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Old 08-11-2017, 8:22 PM
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Default Australian senate rejects bill to restore ABC shortwave

A recent update.

Australia's senate has rejected proposed legislation to restore the international radio service of the country's public broadcaster.

The bill would have required the ABC to restore its shortwave transmission services which the broadcaster ended in January this year.

This move was described in the bill as having deprived communities in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and other parts of the Pacific of access to reliable emergency broadcasting.

Submitters of the bill questioned the ABC's assertions that very few listeners accessed Radio Australia's shortwave service.

Concerns of the submitters included perceived neglect of remote communities in the Pacific, and the loss of capacity for emergency warning broadcasts.

They also appealed to Australia's own regional interests, warning of the potential loss of an avenue for diplomacy and "soft power" in the Pacific.

But the senate committee concluded that the measures proposed in the bill were not an appropriate way to address the concerns raised about the end of the shortwave services.

However the committee's decision came with some dissenting reports.

In one of them, Senator Nick Xenophon described the decision to shut down ABC shortwave as a significant foreign policy failure.

"The board cannot really be blamed for this oversight; foreign policy is a responsibility of the whole of government," he said.

"In allowing the ABC Board to shut down ABC shortwave, the government has failed."

Australian senate rejects bill to restore ABC shortwave | Radio New Zealand News
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Old 05-25-2018, 2:49 AM
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So that's what happened!

Fortunately, RNZI - Radio New Zealand still seems to be active right this minute on 7.425 just pounding my radio with an antenna laying solely on the dirt!

It's too bad nations don't consider the emergency aspect of it at all.

Example - Lets say for whatever reason a major power outage occurs in my area of the west coast of the US. No cellphone, no routers, no internet/streaming, maybe not even my local broadcasters are up.

That means waiting for night time to do some AM BCB dx'ing. Hoping that propagation and no co-channel interference ruins it. My neighbor down the street - what spin the dial in her car in the driveway all night - right.

BUT, with my wire in the dirt, or if my neighbor had an inexpensive SW capable radio with digital display - pull out the whip, tune to 7.425 and get international news, especially if our own broadcasters had some sort of cross-agreement to be able to directly feed RNZI on an emergency basis so I and my neighbor could hear it!

Of course the reverse is true - what if Australia, New Zealand, or any other nation needing assistance could have gotten emergency feeds to the states on the old VOA transmitters to feed the signal back to the stricken population across the pond for the very same reasons!

Makes sense to me - not just to keep an swl happy, but I'm thinking about the guy down the street who just needs to pull out his digital-scale portable sw receiver and tune in the fire-breather across the pond easily.

I don't know why nations don't consider their shortwave outlets as readily available, easy to use, emergency outlets to help *each other*, if not for themselves.
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Old 05-25-2018, 6:49 PM
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I agree. As an Aussie, i'm embarrassed by my govs decision to pull Radio Australia's short wave service. I feel it makes us less of a presence on the world stage. The BBC has 86'd it's shortwave service to our region also. If the trend continues, SWL's may be left with very little in future.
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Old 05-26-2018, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by hertzian View Post
So that's what happened!
Example - Lets say for whatever reason a major power outage occurs in my area of the west coast of the US. No cellphone, no routers, no internet/streaming, maybe not even my local broadcasters are up.

That means waiting for night time to do some AM BCB dx'ing. Hoping that propagation and no co-channel interference ruins it. My neighbor down the street - what spin the dial in her car in the driveway all night - right.
If you're talking West Coast NA emergencies, forget shortwave. AM radio is the only reliable long distance broadcast medium that would help in a regional disaster. FEMA even acknowledges that. Most households still have an AM capable radio, and even a clock radio can pick up regionals at night for the most part.

Besides, there are no more SW broadcasts aimed at the West Coast NA, aside from religious broadcasters based in the SE US, and even they don't come in as well as California, Canada, and other Western regional AM stations do at night. RNZI does come in at times, but they wouldn't have any news that would be as pertinent to a disaster area as US and Canadian regional AM stations.

And daytime? SW is dead. Even when the solar maximum was up, there was nothing to hear in English except Cuba, and I doubt they would be valuable for emergency broadcasts to an earthquake or volcanic disaster torn West Coast.

As for SW in the Pacific, I agree with the Australian Senate dissenters. Radio Australia was a form of diplomatic "soft power" in the Pacific. And right now, Oz doesn't have a terrific rep in some areas of the SW Pacific, concerning the refugee situation there. I think the ABC's decision was based on using the budget to overserve the urban areas with unneeded DAB signals at the expense of serving rural people and nearby island neighbors with reliable broadcast service.

I applaud RNZI for filling the gap.
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Old 05-26-2018, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Boombox View Post
As for SW in the Pacific, I agree with the Australian Senate dissenters. Radio Australia was a form of diplomatic "soft power" in the Pacific. And right now, Oz doesn't have a terrific rep in some areas of the SW Pacific, concerning the refugee situation there. I think the ABC's decision was based on using the budget to overserve the urban areas with unneeded DAB signals at the expense of serving rural people and nearby island neighbors with reliable broadcast service.

