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Eric Shackle Writes: BBC Overseas Service May Be In Peril

"The BBC may be about to close its shortwave service which has presented Britain to the world for 70 years,'' writes veteran journalist Eric Shackle.

I stumbled on this disturbing information while researching a story I was writing about the world's most powerful radio transmitters.

"RAMPISHAMíS radio transmission station may close before Christmas with the loss of more than 20 jobs, even though itís currently broadcasting into Libya," Jonathan Hudston wrote in his blog.

"The proposed shutdown of the Dorset site follows the BBCís decision earlier this year to cut back on World Service shortwave broadcasting and stop it altogether by 2014, even though nearly half of the World Serviceís audience (184 million in 2010-11) listens via shortwave.

"The BBC says itís phasing out shortwave because the Foreign Office cut the World Service grant by 16% (£46 million).


"The possible closure of Rampisham raises some big questions.Such as: Isnít it just a stupid idea? And: Is it even possible?"

Some 80 years ago, in the early days of commercial broadcasting, a New Zealand radio station, 4ZF Dunedin, used only seven watts to play gramophone recorded music to its few hundred listeners.

Far away across the Pacific, the Crosley Radio Corporation, of Cincinnati, Ohio, boasted that its station, the new 500,000 watt WLW, was the most powerful in the world.

As a teenager in Christchurch, New Zealand in the 1930s, my hobby was DXing, searching for long-distance radio programs. I managed to listen to both 4ZF and WLW.

Where are the most powerful broadcasting stations today?

To find the answer to that question I consulted my friend David Ricquish, founder and chairman of the Radio Heritage Foundation, in Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. He has compiled an amazing database of thousands of stations around the world.

Here's his surprising response:
These seem to be the 4 largest SW sites by kW power.

1. Voice of Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran, Kamalabad site = 12 x500kW, 1 x 350kW, 3 x 250kW, 10 x 100kW = 8,100kW

2. RTRN [Russia], Taldom site = 3 x 1000kW, 4 x 250kW, 12 x 100kW =5,200kW

3. Babcock International, Rampisham UK site = 10 x 500kW = 5,000kW

4. SARFT [China], Urumqi, Xinjiang site = 8 x 500kW, 9 x 100kW =4,900kW

LINKS

BBC prediction: http://www.realwestdorset.co.uk/wordpress/08/2011/dorset-bbc-world-service-rampisham-radio-transmitting-station-clo

Hard-Core-DX: http://www.hard-core-dx.com/archives/july2001.html

Sunday Mail, Brisbane (1938)
http://www.bdb.co.za/shackle/images/roughrodeo.gif

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