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.

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21 thoughts on “Continued public support for restoration of ABC shortwave services

  1. Jay

    Good response and reason for continued needs. I wonder if some sort of lower powered operations near Darwin would not be cheaper. I presume reason for shift, lack of numbers in listeners and at 100kw the station must be very expensive to keep on the air?

    Reply
    1. Cap

      10kW should be enough like Channel292 and broadcasting during a few set hours a day to keep costs down.
      Location would be key, as would frequency. Changing the 2MHz frequency to 6MHz may be the best bet as 2MHz is groundwave only during daylight hours but 10kW at 2MHz ain’t going to go far on AM. 6MHz will give several hundred kilometres (via skywave even at solar min) and some groundwave coverage. Variations in propogation on 6MHz may be annoying though to folk used to the stable RA 2MHz groundwave signal.
      Testing would need to be done to see how things would pan out, although this idea would be more in hope than expectation.
      It will be down to the motivation of community groups or radio amateurs to see if anything like this gets off the ground.
      Can’t see RA backtracking on their decision to cease shortwave transmissions and will probably offer up their shortwave transmitters/antennas to the likes of Babock et al. at a price of course.

      Reply
      1. Jay

        Great idea I say. The only issue would be somebody saying no new constructions. But, surely 5 to 10 kw would do the trick. The 100kw was so potent it was 20 db over S-9 here in South Carolina. Used to follow some of ABC shows and the Australians seem a lot more intelligent, sophisticated than Americans. Haha
        At least I found this from listening on Sunday mornings. Of course if I enjoyed the content, I would go to the webcasts.

        Reply
      2. Jay

        I forgot, I was going to say, the Canadians use 3.330 MHz at 3kw and I am 800 miles from Ottawa. It comes through 20 db plus at night, but fades during the daylight hours as you mentioned. So I assume a higher channel in 6 MHz range? Dunno. I do know, the powers that be would NOT be likely to spend on any NEW constructions. Shepparton is very far from Northern Territory so the higher power seems reasoned.
        The issue of course, shortwave is a dying mode and it is expensive when compared with alternatives.
        Local coverages would not seem likely as I never heard that when the 9580 channel was used. So I am not quite sure what people mean by wanting coverage in the Bush.

        Reply
        1. Cap

          For territorians in the bush/outback such as farmers/truckers, losing access to shortwave is like taking away our broadband, satellite TV or local FM stations, leaving us with no access to news/information. How many people would complain if they shut down our local FM transmitters? quite a few I would imagine. There is no FM coverage in the outback and MW transmissions are hard to receive.
          Shortwave in the eyes of those who have access to broadband and/or can afford satellite equipment can make shortwave look like a dying mode as better alternatives are available. However, a $10 shortwave radio can give you access to national and international news and can be put in your pocket and taken with you in a car, a hike or sitting on a window sill in a remote outback farm.
          Pretty sure RA will not support any community sponsored transmitter and anything like this will be independent and would need to supported as such.

          Reply
  2. Kire

    Thanks guys for your answers as to the car radios. I guess I just have to find a way to buy it internationaly as the US doesn’t seem to offer shortwave as an option.

    Reply
    1. Ross

      You can I believe buy online from Supercheap Auto in Australia, it is a large chain with over 3000 stores in Australia and New Zealand.
      They have an online site so if you google it should be easy , let me know if you have difficulty.
      Units range in price for few bells and whistles to many form around $90.00 – 180.00 for single DIN fitment units to a bit mre for double DIN.
      At present $100 aussie is about $75-80 US

      Reply
      1. Ross

        Sorry I mistakenly wrote 3000 Supercheap Auto outlets …..there are in fact 300 outlets!
        I had chance when on a trip to one of our regional large towns yesterday to check SW auto car radio CD etc units, the display stand had a number of SW models from Pioneer, JVC and Kenwood, they are still indeed available and there is a reasonable selection.
        Again Sony was the brand here that doesn’t appear to supply SW.
        I also note that these units are available via the same auto outlet via E bay Australia.

