Thursday, 26 February 2015

BBC Trust to be scrapped?

 BBC Trust to be scrapped?

The days of the BBC many be numbered, if the proposals in a Report by the Select committee  of the Government's DCMS  come to fruition.  The 166 page report suggests that the Licence Fee would be dropped in favour of a household tax  which gets spent on public service programming from a variety of sources. 

“We recommend that a new Public Service Broadcasting Commission (PSBC) be established with the role of scrutinising the BBC’s strategic plan, assessing the BBC’s overall performance, and determining the level of public funding allocated to the BBC and to others,” say MPs in the Report. 

Further debate and investigations will continue in a wide reaching consultation of how the BBC might best be organised. 

As predicted the commercial radio industry have welcome the report:  “The RadioCentre welcomes the findings of the new Culture, Media and Sport Committee report that the BBC does not need to provide ‘something for everyone’, particularly in areas that are already well-served," said Siobhan Kenny, the CEO of the RadioCentre. 

The report envisages opening up the BBC to more  independent production companies and putting an end to the 'in house' guarantees that keep much of broadcasting a closed shop to BBC staff employees.  

The Radio Independents Group  welcomed the move -  “The committee has taken a balanced and informed view in many areas. We welcome such aspects as: general support for competition in programme making; support for a continuation of the Licence Fee, including its possible use for wider industry training; and greater transparency including in-house production costs."

“We also welcome the committee’s statement that the BBC ‘must develop a more equitable commissioning and business strategy that fosters cultural variety and spreads its activity, as far as possible, across the country’. To achieve this the BBC needs to introduce much more competition for ideas in radio so that audio indies, large and small, around the UK have a greater chance to compete to make radio programmes”.

Any changes are envisaged at the next charter renewal, in 2016.  

The Report of the Select committee can be read here:

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Whats next for radio?

What's next for radio?

As the UK lumbers along with its early 1990s technology, DAB, there may be one solitary development. An applicant for the next chain of national DAB franchises has promised that PART of the peace will be used for the much newer DAB+.  Thats the method of transmitting radio stations that the rest of the world uses - you get better quality and more stations, but even that seems about to be replaced by newer technology.

There have been suggestions that all terrestrial radio is obsolete, and that satellite delivery will be the future source. Well, they have been saying that since the 1980s, but so far no satellite-only radio service has ever looked like breaking through in Europe.
Image result for sirius satellite radioIn the USA they have SIRIUS, which is a bouquet of satellite channels. It worked in many of the far open spaces where you couldn't get many regular radio stations. Sirius offers 80 or 140 channels, but at a price. Its a new radio and either $15 or $20 a month. A rival network (XM) was readily absorbed into Sirius and they now have 21 million paying subscribers.  It wouldn't work in Europe, especially the UK, as most of the US is a lot further south meaning it gets a stronger signal from the satellites. The UK is too far north to get reliable signals from geostationary satellites in cars.

Web Radio
Some have suggested that we might get all radio in future via the internet. Here the sheer capacity, or rather lack of it, of the UK networks is the big obstacle.  In the rest of the world the word 'Superfast broadband' now means 25MB or faster, but in the UK the IPs sell us a 12 MB service and call it 'superfast', which it isn't!

If you take the entire UK broadband networks and use them for radio, the amount needed wouldn't cope at the off-peak times of day, and at peak radio listening time (generally around 8am) it would be overloaded by a factor of 7. Thats just for those listening at home - in cars there is some limited (and in most places, VERY limited) internet capacity  available.  The radio stations doing well on satellite currently will agree that at times internet capacity can barely cope, so the idea to move radio across to that as a medium re just being unrealistic.

Radio on mobiles
4G is barely readable in city centres, and very hit and miss in the suburbs. In the countryside its just non-existent. I live on the edge of a 500,000 population urban sprawl (called Hull) and can't get a sniff of the 4G, which is less than 5 miles from me - I can see it if I stand on the roof! My 3G service (from O2, which I would suggest avoiding at all costs) is not much better - intermittent upstairs, and barely seen on the ground floor - and I'm 140 feet asl. I would dread having to rely on our solitary monopolistic internet provider for my radio services - my service drops to a crawl of about 1MB for hours around this time of day, although they have tantalisingly been promising us fibre for the last three or four years.

