- a knowledge base for media professionals
New This Week

Hot topics click link for more

Search / Email Story / Print Page /
Username: Password:
forgot your password?
If you have never registered for ftm
please click here
The Tickle File
short takes on daily media news

State media outlets offered for quick sale
low prices, same strings

The Serbian parliament extended this week the privatization deadline of state-owned news agency Tanjug and other media outlets, giving one and all additional time before the official procedure closes October 31st. Nearly 40 TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and news bureaus are being offered at bargain basement prices. The State Privatisation Agency published bidding floors on all assets, from €760,000 for Tanjug to €3,000 for small local radio stations.

Tanjug - Telegrafska agencija nove Jugoslavije - was first formed in 1943 as the official news agency of Yugoslavia then absorbed by the Republic of Serbia in 1995. The European Commission has made privatizing state assets a priority in European Union accession negotiations. Not being sold off are public broadcaster RTS and two newspapers. (See more about media in Serbia here)

"For the fifth year in a row Tanjug has been profitable,” said Branko Djukic, quoted by B92 (July 1). “Moreover, we’re putting a portion of the profits back to the Serbian budget and taxpayers. We have significant market revenues and a developed business.”

If no bidders arrive by the end of July individual assets will be offered to employees. Some working for local TV and radio stations are apparently ready to seize the opportunity. If there are no bidders closure is the final option. It is not clear what physical assets are involved. The tiny local radio stations employ as few as two people. Critics noted that big European broadcasters and publishers have fled Serbia in recent years due to “harassment from authorities.”

"We can handle it ourselves,” said the optimistic Mr. Djukic. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t. We are ready, in a much better position and in a much better economic environment. Everything that’s going on in Serbia makes our argument.”

Ahead of political thrashing, broadcaster sheds jobs, channels
“what really matters”

About a thousand jobs will be cut at UK public broadcaster BBC over the next couple of years, said general director Tony Hall in a widely reported video message to staff (July 2). Fewer people than projected a few years ago are watching traditional TV depressing GBP 150 million (about €210 million) in license fee income by 2017. Marketing, PR, IT, HR, finance and legal departments are to be targeted, mostly the nameless, faceless middle managers.

“We've already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters - delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences,” said Lord Hall. Earlier in the week youth-oriented TV channel BBC 3 was fated for online distribution only at about half the annual cost. Then, too, there are looming sports rights negotiations. (See more about the BBC here)

The current right-wing UK government, aghast at both the BBC’s enduring public support and lack of fealty from senior executives, has proposed rolling senior citizens out of license fee obligation as well as removing altogether legal recourse for non-payment. The BBC’s Royal Charter is up for parliamentary review in early 2017, scope and funding likely to change.

Newspaper websites are not television but so could be regulated, court opinion

Legal minds have been clocking overtime in recent months sorting out the digital dividend. In a case winding its way through the European Court of Justice (ECJ) a newspaper publisher is seeking to have a website it operates declared a newspaper, or at least not falling under the jurisdiction of the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS). Newspapers - and radio broadcasters - have been considered “local” media for purposes of AVMS regulation, therefore exempt from the rules and paper-work.

Austrian regulator KommAustria in 2012 decided that newspaper Tiroler Tageszeitung’s website fit the description of an online audio video media service because of its video section and was, therefore, subject to AVMS regulation. Lawyers for Moser Holding, owner of the newspaper, visited the Austrian Supreme Administrative Court for relief and were sent away. The next - likely final - stop is the ECJ and its ruling in the case is expected later this year.

Ahead of that ECJ Advocate General Maciej Szpunar gave an opinion (July 1), not binding on the court but always considered a barometer of legal judgment. First, he offered that the AVMS Directive “did not intend to include internet information portals within its scope… albeit in an anachronistic manner from the point of view of today’s level of development of internet technology.” That’s because web portals with audio and video in addition to text and photos are “not the result of the technological development of television, but an entirely new phenomenon…”.

He goes on: “The fact that in theory it is difficult to come up with an abstract definition of an audiovisual media service does not… mean that in practice it will not be easy to identify such a service. The great majority of services of that kind of service offer feature-length films, television serials, sports events and the like on websites. This is therefore the kind of communication which can easily be classified as typical television communication. Uncertainties must, however, be dispelled in accordance with the purpose of the directive, so that it is not applied to multimedia websites. Therefore, the only websites to be regarded as audiovisual media services must be those which undoubtedly satisfy all the criteria of such a service.

