As war in Somalia intensifies, VOA expands Amharic (updated).

Posted: 28 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
New transmission at 6:00-6:30 a.m. in Ethiopia, repeated at 7:00, beginning 28 December. Voice of America press release, 26 December 2006. The press release does not mention that VOA has been discussing, during the past few years, the revival of the VOA Somali Service. VOA previously broadcast in Somali from 1992 to 1994. VOA has reduced capability to reach the Horn of Africa. The BBG's medium wave relay at Djibouti might work, but is presently dedicated to transmit Radio Sawa 24 hours. One or two shortwave transmitters at the Djibouti would have been a good idea, because shortwave listening rates remain high in the Horn of Africa, even absent crises. Another shortwave site capable of reaching eastern Africa is the now closed relay at Kavala, Greece. Update: Frequencies are 13815 and 15610 kHz, 0300-0330 and 0400-0430 UTC.

New life for old Soviet jammers?

Posted: 28 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The head of the [Russian] Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, Mikhail Seslavinskiy, has said that the Soviet-era network of radio jamming stations should be preserved and used in case of emergency. ... 'This is a common world practice during anti-terrorist operations: jamming stations are switched on, and nobody can use mobile phones, listen to the radio or watch television.'" Ekho Moskvy, cited by BBC Monitoring, 27 December 2006.

Australia Network will expand footprint.

Posted: 28 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
International channel of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation "has renewed its multi-year contract with Intelsat" and "will now be able to distribute programming beyond its existing Asia-Pacific footprint to reach new viewers in the cable neighborhoods of the South Asian region served by PAS-10 and to be positioned for additional access into new markets such as the Middle East and India." Also expands from a single time feed to "three prime time feeds covering the Pacific island nations, Asian land mass and South Asia regions." Intelsat press release, 19 December 2006. See also Australia Network website.

Earthquakes as gatekeepers.

Posted: 28 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Internet was designed to be re-routed in the event of damage. 'In practice, so much traffic is funnelled through a small number of fibre-optic submarine cables. It's a lot more fragile than most people think.'" AFP, 28 December 2006. See also Reuters, 28 December 2006 and another Reuters, 28 December 2006. International broadcasters who are increasingly shifting the distribution of their content to the internet should note that undersea cables can also be disrupted by humans, durings wars and crises, when international broadcasting is most needed."

BBC World's "value proposition" in India.

Posted: 28 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Jane Gorard, director of marketing and communication at BBC World says: "We have always known that we can never be the No 1 choice for local news. But if India makes international news, people would immediately want to know how the world, or how BBC specifically reports that event and that’s where we draw our value proposition from." Also, encryption has not reduced the number of households that can receive BBC World. Financial Express (Mumbai), 28 December 2006.

Support for international broadcasting and public diplomacy budgets.

Posted: 28 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Record" 162 members of Congress sign letter to President Bush supporting U.S. diplomatic and development programs. One of them, Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), says: "The U.S. International Affairs Budget supports many critical elements of the struggle for hearts and minds, including international broadcasting and other public diplomacy, educational exchange programs, and efforts to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We need to increase the International Affairs Budget -- not as a favor to others, but as a means to strengthen our own national security." U.S. Global Leadership Campaign press release, 27 December 2006. See also USGLC website.

Blame Hollywood for poor American image abroad?

Posted: 27 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Like most Bush-era efforts at public diplomacy, however, conservative cultural criticism concerned about Hollywood’s impact abroad has the circular quality of a brand of patriotism that repeats endlessly the virtues and assumptions of its own community but is disinclined either to listen to other views or to ask itself new questions. Liberal and leftist political art can be demagogic and absurd with the best of them. But thoughtful liberal students of American and international mass culture, in addition to having their own criticisms of movie producers’ formulas, do distinguish themselves from their conservative counterparts by generally celebrating the proliferation of voices and ideas and images that make our culture stimulating and ever-changing, the springboard not only of much global debate but of so many different aspirations." penandneedle, TPM Cafe, 26 December 2006.

Cal Thomas interviews Karen Hughes but remains skeptical about public diplomacy.

Posted: 27 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Ms. Hughes is particularly fond of the exchange program that allows students and others to come to the United States to study and to observe Muslims and others able to dress, worship and associate as they please. Again, I wonder whether this approach is a Cold War relic. The 9/11 hijackers lived, worked and worshiped here; they observed our way of life, and they killed 3,000 of us." Cal Thomas, Baltimore Sun, 27 December 2006.

The noisy future of shortwave.

Posted: 26 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Federal Communications Commission has dismissed complaints by local amateur radio operators alleging that Manassas' [Virginia] broadband over powerline system interferes with their signals. Many shortwave radio users, including amateur radio users, or 'hams,' have opposed BPL technology for its interference since its implementation in Manassas in 2003." Potomac News, 25 December 2006. See also American Radio Relay League, 22 December 2006.

Finding a parallel between General Pinochet and Radio Free Europe.

Posted: 26 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"When it was revealed that Radio Free Europe, where I did a short stint as a child actor back in the mid 1950s, and Encounter magazine, both got support from the CIA, the Left hollered from glee and some of my own libertarian pals were ecstatic -- after all, the government once against did something bad and isn’t that wonderful for the cause of discrediting it even while greater evils are overlooked. Hell with real politics; never mind what Allende would have done with Chile, and never mind that those in Eastern Europe benefited a lot from RFE and that Encounter was a very fine magazine." Tibor R. Machan, Free-Market News Network, 25 December 2006.

Interview with Alarabiya’s Washington bureau chief.

Posted: 24 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Q: What is your personal position on the differences between Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera? S. Abdullah Schleifer: I think the major difference is that Al Jazeera has always had a problem of reconciling its head and its heart. Its head is trained by BBC standards. The problem is not how it did the story, rather the problem is the stories that it decided to do and the stories it decided not to do." Alsharq Alawsat, 23 December 2006.

Editorials slam Radio/TV Martí.

Posted: 24 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"For their $530 million, U.S. taxpayers have little to show but a nest of patronage jobs in Miami, another bone tossed to the anti-Castro crowd that means so much on Election Day in Florida. A better way to expose Cubans to the delights of a free society would be to lift the restrictions that keep Americans from traveling to Cuba and spending money there." Chicago Tribune, 23 December 2006. "More than four months after the stunning news out of Havana about Fidel Castro's condition, the best U.S. policymakers can come up with are meager, retro steps. The latest reinvention of the anti-Castro wheel is a deal to air TV Martí programs on a Spanish-language TV and radio station in Miami in hopes of back-dooring the broadcasts into Cuba. That's it. That's the best the Bush administration can do in the face of a historic opportunity?" South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 22 December 2006. See previous post about Radio/TV Martí.

Zimbabwe officials ordered to give the shortwave radios back (updated).

