Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BBC SW to Europe bites the dust - II

Got into the International Herald Tribune today with a comment on the ending of BBC's English shortwave broadcasts to Europe. It has been interesting to see the short-wave die-hards trying to justify against the decision with facts plucked out of the air. They assume that shortwave transmitters are 100% efficient and that a 500 kW transmitter just takes 500 kW's from the grid. Sorry. Nearer a Megawatt. The older transmitters are more like 30% efficient. Yes, it is true, there are countries where SW is still the only way of getting a signal into a country. But that is not Western Europe.

And I am amazed at how die-hard radio listeners ignore the shows available on BBC World TV. Click is much better than many of the technology shows on BBC World Service radio. And it has almost as many people working on it. Face the facts guys, radio has become too wrapped up in its own routine and has not woken up to the fact that great content must be findable/searchable. The worst human interface ever is the old SW radio dial with a 1000 stations crammed into a few mm's marked as the 49 metre band. DRM's mistake was not being ready to pick up where SW analogue radio left off, i.e. not only with transmissions but a range of interesting programmes and cheap sets in the shops. It is a different story for parts of Africa, though even there the growth of FM is eating into traditional SW audiences. That's because local radio does local languages, adding information gleaned from international networks or grabbed from the web.


Richard said...

Your comment regarding "searchable / findable" is key here. A friend in the office came across DW recently because he did a Google search on carbon neutrality which yielded a link to a recent DW program. No way would he have found DW any other way.

That's why international broadcasters have to ensure their stories are picked up by Google News, and archived material can be picked up in web searchers.

Unknown said...

All valid points and all inevitable events, in my humble estimation. Still, though, I can't help thinking that the technologies with which we've all become enthralled recently will leave us "information-less" in a crisis.

Anonymous said...

You say "Click is much better than many of the technology shows on BBC World Service radio."

Click is indeed a marvellous televisual feast but what are all these World Service technology shows to which you refer?

There's just one that I know of, called "Digital Planet", new every Tuesday which also gets many great stories and has the hugely knowledgeable Bill Thompson as studio commentator.

Oh, and it's available as a searchable/findable podcast too.