Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nigel Holmes–formerly of Radio Australia–for the following update regarding Nick Xenophon’s bill to resume ABC shortwave services:
Last Friday I travelled to Canberra and fronted the Senate Committee hearing testimony on the matter of HF broadcasting & Senator Xenophon’s Bill to compel ABC to resume HF domestically & for RA. I was grilled like a breakfast kipper. It went well.
Another witness was Graeme Dobell, a legendary radio & print journalist who has travelled & worked all over the Pacific region. Graeme has written some good articles on the current subject. See here:
The government of Vanuatu sent a formal submission to the Australian Senate asking for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to resume its shortwave service.
[…]In a letter, Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai said removing the shortwave service to Vanuatu could cost many lives in the likelihood of a major natural disaster, like cyclone Pam two years ago.
The Daily Post said radio broadcasts to remote parts of the country have been cited as a reason the death toll from the category five storm was relatively low.
After the storm there was practically no domestic communication, with shortwave the only radio means to reach a scattered population.
Mr Salwai said it could be reasonably stated that Australia’s shortwave service helps save Pacific lives and Australian tax dollars.
Could Radio Outbackistan be the next shortwave broadcaster for rural Australia?
In response to the ABC abolishing its HF shortwave radio service, the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) president has turned to humour to propose his own broadcast alternative.
On Friday, in front of hundreds of cattle producers, Tom Stockwell addressed the association’s annual conference on the status of the beef industry, listing challenges, opportunities and grievances.
While the Bureau of Meteorology’s decision to remove the Tennant Creek weather radar and the National Broadband Network’s restrictions on download quotas for remote users were both highlighted, it was the loss of shortwave radio that Mr Stockwell took most issue with.
The NTCA has been heavily critical of the ABC for making the decision, which was made to allow for the reinvestment of funds into digital services.
Inspired by the band Roadtrippers, Mr Stockwell joked about his desire for a new broadcaster called Radio Outbackistan to fill a regional communications void.][…]
Saying goodbye to Radio Australia on the shortwave after 37 years
Kevin De Reus has lived in the same 24-kilometre-radius his whole life.
Born and raised in Iowa in the US, Kevin now calls his grandfather’s farm — just 12 kilometres from where he grew up in central Des Moines — home.
He is married, has five children and has worked at the same company for 20 years.
And while he admits he has not travelled much in his 52 years, it hasn’t stopped Kevin from listening to the news from Australia since 1980 — with the help of a shortwave radio.
Listening from the other side of the world
Even half a world away, he says the broadcast was one of the clearest of the stations he listened to.
“Radio Australia always held a special place in my heart just because it was in the South Pacific and I didn’t know much about that area — and the signal was always good from that part of the world,” he says.
“Most recently, over the last two to three years as I was listening in the morning hours here on 9.580, the signal was so good. It really was about the only English broadcaster at that time of the day that had news and information.
“Most mornings I would get up and turn on the shortwave radio at 7:00am (local time) and listen to the news from Australia and then I would drive to work.
“So many of the stations just aren’t on the air anymore. BBC doesn’t broadcast to North America anymore. I can’t even hardly hear the Voice of America in English anymore to tell you the truth. So Australia had the strongest signal.
“That’s why it was hard for me to hear [Radio Australia] was going to go off the air.”[…]
The Bill would require the ABC to restore its shortwave transmission services, following the announcement by the ABC in December 2016 that it would end its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory and to international audiences from 31 January 2017.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Restoring Shortwave Radio) Bill 2017
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 by 10 May 2017.
The bill seeks to restore shortwave transmission services to the Northern Territory and international audiences.
Committee Secretariat contact:
Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications
PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
The ABC’s managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has told Senate estimates she believes it is not her job to lobby government for more funding for the broadcaster but to work within the budget she is given.
Under questioning at a fiery Senate estimates committee, Guthrie revealed she saw her role as a manager rather than an advocate for more funding, a marked difference from her predecessor Mark Scott who was a consistent lobbyist for additional funding and critic of government cuts.
“On my second day in the job I was handed down the triennial funding in the May budget and as far as I’m concerned we operate within that three-year funding envelope,” Guthrie said.
Asked repeatedly if she believed it was her role to seek more funding to fulfil the ABC’s charter she said no because her focus was on providing content and operating efficiently.
[…]“I think what you’re asking is reasonably hypothetical. We are operating within the government’s funding envelope and making decisions on audience behaviour and technological advancement.”
She also refused to concede that anyone other than the 15 people who called the ABC to complain, or the 51 who gave submissions to a Senate committee, had been affected by the decision to scrap the shortwave radio service.
She appeared before a Senate estimates committee on Tuesday, answering questions about the decision to end the broadcasting of local radio through shortwave channels in the Northern Territory and Pacific region. The decision was been widely criticised, including by all major parties.
Guthrie was unable to provide evidence of prior consultation on the decision and claimed the ABC was not the official emergency broadcaster.
Asked by Greens senator Scott Ludlam about the “extraordinary cuts” to Radio National features, religion and music, Guthrie dismissed his premise, saying: “I wouldn’t characterise taking three music programs away from RN as an extraordinary decision.”[…]