Is Austrian Radio leaving Shortwave?

Austria’s public radio ORF has reduced its airtime on shortwave, from 70 (on weekends) or 80 (Monday through Friday) minutes to only 40 to 50 minutes now. The German-language program, the “Ö-1-Morgenjournal”, was cut short either on Sunday or Monday morning, and every morning since.

The broadcasts are the remains of what was a substantial international radio service until 2003. Until Saturday or Sunday, the remaining broadcast  was still announced as “Radio Österreich International / Radio Austria International / Radio Austria Internacional” at the beginning of the daily transmissions, but there were no programs specifically targeted at foreign listeners. All programs are produced for a domestic, German-speaking audience.

Reportedly, the company operating the shortwave transmission site in Moosbrunn has announced the closure of the site by 2020 “at the latest”.

The transmission site is also used by some foreign broadcasters. Radio Japan (NHK World Network) airs a half-hour program in English for Europe via Moosbrunn, on 5975 kHz, from 05:00 to 05:30 UTC. The BBC World Service also leases airtime from Austria.

If the Moosbrunn transmitters are indeed shut down, Austrian public radio will probably have to look for alternative shortwave broadcasting operators (probably abroad), or simply exit shortwave.

The current behind-schedule transmissions of the Ö-1 programs (only from 05:30 UTC instead of 05:00 UTC) may just be a technical glitch, but reducing  or suspending broadcasts temporarily is no unusual way of measuring an unknown audience. When the number of reactions from an audience is considered meagre, this will usually lead to a termination of broadcasts.

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Update

[April 12, 2018] Austrian Radio’s service department writes that the the current situation would probably continue for about a week, as the transmitter site was waiting for the delivery of a spare part.
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