Robert Novak comes to the defense of Kenneth Tomlinson by assuring us that Voice of America *is* biased.

Posted: 31 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"I received a list of television guests used by VOA 'who favor the Iranian regime' and a post-9/11 VOA interview with Taliban leader Mohammed Omar. In fact, the guests listed were defectors from and critics of the Iranian regime. The Omar program was compared by Tomlinson, a year before his return to VOA, to interviewing Hitler, Mussolini or Tojo during World War II." Robert Novak, Chicago Sun-Times, 31 August 2006. "As it turns out, the friend he hired as a consultant had 35 years of experience with Voice of America, and Tomlinson says the report concluded his focus on his horses amounted to one e-mail a day and two-and-a-half minutes on the phone." Brit Hume, Fox News, 30 August 2006. "The truth here is that Kenneth Tomlinson, a great and idealistic journalist, tried to make the Public Broadcasting System more honest -- a fact that no amount of mud the Times and its Democratic staff allies on the Hill try to throw at him is going to obscure." Editorial, New York Sun, 30 August 2006. "We have seen this game before where people will release selected parts of reports to try to color people's views of a particular issue. I'm not going to play that game." Sean McCormick, State Department Daily Press Briefing, 30 August 2006.

Kenneth Tomlinson is up to his chest in a substance found abundantly on horse farms and in U.S. federal agencies.

Posted: 31 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
State Department inspector general's report finds that chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors "improperly used his office, putting a friend on the payroll and running a 'horse-racing operation' with government resources." Tomlinson: "I believe it will become clear that this ... investigation was inspired by partisan divisions." Washington Post, 30 August 2006. "The State Department report noted his use of his office to oversee a stable of thoroughbreds but did not mention one specific way in which his professional responsibilities and personal interests appear to have intersected. The horses, according to track records, include Karzai, as in Hamid Karzai ... ." New York Times, 30 August 2006. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not act on his nomination to a second term as chairman of BBG before his first term expires. Reuters, 31 August 2006. [This corrected version of the Reuters story points out that "Tomlinson can remain in his position until Senate confirms a new term for him or a replacement."] Three Democratic members of Congress call for Tomlinson's ouster. AP, 31 August 2006. See also Rep. Howard Berman press release, 29 August 2006. And Rep. Tom Lantos press release, 30 August 2006.

RFE/RL Turkmen correspondent sentenced to six years in prison.

Posted: 25 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Ogulsapar Muradova found guilty by Turkmenistan court for "being in illegal possession of bullets and ammunition." RFE/RL acting president Jeff Trimble: "RFE/RL protests Ogulsapar Muradova's sentence in the strongest terms, as we have protested her unjust imprisonment for more than two months." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 25 August 2006. See also RFE/RL News, 25 August 2006. See previous post on same subject.

Rebroadcasting Almanar is a crime.

Posted: 25 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Pakistani national in Staten Island arrested for providing Almanar via satellite to U.S. customers. "The U.S. Treasury Department in March designated al-Manar a 'global terrorist entity' and a media arm of the Hezbollah terrorist network. The designation froze al-Manar's assets in the United States and prohibited any transactions between Americans and al-Manar." Washington Post, 25 August 2006. "Court papers filed by the government to obtain a warrant to search Mr. Iqbal’s business and home suggested that the authorities learned that certain high-definition global transmission systems were providing access to Al Manar broadcasts in the United States. They got their information from Mark Dubowitz, who heads a Washington-based policy group that has monitored Al Manar -- through a project called the Coalition Against Terrorist Media -- and campaigned for its removal from worldwide broadcasting." New York Times, 25 August 2006. See also New York Daily News, 25 August 2005.

Death of a colleague (updated).

