Friendly service as public diplomacy.

Posted: 30 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Soon it wasn’t just Voice of America that Soviet citizens received, but e-mails, satellite broadcasts and (later) the Internet. Soon it wasn’t just McDonald’s littering the Soviet landscape, but a cornucopia of fast-food franchises, retail chains, outlet stores, and even boutiques. Two years later, Gorbachev was out of power, and the Soviet Union was out of business." Bruce G. Kauffmann, Canton Repository, 30 January 2007.

He liked the book.

Posted: 30 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Friendly review of Carnes Lord's Losing Hearts and Minds? "Borrowing from Israel's approach, a potential terrorist needs to be told that his 'family will suffer for [their] actions,' and defectors from terrorist organizations need to be used to demoralize their former compatriots. Also, psychological warfare ought to be directed against a group to sow 'confusion, suspicion, and enmity in its ranks, turning its leaders against one another.'" Joshua Sinai, Washington Times, 30 January 2007. See previous post about the Carnes Lord book.

See you at the

Posted: 30 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Winter SWL Fest, the largest North American gathering of shortwave listeners and other radio enthusiasts. It's 8 to 10 March 2007 at Kulpsville, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia). I'll be there with an exhibit of DRM shortwave digital radios and internet radios for listening to international broadcasts.

Yes, listeners love radio shows about business cooperation and cultural exchanges.

Posted: 30 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Complete with electric guitar riffs over a bubbling drum beat, Africa Express on China Radio International is how China gets its message to Africa. Wei Tong, the show’s host, says his African audience love the programme because, 'it gives them a deep understanding about China-Africa cooperation, such as business cooperation and cultural exchanges.'" Aljazeera.net, 30 January 2007.

Is that good mobbed or bad mobbed?

Posted: 29 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Headline says "Bush adviser mobbed by Muslim schoolchildren." Story says "(Karen) Hughes was mobbed by hundreds of Muslim schoolchildren waving paper Philippine and US flags after she stepped out of a military helicopter in Maimbung town in Sulu province. Security remained tight for her though. 'Well, it’s very heartwarming to see the warm smiles.'" Balita, 29 January 2007.

The "international" of Public Radio International.

Posted: 29 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Public Radio International (PRI), as its name implies, also features international programming like 'The World' and 'BBC World Service,' and [PRI CEO Alisa] Miller says that's an increasing draw for listeners. 'People realize they have to know what's going on in the world to understand what's happening here,' she says. 'And you often get a very different perspective when you hear how the rest of the world looks at things. What happens out there affects us, whether we like it or not. China's position in the global economy, or China's actions on global warming, are absolutely having and will have an effect on our lives.'" New York Daily News, 29 January 2007.

Problems with Country X? Create Radio Free Country X.

Posted: 29 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Along with sanctions, some Israeli officials call for a robust but nonviolent U.S. intervention in internal Iranian politics -- funding the Iranian opposition, transforming U.S. broadcasts in Farsi into 'Radio Free Iran,' reaching Farsi audiences through the Internet, and more aggressively challenging the Iranian government on its human rights abuses." Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren, Israel Insider, 29 January 2007.

VOA Hausa organizes meeting to combat maternal deaths in Nigeria.

Posted: 29 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Head of the VOA Hausa Reporting Centre in Kano, Alhaji Sani Umar, said the meeting was part of VOA’s contribution to reproductive health education among women in the state. He said the initiative was in addition to the weekly Hausa programmes on health matters, being aired by the station." The Tide (Port Harcourt), 38 January 2007. VOA also holds two-day workshop on reporting bird flu. Daily Trust (Abuja), 30 January 2007.

In Canada, CCTV stands for Chinese Controversial Television.

Posted: 27 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
China's CCTV channels will have digital distribution in Canada. "Does the (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's) decision to approve all nine channels reflect a generous measure of faith in Canadian viewers’ ability to discern facts from the media for themselves? Partly. But in large measure, it is also reflective of Chinese media’s growing clout within the country as well as abroad. For the millions of Chinese-speakers in Canada today, homegrown services offered in Mandarin and Cantonese are simply insufficient." Vue Weekly (Edmonton), 24 January 2007.

From the great leader of hypocrisy.

Posted: 27 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
North Korea criticizes South Korea for (get this) blocking North Korean websites. "This is a fascist action against democracy and human rights as it infringes upon the South Koreans' freedom of speech and deprives them of even their right to enjoy the civilization offered by the IT age." North Korean news agency KCNA, 26 January 2007.

The fickle world of FM rebroadcasting (updated).

Posted: 25 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
In Washington, D.C., noncommercial WETA FM has switched to a classical music format to fill the void left when commercial WGMS FM abandoned that format. This means, however, that BBC World Service has lost its most important FM outlet in the U.S. capital. Programs no longer heard include World Briefing, Business Daily, Science in Action, and From Our Own Correspondent. Some BBC programming remains on noncommercial WAMU in Washington. It's possible that BBC World Service might end up on a subchannel of an FM "HD" digital station in Washington, though HD receivers are still scarce. Update: WAMU will air BBC World News Update at 5 a.m. and BBC Newshour at 4 p.m. weekdays. WAMU website. Meanwhile: In Memphis, BBC World Service programming, evicted from FM stations sold to a Christian organization, have found a "temporary" home on Memphis Public Library's WYPL-FM. Memphis Commercial Appeal, 22 January 2007.

VOA and RFE/RL cohabit Baku 101.7 FM.

Posted: 25 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Five and half hours of broadcasting on the new frequency are original programming produced by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service. RFE/RL also produces 14 live, top-of-the-hour, 5-minute newscasts per day from Baku and Prague. VOA's Azerbaijani-language service providing a daily 60-minute original program including a 30-minute repeat, two 5-minute newscasts; along with VOA's popular Music Mix, Special English, and English teaching programs." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 24 January 2007. See previous post about VOA and RFE/RL in Baku. See also VOA press release, 25 January 2007.

Does it matter that the Radio Australia's audience just wants the news?

Posted: 25 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Australia's Institute of Public Affairs "says the ABC is failing to promote Australian values as its programs are broadcast throughout Asia. ... It contends the ABC bears much of Australia's foreign influence, particularly through Asia, by broadcasting Australian values through Radio Australia and the satellite television channel, the Australian Network." And finds "ABC news and current affairs broadcasts were 'limited in support for these values, surprisingly neutral and on occasion not supportive.'" news.com.au, 26 January 2007."

A clearer and crisper BBC World.

Posted: 25 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
The English-language international news channel will get a new look in 2007. "The main aim is to allow more space on the screen so our viewers can see more of the award-winning news coverage and programming on the channel. Viewers will also notice the new headline sequences which are now accompanied by updated music and re-designed titles." agencyfaqs! 24 January 2007.

