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 who “globalised” the station.
The frequencies are those of the former Radio Sim
The Portuguese station acquired the ownership of Rádio Simfrom 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
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.
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.