Tag Archives: Radio Australia Shortwave Closure

Radio Outbackistan: “the next shortwave broadcaster for rural Australia”–?

Cartoonist George Aldridge’s take on Radio Outbackistan. (Photo Source: ABC Rural)

(Source: ABC Rural via London Shortwave)

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.][…]

Continue reading at ABC Rural online.

Thanks for sharing London Shortwave.  That gave me a much needed chuckle!

RNZ: ‘Thousands’ in Solomon Islands affected by ABC shortwave cut

(Source: Radio New Zealand via London Shortwave)

The ABC ends its short-wave service to the region from 1pm Solomon Islands time and says it will focus on FM and online services.

Ruth Liloqula said people from Choiseul to Malaita and as far south east as Tikopia tuned in to the ABC because the signal was stronger than that of the country’s public broadcaster SIBC.

Ms Liloqula who works with Transparency International says the ABC has been very valuable for the country and a good way to get her message across.

“We are very very mindful of the fact that the SIBC media here is owned by the government. I mean they don’t ask the questions that they need to ask for obvious reasons. I mean we do get asked those tough questions by ABC and that gives us the opportunity to talk about the issues that affect this country.”

Ms Liloqula said after the recent earthquake people in the bush in Choiseul only knew there was no tsunami by listening to the ABC.[…]

Continue reading at Radio New Zealand’s website…

Letter from Australian Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister regarding NT shortwave service

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor,  Phil Brennan, who shares the following letter sent to The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, by Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition:

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister

I write in relation to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision to cease its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory from 31 January 2017.

My letter follows repeated representations from members of my Shadow Ministry, Northern Territory Caucus and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion to secure the continuation of this vital service.

As you know, shortwave radio provides vital news and information services, including local radio and emergency messages that are crucial to those living in remote areas, particularly in time of natural disaster.

The ABC’s claim that the majority of listeners will be able to access ABC services via AM/FM radio, digital radio and online streaming, or via VAST platform does not account for the reality of service availability in remote areas.

This helps to explain why listeners and users of the ABC shortwave in the Northern Territory have been unequivocal in voicing their concern at the Coalition’s failure to intervene in this matter. This includes emergency services workers and cattle growers.

I am also deeply concerned that the ABC took this decision without satisfactory consultation with affected listeners, community representatives and emergency service workers and agencies. ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, has since acknowledged shortfalls in this regard.

For these reasons I ask that you work with Labor, ABC management and local stakeholders as a matter of urgency to ensure the continued provision of shortwave radio service in the NT beyond 31 January 2017.

Yours sincerely

Bill Shorten MP
Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

26 January 2017

cc: The Hon Mark Dreyfus MP, QC Mr Stephen Jones MP
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy Hon Warren Snowdon MP
Mr Luke Gosling OAM, MP Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

Click here to download the original PDF version of this letter.

Letter from former District Manager at Radio Australia Shepparton

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, London Shortwave, who shares the following letter by Gary Baker, former district manager at Radio Australia, Shepparton–published in the Shepparton News. Here’s an excerpt:

Recently I heard that the HF radio transmission site at Shepparton, known as Radio Australia, is to be shut down.

[…]I understand the ABC needs to cut back on some services it provides and make use of the latest technology. This makes sense except in the case of the Shepparton facility.The Shepparton transmission site has the capability to direct radio signals into specific countries as we see fit.

This is unique to this site, as no other site can reach the countries this one can.

In my time as district manager at the Shepparton site, I recall some instances where the Shepparton site was called upon to direct radio signals to specific targets.

At one point the Fiji Government shut down the local Australian ABC transmitter.

Shepparton sent radio into that country to keep Australians informed during that time.

When there was a coup in the Solomon Islands, once again we sent signals into that country.

We also sent radio signals into Myanmar at the request of the Australian Government.

Another task that the Shepparton site fulfils is to send signals into northern Australia in times of need, for example during Cyclone Larry when the Northern Territory radio service was beamed back to the tropical north from Shepparton.

The Shepparton site is in a location that has good weather and is politically stable.

This makes it an ideal tool for widespread information broadcasting.

The ABC would argue that this HF radio service is old technology and can be replaced by the internet or satellite services.

This is true.

However, the ABC and the Federal Government do not control the internet or satellite services in other countries and therefore they are not reliable.

HF radio broadcasting from a secure location is very reliable.[…]

Read the full letter at the Shepparton News website. 

Ross knows firsthand the importance of ABC/Radio Australia shortwave

Yesterday, we posted a news item regarding the importance of the ABC’s shortwave service to those working and living in the Australian Outback. It appears the ABC has no intention of reversing the decision in any meaningful way. A follow-up piece from The Guardian:

The ABC has remained steadfast in its decision to scrap the shortwave radio service, despite pleadings from federal Labor politicians in a meeting with the managing director, Michelle Guthrie.

Federal senator and cabinet minister Nigel Scullion has joined the calls for ABC to reverse its “city-centric” decision and maintain the service.

[…]“It was certainly a good meeting in terms of being able to thrash out the concerns of the people of the Northern Territory and stakeholders, but in terms of the outcome, it certainly wasn’t a positive outcome,” she said. “The ABC has disappointingly continued to forget about the people of the Northern Territory and those concerns.

“They’re still going ahead with the decision to remove the shortwave at the end of the month due to contractual issues. Michelle Guthrie is keen to come to the Northern Territory but clearly not until after the removal of shortwave.”[…]

[Read the full article at The Guardian.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ross, who has first-hand experience in rural, remote regions of Australia and shares the following:

As someone who spends a fair amount of time in remote areas of far Western Queensland and SE Northern Territory I regularly listen to Radio Australia broadcasts on my Pioneer 2 SW band truck radio.

The only reliable signals in English are Radio Australia, Radio New Zealand and China Drive Beijing. Local MW radio is virtually non existent during daylight hours with severe fading, FM just forget it , line of sight and no local transmitters for 100’s of kilometres.

Once again the city-centric values of Sydney/Canberra are imposed on those of us who live without the manifold benefits the coast and major cities take for granted.

A 100KW AM station broadcasting local ABC throughout Western QLD and southern territory would give us the road conditions, news, weather, flood/storm and fire warnings so necessary in a remote environment where conditions change quickly. [B]ut again HF facilities already exist, $1-2 million is a small cost and not if but when the digital/satellite networks fail HF will be more capable of maintaining communications.

Alternatively, smaller MW repeater stations relaying ABC maybe using microwave relay sites?
As for the comment that many of the complaints came from amateur radio ops , many of us use HF transceivers to keep contact over these large areas whether it be via the VKS-737 outback radio service, Royal Flying doctor radio service or the amateur radio network in an area where mobile telephone service is nonexistent and Satellite phones are not always reliable during severe weather events.

My point being that many of us have taken up HF for local and communications in comparison to other more populated parts of the country out of necessity for contact that city based politicians take for granted.

Not many homesteads (stations) in outback Australia without UHF and HF comms equipment and therefore the ability to tune in to the only reliable radio signals from R’Aust.

I have written to the local Federal member Bob Katter in MT ISA who I know is well versed in outback needs and trust he may be able to bang a few heads together in Canberra!

Regards,

Ross AKA Farmlad.

Thank you for sharing your comments, Ross.

Are there other SWLing Post readers who live and/or work in the Outback of Australia?  Please comment.