Category Archives: Broadcasters

BBC to “protect” World Service in strategic plan presented to Parliament

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Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, has made public the UK government’s plan for the future of the BBC, which among other things, will now include Ofcom regulation.

The BBC Trust will also be dissolved and the BBC will have a new unitary board comprised primarily of members independent of the government.

The plan includes major structural changes to the BBC–indeed, possibly some of the most sweeping changes in the corporation’s history. Most major UK/European news outlets will report on this today.

Of course, I was very curious where the BBC World Service would fall in terms of priority. Based on what I’ve read in the report, there will be a serious effort to “protect” the World Service. The following excerpt from the report outlines the plan:

(Source: A BBC for the future: a broadcaster of distinction)

(Image source: BBC)Prioritising funding and protecting the World Service

The decisions that the BBC makes in allocating funding between services will have important consequences for the overall distinctiveness of the BBC. In radio, budgets have a broad spread across the wide range of services.

This is not the case in television where BBC One receives a far greater concentration of funding (see box 19). While of course the BBC needs to invest in its flagship services, the BBC board will need to give careful consideration to its service-level funding decisions.

Matching investment to the strategic priorities for the BBC is generally a matter for the BBC board. But there is one area so critical to the public interest role of the BBC that it is appropriate for the Charter to be more directive. The World Service is one of the BBC’s most distinctive services.

It is hugely valued by audiences and a vital part of the UK’s ability to lead the world in terms of soft power and influence, with its reach and reputation helping to project UK’s cultural and democratic values to more than 246 million people worldwide.

The government will therefore ensure that the BBC protects licence fee
funding for the World Service at its current level of £254 million
per annum.

The BBC will also receive additional funding from the government for the World Service of £34 million in 2016/17 and £85 million a year in the three subsequent years, a significant proportion of which will be Official Development Assistance. As a provider of accurate, impartial and independent news the BBC World Service helps to strengthen democratic accountability and governance, and promote Britain and our values around the world.

The languages in which the World Service operates, and the objectives, priorities and targets of the World Service will continue to be agreed with the Foreign Secretary.

BBC World News is the prime means by which the BBC distributes its television news and current affairs programmes to international audiences. But it does not have the same reputation for quality as the World Service – which is renowned for its radio output. This is in part a question of funding: BBC Global News, the commercial subsidiary that operates the service, had revenues in 2014/15 of just £94 million, less than 10 per cent of the revenues of BBC Worldwide, and a staff of just 120. The BBC must ensure that all its prominent international services have a reputation for delivering high quality, distinctive output. The new unitary board should therefore consider what reforms are needed to improve the quality of BBC World News.

I’ve skimmed the full report and found no specific mention of shortwave radio broadcasting (no surprise). I’m certain the BBC will continue to broadcast over shortwave to strategic regions of the world in the short-term, but over time will certainly decrease offerings.

Click here to download the full report as a PDF.

Netherlands clears way for licensed low power mediumwave/AM stations

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SWLing Post readers might recall that the Netherlands was considering opening licensed mediumwave broadcasting to low-power stations–it appears the path is now clear. Yesterday, Minister Kamp gave the green light to low-power stations (those with a power output from 1 to 100 watts) who can now apply for a broadcasting license.

Stig Hartvig Nielsen posted the following on the WRTH Facebook page:

Today Dutch minister Kamp has made it public that the Medium Wave band now will be open for low power stations operating with a power of max. 100 Watt. Full story here (in Dutch): http://radio.nl/…/groen-licht-voor-laagvermogen-uitzendinge…

One of the first stations to go on the air under the new legislation may be the long time pirate – Atlantis Radio 1521 – in Friesland. They got a license (?) from Commissariaat voor de Media in March 2016, and they recently purchased a new 75 W AM transmitter (300 W PEP). The format is golden oldies – and the station can be heard online here:http://www.atlantisradio.eu/radio/ – and more details can be found here:https://www.facebook.com/RadioAtlantis1521KHz/

It will be interesting to see how this decision plays out and how many stations will apply for a license. I’ll certainly listen for new stations on the U Twente Web SDR as they pop up.

All India Radio adapting strategy

All India Radio (AIR) Headquarters in Dehli, India. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

All India Radio (AIR) Headquarters in Dehli, India. Photo source: Wikimedia.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike R, for sharing this article from Asia Radio Today:

During a session on Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) at Radio Asia,  Fayyaz Sheheryar the Director General of All India Radio said all PSB [Public Service] broadcasters are facing the question of how to make revenue within the public service model.

As governments are reducing funding for public service broadcasters, “there is competition between hedonism and altruism,” he said.

“If we want to earn money would it be at the expense of ethics? This is a question that requires everyone’s attention.”

