Friday, January 25, 2013

European AM Perspective

From the Italradio newsdesk in Florence, here’s European Perspective, a monthly feature about international broadcasting from the Old Continent.
            Are Italian Medium Waves really so near to disappearance that an announcement was necessary to inform listeners to switch to the FM network?  Last December 14th, local newscasts in at least twelve out of twenty Italian regions informed listeners about frequency changes and/or the suppression of Medium Wave broadcasts.  The announcement was aired only once but worries are growing about a possible winding up of all Medium Wave operations by RAI. 
            The RAI Medium Wave network was starkly reduced in 2006, and earlier last year also when Naples (657 kHz) and Bari (1116 kHz), two historical stations, were dismantled.  Sources agree that 6 to 12 stations are to survive but no official information is available nor is any announcement repeated. 
            Italradio was able to confirm that Pisa Coltano on frequency 657 kHz will be operational also in the future.  Plans have been prepared to use the station also for DRM experiments.
            Italian Medium Wave stations are operated by RAI under the provisions of a State mandate as a part of general public broadcasting service.  Nevertheless a list of mandatory Medium Wave stations is not available.
            In the mean time, on December 31st, 2012 the last three broadcasts in Italian, German and French were relayed from Moscow through the antenna in Monte Ceneri, Switzerland, on 558 kHz, from 1000 to 2000 UTC.  This historical station was used by Italian Swiss Radio until June 2008, and by the Voice of Russia from 2011 for which a five year license was granted to the Russian international radio. The Voice of Russia confirmed that all broadcasts from Monte Ceneri will be discontinued notwithstanding the fact that they received a five year license in 2011 from the Swiss Federal Telecommunication Regulatory Board.
            Until 30 June 2008 the station was used by Italian Swiss Radio.  Shortly afterwards, BAKOM-UFCOM collected declarations of interest from private companies, among them the Italian religious station Radio Mater, but in 2011 a license (due to expire on 31 December 2015) was granted to the Voice of Russia after diplomatic contacts between Switzerland and Russia.
            The Monte Ceneri station is the only Swiss Medium Wave plant still on the air, after both stations in Sottens & Beromuenster were dismantled.  It is operated by Swisscom, but no official information about the future of the station has been released until now.
            Finally an item of good news for Medium Wave listeners in Southern Europe.  Radio Capodistria, the Italian language station serving Italian communities in Slovenia and Croatia, will extend broadcasts to 24 hours daily.  As from 1 January 2013, Italian programs cover also the nightly hours, from midnight to 6 am CET.  This will present a new opportunity for listeners to hear Italian broadcasts on Medium Wave (1170 kHz).  
            This station, part of the Regional Studio Koper-Capodistria of RTV Slovenia, has extended their DALET control system, enabling it to automatically repeat broadcasts at night in two segments (8 pm - MN CET and MN - 6 am CET).  Music and repeats of daily broadcasts will be included.            Italian communities scattered in Istria, Dalmatia and Fiume (Rijeka) regions became a national minority after the area was included into former Yugoslavia at the end of World War 2.  Under existing laws they were granted special rights in Slovenia and Croatia including radio and TV broadcasting.
            The medium wave station in Croce Bianca (Beli Kriz by Pirano - Piran, Istria) is operated by Radio Capodistria (1170 kHz) and their Slovenian sister station Radio Koper (549 kHz) with 15 kW. Listeners confirm that the station is being heard as far as Central and Southeastern Italy and the eastern Adriatic Coast.
            There is a new opportunity for tourists in Pisa.  After visiting the famous leaning tower, a short walk to the Arno side leads to the State Archives where documents are now exhibited to explain the early years (1904-1918) of the Coltano trans-continental wireless station built by Marconi over a hundred years ago.  This exhibition offers plans and texts about the building of the station which proved to be decisive in connecting Italy to the Americas and Africa up until its destruction in WW2.
            Until today a little Marconian building is still visible along with the remains of the aerial abutments at Coltano (a rural area very near to the city centre).  Documents found at the State Archive show the technologies that were used back in 1904 to build the station in a wet area which was good for transmission but very difficult for the construction of metal and wooden buildings.  The exhibition is a new positive effort to preserve Marconi's memories in Pisa, and it can be visited at the Pisa State Archive (Archivio di Stato) until January 31st, 2013.
            And that’s all from Florence this month; if you wish to be informed on what’s going on in the Italian and European international broadcasting scene, please check our web site at www. italradio. org. You can also find a “portale” that’s to say a web portal with current news, in English too.  Thank you for listening and we wish you a very good year 2013.
(AWR Wavescan/NWS 204 via Adrian Peterson)