Posted: 25 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Robert Wone, 32, recently appointed attorney for Radio Free Asia, stabbed in a townhouse near Washington's Dupont Circle. Washington Post, 4 August 2006. The Post story refers to RFA as a "nonprofit group," but does not mention that it is funded by the U.S. government and supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. "The evidence we have found so far would lead us to believe Mr. Wone was not the victim of some happenstance. This attack was specific towards him." Washington Post, 5 August 2006. See also Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5 August 2006. "Five days into this investigation and homicide detectives aren't even sure how many people were in the house when Washington attorney Robert Wone was stabbed to death in a home near DuPont Circle." WUSA9.com, 7 August 2006. Search warrant affidavit says the crime scene "had been tampered with before police arrived." Law.com, 14 August 2006. "A lot of evidence we should have seen at the house, we didn't see." Washington Post, 16 August 2006. "Multiple sources say, at the very least, the attempted clean-up, if not the act of murder itself, involves more than one person." WUSA, 17 August 2006. Three persons in the house at the time of the murder issue a statement through their lawyer. WRC-TV, 22 August 2006. Obituary. Washington Post, 23 August 2006. Update: Wife testifies before grand jury. Washington Post, 24 August 2006. "Although it is not unusual to seal a search warrant in a homicide case, it suggests that investigators want to shield certain information -- be it the name of a witness, evidence or a theory of a crime -- from the public." Law.com, 24 August 2006.

For U.S. international broadcasting: the end is Nye?

Posted: 25 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Joseph "soft power" Nye's latest op-ed: "Today, the US has no such integrated strategy for combining hard and soft power. Many official instruments of soft power -- public diplomacy, broadcasting, exchange programs, development assistance, disaster relief, military to military contacts -- are scattered around the government, and there is no overarching policy, much less a common budget, that even tries to combine them with hard power into a coherent national security strategy." Project Syndicate, 25 August 2006. To wit: win hearts and minds by simplifying the organization chart, bringing international broadcasting under the public diplomacy bureaucy, subject international broadcasting to "policy," turn it into propaganda, and lose all of its audience because they just want to hear some reliable news. "We export, to great individual but no collective applause, blue jeans, Big Macs, rock and hip-hop music, Web-based pornography, and motion pictures that often celebrate violence and a shallow adolescent culture. As Martha Bayles and others have pointed out, this is not what we exported right after the Second World War when, with government aid, we sent abroad artists, jazz musicians, and gifted writers to show what America could produce." James Q. Wilson, American Enterprise Institute, 23 August 2006.

Ipsos-Stat: Almanar ratings boost during Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Posted: 23 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Hezbollah-affiliated channel moves up to number 10 from number 83 among Arab viewers. Alarabiya is number one. Mena Report, 22 August 2006. "Al Manar, Hezbollah's TV station, has always been devoted to hate. Al Jazeera, the other Arab cable network, likes to proclaim its integrity but demonstrates nothing of the kind. These two propaganda channels have inflamed the Arab masses with anti-Israel, anti-American propaganda." Mort Zuckerman, New York Daily News, 21 August 2006. "After 10 years, al-Jazeera is confronting one of the abiding truths of honest journalism: that the world is damned complicated, and that it's very hard to know who the good guys and bad guys are." David Ignatius, Washington Post, 23 August 2006.

"Maybe we should stop funding Radio Free Europe."

Posted: 23 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Suggests Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, as a way to provide more funds for Hurricane Katrina recovery. CorpWatch, 22 August 2006. "Funding radio Free Europe 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall doesn’t belong in an emergency spending bill." Hensarling press release, 16 March 2006. "Many programs currently funded by the federal government are, quite simply obsolete. For example, years ago Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were established to broadcast news to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union when they were under Communist rule. Since the Cold War is over, we still have these programs. Eliminating them or privatizing them would save $75 million each year." Hensarling press release, 23 June 2006.

Two international internet initiatives.

Posted: 23 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) TV, an internet-based channel via www.IndiaTVLive.com, will serve 25 million people of Indian origin living overseas. Or at least those with a connection speed of 256 kbps or better. Reuters, 18 August 2006. See also Archer Entertainment Media Communications Incorporated press release, 21 August 2006. Iran's Arabic-language television channel Alalam now has a English-language website: www.alalam.ir/English/.

Another Iranian crackdown on satellite dishes, and this time they might mean it (updated).

