Shortwave is dead, say the US government

By James Cridland for
Posted 4 August 2014, 9.04am edt

Nate Steiner

In the US, the Broadcasting Board of Governors have completed a 44-page report on the future of short wave.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is probably the closest US equivalent of the Board of the BBC World Service. It oversees the activity of all US government-funded, civilian international media, like Voice of America.

Their main findings are:

  • Shortwave is expensive to operate and maintain. In most countries, shortwave is declining and of marginal impact.
  • Even where short-wave is significantly used, audiences will migrate to other platforms as they become available. AM/FM radio, podcasts and mobile streaming are more widely used for audio consumption. The people who the BBG want to reach are "unlikely to use shortwave exclusively or at all".
  • Shortwave is expensive: and the US government doesn't believe in a migration to digital. "DRM[30] is unlikely to become an established mass-market distribution [platform] in enough of the BBG's current or future markets to justify the costs."

The full report contains the recommendation that the BBG "takes an aggressive approach to reduce or eliminate shortwave broadcasts where there is either minimal audience reach or the audience is not a target audience based on our support of U.S. foreign policy."

Media watchers may find the details in the report interesting around media use in different countries and communities.

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.