        Reply
  3. Cap

    Maybe something can be done like when Deutsche Welle in Europe vacated 6070kHz in 2013. A band of German radio amateurs applied for and were allocated 6070kHz and now have an operational 10kW station called Channel292, using the driver stages from the old Deutsche Welle transmitter. The transmitter site is Rohrbach Waal.
    Although they pretty much operate the transmitter asking for 15 euros an hour airtime which, I suspect, would only really cover power costs. If some radio amateurs could get together with some crowdfunding to get a transmitter on the air, I would certainly throw some AUS dollars their way.
    Alternatively, someone could rent airtime on other transmitters? would not need to be 24/7, just a few hours a day, would need to be fixed hours so folk know when to tune in.
    I suspect running your own smallish transmitter would be more cost effective in the longer term, like how they are doing it in Germany on Channel 292.

    Reply
    1. Cap

      Sorry for the double posts…..think it may have been my browser or the site thinking I was spaming with urls….whoops.

      Reply
  4. Cap

    Maybe something can be done like when Deutsche Welle in Europe vacated 6070kHz in 2013. A band of German radio amateurs applied for and were allocated 6070kHz and now have an operational 10kW station called Channel292 ( http://www.channel292.de ), using the driver stages from the old Deutsche Welle transmitter. The transmitter site is Rohrbach Waal.
    Although they pretty much operate the transmitter asking for 15 euros an hour airtime which, I suspect, would only really cover power costs. If some radio amateurs could get together with some crowdfunding to get a transmitter on the air, I would certainly throw some AUS dollars their way.
    Alternatively, someone could rent airtime on other transmitters? would not need to be 24/7, just a few hours a day, would need to be fixed hours so folk know when to tune in. Suspect running your own smallish transmitter would be more cost effective in the longer term, like how they are doing it in Germany on Channel 292.
    The link below is well out of date and they operate more than just weekends, check out the schedule on the Channel292 website. When they are on air you can tune in here: http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/?tune=6070am

    More info: http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2015/february/amateur_radio_based_group_rescues_released_broadcast_frequency.htm

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Continued public support for restoration of ABC shortwave services – dxradio.de

  6. Jay

    Many of you are simply shortwave hobby types, no using the ABC except to listen on shortwave.
    Exactly how many farmers etc would be affected or even care. That is the discussion, not to get a few to trump up the values. Its a question of cost per listener who has no alternative. In actuality ABC is primarily as I have heard it entertainment.

    Reply
    1. Eric J. Smith

      Jay:

      The “shortwave hobby types,” as you put it, are simply peripheral beneficiaries of the service. Had these types of listeners been the only ones affected by the decision then the decision can be justified financially. This is what happened to other SW broadcasters that determined that their message could be conveyed to their target audiences by other less expense means. Whether that is true I personally cannot say. I only know from my personal perspective as a “shortwave hobby type” that I do not listen to broadcasts on the internet as I perform not to be glued to my computer.

      Radio Australia’s SW service is unique, however, in that a significant number of its listeners do comprise the target audience, i.e., farmers as well as listeners throughout the Pacific region. Many of these listeners do not have the means to listen digitally to what objectively is a vital means of information. It’s for this reason alone that the decision to terminate the service was short-sighted.

      Reply
      1. Jay

        Ok, touche, but again recall this is 2017 not 1945. What you are saying I think may be valid for a hand full of persons. In the US, and this is not an apples to apples comparison, US wastes a huge amount on Radio Marti.
        It is even jammed by Cuba because it is so unabashedly political.
        The truth for both US and Cuba, its a waste. The reason being fewer than 0.2 percent of Cubans even attempt to tune it.
        What I am saying is lets see where these Pacific Islanders are and those in Northern Territory who do need ABC shortwave.
        One good point, the ABC did without any real study of the issue, just decided to go dark on 9580.
        I personally enjoy ABC and do listen here in South eastern US. I hear ABC in mornings when Cuba is not interfering and often in late afternoon on the long path.
        I do admit I am one of those casual hobbiests.

