Saturday, March 23, 2013

Guyana SWBC Site Going Way of Bonaire and Sackville

[This story, from a local paper, does a good job laying out the dilemma facing short wave broadcasting.  Translated from French, not all that well, by moi.  Editorial comments in italics. -Hugh]

Journal France-Guyane - all the news in your area in Guyana -

Bad Waves of Montsinéry

Nicolas CAMUS
France-Guyane 19.02.2013

The TDF international short wave broadcast center located at Montsinéry will close in April.

Caption from missing photo: --The Montsinéry center has five transmitters of 500 kilowatts (kW) each. For comparison, the power of an FM transmitter is 1 kW. (HG)--

These are the waves of another time. A time when internet did not exist, and the only accessible public information channels in many countries came from governments reluctant to open up. The international center established in Montsinéry, Guyana to broadcast this wave will close its doors on April 1.

Built in 1981 by TDF (formerly TéléDiffusion de France), and becoming operational in 1984, a set of four giant transmitters - and five in 1993 - enabled international stations like the BBC or RFI to reach all of the Americas, plus West Africa and Australia.

But it is no longer up to date. "There are several reasons: competition from Internet and satellite platforms, and also the fact that many developing countries that were our main targets are now more stable politically," explains René Iafrate.

[Thank goodness someone is willing to admit that the end of the Cold War is why governments stopped funding SWBC, and not just take the easy way out by blaming newer technology. -Hugh]

The territorial delegate in charge of TDF Guyana admits: "Shortwave is no longer attractive and the market collapsed. Our budget is now one quarter of our expenses." In these conditions, it is difficult to operate the site, which is the electric company's largest customer. It is not the only one closed. The island of Bonaire (off Venezuela) and Sackville (Canada) suffered the same fate.


I must say that consumption patterns have changed. [Literal translation - verb in the first person. -Hugh] If the radio is still an excellent way for expatriates to stay in touch with news of their country, they are listening on a computer or via satellite TV. "It's simple. The short wave requires frequency changes, and it is often of lower quality, so it is less comfortable, "says René Iafrate.

[Ignoring that technology is available to make SWBC work better, were anyone willing to spend the money, when cheaper alternatives exist. -Hugh]

Chosen for its location of "interesting strategic level" to reach three different continents, the Montsinéry site will be dismantled in six to nine months. TDF will offer the six employees of the site a training plan to work in the fields of TNT or FM. These sectors have more future.

[Undoubtedly true. I would assume "TNT" refers to something relating to network television, not the manufacture of explosives, though that has a future as well. -Hugh]