Deutsche (Dauer-) Welle (DW)

Ever since the early 1980’s DW (Deutsche Welle Radio Station) has been continiously broadcasting in dozens of languages throughout Asia from a remote location in North East Sri Lanka.
The huge, very impressive site is situated near Nilaveli, Trincomalee on the East Coast.
The relay staion’s own power plant produces more than the city of Trinco, 2.7 Mw (11kV).
Broadcasts are transmited on Mw as well as Sw (medium and Short wave radio) and recently a digital transmitter has been added (the blue box below).
Perfectly run and maintained by German Expat staff this enclave may serve as a symbol that certain installiations continue to have a total stability which the rest of Country seems to be looking for – These days.
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map: world around Trincomalee



38 Responses to “Deutsche (Dauer-) Welle (DW)”

  • The closing down of DW Trincomalee reminds me of the untimely death of my ex-colleague Mr Ulrich Heberling with whom I worked in Trincomalee in 1984/85. Ulrich got killed in an airplane attack while he and other DW staff were on their way home. See:
    He was not killed by the LTTE, but by Sri Lankan government forces. DW had never build staff quarters at the station and consequently the station staff had to pass through fighting zones on a daily basis. I remember Ulrich well for his cool character and good humour. His death was clearly avoidable.

  • Author: Detlef Strauch
    I am a German living with my family in the Philippines since many years and have been listening to SW –Radio for almost 30 years. It took me many weeks to search in the Internet to get the Deutsche Welle-puzzle somehow together, plus gathering some extra information from the German ADDX.

    While browsing the Internet I found also this article has triggered me to publish my anger, since my comprehensive letters regarding the DW-reform-plans , (even sent by registered post mid May), plus several email reminders to the top leaders of the German government, remained unanswered, except one email reply.

    Deutsche Welle has cleverly done a step by step policy for quite some time, to get rid of the old fashioned, but reliable SW-Services from there own Relay Stations.
    The famous BBC started cutting down their services gradually, since the British government started turning the money tap off. Of course obedient, as Germans are, the DW copied the BBC strategy,
    based on statistics, which is as good as a statistic can be, and started the same thing by ceasing languages one after the other. One should know that even Winston Churchill once said: I only trust those statistics I have manipulated myself. Did DW make there own surveys or just followed the pack?

    Maybe this has triggered the DW master plan to get rid of shortwave services even faster and to concentrate on the fashionable Internet-Radio, Pod casting, facebook, twitter, audio on demand or make use of DW-Miro Mediaplayer or DW-Widget, see:
    All nice toys to play with, no doubt about, I like those too, but what has that to do with
    International Broadcasting?

    While being in kitchen, veranda, garden, office or workshop I like to turn on my SW-Radios and listen to DW or BBC, simple as that! And not to fiddle with my netbook, adjust my WIFI antennas to gain a few meters more range to finally, maybe being able to download a podcast or listen to an interrupted audio stream, not to talk about Video streams, which are almost impossible to download from The bandwidths in this part of the world are not sufficient and made for that, yet.

    All those Internet features can be in coexistence with the current shortwave services, but definitely not be a substitute for the next couple of years, unless DW´s target is to go OFF THE AIR now! On Shortwave DW has a well-reputed name, but in Internet DW will disappear to be a nobody, since there are hundreds of competitors with similar content.

    The world needs objective news and reports about the world and its people, which should be available to everyone and everywhere with a simple battery driven portable shortwave radio. Because in times of political turmoil, Internet shut downs, censorships or natural disasters, then there is a high certainty that the majority audiences will be reached by shortwave.

    Since it seems likely that CRI is taking over the air waves, it will be very difficult to get unbiased western news. Already now my shortwave receivers are jam packed with CRI-programs, on every SW-Band ! Till now the powerful DW –Trincomalee signal is refreshing to the ear, even travelling abt. 5000 Km. But that will shortly be history, and I as the rest of the Asian world, will have to adjust to overwhelming presents of CRI-programs.

    Whenever I am searching for German news in the Internet, I visit Spiegel, Stern, Focus or English news: there are lots and lots to choose from who are faster and more detailed and where their websites are not so scary overloaded with all those confusing new features, not to talk about the lack of bandwidth in most parts os Asia, which results in endless waiting in front of my laptop. Even being German, but DW-online is the last thing that would cross my mind to click on. When I think and talk DW, I mean SW-RADIO or DW-TV and make use of it. The Deutsche Welle management should rethink the error in their ways, and concentrate on something; others don’t have or can’t do and DW does better.

