Latvia’s market oversaturated, says study released on World Radio Day

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The Latvian radio market is oversaturated, according to a study conducted by the Baltic International Center for Economic Policy Studies (BICEPS).

With 22 radio stations per one million inhabitants, Latvia has more stations per inhabitant than the UK where there are 8.8 stations per one million inhabitants.

The study was released Friday, which was marked internationally as World Radio Day, especially in the UNESCO host cities of Paris and Geneva, where the European Broadcasting Union held live streams of discussion and music dedicated to the debate around the future of radio and what it means, especially to young people nowadays.

Anchored by BBC correspondent Imogen Foulkes, the high-level debate includes the Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva Mr Michael Møller; Mr Engida Getischew, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Ms Getachew Engida, Director General of the European Broadcasting Union; and ITU Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao.

The live broadcast is coordinated by the European Broadcasting Union and transmitted globally via the network of World Broadcasting Unions.

“This year’s observance of World Radio Day highlights the importance of radio to the world’s 1.8 billion young women and men,” said United Nations Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon in a message. “As the international community shapes new sustainable development goals and a new global agreement on climate change, we need to hear the voices of young women and men, loudly, strongly and urgently.”

According to the data of the Latvian National Electronic Media Council, there were 44 commercial radio stations operating in Latvia last year, ensuring the broadcasting of 69 radio programs, including five national programs, 53 local and 11 regional programs.

Some of the broadcasters have merged, creating media groups Mediju Grupa Super FM and Mix Media Group.

The study shows that there are six big players in the Latvian radio market: Latvijas Radio public broadcaster (of which LSM.eng is a part), and commercial broadcasters Mediju Grupa Super FM, Radio SWH, Radio Skonto, Star FM and Mix Media Group. "The advertising revenue of these radio stations makes up about 80 percent of all radio stations' combined advertising revenue, which is an indication of the radio market’s high level of concentration. Other radio stations are largely subsidized from other sources and revenue generated from owners' other businesses," authors of the study said.

Data from Latvia's Lursoft business database shows that the radio stations' aggregate turnover came to 15.4 million euros in 2013, which means that the radio stations make up 25 percent of Latvia's broadcasting sector.

Meanwhile, Radio NABA announced that it would officially celebrate its relaunching under the Latvian Public Radio Channel 6 frequency 95.8 mHz this Monday after a year of sharing its old frequency with youth-oriented Channel 5 to the detriment of both programs. It has been broadcasting on the new state-owned frequency, which it shares with Saeima plenary session broadcasts, which are heard only in and around the vicinity of Riga.

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