RadioWorld: Despite Fears, ABC Shuts Down Shortwave Broadcasts

(Source: RadioWorld)

The ABC has turned off its shortwave radio transmitters, leaving Australians in remote areas without easy access to lifeline radio

OTTAWA — On Jan. 31, state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. shut down its shortwave radio transmitters; ending both international broadcasts of Radio Australia and the ABC’s domestic service in Australia’s Northern Territory. The transmitters were located at ABC broadcasting facilities at Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Roe Creek (Alice Springs).

According to the ABC news release that announced the shutdown on Dec. 6 — less than two months before it took place — “The move is in line with the national broadcaster’s commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings including DAB+ digital radio, online and mobile services, together with FM services for international audiences.”

[…]The majority of ABC audiences in the Northern Territory currently access ABC services via AM and FM and all ABC radio and digital radio services are available on the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) satellite service.”[…]

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7 thoughts on “RadioWorld: Despite Fears, ABC Shuts Down Shortwave Broadcasts

  1. Jason

    The FM translators the ABC uses overseas are low powered and extremely inadequate. You’d get better coverage from low powered christian broadcasters, that’s how low we are talking.
    They don’t cover tourist areas either so the taxpayer of this country can’t even use them overseas.

    In remote Australia, it’s not just the NT that is affected by this decision, it’s also remote parts of South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland.

    The document the ABC produced would be hilarious if it wasn’t so offensive, and actually goes to show how badly remote Australia needs the SW service. To extend DAB+ to regional outposts like Darwin is a poor use of the money. The implementation in Australia has low quality audio, a limited amount of spectrum to use, and a very limited coverage area.

    Perhaps they could have considered a DRM solution instead to keep shortwave going? That might even provide improved reception in many areas as old transmission equipment is replaced with much more efficient and modern units.

    1. Tomas

      DRM can only be received by a few radiots with SDR radios connected to computers, there are no receivers that people would actually buy.

      Replacing all shortwave receivers existing even as car radios or clock radios doesn’t make economic sense.

  2. Tom Reitzel

    DRM via shortwave is radio’s answer to the Spynet. With some aggressive software development plus a change in attitudes and practices of shortwave broadcasters, a DRM equivalent of SWLing’s blog could be broadcasted digitally at least once a day. However, shortwave broadcasters need to allocate smaller blocks of time to accommodate such efforts, e.g. 15 minutes. We need true believers in DRM to get with the program as state broadcasters primarily look for victims to propagandize. 😉 Maybe, Vado’s (KJES) a candidate for a 20 kW DRM retrofit? If not, smaller shortwave DRM broadcasters will enter this market, but we need both software and smaller blocks of time to change the status quo. I’d like to see SWLing’s blog via shortwave soon. 😉

    1. Shelby Brant

      Another problem, as far as HF broadcasting in the US is concerned, is a lot of organizations probably can’t or don’t want to go through the effort of building/licensing a transmitter site under the current FCC regulations (even though DRM is 10 kw minimum, I believe that is average power, the peak power of a 10 kw DRM transmitter I believe is around 100 kw I believe). Plus, the current rules don’t actually allow you to broadcast domestically. The only solution I can think of right now around any of that would be to try to get licensed under the part 5 experimental rules, saying that it is for a research purpose. After enough people apply to do this, maybe the FCC would realize there is interest and consider a rule change and create a domestic shortwave broadcast service. 1 kw (DRM, or even AM/SSB for those who want analog) in the 4 to 9 MHz range would work wonders at regional coverage.

  3. Dafydd Jones

    I have been on disability and the wrag (Work Related Activity Group) component of Employment Support Allowance for some time,due to long running problems with my health,which I don’t wish to bore people with here! My ESA is currently under review (which is carried out periodically) by the Department of Work and Pensions here,in the UK. If my money is cut any further I will have to drastically reduce all outgoings on rent & bills,etc and I will obviously have to look at dispensing with my internet connection. After that it will be a case of,down to the public library for me,if I want to access the world wide web! Luckily for me, I have my shortwave/am receivers,which will cost nothing,beyond the cost of charging the batteries,periodically. But,hang on……. oh dear,they keep on switching off mw and shortwave transmitters,so I may end up not being able to listen to any of my favourite radio stations,at all! In this respect,I do wonder how people on low incomes will be affected in Australia and the various islands that ABC used to broadcast to? I know that the Irish in Britain have been engaged in a long battle with RTE to retain their broadcast on 252,Long Wave radio;which I just happen to be listening to right now (via cordless headphones) in South West Wales (uk).The reception,I might add,is very good,indeed! The great thing about am/lw/sw,being that it has such little respect for national borders!!!!
    Thank you for this great site. It is a great resource for radio enthusiasts. I will certainly miss it,if the great switch off happens here!!!
    Best Wishes

    1. Jason

      The problem is, the real reason they want to shut these services down is BECAUSE MW/SW has no respect for national borders. Therefore, hearing a different point of view to your own local media, which will say what the money tells them to say, is becoming more difficult.

      The shut down of english shortwave makes it harder to hear english language stations when travelling too. If there is a power blackout and no internet access (yes this happened to me overseas in holiday resorts before) finding out what’s going on maybe very difficult. Obviously the management are going to put a positive spin on any communication to guests so as not to concern them.

  4. Michael Fortner

    The arrogance that the techno-elite in the West knows no bounds. They feel that the Internet is the be-all and end-all when it comes to getting information and no other sources are needed. They seem to forget that most of the world CAN’T afford or even have Internet service available due to location, with satellite access almost as bad. Radio is a simple, proven technology that requires less than a $50 one time investment to obtain and is hard to block, unlike Internet connections.

    What are people going to rely on when the power and Internet goes out and all that is left is radio when nobody is broadcasting anymore?


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