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Greenville to close; VOA and Marti join for new service; LVA update

** U S A. VOA and Radio Martí have started a “co-production“, one-hour Spanish broadcast at 0100-0200 UT weeknights.

The two former rivals are now coöperating! There were reports recently that VOA would start to have access to RM`s produxion facilities in Miami. This could also be the beginning of the end for Radio Martí, starting by merging it back into VOA, as there is considerable congressional pressure just to kill RM.

Without any advance publicity that I know of, I first found this in progress at 0114 UT February 2 on 11625: a station in Spanish talking about Chávez, in the hour after VOA Spanish normally closes on different frequencies, 5890 and 9885. At 0100, I was tuned to 9885; it was still on and announcement seemed to be starting another hour, but cut off before 0101. This made me wonder if programming was continuing on some other frequency, so started bandscanning from 5745 upwards.

At 0118 an ID on 11625 gave the full frequency list for this, 11625, 9415 and 7340. I quickly found the lower two were much stronger here and continued to listen on 7340. They were all in synch, and no doubt Greenville B, which is doomed to extinction at the end of FY 2010, 30 September as just came out today. Gee, what will BBG/IBB/VOA do if they need to start another “surge“ broadcast after then?

There was too much jamming on regular R. Martí frequencies to tell if they were //, i.e. 6030, 7365, 9825, but suspect not since only the new frequencies were announced — and with no jamming at all on the new ones — yet! Usual DCJC noise jamming was audible also on 9810 at 0111 against República, and at 0113 on 9715 — another stray, against nothing?

Since this is a brand-new, previously unknown service, I monitored it attentively during the remainder of the hour. At 0118 they were quoting El Nuevo Herald, Miami and some European papers about Cuban/Venezuelan relations.

0123 ID as “A Punto (?) en La Voz de América y Radio Martí; 0126 with schedule as 8-9 pm [EST] M-F, i.e. 01-02 UT Tue-Sat, again with the three frequencies, “una co-producción de La Voz de América y Radio Martí“. And “El Mundo del Espectáculo“ segment about the Grammy Awards last night. 0130 co-hosts in Washington and Miami briefly discussed their respective weathers, rather divergent.

Rest of hour called in correspondents from several Latin American countries for a few minutes each, starting with Bolivia, concern with contentious Morales.

0137 news from Venezuela about protests in various cities against the banning of RCTV even from cable. 0139 about the political campaign in Costa Rica. 0141 about the IMF from Buenos Aires. 0143 corresponsal Federico in Bogotá, Colombia. 0148 interviewing a UCR professor about the situation in Honduras. 0153 Nicaragua, on the sale of Canal 8 TV to Ortega/Chávez, leaving only one independent TV station, Canal 2.

The program seems to concentrate on what`s going on in hostile Latin American countries, and will likely be labeled “propaganda“ by them, but it seemed to me the analysis was balanced. A bigger question arises: will Radio Martí gain credibility or will VOA lose credibility with this joint venture??

Name of the program was mentioned every few minutes. To me, sometimes it sounded like “A Fondo“, meaning in depth or background; sometimes “Apunte“ which means abstract or notes.

Looking around the VOA Spanish and Martinoticias websites, I see nothing yet about this service. I suppose they wanted to slip in under the radar, or the usual bureaucratic delays. Nor is there any press release about it yet at the VOA site, the latest one being from Jan 27 about Creole.

I recorded some excerpts, and was all set to get the sign-off before 0200, but 7340 just cut off at 0159:30 while show was still in progress. Then tuned to 9415 and heard it for a few seconds longer, I think a sign-off. Then tuned to 11625 and heard only a very weak signal, but that proved to be in English after 0200, sounded like VOA. Nothing scheduled then either, and may have been something else, and not necessarily Greenville.

I was also bandscanning on another receiver during this hour, to check out among other things, Lavwadlamerik`s Kreyòl service, which had also been at 01-02 – and discovered two very interesting things. Besides 5960, it was also // on new 5835 first noted at 0105. Another frequency VOA refuses to publish on its A-Z language schedule. Are there too many frequencies now during this hour for all of them to come from Greenville? We remember that 5835 was once a World Harvest Radio frequency, but that`s no proof it`s the site now.

The other //, 7465, is now clashing with WWCR, which has just extended its broadcast on that frequency until 0200, ex-3240! At the beginning of the hour, WWCR was atop, but before long by 0110 it was losing out to LVA, and by the end of the hour I could not be certain WWCR was still there underneath, but probably as it was still missing from 3240.

LVA`s additional Creole hour at 01-02 had been on 7465 since shortly after the quake, as we have been reporting, but apparently WWCR did not notice. Since it fades out anyway, WWCR should not have extended 7465 another three hours past previous close at 2300, tho one or possibly two hours would have worked. This collision has to be resolved ASAP. Altho we lose WWCR here, the situation may be quite different in Haiti and elsewhere.

