Truth trumps nihilism.

Posted: 29 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
State Department spokesman Sen McCormick, responding to question about possible U.S. reaction to jihadist websites: "We think that, frankly, just speaking the truth -- not only about our values, our policies, but the policies and values of our friends and allies -- is the most effective weapon, because in essence, these people have no message. It's a message of nihilism. It's a message of violence. It's a message of murder and destruction. Now, that may appeal to some segment of some population, and there may be some that are just totally irreconcilable and that message speaks to them. You have to deal with those people in a certain way. But there may be others who may be tempted by this kind of message; but if you can reach out to them and speak to them about a different, more positive message, maybe that -- those jihadist websites are a little less effective." State Department Press Briefing, 26 July 2007. The question referred to the Middle East Media Research Institute's Islamist Websites Monitor Project.

That old-time religious promotion of terrorism.

Posted: 29 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
According to CSIS report, U.S. government "efforts have also belatedly and not entirely successfully considered religion's role in promoting terrorism, while a public-diplomacy campaign has scrambled to assure Muslim communities abroad of shared values, without always listening to the different priorities of various communities." Winston-Salem Journal, 28 July 2007. See also full text of "Mixed Blessings: U.S. Government Engagement with Religion in Conflict-Prone Settings" at Center for Strategic and International Studies, 20 July 2007.

VOA coverage is a big deal in Niagara Falls, New York.

Posted: 29 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
In July, crews from NBC, CBS, and VOA-TV visited Niagara Falls. City Historian Tom Yots' "initial impression was the VOA program on the Falls would be restricted to radio. Instead it will be broadcast in 25 languages on TV. 'I’ll probably be speaking in Chinese,' said (local history expert Paul) Gromosiak, alluding to the dubbed-in translation for Asian viewers." Niagara Gazette, 29 July 2007.

While more international broadcasters turn off their shortwave transmitters, more countries restrict the internet.

Posted: 29 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Kazakhstan and Georgia are among countries imposing excessive restrictions on how people use the Internet, a new report says, warning that regulations are having a chilling effect on freedom of expression. 'Governing the Internet,' issued Thursday by the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, called the online policing 'a bitter reminder of the ease with which some regimes — democracies and dictatorships alike — seek to suppress speech that they disapprove of, dislike, or simply fear.'" AP, 27 July 2007. "In a new case not covered by the report, a senior Malaysian minister vowed this week to apply law prescribing jail terms for Web writers of comments said to disparage Islam or the king." Reuters, 27 July 2007. See also complete OSCE report, May 2007.

That BBC balance is so "wearying."

Posted: 29 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Review of Getting Rich First: Life in a Changing China by BBC World Service correspondent Duncan Hewitt: "Typical is his chapter on the press, entitled 'The Half-open Media.' Investigative journalists tend to give their stories a "semi-fictionalized" treatment, he writes. The Internet has encouraged some freedom, but there were an estimated 60 people jailed for Internet-related offences in 2005. He informs us of instances where the press has managed to become more open, while at the same time stressing that the Communist Party has no intention of relaxing its control any time soon. There is little doubt of the truth of all this. What becomes slightly wearying is that it's representative of a balancing act that pervades the entire text. Maybe Hewitt learnt the technique from his time with the BBC." Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times, 29 July 2007.

James Glassman's big "but."

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
On C-SPAN's "The Communicators," James K. Glassman, new chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors said "journalism is the foundation of what we do, but, we are paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, we have a mission, we have a purpose." He also said that U.S. international broadcasting should not convey the ideology of the president in office, but "should reflect the strategies and policies of the United States government." Mr. Glassman added that "we're very happy" about the recent interviews with Secretary Rice Alhurra and Radio Sawa. Mr. Glassman noted that Aljazeera in Arabic is "frequently quite a shrill, some would say jihadist, broadcaster. ... Some of the things I have seen on Aljazeera really are quite despicable." Alhurra, on the other hand, is a voice "of moderation, accuracy, it is a kind of a home on the dial for people who do not buy into the extremism that is promoted on other networks in the Middle East." He said that a third of the BBG audience is in Arabic countries. Video on demand of the program, on 28 July, will eventually be available at C-SPAN's The Communicators website. Glenn Hauser informs us that the program will be repeated Monday at 8:00 a.m. EDT (1200 UTC) and 8:00 p.m. EDT (UTC Tuesday 0000), both on C-SPAN 2. Live streams available via C-SPAN home page. See previous post about James Glassman, including my letter of 19 July.

Improve U.S. image by traveling abroad?

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"One important way to change public opinion is to send our best and brightest overseas. We need to show other countries the hearts and souls of Americans. We need to show them that Americans care about people outside our borders. This cannot happen if we all stay home. Too many Americans believe we live on an island that is not impacted by what happens overseas. Last year, only 20 percent of Americans had a passport." Steve Uhlfelder, Tallahassee Democrat, 28 July 2007.

More questions about TV Martí.

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"More than two dozen Cubans immigrants who recently arrived in Florida ... said while the U.S. government's Radio Marti is heard throughout the island, TV Marti can rarely be seen. The TV operation costs U.S. taxpayers more than $20 million a year." AP, 27 July 2007. Interestingly timed story. Shortwave is probably the best medium to overcome Cuban jamming, because of the physical tendency of shortwave signals to be heard better over long rather than short distances. On television frequencies, the closer transmitter almost always wins. In Cuba, there are still Soviet-built shortwave radios, plus newer Chinese imports, and even shortwave radios distributed for free by the U.S. Interests Section. Overcoming Cuban jamming is facilitated by transmitting on as many frequencies as possible, from as many sites a possible. The Broadcasting Board of Governors' plans to close the IBB transmitting station at Delano, California, will eliminate one site and several frequencies that would help Radio Martí combat Cuban jamming. All this while Congress and others push for aircraft and other more expensive technologies that are easier to jam. Overview of Radio/TV Martí. AP, 27 July 2007.

Analyzing Press TV.

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Press TV broadcasts a guy in a collarless shirt telling the story the Iranian government wants us to hear. As the cost of starting a CNN knockoff continues to fall, more groups and governments that crave the sheen of influence such stations provide will start broadcasting." Louis Wittig, Weekly Standard, 27 July 2007.

Consevatives call for more liberal spending on BBC World Service.

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
UK Conservative Party policy group on security "urges the use of 'soft power' resources such as the BBC World Service to boost Britain's international influence." The Guardian, 27 July 2007. "The BBC World Service, funded by a ring fenced grant of £208m a year, is highly valued, particularly because of its editorial independence but is not as generously funded as it should be. Demands on it have increased but resources have not. When it was decided to set up a BBC Arabic TV station, money had to be found within the stretched World Service budget by closing down other BBC World Service operations. The World Service plans a Farsi (spoken in Iran, portions of Afghanistan and elsewhere in central Asia) TV service. BBC Monitoring (of open source information round the world) which has taken on an important role in conjunction with the US agency FBIS, in tracking extremist propaganda needs an increased budget. Comparatively little extra money in such areas would yield disproportionate benefit to the national interest." "An Unquiet World," submission to the Shadow Cabinet by the Conservatives' National and International Security Policy Group, July 2007.

Details about the World Service contribution to the BBC contest scandal (updated).

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service director, Nigel Chapman, gave more details to the Lords committee today about what happened in the case of the viewer deception on World Service programme White Label. Mr Chapman said the programme, which is made by the BBC audio and music department, had made up reviews because not enough had come in from the public. 'On occasion, the presenters made up the review ... clearly that was wrong and damaging,' he added. Mr Chapman said that some of the BBC staff involved had come forward with the confession and the White Label problems were still being looked into but no one has yet been suspended." Media Guardian, 25 July 2007. See previous post about same subject. Update: "I hope [the BBC's] new Editorial Standards Board will allow creative people to still be creative. There's a real danger that production staff will err on the side of caution and that some programmes could become bland as a result." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 26 July 2007.

Geore Otis, founder of High Adventures religious shortwave network.

