To Be Where the Audience Is - Report of the Special Committee on
the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting
WASHINGTON (August 1, 2014) - The Broadcasting Board of Governors
today released "To Be Where the Audience Is," a report that found
shortwave radio to be essential to listeners in target countries,
but of marginal impact in most markets. The report's
recommendations came after a comprehensive review, grounded in
audience-based research, of the efficacy of shortwave as a
distribution platform for U.S. international media.
"Shortwave radio continues to be an important means for large
numbers of peoÆq6e [garble - Hugh] countries to receive news and
information," said Matt Armstrong, who chaired the BBG's Special
Committee on the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting, which issued
the report. "However, many of our networks' target audiences have
moved to newer platforms including TV, FM and digital media. This
report maps a way forward for U.S. international media to remain
accessible for all our audiences."
Research-based evidence of media trends suggests that the
increased availability and affordability of television, mobile
devices and Internet access has led to the declining use of
shortwave around the world. Still, the report finds that
substantial audiences embrace shortwave in Nigeria, Burma, North
Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Cuba and other target
markets for the BBG.
At the same time, the committee's recommendations make clear that
the BBG will need to continue to reduce or eliminate shortwave
broadcasts where there is either minimal audience or that
audience is not a U.S. foreign policy priority. It also ratifies
reductions that were made in redundant signals in 2013 and
further cuts in transmissions that were made in 2014.
Even with these recent reductions, the BBG makes programs in 35
of its 61 broadcast languages available on shortwave where there
is a strategic reason to do so.
The report notes there is no evidence that shortwave usage
increases during crises. At such times, audiences continue to use
their preferred platforms or seek out anti-censorship tools to
help them navigate to the news online, including firewall
circumvention tools or offline media including thumb drives and
The Shortwave Committee report will be discussed at the August 13
public meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
The full report can be found via this page:
Note from Kim: Documentation about VOA Radiogram was provided to
committee, and many VOA Radiogram listeners sent comments. VOA
Radiogram was, however, not mentioned in the report.
[accompanied by an image showing vultures perched on a short wave radio antenna.]