Posted: 23 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Police armed with warrants raided rooftops of large apartment blocks and high-rises in the chic northern and western areas of Tehran." AFP, 14 August 2006. "The illegal status of satellite reception has during the recent years been totally ignored in the Iranian capital where most of the almost 12 million residents watch foreign programmes via satellite." Deutsche Presse Agentur, 15 August 2006. Iranians are wondering where they put their shortwave radios. Iran also arresting and censoring bloggers. AP, 15 August 2006. Update: "What difference does it make if we have to take away our dishes from the roofs? Since last year they have been jamming satellite signals so badly that it's almost impossible to watch anything. It was bad during the early days of Iran's nuclear crisis -- almost all channels were affected." Inter Press Service, 21 August 2006.

Vietnam is blocking internet content and arresting writers of internet content.

Posted: 23 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"It's clear to us that a lot of countries are following the China model. They want to have the Internet for economic growth and its benefits for education, but they also want to keep a lid on some of the challenges the Internet poses to an authoritarian system." TechWeb, 17 August 2006. See also OpenNet Initiative, 9 August 2006. Vietnamese police arrest cyberdissident Truong Quoc Huy who is "accused of giving interviews to foreign radio stations such as Radio Free Asia." Reporters sans frontières, 22 August 2006.

Probably already jockeying for those 95 parking spots (updated).

Posted: 20 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe will be relocated to the A - class building [in Prague], which will be built to the highest specifications as requested by Radio Free Europe. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will consist of a 5 floor main building, main entrance building, service entrance building, 95 underground parking places as well as 2 water points." Orco Property Group press release, 9 August 2006. Update: "Construction has been stalled by a complex series of legal and bureaucratic hurdles." The Prgaue Post, 9 August 2006.I still think RFE/RL, VOA, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, and Radio Sawa should all be moved to a single building in Chicago. Then, suitably juxtaposed, merge them all into one multimedia corporation.

Smith and Mundt spinning in their graves? (updated)

Posted: 20 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
MediaMetrix research shows 365,000 U.S. visitors to Voice of America website in July, an increase of fifty percent from June. comScore press release, 15 August 2006. See also Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. Update: Newsland delivers Voice of America and other content to pocket PCs and smartphones in the United States and other countries. Wireless Developer Network, 17 August 2006. See also Newsland press release, 16 August 2006.

China is jamming, blocking, confiscating shortwave, internet, satellite.

Posted: 20 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Firedrake" musical jammer, triangulated to Hainan, now on 14050 kHz, a frequency allocated to amateur radio. It seems to be directed against Falun-gong related Voice of Hope. American Radio Relay League, 17 August 2006. See also DX Listening Digest, 17 August 2006. While China cracks down (again) on satellite dishes in China, "eBay China has announced it will investigate the auction of illegal satellite dishes on its website." Xinhua, 15 August 2006. China bans Astro Boy and other foreign cartoons between 5 and 8 p.m. South China Morning Post, 14 August 2006. In 149-page report, Human Rights Watch documents "complicity of Western Internet companies in political censorship in China." HRW, 10 August 2006.

Report: Zimbabwe's jamming of VOA's "Studio 7" continues and spreads to shortwave (updated).

Posted: 17 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Of the week's Studio 7 Short Wave bulletins that MMPZ tried to monitor, only three (1/8, 2/8 & 4/8) were mostly audible, but even then under constant interference. The other two (31/7 & 3/8) were completely muffled by a continuous grinding sound that specifically coincided with the start and end of the bulletin." zimbabwejournalists.com, 14 August 2006. Also: listen to this mp3 file of Zimbabwe jamming Studio 7 on 14 August at 1713 UTC on 909 kHz medium wave. The jammer sounds like car horns. Update: "During the last two weeks we have not been able to meaningfully monitor any of (VOA's) news broadcasts." The Zimbabwean, 17 August 2006.

Another performer whose inspiration was jazz on VOA (updated).

