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Opportunity in Radio

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Looking at the African broadcast media and technology landscape today, there is a definite flavour and preference that comes through; you can take your pick of [pay] TV; the Internet; Mobile telephony (and related data and media content delivery services) being launched, upgraded, and/or introduced on an almost continuous stream.

We constantly here of new investments being made, new entrants into the market – either vendors or competitors. We hear of upgrades, new technologies being introduced, their impact on their markets and demographics. We are reminded of the subscriber and user numbers, their growth rate, the revenues they generate for their investors and incumbent service providers; the projected revenues and impact in the future for these technologies and media delivery platforms. The role they play in shaping perceptions, transferring information, enabling societies and communities; in essence, their critical importance to our communities and societies.

You will not readily find announcements of a similar fanfare or interest in Radio.

However, Radio is the most accessible and the most consumed media in all of Africa. This is especially true when you consider reach and access capabilities in the urban and rural areas. Radio reaches all parts of the African continent; rural and urban; electrified or not. Radio dominates the mass media spectrum with regionally-based commercial stations demonstrating the largest consistent growth in numbers, followed by community radio, where increases have been reported only in certain countries and growth remains strong, if inconsistent.

Radio dominates the media output of, amongst other genres, the religious media (e.g. PanAm Broadcasting – 600 million listeners; over 20 countries, using shortwave & FM transmitters), partly due to the lower economic and regulatory entry barriers for owners than those for newspapers or television. Moreover, the focus on radio allows owners to expand the broadcast spectrum beyond the urban areas, avoid the economic barriers to consumers posed by high-priced newspaper or TV subscriptions, and to address the high illiteracy rates in the population.

National commercial radio broadcasters are the exception not the rule, operating in only six countries (DRC, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia). Some countries have experienced an increase in national commercial stations since 2000. State radio is coming under increasing pressure from regional or local commercial radio. This is mainly in urban areas, with the exceptions being Botswana, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe where state radio remains largely unchallenged. Large increases in regional or local commercial radio have been seen in nine countries. While DRC’s dramatic increase from eight to 150 stations may be explained partially by elections, growth in the other countries is attributed to economic growth brought on by changes in government (e.g., Senegal), or a liberalizing broadcast policy and investment.

Adopting a Converged Technology Approach?

Radio Stations should use the internet much more aggressively to promote their offerings and services, receive content, playlists, programming, etc. share content and programming (within a regional radio network, for example) and extend their reach and audience.

At present, new communications and information technologies (such a on-line programmer sharing, internet radio, web portals, text-to- radio, etc.) will increase the efficiency and capability of Africa’s radio stations, to a similar extent as in the more developed parts of the world – especially the commercial (FM) radio stations operating in the larger urban areas with a sizeable demographic to justify the investment. It is possible, however, to combine the most advanced technologies – Internet audio, for example – with more traditional broadcasting techniques such as "radio relay".

Audio files could be exchanged over the Internet between national "flagship" stations located in the capital (these could be community-radio associations) and then sent out by more conventional means (cassettes, CD ROMs) to the member stations.

 

There are a variety of initiatives to promote the understanding and use of the Internet by Africa’s radio stations. One of these is BDP on-line, an Internet-based alternative to shipping CDs or cassettes by e-mail in West Africa. Using BDP on line, twelve participating radio stations in ten French-speaking African countries are able to use the Internet to upload or download programmes free-of-charge.

 

There are a number of ‘extras’ that can be added to the basic station model, which add functionality. These include: Station Automation, to allow programming without a technician/producer in studio. Stream the station on the web. This requires a computer with a soundcard with an ‘always on’ link to the internet. This usually requires an internet link from the station premises.

Another technology option is using a mobile phone to take SMS messages – prepaid phone is better/cheaper for this, as it won’t generally be used for outgoing calls.

Yet another option is the provision of an Email address for requests/audience feedback (preferably with an internet link into the studio/station). Other Internet options, such as exchanging text instead of audio are more realistic for everyday radio use.

 

There are factors that have to be addressed, however for this to be a viable reality that will add to the profitability and efficiency of radio stations.

 

First of these is the cost and access to the Internet. The next is the awareness of Commercial Radio station owners as to the capabilities, features and benefits that an integrated (or converged) technology approach will deliver to them if designed and applied effectively .

 

Using transmitting equipment with power ranging from 1,000 Watts (FM) to 250,000 Watts (Shortwave), commercial radio station owners (shortwave, and more often FM), are able to reach various sizes of demographics – rural or urban, literate or illiterate, electrified or not. In addition, several "intermediary" organisations with strong local roots – such as the Panos Institute of West Africa – could help to link new technologies (the Web or satellites) with local radio stations by selecting and formatting information from the Web and by supporting the development of networks.

