Radio in Ukraine: challenges and prospects of transferring to the digital

20 September 2018, 11:44

On September 19 at KYIV MEDIA WEEK international media forum a panel discussion “Radio in Ukraine: challenges and prospects” took place; it was the first conversation about radio at KMW. The speakers were experts in radio broadcasting: Sergey Kostynsky, Vladislav Sevryukov, Katerina Myasnikova, Vladimir Goncharevsky and Nikolay Chernotitsky. The main topic of the debate was the transfer to digital broadcasting format. 

The idea of digital broadcasting has already been supported by the Verkhovna Rada. After a competition licenses were issued to 14 radio stations to broadcast in the first multiplex. Presently the broadcasting has taken place in test regime, and in the nearest future the listeners can expect the launch of digital radio broadcasting.  

Presently the broadcasting range in Ukraine has about 250 working frequencies, but not so long ago some new ones appeared which will soon be put up for a competition. At that it is important to understand that after the free frequencies are taken, the story of new stations emerging at the market will end. The idea of promoting radio broadcasting is in adding new broadcasting frequencies in the digital format and giving a chance to outsiders to try them out, with new interesting cases.  

The event speakers unanimously refuted the statement about the radio’s unpopularity. In the opinion of Katerina Myasnikova, over 80 percent of the population listen to the radio for no less than four hours a day. Radio is a profitable business on the basis of advertising monetization model and has a powerful commercial drive; however, it is a somewhat underrated business in contemporary Ukraine.  

Still, the imminent transfer to the digital caused some concerns among the speakers. There are some challenges to consider: with frequencies freed up the advertising model for radio functioning may teeter; besides, Ukrainian listeners haven’t been equipped with digital receivers yet with the exception of 20 thousand cars present on the territory of Ukraine.

As an example of challenges radio broadcasters might face when transferring to the digital the example of Norway was quoted. Presently this is the only country where the radio has gone fully digital. However, along with this transfer radio has gained the worst coverage since 1952, and the loss in audience amounted to about 10 percent.