Posted: 24 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"A Gokwe magistrate has ordered two identified security agents to return the radio receivers they seized from teachers in the area after the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) successfully filed an application for the granting of the provision order. ... (The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe) bought the short-wave radio receivers for teachers in the area to enable them to keep abreast with developments in the country because of the poor television and radio signals of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings’ broadcasts." Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 19 December 2006. "Due to lack of transmission sites and depleted stations, only 30 percent of the country receives radio and television coverage from the state-controlled broadcaster while the other 70 percent relies on foreign stations." Media Institute of Southern Africa, 21 December 2006. See previous post about the confiscation of the radios. "(Westerners have set up) propaganda stations modelled along RTLM station of Rwanda that precipitated the 1994 genocide, and extremist rags like The Zimbabwean, The defunct Daily News and Weekly Times that propagated hate speech. At present, this effort has seen the establishment of pirate [sic] radio stations among them -- Studio 7, Short Wave Radio Africa, and Voice of the People -- and over 30 websites dedicated to peddling the lie of a divided society." The Herald (Harare), 22 December 2006. Update: Zimbabwe information official tells Chinhoyi Press Club that it "should espouse patriotism among its members some of whom have been accused of stringing for foreign media under the guise of pseudonyms. 'Many are stringing for anti-Zimbabwe propaganda radio stations such as Voice of the People, Voice of America, Studio 7, SW Radio Africa and Radio Netherlands among others. We look forward to an end of this obnoxious, unprofessional and unpatriotic practice among journalists.'" The Herald (Harare), 23 December 2006.

Accident involving RFA Cambodia correspondent unresolved.

Posted: 24 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is concerned that Cambodian authorities are not investigating an apparent traffic accident that has left a journalist of Radio Free Asia, Sok Serei, in critical condition." SEAPA, 22 December 2006. Reporters sans frontières calls for "a thorough and impartial investigation into a traffic accident in which Sok Serei, one of the Cambodia correspondents of Radio Free Asia’s Khmer-language service, was knocked off his motorcycle and seriously injured in Phnom Penh on the evening of 13 December. ... there are witnesses who say a vehicle deliberately struck Sok Serei’s motorcycle." RSF, 15 December 2006.

BBC copes with its American market.

Posted: 22 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Yes, BBC World reaches 281 million households worldwide. But, like soccer, the BBC remains second-string, and probably always will be, to the tradition-bound American audience. In the U.S., American broadcasters dwarf the BBC, which reaches 2 million households in this country." Jon Friedman, MarketWatch, 22 December 2006. Sale of public radio stations in Senatobia, Mississipi and Dyersburg, Tennessee, to an organization that will braodcast Christian contemporary music will evict BBC World News from the FM dial in those two communities. Memphis Commercial Appeal, 21 December 2006. BBC World Service will be available as side channel on new digital service of KUT-FM, Austin. Austin Chronicle, 22 December 2006.

An art critic's criticism of the Global Cultural Initiative.

Posted: 22 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The CIA-backed Congress for Cultural Freedom, founded in 1950, endorsed the non-objective vocabulary of Abstract Expressionist painting as a counterpoint to Soviet Socialist Realism (ignoring the politics of the former’s left-leaning practitioners). The emphasis has shifted, however, from freedom of expression to the fate of civilization. To make this point Hughes invoked a comparison between us ‘civilized’ people who appreciate art and the ‘violent extremists we face in the war against terror’." Nancy Sector, frieze.com (undated). See previous post about the GCI.

Mark McKinnon: Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors? Senior staffer on the McCain presidential campaign? Republican? Democrat? (updated)

Posted: 22 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Mark McKinnon is recess appointed to be a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, thereby sidestepping the Senate approval process. "Bush had picked McKinnon for a Democratic seat on the board. When Senate Democrats objected, Bush did did some juggling and named McKinnon to a GOP seat, but there never was a confirmation hearing." Austin Statesman, 20 December 2006. McKinnon is described as a senior staffer on the John McCain presidential campaign, by the Boston Herald, 21 December 2006 and New York Times, 20 December 2006. Update: McKinnon says: "This board is doing very important work confronting some of the biggest challenges this country faces trying to communicate the American image abroad." Cox News Service, 22 December 2006. "Because of a Democratic vacancy, McKinnon's appointment tips the balance on the board to the Republicans." McClatchy Newspapers, 22 December 2006. Now that Mr. McKinnon is one of its key decision makers, perhaps he should be informed that U.S. international broadcasting does not succeed by "communicating the American image abroad" but by providing the accurate, credible news that is not available from the domestic media in many target countries. As for the BBG's balance, the party of the president will always have a majority, because there are four Republicans, four Democrats, and the secretary of state, presumably of the same party as the president.

Australia, Canada, and maybe the Netherlands via FM to India.

Posted: 22 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia and Radio Canada International have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indira Gandhi National Open University, which contributes programs to Gyanvani, a national network of educational FM stations in India. PTI, 21 December 2006. Radio Netherlands also looking for partnerships in India. "Talks are on with AIR, Radio Mirchi, Radio City and many more. We have got good response from different radio stations, but no deal has been signed yet." exchange4media.com, 22 December 2006.

Improving Russia's image abroad in 2007. Or maybe 2008.

Posted: 21 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Russia's "main goal in 2007 would be to 'correct Russia's image abroad at least a little bit.' Russia's image abroad has clearly deteriorated over the year, despite its chairmanship of the Group of Eight and the establishment of Russia Today television, the English-language channel aimed at improving foreign impressions of the country. ... We'll have to wait until 2008 -- and for Putin's successor -- to try to work again with a clean slate." Georgy Bovt, The Moscow Times, 21 December 2006.

New programs on Radio Farda. But why?

Posted: 21 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Radio Farda has introduced several new thematic programs during the last several weeks that provide listeners in Iran new depth and breadth in program content about human rights and democracy issues in their own country as well as in Iran's relationship with the United States." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 20 December 2006. Were these new programs the result of focus groups of Iranian listeners? Or of "focus groups" of Washington decision makers or conservative critics of the station? For criticism of Radio Farda, see previous posts on 14 December and 14 November.

Aljazeera English still making news as well as disseminating it.

Posted: 21 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
CBC-TV "will begin airing content from Al Jazeera English just as it uses reports from the BBC and other foreign broadcasters, both on-the-spot reports and docs. 'Al Jazeera has approached us for that arrangement, and I don't see any reason why we wouldn't do it.'" Glenn Wheeler, Now Toronto, 21 December 2006. "They don't seem to be heavily slanted in their perspective as of now. Someone mentioned that it's somewhere between the spectrum of FOX News and Hezbollah's Al Manar Channel and will slowly find its gradient on this scale of extremes." Kim [another Kim], Desicritics, 21 December 2006. Aljazeera English and BBC Entertainment will be available on Malaysian pay TV provider Astro All Asian Networks. New Straits Times, 21 December 2006. Aljazeera English and Arabic on MTC-Vodafone mobiles in Bahrain. Gulf Daily News, 21 December 2006.

¿Difusión doméstica, o no? (updated)

Posted: 21 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Radio and TV Martí programming to be broadcast via purchased time on Radio Mambí 710 AM and WPMF-TV 38 in South Florida. "According to the act governing Radio Martí, the U.S. government is allowed to lease time on the AM band to overcome significant signal-jamming by the Cuban government. The provision for the TV Martí broadcasts is far less clear." Miami Herald, 19 December 2006. "Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass. -- slated to chair the oversight and investigations subcommittee for the House International Relations Committee -- said he will move to hold hearings on the Martís in late January or early February." Miami Herald, 20 December 2006. WAQI Radio Mambí has a 50 kW transmitter with a night-time pattern to the south. However, Cuba's radio Rebelde has four transmitters on the same 710 kHz frequency, ranging from 10 to 150 kW. WPMF-TV has low power, but it is carried by DirecTV Latin America, which is reported to be "pirated" in Cuba. Update: "A 'big ol' wet kiss of a Christmas present to' Mambi at taxpayer expense?" Jim DeFede, WFOR-TV (Miami), 20 December 2006. Governor Jeb Bush says: "The people that want more truth to come [to Cuba] because they believe that will hasten the transition to freedom in Cuba believe we've got to find out ways to get Radio and TV Martí into Cuba, and I'm on that side." Miami Herald, 21 December 2006. See previous post about Radio/TV Martí.