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"George K. Otis Sr., who founded High Adventure Ministries, a Simi Valley-based Christian organization best known for operating what was probably the first radio station in the Middle East to preach the Gospel and play country music, has died. He was 90." Los Angeles Times, 27 July 2007. High Adventures Ministries operated a shortwave transmitter in southern Lebanon until it was destroyed by a fire in 1997. Its KVOH shortwave transmitters in California were sold to, or are at least now operated by, la Voz de la Restauración. According to the 2007 World Radio TV Handbook, High Adventure still owns shortwave transmitters on Palau, but these are not mentioned at the High Adventure Ministries website All very mysterious. More background at DX Listening Digest, 7 October 2003.

From the WSJ, more not-ready-for-the-news-pages news about U.S. international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 28 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Take the Voice of America's Persian Service. According to a Farsi-speaking source who tracks the broadcasts, during last year's war between Hezbollah and Israel, VOA reporter Nazi Beglari opined that 'Hezbollah ended the Israeli occupation in the past and is doing it again.' Camera shots lingered over toys scattered near bomb sites and a burnt page of the Quran--evidence, presumably, of Israel's intent to destroy Islam and murder Muslim children." Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, 10 July 2007. One again, the WSJ, using a single source, without attribution, on the opinion rather than the news page, has leveled a serious charge about U.S. international broadcasting. Very likely, certain members of Congress, columnists, and bloggers will run with it, without bothering to check any facts, in a din like the incessant yipping of small dogs, until someone resigns. Update: See letter to WSJ, 27 July 2007.

Secretary Rice interviewed on both Radio Sawa and Alhurra, same day.

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
On Radio Sawa, says President Bush "was stating very clearly that Israel's future will rest in Israel, in places like Galilee and in the Negev, and that the occupation of the West Bank will have to end and a Palestinian state will need to be established." State Department transcript, 25 July 2007. On Alhurra: "The Palestinian people have waited too long for the state. The Israelis have waited too long for the security that will come from having a viable and democratic neighbor." State Department transcript, 25 July 2007. Floats trip to Libya. AFP, 25 July 2007.

They used to listen to VOA. Now they cut it and paste it.

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
English class in Tokyo is "an e-learning class using a computer-assisted language laboratory (CALL). First, the students were told to open the Voice of America Special English Web site and choose one article from the site that interested them. They copied the article into a Microsoft Office Word file and then checked the word count. ... The VOA's Special English was originally designed for use on radio. The idea is to use clear and simple English for people whose native language was not English. Special English has become a popular tool for teaching English throughout the world, as their writers use short and simple sentences that contain one idea and avoid using idioms." Daily Yomiuri, 26 July 2007.

Armenian National Radio does not renew rebroadcasting agreement with RFE/RL (updated).

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and its oversight agency, the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) expressed dismay at Armenian Public Radio's rejection of a new contract to continue carrying programs of RFE/RL's Armenian Service. RFE/RL Armenian programs have been aired on Armenian Public Radio -- Armenia's top radio network -- since 1998, where they have earned the trust of a significant number of listeners. Survey data shows that 15 percent of Armenian adults listen to RFE/RL programs each week." RFE/RL press release, 24 July 2007. Update: "In Armenia, reactions to the news were mixed. As in the run-up to the July 3 parliamentary vote, pro-government political figures again gave assurances that the move does not restrict Radio Liberty’s broadcasting possibilities. Samvel Nikoyan, a member of parliament for the ruling Republican Party, told EurasiaNet that the radio station could easily have its programs retransmitted on private radio companies’ frequencies. ... Human rights activist Ashot Melikian, chairman of the Committee for the Defense of Freedom of Speech, said that the move would boost the ability of Armenian authorities to control the flow of information. Most television and radio outlets are largely pro-government in their news coverage." Gayane Abrahamyan, Eurasianet.org, 25 July 2007.

Specters of the purged 1950s VOA in those cubist angles, tightly dilineated abstractions, and pure shapes?

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Given both [Gladys Mintus] Buchs and her husband, who worked for the Voice of America, were hounded by Communist investigations during the McCarthy era, [her] paintings seems a powerful slap at the people whom Buchs would have likely had to socialize with professionally and people who would likely have supported, at least initially, McCarthy." Beverly (Massachusetts) Citizen, 25 July 2007.

Former officials of U.S. international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Fawzi A.R. Elbakry (1926-2007) was, from the 1950s, senior manager of the Voice of America program center in Cairo. He moved the center to Rhodes after the 1967 war. He finished his career at VOA in Washington. Obituary by Sam Hilmy (retired director of VOA's Near East, North Africa and South Asia Division), Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2007. New biography about Arthur Page, who wrote the statement issued at the White House about the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima, and who had "a final career as a consultant and Cold Warrior with Radio Free Europe." Anvil Publishers press release, 23 July 2007. Update: Jurgis Blekaitis, 89, poet, theater producer, and senior editor of VOA Lithuanian, died 25 June. Washington Post, 26 July 2007.

As usual, plenty of advice for U.S. public diplomacy (updated).

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"We should also adjust our public-diplomacy efforts in the Muslim world: Instead of trying to turn unpopular policies into popular ones, we should concentrate on criticizing Al-Qaeda’s ideas and tactics." James W. Riley, The National Interest Online, 24 July 2007. "In Tehran, hard-liners use every stray speculation of imminent war to crack down and justify their nuclear pursuits. Most notably, Tehran now holds several prominent Iranian Americans on espionage and conspiracy charges, arguing that they are part of the Cheney vanguard. Meanwhile, the United States is attempting to enlist Iran's assistance in crafting some kind of honorable peace and withdrawal from Iraq -- a far more consequential objective, and also one undermined by all the rumors and threats. Too bad the administration isn't competent enough to correct its public diplomacy and put these rumors to rest." William M. Arlin, Washington Post blog, 23 July 2007. Update: "Obviously, it’s good news that Muslims, with the exception of the Palestinians, increasingly see violence, especially suicide bombings, against civilians by their co-religionists as unjustifiable. ... While not trumpeting its role, U.S. public diplomacy assets must get this message to as many media outlets, eyes and ears in the Muslim world as possible — stat!" Peter Brookes, National Review Online, 26 July 2007. "If we support religious pluralism through our actions at home, we can go a long way to returning to being the 'shining city on the hill' that will inspire ordinary people the world over - including pious Muslims - to take America's side in the war on terror." Hady Amr, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 July 2007.

Psyops: marketing as good as the local news.

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Col. Curtis Boyd, 4th Psychological Operations Group: "Everybody has a different way of looking at it, but if you really want to get your head around it, it’s marketing. We inform a foreign audience of the good things and bad things about activities in the name of them for their future. ... It is all truth-based. As of anything media or otherwise, truth seems to be a matter of perception. However, you drill down into any of our activities, you’ll find they’re as good as anything in the local news." Fayette (North Carolina) Observer, 26 July 2007.

Back in the USA, and missing non-American news.

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"After many happy years in London, I reluctantly agreed to return to the US for no good reason (a job). ... Ever since I moved to London during the early days of the Gulf War and experienced its coverage on both continents, I can't get enough of non-American news. So many other countries and so many other viewpoints, tragedies, ideas, successes, eccentricities, atrocities, kindnesses. So much wonderful differentness. I certainly don't find that breadth of coverage on US television news. So thankfully I can still tune into CNN International or catch the BBC World News or keep my French up with France 2's nightly newscast (where they've had a female anchor for eons, Katie, by the way). Americentrism helps no one, particularly us. And it's just not as interesting." Val Brown, Huffington Post, 25 July 2007.

Has World Service prevented a beheading?

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
When Rizana Nafeek left her war-torn village in Sri Lanka two years ago, aged 17, she hoped to find a new life of peace and prosperity working as a maid in Saudi Arabia. Instead, she is on death row, facing possible decapitation in the next few months for allegedly strangling the baby son of her Saudi employers. ... It was only when the BBC World Service radio reported on the case in Sinhala, the main language of Sri Lanka, that the Asian Human Rights Commission intervened." The Times, 26 July 2007.

Israeli content analysis concludes anti-Israel bias from BBC (updated).

