Friday, January 16, 2009

ABC - Australia Beats Canada? Anything but CBC?

No, ABC is "Australian Broadcasting Corporation". Similar to our CBC in Canada.

It has now been just over two weeks since I began listening to internet radio and I’ve quickly developed some preferences for the radio stations that I listen to.

I initially saved Ottava (Japan), Bayern 4 Klassik (Germany), RNE Radio Clasica (Spain), Radio Classique (France), Radio Stephansdom (Austria), Sveriges Radio (Sweden) and Radio New Zealand Concert FM into my list of favourites. But it is ABC Classical FM (from Australia) that has become my everyday, all day station.

Why? Well, first of all, it’s due to the selections that are featured on ABC Classical FM. Selections are played, for the most part, in their entirety. And it is not the “Top 40” classical format that you may hear, for example, on Classical FM in Toronto.

There’s also something enjoyable about hearing news from Australia. While you still hear the world news, you also get the local news stories from Australia that can be an interesting change, compared to the mundane local news available in Canada. And it’s refreshing to know, for example, that the high temperature will be 39 celsius in Alice Springs today, when it’s -30 degrees celsius in Ottawa.

The format of ABC Classical FM reminds me of CBC Radio Two, before the CBC’s disastrous attempts at restructuring CBC Radio Two. I became curious – just how successful is ABC Classical FM in Australia? To answer this question, I took a look at the AC Nielsen radio surveys in Australia.

There are some differences between the surveys done in Australia and the ones done by the BBM in Canada. For a start, there are eight surveys done each year in Australia compared to four in Canada. In Australia, both regions and major metropolitan areas are surveyed, whereas only major metropolitan areas are surveyed by the BBM.

So, I decided to compare the market share of ABC Classical FM in Sydney (population 4.2M) with that of CBC Radio Two in Toronto (population of the GTA 4.8M). I could have done similar comparisons between Canberra and Ottawa, perhaps, and Melbourne and Montreal, Brisbane and Vancouver, but I have only a limited amount of time that I can devote to this blog. So I only compared Toronto and Sydney.

Not surprisingly, both ABC Classical FM and CBC Radio Two had a similar market share in the S8 2005 (S4 2005 for Canada) survey – 2.2%. But, as you can see from the graph below, the trend for CBC Radio Two in Toronto has been declining, while the trend for ABC Classical FM in Sydney has been increasing.

What’s wrong with those aussies? Don’t they know that classical music is dead? Don’t they know that they have to represent all musical genres in Australia, to showcase music performed by Australian musicians? Don’t they know that their role, as a public broadcaster, is not to feature music that will not normally be programmed by commercial radio stations and that will enlighten and educate their listeners, but is instead to try to appeal to the widest possible audience by featuring a mish-mash of genres spread out over various times of the day?

Apparently they don’t – and thank God for that.


brian said...

James, thank you for the good work and research on your blog. I agree wholeheartedly
with your approach and loved your playlist article. Right on. As far as internet radio is concerned, I use my old g4 Mac desktop computer plugged into my stereo through an D/A converter as an internet radio and discovered ABC classic as a result of your article.
Thank you, I have added it to my list of stations.
What a paradox, the first item I heard was a repeat of an Eric Friesen interview with Emamual Ax. a tape of a former cbc radio 2 programme. So Australians are getting a false idea of current Canadian broadcasting. Our international profile I am sure has taken a cultural plunge when we have to tune to Australia to hear our former glory in this field. By the way there are two interesting articles on the Audio Ideas web site on the destruction of cbc radio 2 that are well written by Andrew Marshal.
Is the new Minister of culture cultured? Is their any hope of change?

Anonymous said...

ABC Classic FM is a great station. I think the best on the planet.