They are still talking about France 24 (and I finally found the live stream).

Posted: 21 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"As is often the case with French foreign policy, then, audiences can expect an independently-minded and vocal counter-weight to existing news sources." Yasmine Ryan, Scoop, 21 December 2006. "I hope that Jacques Chirac didn't insist on that project just because he was in a bad relation with George Bush, in that period (and also with Blair, Berlusconi, Aznar...), otherwise it'd be just the most bizarre project launched in recent years by a reigning sovereign." Diego Malcangi, Newropeans Magazine, 21 December 2006. I had trouble finding the live video stream at www.france24.fr. On the English home page, it says: "Watch France 24 live. Click on 'live feed'." That "live feed" is a link, but it is not the link to the live feed. Instead, it takes you back to the French-language home page. The live feed link that you are looking for is in much smaller type, just above. Maybe France 24 could have given us at least a hint where the live feed link is. Is it similarly difficult to find the ignition swith on a Citroën?

Defense department occupation of State Department turf?

Posted: 20 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"One area where the Pentagon has expanded its operations dramatically since Sept. 11, 2001, is information operations designed to build support for American policies and marginalize radical messages in Muslim nations. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon has ratcheted up its information campaign to fill the vacuum left by the gutting of the State Department's "public diplomacy" budget at the end of the Cold War." New York Times, 20 December 2006.

Euronews becoming more visible in the Arab world.

Posted: 19 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Middle East satellite broadcaster Orbit Communications "will have exclusive distribution right for EuroNews in 12 countries including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. Additionally, Orbit will have non-exclusive rights across 13 countries including the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Cyprus. Orbit already broadcasts five news channels Sky, BBC, CNBC, CNN and Orbit News." Gulf News, 17 December 2006.

Maybe RFE/RL is thinking of adding television (updated).

Posted: 19 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Employees of a private security service guarding Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Prague photograph and video record with digital apparatuses selected passers-by at public places." CTK, 16 December 2006. New oral history of James L. Buckley includes his time as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1982-1985. Review by Willam F. Gavin, Washington Times, 17 December 2006. See also ISI Books. Update: "The Office for the Protection of Personal Data may impose a fine of up to 10 million crowns" [about $500,000]. CTK, 19 December 2006.

Banding together to unblock the internet.

Posted: 19 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Four world-leading companies in Internet anti-jamming technologies reached an agreement today that starts full-scale cooperation in their technology and business operations. The four companies are the World's Gate, Inc., the Dynamic Internet Technology, Inc., the UltraReach Internet Corp, and the Garden Networks for Freedom of Information Inc. ... The companies' technologies will help users not only in mainland China, but also other authoritarian regimes, including Belarus, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, North Korea, Tunisia, and Vietnam." Joint press release, 18 December 2006.

Radio and TV Martí under the looking glass (updated).

Posted: 19 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Special report in the Chicago Tribune. "The problem is that the Cuban audience can smell spin a mile away." Chicago Tribune, 14 December 2006. "We don't believe in impartiality and objectivity. We don't exercise American journalism. We exercise Latin American journalism." Chicago Tribune, 14 December 2006. Perhaps the solution is to privatize Radio/TV Martí, allowing it to be funded by its ardent supporters. Then restore VOA's "Cita con Cuba." (Actually, VOA Spanish already has "Ventana a Cuba" daily except Tuesdays.) Transmit that and general Spanish VOA programming to Cuba, using shortwave, the medium most resistant to interdiction. The service does not have to be 24-hours, nor on television. Cubans who want the news that provides a reality check to Cuba's state-controlled domestic news will make the effort to tune in during prime morning and evening hours. "Records show that in 2005 Radio Martí -- which is best heard on shortwave radio that bypasses Cuba's jamming -- spent about 250 times more money to reach a listener in Cuba than the U.S. spent to reach listeners through Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. For TV Martí, reaching a viewer was 1,500 times more expensive than for those other U.S. broadcasters." Miami Herald, 18 December 2006. Update: "Program quality reports done this summer for TV Martí and for Radio Martí found many news and entertainment shows met U.S. guidelines for balance and fairness, but bias and vulgarity crept into some shows, and selection of guests or contract hosts seemed out of place for topics covered in other shows." Miami Herald, 19 December 2006.

"Anyhoo" as a segue and other improvements to Aljazeera English, as suggested by "The Daily Show."

Posted: 18 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Video snippet via the Huffington Post, 14 December 2006. And among more conventional commentary: "It was another notable addition to the growing global efforts aimed at counterbalancing American-European domination over world media: deciding on what story is to be told and how, thus shaping public opinion, reinforcing Westerns policies, disseminating its own ideas and ideals, at the expense of the almost entirely neglected and utterly hapless audiences that neither relate nor wish to identify with such discourses." Ramzy Baroud, Malaysia Sun, 18 December 2006. "People believe in what they believe. No channel in the world would change their minds. An anti-American or anti-Western viewer would not change his/her mind even if the channel broadcasts in their own language, let alone in a language they are not in command of. The same applies to anti-Arabs and anti-Muslims viewers. People around the globe watch the channels that cast views congruent with their own." Sami Alrabaa, Kuwait Times, 18 December 2006.

Too soon for France 24?

Posted: 18 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Some British commentators have suggested that the channel, which launched at 8.20pm last Wednesday, has poor production values compared to the existing rolling news channels. But the channel's MD, Jean-Yves Bonsergent, told Press Gazette: 'When you are launching something, of course you have to adapt in the first few hours to get all the elements to their highest quality. We are working on that really quickly in order that it is solved and I think most of our problems have been.'" Press Gazette, 18 December 2006.

Public diplomacy: 1) "semantic infiltration" and 2) "diplomacy of deeds."

Posted: 18 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"For many decades, we did indeed parrot all manner of clever Soviet distortions (people's democracies, patriotic fronts, progressive movements, wars of national liberation, Liberation Theology, etc.) -- just as we are today parroting such false al Qaeda-concocted terms as so-called 'Jihad' (Holy War) by supposed 'mujahideen' (holy warriors) and 'martyrs' allegedly destined for a sex-orgy 'Paradise' as a proper reward for killing all of us 'infidels.'" Jim Guirard, Accuracy in Media, 18 December 2006. "Bad news tends to crowd out good deeds, although it's clearly more complicated than that. Across the world, America feeds the poor, educates the illiterate, cares for the sick and responds to disasters. We support so many different development projects, in fact, that we often get little credit for any of them. And in this time of war, such good news stories are overshadowed by the somber news of loss." Karen Hughes, usinfo.state.gov, 17 December 2006.

The King's College Choir always sounds best with a little bit of fading.

Posted: 18 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Christmas Eve is one of the days on which I shut myself in my study to get away from it all, but at 11 am I mentally transport myself 5000 miles (with the help of the BBC) to the Chapel of King's College Cambridge and listen to a carol service - the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is sung by one of the finest choirs on this planet. If you have a short-wave radio give yourself a treat and join me." John Warrington, Stabroek News (Guyana), 17 December 2006.

