There’s an interesting YouTube documentary released by the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation on the refurbishment of both transmitters and antennas for the mediumwave outlets of 558 and 990 kHz. This was completed with the financial and technical assistance of the Japanese government. It will be very interesting for MW DXers to see how well the new facility will be heard beyond the Fijian borders.
There is also a somewhat less interesting YouTube video of the Fijian dictator Prime Minister Bainimarama at the official launch of the revitalized service, which can be found at https://youtu.be/kOza_Ov7f48
It was fascinating to hear Prime Minister Bainimarama talking about democratic freedoms in the broadcasting media….This from a man who for many years has done his level best to suppress and control the Fijian media on countless occasions!
(My thanks to Mauno Ritola and Bruce Portzer for alerting me to the above links)
73, Rob Wagner VK3BVW
Rob Wagner, VK3BVW, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. He also blogs at the Mount Evelyn DX Report.
Press release: Following the ABC’s decision to cut shortwave radio transmission in the Pacific, Radio New Zealand International wants to reassure our listeners that we are committed to our Pacific broadcast partners.
Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) continues to serve people across the Pacific region, delivering essential day to day news and information and providing a vital lifeline in times of natural disaster.
RNZ CEO, Paul Thompson, has confirmed that there will be no reduction in Radio New Zealand’s commitment to its Pacific broadcast partners. His reassurance comes as Radio Australia closes its international shortwave transmission service to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
Paul Thompson has emphasised the importance of RNZI’s 25 year relationship with New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours.
“Remote parts of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu who may be feeling the loss of the ABC can rest assured RNZI will continue to provide independent, timely and accurate news, information and weather warnings as well as entertainment to its Pacific listeners.”
RNZI has been broadcasting since 1990 to the Pacific and is regarded as the authoritative voice of the Pacific. It can be heard across the region and has proven to be a vital lifeline during times of disaster. In 2007 RNZI was named international Radio Station of the Year by the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB).
RNZI broadcasts timely cyclone and tsunami warnings via shortwave and can continue to be heard should local broadcasters go off-air due to a cyclone or other disaster.
Paul Thompson said the essential nature of Radio New Zealand’s role in the Pacific has been regularly underlined by the positive feedback to RNZI following cyclone and tsunami alerts.
“A Vanuatu villager has told our reporter Koroi Hawkins that he knew to take shelter during Cyclone Pam just because of the warnings broadcast on RNZI. At times like this we are the essential voice of the Pacific ” See attached photograph.
RNZI’s coverage of the aftermath of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu in 2015 won RNZI reporter Koroi Hawkins a silver medal at the prestigious New York Festival Radio Awards in 2016.
RNZI broadcasts in digital and analogue short wave to radio stations and individual listeners across the Pacific region.
Around twenty Pacific radio stations relay RNZI material daily, and individual short-wave listeners and internet users across the world tune in directly to RNZI content.
The RNZI signal can sometimes be heard as far away as Japan, North America, the Middle East and Europe. RNZI also provides rich content for online users through our website
The Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement in Australia has leased half an hour a week on the World Radio Network, a shortwave broadcaster, to get its anti-government message across.
Tui Savu, from the Australia-based Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement told Pacific Beat that they have received positive feedback about the new program’s impact.
“We have had two test broadcasts and we have had our contacts report from all over Fiji. The contacts are coming back that it is being received loud and clear,” he said.
“Fijians, the way they have been raised, is that whatever comes through the media, they take it as gospel. So we are wanting to show an alternative, the other side.”
“The reason why we went for the radio is because the internet is only limited. This is a heart and mind campaign, directed at Fijians staying in the villages and rural areas. These are the people whose only source of information is through the radio.”
At present the program is for just 30 minutes broadcast only in Fijian. But Mr Savo says there are plans to eventually increase the program to one hour and address different groups within Fiji.
“Information is power, and that is why the Government has monopolised the media in Fiji, both the print and the spoken media,” he said.
” They know very well that if people start listening to the truth and to the other versions of what is truly happening in Fiji, then the people will be able to make up their own decisions.”
