Venezuela: Radio stations self-censor to avoid closure

connate, gobierno bolivariano de Venezuela - Venezuelan government body
The website of Conatel, the Venezuelan government body that ‘monitors’ the broadcasters
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President Nicolas Maduro’s regime holds broadcasters in check by imposing sanctions or closures. Hence journalists are self-censoring to avoid trouble. The radio stations are kept a check on by Conatel (Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones), the Venezuelan telecommunications regulator, which is very quick to revoke broadcast licenses of ‘rogue’ radio stations. They closed over 60 broadcasters in 2018. The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Prensa has reported that another 27 radio stations have suffered loss of equipment due to theft.

Rumbera has relocated to the Internet

rumba network, venezuela valles del tuy online radio station
Rumbera Network from Los Valles del Tuy’s website
After the radio station’s closure they continue with online transmissions
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The latest broadcaster to end up in the sights of the inspectors is a radio station of Rumbera Network (one of 21 stations) that transmitted on 106.9 FM from Los Valles del Tuy, in the state of Miranda. In February 2020 their antenna was damaged and then on May 15th, 2020 Conatel closed them down because their broadcasting license had expired. This was a decision that the owner, Eliu Ramos, deemed discriminatory because a large number of radio stations transmitting in the country have not been authorised and are not sanctioned. He added that he had applied for a renewal of the license several times, but the application had always been declined. Transmissions now continue on the Internet.

To find out more 

Día de la radio en venezuela: radio day in venezuela existing since 1926
The subject of journalists’ self-censorship is tackled on the Carabobeña website
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The Venezuelan periodical, El Carabobeño gives more details on the situation of broadcasters here. It was published on May 20th, 2020, on the occasion of National Radio Day which was established in 1926 when the country began radio transmissions on mediumwave. FM transmissions, on the other hand, began on January 1st, 1975.

Italy: Solidarity champions

Even in full crisis the radio stations are busy on all fronts with increasing information slots, adapting programme schedules to the changing needs of the listeners and … even fund raising. 
Here are some examples:

musica che unisce, music that unites, italy
Musica che unisce – Music that Unites
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The national radio networks, Radio Italia (Cologno Monzese), the public TV and radio broadcasters Raiuno, RaiPlay (a streaming platform) and Rai Radio2 joined forces on a project called ‘Music that Unites’. The event included brief information interludes and previously unpublished live sets where the performers recorded from their own homes creating non-stop music to share. Funds raised came to more than € 7.5 million to be donated to the National Civil Protection Organisation (a government body that deals with the management of emergencies).

A helping hand for the Civil Protection Department, Klasse uno network
A helping hand for the Civil Protection Organisation, Klasse uno network
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‘A helping hand for the Civil Protection Organisation’ was organised by Gruppo Klasse Uno in Castelfranco Veneto, a province of Treviso (seven local and regional radio stations took part :  Birikina, Bella & Monella, Radio Marilù, Radio Piterpan, Radio Sorriso, Radio Gelosa, and Vibra FM)

Radio Deejay and Radio Capital, Italy fighting Coronavirus together
‘Fighting Coronavirus together’ – Radio Deejay
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Radio Deejay and Radio Capital got together with the daily newspaper La Repubblica to join an event organised by UNICEF  ‘Insieme per combattare il Coronavirus’ – ‘Fighting Coronavirus together’.

Help for other nationwide organisations  

discoradio and Buzzi foundation fighting Coronavirus together
Discoradio and the Buzzi Foundation fighting Coronavirus together
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Discoradio in Milan (broadcaster covering Lombardy and Piedmont) and the Buzzi Foundation, that manages a research centre and children’s hospital, are raising funds to increase the number of beds in the intensive care unit. 

Radio NumberOne in Bergamo, Italy, sosentiamobergamo
#wearesustainingBergamo
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Radio NumberOne (Bergamo) has taken part in #SostieniAMOBergamo and given their support to the Fondazione Della Comunità Bergamasca.

la nuova, radio Barbagia in Nuoro, Italy, donating face masks
Radio Barbagia donating face masks
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Radio Barbagia in Nuoro, Sardinia, has donated thousands of face masks to the city hospital with the help of their listeners.

Columbus covid-2 hospital, Italy, Rome
RDS group supporting a hospital in Rome
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Three Roman radio stations in the RDS group (Dimensione Suono Roma, Dimensione Suono Soft and Ram Power) have supported the capital’s hospital, Policlinico Gemelli, to create the Columbus Covid-2 Hospital by transforming an existing building into a hospital with 80 beds and another 59 beds in the intensive care unit.

Italy: Radio stations ask for adequate funds

radio studio, female host with headphones and microphone, currently broadcasting
Insight into the studio
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The crisis funds to support local radio and TV stations are ‘totally inadequate’.  This is how the associations representing broadcasters have branded the funds allocated for the sector in the draft copy of the ‘ Revival Decree’, which the Government is preparing in order to shore up the Italian economy which has been weakened by the pandemic. The Italian Publishers Association reaffirmed in a brief press release that ‘while undergoing a drastic reduction in revenues (often up to 80%) radio and TV stations have continually carried out the role of public interest nationwide’.  Aeranti-Corallo, Confindustria Radio Televisioni and Associazione Alpi are therefore asking for ‘an adequate allocation of funds’. This is because the sector is ‘strategic in order to restart the economy, which is based on small and medium-sized companies that produce 58% of the turnover of industry in Italy’. The  40 million euros planned in the Cura Italia Decree (March 16th, 2020) were cancelled at the last moment.