Getting Alzawraa off of Nilesat, somehow (updated).

Posted: 25 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Now comes the troubling news that an Iraqi group affiliated with al-Qaeda has taken another step forward with its own 24-hour television station, al-Zawraa. The U.S. should attempt to halt satellite distribution of this network and refocus its public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East." James A. Phillips and William Schirano, Heritage Foundation, 16 January 2007. "The question is, why? While Nilesat, which broadcasts Al Zawraa, argues that it's airing the channel for purely commercial reasons, analysts point to the political benefits for Egypt. Some say the country's reluctance to shut down the channel shows that Egypt, predominantly Sunni, may be taking a stand against what it sees as the unjust aggressiveness of Iraq's Shiite-led government and the dangers of Iran's influence there." Christian Science Monitor, 17 January 2007. See also Washington Post, 21 January 2007. Update: "Al-Zawraa — which has been misnamed as 'Al Qaeda TV' by press outlets such as Fox News and the Weekly Standard — airs 24 hours a day on Nilesat, reportedly from a moving vehicle in Anbar province in western Iraq." New York Sun, 24 January 2007. Uplinking from a moving vehicle would be tricky.

One U.S. outlet for Aljazeera English (for 12 bucks a month).

Posted: 25 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Virtual Digital Cable "streams linear programming channels over the Internet, charging $11.95 per month for a 20-channel package that includes QVC, Al Jazeera English, and a few lesser-known cable brands. With about 11,000 subscribers, VDC is aimed at computer users without pay TV programming at home or work... . VDC has deals with Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Travel Channel and BBC America, but only for distribution to smart phones and personal digital assistants. Some Web services, including the Pentagon Channel, ShopNBC and NASA TV, are free." AP, 22 January 2007.

Indian international television in the news.

Posted: 25 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The TV Today Network has launched the international feed of two of their news channels - Aaj Tak and Headlines Today - a just year after the launch of both these channels in the US. Aaj Tak and Headlines Today are available on the Dish Network in the US. This means that the channels would be able to beam customised content and would also be able to get local advertisers to reach the international market." PTI, 22 January 2007. VOA news reports are included on Aaj Tak and Headlines Today. Does this mean VOA news can be received in the United States via Dish Network? "India's no. 1 English news channel, NDTV 24x7 is now available to viewers in Australia and New Zealand through a distribution partnership with Vision Asia, the largest ethnic distribution platform in the region." NDTV press release, 22 January 2007. The press release mentions "platform" four times, but does not describe what the platform is. It's a pay satellite service requiring an 85-centimeter dish.

BBC World alongside silly homemade videos on YouTube?

Posted: 23 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC World, the international commercial news channel produced by the British broadcaster, is already the most- watched foreign network in many of the 200 countries in which it broadcasts. If BBC signs an agreement with YouTube, it will follow in the footsteps of U.S. networks like NBC, which created a branded YouTube channel last June, and CBS, which is showing clips from programs like 'The Letterman Show.'" International Herald Tribune, 22 January 2007.

This would leave the United States as the last bastion of fragmented international broadcasting.

Posted: 23 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Just weeks after the December launch of international French news channel France 24 the Commission for Foreign Affairs has concluded that France needs to organise it’s international broadcasting more efficiently. ... The main recommendation: the fledgling news channel should be integrated with international radio broadcaster Radio France International (RFI)." Broadband TV News, 22 January 2007. See also AFP, 21 January 2007. "It is significant that the international news channel France 24 was launched first on the web and only later on cable and satellite." Le monde diplomatique, January 2007. RFI German service suffers staff reductions. AFP, 19 January 2007.

VOA listening in Iran surprises Trib journalist.

Posted: 23 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Most Iranians decipher their government through state-run TV news broadcasts. Many also have access to illegal satellite dishes to watch British Broadcasting Corp. and Arab channels. Surprisingly, almost all the people I've interviewed said they listened to Voice of America, the U.S.-funded radio news broadcast. No one swallowed whole any version of the facts." Christine Spolar, Chicago Tribune, 21 January 2007.

Toggle-switched: VOA FM outlet in Mogadishu off the air, then back on the air (updated).

Posted: 23 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Private FM stations in Somalia, including VOA affiliate Horn Afrik, are off the air, and Aljazeera office in Mogadishu closed, by order of Somalia National Transitional Government. VOA News, 16 January 2007. Ban reversed. VOA News, 16 January 2007. "We have been told to stop broadcasting the sensitive reports that might damage the peace and stability and urged to encourage activities of establishing peace and security." SomaliNet, 16 January 2007. Would this affect VOA content rebroadcast by affiliate HornAfrik? Or the BBC's transmitter in Mogadishu on 91.1 MHz FM? Update: "For now, broadcast conditions have fully resumed, without any noticeable constraints or changes." VOA News, 22 January 2007.

Radio Free Europe history recalled again.

Posted: 23 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The case of Pavel Minarik, former Czechoslovak communist secret police (StB) agent who allegedly prepared an attack on the Radio Free Europe seat in Munich in the 1970s, might be returned to [Czech] police for further investigation." CTK, 22 January 2007. John Bolton: "We should be doing more to promote elements that want a different kind of regime in Iran. One asset that we have not tapped effectively is the very strong Iranian-American community that knows what family members and other relatives back in Iran feel about the regime. In the Cold War, the captive nations’ relationship was very important to us -- when you look at Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty and all of the activity we conducted, particularly in the Eastern and Central European countries." Human Events, 22 January 2007.

Kenneth Tomlinson: victim of data mining?

Posted: 20 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"From the beginning, he was the target of a relentless and dishonest smear campaign led by Democratic members of Congress, the public broadcasting establishment, and liberals inside both CPB and BBG. As Tomlinson sought to strengthen America's image throughout the world, investigators in Washington pored over his email and phone records in a desperate search for signs of malfeasance." Weekly Standard, 20 January 2007. See previous post about Tomlinson.

Scrutinizing Aljazeera English (updated).

Posted: 20 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"What should concern Westerners is that the ideology of men like Sheik Qaradawi saturates many of the network's programs, and is gaining wider acceptance among Muslim youths in the West. In its 'straight' news coverage on its Arabic TV broadcasts and Web sites, Al Jazeera's reports consistently amplify radical Islamist sentiments (although without endorsing violence explicitly)." Judea Pearl, International Herald Tribune, 17 January 2007. Update: Reaction: Hamid Varzi letter, International Herald Tribune, 19 January 2007. Rich Mayfield, Summit Daily News (Colorado), 19 January 2007.

