Pacific Beat: Vanuatu invests in shortwave service

(Source: ABC Pacific Beat via Michael Bird)

Click here to listen.

In the age of social media and internet technology, shortwave may be seen as traditional technology — but it still plays an important role in reaching far-flung communities, with Vanuatu’s public broadcaster now investing millions of dollars to boost its shortwave service.

The Vanuatu Broadcasting Television Corporation (VBTC) is investing AUD$12 million in upgrading its national radio service through its shortwave and and medium wave service.

VBTC chief executive officer, Francis Herman told the ABC that only 30 per cent of the country can access national radio but after the upgrade, this would increase to 100 per cent coverage across Vanuatu’s 80-plus islands.

“Radio as you know is cost effective, people can pick it up on their phone, in the villages where television can not reach, radio is the companion for people,” Mr Herman said.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation shutdown its shortwave service to the Pacific in 2017, in favour of a digital presence while China and New Zealand have increased their shortwave coverage.

Technology commentator Peter Marks said investing in shortwave is a great way to complement Vanuatu’s national radio service.

“Shortwave comes from over the horizon it will continue to work even when local conditions are difficult like extreme weather that might knock out local FM and AM stations and internet,” Mr Marks said.

Vanuatu is listed by the United Nations as one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and regularly experiences, earthquakes, cyclones and floods.

Mr Herman said this makes having a national shortwave service even more important.

“We have general elections in March next year, we are about to head into the cyclone season beginning in November and so its important, it’s crucial that the people of Vanuatu can get access to a reliable and credible broadcaster,” Mr Herman said.

Along with its shortwave broadcasts, the VBTC is also looking to improve its television coverage over the next two years, with funding support from the Vanuatu government, New Zealand and China.

Click here to read the full article and listen to the audio at Pacific Beat.

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5 thoughts on “Pacific Beat: Vanuatu invests in shortwave service

  1. Mangosman

    Virtually all new HF broadcast transmitters are DRM capable. I hope they use it to transmit to transmit their 3 local languages simultaneously, as well as connecting up the Emergency Warning System so that radios can be woken up in the middle of the night for any impending disaster.

    Clear, noise free digital sound would also be nice using xHE AAC compression which is very efficient with speech.

    Remember that Radio New Zealand Pacific and China Radio International also transmit DRM.

  2. Phil Ireland

    I hope the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) listens to the logical advice and leadership in Vanuatu.

  3. KV Zichi

    1) Radio Australia still exists? Who knew! and
    2) What exactly is the point of calling SW “Old Technology”? What a condescending load of ……

    Radio works. Can we finally admit the push to eliminate it as a ‘cost saving’ measure is misguided? Will Radio Australia ever return to SW where it can actually be heard? Or are the ‘experts’ who refuse to actually provide data for what they claim going to win on this continuing canard?

  4. Bruce

    I’m curious about success with shortwave broadcast in the Caribbean. The Carribean shares some characteristics with countries like New Zealand and Vanuatu. The best I can tell, BBC Caribbean shutdown in 2011. Have other Caribbean services filled the gap? WRMI transmitter 14 (5010 kHz) covers it, but there doesn’t seem to be much programming. Based on my reading of their schedule, there is about 5 1/2 hours of programming, some of it (1 1/2 hours) only of Friday. Given what’s happened in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, it seems like shortwave might be a more resilient form of broadcast there.

  5. RonF

    What happened to all the ‘experts’ telling us the Pacific Islands all used mobiles & satellite for comms these days, and SW was a redundant anachronism? *crickets* 😉

    (I’ve got a mate who used to work for TVL, and now fixes radios & 2-ways. From what he’s said, there’s still a lot of places among the islands where broadcast radio, including SW, still reign…)


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