14 Nov Sharad Sadhu, former Director of Technology at ABU, reflects on the session ‘What next for Radio
What next for Radio
The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union’s General Assembly meetings in Hanoi, Vietnam, heard that radio is reinventing itself in the face of exciting but frightening challenges. A debate in the Radio Working Party last week tackled the proposition that radio is still the ‘Captain of the Airwaves.’
RTHK’s Hugh Chiverton told a packed hall that radio is everywhere but “it is print that is declining.” There are tens of thousands of radio stations people still want to consume entertainment and information in an audio from, he said. Voice of Vietnam’s Le Huy Nam supported Chiverton, giving examples from Vietnam, where radio reaches more than 99% of the population. While VoV has also progressed into multi-media outputs, radio is still so important.
Opposing the proposition was ABC’s Deborah Steele, who said the broadcast airwaves “are not as relevant as they used to be. The radio market has peaked, there’s only one way to go and that’s down,” she said. “In the Pacific, radio is still king, but in Asia and Australia that is no longer the case, the audience wants more,” she said. Kabul Budiono from Radio Republik Indonesia said that in such a big country as Indonesia, where 80% of the population lives in rural areas, radio is still important but that consumption patterns are changing rapidly. In India, where All India Radio is now competing against more than 300 new commercial stations, the enthusiasm for radio has increased as a result of competition, and in Fiji television is growing but radio is still king.
After the debate, a series of presentations looked at successes in radio across the region. Norihito Saito of NHK Japan described the importance of NHK Radio’s role in delivering safety information to save lives. Ruxandra Obreja, President of Digital Radio Mondiale, said “We need to sell radio again; we must market the new features of digital radio to listeners and to governments. We must plan and commission interesting program content so that listeners have plenty of interesting things to listen to. Xia Jixuan, Vice-President of China Radio International talked about CRI’s use of what it calls ‘micro-films.’ These are short videos that support radio with multimedia content. Behrouz Razavinejad, a Senior Advisor at IRIB, Iran, said radio is an important part of Iran’s culture.