Upgrades to safeguard ABC radio sites during natural disasters

BAI Communications

Wednesday, 02 August, 2023

Upgrades to safeguard ABC radio sites during natural disasters

The Australian Government has announced it will improve the resilience of 107 ABC radio sites used for emergency broadcasting, which are at risk of service failure due to natural disasters, as part of the $20 million Broadcasting Resilience Program (BRP).

The 2020 Royal Commission on National Natural Disaster Arrangements Final Report acknowledged the important role played by broadcast media in the coverage of emergency warnings and information to the community during the 2019–20 bushfire season and identified disruptions to power supply as a significant vulnerability. In response to this, the BRP aims to improve the preparedness of ABC broadcast sites against increasing natural disasters.

The work program will be delivered over the next three years by BAI Communications, who will:

  • establish 55 new emergency power systems (eg, battery and diesel backup) at ABC Local Radio sites;
  • deliver backup program inputs (eg, satellite input) for 77 ABC Local Radio sites to quickly re-establish broadcast services;
  • deliver civil and infrastructure upgrades to 10 ABC AM sites in areas susceptible to flooding;
  • supply five rapid recovery assets that can be rapidly deployed anywhere in Australia during a natural disaster or other significant event.
     

The upgrades on these sites — including multiple types of upgrade on a single site — are expected to also have a wide range of additional benefits to other service providers who are co-located on many BAI sites, including commercial broadcasters, telecommunications providers, and state and territory emergency services.

The announcement is in addition to the $50 million Telecommunications Disaster Resilience Innovation (TDRI) program and the $15 million Mobile Network Hardening Program, previously announced by the federal government. Both programs are part of the government’s $656 million Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia, funded in the October 2022 Budget.

“During a natural disaster, access to timely and accurate information can be the difference between life and death,” said Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.

“The Albanese government is proud to have delivered $20 million to fund the Broadcasting Resilience Program so regional communities most at risk from natural disasters can stay connected and informed.

“As the key company managing ABC transmission sites, BAI Communications is uniquely placed to implement these important initiatives. I look forward to the completion of these upgrades by April 2025.”

Peter Lambourne, CEO of BAI Communications, added, “Broadcast of information to communities in times of natural disaster and emergency is fundamental to keeping Australians safe. BAI has a proud history of keeping communities connected through our preparation and response efforts, supporting the ABC, SBS and a broad range of other broadcasters to deliver emergency information to audiences.

“We welcome the government’s investment in creating more resilient infrastructure and are pleased to partner with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts to deliver this program under the Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia.”

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