Posted: 16 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Ms. Puthli heard jazz on Voice of America radio broadcasts, and started to sing it in Mumbai nightclubs." New York Times, 12 August 2006. If a listener in India wants to listen to jazz from VOA now, the voanews.com program schedule for South Asia is, of course, in the VOA English to Africa section. There, "Jazz America," successor to Willis Conover's jazz program, is listed at 1300 UTC weekends. Then the listener must go back to the voanews.com home page to find the link to the frequencies, click on E, then find the frequencies at 1300 to be 9645 and 9760 kHz. A listener in India could also listen to "Jazz America" via the VOA Music Mix internet audio stream. But there is no link to VOA Music Mix from voanews.com, at least none that I can find. The listener in India might guess that the URL is www.voamusicmix.com, which does yield a page about music. But where is the information about VOA Music Mix programs? Well, the secret (and it is a secret) is to click on the VOA Music Mix logo in the upper right hand corner. Voila! A link to programs. The programs listed, however, do not mention "Jazz America." Frustrated but tenacious, the Indian listener might go back to the VOA home page and find, at the bottom, under "Radio," and link to "Programs." There, the A-to-Z list will eventually yield "Jazz America: The best of jazz past and present, including interviews with renowned masters of jazz as well as up-and-coming jazz musicians." But what is the schedule? Go back to the beginning of this paragraph. Update: Serbian-American musician was also "hooked" by VOA jazz. Napa Valley Register, 16 August 2006. See previous post about another VOA jazz alumnus.

Help finally wanted (updated).

Posted: 16 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
The long awaited BBC Arabic television channel is beginning to hire staff. "BBC Arabic Television will have broad appeal - free from commercial, political and religious affiliations or pressures." BBC World Service press release, 14 August 2006. BBC World Service radio adds two FM outlets in Juba, southern Sudan: one in Arabic, the other in English. BBCWS press release, 9 August 2006. Update: "The Middle East is tricky territory unless you have good and solid local knowledge. Unfortunately, the BBC has done itself no favours in some of its recent coverage in the region." The Scotsman, 16 August 2006.

The power of broadcasts into Cuba.

Posted: 15 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"What irony that while Cuba's 'maximum leader' remains in a hospital, his brother and the other generals in charge -- at least temporarily -- worry less about an American invasion than the 'destabilizing, subversive' broadcasts of Mexican soap operas and American TV news." The writer also mentions Cuban government helicopters (first I've heard about these) used to jam U.S. broadcasts. Frank Calzon, Miami Herald, 14 August 2006. See previous post on same subject.

BBC (and CNN) complaints department (updated).

Posted: 15 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Israeli officials complain "the reports we see give the impression that the BBC is working on behalf of Hizbullah instead of doing fair journalism." Jerusalem Post, 10 August 2006. BBC official: "Would our critics prefer that we apportioned air time on the basis of casualty figures? Equal concentration on Israeli victims could simply further highlight the current imbalance between the two sides in terms of firepower, and might simply reinforce views that this is an unjust war." TotallyJewish.com, 3 August 2006. See also BBC Governors panel report (May 2006) on BBC coverage of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "In the last few weeks (Fox News) has been essential viewing for anyone who wants to escape from the BBC’s one-sided coverage of the unfolding Middle East tragedy." The Business, 6 August 2006. Kudos for BBC World and CNN coverage of the U.K. terrorist plot. Baltimore Sun, 11 August 2006. More about the fictitious world maps used in BBC World promotions. Ad Blog Arabia, 11 August 2006. Update: Previous boycotts "made the problem worse, by removing any official Israeli viewpoint from the BBC's airwaves." Stephen Pollard, Jerusalem Post, 14 July 2006. A CNN International report's "startling lack of representation of the suffering experienced by so many Israeli civilians stood in stark contrast to the interviews and video footage taken of Lebanese children and scenes of wreckage shown from across Lebanon." Ynetnews, 15 August 2006.

A24: one of the proposed African news channels.

Posted: 15 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"We want to set the continent's news agenda. We want to give a rounded picture, the good news and the bad news. We want to talk about business and every now and then we will be going live at the stock exchanges of countries like Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe to tell people in different places about available investment opportunities in Africa." The East African 14 August 2006. "Without a cause, a belief or an ideological commitment by people in power and in control of resources, a Pan African media network may never survive on individual enterprise and good business plans." Jerry Okungu, Sunday Times (Nairobi), 13 August 2006. See previous post about A24.

Leonard Marks 1916-2006.

