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The Tickle File
short takes on daily media news

Bad news getting you down? There’s lots of music on the air
mood enhancing?

“Paris will always be Paris,” headlined French radio business news portal La Lettre Pro de la Radio (April 27). That sums up the latest Greater Paris (IDF) Mediamétrie radio audience estimates. Results for Greater Paris are never quite like the whole of France.

RTL still leads, up slightly year on year to 13.3% market share. Other national channels offering lots of news or a news-talk mix, mostly, had a bad day similar to the national audience estimates released a week earlier. Public channel France Inter, still number 2, dropped to 11.4% from 12.0%. After suffering a huge drop in the national rating, Europe 1 moved up to 3rd place, 7.8% from 7.5%. (See Greater Paris IDF radio market share trend chart here) (See France national radio share trend chart here)

RMC took a real drubbing, dropping to 4th with 6.4% down from 8.1% one year on. All-news France Info held 6th place, 4.4% market share down from 4.9%. Also lower was FIP (France Inter Paris), 2.0% market share from 2.6%.

Similar to the national survey results, national music channels were mostly up. NRJ kept 5th place while dropping slightly to 4.9% market share. Skyrock was up a bit to 3.8% market share. After that, Nostalgie was up to 3.3% from 2.3% year on year. Fun Radio had the biggest gain and best showing ever in Greater Paris, 3.2% market share from 1.8%. Both Radio Classique and public channel France Musique were up significantly.

Local Paris stations were mostly unchanged, except for Radio Latina and Tropiques FM, both noticably lower.

Controversy seeks the greater platform… like Spotify
no business like show business

Controversy keeps show business personalities in the headlines. It is, actually, part of the business. Being sued by a reviled politician can be a gift to any comedian.

After German comedian Jan Böhmermann delivered that little verse aimed at Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a satirical TV show a month ago it seemed he’d committed a Jeremy Clarkson style career-ender. The Turkish Foreign Ministry demanded prosecution under the arcane but still on the books Lèse-majesté law protecting foreign heads of state from insults. Being between a (legal) rock and a (political) hard place, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called Herr Böhmermann’s contribution to the small screen “deliberately offensive”, allowed the prosecution to go forward. Public TV network ZDF then suspended Herr Böhmermann’s appearances on the late night show until mid-May.

Herr Böhmermann and musician Olli Schulz have for the last three years presented a weekly radio show produced for RadioEins of regional public broadcaster RBB. The show - Sanft & Sorgfältig - has also been available of several other regional public radio channels as well as by podcast. This week they announced - on Facebook, of course - the show will be moving to Spotify, the popular online streaming service. Terms have not been disclosed.

Lèse-majesté laws mostly disappeared with absolute monarchies. Germany’s version has been on the books since the 1870’s and politicians are scrambling to make it go away. Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Spain have legal provisions to penalize insults to heads of state. Of course, Turkey has theirs and President Erdogan has over 1,800 cases currently pending against various citizens, reports Reuters (April 26).

Switzerland also has it’s version, which Turkish authorities recently attempted to invoke. A large photographic mural installed near the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva (UNOG) depicts a Kurdish teenager killed in the 2013 Taksin Square protests captioned “The police killed me on the orders of the Turkish prime minister”. Swiss authorities refused to bite.

“Switzerland has adopted the principle of freedom of expression, also for artists,” explained Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jean-Marc Crevoisier, quoted by Tribune de Genève (April 26).

Media assets shuffled among friends and bankers
miners, literally and figuratively

The comings and goings of Russian media owners is a source of endless fascination to Russian media watchers. While television, newspaper and online media proprietors have mostly consolidated within well-known government-friendly groups, national radio channels are traded in a blink. It is, of course, Russia and mysteries abound.