What’s Next

 

Digital radio broadcasting has emerged, first in Europe, and later in many other countries worldwide. The most simple system is named DAB Digital Radio, for Digital Audio Broadcasting,

 

HD Radio Technology enables AM and FM Radio stations to broadcast programs digitally, a tremendous technological leap forward from analog. The HD Radio system is propelling the medium into the digital space and marks the most significant advancement in Radio broadcasting since the introduction of FM stereo more than 50 years ago.

The digital technology opens the doors to a variety of services in addition to the digital stations. In September 2007, iTunes® Tagging was introduced. This new HD Radio feature enables listeners using HD Radio receivers equipped with a special Tag button to download and buy songs they hear on HD Radio stations via Apple’s iTunes.

The benefits of HD Radio Technology include the following:

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Expanded programming choices with HD2, HD3, etc.

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Multicasting allows the broadcast of more than one program over one position on the FM spectrum

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Enhanced audio quality; AM digital will have FM audio quality; FM digital will have CD audio quality

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Improved reception – Static-free, crystal-clear reception, without pops, hisses, or fades

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New wireless data services

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Scrolling text displayed on Radio screen, including song titles, artist names, traffic updates, weather forecasts, sports scores, and more.

 

A Better Listening Experience

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FM stations now have CD-quality sound

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AM stations now have FM-quality sound

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Crystal-clear reception

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No hiss, distortion or station drop off

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Hear the Difference

 

Better Features

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Real-time artist and song IDs scrolled across your radio’s display.

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More info on your dial, such as traffic alerts, stock info, scores, weather alerts, school closings, etc.

 

More Channels

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Now offering multiple channels on the same FM frequency

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No new station numbers to learn, digital signal is broadcast on current analog frequencies.

 

 

The Same Local Stations You Love

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Your favorite programs with local personalities

 

Advanced data services:

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Surround sound

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On-demand audio services

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Store-and-replay (listeners store a Radio program for replay later)

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Overlaying real-time traffic information on a navigational map

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iTunes Tagging for HD Radio Technology

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A unique and easy conversion process

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No service disruption

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Same dial position

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Maintain station brand equity

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A seamless transition for consumers

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Smooth evolution to a digital Radio world

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It’s FREE! No subscription fees.

 

All of these enhancements to local AM and FM Radio are designed to better serve the listening public while offering tremendous growth opportunities for advertisers, broadcasters and retailers, amongst others. HD Radio Technology takes Radio into the digital age, allowing stations to compete more aggressively for Time Spent Listening (TSL) and share of audience.

 

Finally (definitely one for the future!),

Satellite radio broadcasters are slowly emerging, but the enormous entry costs of space-based satellite transmitters, and restrictions on available radio spectrum licenses has restricted growth of this market. In the USA and Canada, just two services, XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio exist.More Programming

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Broader song lists with more music diversity

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Undiscovered artists and music

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New blends and mixes of formats

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More talk, more comedy, more news

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Find digital radio stations on the air


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Microsoft Moves into 5G Race with Azure Cloud for Telecom Operators

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Microsoft Corp unveiled a new cloud platform on Monday aimed at enabling telecom operators to build 5G networks faster, reduce costs and sell customised services to business clients.

After banning China’s Huawei from its telecom network, the U.S. government has been pushing big American companies such as Microsoft to get more involved with 5G – a technology which promises to enable everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery and more automated manufacturing.

The new platform will be on Azure, Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing business, and the company says it will reduce infrastructure costs, give flexibility to add services on demand and use artificial intelligence to automate operations.

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president for Azure Networking, told Reuters that it could cut costs by 30%-40% in some cases.

The developer of Windows and Office software entered the 5G arena after its acquisition of cloud networking companies Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch earlier this year.

“The telco DNA was obtained through those acquisitions and we went from a small number of engineers in this space to literally hundreds of engineers,” said Khalidi. “On the other hand, the foundational pieces, including edge compute, we have had in a pipeline for many years.”

The company has already partnered with companies ranging from telecom operators such as Verizon VZ.N and AT&T T.N to network equipment firms such as Samsung 005930.KS and Mavenir to either use or sell the new platform to clients.

Microsoft’s move will increase competition for existing 5G service vendors like Nokia NOKIA.HE and Ericsson ERICb.ST, said CCS Insight analyst Nicholas McQuire.