“That does not mean, however, that content placed on the internet, including audiovisual content, cannot or must not be subject at all to regulation by law, including the provisions of EU law, on matters such as the protection of minors and public policy, advertising, or the rules on the broadcasting of important events. Those provisions must, however, be adapted to the specific characteristics of the internet, in particular to its multimedia nature.”

Efficiencies expected, manager fired for not writing himself out of a job
less is always less

Public broadcast managers find themselves under extraordinary pressures these days to fit the programming foot into the ever shrinking financial shoe. Style is rarely an impediment to the demands of boards of directors, typically demanding more for less. Of course, appearances are everything.

The head of programs at Bulgarian public radio BNR - Ivo Todorov - was given a rather crude ultimatum this week to either agree to a change in job description requiring the holder of his position to have a degree in public administration or leave, reported (July 1). Mr. Todorov’s degree is in philosophy and journalism so, obviously, he left. He had been warned not to let staff cuts to affect BNR’s program output. (See more about media in Bulgaria here)

It seems efficiencies demanded by the BNR board include getting rid of that particular position. Program directors of the three main radio services, the multimedia service and the music operation will rotate as head of a “program council,” changing every three months. Staff changes at BNR have been numerous in recent months and some fear other “troublemakers” will be shown the door.

Not entirely coincidental media regulator CEM president Georgi Lozanov threatened to quit. “We still have no legal basis to intervene in the crisis in the Bulgarian National Radio, but then see what happens?” he said.

New box tests measurement mystery
data can be enhanced

Radio measurement hasn’t made much news over the last decade or so. The audible drum-beat “the future - ta-boom - is digital” broadcasters in several European markets switched from pen-and-paper diaries to electronic devices. Some - UK broadcasters, for example - held-fast against pervasive marketing from US measurement service Arbitron, patent holder of the Personal People Meter (PPM), which measures listening from inaudible signals encoded in FM transmissions.

Arbitron became the default US radio measurement supplier and switched from diaries in 2008. Something rather interesting happened, reports data journalism portal (June 30). Since 2008 average minutes listening to radio in the US dropped about 20%. Some radio formats - focuses on smooth jazz - absolutely crashed. Big measurement company Nielsen bought Arbitron in 2013. (See more about radio measurement here)

Testing the hypothesis that PPM measurement accurately tracks listening to all radio formats is a new black box - silver, actually - called Voltair. It seems to enhance the encoded measurement signal sort of like the old Optimod modulation box. The result, says, “is testing Nielsen’s credibility.”

US radio broadcasters are lining up for the Voltair box at US$15,000 each. Nielsen’s Canadian subsidiary Numeris asked Canadian radio broadcasters to stop using it.

Public broadcasters cautious after Olympic rights deal
“raises questions”

There has been a certain inevitably to the vast reconfiguration of the television business. As media buyers found their digital dividend in online media’s low ad rates subscription services - once referred to as pay-TV - have found treasure in premium content. This leaves free-to-air broadcasters fewer and, arguably, unpleasant options. The winners - all business is about winners and, well, the rest - read the tea-leaves and, most importantly, placed their bets with cash.

Discovery Communications and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced this week the biggest single rights deal in the history of the Olympic Games. For a mere €1.3 billion Eurosport, owned by Discovery, acquired broadcast, internet and mobile rights to the four Olympic Games between 2018 and 2024 “in all languages across 50 countries and territories on the European continent,” said the official statement. Russia is not included and neither are rights deals previously sold to French public TV and the BBC. Discovery Communications will “assist” the IOC in developing an Olympic TV channel to keep alive “the thrill of victory and agony of defeat” during those long months between Games.

In several European countries the Olympic Games are designated major events to be offered free-to-air by law. “Discovery will sub-license a portion of the rights in many markets across Europe,” said its statement. At a minimum that means 200 hours from Summer Games and 100 hours from Winter Games. In reality Discovery, likely not paying from cash reserves, plans on financing it all by selling off national rights beyond markets where Eurosport does not offer free-to-air channels. (See more about sports and media here)

Cautious has been the response from broadcasters that have produced and carried Olympic Games coverage for decades. Irish public broadcaster RTE, which has rights to the Rio 2016 Summer Games, “remains optimistic that a solution will be found,” said a spokesperson quoted by (June 29). “We will be seeking further discussions with Discovery about the UK free-to-air rights to the 2022 and 2024 Olympic Games in due course.” said a BBC statement.

