ABC scolded for cutting shortwave service

(Source: via Trevor R)

The ABC has been slammed by all sides of politics over its “foolish” decision to cut the transmission of shortwave radio to remote Australia and the Pacific Islands.

The Senate debated a private bill on Thursday by crossbench senator Nick Xenophon to force the ABC to restore transmission after it was cut earlier this year.

“It seems a terrible decision that’s been made by the ABC board,” Senator Xenophon told parliament, accusing the public broadcaster of ignoring the bush and Australia’s neighbours.
The ABC insists listeners can still tune in via FM and AM frequencies, the viewer access satellite television (VAST) service and online.

But senators say the ABC fails to understand those alternative methods are not available to everyone in the bush and the information people are missing out on can be life threatening, such as weather warnings.

Senator Xenophon said the ABC had miscalculated how many people relied on the service.
“There are some question marks over the methodology used by the ABC in relation to this.”

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10 thoughts on “ABC scolded for cutting shortwave service

    1. Ross

      Interestingly the reigning government Coalitions National leader and Deputy are also caught out however they have chosen not to step down from their ministry’s yet were scathing of the two Greens members who honourably stood down when they discovered their Section 44 demeanours!
      Their does indeed appear to be a very double standard being created by this government.
      There appears to be a very nasty smell emanating from the Coalition in Canberra at present ….reminds me of the line Marcellus says in Hamlet “there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark”
      Having only a one seat majority may be the reason however it is not equitable or honest and requires investigation.
      The High Courts decision will be very keenly watched for any bias in what is truly appalling management by this right leaning govt.
      I trust our judges show true independence in forming their decision!
      Media laws are being rearranged to allow less diversity in our press for what or better Who’s benefit
      However back to the topic of this discussion the dismantling and dumbing down of public broadcasting in this country and closing off access to our public broadcasters such as R’ Australia and challenges to the ABC!
      One does have to ponder the similarities with other states that have started similarly on the road to Fascism!
      Or at the least reinforcing the ability of the industrial right wings to maintain there dominance of power in what was once a far more egalitarian society attempting to step away from the absolute right of the peers, aristocracy and monarchy to control and dictate to the population.
      Australians do need to wake up and demand back their voice .
      Just my take Ross.

  1. Ross

    It does appear “curious” that the government (I assume federal) has so rapidly placed the Shepparton shortwave transmission site and building up for sale.
    Instead of prudently mothballing for future use at least or allowing a new government the choice to reinstitute SW services, this government is quickly selling up , another public asset to add to ‘consolidated revenue’ to be used as the current government choose …..maybe to fund …let say a billion $ rail line for THE Adani, COALMINE or use it for pork barrelling in a marginal electorate come the next very dIvisive election.
    This facility is a critical national asset that may well fulfil a very near future need for reliable communications.
    This site is well chosen and in previous generations its signals punched well into the world well outside of its targeted transmissions.
    Why is it that Bejing funds powerful SW signals into Africa and the Pacifi , with the scale of the Chinese economy it could choose any method of communicating with their target audiences???
    Possibly because it is a simple, reliable and well proven communications gateway for a very reasonable cost reaching a large audience .
    Radio NZ had 2 WW2 ex US army transmitters running 7.5 KW that I was able to heard reasonably well when living in Maryland on the Washington DC border, reason for this I believe is an excellent antenna site in Titahi Bay .
    Radio Australia boomed in over most of North America Scandanavia, Europe and Asia from its Shepparton and Darwin transmission sites relaying from Melbourne and we have now destined this useful infrastructure to the scrapheap.
    Well done you short sighted self interested MP’s!
    I believe the cost of the Pacific service was around the 1.8 million per year mark, this is really inconsequential given the size of Australia’s economy and some of the recent expenditures made by the federal government eg: an unnecessary non binding postal plebiscite that is costing a similar amount to the funding of Radio Australia per annum!
    This country has a duty of care to its outback constituency and should attempt to be a more caring friend to its Pacific neighbours, effective news and information is a part of this care.
    Just my take Ross.

  2. TomL

    Holy Cow, Ross, your comments got my gears turning. I want to add to your well written response. I will start by quoting from the post:
    “But senators say the ABC fails to understand those alternative methods are not available to everyone in the bush and the information people are missing out on can be life threatening, such as weather warnings.

