Creative Europe – Why radio should be also be included in the MEDIA Programme

AER is located at:
Association Européenne des Radios
76, av. d’Auderghem,
1040 Brussels,

AER’s Interest Representative Register ID Number is 6822083232-32.

I. Introduction

Radio is by nature a local, regional or national medium, and there is no radio-tailored EU legislation. The activities of the EU are however of utmost importance for commercially funded radios. The Association of European Radios (AER) is a Europe-wide trade body representing the interests of over 4,500 commercially funded radio stations across the EU27 and in Switzerland. AER’s main objective is to develop and improve the most suitable framework for private commercial radio activity. AER constantly follows EU actions in the fields of media, telecommunications and private radio transmission, in order to contribute, enrich and develop the radio sector.

Radio has enabled a true “Information society for all” long before this term was created, it is the most intimate medium, and has been so for the past 50 years at least, being ubiquitous, mobile, simple-to-use and free-to-air. All these features enable our audience to cultivate a personal relationship with our programmes, our editors, our DJs, our hosts, and our brands.

Commercially funded radios indeed constitute a unique network of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), contributing to cultural diversity, media pluralism, disaster relief, and social inclusion. Commercially funded radios therefore constitute a crucial actor for the implementation of the « General Objectives of the Programme » as mentioned in article 4 of the European Commission proposal for a Regulation on establishing the Creative Content Programme .

AER therefore welcomes the setting of the Creative Europe Programme and the inclusion of radio in the Creative Europe Programme. AER strongly advocates the inclusion of radio in the reviewed MEDIA Programme.

II. Why Radio should be part of the Media Programme

Priorities of the MEDIA Programme include (article 11 of the EC proposal for a regulation on establishing the Creative Europe Programme) “1. (a) facilitating the acquisition of skills and the development of networks and in particular encouraging the use of digital technologies to ensure the adaptation to market development;” This is seen as a key element for radios today and in the future, online and on-air.

AER indeed believes that the MEDIA Programme strand (as shown in article 12 of the European Commission for a proposal on establishing the Creative Europe Programme) should apply to radio with the following measures:

(a) support the development of a comprehensive offer of new skills acquisition, knowledge sharing and networking initiatives;

Radio finds, employs, and educates new talents – radio is well-known to be the media university within the audio-visual sector, especially for young journalists. Besides, one should not forget that radio is a national medium but also and mainly regional and local. Therefore, it gives many people the opportunity to work in the media sector at a local level, without having to move to big cities to develop their professional careers.

With the enlargement process of the EU, AER has realised that many European Central and Eastern countries lack national trade associations representing commercially funded radios. When these associations exist, they are lacking resources to help their sector in the most efficient manner. Most of commercially funded radios are indeed SMEs, and it is important that such associations exist and are strong enough to coordinate new skills acquisition, knowledge sharing and networking initiatives.

(d) facilitate access to professional audiovisual trade events and markets and the use of online business tools inside and outside Europe;

European radio trade events have started developing in the recent years.

This year is for instance Radiodays Europe’s third year. This event is a pan-European radio conference created by European public and private radio broadcasters. This year, it will take place on March 15th and 16th, 2012, in Barcelona. The organisers aim at changing the location of this event every two years – the first two editions were held in Copenhagen. This conference is primarily aimed at management, middle-management and programme developers.

For more information, please see here:

The creation of this conference was inspired by the national Radiodays in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Similar conferences exist in other EU Member States (e.g., the UK, France and Germany) but not in all EU Member States. However, it is always very well perceived by radio actors, as these types of conferences enable exchange of know how, improvement of services and business opportunities.

(i) support activities aiming at increasing knowledge and interest of audiences;

Similar arguments to point (d) can be defended here.

Moreover, and from the perspective of radios’ digital development, it is believed that the slow uptake of digital radio broadcasting services in some EU Member States is due to lack of knowledge from citizens. This in turn is due to a lack of funding for campaigns / education.

(j) support innovative actions testing new business models and tools in areas likely to be influenced by the introduction and the use of digital technologies.

