Vatican Radio’s English SW broadcast to Asia come to an end
Vatican Radio’s English shortwave broadcast for Asia has come to an end, with its last transmission going out Friday evening, after nearly 60 years of service. However this does not mean it has disappeared altogether. What ultimately closed on March 24 as Vatican Radio’s English Service for Asia, is however very much alive online on Vatican Radio’s website. The gradual phasing out of Vatican Radio’s shortwave frequencies is seen as part of the reform of the Roman Curia or the central administration of the Catholic Church here in the Vatican, called for by Pope Francis. The Pope established the new dicastery or office of the Secretariat for Communications on June 27, 2015, ?bringing 9 media bodies of the Vatican, including Vatican Radio, under the Secretariat’s direction, with the purpose of overhauling, streamlining and ultimately merging them as a cohesive unit.
What ended on March 24 as Vatican Radio’s English Service for Asia began way back in 1958. The only ?English programme of Vatican Radio then, headed by Jesuit Father Thomas O’Donnell, was repeated a number of times in different directions, ?including towards Africa and South Asia. It was a weekly 10-minute news broadcast for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However, the need for special programmes adapted to the ?distinctive cultural needs and tastes of Africa and South Asia gave way to independent programmes for ?these two regions. ?In 1964 South Asia got a boost when Pope Paul VI visited Bombay (today Mumbai), India for the 38th International Eucharistic Congress from 2nd to 5th of December. Hence in May 1965, the Indian Section officially came into being with a 10-minute broadcast twice a week each in the evening in Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam , while English went on air daily Monday through Saturday. In 1982, all the four languages began re-broadcasting their evening programmes the following morning. Three years later – on May 12, 1985, the Malayalam programme got extra airing time, broadcasting for 15 minutes in the morning, whereas the rest continued broadcasting for 10 minutes.
In 1986, Pope John Paul II visited India from January 31 to February 11. Just prior to this visit, on January 7th that year, Hindi, Tamil and English were given extra time, and so all the four languages began broadcasting daily for 15 minutes each, in the morning, which was a feature programme. The evening transmission consisted of 6 minutes of news only. By the end of 1986 the evening 6-minute news increased to 10 minutes and was repeated the following morning.
On March 25, 1990, Hindi, Tamil Malayalam and English began broadcasting for 15 minutes each, repeating it the following morning. And from Sept. 23, 1993, the four languages were transmitting for nearly 20 minutes each, repeating the evening programme twice the following morning.
It was on Oct 24, 1993 that the fifth language, Urdu, that is spoken mainly in Pakistan but is also widely followed in India, especially in the north, was added to the Indian Section. It began with a 7-minute Sunday programme, as part of the Hindi programme. On March 30, 2003 Urdu became a stand-alone programme, broadcasting for 15-minutes on Sundays and Wednesdays, and repeated the following mornings. The Urdu programme however closed down in September, 2013, after nearly 20 ?years of service.
On May 16, 2015, Vatican Radio marked the 50th anniversary of its Indian programmes with a ?Holy ?Mass and a reception.
Thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike, for the tip:
(Source: Vatican Radio)
Announcing Vatican Radio’s intention to reduce its Short and Medium Wave transmissions to most of Europe and the Americas, starting July 1st, the Director General, Fr Federico Lombardi, today spoke of what he called, “A new chapter in the history of Vatican Radio” as it evolves “from Short Waves to new communications strategies”.
[…]Webcasting and satellite transmissions, along with rebroadcasting by local, regional and national radio stations, guarantee the widest possible outreach to Vatican Radio’s programming and services. Which is why Vatican Radio believes the time has come to reduce its reliance on traditional technologies, like Short and Medium Wave broadcasts, and to develop its resources in new directions.
On July 1st, Short and Medium Wave broadcasts from Vatican Radio’s Santa Maria di Galeria Transmission Centre, to most of Europe and the Americas, will be suspended. These areas of the world are already well served by Vatican Radio’s local rebroadcasting partners and by widespread internet access to its services and language programming.
The reduction of Short and Medium Wave broadcasts to these areas accounts for about 50% of the Centre’s transmission time and will allow Vatican Radio to restructure the Centre according to more innovative technological criteria. Short Wave broadcasts will be further reduced over the next few years – but not at the expense of those poor, needy and suffering parts of the world (like Africa, the Middle East and Asia) which have no alternative means of receiving news of the Church and the voice of the Pope.
Over the next few days, Vatican Radio’s language programmes will be informing their listeners of these changes, indicating alternative ways by which traditional Short and Medium Wave users can listen and benefit from Vatican Radio’s services.
Vatican Radio’s international Short and Medium Wave broadcasts have made a priceless contribution to the history of the Church, especially in 20th century Europe where they were a source of strength and encouragement for nations oppressed by war and totalitarian regimes. As this unique service is gradually phased out, making way for new communications technologies, it is important to thank those who dedicated their hearts and minds to it for so long – and for the good of so many.
Read the full article on Vatican Radio’s website.
As Mike also pointed out, this is certainly an unwelcome development for those who promote DRM. Vatican Radio is one of the few broadcasters that uses DRM over shortwave.