Radio: The universal medium that leaves no one behind |

To better understand this decision, and on the occasion of World Radio Day 13 February, which is being celebrated under the theme “Radio and Faith”, UN News contacted ITUMario Maniewicz’s Director of Radio Communications, who began by explaining the importance of radio in Africa.

This interview was conducted in French and has been edited and adapted for publication.

Mario Maniewicz: In Africa, radio broadcasting still dominates over other forms of mass communication. Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and forms a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach the widest audience means that radio can shape the diverse experience of society, becoming an arena for all voices to speak, to be represented and to be heard. be heard.

In addition, radio helps listeners feel less isolated and more connected to their community. In times of emergencies and disasters, broadcasting is one of the most powerful and effective ways to give early warnings. Timely, relevant and practical information supports effective and life-saving responses. For those directly affected, this is an important form of humanitarian assistance. As we have seen in COVID-19 During the pandemic, radio has kept people connected and entertained, ensured learning continuity, helped combat misinformation and disseminated important health information.

The ITU recently announced the identification of new FM frequencies for Africa. What is the importance?

Mario Maniewicz: Over the years we have seen a steady increase in the demand for quality radio broadcasts in Africa. This increase also means that there is pressure on available radio frequencies and in particular FM radio broadcasting. For the past two years, the ITU in collaboration with the African Telecommunication Union and radiocommunication experts have been working on a project to define new frequencies to facilitate the expansion of FM radio broadcasting services across the world. across the continent.

We were able to identify more than 18,000 assigned frequencies that can currently be used for FM Broadcasting in Africa without causing or receiving harmful interference. The success of this project helps ensure the long-term sustainability of radio broadcasting in Africa and paves the way for the introduction of digital audio broadcasting in Africa.

A lot has changed in the media landscape in recent years. Where does ITU think radio is headed?

Mario Maniewicz: This year marks 127 years since the first radio transmission was made by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895 on the Isle of Wight, which eventually led to the signing of the International Radiometer Convention in 1906. During this period, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) played a central role in promoting media worldwide, establishing and updating international regulations on the use of frequency spectrum. radio and satellite orbit. The regulations also specify how radio systems and equipment must operate to ensure reliable coexistence between radio services of different regulatory authorities and to enable efficient use Most effective air waves are increasingly crowded today.

So radio is still going strong and at ITU we will continue to act as global stewards of the wave, ensuring we can connect securely, sustainably and innovate. for many centuries to come. Accessible and affordable, radio can reach virtually everyone, anywhere. Its loyal listeners include people in big cities, people in small towns and villages, people in rural communities and even those in the most remote corners of the planet. pure.

Part of people’s trust in radio is due to its low cost and popularity. The radio remains affordable and can be heard anywhere, even when electricity or internet connections are unreliable. Therefore, radio is one of the most popular means of communication, used by the majority of people. In my opinion, radio leaves no one behind.

 Inside a radio studio in Afghanistan where women's voices call for democracy and human rights.

UNAMA / Fardin Waezi

Inside a radio studio in Afghanistan where women’s voices call for democracy and human rights.

Do you see how traditional radio frequency-based radio has become obsolete and somehow leaves everyone behind?

Mario Maniewicz: I think there will always be a place for wireless radio. Although more and more people are connecting to other digital platforms or online, there are still people who are not connected, or they do not have electricity, or they are in remote places where it is not easy to reach them. access to these technologies, or they lack the economic means to use this other platform.

So I think radio will always be popular, starting with the fact that it’s completely free. This is the only platform out of all these that is completely free. For others, you have to pay for the connection, you have to pay for the special equipment, but here it is not. So I think there will always be a place for it, maybe not in the developed world, or in the big cities, but in the developing world, in the more isolated, rural areas where people people who do not have a very high standard of living, it will always be the most popular means.

You mentioned the trust people have in radio, which is the theme of this year’s World Radio Day. You also say that it is a platform for democracy. Can you go back to the relationship of trust people have for this radio station?

Mario Maniewicz: Sure. We are in a world where fake news is pervasive and to the detriment of everyone, but the best platform for this kind of thing is social media. Because with social networks, there is no personal responsibility. People can post what they want without being responsible for what they post.

On the other hand, with radio, there is always someone in charge of the radio program we are listening to. So, if you know that you’re listening to a serious radio, you know that the likelihood of bounce, on new forms and is very low, either nil, or non-existent. So that’s why I think radio is more reliable for people than other online platforms.

I mention democracy because, usually, radio stations give space for people to express themselves, for all political colors and for all sections of the community. So it’s a popular tool to communicate and express yourself to the rest of the population… I think the difference is that radio is more transparent.

Thank you very much Mr. Maniewicz. Do you have a final message for World Radio Day?

Mario Maniewicz: Well, my message is exactly to take advantage of this medium, this medium, which is excellent average, and to protect this medium, this medium. Because it is always under attack by new technologies. Not because they compete – that’s not the point – but because radio availability is increasingly being competed by other services.

So I think it is important for governments and regulators in countries to protect the waves that are assigned to radio broadcasts, whether analog or digital. And precisely by using digital radio we save spectrum and thus we can free up more spectrum without killing the station.

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