Tag Archives: ABC Northern Territories

Radio Australia’s final day broadcasting on shortwave

Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the TitanSDR Pro.

As I write this post, I’m listening to Radio Australia on 9,580 and 12,065 kHz. Other than the sports reports and weather, world news is chock-full of stories–many of which are quite sad.

This will likely be the last morning I listen to Radio Australia on shortwave.

SWLing Post contributor, Phill Brennan–who has done a fine job keeping us up-to-date with RA developments–shares the following message:

On the local ABC news tonight it was mentioned that the NT transmitters were going to be shut down at midday local time or 0230 UTC on 31 January. I cannot confirm this, but it may be useful to alert listeners who wish to hear the end of the broadcast. I have no information on RA’s shutdown but it may be the same.

Apparently there will be a gathering at the Katherine transmitter by local listeners tomorrow to mark the end of the broadcasts.

Political pressure continues. A South Australian Senator (Xenophon) is going to introduce a private members bill into the Australian Parliament which will mandate that the ABC must provide a SW service to the NT. I don’t think I would back this in succeeding, but it’s worth a try.

The whole exercise has been a public relations disaster for the ABC as it has been a major news story nationally for weeks now. Not enough damage to change the ABC management’s mind on the matter though.

Thank you for the update, Phil, and for following this story as it developed.

Again, if I understand correctly, for those of us in North America, today is the final day we’ll hear Radio Australia on shortwave (9,580, 12,065 and 12,085 kHz).

I feel I should mention that I did receive a tip that the shut for some of the Radio Australia shortwave services might be as early as 11:00AM Tuesday local time Shepparton (00:00 UTC).

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ABC unveils “enhanced support measures” for those affected by loss of shortwave services

(Source: The Australian via Andy Sennitt)

[…]In a statement yesterday rebutting opposition claims that the ABC’s decision was somehow linked to government funding cuts, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the ABC’s ­decision, announced unexpectedly in December, had since been “confirmed”.

“While the ABC has confirmed its decision I think the public broadcaster has learnt some valuable lessons about community consultation and engagement in regional and remote areas,” Mr ­Fifield said. “This is entirely a call by the ABC who have the legis­lated operational independence to make these decisions.”

Mr Shorten told The Australian the ABC’s rural listeners had been “shabbily” treated.

“The people of the Northern Territory have been treated shabbily throughout this process. The Prime Minister needs to start listening to locals and speaking up for them,” he said.

[…]In a statement issued yesterday, the ABC said it was “deeply committed to rural and regional Australia and the one-third of Australians who live outside the capital cities”.

[…]It promised to expand an existing “information awareness program” with the addition of easier access to information packs about alternative services, one-on-one telephone support and “how-to” videos to guide listeners to catch up on programs using podcasts.

“The National Broadband Network satellite services ‘Sky Muster’ will also assist those in remote Australia, by providing access to all ABC online and digital content,” the statement said.

“The ABC will also supply (donate) a VAST satellite system unit 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.”

Those things are unlikely to placate pastoralists, who usually live and work far from 4WD clubs and cannot realistically mount large VAST (viewer access satellite television) systems on their ­vehicles. Cattle station owners and staff continue to complain bitterly about the poor quality of NBN satellite services, where one connection typically offering less than 100GB of downloads per month may be shared among a dozen or more people for both personal and business purposes. In practice, they say, this makes all ABC digital content inaccessible in the bush.[…]

Read the full article at The Australian online.

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Letter from Australian Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister regarding NT shortwave service

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor,  Phil Brennan, who shares the following letter sent to The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, by Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition:

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister

I write in relation to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision to cease its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory from 31 January 2017.

My letter follows repeated representations from members of my Shadow Ministry, Northern Territory Caucus and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion to secure the continuation of this vital service.

As you know, shortwave radio provides vital news and information services, including local radio and emergency messages that are crucial to those living in remote areas, particularly in time of natural disaster.

The ABC’s claim that the majority of listeners will be able to access ABC services via AM/FM radio, digital radio and online streaming, or via VAST platform does not account for the reality of service availability in remote areas.

This helps to explain why listeners and users of the ABC shortwave in the Northern Territory have been unequivocal in voicing their concern at the Coalition’s failure to intervene in this matter. This includes emergency services workers and cattle growers.

I am also deeply concerned that the ABC took this decision without satisfactory consultation with affected listeners, community representatives and emergency service workers and agencies. ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, has since acknowledged shortfalls in this regard.

