Making Do With Less

Discussion at the 17th Annual Radio Assembly in Rome April 28-29 focused on how public broadcast stations will deal with shrinking budgets and competition from the Internet.

Organised by the European Broadcasting Union, which serves 85 national media organizations in 56 countries, the gathering was expected to explore strategies to get the most out of new technologies and “weather the financial crisis weighing so heavily on public radio.”

A special session scheduled for the second day was due to discuss how social media are turning the world upside down and how this is influencing journalists and newsrooms.

The speakers included Doris Pack, the European parliament’s president of culture and education, EBU director general Ingrid Deltenre, British Internet technologist Ben Hammersley, and Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s press office.

This year’s annual meeting was hosted by Radio Vaticana, the official broadcasting service of the Vatican and a founding member of the EBU.

“Today more people are listening to the radio than at any time in the past decade, tuning in on many more different and accessible platforms,” said EBU radio director Raina Konstantinova, prior to the conference opening.

“People and societies need public media for quality content, its independence of opinion, its plurality of information. More than ever before we need to be knowledgeable and united to sustain and further develop radio as the real voice of the people.”

The annual assembly was expected to attract around 140 leading figures from more than 50 broadcasters. It’s widely acknowledged as the public service radio forum for discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the medium.