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
HonestReporting, "the largest Israel media advocacy group in the world," "monitored 286 articles and pictures appearing on the BBC News website from January 2007 until June 2007. What we saw was a clear pattern of showcasing the Palestinian perspective, at the expense of Israeli voices. ... Finding: BBC headlines and text tend to use a style that describes Palestinian violence ambiguously (only naming the aggressor 15% of the time) while being much more direct in cases where the Israeli military is involved (Israel is mentioned in 60% of these cases.)" HonestReporting, 19 July 2007. And on the other hand: Update: Complaints about BBC for its coverage of the shooting of a Palestinian cameraman. "One of the leaders of demonstrations in Gaza calling for the release of the BBC reporter Alan Johnston was a Palestinian news cameraman, Imad Ghanem. On 5 July, he was shot by Israeli soldiers as he filmed them invading Gaza. ... The atrocity was reported in two sentences on the BBC online." John Pilger, New Statesman, 26 July 2007.

Search for new CBC president.

Posted: 27 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The federal government has started looking for a new president for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to replace Robert Rabinovitch, whose second term ends in November. ... The future president will work at the Crown corporation's head office in Ottawa and will be responsible for the English- and French-language networks of the CBC, Radio Canada International and the aboriginal language stations in the North." Canadian Press, 26 July 2007.

Can Venezuela regulate RCTV even though its headquarters are now in Miami?

Posted: 26 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela’s Telecommunications Commission stated this week that the private TV channel RCTV must continue to follow Venezuelan media regulations, even though its new headquarters are in Miami. ... The nation's oldest private channel came back on the air last week via cable and satellite, after going off the national airwaves on May 28th, when its broadcast license expired. After the Chavez government denied the channel a renewal of its license to broadcast on the nation's VHF spectrum, RCTV came back on Monday of last week as RCTV International on cable and satellite subscription television. Since then, the channel has claimed that it does not have to comply with mandatory government public service messages or play the national anthem twice daily, as is required of all national broadcasters by law." Venezuelanalysis.com, July 2007. The government of Venezuela can probably force RCTV off cable systems in that country. Can it stop reception of RCTV via DirectTV Latin America? There are old international laws, some places observed, some places not, that target country consent is required for satellite broadcasts. It remains to be seen how DirectTV Latin America will respond to this situation. This is the essential problem of international broadcasting: how to get content into a country whose government does not want its people to receive that content. Meanwhile: Telesur gets "exclusive" interview with a spokesman for the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces. Prensa Latina, 24 July 2007.

*Who* dispatches Alhurra camera crews?

Posted: 26 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"On a humid afternoon in late May, about 100 supporters of Syria's largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus's embassy here to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule. ... In the months leading up to the May 26 rally, the NSF held a string of meetings with officials from the State Department and the National Security Council. They discussed media and political strategies, and the administration dispatched a camera crew from the U.S. government-funded Al Hurra television station to beam scenes of the rally across the Arab world." Wall Street Journal, 25 July 2007.

Punished for associating with Western international broadcasters.

Posted: 25 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "voiced deep concern today on learning that journalists Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed 'Hiva' Botimar were sentenced to death by a revolutionary tribunal in Marivan, in Iran’s Kurdish northwestern region, on 16 July." Hassanpour's "interviews for foreign news media including Voice of America were cited by the prosecution." RSF, 23 July 2007. "Sergei, after his conversion, or new birth as he describes it, wrote a Christian musical with a friend (pre-perestroika). 'The Trumpet Call' ended up on the BBC and Voice of America radio networks. For this Sergei was imprisoned for two years in a KGB prison which only ended through the intervention of Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev." NewswireToday, 25 July 2007.

Intrigue in the history of RFE Romanian.

Posted: 25 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Former Intelligence general Ion Mihai Pacepa, who defected from Ceausescu’s oppressive system in 1978, had his first public intervention during an Antena 1 news program. ... 'On July 22, 1978, Ceausescu has called for me and ordered me to arrange the assassination of Noel Bernard, head of the Romanian programs at Radio Free Europe.'" HotNews.ro, 25 July 2007.

The private-sector side of public diplomacy.

Posted: 25 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"When the host population perceives a corporation as a good citizen, it produces collateral benefits for the home country. A good corporation in a foreign country can become a goodwill ambassador for the home country. On the other hand, when the local population perceives a country as hostile, foreign businesses could be hit hard. The foundation for grassroots public diplomacy, which is more than show-and-tell visits by celebrities, must be patiently laid as China has begun to do. Resentment against US foreign policy has been contaminating the image of US corporate brands, especially in Arab-Muslim countries, which requires corporate America to do its own public diplomacy." ND Batra, The Statesman, 25 July 2007. "Business for Diplomatic Action has unanimously elected to its board American Airlines Vice President for Communications & Advertising Roger Frizzell." BDA press release, 24 July 2007.

Radio, domestic and international, in and to India.

Posted: 25 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Listeners who yearned for entertainment turned to Radio Ceylon that ran a commercial service for India. To arrest the decline in [All India Radio's] listenership, Vividh Bharti was launched in 1957 and allowed to play film music. It was only in 1967, though, that AIR allowed commercials and churned out popular shows like Jai Mala, Hawa Mahal and Chhayageet. ... 'With colour TV transmission in India, radio lost the battle to the small screen,' says radio consultant Sunil Kumar. 'Partly, its equity was eroded during the Emergency [1975-1977] when people tuned into BBC and Voice of America,' he adds. FM may have won back audiences, but for some, the finest hour of radio is over." Business Standard, 25 July 2007.

Did a lawyer's letter cause VOA to "cease and desist"? (updated)

Posted: 25 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has taken legal action against proponents of US-Iran war who have waged a defamation campaign against NIAC. As a first sign of success, Voice of America’s Persian Service agreed to halt providing these activists a platform to spread false rumors about NIAC. In a letter dated June 19, 2007, NIAC's attorney Afshin Pishevar demanded that Voice of America, Persian Service (VOA) 'cease and desist' from continuing to function as a political platform for those attacking NIAC. This was the first time NIAC resorted to legal measures to thwart the campaign to depict all opponents of war between the US and Iran as agents of the Iranian government." Persian Mirror, 14 July 2007. Update: "This tactic, commonly known as 'cease and desist letter' is typically not the first step in a legal action but an alternative to taking a legal action, aimed to intimidate. NIAC in the same statement has also bragged about having forced VOA to cancel further scheduled broadcasts. If this is indeed true, this is a shocking retreat by the Voice of America-TV that brings disgrace to the free media and discredits the United States in its strive to advance democracy and freedom of the speech in Iran." Omid Biniaz, American Thinker, 24 July 2007.

Winning hearts, minds, and sunburnt beerbellies.

Posted: 25 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
NASCAR's Allstate 400 "will be available around the globe. LeSea Broadcasting will provide coverage via short-wave radio." PaddockTalk, 24 July 2007. Religious broadcaster LeSea, with headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, often broadcasts auto races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. LeSea used to have a shortwave transmitting site at Noblesville, just north of Indianapolis, but now its shortwave sites are in South Carolina, Maine, and Hawaii.

Rumors confirmed: IBB Delano will close.

Posted: 25 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
VOA's union says the Broadcasting Board of Governors will close the International Broadcasting Bureau's Delano, California, shortwave transmitting facility on 30 October. AFGE Local 1812, 24 July 2007. See also BBG statement, 24 July 2007. It's used now for Radio Martí and for VOA Spanish, Creole, and Special English to Latin America. There is much interest in Congress to overcome Cuban jamming of Martí broadcasts. Shortwave remains the medium of international broadcasting that is most difficult to block. But shortwave anti-jamming techniques work best by transmitting on as many frequencies as possible, from as many sites as possible. The closure of Delano thus makes it easier for Cuba to jam Radio Martí shortwave broadcasts. Beyond that, the BBG statement does not say if Delano will be placed in "mothball" status or closed altogether. I hope the former, because it will be needed during future crises, when more modern communications technologies fail due to overuse or hostile action.

One advantage of radio over television is that you don't have cameramen getting into scuffles.

