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Christos Barboutis, Alexandros Baltzis

In Radio Evolution, Conference Proceedings, pp. 117-130
Editors: Madalena Oliveira, Pedro Portela, Luís António Santos
Braga: Communication and Society Research Centre (CECS), University of Minho, 2012
ISBN: 978-989-97244-9-5




Based on previous research and literature, the paper presents the characteristics of the RF ("over-the-air") radio landscape in Greece and summarizes its basic features. This is a case where the mass media - and thus the RF radio as well - function in an environment defined by their dependence on strong complexes of political and economic interests. Research shows that the hierarchy of political, economic and cultural considerations upon which RF radio in Greece is structured, is affected by this dependence. The paper argues that, in addition to the institutional framework, this setting also strongly affects the news and musical content of the terrestrial ("traditional" or RF) radio. However, setting aside simplistic interpretations and conspiracy theories, the paper argues that in the Greek case radio is not a simple "pipeline", but rather an instrument that performs a dual function: on the one hand, it promotes the complexes of political and economic interests while, on the other, it contributes to the construction of ideology and culture.

Previous studies indicate that this double function is performed in multifarious, sophisticated and indirect ways. It cannot, therefore, be easily detected by solely analyzing the institutional framework or the market performance. A more complicated approach is needed, especially since previous studies show that the way the private radio was established in Greece and its subsequent development, ensured the safeguarding of a particular type of pluralism influenced by complexes of political and economic interests. In this sense, the paper examines the case of the Greek RF radio within the wider context of the media landscape in the country by taking under account several aspects of its historical evolution and social characteristics. In this way it sets out an example for the operation of the medium in small European markets.

Based on this review, the paper goes on to analyze the challenge that the Internet radio represents in the Greek media landscape. In this context, it raises several questions. First, about the possibility of and the ways in which Internet radio might differentiate from RF radio, breaking free from the burdens of the former. Considering previous analyses, the paper takes into account the tendency of the Internet radio to be colonized by the same forces and structures that dominate the RF radio and determine its content. Research has shown that this is a general tendency on the Internet as a whole. Second, it raises the question about the differences between the RF and Internet radio as communication media and social systems. In an attempt to study the probability of Internet radio making a difference in a media environment like the Greek one, the paper discusses research scenarios and methods for its scientific evaluation. Finally, the paper tries to outline the main directions of the research in order to examine whether the Internet might represent a new environment for radio or a new form of the old structures in the well-known and well established status quo.