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The Tickle File
short takes on daily media news

Broadcaster lobbys listeners on quota law
healthy choices?

National music quotes for radio channels have long been contentious, particularly from private commercial broadcasters. Where a certain percentage of music played is set aside considerable support for the legal remedy comes from the national music business. A 20% domestic music quota for radio enforceable next year proposed by the Slovak Culture Ministry was subject of an on-air protest by one broadcaster.

Last Friday, Slovak dance music channel Europa 2 responded to the government proposal by staging an attention-getting full day of Slovak music. "We want to provoke a wider debate about whether the quotas are a good solution for the promotion of the domestic music scene or counterproductive,” said Europa 2 director Jitka Fürst, quoted by (April 17). “I see no reason why a law should go beyond the scope of a valid license and dictate what percent a station’s music must be, in particular commercial stations.” Europa 2 is owned by Lagardére Active Radio International (LARI), being a French broadcaster quite familiar with music quotas. LARI also owns Evropa 2 in the neighboring Czech Republic, not subject to music quotas.

Domestic music quotas are not uncommon, the most well-known in Europe is the French 40% origination rule. The proposed Slovak rule would require privately owned stations to broadcast 20% domestic content from 2016, increasing to 25% in 2017, per calendar month. To be considered Slovak content a musical selection must, if vocal, be sung in the national language plus have at least one author or artist a Slovak national or permanent resident. In addition, the proposed quota system applies to hours between 6h00 and midnight and the musical item must be less than two years old. Certainly there will be adjustments for classical music stations.

“Of course we’re interested in playing high-quality Slovak music,” said Mr. Fürst. “If they want to prescribe a percentage, perhaps they should tell to bakers to produce 80% dark bread because it is healthier.”

Publisher backs out of distressed market
online portals always attractive

Citing financial issues, the Montenegro newspaper Blic has been closed. Owner Ringier Axel Springer indicated debts and employee claims would be settled. Montenegro Blic began publication in June 2012.

The media sector in Montenegro is under considerable stress, notes Balkan Insight (April 16). In recent months publishers and broadcasters have shed 150 media workers, roughly 10% of the country’s total media work-force. The Montenegro Union of Journalists called the current situation “suspicious.”

In neighboring Serbia media watchers noted the dismissal of the well-known political editor of weekly newspaper NIN, also owned by Ringer Axel Springer along with Serbian daily Blic. “I think this is pressure which will spread across the company so anyone can be dismissed regardless of his or her position,” said Antonela Riha, quoted by BIRN (April 18), who had been with the newspaper about two years. During the rule of Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic Ms Riha worked for legendary B92 radio station.

Ringer Axel Springer is the joint-venture of big Swiss and German publishers. In recent months the company has disengaged from Eastern and Central European assets to consolidate operations in Switzerland and develop the online portfolio. Last week Ringier Axel Springer acquired Hungarian jobs portal

From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File

No, it isn't a new screen saver!
pick up the phone?

Darkness fell across screens Friday morning (April 17) as real-time traders agonized over a “global network problem” with Bloomberg terminals. The life-blood, the heart-beat of high finance trading is data and the systems that make transaction fly through the air instantly. Bloomberg is one of the biggest and best known trading system suppliers.

Bloomberg Professional terminals stopped connecting for a yet undisclosed reason about 9 o’clock CEST (Geneva time). What, oh what, would traders do with their hands? Anecdotal evidence provided by snarky MarketWatch reporters (April 17) indicates a surge from the trading complexes in (a) coffee, (b) Facebook and (c) StarWars trailers. Some traders have actually resorted to using the phone.

At noon CEST the Bloomberg support team had no idea what happened or when full service would be restored, reported CNN (April 17).

Getting more, or less, from digital transition
not thought through

The end of FM broadcasting in Norway is nigh. The official word has come down and national FM networks will be silenced in 2017, replaced by national DAB multiplexes. Digital coverage has reached 99% for radio channels of public broadcaster NRK and 90% for national commercial channels, the leading criteria for FM switch-off.

“Digitization of radio opens up much greater diversity,” said Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey in a press statement (April 16). “While the FM network only had room for five nationwide channels, DAB already offers 22 nationwide channels with room for nearly twenty more.” Minister Widvey also noted FM transmission costs are eight times higher than DAB transmission.

Some in Norway are less than thrilled. “The rest of the world has come to realize that DAB is an outdated technology, but Norway is going to introduce this by force,” said ICT support group IKT Norge secretary general Per Morten Hoff, quoted by (April 17). “Most technologists have long seen that the future of radio is distribution via cellular networks, WiFi and satellite, all based on IP technology. Why consumers and radio stations invest many billions in new equipment is a riddle when a completely new technology is about to take over.” (See more about digital radio here)

Others see a related but different issue: Swedes. FM shut-off “means several million tourists will not be able to hear Norway’s national radio,” said local radio association (NLR) chairman Svein Larsen. “Plus we will be getting much more Swedish radio, like there was 30 or 40 years ago. Swedish radio now covers half of Norway. This type of effect they have not thought through.”

