Using quantitative and qualitative methods to measure the effectiveness of rebroadcasting
The placement of international radio programs on local frequencies, or rebroadcasting, is a growing phenomenon in the countries of the former Soviet Union. International broadcasters have hoped to stem the loss of listeners on shortwave frequencies and at the same time inherit new listeners from the local partner stations' audiences. While a certain amount of audience growth has taken place with rebroadcasting, it has not been clear why some rebroadcasting arrangements have been more successful than others and whether international broadcasters will be able to retain these new listeners. Over the last few years, the Media and Opinion Research department of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Institute (the predecessor to the Audience and Opinion Research department of the Open Media Research Institute) has carried out a two-tiered strategy combining city surveys and focus groups to study the many new questions posed by rebroadcasting, specifically as they concern RFE/RL. The research has revealed that rebroadcasting is not automatically beneficial. Arrangements vary and have greatly differing impacts on the international broadcaster's ability to retain its essential identity. If not handled properly, the rebroadcasting arrangement can be detrimental to both rebroadcasting partners. However, new listeners can be gained and retained if the right conditions of placement, scheduling and partner compatibility are met. This paper will discuss some of the important issues that rebroadcasting poses for international broadcasters and then examine the results from quantitative and qualitative studies in several cities in the former Soviet Union where Radio Liberty has entered into different rebroadcast arrangements.
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