Tuesday, 4 March 2008

London is not calling anymore (on shortwave)

The BBC decided to stop broadcasting BBC World Service to Europe on shortwave (with amplitude modulation) on 18th February 2008: after decades it's an end of an era.
This is the statement from BBC official site:

"Shortwave changes for Europe February 2008

The remaining BBC World Service shortwave transmissions* to Europe closed on 18th February 2008.

This change was made in line with listener trends in radio. Increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to listen to radio on a range of other platforms including FM, satellite and online, with fewer listening on shortwave.

This is particularly the case in Europe, where the majority of shortwave transmissions ceased in March 2007. The current closures affect the remaining transmissions heard in southern Europe.

Please note these changes also affect English short wave transmissions to North Africa.

* Digital shortwave radio (DRM - Digital Radio Mondiale) for north-east continental Europe will not be affected "

BBC World Service (called BBC Empire Service) started on December 1932 and it gained a lot of credibility through years, becoming a real legend. In a time of dictators ruling several countries in Europe, BBC offered news in many languages (" by the time war ended in 1945, the BBC was offering programmes in 45 languages worldwide"); and the purpose of BBC was not propaganda: "unlike the american stations, for instance, the BBC did not encourage the Hungarians' failed uprising against the Soviet Union in 1956".

The Guardian wrote about the shutdown and we can read:

"There comes a point where the shortwave audience in a given region becomes so small that spending money on it can no longer be justified," the World Service said.


"It is a landmark in as much that the BBC and other international broadcasters have been using shortwave for the last three-quarters of a century and it is now coming to an end," said Simon Spanswick, the chief executive of the Association for International Broadcasting, the industry association for the international broadcast community.

"Everybody now has to use different ways to engage listeners. Nobody in the developed world listens on noisy, crackly shortwave anymore," Spanswick added.

New York Times didn't miss the news and added:

“Europe is very developed and so is America,” said Michael Gardner, a spokesman for BBC World Service. “Shortwave is not the best way of reaching those audiences there. They all have FM, AM stations close by. Some of them have satellites, or they can pull it down on their TV screens and there are alternatives online. There are lots of ways of interacting with the BBC.”


Andy Sennitt, a media specialist with the Dutch public broadcaster, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, said that he got his start 30 years ago working on BBC shortwave broadcasts and had mixed feelings about the end of the transmissions.

“For die-hard shortwave listeners, this is negative,” he said. “What they don’t understand is the huge cost of powering transmitters. The cost of diesel fuel has doubled.”

Don't miss this post of a blog where there are more than 30 interesting comments.

In 1932 Christmas Message (the message was written by Rudyard Kipling) King George V used BBC saying:

"I speak now from my home and my heart to you all; to men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert or the sea that only voices out of the air can reach them".

Today people cut off by the snows, the desert or the sea do need a satellite dish or an Internet connection

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