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Mendes Comments on RW’s BBG Report Story

Use of shortwave ‘will be driven by audience habits and the relative costs of transmission’

André Mendes followed up on Radio World’s story posted yesterday about the technology strategy of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. He’s director of engineering and technical services for the International Broadcasting Bureau.

Here’s his reply:

“Thanks for your questions about the BBG 2010–2012 Technology Strategic Plan. In response to your question about the genesis of the report, it was written from March to June of 2010 after my first three months of due diligence within the Agency. The report was submitted to Senior Management and the Board in the late May/early June 2010 time frame. Although it was made available on the Agency’s intranet site, the report was not made available to the public before now.

“As for your question about the ‘sunset’ of shortwave broadcasting, let me preface my answer by saying that the BBG is platform-agnostic. The Board is constantly assessing the effectiveness of its media platforms, and is fully committed to using the transmission medium most effective in a given country or region. The Tech Strategic Plan recommends that the Agency continually monitor the effectiveness of its shortwave transmissions and then make pragmatic decisions about whether or not that is the best use of taxpayer funds.

“In China, for example, the Board believes that the best approach is not to select one medium over another, but rather to recalibrate our media portfolio to improve the reach of our broadcasts among Chinese audiences. As part of this realignment, the Board has proposed that the Agency direct the Voice of America’s resources toward reaching China’s ever-growing Internet and mobile device audiences, while maintaining contact with China’s declining shortwave radio audiences (estimated at less than a percent of the population) by bolstering Radio Free Asia’s broadcasts to China.

“Shortwave will remain an important medium for the BBG where it is a viable one, but its use will be driven by audience habits and the relative costs of transmission.”