Tuesday, May 22, 2007

NO, the shortwave hobby is NOT dying !

I found Kevin Ryan's comments regarding DRM being the last hope for shortwave broadcasting fascinating. In fact. it has been a common theme among radio hobbyist for the last two to three years now that the shortwave broadcast service is dying.

But evidently someone forgot to tell the shortwave broadcasters that their HF service is life support. Yes, some of them have left the shortwave bands, and a few familiar voices are missing. I have been watching from the sidelines as that industry has fought the amateur radio community and other radio services tooth and nail for additional spectrum space. I have monitored US broadcasters transmitting outside the normal SWBC bands, and claim their reason for doing so is there is no room for them in the regular broacast allocations.

For instance, take the case of the 40 meter (7 MHz) ham band. Hams have been trying to harmonize this band worldwide since it was taken from them just prior to World War II. And as late as the last international conference in 2003, broadcasters were trying to foil that attempt. Hams won a partial victory during that 2003 conference, and broadcasters will have to move out of 7100 to 7200 kHz in Regions 1 and 3 by March 29, 2009. This marks the first time in the history of internationally coordinated radio spectrum allocations that an HF broadcasting band was shifted to accommodate the needs of another service.

Broadcasters are fond of speaking of their unfulfilled requirements for spectrum between 4 and 10 MHz. But dying services do not spent enormous amounts of time and money at international conferences fighting for more spectrum space if they do not need it. Insiders will tell you that HF broadcasters are hoping to compete with satellites and the Internet by leapfrogging from the noise and distortion of double-sideband AM to a brave new digital world, and continue to argue that they will need more spectrum to accomplish the transition. But if the radio listening community is correct, that just isn't a valid arguement.

So is shortwave broadcasting dying? The evidence would indicate it isn't.
Larry Van Horn
MT Assistant Editor