The dangerous profession of international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 18 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Omar Mohammed, of US-run Arabic satellite channel al Hurra, escaped a second murder attempt after being ambushed in central Baghdad." Reporters sans frontières, 14 December 2006. Reporters sans frontières calls for "a thorough and impartial investigation into a traffic accident in which Sok Serei, one of the Cambodia correspondents of Radio Free Asia’s Khmer-language service, was knocked off his motorcycle and seriously injured in Phnom Penh on the evening of 13 December. ... there are witnesses who say a vehicle deliberately struck Sok Serei’s motorcycle." RSF, 15 December 2006. "As for the murder [in Turkmenistan of RFE/RL correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova], this human rights violation -- is it to be forgotten? Will no one be held responsible?" Anadurdy Khajiyev, Washington Post, 16 December 2006. See previous post about Muradova. Update: "Informed sources in Ethiopia and Eritrea have confirmed that the Voice of America stringer from Asmara Mr. Aklilu Solomon has managed to safely escape to Ethiopia." Asmarino Independet, 17 December 2006.

For listening to international radio, wireless broadband may not be a substitute for shortwave.

Posted: 18 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Renting a movie from Amazon's Unbox service, listening to a Web radio station, calling somebody via Skype, sending a TV show to your laptop via a Slingbox or playing a round of poker online-- they're all banned" by Cingular and Verizon wireless broadband services. Rob Pegoraro, Washington Post, 17 December 2006. And so if you have Cingular or Verizon wireless broadband, you will be limited in your ability to receive BBC. It's difficult to receive via shortwave now that it's no longer beamed to North America. Your local public FM station takes only a few BBC offerings, mostly in the wee hours. Your cable system almost certainly does not carry BBC World. You would be forced to buy an XM or Sirius satellite receiver, and subscribe to the service.

VOA News gets Googles.

Posted: 18 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
In November 2006, voanews.com was number 5 among number one sources and number 5 among home page sources of news at news.google.com, according to newsknife.com. Part of the reason might be that other news organizations cite VOA because they don't have to worry about copyright issues. Or do news organizations cite "Voice of America" because they believe this is a way to reflect the government view of an issue? Whatever, search engine hits no doubt add substantially to the VOA "audience."

Who needs Borat when you have newspaper advertisements?

Posted: 16 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
On 12 December, the Embassy of Kazakhstan ran a half page advertisement in the Washington Post, under the headline "Who Needs Borat? Here's the Kazakh President." Typical of newspaper ads purchased by foreign governments, it is full of small-point text. The introduction states, "In this exclusive article, Nursultan Nazarbayev presents a different picture of his homeland to the caricature of Sasha Baron Cohen's film. It is thriving, optimistic nation. We like!" For previous ads from Kazakhstan (and eventually this one), see Diplomatic Traffic.com. Trendline Russia is a six-page weekly supplement to the Washington Post (and other newspapers), published by Rossiiskaya Gazeta and RIA Novosti. It contains generally upbeat news about Russia, especially about business matters. The 13 December issue includes an interview with Transneft president Semyon Vainshtok. First question: "What are the advantages of state-controlled companies over private ones?" See Washington Post page about Trendline Russia. Also related: RIA Novosti and Russia Profile.org ("unwrapping the mystery inside the enigma").

Plenty of international broadcasts in Nairobi.

Posted: 16 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Comments about foreign broadcasting available via Kenyan domestic radio and television channels, including Aljazeera English, CNN, China's CCTV, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Sky News, China Radio International, and VOA. "Unlike Al-Jazeera, CCTV-1 hasn’t managed to jump over the accent huddle let alone cover any news outside the precincts of the Republic of China. KBC goes an extra mile to affiliate with the BBC Television, which has a considerably rich global coverage. The station also affiliates with Deutsche Welle Television. This German based Media House does not disappoint in projecting world issues from the Angela Merkel’s state’s perspective." Kenya London News, 16 December 2006. See previous post about a Kenyan's official's call to eliminate relays of foreign broadcasts if the foreign countries don't allow reciprocal access for Kenyan broadcasts.

Indian shortwave listener reaps foreign broadcasters' prizes.

Posted: 16 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"I have won countless T-shirts, caps and track pants from [VOA]. ... . I recently got a prize from China Radio International. I took part in a competition for listeners and won the top prize among seven lakh competitors from 14 countries. In fact, I have just returned from a fully-sponsored trip to Beijing where I was awarded on December 3. I took my warm clothes. But in Beijing, I could not stand the sub-zero temperatures. The organisers were very kind to get coats and suits stitched for me." Times of India, 16 December 2006.

Voice of Tibet still jammed.

Posted: 16 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Currently, VOT broadcasts a daily 30 minute program in Tibetan followed by a 15 minute program in Mandarin Chinese. The programs are produced by Tibetan journalists, with the main editorial office being in Dharamsala, India. According to VOT, the programs mainly focus on development inside Tibet, activities of the Dalai Lama, and activities and workings of the Tibetan institutions in exile." International Campaign for Tibet, 15 December 2006.

RCI Viva is "Canada 101."

Posted: 15 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
RCI Viva is Radio Canada International's new web-based audio service for immigrants to Canada. "Audience size, relatively easy to measure on websites, will be available for Viva before the end of the year. ... Viva prides itself on broadcasting the unvarnished truth about Canada but, as yet, there is apparently no decision on whether to risk deterring prospective immigrants by revealing that Celine Dion has moved to Las Vegas." Ottawa Citizen, 10 December 2006.

Zimbabwe government fights shortwave with shortwave (updated).

Posted: 15 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"A new Radio Station called 247 SW ... will broadcast on the short wave frequency in direct competition with the Voice of America's Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa which broadcasts from London." New Zimbabwe.com, 30 November 2006. "While monies have been made available for capital development, no working capital was allocated. This makes it very difficult to operationalise this new project whose main elements are already in place and which is unlikely to attract commercial interest by virtue of its short-wave frequency." The Herald (Harare), 12 December 2006. Update: "Robson Mhandu will move to Gweru to head a new Radio Station called 247 SW which will broadcast on the short wave frequency in direct competition with the Voice of America's Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa which broadcasts from London." New Zimbabwe.com, 15 December 2006.

Broadcasting to Iran: instead of what *they* want to hear, it should be what *we* want them to hear.

Posted: 14 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"To become an effective instrument in the war of ideas, Radio Farda should be completely overhauled, not just tinkered with. Six strategies are required, all of them based on proven RFE/RL choices and methods." I.e., 1) question the regime's legitimacy, 2) highlight the leadership's disunity, 3) highlight threats to Iran's culture, 4) describe Iran's isolation, economic decline, and growing lack of competitiveness, 5) build critical/pragmatic thinking, and 6) empower alterntave power centers with new ideas. S. Enders Wimbush, Weekly Standard, 14 December 2006. Right. And the Iranian audience will not notice that they are being subject to such a meticulously engineered message? They will detect it with their noses as much as with their ears. Many Iranians want music they they can't get from Iranian domestic radio, and so listen to Radio Farda. This is market-based international broadcasting, as opposed to the centrally planned product that conservatives, ironically, are so fond of. Other Iranians want balanced and objective news about Iran, the United States, and the rest of the world. The Voice of Amerian Persian radio and television services, unmentioned in Mr. Wimbush's article, provide that. This despite the "theory" (actually the myth) of U.S. international broadcasting, that holds that only a "surrogate" station called Radio Free Whatever can provide news and information about the target country.

Beyond public diplomacy: civic diplomacy.