Clandestine stations often use shortwave radio as a means to broadcast into countries where local radio stations are either government controlled or banned from criticizing the ruling party. Indeed, a few years ago, Radio Australia increased their shortwave offerings in Fiji after being banned from broadcasting within the country.
I just received this message from Glenn Hauser via the Hard-Core DX group:
** FIJI [non]. As first reported exclusively on WORLD OF RADIO 1617 and DXLD 12-20:
HOT NEWS: A station for Fiji named Domo I Viti should start on 4 June at 0830-0900 on 11565 via WRN from Palau. Not sure what its agenda is, clandestine or at least political? Seems there are at least two programs/stations by same name, in Auckland and Sydney by expatriates. Related to either of them, originating where? E.g.: http://www.aucklandfiji.org.nz/community_features_view.asp?newsid=408
(Glenn Hauser, OK, May 9, WORLD OF RADIO 1617, DX LISTENING DIGEST)
WRN confirms that this new clandestine starts June 4 at 0830-0900 on 11565 via PALAU, and will be weekly on Mondays only. It`s sponsored by the Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement, based in Adelaide, South Australia.
If anyone can hear it, please note how much, if any, is in English, any contact info, and if possible record an ID. I haven`t found any Adelaide office, altho searching on ABC News stories gets some hits which aren`t very productive.
Note that HFCC has WHRI rather than T8WH registered on 11565 at 08-09. WHR schedules show Angel 4, the most likely transmitter, on 17650 at that time, and Angel 3 on 9930. 11565 was probably just a place-holder in HFCC. Searching WHR program schedules is fruitless (Glenn Hauser, June 3, DX LISTENING DIGEST)
In a move inspired by pirate radio stations of the 1960s, political activists in the South Pacific are planning to position a Dutch-registered merchant vessel in international waters off the coast of Fiji to defy censors in the military dictatorship.
Opponents of the coup leader and self-appointed Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, hope to have the station broadcasting news and interviews by the end of next month to circumvent draconian media laws imposed on press, radio and television.
Since taking power in a military coup in December 2006, Fiji’s strongman has slowly eaten away at the country’s democratic freedoms, installing newsroom censors and cracking down on foreign media ownership.
Newspapers and radio stations now have to be 90 per cent locally owned, a stipulation that will almost certainly see the closure of the 140-year-old Fiji Times.
The popular title, which has been owned by News Ltd since 1987, has been emasculated since the censors moved in to demand the removal of any anti-government stories.
With most of the population too poor to access the internet or satellite television, most Fijians rely on the press and transistor radios for their news. That is why Usaia Waqatairewa of the Fiji Democracy Movement has opted for pirate broadcasting.
Now exiled in Australia, he plans to stream live programming to the ship from a Sydney newsroom and rebroadcast the material from a transmitter on the AM waveband.
“The basic purpose is to inform the public of what’s really happening in Fiji so they can make an informed decision about whether to support Bainimarama or not,” he said.
Even the phones no longer guarantee confidentiality since the Government ordered mobile and landline users to register all their personal details. One local carrier, Vodafone, is also demanding that customers provide a left-hand thumb print and PIN, which the user would normally keep secret.
The head of the Justice Ministry, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, claims the compulsory registration of all phones is the result of a spate of bomb threats and bogus calls. Critics suggest it is more to do with the interim Government wanting to create a database of callers whose views do not correspond with the regime’s.
Telephone paranoia even extends to some tourists. A German businessman who used his satellite phone in a restaurant recently was reported to the police, who promptly raided his hotel room. He left the country in disgust shortly afterwards.
So far, such stories have not damaged tourism, which is one of the few Fijian industries still booming. A devalued currency and a strong Australian dollar have made Fiji a bargain destination for overseas holidaymakers.
But while the tourists are still heading to Fiji, businesses are pulling out. Australia’s Commonwealth Bank has sold its Fijian arm, and Qantas is trying to sell its 46 per cent stake in Fiji’s national airline, Air Pacific. Despite these economic warning signals, Commodore Bainimarama remains determined to do things his way. He has promised to go to the country in 2014 but as he has repeatedly postponed his general election plans, few believe he will keep his word.
