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'Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues' by Grant Goddard
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'Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues' by Grant Goddard

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Analysis of the broadcasting licence of Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic and its impact on proposed changes to the station's programme schedule and music format, written by Grant Goddard in December …

Analysis of the broadcasting licence of Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic and its impact on proposed changes to the station's programme schedule and music format, written by Grant Goddard in December 1996 for Metromedia International Incorporated.

Published in: Business, Travel, News & Politics

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  • 1. RADIO ONE, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC: LICENCE AND PROGRAMMING ISSUES by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk December 1996
  • 2. Background The Broadcasting Council of the Czech Republic issued a new licence to Radio 1 in 1995, for a six-year period that expires in 2001. The procedure for securing radio licences in the Czech Republic follows a pattern that is common to most West European countries. The Broadcasting Council advertises the availability of a radio licence to broadcast in a specific geographical place on a specific radio frequency. The Council invites applications from anyone interested in holding the licence. Each applicant must submit: a) the completed application form published by the Council; b) a statement demonstrating the financial competence of the applicant; c) a statement of the programming the applicant will broadcast; d) technical specifications of the broadcasting equipment to be used; e) technical specifications of the transmitter site and its power output. The Council itself is made up of a committee of lay people ('the great and the good') who are neither professional broadcasters, nor politicians. Each applicant presents its case for the licence at a public hearing. Then the Council considers in private the merits of each applicant for that particular licence, and the merits of the programming each applicant intends to broadcast. They award a licence to one applicant over all the others, and issue a licence to that applicant to broadcast the programming specified in their application. The Council gives no public explanation for its decision to award the licence to one applicant over all the others. The Radio 1 Licence The Radio 1 licence is detailed in document Ru/148/95 issued by the 'Council Of The Czech Republic For Radio And Television Broadcasting' on 4th July 1995 and entitled 'Licence Issuance Resolution'. The following quotes are extracted from this document and the 28 terms and conditions contained therein. Terms & Conditions no. 8 states: “The licence holder shall comply with the programming structure and extent of its original broadcasting specified in the Licence Application....” “The share of spoken word shall not drop under 15 per cent of the broadcasting time [defined earlier in the document as 24 hours per day], counted without any advertising and for the period of one month. The dominant part of the programme shall be music of more marginal genres from the area of alternative art, thematic music programmes.” “Within the framework of musical part of the program a share of the Czech and Slovak productions shall not drop below 20 per cent of the broadcasting time counted for the period of one month.” Terms & Conditions no. 9 states: Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues ©1996 Grant Goddard page 2
  • 3. “The Licence Holder shall establish, pursuant to the programme structure, a daytime broadcasting scheme, which shall be complied with, and it shall allow the listeners to get acquainted with it. The Council shall be notified about the general programming scheme and its possible changes in advance.” Terms & Conditions no. 23 states: “The Licence Holder shall submit to the Council for approval in advance.......any changes in the programming scheme (refer to terms stipulated under Point 10 hereof as well).....” [Point 10 requires the Licence Holder “to create within its broadcasting a space for presentation of the original regional culture and reporting, according to the programming format of the station”.] “.......and other changes if related to the Licence.” In addition to the 28 terms and conditions within the document, there is a 'reasoning' section, which specifies: “The supporting documents for the Resolution [the Licence] adopted by the Council were the Application by the Participant in Proceeding under the reference number RR 0245 from February 2 1995 submitted pursuant to § 11 of the Act no. 468/1991 Coll. and other written documents submitted to the Council by the beginning of public hearing, and furthermore, the