The Enduring Importance of Shortwave for International

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Where do Social Media Leave
Traditional Broadcast Media?
(The title on the programme)
Graham Mytton
CIBAR, Prague 2011
The Enduring Importance of
Shortwave for International
Broadcasting
(My more precise title!)
Graham Mytton
CIBAR Conference
Prague 2011
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conferences
“Shortwave broadcasting has been in
gradual but accelerating decline for
years;”
But traditional
radio has not
been replaced
BBC Global Audience 2010
• 161 million weekly listeners
• In 1980 it was 100 million
• 53% of the global audience in 2010
accessed BBC WS on shortwave. That
was then 85 million listeners, the largest
single group of BBC users on any
“platform”!
• This was in spite of massive cuts to
shortwave over the previous decade
John Tusa, Managing
Director BBC World
Service 1986 - 1992
If shortwave had been or discovered
today instead of eight decades ago it
would be hailed as an amazing new
technology with great potential for the
world we live in today.
Access to locally retransmitted services
can be and often are blocked
• Nigeria does not allow any local
rebroadcasts of news
• Ivory Coast, Azerbaijan, both Congos and
several other countries have blocked local
rebroadcasts when local circumstances
have changed and governments in these
countries have not wanted outside
“interference”
Shortwave use declines when
political circumstances change!
• In Portugal, Greece, Former Yugoslavia, former
East European states and many others, when
free media emerged, there was a massive fall in
shortwave use
• But shortwave is still a major means of
reception in many parts of the world. It is
showing amazing vitality and survival
• It has survived massive cut backs and the
talking down of it by many senior broadcasters
who ought to know better!
Global Shortwave Access and Use
• 2 billion people in the world have access to at
least one shortwave capable set at home
• 300 million people use shortwave on a weekly
basis to access radio services
• When crises happen, as they often do, the
number is increased many times over
• Shortwave use declines not because of new
technologies but because of local political
changes
• More freedom means less shortwave use!
•BBC World Service issued some promotional
postcards a few years ago
•It displayed them on the walls all around the
building
•The photos were of well known people,
including world leaders in business, politics,
entertainment, arts and more
•The main way these WS users listened in the
way they said they did was on shortwave.
•The photos soon had to be removed or
withdrawn. The BBC was cutting back on the
means whereby they could continue to listen
Huge changes in technology
over the past 20 years
• But another change has had as much, if not
more, impact on human communications
• It has been the deregulation of media, especially
broadcast media
• In 1996, when the process had been going for
about 6 years I produced the following charts,
showing how control on broadcast media had
changed, globally and region by region with
predictions for the next 6 years.
The charts show first what the situation was like in 1990, then
1996 and then a prediction for 2002
Definitions:
Monopoly means where radio and TV are under state control with
little or no exception. This situation was true in most countries in
Africa and Asia as well as communist states in Europe
Pluralist means where the state allows private radio and TV with
varying degrees of regulation but where independent voices are
allowed.
Transitional means that a country is moving from Monopoly to
Pluralist
The World's Radio and TV Markets
in 1990
Pluralist: 60 countries
Monopolies: 98 countries
Transitional : 13 countries
The World's Radio and TV Markets
in1996
Monopolies
49 countries
Pluralist
90 countries
Transitional
53 countries
The World's Radio and TV Markets
in2002
Monopolies
21 countries
Transitional
26 countries
Pluralist
110 countries
Supply and Demand:
The Relationship of BBC Weekly Reach
to the Availability of Domestic Radio
Channels
50
45
BBC Weekly Reach
40
35
I think I showed this chart first in
1992. It plots weekly audiences
for any BBC WS listening against
the number of radio stations in
that country’s capital city. Clear
evidence that while a state
monopoly (with few radio
services) does not guarantee a
large audience, large audiences
are not achieved where there is a
lot of local choice
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
0
10
20
30
40
Number of domestic radio stations in main or capital city
50
60
Shortwave
transmitters
Now Obsolete
Surely!
Satellite Dishes
seen
everywhere.
These are in
Freetown
Sierra Leone
Mobile Phones:
The fastest ever
growth in
communications
technology?
Millions being spent on
further promotion and
competition
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