    Many Middle East countries are presently in very serious political trouble, but DW, according to my knowledge, has not done single extra SW- transmissions to cover the events and organizations trying to support the Arab public. This is extremely shameful for the so-called free speech of the Bundesrepublik of Germany. Even more shameful is that the German Government has given the approval for this disastrous DW-Reform. If this goes any further, as it now seems highly likely, I can guarantee that in the near future the DW will no longer exist. Especially since DW is working very hard to eradicate themselves.

    The very powerful CRI moves in the opposite direction and grabs as much as they can. Will the DW Trincomalee Station be another crown for CRI, according to Victor´s article, to dominate the Asian region?
    But even that irony doesn’t seem to bother the German government or DW management at all. No wonder: they haven’t paid for that, only the good old German taxpayer did, who is currently also paying heavily for the EU-financial disaster!
    Trimming down the annual budget of DW is after all an easy excuse to be forced to shut down the shortwave operations and then make use of the excess money, I presume.

    The German government should be ashamed of itself, as Germany is still a wealthy country,
    to let happen and even support the shut down of the famous DEUTSCHE WELLE OVERSEAS SERVICE, for a annual budget shortage of about 12…15 million Euros , while allegedly supporting questionable banking practices with hundreds of BILLIONS of Euros and still pumping BILLIONS of Euros into already bankrupt EU-member states, this current German government should hang its head in shame.

  • Victor Goonetilleke


    From my experience of Short Wave broadcasting for more than 40 years I have always found that it is better to get a signal from one or two hops away than dealing with a ground wave, especially when a station not far away and close to skip distances. Sines in Portugal is a very good example. This DW relay station was meant to reach the East European countries, which are at about. 2 hop distance. Also RFE’s stations to E.Europe from Portugal and Spain.

    And much of Africa is covered by the VOA from Sri Lanka than from Botswana. Currently the Zimbabwe Service (and Ethiopian services) is from Iranawila 1700-1900 and delivers a much stronger signal that from Botswana.

    When I look at Africa I feel strongly that the whole of Africa could be well serviced from Trincomalee as it has a very well conducting sea path to Africa. The signals from VOA/IBB Iranawila Sri Lanka are much stronger than VOA from Botswana to Zimbabwe and VOA very effectively uses Iranawila to serve East Africa. and North Africa and the Gulf area plus the Asian continent. The problem with Kigali / Ruanda is that one hour after sun rise and sun set it will be very difficult to serve the central part of Africa and even East Africa because of the short skip. In the 6-MHz band the signals are fluttery and for example a signal coming in from the UK on 15MHz to Sri Lanka and Southern India is much stronger at 1600 UTC than Trincomalee due to the short skip, thus more reliable. Now this is exactly what will happen within a 1000…1500KM km radius around Kigali. However, Trincomalee will be able to deliver a strong and flutter free signal even on 6 or 7 MHz for about an hour in the African mornings and after Sunset when most people will be listening The Trincomalee signal will be S9+ all the way within those African regions.
    Besides Trincomalee can cover Asia as well. The African English Service will be heard very well in Asia as well, killing two birds with one stone!

    Trincomalee has both DRM and MW which Kigali hasn’t!! Kigali´s signal will be effective in South and North of Africa, while Central and East Africa will not be covered well. However, Trincomalee will also be able to serve these areas which Kigali skips and also where Kigali is strong. As mentioned earlier take a look at a very important Target for VOA to Zimbabwe and Eithopia where its signals are heavily jammed..

    We have seen that domestic audiences in developing countries like to listen on the 9 (31mb) and below. Trincomalee will be excellent to broadcast to Africa on these ( 6 + 7 +9 ) Mhz bands, at the peak listening times in the morning and in the evening after sun set, when Rwanda will be struggling to be heard. The ideal would be to keep both stations Trincomalee and Rwanda alive.
    However if it is one station it would be Trincomalee in my opinion. Germany and Sri Lanka have long been friends in broadcasting. Much of SLBCs MW and SW expansions came with German aid and training. I would be really sad to see these facilities being made available to others who have had nothing to do with it.

    Trincomalee is now in a peaceful and stable political environment and the DW would be naïve to throw away their station which is contracted to be till 2010.

  • Author: victor goonetilleke
    One little report in the news papers that the authorities are monitoring the accounts/IP addresses of people who go to websites is enough to put the fear of arrest into people. After all how many know about proxy servers and such. Unlike listening to the radio in the secrecy of your home when the service provider is your own government things can be dicy. And of course websites are blocked.

  • Victor Goonetilleke
    on Jun 15th, 2011 at 13:52

    Regarding Media freedom…every country has the laws guaranteeing freedom of speech, but people are not free to speak. You can get a court order but when the press mysteriously burns down? or armed thugs smash the Radio/TV station and the police can’t find the culprits even when video footage is given, where do you stand? Even a country like India doesn’t allow news broadcasting on private stations. As far as I know even Zimbabwe has press freedom on the statute books!!! Who are we fooling, than ourselves.

