Decline of Identity and Listenership among Local Chinese Radio Stations

Lim Guohao

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In today’s technological age and consumer-driven economy, Singapore’s Chinese radio stations are mainly concerned with listenership figures, which predominantly determine their survival and success.

In their race towards attaining greater listenership, these radio stations are gradually losing their identities. Greater uniformity in song features and discussion content are key factors that account for such a trend.

Individual identities of many Chinese radio stations across the region have been declining, especially within Singapore. A predominant factor behind this trend lies in the declining number of the target audience, specifically those below the age of 35. This is due to the growing popularity of alternative forms of entertainment, such as online radio channels, social media platforms (eg. Facebook, Twitter) and online broadcasting avenues (eg. YouTube, DailyMotion).

As a result, many local radio stations are now aiming to attract greater numbers of middle-aged (35-59 years old) listeners, in addition to their pre-existing group of core target listeners. As most of the middle-aged in Singapore have greater purchasing power, they could help boost the radio station’s appeal towards various advertisers.

However, such ‘strategy’ adopted by these radio stations might provoke a backlash as more high quality and niche radio programmes, targeted towards a smaller group of audience, is being demolished.

For instance, the once-popular jazz radio show UrbanNite on UFM100.3 was terminated due to the relatively lower commercial revenue that it generated, as compared to other programmes for the general audience.

Another example would be a local paid radio service, Rediffusion. Offering unique and alternative radio programmes, it had once reached its peak with an impressive number of 120,000 paid subscribers in the 1980s.

Traditional storytelling programmes, hosted by ex-local radio veterans Lee Dai Soh (or Li Da Sha) and Wang Dao, were extremely popular on Rediffusion. However, as time passed, listenership began to decline and this led to the closing down of the historic cable radio service in 2012. It was announced in December 2012 that a new form of Rediffusion would be launched, with an array of radio shows that would appeal more to general public preferences.

Instead of cultivating a radio listening culture among the younger generation, the radio industry is focusing on retaining its older listeners. Songs broadcasted are those from the 1980s to 2010, with many repetitions of singers such as Aaron Kwok, Daniel Chan and Julie Su (more commonly known as Su Rui). Additionally, the content of news discussed is centred on entertainment, family and relationship issues.

Such moves could be unfavourable for the local Chinese radio industry. Young listeners below the age of 35 might be disinterested in Chinese radio stations if programme contents do not appeal to them.

They might also have difficulty in identifying the radio stations. In the next 20 years, without the existing group of older listeners, local radio industry might face serious survival problems. A major re-adjustment of programme contents would have to be carried out so as to suit the preferences of the new batch of audience.

It is extremely important to cultivate a more appealing radio environment to the younger generation as well. It is also crucial for each radio station to constantly create new ideas and concepts and to develop a unique identity, instead of accommodating to the needs of advertisers or focusing on listenership figures. This provides a greater variety of choices and attracts listeners of different age groups.

本地电台或增设更多互动单元

林国豪 整理

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有听众曾在报章的互动栏目提议,增设更多互动单元,增加听众与主持人的互动,当中包括“YES/NO”以及“同意/不同意”的投票单元。

由于大部分的中文电台都通过台湾、香港,以及中国新闻网站,如ETTODAY以及新浪(SINA)等,获取主要的空中讨论题材,以至让空中分享内容达到饱和,并出现重复。

因此,与其采用一般的新闻分享与讨论形式,在个别节目增设一个投票单元,针对所采集的海外内容,让本地听众表达意愿与想法,除了能增加观众的参与感,也能使得呈现出来的新闻贴近生活,而非凭空、表面之谈。

建议举办更多“户外开讲” 让听众参与播音

曾经987FM以及Lush99.5FM在商场设立直播室,但由于成本过高和保安问题,已经取消了其做法,后者也因为收听率低靡,选择关闭电台。然而,中文电台举办“户外广播”的例子反应却正好相反,UFM100.3的《U选1000终极倒数》、96.3好FM的《好歌发烧榜》和Y.E.S93.3FM、Capital95.8FM以及Love97.2FM为台庆举办的户外广播却吸引大批人潮,显现它的市场潜力,以直接刺激收听率。

调查:本地广播听众“老龄化” 节目项目 “碎片化”

