News release
September 25, 2011
NASB and Continental Electronics Host First HFCC Conference in USA
Dallas, Texas, USA - Continental Electronics Corporation (CEC) and the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB) hosted the first-ever High Frequency Coordination Conference (HFCC) in the United States.  The meeting, which was a joint HFCC and ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union) Conference, took place at the Sheraton Dallas North Hotel September 12-16, 2011.
The conference was ground-breaking in other ways as well.  The membership voted to amend the HFCC's articles of incorporation to expand its scope beyond HF.  In his opening remarks, HFCC Chairman Oldrich Cip said:  "We have not given up shortwave. Frequency co-ordination, the promotion of shortwave. and providing free access to accurate frequency and schedule information to listeners will continue to be our core activity. We feel strongly that a degradation of our services would only speed up large scale migration to other delivery platforms.

"At the same time the HFCC Steering Board have decided to ask members for a mandate to adjust and enlarge the remit of the association.  There are some compelling reasons for doing this: TV and radio organisations for home listeners and their unions are busy discussing the future of distribution of the media content and the use of new -- mainly digital -- technologies. We would like to become a forum for such debate in international broadcasting. We believe that the debate should help develop a stable and effective system of content delivery and the synergy and co-operation between the old and new technologies.

"A recent survey in Europe has indicated that the use of wireless distribution of radio in domestic broadcasting might be even more resilient than in TV broadcasting. Unfortunately this does not seem to be taking place in international radio. In fact an increasing number of broadcasters have either drastically reduced or completely switched off shortwave transmissions this year.  This is yet another reason why we have to broaden the scope of our activities and prevent the outflow of members."
The presidents of four different NASB member organizations attended the meeting and shared their thoughts on the state of international broadcasting and the future role of shortwave in that process.  Lauren Libby, President of Trans World Radio, spoke about the "fractionalizing" of media.  "Digital vs. traditional broadcast platforms are vying for audiences. Mediumwave vs. FM vs. Shortwave…the list just gets bigger every day," he said.  "We live in a world where change and competition for the media consumer is getting fiercer monthly....  Wake up and smell the coffee…it’s time to not do things 'business as usual!'  Short-wave platforms will remain viable with new awareness campaigns and cross promotion from the digital platform being employed. Quality content and quality delivery can help keep this multi-national content delivery platform viable and appreciated. There will always be a mystical feeling about shortwave and a globalness that captures the imagination of the listener." 
Libby noted that there is a trend toward localization rather than globalization of media platforms.  "Local FM stations deliver clear, high fidelity, non-fade signals vs. the fading, lower quality audio of mediumwave and shortwave. Thus the listening public in high-density population areas migrates to FM or high-powered mediumwave stations for local programming. If DRM can deliver on its promise of a quality signal over a large section of geography it will have a future, but it will require creating “buzz” and excitement about a new delivery vehicle. In the case of DRM receivers, we need to begin to think smaller margins over mass markets, rather than recouping development costs through large margins from 'early adapters.' As a friend of mine in the chip industry recently told me, 'We have to think in the millions of low cost units rather than high margins on thousands of units.'  I returned from India in July and I would have to say that this seems to bear out in reality.
 "We at this conference are facing a number of challenges!" explained Lauren Libby.  "Everything is changing. While we crave stability and a return to the comfort of the past, unfortunately, that will not be the case. Shortwave has a future…if we are willing to once again make it an attractive platform that is easily accessible to the general public that is cross-promoted from other media platforms.  Broadcast platforms are still the most cost effective way to reach large numbers of people at a relatively low ‘per individual’ cost.   We do have a future, but it is time we begin to envision, articulate and program to reach a whole new broadcast audience with new delivery methods, new exciting content and being agile to capture a moving audience."
