ABC unveils “enhanced support measures” for those affected by loss of shortwave services

(Source: The Australian via Andy Sennitt)

[…]In a statement yesterday rebutting opposition claims that the ABC’s decision was somehow linked to government funding cuts, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the ABC’s ­decision, announced unexpectedly in December, had since been “confirmed”.

“While the ABC has confirmed its decision I think the public broadcaster has learnt some valuable lessons about community consultation and engagement in regional and remote areas,” Mr ­Fifield said. “This is entirely a call by the ABC who have the legis­lated operational independence to make these decisions.”

Mr Shorten told The Australian the ABC’s rural listeners had been “shabbily” treated.

“The people of the Northern Territory have been treated shabbily throughout this process. The Prime Minister needs to start listening to locals and speaking up for them,” he said.

[…]In a statement issued yesterday, the ABC said it was “deeply committed to rural and regional Australia and the one-third of Australians who live outside the capital cities”.

[…]It promised to expand an existing “information awareness program” with the addition of easier access to information packs about alternative services, one-on-one telephone support and “how-to” videos to guide listeners to catch up on programs using podcasts.

“The National Broadband Network satellite services ‘Sky Muster’ will also assist those in remote Australia, by providing access to all ABC online and digital content,” the statement said.

“The ABC will also supply (donate) a VAST satellite system unit 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.”

Those things are unlikely to placate pastoralists, who usually live and work far from 4WD clubs and cannot realistically mount large VAST (viewer access satellite television) systems on their ­vehicles. Cattle station owners and staff continue to complain bitterly about the poor quality of NBN satellite services, where one connection typically offering less than 100GB of downloads per month may be shared among a dozen or more people for both personal and business purposes. In practice, they say, this makes all ABC digital content inaccessible in the bush.[…]

Read the full article at The Australian online.

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9 thoughts on “ABC unveils “enhanced support measures” for those affected by loss of shortwave services

  1. Frank Holden

    Re the ‘Skymuster’ satellite internet …

    I live in NE Victoria 10 kms from the Melbourne – Sydney Freeway…. No NBN for me – now or ever… so we are on Skymuster with a dish on the roof… $100 a month for 45 gig…

    Do we use it to stream ABC radio and TV… nope.

  2. Chuck Lovett W7ACI

    I was thinking along the same idea as the previous writer CAP. How about a special ham license category for hams in the region that could broadcast emergency and weather information/ services?

  3. Frank Holden

    That ‘Australian’ article can’t be viewed unless you sign up and pay $4 a week…. it being a Murdoch newspaper and all…….

    On the positive side you can still get RNZI throughout the SW Pacific and much of Australia….

    Jay, ‘But, some always fail to realize shortwave is obsolete and its costs millions just for a handful of listeners’…

    $2.4 million Australian per annum for both the ABC NT and Radio Australia.. that is not a lot of money…. 10 cents per head of population per year…. Michelle Guthrie is on $900k a year.

    Obsolete… ? Sitting in the garden in NE Victoria yesterday evening I pressed the ETM button on my 310-ET….. it offered me a choice of 180 stations…. knowledge of mandarin would be handy…

    I don’t think we have those satellite radios that you mention in Australia…. I think it is very much a north america thing.


  4. Cap

    The big advantage of SW radio is the simplicity and ease of use.
    Maybe Australia could licence a group of strategically placed Radio Amateurs to broadcast weather/emergency info on the Ham bands or AM BCB at x hourly intervals to fill the gap RA leaves. Not going to be blowtorch signals like RA but better than nothing.

    Maybe this is wishful thinking?

  5. DanH

    There are still plenty of SW stations for my listening jollies. 15-45 minutes ago I heard the following stations all in the English language within 15 minutes of 16:00 UTC this morning (8:00 a.m. here on the US west coast). Frequencies in kHz… Radio Australia: 9580, BBC: 7445, RCI: 7435, Voice of Korea (N. Korea): 9435, KBS (S. Korea): 9640. Radio: Sangean ATS 909X (unmodified) with 106′ randon wire/long wire antenna.

  6. Jay

    I am listening to ABC as I write, in 100kw at 9580. But, some always fail to realize shortwave is obsolete and its costs millions just for a handful of listeners. The only organizations using it today are the tax free Jesus propaganda and BUY gold groups.
    Surely with direct sat broadcasting and units that sell of less than a car stereo, some will just never get with change. I do-not blame ABC for their decisions.

    1. Kire

      How about thinking of it this way. Shortwave airtime is cheap. With a couple hundred dollars a competent producer can produce a show, buy airtime and be heard by a new audience. AM, FM,TV in the states at least, are much more expensive, if you can get by the coorporate censorship. Lowpower FM is hyper-local, no large audience possible.
      I like the idea that my gov’t would spend a few bucks on me considering what I put in to the system.

    2. RonF

      The flaw in the argument there is that, at least for RA’s HF NT services (which this article is about), there is no direct sat broadcasting in place that provides anything like a practically useful equivalent service.

      VAST requires an aimed dish of ~60cm minimum; NBN’s SkyMuster satellite internet requires an aimed dish of ~80cm minimum. So neither is really suitable for mobile or in-vehicle use, and even semi-fixed reception requires a fairly bulky setup. AM & FM coverage is restricted to areas around a few major towns, with 0 coverage outside of that. I’d be surprised if AM & FM coverage added up to 2% of the land area.

      That leaves shortwave. And, realistically, the only service with near-100% coverage throughout that part of Australia is China Radio International…


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