  • Roy Sandgren
    on Jun 15th, 2011 at 13:51

    How do you pic up news outside the internet in the widerness, open sea, in the mountains, in the dessert with out any cell phones working??

  • Victor Goonetilleke
    on Jun 15th, 2011 at 13:43

    The sad thing is you can now pick up a digital portable for less than $30, and on the street vendors for even $15 with adequate SW coverage, unlike those days when the best we could get was an analog 2SW bander for $75, stations are leaving the SW/MW bands. It won\’t be long before China floods the market with a DRM for less than $30 and the western world would have done the missionary work of handing over the audience & the relay stations and with the many transmitters that have closed China will the field open. The West would have censored themselves off. What irony.

  • Roy Sandgren
    on Jun 15th, 2011 at 13:08

    With a wind-up multiband radio am fm sw all band you can get the latest news where ever you are in the world. You can get a sample for $30 USD.

  • Wilfried
    on Jun 15th, 2011 at 10:19

    I totally disagree with Keith. Of cause there are a asian countries which have a very open media. But what about the others like North Vietnam, China, Bhutan, North Korea, Iran, Bengali, Myanmar and Russia?
    In these countries live hundreds of million people who have no access to open media and nor they have press freedom.

  • Jeff in Oz
    on Jun 15th, 2011 at 03:19

    As a SW listener that is regularly listening to only a few but important German and English speaking SW stations, DW is a very important ingredient to my cultural intake and well-being.

    I am (we are) most times connected to internet, mobile phone & TV. However these media are not replacing and cannot replace the SW radio-listening component. This is why eventually loosing the DW SW radio-listening experience feels like – kind of loosing a significant cultural connection.

    It seems to me German authorities in particular Deutsche Welle administrators have not correctly considered this aspect.

  • Klaus Reimann
    on Jun 15th, 2011 at 01:01

    This is a really sad period in the history of Radio.
    Why is this happening?
    Surely not money as the running costs of DW short wave service amount to near
    nothing as compared to aid given to economies of other countries that are past life support.

    I travel extensively for my photographic work throughout arid regions of Australia and often the only media for news and entertainment is via Radio. One can forget
    high speed broadband and the other nice things one has in inhabited regions.

    How about some support for the people in the outback of Australia?

    Sure there are conspiracy stories of the media barons and governments wanting control, but I feel this is purely a financial decision made by a socialist government that has overspent.

    I truly hope this decision is reversed, even if a small levy is called upon to keep the DW short waves service alive in this region.

    Also agree with other posts on this site that in case of emergency SW is the only way for information support of the population.

  • Keith Perron
    on Jun 13th, 2011 at 17:08

    You can’t generalize that in Asia there is no press freedom. Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and even Singapore to some degree and many other nations have a very open and free media.
    Internet services censorship in internet cafes is really only in China not the rest of Asia.
    Here in Asia where shortwave is still listened to DW is one of the least listened to, compared to the BBCWS, NHK and VOA.
    Here in Taiwan less than 2% listen to shortwave. Many people have a receiver and they can be bought at most of large electronic chains including Costco in Taiwan. But here people buy them incase of emergencies like severe typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis when the civil defense turns on special frequencies. But the rest of time no one listens. People here are not really interested in foreign content. For a population of 22 million people we have 7/24 news channels. 87% of the population is connected on HD cable. Even thought in Taipei with a population of 2 million we have 22 FM stations and 18 AM stations radio audiences here are dying.

  • Wilfried
    on Jun 13th, 2011 at 16:33

    What is the german government doing?
    They can spend 12 billion Euros for saving Greek, but they don’t have only 10 Million Euros for carrying on with their very famous and well known Deutsche Welle short wave service!!!
    Is the german governement aware about what are they distroing?
    Only a few people in the asia world can afford a satellite dish to receive foreign TV-programms. And the Internet is very often restricted by the rouling governemts. Germany is always shouting into the world for press freedom and that everyone should have acces to open medias. But the reallity is totally different!!!!
    In most of the world countries there is no press freedom or freedom of speach.
    I can buy a short wave radio for less than 15US$, can receive radio stations from all over the world and can set up my own opinion.
    In most of the arab world countries as well of the asian countries press freedom is censored.
    Internet sevices are also censored and public internet cafés are observed by the government police.
    In asia live more than 50% of the worlds population. These people are desperate for information from outside their country and Deutsche Welle one of the most famous foreign broadcasters is going ton shut down their short wave service.
    Dear Germany-what a shame!!!!!