For these reasons I ask that you work with Labor, ABC management and local stakeholders as a matter of urgency to ensure the continued provision of shortwave radio service in the NT beyond 31 January 2017.

Yours sincerely

Bill Shorten MP
Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

26 January 2017

cc: The Hon Mark Dreyfus MP, QC Mr Stephen Jones MP
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy Hon Warren Snowdon MP
Mr Luke Gosling OAM, MP Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

Click here to download the original PDF version of this letter.

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ABC Rural interviews Garry Cratt about decision to end shortwave service

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following announcement from a Tecsun Radios Australia email newsletter:

Tecsun Radios Australia owner Garry Cratt was interviewed by ABC Rural this week about the ABC’s decision to end their shortwave radio transmission after almost 80 years.

Click here to listen via YouTube.

The ABC have decided that as shortwave technology is now nearly a century old, it is outdated and serves a very limited audience. They are planning on moving towards a digital focused service instead.

Garry discussed this in his interview with ABC Rural:
“A lot of the places that do receive Radio Australia, there is no power for a start, so they’re relying on batteries and solar panels. The people that are listening, that will be affected, are those people who are maybe still back in the last century, but that’s not their fault.”

Tecsun Radios Australia recently sent a shipment of 500 radios to the Solomon Islands to be given out to remote villages. Shortwave radio is often the only way to communicate in rural villages like these, this is especially important during times of natural disaster such as the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and as recently as cyclones Yasi (2011), and Pam (2015).

The ABC are planning on building a stronger FM transmitter network to use instead of the shortwave transmission – but what will happen to the people who are out of range of FM radio?

There are many people without this equipment living in places like the Pacific Islands, where Radio Australia is one the few news and entertainment resources. Due to the sparse population and wide geographic dispersion it is extremely difficult to correctly measure the effect that turning off the shortwave transmission will have.

Here at Tecsun Radios Australia, we are asking you to help us let the ABC know that shortwave radio is a much valued service. You can do this by tweeting a photo of your shortwave radio tuned into Radio Australia, making sure you tag @ABCAustralia and @TecsunRadios and using the hashtag #saveshortwave

Additionally, we are calling on the Australian Government to restore funding to the ABC, (previously provided via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) to support the ABC’s international television and radio broadcasts. We acknowledge that the ABC has continued to provide international radio and television broadcasts by internally funding these programs, and now we ask the Australian Government to support our rural and Pacific Islands communities by giving the ABC the appropriate funding they require.

We are talking about $1.9 million in funding after all, which we think the Prime Minister could find if he checked under the Chesterfield seat cushions in his office…

To read the full article and listen to Garry’s radio interview, click here:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-18/abc-shortwave-cuts-tourists-operator-pacific-island/8191374

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Letter from former District Manager at Radio Australia Shepparton

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, London Shortwave, who shares the following letter by Gary Baker, former district manager at Radio Australia, Shepparton–published in the Shepparton News. Here’s an excerpt:

Recently I heard that the HF radio transmission site at Shepparton, known as Radio Australia, is to be shut down.

[…]I understand the ABC needs to cut back on some services it provides and make use of the latest technology. This makes sense except in the case of the Shepparton facility.The Shepparton transmission site has the capability to direct radio signals into specific countries as we see fit.

This is unique to this site, as no other site can reach the countries this one can.

In my time as district manager at the Shepparton site, I recall some instances where the Shepparton site was called upon to direct radio signals to specific targets.

At one point the Fiji Government shut down the local Australian ABC transmitter.

Shepparton sent radio into that country to keep Australians informed during that time.

When there was a coup in the Solomon Islands, once again we sent signals into that country.

We also sent radio signals into Myanmar at the request of the Australian Government.

Another task that the Shepparton site fulfils is to send signals into northern Australia in times of need, for example during Cyclone Larry when the Northern Territory radio service was beamed back to the tropical north from Shepparton.

The Shepparton site is in a location that has good weather and is politically stable.

This makes it an ideal tool for widespread information broadcasting.

The ABC would argue that this HF radio service is old technology and can be replaced by the internet or satellite services.

This is true.

However, the ABC and the Federal Government do not control the internet or satellite services in other countries and therefore they are not reliable.

HF radio broadcasting from a secure location is very reliable.[…]

Read the full letter at the Shepparton News website. 

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