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ABUGA 2014: The battle for young audiences focuses forum

Broadcasters must think of smarter ways of attracting young audiences, an ABU forum in Macau has been told.

A panel discussion at the ABU Programme Committee meeting at the Conrad Macau moderated by Mr Peter A Musngi of Manila Radio ABS-CBN heard a number of experts comment on The Battle for the Attention of the Young.

Ms Shanthi Bhagirathan of MBC Radio in Sri Lanka said popular initiatives included the use of social media with radio content, incorporating Twitter, Google, Facebook and others, while Ms Zakiah Halim of MediaCorp in Singapore said young people’s attention was short and they moved on quickly, including with the social media they use.

She said for MediaCorp live updates of events were important and the attractions of services such as Instagram and Facebook were not the programming itself but add-ons such as personality pictures and major events related to program presenters or events.

“Programming itself is last on the list,” she said.

Panellist Ms Deborah Steele of ABC-Australia reminded the forum that one of the fastest growing age groups for the take-up of mobile platforms was 55+, because they had money and tablets and the time to use them.

The key issue was therefore the relevance of content and the relevance of platforms to each audience. She said broadcasters should re-purpose their work for every platform, not just put up a whole radio program and expect it to be effective as it was. Also, they had to ensure their talent was relevant to their target audience. She said broadcasters seemed very good at making young children’s programs but not so good at the teenage or young adult stage.

Ms Echo Wai of RadioTelevision Hong Kong said their mobile app RTHK MINE attracted new audiences with spin-off programs. All content was three minutes – fast, brief and interesting.

She said young people could share content via social media, create their own playlists, choose their own traffic spots and listen to live and archived programs. RTHK radio staff changed radio program highlights into video clips of no more than three minutes.

Mr Nguyen Pham Huan of the Voice of Vietnam English service said their challenge was being a government station with a brief to support the government’s policies, which made attracting youth more difficult. They conducted surveys then produced programs around those and re-branded them to appeal to younger listeners.

In the debate that followed, Ms Olya Booyar of the ABU said an important approach was to involve young people in the production of their programs, not just talk at them. She said that at the recent ABU-organised World Summit on Media for Children in Kuala Lumpur, young people broadcasting for the pop-up Radijojo were trained and very comfortable interviewing adults and experts to make online programs about topics of interest to them, from politics and current affairs to the environment and social issues.