  • Mike
    on Jun 10th, 2011 at 14:45

    I fully agree with Keith, regarding the funding of shortwave Relay stations. Germany is still one of the very well to do nations and claims to be Export World champion, even being down to 1st runner up, but one should consider the dimensions. There are billions of Euros available for bailing out banks, but they are not willing to spend a few millions more for boosting the DW-budget, to continue with there external Shortwave service. Hard to believe that this is not possible!! If the west complains about the almighty China and in particular CRI´s aggressive worldwide expansion policy; this situation is ridiculous. The Western countries should finally start rethinking and admit, they have made a serious mistake by ceasing Shortwave services so abrupt and drastically. Internet is a great thing to have, but who has it? If you study the LINK Victor is giving in mid of his report carefully, you find out that in the mentioned regions: Africa, Middle East and Asia together, just 25% of people have access to the Internet. What about the other 75%? We are talking about 3000 million people! Even if only 10% of them turn on their SW-Radios daily, are they condemned to swallow CRI programs, since the rest of Western Broadcasters have vanished for good.. Does DW, BBC, VoA and others believe seriously to reach the world audience by web radio and live streams? Have you ever experienced the Internet bandwidth and reliability outside the western world? Staccato speech and stop and go video streams is what you get, if you are not in one of very big cities, where bandwidth is more sufficient. Maybe in a couple years, once the broadband infrastructure has spread more into vast rural areas, shortwave might become obsolete. But at present the policy of the west is short term thinking and surely will drive a few hundred million of listeners to CRI who will embrace them with their multilingual services available 24 hours and on easy to tune in frequencies, since they are simply everywhere on the SW-bands. The responsible managers of the big 5 ( VoA, BBC, DW, RNW, RFI ) must have lost ground control and most likely never lived for some years in a 3rd world country, where things are very different from their polished offices, where high-speed Internet is taken for granted and electricity is always available. Let’s pray that they will wake up before CRI will teach the west a lesson of a lifetime. Frequencies once lost to CRI are gone forever! And the previous audience of the big 5 will not resist to the charming and high quality programs CRI is presenting them. No way to regain the faith and trust of those hundreds of million listeners, unless you wire the entire world and make sure broadband Internet is available everywhere, anytime and for everyone accessible. Sorry I forgot the west has advanced and is now targeting info seekers and multipliers and no longer the average listeners. Maybe they can start teaching CRI how to access those!

  • anthony
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 20:18

    I agree keith,if CRI refuse to allow a broadcaster to lease their airwaves when you agree to give them access to yours the answer should be no. RTL should have put up a similar fight with CRI and KBS,and if it got to the stage where RTL refused CRI and KBS access to 1440khz mw,then that would be a good thing. It would also give me determination and reason to bring back 208. I would personally transport the transmitter units minus the mast to junglinster from marnach and connect up the 2 600kW telefunken units to the omnidirectional ex RTL France drm mast for a wider daytime reach to france,luxembourg,germany,belgium,netherlands and surrounding areas at 600kW and increase the power at 21.00UK to 1200kW to get a european audience. 03.50uk (04.50cet) to 21.00uk(22.00cet) rtl radio at 600kW erp then from 21.00 to 03.00uk(22.00 to 04.00cet) radio luxembourg 208 at 1200kW thru the omnidirectional drm mast using both 600kW units in parallel for a paneuropean reach.

  • Roy Sandgren
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 18:59

    Much more people than you belive listen to SW, but cannot count them, like internet.mediumwave and SW will have a come back in a few years ahead.

  • Andy Sennitt
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 18:58

    You’re right, you can’t draw conclusions about one medium by looking at another. But the politicians are happier spending money when they can see where it actually goes. Let’s be honest, a great deal of money is wasted on shortwave – there are stations that have had bad modulation for years, but still come on the air every day pumping out hundreds of kiloWatts even though their output is unlistenable. A few years ago All India Radio admitted that one of its foreign language services had received only two letters in three months!!

    In some cases, the only mail shortwave stations receive is from DXers who want a QSL card. These people probably tune in a few times a year, but expect the broadcaster to be there when they do. I am a close friend of Victor, and from a Sri Lankan perspective I understand totally how he feels. In his part of the world, people do actually listen to, and benefit from, the content. That’s why we still have transmissions to South Asia.

    But our politicians make their decisions on what they consider best for their constituents – i.e. to get votes at the next election. I was trying to be the devil’s advocate and explain things from their perspective. Shortwave broadcasting isn’t something that excites the average Dutch citizen. But every Dutch citizen with Internet (and that’s practically everybody) can see our websites and listen to the audio if they so wish. To a politician, it’s much easier to deal with something like that. Telling people that you spend millions of euros a year to broadcast to an unknown number of people thousands of km away, while at the same time making cuts in services at home, isn’t an easy sell.