Posted: 14 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"This new strategy must rely more on the ear than the mouth, more on 'second track' rather than official diplomacy, and more on civic engagement than the actions of government representatives." Nancy Snow, Foreign Policy in Focus, 13 December 2006. "America's inability to listen is tied to its preoccupation with designing and delivering messages." R.S. Zaharna, ibid. "Public diplomats wield the unique ability to act as a direct conduit between foreign publics and American foreign policymakers." John Robert Kelly, ibid. "Our official public diplomacy efforts have focused so narrowly on the Middle East that many feel they are being singled out as targets in the U.S.-led war on terror. I look forward to a time when we can engage in U.S. public diplomacy efforts that are driven less by such bulls-eyes tactics and more by eyes open wide." Nancy Snow's response, ibid.

Satellites, internet, and freedom.

Posted: 14 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"It used to be the old model was: 'we publish the story, people read it', that is a one-way communications system. Now people can participate in our reporting, they can send us questions, they can send us comments, they can help shape our coverage." VOA News, 13 December 2006. My VOA program Communications World (1995-2002) was an early example of this. Listeners sent in news, or audio excerpts of radio stations they were hearing, or pictures of their satellite reception, which I placed on the program's website. It was very interactive.

VOA Bethany is now officially historic.

Posted: 13 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
The former Voice of America transmitter building near Cincinnati is named to the National Register of Historic Places. "It well deserves the honor because of its important position in helping us win World War II and telling other countries the truth of what was happening on the other side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War." Cincinnati Equirer, 13 December 2006. West Chester Township seeking thirteen people to serve on board to develop a museum at the old VOA Bethany transmitting station. Cincinnati Enquirer, 12 December 2006. Russian jazz saxophone player Igor Butman: "I remember I heard this guy [Wynton Marsalis] on the Voice of America, and I was blown away." Bloomberg, 11 December 2006.

Aljazeera English replaces BBC World on Israel's Yes satellite television service.

Posted: 13 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has had a difficult time over its coverage of Israel, with regular accusations of bias coming from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides." Media Guardian, 13 December 2006. "Surprisingly, the Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera's English web site story on the Holocaust conference had far more balance than the [National Public Radio] report on Monday. Covering the same event, Al Jazeera was able to tell its audience that the conference has deeply offended the 25,000-strong Jewish community in Iran." FreeMediaOnline.com, 11 December 2006. "The Iran-backed, Arabic-language Al-Alam and the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera are the only TV channels observed to cover the conference on the day it opened in Tehran. The two channels, especially the latter, aired lengthy reports accompanied by video footage which included interviews with European participants. Al-Alam's presenter used terms such as the 'holocaust theory' and 'what is called the holocaust' in his report. The report also included a quote from a member of the Jews against Zionism group who attended the conference, expressing doubts about the truth behind the Holocaust. Al-Jazeera's coverage of the story included a screen caption with the words 'what is known as the holocaust' in its description of the conference." BBC Monitoring via BBC News, 12 December 2006.

Private broadcaster ANS in Baku back on the air, minus VOA, RFE/RL, and BBC.

Posted: 13 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The [ANS] radio and television stations previously had rebroadcast programs by the BBC and Voice of America, but are now barred from doing so." VOA News, 12 December 2006. As mentioned in the previous post about Azerbaijan, BBC has been awarded an FM frequency, and VOA and RFE/RL will share another, in Baku. But this still leaves the VOA Azeri television program without a terrestrial television outlet.

Get the news first, or get it à la française.

Posted: 12 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"While poking around France 24 on Sunday afternoon I noticed their 'derniere heure' bulletin saying Chilean television was claiming Augusto Pinochet had died. That was the extent of their coverage as of 13:46. So I checked what www.cnn.com had to say and sure enough, there was a complete news story from Associated Press, last updated at 13:37, on a high-profile death that occurred at 12:15. (At 15:00 when I checked again, France 24 had a complete story from Agence France-Presse on its front page.) Perhaps waiting for breaking news is distinctly French; it's certainly exactly what them nasty Anglo-Saxons over at CNN or BBC or Fox don't ask you to do. I'm not saying my day wouldn't have been complete had I been forced to wait an extra hour to learn that Pinochet had died. After all, he then stayed dead. But when you go into business boasting that you will give CNN a run for its money and annoy the Anglo-Saxons with how superior you are, the least you can do is show up on time." Brigitte Pellerin, Ottawa Citizen, 12 December 2006. France 24 now available via DStv satellite bouquet of MultiChoice Africa. New Vision (Kampala), 10 December 2006.

How do Sex and the City, South Park, Friends, Seinfeld, and Oprah portray America to the world?

Posted: 12 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The United States is now in the position of having to affirm the crucial importance of free speech in a world that has serious doubts about it. And the best way to do this is to show that freedom is self-correcting: that the American people possess not only liberty but also a civilization worthy of liberty." Martha Bayles (author of forthcoming book about cultural diplomacy), American Enterprise Institute, 11 December 2006.

Karen Hughes interviewed.

Posted: 12 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"I've got a young man who monitors the Web. I want him to respond. Government employees don't like to do this. There's risk. You make a mistake, and you get criticized. You think, I won't do that any more and risk my career. We need to change that. The greatest mistake is not getting out there." Dallas Morning News, 12 December 2006. "This is one job in government that matters. And whatever your view of her boss, you had better hope she gets it right." William McKenzie, Dallas Morning News, 12 December 2006.

BBC's FM outlet in Moscow interrupted (updated).

Posted: 10 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Its Russian-language FM radio broadcasts in Moscow had been off the air since November 24 due to unexplained 'technical difficulties' at its local partners. The BBC said it had no information to suggest that there was a political motive for the break in transmission. Overall relations between Britain and Russia have soured markedly over the past year and took a major dive after the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London last month." Reuters, 8 December 2006. Update: "The service is still broadcast on short wave and [local] medium wave, although the FM transmission is the most accessible in the Russian capital, where most of the one million Russian Service listeners live. A member of the Russian Service said that staff suspected that the broadcasts were taken off air to stop Muscovites hearing allegations that Russian security services were linked to the Litvinenko killing. The staff member added that the 40 Russian journalists working for the BBC in Moscow were fearful for their safety if the Litvinenko story continued to dominate the headlines." Times Online, 9 December 2006

Not completely silenced in Azerbaijan (updated).

Posted: 10 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The National Television and Radio Council announced on 24 November that it was withdrawing the licence of ANS, the leading independent TV station. ANS stopped broadcasting the same day. As the BBC, RFE/RL and Voice of America were retransmitted on ANS’s channels, the withdrawal of the licence meant these radio stations have also been silenced." Reporters sans frontières, 4 December 2006. Not completely silenced: BBC and RFE/RL still have their own frequencies in Azerbaijan. However, VOA Azeri television no longer has a terrestrial outlet in the country. VOA and RFE/RL, no longer heard via the closed ANS, awarded a frequency to share. "The National TV and Radio Council will be the owner of the frequency." Trend news agency, 7 December 2006. Turan news agency, via BBC Monitoring, reports that the FM frequency will be 101.7 MHz. RFE/RL already has medium wave 1530 kHz in Baku. VOA still has no terrestrial outlet for its Azeri television program. Update: "As for BBC programmes which were also broadcast on ANS, they will now be on the air on 103.3 FM." Baku Today, 9 December 2006. "First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva has met Mr. Karen Hughes, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy." Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency AzerTAj, 9 December 2006. See previous post about Azerbaijan.

Ambitious music contest on BBC World Service (updated).

