Radio Bremen abandons Medium Wave

Germany’s Commission to Determine the Financial Needs of the Broadcasters (Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs der Rundfunkanstalten, KEF) regulates the license fees, a major income for Germany’s public broadcasters. It also supervises the broadcasters’ use of these incomes. The KEF has now determined that funds for the radio broadcasters’ digitalization project will be released again, after a previous freeze, reports Heise.

The KEF also told the brodcasters to prepare statements for the next KEF session in September, concerning the abandonment of long-, medium-, and shortwave transmitters.

Medium wave transmitter Oberneuland

Radio Bremen medium wave transmitter, Oberneuland

Particularly in the light of internet radio, the commission wants to evaluate the traditional AM broadcasting’s cost effectiveness.

In a report due for 2013, the KEF will then evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the digitalization project. This showed, according to Heise, that the commission is aware of the danger that the actual number of listeners who will make use of digital radio may be lower than forecast by the Consortium of public-law broadcasting institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany (ARD) and Deutschlandfunk. Therefore, the KEF appears to see opportunities to save money in the field of longwave-, mediumwave- and shortwave broadcasting.

On April 21, Radio Bremen announced in a press release that it would abandon its brodcasts on 936 kHz medium wave for good.

Currently, Radio Bremen spends a substantial five-digit amount on medium-wave broadcasts. There will, in all likelihood, be no medium-wave digitalization that would be safe for the future. Several German states‘ broadcasting centers have stopped their medium-wave broadcasts already.

[…]

Radio Bremen had first switched the transmitter off on a trial basis, as the number of listeners to the medium wave frequency isn’t known. During the four-weeks trial period, just less than 200 listeners came forward and criticized the abandonment of service.

Compared with the number of listeners to Bremen One [the program traditionally transmitted on medium wave], this feedback is so small that at the end of the trial period, Radio Bremen decided not to switch the medium wave transmitter on again and to apply the newly available funds to forward-looking transmission technologies and formats.

The press release assured Radio Bremen listeners that it didn’t intend to put listeners off, and that it was aware that most of the medium-wave listeners were particularly entrenched regular listeners. And it invited every listener who had made objections to the abandonment of medium wave to its studios, plus special advisory services on how to use alternative ways of listening.

But then, JR knows how to use alternative ways of listening anyway. It’s not that he stays away from new technologies. But radio is one thing to him, and the internet is something completely different. The good news is that the internet is an alternative source of information indeed – for things other than radio. And another bit of good news is that the more German or European broadcasters abandon the medium and short wave, the easier it will be to listen to some exotic overseas medium-wave broadcasters at nighttime.

But please, BBC Radio 4: keep your long wave transmitter going.

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Related
Mediumwave Transmitter Bremen, Wikipedia »

6 Responses to “Radio Bremen abandons Medium Wave”

  1. I hope AM continues, I am not impressed with DAB radio.

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  2. I’m afraid AM won’t continue in Bremen – they abandoned their shortwave frequency years ago, and now the medium wave.

    Radio Sweden is doing the same thing later this year, I seem to have heard. I’m not sure if this applies only to their foreign-language broadcasts, or broadcasts in Swedish, too. Must be a general European trend. The BBC World Service is still available on 648 kHz, and there seem to be no immediate plans to close it down.

    As for DAB radio, I think the German broadcasters’ expectations are hyperbolic. But time will show.

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  3. I read two years ago that Germany had decided not to invest more money in Digital Audio Broadcasting.

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  4. DAB is no mere German project, but a European one. So I don’t think Germany will unilaterally opt out. Besides, it’s big business, and the suppliers will hardly allow us to miss this “opportunity”. 😉

    This said, it won’t have been completed by the end of 2010, as the above link would suggest. Not even close.

    If I can trust Heise (quoted from in the post), the KEF will review the digitalization project in 2013. But until then, the process seems to continue, and personally, I believe it will be continued beyond 2013.

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