The Radio Thread

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  • Because the UK has the population it has. That limits scale of companies unless they takeover foreign counterparts.

    I'm just in the middle of going through several pages on the main BBC/PSB thread, but I will come back to this point on there when I'm done.

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  • It was a shame the Channel 4 venture into Radio came to nothing.

    Too risky I guess, DAB wasn't doing very well at that point in time and the threat of legal action from Digital One was a concern. Channel 4 also had to protect its core business with predictions of advertising revenue falling to levels which would not sustain it in future years.

  • Too risky I guess, DAB wasn't doing very well at that point in time and the threat of legal action from Digital One was a concern. Channel 4 also had to protect its core business with predictions of advertising revenue falling to levels which would not sustain it in future years.

    I don't think I've heard the legal bit before. I thought it was understandable they pulled out, but they got pretty far with it. They saw the need to diversify and took a chance only to pull back when market momentum looks unfavourable for too long a period.

  • Don't think I even knew that Ch4 was involved in radio.


    I don't understand why we can't have some decent good sized media companies in this country.

    Other than their involvement in 4 Digital, they had launched a Channel 4 Radio company to run radio stations such as Channel 4 Radio, E4 radio and Pure4. They also took a majority shareholding in Oneworld Radio which they later returned to the co-owner.


    It was a very bad time for radio, many of the original stations on Digital One decided to close and Digital One backers GCap also decided to withdraw from digital radio. Instead of getting 2 national commercial ensembles, the existing one started to fall apart.


    Do media giants exist anywhere other than America? It has a big enough market to generate massive sales. After that it's relatively easy to scale to global operations. European media companies don't have the same base, even if they operate across several countries, language and cultural differences fragment operations.

  • I just don’t understand why no-one over here understands how to run a radio station.


    Queen were right when they sang ‘All we hear is Radio Ga-Ga’.

    Protect the vulnerable and get back to work

  • I don't think I've heard the legal bit before. I thought it was understandable they pulled out, but they got pretty far with it. They saw the need to diversify and took a chance only to pull back when market momentum looks unfavourable for too long a period.

    It was mentioned in the Campaign article I linked. I remember Ralph Bernard's involvement in Digital One as GCap chairman, he had been one of the broadcaster / journalists involved in the early days of Radio Hallam before moving on to build his own empire. Advertising a second commercial ensemble certainly put the cat among the pigeons, eventually triggering GCap's departure from Digital One and the closure of their digital stations. Ralph stood down from his position at GCap and his successor, Fru Hazlitt, started a cost cutting exercise to secure the future of the company. Ralph's departure had led to a fall in the share value of the company and the low price triggered a bid from Global. The cost cutting exercise involved selling its share in Digital One to Arqiva, closure or disposal of its digital brands and XFM brands outside London. Reversing the previous policies of Ralph Bernard. Eventually leading to an improved bid from Global, which was accepted. Ralph Bernard became chairman of Classic FM.


    After the acquisition by Global, the transfer of the Digital One shareholding went ahead, along with the disposal of the original GCap shareholding in, regional ensemble operator, Now Digital. Note that Global is still a shareholder of some of the Now Digital ensembles, where the shares were originally owned by its other acquisitions, such as Chrysalis.


    There wasn't a viable rescue route for the second ensemble. NGW had been the other bidder and its takeover by Arqiva's "owner" Macquarie Bank at the time didn't present an opportunity to offer the franchise to NGW. GCap's withdrawal from Digital One would have led to Arqiva operating both commercial ensembles.

    Edited once, last by jj20x ().

  • I just don’t understand why no-one over here understands how to run a radio station.


    Queen were right when they sang ‘All we hear is Radio Ga-Ga’.

    It's not quite as simple as it may seem. As can be seen from the fate of 4 Digital and of GCap.


    A lot of small stations seem to have popped up online and are doing quite well, for now. Smaller operations, however, will most likely suffer from ego related problems as individuals vie for power, influence and control. This has already been seen with some of the online operations. I know for a fact that it's even an issue for tiny stations such as hospital radio broadcasters.

  • The diverse nature of Bauer's acquisition spree was bound to have residual problems at some point. It seems that now is one of those points for its online streams. Bauer inherited the distribution systems of, not only its own radio stations, but also those of the Lincs FM Group, UKRD, the local radio assets of the Wireless Group, Celador and then subsequent takeovers, such as, Plymouth FM & Revolution FM. It made sense, initially, for the existing, diverse range of online streams to be used to maintain continuity and to allow time for the new services to be built into Bauer's Planet Radio distribution network. Planet Radio now seems to have streams in place on its own system for the acquired stations and the legacy streams are becoming redundant. Planet Radio has, however, built third party streams such as those from Nation Radio into its system for stations operating under a brand licence.