Major Arab deal for private U.S. international broadcaster.

Posted: 18 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Layalina Productions Inc. an American non-profit producer of Arabic- and English-language television programs, announced today that the first 12 half hour-episode season of its reality series, 'Ala al Tariq fi Amrika' (On the Road in America) will premiere tomorrow on the leading pan-Arab free-to-air satellite network, Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC)." Layalina press release, 17 January 2007.

Aljazeera English: if not via cable, then via IPTV.

Posted: 18 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"One start-up IPTV service, Houston-based Fision, announced it would offer the English-language version of the controversial Al-Jazeera network for its subscribers." Hartford Courant, 18 January 2007. "With BBC, CNN and Fox News ubiquitous in the Middle East, how can proponents of globalization justify the fact that no US cable or satellite distributor will carry the English-language Al-Jazeera - run by nothing more threatening than a cadre of BBC veterans and former employees of other Western stations?" Mehmood Kazmi, Daily Star (Beirut), 18 January 2007.

Another HCJB name change.

Posted: 18 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
HCJB engineering center in Elkhart, Indiana, is renamed the HCJB Global Technology Center. "‘Technology’ is more encompassing. It can include technical support, training, maintenance and installation as well as design and development. For us it may eventually include support of medical and community development outreaches, in addition to broadcasting.” HCJB press release, 17 January 2007. See previous post about HCJB.

Kwan impressive in public diplomacy debut.

Posted: 18 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"In good English, 14-year-old Lin Zhao Di asked Kwan, 'How do you handle life when it is difficult?' 'That's a very good question,' Kwan replied. 'Life and skating is full of a lot of falls, but you have to get up and keep going. And you have to work hard. Sometimes, I do fall and make mistakes, but you can learn from your mistakes.'" AP, 18 January 2007.

Alhurra journalists' contratemps in Iraq.

Posted: 18 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Two journalists with the US Arabic-language satellite TV station Al Hurra were briefly detained on 11 January while filming the movements of Kurdish and US troops near Erbil, in the northern autonomous region of Kurdistan. Reporter Sirwa Abdelwahed said her cameraman was beaten by Kurdish soldiers and his camera was seized. They were ordered to stop working and leave the area immediately." Reporters sans frontières, 18 January 2007.

CNN blocked in Thailand.

Posted: 17 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Thailand's military leaders on 15 January moved to block CNN broadcasts of the cable network's exclusive interview with deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, less than a week after warning the Thai press about giving the ousted leader such access to the media. Thai papers are reporting that the Council for National Security (CNS), as Thailand's ruling military council is known, had asked for the 'cooperation' of UBCTV, Thailand's leading cable service provider, to pull the interview everytime it gets play from CNN." Southeast Asian Press Alliance, 16 January 2007.

Satellite radio's secret to success: terrestrial radio.

Posted: 17 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"WorldSpace Italia, S.p.A. has entered into an agreement with Telecom Italia that brings digital satellite radio one step closer to European consumers, starting with Italy. Under the terms of the agreement, Telecom Italia, using its extensive telecommunications infrastructure, will design and deploy a terrestrial repeater network throughout Italy, for WorldSpace Italia." Worldspace press release, 16 January 2007.

The foreign channels you are allowed to watch in Chinese hotels.

Posted: 17 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Guests of China's three-star hotels or above can watch no more than 31 foreign TV channels in hotel rooms as of this year, said the State Administration of Radio Film and Television. The channels are: CNN; HBO; Cinemax; CNBC Asia Pacific; MTV Mandarin; NGC Asia; Star Movie International; Channel [V]; AXN; Discovery; Hallmark; BBC World; NHK World Premium; Phoenix Movies; Phoenix Chinese; TVB8; TVB Galax; Now; MASTV Chinese; Phoenix Infonews Channel; Bloomberg; Xing Kong Wei Shi; EuroSports News; CETV; Horizon Channel; SUNTV; Celestial Movies; Channel News Asia; TV5; East TV; and Cuba Vision International." Shanghai Daily, 17 January 2007.

Pundits have big plans for U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 17 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, ... proposed a more aggressive effort to non-violently overthrow the government in Tehran. In addition, the programming of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Iranian services should be significantly enhanced, Woolsey said." Joshua Kucera, Eurasianet.org, 16 January 2007. "We should abandon the approaches of Radio Farda and the Farsi Service of VOA and return to the approach that served us so well in the Cold War. Ion Pacepa, the most senior Soviet Bloc intelligence officer to defect during the Cold War (when he was Acting Director of Romanian Intelligence) recently wrote that two missiles brought down the Soviet Union: Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Our current broadcasting does not inform Iranians about what is happening in Iran, as RFE and RL did about matters in the Bloc. Privately-financed Farsi broadcasts from the US follow the RFE-RL model to some extent, but exist on a shoestring. Instead we sponsor radio that principally broadcasts music and brief world news, and television that, I suppose seeking a bizarre version of balance, sometimes utilizes correspondents with remarkable views: one VOA correspondent, on another network, last year characterized the arrest in the UK of 21 individuals accused of plotting to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid explosives as 'a conspiracy against Islam' by the US and alleged that the US and the UK fabricated the plot to deflect attention from 'Hezbollah victories.' (Richard Benkin in Asian Tribune Aug. 12, 2006, vol. 6 no. 41.) Our current broadcasting is a far cry from RFE and RL’s marvelous programming of news, cultural programs, investigative reporting (in the Eastern Bloc), and satire." Testimony of R. James Woolsey, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 11 January 2007. "Within the State Department, (Karen) Hughes has also since October been circulating a draft National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication. Since the untimely demise of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in 1999, the absence of such a strategy has been noticeable. Various entities of the U.S. government have been sailing by their own lights. For instance, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. international broadcasting, has done much to confuse the issues relaying America's message to the world in recent times." Helle Dale, Washington Times, 17 January 2007.

International broadcasting as a precedent for blogs.

Posted: 17 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"If Pew Research and other opinion polls are to be believed, the internet is doing just that: replacing mainstream journalism. ... It has happened many times before. When established media becomes the obedient servant of the governing elites and diverse and dissenting opinion is withheld from the public, new media emerge, often in the 'underground' and often brutally suppressed by the government. ... In the pre-Glasnost Soviet Union, print media were smuggled in and broadcasts were beamed in from the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe." Ernest Partridge, OpEdNews.com, 16 January 2007.

Une alliance unsurprising.

Posted: 16 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Agence France-Presse, the international news agency, and France 24, the new French international news television channel, have signed a partnership agreement under which AFP will provide its news wires, multimedia products as well as audio and video reports from its correspondents around the world in French, English and Arabic." AFP press release, 15 January 2007.