Music producer Vladimir Kiselev, apparently, has acquired a majority stake (78%) in Russian Media Group (RMG), buying out shareholder IFD Kapital, reported rbc.ru (April 26). Financing was provided by the very large VTB Bank, RUB 3 billion, roughly €40 million, through a stock guarantee. The remaining 22% stake in RMG is held by founder and former CEO Sergey Kozhevnikov who said he would be interested in entertaining offers. RMG owns Russkoye Radio, Maximum Radio, Hit FM, DFM and Radio Monte Carlo. (See more about media in Russia here)

Last year RMG shareholders agreed to a merger with Russian State concert promoter Gosconcert. Mr. Kiselev was a RMG executive at the time and had earlier proposed the transaction to Russian Federation Vladimir Putin as a means of promoting “patriotic music.” Several Russian music scene luminaries objected to the plan, reported Billboard (August 10, 2015), and, sometime there after, Mr. Kiselev, considered a FOP (friend of Putin) from the St. Petersburg days, left RMG.

Adding to the confusion, the company owned by Mr. Kiselev receiving the loan, Business Garant, lists Yuri Kostin as president. Not me, said Gazprom Media radio executive Yuri Kostin. “I work only for Gazprom Media,” he said to rbc.ru. “There are a lot of Kostins, which is good.” Indeed, VTB Bank’s chief executive is Andrey Kostin.

Another Russian radio transaction could be coming, reported radioportal.ru (April 26). Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC) is, apparently, interested in acquiring a majority stake in European Media Group, owner of Europa Plus, Radio 7, Radio Retro and others, currently owned by Siberian Business Union (SBU).

Extremists win elections, another digital dividend
once ridiculed, no longer

As the outcome Austria’s first election round to pick a new president seemed to surprise and alarm many observers, the well-honed media strategies of political operatives should not be overlooked. Youthful, Glock-carrying political outsider Norbert Hofer representing the Freedom Party (FPÖ) will go on to a second round contest against Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen next month. Austria’s legacy political parties were effectively shut-out.

The eurosceptic and islamophobic FPÖ “has created a parallel media world in which their followers can permanently strengthen their postures,” wrote German daily Handelsblatt media critic Hans-Peter Siebenhaar (April 25). “It has created a community.”

The FPÖ party launched online news channel FPÖ TV three and a half years ago. Featured then were topics guaranteed to compliment a particular worldview: complaints about “left-wing culture” and “do-gooders” supporting asylum seekers as well as the crime and fear, noted Austrian daily der Standard (November 29, 2012). Party leaders and spokespersons all had their websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. A YouTube channel - Österreich zuerst (Austria First) - provided instant analysis, from their perspective, of every official assembly down to the municipal council level. All of these communications channels were interconnected. (See more about elections and media here)

Herr Siebenhaar also noted that Austrian media professionals once “ridiculed” FPÖ-TV and the party’s various other channels. “But since the election… it’s suddenly different.” Herr Hofer's greatest strength in the first round came from rural southern Austria, the least in Vienna, home-base for major news media.

Journalists strike back at conspiracy theories
“often ill-informed”

A new online news portal went live last week and its mission is to counter falsehoods and conspiracy theories advanced by certain political movements in Germany, particularly the eastern Federal States. Dresden Morgenpost chief editor Robert Kuhne is behind the project, in German at lügenpresse.de, aided by others from the Saxony news community.

"We are journalists, we are free,” said Herr Kuhne, quoted by tagesspiegel.de (April 25). “We want to make it clear that we are not lying press. Even if they still shout it so loudly."

“Lügenpresse” is a pejorative term dating from the pre-Nazi era and appropriated by far (far) right neo-Nazi groups Pegida and Legida to describe media reports that do not support their particular narrative. Both groups have been involved in violence against media workers. Far (far) right political party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) rails freely against “lügenpresse,” especially when its conspiracy theories are called out.

“The choices we make are determined by the information we are given,” said United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) director general Michael Moller, in a statement ahead of a special conference with media representatives to be held in London this week. “In a world of 7 billion people, with a cacophony of voices that are often ill-informed and based on narrow agendas, we need responsible media that educate, engage and empower people and serve as a counterpoint to power. We need them to offer constructive alternatives in the current stream of news and we need to see solutions that inspire us to action. Constructive journalism offers a way to do that.” (See more about press/media freedom here)

“It’s vital too that we have data and different points of view,” added Mr. Moller.