    Senator Xenophon said the ABC had miscalculated how many people relied on the service.
    “There are some question marks over the methodology used by the ABC in relation to this.”

    Senator Xenophon seems to allude to a key reason why this decision was made (even if he is not aware of it). The great trend of the internet generation and the Western style governments in particular is to have ever more social control over populations mixed with a bigger and bigger dose of interference from Big Brother (corporations and big government). In my opinion, this is leading to a complete takeover of the public trust by Socialism + Big Brother. I will not state publicly where Socialism + Big Brother leads to, I would be censored. But you will have to look at history to see this axing of SW services is perfectly in line with the main overall trend of society. The government has turned Socialist and are *Forcibly* applying their will over the population without regard to historical norms of thinking or analysis. The agenda is to Balkanize their populations, control them with narrow avenues of prescribed narrative to keep people conditioned to believe what they say. And they are getting more desperate because the debt-fueled structure that holds Socialism’s Power in hand is crumbling.

    Consider this decision in the light of many ways to find new taxes. It is all linked together! Abolishing large cash transactions (combating terrorism???), taxing foreign buyers of real estate (R.E. bubble???), investigating all forms of abolishing cash altogether by experimenting with cards or identity chips (terrorism again???) are all forms of Big Brother controlling people for more and more tax collection (Socialism is BROKE).

    This decision also provides cover for those government officials (life-long politicians and embedded bureaucrats alike) for the aforementioned Balkanization of Thinking. “You haven’t seen nothing yet!” is the old cliche. Like power hungry blood suckers, the movement of those in charge (some people in government and business) will be to strangle Independent Thought. Regional radio is just another of the small ways the little guy/gal can feel empowered, develop their own point of view from a myriad of sources. Now, RA was state-run and fairly controlled already. So, you might not notice much difference in the types of opinions you hear locally. But it did have to contend with annoyances like catering to wide points of view (huge geography) and fairness doctrines and all that entails. It was a public trust, so it had to at least allow for dissenting views now and then.

    I had noticed over the years how horrendously Flaming Leftist RA’s news editorials and “news pieces” had become and had actually stopped listening to it. And that is the only way I can protest is to turn my back on blantanly one-sided news opinions and program hosts. Starve the Beast, boycott it completely.

    You may flame me, and censor me. But before you do, I would implore anyone who wants to listen to think what it would be like if you actually heard both sides of an issue completely and how refreshing that might be. RA was none of that because if reflects the short-sided Thinking pattern of those currently in charge of the public sphere in Australia and also in the bulk of the Western societies today. It will only change when the Debt finally collapses and trust in Government/Big Brother collapses in a very messy dangerous way. Please see Martin Armstrong’s economic blog to see how to “connect the dots” if you would like to read more about this point of view.

    Let Regional Radio be born out of this collapse to air various points of view and let listeners decide for themselves what to believe, not what Big Brother prescribes for them to believe!

    1. RonF

      From the article” “There are some question marks over the methodology used by the ABC in relation to this.”

      That’s the understatement of the year. The methodology seemed to be “turn them off, state publicly they’ve been turned off for maintenance, then count the number who ignored our statement & went as far as lodging a formal complaint through a single unpublicised channel”.

      “The government has turned Socialist and are *Forcibly* applying their will over the population without regard to historical norms of thinking or analysis.”

      Not wanting to take away from your rant ;), but I’ll just point out that this is more a tactic of Fascism, not Socialism…

      1. Kire

        Ron F, I agree completeley when you said
        “That’s the understatement of the year. The methodology seemed to be “turn them off, state publicly they’ve been turned off for maintenance, then count the number who ignored our statement & went as far as lodging a formal complaint through a single unpublicised channel”.
        Even one of the commentators on this blog told us not to worry, they do this every year or so. But somehow, last summers outage felt different.
        I wonder, how many people in the remote cattle stations, or aboriginal communities actually listened daily? I bet it would have been a heck of alot more than 10. And, if they had been notified properly of the reasons for last summers shutoff, that it wasnt just for maintenance, but to see if listeners cared, maybe more people would have had time to organize and said something then. But of course, that would have smacked of democracy, and of course governments always do whats best for its citizens. LOL…

  3. Kire

    I was waiting for comments till i jumped in but since there are none yet, i’ll say this. I hope that ABC’s decision and the gov’ts complicity to stop SW continues to haunt them. The comment over China SW dominating the SW airwaves in the Pacific, should not be passed over lightly. Their message gets out, and Australia’s doesn’t.
    I know Kieth P. harps on the fact that SW is dying, the internet is king and all, and while his knowledge on pacific issues may be much greater than mine, I would never have known who he is, would never had heard his shows; if it were not for Shortwave.
    I still think it is better to go out fighting than just to give in, and while China Radio is quite boring, they are now the dominate player in the radio wars.

