"Radio has always been dynamic," said Roberta Cattaneo, Head of Media at the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), to the audience of experts at Radio Day. Meeting the tastes and usage habits of listeners and reacting to corresponding changes has always been challenging, she said. "But in the next few years, the uncertainty will increase," explained Cattaneo.
Digitization with uncertain consequences
She sees one reason for this in digitization. The change from FM to DAB+ is important, but whether and how the audience will follow this migration is uncertain. In addition, global developments and the emergence of streaming services are influencing the use of radio as a medium. "Bakom cannot influence global trends," Cattaneo explained. But where possible, Bakom would help the industry. For example, the Confederation is providing financial support for the migration to the new DAB+ broadcasting technology. In addition, private radio stations would receive a larger proportion of the licence fee money. For some radio stations, these already make up a large part of the budget. The licences for private radio stations expire in 2019. According to Roberta Cattaneo, the Federal Council will decide next year how to proceed for the years 2020 to 2025. In doing so, it will certainly take into account the situation of the migration to DAB+, which has not yet been completed. With DAB+, the battle for frequencies, broadcasting sites and coverage areas will be eliminated.
Greatest uncertainty due to No Billag initiative
Roberta Cattaneo sees the greatest uncertainty for private radio stations in the so-called No Billag initiative. This would make it impossible to charge fees. Without these fees, not only SRG would not be able to maintain its current offering. Private radio stations would also be at great risk without fee money, said the deputy director. And in Bakom's view, the very welcome promotion of technology would then also no longer be possible. When exactly the initiative will be voted on is still open. Until then, however, there is uncertainty, which naturally makes innovation and investment more difficult. However, Bakom wants to be a reliable partner during this time and make life easier for the stations. That is why Roberta Cattaneo announced that the originally planned external quality monitoring would be dropped next year. And she wishes above all "ideas, drive and perseverance" from the radios. (SDA)