Category Archives: International Broadcasting

Radio Vanuatu: New shortwave and mediumwave service through infrastructure upgrade

(Source: Vanuatu Broadcasting & Television Corporation via Peter Marks)

RADIO VANUATU CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT WORK BEGINS

With the support of the Government of Vanuatu, the Vanuatu Broadcasting & Television
Corporation (VBTC) has begun work this month on a 942 million vatu (US$8.1m)
infrastructure upgrade to improve radio and free-to-air television service throughout
Vanuatu.

The first phase involves the design, installation and commissioning of a new shortwave (HF)
and medium wave (MF) service for Radio Vanuatu, the country’s public radio service. Costing
for phase one will be in excess of 242 million vatu (US$2.2m) and is funded by the
Government of Vanuatu. Following the improvements to shortwave and medium wave
services, VBTC will also undertake technical work to strengthen the coverage and reliability
of its FM services.

A 10kw MF Nautel transmitter imported out of Canada and a 10kw HF transmitter
manufactured by Hanjin Electronics of South Korea will be installed at VBTC’s major public
service transmission site at Emten Lagoon on Efate. Both transmitters will be commissioned
before the end of 2019.

The second phase, beginning early 2020, will reopen Radio Vanuatu’s medium wave radio
transmission facilities at St Michelle in Luganville on the island of Santo. This will provide AM
service to provinces in the top half of Vanuatu at a cost in excess of 300 million vatu
(US$2.5m).

The third phase will expand the national television free-to-air service, Television Blong
Vanuatu, along with a new digital television service. This final phase will cost an estimated
400 million vatu (US$3.5m).

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas launched the capital development upgrade at a
special function attended by cabinet ministers, senior members of the public service,
members of the diplomatic corps and members of Vanuatu’s business and non-profit
communities on Friday September 20 in Port Vila before he departed the country to attend
the UN General Assembly in New York.

In his address, the Prime Ministerspoke atlength about the importance to Vanuatu of having
a strong national public radio and television broadcasting service and announced assistance
from Vanuatu’s development partners to help achieve this objective.

The Government of Australia funded the scoping study for the radio upgrade project and is
providing funding support to implement the strategic reform programme of VBTC which the
Prime Minister said is making good progress.

“I’m also happy to announce that the New Zealand Government is keen to support the
second stage of the Radio Vanuatu technical infrastructure upgrade while China is
considering my request to support the upgrade of Television Blong Vanuatu’s technical
infrastructure.”

Meanwhile Kordia New Zealand Limited has been awarded the contract to project manage,
design, install and commission the new radio transmission facilities beginning with the
facilities at Emten Lagoon outside Port Vila.

VBTC Chief Executive Officer, Francis Herman said that “Kordia has extensive experience in
the broadcasting and telecommunications industry in the Pacific, and recently completed a
major project in Samoa for State-owned Radio 2AP funded by the Australian Government”.
“We’ve worked hard with Kordia and a number of other technical experts to investigate the
most efficient and sustainable transmission solution for Vanuatu taking into account the
inclement weather, and the need to keep operating costs affordable.”

The shortwave service, which will be commissioned before the end of this year, will provide
national radio coverage to the 82 islands spread spanning 1,300 kilometres between the
most northern and southern islands.

“Our role as Vanuatu’s national broadcasting service is centered on helping create an
informed public opinion so our people can contribute more effectively to national
development”, Herman added.

“VBTC has struggled to remain relevant over the past decade because its technical
infrastructure was obsolete and badly neglected making it challenging for us to provide an
efficient, reliable, and responsive national radio and television service.”

Alongside the infrastructure upgrade, is an extensive programme to strengthen the technical
capacity of Vanuatu’s broadcast technicians along with a long-term maintenance regime to
expand the life of the equipment.

September 23, 2019

Spread the radio love

Radio Prague now Radio Prague International

Radio Prague QSL card.

(Source: Radio Prague International via David Iurescia)

For 83 years now listeners of Czech Radio’s external service broadcasts have been accustomed to hearing our specific call-sign. Both the call sign and the station’s name have changed over the years. Another small change is now in the pipeline. As of September 1, Radio Prague will become Radio Prague International. Use our audio slider for a walk down memory lane…

Click here to view on YouTube.

Spread the radio love

Proposal to suspend Radio Romania International’s shortwave service has been rejected

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tudor Vedeanu, who shares the following update regarding the threat to RRI’s shortwave service.

Tudor writes:

I contacted MediaSind asking for more details about the suspension of the SW broadcasts at RRI. Liviu Grosu, the general secretary of MediaSind told me this:

“Following the reactions of MediaSind, the members of the Board of Directors rejected the proposal of the president-general director of the SRR, Georgica Severin, regarding the suspension of the shortwave broadcasts.”

Brilliant news, Tudor! Thank you for sharing this and also many thanks for obtaining Liviu Grosu’s approval to post his message here on the SWLing Post.