Posted: 15 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Director of U.S. Information Agency during Johnson Administration "oversaw a $178 million international operation that published magazines in dozens of languages, distributed hundreds of films and documentaries and beamed pro-American news abroad through the Voice of America." Washington Post, 15 August 2006. Veteran VOA journalists will grimace at the Post's characterization of their product as "pro-American news."

Channel surfing in a time of war.

Posted: 15 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Arab media professional recalls listening to Sawt al-Arab during the 1967 War, then compares present-day television coverage of the Israel-Lebanon conflict. "I think that all of us would be well-advised to adopt some skepticism about how we view the information we are getting, according to who is giving it to us and how much the interpretation of events can vary depending upon the agenda and the desired political perception of those giving it to us." Jamal Dajani, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 August 2006.

Domestic politics versus public diplomacy: zero sum game?

Posted: 12 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
President Bush's "Islamic fascists" statement praised by his base, derided abroad. "He pronounced it right. That’s about the only thing commendable about George Bush’s newest verbal weapon in the war against terror." The Indian Express, 12 August 2006. Muslim scholar in Manama: "Now, they are talking about fascism. Tomorrow, the administration, inexorably unable to rein in its anti-Islam drive, will clearly spell out its intentions against the religion." Gulf News, 12 August 2006. President of the Muslim Association of Britain: "This kind of statement and this kind of remarks really do increase the Islamophobia within the wider community." VOA News, 11 August 2006. "President Bush was right in saying the United States is at war with 'Islamic fascists' – a subtle but significant rhetorical pivot from the term 'Islamists.'" Ben Johnson, FrontPage Magazine, 11 August 2006. "The president’s remarks about Islamic fascism were critical, and so should be demands on the 'moderate' Islamic community to disassociate itself from this war on the West." Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, 11 August 2006.

Worldspace share prices fall from orbit.

Posted: 11 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Shares of Worldspace Inc. plummeted to a 52-week low Thursday after the satellite radio provider's second-quarter loss widened, missing Wall Street expectations and prompting an analyst downgrade." AP, 10 August 2006. Worldspace CEO Noah Samara: "Gross subscriber adds in our primary target market of India of 35,130 were negatively affected by delays in the launching of a new marketing campaign centered around our new brand ambassador until July, delays in opening more experiential locations, changes in sale channel incentives and ineffective communication of pricing plan changes." Worldspace press release, 9 August 2006. Lest we gloat, government-funded international broadcasting entities, if suddenly privatized, would probably also have trouble keeping their share prices up. Worldspace remains an interesting platform, whose niche may yet be discovered. Deque Systems Inc. using the Worldspace name (and claiming trademark on it) for its web compliance products. Deque press release, 10 August 2006.

VOA calling Zimbabwe, via Botswana (updated).

Posted: 10 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"In Botswana, the Sunday Standard reported that 'in an attempt to offset a diplomatic spurt with Zimbabwe,' (communications minister Pelonomi) Venson and Foreign Affairs minister Mmpati Merafhe 'held a number of meetings with the American ambassador in Gaborone to complain about the anti-Zimbabwe transmission by the Voice of America.'" Zimbabwe Independent, 4 August 2006. VOA has a medium wave and shortwave relay facility in Botswana. Update: Botswana official notes that the United States is "solely responsible for the contents of VOA programmes relayed from" the Botswana relay, and that the terms of the relay agreement are negotiatible before it expires in 2010. Botswana Government Daily News Online, 8 August 2006. See also Botswana Government Daily News Online, 9 August 2006.

Should public diplomacy take on the news media?

Posted: 10 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"To the extent that the U.S. public-diplomacy and international-communications apparatus stands by as the enemy manipulates the media, we are more vulnerable for it. Once the facts emerge in such cases, the full weight of the government's communications efforts should be made to ensure that the correct information is distributed broadly -- both nationally and internationally -- and is not limited largely to conservative publications and blogs, as it is now." Editorial, Washington Times, 10 August 2006.

The TV Martí aircraft identified.