Posted: 10 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service "has set out to find the best young band or best young solo singer in the world. This is the BBC’s first global contest in music — as opposed to drama, where it has run an international playwriting competition for a decade — and maybe the world’s first, too. More than 1,100 entries, from 35 countries, had arrived by last weekend’s deadline." But listeners themselves can't vote because of BBC's past bad experiences with vote rigging. Paul Donovan, The Times, 19 November 2006. See also BBCWS press release, 2 October 2006. Finalists are from Armenia, Brazil, Malawi, Ghana, the United States, and two from the U.K. BBC News, 29 November 2006. Update: The Armenian wins. BBC News, 9 December 2006.

Aljazeera English website panned.

Posted: 10 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"What is the English website supposed to be for? It is pathetic. Doesn't even give you the day's AJE schedule. Nor transcripts of Riz, Frost interviews (except very few). Nor even a half-decent news roundup. Any reader who chooses to go there, rather than BBC News, will be disappointed and fail to return. Pull your socks up, webfolk. The sometimes pretty good channel content is woefully let down by feeble web stuff." Forum entry from "Nigel Parsons" (not necessarily the Nigel Parsons, managing director of Aljazeera English), Friends of Aljazeera, 9 December 2006.

Radio Farda website redesigned -- for those in Iran who can access it (updated).

Posted: 10 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Radio Farda has introduced an expanded, completely redesigned website, packed with features to bring more information more quickly and more easily to Internet users in Iran. ... To circumvent the Iranian government's ongoing and aggressive efforts to block access to Radio Farda's site, several special features, including eight RSS channels and four daily podcasts, allow users to automatically receive the latest updates from Radio Farda to their desktops. The website's online subscription service has also expanded to offer topic-driven daily emails and daily news feeds, as well as information to help the audience get around the censors." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 4 December 2006. "Now comes news that Iran has blocked access to some of the world's most popular websites, including Amazon and video sharing phenomenon YouTube. The BBC World Service's Farsi website is also blocked. After China, which the Economist reports this week as employing an army of 30,000 censors, Iran's regime is the most censorious on earth, at least where the web is concerned. It is also one of the Middle East's most wired nations, with 7.5 million internet users, second only to Israel." EURSOC, 4 December 2006. "As Internet usage has increased in more countries, so has the ability of governments to restrict the online experience within their countries." Wall Street Journal, 5 December 2006. Update: Reporters sans frontières reports that Iran blocked the New York Times website for five days. "The government is trying to create a digital border to stop culture and news coming from abroad - a vision of the Net which is worrying for the country’s future. But, more generally it is a threat to the worldwide web which, instead of aiding understanding between peoples could be changed into a medium of intolerance. The Iranian government policy is not an isolated case. It is getting closer and closer to that of the authorities in China, with particular stress being laid on censorship of cultural output." RSF, 7 December 2006.

Japan moves towards broadcasts to abductees.

Posted: 09 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Japanese government says "it will begin radio broadcasts in the next fiscal year to reach people it believes were abducted by North Korea and may still be alive there, government sources said. ... The radio broadcasts will be produced by the government, which will hire stations mainly in South Korea to air them, the sources said." Kyodo, 9 December 2006. Unclear from this article if NHK will be involved in these broadcasts. VOA and Radio Free Asia cannot get access to relay transmitters in South Korea, so it would be surprising if Japan will be able to "hire stations" in South Korea. See previous post about the same subject.

France 24, now on the air, seeks its audience, by all means.

Posted: 08 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Seventy-five percent of the (France 24 website) hits came from France, Belgium and Switzerland, 15% from North America (with an estimated 100,000 hits from the U.S.) and 10% in other European countries (with a clear majority in the U.K.)." Hollywood Reporter, 8 December 2006. "France 24 can now be seen in Europe (via Astra 1KR at 19.2° East), the UK and Ireland (via Eurobird1 at 28.5° East), Africa (via NSS7 at 22° West), the Middle East (via ArabSat BADR-3 at 26° East and via Nilesat at 7° West) and the US." DMAsia.com, 7 December 2006. Parts of the France 24 schedule can be seen on MHz Networks, terrestrial analogue channel 56 (WNVC) in the Washington, D.C., area, and 24/7 on MHz Network digital terrestrial channel. MHz Networks press release, 6 December 2006. "Even as France 24 went on the air to reclaim the cultural high ground, American culture was striking deep in the heart of Paris. An American monster-truck show had come to the City of Light as part of a European tour and had caught on big with French youngsters, especially the boys." Scripps Howard, 8 December 2006. "Ooh look, the first advert is for a Citroen. Yeah, that's French. I'm relieved now." Gareth Cartman, Paris Link, 6 December 2006. "The French government does not expect 2007 advertising revenue to exceed $4 million, and the channel is not expected to become profitable." Bloomberg, 7 December 2006. Jacque Chirac: "It is indispensable that a great country like France should be able to have its vision of the world and broadcast this vision." Aljazeera.net, 7 December 2006. Chirac spokesman: "If you don't try to be present in the world in a dynamic way, then the world will ignore you. You have to show that you are somebody." Washington Post, 7 December 2006. "English-speaking anchors refer to the station by its French name - "'France vingt-quatre,' not 'France twenty-four.'" AP, 6 December 2006. "The network has a budget of 86m euros (£58m) a year. That compares with 900m euros for CNN." BBC News, 6 December 2006. Spokesman for socialist presidential candidate Royal Ségolène denounces France 24 as a waste of public funds because there is already a similar international channel, TV5 Monde. AFP, 8 December 2006. Radio France International CEO Antoine Schwartz welcomes France 24 but, given the existence of France 24, RFI, TV5, and Canal France International, says the French government should "définir une stratégie cohérente et optimiser les moyens." Le Monde, 8 December 2006. Handy list of the 24-hour news channels. AFP, 7 December 2006.

Malaysia has one of the four broadcasting centers of Aljazeera English, but few Malaysians can watch it.

Posted: 08 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Given the docile nature of the local press, Malaysia seems a curious base for one of the world’s most aggressive and controversial news organizations. ... Although the Malaysian government says it is fully behind the network, authorities are cautiously limiting Al-Jazeera’s transmission to ASTRO All Asia Networks’ direct-to-home satellite television service, which covers just a sliver of the population." Asia Sentinel, 8 December 2006. "CNN, BBC, Fox News and CNBC will no longer enjoy a monopoly of international opinion-making, as they will have to share the international (and domestic) airwaves with Al Jazeera." Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8 December 2006.

Aljazeera English versus BBC World versus CNN International.

Posted: 06 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"And now there are three, neatly arranged in English alphabetical order too: Al Jazeera International (AJI), BBC World and CNN International. ... CNN can’t get out of its US-centric analysis even in its international broadcasts. And the BBC news team is like a hopelessly mixed up teenager: one moment they are deeply British or at least western European; the next moment they are more passionate about Africa than Africans themselves." Nalaka Gunawardene, MediaChannel, 6 December 2006.

Pourquoi France 24? Pourquoi pas?