The complaints have had an effect.  According to the latest draft of the decree (May 19th, 2020) which has not been published yet, the funds have apparently returned to € 40 million. We will update you shortly.

In previous articles we spoke about the collapse in advertising, the request made by Aeranti-Corallo for funds of 130 million euros and the allocations of funds made by other governments from Spain to the United States.

Covid-19 and Radio: Situation in France, Spain and Italy

Wireless, a programme produced by John Walsh on Flirt FM in Galway, 101.3 FM, is back with a special edition on the crisis, that radio is facing because of the pandemic. They are presenting an overview of how European broadcasters in France, Spain and Italy are dealing with the impact that the crisis is having on radio stations. Their previous transmission covered the situation in Ireland which we spoke about in one of our recent articles.

Click here to listen to the Wireless podcast.

Wireless, programme on Flirt FM in Galway, their blog, where one can listen to their podcast
Wireless Flirt, Radio about Radio from Ireland
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Broadcasting stations and authorities join forces against pandemic fake news

A great deal of fake news circulated at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but now media and regulators seek to firmly counteract it.

telephone repeaters
Virus mutated by telephone repeaters and strange bird deaths. Two topics linked to Coronavirus these days, while chemtrails and wind generators fade away.
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Alongside the battle against the Coronavirus, another front has opened up to counteract fake news. It was realised early on how much damage misinformation could cause by favouring the spread of the pandemic, so much that the media started increasing checks to counteract it more firmly. We can see what happened in China where strict Chinese censorship created a void of information which led other countries to underestimate the problem (today experts are even questioning the official number of deaths in China). And when the number of cases in Europe began to multiply, fear and a thirst for news favoured the spread of media hoaxes. These were generally limited to the social networks and chats but there were also programmes put on air that gave credit to odd theses and thus reinforced their credibility. This caused some people to really go around burning 5G telephone repeaters, accusing them of having created the epidemic. This resulted in the necessity for the British Government to intervene. In addition, President Trump’s press conferences could have also created confusion and misinformation when he tried to minimise the impact of the pandemic.

KUOW-FM no longer broadcasts Trump live

Press conference American President, Trump, health emergency, coronavirus
One of the American President’s press conferences during the health emergency
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Even playing down the risks of Covid-19, as the Americans have tried, can cause damage and open up immense prairies to the virus. In April 2020 they can boast of winning the sad prize of being the first in the world for the number of cases. Since March 25th, 2020, a national public radio station in Seattle has suspended all live press conferences of President Trump.  It was not a political policy, the KUOW editorial board clarified, but deontological and will be reconsidered from day to day.  After the first two weeks they realised that the statements being issued needed to be verified first (an arduous task with the time limitations of live broadcasting) to avoid spreading false or misleading information.  Among examples cited is the statement issued on March 19th, 2020: ‘Nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion’ despite warnings given by the secret services at the beginning of the year. Then on March 20th, 2020 ‘You’re seeing very few empty shelves,’ while on television one could plainly see that the shops had run out of basic necessities including hand soap. 

FMScan KUOW-FM USA
The KUOW coverage area displayed on the FMSCAN website using data from the worldwide FMLIST radio station database

KUOW-FM, owned by the University of Washington, is operated by a non-profit community organisation. They transmit in Seattle on 94.9 fm with 100kW, power that enables them to cover a wide area, as you can see on the FMScan map above. It is a member station of  NPR (National Public Radio) that has about a thousand non-profit transmitters.

British radio station forced to rectify

Ofcom, the UKs communications regulator, has imposed a sanction on Uckfield FM for having breached the Broadcasting Code. The community radio station that transmits on 105.0 MHz from Uckfield, a town 80 km south of London in East Sussex, on February 28th, 2020, had broadcast potentially damaging and misleading information by linking the explosion of the epidemic in Wuhan to the launch of 5G technology, one of the pieces of fake news going around the globe. It is a sensitive geopolitical topic (the UK has started launching 5G in Britain and hence ‘are betraying’ their American ally), but if people start believing the hoax, trouble will follow.  At the end of March several vandals destroyed repeaters in Birmingham, Liverpool, Melling and Belfast with the shouts of ‘f**k 5G’.
The PDF of Ofcom’s decisions can be viewed here or downloaded below.

Italy is studying the phenomena and sets up fake news unit

Antonio Di Bella, director of RaiNews Italy
Antonio Di Bella, the director of RaiNews, leads new specialist unit
of State broadcaster to undermine fake news.  
Image directly received from RAI press office

On March 31st, 2020, RAI appointed Antonio Di Bella, the director of RaiNews, to lead a new unit to enable the public broadcasting service to avoid spreading misleading or fake news.  A scientific committee will be set up to check the deluge of information that arrives for the editorial staff.  Di Bella will be assisted by Gerardo D’Amico, in charge of scientific information at Rai News 24.  One episode a week of the programme, Tutta Salute, will be dedicated to the fake news that is circulating about Coronavirus.  





Report on online disinformation
Report on online disinformation
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Agcom, the Authority for Communications Guarantees, has increased its usual monthly monitoring of the media by producing a special report on Coronavirus. Apart from online sources, they have also studied the amount of time dedicated to news about the pandemic on radio and television networks. You can find details of the research about national radio stations here. In order to counteract misinformation, the authority is involving research centres and academic institutions to set up teams to carry out advanced studies into the phenomena.