will merge with others.

Reduction of programmes, leave for big names and staff cutbacks: the recipe of Ten
Reduction of programmes, leave for big names and staff cutbacks: the recipe of Ten
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The Ten television network will produce the news in its Sydney and Melbourne offices, with a number of prestigious news signatures. Weather forecasts will no longer be made on a regional basis but will be unified into a single national bulletin. As far as jobs are concerned, the extent of the cuts has not yet been announced because negotiations with staff are ongoing.

FRANCE: Large networks cut costs and staff

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In order to compensate for lower advertising revenues caused by the pandemic, the large networks are making savings like this: Altice has closed down the TV channel RMC Sport and laid off a third of its personnel, RTL has dismissed well known radio hosts and television presenters and NRJ has sold a stake to increase liquidity

The TV channel RMC Sport News, at crisis level due to cancellations of sports events, was shut down on June 2nd, 2020
The TV channel RMC Sport News, at crisis level due to cancellations of sports events, was shut down on June 2nd, 2020
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In June 2020 the French subsidiary of the Altice group (a multinational with headquarters in Holland), presented a plan to the unions ‘in order to save the media group’. This involved all the divisions in the NextRadioTV group, including channels BFM TV and RMC. The goal is to streamline both organisation and programming by axing between 330 and 380 full-time staffers in addition to 200 freelancers. According to the union representing the employees at Altice CGT (Confederation generale du travail) ‘This drastic cut in personnel is incomprehensible for a profitable group in constant growth, which had a turnover of € 120 million in 2019, a 300% increase in 5 years’.

Unions jump into action

This press release, giving information on the progress of their negotiations, appeared on June 29th, 2020, on the Facebook page of the union representing Altice staff
This press release, giving information on the progress of their negotiations, appeared on June 29th, 2020, on the Facebook page of the union representing Altice staff
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Following a number of strikes and union action, the company softened its stance on June 29th, 2020. It undertook to ‘offer voluntary redundancies to a maximum of 330 staffers and not proceed with layoffs until November 31st, 2021’. It will also try ‘to find alternative employment for staffers who cannot be placed in other positions inside the organisation and find a solution for freelancers’.

Capital gain of € 300 million in 2018

On June 8th, 2020, Capital printed this article which explains the real estate operation that led to a sizeable capital gain on the sale of the premises of some of the group's headquarters
On June 8th, 2020, Capital printed this article which explains the real estate operation that led to a sizeable capital gain on the sale of the premises of some of the group’s headquarters
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Up to a short time ago the group was flourishing to the point that the owner, Patrick Drahi, and Alan Weill, the Chief Executive Officer of NextRadioTV, made €300 million gross from the capital gain on the sale of some buildings. These four towers, located in the 15th arrondissement in Paris, are the headquarters of SFR (Societe francaise du radiotelephone, the second largest mobile communications company), BFM TV and the daily newspaper Liberation. The 85,800 square metres of floorspace accommodates 7,000 employees. Apparently in 2018 Drahi and Weill bought the buildings in their own names to then resell them to the group at a higher price.

RTL dismiss well known radio hosts and television presenters

The RTL Group with headquarters in Luxembourg is one of the leading companies in the field of broadcasting and digital media with interests in 68 television stations, 8 streaming platforms, 30 radio stations and a production company in many countries worldwide
The RTL Group with headquarters in Luxembourg is one of the leading companies in the field of broadcasting and digital media with interests in 68 television stations, 8 streaming platforms, 30 radio stations and a production company in many countries worldwide
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The RTL group’s accounts for the first quarter this year closed with a fall of 3.14%. Two months later, the French headquarters announced the dismissals of a number of well known television presenters and radio hosts, the departure of the head of the political service and a cut in the budget of the correspondent in the United States. Details can be found on Jean Marc Morandini’s website

NRJ sells a stake to increase liquidity

The NRJ Group has four national radio stations (NRJ, Cherie FM, Nostalgie and Rire & Chansons), two free national TV channels (NRJ 12 and Cherie 25), a pay TV channel (NRJ HITS) and, with their subsidiary Towercast, is the second largest operator of infrastructure and transmission towers
The NRJ Group has four national radio stations (NRJ, Cherie FM, Nostalgie and Rire & Chansons), two free national TV channels (NRJ 12 and Cherie 25), a pay TV channel (NRJ HITS) and, with their subsidiary Towercast, is the second largest operator of infrastructure and transmission towers
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Despite its leading position in the French market, NRJ is also feeling the pinch. On June 24th, 2020, NRJ sold a 5% stake in Euro-Information Telecom for €50 million. The company stated that the sale proceedswill be used for the needs of the group’s business‘. See details here