Staunton, September 19 – Many people connected with international broadcasting have lamented the passing of shortwave broadcasting because it means that it is difficult if not impossible to engage in radio broadcasting to populations except on from stations located on the territory of the country such stations wish to reach.
That gives the governments of those countries enormous leverage over what is broadcast because international broadcasters are likely to restrain from carrying stories that would prompt those governments to seek to close them down, something that has been true in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin.
But many have assumed that Internet in general and social media in particular can fill any gap, but that assumption is misplaced: many who listen to radio or television still do not have access to that channel or think of using it in the ways they relied on radio in the past. That is particularly true of older and more rural residents of such countries.
If the impact of the demise of shortwave has at least attracted some attention because of its impact on international broadcasting, the consequences of the end of long-wave broadcasting in the Russian Federation at the start of this year have not, largely because they are not viewed as serious or a matter for international concern.
But an article this week by Rimzil Valeyev, a Kazan media commentator, suggests that may be a serious mistake. On the one hand and of less interest perhaps, he notes, many older people who were used to listening to long-wave broadcasts have simply stopped listening to radio altogether.
Some of them may turn to television or the Internet, but neither of those channels carry the same kind of programming, and thus, the generation in Russia raised on long-wave broadcasting is being cut off from the kind of news which helped to integrate them into the larger society.
But on the other hand and of certainly greater interest, Valeyev writes, Moscow’s ending of long-wave broadcasting for almost all popular services including those based in the Tatarstan capital of Kazan mean that broadcasts from there do not reach many of the Tatars who live dispersed across a broad region and cannot receive Tatar news any other way.
Although Valeyev does not discuss it, the same thing is certainly true for other non-Russian groups whose core population lives within the range of FM broadcasts but whose larger population is beyond the range of such services. And that means that yet another “technical” decision by the Russian government will have profound consequences for these communities.