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
The arrival of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh at Washington's Union Station "was marked by an ugly scuffle between two news cameramen, one of whom was handcuffed and detained briefly by police. The incident occurred when cameramen were jostling to position themselves as Hsieh alighted from the train and headed for a limousine. In the scramble, a cameraman from Hong Kong's Phoenix TV knocked over a camera from the Voice of America (VOA) accompanying former ETTV reporter Daphne Fan. While both men were described as aggressive and unpleasant by eyewitnesses, it was not clear whether the violence was deliberate or not. As tempers rose, the VOA cameraman angrily demanded that Phoenix pay for the camera, whereupon police intervened. The VOA cameramen was handcuffed and briefly detained. He was released after the Phoenix cameraman was ordered to leave the scene. No charges were issued." Taipei Times, 24 July 2007. Phoenix TV is the only outlet for VOA Mandarin news reports in China, so this puts an interesting twist on "affliliate relations."

The VOA sound in the jazz bands of the former Soviet Union.

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"In the former Soviet Union jazz started to penetrate due to Voice of America, so if you go work in Azerbaijan or Kazikstan, the jazz players kind of come into it in the bebop mode and take it from there. You have a very interesting circumstance where they are combining this jazz with their local traditional music, giving it this little accent, which is very fascinating in and of itself, but they didn’t learn—the grooves are not in their blood from the beginning, you know? So the shuffles and the grooves from early African-American jazz just weren’t in their ears. They got it from the fifties, so they come to it with some sort of gaps in their (pause)groove. You hear that in their rhythm section, in the playing." John Ferguson, interviewed by All About Jazz, 24 July 2007.

Damage control at BBC after recent scandals (updated).

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Within the BBC, the row has exposed tensions between programme-makers and news executives, who feel that some editors and producers are aping their commercial rivals and taking unacceptable risks in an attempt to boost ratings. 'They are trying to prove they can do the shocking stuff as well as their commercial competitors' says one source, who insists they have damaged the BBC's world-wide reputation for accuracy and honesty." The Observer, 22 July 2007. "Never before has the BBC been forced to admit so many mistakes." Ron Liddle, The Sunday Times, 20 July 2007. See previous post about same subject. Update: "In seeking to connect with the public, programmes create a plethora of phone-ins, and solicitations for e-mails in an eagerness to demonstrate that audiences are good. Such anxieties, on which hang future prospects, can tempt people to falsify the evidence." Joan Bakewell, The Independent, 23 July 2007.

Aljazeera English still seeking distribution in India.

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Is a co-branding deal with a local player, a la CNN-IBN, also on the cards? 'It is too early to talk about such partnerships but we have been getting queries.'" Business Standard, 23 July 2007. "Al Jazeera English will air an exclusive programme filmed inside the controversial Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in the days leading up to the siege when Pakistani troops stormed the building, leaving around 100 dead." Aljazeera press release, 23 July 2007. Aljazeera broadcasts debate on secularism and fundamentalism in the Arab World. Journal of Turkish Weekly, 23 July 2007.

Internet "side-stepping" cable for international television.

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The new al-Jazeera English-language channel has signed up more than 20,000 US subscribers to its online service, side-stepping the cable operators whose reluctance to carry the channel overshadowed its launch last November. ... Several smaller broadcasters have begun to use the internet as a way around political obstacles or the high fees cable and satellite platforms charge for carriage. RCTV, the Venezuelan channel stripped of its broadcast licence by Hugo Chávez in May, has since resurfaced on YouTube." Financial Times Deutschland, 24 July 2007.

On the transition from international radio to international television.

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Long gone are the days when every State broadcaster had an international service broadcasting via shortwave radio. Governments faced the reality of dwindling audiences and marginal impact among media savvy 'opinion leaders.' Many moved on to the internet. Others just gave up. But politicians being politicians nothing is more attractive than being attractive on television. Envy plays a role. And satellite access is very inexpensive. The business plans of the old shortwave services are being dusted off, polished with television pictures and sold to presidents, kings and prime ministers eager to share their opinions with the world." Followthemedia.com, 22 July 2007.

And New Zealand is not even an official VOA target country.

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Kordia™ has partnered with Triangle Television to help launch its latest brainchild, ‘Triangle Stratos’: a new, regionally-focused channel that will deliver nationwide, subscription-free programming for the first time. Triangle Stratos will deliver mix of local and global programming from a number of sources including other regional stations around New Zealand, locally-based ethnic and minority groups, and international broadcasters including Germany’s DW-TV, Voice of America and Al Jazeera." Kordia press release, 23 July 2007. Four entities are mentioned in this press release: Kordia is a "state-owned enterprise based in New Zealand that operates a national communications network and provides network feeds and broadcast services for the major television and radio networks in New Zealand." Triangle a New Zealand's non-commercial, regional TV station broadcasting to the Auckland region with access, public service and ethnic television programming. into a novel and exciting format. Triangle Stratos is the Triangle channel on the Freeview satellite platform. Freeview is a non-profit organisation providing free-to-air digital television and digital radio to New Zealand. The Freeview service is currently available via satellite throughout New Zealand and will be available via terrestrial transmissions to about 75 percent of the population from early 2008. Still confused? So am I.

Sky News joins international channels on Jalipo.

Posted: 24 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Sky News in the UK is making its 24-hour news service available online via internet TV start-up Jalipo, which is attempting to bring a 'pay-as-you-go' model to TV consumption. The News Corp-owned channel joins the likes of BBC World, EuroNews and Al Jazeera, which have all made their content available to Jalipo since the service launched earlier this year." C21Media.net, 23 July 2007.

U.S. international broadcasting: journalism is its own purpose.

Posted: 22 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
At a 10 July town meeting of Voice of America and International Broadcasting Bureau employees, James K. Glassman, new chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said that for U.S. international broadcasting, journalism is the "foundation." Beyond that, however, that there must be "journalism with purpose … journalism that contributes towards freedom." (Listen to mp3 excerpt.) I wrote to Mr. Glassman, with copy to all BBG members, offering reasons why, in U.S. international broadcasting, journalism is its own purpose. See my letter of 19 July 2007.

Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima still prevented from leaving Iran.

Posted: 22 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"On the advice of her legal counsel, she has taken her plight public, offering a glimpse of the methods of Iranian security forces. Azima's legal troubles cap a three-year flirtation with Iran, which she left in 1983 after being purged from her job as a government librarian." Los Angeles Times, 22 July 2007. Haleh Esfandiari, of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, now in prison in Iran, "even refuses to go on Voice of America for fear it would associate her with the Bush administration's strategy of trying to oust regimes rather than change regime behavior." Geoff Dabelko, Grist, 19 July 2007.

Listening post? No, transmitting post.

Posted: 22 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"During the J.R.Jayewardene government Sri Lanka’s signing an agreement with Voice of America was made one of the excuses for India to arm fund and train the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that finally killed Rajiv Gandhi. But the US did not want to help Sri lanka when the country was being attacked by the LTTE not to antogonize India. India concluded the Voice of America relay station was actually a listening post on India." Walter Jayawardhana, Lankaweb, 19 July 2007. Speculation about the IBB relay in Sri Lanka pops up in South Asian publications and websites from time to time. Because the facility is relaying VOA and other U.S. stations with four 500-kilowatt and three 250-kilowatt transmitters, anyone in the subcontinent with a twenty-dollar shortwave radio can attest to its actual purpose. With 2,750 kilowatts to cause RF interference to sensitive receivers, it would be a poor location for a "listening post."

Radio Free Afghanistan gets second source on Taliban "scoop." (updated)

Posted: 22 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Taliban claims it shot down a Black Hawk helicopter in eastern Afghanistan today, killing all aboard. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahed told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in a telephone call from an undisclosed location that (a U.S. Black Hawk) helicopter was shot down in Nuristan Province. A NATO spokesman in eastern Afghanistan told RFE/RL that a NATO helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in Nuristan Province today, but all personnel got off of the helicopter safely. The spokesman was unable to confirm the cause of the forced landing." Radio Free Afghanistan, 20 July 2007. Update: "A purported Taliban spokesman said today that the group has killed two German hostages it had been holding in Afghanistan since July 18, while an Afghan official said one is still alive. Qari Yusof Ahmadi discussed the fate of the hostages today in a telephone interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan from an undisclosed location." Radio Free Afghanistan, 21 July 2007.

