Mexico: Distance learning for 30 million students on 16 TV channels

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The Minister of Education, Esteban Moctezuma Barragan, announced at a press conference that schools will start distance learning thanks to programmes broadcast on the radio and TV
The Minister of Education, Esteban Moctezuma Barragan, announced at a press conference that schools will start distance learning thanks to programmes broadcast on the radio and TV
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Schools started distance learning in Mexico, one of the countries that has been hardest hit by the pandemic (in fourth place for the number of contagions).  Since August 24th, 2020, 30 million pupils are able to follow programmes on air from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on 16 channels transmitted by four TV broadcasters: Televisa, TV Azteca, Grupo Imagen and Grupo Multimedios.  All those who do not have access to television will be able to follow the lessons on the radio and study from books.  Over 4,550 TV programmes (640 in indigenous languages) will be transmitted.  The programmes do not include entertainment , but follow the school syllabus and pupils will be tested on the contents.  Educational programmes do not have advertising.  Here is the article with details from the daily newspaper, El Universal.

Moldova: 5G is at the gate but the analogue switch off is on standby

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Families that cannot afford a decoder, political instability and broadcasters’ inertia are all slowing down the change to digital. It is a situation that, considering the proximity of the Presidential elections, is convenient for the political parties. 

The first page of the law postponing the switch off
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Initially planned for December 31st, 2017 (law nr. 167 passed in 2015) the transition to digital TV was then postponed to March 1st, 2020 (law nr. 8 passed in 2018).

However, political instability in the Republic of Moldova complicated everything when nearing the deadline. In June 2019 President Igor Dodon was suspended by the Constitutional Court due to him not being able to form a government within 90 days following the elections. After this a combined diplomatic intervention by Russia, the United States and the European Union led to a partly pro-Russia and partly pro-Europe coalition government being formed. However, the pro-Europe, liberal Prime Minister, Maia Sandu lasted for only five months and was replaced by Ion Chicu, a technocrat supported by the Socialist Party. If you are interested in reading more about the specific phases of the crisis please click here.

Families do not have the money for a decoder

The article on realitatea.md analysing the reasons for delaying the transition to digital
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The main hurdle to transition, according to the Minister of the Economy and Infrastructure, Anton Usatii, is that a large number of families simply cannot afford to buy a decoder (the country has a population of 3.5 million and one of the lowest GDPs in Europe). In 2018 the government gave away 8,922 decoders but this supplied fewer than 20% of the families that receive social assistance (more than 51,000).

The State is going to buy them at € 12.50 each 

The invitation to tender for the purchase of decoders can be read on MTender, the website set up by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic Moldava to give information on all public tenders
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The Minister set the deadline for the month of May 2020, also in order to resolve the problem of the national TV stations being behind schedule. Click here for more technical details by a media expert.
He then invited families to make an official request for decoders and called for a tender in order to purchase 30,000 at the price of € 12.50 each. For further details click here and here.

But then politics interfered

The Prime Minister, Ion Chicu giving a public speech
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A new crisis then changed the political framework. The government was led by the democrat, Ion Chicu (pro-Europe and centre left, but near the controversial oligarch, Vlad Pllahotniuc). Curiously, the government was sworn in on March 16th, 2020, the closing date for bids for the supply of decoders. The Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure went to the democrat, Sergiu Railean, who was to evaluate the bids (there were two). But notwithstanding the Covid crisis, even if the contract had been signed immediately, it would have taken two months for the decoders to have been supplied and they would have been distributed in the middle of the summer. The Minister has not spoken about a new deadline.

So the political parties are behind ‘the slowdown’?

An article on the delays in the transition to digital TV appeared on Radio Free Europe’s website, a propaganda broadcaster financed by the American Congress 
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The opposition fears that the delay is due to the fact that the TV stations that still transmit in analogue are those near the two parties in government. It would be convenient to not have competitors until November, when the new President of the Republic should be elected. However, even the stations are also reluctant because they believe that the rent for the band in the only national multiplexing transmission system is too high to support in absence of a switch off. They are talking about € 6,000 a month.

Here are the points made by the opposition:
From the Radio Free Europe website
From the TV Moldova website

But they cannot go beyond 2021. 5G is on its way!

 
Vitalie Tarlev, State Secretary for IT & C, made an optimistic statement about the situation regarding TV to the pro-Soviet news agency, Sputnik.
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According to the pro-Russian press, on the other hand, everything is OK. In February 2020 the Secretary of State for IT & C, Vitalie Tarlev, asserted that the only DVB-T2 national multiplexing system had a 97% coverage of the country. And regarding the switch off, the date December 2020 is being thrown around because from 2021 even Moldava has to release frequencies that will be used for 5G.
Find another article here.

Franco Martelli in collaboration with Sergiu Musteata.

Italy: Radio stations ask for adequate funds

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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.

Coronavirus and TV football broadcasting rights

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The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the championships and programme schedules of pay TV.  Now they are arguing over payment of instalments for television rights.

corriere della sera, Italy
Corriere della sera
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The Italian football clubs are preparing to sue.  At the end of April 2020 they issued invoices to Sky, Dazn and Img for a total of 220 million euros.  If unpaid, their next move will be to file an injunction of payment.  However, following a suggestion proposed by Sky, in order to give the clubs time to organise themselves, the TV stations are asking for an immediate discount on this season or the next.

Calcio Finanza, Italy
Calcio Finanza
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BeIN Sports and Canal+ in France refused to pay their last instalments (42 million and 110 million respectively) for coverage of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

Sport Business Media
Sport Business Media
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Since then, Canal+ has come to an agreement in order to avoid causing the clubs problems with liquidity.  

Discovery, in Germany, is trying to terminate their contract with Bundesliga.

In Great Britain, DAZN has asked Premier League to defer rights payments.

Altice has suspended payments in Portugal.

In Brazil, Federcalcio di San Paolo sent a letter to Globo, declaring that they will not pay the last instalment for broadcasting rights of the championship, which has been suspended due to the pandemic.

CORONAVIRUS: Stop to transition to DVB-T2 in Croatia

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Hakom Website, Croatia
Hakom Website
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The image of a man, seen from behind with his arms outstretched in a gesture of resignation, currently on the website page where Hakom, the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries, informs citizens of having postponed the transition to DVB-T2, the new television standard.  Instead of May 25th, 2020,  the transition will not be completed before the end of November or early December in order to allow the population to receive television programmes on existing TV sets. The Regulator is taking his time and will be making a further announcement at a later date, with the justification that it is not yet clear exactly how long the emergency measures, due to the pandemic, will last.   

Ukraine: A new TV channel for the occupied territories

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Map of Ukraine, the Russian occupied regions in focus: Donbass and Crimea
Map of Ukraine, the Russian occupied regions: Donbass and Crimea in red
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Modification by Editor

Starting March 1st, ‘Dom’ has been turned on: a TV channel through which the Ukrainean government is transmitting its voice to the regions where control was lost in 2014. Those regions are the Donbass, in the hand of Russian separatists, and Crimea, occupied by the Russian Federation (see red circle on the image above). This initiative is just one part of a strategy promoted by the government in Kiev: in 2018 the transmitters were already improved to boost the TV signal (five digital channels and two analogue)  to Crimea, where Ukrainian channels have been replaced by the Russian ones.

Ukrainians, come back home

Traditionally dressed local Ukrainians
Locals
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The channel has been created to spread the message : ‘Ukraine is our home’, said the general manager of the broadcaster Yuliya Ostrovska ; during a press conference she also reported that ‘54% of the inhabitants of occupied territories can’t watch Ukrainian TV channels, and the 43% of them can’t view Ukrainian websites’. The design of the channel logo is interesting : it has been created to be read as ‘Dim’ (Ukrainian) and also as Dom (Russian), two different words that have one meaning : home. The languages used for the transmission will be Russian and Ukrainian.