Posted: 06 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"On Wednesday night, the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries gardens in the heart of Paris will be the venue for the channel's grand champagne launch party as Mr Chirac plays host to 1,000 invited guests, who will watch a big screen displaying the new TV station's first bulletin." BBC News, 6 December 2006. "There are images you just won't see on CNN because Americans don't want to see certain images on their television screens, and that's understandable. But we are in Paris and we have real freedom of expression to raise different questions. And we have diplomatic liberty. We don't have the same constraints as the Anglo-Saxon stations and CNN which are linked to American forces in the region." Christian Sceinece Monitor, 6 December 2006. "While France 24 spreads French values around the world, most of its technical infrastructure is American: computers from HP, office software from Microsoft, video and news editing software from Avid, web content management from Magnolia, video hosting from Akamai, and cameras from Thomson Grass Valley." Luc Van Braekel, The Brussels Journal, 6 December 2006. "It is an unprecedented partnership between France Télévisions, the country's public broadcaster, and TF1, one of Europe's largest private TV channels, two groups which are normally rivals. ... France 24's images will largely come from its parent TV stations as well as other partners such as the agency Agence France Presse and Radio France International, prompting allegations that it will just be a round-up of other channels' content." The Guardian, 6 December 2006. "The producers say that around 20 percent of the broadcast time will be taken up with French lifestyle items - culture, food and so on. Sounds like an expensive state-funded version of the Travel Show: But as anyone who has lived in France will tell you, culture is politics." EURSOC, 6 December 2006. "France24 will treat issues that are more sensitive to an Arab and Muslim audience such as religion and women's rights 'respecting certain princiciples.' 'We do not have any particular qualms and intend to approch issues including Islam in France with the same professionalism and objectivity.'" AKI, 6 December 2006. See also www.france24.fr.

The old VOA Bethany transmitter building gets $750,000 from Ohio for restoration.

Posted: 06 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America building, which fronts Tylersville Road just east of Cox Road, is the last remnant of a once-sprawling antenna field that broadcast U.S. government-sponsored news and editorials in many languages to nations all over the world. ... (West Chester) township is expecting to hear soon if the building will be placed on the National Register of Historic Places." Cincinnati Enquirer, 6 December 2006. "Residents can weigh in ... about plans to turn most of West Chester's 330-acre Voice of America Park over to Butler County MetroParks for development into soccer, ball and other fields." Cincinnati Enquirer, 3 December 2006. Afforestation project at old Deutsche Welle transmitter site in Malta. The Malta Independent, 6 December 2006.

Latest piece about France 24 includes snipe at VOA.

Posted: 05 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"As is often the case with grand French projects — think Concorde, or the new Quaero search engine research initiative — French taxpayers will get stuck with the bill. What’s more, the government’s backing for France 24 could weaken its journalistic integrity, making it more like Voice of America than CNN." Business Week, 4 December 2006. "It will transmit to Europe, the Middle East and Africa via satellite, initially reaching an estimated 75 million households in more than 90 countries. France 24 expects to expand coverage in North America and Asia, and add Arabic and Spanish-language broadcasts, in coming years." AP, 5 December 2006. "France 24 will produce some of its own pictures but also rely on its managing companies and partners, including Agence France-Presse and Radio France Internationale. For several weeks, the network's 380-strong staff, including 170 journalists, have been doing dry-runs at its three-storey headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux, on Paris' southern outskirts." AFP, 3 December 2006.

Calling Tibet, with difficulty.

Posted: 05 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"China controls the flow of information in Tibet, tightly restricting all media and regulating internet use. Tibetan-language programming by Voice of America, Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Norway-based Voice of Tibet have suffered from the same frequency jamming as their Chinese-language counterparts. Increased availability of the internet in urban areas has provided Tibetans with more access to information. However, the Chinese government blocks websites providing news that is not 'beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to economic development and conducive to social progress.'" International Campaign for Tibet, 4 December 2006.

A public diplomacy assortment.

Posted: 05 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
YouTube "video depicts U.S. soldiers taunting Iraqi boys from the back of their truck by acting as though they would give them bottled water if they ran fast enough to catch up. ... Unfortunately, a few individuals can and do spoil the reputation of the majority of dedicated service personnel and of the U.S." Colleen Turner, OpEdNews.com, 5 December 2006. "In addition to physically stopping or legally outlawing the ideas behind radicalism, such a campaign might seek to propagate competing memes, which appeal to the same core demographic that is apt to become extremists. To be successful, such a tactic might require the use of popular culture and mass media, instead of the techniques of public diplomacy as they are usually conceived." Josh Manchester, TCS Daily, 5 December 2006. "For the moment, Iran has won the public diplomacy campaign in the Arab world - a reversible achievement in today's tense, sectarian climate. But the US is poorly positioned to effect this change: In the wake of the Iraq fiasco, the US must seriously, and humbly, consider whether it can wage an effective diplomatic and communications campaign to counter Iranian influence by playing on sectarian tensions." Emile El-Hokayem, The Daily Start (Beirut), 5 December 2006. "Rather than condescend to decide what is good or bad for reformers in the Middle East, U.S. policymakers should establish metrics to measure the success of their investment. In the case of the Ibn Khaldun Center, the wisdom of the National Endowment for Democracy’s support is clear. The value of labor organizations in Iran, bloggers in Tunisia, and anti-militia activists in Lebanon should be equally clear. Taint is often a far greater impediment in the mind of Washington policymakers than it is among authentic dissidents, reformers, and liberal activists in the streets of the Middle East." Michael Rubin, American Enterprise Institute, 5 December 2006.

Oldest Protestant evangelical international broadcaster shifts from shortwave mainstay to "radio planting" (updated).

Posted: 05 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"HCJB’s Engineering Center in Elkhart, Ind., developed a portable FM transmitter that is powerful enough to reach an entire city, yet small enough to fit into a suitcase. Radio plants often grow up in affiliation to churches, but in other cases, churches are established as a direct result of the radio plants. ... HCJB’s Engineering Center developed SonSet fix-tuned radios that enable people in remote villages to hear Christian broadcasts in their own languages. More than 23,300 of the solar-powered radios have been distributed since 2001." Christian Examiner, December 2006. Update: HCJB sends all-female medical team to Lebanon. Christian News Wire, 5 December 2006.

As good as the FM signal from Radio France International here in Kigali before the Rwanda government took them off the air? (updated)

Posted: 05 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
At the "first-ever Pan-African Conference on Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)" in Kigali, attendees are "hearing for the first time digital short wave with more or less FM quality." Inter Press Service, 4 December 2006. Deutsche Welle, which has a shortwave relay located near Kigali, is co-host of the meeting. DW's director of engineering, Peter Senger, is also chairman of the DRM consortium. Update: "But it is unclear what wisdom European broadcasters will impart because the dynamics of the African market are remarkably different from those of the European and U.S. markets. There is no corresponding tectonic shift of listeners from analog radio to MP3 players, and it’s unlikely that African advertisers question radio’s reach as they do in the U.S. and Europe." Cassimir Medford, Red Herring, 5 December 2006. "The Hong Kong-assembled digital receiver that will be handed out in Kigali now sells for about €200 -- far beyond the reach of most of Africa's 800-million population. 'But the price will come down, perhaps below €50," predicted (DRM chairman Peter) Senger. 'It all depends on how quickly the market develops. I predict that everyone will have a digital radio in the future.'" Inter Press Service, 5 December 2006.

The Pentagon is watching Aljazeera English.

Posted: 05 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"AJE premiered this week on closed circuit Pentagon TV, available to anyone with access to the Pentagon's channel 2 ... . 'It's a new channel in the international marketplace and it merits at least looking at it.'" UPI, 4 December 2006. "The controllers of what we Americans can see on television should take another look at Al Jazeera and at their own responsibilities." Editorial, Bangor Daily News, 5 December 2006.