The expansion of tv channels in India overshadowed radio for a while, but radio has come back to life “thanks to the deregulation of radio, new licences and new frequencies on FM and [DRM]” according to Sheheryar.

All India Radio has introduced new channels to compete with the new private commercial channels.

But, like other public broadcasters else where in the world, All India Radio is “facing questioning from commercial broadcasters about our role.”

[…]In India, All India Radio is allowed to take advertising, but advertising is not allowed to affect decisions on program content. It is heavily used by advertisers to reach both educated and mass rural populations, but the new private channels have taken a share of the pubic service broadcaster’s significant ad revenue.

“Public service broadcasting is a keystone of democracy,” said Sheheryar.

“Should we leave it to the market to decide the content of PSB? PSB gently leads the masses to more mature values and services all sectors of the population regardless of whether the have money to spend or not. Ratings cannot be the sole yardstick to measure the success of PSB.

[…]“The proliferation of private broadcasters has also contributed to the questioning of PSB’s role.”

[…]The question of how to fund AIR now that it is autonomous is constantly being discussed. All India Radio uses a “hybrid model of funding” with some government funding and some commercial revenue funding. Other sources of revenue are program sales, news media sales, facilities hire and transmission rental.

Despite the philosophical and revenue challenges Sheheryar is optimistic: “Public Service Broadcasting is on a revival course despite all the challenges. The [Indian] Prime Minister’s choice to broadcast regularly on AIR has helped us… For PBS to survive it must be recognised as a creative art and treated accordingly.”

Click here to read the full article.

Bob’s 1961 Radio Havana Cuba QSL Card and full text from DXers Unlimited on 55th anniversary

RHC QSL

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bob La Rose, who shares a QSL he received (see above and below) from Radio Havana Cuba after they had only been on the air a few days back in 1961.

RHC Letter 16May61

Amazing, Bob!  Thanks for taking the time to scan and share this report!

Also, many thanks to Arnie Coro, Host of Dxers Unlimited at Radio Havana Cuba, for sharing the full text/script from his May 1st 2016 anniversary edition of DXers Unlimited:

Radio Havana Cuba
Dxers Unlimited
Dxers Unlimited’s weekend edition for 1 May 2016
By Arnie Coro
Radio amateur CO2KK

Hi amigos radioaficionados, welcome to the weekend edition of Dxers  Unlimited,  today l am happy to celebrate with you all the 55th Anniversary of Radio Havana Cuba… Yes amigos, it was on the first day of May of 1961, during the May Day celebrations when Cuba had just won the battle against the mercenary invasion that we went on the air using our present name Radio Havana Cuba… Two announcers, Orlando Castellanos and Fernando Alcorta announced to the world that Radio Havana Cuba, was on the air… Previously we had used the name Cuban Experimental Short Wave, but from May one of 1961, we are known worldwide as Radio Havana Cuba…

So today is a very special day… remembering those who have passed away after many years of valuable services to our station, like Pedro Costa the General Administration Manager, Carlos Estrada our Chief Engineer, and former Director Generals Marcos Behamaras. Orlando Fundora, Jose Antonio Caiñas and Alfredo Viñas. I also keep very nice memories of Angel Hernandez our bilingual announcer with the most effective voice for short wave radio that I can recall, and also I remember Manolo Ortega, reading our Spanish language editorials so that they could be heard clearly through his powerful voice…

Si amigos, I was there at the station 55 years ago as a young radio technician in charge of supervising the operations of our studios and transmitters that at that time included four Brown Boveri Swiss made short wave transmitters connected to a still under construction antennas farm, and the two studios borrowed from Radio Progreso until we could finish building our first studios .

The history of Radio Havana Cuba is full of very relevant moments, like the day that our Experimental Station announced to the world that the mercenary invasion that entered the Bay of Pigs had been defeated after sixty six hours of fierce combats .

With a lot of enthusiast and the impacting presence of a new generation of announcers, journalists , technicians, engineers and support personnel we are moving ahead to provide the best possible programming keeping our short wave transmitting facilities because we do believe on the use of international short wave broadcasting, while not disregarding the feeding of streaming audio to the Internet-

I am Arnie Coro, your host here at this special 55th Anniversary edition of Dxers Unlimited, that will continue in just a few seconds after a station ID..