They decided not to use "It's not about India, but watch it anyway."

Posted: 16 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
BBC World's new advertising campaign targeted to India uses the tag line "What affects the world, affects you." Indiantelevision.com, 15 January 2007. Will use online and outdoor advertising and ads "on television channels such as HBO, National Geographic Channel, The History Channel and some English news channels." agencyfaqs! 16 January 2007. Other English news channels will accept adverts for competitor BBC World? BBC World Service (radio) plans "India Rising" week of special programming from 3 to 11 February. BBC World Service press release, 12 January 2007.

Former VOA director is a Scooter booster.

Posted: 16 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Prominent friend of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, indicted former top aide of Vice President Dick Cheney, "is Dick Carlson, a former ambassador and Republican stalwart who has headed the Voice of America and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (Carlson’s son is Tucker Carlson, the conservative TV pundit.) Like many of Libby’s well-heeled friends, Carlson wasted no time in coming to his aid. On the day the indictment was announced in October 2005, Carlson said: 'I sent a check by courier to Scooter’s house in McLean with the assumption that he’d need it.' That check was the impetus for what quickly morphed into The Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust." CBS News, 15 January 2007.

Worldspace on the Indian railways.

Posted: 16 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Shatabdi and Rajdhani passengers may soon be treated to the sounds of satellite radio station WorldSpace." Rediff News, 16 January 2007. Will this be forced listening through the earphones, as is the Asian custom, or private listening through headsets, perhaps even with a choice of channels?

Why serious international broadcasters keep their shortwave transmitters.

Posted: 16 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The news bulletins on [Bangladesh] private TV channels stopped following the president's issuance of the state of emergency and curfew on Thursday night, 11 January. This led people to brave the cold across the country and gather in groups and listen to the BBC and other foreign news bulletins. ... One buyer of a radio at Boda sub-district said he had bought the radio to listen to the news bulletins of the BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and Bangladesh Betar." Prothom Alo, Dhaka, in Bengali 13 January 2007, via BBC Monitoring.

Zimbabwe: "more free radios to the people."

Posted: 15 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
NGO's are distributing free shortwave radios in Zimbabwe not to enable reception of anti-government propagnada, but are "only re-introducing a long abandoned government policy of the once popular radio lessons in schools." Zimbabwe Standard, 14 January 2007. If the Zimbabwe government has abandoned radio lessions, what station is transmitting programs for schools via shortwave? Voice of the People appoints its first UK correspondent. Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 15 January 2007. VOP transmits into Zimbabwe via a leased Radio Netherlands shortwave transmitter in Madagascar.

Canadian psyops in Afghanistan is strictly white.

Posted: 15 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"When it comes to conducting Psychological Operations [in Afghanistan], the Canadian military is limited to what are called 'white' operations – those that cause no harm – while certain other armies are said to engage in 'black' projects. An example of this more sinister type of operation? Well, at least in theory, soldiers of certain countries could use captured Taliban weaponry to destroy someone's house by night and return the next morning to blame it on the Taliban." Toronto Star, 14 January 2007.

Professor suggests Aljazeera English-and-Arabic-at-the-same-time.

Posted: 15 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Oliver Hahn, media studies professor at the University of Dortmund, has generally favorable comments about Aljazeera, but says "it has brought no gains whatever in terms of democratization or secularization in the region. What I would like to see is them try a bilingual programme mixing English and Arabic. That might lead to a better understanding between cultures." He also cited a state-funded German-French channel, Arte, which broadcasts German and French soundtracks at the same time. DPA, 14 January 2007.

Ken Tomlinson's book will be about Ken Tomlinson.

Posted: 13 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Given the critical need for U.S. image improvement abroad, and the BBG's role in overseeing the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Cuba broadcasting operation, that must be one juicy book he's thinking about writing. Well, maybe not. It'll be a rebuttal of the inspector general's allegations, he said yesterday, and about 'the criminalization of politics' in Washington, covering his 28-year career here, going back to his days with Reader's Digest, then to running the VOA and other jobs." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 12 January 2007. See previous post about Kenneth Tomlinson.

Apparently not a fan of CNN International.

Posted: 13 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"This is a recording, but the worst part of a European vacation is having to get your television news from CNN International, which is an English version of Al Jazeera. This terribly biased outlet with its array of anti-American European announcers is an embarrassment to this country. The most obnoxious person working for CNN International easily is one Richard Quest, who I thought had been fired but was obviously resurrected just to make life miserable for me. No one worked up more sympathy for Saddam Hussein in the wake of his hanging than those at CNN International. Why, if you didn't know better, you'd have thought a terrible injustice had been perpetrated against a man CNN International viewed as another St. Francis of Assisi." Doug Krikorian, Long Beach Press Telegram, 11 January 2007.

Aljazeera is the Arab Fox News.

Posted: 13 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Satellite channels like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, which offer at least the potential of a more independent analysis and criticism of Arab governments. But by some accounts, both channels, though Al-Jazeera more so, have taken on a tone and a content that plays, as one Syrian blogger put it, 'to the largest common denominator, drawing on the same language of victimhood, the tired Arab nationalist line. It is Fox news. Many people compare it to CNN. I think it has to be compared to Fox.'" Gal Beckerman, Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2007. Pirate radio station in San Francisco transmits "an English translation of the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera news ... 'because no one else in the United States does.'" Infoshop News, 7 January 2007. "Wan Kadir Che Wan, head of the self-styled (Thai Muslim separatist) umbrella organisation Bersatu, has become a semi-permanent fixture on the al-Jazeera English-language service, expounding against Thailand and government policy on the new English service of the TV network, based in Kuala Lumpur." Bangkok Post, 13 January 2007.

The vulnerability of the satellites that relay international broadcasts.

Posted: 13 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"A relatively small number of countries are exploring and acquiring capabilities to counter, attack, and defeat U.S. space systems. These capabilities include jamming satellite links or blinding satellite sensors, which can be disruptive or can temporarily deny access to space-derived products. Anti-satellite weapons -- whether kinetic or conventional -- or Electro-Magnetic Pulse weapons -- can permanently and irreversibly destroy a satellite. Military force can be employed against ground relay stations, communication nodes, or satellite command and control systems to render space assets useless over an extended period of time." Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, State Department transcript, 11 January 2007.

Nations establishing their "brands" via commercials on BBC World and CNN.

