Report from the AER conference in Brussels

AER_confAER 2015: ‘Radio in a converging world’

February 24th AER, the Europe-wide trade body representing the interests of over 4,500 private/commercial radio stations across the EU28 and in Switzerland, held is annual conference in Brussels. On behalf of CMFE Pieter de Wit was present.

The focus was on issues like regulation (should radio be subject to the new AVMS-Directive: Audiovisual Media Service Directive? – No, says MEP Sabine Verheyen – Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats : no cross border issues….), new platforms (different regulations on platforms hinder level playing fields), going to IP-radio (massive extra costs for radio stations and listeners, no ‘free to point of access’ delivery). Also the importance of ‘findability’ was addressed in the light of big players as Google. Search engines operate more and more as the new ‘gatekeepers’ and can manipulate ranking.

Regarding IP-radio, it was stated that this should be an extra service, not to replace broadcasting by traditional analogue and digital networks. As so, the mobile (smart-)phones should be enabled to also receive this radio via these networks within the service areas of radiostations. Reception on smart phones via telecom-networks should be focused on listening outside these service areas. Broadcasting networks are much more efficient, cheaper, less privacy issues, free to the point of consumer, and smart phones use 7 times less battery energy when receiving ‘traditional’ broadcasting then reception via telecom-networks. Also in disaster situations, traditional radio is much more reliable – in this situations mobile networks tends to be overloaded.

Contrary to all predictions, radio is still a very popular medium. For example in Finland, in 2014 there was an all time high advertisement revenue.