林国豪 整理

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本地展开的 “民众通讯使用与习惯 (Selected Primary Internet Activities by Age Group – Communication Activities)” 的报告中显示,逾百70%的年轻人(15-24岁)和约53%的成人听众(2534岁)几乎每天都会上网接收海外影音内容。

其中, 超过百分之82的年轻人(15-24岁)和约42%的成人听众(25-34岁)会利用手机应用程序阅听网上影音内容。面对网上多元与广泛的内容,加上电台内容匮乏,本地电台正面临年轻受众急速流失的困境。

所有的中文电台都已跨足新媒体,设有网上受听与手机应用程序,但仍然没有获得太显著的收效,年轻受众的急速流失,导致不少电台为了生存,必须转向挽留较成熟的听众,以巩固受听率,从而使得听众面临“老龄化”的问题日益严重。

尼尔森近期公布的 “民众广播收听习惯调查” (Nielsen’s Radio Diary Survey) 更显示,本地电台听众持续收听的时长整体明显下降,主要是因为年轻受众大量流失,加上大部分的中年听众(35-50岁)还是以车载调频收音机(in-car tune in radio)收听广播,并以早上7点至9点,和傍晚5点30分至7点为收听巅峰。

生活习惯上的改变,导致电台节目团队必须调整节目方针,放弃以往深入、涵盖范围广的节目内容,进而改为更精简、更片段式的呈现,以继续锁住听众的注意。

调查:本地华语电台内容重复   缺乏独特性

林国豪 整理

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电台广播讲究及时与创新,然而本地的广播环境仍处于稚嫩与停滞不前的状态,未能提供多元与广泛的电台选择与内容。

在分享内容方面,不少中文电台的主持人与制作人都会投向其他华人地区如香港、台湾、马来西亚,以及中国的新闻网站,获取有趣与新颖的新闻内容。然而,由于各电台的新闻出处相同,加上电台节目性质相同,以至不少在空中分享的内容,都会出现重复的现象。

例如,UFM100.3分享有关“十大大陆网络影片”的新闻,在下来的中班和傍晚班再次被重提。同时,88.3Jia的中班以及Y.E.S.93.3FM中班也几乎在同一时间讨论同样的话题。

据笔者的抽样调查,本地各大电台的主要新闻出处为(一)ETTODAY新闻云 (www.ettoday.net)、(二)NOWNEWS (www.nownews.com)、(三)香港am730(www.am730.com.hk)、(四)台湾苹果日报(www.nextmedia.com.tw)、(五)香港苹果日报(www.nextmedia.com.hk)、(六)台湾自由时报(www.libertytimes.com.tw)、(七)雅虎台湾(yahoo.com.tw)、(八)薯条藤(n.yam.com)、(九)MSN台湾(msn.com.tw)、(十)联合早报网 (zaobao.com.sg) 以及(十一)8视界 (8world.com)。

歌曲的选择方面,由于市场狭隘,加上本地中文电台的商家,主要针对的消费群为中年与乐龄人士(即25至60岁不等),不少电台都会在歌曲编排上,会纳入这个中年群体的阅听需要。这项举措却直接影响了个别电台的特性与独特性。

标榜着“引领潮流时代、顶尖流行音乐电台”的Y.E.S.93.3FM,原本针对的群体为15岁至34岁的年轻人,却在之后把针对的受众推后至18岁以后,以吸引更多成熟的听众收听。周末甚至增设“金曲Replay”联播4小时的90至2000年代的歌曲,以挽留较年长的听众。

此外,Y.E.S.93.3FM也在歌曲方面做出了明显的调整,除了主打新歌,电台也不时播出经典歌手的歌曲如张学友的《吻别》、刘德华《爱你一万年》以及齐秦《大约在冬季》以顺应较年长听众的收听习惯。

同样的情况也出现在其他电台,最为显著的是UFM100.3。原本标榜着“就是不一样”的电台,如今却因为年轻市场小,必须转型成为主攻中年听众的音乐与资讯并存的电台。

由于受限于商业考量,本地电台都选择随波逐流,主攻大众喜爱的内容与歌曲,较不愿意服务小众群体,进而产生内容被重复,个别电台缺乏独特性的现象。