Sure, China Radio International can become "multi-media," because other countries don't block CRI's website the way China blocks everybody else's website (updated).

Posted: 04 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Liu Yunshan, head of the Publicity Department of (Communist Party of China) Central Committee, urged CRI to develop new media forms and become a multi-media complex with radio and online broadcasting. CRI, founded in 1941, is China's only overseas radio broadcaster. It broadcasts 1,100 hours of programs a day in 38 foreign languages, mandarin Chinese and four Chinese dialects." Xinhua, 3 December 2006. Update: "CRI is eventually expected to have 100 FM channels overseas. In comparison, BBC has 145 channels worldwide. 'FM is the future of radio.'" China Daily, 4 December 2006.

Canadian software is latest to tackle net censorship (updated).

Posted: 04 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"People in uncensored locations such as Canada install Psiphon on their home computers. The program is free, easy to set up, and small at about 1.5 megabytes. They then send connection information by e-mail or phone, along with a user name and password, to people they trust in the countries subject to censorship. The person in the foreign country connects through a secure, encrypted connection to the uncensored computer and surfs the web without hindrance." Canadian Press, 30 November 2006. Update: Dynamic Internet Technology is "paid by the American government's International Broadcasting Bureau to e-mail more than 2m pro-democracy Voice of America and Radio Free Asia newsletters into China and Vietnam every day. To foil keyword filters, (the company) replaces sensitive words such as 'freedom' and 'elections' with uncommon or approximate synonyms, or descriptive phrases." The Economist via Financial Express, 4 December 2006. The International Telecommunications Union will hold a "Countering Spam Cooperation Agenda" workshop, 8 December in Hong Kong. ITU press release, 4 December 2006.

France 24 broadcasters also promise to hold their cigarettes just so.

Posted: 03 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The station insists that all its staff sign a declaration that 'our mission is to cover international news from a French perspective'. ... The three principal 'French values that will be expressed by France 24 are an insistence that the world is culturally 'diverse'; a love of argument and debate; and programmes reflecting the French art de vivre." The Independent, 3 December 2006. "To promote its debut, (France 24) is flying in 12 bloggers whose early invitations also included bottles of Moët & Chandon Champagne. The guests will also get to pose questions by video to a prime news source: José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission." International Herald Tribune, 3 December 2006.

VOA's role in the world language "Globish."

Posted: 03 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"In 2004 German conservatives proposed a language purification law to eliminate the bastard tongue known as 'Denglish', which had co-opted vocabulary like 'pickup', 'flirt' and 'underwear', words often borrowed from Voice of America broadcasts. When he came to write Parlez Globish, (Jean-Paul) Nerriere used Voice of America as a source for his non-Anglophone hybrid." Robert McCrum, The Observer, 3 December 2006. See also the VOA Special English 1,500-word Word Book.

Yahoo! offers BBC! news video via deal with ABC! Except it's not there!

Posted: 02 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"Yahoo! News today began offering BBC News video on its site, through a new agreement with ABC News. Yahoo! News users now have access to approximately 30 video clips of BBC News video each day, including a wide array of videos in the categories of top stories, breaking news, U.S. and world news, sports, business, politics, technology, health and entertainment. The distribution agreement was made with ABC News, which maintains exclusive representation for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for distribution of BBC News on demand broadband and wireless content in North America." ABC News pres release, 1 December 2006. I checked the Yahoo! and Yahoo! News sites on 2 December and could not find any BBC news video.

The Aljazeera English difference.

Posted: 02 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"The biggest difference between AJE and its competitors came as the funeral (of Lebanese opposition leader Pierre Gemayel) ended. It was here that Jazeera's home court advantage came into play. Both BBC World and CNN International (a completely separate channel from the CNN domestic U.S. service) quickly switched away to other programming. CNN-I's anchors looked a little uncomfortable with a segue from Lebanon and the latest carnage in Iraq right into a fluff piece about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, without so much as a commercial to buffer the jarring contrast. AJE stayed with Lebanon, interviewing a Hezbollah spokesman, a perspective not heard on the other channels -- one in a comprehensive series of interviews with the key players in the drama not seen elsewhere." Lawrence Pintak, CJR Daily, 30 November 2006.

Tough crowd.

Posted: 02 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Danish broacaster's attempt to use humor in North Korea was not entirely successful. The "audience may have feared laughing because the play takes sardonic aim at the ruling classes—depicted as enjoying a far more comfortable existence than the commoners they rule." Radio Free Asia, 1 December 2006. See also the new RFA logo on this web page.

Calling (three percent of) Kazakhstan.

Posted: 01 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Interview with Merkhat Sharipzhan, Director of “Azattyq”, Kazakh service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. "Q: What is the target audience of “Azattyq” radio station? Sharipzhan: It is a difficult question to address and it is a problem that we are trying to solve now. Only 3% of the population in Kazakhstan is our audience. Kazakhstan is not a country like Turkmenistan, and it is not the USSR - few people today would make efforts to get objective news on short wave and in Kazakh; besides, it is difficult to compete with entertainment radio stations." Neweurasia, 29 November 2006.

An exhilarating atmosphere in a government agency?

Posted: 01 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"'I love a high-energy atmosphere. It’s wonderful,' (new VOA-TV director Russ) Hodge said. 'There were magic moments happening on a daily basis. It’s the greatest high you can have.' Hodge is looking to re-create that exhilarating atmosphere at VOA in Washington, D.C., as he heads up its developing television operations." The Gazette (Gaithersburg MD), 29 November 2006. See previous post about new VOA and VOA-TV directors.

Today's opinions about Aljazeera English.

Posted: 01 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
U.S. cable television companies' decision not to carry Aljazeera English "and the lack of public response to that decision, may betray a deep-rooted feeling that only others should know about us; we do not have to know about them. Perhaps we think that knowledge, like a river, flows only in one direction. Interestingly, the rest of the world has taken kindly to CNN and even Fox News. There are government officials and people in other countries who think that these American networks are, well, pro-American, and yet they do watch them. Why do we hesitate to let alien voices and images appear on our TV screen? What are we afraid of?" B. Kumaravadivelu, The Mercury News (San Jose), 30 November 2006. "Al-Jazeera English however, does have two things going for it that other news channels don't. First of all, being centred in the Arab world it offers a different - and distinctive - perspective on world affairs. Whether or not this is enough of a draw for viewers remains to be seem. Secondly, and more crucially in the long term, it is relentlessly up-market. On the day of writing, Michael Jackson dominates the headlines. While queuing in the bank not half an hour ago I was forced to listen to some pundit on Sky News blather about whether or not Jackson can pull off a comeback. I don't care. Neither does Al-Jazeera." Jason Walsh, Digit, 1 December 2006.

The embassies' missing links.

Posted: 01 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
"At the State Department’s 'Web Site and E-Mail Addresses of Embassies. (www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl/32122.htm), the following links are broken, expired or nonexistent: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Denmark, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, India, Italy, Korea, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkmenistan and Uruguay." The Examiner (Washington), 30 November 2006.

Association for International Broadcasting announces winners of its second annual global awards (updated).

Posted: 01 Dec 2006   Print   Send a link
Among winners: International television channel: BBC World. International radio station: SW Radio Africa. International television presenter: Simon Hobbs of CNBC Europe. International radio presenter: Doug Bernard of Voice of America’s Talk to America. AIB website. VOA has reassigned Doug Bernard from Talk to America to television duties. Update: See also VOA press release, 30 November 2006.