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The Tickle File
short takes on daily media news

From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File

With digital transition there are leaders, followers and politicians
progress isn't relative

Next winter seems a long time off, even in Norway where the cold and snow starts early and lasts. In the midst of next winter Norwegian national radio channels will shed the FM band and plunge into the new world of digital audio broadcasting. On January 11, 2017 DAB+ will become the dominant platform for radio broadcasting, Norway becoming the first in the world to, mostly, make the switch-over.

The radio platform switch-over plan, known since 2011, has held up reasonably well against questions, complaints and distractions. Big radio broadcasters – public broadcaster NRK and commercial operators Modern Times Group and Bauer Media – signed on. It will be a big change and that doesn’t always go down well. (See more about digital radio here)

Progress Party culture spokesperson Ib Thomsen wants, at this late date, to put the switch-over on hold. In an official letter to Culture Minister Linda Hofstad Helleland this past week, he asked that the big change be coordinated with neighboring Sweden and Denmark, reported (May 19). He cited “the large bill consumers will get when millions of FM radios must be replaced.” The Progress Party opposed digital transition in 2011. (See more about media in Norway here)

Minister Helleland responded, essentially, with “Oh, please,” reported (May 24). “The main reason that Norway is the first is that Norwegian topography has deep fjords, high mountains and a scattered population, which makes it expensive to operate the FM network.” She also offered that Denmark and Sweden will certainly follow the Norwegian example.

Broadcaster mills reliable revenue stream
rice is nice

Many radio broadcasters across the world are occupied with managing staff, negotiating with media buyers and maintaining a competitive edge. Digital and mobile audiences demand special attention, too. In the great scheme of things, that’s the easy stuff.

Radio Television Communautaire 117 operates from Kimbombo, in the far south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With no electric utility access the community radio station relies on gas generators. “There is no advertising market in Kimbombo and the radio station struggles to make ends meet,” noted media development agency Internews DRC director Karim Benard-Dende in the agency’s newsletter (May 18). “The only reliable source of income in the region is agriculture.” (See more about media in Africa here)

Necessity being the mother of invention, station manager Bernard Djunga Mashka acquired a rice mill with an Internews/USAID grant, enlisted the local radio listeners club and began processing rice. The station now produces programs about rice farming and nutrition. “A part of the processed rice is also given to journalists and staff, who prefer to get a part of their salaries in food rather than money.”

Radio broadcasting is the main source of news and information in the DRC. People living in major cities have access to many stations as well as TV channels and newspapers. Rural areas are served by an array of community stations, many funded by NGOs and religious organizations, operating only a few hours a day. Twenty years ago there were roughly 20 radio stations in the DRC, now over 300.

Growth industries need more policies
Remember Area 51

After rejecting an Australian ad featuring a “plus size model” gigantic social media portal Facebook reversed the decision fearing rejection. The ad for a Melbourne event promoting “body positivity,” as described by the organizer, quoted by ABC News (Australia) (May 24), was pulled as deviating from Facebook’s health and fitness policy. Changing course, the Facebook Ad Team apologized for “any offense this caused.”

Yes, Facebook has a health and fitness policy. There are, obviously, ad and accounting policies. There’s a foreign policy. Facebook is now the world’s fourth most valuable company by market capitalization – US$340 billion, rising by US$40 billion in the first quarter – and reaches more than a billion people around the world each day. With scale like that Facebook has policies about policies.

While Facebook engineers race into the virtual reality future, top executives faced down a grumpy US right-wing thought patrol over what is and what is not presented on the Facebook Trending Topic news feed. Tech news portal Gizmodo published earlier this month an account by an anonymous “former Facebook contractor” of systematically suppressing right-wing views. The Trending Topic news feed only appears on the US Facebook version and is quite different from the Instant Articles feature. (See more about social media here)

Calling together several notable “conservative” politicians and radio talk-show hosts at Facebook HQ in Silicon Valley company executives – including chief executive Mark Zuckerberg – explained how things work, possibly in simple sentences. US Senator John Thune had “demanded” the meeting, suspecting censorship and intimated possible government action. Facebook’s internal investigation revealed “no evidence of political bias,” reported Reuters (May 24).

But, conspiracy theories never fade away.

Previous weeks complete Tickle File

week of May 30, 2016

In The Public Service

The Future Is At Hand – State Broadcasting Returns
new world order Public broadcasters working under constrained independence, administrative and financial, risk default to State broadcasting. Those separated barely a generation from dogmatic control face stiff resistance to new and open practice. Authorities always prefer a pliant mouthpiece.

Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Show Biz

Absolutely Live And Right Now
is it live? The media trend of the decade is right now. People want that drama at the moment they want it and they want to be in it. Delivering that means lots of bandwidth, literally and figuratively. For some media watchers live television is over. For others it isn’t just the future it’s the only future.



new ftm Knowledge

Investigative Reporting – new

Investigative reporters have a storied honor among journalists. Praise is less forthcoming from those with secrets, often ready to use all possible means - legal and otherwise - to avoid detection. New tools are emerging to shed light and tell all. This ftm Knowledge file explores methods, old and new, and the forces prefering darkness. 54 pages PDF (May 2016)

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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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Friday May 27, 2016
radio in Spain, Catalunya Radio, media laws, radio in Africa, business models, radio in Norway, digital radio, DAB+, FM shut-off

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