Readers, if you love RRI’s shortwave service, I believe this would still be a great time to let them know you’re happy they’re on the air! For the English language service, use the following email address: engl@rri.ro


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Spread the radio love

Defense One interviews Sound of Hope founders

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, RBC, who shares the following article from the website Defense One:

For more than four months, Hong Kong has been in the grips of a civil crisis. Protestors have taken to the streets to challenge the Hong Kong government’s growing acquiescence to Beijing while Chinese government forces and their allies have used militias to attack protestors and electronic tools to disrupt their communications. But media censorship means that few mainland Chinese know what’s going on.

A Silicon Valley-based organization has found a way to get information into China and out to Chinese speakers around the world: shortwave radio.

“Shortwave broadcast is kinda like a grey area,” said Sean Lin, one of the co-founders of the Sound of Hope radio network. “There’s no law that says you cannot do it. It depends on if governments want to keep [a particular radio station] going or shut it down based on Beiging’s pressure,”

Shortwave radio has been used for decades to broadcast news, information, political messages, and disinformation. During World War II, the Germans and the British both used radio waves between 3–30 MHz (10 to 100 metres) to try to persuade listeners around the world.

Sound of Hope, co-founded by Lin and Allen Zeng in 2004, looked to take the same technology and broadcast messages into China. Zeng originally set up the station to broadcast to the Chinese language population in Silicon Valley. It was his response to a dearth of Chinese-language news coverage that wasn’t heavily influenced by the Chinese government. “You would expect them [Chinese language news and media in the United States] to have some basic media decency and do their job. They don’t. They all have family in China. They need to go back to China. They need to do business in China,” said Zeng.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Defense One.

Spread the radio love

Radio World: “The Internet’s Impact on International Radio”

The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station Control Room

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Dennis, Eric, and Michael who share the following story from Radio World. Please note my comments below following a short excerpt from this piece:

OTTAWA — During the height of the Cold War (1947–1991), the shortwave radio bands were alive with international state-run broadcasters; transmitting their respective views in multiple languages to listeners around the globe.

The western bloc’s advocates were led by the BBC World Service, and included Voice of America, Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, Radio Canada International and a host of influential European broadcasters. The eastern bloc’s de facto team captain was the USSR’s Radio Moscow (with its unique hollow, echoing sound), supplemented by broadcasters in Soviet satellite countries (like East Germany’s Radio Berlin International) and allies like Fidel Castro’s Radio Havana Cuba.

Then 1991 arrived, and the Cold War apparently ended with the fall of the Soviet Union and the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

In the seeming peace that followed, many governments no longer saw the sense in spending millions on multi-megawatt transmitters and vast antenna farms to keep broadcasting their messages globally.

The leader among them, the BBC World Service (BBCWS), trumpeted the web and webcasting as modern, cost-effective alternatives to expensive shortwave broadcasting (along with satellite radio and leasing local FM airtime in the countries they used to broadcast to). This is why the BBCWS ceased shortwave transmissions to North America and Australia in 2001 and Europe in 2008, while retaining SW broadcasts in less-developed parts of the globe.[…]

The full article is available here and quite a good piece exploring how the Internet has had an impact on shortwave radio broadcasting.

I, along with a number of fiends in the shortwave community–Bob Zanotti, Jeff White, Colin Newell, and Ian McFarland to name a few–we’re quoted in this piece.

As with most any published piece, quotes and statements are trimmed and edited to fit the print space. If you read the full article, you will have noticed some quotes from me. Here’s a larger portion of my full statement for this piece:

Most audience analysts agree that the number of shortwave listeners has been on the decline at the same time Internet access has been on the rise. Moreover, shortwave listener numbers are hard to quantify due to the very nature of anonymous listening; no one can truly “track” a shortwave radio listener. On the other hand, there is nothing anonymous about those who listen to or watch Internet content–not only can the audience be measured by numbers, but a much deeper and more invasive set of data can be gleaned from an online audience. Thus the decline in shortwave also denotes a loss of anonymity on the part of the listener.

This is not to say there aren’t shortwave listeners. A significant number of listeners are radio enthusiasts/DXers who appreciate the shortwave medium. But perhaps more meaningfully, shortwave listeners are those living in rural and remote parts of the world who benefit from the instant, free, and anonymous information shortwave provides.

At Ears To Our World, we received this photo from a school in rural Tanzania in June 2019. The teacher has been using one of our self-powered shortwave radios to listen to news and improve language skills.

Some broadcasters effectively target both of these audiences. Large government broadcasters, however, have always tried to reach the “influencers” in a country–those who might eventually help guide a country’s policy and international relationships. And the great majority of these influencers, according to audience research, have moved to social media and the Internet as a source of information.

