Several months ago, I participated in a survey of shortwave listeners by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. According to their website, “The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is both the name of the independent federal agency that oversees all U.S. civilian international media and the name of the board that governs those broadcasts. The BBG’s mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.
Today, I got the following:
Greetings from the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Our Special Committee on the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting, formed by the Board last fall and led by Governor Matt Armstrong, today released its report assessing current and projected use of shortwave radio as a platform for programming by U.S. international media.
Thank you for your contributions to this effort. Many people from a variety of perspectives provided ideas and views, which broadened the committee’s understanding of the issues involved.
The report is now online here http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/08/SW-Committee-Final-Report.pdf, along with a fact sheet, which is posted here http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/08/SW-Report-fact-sheet.pdf.
We hope you find these items informative.
For any questions, please contact us at ShortwaveCommittee@bbg.gov.
I don’t have time to go over it in detail, but the fact sheet contains the following:
- USIM must optimize delivery by audience/market. While there is still a critical need for shortwave in key countries, it is a medium of marginal and continuously declining impact in most markets.
- Even in countries with currently significant levels of shortwave usage, audiences will migrate to other platforms as they become more accessible.
- The Committee recommends that BBG take an aggressive approach to reduce or eliminate shortwave broadcasts where there is either minimal adience reach or the audience is not a target audience based on the BBG’s support of U.S. foreign policy.
- Evidence suggests that availability of high-quality content on preferred platforms is primarily responsible for the declining use of shortwave. AM and FM radio, podcasts, and mobile streamingare more widely used for audio consumption.
- Shortwave users generally have viable alternative means of accessing USIM content. Top target demographics are unlikely to use shortwave exclusively or at all.
- The BBG has found no evidence that shortwave usage increases during crises. Audiences continue to use their existing platforms (TV, FM, and the Internet) or seek out anti-censorship tools including online firewall circumvention, private chat software, flash drives, and DVDs to access content.
- Shortwave is a relatively expensive platform to operate and maintain.
- Digital shortwave, or Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), is unlikely to become an established mass media distribution methodology in enough of the BBG’s current or future markets to justify the costs.
- The Committee supports almost all of the shortwave broadcast reductions previously approved by the Board under sequestration and the implementation of the FY14 Operating Plan. However, given current situations in Ukraine and other nearby states with large Russian-speaking populations, the Committee recommends revising the FY14 Operating Plan and ensuring that shortwave broadcasts in Russian to Russia and the Caucasus be continued at current levels, subject to re-evaluation during FY16 budget formulation processes.