A showcase for the country

city view on Kiev, Ukraine, capital of Ukraine
View on Kiev
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The broadcaster, now in a testing phase, is going to transmit TV series and sport programmes, selected from the premium content provided by different groups: 1+1 Media, StarLight Media, Inter Media Group and Media Group Ukraine. The 15% of the quota allocated to 1+1 will be realized by Kwartal 95 studio: a production company founded by the current President Volodymyr Zelensky, that has helped forge his notoriety as actor and comedian. The schedule will be enriched with news (national and local) and talk shows, aiming to become capable of creating all the content autonomously.

Jamming

Giant antenna causing jamming
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But all those efforts may be compromised by electronic interference, said Mykyta Poturayev, a parliamentary responsible for information that attended the press conference. Just like during Cold War, when high power transmitters with giant antennas were active from the USSR territory, spreading noise, to make listening of Western broadcasters very difficult. Dom is like a foreign channel: it is dedicated to the occupied regions by being transmitted only over air. Once the autonomy of programmes’ production is reached, it will be transmitted via satellite and by cable. 

The Philippines: If this TV is inconvenient maybe I’ll shut it down… or maybe not

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News Release, Republic of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
News Release: It’s up to Lower House to tackle ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, says President Duterte
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After the Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte told the press his intention to stop the renewal of the ABS-CBN TV station’s licence in March 2020, he accepted the apologies of the television network. It is considered being critical of the government after broadcasting a negative speech and not airing his campaign ads.

On February 26th, 2020, answering some journalists questions during an event held by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the President said that he’s going to leave the decision of the renewal entirely to the Congress.

‘We acted properly’

ABS-CBN grateful humbled by Duterte acceptance of apology, article
ABS-CBN News: ABS-CBN ‘grateful, humbled’ by Duterte acceptance of apology
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In a statement on February 27th, 2020, ABS-CBN took the opportunity of thanking the President and to explain their version of what had happened: During 2016, a video of Duterte swearing, and some children asking the President if his actions were right.

During a hearing on the franchising’s conformity in the Senate, Carlo Katigbak (CEO of ABS-CBN group) told that he has ‘only respected the laws and the broadcasting regulations for political ads’ and that the TV was unable to air Duterte’s ads due to the limit in broadcasting time, at a value of approximately 7 million Philippine peso (PHP) (approximately US $ 138.000). The TV station immediately gave back 4 million PHP, meanwhile the return of the remaining 2.6 million ($ 51.000) has been delayed by the President himself: Duterte, accepting the apologies, told the TV to give the money to charity.

A group that covers TV and radio (both AM and FM)

Homepage of Mor - My only radio, Philippines
MOR – My only radio, Philippines
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ABS-CBN is a multimedia group born in 1967 by the fusion of Alto Broadcasting System (ABS, founded in 1946) and Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN, founded in 1956). The company manages various TV networks such as ABS-CBN, which provides 50 to 60% of the turnover, and ABS-CBN Sports + Action. Radio includes regional stations like Radyo Patrol (medium wave) and My Only Radio, with 16 FM transmitters in the whole country. The activities of this group are manyfold: They include broadcasting of international TV channels and pay TV, a film production company, a record label and a publishing house.

TV Antennas resisting modernity

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Antennas on roof
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Despite technological innovations, the reception of television programmes transmitted over air (with an antenna on the roof) still remains the most used system for watching TV. This is what emerges from a report on TV audience made by Deloitte, the worlds biggest consulting company. Today, it is estimated that at least 1.6 billion people worldwide (450 million families) are watching traditional antenna TV. However, those numbers may be low: in fact considering the countries where it’s impossible having verified data, it’s estimated that this number could raise to 2 billion users, 50% more than pay-TV by cable, IPTV and satellite subscribers.

The advertising pie is still rich

Deloitte
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The study is based on data from 83 countries with a total population of 6.6 billion. The analysis included nations with a low level of digitalisation and audience maturity level. This is the case in India (130 million users of over-air TV), Indonesia (251 million) and Nigeria (127 million); Italy, with 42 million users is on place 42. The research analyses the trend of advertising investments (that will raise to 4 billion dollars in 2020, reaching 184 billion in 2021), on traditional TV vitality and on its resilience to new technologies.