Posted: 10 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
AP reports that it is a "new Lockheed Martin G1." AP, 10 August 2006. Actually, there is no Lockheed Martin G1. There is the Gulfstream G1, a.k.a. Grumman G-159, a two-engine turboprop, produced 1959-1969, so it is also not "new." AP's misinformation about the TV Martí airplane dovetails nicely with Reuters' misinformation that TV Martí is not yet transmitted via satellite. See previous post on this subject.

James L. Tyson, 1916-2006.

Posted: 09 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
He was author of U.S. International Broadcasting and National Security (1983) and served on a commission that led to the creation of Radio Free Asia. He also "believed that at least 4,000 U.S. journalists were furthering Soviet propaganda goals, particularly in television network news." Washington Post, 9 August 2006.

Maybe change the strapline to "Be the first to know, then change the channel to BBC."

Posted: 09 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"CNN has complained to the BBC about its use of the ‘Be the first to know’ strapline in Arabic. The BBC uses the Arabic slogan to promote its Arabic e-newsletter. CNN has been using the very same slogan it on its broadcasts and promotional material since 2001 and has trademarked it internationally." ITP Business, 9 August 2006. See also Ad Blog Arabia, 11 July 2006.

Did Condoleeza Rice commit domestic dissemination?

Posted: 09 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
From White House press gaggle on 4 August 2006: "What's the audience for Condi's address today? I mean, Radio Martí, as I understand it, is pretty much blocked in Cuba, no? Is this for domestic consumption, as well? Tony Snow: No, it's Radio Martí, and as you know, foreign broadcasts -- at least, if I still have my law right -- are not permitted to be distributed within the United States. Do I have that -- Olivier is shaking his head, so I will take that as support." The text of the message is available at the State Department website, available to anyone in the United States or abroad. The domestic dissemination issue refers to the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948.

TV Martí via an airplane unjammable? Unlikely. (updated)

Posted: 09 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"As the current platform for these broadcasts is being jammed by the Castro Regime, it seems that the un-jammable Commando Solo platform would be the way to ensure the Cuban people are communicated to most effectively during their time of need." Joe Cella, Redstate blog, 4 August 2006. "TV Martí broadcasts to Cuba have increased to a six-times-a-week schedule by using a private aircraft, officials say, setting in motion a key component of the Bush administration's plan to accelerate a transition to democracy on the communist-ruled island." Miami Herald, 7 August 2006. Presumably the aircraft operates over the Florida Keys, a good 150 kilometers or more from its Cuban viewers. Even with an airborne transmitter and an all-water path, that is a long stretch for the VHF and UHF frequencies used for television. After traveling that distance, the TV Martí signal will be sufficiently attenuated so that jamming transmitters on Cuban soil will probably have the upper hand. The high altitude of the TV Martí transmitter does mean that the Cubans will have to use higher power for their jamming to succeed, and they will need more than one terrestrial transmitter to jam throughout western Cuba. The best medium to overcome jamming is shortwave, because on shortwave frequencies, the more distant broadcasting transmitter is often received with a stronger signal than closer jamming transmitters. It's uncertain, however, how many Cubans own shortwave radios these days. And the number of shortwave transmitters available to Radio Martí is receding. One of the two International Broadcasting Bureau sites near Greenville, North Carolina, has been mothballed. A recent post to rec.radio.shortwave mentions that another key IBB shortwave site used by Radio Martí, near Delano, California, might also close. Update: "Cuba's Communist government has signaled a crackdown on the use of black-market satellite dishes, just over a week after ailing leader Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished power to his brother." The article also states that TV Martí "transmissions are sent from a plane but the Bush administration would like to start beaming its TV Marti broadcasts by satellite." Reuters, 9 August 2006. Actually, TV and Radio Martí are already transmitted via Hispasat. As for the satellite dishes, they are easy to spot and thus confiscate, whereas shortwave radios are more subtle.
See previous post on Cuba.

"To persuade, change or influence" (updated).

