Broadcasters from around the world were represented on Monday 13 February at the 2017 World Radio Day in Shanghai, hosted this year by EBU Associate the Shanghai Media Group, a major player in the Chinese media scene.
World Radio Day itself has been defined by UNESCO as an occasion on which to focus on and celebrate the contribution of radio to societies around the world, and the vital role the medium plays in uniting and informing communities. Colleagues representing many EBU members took this opportunity to learn about the Chinese media scene, and the sister broadcasting unions were represented; delegates included Graham Ellis, the Chair of the EBU Radio Committee and Directors General of several broadcasting organisations.
The centrepiece of this year’s event was marked by the conference around the theme ‘Radio and You’, in which the growing possibilities for audience interaction were discussed by those present. There was a balance of Chinese and foreign broadcasters, providing a unique opportunity for colleagues to exchange perceptions and discuss their strategic challenges. During the course of the meeting, the Pioneer Programme of the dotRadio domain was launched; this is the new internet domain for the radio sector, being rolled out by the EBU during 2017.
The EBU's Head of Radio, Graham Dixon, delivered a keynote speech which underlined the significant part that audio plays in people’s lives, with buoyant consumption trends.He also drew attention to new ways of consuming audio, from live audio streams on Facebook, to the Amazon Echo, and new speech based apps.
With increasing diversity, Dixon argued that the distinctiveness of radio lay itself in its role a live medium, close to individual communities, and capable of developing deep relationships of trust with the audience. Panels, including both Chinese and foreign contributors, considered how to engage younger demographics, interactivity and radio, and issues around diversity.
The final gala celebration of the day symbolically united Chinese and European cultures, and comprised a concert performed by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, combining traditional Chinese folk instruments within the symphonic texture. This also marked the first EBU live concert broadcast from China, a fitting way of marking the recent entry of the Shanghai Media Group to the EBU as an Associate.
For EBU colleagues present, in the delegation led by the Media Director, Jean Philip De Tender, this was an important opportunity to meet with the senior leaders of the major media players in China, as well as meetings at governmental level. The discussions centred around considering ways of sharing strategic and technological understanding, as well as creating content; in this area, music is already beginning to play a central role, due to a strong, growing collaboration with the EBU Radio Unit.
World Radio Day 2017 was celebrated across the city of Shanghai, from metro station advertisements to giant illuminated signs in public places. It was also widely publicized and reported in Chinese media outlets, including the main national television news bulletin, which will have guaranteed the event an impressive reach of around one billion viewers.