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The Tickle File
short takes on daily media news

New digital channels dig into archives
endless opportunities

Come September Italy’s public broadcaster RAI will be offering new radio channels. All will be available online and via the DAB+ platform. Two existing RAI radio channels will be rebranded.

Radio6Teca will explore the vast RAI archives, both spoken word and music. It is an upgrade for an online-only channel available since 2010. The archive material will be presented in original form with new introductions. In September, for example, past Prix Italia programs will be offered. (See more about media in Italy here)

A bit more experimental is Radio7Live, which will offer as the name suggests live broadcasts. Some will be formerly live events previously broadcast. It is designed to be quite diverse, from music festivals in Italy and elsewhere to studio performances.

Surprising only because it’s new is Radio8Opera. All opera, all the time. This is, of course, Italy. It replaces an online-only pop rock channel. Along with newer material, it will offer recordings of the RAI Orchestra dating from the 1950’s.

The two cable channels (Filodiffusione - FD), also on FM in major cities, will continue as Radio4Light (soft pop) and Radio5Classica (classical music). These channels are also available via satellite and DVB-T platforms.

The digital plan, said RAI radio director Nicola Sinsi, is to extend DAB+ coverage beyond major cities, currently a bit more than 40% of the population.

Ambition and creative finance form partnership
“I sometimes feel small”

The buyout of French broadcaster Next RadioTV involving billionaire financier Patrick Drahi, announced this week, continues the transition of media from operating to financial enterprises. In the complex transaction, dutifully described by Le Monde (July 27), M. Drahi formed Altice Contents as a subsidiary of Altice Media, which he owns, with NextRadioTV principal Alain Weill, who sold his 49% stake in NextRadioTV for €670 million. That amount is reinvested in Altice Contents making M. Weill a 24% stakeholder and CEO. A call option allows M. Drahi to buyout M. Weill’s stake in the company after March 2019.

The next step is a €595 million public offering, bank financing readily available, for outstanding shares in NextRadioTV traded on the Euronext Paris exchange. Altice Group owns French telecom SFR, Virgin Mobile, Portugal Telecom and, more recently, US mobilecom Suddenlink. "An alliance with a leading telecom is now an absolute necessity,” said an internal memo from M.Weill, quoted by Le Monde. (See more about media in France here)

Altice Media acquired French newspapers Libération and L’Express and is in the process of buying
B-to-B publisher Intescia, formerly known as Reed Business France, which owns online business portal M.Drahi has assembled an impressive coterie of financial experts for Altice Media from Morgan Stanley’s Dexter Goi and Bernard Mourad to former Liberty Global treasurer Dennis Okhuijsen and now M. Weill.

NextRadioTV evolved from M. Weill’s acquisition in 2000 of enfeebled French national radio channel RMC after leaving NRJ Group. Digital all-news BMF TV was added in 2005. Both have achieved a level of prominence - and criticism - in France for “Anglo-Saxon” programming methods. Growth opportunities in France, however, are limited by market share caps. "I sometimes feel small in France," said M. Weill to Le Monde. “Rather than being like the rest, I prefer building something more ambitious.”

From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File

Big city audience jumps, news-talk twists and turns
was it the football?

Quite often radio audience estimates for Il-de-France (IDF - Greater Paris) contrast significantly with the national Médiamétrie survey. For the April-June period, results released this week, broadcasters faced a public radio strike, lots of football news and the UberPop taxi strike. Overall radio listening shot up to 78.0% reach from 75.2% year on year.

Once again, national general interest channel RTL was number one, though lower in audience share to 12.4% from 11.4% one year on. News-talk channel RMC shot up to 2nd place with 9.0% audience share from 6.9%. RMC has a strong emphasis on sports-talk and the FIFA controversy was certainly good talk-show fodder. Public news-talk channel France Inter dropped to 3rd place, 8.7% audience share from 9.8%, as most Radio France channels dropped news for music loops for four weeks. News-talk channel - mostly talk - Europe 1 was still being punished for a show host change last year, posting 8.7% audience from 10.9% year on year.

The statutory national general interest channels, on aggregate, gained audience share slightly to 40.3% from 40.1% one year on. The public broadcasting France Bleu network added to that increase with 1.6% audience share, up from 1.0%. Unlike the national survey public radio channels aside from France Inter generally showed increases; all-news France Info up to 4.3% audience share from 3.9% and FIP (France Inter Paris) up to 2.3% audience share from 2.1%. France Musique and France Culture were lower. (See Greater Paris audience trend chart here)

Legacy national hit music channel NRJ held 5th place in the IDF survey, 5.3% audience share from 5.6% year on year. Skyrock, Nostalgie and RTL2 were also lower. Radio Classique, classical music plus business and political news, sank to 2.6% audience share from 4.1% one year on. RFM and Virgin Radio posted gains. Altogether the national music channels were slightly lower at 25.9% aggregated audience share.

Local IDF stations on aggregate rose to 19.7% audience share from 18.0% year on year. Radio Latina remained to top rated local station, down slightly to 2.1% audience share. Urban music format Voltage jumped to 1.8% audience share from 0.8%. Tropiques FM, Generations and Radio FG were also up. Radio Nova, officially a national channel, and Oui FM were lower.

Publisher turns old media icon into cash
“an inflection point”

The killjoys of the publishing world, particularly in the UK, gasp incredulous at Pearson’s sale of the venerable Financial Times (FT) title to Japanese publisher Nikkei this week. Pearson leaders have telegraphed their intention to shed the FT off and on for most of this century. When the Wall Street Journal reported talks with potential buyers gaining momentum, there were predictable nods to the source, owned by Rupert Murdoch, trying to scare people.