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Interior Ministry Boosts Digitization Process with New ICT Projects

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Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, over the weekend commissioned the e-Library, e-Law Library, CCTV Surveillance network services and other projects in his office in Abuja to digitize work processes and procedures in the Ministry.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said that the projects were part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at repositioning the Ministry for better performance in line with its mandate of providing internal security and citizenship integrity for Nigerians and foreigners alike.

According to him, the e-Library will avail officers the opportunity to access the right information, in the right form and time.

“The e-Library gives our legal and other officers 24/7 access to a wide range of online resources, which can be updated in real time and we believe this will enhance the quality of their work to the benefit of the Ministry”, he said.

The Minister further assured of government’s commitment to putting in place measures that will boost staff capacity and also ensure self-development, with a view to ensuring proper implementation of projects, policies and programmes that will improve the lives of Nigerians which would lead to economic transformation in line with the present Administration’s policy thrust.

Aregbesola emphasized that crime and criminality has become complex to handle, the world over, hence the need to deploy modern technology to fight it.

He therefore called on staff to see the projects as morale booster for self-development and urged them to continue to support the efforts of government towards improving the lives of its citizens.

Earlier, Lanre Adesuyi, the Chief Executive Officer, Havillah Merchants Limited, thanked the Minister for giving them the opportunity to provide workers with state of the art equipment for efficient service delivery.

On his own part, Mr. Mohammed Mustapha, the Managing Director, Aliph Technologies, called on government at all levels to see the deployment of modern technology as one of the best ways to tackle security challenges in the contemporary world.


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Heritage Bank, PWC, Deloitte Canvass Use of Tech to Tackle Fraud & Rescind Effects of Covid-19

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Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Service provider has called on internal auditors of banks to adopt the various digital technologies to prevent fraud and annul the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the financial ecosystem.

Ifie Sekibo, managing director/CEO of Heritage Bank, speaking at the just concluded 47th Quarterly Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN), disclosed that for improved banking operations and safer financial system for stakeholders, internal auditors must be dynamic and quick to adopt various digital measures.

Raising the alarming impact of fraudulent activities in the banking sector, Sekibo quoted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020, revealing that that the total cost of cybercrimes is worth an eye-watering $42 billion, which was cash taken straight off companies’ bottom line, whilst 13% of those who had experienced  fraud said they had lost $50 million-plus.

Sekibo, who spoke on the theme, “Elevating Internal Audit’s Role in the Face of Emerging Risks and Opportunities” organised virtually and hosted by the Heritage Bank, urged, “While it was sufficient for yesterday’s auditor to understand regular and routine banking practices such as credit, treasury, etc in his traditional assurance role, for him to be relevant in harnessing the opportunities in today’s business world, he must become versed in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, fraud management, regulatory pronouncements, forensics etc and having equipped himself, present balanced, objective audit reports to Executive Management while striking the right balance between the assurance and consulting responsibilities.”

In her keynote address, titled, “Elevating Internal Audit Role In The Face Of Emerging Risks and Opportunities,” Ibukun Beecroft, Partner Risk Advisory at Deloitte, noted that the banking industry in Nigeria today has adopted various digital measures to keep the business running and delivering services to the customers but there was need for Internal Audit (IA) positioned to provide the required assurance and consulting services in the face of the changes and attendant risk, particularly increased cyber-risks.

Quoting 2018 Financial Stability Report by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she stated that Banks recorded 25,029 confirmed cases of fraud and this resulted in a loss of N2.21 billion. More than 90% of fraud cases in 2018 were perpetrated via technologically driven channels.

“As Internal Auditors, the knowledge of technology would enable us identify gaps in our core banking applications and other applications and provide relevant recommendations to eliminating loopholes that may serve as an avenue for potential fraud.

She, however, advised auditors on the need to focus on advanced technologies and risk management operations as reflected around the Three Lines of Defense (3LOD) churned out by the Institute of Internal Auditors, which create opportunities for IA and its future role.

Beecroft warned that the ever-changing landscape and evolving risks in the banking industry could render the current internal audit plan obsolete.

According to her, internal auditors should reprioritise the audit plan as soon as possible to provide assurance over the most consequential risks while being cognisant of the impact on operations.

“To take advantage of these changes and disruptions, auditors need to rethink their role by adapting to and embracing change, enabling the IA function to become more agile, nimble, and forward-looking, thus driving change through the 3LOD,” Beecroft stated.

Yetunde Oladeji, director Internal Audit Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited (PWC), who spoke on the theme, “Elevating IA’s role to meet today’s emerging risks,” advised that the banking sector should be dynamic, prioritse digitization and flexibible workforce strategies as these would determine its ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances to survive and thrive.


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