        Reply
        1. Kire

          Good on you Jay for being willing to dialogue. Personally I appreciate RHC a bit more than Radio Marti because it comes in clearer and while I don’t believe in all of the propaganda, it certainly gives me a different perspective, not to mention the music.
          ABC did not, in my opinion, give the listeners in the outback enough time to respond. They did this on purpose because they knew it would take time to respond and by then, it would be too late. I believe in the long run they’re gonna spend alot more money on rolling out the alternatives. Theres alot of back room deals/contracts being discussed and shortwave radio doesn’t have those big dollar signs that other media can command.
          Its up to the Aussies now. As a distant listener, I’ll be listening to other shortwave stations.

          I have a question for anyone here, who can answer. One of the articles mentioned car radios sold in Australia still came with shortwave Bands. Is this true? Would it be possible for me to buy an Australian car radio with shortwave bands here in the US? Or is that old ‘news’?

          Reply
          1. Cap

            I have a car radio with shortwave, a Pioneer DEH-4550BT which works pretty good on shortwave.
            I suspect it is true that importers prefer to have shortwave on their radios so people can listen to stations when they are in the outback away from VHF/MW sigs, like truckers et al.

          2. Ross

            Yes these units are available in Australia from most large auto shops ie Supercheap Auto, Autobarn etc.
            I am aware that the American market does not generally receive these models.
            I beleive the Middle East markets also have them.
            In my experience its only Kenwood, Pioneer and JVC that have the 2 sw band models, not Sony when I looked at available units on those display units not long ago.
            We have a Kenwood head in the truck, a Pioneer in the Landcruiser and a JVC in in the Ranger pickup.
            All appear quite sensitive and contain 2 MW, 3 FM and 2 SW bands.

          3. Jay

            With conversion to DRM which, if any SW radios feature this? I would like to own one since Air India uses DRM extensively and their 250kw 7550 service is very strong here in North America

          4. RonF

            “One of the articles mentioned car radios sold in Australia still came with shortwave Bands. Is this true?”

            Depends where you look. In the big cities &/or online car audio retailers, no, they’re not common, and you might have point at a catalogue and convince the sales staff you really want them to order one in. In my experience though, go into the local mechanic / car parts / car audio shop in an outback town, and they’d at least know about the Kenwood and Sony models.

            But, truth be told, I gather most people who owned them bought them on eBay. Then found they were a bit useless, since the english night-time NT Local Radio SW broadcasts were on 2.325 & 2.485, and the radio’s coverage started at 2.9MHz…

    2. Ross

      Hi Jay
      There are many of us living in rural/remote Australia who particularly during daylight hours have little or no access to reliable radio signals.
      Sure we have Sat phones and the Vast satellite Television network however this requires a fixed position minimum 90 cm dish for receptionand can be problematic.
      Whether contract mustering, fencing, bore running, mining, cattle and roadtrain transport ops a fixed service is of no use and SW is the only reliable news and info service available to many living and working in these areas.
      Remember that the vast expanses of Australia are not dotted with cities and towns with a plethora of radio stations as in the US, The single largest ranch in the US is Texas’s King Ranch at 825 ,000 acres, we have cattle sations in excess of 6,000,000 thats 6 million acres or 24,000 sq kilometers and they are located in the middle of other huge properties in very remote by European and American standards.
      Even fuel stations can be 600 klm apart in many areas and long range fuel tanks are fitted as standard to many of our popular brands of 4WD wagons and pickups due to the remoteness of travel in Australia.
      When you live in these areas there is interest in long range comms and many of us do obtain amateur radio tickets and use the HF comms networks such as VK37 and the Royal Flying Doctor networks for reliable comms and emergencies.
      Incidently Sw listening was a way of life for many rural people when I was a kid as it gave us access to the world in a country on the edge of the earth.
      Ther are few outback homesteads without some form of HF comms and UHF citizens band for more localised comms with station hands , road workers, mining exploration outfits, long distance trucks, travellers, who pass directly through these huge properties. etc.
      There is no conventional cell phone access in these areas that encompass 60% (guessing) of our country. Even satellite and landline internet services can be intermittent out here at times.
      Almost 90% of Australias population is located on the thin South eastern seabord and western coast of West Australia. They receive excellent TV and radio, DAB services whilst the other 10% do with considerably less.
      The cost I believe for maintaining R’ Australias Pacific servive was Aus $1.5 million, around $1.15 mil US a very small figure in a comparatively wealthy country as Australia.

      Reply

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