The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced today that the Indian Ocean Relay Station (IORS) transmitter site at Grand Anse, Mahé, will cease all shortwave transmissions on 29 March 2014.
The site was established in 1988 and has been in continuous service since then, relaying BBC broadcasts to audiences in East Africa primarily in English and Somali.
The closure will not affect the availability of BBC World Service programmes in Seychelles, which are relayed from satellite broadcasts on to local FM frequencies 106.2, 105.6 and 105.2MHz. In areas of East Africa still dependent upon shortwave broadcasts, the signal will be supplied by other relay stations. The announcement follows an earlier decision to stop all shortwave broadcasts from the BBC World Service site in Cyprus for similar commercial, technological and audience reach reasons. These ended in March of this year.
The announcement will unfortunately result in 11 staff being put at risk of redundancy. The staff over the last 25 years have operated and maintained this shortwave broadcast facility with passion, expertise and professionalism. The technical ability and commitment of the team at the IORS has been applauded by the BBC World Service.
The decision to close the site has been taken due to changing commercial and technological circumstances. As countries develop and their media markets open, listening and viewing habits have changed. New technology has changed the way audiences listen to BBC programmes and reduced the importance of shortwave broadcasts in much of the area currently served by the IORS, making the IORS commercially unviable.
The BBC is supporting the development of new delivery platforms such as internet and mobile streaming as well as FM radio and TV broadcasts. Shortwave broadcasts continue to regions and markets where listening remains strong and BBC services can be delivered efficiently to large geographic areas.