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The ABC has turned off its shortwave radio transmitters, leaving Australians in remote areas without easy access to lifeline radio
OTTAWA — On Jan. 31, state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. shut down its shortwave radio transmitters; ending both international broadcasts of Radio Australia and the ABC’s domestic service in Australia’s Northern Territory. The transmitters were located at ABC broadcasting facilities at Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Roe Creek (Alice Springs).
According to the ABC news release that announced the shutdown on Dec. 6 — less than two months before it took place — “The move is in line with the national broadcaster’s commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings including DAB+ digital radio, online and mobile services, together with FM services for international audiences.”
[…]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 Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) satellite service.”[…]
The government of Vanuatu sent a formal submission to the Australian Senate asking for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to resume its shortwave service.
[…]In a letter, Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai said removing the shortwave service to Vanuatu could cost many lives in the likelihood of a major natural disaster, like cyclone Pam two years ago.
The Daily Post said radio broadcasts to remote parts of the country have been cited as a reason the death toll from the category five storm was relatively low.
After the storm there was practically no domestic communication, with shortwave the only radio means to reach a scattered population.
Mr Salwai said it could be reasonably stated that Australia’s shortwave service helps save Pacific lives and Australian tax dollars.
Could Radio Outbackistan be the next shortwave broadcaster for rural Australia?
In response to the ABC abolishing its HF shortwave radio service, the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) president has turned to humour to propose his own broadcast alternative.
On Friday, in front of hundreds of cattle producers, Tom Stockwell addressed the association’s annual conference on the status of the beef industry, listing challenges, opportunities and grievances.
While the Bureau of Meteorology’s decision to remove the Tennant Creek weather radar and the National Broadband Network’s restrictions on download quotas for remote users were both highlighted, it was the loss of shortwave radio that Mr Stockwell took most issue with.
The NTCA has been heavily critical of the ABC for making the decision, which was made to allow for the reinvestment of funds into digital services.
Inspired by the band Roadtrippers, Mr Stockwell joked about his desire for a new broadcaster called Radio Outbackistan to fill a regional communications void.][…]