With its 350 meters of height the Lotus Tower is the highest transmission structure in South Asia. The shape is inspired by the lotus flower, which in Sri Lankan culture symbolises purity: a thin, green stem with petals that change color thanks to a play of light. Under construction since 2012, it was opened on 16 September 2019 to ease a cost controversy ($ 104 million); the project was funded largely by the Chinese government within the scope of the Belt and Road project. The platform being 245 meters high, provides visitors with a panoramic view of the capital, Colombo.
Five floors of attractions and two of transmissions
The bud of the lotus flower conceals a seven-story structure: the first two host 35 FM radio stations, 50 TV stations broadcasting on DVB T2 and 20 telecommunication service providers.
The other floors contain a museum, supermarkets, a revolving restaurant, banquet- & conference rooms and lastly a 1000-seat auditorium. The sixth floor is reserved for six exclusive suites.
Hungary Studies DRM Shortwave
The 26 MHz tests aim to demonstrate DRM’s capabilities
BUDAPEST, Hungary —Digital Radio Mondiale transmissions began from Budapest, Hungary, last June. Although two Hungarian broadcasters previously tested DRM on medium wave, the transmissions are the country’s first DRM trials on shortwave.
The antenna used in the trial is located at the Budapest University of Technology.
The Department of Broadcast Info-Communications and Electronic Theory at the Budapest University of Technology is conducting these latest trials. Csaba Szombathy, head of the broadcasting laboratory, is also head of the project, which will last for at least 12 months.
While the 11-meter 26,060 kHz frequency is well known for use in local broadcasting, it’s rarely implemented for international broadcasting. Both World Radio Network (now owned by Encompass Digital Media) and Vatican Radio conducted DRM trials on shortwave in the 26 MHz range in London and Rome in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
Researchers have also performed tests in this frequency to measure coverage and determine optimal mode and bandwidth on various occasions in Mexico and Brazil. The new Hungarian trials will add to this research.
The Department of Broadcast Info-Communications and Electronic Theory at the Budapest University of Technology began testing DRM trials in June.
Szombathy initially operated the transmitter with just 10 W of power into a 5/8-inch vertical monopole. Radio Maria, a Catholic station, is providing a 25-hour program loop, while a Dream DRM software-based encoder broadcasts the signal using AAC encoding. In spite of the low power, the program was reportedly received in the Netherlands.
In early September, Szombathy moved the antenna and transmitter to a slightly different location to improve coverage. He increased the power to 100 W.
The second stage of the project is demonstrating DRM’s multimedia capabilities. Germany’s Fraunhofer IIS loaned the laboratory a content server, which provided a substantial upgrade to their setup. Szombathy’s station is transmitting with a xHE-AAC codec. The project also features Journaline data service, which Fraunhofer describes as “hierachically structured textual information.”
Although a number of Indian medium-wave stations broadcast in xHE-AAC, the Hungarian station is the only shortwave station with regular xHE-AAC transmissions. Fraunhofer previously supported a German university station broadcasting in xHE-AAC. That station, Funklust, is no longer on shortwave.
Szombathy says he welcomes any DRM receiver manufacturer or developer to Budapest to conduct field tests using any receiver they are working on.
The station may go on beyond its one-year project. “It depends on what we archive or where we get during this year,” explained Szombathy. “If I can generate sufficient interest, there’s a chance it’ll transition into a permanent, live broadcast.”
Hans Johnson has worked in the broadcast industry for over 20 years in sales, consulting, and frequency management.
Storia della radiotelevisione italiana.
Milano, Radio Derby: multiforme specializzazione
Nel dicembre 1975 in tutta Italia erano attive circa 100 emittenti libere. Due mesi dopo erano diventate 580, di cui 25 solo a Milano. A giugno 1977 se ne contavano lungo la penisola 1200, che sarebbero giunte a dicembre a circa 2000.
Ben si comprende, quindi, come nella metropoli lombarda qualcuno iniziasse a domandarsi se non fosse il caso di specializzare l’offerta. Su queste riflessioni nacque Europa Radio, la radio all-jazz di cui abbiamo parlato in una recente puntata di questa rubrica, ma anche Radio Derby, che si affacciò sull’etere meneghino nei primi mesi del 1977 sugli 89,300 MHz con l’obiettivo di creare una radio interamente dedicata al calcio. Una specializzazione solo teorica, invero, data la vastità del pubblico potenziale. Radio Derby, fondata dall’imprenditore Eugenio Patessi, s’installò in Corso Indipendenza 18 (nella foto d’apertura, gli studi) e, ovviamente, puntò da subito moltissimo sui programmi parlati, segnatamente di approfondimento sportivo, dando il meglio di sé alla domenica, con programmi in diretta con interventi e collegamenti esterni.
L’emittente crebbe velocemente e si consolidò nelle abitudini dei milanesi, al punto da decidere di ampliare la propria sfera d’azione. Lo fece prima sperimentando trasmissioni in onde medie (1510 KHz), confidando nelle tante pocket radio AM che negli anni ’70 gli italiani estraevano dal cassetto la domenica pomeriggio per ascoltare le partite trasmesse dalla RAI e presidiando con la propria musica il monoscopio di TVI – One (Television International of Milan, UHF 58 dall’Hotel Michelangelo).
E proprio con TVI – One, Radio Derby testò il connubio di una trasmissione radiotelevisiva (ovviamente di matrice sportiva) nel primo pomeriggio della domenica.
Alla chiusura di TVI – One con la cessione, nella prima metà del 1978, dell’impianto UHF 58 a Telemilano di Silvio Berlusconi interessato a passare dal cavo all’etere (Tv One proseguì solo per qualche tempo le trasmissioni sul canale 55 UHF), la radio tentò l’avventura televisiva in proprio con Derby Tv (UHF 22), che però non andò oltre la trasmissione del talk-show domenicale (sul modello di quello già andato in onda in precedenza) condotto dal giornalista Franco Moccagatta, già impegnato nella radio.
Entrambi gli esperimenti non diedero però gli esiti sperati e vennero presto abbandonati (pare anche per problemi contingenti dell’editore) a fronte di un consolidamento della diffusione in FM con un potente impianto da 5 Kw dall’Hotel Michelangelo, presso la Stazione Centrale (quindi in pieno centro cittadino) e testando anche l’utilizzo della frequenza 107,200 MHz, a tempi considerata “fuori banda”.
Ai programmi dell’emittente partecipavano, tra gli altri, gli attori Piero Mazzarella, Leda Celani e Roberto Marelli, insieme ai giovani speaker Franco Nisi e Francesco Cataldo e al giornalista Augusto Abbondanza (che conduceva il notiziario sportivo), mentre si faceva spazio il titolare di un negozio di dischi di Milano, tal Mario Volanti, che già frequentava un’altra stazione cittadina (Radio Metropoli, di proprietà dell’Associazione Artigiani della provincia di Milano) e che, convinto della validità di una programmazione tematica, pensava ad un’emittente di solo musica italiana.
Così ne ricorda i programmi il famoso portale Radio Jurassico: “Come lo stesso identificativo lasciava immaginare, l’emittente faceva del calcio una componente imprescindibile della sua programmazione, caratterizzando così il palinsesto di notiziari sportivi e collegamenti fuori studio. Musica, speciali, e tante dirette completavano la poliedrica offerta di una radio che decisamente conobbe qualche anno di “locale” popolarità (simpatica, per esempio, fu la lunga intervista rilasciata da una quasi emergente Amanda Lear a tutti gli ascoltatori della radio)”.
Nei primi anni ’80 la svolta: l’editore del tempo (il citato Petessi) decise di puntare sul localismo culturale e virò così dallo sport – che ormai aveva lasciato sempre più spazio alla classica programmazione generalista – ad un format contraddistinto da musica prevalentemente italiana condita da alcune trasmissioni in dialetto milanese, in concorrenza con la leader del segmento, Radio Meneghina (91,950 e 92,200 MHz).