“It is increasingly easy for powers to appeal directly to the public through new technologies, and so there is a greater degree of violence against those who represent independent information,” said Reporters san Frontieres (RSF) secretary general Christophe Deloire on the release of the annual Press Freedom Index."We are entering a new era of propaganda where new technologies allow the low-cost dissemination of their own communication, their information, as dictated. On the other side, journalists are the ones who get in the way.”

Data smoothing gets researcher in deep trouble
“relic of the last century”

Broadcasters in Austria are hopping mad after revelations last week that Radio Test audience estimates for certain channels may have been overstated. A day later GfK Austria managing director Alexander Zeh abruptly resigned with immediate effect to “pursue new international opportunities.” It seems that between 2011 and 2015 GfK employees adjusted results “by gut feeling,” reported Weiner Zeitung (April 21).

Measurement is, again, top-of-mind for radio broadcasters. A major French broadcaster recently called for the Mediametrie measurement system to be “modernized” because of “illogical variations.” In Italy broadcasters have finally organized a joint industry body, notably without the advertising people, to provide a new radio measurement service several years after the demise of the AudiRadio service. Retiring CBS Radio (US) CEO Dan Mason told a broadcasters conference in March that PPM - the electronic measurement system pioneered by Arbitron - was a mistake. “I wanted to make radio the new shiny thing,” he said, quoted by Media Confidential (March 24). “I was wrong. I wouldn’t mind having the diaries back.” (See more about measurement here)

With marching orders given to their lawyers, Austrian broadcasters see an opportunity to fundamentally change the Radio Test methodology privided by GfK Austria. It’s “a relic of the last century,” said Lounge FM principal Florian Novak, quoted by der Standard (April 22). “A fair and non-discriminatory measurement of all audio use would include the independent radio stations (and), of course, audio services like Spotify. You have to put in real-time data corresponding to smartphone tracking of audio usage. Today, it’s not witchcraft.”

Public broadcaster ORF, reported business portal horizont.at (April 22), is considering a “premature exit from the current (Radio Test) contract.” ORF pop music channel O3 appears to have been the main beneficiary of the “smoothing.” GfK Austria is expected to release corrected audience estimates.

From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File

Government holds firm, no money for public broadcaster
“It has reached the end”

Beleaguered Romanian public broadcaster Televiziunea Romana (TVR) will not participate in this years Eurovision Song Contest. In fact, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) finally “suspended” TVR from all member activities because of an arrears debt of CHF 16 million (about €14.5 million) effectively immediately. The EBU threw in the towel, so to speak, after attempts to collect the debt failed.

“We are disappointed that all our attempts to resolve this matter have received no response from the Romanian government,” said EBU director general Ingrid Deltenre in a statement. The arrears amount has accumulated for nearly a decade. TVR became a full active EBU member in 1993. It is legally owned by the Romanian State. This is the first time the EBU has suspended an active member. (See the EBU statement here)

The Romanian Finance Ministry “summoned” public radio and TV executives to “find a solution to the serious financial situation,” reported paginademedia.ro (April 22) about an hour after the EBU presser arrived. That meeting ended where it began, the government’s position unchanged: there will be no money to pay the EBU or, it seems, anybody else. All parties are calling for a new legal mandate for TVR. More meetings next week were hinted. (See more about media in Romania here)

“There is no money for gas for the car to go to film for news,” said TVR acting director Irina Radu on Europa FM (April 22). “It has reached the end. If Romania does not want a public television they should announce this.” TVR also, it appears, loses broadcast rights to the Summer 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

There’s a reason broadcast owners hate the ratings: they can drop like a rock
“illogical variations” or too many comedians?

The release of January-March Mediamétrie French national audience estimates achieved the near-impossible in this digital age: newspaper headlines about radio. Radio listeners deserted two big national news/talk channels - Europe 1 and RMC - and surged for all-music channels, notably NRJ and Fun Radio. “Are the French tired of anxiety-laden news?” asked Le Monde (April 20).