And if an application for a loan of more than $700 million from the IMF fails, “the country’s economic outlook will be shocking”, says Anthony Bergin of the Australian Strategic Policy Unit.
CRACKDOWN LEADS TO POVERTY AND FEAR
Fiji has had four coups in the past two decades and is facing an economic crisis that threatens to bring more instability to the 800,000 people who inhabit this sprawling archipelago.
And there are concerns about human rights as Commodore Frank Bainimarama cracks down on those who oppose his dictatorship.
In a rare interview aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last month, the military leader said “we’ll need to shut some people up” before the country can return to democracy. “I don’t trust the people,” declared the Prime Minister, adding that he was none too happy about politicians or the judiciary, either.
After silencing the powerful Methodist Church and the chiefs who are the traditional rulers of this fiercely patriotic nation, Commodore Bainimarama sacked many judges.
Suspended from the Commonwealth, Fiji risks becoming a pariah in the region.
The Prime Minister also recently expelled Australia’s acting high commissioner to Fiji.
The reforms he talks about strike at the heart of Fiji’s racially divided society. For many years, about half the population was of Indian origin, descendants of indentured labourers brought to Fiji in the 19th century to help in the sugar industry. Faced with eviction from their farms after their leases expired, thousands of Indians have sought refuge overseas while many of those unable to leave have ended up in squatter camps.
When Commodore Bainimarama seized power he promised a fairer society, with legislation designed to protect the interests of the Indian community. But unemployment, poverty and fear have created a society whose people are often too scared to talk.
Fiji has been plunged into a political crisis after the president reappointed military chief Frank Bainimarama as interim prime minister on Saturday, less than two days after a court ruled his 2006 coup and subsequent government illegal.
Bainimarama tightened media censorship on Wednesday and continued to refuse to hold elections before 2014.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said local technicians had been ordered by the military government to shut down two FM relay stations in the capital Suva and the western sugar town of Nadi.
But ABC said its Radio Australia news programme was still broadcasting on shortwave transmitters.
The military government has asked that Fiji reporters only publish “positive” news, or in their terms, “journalism of hope.” This censorship has also pushed Radio New Zealand International out of Fiji.
Other reports have indicated that the government is now trying to restrict internet news sources and blogs. Internet cafe owners are under threat of being shut down, as well.
UPDATE (21 Nov 2009): The military-installed Fiji government has removed all broadcasting licences and given Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum the absolute power to renew or redistribute them without any compensation to those whose licences are stripped. (Source: The Australian via RNW Media Network)
Radio without borders
When people ask whether we need shortwave radio in this internet information age, events like this provide a clear affirmative answer. Once ABC and RNZI were ousted from Fiji, these broadcasters immediately reiterated to Fiji listeners that their programming can be heard all day on shortwave (see schedule below).
And that’s the remarkable thing about shortwave–it penetrates borders without regard to who is in power or to restrictions placed upon local media. Even when the internet is crippled. Can shortwave broadcasts be jammed? Sure–but it’s not all that easy to do; it’s much more difficult than, say, seizing control of a country’s internet service provider, or (as in the case of Fiji) of their local broadcasters and stations. Plus, jamming usually targets a specific frequency, so if radio listeners find their broadcasts jammed on one frequency, there are often literally dozens of ways around the jam–other frequencies often carry the same or similiar programming from the same or other international broadcasters.
Much of the decline of shortwave radio is attributed to the end of the Cold War. During the Cold War era, national superpowers were obsessed with piercing borders with their respective messages; since the Cold War ended, that technology is no longer as driven. But as the Fiji story demonstrates, the need is very much ongoing, perhaps even more so, as small countries try out a variety of political options, often exercising this power along the long and twisting road to democratic governance. Now, shortwave should have a new and broader focus: sending news, music, education and human interest programming to the developing world.
For an example of an organization making a difference through shortwave radio technology, check out Ears To Our World.
ABC Shortwave Broadcast Schedule to Fiji
Local Time 04:00 – 09:00
Frequencies: 5995 7240 7240 9580 9710 11650 11660 11880 12080