    1. Ross

      I have commented a number of times re this appalling decision by the ABC to cut funding for Radio Australia.
      I give a recent example of the need for a reliable DAYTIME signal into remote Australia.
      During the flood events cutting off access between Mt Isa/ Cloncurry NT via the Flinders Hwy route into Townsville and onto the Landsborough Hwy south into North central Qld ie Longreach /Winton,
      the only alternative was to take the Diamantina Development road directly south of Mt Isa and down through Mt Guide, Djarra aboriginal homelands and onto Boulia and Bedourie, small outback service centers and the last reliable fuel 375 – 400 Klm west of Windorah.
      There was virtually no information available along the “track” as to flooding in this area that is well known for fast flood events and quite a number of travellers and trucks were attempting this alternative route.
      During the daytime no AM MW signals were reliable (readable) south of Djarra and obviously no FM line of sight signals!
      The western NSW outback station MW 2WES was not readable either until dusk.
      Radio Australia was the only daytime Australian signal available and although information was scant it was at least a form of news and info. The two other daytime options were “China Drive” from Bejing and good old Radio NZ that station operated by a “Ha Ha” foreign power” according to Julie Bishop our Foreign minister in a recent statement!
      ( Informed Aussies & Kiwis will understand this comment!)
      It was a welcome presence for us to hear our Kiwi neighbours whiist pulled up on the roadside 100’s of kilometers from any major center hoping that the many Diamantina flood ways were passable to get back to Windorah and on to the Landsborough highway at Charleville approximately 450 Klm in Central Queensland.

      Our local smaller neighbour NZ (one fifth our population) recognises its responsibility in continuing to fulfil this important role of broadcasting SW into the Pacific, as do the powerful Bejing signals based signals powering into Australia (all over).

      This is the reason why we need a strong reliable signal from the ABC into the bush and outback areas.
      The ABC need to understand they have a central and necessary role in providing this type of information on the hour with news in consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology State emergency services and local councils. when these events occur in outback areas where their MW and FM signals have no reach.

      I don’t believe most of our Canberra based politicians mostly hailing from coastal and metropolitan electorates understand the isolation many people in remote Australia endure stoically.
      Australia has the landmass of the continental USA and the population is largely based on the coastal fringe.
      Our politicians need to recognise the situation for those who do live outside their “norms”
      Many of them need to walk in the shoes of those they never see and some realisations may be made.
      Also low power FM stations in the near Pacific won’t cut the mustard during cyclone seasons and will need competent technicians to service and repair! Thin on the ground out there!
      Local Pacific island politics often doesn’t allow a balanced view for many in the Pacific, and R’NZ and Radio Australia are there to provide that balance.

      With the recent spate of state sponsored cyber hacking and fragile landlines being damaged in remote areas due to natural events, ie fire, flooding, cyclone seasons a SW service is a very simple and reliable method of mass communications for a very minimal price.
      Its is therefore interesting to note that the American military are re-establishing HF communications in Guam for comms back to stateside commands, as a reliable alternative to their UHF and satellite comms.
      There is a reason for this!
      Also younger people need to be advised of this form of communication as their smart phones don’t work in much of this country and a modicum of advertising may alert especially city based travellers in outback areas of whom there are more all the time to the mode of reliable SW communication.
      I often surprise travelling “grey nomads” when they hear a strong radio signal emanating from my truck radio at a roadside rest area or camp when they have none, the reason HF short wave!
      Pioneer, Kenwood, JVC and Clarion all supply SW equipped car radios in Australia through most large auto retailers and they are very reasonably priced and generally far more sensitive units than the Euro and Asian supplied rigs in most new vehicles.

      I wish to note and thank those politicians who are fighting this closure , mostly from areas that do have isolated outback areas, notably Nick Zenaphon from South Australia and also Bob Katter the member for Kennedy based in Mt Isa and well aware of the citicentric machinations of Canberra.
      Two parliamentarians who actually have a grip on the reality of remote rural and outback Australia.
      Just my take Ross


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