Ludo Maes, Vice Chairman of the DRM Consortium, came to the HFCC Conference in Dallas directly from the IBC Conference in Amsterdam and brought news of a new lower-cost receiver that Chengdu New Star Electronics had just presented a few days earlier at the IBC.  The DR111 receiver will sell for under $100.  Although some people said that "we've heard this story before," Maes indicated that the latest developments have been a real breakthrough and that this and other low-cost DRM receivers will be available on the market in the coming months.  He also reviewed seveal other DRM receivers that are already on the market.  He brought samples of the DR111 and two other new receivers that were just shown at the IBC.  Maes said that the Korean company MSway will have an under-$100 DRM receiver on the market by March 2013.  New DRM car receivers are in the works also.  Maes encouraged stations that are currently broadcasting in DRM to continue doing so, and he said that those who are not doing so should begin DRM broadcasts.
Adil Mina, Vice President of Continental Electronics and Chairman of DRM USA, told the conference that although there has been a decline in shortwave broadcasting by some stations, others are improving, modernizing and updating their equipment with DRM capability.  He cited Australia, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Radio Exterior de Espana as some examples.  All new HF transmitter orders are requiring DRM capability, he said.  After so many years of working to promote DRM, Mina said "now our promises are coming close to reality."  He mentioned the special importance of the recent decisions by the governments of India and Russia to use DRM for domestic and international broadcasting.
Charles Caudill, President of NASB member World Christian Broadcasting, which operates KNLS shortwave in Alaska, explained to HFCC delegates why his organization is still very much dedicated to shortwave and is planning to open a new station in Africa called Madagascar World Voice.  "That new station and the some 11 million US dollars we are spending on expansion is the reason I have been asked to speak to you today," said Caudill.  "On numerous occasions, I and others of our management team have been asked 'why are you expanding your use of shortwave when most everyone else is cutting back?'  ...Our budget is limited. In order to make that budget go as far as possible, there is no question that we can reach more people on a regular basis with shortwave than with any other method. With an annual budget of something over $3,000,000 we will be able to broadcast 50 to 60 hours daily from our two broadcast facilities.
"Sure, we use other media and will continue to use the internet and social media," said Caudill.  "After all, we do own the words, so as long as we can afford it we will continue to send our messages out in any way possible.  But, our future is shortwave.  Unfortunately, relatively few people in some parts of the world have access to the internet. Only 1% of the people of Madagascar have access to internet.  Millions and millions do not have satellite receivers.There is little or no internet or cell phone capability in Siberia.  In some countries there are gatekeepers – governments that do not want their citizens to hear certain messages. It is much less difficult and less expensive to block internet messages than shortwave messages. 
"We believe that when it becomes possible for inexpensive DRM receivers to be available worldwide, shortwave broadcasts will increase in number, just as the quality of the reception improves," continued Charles Caudill.  "I am sure...that those of you who are decreasing the number of hours you send out via shortwave, have considered the same things we considered. We simply have come to different conclusions. Nevertheless, we are quite confident in our decisions and let me leave you with this – our special thanks to those who are decreasing your shortwave hours.  You have just left a larger audience for World Christian Broadcasting."
NASB member Adventist World Radio hosted an excursion for HFCC delegates to Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, where AWR President Dr. Dowell Chow told about their worldwide network of shortwave, AM and FM stations, as well as podcasts that the station offers on its websites.  There was also an opportunity to visit a low-powered FM station on the university campus.  AWR uses all of these media platforms, yet remains very dedicated to shortwave, recently announcing a major upgrade to its shortwave station KSDA in Guam.
Another excursion during the conference was made to the Continental Electronics factory in east Dallas.  Delegates had an opportunity to see various 100-kilowatt shortwave transmitters under construction, and even heard a live DRM exciter test.  Continental also sponsored a dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, complete with mariachis.
Some 100 delegates from 32 countries and 40 frequency management organizations around the world attended the HFCC/ASBU B11 Conference in Dallas.  Two new members were admitted to the HFCC:  the Voice of Russia and Spaceline from Bulgaria.  In addition to Continental Electronics, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau and Trans World Radio provided additional sponsorship, as did the NASB itself.  A team from NASB member Radio Miami International led by Jeff White did most of the conference organization.
For a selection of photos from the conference, see the photo album section of NASB's Facebook page,  The NASB Facebook page will also publish a great deal of additional material from the HFCC/ASBU Dallas conference in the coming days.