    Online resources, however, such as the directories used to support wi-fi radio, meanwhile have been busy building the diverse range of streams into their systems and getting the newly renamed stations to point at the existing streams. Now things start to get messy as some of the legacy stream operators have killed off the original, technically redundant, online streams, replaced them with looped announcements of the stations new name or, in the case of former UKRD stations, launched with an announcement that the stream will be ending soon and that listeners should search for the new station name. Searching for the new station name on wi-fi radios will find the exact stream currently making the announcement as Bauer doesn't seem to have liaised with the directory operators. How could they liaise with such diverse groups of directory operators? So we have chaos.


    The question though is does Bauer really care? Back in 2019, they launched several new online streams on the Planet Radio online / streaming platform. Which were mentioned on Radio Today at the time.


    https://radiotoday.co.uk/2019/…seven-new-radio-services/


    There are still 7 of these streams actively available to listeners and another one not visible on the platform. The 2 heat radio spin-offs mentioned in the article have gone, Kiss Ibiza has been replaced with Kiss Jams and new services, Absolute 20s and Magic Radio at the Movies have launched. Interestingly, most of these new streams require the listener to be logged into the Planet Radio platform before the stations will launch. Whether they require a password or not, the streams will not launch without metadata. Including an access key code which seems to be time limited. No chance of these streams being added to Wi-Fi radio platforms, or aggregator platforms such as TuneIn, Radioplayer etc which are also, basically, simple directories linking to existing online streams. Is this the future? Surely a limiting factor to building a sizeable audience for Bauer's stations.

  • As the pandemic leads to closures and reduced services across the entire economy, niche radio stations seem to be bucking the trend and on an expansion spree. Clearly, the loss of many of the legacy local radio stations has led to the launch of several pseudo-local online and DAB stations. Also, several of the smaller broadcasters seem to be expanding their portfolio.


    Back in December, jackfm launched additional services on national DAB under its Union Jack brand. Now it seems to be the turn of Fun Kids to launch several new genre based channels online.


    https://radiotoday.co.uk/2020/…-rock-and-dance-stations/


    https://radiotoday.co.uk/2021/…eight-new-radio-stations/

  • That's an impressive number of Kids Radio spin-offs. :)

  • BBC Radio Wolverhampton is due to launch on the 15th with BBC Radio Sunderland launching on the 18th. Both will launch on DAB and online.

  • BBC Radio Wolverhampton is due to launch on the 15th with BBC Radio Sunderland launching on the 18th. Both will launch on DAB and online.

    Are the BBC launching new local stations, or just bringing existing local stations to digital platforms for 1st time? I'm assuming, given your wording, the former as I'd have thought they'd be available online already even if they weren't on DAB if they already existed.


    If so, I'm assuming this BBC utilising the new Micro DAB (I know it's not called that but my mind's gone blank) licenses?

  • They are new and "temporary" opt-outs from BBC Radio WM and BBC Radio Newcastle. BBC Radio Bradford opts out of BBC Radio Leeds.


    For the Bradford ensemble, Bauer split the BBC Radio Leeds bitrate, with both versions operating at 64k mono. The Leeds ensemble still carries BBC Radio Leeds at the full 128k JS rate. Something similar will possibly happen, for BBC Radio Sunderland, on Bauer's Tyne & Wear ensemble, which is currently running at full capacity.


    BBC Radio Wolverhampton should be able to launch at full bitrate on Now Digital's Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury and Telford ensemble, which currently carries BBC Radio WM and BBC Radio Shropshire. In this case, BBC Radio Wolverhampton could replace BBC Radio WM. With BBC Radio WM continuing in its core service area on CE Digital's Birmingham ensemble.

  • Interesting that the new BBC local services are launching audio streams across the BBC's full range of audio server platforms.


    It was announced some time ago that the BBC would be removing legacy codecs, so it's odd that the new stations have launched legacy streams. The BBC was also supposed to use HLS as a temporary format until DASH services were developed. DASH services have been added and yet the HLS format's remain, at multiple bitrates, from both the Akamai and Limelight CDNs.

  • Interesting that the new BBC local services are launching audio streams across the BBC's full range of audio server platforms.


    It was announced some time ago that the BBC would be removing legacy codecs, so it's odd that the new stations have launched legacy streams. The BBC was also supposed to use HLS as a temporary format until DASH services were developed. DASH services have been added and yet the HLS format's remain, at multiple bitrates, from both the Akamai and Limelight CDNs.

