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CORRESPONDENCE FROM MINISTER VOWLES:
Many Territorians in the bush rely on the ABC shortwave radio transmission, especially during times of potential natural disasters, for example cyclones, floods and fires.
The ABC intends to switch off the shortwave service in the Territory in less than 7 days.
The Northern Territory Government was surprised and dismayed at the decision of the ABC to end short wave transmission services in the Northern Territory from 31 January 2017, and concerned about the lack of consultation by the ABC before making this decision.
It appears that the ABC has not appreciated the breadth of usage of its shortwave radio service, the value of this service to multiple industry sectors and the community or the potentially severe consequences ceasing the service for the people, communities and industry here in the Northern Territory.
Minister Vowles is asking for Territorians to please write to the Senate Enquiry today asking that this switch off be stopped or at least delayed.
You can send an email to the Secretary of the Senate Enquiry, Ms Christine McDonald, at the email address below, or sign and forward a copy of the following example email, to lodge your dissatisfaction with the ABC’s dangerous shortwave decision today.
Ms Christine McDonald
Senate Standing Committee on Environment & Communications
CANBERRA ACT 2600
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms McDonald
RE: ABC TRANSMISSION IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY/SHORTWAVE SERVICES
ABC shortwave transmissions provide a vital service for Territorians living in remote areas. It is how they access their news, entertainment and information.
The decision to stop shortwave transmissions is premature. The ABC has not made any attempt to consult with users of the service or understand how Territorians access and rely on shortwave.
To claim VAST satellite and mobile phone technology will fill the gap created is simply not true. These services are not mobile and in fact mobile antennas are only now being trialled.
ABC Local Radio service often provides the only reliable source of information and entertainment to remote communities, pastoral stations and people who otherwise work remotely and are mobile.
In times of natural disaster- such as flood, cyclones or fire - it can quite literally mean the difference between life and death.
It is disappointing ABC management is more interested in improving digital services for larger population centres, than to ensure basic service provision in the bush.
ABC management agreed they haven’t consulted, haven’t done the research, nor followed due process in ensuring they are following their Charter to service all Australians.
The ill-considered decision to stop ABC shortwave services in the NT needs to reconsidered until a proper process to determine the impact of the cut on Territorians is determined.
The ABC must be properly funded to ensure it can continue its shortwave services in the Northern Territory and deliver equality of service to regional and remote listeners.