7 Dec 2016

ABC pulling plug on Pacific shortwave 'not good news'

3:39 pm on 7 December 2016

A noted Pacific academic is regretting the end of Australian short wave broadcasting in the Pacific.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has announced its short wave services to the Pacific, and domestically, will end next month.

It calls the technology outdated and is promising to expand its digital services with savings it makes on the shortwave service.

But Tongan academic Sitiveni Halapua, who has spent a lot of time in the remote Niua Islands in Tonga's north, said shortwave is important for giving people an understanding of what is happening outside their immediate communities.

He said modern technology cannot fill the gap.

"We talk about social media, internet and other forms of modern technology, of communication, but in fact most of these, if not all, are not available, not accessible to the outer islands and that makes the radio to remain the number one. So I think and I believe it is not really good news," he said.

Pacific issues commentator Tess Newton-Cain said while the media landscape may be changing the Pacific is being shortchanged by the shutdown.

For many years the ABC provided shortwave services both domestically and in the Pacific, where it has long been a critical source of information, particularly at times of cyclones and natural disasters.

Dr Newton-Cain of TNC Pacific Consulting says the decision raises several concerns.

"I don't think it is a good idea to shut down the shortwave service at all," she said.

"If it does have to be shut down it is definitely not a good idea to be shutting it down in the middle of cyclone season because for a lot of people, particularly in rural areas, they rely on that service to get any information about what is happening in terms of weather systems, preparedness, response whatever."