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100 years of radio

A review and an appeal by the Forum Musikwirtschaft together with the German Music Council, GEMA and GVL

100 Jahre Radio GVL GEMA Deutscher Musikrat Forum Musikwirtschaft

In connection with BR's planned programme reform, the Forum Musikwirtschaft, together with the German Music Council, GEMA and GVL, also emphasises the continued high relevance of radio as a medium for the music industry, especially with regard to local repertoire and newcomers.

"Attention, attention! This is the Berlin station in the Vox Haus. On wave 400 metres" - this is how the first official radio programme in Germany began on 29 October 1923. Since then, it has primarily been a success story: radio still plays a very important role for many people. Music itself is one of the most sought-after contents, and radio is still very popular as a music medium, even among younger people. In 2022, radio was ahead of all other music media, including audio streaming, with a usage time of 27.1%; radio is correspondingly relevant for the audibility and presence of performers and the industry partners behind them in Germany, especially when it comes to building up newcomers and local repertoire as well as special interest genres such as hip hop or jazz. In addition, the presence on the radio has an influence on the income of music creators, because depending on how often performers are played on the radio, the more money they and their partners receive in the end through distributions from collecting societies.

Cutting back on programmes and reducing linear broadcasting space for music not only means less cultural diversity due to pooling, but also entails a considerable economic problem for many performers and parts of the industry.  

Educational and cultural mandate of public service broadcasting: Public service broadcasting emphasises three main principles for its programme: independence, quality and diversity. Independence means, for example, that it should report independently due to the funding system and therefore has an important role to play in shaping opinion. The programme should be of high quality and include information, education and entertainment; the involvement of specialist editors also plays a key role here. The third principle is diversity. Programmes should present a wide range of different content and thus appeal to a wide variety of people. Broadcasters not only have the freedom to design their programmes under less economic pressure, such as that arising from ratings and advertising revenue, but also the duty to reflect and ensure cultural diversity.

Rapper Sagat, for example, asks: "Why do I hear the same five songs every time I switch on the radio? Fifteen times a day, for three months? Man, that sucks! Get a new DJ!" (Sagat - Funk That / Fuck That)

The cultural mandate of public radio stations should be fulfilled and musical diversity presented. On the one hand, this means that the repertoire of newcomers and local repertoire should be given more visibility and audibility in the programme. On the other hand, diversity and the representation of the musical landscape mean that both national and international repertoire is played, that not only established but also up-and-coming newcomers, that the different genres and within them the different forms are played on the radio. In this way, public radio stations themselves can make a contribution to promoting young talent. With regard to the range of formats, we call for a clearer differentiation from the programmes of private broadcasters. In this context, we believe that current efforts to merge linear programmes in the evening schedule as part of the programme reform or to reduce the range of daily programmes are counterproductive.

Berlin/Hamburg/München, 9. November 2023

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100 Jahre Radio