Peru and Mexico are two Latin American countries that stand out for their commitment to radio. In recent months both have tendered about 170 new stations both AM and FM.
At the end of June 2017, the Federal Institute of Telecommunications, IFT, finalized the bidding process by which it awarded 123 radio station concession titles, distributed on 27 am and 96 fm radio frequencies, and awarded to 57 different winning participants who met all the requirements previously established for the tender.
Of the total number of winning participants, 47 obtained frequencies only in FM, 7 only in AM and 3 obtained frequencies in both bands. This concluded a process that had begun a year earlier and for which initially 421 expressions of interest were presented to participate in the tender, by 189 individuals and 232 legal entities.
At the time, the Commissioner President of the regulatory body, Gabriel Contreras, acknowledged that "For more than twenty years no new concessions for commercial use had been granted in our country for sound broadcasting; this, as a result of the Telecommunications Reform, will allow the public in different regions of the country to have new information and entertainment options."
For its part, the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Peru announced at the beginning of June of this year the opening of the call for the first corresponding public tender of the year, in order to deliver up to 45 new authorizations of the FM radio service, with community, educational and commercial purposes, in 17 locations nationwide.
For this tender, the Peruvian ministry has prioritized those localities located in border areas, places of preferential social interest and those classified as rural areas. It also considered decentralization and the expression of public interest in the conduct of the contest.
These two cases are an example of the commitment to strengthen radio in the region, a medium that some pessimists say is stagnant. Undoubtedly, there is a space that can be developed and for which there is an interest in the market, as reflected in the numbers of the tender in Mexico.
This also becomes opportunities also for all industry players, such as technology manufacturers who have focused their sales growth expectations in these two countries, in a particularly complicated year for their businesses.
In Mexico, the commitment to strengthen radio does not remain only in new channels. The IFT issued Technical Provision 011-2017, which obliges mobile phone manufacturers that already have fm radio signal receivers to enable it.
This standard does not require that mobile equipment manufacturers incorporate this technological capacity to receive FM radio frequencies, but that those that already have the receiver chip be activated to effectively tune stations, because most smartphones have a "chip" that allows to capture FM radio, but that at present there are few devices in operation that have the chip active.
In addition, the IFT announced that it plans to start new AM and FM radio tenders towards the end of this year, in response to the Annual Frequency Band Programs 2016 and 2017. Not to mention that Mexico is one of the first countries to advance in the implementation of the digital radio system, which will also allow frequency multiplexing.
That there is plurality of media will always be good news. Although the question remains whether there is the financial capacity to make these new stations a successful and lasting business. Time will tell.