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!


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.

Spread the radio love

7 thoughts on “Ross knows firsthand the importance of ABC/Radio Australia shortwave

  1. Hank Michalenka CPA

    “because an ABC that is paid for by all Australians should strive harder to serve each and every Australian.”

    –a quote from Michelle Guthrie in 2016

    I also note that the head of the ABC television resigned yesterday. Michelle Guthrie has apparently offended just about everyone in the organization. She strikes me as just another slick, technology-driven executive with no relationship whatsoever to the working person.

    I must admit I have great respect for the hard-working men and women in the rural countryside. I can’t imagine such physical isolation living here in New England and can imagine that radio provides both a physical and psychological connection. To sever that connection is an insult to the people of Australia.

  2. Kire

    When its gone its gone. This is not about money. This is about power and control.
    Ms Gutwrench is also overseeing program changes that will eliminate longterm ABC programs. Excuse being that not enough people listen to them.
    How can one listen to a program that is not available?
    The machine replies “internet”, satellite, digital radio.”

  3. Tristan

    Where did the 3 million figure come from – surely all of the equipment has already been paid for an installed?

  4. Jay

    Ross, shortwave high power is very expensive when you figure in the actual number of listeners. You seem to say, I have no reliable radio so spend 3 million on me. That’s not what will happen. Low power region RF is even a THING of the past.

    1. Thomas Post author

      According to The Guardian, the savings from cancelling the shortwave service is $1.2 million, which they plan to re-invest in digital technologies. $1.2 is truly small potatoes in a government budget.

      In this situation, I believe there may be better economies of scale maintaining the shortwave service rather than investing in multiple FM relay sites which can’t possibly cover the broadcast footprint of shortwave.

      This isn’t about increasing access to information, it’s about abandoning a legacy technology in favor of the digital. This, in no way, benefits the target audience of the ABC NT shortwave service. I imagine it will increase services in populated areas served by mobile networks and FM.

    2. Ross

      Multiply me by the number of outback dwellers, workers in the cattle export, mining, road and infrastructure workers , and in season large numbers of city based tourists venturing into outback regions not to mention the Pacific islanders this service was targeting.
      And and lets not forget the number of listeners in North America , Asia and Europe who are by virtue of the magnificent transmission site at Shepparton are able to receive the Pacific service ( way out of its target area) who are given insights into Australian values/ lifestyle and develop an affinity and possibly the desire to visit as tourists.
      Th e $1.5 million pales when one looks at the bigger picture.
      Given the recent spate of criminal and terrorist inspired cyber attacks on digital networks, and the ever increasing number of extreme weather events we may have good reason to regret the loss of a powerful analog HF signal in the not too distant future.
      The HF service of Radio Australia is in fact a vital tool and necessary for our national security IMHO !


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