Internet killed the short wave BBC Radio Star

Pulls plug on US, Canada, Oz

The Internet is only partly to blame for the BBC's decision to axe short-wave World Service transmissions to North America, Australia and New Zealand from 1 July.

World Service spokesman Mike Gardner told us today that the number of listeners in North America who received short wave transmissions had dwindled to 300,000 per month, out of 2.6 million in all. A further 1.5 million tuned in on the Internet. In Australia, only 100,000 out of 1.6 million listeners were on short wave.

He added that the BBC would provide Digital Audio transmissions to North America through the XM and Sirius services.

"It's not a retreat," he said, pointing to the expansion of short wave transmissions in other parts of the world. 35 new transmitters were being used in Turkey (up from two), and coverage expanded in Aman, Cyprus and Singapore too, he said.

Gardner admitted that the short wave listeners were miffed, but said FM provided for better reception.

"Some people enjoy the whoos and whistles, but not everyone," he told us.

BBC World Service isn't the only British institution to be found on short wave. Here's a clip of MI6's 'Lincolnshire Poacher' sending cryptic instructions to its agents, with transmission times.

For more information about the murky world of short wave Numbers Stations, try The Conet Project, or Simon Mason's Numbers Stations archive. ®

Sponsored: Today’s most dangerous security threats