Europe 1, owned by Lagardère Active, sank to its lowest market share in more than a decade, 6.8% and 4th in the national rankings from 7.5% and 3rd one year on. NextRadioTV’s RMC dropped to 5.9% market share and 7th place from 6.5%. Other national channels significantly invested in news output gained: market leader RTL bumped up to 11.9% market share, 2nd place public radio channel France Inter rose to 10.3% from 9.8% and all-news France Info was up slightly to 3.4% market share. (See France national radio market share trend chart here)

This pushed hit music channel NRJ to 3rd place, up slightly to 7.2% market share. But it was the huge increase by dance music channel Fun Radio, RTL Group, that confirmed that “news anxiety” had set-in; a record-setting 6.1% market share put it in 6th place. Pop rock Virgin Radio, Lagardère Active, gained a half point year on year to 2.7% market share.

Predictably, Europe 1 general director Fabien Namias was a pains to explain that the channel has “a particularly elastic audience.” He also said certain adjustments would be made for the seasonal change in September. “We need more music and intelligent entertainment.”

Two days before the Mediamétrie results became common knowledge, Lagardère Active CEO Arnaud Lagardère paid an unexpected visit to the Europe 1 offices to have a little chat with the staff, reported La Parisian (April 18). His message, according to those within earshot, was direct: the measurement system must be “modernized” because of “illogical variations.” He said he’d be phoning all the other owners.

Measurement systems the world over comply with two basic rules. First and foremost is to provide an acceptable level of scientific rigor. Next is to never frighten the customers; media buyers, principally, and media owners who underwrite the measurement services. There are no other rules.

Outrage over unflattering news coverage leads to more unflattering news coverage
a little bad news goes a long way

Algerian media expressed displeasure bordering on outrage after French media republished rather unflatering photos of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika meeting recently with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Newspaper Liberté Algérie (April 15) called the publication “unspeakable treachery.” President Bouteflika has been partially incapacitated since suffering a stroke in 2014. He is 79 years old.

Setting up a tense situation, French reporters for Le Monde and Canal+ were denied visas to cover PM Valls trip to Algeria. That came about in response to publication of unflattering revelations from the Panama Papers exposing certain Algerian government officials. The Algerian government called that publication “hostile.” Several French news outlets boycotted PM Valls trip to Algeria, including newspapers Libération and Le Figaro as well as public radio channel France Inter. (See more about Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region media here)

A few days later Algerian Communications Minister Hamid Grine spoke to media managers and others at Adrar University about media literacy, in his own terms. He referred to journalists and their employers as "incompetent, immature, deconstructed and manipulated,” quoted by algerie-focus.com (April 18). He also said “ninety percent of the presidents of great nations do not read newspapers.”

Previous weeks complete Tickle File


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week of April 25, 2016


In Write On

Media In High Contrast, Very Black And White, No Grain Or Gain
flock of doves Armed only with their digital devices, pens long ago disappearing, media workers seem less equipped to fend off the onslaught of paranoia, polarization and propaganda. Complicit authorities keep inventing new and creative ways to sideline even basic news, lest the public know too much. Where media freedom is respected, however, folks seem to get along quite well, even happier. Perhaps that’s the point.

Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Big Business

Always Another Game To Play
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Media in the Middle East and North Africa – new

The striking contrasts in the MENA region’s media are the hopes for new media, fears for traditional publishing and broadcasting amidst conflict and insecurity. This ftm Knowledge file notes the accomplishments and the reversals. 90 pages PDF includes Resources (April 2016)

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Media Measurement - Changing Times

The times are changing and so is media measurement. Everybody wants more, faster and better. As online and mobile metrics grow measurement of all other media must adapt. 101 pages PDF (March 2016)

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Streaming Everything

Great streams of media are flooding digital devices, faster and faster with each new G. Streaming audio and video are either the surfboard riding the digital wave or just another tech Titanic. As investors pile in the cash broadcasters experience another panic attack. This story's just beginning. 49 pages PDF (January 2016)

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Media in Poland

Poland is the largest media market of the newest EU Member States and the changes have often been surprising, sometimes radical and never ending. Publishers, broadcasters and new media are plentiful, talented and under constant stress not only from competitors. 122 pages PDF, includes updated Resources (January 2016)

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Friday April 29, 2016
radio in Austria, RadioTest, audience measurement, GfK, Lounge FM, ORF, radio in Germany, RBB, RadioEins, Spotify, radio in France, Paris radio audience, Mediametrie, RMC, Fun Radio, Radio Classique, Radio Latina


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