Musical short cut

Yes amigos this is Radio Havana Cuba, using short wave frequencies at different times of the day on the 16, 19, 22, 25 ,31, 49 and 60 meters bands… and now our next radio hobby related item, a very popular section of this show under the name   Antenna Topics , that is dedicated today , at the request of several listeners to a very effective Dxing antenna, low take off angle radiator, known as the HENTENNA, A great number of listeners  from all around the world  have written to me recently, asking to learn more about  this Japanese  antenna design , known as the HENTENNA, that seems to continue to be making headlines in radio publications around the  world once again… But before telling you more about the mysterious HENTENNA…. A solar activity update… believe it or not, we are seen the solar flux moving up to very near 100 units for the first time in many weeks… following the typical ups and downs of the tail end of solar cycle 24… so  propagation conditions have improved on the short wave bands …. Now back to the HENTENNA…

By the way, the first original report about the HENTENNA that went on the air  here at Dxers Unlimited, dates back to  1999,more precisely, it went on the air the 12th of October of 1999, and  according to my records, it  then generated a lot of interest from our listeners, who were at that time, 1999, getting ready to enjoy the peak  years of solar dream solar cycle 23 !!! >Never as powerful as super cycle 19, but nevertheless much better than the present very poor cycle 24.

So amigos here is  at the request of Dxers Unlimited’s fans , a special Dxers Unlimited’s report on the HENTENNA, the Japanese elongated  rectangular loop antenna with an easy  match to coaxial cable feedlines of any impedance, be it 50, 60 ,75 or  93 ohms…or even 150 ohms !!! Of course that you can feed it with parallel transmission line of 300 to 450 ohms too, it is just a matter of minutes to find the perfect match for the feedline in use.

Let me start by saying that  I recently built yet another HENTENNA for the FM broadcast band, and it  is working nicely, having already picked up some Sporadic E skip DX stations from Mexico, the US and Puerto Rico during first few days of this year’s spring and summer  E skip season.

Now you will have to learn something very unusual about the HENTENNA…  the HENTENNA produces or receives VERTICALLY  polarized waves when the antenna is placed horizontally; that is, with  the long sides of the rectangular loop parallel to the ground. AND, if you want horizontal polarization, just flip the HENTENNA so that the long sides  of the loop are vertical, and the short sides are parallel to the  ground, something that is puzzling, but that’s the way it is amigos…

By the way, one of the world’s foremost antenna experts, Dr. L. B.  Cebik, amateur radio operator W4RNL, did during his fruitful life an extensive analysis of  elongated loops, and his findings are really fascinating. Dr. Cebik , now sorrily a silent key specialized in computer modeling of complex antenna systems, and his work with the HENTENNA and other similar elongated loops shows that the  HENTENNA is a very good performer indeed.

In a few seconds, be ready to write down, the formulas for calculating HENTENNAS  in the frequency range from 14 megaHertz all the way up to 220 megaHertz.

And now, as promised  more about the japanese wonder antenna… the  HENTENNA. Dr. Cebik’s computer modeling shows that the elongated loop HENTENNA has an edge over a regular square one  wavelength loop and the regular elongated loop.

HENTENNAS for receiving FM broadcast signals are very easy to build,  using a wooden or PVC pipe frame and copper wire. I built the one just
mentioned cut for 100 megaHertz, using PVC insulated no. 12 wire, the  one that is typically used for home wiring.

The loop was closed by soldering with a butane torch, and using regular  solder with rosin core… The reason for using the butane torch is that no soldering iron at hand here could handle the heavy wire PLUS the high  speed heat transfer of the copper wire.

The loop for the 100 megaHertz antenna is 1.5 meters on the long sides of the rectangle and 50 centimeters on the short sides. The feed point  for the 50 ohm cable is was found to be  located about 55 centimeters from one of the  short sides of the loop.

The antenna is installed with the long sides in a vertical position; for receiving horizontally polarized FM broadcasts. I tried both 50 ohms and  75 ohms coaxial cables, and could not detect any difference on the  weakest station that I am picking up here regularly with the FM band HENTENNA.

Again, now please pay extra attention …if you want to make of these elongated loops for receiving, here  are the measurements to use: for the long sides of the rectangle 1/2 of  a wavelength at the operating frequency, for the short side, the length  is 1/6 of a wavelength… and the connection point for the coaxial cable  of 50 ohms impedance is a little more than 1/6 of wavelength from one of the short sides of the rectangle, and it must be found experimentally by locating the point that provides the minimum standing wave ratio.

HENTENNAS can be built for any frequency between 10 megaHertz and 300
megaHertz by using heavy WIRE, and for the frequency range from about 50  megaHertz to 500 megaHertz you may try building HENTENNAS with copper or  aluminum tubing.

Hope to have you all listening to my middle of the week edition of Dxers Unlimited amigos and do enjoy the improved short wave propagation conditions now in progress, especially after your local sunset. 

More on the 55th anniversary of Radio Havana Cuba

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), for sharing the following feedback yesterday:

Today, the 1st of May, is the 55th anniversary of Radio Havana Cuba. Here is the link about this on their website:

http://www.radiohc.cu/en/especiales/comentarios/91190-radio-havana-cuba-55-years-broadcasting-the-truth-to-the-world

I haven’t heard if RHC has any special programs or contests going on this month. If you know of any commemorative RHC programming, please comment.