Radios are striving to develop their presence on all possible platforms. Radio is indeed the most intimate medium. However, with changing consumption models, radios have to develop their presence on all possible platforms: in order to maintain audience, radios should be accessible on-air, online, via cable or satellite transmission in a linear and non-linear manner. This entails multiplication of costs for the mere technical presence and maintenance of the presence on a new platform, and to clear access to all protected works. Once again, most of commercially funded radios are SMEs. Moreover, across Europe, the situation of the radio advertising market is varied, but is generally planned to know a stalemate or slow increase in 2012. EU support for innovation in radio would therefore be crucial.

III. The Role of Radio in the EU

Radio’s development is essential for the EU and its citizens. As mentioned above, radios offer services of general interests:
– Commercially funded radios’ audiences are local, regional, or national – they are essential for regional and cultural development
– Commercially funded radios evolve in highly competitive environments. For example, and bearing in mind that the amount of radios in a given country depends of course on its size: Spain now has more than 2000 frequencies used across the country; similar FM situations can be observed in France or Germany
– Commercially funded radios’ services encompass, broadly speaking, all possible contents, from editorial and talk / debates to music-only formats. To give just examples, please see:
• the French AER Member, SIRTI :
• the UK AER Member, RadioCentre:
– Listeners of commercially funded radio stations not only access programming they enjoy, but moreover useful and crucial information: in the event of natural disasters, emergencies and extraordinary situations, broadcast radio is the first – and possibly the only remaining – tool to inform the public. For example: during the “Love Parade” at the end of July 2010 in Duisburg, Germany, the mobile phone network collapsed very fast. However, radios’ network remained and informed citizens. Another example: the heavy snowfalls in Scotland in the winter of 2010 / 2011 – presenters, journalists and programming staff at Real Radio Scotland all put in long shifts and stayed overnight at the station to keep listeners up to date with the situation. The station also tracked down and supported the good Samaritans who were handing out hot drinks and food to those stranded and a local hotel which was delivering hot meals to Old Age Pensioners in their town. For more information, please see here (pages 44 and following):

Click to access 2011_RadioCentre_Action_Stations.pdf

The most recent example was this morning when you had to avoid constructions on your way to work
– As for the music broadcast, within one market, as soon as there is demand expressed, it has to be fulfilled; so, most of the musical expressions are represented by commercially funded radios
– most of commercially funded radios are non-politically affiliated, and certainly keep the freedom to deliver editorial information, to express opinions and to provide a platform for the public expression of the opinions of their listeners – radio is often quoted as the most trusted medium

Finally, AER would like to recall some important data on the radio market’s structure:
– Commercially funded radio’s business model in Europe is currently mainly based on free-to-air analogue terrestrial broadcasting on Band II (87.5-108MHz) via FM, where advertising is the main source of income (near 100%)
– On-air broadcasting radios reach massive audience on a daily basis in all EU Member States: between 60% and 85% of the EU population on average listens to radio for at least two to three hours per day, as shown by national audience measurement
– Commercially funded radios strive to develop on all possible platforms
Online radio activities are more and more developed, but are and will remain a complementary tool to broadcasting
– Tests are ongoing for digital terrestrial broadcasting across Europe, the most advanced countries being the UK and Denmark with regular operations in Band III (174-230MHz). For the time being, there are tests being developed in other markets on Band III and Band L (1452-1492MHz)
– The advertising market share of radio in Europe varies: in 2011, it went from 2% in Denmark to 10% in the Netherlands (most of the markets are between 3 and 6% of advertising shares for radio)
– Radios are both right holders and important right users. Radio broadcasters across Europe pay over €2.6 billion per year for content, mostly music rights, and payment for these rights is negotiated on a regular basis. Figure for the European Economic Area, please see presentation on “The production of broadcasts and remuneration of rights: a business perspective” by Godfrey McFall, Senior Associate, Oliver&Ohlbaum Associates delivered at the World Intellectual Property Organisation Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related rights’ meeting of May 25th, 2009. As such radios provide a substantial part of the stable revenues delivered to the music industry

AER remains available to explain this position in further details, should this be helpful.

Created in 1992, the Association of European Radios (AER) is a trade-association representing the interests of over 4500 private and commercial radio broadcasters across Europe to the EU institutions. It is the only organization representing only radio to the EU Institutions.

April 2012

Contact details: Julia Maier-Hauff
AER Secretary General
76, av. d’Auderghem,
B-1040 Brussels,
Tel: +32 2 736 9131
Fax: +32 2 732 8990
vincent.sneed @