Posted: 13 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Is it not a fact that Turkey lacks a way to promote itself? You can enjoy for years the beautiful and original commercials on international channels such as BBC World and CNN, the most watched international channels. Unfortunately, no 'Turkey' there. Yes, Egypt, a much poorer country campaigns with commercials worth watching. Emerging and developing countries such as: India, Romania, Croatia, Poland, Montenegro, China, Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, all with timed, original and imaged spots. And don’t forget Greece’s hot commercials." Journal of Turkish Weekly, 13 January 2007.

Karen Hughes invokes the shining city on the hill, again.

Posted: 13 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"America must offer people across the world a positive vision of hope that is rooted in our deepest values, our belief in liberty, in justice, in opportunity, in respect for all. I saw an interview of a young man in Morocco and he was asked; 'What do you think when you think of America?' And he said, 'For me, America represents the hope of a better life.' And it's vitally important that our country continue to be that beacon of hope, that shining city on a hill that President Reagan talked about so eloquently." State Department transcript, 12 January 2007. Karen Hughes and Michelle Kwan depart 16 January for China. State Department media note, 12 January 2007. "We are asking advertising professionals to create an image for the world to see, instead of actually improving what ails us and then we wonder why America is not liked on the global stage." Victoria Hardy, American Chronicle, 11 January 2007.

Getting America out of the message.

Posted: 13 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Says Kuwaiti advocate of liberal democracy: "If I want to sell the idea of human rights, I have to disassociate them from any connection with the American way of life, if I want to sell the concept of democracy I have to take out the American flavour, and if I want to sell the notion of private property rights I have to declare that it has nothing to do with American capitalism." Foreign Policy Passport blog, 12 January 2007.

Getting to know the ladies of Paris as a model for intercultural understanding (updated).

Posted: 11 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will announce today the creation of a new annual award to honor a company, academic institution or other nongovernmental entity that does the most to promote the U.S. image abroad through intercultural understanding, State Department officials said. The Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy is designed to prod corporations and other nongovernmental groups to play a bigger role in public diplomacy at a time when the image of the U.S. government has been battered by a backlash, especially in the Arab world, from the invasion of Iraq." Washington Post, 10 January 2007. "The new public diplomacy award was named for Franklin because, as the nation's first ambassador, he was known for his creative ways of using culture and business to communicate with foreign audiences." usinfo.state.gov, 10 January 2007. "The US State Department and the Public Relations Coalition on January 9 to 10 are co-hosting a summit at the State Department that will look at how businesses and other private sector organizations can support and improve US public diplomacy." PRWeek, 8 January 2007. President of Indiana University will speak at the summit. "We are internationalizing our curriculum and expanding our research efforts through outstanding area studies programs." IU press release, 10 January 2007. Update: "There are parts of the American image that are absolutely fantastic. The world definitely sees us as ahead on entertainment, technology and medicine. But the world questions whether we listen and whether we are trying to impose our values and standards -- capitalism, free market -- on them." Fox News, 10 January 2007.

Watchdog group bares teeth at Radio/TV Martí (updated).

Posted: 11 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the legality of TV and Radio Martí's contracts with Radio Mambí (Univisión's WAQI-AM 710) and Azteca América (WPMF-TV 38)." Miami Herald, 9 January 2007. See also press release, CREW, 8 January 2007. Update: Discussed on Democracy Now! 10 January 2007. See previous post about Radio/TV Martí.

Kenneth Tomlinson asks President Bush not to renominate him as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Posted: 10 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"I have concluded that it would be far more constructive to write a book on my experiences rather than to seek to continue government service." Washington Post, 10 January 2007. "My critics will say this is an indicator that Ken Tomlinson is quitting public life. But I'm just beginning to fight. This book will be a much more effective way to bring to light the injustices done to me." Washington Times, 10 January 2007. See also VOA News, 10 January 2007. And BBG press release, 9 January 2007. Tomlinson's letter to President Bush available at Human Events, 9 January 2006.

International broadcasting via new gadgets and dotcoms (updated).

Posted: 10 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"MediaZone, part of Africa's largest media company, Naspers Ltd., has signed more than 20 new programming partners to participate in its 'Social TV' service, including China's Guangdong Southern TV, the U.S. Pentagon Channel and Voice of America. Social TV streams programs on the Internet and allows viewers to chat with each other" Reuters, 8 January 2006. From the article and www.mediazone.com, the concept is a bit fuzzy, but it seems to be a subscription (pay) service, requiring broadband connection. And it would have to be unblocked by the user's country. "The developers of SelectRadio Internet radio and satellite radio software for smartphones and PDAs announced that users now can get streaming podcasts" including from BBC World Service. SelectRadio press release, 8 January 2007. "Presets for top news (CNN, CBC, CNBC, Reuters, VOA, WRN, etc), weather, sports and talk channels." SelectRadio website. "Ford's engineering project leader, Sukhwinder Wadhwa, using his Bluetooth PDA phone, was able to stream BBC World Radio from the Web to his phone to the car (via Bluetooth) and out the speakers of a Ford Edge." PC Magazine, 8 January 2007. New Éton P-9121 receives AM, FM, shortwave, and XM Satellite and also has an iPod dock. Consumer Electronics Net, 8 January 2007. Update: "It shouldn't be long before the Net becomes becomes a 'dial' or a 'band' alongside AM, FM and shortwave." Linux Jounal, 9 January 2007.

France 24 face à ses défis.

Posted: 10 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"So far, the channel seems hampered more by limited means than by unseemly political influence. ... France 24 still has to prove and improve itself so that France's next president feels no temptation to yank its funding -- and perhaps find other ways to express France's unique if ineffable destiny." Time, 9 January 2007. "France 24 turns out neither to be anti-American nor overbearingly pro-Arab. It is not nasty, or arrogant, or facile, or cruelly slick, or any of the other blanket cliches used, often stupidly, to characterize French attitudes. And it certainly does not fall into functioning as a one-note megaphone for Frenchness. Instead, I make France 24 out as bland and anonymous, with a low- cost, voice-over feel. The result is low-impact television." John Vinocur, International Herald Tribune, 2 January 2007. France 24, with the International Herald Tribune, commissions another Harris survey in six countries. Most Americans view terrorism as the greatest challenge facing the planet, whereas for the French, it's global warming. Harris Interactive press release, 5 January 2007.

HCJB World Radio becomes HCJB Global.

Posted: 10 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"'We feel as we move into the future and expand the incredible dynamic between media and healthcare, the HCJB World Radio name did not accurately portray this vision.' said HCJB Global President David Johnson. 'We will work to develop leaders and mobilize missionaries as we serve the world through HCJB Global Voice, our media arm, and HCJB Global Hands, our healthcare ministry.' At the same time, HCJB World Radio Engineering Center in Elkhart, Ind., has become the HCJB Global Technology Center, focusing on the provision of quality assistance through consulting, service and engineering development wherever technological solutions play a role in the advance of the gospel." HCJB press release, 9 January 2007.

