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.”[…]
The mothballed Shepparton shortwave broadcast station could be coming back online.
South Australian senator Nick Xenophon will introduce legislation to parliament this week to force the ABC to bring back domestic and international shortwave broadcasts.
The broadcasts were shut down last week, after decades of the shortwave signals being listened to by people from across the pacific region and around the world.
A spokesperson for Mr Xenophon said a bill would be introduced sometime this week to bring back the domestic shortwave broadcasts in the Northern Territory, as well as the international Radio Australia broadcasts, which were beamed to the world from Shepparton.[…]
The ABC ends its short-wave service to the region from 1pm Solomon Islands time and says it will focus on FM and online services.
Ruth Liloqula said people from Choiseul to Malaita and as far south east as Tikopia tuned in to the ABC because the signal was stronger than that of the country’s public broadcaster SIBC.
Ms Liloqula who works with Transparency International says the ABC has been very valuable for the country and a good way to get her message across.
“We are very very mindful of the fact that the SIBC media here is owned by the government. I mean they don’t ask the questions that they need to ask for obvious reasons. I mean we do get asked those tough questions by ABC and that gives us the opportunity to talk about the issues that affect this country.”
Ms Liloqula said after the recent earthquake people in the bush in Choiseul only knew there was no tsunami by listening to the ABC.[…]
This morning, I woke up, tuned to 9,580 kHz and all I heard was static.
Other than when the Shepparton transmitting station has been silenced for maintenance in the past, 9,580 kHz is one of the most reliable frequencies I’ve ever know on shortwave. Radio Australia has met me there every morning I’ve listened since I was eight years old.
I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend and certainly a staple source of news on shortwave radio. I know I’m not alone–a number of readers have shared similar sentiments this morning.
Archiving Radio Australia’s final days on the air
Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the Titan SDR Pro.
Since the beginning of the year, a few of us have been making a concerted effort to thoroughly archive Radio Australia’s final days on the air. Mark Fahey, London Shortwave, Richard Langley, Rob Wagner and I (to name a few) have been making both audio and/or spectrum recordings.
At 0100 UTC on January 31, 2017, we heard the “Waltzing Matilda” interval signal for one last time. As I understand it, the crew at the Shepparton site left the transmitter on a few extra seconds extra so their famous interval signal would be, in essence, the final sign-off.
Due to propagation and the time of day when the shut down happened, I was unable to make a recording, so I’m pleased others could.
Mark compares shortwave and satellite feeds
Mark Fahey’s Wellbrook Mag Loop antenna.
I’m grateful to friend and contributor, Mark Fahey, who lives near Sydney, Australia, and was also able to record the final moments of Radio Australia as well. Mark recorded the shortwave service and RA satellite feed simultaneously.
Mark shares the following recordings and notes:
This is RA’s final few minutes on shortwave – it was recorded on 17840kHz.
The file picks up the regular program ending, then into a Promo for RA “Pacific Beat” (a Pacific current affairs program), then the classic RA Interval Signal then the transmitter clicks off and the void is heard.
The file starts at exactly the same time as the first file, but in this example we are monitoring the Network Feed from Intelsat 18 at 180.0 degrees east (above the equator right on the international date line). This satellite feed is the way Radio Australia gets to the network of FM Transmitters they have scatted around the Pacific Region (which is why they feel they don’t need shortwave anymore for – most populated areas of Radio Australia’s target area now is covered by a network of Radio Australia FM transmitters).
Some differences to the first file – Radio Australia is produced in FM quality stereo, though of course DXers only ever heard it in shortwave quality mono. So this network feed is in stereo and has a wider dynamic range that what DXer’s are familiar with from Radio Australia. At the end of the Pacific Beat Promo, Radio Australia goes straight into News, the closing of the shortwave service was not an event that would have been noticed for the typical listeners of RA who now listen via FM in Pacific capitals and major towns.
Thank you Mark for your comparison–I’ve never heard RA so clearly. Only you would’ve thought to simultaneously record the satellite feed! It gives the moment that much more context.
A number of SWLing Post contributors have been sharing recordings this morning. I will plan to collect these and put them on the Shortwave Archive in the near future.
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