Il tentativo però non risultò soddisfacente e gradualmente la stazione entrò in una spirale editoriale negativa, che segnò una profonda crisi d’identità, potenziata da problemi giudiziari dell’editore (impegnato anche sul fronte della carta stampata), fin quando venne rilevata, nella metà del decennio, proprio da quel Mario Volanti che, nel frattempo, aveva preso a veleggiare alla grande con Radio Italia (nata nel febbraio 1982 sulle ceneri di Radio Metropoli) coinvolgendo gli ex colleghi di Radio Derby, Nisi, Cataldo ed Abbondanza.
Come detto, Volanti credeva fortemente ai formati tematici, sicché rivoluzionò nuovamente il palinsesto della radio dedicandola alla programmazione dei grandi classici della musica anni ’30 e ’40. All’evidenza, però, senza particolare convinzione, forse perché troppo preso dall’impegno determinato dall’improvviso successo di Radio Italia.
In un epilogo di indifferenza si concludeva così l’avventura di Radio Derby Milano che, sul finire degli anni ’80, si trasformò progressivamente in un mero ripetitore dei programmi di Radio Italia (ritagliando finestre sempre minori di programmazione locale sul palinsesto principale della rete) in attesa dell’ennesimo progetto radiofonico da dedicarvi. Speranza di rinascita che si sarebbe spenta definitivamente nel 2000, con la cessione a RAI, per il potenziamento di Radiouno, della frequenza 89,250 MHz (nel frattempo duplicatasi in un impianto milanese e in uno a Valcava grazie ad alcune acquisizioni strategiche concluse da Volanti nella seconda metà degli anni ’80). Oggi, per certi versi, l’eredità di Radio Derby è stata raccolta da Radio Milan-Inter. (M.L per NL).
$40 million of benefits from shortwave: ABC Shortwave Review report released
The Department of Communications and the Arts (DOCA) has released its Review of Australian Broadcasting Services in the Asia Pacific, almost a year after it was submitted.
The 210 page review examines the ABC’s decision to pull out of shortwave broadcasts in the Pacific and reviews other broadcasting services in the region. It was conducted jointly by DoCA and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with assistance from the Sapere Research Group.
The review’s objective was to assess the reach of Australia’s media in the Asia Pacific region, including examining whether shortwave radio technology should be used. It covered all analog, digital and satellite distribution platforms, including television, radio and online, across all types of service (commercial, community and publicly funded).
A total of 433 submissions were received, from Australia, countries in the Asia Pacific region and the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States of America and Peru.
Most submissions focused on issues surrounding broadcasting to the Pacific, with seven explicitly discussing Asian markets.
We examine how the report summarised the major submissions:
Many submissions expressed concern that successive budget cutbacks have caused reductions in Australia’s supplies of international broadcasting services, particularly to the Pacific. Consequently they advocated for the revitalisation of those international services, including alternative models for delivery and governance of Australian government funded international broadcasting services.
The majority of submissions, which focused on the Pacific, advocated the restoration of ABC’s shortwave services in the Pacific region. Submissions that were in favour of restoring shortwave services disputed the views that the technology has “limited and diminishing audiences” and disproportionately high costs.
Submissions highlighted the significant variation of media markets across and within countries of the Asia Pacific region. This included the highly competitive nature of some markets in Asia and dramatically changing historical patterns of media usage, which requires the use of a flexible “narrowcasting” approach that tailors content and distribution platforms to be fit for purpose for the target audiences in each country.
The review details the various views expressed, but makes no firm conclusions or reocmmendations on action to be taken.
Many submissions were of the view that the cessation of ABC’s shortwave services is due to successive budget cuts. This was reflected in the ABC’s submission, in which they stated that budget cuts in 2014 “significantly reduced the ABC’s ability to deliver optimal international services.”