You mean "shock and awe" did not make the Iraqis like us?

Posted: 22 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Authors of U.S. military commissioned report on "Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation" "concluded that the 'force' brand, which the United States peddled for the first few years of the occupation, was doomed from the start and lost ground to enemies' competing brands. While not abandoning the more aggressive elements of warfare, the report suggested, a more attractive brand for the Iraqi people might have been 'We will help you.'" Washington Post, 21 July 2007. And one way to help them is to provide them with the straight, unspinned news they are seeking. "The bizarre 'beauty' of the 'war on terror' is not only that it fails to remove the security deficit; it actively creates demand! First, it fosters a general sense of dread within the West: since we are 'at war', it is logical to conclude that the enemy must be powerful and pervasive. Second, the 'war on terror' predictably produces new terrorists." David Keen, CounterPunch, 21/22 July 2007.

Will DRM inhibit DRM?

Posted: 22 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Report that "anti-stream ripping" Digital Rights Management (DRM) may have to be applied to internet radio and other forms of digital radio. Engadget, 21 July 2007. And digital radio includes the other DRM: Digital Radio Mondiale, already being used on the short, medium and long waves. This could also reverse the growth of internet radio as an international radio medium.

Shortwave developments in Europe.

Posted: 22 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Austria's ORF will cut radio budget, but keep shortwave for now. See article and reader comments at derStandard.at, 12 July 2007. The shortwave transmitter of Deutschlandradio Kultur, on 6005 kHz, is off the air because of a fire. Unsure whether the transmitter will return to service. Deutschlandradio Kultur, 17 July 2007. Thanks to Kai Ludwig for these news items. Additional details in DX Listening Digest, 20 July 2007.

CNN International fulfilling the Voice of America charter.

Posted: 21 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Democratic presidential debate, 23 July in South Carolina "will appear on CNN International and CNN en Español." CNN press release via SCpols. com, 19 July 2007. "Following this month’s conviction of the failed 21/7 London bombers, CNN is showing a documentary that aims to get into the minds of the terrorists. Captured: The Trail of Terror ... airs on CNN International Friday July 20." Digital Spy, 20 July 2007.

BBC goes "edgy" to attract U.S. television audience.

Posted: 21 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC America has replaced library shows with contemporary, edgy content that will have the same time slot each week. Ancier specifically chose popular shows from Britain that will fit into a series format to provide consistency week after week. It makes sense as some of the top shows on US TV, such as 'The Office' and 'American Idol' are re-tooling of Brit series, so why not be the first network in the market for the next one to cross over." Hollywood Today, 19 July 2007.

Broadcast journalists schlepping the equipment for all those media will probably be burnt out by age 30.

Posted: 21 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service journalists covering Turkish elections "started bookmarking his research on del.icio.us, a social bookmarking Web site. He filed his experiences in his personal blog at http://www.benhammersley.com and on the blogging site Twitter, uploaded his photos on Flickr, and posted his videos and behind-the-scenes footage on YouTube. He corresponded with people over the networking site www.facebook.com, and of course, reported for BBC World, World Service Radio, News 24, and BBC News online." Turkish Daily News, 21 July 2007.

Which BBC managers will be sacked? That's the $64,000 question. (updated)

Posted: 21 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The British Broadcasting Corp. said Wednesday it was suspending all phone-in contests and interactive quizzes after an investigation exposed several rigged competitions. ... The White Label music program on the BBC World Service was implicated for announcing fake winners of a CD competition when no winning entries had been received." AP, 19 July 2007. BBC director general Mark Thompson: "We must now swiftly put our house in order." BBC press release, 18 July 2007. See also BBC Trust press release, 18 July 2007. Alas, no surviving audio files at the BBCWS White Label web page. Update: "The British Broadcasting Corp. suspended a number of senior editorial staff following revelations that some phone-in competitions were faked, the company said Thursday. The BBC did not identify any of the suspended employees or say how many were affected." Business Week, 19 July 2007. "Another repeat offender, White Label on BBC World Service radio, announced fake winners of a CD competition on more than one occasion when no winning entries had been received." AFP, 19 July 2007.

The newest international news channel is from South Africa (updated).

Posted: 21 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"For viewers who are fed up with the Western bias from English language broadcasters including BBC World and CNN, the new channel can also boast bureaux in less prominent capitals such as Nairobi, Kinshasa and Dakar. ... Some experts remain to be convinced that SABC, which was little more than a propaganda arm of the government during the apartheid era, has yet developed a culture of professionalism which can enable it to compete with CNN and the BBC." AFP, 17 July 2007. "The launch included live feeds from SABC’s six international bureaus in Kenya, DRC, Washington, Brussels, New York, Senegal and Nigeria. ... SABC News International will ... initially broadcast weekdays only." ScreenAfrica.com, 18 July 2007. Update: "In principle it's important to have home-grown news organisations telling the African story ... but Rome is burning at the SABC and they are expanding their empire at a time when they have serious editorial problems." Reuters, 20 July 2007.

Not so remarkably, Chinese vent on VOA program.

Posted: 19 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"One senior Food and Drug Administration official appeared on Voice of America last week to discuss food safety issues and particularly China, and remarkably, the majority of calls he received were from local Chinese residents calling in to express frustration at their own regulatory system and the safety and quality of their food and drug products." Testimony of Scott Gottlieb to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, via American Enterprise Institute, 18 July 2007.

Trying to get BBC back on FM in Pakistan.

Posted: 19 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "calls on the Sindh high court to defend the right of radio Mast FM103 to broadcast the BBC World Service’s Urdu-language programmes. The court is urged to find that an order issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) forbidding the station to retransmit BBC news bulletins every hour violates free expression and business freedom. Mast FM103 began broadcasting the BBC bulletins in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan on 22 June after obtaining the PEMRA’s permission and signing a contract with the BBC. But the PEMRA sent the station a letter on 25 June ordering it to stop. The station complied five days later." RSF, 19 July 2007.

Israel Broadcasting Authority reduces foreign language broadcasts.

Posted: 19 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The cancelation of the English News's 10 p.m. 25-minute summary of the day's news, broadcast locally and abroad via the Internet, digital and shortwave radio and satellite [is] scheduled to go into effect at the end of July. ...but said the nightly 8:30 p.m., 15-minute local news show will be broadcast overseas on shortwave instead. ... Sources in the French, Spanish and Ladino departments confirmed that their nightly studios from 9 to 10 p.m., which they had shared with the English News, had also been canceled." Jerusalem Post, 18 July 2007.

Arrested for giving away shortwave radios.

Posted: 19 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Zimbabwe National Constitutional Assembly member Elisha Makuyana was "followed by a group in Nyanga where he was going to distribute shortwave transistor radio in the rural areas. A statement said: 'In the first two instances he was arrested on baseless charges of possessing a shortwave transistor radio without a Zimbabwean import license.'" SW Radio Africa, 18 July 2007.

The BBC World U.S. cable pitch continues.

Posted: 18 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"'I think we missed some business opportunities in the past,' said Rome Hartman, the executive producer of BBC News, U.S. 'We offer an unmatchable view of the world.'" Multichannel News, 17 July 2007. "Now, maybe it’s just me, but isn’t this a bit patronising? The Beeb might as well have just come out and said it: 'Be Less Stupid, Los Angeles.' Seriously, though: 'The world you’ve been missing?' Half the city doesn’t even speak English." Chris Ayres, The Times, 17 July 2007. See also Columbus Dispatch, 17 July 2007.

Two scoops for RFA (updated).

Posted: 18 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Story of a purge Minzhu yu Fazhi Shibao (Democracy and Legal Times), "was picked up by Radio Free Asia, which tried to contact the newspaper’s staff. It succeeded only in reaching someone identifying himself as Zhou. When asked to comment on the simultaneous dismissal of eight of its journalists, Zhou replied: 'Isn’t this something completely normal? The wheel turns. They have been fired. They will find other jobs.'" Reporters sans frontières, 13 July 2007. Updated: Reporters sans frontières condemns "the decision of the Shanghai Information Bureau to shut down a literary forum run by poet Lu Yang. This came after the Chinese government blocked access to Israeli literary website shvoong.com for its 20,000 Chinese users at the start of July. ... Radio Free Asia (RFA) questioned an employee of the server, Lequyuan, who confirmed the fact that the order came from the authorities and explained the mechanism for censoring websites in China, with surprising candour." RSF, 17 July 2007.

