26 June 2017

The ABC must hold off on its sudden scrapping of the important shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory and get out and talk to the people in the bush who will be impacted.

In an announcement earlier this week the ABC revealed it will be ending its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory from 31 January 2017.

In making this decision, the ABC has shown it has very little understanding of life outside the cities. The shortwave radio service which is accessed across the Territory in some of the most remote places provides vital news and information services.

In times of natural disaster it is often the only source of public safety information in remote areas.

This announcement has caused frustration and confusion across communities in the Territory with stakeholders telling us there has been no consultation with affected users.

The ABCs own press release acknowledges that the only consultation undertaken has been limited to relevant broadcast partners, foreign governments and DFAT. It also acknowledges that ending shortwave radio will impact on emergency broadcasting.

The President of the NT Cattlemans Association, Tom Stockwell told the ABCs own Country Hour this week that ceasing the short wave service will affect a huge area of the Northern Territory.

Anyone that is remote and away from a satellite dish wont get local radio, wont get emergency radio and wont get emergency messages, said Mr Stockwell.

ABC management needs to get out of the city and into bush and undertake a proper consultation process before the services are cut in one months time. Senator McCarthy and Mr Snowdon are calling on Managing Director Michelle Guthrie to visit the Northern Territory and engage with stakeholders, to undertake a proper consultation.

ABC listeners in the NT deserve to be consulted on issues that affect their safety, as well as adequate notice to adjust to any changes.

Earlier this week a Productivity Commissions review of the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (TUSO) made a recommendation to scrap public telephones. This is another example of the bush being silenced and not heard.

People in remote areas rely heavily on short wave radio services and public telephones. They can save lives.