Submitters taking this viewpoint expressed concern at the erosion of technical and journalistic expertise, “cultural intelligence” and regional networks. Several commented on the resulting decline in ABC’s reach across the region, noting that Radio Australia broadcasts are now unavailable in ten of the 18 Pacific Island Forum nations.
Several individual submitters described how Radio Australia’s broadcasts were highly valued, respected and trusted by those living in the Pacific. Sean Dorney, a former ABC correspondent in the Pacific, observed that in many places the broadcasts were regarded as “essential, trustworthy and reliable”.
Those submitters who commented on the Asian markets noted that it is a crowded broadcasting space. Murray Green, former Director International at ABC, commented that gaining impact and engagement in these markets would require a “significant commitment to relevant content, effective distribution and marketing”. Professor Wanning Sun commented that making good use of the diasporic language media in Australia is an important tool of Australian public diplomacy.
Many submissions regarding the Pacific markets were of the view that locally-relevant and culturally resonant content is necessary to engage with a broad cross-section of people in these countries. Several commented that programing in local languages was also important—citing Melanesian Pidgins such as Tok Pisin as having particularly broad reach and importance for national cohesion.
SBS noted the extent of its multilingual content production as Australia’s multicultural public broadcaster.
Submitters who were in favour of restoring shortwave services disputed the ABC’s claims (including those in their submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee) regarding that the technology has “limited and diminishing audiences” and disproportionately high costs. Many did not agree that FM is a suitable replacement for countries with difficult mountainous terrain, such as Papua New Guinea.
Several expressed concern with the audience statistics cited by the ABC, in particular those relating to audiences in PNG, and assumptions around access to alternative platforms, particularly in Pacific Island Countries.
Some submitters who had lived and worked in the Pacific commented that FM broadcasts are unavailable to people living outside the main urban centres, which in some countries such as PNG accounts for a large majority of the population. Some also explained the limited affordability and availability of satellite and internet communication services for large proportions of the population in the Pacific. The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, submitted that:
In time, the necessity of shortwave technology may fade, however it should only do so once suitable alternatives are accessible to all in the Pacific. Too many of our people rely on shortwave technology, and I stress the need for Australia to strongly consider restoring the services for those that depend on it during times of both normality and crisis.
Geoff Heriot, former ABC correspondent and senior executive, submitted that declining household access in PNG to media overall was partly due to declining signal reliability of local services. Other individual submitters, Graeme Dobell (former ABC reporter and currently Journalist Fellow with the Strategic Policy Institute) and Peter Marks (former ABC technology editor), commented that ABC’s signal strength was too low-powered, meaning broadcasts were inaudible to listeners. Marks also submitted that the broadcasts were on frequencies that could not be received by most car radios in the Pacific.
Several submitters commented that other international broadcasters continue to see value in shortwave, with the BBC, Radio New Zealand Pacific and China Radio International expanding their services. Submitters noted that both the BBC and Radio New Zealand have upgraded their shortwave services through the use of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM).
Using information supplied by the ABC on its expenditure on those shortwave broadcasts, the Review estimated that since 2007–08, Australia has incurred $80.6 million of economic costs (expressed in 2018–19 dollars), in order to provide shortwave radio broadcasts to the Asia Pacific region. This included:
$30.1 million of expenditure on providing shortwave broadcasts to Asia
$44.5 million of expenditure on providing shortwave broadcasts to the Pacific, and
$6 million of economic costs that Australia incurred in order to raise the taxation revenue required to fund those broadcasts.
Using that information, it is estimated that since 2007–08, Australia derived $120.9 million of benefits (expressed in present value terms), from its provision of shortwave radio broadcasts to the Asia Pacific region, which included:
$48.8 million of benefits from providing shortwave broadcasts to Asia, and
$72.1 million of benefits from providing shortwave broadcasts to the Pacific.
