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ABU GA – Radio still a powerful medium, experts say

Radio is still powerful, even in a multimedia age.

That was the conclusion of an expert working party at the 49th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union taking place in Seoul, Korea, this week. 

Mike McCluskey, Chair of the Union’s Radio Working Party, told the annual Programme Committee meeting that the working party’s debate on the question was “lively and confronting”.

“Radio is powerful in many ways to many people such as in less developed and isolated communities, or to older audiences or in times of emergency,” he said. “It is less powerful to those who have access to multiplatform content, especially mobile and social media.”

Mr McCluskey said the expert debate “highlighted the challenges facing radio to maintain its position as a powerful medium”.  

“Yet it was concluded at the very platforms that are seen as threats to radio’s position of influence were also the tools we have at our disposal to use as complementary media to make radio and multi-platform digital media work hand-in-hand to reach and connect with audiences in even more powerful ways.” 

He said members of the Radio Working Party brought up many case studies demonstrating how broadcasters were making radio and multi-platform content that connected with audiences of all ages and demographics. 

Mr McCluskey said it had been a big year for radio activities in the ABU and a recommendation for extra resources for radio through the Programme Department has resulted in additional committee staffing and some external funds for projects. 

“The most noticeable outcome of the last radio meeting was a member-based working group to drive the development of the inaugural ABU Radio Song Festival,” he said.  And he thanked what he called a “core group” of members who worked hard on the Radio Song Festival sub-committee throughout the year. 

“It was an example of the essence of the ABU working together as a union to reach milestones in developing joint projects that benefit members,” he said. 

“It comprised public and commercial broadcasters and the outcomes were a product that delivered quality content and met the brief of being able to focus on our vision of being able to reflect the diversity of cultures, languages and people that the ABU membership represents.”

The festival’s project manager Mark Hemetsberger said the concept needed further development to be meaningful for all members and provide useful content and products for all members.

“It must also be even more meaningful for the audiences and the musicians in each of our countries,” Mr Hemetsberger said. “It must be user-friendly for all of us, be sustainable, represent quality and be of high value to the ABU members and the ABU itself.”