At 0200 LVA had left 5835 as well as 5960 which it must due to NHK/Sackville, but continued on 7465; still no 7590 had come on by 0205, so apparently that has been dropped during the final hour, at least.

During this hour I also checked MW 1180, but as usual could not pull anything out of Marathon. And MW 1030 where Commando Solo is making it into Florida from Haiti. Dominating the frequency at 0124 was some not // talk in Spanish, looping roughly east/west, so most likely WGSF Memphis, per NRC AM Log listings (Glenn Hauser, OK, DX LISTENING DIGEST)

If the above report is repeated in our next log report along with other items, it will have been updated/added to, so use the later version. I did not want to delay getting this hot news out.

What`s that about Greenville closing?? I filed this report earlier, late Feb 1, to the DXLD yg:

** U S A. I hear from a confidential source that the Greenville transmitting station of VOA will be closing on September 30, 2010. What this will mean for the broadcasts it still transmits, Radio Martí, VOA English, Special English, recently expanded Creole, Hausa, Portuguese, Spanish, RNW relay is as yet unknown (Glenn Hauser, February 1, DX LISTENING DIGEST)

Thanks to kimandrewelliott.com we have a link to:
Broadcasting Board of Governors FY 2011 Budget Request

http://www.bbg.gov/reports/documents/BBGFY2011CONGBudgetSubmission-ForInternetPost.pdf

We have found pertinent excerpts from the 119 page document concerning Greenville, EMPHASIS ADDED WITH CAPS; et al.:

PROGRAM CHANGES:
* The BBG proposes the following reductions in the support area: reduction of contracting costs by 4 percent throughout the Agency through efficiencies; sale of a former transmitting site in Erching, Germany [which one is that by a name we recognize?];

CLOSING THE GREENVILLE TRANSMITTING STATION;

restructuring operations at overseas transmitting stations; reduction of IBB Engineering support positions and IBB general operating expenses; and reduction of BCI maintenance and repair budget.
(page 24)

FY 2011 Program Decreases

Transmission

The BBG proposes restructuring operations at some of its overseas transmitting stations. The BBG will retain ownership of these facilities; however, it would turn over operations of these sites to a third party on a fee-for-service basis ($1.5 million).

THE BBG ALSO PROPOSES TO CLOSE ITS GREENVILLE TRANSMITTING STATION ($3.2 MILLION).

In addition, the proposed FY 2011 reductions to and eliminations of language services will reduce transmission costs by ($.91 million).

Operating Expenses and Contractual Services

The FY 2011 request for Engineering and Technical Services includes a reduction in positions and operating expenses ($2.3 million) as well as a reduction in contractual services through improved practices ($.8 million).
(page 75)

Engineering and Technical Services
Summary of Increases and Decreases
FY 2010- FY 2011
($ in thousands):

FY 2011 Net Program Changes + (3,135)
Program Decreases – (8,710)

Reflects the following reductions to base operations:
A) TRANSMISSION NETWORK REDUCTION (GREENVILLE STATION) ( 3,149)
b) Reduce support positions and operating expenses ( 2,330)
c) Consolidate services at BBG transmitting stations with other
   Western international broadcasters ( 1,500)
d) Eliminate VOA Croatian, VOA Greek; reduce VOA Persian News Network;
   end MBN Alhurra Europe (910)
e) Reduce Agency contract costs by 4% through improved efficiencies
   (821)
(page 77)

Engineering and Technical Services
Summary of Funds FY 2009 – FY 2011 ($ in thousands)

                                 2009   2010     2011    Increase or
                               Actual   Estimate Request Decrease (-)

Domestic Transmitting Stations
Greenville                      4,496   4,874    1,812   (3,062)
Tinian                          7,974   8,875    9,008      133
Total, Domestic Stations       12,470  13,749   10,820   (2,929)

Overseas Transmitting Stations
Afghanistan                     1,809   3,885    3,031     (854)
Botswana                        1,660   1,945    2,066      121
Germany                         9,144  11,237   11,417      180
Kuwait                          4,485   4,940    5,121      181
Philippines                     5,721   5,747    6,026      279
Sao Tome                        3,189   3,392    3,706      314
Sri Lanka                       2,991   3,043    2,419     (624)
Thailand                        3,931   3,882    3,310     (572)
Total, Overseas Stations       32,930  38,071   37,096     (975)
Monitors                        1,098   1,249    1,291       42

TOTAL, ENGINEERING AND TECHNICAL
SERVICES                      169,630 189,839  190,724      885
(page 78)
(extracted by Glenn Hauser for DX LISTENING DIGEST)

It is interesting to note the last item above, that BBG spends over a megadollar per year on Monitors, i.e. paying some names you would know as DXers to be official monitors; how many of them are there, for an average salary? They also get perqs such as monitoring equipment, occasional visits to the USA.

You will note that there are still some funds for Greenville; of course the site will need to be maintained in some form for a while once it is off the air, until it can be disposed of (Glenn Hauser, OK, DX LISTENING DIGEST)

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