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Advocates work to revitalise Australia’s voice in the Pacific

Supporters-of-ABC-Pacific
A Pacific broadcaster interviews boys in Bougainville (Sue Ahearn, 2012)

NEWSDESK | Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - A group of Australia-based supporters is trying to revitalise Australian broadcasting in the Pacific and Asia region.

For more than 50 years, ABC-Radio Australia was a trusted and respected friend in the region broadcasting independent news and information, says the group in a media release.

But five years ago, the service was almost silenced by budget cuts.

It has recently been revealed that Radio Australia’s shortwave frequencies into the Pacific and Asia have been taken over by China Radio International.

The supporters group says that now, because of a new political environment in Canberra and across the region, the time is right to propose a major upgrade of ABC radio, television and digital services to the Asia Pacific.

The group wants people to have their say at a review of Australia’s broadcasting in the region being held by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Communication and the Arts.

It would like to see the review recommend the reinstatement of full ABC Asia-Pacific broadcasting with a new model of stronger partnerships between Australia and the region.

The supporters group includes household names in the Pacific like former ABC-Radio Australia correspondents Sean Dorney and Jemima Garrett along with former Radio Australia Network manager Sue Ahearn.

Garrett said the Australian media, in the form of the ABC’s international services [Radio Australia, Australia Plus TV, and digital and online services) had played a crucial role in promoting debate, transparency and good governance in the Pacific and Asia.

She said the ABC had provided a powerful role-model and, through its presence and reporting empowered journalists in the region, to tackle stories that are difficult but of important public interest.

Ahearn said this was a chance for those who cared about independent journalism and democracy to be heard.

“Your submission does not need to be long, even a few sentences is valuable. The more perspectives the review receives the better,” he said.

The review is asking for submissions from individuals and organisations in Asia and the Pacific as well as Australia.

The purpose of the review “is to assess the reach of Australia’s media in the Asia Pacific region, including examining whether shortwave radio technology should be used”.

The review will analyse the coverage and access of existing Australian media services in the Asia-Pacific region and the use and value of Australian shortwave technology in the region.

It will cover television, radio and online across commercial, community and publicly funded services including different types of technologies such as analogue, digital and satellite radio and television services and online services.

For more information contact Sue Ahearn or Jemima Garrett:

sue.ahearn@gmail.com

garrett.jemima@gmail.com

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