For U.S. international broadcasting, a surge of entanglements with other government agencies.

Posted: 09 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Section 1431 of H.R. 1, "Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007," passed 9 January by the House of Representatives, includes language on U.S. international broadcasting: "A significant expansion of United States international broadcasting would provide a cost-effective means of improving communication with countries with significant Muslim populations by providing news, information, and analysis, as well as cultural programming, through both radio and television broadcasts." Also: "Whenever the President determines it to be important to the national interests of the United States and so certifies to the appropriate congressional committees, the President, on such terms and conditions as the President may determine, is authorized to direct any department, agency, or other governmental entity of the United States to furnish the Broadcasting Board of Governors with the assistance of such department, agency, or entity based outside the United States as may be necessary to provide international broadcasting activities of the United States with a surge capacity to support United States foreign policy objectives during a crisis abroad." No other department, agency, or entity of the United States Government would have much in the way of resources that U.S. international broadcasting could use. And their assistance could compromise the independence from the government necessary for U.S. international broadcasting to maintain its credibility. The wording "to support United States foreign policy objectives" doesn't help credibility, either. See complete text of H.R. 1 via WashingtonWatch.com.

To receive BBC in Israel: well, there are still a few shortwave frequencies.

Posted: 09 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Israel's Yes satellite television company "decided that it would also cut the BBC World news channel from its package. It is true that Israel Channel 2's news broadcasts enjoy much higher ratings, and the cable company's attempt to eliminate CNN created an uproar that caused it to reverse its decision, but there are still viewers who are interested in the news reported on one of the world's leading channels." Haaretz, 9 January 2007. "The head of the Communications Ministry's regulating Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday he does not consider cable firm HOT's plan to remove BBC Prime from its package to be a legal breach that requires the ministry's intervention." Jerusalem Post, 8 January 2007. "HOT's arbitrary decision to drop more TV stations from its basic program package is nothing new to veteran Israeli TV-watchers. TEVEL, MATAV et al. did the same in the past. We used to enjoy quality TV such as Sat3, RTL, Fr2, Mezzo, TCM, BBC World - to mention just a few channels - before they disappeared from our screens. Some stations, not all, were replaced by a (disproportionate) number of Russian-speaking channels." Letter to Jerusalem Post, 9 January 2007.

A new tag line that's a Brit daft.

Posted: 09 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC America wants cable and satellite viewers to know it’s just 'a little Brit different.' The nine-year-old digital basic-cable network is rolling out a new logo, on-air navigation messaging, the tag line above and network IDs Jan. 17. It’s all designed to communicate that even though the programming is from England, it’s about lifestyles 'we all share.' ... The new logo will focus on the 'A' in BBC America." Multichannel News, 8 January 2007.

For those of you who have the Dhivehi language font.

Posted: 09 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Minivan Radio, the (Malives') only independent radio station, launched a new, interactive website on Monday aimed at giving listeners more choice over in the way they access news and information. ... Although based in the Male’ for over a year, the government still refuses to grant the station a broadcast license, so programmes continue to be aired from short wave radio transmitters in Europe and over the internet." Minivan News, 8 January 2007

Radiosur: la voz del proceso de la integración.

Posted: 09 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela plans to propose the creation of Radiosur, a multi-State radio station, during the coming South Common Market (MERCOSUR) Summit in Brazil [18-19 January]. ... The initiative was approved in principle in March 2006 by delegates of state and community radio stations from Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela." Prensa Latina, 5 January 2007. El Nacional (Caracas) (via BBC Monitoring) reported 6 January: "Radiosur will
incorporate a number of government-run radio stations from around Latin America to provide news and information, and expound the benefits of the integration process to countries in Africa, North America, Asia and Europe."

In the war on terror, the war of ideas may require a war on old ideas.

Posted: 08 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"U.S. government officials are grappling with how to win the war of ideas, and some are embracing fresh conclusions: that U.S. actions speak louder than any propaganda it can put forth; that the promotion of democracy should be a sidecar to providing humanitarian aid and economic development in the Arab world; and acceptance that the United States has only a peripheral role to play in the core philosophical debate central to the war of ideas." UPI, 5 January 2007.

Nigel Chapman: "radical" leader of BBC World Service.

Posted: 07 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Moves toward becoming a tri-media broadcaster (using online, radio and satellite TV) accelerated with his arrival and are now moving 'at warp speed'. ... How does he describe relations with the UK government - his source of funding? 'We discuss the how and the where of our broadcasts,' he says, 'but not the what. We have complete editorial independence as laid down in black and white in our broadcasting agreement.' ... 'In a world awash with partisan "news" and rumour, if we didn't exist, something like us would have to be invented.'" The Observer, 7 January 2007.

BBC World Indian advertising uptick.

Posted: 07 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Indian multinational companies "have greatly increased their advertising on BBC World internationally, including Europe, the US, Asia-Pacific and Africa; and the interest of global players in advertising in BBC's India programming has also increased." Indiantelevision.com, 6 January 2007. Review: BBC World is the BBC's global English-language television news channel; BBC World Service is the global radio service in several languages.

Newsweek on "losing the PR war in Iraq."

Posted: 07 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"What the insurgents understand better than the Americans is how Iraqis consume information. Tapes of beheadings are stored on cell phones along with baby pictures and wedding videos. Popular Arab satellite channels like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya air far more graphic images than are typically seen on U.S. TV—leaving the impression, say U.S. military officials, that America is on the run." Newsweek, 15 January 2007 issue "The U.S. military is reaching out to women in several communities in the rebel stronghold of Anbar province, in hopes of persuading them to tell their husbands and sons to help in the fight against the insurgency. ... 'We're not going to tell them, "Throw off your veils and be free." We're not trying to change their culture.'" Los Angeles Times, 7 January 2007.

Worldspace "selling like hot cakes" in Lucknow.

Posted: 07 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"AM is virtually obsolete. FM, increasingly, is beginning to get on the nerves of people, what with so many advertisements, an overdose of RJ babble and ‘cut’ songs. Now, satellite radio is spreading its lilt in the city — among the first ones to grab it being patrons of music and seekers of latest information." Hindustan Times, 6 January 2007. Worldspace adds channels devoted to comedy and to 1970s/1980s music. Worldspace press release, 8 January 2007.

Washington insiders debate what Iranians should listen to.

Posted: 06 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Edward E. Kaufman, responds to 18 December article by Enders Wimbush about Radio Farda: "Wimbush seems not to understand that, contrary to the days of the Cold War, today's target countries have rich media markets where the listener has many choices. The first objective of any programming must be to gain an audience. Lecturing Iranians on 'what they have to understand' will drive away audiences." Weekly Standard, 15 January 2007. Wimbush responds: "Edward E. Kauf man blurs a fundamental distinction between the VOA's public diplomacy and RFE/RL's strategic broadcasting. The latter, 'surrogate' radios are less concerned with advocating for America than in spurring intelligent listeners to think about the costs to their nation of runaway ideologies. Congress has made it clear that it wants this distinction preserved." ibid. And so radio listeners throughout Iran ask themselves: what should I listen to tonight? U.S. public diplomacy, or U.S. strategic broadcasting?

Discount satellite television for Zimbabwe.

Posted: 06 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Multichoice Africa offers DStv Compact bouquet, including BBC World, CNN, and SABC Africa. "In the context of Zimbabwe's challenging economic environment, the availability of an alternative channel offering a strong selection from the Premium bouquet at a discounted rate is extremely positive and opens DStv to a wider audience across the country." Zimbabwe Independent, 5 January 2007.

Miami Herald editorial blesses Radio/TV Martí airtime purchase.

Posted: 05 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Recent experiments by Radio and TV Martí in buying time on two Miami stations are credible efforts to deliver information to audiences in Cuba. ... The Martís must provide fair and objective programming, and their operations should be free of patronage and partisanship. For the experiment with Miami stations to succeed, they must be cost effective and expand the Martís' reach. Ideally, the TV transmission would be a viable alternative to expensive broadcasting via U.S. airplane flights." Editorial, Miami Herald, 4 January 2006. See previous post about Radio/TV Martí. Watching TV Martí recently, I saw a short "feature" that showed the toppling of a statue of Lenin as communist regimes fell in Eastern Europe, then the pulling down of a statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and finally Fidel Castro tripping and falling at a graduation ceremony in 2004. The point, I assume, is that all dictators eventually "fall." Is making fun of the mishap of an old man effective propaganda for Cuba? (Or for South Florida?) If TV Martí has any interest in credibility, should it be inserting these propaganda snippets at all?" "The new Martis have emerged from their elongated, painful learning curve of some 20-years, and are now producing news and information programs in expanded formats that rate placement on commercial broadcast facilities, and big ones, that want programs that attract audiences." Alvin Snyder, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 4 January 2006.

On the digestion of Aljazeera English.

Posted: 04 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"If this isn't propaganda for America's enemies, that's only because the definition of propaganda in today's constantly shifting media environment isn't perfectly clear. What is uniquely disturbing about AJE is the delivery: Right after the weather and sports scores, they give reports depicting Hamas gunmen as victims and the Islamic Army of Iraq as Arab minutemen. And as the channel cuts back to ideologically ho-hum stories on Ben Affleck's latest project, it's easy to see how unconsciously this all might be digested." Louis Wittig, Weekly Standard, 4 January 2006.

To influence Iran: end the music, or, heck, just start a war.

Posted: 04 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"U.S. public diplomacy should prioritize information over pop music. The Iranian regime would be hard-pressed to dismiss as propaganda stories of unrest and corruption originating in local Iranian papers and amplified by the Voice of America into national news." Michael Rubin, New York Daily News, 3 January 2006. For news-oriented audiences in Iran, the Voice of America Persian Service is doing that now, on radio and television. For Iranians who want the music that is not available from the tightly controlled domestic radio, Radio Farda provides this to large audiences, along with concise newscasts. It is odd that some conservative commentators remain determined to end this rare example of successful international broadcasting. But banishing music from Radio Farda would be preferable to dropping all international broadcasting in favor of a rollicking war with Iran, per the proposal of one Robert Tracinski: "We are already in a regional war with Iran, and we need to start fighting it as a regional war. The most effective place to fight that war is at its center, by targeting the Islamist regime in Tehran. Instead, our current policy is a bizarre, irrational holdover from the Cold War. In a New York Daily News op-ed, for example, Michael Rubin assures us that confronting Iran 'need not mean military action.' Instead, he advocates a policy of stronger words, from beefed up Radio Free Europe-style broadcasts to rhetoric such as the 'Axis of Evil.'" Robert Tracinski, Real Clear Politics, 4 January 2006.

Radio station "promotes the Afghan way of life" -- from studios in Canada.

Posted: 04 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Canadian military will begin radio broadcasts in Kandahar this weekend with an Afghan audience in mind. Canada's RANA-FM, 88.5 on the radio dial, will spin modern Bollywood and Afghan hits considered 'on edge' by Afghan residents, aiming for the 15- to 25-year-old audience. ... Basing the radio station in Canada is simply part of security measures." Canadian Press, 3 January 2006.

But the Worldspace satellites are still up.

Posted: 02 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Worldspace "was the region's worst stock performer this year [2006]. Its stock opened the year at $14.51 and ended it at $3.50, down 75 percent. Deirdre Skolfield, the company's senior vice president of investor relations ... read a prepared statement noting that at times during the year, WorldSpace had also been one of the best-performing stocks of the year. The volatility, she said, was not unexpected 'given we're building out a complete new broadcast medium in the developing countries of India, China and Africa.'" Washington Post, 1 January 2006.

Television station ordered shut down by Iraq stays on.

Posted: 02 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Sharkiya is owned by a London-based Iraqi businessman and says it takes an independent editorial line, though many viewers see it as leaning toward a minority Sunni Arab viewpoint. The channel was still showing programming on Monday, as it broadcasts from Dubai, and it was not immediately clear what impact the government's order would have." Reuters, 1 January 2007.

U.S.-to-Arab public diplomacy: nodding versus swiveling.

Posted: 02 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Interestingly, the current US public diplomacy director in the Arab world, Michael Pelletier, presents a promising breed of US public diplomacy communicators. For a change, Arabs watch an American public speaker who shows genuine concern and respect when responding to questions from TV hosts, fellow talk show guests, and audiences. For once Arab audiences see an American official who nods his head up and down signaling appreciation to posed questions, as opposed to heads that swivel left and right hinting at displeasure at questions." Jihad N. Fakhreddine, Arab News, 2 January 2007.

BBC Russian appeasing Putin?

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"Leading dissidents from the former Soviet Union have demanded an investigation into the BBC Russian Service, which they have accused of caving in to pressure to be less critical of President Vladimir Putin's regime. ... The service went off air in Moscow and St Petersburg last month around the time of the murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer in the Russian security service. ... The dissidents ... are particularly angered by the unexpected axing of a programme presented by Seva Novgorodsev that had run for 19 years. ... His programme regularly had guests who were enemies of the Moscow regime, such as Litvinenko and the journalist Anna Politkovskaya whose murder he was investigating. ... A BBC spokesman said: ... 'We reject any suggestion that we have made compromises in our questioning of any point of view in any debate.'" The Telegraph, 1 January 2006.