The FT is, of course, the icon of business and financial publishing. It’s respected for diligent and clear reporting. Every stock trader carries it to the office. Pearson reported FT paid circulation at nearly three-quarters of a million in the first half 2015, up 9% year on year. Digital subscriptions are a bit over half a million, up 14%. Alas, Pearson’s education business - meaning textbooks - is far more profitable.

“Education and journalism are both very important activities to society, but it comes increasingly hard to ride both horses equally well,” said Pearson CEO John Fallon on BBC Radio 4 (July 24). “If you look around the world, having made the decision that Pearson was no longer the best owner of the Financial Times I would say that Nikkei is one of the very few organisations with whom you would say that you would feel that they would continue in the long and honorable tradition of editorial independence without fear and favour and a completely global perspective on the world.”

The sale price is GBP 844 million (US$1.3 billion) and does not include the London headquarters building. Neither does it include Pearson’s 50% stake in The Economist, clearly next up for bids. German publisher Axel Springer was reportedly (Bloomberg July 24) out-bid at the last minute when Nikkei offered an additional GBP 100 million. Trophy won.

“Pearson has been a proud proprietor of the FT for nearly 60 years,” said Mr. Fallon. “But we’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social. In this new environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company.” It seems very traditional publisher Pearson would rather not invest the endless sums required to satisfy quintessentially impatient smartphone users.

Nikkei is a multimedia business and financial publisher known outside Japan, mostly, for its euphonious stock market index. Nikkei popped an email to subscribers announcing the news before FT staff, except those negotiating, had any idea.

Another chance for digital radio once frequencies found
the cost-effective solution

There’s a new plan for digital radio in Russia. State broadcast infrastructure provider Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRS), after appropriate testing, now favors the DAB+ digital radio standard, reported (July 20). Previously the RTRS “approved” the DRM digital radio standard, then the older DAB standard but not much actually happened.

Test broadcasts from the famous Ostankino Tower in Moscow showed good coverage in residential areas, less so in urban areas because of tall buildings. Reception in automobiles was essentially the same, not so good around big buildings. Undeterred, the RTRS wants to push forward, largely because DAB+ multiplexes are far less expensive to build and operate, nobody wants to upgrade FM systems and DAB+ receivers, transmitters and everything else associated are widely available in Europe. (See more about digital radio here)

The remains something of an issue with spectrum availability for digital radio in the Russian Federation. The 174-320 MHz band has now been approved for digital radio by the Russian spectrum regulator SCRF. Until 2019 analogue TV switch-off in Russia this slice of radio spectrum is already in use. The Russian-invented RAVIS digital radio standard seems to have been abandoned.

Previous weeks complete Tickle File

Week of July 27 2015

In Sports & Media

Peanuts For Traditional TV, Salad Days For Pay-TV
salad days Traditional television broadcasters have been backed into a painful corner. Video on demand services of the subscription kind are steadily raiding viewers who will pay for top flight drama and comedy series. Big name live sports is increasingly the domaine of pay-TV operators. Free-to-air broadcasters find the left-overs less than tasty.

In The Numbers

Research Methods Adjusted, Little Blood Letting
Ouch!! A necessary tool in the audience measurement kit is sampling. Counting everybody is hardly efficient or even necessary. Collecting the best data from real people requires a reliable count of how many are there. There is no need to drain the entire body of blood when a simple finger prick is sufficient explained opinion research legend Elmo Roper deep in the last century when the science was a little more frightening. Researchers today take great care in where the needle is inserted.

Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Write On

Ignore What You’ve Always Heard: No News Is No News
guys with guns Conflict zones always pose extreme conditions for news gathering. International conventions aside, warring parties view journalists as in the way, at best, or partisans to be contained. Conflict coverage is and always will be in high demand. Proliferating news channels, neutral or not, send crews with cameras to scour through the rubble. Unsurprisingly, everybody gets a bit aggressive.



Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Write On

Broadcasters Groan As Regulator Closes Digital Cashbox
think happy Regulators have a hard job, more so as that digital dividend turns the media sphere upside-down. Pressures from the great and good, not necessarily the same, are immense. Beyond applying laws written yesterday, it is necessary to judge the present without getting too carried away with a future nobody can predict. And the decisions never “please all of the people all of the time.”


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Europe's Radio - Southern Europe – new

Radio broadcasting in southern Europe ranges from highly developed to developing highly. Italian, Spanish and Portuguese radio is unique, creative and very popular. Radio in Croatia, Serbia and Greece has had ups and downs. The ftm Knowledge file includes Resources. 126 pages PDF (June 2015)

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Google Is... Still

Google's leaders say their goal is to change the world. And they have. Far more than a search engine, Google has impact over every media sector and beyond, from consumer behavior to broadcasting and advertising to newspapers. That impact is detailed in this ftm Knowledge file. 116 pages PDF (April 2015)

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The Curtain Falls - Media Rises

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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Friday July 24, 2015
radio in Germany, MA radio 2015/II, audience measurement, Antenne Bayern, NRW, FFN, Radio Hamburg, Radio Regenbogen, radio in France, Mediametrie, Radio France, France Inter, RTL, Nostalgie, Radio Latina, Voltage, radio in Russia, digital radio, DAB+, RTRS

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