Posted: 14 Apr 2012 Print Send a link
BBG Watch, 26 Mar 2012: "What active measures have the IBB taken to overcome jamming? Have they shifted frequencies or bands on a random or radical basis? Have they transmitted from various transmitter sites to change the incoming angle (i.e., North – South, East – West, over the Eural mountains, etc) in order to make jamming more difficult? By not attempting to overcome jamming, isn’t this a form of 'surrender' in the War of Ideas? ... Have they experimented with 'twilight' transmission (within an hour before and an hour after sunrise and sunset) when propagation patterns change and make jamming more difficult?"
As a shortwave listener for nearly a half-century, I am saddened to see the reduction of shortwave broadcasting, especially by US international broadcasters. As an international broadcasting audience research analyst, however, I see much data showing a decline in the number of of people owning and and listening to shortwave radios. Even in rural areas, audiences are moving to FM radio, television, and mobile phones.
US international broadcasting should employ, if possible, the media preferred by its target audiences. If access to those media are denied in the target country, then the use of more robust but less popular media is necessary. Shortwave can be jammed, but it still offers the most physical resistance to interdiction of any medium available to international broadcasting. New digital modes allow text to be transmitted very efficiently via shortwave, requiring much less power than needed for voice. Shortwave could therefore be an alternative means of delivery when the internet is blocked. (On the subject of internet blocking, see previous posts re Iran and China.)
For future emergencies, when the internet, mobile networks, cable television, and other popular forms of communication will be disrupted, the United States should maintain an interagency global network of shortwave transmitters. These can be used by US international broadcasting to reach key target countries, by the State Department to reach Americans abroad and for public diplomacy tasks, and by the military for information operations and other purposes. The output of each agency would remain separate. Their functions would not be intermingled. The shortwave transmitter network would operate as a common carrier.