Snoddy comments on the international channels.

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The prize for new arrival of the year should go to Al Jazeera English. At last we can actually see the news from an Arab point-of-view without having to hire Arabic translators. The new service is much more than just a translation of the original controversial channel: a hybrid also bringing serious stories from the developing world. It is not clear how big an audience there will be, but neither CNN nor BBC World, the BBC's international television service, are likely to be too deeply troubled. The emergence of a growing stream of regional, or continental, 24-hour television stations in English, designed to boost cultures or reach out to diasporas, is clearly a welcome development. For the latest news from an Indian perspective try NDTV. For a Chinese take on world events there's CCTV. Jacques Chirac could not be left out in the cold so, in December, we saw the launch of France 24, and then there's 'Putin TV' [Russia Today] from Russia. Euronews and Fox News are both churning out their views on the news but in these troubled times Al Jazeera English could still be the most useful in extending understanding of the Arab world." Raymond Snoddy, The Independent, 1 January 2006.

Can't reach your interior areas? Try shortwave.

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Radio Television Malaysia broadcasts for the Orang Asli indigenous community of peninsular Malaysia have been expanded from nine to fourteen hours per day. "The broadcast is on FM 102.5 mhz for western Pahang, central Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and eastern Johor, on 91.1 mhz for the Klang Valley, 105.1 FM for Cameron Highlands and short wave 6050 Khz for interior areas such as Grik and Hulu Perak." Bernama, 1 January 2007. See previous post about shortwave in Malaysian domestic broadcasting.

Two cheers for radio.

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"It is cheap, portable and personal. ... And that is why China, which hit the headlines when it controversially persuaded Google to help it block foreign websites, also jams foreign radio stations — including the BBC World Service. Its citizens must not be given unfettered access to the world’s opinions. Similarly, Zimbabwe, which has the lowest life expectancy in the world as well as the highest inflation, is so keen to prevent its starving people hearing news from overseas that it confiscates shortwave radios in rural areas, and tries to jam broadcasts from independent radio stations based in the UK and USA. No regime would ever go to the trouble of doing this if radio were irrelevant." Paul Donovan, The Sunday Times, 31 December 2006.

Public diplomacy: quit pushing and try pulling.

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
Veteran PR and advertising guru Dick Martin says: "There seems to be a consensus that the government needs to move away from a 'push' strategy of bombarding people around the world with cheery messages about America and invest more in a 'pull' strategy of engaging the rest of the world in more meaningful relationships. ... One of the premises of my book is that American businesses can do a lot to restore America's reputation -- they have more credibility, more feet on the ground, and a longer-term view not tied to election cycles." The Star-Ledger (New Jersey), 31 December 2006.

Pakistan: domestic broadcasters concerned about foreign broadcasters.

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Pakistan Broadcasters Association has expressed serious concern over reports that foreign channels will soon be granted permission to start their transmissions in Pakistan. In this connection, a meeting of PBA was held on Saturday with its chairman Mir Shakil-ur-R ahman in the chair. The meeting adopted a resolution demanding of the government of Pakistan not to allow foreign channels to transmit their programmes in the country’s national language or regional dialects or in the languages understood in Pakistan." The News (Karachi), 30 December 2006. It's not clear from the report if "transmissions in Pakistan" means terrestrial transmission, carriage via cable systems, or permission to downlink via satellite. Among the stations represented at the meeting was Geo TV, which includes reports from the VOA Urdu Service in its news programs.

New year brings changes on the shortwave bands.

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
My friend Kai Ludwig in Germany comments on Deutsche Welle's switch to VT Communications of the UK as its transmission provider: "Tonight DW not only leaves the Wertachtal [Germany] site but also takes Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Polish, RBB-produced Romanes, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish off shortwave. This leaves only German, English, Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian on shortwave frequencies for Europe." Kai follows up on 1 January, noting that the DW German transmission to Europe at 1200 UTC on 6075 kHz via VT's Skelton, England (replacing Wertachtal) is "unlistenable ... even on communications receivers with outdoor antenna." And from my friend Jukka Kinkamo in Finland: "The Finnish state owned broadcaster YLE will not broadcast on shortwave and medium wave from the Pori [Finland] transmitting site. The site is owned by Digita Ltd which is outsourced YLE transmission division. Various groups are disappointed about the decision, like long haul truck drivers who cannot use cellphones or satellite services while driving in Europe. However YLE advocates its web based services instead of SW/MW. The Santahamina MW site continues broadcasting on 558 kHz for Baltic Sea area, but the Pori 963 and 6120 kHz for Europe will go silent among the frequencies for overseas continents."

Another scoop Alhurra could have done without.

Posted: 01 Jan 2007   Print   Send a link
News media attribute the first report of the hanging of Saddam Hussein to Alhurra. Some credit Alarabiya as well. The earliest report I could find in a Google news search was from Reuters: "U.S.-backed Iraqi television station Al Hurra said Saddam Hussein had been executed by hanging shortly before 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Saturday." Reuters, 29 December 2006. "Dubai-based Al Arabiya and U.S.-funded Al Hurra were credited with the first reports of Hussein's death, and their news was quickly picked up in the United States and elsewhere. Even Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news channel that gained worldwide notice after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, had to cite Al Hurra and Al Arabiya initially." Chicago Tribune, 31 December 2006. "The fact that the first confirmation, for almost an hour, came only from the U.S.-backed propaganda station al-Hurra, indicates again that the U.S., not the Iraqi government, is still calling the shots around the trial and execution. (U.S. and some British outlets were running headlines saying 'Arabic language media reporting SH's execution...' as if al-Hurra was a legitimate independent news outlet.)" Phyllis Bennis, ZNet, 31 December 2006. In "Al Hurra's Momemt of Truth," Radio Netherlands Media Network, 9 June 2004 (pdf), I wrote, "Al Hurra's credibility was not helped is its recent 'exclusive' footage of torture in Iraqi prisons when Saddam Hussein was still in power. Because the images could be construed as an attempt to deflect attention from Abu Ghraib, detractors can now more conveniently dismiss Al Hurra as a US propaganda instrument. As important as the information is, Al Hurra would have helped itself by letting Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, or even the History Channel get the scoop on this video, then jumping on the story." With the Saddam hanging story, Alhurra has established itself as the station that breaks news that coincides with U.S. adminstration policies in the Middle East. Is the credibility necessary for success in international broadcasting now beyond Alhurra's reach?