    I’m not saying I agree with this approach, but I understand why they’ve adopted it.

  • Mark
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 11:43

    Aren’t shortwave and internet more or less complementary? I can’t really see how someone can even think of drawing conclusions on shortwave listening by looking on web streaming statistics. Surely doing so would result in absurd fallacies like “Nobody in Africa seems to listen to RNW”.

  • Victor Goonetilleke
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 09:59

    One relay station that China doesn’t have to buy up is DW-Trinco. As far as I know DW has an agreement with SLBC till 2020 and if DW stops, the station has to be handed over to the SLBC. At that point SLBC is free to sell airtime or do whatever it wants with the station and if CRI doesn’t move in using their MW and SWs who will, taking all the effort that it is putting in locally. Yes, everyone will know that I am emotionally attached to SW. But I want broadcasters to use new methods of delivering their message and fighting for freedom of expression, but not at the expense of short wave or a total close down.

    What most of my friends can not understand is that they are sure in one month of engagement in Libya NATO has busted a budget enough to fund DW, BBC for a couple of years and mark my words once Gadaffi is kicked out..they will say thanks and now we can run our affairs! They even ask whether one day of engagement in the Middle East isn’t costing the BBC/VOA the budget of one of their services for a year to India? In Sri Lanka the only really outspoken media unit is 30 minutes of BBC Sinhala and Tamil which the SLBC relays on the domestic SLBC frequencies but many times have come close to shutting it down and when we wanted the info most two years ago it just pulled the plug off.

    Internet use in Sri Lanka is rated at 9% but I have rarely come across people who listen to radio podcasts on the internet or go into the websites of radio stations. But there must be, but not any where near the numbers on SW. As I lament the moment Swiss Radio went off SW and so did Norway Sweden and many more they went from one out of hundred international broadcasters on SW, to become one website out of a million or more. I would go to the website of a broadcaster to find its programme schedule but I have other uses for my internet connection, which anyway is nothing speed-wise compared to what the decision makers in Bonn, Hilversum or London might have when they decide the Internet is the way to go.

    There are more cell phones in Sri Lanka than SW radios I am sure but they are not getting BBC, or any other broadcasters on them. Most users can’t afford 5$ a month for their phone package and they use their phones with what they call “missed calls” “Ring Cuts”. When your wife is ready to be picked up she gives a buzz and cuts the call. Two rings for something 5 rings for I love you.!!! Talk of getting the BBC news on the phone!

    This is all self deception if one thinks that the Internet can replace totally real broadcasting. Today there are more people listening to CRI than in the glorious days of SW Radio. There are local CRI clubs and 5 or 6 listeners meetings with CRI officials every year in various parts of the country. Today I listen to Radio Romania International thanks to a booming signal like never before and listen to CRI a few times a week when I never listened to their crude propaganda 20 years ago. The day RNW/BBC/VOA goes off the air we shall miss fine quality broadcasting but they will probably be replaced by new emerging players like China India and many more.

    From Radio Netherlands I learnt that Holland was not just Edam Cheese, Windmills and tulips, just as much as I got to know that Germany was not just Hitler, Nazis and a country that started two WW, but thanks to DW I have some of the finest friends I have in Europe.

  • anthony
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 05:24

    CRI is too big for its boots taking over mw and sw stations,I wish all these stations who are falling for it by bowing to CRI would think again,if I were in charge of rtl group I would have dropped CRI by now,got rid of the uk and germany intended beams and reflectors,modified 1440 from directional uk and germany targeted beams to omnidirectional 360 degree paneuropean transmissions and brought back the 208 service that left us back end of 91, for rtl to claim that\’if we didnt carry CRI on 1440 we would have to close it\’,is a load of rubbish. 1440 khz carrying a mix of rtl radio and radio luxembourg on a new omnidirectional european 600kW signal day and night would have easily kept it going. RTL radio from 04.50CET to 22.00CET and radio luxembourg from 22.00CET to 04.00CET is a better use of 1440khz than rtl radio/ms heukelbach/CRI german french english then KBS english to finish at 01.00CET.

