The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has released the results of an in-depth study on the situation of public service radio and its relation to social media. The report includes data on international radio consumption from 31 EBU Member organizations in 28 countries. It also features 28 case studies on radio programme formats, as well as social- and cross-media strategies in seven European countries plus the USA.

The study found that public service broadcasters are successfully exploiting social media to reach new listeners and boost their relevance. One key finding was that while traditional AM/FM radio consumption is down, most public service radio broadcasters now provide online and mobile services, social media interactivity and smartphone applications that have actually extended their reach. Public radio broadcasters are adapting to and even shaping the new radio landscape by building their cross-platform presence to raise their profile and make their content more accessible.

EBU Head of Research Alex Shulzycki said the data showed that the heightened social media activity of radio presenters and their programmes meant public service radio’s relevance was continuing to grow. “In an increasingly competitive radio market, European public broadcasters maintained a strong average 37% share for their national radio channels in 2010, unchanged from the previous year and this is also due to multiplatform distribution and social media,” says Shulzycki.

Mike Mullane, Head of News, Sports & New Radio at the EBU, stated that public radio broadcasters were meeting head-on the challenge posed by music-on-demand websites. “When these services began to gain a foothold, some people were predicting the end of music-based public service radio. What this study shows is that listeners are still tuning in because they value the interactive human experience that radio offers, but which is not available from music streaming sites,” says Mullane.

The programme case studies showed that European public service radio is engaging with diverse audiences. Programme formats analysed varied from morning shows to cultural magazines and documentaries, but all had social media strategies designed to hold listeners’ attention after the radio is turned off.

All of the data gathered over four months is compiled in a full 200-page report, an executive summary of which can be downloaded from this address.

June 28th, 2011 - 9:28 UTC
by A.Sennitt
(Source: European Broadcasting Union)