Fight to Save Radio Australia’s HF Radio Broadcasts

Tecsun Radios Australia owner Garry Cratt was interviewed by ABC Rural yesterday (18/01/2017) about the ABC’s decision to end their shortwave radio transmission after almost 80 years.

In a previous statement in December 2016, Michael Mason, ABC’s director of radio stated that:

“While shortwave technology has served audiences well for many decades, it is now nearly a century old and serves a very limited audience. The ABC is seeking efficiencies and will instead service this audience through modern technology.”

Garry countered this statement in yesterday’s interview with ABC Rural, saying:

“A lot of the places that do receive Radio Australia, there is no power for a start, so they’re relying on batteries and solar panels.  The people that are listening, that will be affected, are those people who are maybe still back in the last century, but that’s not their fault.”

Tecsun Radios Australia recently sent a shipment of 500 radios to the Solomon Islands to be distributed amongst outlying villages. Shortwave radio is often the only means of communication in remote villages such as these, this is especially important during times of natural disaster such as the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and as recently as Cyclone Pam in 2015.

This decision is based on the ABC’s gradual move towards a digital focused service, with any savings made from the closing down of the shortwave transmission repopulated into building a stronger FM transmitter network.  The ABC previously said:

“The majority of ABC audiences in the Northern Territory currently access ABC services via AM and FM and all ABC radio and digital radio services are available on the VAST satellite service.”

But what happens to the people who don’t have the equipment to listen to FM radio?  

There are many more than are being accounted for, Tecsun Radios Australia representative Michael explains:

“One of the challenges for shortwave broadcasters is to quantify the number of listeners at any one time, and to put a value on the benefit of the information broadcast. For example, how do you measure and quantify a shortwave listener in the Pacific Islands who moves his family to high ground because of a weather warning received via his shortwave radio, or a traveller who receives a bush fire warning in the Australian outback?”

The ABC Radio interview:

Read the full article and listen to Garry’s interview here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-18/abc-shortwave-cuts-tourists-operator-pacific-island/8191374

5 replies
  1. Paul S.
    Paul S. says:

    Its a shame that ABC does not realize the value and necessity of radio reception any further. The plain fact is that rural, poor areas are well-served by radio as opposed to an internet connection and computer. Consider that Tecsun sent radios to a rural area, and Apple has not sent iPhones and Cel Towers. ABC has slighted the world by turniing off their voice where its needed for weather and news communication.

    Regards
    Paul S.

    Reply
  2. Ed Allen
    Ed Allen says:

    I’m afraid ABC has got it very wrong. Shortwave is not old fashioned, the fact is that none of their fancy hi-tech systems are capable of doing what Shortwave can do, since they are all dependent on the person at the receiving end having access to electricity, phones lines, satellite dishes or wi-fi (not to mention the money to afford these things). Shortwave signals can be sent from a remote area that is unaffected by disasters and received on simple equipment, and both this and the Long and Medium Wave Bands are unique in that respect, and will always have a much greater reach than FM and DAB, which are short range VHF systems which are limited by the horizon.

    What is old fashioned though is the Amplitude Modulation system (AM) that is used, but there is of course a newer and more efficient digital system called DRM (or DRM30 to be more specific for Shortwave), and this can be easily and cheaply added to existing transmitters as is currently happening in India. Even New Zealand already use this system for many of their Pacific broadcasts, and the quality of this is such that it can even be used for re-transmission on FM in those target areas. This mode can cover a far greater area than DAB and with just a single transmitter, whereas a large numbers of very expensive MUX systems are required to cover even a fraction of that area, which is why it is mainly the cities that get them and not the countryside. By removing the only means of offering a wide area digital system for the Northern Territories and the Pacific, the ABC are actually stopping any future progress and modernisation from happening, and are condemning customers to be stuck with the prices demanded by the monopolies that operate many of these multiplex systems.

    It really is incredible just how ignorant the so called ABC experts are about such things, and they really should consider speaking to a few technical experts who actually know about these things, and know what they are talking about, rather than just the usual city based bean counters and yuppies who spend their entire lives stuck to their smart phones, and think that civilisation ends at city boundaries.

    Reply
  3. Tom
    Tom says:

    I prefer to receive live shortwave broadcast from Australia here in Lithuania. I don’t need this digital sophistication. I prefer listening views and opinions to reading boring articles on the net. Short wave radios give me advantage over what is called streaming. Tuning is better than browsing for me in many cases. I feel that short wave broadcast provides more democratic choice. I don’t like being dependent on the wifi, wires etc. We have plenty of FM stations here in Lithuania but they broadcast mainly music and I don’t see the point listening to them. It’s much better to receive news from direct source than to be retold the news by local media. Short wave is OK while hiking, because reading from my smart phone while walking seems a bit ludicrous to me.

    Reply
  4. Chris
    Chris says:

    i’ll double down on what everyone’s been saying here except whaT is a yuppie/bean counter !?!?? :

    Reply
  5. Owen Stanley
    Owen Stanley says:

    This has been carefully planned by ABC directors for a couple of years. Like many senior executives they are not above telling bald lies with a straight face. It’s in the job description. A particular outcome is required and they draft the PR to suit. Facts are neither here nor there.

    Michael Mason doesn’t know the first about radio transmission. The poor chook just spouted the script he was given and now he looks foolish. It’s a shame he didn’t look into the basic facts before opening his big gob and putting his big executive foot in it..

    fact 1 Mediumwave used on the “AM” band came into use for broadcasting c.1920
    fact 2 Shortwave broadcasting kicked off c.1932

    and Mike tells us shortwave is a hundred years old (wrong) and past its use by date (also wrong)

    Hey Mike do you have the foggiest notion what band Jon Faine & Red Symmonds use for “Local Radio”?
    clue: its older than shortwave.

    Neil Mitchell, Alan Jones & Steve Price would roll on the floor at the suggestion their radio technology is past its use by date. Then they would bitch slap the ABC and Mike with their ratings and their salaries.

    if Mike the Muppet could find a technical advisor in the ABC to explain HOW shortwave actually covers the enormous areas it does and does this without relying on good political will in the target countries and good weather (no cyclones or tsunamis) then he’d be half way to having a clue.

    Defence just LOVES shortwave. Couple it with bleeding edge modulation technologies (look up STANAG 5066 Mike) and you have an unbeatable combination for economical wide area coverage.

    Just wait until ABC tries to convince us that a national DAB+ network is just the ticket to give us 40 channels of crud we don’t need. Buy shares now in Broadcast Australia.

    Reply

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