SPAIN: Debate on the renewal of public broadcasting top management

How are public broadcasting executives elected? A comparison of the procedures adopted by six European countries

Debate on the renewal of public broadcasting top management
The image of the BBC’s London headquarters opens the article by Vozpópuli, ‘independent and liberal digital medium’
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In recent months, when the top management of Radiotelevisión Española (RTVE) was being renewed, a debate was opened in the country on the mechanisms that govern these choices. An article in the periodical Vozpópuli compared the Spanish situation with that of five other European countries: the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Italy and Germany. In Spain, the president of RTVE is chosen from a shortlist of ten candidates, six of whom are appointed by the Congress of Deputies and four by the Senate.

In Germany, the TV channel ZDF enjoys greater autonomy from political forces and the executive, in order to focus on the professionalism of the management.

Details can be read here.

PORTUGAL: Radio Maria gets underway

Radio Maria gets underway
The website of Radio Maria Portugal shows, from the left, the photo of Father Livio Fanzaga, director of Radio Maria (Italy), in the middle Father Marco Luís, director of Radio Maria Portugal and on the right the photo of a broadcasting studio
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Since 13 May 2021, with the live connection from the sanctuary of Fatima for the transmission of the Holy Rosary, Radio Maria’s broadcasts have begun in Portugal. An expression of the Portuguese association of the same name, the project to open the station began in 2018, when the president of the Spanish office José Manuel Quintanilla took up the invitation of Emanuele Ferrario, the historic president who passed away in 2020 and whoglobalisedthe station.

The frequencies are those of the former Radio Sim

A picture taken in the studios during the opening day and posted by the broadcaster on Facebook
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The Portuguese station acquired the ownership of Rádio Sim from Grupo Rádio Renascença (a Portuguese media hub that owns Rádio Renascença, RFM and Mega Hits) and switched on 102.2 MHz in Lisbon and 100.8 MHz in Porto, and opened its headquarters in Lisbon and studios in Fatima. The editorial director and head of programmes is Father Marco Luís, appointed on 6 November 2020 by José Ornelas Carvalho, Bishop of Setúbal and President of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference.

With the Portuguese office, there are 82 affiliates

Also from the radio station’s Facebook account, another shot posted on the day of the inauguration
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The station is part of the World Family of Radio Maria, an association created in 1998 to promote the development of the station in the world by offering technical and organisational support to the associations that have arisen in various countries. The World Family of Radio Maria has 82 stations, of which 28 in Europe, 23 in America, 23 in Africa and 8 in Asia and Oceania. With more than two thousand transmitters, Radio Maria reaches more than 500 million listeners around the world, speaking in more than 65 languages.

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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HONDURAS: Community radio stations ask for international help

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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