German public TV networks ARD and ZDF “accept the IOC’s decision,” said their terse statement. “The IOC’s press release is not clear which rights are granted for the German television market. This raises questions for the IOC and the DOSB (German Olympic Sports Confederation).” ARD and ZDF had, said the statement, “made a reasonable offer.” Eurosport offers both free-to-air and pay channels in Germany.

In 2012 Discovery Communications acquired a 20% stake in Eurosport from French broadcaster TF1, raising its stake to 51% this year as well as 100% of Eurosport France.

TV rises when news is not good
marathon coverage

Greek news media went into overdrive this past weekend with major television channels reporting on and talking about the political and economic crisis hours on end. On Saturday and into early Sunday Mega TV broadcast “marathon” coverage. According to the Nielsen dailies, quoted by ToVima (June 29), Mega TV’s coverage reached 19.1%, followed by SKAI at 12.3% and the newly reinstated ERT1 with 11.7%.

Mega TV is offering a nightly live talk show all this week - Zero Hour Greece - “a lively debate with politicians and citizens,” said the press release. ERT1 seems to be getting first shot at live interviews with major actors in the crisis. New public digital channel ERT3 launched with “extraordinary news broadcasts” and cancelled a previously scheduled live concert. (See more about media in Greece here)

Most Greeks follow news via the major TV channels and virtually all are offering news marathons.
Participting as best it can, it seems, financially strapped Antenna 1 (ANT1), which began laying off staff last Friday, reported (June 29). First to go were PR executives. By Monday the station was broadcasting only re-runs. About 100 employees are expected to be set free for the summer, at the very least.

From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File

More ads coming to that phone in your pocket
reach out and touch

Very quickly television has become two separate realms; IP and non-IP delivered. For a couple of years TV’s faced the linear/non-linear divide. Before that, traditional and new. More than just the language has changed.

To help celebrate the Cannes advertising festival, media buyer ZenithOptimedia released this week a forecast of ad spending in 12 major countries. The results all point the same direction: advertising is filling up the internet space as quickly as it can. By 2017, they predict, internet advertising globally will lag TV by a mere 4%. After that, TV advertising as we’ve known it will slide to second place.

“The internet is quickly establishing itself as the dominant advertising medium, and on current trends will overtake television by the end of the decade," said ZenithOptimedia CEO Steve King in a statement. “The spread of internet devices and new advertising technology will give advertisers new opportunities to communicate with and learn from consumers, and to do so more effectively than ever before.” Ah, yes; media buyers are addicted to the data only internet and mobile technologies can provide. (See more about ad spending here)

Mobile advertising, of course, is every ad person’s dream. By 2017 ad spending on smartphones and such, predicts ZO, will represent 70% of global ad spending growth, to 12.9% of ad spending from 5.1% in 2014. Both ZO and Magna Global (Interpublic) this week reduced global ad spending forecasts for this year due to a lack of big-draw events.

“2015 is a tipping point in the long-term shift from traditional to digital media,” said Magna Global lead forecaster Vincent Letang, quoted by MediaPost (June 22). “Last year’s global advertising growth was the combination of digital media growing while traditional media revenues were essentially flat. This year, traditional media ad revenues will decrease globally for the first time since the 2008-2009 recession, as the low growth of television and out-of-home ad sales will no longer offset the fast decline of print, challenged by a diversified family of digital media categories Beyond the slowdown caused by the absence of global events in 2015, we believe digital media has reached a stage where it starts to compete more directly with traditional TV budgets.”

Previous weeks complete Tickle File

Week of June 29 2015

In Write On

Mind The Cookie - Trade Secrets Are Recipes Until Leaked
cookie recipe Secrets are the stock in trade of investigative journalism, loosely defined. From juicy details of celebrities and politicians carrying-on to the rough entanglement of stuff some folks would rather the whole world just didn’t know there is hunger and thirst with all the desire a clever headline can raise. Click-bait is this century’s pop-art.


In Spots & Space

All Very Unconventional From The Sound Of It
The Berlin Wall of Sound The creative side of advertising thrives on the edge. On one side is all the excitement digital media affords. On the other, it’s the workhorse of traditional media. Big ideas must fit both. And those ideas can come from anywhere.



Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Media Rules & Rulers

The Culture Of Journalism Prevents Forgetting
not real Journalists do have a way with words. It is their claim to fame, at least for those fortunate enough to find a bit. They are, understandably, sensitive to public perception of the Fourth Estate role and their position in it. Paper and ink journalism isn’t what the used to be. Today we might say “never pick a fight with someone who buys bandwidth by the terabyte.”



Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in All Things Digital

Online Advertising The New Digital Paradox
not now, not ever Online advertising is certainly soaring. If the ad people are masters at getting their messages in front of people creatively, the media-tech companies are reaping rich reward by getting ads to pop-up everywhere in digital life. Big data – collecting, crunching and selling it on - is propelling it all. It’s more than a little creepy.


new ftm Knowledge

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)

Order here

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)

Order here

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)

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

Become an ftm Individual or Corporate Member and order Knowledge files at no charge. JOIN HERE!

ftm Knowledge files are available to non-Members at €49 each.

new ftm Resources

...more Resources...



Inside ftm

Who reads ftm?
Financial institutions, European institutions and NGOs, media companies (public and private), the digital world, news agencies, regulators, educational institutions, measurement services and, of course, the advertising people are on the list of ftm subscribers, Members and sponsors. Are you?


Get noticed with ftm !!

Add ftm content to your website, newsletter or publication. Lift your next meeting or conference with ftm documents or presentations. Click here for details.
For reprint or republishing needs or questions, please contact us.

ftm Members LinkedIn Group

ftm Members can now join the FollowTheMedia LinkedIn Group and discover a broad array of new features for expanding your own network. LinkedIn is without question the world’s premiere web-based professional networking platform.

Visit this link to JOIN ftm or contact us by email

ftm Radio Page NEW

Friday June 26, 2015
radio in Italy, Gruppo Finelco, RCS Media, Radio 105, Radio Monte Carlo, Virgin Radio

Recently in ftm...

In Media Rules & Rulers

under bridgeCourt Chases Anonymous Trolls Back Under Bridge



What Is What And When It's Not

Everybody Has An Idea, Money Harder To Find


In All Things Digital

oh, it isThe Message Is Money And It All Sounds Cool




Brand Building Is A Strategy, Extracting Profits A Tactic

Digital Future Just A Shout Away


In Big Business

old fax machine


It’s Still About Getting The Message On The Head Of a Pin



Always Another Game To Play

High Drama, Big Budgets And Millennial Shift


In Show Biz

is it live?


Absolutely Live And Right Now





Were You One Of The Few Who Didn't Watch THE Wedding?

April 29, 2011, Westminster Abbey! Oh, What A Royal Media Circus For The Next Five Months And Beyond

In The Numbers

good question


Scaring Them Away Does Just That



They Have To Hear It To Turn It Up

Getting To Know Where People Live Is No Mean Feat


In Lingua Franca

digital culture


Digital Culture Always Online And Always in A Hurry




Politician Attacks “Crazy Loopholes”

Languages Carry Messages, Media Holds Its Breath


In The Public Service



Separating Progress From Horizontal Motion





Young People Need A Media Tradition

Reform Bogged Down, Experts Called


In Write On

sky camera


Big Stories Always Upset Somebody. It's Great!!





Bad Times For Reporters Only Gets Worse

Terms Of Reference And Difference


In Sports & Media



TV Sports Defies Gravity, Heat And Friction



No Efficiencies Found In Sports Broadcasting, Only A Deep Hole

Sports Rights In The Material World


In Brands and Branding

the envelopeIf Viewers Aren't Excited The Rest Doesn't Matter


Box Opened, Tentacles Appear, Everybody’s Entertained

Games Changers And Media Killers


In Reaching Out

Christiane AmanpourOld Waves Across Borders Fade – New Waves Rise



Market Development Struggles Between Waiting And Wanting

More Internet, More Information; Some Good, Some Not


In Spots & Space

beer ad


Ads Off, Except For Beer; Reality Conditional



Listen To This Algorithm

New And Exciting Attention-Getting Opportunities


In Fit To Print

not happy


Being The Boss Is No Picnic




Less Is More Not A Media-Tech Concept

New Ideas For Better Or Worse



ftm newsletters

ftm newsletters update leading media news twice monthly.
Sign-up here

copyright ©2004-2015 ftm partners, unless otherwise noted

Contact UsSponsor ftm