Note that I received the photo above in June. At Ears To Our World, we still work with communities that appreciate the accessibility of radio. Perhaps our partners are more the exception than the rule, but there are still those who benefit from radio–especially those living in rural and remote areas. Where large government shortwave broadcasters are pulling out of the scene, often community-driven stations are taking their place. We’ve been working with Radio Taboo in Cameroon, for example, and they are an amazing case in point.

As a radio enthusiast, I’ll also add that I love the homegrown nature of shortwave broadcasting these days. As private broadcasters have a larger market share of the airwaves, individuals have an opportunity to buy their own broadcast time and produce amazing, unique shows like VORW, Free Radio Skybird, Encore, From the Isle of Music and Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot. These are just a few examples–if you’d like more, just check out the latest edition of Alan Roe’s guide to music over shortwave.


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

VOA exhbition: “a fascinating look at early shortwave radio”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, George Herr, who shares the following item from the LA Times:

Long before cell towers started sprouting up everywhere, the federal government commissioned telecommunication companies to build five massive fields of shortwave radio antennae. The structures, which reached up to 450 feet, were located in out-of-the-way places in California, Ohio and North Carolina. Each was designed to bounce radio waves off the ionosphere, allowing federally produced programming to be transmitted all over the globe.

The U.S.’ international radio broadcaster Voice of America was born during World War II. It expanded during the Cold War. As technology advanced, its programs were carried via television and digital platforms. Today it is part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, providing news and information in 50 languages to a weekly audience of 275 million.

Its early years are traced in a fascinating exhibition at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Culver City. “Voice of America: The Long Reach of Shortwave” takes visitors back to the predigital world, before our political leaders began tweeting their innermost sentiments and policy decisions. Back then, international audiences were addressed more formally, via carefully scripted programming.

[…]The antennae are the stars of the show. They appear in photographs, in videos and on touch-screen monitors. Arranged in grids, arcs and asymmetrical arrays, they resemble high-tech fishing nets, impossibly spindly bridges, supersized spirit catchers and otherworldly telephone poles. Sculpturally impressive, they make Land Art look fussy, precious and small.

All but one of the five transmission stations have been abandoned. The most haunting component of the exhibition is a three-minute video documenting the destruction of the antennae. In sequence after sequence, little puffs of smoke appear before the towering antennae yield to the tug of gravity and topple to the earth in seemingly slow motion. Some crash into others, causing them to fall like skyscraper dominoes. It’s a sad ballet that marks the end of an era.

A pair of touch-screen slideshows is also bittersweet. It takes visitors on a virtual tour of Transmission Station B (the only one still functioning) and Transmission Station A (its twin). Both are near Greenville, N.C. To see the up-and-running station alongside its vandalized, disused doppelganger is to glimpse a living world next to a dying one.

Both are ours.

Click here to read the full story at the LA Times.

Spread the radio love

USAGM: questions about journalistic and financial management

(Source: New York Times)

WASHINGTON — The United States Agency for Global Media, the government’s foreign broadcast service, already struggling to clean house after a series of scandals last year at flagship operations like Voice of America and TV Martí, is now being rocked by two new cases that have raised further questions about its journalistic and financial management.

In one, Tomás Regalado Jr., a reporter for TV Martí, which broadcasts into Cuba, and a cameraman for the network, Rodolfo Hernandez, were suspended amid allegations that they faked a mortar attack on Mr. Regalado during a broadcast from Managua, Nicaragua, last year.

That incident surfaced only days after Haroon Ullah, the former chief strategy officer at the global media agency, which operates Martí and foreign-language networks around the world, pleaded guilty on June 27 in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to stealing government property.

A former deputy to the agency’s chief executive, John Lansing, Mr. Ullah admitted to fleecing the government of $37,000 between February and October last year by claiming reimbursements for expensive hotels he did not book, double-billing the government for official travel and forging a doctor’s note to allow him to fly business class. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Sign Up for On Politics With Lisa Lerer
A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

SIGN UP
The new problems are unrelated to each other; in the case of Mr. Ullah, the agency said its internal controls flagged the expense fraud. But along with many others over the past two years, the scandals have brought intensified scrutiny and criticism to the agency, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Created during World War II to be an objective, trusted source of information in nations where freedom of the press is under attack, the agency has 3,500 journalists who reach more than 345 million people in 100 countries each week.

The United States Agency for Global Media initiated an investigation into the allegedly faked segment at TV Martí “immediately after these concerns about the footage in question were raised,” the agency said in a statement. “As the agency has made clear, we have zero tolerance for failing to honor clear and universally accepted standards of professional journalism. We also owe it to all involved to conduct a thorough and clear investigation to get all of the facts.”

“I take seriously any breach of professional journalistic standards at any U.S.A.G.M. network. I have asked for a thorough and swift investigation,” Mr. Lansing said in an emailed statement. “I expect all U.S.A.G.M. networks to adhere to truthfulness, fairness and accountability in their reporting.”

Click here to read the full article at the New York Times.

Spread the radio love