Posted: 05 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Feature story about a veteran of the 4th Psychological Operations Group. "In Iraq ... part of his unit's job was to make citizens aware that if they encountered a military vehicle, they were to move their own vehicles to the side of the road. If they didn't, soldiers could send up flares or, if necessary, fire a warning shot." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 28 July 2006. Another psyops soldier in Iraq says his team "inspects the local media to determine the validity of the news produced." Tulsa World, 2 August 2006. Update:"Incidents like the burning of an insurgent's body by soldiers in a psyops action, in violation of Islamic tradition, might have been avoided with better cultural training. And many experts believe that the release of a video showing al-Zarqawi's unfamiliarity with an American rifle, which was intended to belittle him, may have had the opposite effect. (After all, the rifle must have been captured from an American soldier.)" RJ Eskow, The Huffington Post, 4 August 2006.

Hastening the transition (to what?) in Cuba.

Posted: 05 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
Condoleezza Rice tells Cuba via Radio and TV Martí: "We encourage the Cuban people to work at home for positive change." Washington Files, 4 August 2006. "An arrogant and interfering act." Radio Havana Cuba, 4 August 2006. "Cubans who listen to Miami radio or Radio Martí (Voice of America) know of George Bush’s disinclination to spend money on public service, an attitude very unlike that of Castro’s government. And if U.S.-style capitalism should return to Cuba, many on the island know they would have to start paying for medical services and education that they now receive gratis." Saul Landau, Truthdig, 4 August 2006. "Castro ... installed a shortwave station on the same channel to muddle Radio Marti’s reception and actively jammed the signal of Television Marti. Even one of Fidel’s seven-hour ramble sessions is preferable to the static-filled noise that remains." Nicholas Shumaker, Truthdig, 3 August 2006. Voice of America taken to task for referring to Castro as "president." National Review, 4 August 2006. "In Cuba, TV satellite dishes are illegal without an almost impossible-to-obtain government permit. So people here build their own and often sell the signal to neighbors through homemade nets known as telarañas -- spiders' webs. The small electronic components usually are smuggled in from the United States, and the dishes are built here." Miami Herald, 5 August 2006. "'Entre jovenes' or 'between youth' ... is produced and aired by the nonprofit Cuban Democratic Directorate, which provides support to dissidents in Cuba and receives federal funding through the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy. The half-hour show addresses issues such as Internet access and alcohol abuse. Aired on shortwave radio to Cuba, it's unclear how many people it reaches." AP, 4 August 2006. See also Radio Republica website. And WRMI Radio Miami International. For a list of broadcasting efforts beamed to Cuba, see clandestineradio.com. Previous post about Cuba.

Enough advice about Radio/TV Martí to fill a Castro-style five hour speech (updated).

Posted: 04 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"(Radio and TV) Martí’s current Cuban audience could be greatly expanded, and the regime’s efforts to jam its broadcasts largely overcome, if America devoted a C-130 Commando Solo -- a type of Air Force plane -- to sending radio and television transmissions into Cuba. This should accompany the building of new, permanent broadcast platforms, as well as a review of Martí’s programming to emphasize democracy promotion." Editorial, National Review, 2 August 2006. If Radio/TV Martí broadcasts "democracy promotion," then where will the Cubans turn for news? "Radio and TV Martí are expected to get their own aircraft, but those broadcasts won't start until the end of August, at the earliest, according to people familiar with the stations' operations." Miami Herald, 3 August 2006. "State Department officials ... vowed to intensify a long-standing plan to broadcast U.S. government news to Cuba through Radio and TV Martí." Orlando Sentinel, 2 August 2006. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: "The United States has a great opportunity through the transmission of Radio Marti to help the dissidents and opposition forces in Cuba, to tell the Cuban people that they are not alone, that Fidel Castro may be out of power, but when Raul Castro consolidates his power, are we going to be better off or worse off? It’s going to be a new day for the Cuban people if we stand with them and show them that they are, in fact, not alone." WFOR-TV (Miami), 1 August 2006. "Styled after the successful Radio Free Europe during the Cold War, the Radio and TV Marti program allows the U.S. government to communicate news and other information to Cubans. A permanent transmission platform is not yet operational, and (Senator Mel) Martinez said he has written a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, asking him to find a temporary transmitter." St. Petersburg Times, 2 August 2006. "The 150 full-time employees create crude news and original programming that vie to undermine Castro. The problem, though, is that hardly anyone in Cuba is tuning in." Nicholas Shumaker, AlterNet, 3 August 2006. See also Office of Cuba Broadcasting website. Update: AFP reports Condoleezza Rice will address Cubans via Radio and TV Martí. AFP, 4 August 2006.

