The Future of Australian Shortwave Radio in the Asia Pacific

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In 2017, the shortwave radio airwaves fell silent with the cessation of Australian domestic and international shortwave radio broadcasts. This was the culmination of withdrawing funding from a variety of Australia Government Departments including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and ultimately the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The ABC labeled shortwave radio an antiquated technology and opted instead to reallocate resources and funding to local FM transmissions focused in Papua New Guinea. As a result of this, China promptly and actively moved to fill the Australian Government’s earlier role of broadcasting Shortwave Radio into the Asia Pacific region via the ABC. A large number of the people living in some of the most remote communities of the Pacific Islands actively rely on shortwave radio broadcasts to keep in touch with the world.

Without Shortwave Radio, many individuals are left isolated. The positive impact shortwave radio can have on many individuals in the Asian Pacific region is demonstrated through the example of  Chief Ben Lovo and his family of Bongkil Village on Erromango, Vanuatu, said that “shortwave broadcasts from RNZI during Cyclone Pam, allowed him to warn four villages of the danger and save hundreds of lives.”

Shortwave radio is so effective at providing long range communications because the radio waves bounce off the ionosphere and back down to the ground allowing a single shortwave radio broadcast to be heard thousands of kilometres away from the transmitter. It is because of this that shortwave radio works particularly well distributing signals to the many remote islands throughout the Pacific region, where there is no other means of low cost mass communication.

China, already aware of this and in light of Australia’s withdrawal from shortwave broadcasting, increased their existing broadcasts into the region fully understanding that if shortwave coverage is present, their sphere of influence and subsequent “soft power”would be immediately increased. The notion, that the Chinese immediately adopted the frequencies that the Australian Government, and indeed the ABC cut funding towards, “comes at a time of heightened speculation in Australian media and the commentariat about the motives behind China’s growing influence in the Pacific.”

The growing Chinese interest in the Asia Pacific region has led to the Australian Government,  to conduct a review of the broadcast services available in the region and whether Australia should reintroduce Australian international Shortwave Radio broadcasts.

The Review, will analyse:

  • The coverage and access of existing Australian media services in the Asia Pacific region, including examining whether shortwave radio technology should be used

The review will cover:

  • All media distribution platforms (i.e. Television, radio and online)
  • Commercial, community and publicly funded services and
  • Different types of technologies such as analogue, digital and satellite radio and television services and online services.

Supporters of Shortwave Radio, are encouraged to engage in the review hosted by the Australian Government. Tecsun Radios, as firm believers in the vital service that shortwave provides, believes that this review will act as a catalyst in encouraging Australia, to re-enter the Asian Pacific market in providing the vital service that shortwave allows.

Tecsun, will actively engage in the review process, in the hope that this reinvigorates Australia’s interest in the Pacific region. We firmly believe that shortwave radio through its modern evolution digital radio mondiale (DRM) provide the optimum technology to delivery broadcast style communications to island in the Pacific region.

The review is open until the 3rd of August. You can use the link provided below to add your comments and ‘Have your Say Now’, in regards to re-establishing Australia’s presence in the Asia Pacific region, for shortwave radio broadcasting.

https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/review-australian-broadcasting-services-asia-pacific

 

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