In the latest episode of Over To You, host Rajan Datar discusses how the BBC World Service’s shortwave transmissions are being affected by jamming in parts of Asia. It’s a short but informative episode.
Over To You explores the way that the World Service’s shortwave transmissions are being affected by jamming in parts of Asia, following up from an email from a listener in West Bengal who was having problems listening to the service. With the help of the World Service’s head of business development, we find out how jamming of the World Service shortwave transmissions inside China is spilling over into neighbouring countries, and explore what the BBC can do to redress the situation through international organisations.
An international broadcast association has condemned the deliberate jamming of shortwave broadcasts, including those from the ABC’s Radio Australia service, into Asia.
The Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) says English-language broadcasts from Radio Australia, the BBC World Service and the Voice of America are being jammed.
Chief Executive Simon Spanswick has told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program research has indicated the jamming signals appear to be coming from within China.
“It appears to be quite wide,” he said.
“We’ve been talking to some monitors who keep ears on the shortwave bands around Asia and they say that it’s certainly audible well outside China.
“So, one imagines, even with the geographic scale of China itself, that this is right across the region.” […]
“What the Chinese have done for a long time is actually broadcast Chinese folk music [see our previous posts on Firedrake]…what’s happening in this case is that they’re transmitting a different sort of noise.
“The aim is to simply make it so uncomfortable to listen to that people switch off and don’t bother trying to listen to the program that they wanted to get.”
The AIB has lodged protests over the jamming with the Chinese embassies in Washington, London and Canberra.
The Voice of America is protesting new jamming of its English broadcasts in China.
VOA Director David Ensor condemned the new interference and said the U.S. government broadcaster is working with experts to determine the precise origin of the jamming. He said “the free flow of information is a universal right and VOA will continue to provide accurate and balanced information on platforms that can reach audiences in areas subject to censorship.”
The U.S.-funded VOA is not the only victim of jamming. The British Broadcasting Corporation said this week its shortwave English radio broadcasts also are being jammed in China.
The BBC said that while it is not possible to know who is doing the jamming, “the extensive and co-ordinated efforts are indicative of a well-resourced country such as China.”
VOA broadcast engineers say Radio Australia also is being jammed.
At VOA headquarters in Washington, engineers say that while the agency’s Chinese-language broadcasts are routinely jammed in China, its English broadcasts usually are not. They noticed the jamming of the English programs about a month ago and say it appears to use a new technology.
Many countries have used various methods to jam VOA broadcasts for decades, especially during the Cold War when VOA broadcast heavily into the former Soviet Union and other countries under Communist control. Now, its Persian satellite television broadcasts into Iran are frequently jammed, as are VOA Horn of Africa broadcasts to Ethiopia.