What Next for Shortwave? BBG Wants to Hear

What role should shortwave radio play in the mix of civilian media supporting U.S. national security and foreign policy?

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is asking for opinions on that.

“We are particularly interested to hear views that consider the evolving media consumption of target audiences, changing access to shortwave and other platforms, and the need to prioritize in an austere federal budget environment,” writes Matthew C. Armstrong, who chairs a BBG Special Committee on the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting.

Policy and broadcast experts have argued for years about what part shortwave should play as newer media platforms proliferate and consumer habits change. Proponents often point to shortwave’s ability to avoid local censorship and to reach listeners who may not have smartphones or Internet access. Critics say shortwave radio’s infrastructure has become too costly to maintain and no longer reflects modern consumption habits.

The committee wants “external experts and stakeholders” to send ideas via e-mail to ShortwaveCommittee@bbg.gov by March 14. It asked that comments be limited to 1,200 words or fewer.

The board recently established the committee and charged it with reviewing the agency’s use of shortwave radio “as a distribution platform, the associated costs, and the likely reliance on it by next-generation audiences.” Armstrong said public comments will help as the group prepares its recommendations.

He added: “The BBG is committed to sustaining shortwave broadcasting to regions where a critical need for the platform remains.”

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