A short wave goodbye – at the same time as an official visit to Vanuatu, Australia announced shortwave services would be cut, causing alarm across the Pacific region. Pictured, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, arriving in Port Vila, leading a bipartisan delegation including International Development and Pacific Minister, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, and Opposition counterparts, Senator Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore. Photo: DFAT
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“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”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PFF Friday, 9 November, 2016
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Australia needs to urgently reverse a decision to end shortwave radio broadcasts to the Pacific by January next year, says PFF, Pacific Freedom Forum.
"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," says PFF Chair Monica Miller, of American Samoa.
PFF members are condemning the Australian Broadcasting Corporations announcement that ABC International’s shortwave services currently broadcast to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific will end in less than two months.
"As Pacific nations are going through the usual cyclone cyclone, its just such a shame that they will lose a key, credible information source to rely on,” says Miller.
“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, because they are unlikely to be the ones targeted in the new digital content offerings being touted by ABC."
PFF is also urging Pacific governments to raise the issue with Australia, and remind the Turnball administration of its promises to the international community to refocus assistance towards the Pacific.
“What better use of tax payers dollars than a service that helps communities prepare for natural disaster such as potential tsunami, from earthquakes like the Solomon Islands has just today experienced, and other natural disasters, especially cyclones,” says Miller.
“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.
"It's disappointing to see the service disappear, and more sadly, it will add to the concerns of disaster management officials when national telecommunication systems are down and no information will get to rural populations through a medium they still trust and use.”
The ABC decision follows that of Radio New Zealand International earlier year to cut back their short-wave transmissions.
It also comes ten years after a parliamentary review in Australia, of aid to the Pacific, agreed with a call from the region to maintain and improve regional broadcasting services.
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The Pacific Freedom Forum is a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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