(This article was first published in the Monitoring Times, USA's website)
There is no denying fact that the happiness of this year is dimmed due to the horrible tragedy; tsunami that struck the Asian region has caused terrible devastation on a scale that has not been seen for a century. Over 225,000 people have lost their lives and tens of thousands are homeless. It felt quite shocked as there is still too much pain, many of them who could not greet the new year, so many who are hurt, so many without homes and adequate supplies of food and water. What a horrified experienced!
Due to the tsunami disaster in affected area most of the communication and broadcasting system have been damaged completely, transmission disrupted and many broadcasters have lost some of the their staffs. Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union says more than 30 employees of ABU members are missing and feared dead. Indonesia’s public broadcasters, Televisi Republic Indonesia and Radio Republic Indonesia, say 34 members of their staff are missing in Ache province. Sri Lanka’s public broadcaster SLRC lost their 1 crew when the tsunami struck a train near the southern city of Galle, Sril Lanka.
In addition to the national and international Aid, the broadcasts media as well as DX-er and Radio enthusiast has come forward to help the tsunami victims. Many of them pledge to offer not only financial aid for the victims but also help to reconstruct the broadcasting environments damaged by tsunami devastation. Media groups are busy to air special coverage and footage to let the whole world learn the latest information of those countries and the reflection of other countries about the tsunami. The New Scientist magazine reported that shortly after disaster struck, the head of the Sri Lanka’s amateur radio society delivered a short-wave radio set and two 12-volt car batteries to the prime minister's emergency headquarters in Colombo. And at the same time, three others drove through the devastation to Hambantota, on the hard-hit southeast coast, where they set up another battery-powered short-wave radio, enabling the Sri Lanka’s prime minister to use the short-wave link over the next two days. Short-wave signals from Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands and mainland India also helped to spread news of the disaster around the world, as short-wave radio enthusiasts were able to maintain emergency communication. Shortly after the tragedy, the English Service of China Radio International emailed their listeners in the regions affected, to confirm their safety. Some of them have answered back, and most of the respondents are from India said China Radio International.
Sri Lanka’s public broadcaster, SLRC, has escalated a major relief operation for victims of the tsunami. After on-air appeals brought in big donations, SLRC sent more than 200 lorry loads of food, clothing and medicine to badly hit areas in the island’s north, east and south in less than 72 hours of the tsunami hit. It also sent medical teams to many affected areas.
Special Broadcasting Services Corporation (SBS) Radio listeners in Australia have pledged more than US$1 million in a radio appeal held to raise money for the survivors of the tsunami tragedy. Pledges from the radiothon are directed to support relief efforts being undertaken by aid organizations like World Vision, CARE Australia and the Vietnamese-Australian Buddhist Assistance Trust (VABAT). Head of SBS Radio, Quang Luu AO, said the response to the radiothon has been overwhelming, with more than 10,000 listeners pledging US$1,081,866 in over 20 languages. Running from 2-10 January, volunteers from the Bengali, Cantonese, Croatian, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Macedonian, Maltese, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Sinhalese, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese communities joined in to assist the appeal for donations. “It is tremendous to see the kind of support the different communities around Australia are giving to the tsunami survivors. Many of our listeners don’t have a lot of money to spare but they are going out of their way to help the survivors of this tragedy,” Mr. Luu said.
Commercial Radio Australia is spearheading a mission to restore broadcast operations in tsunami-hit countries; contributing some 50,000 AM/FM radio sets to affected areas. The first cache of 20,000 radio sets are on their way to the capital cities of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, as ABU (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union) members do their bit to help in relief efforts. The radio sets, with two sets of fresh batteries each, are being flown to Jakarta, Colombo and Male. Arrangements have been made to clear the consignments at the destination ports. The initiative to send the radio sets to stricken areas was mooted by Joan Warner, the CEO of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) on the New Year’s Day, and is being coordinated by the ABU secretariat in Kuala Lumpur.
Deutsche Welle has embarked on a series of relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, including sending 1,000 radio sets to stricken areas in Indonesia. The sets were distributed with the help of Jakarta radio 68H. DW has also been providing assistance for its Sri Lankan staff in Trincomalee as well as offering support to aid organizations at its relay station. It is also aiding the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation’s scheme for tsunami survivors, offering technical support where needed. Beside that DW has organized fund-raisers for the disaster. A helpline has also been set up for Germans to locate missing persons in the affected areas. Appeals to contact family members are broadcast over DW's current affairs programs 24 hours a day.
Radio Netherlands is starting a program to set up a number of emergency radio stations in Banda Ache, tsunami-hit province. The station will appeal to its 6,000 partner stations around the world to collect money and equipment for the program. Radio Netherlands Media Network reported that the emergency radio stations would in due course be built up into permanent stations. One of the stations that was destroyed by the tsunami on 26 December is Radio Nikoya FM, that used to broadcast news in Indonesian from Radio Netherlands on a daily basis.
Media Corp’s regional news channel, Channel News Asia International, is carrying extensive trailers to encourage viewers in Asia to donate to the Red Cross’ tsunami relief efforts. Media Corp has also launched efforts to rally Singaporeans to donate, in an initiative costing the company some US$1.2 million in airtime and advertisement space. Viewers are encouraged to submit their donations online to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies donation website.
Korea’s Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was calling to send five to seven minutes of video footage of sites struck by the tsunami, interviews with survivors and subsequent relief efforts, to be featured on its Tsunami Relief Fund Raiser Special Live Broadcast on 12 January. The broadcast aims to raise funds for the relief efforts, which will be delivered to the affected people through the Korean Red Cross. The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) has launched a special fund-raising program. The fund-raising program, Asia in Unity: Overcoming the Tsunami Disaster was broadcast live on KBS TV-1 on 13 January. KBS said the program has provided an opportunity for Korean audiences to take part in helping to reconstruct areas hit by the tsunami.
Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) has joined the effort to help the millions of people affected by the tsunami tragedy. It is co-organizing several fund-raising drives with various organizations in Hong Kong and Mainland China in support of relief efforts being undertaken by humanitarian aid groups.
France’s EutelSat SA, will allow free usage of its fixed satellite services (FSS) in affected areas. A representative, Jan Grondrup-Vivanco, said this would enable Internet access and Voice over Internet Protocol telephony be set up in these places.
Though the tsunami has taken a lot from our life, we have seen the world unity, which is very much required for making our world peace. As a DX enthusiast I felt very proud and appreciate the greatest contribution made by broadcast media. I believe the world will remembered your efforts to help the human being for many years to come. Let us keep it up these efforts.
Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union
China Radio International, China
Deutsche Welle, Germany