Tag Archives: Radio Australia Cuts

ABC Shortwave Service: Timeframe for Xenophon’s bill to travel through readings

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares the following comment regarding the timeline for Nick Xenophon’s bill to reinstate ABC shortwave services:

Don’t hold your breath on it coming back soon, if indeed it does. Here is the link to the bill:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=s1055

The proposed amendment to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 states:

(1) The Corporation must maintain 3 domestic shortwave radio transmission services for the Northern Territory which:

(a) cover the same areas of the Northern Territory as the Corporation’s shortwave radio transmission services covered on 30 January 2017; and
(b) broadcast the proximate local radio service.

(2) The Corporation must maintain an international shortwave radio transmission service for Papua New Guinea and parts of the Pacific which:

(a) uses at least 3 transmitters; and
(b) broadcasts the Corporation’s international service; and
(c) broadcasts programs in languages appropriate for the countries to which they are broadcast.

The bill has had second reading in the Senate and has now been referred to committee (Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee). Their report is due on 10 May 2017!

If it successfully passes the committee stage, it then has third reading in the Senate after which it goes to the House of Representatives and so on.

A long process.

Many thanks, Richard. I suppose the upshot of this is it will give Australians plenty of time to persistently urge their representatives to support the bill.

For it to gain traction, Australian listeners must speak out now!

Guest Post: Radio Australia, and a sea story

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John Harper (AE5X), who is kindly allowing me to re-post the following article originally published on his excellent blog:


Radio Australia, and a sea story

by John (AE5X)

From London Shortwave: “It’s official: Radio Australia are no longer on shortwave…”

Four submariners on a surface ship (1989-1990)

Nine of my 10 years in the Navy were spent in the Submarine Service – the other year was spent aboard a research ship operating between Perth, Australia and Singapore. Our mission was to make detailed contour charts of the sea floor in that area using precision fathometers and new-at-the-time GPS.

The detailed charts allow US submarines to get navigational fixes by correlating their soundings with the data we had collected without having to come to periscope depth for a satellite fix, thus the need for a small contingent of submariners on a surface ship. Gathering this data required the ship to stay at sea 28 days at a time, going back and forth in straight lines across the eastern Indian Ocean. At the end of those 28 days we would pull in to either Fremantle or Singapore for a week, then out again.

We enjoyed the sunlight, fresh air and the presence of civilian women onboard (oh, the stories I could tell if this weren’t a family-friendly blog!) but what we missed – and missed greatly – was news from the world. Big things were happening at a fast pace in those days as the Iron Curtain began to crumble and we knew nothing of it for long, event-filled month-long chunks.

There is a huge psychological disconnect that comes with being isolated from the world for a month at a time. We starved for news and any kind of connection to the outside world so, during a port call to Singapore, I bought a Philips D2999 shortwave receiver. It was small enough for shipboard life, ran on AC or batteries and even had a BFO for occasionally listening to hams.

After having it for a few days and mentioning to the other crewmembers various things that were happening around the world, their interest grew and I eventually moved the radio from my stateroom to a common breakroom so that anyone could listen whenever they wanted. For a while we even had a printout of news events – a one-page daily newspaper – that we posted in various locations throughout the ship. Many of us were glued to the radio during the week of events in December 1989 that culminated in the Christmas Day execution of Romanian President Nicolae Ceau?escu.

Some of that news came from the VOA, some from the BBC and even from Radio Moscow. All had good signals into the Indian Ocean area at times. But regardless of time of day or ionospheric conditions, Radio Australia was always there, like a beacon – reliable, dependable and with great fidelity due to no selective fading. It was our primarily source of news.

Frequencies of many stations and the best times to hear them were posted near the radio but everyone knew our two main frequencies for Radio Australia without having to look it up. We listened to Radio Australia so much that the announcers eventually lost their accents.

The beauty and utility of shortwave was introduced to people who otherwise would have had no interest in it. Thanks mainly to Radio Australia, we not only knew what was going on in the world, more importantly, we felt more a part of it and less isolated than we had been before.

The end of Radio Australia and so many other shortwave stations marks the end of an exciting era. What an amazing thing it was, in a pre-internet world, to be able to get information on the high seas, thousands of miles from land.

Farewell, Radio Australia and thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.


And thank you, John, for sharing your memories with us!

Post Readers: I encourage you to bookmark John’s brilliant ham radio blog!

Do you have any memorable Radio Australia moments?  Please comment!

Video: VL8A Alice Springs’ parting message in CW

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley who shares the following video of VL8A Alice Springs signing off for the final time on January 31, 2017:

This video was originally posted to Twitter by Tom Maddocks. You might have also noticed this clip in a previous ABC video we posted.

Thanks for the tip, Richard!

Video: Senator Nick Xenophon interview regarding loss of ABC/RA shortwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares a link to the following video from Shepparton News on YouTube:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Continued public support for restoration of ABC shortwave services

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following from a Tecsun Radios Australia press release:

Public support has been steadily increasing in favour of the #saveshortwave campaign.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has written to the Prime Minister to ask him to step in urgently to stop the ABC from carrying out their plan to cut shortwave transmission today, 31st January 2017, saying:

“I am deeply concerned that the ABC took this decision without satisfactory consultation with affected listeners, community representatives and emergency service workers and agencies.”

The alternative solutions that the ABC have offered in the place of shortwave transmission are simply not practical for many listeners. In areas beyond signal reception, as many of the affected areas are, both AM and FM radio services are not available, and the equipment needed to receive radio services via satellite on the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) is expensive and impractical for on-the-move reception.

The latest statement from the ABC promised that they would “supply (donate) a VAST satellite system to all Royal Flying Doctor Service bases, and 4WD Radio club bases in the affected region, allowing them to rebroadcast emergency or warning messages as required.” The issue is, however, that The Royal Flying Doctor’s shortwave broadcasts are not designed to cover the same geographical area as the ABC’s dedicated shortwave broadcasts, leading to a potential shortfall in range and availability.

Another key factor is that farmers, stockmen and the like in remote areas have listened in to shortwave broadcasts for 100 years or more – this is a hard-wired habit. How is information about the transition going to be provided to them if not by the only medium that they use?

Jay Mohr-Bell works on a cattle station outside of Katherine, and knows only too well about this:

“The ABC fails to understand that their audience who listens to local ABC via shortwave do not favour this service, this is their only available service,” he said in a statement to Guardian Australia, “essentially the ABC is closing down the shortwave service and replacing it with nothing.”

Alongside important concerns regarding access to emergency announcements, residents are also sadly losing their ability to listen to live radio and music, which is important from a community and integrational perspective.

Federal minister Nigel Scullion said “there was no need for the ABC to make this decision with no notice or community consultation.”

The ABC issued a statement yesterday to say it was “deeply committed to rural and regional Australia and the one-third of Australians who live outside of the capital cities.” From what we can see however, their actions seem to demonstrate otherwise.

We now have proof that our voices are being heard by the ABC and the Australia Government. We invite you to write to your local MP to tell them once and for all how much you value the shortwave service. Alternatively, the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association have drafted an email found here that you can sign and send to the Secretary of the Senate Enquiry.

Lets rally together one final time to #saveshortwave

This Australia-based radio retailer is not the only one behind a campaign to restore shortwave services, senator Nick Xenophon says he will introduce legislation to Parliament to force the ABC to reinstate its shortwave radio service.