But then in neighbor Sweden some broadcasters are howling at a report from the government’s financial watchdog pouring very cold water on further DAB development. “Economic estimates… show that it is doubtful whether the investment can be profitable even after 50 years with the plan that exists,” said the National Audit Office (NAO), quoted by (April 14). “It appears reasonable to keep the FM network where all listeners, regardless of financial means, can continue to listen to the radio.” The Swedish government, which has more or less supported digital radio switch-over between 2022 and 2024, "has allowed the radio industry to define problem,” said the agency.

“I think they’re completely off their bicycles,” said MTG Radio CEO Chris Modig. “It is completely preposterous. What if we had thought that was when it came to transitions between GSM, 3G and 4G? The National Audit Office would oppose 4G because people needed to buy new cellphones.”

“It feels like the Soviet Union in the 1950s,” said SBS Discovery Radio CEO Staffan Rosell, “when no one believed people would like to have more than one choice.”

Publishers want to look deep inside Google
secret code obsession

The European Commission has put forth, at long last, its complaint against technology giant Google. The Statement of Objections (SO), issued this week by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, outlines a prosecutors case to force changes to the operating “principle” of the Google Shopping portal. European publishers hope their dream of Google money hasn’t been forgotten.

Responding to Commissioner Vestager’s announcement, the European Publishers Association (EPC) “will be counting on her to consider the outstanding issues of concern to the EPC.” (See EPC statement here) Many European publishers operate shopping and price comparison web portals. Getting a glimpse at Google’s search algorithms, a non-negotiable trade secret, would allow publishers to optimize results or, at the very least, bolster their case that Google is evil. “It is essential that Google's arguments, and data, be thoroughly tested by European companies operating in these markets,” said EPC chairman Christian Van Thillo in the statement. “ Any proposed solutions need to be vetted by the marketplace and by consumer organisations.” (See more about Google here)

Alas, this SO is narrowly limited to Google Shopping. “We do not wish to interfere with screen design, how things are presented on the screen or how the algorithm works,” said Commissioner Vestager at the Brussels press conference (April 15). “This is not what we are thinking about. What we would like to see is that shoppers are able to see the best shopping results.”

Previous weeks complete Tickle File

Week of April 20 2015

In Big Business

High Drama, Big Budgets And Millennial Shift
oldies but goodie If there was one single take-away from the MIPTV market show in Cannes last week “Game of Thrones” was it. Selling to TV buyers means competing with high-quality - and quite expensive - shows that viewers everywhere know, have seen and talk about. Big shows are in demand; the rest just fills time.

In The Numbers

Getting To Know Where People Live Is No Mean Feat
la radio Nothing affects a media environment more than dramatic, breaking news. Media outlets offer details, often non-stop, and, also notable, escape from agonising subjects. People universally want to know what’s going on where they live. Leading edge outlets keep this firmly in mind.


Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Fit To Print

Less Is More Not A Media-Tech Concept
amish wagon Psychiatry often recommends the exercise of committing anxieties to writing. It offers to the therapist insight into the painful world of demons. To the patient it is release, desensitizing the fear. Affirmations, like ‘be happy’, work the same way.


Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in The Numbers

The Names In Spain Are On The Radio Large
you tell me Once upon a time, radio broadcasters could count on brand name benefit. Legacy brands have always held value through tough times and new entrants often adopted safe monikers, typically from a consultants list. Fast fragmenting tastes are giving music channels even more branding problems. Talk show hosts have become the new giants.


new ftm Knowledge

The Curtain Falls - Media Rises – new

This updated set of essays focuses on the dramatic changes in Europe's media that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain thereafter; Germany in 1989, new media rules,transition of State broadcasting to public broadcasting, refocus for international broadcasting, the rise of commercial broadcasting and the importance of youth culture. PDF (December 2014)

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Media in the Baltics - New World Order

By the time Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the European Union they were known as the Baltic Tigers. The media sector grew spectacularly with big multi-nationals investing. Times have changed. This ftm Knowledge file reports the changes, new opportunities and lingering ghosts. 63 pages PDF (October 2014)

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The Privacy Issue

The privacy issue touches every aspect of media. From consumer protection and the rights of individuals to news coverage privacy is hotly debated. New media and old media stumble and the courts decide. ftm offers views from every side of the Privacy Issue. 68 pages. PDF (July 2014)

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Friday April 17, 2015
radio in France, Médiamétrie, radio audience, Europe 1, RTL, Radio France, France Inter, NRJ, Nostalgie, Skyrock, RFM, radio in Norway, FM switch-off, radio in Sweden, digital radio

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