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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Comment List:

There is no future in Shortwave radio for international broadcasters. I'm sorry, but there's not. We need to stop pretending there is. Every one of those remote locations already has several FM stations that can broadcast information. The number of FM radios outnumber shortwave radios 100 to 1. And if it needs to, the USA and it's allies can broadcast 24 hours a day via airplane. Those cost of maintaining shortwave facilities is prohibitive. It is just not cost effective anymore. It isn't.
By Lloyd Davies on 3/23/2014
Even in those countries with internet access, it is often heavily censored by the government. SW Broadcasts are free of such restriction. Radio's "many-to-one" technology is very efficient. Let's not diss Shortwave just because it's old technology.
By Mike on 3/3/2014
I just don't think the BBG gets it. There are still far too many places in the world that do not have internet access. Please check the maps in the Mar 14 issue of National Geographic Magazine. A radio is still needed to get the word/news/name your item to people. Especially since it knows no borders
By John on 3/3/2014

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