  • Keith Perron
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 02:55

    If we take Radio Canada International for example. They have a relay exchange with CRI, but the odd thing is the Chinese block RCI’s website. The Chinese have blocked RCI’s website for years now.
    China goes around buying up huge blocks of airtime on stations in the US, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. Personally I think they should not let them do it. Just tell them you can only have access to our airwaves if you let us have access to your airwaves. One of the agreements that was made when China joined the WTO was that it had to open it’s broadcast industry. But did it? No! But all the west is doing is kissing the backside of the PRC.
    Here in Taipei 4 years ago CRI tried to buy 18 hours of airtime on one of the local stations. The owner said no. CRI even offered 4 time the amount. The owner continued to say no. Finally he said to them you let me have access to your FM frequencies in Shanghai and Beijing. CRI then said no! And he told them what they could do with their money. He said at one point he would sooner close his station than let the Chinese use it.
    I remember my trip to Indonesia last summer and the time I spent in West Java. People were telling me that some stations like the BBC are so difficult to find now. But yet CRI has 12 frequencies in Indonesian and up to 10 frequencies in English. You asked them who they listen to. China. In Africa your seeing the same thing.
    As for the global banking crisis. Who created that problem?

  • john
    on Jun 9th, 2011 at 00:20

    The shift to the web is in part driven by accountability and in part by a new generation of broadcasters. Andy nails it when he speaks about it being political. The funders of international broadcasting are, for the first time, in a position to be able to compare results from competing internationally focussed media. The web where audiences may be smaller but with a lot of information known versus SW where audiences are believed to be larger but are measured by inexact and expensive means with considerably less known about them. They then consider trends — web usage exploding, SW usage declining. All the arguments in the world about what might happen if the web were blocked, about who pays, broadcaster or listener and any of the other propositions thrown up by proponents and supporters of SW count for little when bean counters with very sophisticated abacuses start a computer or pick up a mobile phone and get swamped with information. There’s no room for nostalgia in the treasury.

  • oy Sandgren
    on Jun 8th, 2011 at 21:57

    One day AM and SW will return. The one and only way of info when power line is off to local FM/internet power an all band am fm SW wind up radio is the last and best solution.SW will be there with the listners.

  • Andy Sennitt
    on Jun 8th, 2011 at 21:36

    Yes, Roy, I understand all that – but I was trying to explain the arguments used by the politicians in the Netherlands and other western countries. The effectiveness of shortwave broadcasting varies hugely in different parts of the world these days. Every piece of research I have seen in the past five years, from numerous countries, points to the same trend. The estimated cost per listener on shortwave is much too high now in Europe, North America and parts of the Far East. You make the point that jamming on shortwave costs a fortune – so does delivering broadcasts on shortwave! It’s very easy to appreciate something that comes free with every shortwave radio and doesn’t cost the listener anything extra – provided you are the listener. If you have to provide and finance the service, things look very different!

  • Roy Sandgren
    on Jun 8th, 2011 at 20:46

    By exact numbers of listners by the net you have all info about listnings. How many dozen are listning, not how many per 1000. Internet can be blocked very cheap by the government, but to jamming lot of SW frequencies costa a fortune.
    Most webb radio stations want to get a broadcasting licence to local listning.

  • lou josephs
    on Jun 8th, 2011 at 20:44

    They have money to buy time in large blocks on US radio stations, they are on in Washington DC 1120 AM in Philadelphia they will be on 1540 and they have also leased time in Boston..on another AM ….
    Voice of Russia is also spreading the cash to 1390 AM in DC, and 1440 in NYC.
    As the VOA plans to close down SW…hmmm what do these guys know that we can’t figure out…hmmm

  • Andy Sennitt
    on Jun 8th, 2011 at 19:36

    It’s not just about supporting other Eurozone nations – the global banking crisis has seriously weakened the economies of all countries in Europe, such as the UK which is not in the Eurozone. So there is a financial element to this, but I agree that there’s no longer a will amongst politicians in this part of the world to maintain expensive international radio services. Some countries have stopped such broadcasts altogether. I think it will require CRI to actually carry out its plan to take over one or more European shortwave sites before anyone in power starts to take serious notice. Even then, they will probably just shrug their shoulders and let them get on with it. Of course, if domestic media start drawing attention to it and there’s a lot of public opposition to it, the politicians will start to think about the consequences at the next election. Even then, I’m not sure what they could do.

    Until the arrival of the Internet, most politicians accepted that it was impossible to estimate how many people in total were listening to shortwave, and they carried on financing the broadcasts because other countries were doing it. Then the Cold War ended, and a few years later the Internet arrived, and that changed everything. Unlike shortwave radio, where you just pump out high power transmissions and hope that they reach their intended destination, and that enough people will be tuned in if they do, the Internet enabled international broadcasters to produce accurate listings of how many people were online, where they were located, how long they spent on a particular website, what articles they read, or audio they listened to, etc. The politicians now started asking for these stats because they could see how the website was performing, and whether the numbers were going up or down.