facts presented during this public hearing.” The Radio 1 Licence Application The Radio 1 Licence application (referred to above as document RR 0245) forms an intrinsic part of the Licence issued by the Council. The application itself consists of: a) the completed application form published by the Council; b) financial information about the applicant; c) a series of Annexes concerning the applicant’s programming structure and technical data. Within one of the Annexes is the 'Broadcasting Schedule Of Radio 1' which comprises: “Monday 2000-2100 Marketplace/Labour Stockmarket, Radio Second Hand Shop 2200-2300 ‘125’ 2300-2400 Hard Music Tuesday 1700-1800 Drugs And Us 1805-1900 Hit Parade of SUN network 2200-2300 Czech music scene 0200-0300 Poetry Club Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues ©1996 Grant Goddard page 3
  • 4. Wednesday 1500-1530 New Romance 1700-1730 Session Of Tolerance 1800-1900 Club Mix 2000-2300 Jazz Club Thursday 1700-1730 Five O’Clock Movie 1800-1900 Rock & Pop 2000-2100 What is played right now in the world 2100-2300 Radio 1 Hit Parade Friday 2200-2300 The Blues 2300-2400 Reggae Club Saturday 1630-1700 Musica Sacra 1905-2000 Hit Parade Of Sun Network 2200-2330 Rock’n’Roll Sunday 1100-1300 Radio 1 Hit Parade 1500-1515 Organ Quarter 1600-1700 Being All Ears 1800-1900 Cool Time 1900-2000 Rock Offshoot 2000-2100 News from alternative scene Other programmes: 1110-1130 Prognosis Live - Monday to Friday 1100-1600 Cultural Services - daily 1130 Book service & reviews - Thursday 1430 Book Service - Monday German, Austrian and French music scene - irregularly This Is Princetown [sic] University - in co-operation with the American University radio WPRB Book Of Dreams - a call-in programme once in two weeks on Tuesday 20002030.” The Annex to the Licence application also includes the following 'characterisation of individual programmes', defining all the above programme titles: “Marketplace - through live entries the listeners have the possibility to offer and seek jobs, sell or buy; Drugs And Us - a programme broadcast in co-operation with Drop In foundation; Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues ©1996 Grant Goddard page 4
  • 5. Session Of Tolerance - a programme broadcast in co-operation with the Association Of Handicapped Persons in the Czech Republic; Rock & Pop - a programme by the editors of Rock & Pop magazine; Prognosis Live - broadcast in English, news and information for Englishspeaking inhabitants of Prague; Cultural Service - programme of Prague clubs, theatres, concert halls, exhibitions and other events; Book Service - a programme on new books completed on Thursday with reviews of interesting titles; Five O’Clock Movie - information on newly introduced films, reviews and contests; Poetry Club - a programme focused on Czech as well as world poetry; Czech Hit Parade ‘The Big Seven’ - a hit parade of new titles of Czech production; Radio 1 Hit Parade - a prestigious hit parade of world music production; Hit Parade of SUN Network - a hit parade of 15 private radio stations in the Czech Republic; Musica Sacra - a programme on classical music with Christian themes; Organ Quarter - a programme on classical organ music; Czech Music Scene - a programme devoted to Czech modern music of all genres; Blues, Reggae Club, Rock’n’Roll, News From Alternative Scene, Hard Music, Jazz Club, New Romance, Cool Music, ‘125’ - composed programmes devoted to individual music directions.” In addition to these specific programmes, which form part of the Radio 1 Licence, the Annex also contains a 'General Characterisation Of Programmes' on the station, which states: “Radio 1 started broadcasting as the first Czech private broadcasting station in the spring of 1991. It differs from other commercial stations in particular with its music repertory scheme which, instead of usual hit parade production, furthers the production of the so-called MARGINAL GENRES in the field of alternative art........The above mentioned music genres WILL CONTINUE TO PREVAIL in our broadcasting, of which at least 20 per cent will be of domestic production.” [emphasis added] Amendments To Licence In early 1996, Radio 1 petitioned the Czech Broadcasting Council to amend and abolish some of the terms and conditions in its licence. Two different documents exist, a 'short' application for amendments to the Licence, dated 20 January 1996; and a 'long' application for amendments to the Licence, dated 8 February 1996. It is unclear whether the 'long' application superseded the 'short' application, or whether it supplemented it. The short amendment The short application petitions the Council to “abolish conditions stated in Conditions to the Licence under nos. 23 and 24.” Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues ©1996 Grant Goddard page 5