    Is it possible that rather than rewrite an existing system status routine (or something similar) which checks all types for each station it was easier just to add an old legacy-type stream. Once the new tech routine code is ready they'll switch them all off.

  • Is it possible that rather than rewrite an existing system status routine (or something similar) which checks all types for each station it was easier just to add an old legacy-type stream. Once the new tech routine code is ready they'll switch them all off.

    Maybe it's just the BBC being "stream neutral". Legacy streams were supposed to be removed around 2014/5 when the WMA / Real Player etc streams were removed. It seems that shoutcast / mp3 lives on for now with the "playlist" files delivered over the old http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/ URLs. Although the mp3 streams are played out over Limelight (& probably Akamai) servers.


    The whole point of the Audio Factory was to simply the BBC's internal infrastructure used for delivery of radio stations over iplayer (back then) and the rest of the internet.


    A bit of background reading: http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/BBC…Factory/AudioFactory.html


    Interesting that the initial stages relied on Adobe Flash to play the streams in web browsers. Where would we be without Flash? Oh! wait...

  • Probably.


    That 2nd link was very interesting.


    Oddly enough, I was aware about the Adobe Flash part already.

  • Probably.


    That 2nd link was very interesting.


    Oddly enough, I was aware about the Adobe Flash part already.

    The first one isn't really going to work as a link. ^^


    I only mentioned Flash because Adobe have recently deactivated Flash Player so it will no longer function. But that said, by using proprietary audio formats, the BBC exposes itself to the risk of what to do next if, say Apple, changes their HLS format at short notice.

  • The first one isn't really going to work as a link. ^^


    I only mentioned Flash because Adobe have recently deactivated Flash Player so it will no longer function. But that said, by using proprietary audio formats, the BBC exposes itself to the risk of what to do next if, say Apple, changes their HLS format at short notice.

    I'd imagine the BBC is more bothered about licensing fees. As the article says they were aiming for open formats when they started out.

  • Probably.


    That 2nd link was very interesting.


    Oddly enough, I was aware about the Adobe Flash part already.

    It was interesting, thanks JJ. :)

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  • I'd imagine the BBC is more bothered about licensing fees. As the article says they were aiming for open formats when they started out.

    True but MPEG-DASH has been around for a while now and the third party formats are still around. The BBC's attempts to communicate with internet radio manufacturers and other concerned parties left a lot to be desired. As the feedback to BBC Blogs, at the time, demonstrated. Licensing fees were more of a problem for the manufacturers, they didn't want to pay additional fees and increase the price of their, already expensive, radios.


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/int…82-3617-a28c-ca0b345e4863

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/int…47-4b2d-9305-563428fb74f5


    HLS streams are sent at 4 bitrates (higher rates for the UK) lower for overseas. DASH streams are only sent at 2 bitrates as they are rate adaptive. So HLS uses twice as many streams. I'll have to check how well mobile phones handle MPEG-DASH.


    I don't see any HDS streams in our directory but the BBC don't exactly make the streams easy to find. I know the purpose was for iplayer delivery desktop computers and BBC Sounds content delivered to web browsers now seems to use MPEG-DASH. I'll have to do some research.

  • The retention of HLS is possibly related to Apple's reluctance to adopt MPEG-DASH as a standard although, pretty much, everyone else has adopted it as the preferred choice...

  • It's that time of the month again, where Radio Caroline links up with Manx Radio for a weekend of broadcasts live from the Ross Revenge. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the broadcasts are, once again, not coming from the Ross Revenge this month.

    Broadcasts are online on the Radio Caroline North dedicated stream and on Manx Radio's AM frequency 1368kHz.


    http://radiocaroline.co.uk/ (select the Radio Caroline North stream to listen via Radioplayer/Manx Radio).


    As with the BBC, it's somewhat difficult to find details of the dedicated stream nowadays. Probably because it is only live 2 days a month.

    For those in the know, it's the former Viewpoint stream. From way back in time when Caroline carried sponsored religious programmes to help fund the operation. Eventually, these were transferred to the dedicated Viewpoint stream:


    http://sc2.radiocaroline.net:8100/;


    http://sc2.radiocaroline.net:8100/stream for those who prefer not to see the shoutcast stats


    http://sc2.radiocaroline.net:8100/listen.pls?sid=1 for anyone prefering to use Winamp (remember that?), VLC or other players.


    Chris Pearson was scheduled to follow the Carnaby Street broadcast this morning but was still in self isolation following his Christmas visit to the UK. His self isolation was due to end at noon, so he switched with another presenter to allow him to broadcast from one of the Manx Radio studios in the 12.30-4.30 slot.