Two views about public diplomacy to the Muslim world.

Posted: 04 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Disengage Islamism from Muslims and Americanism will flourish among Muslims. With the deconstruction of Islamism (the ends), Islamist terror (the means) has no cause. ... Our public diplomacy leaders must no longer avoid these central questions when meeting with Muslims all over the world. Engagement involves real dialogue and debate where ideas conflict, not superficial photo-ops and sporadic ineffectual comments. Such superficial discourse actually makes the work of anti-Islamist Muslims much more difficult, for it publicly mainstreams Islamist ideology. M. Zuhdi Jasser, Washington Times, 4 August 2006. Karen Hughes' "efforts at bridging that gulf and winning hearts and minds of Arabs has [sic] become immensely harder. In siding squarely with Israel, America is now seen as encouraging the destruction of Lebanon, similar to engagements in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim adventures in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan." Hussein A. Amery, Denver Post, 4 August 2006.

Guantánamo as a public diplomacy gold mine?

Posted: 04 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Detailing how Gitmoites [detainees] menace, wound and threaten to kill U.S. personnel would dispel the myth that Gitmo teems with law-abiding shepherds and Koranic students whom U.S. forces unthinkingly captured en route to Friday prayers. While the president's terror-war defenders toil to advance his policies, bureaucrats he supposedly leads padlocked the entrance to this public-diplomacy gold mine for a year." Deroy Murdock, Scripps Howards News Service, 4 August 2006.

Press freedom groups protest attack on Alhurra employee in Iraq.

Posted: 03 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Police working for the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior today attacked and beat Ali Al Yassi, who works for US-based Arabic-language satellite channel Al Hurra." International Federation of Journalists, 1 August 2006. Reporters sans frontières protests, too. RSF, 2 August 2006. Will the Broadcasting Board of Governors protest Iraq's actions, à la BBG press release 13 July 2006 and BBG press release 22 February 2006? See previous post on same subject.

Shortwave instead of nuclear bombs?

Posted: 03 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"In late May (1945), Herbert Hoover called on Truman and told him, 'I am convinced that if you, as President, will make a shortwave radio broadcast to the people of Japan -- tell them they can have their Emperor if they surrender, that it will not mean unconditional surrender except for militarists -- you’ll get a peace in Japan, you’ll have both wars over." Artvoice (Buffalo), 3 August 2006.

Examining the Worldspace satellite radio business plan in India.

Posted: 01 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"Things changed around August 2005 when the company dropped the entry price for its receiver and subscription, from about Rs 5,500 to Rs 1,999 (bundled with a three-month subscription). 'We subsidised the receiver’s cost, bearing some of the cost. A lower entry price-point has been a key reason for our subscriptions shooting up in the past eight-nine months.'" Business Standard, 1 August 2006. See previous post on same subject.

Listening to VOA behind the Iron Curtain.

Posted: 01 Aug 2006   Print   Send a link
"We used to listen in the kitchen late at night, with the radio antenna attached to the heating system to improve our reception." RedState blog, 31 July 2006. "You used to stay up late as a kid and listen to Voice of America on radio? A: You weren't allowed to listen, but I had a shortwave radio. We listened to Three Dog Night, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was like mid-1970s stuff." Toronto Star, 30 July 2006. VOA did play some of that, but it sounds more like Radio Luxembourg, whose influence in the Warsaw Pact nations has not been sufficiently documented.

Slow down and enjoy VOA Special English.

Posted: 31 Jul 2006   Print   Send a link
"Using a 1,500-word vocabulary and short, simple phrases without the idioms and clichés of colloquial English, broadcasters speak at about two-thirds the speed of conversational English. But far from sounding like a record played at the wrong speed, Special English is a complicated skill that takes months of training with a professional voice coach who teaches how to breathe properly and enunciate clearly." New York Times, 29 July 2006.