Re: BBCWS dropping shortwave to USA, Canada, Australia
May 08, 2001 09:02 PDT
With use of shortwave sets in the US in the very low single numbers
percentage-wise, it might at first seem that this is a good decision based
on sound polling numbers. Maybe it helps the BBC's bottom line, but for
avid listeners it is a disaster. For BBC program producers other than news,
it is no less so.
Even 1% of the US population equals about 2.8 million potential
listeners--not an insignificant potential audience especially when one
considers that most of those who bought a shortwave radio probably did so
primarily so they could listen to the BBC. They will be largely
It's hard to understand what the BBC's thinking is here.
Some quick random reactions:
1. Even in the major population centers of NA, BBC broadcasts on FM are
mainly limited to occasional news bulletins. Longer form BBC programs--even
news programs--are heard in very few locations and where they are, are
confined almost exclusively to overnight situations. Feature programs are
virtually non-existent in these outlets. BBC America television is
available only on Direc-tv (about 15% of homes) and on some cable systems
that have digital capability (another 20%)--and the service is only
available on upper tiers, which means that one has to buy-through several
tiers to get them. The high marginal cost for subs means that homes
actually receiving BBC America are probably in the very low single numbers
%-wise. Of those, the number actually watching is probably so small as to
2. Sirius and XM are still not available. Even when they do come online,
they are to be marketed (at least at the beginning) exclusively to
automobiles. Their business plans have no assurance of succeeding and they
already have been delayed by technical problems, such as inoperative
chipsets and interference problems) more than once. The consensus on Wall
Street (though hardly deterministic) is that these services have an uphill
3. Yes, there is the Internet; but the Internet and radio are two different
technologies still. The Internet is far from a replacement for radio and is
used much differently than radio.
4. What does this mean for DRM? NA would have been a prime market for DRM
given the fact that so little of the population has "worldband" capability
at present. Without the BBC, DRM has to be less marketable.
5. It's one thing when SRI does this; but what will the effect be on other
shortwave services, under financial stress and other pressures, when the BBC
I will be most interested to hear Kim discuss this with the BBC this
weekend. To me, there is a fundamental misreading of poll data, a
misunderstanding of the actual impact of new media, and an inappropriate and
ill-advised orientation toward commercial "mass marketing" of the World
Service (ie: a lack of proper direction) at work here. My reading is that
stations still need to use all the media at their disposal to be effective.
At best, this decision is premature.
A sad day--to make a gross understatement. This will have a domino effect, I
fear. Good for "pure hobbyists" and dxers, I suppose. But a major disaster
for program listeners.
| ||From: Kim Elliott <email@example.com>|
Subject: [SW Programs] BBCWS dropping shortwave to USA, Canada, Australia
Date: Tue, 08 May 2001 11:16:35 -0400
BBCWS confirmed to me today that they will drop all shortwave to the
United States, Canada, and Australia as of July. Access to World
Service will be via FM rebroadcasting (you *do* have access to BBCWS on
your local FM station, don't you?) and the Internet.
Details and perhaps an interview on Communications World this weekend.
To receive the updated Communications World schedule by auto-reply, send
an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOICE OF AMERICA
330 Independence Avenue, S.W
Washington, D.C. 20237 USA
Web site: http://www.trsc.com/cw
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