  • 6. Terms & Conditions no. 23 states: “The Licence Holder shall submit to the Council for approval in advance any changes in the legal entity, which is the Holder of the Licence, changes in the method of financing, changes in the programming scheme (refer to terms stipulated under Point 10 hereof as well), and other changes if related to the Licence.” Terms & Conditions no. 24 does not concern programming. The long amendment The subsequent long application appears (unfortunately I only have the document in Czech) to petition the Council for the amendment of Licence Conditions 7 and 8, and the abolition of Licence Conditions 11,14, 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24. Terms & Conditions nos. 7, 11, 14, 16, 17, 22 and 24 have no significant programming implications. The amendments to Terms & Conditions 23 and 24 are identical to the 'short amendment' explained above. Term & Condition no. 8 consists of five separate sentences. An amendment is sought to abolish only two of these sentences, viz.: “The share of own programmes of the Licence Holder shall not be smaller than 30 per cent of broadcasting daytime, the Licence Holder shall not take over programming blocks of other stations. The share of spoken word shall not drop under 15 per cent of the broadcasting time, counted without any advertising.” There is no amendment to abolish the remaining part of Term & Condition no. 8, which would read (were the above section to be removed): “The Licence Holder shall comply with the programming structure and extent of its original broadcasting, specified in the Licence Application, with the focus to specifics of the area covered by the signal. [section removed] The dominant part of the programme shall be music of more marginal genres from the area of alternative art, thematic music programmes. Within the framework of musical part of the programme, a share of the Czech and Slovak productions shall not drop below 20 per cent of the broadcasting time counted for the period of one month.” Outcome Of These Amendments There is no further documentation to determine whether or not either or both of these applications for amendments to the Licence Terms & Conditions were ever approved by the Broadcasting Council. I asked Lenka Wienerova of Radio 1 if she knew whether the applications for amendments had been accepted by the Council. She told me to contact Baker & McKenzie for the information. When I persisted, she told me that the Council had approved all parts of the application. Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues ©1996 Grant Goddard page 6
  • 7. My interpretation of the amendments to the Terms & Conditions of the Licence on the programming possibilities of the station are: a) the requirement to devote at least 15 per cent of the programming to spoken word has been removed; b) the requirement to devote at least 20 per cent of the programming (excluding commercials) to Czech and Slovak music still stands; c) the requirement of he Licence Holder to broadcast the programming structure as detailed in its Licence Application still stands, and this programming structure is effectively incorporated within the Licence itself; d) the requirement of the Licence Holder to devote at least 51 per cent of the programming time to “music of more marginal genres from the area of alternative art, thematic music programmes” still stands; e) the 'Broadcasting Schedule Of Radio 1' and the 'General Characterisation Of Programmes', as detailed earlier in this document, still stand and are both effectively incorporated within the Licence itself. The Consequences On The Planned New Format It will prove almost impossible to introduce the new, commercially-orientated music format between 5am and 10pm, whilst at the same time complying with the requirements within the Licence to: a) maintain all the specified programmes at the times specified in the Licence; b) devote at least 51 per cent of the programming time to 'marginal' music; c) devote at least 20 per cent of broadcasting time to Czech and Slovak music productions; d) maintain the philosophy of the Licence Holder, as stated in the Licence, to “further the production of the so-called MARGINAL GENRES in the field of alternative art........The above mentioned music genres WILL CONTINUE TO PREVAIL in our broadcasting, of which at least 20 per cent will be of domestic production.” Postscript I asked Lenka Wienerova of Radio 1 what she anticipated would happen to Radio 1, were a new, commercial format to replace the existing programmes. “The Broadcasting Council will fine us, probably an amount of one million kc,” she said, “and then they will take away the licence from the station when it comes time to be renewed in 2001.” I must have looked surprised by her Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues ©1996 Grant Goddard page 7
  • 8. frankness. She added: “But anything can happen between now and 2001. The Broadcasting Council might not even exist by then.” Grant Goddard Prague, 13 Dec 96 Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk Radio One, Prague, Czech Republic: Licence And Programming Issues ©1996 Grant Goddard page 8