Ensuring all Australians have access to ABC Broadcasts - 2021
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The ABC’s radio and television services are accessible to the majority of the Australian population via a network of transmission towers across the country. However, these transmissions do not reach remote populations in inland Australia.
As a background to ABC transmission issues, the reason that the ABC gave for cutting its High Frequency (HF) service (shortwave, SW) into the South Pacific and the Northern Territory was the impact of the reduction in its government funding and the redirection of funds to digital broadcasting in Canberra, Hobart and Darwin. The closure of the 3 NT transmitters completed the closure of all ABC HF broadcasts. The ABC’s defence is that all the affected listeners can use the Viewer Accessed Satellite Television (VAST) which carries ABC radio. However, this technology is expensive, affected by weather conditions, and those people in remote areas have no radio at all whilst travelling or working in vehicles or boats. As “compensation” the ABC has given a few VAST satellite receivers to 4WD radio clubs.
Australia has also lost an important arm of its soft diplomacy strategy with HF being cut to the South Pacific and the people living there, very often remotely, have sorely missed important emergency information to help keep them safe during natural hazards. Cutting these HF services saved the ABC less than $4 million per year. The Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time said little about the closure of HF to the South Pacific. Radio New Zealand (RNZ) Pacific continues HF broadcasting. Radio Australia has been replaced by HF China Radio International (CRI).
Both RNZ Pacific and CRI transmit in analog and digital HF radio (Digital Radio Mondiale i.e. DRM).