A few days have passed since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. One morning, a listener of Radio San Marino is stunned: on the car radio screen of his Audi, a new generation model displaying the brand logo of the stations tuned in, the Russian flag appears. Yet the programme he is listening to is precisely that of Radio San Marino. He thinks of action by hackers: these are days when the invasion is taking its first steps, the information is confused but the propaganda is very active. He wonders what it could be about: in the previous days, nothing was visible. He takes a couple of photos and emails them to the broadcaster. The message reaches the technical management, which turns to an expert.
There was already an anomaly
Let’s go back two months. Radio San Marino has been experiencing problems with some car radios for some time: their brand logo does not appear. Therefore it commissions an investigation from Radio Data Center, a German company specialising in new-generation multimedia systems that display the broadcasters’ logos. Research shows that the problem is confined to the brands of the Volkswagen Group (including Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda) and Ford. During the research, a technical incompatibility emerges: the station is not using an identification code reserved for the San Marino state, as prescribed by international regulations. It has inserted a number reserved for Italy in the equipment that generates the RDS: a correct one is identified and communicated to the technical office. The broadcaster repositioned itself correctly in February 2022 and… a few days later, the picture of the screen with the Russian flag shows up.
What had happened?
Radio Data Center does the first test on an Audi Q5 at the Reggini dealer in Falciano: nothing appears on the screen. Not even the Radio San Marino brand, but that’s normal: the RDS change was announced 30 days ago, but since the car is not connected to the Internet, you have to wait for the update to become available, download it onto a memory stick and do the upgrade (but the company is late: it is still suffering from the slowdowns caused by the pandemic and has not released it for some time). The anomaly is therefore confined to older-generation, Volkswagen-made car radios and shows on the screen Radio Rossii, the most important Russian state broadcaster, which has the flag in its logo. The update will correct this.
But the devil got in the way
The change, announced in February, is on the waiting list: with tens of thousands of radios to chase, and constant changes, those managing the logos have so many backlogs. The request is examined after six months. But there is a setback: due to an error, only the data of the second network Radio San Marino Classic (which has similar problems) is updated. It’s therefore necessary to wait for the next update, scheduled for December 2022. (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)