Apple launched iTunes Radio over a year ago but it still hasn't made it to the UK. I keep hearing whispers they are planning to make it even bigger by having SPEECh content, that goes with the music.  This may well be so as in the last few days Zane Lowe has left Radio 1 to join them.  One of the best New Zealand broadcasters we ever got in the uK, maybe he will steer them to huge success with iTunes Radio?

It seems that we had better stick to regular ether airwaves for now. Some say the FM band is closing in 2015, but these are the same guys who produced that satellite would take over all radio about 30 years ago.

I will bet anyone that we shall still be listening to FM radio stations on the same FM radios in at least 2020, probably much further beyond.  Short Wave and Medium Wave will still be there too, so don't be panicked into buying whatever the industry pundits try and force on you.

When you know what makes a radio tick, you'll buy a Bulova! 

Friday, 6 February 2015

BBC ends coverage in Eastern Mediterranean

BBC ends MW coverage

 in Eastern Mediterranean

The BBC World Service English is to end medium wave radio services to the Eastern Mediterranean area on 1323AM. The service is widely heard across the Middle east, Turkey and North Africa.

Director of BBC World Service, Fran Unsworth, says: “Our English language service will still be available via satellite and on the internet – which is increasingly how our audiences tune in. However, we cannot identify a financially viable method by which to continue the medium wave radio service. It is for this reason that we have decided to end these transmissions.“

The 1323 AM service has been the 'Voice of Britain' since the 1950s, when it was built by the 'Diplomatic Wireless Service' to broadcast the UK's point of view after the BBC rejected UK Government statements as propaganda.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Latest UK Radio listening figures

The latest radio listening figures for the UK for the last 3 months of 2014 show that 89% of the population are regular radio listeners, tuning in for an average of over 21 hours a week. BBC Radio 6 has over 2 m listeners, putting it above BBC Radio 3. 

Radio 1 lost listeners again; total BBC Radio reach is 35million, or about 53% of all listening. Radio 2 attracts over 15m listeners and Radio 4 10.75m.  BBC Radio 5, without any FM outlet, is still reading over 5.5 million listeners each week, while the BBC;s top Breakfast shows are Chris Evans (9.6m) and Radio 4's TODAY programme (6.7m) 

The top private station in London is now Kiss FM, ahead of the long time leader Capital, which is now networked around the UK.  
BBC Local radio now reaches just a shade under 9 million, considerably down on its peak of 9.3m reached last year. 

Meanwhile the BBC Trust has begun its latest review, looking at the speech radio stations provided by the BBC. The review will mainly look at Radio 4 and Radio 5. Its part of a rolling programme whereby each BBC service is reviewed at least once every five years.

The weekly record chart show

The Weekly Chart Show - still relevant?

I never expected to be still checking the weekly music charts. While its become fashionable for guys my age to knock current music, I find that my music taste still cover a wide gamut of genres, though mainly funk ad rock, anything energetic and well produced actually!

Until recently I used to excitedly sit and listen to the countdown of the new singles chart each Sunday teatime. The decline in presentation standards has spolied that period of radio for me, but I still grab a copy of the new chart around 7pm each Sunday, to see who is doing what.

The album charts have never interested me much - for many years in the 60s it seemed like the Sound of Music was No 1 forever, so I became more interested in the singles chart. I never really found 40 minutes to listen to an album in its entirety, three minutes is quite long enough for some tunes!

If YOU have fallen out of syn with today's music charts, but still like to have a very quick glimpse of the what's new, we will let you know what's No 1 in singles and albums, what's storiming up the charts, and what's new and expected to be a big hit soon.

Are you still interested in music, or has much of it lost its attraction for you? Do you still buy music, as CDs or downloads?   I'm very interested to hear.  Drop me a line HERE and let me know.

Until next Monday

            Click any song title to access the number in iTunes
1. Changing,       by SIGMA 
     f  Paloma Faith
 This has toppled last week's number 1 (Blame by Calvin Harris) by storming up the charts 115 places

Professor Green is at number 4 with Lullaby. Pharrell Williams single Happy has moved one nich higher this week; its 44 weeks in the Top 40 now, thats just six weeks off a year stay. Totally Amazing!

1. No sound without silence  SCRIPT
  First week in the chart, but close behind is  Barbara Streisand's new album 'Partners'    while the new CHRIS BROWN album is just a couple of places behind her.

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