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Short Wave Transmission

  • Category
  • Published
    14th Jun, 2019

Prasar Bharati has asked All India Radio to come up with a proposal to phase out Short Wave (SW) transmitters.


Prasar Bharati has asked All India Radio to come up with a proposal to phase out Short Wave (SW) transmitters.


Concerns of All India Radio

  • All India Radio will have to stop all global short wave transmissions — eighty years after it began international broadcasting in 1939. The external services are broadcast to 150 countries in 13 Indian languages and 15 foreign languages. AIR is resisting the move arguing that it will curtail its global reach.
  • There are about 46 short wave transmitters that run both domestic and external services. Out of these, 28 are used for the external services alone. Barring three transmitters that were recently installed, all the others will have to be shut down over the next six-months.
  • The short wave is the only effective way to reach to any part of the world. FM and other modes don’t work.
  • Even live streaming on web can’t be the complete substitute to this due to varied penetration of internet connectivity. Any country that wants to scuttle Indian radio can just shut down Indian web channel.

Prasar Bharati's Justification

  • There would be fresh investments in expanding in DD India, AIR World Service and Prasar Bharati’s Gobal Digital Platform.
  • AIR world service will be primarily a digital service which will leverage FM and Medium Wave capabilities where available and short wave in a limited way for strategic purposes.
  • Prasar Bharati will also explore hiring airtime in transmitters outside India on a need basis where feasible.
  • China has recently started buying air time on Nepalese radio channels for its programmes and India too may soon follow suit.
  • In present scenario the international opinion is not made on radio any more the primary vehicle has to be digital.

Limited Audience

  • A study on short wave transmitters conducted by the Prasar Bharati had revealed that shutting down these transmitters would save the AIR nearly ?60-70 crore.
  • The majority of the transmitters were nearly 25 years old and obsolete. Short Wave, as a mode of transmission, has very limited audience, which is further dwindling with time.
  • The short wave transmission did not bring in revenue and there was no way to assess the actual size of the audience that tune in to it. Questions were also raised about lack of editorial scrutiny.

Advantages of Using Shortwave

Shortwave radio has a huge range – it can be received thousands of miles from the transmitter, and transmissions can cross oceans and mountain ranges. This makes it ideal for reaching nations without a radio network. SW transmissions are easy to receive, too: even cheap, simple radios are able to pick up a signal.

 Other mode of Transmission

  • Medium-wave radio is generally used for local broadcasts and is perfect for rural communities. With a medium transmission range, it can reach isolated areas with a strong, reliable signal. Medium-wave transmissions can be broadcast through established radio networks - where these networks exist. 
  • Frequency Modulation (FM) provides a short-range signal - generally to anywhere within sight of the transmitter, with excellent sound quality. It can typically cover the area of a small city or large town - making it perfect for a radio station focusing on a limited geographical area speaking into local issues. While shortwave and medium-wave stations can be expensive to operate, a license for a community-based FM station is much cheaper.
  • Internet Radio: The rapid development of web-based technology offers huge opportunities for radio broadcasting. Internet-based stations are quick and easy to set up (sometimes taking as little as a week to get up and running and costs a lot less than regular transmissions. And because the internet has no borders, a web-based radio audience can have global reach.

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