Reduction of local news and station closures disastrous for people living outside Australia’s cities, researchers say
Cuts to the ABC in regional and rural Australia and the corporation’s increasing reliance on digital technologies is jeopardising the safety of remote communities and their access to emergency warnings, Deakin University research has found.
The ABC’s increasingly “digital-first” approach to emergency information and the reduction in ABC reporters’ local knowledge is causing great distress among rural populations who rely on broadcast signals because they don’t have the bandwidth or coverage for digital, researchers say.
A reduction of local news and information, centralised newsrooms in metropolitan areas, the closure of several ABC stations and the scaling back of broadcast programming has been disastrous for people outside the cities, according to a new study, Communication life line? ABC emergency broadcasting in rural/regional Australia.
But the ABC has played down the study’s significance, saying it is based on parliamentary submissions and is not an “accurate or up-to-date” summary of the corporation’s role in rural and regional Australia; and that the ABC is not funded as an emergency service.
Based on public submissions to a parliamentary inquiry, the researchers Julie Freeman, Kristy Hess and Lisa Waller found “burgeoning discontent about the corporation’s ability to fulfil its role as a designated emergency broadcaster and provide communication life lines to rural and regional communities”.[…]
The ABC has been slammed by all sides of politics over its “foolish” decision to cut the transmission of shortwave radio to remote Australia and the Pacific Islands.
The Senate debated a private bill on Thursday by crossbench senator Nick Xenophon to force the ABC to restore transmission after it was cut earlier this year.
“It seems a terrible decision that’s been made by the ABC board,” Senator Xenophon told parliament, accusing the public broadcaster of ignoring the bush and Australia’s neighbours.
The ABC insists listeners can still tune in via FM and AM frequencies, the viewer access satellite television (VAST) service and online.
But senators say the ABC fails to understand those alternative methods are not available to everyone in the bush and the information people are missing out on can be life threatening, such as weather warnings.
Senator Xenophon said the ABC had miscalculated how many people relied on the service.
“There are some question marks over the methodology used by the ABC in relation to this.”
Bill to restore shortwave rejected by Senate Committee
A Senate Committee inquiring into the possibility of restoring ABC Shortwave services has rejected proposed legislation to restore the international radio service.
Several members of the committee presented dissenting reports.
The ABC ended its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory and to international audiences from 31 January 2017, in line with the national broadcaster’s commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings.
On 16 February 2017, the Senate referred the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Restoring Shortwave Radio) Bill 2017 to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report in May but an extension of time to report was granted, until yesterday, 9 August.
Three quality options for streaming/download – Hi 1400 MB, Med 675 MB & Lo 250MB
Witnesses in order
1. DFAT (Foreign Affairs & Trade)
2. 52′ Gary Baker (ex-Broadcast Australia) and NH (ex-ABC/RA)
4. 2h22′ Graeme Dobell (ex-ABC/RA journalist & ABC Pacific correspondent) (By far the most interesting testimony, a tutorial in South Pacific geopolitics. Who knew the Australian Constitution refers to the S Pac in the External Affairs Powers area??!!)
I was tickled by Sen. Xenophon’s retort, “What, they don’t have ears?!” to ABCs assertion that letters of support (for HF b’casting) from the hobbyist fraternity were irrelevant. Sen. Xenophon could have added, “What, they don’t vote, pay taxes or are entitled to have a view of ABC?!”
A couple of you had trouble locating the submissions to the enquiry, they’re found here: