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features : Why Axe Trincomalee?

written on 16 June 2011 by Victor Goonetilleke

Trincomalee station, credit: Arugam Bay

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 disances. 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 naive to throw away their station which is contracted to be till 2010.