By deducting the estimated economic costs of supplying those shortwave broadcasts from those estimated economic benefits, it is estimated that since 2007–08, Australia derived $40.3 million of net benefits from its shortwave broadcasts to the Asia Pacific region.
The review was inconclusive about the economic benefits of shortwave broadcasting.
The report says: “In the absence of a clear statement of the objectives Australia’s Asia Pacific broadcasts and a clear articulation of the full range of alternative options for achieving those objectives, it is not possible to determine whether Australia would derive a net benefit from resuming its shortwave broadcasts to the Asia Pacific.”
The Government is also reviewing its approach to Soft Power in two other reviews, which are expected also to comment on the delivery of shortwave and other media services to the Asia Pacific.
In assessing the future demand for services, the review seems to focus on the willingness of audiences to pay for services, which is strange, considering that shortwave radio is free. The review says: “The main barriers to increasing the actual reach of Australia’s Asia Pacific broadcasters are no longer technological.
“Whereas Australian broadcasters originally used to have to rely on shortwave radio broadcasts for direct reach to their Asia Pacific audiences in the past, they now have a much wider range of direct and indirect broadcasting platforms to use (e.g. satellite TV broadcasts, rebroadcasting through local AM and FM radio stations, TV stations, and online content streaming over the internet). Although some audiences are more difficult and costly to reach (e.g. audiences in the more remote areas of the Asia Pacific region), those audiences only comprise a very small proportion of the actual and potential demand for Australia’s broadcasts.”
The report lists the main barriers that continue to constrain the reach of Australia’s broadcasts as:
ability of Asia Pacific audiences to understand Australia’s broadcasts. Since there are significant differences in the languages that are spoken by the audiences in Australia’s diverse Asia Pacific markets for its broadcasts, the use of one language (e.g. English, which is the predominantly language used by most of Australia’s Asia Pacific broadcasts) continues to constrain both the potential and actual demand for those broadcasts, and
willingness and ability of Asia Pacific audiences to pay for Australia’s Asia Pacific broadcasts, which largely depends on the extent to which they find the content of Australia’s broadcasts interesting and entertaining in relation to the content of other competing broadcasts.
There are no formal recommendations for action, only a finding that the Government “clarify the objectives of its Asia Pacific broadcasts… in achieving Australia’s broader strategic policy objectives, as well as the target audiences for those broadcasts.”
Il mondo in cuffia ascoltando voci lontane. La radio era la sua passione e da quando era andato in pensione da ferroviere la sua ragione di vita. Ascoltava di notte e non solo di giorno emittenti straniere, ma anche le trasmissioni della Iss, la stazione spaziale. Si era emozionato quando, quattro anni, fa aveva sentito la voce di Samantha Cristoforetti dal suo ricevitore nello studio di casa.
All’età di 68 anni è scomparso Fiorenzo Repetto, già vice presidente dell’Air, l’Associazione Italiana Radioascolto. Era un veterano esperto, un ascoltatore attento e preciso. Costruiva antenne per “pescare” trasmissioni anche impossibili: aerei, navi, radiofari. Fiorenzo Repetto teneva costantemente aggiornata la pagina social dell’Air ed era uno dei collaboratori più assidui del portale dell’associazione così come di Radiorama il giornale ufficiale Air.
Per decenni ha mantenuto rapporti con redazioni importanti in Cina, Russia, Giappone. Custodiva una collezione di cartoline e bandierine delle emittenti anche molto difficili da ascoltare. Fiorenzo Repetto conosceva a memoria orari e frequenze. Rimaneva incantato davanti alle radio d’epoca al museo della radio Rai a Torino prima di ogni meeting dell’associazione. Anche con l’avvento di internet la sua passione per la radio non è mai scomparsa. Anzi cercava di promuovere il radioascolto tra i giovani usando i loro canali: Facebook prima di tutto. Il funerale sarà celebrato venerdì 22 novembre alle 11 nella chiesa di San Lorenzo in via Mignone.
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