The openness of the internet is threatened not only by hostile governments, but by the market.

Posted: 18 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"There is a contradiction at the heart of the network. It is a mutual enterprise that relies absolutely on co-operation, but the resulting network supports the harshest and most brutal free market ever created. The market was not, until recently, based on economic value but on intellectual ascendancy, where the reward for good programming was simply to see your peers acknowledge your skills and use your code." Bill Thompson, BBC News, 17 July 2007.

International radio to Indian mobile users.

Posted: 18 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"World Radio Network is making its 24/7 international news and current affairs radio channel available to Indian mobile users via AirChord and its Juice Up mobile application. ... Content is provided by many services including China Radio International, Korea’s KBS World Radio, Radio Canada International, America’s NPR, Ireland’s RTE and Radio Romania International." WRN press release, 16 July 2007.

Shortwave as "transmission art."

Posted: 18 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
At free103point9 art exhibit features low-powered transmitters and "Todd Merrell’s ambient shortwave radio pieces." The Brooklyn Rail, July August 2007. Sublime Frequencies recording label "calls itself a 'collective of explorers dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers via film and video, field recordings, radio and short wave transmissions, international folk and pop music, sound anomalies, and other forms of human and natural expression not documented sufficiently.'" New York Sun, 16 July 2007.

A hand-cranked Porsche is useful in an emergency (updated).

Posted: 18 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Porsche designed AM-FM-shortwave radio has a hand crank for power. Crave, 12 July 2007. It might look like a toy, but during the inevitable crisis, when electric power is not available, nor local media, internet, or cell phones, a hand-cranked shortwave radio may be the only source of vital information. See also etón Corporation and C. Crane. Updated: The hand-cranked and (typically) Chinese-manufacturerd "Kaito Emergency Radio not only picks up all the AM and FM stations, it also gives you audio broadcast from TV stations, the Weather Emergency Channel, and even short wave signals!" NewsMax.com, 16 July 2007. Not shortwave "signals," but shortwave *broadcasts*.

The new Canadian public diplomacy to China.

Posted: 16 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"No one, least of all the Chinese, would have predicted that Canada would abandon four decades of quiet diplomacy with China in favour of a public diplomacy resembling that of one superpower talking to another. Yet that has been the Harper government's approach in recent months, with public criticisms of China's human rights record." Toronto Star, 15 July 2007.

Iran's Press TV presses on (updated).

Posted: 16 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The newscast itself has surprised observers. Reporters refer to Israel by its name instead of calling it the 'Zionist entity,' as it is on Persian-language channels. Reports include relatively neutral updates on violence in the Middle East and Iraq, as well as on noncontroversial subjects such as an art gallery in Tehran or living conditions for Muslims in Russia. ... But critics say that so far Press TV has provided little or no coverage of Iran's domestic troubles, including economic hardship stemming from inflation and stagnant wages." Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2007. Update: "At the network's Web site today, though, Israel is the 'Zionist regime.'" Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America Snapshot blog, 16 July 2007.

New BBC America logo and tagline coming in January.

Posted: 16 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The network will keep the red, white and blue colors — a scheme shared by both the U.S. and the United Kingdom — but drop the Union Jack symbolism. Research has shown that a segment of viewers think the network is 'all about red buses and bowler hats' ... while the new campaign will position 'a bit of Britishness in the American landscape.' Other potential viewers still have confusion between the cable channel and the parent company's news division, which distributes news to PBS stations and other outlets as the BBC World Service (in addition to the new BBC World News channel), according to network research." Multichannel News, 17 July 2007.

An example of the "significant American thought and institutions" called for in the VOA Charter?

Posted: 14 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Mike O'Sullivan, a reporter for Voice of America, flipped on his video camera and asked a gaggle of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 why they were interested in Beckham. 'Because he's so hot and he's going to make the Galaxy, like, No. 1.'" Yahoo! Sports, 13 July 2007. Yes, the audience is interested in this, so good for Mike for being there and for flipping his video. China Radio International also covers an American instituition with a story about the book Taxi!, about New York cabdrivers, by Colgate professor Graham Hodges. Colgate University Press Release, 13 July 2007.

This is the Voice of America. We begin our broadcast with today's coordinated promotion of freedom and U.S. values.

Posted: 13 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani "proposed changing the Voice of America and other international broadcasters to promote the idea of freedom and U.S. values abroad." AP, 13 July 2007. "We need to win the war of ideas as well as the war on the battlefield. That's why I will expand and technologically advance the Voice of America and its satellite stations, while coordinating U.S. government global communications to combat anti-Americanism wherever it rears its head." Giuliani statement, Manchaster Union Leader, 13 July 2007. Giuliani's "senior public diplomacy advisor" S. Enders Wimbush, a former director of Radio Liberty, surely should know why people really tune in to foreign broadcasts. See previous post about Giuliani campaign.

RFE/RL report shows that Al Qaeda role in Iraq is "overstated."

Posted: 13 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"While the US intelligence establishment is declaring the stated goal of America's war in Afghanistan – the destruction of Al Qaeda's operational capacity – a failure so far, analysts and news reports are also warning that the group's role is frequently overstated in the war in Iraq. There, while Al Qaeda continues to be involved in serious attacks, an intriguing analysis of propaganda claims made by insurgent groups inside the country finds Sunni groups not directly affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq make far more claims of attacks. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a US-government funded news operation, undertook the book-length report. A table on page 10 of the report tracks claims made by insurgents in March of this year. It finds that the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) claimed 240 attacks in the month and the Mujahideen Army claimed 136. Neither of these groups is an Al Qaeda affiliate." Christian Science Monitor, 13 July 2007. "'Media is half the battle,' said Jeff Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe. 'These Web sites are very aware of what happens in the US.' He added that the sites' texts refer to President Bush's low approval ratings and use it as 'fuel' to encourage violence." UPI, 13 July 2007. See previous post about the RFE/RL report.

Getting the message out via ads on international channels (updated).

Posted: 13 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Ads on CNN and BBC, via direct satellite television to southern Africa, raise awareness about human trafficking. Saatchi & Saatchi press release, 10 July 2007. Update: "When Vancouver was still bidding for the 2010 Winter Olympics, did we advertise ourselves incessantly on CNN International and BBC World? Clearly, the Korean and Russian candidate cities, Pyeongchang and Sochi, felt this would help their chances with the IOC selection committee. For weeks they were running Give-Us-the-2014-Winter-Olympics ads during nearly every break on both BBC and CNN, despite the fact that a very tiny portion of the audience would be voting on the issue. Sochi’s ads were the more obnoxious. Candidate Salzburg didn’t bother advertising. Winner: Sochi. The implications of such narrowly-based ads are ominous." Westender.com, 12 July 2007.

So now presidential campaigns have public diplomacy advisors (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
S. Enders Wimbush, former director of Radio Liberty in Munich, is Senior Public Diplomacy Advisor to the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign. Giuliani Presidential Committee press release, 10 July 2007. Update: "Karen Hughes, Bush's czarina for public policy, has been heavily criticized for her faltering performance in the area of public diplomacy. Wimbush appears to have wide experience in this area: he spent 12 years as an expatriate in Europe and has traveled around the world for corporate and government clients. He also served as a director of Radio Liberty in Europe." Ed Lasky, American Thinker, 11 July 2007.

BBC World tries guerilla marketing, including special website, to get on U.S. cable systems (updated again).

