Just 14 people in the Northern Territory complained to the ABC about its decision to switch off its short-wave service.
“Fewer than 15 people located in the Northern Territory have contacted us since we made the announcement,” ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie told a senate estimates committee.
“The impact we have seen over the past three months is very clear by the number of people who have contacted us.”
The Senate Communications committee said it had 52 submissions, and the only submission in support of the decision to axe the service was the ABC’s own.
Ms Guthrie said the ABC would not reverse its decision.
Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie strongly disagreed with the decision to axe short-wave because it left remote rural communities including farmers and fisherman unable to access ABC services. “It works and has a utility for people and until something supersedes it surely we stick with it?” she asked.
David Pendleton, the ABC’s departing chief operating officer said short-wave was “not a reliable technology going forward” and the ABC said many broadcasters around the world were shutting short-wave services.
Northern Territory short-wave service cost the ABC $1.2m a year, the international short-wave service cost $2.8 million each year. The budget savings would be transferred into digital services and content, the ABC said.
The ABC said other states and territories do not have an ABC short-wave service.
It also pointed out that there were 22,000 active decoders for Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) in the Northern Territory, as well as AM and FM radio which people could access instead of short-wave.
“We go to VAST being a stopgap here and it’s simply not true.” Senator McKenzie said. “You didn’t talk to the people.”
“The continued provision of short wave service for a long contract is not in the best interest of efficient operation of ABC budget,” Ms Guthrie said.