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The Tickle File
short takes on daily media news

From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File

New government pressed to re-open public broadcaster
"symbolically and practically"

Amidst the daze of a new political reality in Greece, within certain circles attention has turned to the return of public broadcaster ERT. On the campaign trail new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to do away with state broadcasting operation NERIT that the previous government launched several months after abruptly closing ERT in June 2013. Few definitive announcements about ERT or NERIT have come from new government officials.

"The commitment is there and will be implemented soon," said SYRIZA Party official Nikos Filis, quoted by news portal (January 28). ERT will be "re-established, symbolically and practically, with attempts at reforms."

"We have already worked out a plan for re-opening ERT," said SYRIZA MP and former ERT journalist Alexandros Triantafillidis, quoted by (January 28), "away from the sad past, to serve and be judged by citizens." (See more about media in Greece here)

"All productive structures" will return, he said, presumably meaning the 27 radio channels and 5 TV channels replaced by NERIT's 3 TV channels and 3 radio channels. All former employees will be re-hired "as the morality of the left does not allow the vindictiveness of the right."

A time line for re-introducing ERT remains hazy. Unions, significant SYRIZA supporters, will have a voice. Current NERIT employees, it seems, will keep their jobs. Then there's the problem with ERT facilities closed and sold by the former government. But, as Mr. Filis said, ERT is a symbol. Money to do it all is something else.

In the meantime, NERIT will in the first week of March broadcast the Greek selection for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Radio station rebrands to make everyday Friday
most popular day

Radio Friday is set to appear in Ukraine, replacing national channel Super Radio. Media regulator National Council for Radio and Television approved the changes this week, which go considerably farther than just a new name. The station is owned by United Media Holding (UMH), one of Ukraine's biggest media houses.

"Knowing the situation in Ukraine, we decided we would do much better with a radio station for the middle class and slightly raise the age to make a station for people who work a lot," said an unnamed station spokesperson, quoted by Telekritika (January 29). "Friday is the most popular day for those who work."

Super Radio has targeted young people with foreign hit music, earning a warning from the regulator last September for falling far below the 50% Ukrainian music quota. "We will play over 50% Ukrainian music," said the station spokesperson. "We will have many Ukrainian artists." Radio Friday's target audience will be people 30 to 50 years. (See more about media in Ukraine here)

The license renewal for Retro FM, also owned by UMH, was delayed at the previous weekly meeting of the regulator. There seems to be a slight issue with payment of the broadcasting license fee. UMH is owned by reclusive energy sector billionaire Serhiy Kurchenko, who fled Ukraine a year ago, assets frozen by European Union sanctions. He hasn't been heard from since.

Gala Radio, an early foreign investment arrival in Eastern European media, has also undergone a name change to Radio EU. The new station's focus is, obviously, all things European, sort of. The music format targets women 25 to 49 years, 50% Ukrainian music quota observed. The Ukrainian regulator did not disclose new ownership, believed to be domiciled in the Netherlands.

News media revolts at whistleblower threat
bad for business

Secrets attract attention; always have, always will. Keeping secrets is difficult, even contentious in the digital age. Trading in secrets is lucrative, and not just for spies. Investigative journalism trades on secrets, knowing them and, occasionally, sharing. Those who want - or need - to keep secrets really don't like nosey reporters.

An omnibus economic reform law, proposed by and, commonly, named for French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, is meant to sweep away rules and regulations that stand in the way of growth, jobs and every other good thing. In the draft, for example, shops in France would be allowed to conduct business twelve instead of five Sundays a year. The French public is fully engaged in debate about the Macron Law, recent demonstrations in evidence. (See more about media in France here)

The French news media has taken note of one particular provision meant, say supporters, to protect trade secrets. They don't like it and very nearly every major news outlet took to the pages of Le Monde (January 28) demanding "pure and simple withdrawal." If enacted as written enterprises can ask a judge to prevent publication of investigations that may involve loosely defined trade secrets. Damage to "the sovereignty, security or essential economic interests of France" can land whistleblowers in jail. "It will now be impossible to inform (the public) about whole swathes of economic, social and political life." (See more about press/media freedom here)

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin hustled over to the RTL studios (January 28) for an explanation and promises of revising the text. The law isn't meant to punish whistleblowers and jurnos, he said, just to protect the "ingenuity" of French businesses. He promised to add an amendment to protect whistleblowers. "It will be done."

Previous weeks complete Tickle File

Week of February 2 2015

In Brands and Branding

If Viewers Aren't Excited The Rest Doesn't Matter
the envelope Celebrating excellence in the media sphere is a honored tradition. Television being what it is, TV awards shows have been annual fixtures in the broadcast schedule. Audiences are good, if usually not spectacular, for cheering the stars and other creators who bring life to the small screen. But national TV awards shows are fading away in the Netflix era as even the idea of "schedule" has become so last century. Other ideas are also contentious.

Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Sports & Media

The Evermore Expensive TV Fun Basket
fun basket The pay-TV business is certainly getting complicated. Customers once were enticed by premium movies and sports, a fairly straight-forward proposition; take it or leave it. Now the product range may include broadband and mobile connectivity as well as boxes on top of the TV set and boxes filled with DVDs. Every customer in the digital age can custom-order a basket filled with every want and desire.



Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in The Numbers

Listening Rises As Boring Stations Lose
snooze button The audience chooses favorites. Sometimes new favorites get the nod, if they’re easy to find. Otherwise, people keep coming back to the best known brands though they hate being bored. You can’t outsmart them.



The ftm 2014 Greatest Hits

The clear message from 2014 removes all doubt that the digital space rules. Listeners, viewers and readers like the new ways, from binge viewing to personalized news. Attempts to control it are like trying to teach a pig to sing. It's frustrating for some, rewarding for others. Keep your eyes and ears open; there's much more to learn.

Here are the top 10 2014 reports from


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)

Order here

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)

Order here

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 January 30, 2015
radio in Switzerland, FM shut-off, digital radio, DAB, BAKOM, radio in Ukraine, Super Radio, Radio Friday, Retro FM, Gala Radio

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