Saturday, August 31, 2019

The rise of shortwave broadcasting from China

On recent drive across Australia I was struck by the amount of shortwave broadcasting from China that could be heard.

There is some data available from the HFCC - International Broadcasting Delivery.

The files are fixed width fields which list broadcasts by frequency along with start time, end time, which days of the week, the country, the broadcaster and more.

Countries may have multiple broadcasts on different frequencies at the same time.

To measure output, I calculated the minutes on air of each listed broadcast and multiplied it by the number of days in each week that it's on and aggregated them by country.

Here are the top broadcasters as at August 2019. (Click for larger view).

Here's 2010. It's China, USA, Russia...

Here's 2000. Russia, USA, China. How times have changed.

Here's the changes amongst the top broadcasters now over this period. China is clearly on the rise.

There are many flaws in my simple analysis:

  • Shortwave is used within large countries such as India and China for internal consumption.
  • Different power levels and transmitter site and antenna direction should be taken in to account.
  • The data may not cover all broadcasts "At present about 85 percent of the overall amount of global shortwave frequency requirements used for broadcasting is kept in this database. The missing 15 percent comprises some smaller stations in Africa and Latin America, as well as stations in the so called tropical broadcasting zone that employ shortwave transmissions for local listeners and are not interested in international co-ordination."
  • Some transmitters use more than one antenna system at a time (beaming in different directions), currently I count those as two broadcasts.
  • Radio New Zealand International provides programs which are broadcast in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu but I'm counting those as broadcasts from the administration countries rather than NZ.
  • Several people have commented that the UK seems under represented in this data.
  • There are, of course, other options including satellite, FM relay, and internet streaming but this post isn't about those.

I note with sadness that in 2010, Australia was placed 12th, in 2019 we are 57th.

Please let me know if someone else has done any analysis in this area. My thanks to HFCC - International Broadcasting Delivery for making this valuable data freely available.


oss706 said...

This was actually very well done. Working in an engineering field, it's good stuff. The ultimate was Radio Moscow World Service in the 70's. Who couldn't get enough of "News and Views" plus Vladimir Posner's daily talk?

Unknown said...

I live in the USA and can receive CRI. But I was in Israel last month and couldn't believe just how much CRI is broadcast across the entire HF band and in nearly every language. I don't believe that I'm exaggerating when I say that at times CRI might have been at least 50% of the broadcasts I received in multiple languages simultaneously. And they weren't weak signal either.

RW4CMG said...

Since 2014, Russia has not been transmitting in any AM band at all. How it was possible to calculate a few percent of its share in the total volume of broadcasting in 2019 is a big mystery.

Julio Cesar said...

Why is Romenia missing in the charts?