    Suddenly, shortwave radio seemed like an expensive luxury because it costs far more than a website, and yet its effectiveness is impossible to measure accurately. The Chinese apparently believe that throwing money at it will produce results – so let’s see if that works. I have my doubts – I used to be an SWL, even an active DXer when I was younger, but I was always more interested in the message than the medium. I have no interest in tuning in to CRI because I can get all the information I need about China from CCTV News. I have no emotional attachment to shortwave. It was fun while it lasted, but life moves on.

    If SWLs want to sit for hours listening to CRI, that’s their perogative. But I don’t envisage a sudden upsurge of interest if they start using even more shortwave channels/sites. It’ll be just like Radio Moscow used to be before glasnost 🙂

  • Keith Perron
    on Jun 8th, 2011 at 17:35

    I remember in 2006 speaking at a conference in Hong Kong about China’s plan to expand on HF and also to expand on buying up radio stations. No one took me seriously, but yet all the predictions I made back in 2006 have happened.
    I don’t believe that German does not have the money. These cuts I see are political cuts. The same goes with the cuts suspected to be made at RNW and the cuts that took place at the BBCWS.
    I don’t believe the government don’t have the money. It is just impossible. There are also some rumors floating around that the Chinese are planning to expand broadcasts from a very well known transmitter site in Europe (I won’t mention which one until I confirm it with the tech staff at CRI).
    Now being half European I have to say I feel these cuts are in part because of money EU states have had to send to other nations. From the get go I was never very supportive of the Euro zone. So if money needs to be sent to some nations who mismanaged their affairs, where is one of the areas you can cut? Public broadcasting and international broadcasting.
    The west complains about China all the time. My feeling is stop complaining and do something about it. Your jobs moved to China, but one one seems to care. I will bet anything that at some point CRI will approach RNW to take over one or both of it’s relay sites, as well as the DW, BBC and VOA. I say this because I remember a meeting I had with the former VP of broadcasting at CRI who said this was something that were always looking at, but they were just waiting for the right moment.

  • Long-time media monitor and shortwave listener Victor Goonetilleke has written a commentary for the DXAsia website in which he contrasts the increasing use of shortwave by China Radio International (CRI) with the decline in the use of shortwave by Western broadcasters such as Deutsche Welle (DW), which recently announced plans to close its Sri Lanka relay station at Trincomalee.

    Victor writes: “Since Deutsche Welle, with approval of the German government, has decided to close down the transmissions from their Relay Station in Trincomalee, CRI might keep an eye on that well equipped German Short- and Medium wave broadcasting centre, in the near future. The irony would be a perfectly functioning relay station funded by the German taxpayers is being handed over on a platter to broadcast to Germany and counter German interests in the world. China appears to be well on its way to winning the subtle silent war of information.”

  • Thank you, Mike & Mr. Victor G.
    For adding the “World Map around Trincomalee”
    to this post above today.
    Feel free to continue to submit further information, links & comments.

  • Thanks all of you for such well reasoned comments!
    We never thought that this topic will ever get any resonance when we published this post here years ago.
    In fact, it has nothing to do with Arugam Bay, which we set out to promote.
    But whenever we went up North, none of us failed to be impressed with the hospitality of the German management at DW Nilaveli.
    Every time we took some (mainly German) guests up to the gates they allowed us in, showed us around and explained what they were doing.
    A wonderfully well kept base; just as clean and perfectly maintained & organized; just as it would be back in Europe.
    Personally I gave up following Deutsche Welle years ago because I found the broadcasting contents and presentation far less dynamic and nowhere near up to date than, say Aljazeera, CNN and even the BBC.
    But then, I speak German and understand its culture and I may have less to gain from its message….?
    In the light of your strong support & comments I wonder if there is room for a re-think?
    Maybe it’s not too late to reverse the closure decision.
    We will post suitable links to this post and our web site to the appropriate decision makers herewith.
    How about the “Voice of America” station?
    It’s located on the opposite side of the island, North of Negombo.
    Is that also 100% civilian?
    Is it also popular?
    Will they remain in operation?

    Greetings from the Bay.

  • Victor Goonetilleke

    With the demise of DW Germany will recede into the backyards of the internet. If the bosses that think they know what is happening in countries like ours where only 9% of people have some form of Internet, they would think twice. Internet is expensive and often snow and most of that 9% use it for e-mail and some limited browsing for specific info like job adverts and things. Listening to radio or on line to even the local station is very very limited. What will happen is that when the DW goes off Short Wave they will find a dramtic DECREASE in people accessing their website. For most the limited times they go to the website is to get frequency updates or send a comment or a competition entry and such. They day that DWRadio goes off people will stop any listening relations with Germany.

