Shortwave radio has been a mainstay of U.S. international media since the 1940s. Over time, however, the number of countries in which shortwave is the medium of choice for audiences overseas has been shrinking. In many places, people are increasingly turning to other means to get news and information – including but not limited to FM radio, satellite television, web sites, social media, and their mobile phones.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the independent federal government agency that oversees U.S. civilian international media, has been adjusting to these changes over the years and now delivers news and information programs on a wider variety of platforms in more languages than any other media organization. To support its commitment of reaching audiences on their preferred media, the Board recently established a Special Committee on the Future of Shortwave Radio Broadcasting, which has been conducting a thorough review of the agency’s use of shortwave radio as a distribution platform, the associated costs, and the likely reliance on it by next-generation audiences.
This Committee is now seeking feedback from external experts and stakeholders on their perspectives on the role of shortwave radio broadcasting as a BBG distribution platform. We are particularly interested to hear views that consider the evolving media consumption of target audiences, changing access to shortwave and other platforms, and the need to prioritize in an austere federal budget environment.
The BBG is committed to sustaining shortwave broadcasting to regions where a critical need for the platform remains.
The Shortwave Committee has held two meetings focused on the shortwave audience’s listening experience, the BBG networks’ success in reaching target audiences, the role of shortwave in the networks’ engagement strategies in various markets, the cost of operating shortwave transmitting facilities, and the BBG’s research into how shortwave is being used and its impact on audiences.
Your input will better inform the Committee’s recommendations and could help shape its comprehensive report to the plenary Board.
Please contribute questions, comments or suggestions via e-mail to ShortwaveCommittee@bbg.gov by March 14, 2014. To facilitate the review process, please limit your submission to 1200 words or fewer. All comments may be reprinted as part of the Committee’s proceedings and may be made public.
The news and information provided by our networks helps bring the light of truth to some of the darkest corners of the world. By supporting the free flow of news and information, including combatting Internet censorship and providing news and information tailored for specific audiences, developing local media, and creating access to global media, we purposefully support the freedom to speak, the freedom to listen, and the freedom of expression.
If you are aware of anyone with special interest in this topic, I encourage you to share this request with them.
Thank you for your interest in taking part in this process to help the BBG become more efficient and effective in supporting U.S. national security and foreign policy.
Matthew C. Armstrong
BBG Special Committee on the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting