Save lifesaving shortwave radio to the Pacific
The ABC has decided to end shortwave radio broadcasts to the Pacific Islands by 31st January. This needs to be urgently reversed. These services provide lifesaving information during cyclones and other disasters as well as playing an important role in ensuring media freedom.
Due to the wide footprint of the shortwave signal the ABC’s shortwave service reaches severely disadvantaged and isolated communities that do not have access to their own domestic radio.
The ABC’s plan to replace shortwave with FM will not ensure this vital service reaches all the people who need it.
Given your recent excellent decision to place more priority on the Pacific we are confused and profoundly disappointed to see shortwave services cut before your planned FM network is ready to replace it.
Pacific Islanders have expressed their views in a statement by the regional media organisation, the Pacific Freedom Forum, and we stand with them.
"There seems to be no logic or connection with realities facing Pacific listeners and audiences across the region who will be effectively be cut off from news, information, and life saving information during disasters," said PFF Chair Monica Miller, of American Samoa.
"As Pacific nations are going through the usual cyclone season, its just such a shame that they will lose a key, credible information source to rely on.
“It's clear that no thought was given to the link between disaster communications and this service, or even the fact that FM is largely unreliable in bad weather and only available in urban areas."
"It's a slap in the face for the millions who've connected to Australia and to regional news through this service.
“While we can appreciate that any broadcaster wants to keep up with the times, ditching the SW transmission service which is an information lifeline to so many in the Pacific, is not smart strategically and demonstrates a lack of vision or involvement in the much-appreciated Pacific footprint ABC has across small island developing states.”
We petitioners ask that you urgently reverse the decision to end shortwave broadcasts.
If you decline to do so we ask that all money saved through this decision be used to increase the stripped-back Pacific reporting team and build the promised FM transmitters.
We remind you that the Australian government’s aid program has placed a high priority on disaster preparedness in the Pacific and that as recently as September Prime Minister Alexander Turnbull promised a step-change in relations with improving disaster management and risk reduction at its core.
The ABC is an important institution in the Pacific please recognise its value as we do.
The ABC’s Pacific service is tax-payers dollars well-spent.
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