    When I was a teenager I hardly knew anything about Germany, only the British Commic strips that painted the Germans as Gerries, Nazis and the mere mention of Germans gave us a feeling of hate/hitler and two WWs. As I listened to DW and my genration it all changed. Today I have the finest of friends in Germany and all that childhood prejudice was erased.

    When lesser countries like Sri Lanka, Bangadesh, Pakistan. Turkey, India can find the money why is it that these so called Western G10 are so bankrupt?? Or is there something more behind the scenes or is there total ignorance? After all when the people were asking for bread the French monarch asked why not cake?

    What needs is not cutting back, but strengthening existing audiences, and also investing in new media not one at the expense of the other. Or else just forget about projecting your country and just concentrate on your beer and sausages and the wine in the Mossel valley. Lets the world think that Germany is a bankrupt, spent out international player. I say all this is not that I don’t like Germany, but because I am very sad and disappointed at what is happening.

  • This is a really sad period in the history of Radio.
    Why is this happening?
    Surely not money as the running costs of DW short wave service amount to near
    nothing as compared to aid giving to economies of other countries that are past life support.

    I travel extensively for my photographic work throughout arid regions of Australia and often the only media for news and entertainment is via Radio. One can forget
    high speed broadband and the other nice things one has in inhabited regions.
    How about some support for the people in the outback of Australia?

    Sure there are conspiracy stories of the media barons and governments wanting control, but I feel this is purely a financial decision made by a socialist government that has overspent, as most socialists do.

    I truly hope this decision is reversed, even if a small levy is called upon to keep the DW short waves service alive in this region.

  • The majority of the Shortwave Listerners are silent and live in rural areas, since they are mainly poor people in the developing world and have no means to protest, no way to buy a PC and enjoy the features the rich western countries are promoting and boosting with.
    These people are struggling every single day just for their naked survival. Pls. see also the outcries from Bangladesh and India where the audience had a few, better off country men, who did blogging on their behalf and tried desperatly last autumn to convince the BBC and DW not to cease the HINDI and URDU services. But all their outcries where rigorously neglegted, by the governments and the heads of BBC and DW. Seems: the the right is with the might! Let us wish that the world will get notice of this unjustice soon. Definately the western countries will get a lesson of a life time from CHINA RADIO INTERNATIONAL, who have learned very fast how to handle mass media and how to approach the worldwide listeners. If there wouldn´t be a few hundred millions left out there, the chinese would take so much effort to reach them via shortwave. In contrast to the west, chinese are extremly good business men and know very well why they are doing this. Not like those bureaucrats in the west who have the say and will never be hold responsible for their money wasting policies.

  • hello DW-Bosses! Do you really think that people in all countries are connected to the internet??? Without restrictions? How instead through the short wave can they receive a free and uncensored program?
    When I travel through the world I have not always connection to the internet and want to have information on SW! Anytime, everywhere!

    The only reason for closing station is to increase the benefit for some investors to whom the german government sells out all the public services. This happens here day by day. See telecom, mail services, railways etc.
    Thank you very much for selling our public property!

  • We have just been informed that this historic German Relays Station will close before the end of 2011.
    Reasons given in the article below are cost savings and a move towards Internet radio and TV.
    Here is an extract of the notice on

    Schließung von Relaisstationen

    Wurden zuletzt täg­lich rund 260 Stunden Kurzwellenprogramm über eigene und ange­mie­tete Sendestationen ver­brei­tet, sind es mit der Konzentration auf Afrika und wenige wei­tere Zielgebiete in Asien zu Beginn der Winterzeit 2011 nur noch rund 55 Stunden täglich.

    Für die KW-Ausstrahlung nach Afrika wird nur noch die Relaisstation in Kigali (Ruanda) benö­tigt, die Stationen in Trincomalee (Sri Lanka) und Sines (Portugal) kön­nen nicht mehr aus­ge­las­tet wer­den. Da ein wirt­schaft­li­cher Betrieb nicht mehr mög­lich ist, ist die Einstellung des Sendebetriebs in bei­den Stationen zum 1. November 2011 und die Schließung der Stationen zum nächst­mög­li­chen Zeitpunkt vorgesehen.

    Durch den Abbau von Mietkosten und die Schließung der bei­den Relaisstationen erzielt die DW erheb­li­che Einsparungen, die für die Weiterentwicklung des Senders ein­ge­setzt werden.

  • Decoded your DRM transmission today 16:30-17:00 UTC 19-March 2011 discussing the use of nuke power in Japan and Germany. Your SNR peaked at 18+ dB and was drop out free for about 90% during my listening. Thank you for your service… hams are listening in the USA for DRM DX!
    St Louis Missouri
    Grid: EM48

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