I applaud RNZI for filling the gap.
Spot on mate.
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Old 05-26-2018, 1:50 AM
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I'm thinking about all the "gotcha's" that FEMA isn't thinking about like a wide-area, long-duration power outage - not just California, but how about 5 western states for a week or more? Solar flare infrastructure breaking stuff.

1) No ac to power clock radios for am reception. That means most household trying to hunt down some "hello kitty" 9v portables. Either that or sit in the car draining the battery. Normal people.

2) Perhaps local AM stations have back-up generators. Great. How much petrol/gasoline is stored on site? A week's worth? Will the genny actually run that long - as most tests (if tested at all) may just be an hour or two here and there and not long term. Things happen. ATS switches burn, control panels blow... How about the local STL or studio-to-transmitter links - what if *that* is down... Nothing but dead air..

Yep - no shortwave during the day. I'd be willing to wait for night time if that was the only reliable way to get info. The signals from Australia and New Zealand are booming and for me, have been solid for years through a few solar cycles now for me.

We can come up with all sorts of "what if" scenarios, but my emphasis was more akin to the old computer backup days of "off-site backup". In this case, it wouldn't even be in-country, and we'd rely on the high-power and perhaps highly directive antennas overseas which can easily overcome our minimum solar cycle. RNZI is doing that right now.

Cell-tower emergency backup? How are those towers going to handle the bandwidth-congestion that occurs when everyone is reaching for the cellphone like reaching for a pack of smokes? Will the "normal" people have plenty of battery backup, or once again be heading for the vehicle to recharge after 3 or more days of constant monitoring for only one-way text-message broadcasts? Psychologically, that hurts not being able to hear a voice after a long stretch. Stream the latest news in major populations? Nope. Heh, and how many would quickly burn through their data plan trying to do so?

Maybe the US should purchase the Radio Australia facilities, build some kickin' woodpecker-type array, (remember that?) and have it ready for standby.

I'm sure it's a pipe dream. Personally, if that happens and everyone on the block is sitting in their car draining their batteries and spinning the dials all night, I'll have solid coverage from RNZI on the couch and get my emergency news from them. Well, I've got other means, but I'll tune up my Tecsun portable and give it to a neighbor for comfort...

Last edited by hertzian; 05-26-2018 at 2:08 AM..
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Old 05-26-2018, 4:37 AM
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Originally Posted by hertzian View Post
I'm thinking about all the "gotcha's" that FEMA isn't thinking about like a wide-area, long-duration power outage - not just California, but how about 5 western states for a week or more? Solar flare infrastructure breaking stuff.

1) No ac to power clock radios for am reception. That means most household trying to hunt down some "hello kitty" 9v portables. Either that or sit in the car draining the battery. Normal people.

2) Perhaps local AM stations have back-up generators. Great. How much petrol/gasoline is stored on site? A week's worth? Will the genny actually run that long - as most tests (if tested at all) may just be an hour or two here and there and not long term. Things happen. ATS switches burn, control panels blow... How about the local STL or studio-to-transmitter links - what if *that* is down... Nothing but dead air..

Yep - no shortwave during the day. I'd be willing to wait for night time if that was the only reliable way to get info. The signals from Australia and New Zealand are booming and for me, have been solid for years through a few solar cycles now for me.

We can come up with all sorts of "what if" scenarios, but my emphasis was more akin to the old computer backup days of "off-site backup". In this case, it wouldn't even be in-country, and we'd rely on the high-power and perhaps highly directive antennas overseas which can easily overcome our minimum solar cycle. RNZI is doing that right now.

Cell-tower emergency backup? How are those towers going to handle the bandwidth-congestion that occurs when everyone is reaching for the cellphone like reaching for a pack of smokes? Will the "normal" people have plenty of battery backup, or once again be heading for the vehicle to recharge after 3 or more days of constant monitoring for only one-way text-message broadcasts? Psychologically, that hurts not being able to hear a voice after a long stretch. Stream the latest news in major populations? Nope. Heh, and how many would quickly burn through their data plan trying to do so?

Maybe the US should purchase the Radio Australia facilities, build some kickin' woodpecker-type array, (remember that?) and have it ready for standby.

I'm sure it's a pipe dream. Personally, if that happens and everyone on the block is sitting in their car draining their batteries and spinning the dials all night, I'll have solid coverage from RNZI on the couch and get my emergency news from them. Well, I've got other means, but I'll tune up my Tecsun portable and give it to a neighbor for comfort...
Forget SW during a major emergency -- just put it out of your mind. It is unworkable. No one aside from maybe a few hundred thousand radio enthusiasts on the West Coast have SW radios.

FEMA is ensuring that major AM facilities in most areas have electricity backup, including protection against EMP. It's not talked about much, but it's a post 9-11 action that was started during the Bush administration.

You're right about cell systems being toast after the backup power runs down. That is -- if the towers aren't damaged.

A lot of households have portable radios that will run off of batteries, whether its an old boombox or Walkman -- and most of those do AM quite well. Those that don't have such radios will have to run their car radio until their battery is dead, which, if they're just using it for radio, could be over a week or more.

Chances of power being out more than a couple weeks in *most* areas of the West Coast during a major earthquake or storm are slim, but even if that happened, SW would make no difference, anymore than ham radio will make a difference. The heavily affected areas may be out of power for months -- as Puerto Rico has shown us.

Meanwhile, whatever news (aside from international) that you would get from RNZI about a WCNA disaster would be third hand info -- that's assuming that they are even on the air, because if its a coronal mass ejection it could wipe them out, or wipe propagation out, too -- as solar storms tend to do to the SW bands.

If the big earthquake hits I'll be listening to the Canadians on my AM radio and at least I'll have a clue as to what is going on in the region.

But if disasters hit, the most important thing is what is going on in your own neighborhood and on your own block. Radio can't do much for that.

While I appreciate your enthusiasm for SW in SHTF situations, it just isn't workable if the 9 point earthquake hits the NW and California, or if there is a massive EMP or CME. AM radio will be the only mass emergency broadcast medium available to those areas where FM didn't survive, and no matter what sort of massive disaster happens, few people will have access to news after the grid fries.

The positive thing would be less RFI -- on that I think we could agree. :-)

And getting back to R. Australia -- in many parts of the Outback, from what I understand there isn't that great of MW reception, which is why a lot people there depended on R. Australia. When the ABC yanked the cord, it cut off radio entertainment and information for a lot of people. It was an example of what you are talking about -- SW being used to actually inform the population. Sad that they did it, but it's a sign of urban people ignoring expensive things that serve the rural people. At least that's how I take it.
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Old 05-26-2018, 4:57 AM
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The Radio Australia option is MW which isn't too bad (although i am rural but not central outback). A side hobby of mine is to list the R.A transmitters i hear. Bearing that in mind, unless you have a transmitter within say 600kms (depending on conditions of course) you won't get much home news. I think the SW service was warranted.
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Old 05-26-2018, 6:55 AM
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Originally Posted by SDRPlayer View Post
The Radio Australia option is MW which isn't too bad (although i am rural but not central outback). A side hobby of mine is to list the R.A transmitters i hear. Bearing that in mind, unless you have a transmitter within say 600kms (depending on conditions of course) you won't get much home news. I think the SW service was warranted.
Are there many MW stations with listenable levels in the Outback at night? I know there are some high powered ABC stations on MW. I think the one in Adelaide beams fairly far north at night (by looking at a map on the ABC site), and there is a station in Emerald, Queensland that looks like it would be audible in parts of the NE Outback.

But I've never been there, obviously. Did Radio Australia actually leave that big a hole for Outback people?
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Old 05-26-2018, 9:03 AM
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Good point, maybe someone can chime in with the wattage between AM and the SW transmitters.

Last edited by SDRPlayer; 05-26-2018 at 9:11 AM..
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Old 05-26-2018, 9:11 AM
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A PS to Hertzian:
I hope I didn't come off too harsh in my replies to you. I also am a SW enthusiast, so I hear where you are coming from.

Like you, I enjoy the RNZI broadcasts. Every time I tune past an empty 9580 I feel a strange sense of loss, after years and years of it being the go-to frequency for R. Australia, which was audible most nights here in the PNW, even in marginal propagation nights, it was there.
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:30 AM
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Boombox - no problem whatsoever. This is text-based comms, with no body language clues.

I live by the old FidoNet rules, of which there are only two:

1) Don't be annoying
2) Don't be easily annoyed.

I've broken both rules many times and paid for it. Sometimes rule #2 is the hardest!
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by hertzian View Post
Boombox - no problem whatsoever. This is text-based comms, with no body language clues.

I live by the old FidoNet rules, of which there are only two:

1) Don't be annoying
2) Don't be easily annoyed.

I've broken both rules many times and paid for it. Sometimes rule #2 is the hardest!

I miss 9580 myself. It was an old standby since the early 90's for me.

It sure is a lot easier read down here in the HF forums. Some can agree to disagree.

I cringe reading through the scanner forums as it is easy to get annoyed,i.e Uniden, Whistler, etc. Most the time I can bite my tongue, or is it bite my fingers? , and stay out of that mess if you know what I mean.

Jim
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Old 05-30-2018, 1:04 AM
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Heh, keep on practicing rule #2. Take the good, *ignore* the rest. Jump back in.

It takes some practice trying to abide by only 2 simple rules. A real mind-meld kind of thing.

Admittedly, back then, when messages were exchanged overnight, and took a day or more to reach it's destination, there was ample time to cool off, or think about a purposeful reply.

Still, don't let anything ruin a great hobby. Just ignore what isn't positive or constructive..
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