Posted: 12 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC World has launched a major guerilla marketing campaign designed to encourage Americans to demand the channel from their cable operators. The campaign, with the tagline 'See the world you’ve been missing, for unbiased global news visit demandbbc.com,' includes 450 giant map pieces placed in Los Angeles, San Diego and Columbus, Ohio. The map pieces represent 12 countries that have been traditionally under represented on domestic US television news and will be moved around parks, libraries, universities and other public places in the cities in a month-long strategy to 'maximise exposure and remind people that there’s an entire world of news to which they don’t have access.'" Digital Spy, 9 July 2007. "The network is hoping that will help it appeal to U.S. viewers discontented with American news outlets. '...if you look at the reach and the resources of the BBC as compared to the American networks, there's just no comparison.'" Los Angeles Times, 9 July 2007. "Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Maureen Huff declined to comment on any negotiations, adding: 'We're always interested in hearing from our customers, but these expensive programmer-run campaigns are generally not that effective.'" Cable360.net, 9 July 2007. Maybe I should start demandcommunicationsworld.com. Garth Ancier, head of BBC America: "I tried to work with our folks to have the shows they present represent contemporary Britain, not the Britain of 1850." AP, 10 July 2007 Update: "The BBC debuted the campaign this week in just three cities – Los Angeles; Columbus, Ohio; and San Diego. 'They found an unusually high interest in international news in these three places.'" San Diego Union Tribune, 12 July 2007.

Two cheers for saving the VOA budget.

Posted: 11 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"It sometimes appears these days that the U.S. government has a blind spot when it comes to engaging in the battle of images and information — even as we are looking at the shut down of numerous Voice of America programs, including the English-language service. This will happen if budget cuts contained in the State Department authorization bill are allowed to stand. At this time, Voice of America itself does not broadcast into the Middle East (though a number if semi-official so-called surrogate broadcasting services do)." Hell Dale, Washington Times, 11 July 2007. VOA still has two hours a day of English to the Middle East, plus Special English to the Middle East. The latter would remain even after the slated demise of VOA "worldwide" English in October. "Top Iran expert Ilan Berman, speaking at the conservative Hudson Institute on Tuesday, ... said that Cold War weapons - like Voice of America radio - need to be refurbished to be used effectively in the current standoff." Jerusalem Post, 10 July 2007.

Me? Go to Pakistan?

Posted: 11 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"'Step one is to make it clear that we reject radical and extremism and murderers, not reject a great religion. Step two is to encourage people like you to go to Pakistan,' Bush said in Cleveland, Ohio when a Pakistani American asked the president what the US was doing in public diplomacy to change the anti-American attitude of many Muslims around the world." PTI, 11 July 2007. "Islamist terrorism has led the U.S. and British governments in the past month to set up separate public diplomacy programs aimed at engaging Muslims at home and abroad. A quick comparison shows the two initiatives are headed in opposite directions. At least the Brits have finally got it right." James Woolsey and Nina Shea, Wall Street Journal, via The Moscow Times, 11 July 2007.

Psyops in two wars.

Posted: 11 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"It starts with the psy-ops vehicles out there, you know, with the big speakers playing a message in Arabic or Farsi or Kurdish or whatever they happen to be, saying, basically, saying, Put your weapons, if you have them, next to the front door in your house. Please come outside, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." The Nation, 30 July 2007 issue. "Cordwainer Smith (real name Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger) ... was one of the founding fathers of psychological warfare, helping establish and develop the U.S. military’s psy-ops divisions during World War II." Jay Garmon, Geekend, TechRepublic, 11 July 2007.

Aljazeera helping to open up Saudi domestic media?

Posted: 11 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Watching State-run television one night in Riyadh, I was struck by a one-hour talk show called On the Chess Board. ... Although the program was fairly amateurish in terms of aesthetics and delivery — and criticism of the Saudi regime was non-existent — the debate went far deeper than most equivalent programs in the West. ... Arab satellite channels like Al-Jazeera have undoubtedly changed the equation; viewers now simply expect more from their news programs." Antony Loewenstein, New Matilda, 11 July 2007.

Radio station for Zimbabwe adds website for Zimbabwe (updated).

Posted: 11 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Voice of the People Communications, the Zimbabwean-based private radio operator [of] Radio VOP ... has launched a brand 24-hour news site, www.radiovop.com. The website, which is based in Southern Africa and mirrored in the United States, is probably the first 24-hour news site in Zimbabwe, with stories and pictures uploaded as they happen." Media Helping Media, 8 July 2007. Update: "The website employs more than 20 journalists, some under contract, in Zimbabwe alone." Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 10 July 2007.

BBC's multimedia journalist.

Posted: 10 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC sent reporter Ben Hammersley to Turkey, last month, to cover the forthcoming elections for BBC World, but with an unfamiliar brief. Not only did he report through the usual news channels of TV and World Service radio, but he also set about a reporting experiment using a host of readily available online consumer devices to tell backstage stories about the reporting process." journalism.co.uk, 10 July 2007.

Shortwave stories.

Posted: 10 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"This letter from Tyler Conerly of Richland, Massachusetts in the USA: 'Thank you so much for providing excellent programming. I started listening to shortwave last summer and I think it is so cool. I will tell everybody.' Another person eager to spread the word is Mathew Bills, also from the USA: 'My girlfriend and I are both Americans and we are avid listeners of Radio Netherlands. We first discovered your programming as Peace Corps volunteers in West Africa.'" Radio Netherlands, 9 July 2007.

An American Thinker who did not think much of my NYT op-ed.

Posted: 09 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Wall Street Journal, influential blogs (primarily Powerline), and many Congressmen denounced Al-Hurra. Among other outrages, Al-Hurra had allowed Hezbollah leader Nasrallah to engage in one of his marathon speeches attacking Israel and America and had provided somewhat favorable coverage of the Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran by, in essence, not providing any criticism that may have indicated that a Holocaust did indeed occur. However, the Times stood alone in allowing a defense of Al-Hurra to be published, titled 'The Air of Truth'. (Did anyone at the Times consider the very title to be offensive, considering the network had in effect endorsed Holocaust-denial?)." Ed Lasky, American Thinker, 9 July 2007. Covering an event does not constitute endorsement of that event. Anyway, if Mr. Lasky had read my op-ed (New York Times, 4 June 2007), he may have noted that I did not take a position about the Alhurra controversy. I wrote that, whatever the outcome of that controversy, U.S. international broadcasting should not forsake news for propaganda, as some members of Congress were advocating.

Yearning for, or at least finding parallels to, the Cold War.

Posted: 09 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Now we are again faced with a new and dangerous global threat, the rise of jihadist terrorism. But more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, we have not yet responded with the creativity displayed at the outset of the Cold War. Instead, we are either disparaging Cold War institutions or, at best, tinkering with them to make them play a role for which they were never designed. With a presidential election approaching, we should push the candidates to provide some imaginative ideas and a vision that match the creativity exhibited 60 years ago [including an] organization for public diplomacy in the digital age. This is a field in which America, with its values and media savvy, should be triumphing, but instead it is failing astonishingly. The outmoded structures of the Broadcast Board of Governors, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and the like -- built for an analog broadcast era -- should be swept away for a coherent agency empowered to create an honest and open information strategy built for the age of blogs, social networks, digital streaming and satellite. It should be led by people with the integrity of Edward R. Murrow (who was tapped by President John F. Kennedy to run the sorely missed U.S. Information Agency) and the creativity of the inventors of Google and MySpace." Walter Isaacson, Washington Post, 9 July 2007. With all that "creativity" of the Cold War era, it still took 45 years to bring about the fall of communism in Europe, and that largely because Mikhail Gorbachev hesitated to use tanks to quell dissent. During those Cold War years, the BBC was the international broadcaster with the largest audience and most impact, even thought the United States spent more than Britain on international broadcasting. This was because Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were overlapping and competing with each other, sometimes transmitting to the same country at the same time of day. And U.S. international broadcasters tried to mix news and propaganda, when the audience wanted the former and not the latter. Do we really want to return to that? "The new Middle East ... is a complicated conflict with many features of the 45-year Cold War, including the use of military and political surrogates, aggressive diplomacy, economic pressure, competing propaganda outlets and a looking-glass war waged by intelligence services. ... While Karen Hughes, U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, has promoted American values across the Muslim world, Iran's once-reclusive diplomatic corps has wooed allies and whipped up anti-American sentiment." Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, 5 July 2007.

The public diplomacy of closing Guantánamo.

