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.
Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the TitanSDR Pro.
As I write this post, I’m listening to Radio Australia on 9,580 and 12,065 kHz. Other than the sports reports and weather, world news is chock-full of stories–many of which are quite sad.
This will likely be the last morning I listen to Radio Australia on shortwave.
SWLing Post contributor, Phill Brennan–who has done a fine job keeping us up-to-date with RA developments–shares the following message:
On the local ABC news tonight it was mentioned that the NT transmitters were going to be shut down at midday local time or 0230 UTC on 31 January. I cannot confirm this, but it may be useful to alert listeners who wish to hear the end of the broadcast. I have no information on RA’s shutdown but it may be the same.
Apparently there will be a gathering at the Katherine transmitter by local listeners tomorrow to mark the end of the broadcasts.
Political pressure continues. A South Australian Senator (Xenophon) is going to introduce a private members bill into the Australian Parliament which will mandate that the ABC must provide a SW service to the NT. I don’t think I would back this in succeeding, but it’s worth a try.
The whole exercise has been a public relations disaster for the ABC as it has been a major news story nationally for weeks now. Not enough damage to change the ABC management’s mind on the matter though.
Thank you for the update, Phil, and for following this story as it developed.
Again, if I understand correctly, for those of us in North America, today is the final day we’ll hear Radio Australia on shortwave (9,580, 12,065 and 12,085 kHz).
I feel I should mention that I did receive a tip that the shut for some of the Radio Australia shortwave services might be as early as 11:00AM Tuesday local time Shepparton (00:00 UTC).
[…]In a statement yesterday rebutting opposition claims that the ABC’s decision was somehow linked to government funding cuts, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the ABC’s decision, announced unexpectedly in December, had since been “confirmed”.
“While the ABC has confirmed its decision I think the public broadcaster has learnt some valuable lessons about community consultation and engagement in regional and remote areas,” Mr Fifield said. “This is entirely a call by the ABC who have the legislated operational independence to make these decisions.”
Mr Shorten told The Australian the ABC’s rural listeners had been “shabbily” treated.
“The people of the Northern Territory have been treated shabbily throughout this process. The Prime Minister needs to start listening to locals and speaking up for them,” he said.
[…]In a statement issued yesterday, the ABC said it was “deeply committed to rural and regional Australia and the one-third of Australians who live outside the capital cities”.
[…]It promised to expand an existing “information awareness program” with the addition of easier access to information packs about alternative services, one-on-one telephone support and “how-to” videos to guide listeners to catch up on programs using podcasts.
“The National Broadband Network satellite services ‘Sky Muster’ will also assist those in remote Australia, by providing access to all ABC online and digital content,” the statement said.
“The ABC will also supply (donate) a VAST satellite system unit to all Royal Flying Doctor Service bases and 4WD Radio club bases in the affected region, allowing them to rebroadcast emergency or warning messages as required.”
Those things are unlikely to placate pastoralists, who usually live and work far from 4WD clubs and cannot realistically mount large VAST (viewer access satellite television) systems on their vehicles. Cattle station owners and staff continue to complain bitterly about the poor quality of NBN satellite services, where one connection typically offering less than 100GB of downloads per month may be shared among a dozen or more people for both personal and business purposes. In practice, they say, this makes all ABC digital content inaccessible in the bush.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Brennan, who shares the following letter sent to The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, by Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition:
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Prime Minister
Canberra ACT 2600
Dear Prime Minister
I write in relation to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision to cease its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory from 31 January 2017.
My letter follows repeated representations from members of my Shadow Ministry, Northern Territory Caucus and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion to secure the continuation of this vital service.
As you know, shortwave radio provides vital news and information services, including local radio and emergency messages that are crucial to those living in remote areas, particularly in time of natural disaster.
The ABC’s claim that the majority of listeners will be able to access ABC services via AM/FM radio, digital radio and online streaming, or via VAST platform does not account for the reality of service availability in remote areas.
This helps to explain why listeners and users of the ABC shortwave in the Northern Territory have been unequivocal in voicing their concern at the Coalition’s failure to intervene in this matter. This includes emergency services workers and cattle growers.
I am also deeply concerned that the ABC took this decision without satisfactory consultation with affected listeners, community representatives and emergency service workers and agencies. ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, has since acknowledged shortfalls in this regard.
For these reasons I ask that you work with Labor, ABC management and local stakeholders as a matter of urgency to ensure the continued provision of shortwave radio service in the NT beyond 31 January 2017.
Bill Shorten MP
Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
26 January 2017
cc: The Hon Mark Dreyfus MP, QC Mr Stephen Jones MP
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy Hon Warren Snowdon MP
Mr Luke Gosling OAM, MP Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion