China takes over Radio Australia frequencies after ABC drops shortwave


The Radio Australia logo. It is identical to the ABC’s lissajous curve logo, but in silver.

A Chinese station has taken over some of the shortwave radio frequencies once used by the ABC in the Pacific region, following the broadcaster’s decision to end shortwave services.

The ABC insisted at the time the shortwave technology was out of date and it would save $1.9 million by cutting the service, which it said would be reinvested in expanding content and services.

The decision was met by an outcry from affected listeners, and there has been continued agitation to bring the service back.

The Australian newspaper has reported Radio Australia’s former shortwave frequencies are now being used by China Radio International, the country’s state-owned overseas broadcaster.

Shortwave evades dictators and warns of disasters

The ABC’s decision to end Radio Australia’s shortwave service has raised questions about who will fill the void.
Claire Moore, Labor’s spokeswoman for international development and the Pacific, said she was not surprised Chinese services snapped up Australia’s old frequencies.

“People in the Pacific were telling us that shortwave was a tried and true mechanism in their parts of the world, they relied on it and they knew about it,” Ms Moore said.

“It was always an issue to see if shortwave was available, if it was being used and we weren’t using it, that other players would come into the space.”

Ms Moore said the Government had, “dropped the ball in the Pacific, at great cost to our national interest” by allowing the ABC to give up its shortwave broadcasts.

Asked why the Government should take responsibility for the ABC’s decision, she said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade accepted the broadcaster’s decision, and did not believe it was necessary to inject more resources into maintaining the service.