Sunday, March 06, 2011

Closure of Czech Radio on shortwave was a mistake, declares HFCC Chairman

Prague (Feb. 15, 2011) - The closure of the external service of Czech Radio on shortwave was a mistake. The broadcasts will not reach a large part of the listeners, said the chairman of the HFCC (High Frequency Coordination Conference) Oldrich Cip to the Czech News Agency CTK, on occasion of the coordination conference for international shortwave transmissions which is taking place in Prague. So far Czech Radio has not responded to Cip's statement.
The broadcasts of Czech Radio 7 -- Radio Prague -- on shortwave were terminated at the end of January. The reason was the reduction in the budget for external transmissions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So the Internet is now the primary platform to transmit these programs. Besides the Internet, they can still be heard via the Astra 3A satellite in the CS Link package and via the broadcasts of some foreign stations that rebroadcast the programs of Radio Prague.

"Listener reactions from well-known stations like the BBC show that in some areas half of the listeners continue to use shortwave," said Cip. And in the case of the Czech transmissions the situation is no different. Reducing the broadcasts to the Internet and limited satellite distribution, which in comparison with shortwave only cover a small part of Central Europe, is a mistake. In this sense the HFCC has also contacted the head of Czech diplomacy Karel Schwarzenberg [Minister of Foreign Affairs]. Up to now, there has been no response.

The CTK news agency has for the moment received no official reaction from Czech Radio as to whether listener response has increased or decreased since the closing of Radio Prague's shortwave broadcasts. "The majority of listeners follow the newscasts of Radio Prague on the Internet. On the webpage we get around a million visits per month. While we may lose some [shortwave] listeners, the situation will not be so dramatic," said Radio Prague's director Miroslav Krupicka at the end of January.

The HFCC is a member of the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva. It coordinates the frequencies used for shortwave radio transmissions. The conference in Prague is dealing with primarily technical matters regarding shortwave station operations.
(NASB/March 2011)