Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues, Distinguished Guests,

It is my privilege now on behalf of all members of the HFCC/ASBU association who have come to Birmingham to thank Mr Bob Edmiston who is the Chairman and founder of Christian Vision, and to Mrs Tracie Edmiston a director of Christian Vision for coming over on this nice bank holiday morning to our opening ceremony. I would like to thank to Mr Edmiston for his nice welcome and introduction to the conference. Real old-timers among us surely remember that the present conference in fact revisits after many years the UK and even the same region more or less:

One of early conferences, hosted by the BBC then, was held in Evesham - not very far from here. Participants of that early meeting were also able to get a glimpse of the beautiful, typically English, and mostly rural countryside of Cotswolds. Now we are in the West Midlands region again but this time in the second-largest city of the UK.

The Evesham Conference was held way back before our association was officially founded and its articles of association written. But even that piece of writing is almost ten years old and we have concluded that some revisions are needed. A too restrictive definition of membership was one of the drawbacks for example. The SB has already drafted an amendment - as well as a series of other minor corrections. The draft will be submitted for approval to the Plenary Meeting. We believe that membership should be opened more to persons or legal entities involved in the usage of the shortwave spectrum. In addition, the institute of "Associate Membership" will be created and will be available to other parties interested in shortwave broadcasting. Both these arrangements will make it possible that broadcasters like the BBC or RFI for example and other organisations will be able to become the members of the HFCC.

As you have read in the Minutes from the last Board Meeting or in the “what’s new” column of the website, HFCC has successfully carried on in the debate on the enlargement of shortwave spectrum for broadcasting that is on the agenda of the World Radiocommunication Conference or WRC07 later this year. Geoff Spells, "Our Man in the WRC07 world" has just reported that European administrations have agreed on an ECP (European Common Proposal) to allocate a total of 350 kHz additional spectrum to shortwave broadcasting with 50 kHz out of this on a shared basis with the fixed and mobile services.

What is also important is that the ITU-R Study Group 6 have approved a new report called "Information relating to the HF broadcasting service" The report contains an analysis of the joint global operational schedules prepared by HFCC. A summarised HFCC position has been incorporated into the final version of the European-CEPT Brief for the world conference.

It is interesting to note that the organisation of World Broadcasting Unions submitted their position to the same Brief. The WBU comprises the EBU, ASBU, ABU and other unions around the globe. The technical committee of this world union relates to the statistical analysis of global schedules prepared by HFCC and supports the enlargement. The HFCC Steering Board is now considering preparing yet another information document for WRC-07 that would support further the need for additional HF broadcasting spectrum.

Positive as it all may seem it does not mean that the battle for the enlargement of the spectrum has been won. The CEPT is only one regional group that supports the enlargement at present. We shall discuss this further in a specialised meeting that will take up the WRC07 matters as well as monitoring and spectrum usage.

Another ITU related subject is worth mentioning: this time connected with the introduction of DRM: The Radiocommunication Assembly of the ITU decided recently to study the possibilities for the use of DRM for local coverage in the 26 MHz broadcast band. Quite inevitably the provisions of Article 12 of International Radio Regulations are involved and this includes our global frequency co-ordination. The management of our association decided to submit the subject to the group of experts and we are ready to take part in all debates primarily with the aim to protect international transmissions from local DRM broadcasting and vice versa. Liaison of HFCC with national administrations and regional groups, e.g. CEPT, APT or CITEL may be also needed.

Let me return to our conference that has just been opened and to our hosts. I am sure that we are all impressed with the preparatory work of the Team headed by Andrew Flynn who has been the moving force behind the idea to take up the hosting of a shortwave seasonal conference by a relatively small organisation. This has included all preparations here at the Hilton Metropole as well as the rich assortment of travel information and maps supplied by the Team to the HFCC website. Naturally, the CVI conference budget has been very much improved by a number of sponsors, and I would like to join Mr Edmiston in thanking them on behalf of all of us.

We do have problems from time to time in finding hosts but the Birmingham conference shows that the hosting can be done on a reasonable budget with a generous support of sponsors. We are confident that this will be an important motivation for future conferences and their hosts and even for those who have not hosted a conference yet.

In an effort to brighten up my introductory monologues I frequently resort to proverbs or quotes, and since we are in an English speaking country I have borrowed a quotation today from a well known English writer and novelist, W. Somerset Maugham: "The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit" he once said - and I am not sure if I should take it as a word of caution or of encouragement.

Thank you for your attention!