Posted: 09 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Close Guantánamo, bring its current crop of detainees to the United States, and, in doing so, acknowledge federal court jurisdiction over their cases. The Supreme Court would, as a consequence, have no occasion to decide whether it would have had jurisdiction had the detainees remained beyond American shores. The advantage to this resolution is that it solves a major public diplomacy problem even while avoiding the possibility of an adverse Supreme Court decision. Guantánamo is causing serious damage to American prestige, after all, and closing it could be a step toward repairing that damage." Benjamin Wittes, The New Republic Online, 9 July 2007. "To obtain any 'public diplomacy' advantage from closing Guantanamo, the president must be prepared to declare an end to military operations against al Qaeda, and a return to the pre-9/11 policy mixture of law enforcement, diplomacy and surgical strikes against al Qaeda outposts that failed miserably." David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casy, Wall Street Journal, 9 July 2007.

"Why the World Service still matters."

Posted: 09 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service "has its weaknesses – business news is not great and, it rarely offers the deep analysis of international affairs that was once its stock in trade – but it is the only truly global broadcaster, the only serious player in radio, TV and new technology. It is, too, in its openness, its refusal to take sides, a good advert for Britain: a better one, perhaps, than we deserve." Robert Hanks, The Independent, 9 July 2007. The article mentions the Save the BBC campaign of 2001, in which U.S, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand listeners tried to convince World Service not to drop its shortwave broadcasts to those countries. BBCWS radio is available via the internet and, at certain hours, on some FM stations, but in many cases the shortwave broadcasts would still be very convenient. Shortwave is the ultimate wi-fi.

Israel starts website in Persian, expects to be cyberattacked.

Posted: 09 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Israel's "Foreign Ministry will unveil a Persian-language version of its Web site on Monday that it hopes will speak 'above the heads' of the regime in Teheran, directly to Iran's younger generation. ... The site will be managed by the department of Arab communications in the ministry's public diplomacy division. Menashe Amir, the former director of Israel Radio's Persian service, will be its editor-in-chief, supervising a small staff who will translate content into Persian, as well as answer questions from readers and provide on-line feedback." Jerusalem Post, 9 July 2007. See also Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 July 2007.

Japan begins broadcasts for abductees, if they can discover the time and frequency.

Posted: 09 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Japan was set to begin a daily radio program late today targeting kidnapped Japanese who are possibly still alive in North Korea by broadcasting their families voices into the communist state. The 30-minute shortwave program, to be aired both in Japanese and Korean, will also provide information on events surrounding Japan and North Korea for ordinary North Koreans." news.com.au, 9 July 2007. "The Cabinet Office said it was not releasing the time of the broadcasts or their radio frequency in order to avoid having the signal jammed by North Korean authorities." AP, 9 July 2007. That will also avoid having the broadcasts intercepted by the intended listeners.

Persuasive soldiers.

Posted: 08 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Five members of the 15th Psychological Operations Battalion return home from Iraq. "Instead of guns or artillery, psyops units use leaflets, radio and television broadcasts - and sometimes handshakes - to try to change the hearts and minds of the enemy and civilians." Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 July 2007.

Radio Free Venezuela.

Posted: 08 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The House of Representatives on June 21, 2007, passed an amendment to the fiscal 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that will redirect $10 million of the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ budget to Voice of America for programming in Venezuela. ... In addition, Voice of America serves as a significant counter to Chavez propaganda’s export to countries at risk of following in his socialist footsteps, such as Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador." Rep. Connie Mack IV and (BBG member) Blanquita Cullum, Naples Daily News, 7 July 2007.

Will management changes at Aljazeera affect its content?

Posted: 07 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Wadah Khanfar, the director general of Aljazeera Networks, is removed from the Aljazeera board, but says the "separation between the executive management and senior journalists is healthy." Article also notes: "It's a measure of its editorial policy that the Iranian satcaster's head of live programming Nader Rad has criticized Al-Jazeera for being 'too neutral' in its coverage of the Middle East." Variety, 6 July 2007.

Is Zimbabwe jamming itself?

Posted: 07 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Government radio jamming equipment reportedly purchased in China has backfired, gagging its own new shortwave project, Voice of Zimbabwe (VOZ), sources at the station revealed to the Zimbabwe Independent this week." Zimbabwe Independent, 6 July 2007. Hard to tell what this really is. If the jamming transmitters are located close to the Voice of Zimbabwe transmitters, spurious signals might cause interference near the transmitter site, but may not be a problem farther away.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek, international broadcaster.

Posted: 07 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Media historian Thomas DeLong has written a book about the late Madame Chiang Kai-shek, whose husband's regime was overthrown by Mao Zedong and the Chinese communists in 1949. One of his focal points is American-born Chiang's radio broadcasts from China in the 1930s as that country was struggling against Japanese invaders. She was one of the primary voices keeping the U.S. informed of events there, through primitive early short-wave radio network hookups and programs like 'The Army Hour.'" David Hinckley, New York Daily News, 7 July 2007. See Madame Chiang Kai-shek and Miss Emma Mills: China’s First Lady and Her American Friend, McFarland & Company, Inc.

Bombast giving way to soft power.

Posted: 07 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Review of Dennis Ross, Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World. "One of the unintended consequences of George W. Bush's war on terror has been the resurrection of 'soft power.' The term, which came into vogue in the early 1990s and was embraced by the Clinton administration, is based on the notion that America's attractiveness abroad is as significant a measure of its influence as hard military might. It was dismissed by the hawkish Bush administration as a meaningless popularity contest that wimpy liberals wanted to engage in. But now that Bush has succeeded in making America loathed around much of the world, a growing chorus of voices in the Democratic Party is once more touting public diplomacy and cooperation with other nations. ... Ross's wry, intelligent and modest tone alone is an appealing contrast to the Bush administration's bombast, which it has only recently begun to temper." Jacob Heilbrunn, International Herald Tribune, 6 July 2007.

Damned if you take off your shoes, damned if you don't.

Posted: 07 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Karen Hughes "pointed out that Bush had removed his shoes before entering the Washington mosque and the American women all had worn scarves." The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 7 July 2007. But in "Shoeless George Bush," Daniel Pipies notes that the president reverted "last week to decayed tropes that tiptoe around any mention of Islam." Danielpipes.org, 3 July 2007. See also blog entries at Say Anything, 6 July 2007 and Hot Air, 6 July 2007.

IBB will close historic relay station in Germany (updated).

Posted: 06 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
The Ismaning facility, in suburban Munich, had been used in previous years to transmit VOA broadcasts on longwave, medium wave, and shortwave. Most recently it has been a satellite relay point. The IBB shortwave stations at Lampertheim and Biblis, Germany, will continue to operate. International Broadcasting Bureau announcement, 2 July 2007. Update: See historical details in the discussion at Radio Netherlands Media Network, 3 July 2007.

Now I'm completely confused: public diplomacy is not to make a country popular?

Posted: 06 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Geoffrey Cowan, outgoing dean of USC's Annenberg School for Communication (which includes the USC Center on Public Diplomacy) and former director of VOA: "What we're learning about, I hope, in this public diplomacy program, is not to spin a country so that it's popular, but to understand all the elements of it." He was speaking at a two-week program for mid-career officials from government and international institutions. Voice of America News, 5 July 2007. Oh, to be mid-career again.

Foreign broadcasts in Armenia escape restrictive legislation (updated).

Posted: 06 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Armenian parliament has failed to pass a bill that would have placed severe restrictions on foreign broadcast media, particularly RFE/RL. The legislation would have banned foreign broadcasts on Armenian public television and radio and heavily taxed their retransmission on private stations." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 3 July 2007. See also A1+, 4 July 2007. See previous post about same subject. Update: "Opposition members say that they expect fresh amendments in the fall."

Listening to shortwave broadcasts in space.

Posted: 06 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Vladimír Remek, now member of the European Parliament, who flew on Soyuz 28 in 1978: "When we orbited planet Earth, we listened to various short wave radio stations and heard how the name of my homeland and the names of our crew - Remek and Gubarev - were repeated in countless languages." European Parliament, 6 July 2007. This suggests the shortwave transmissions did not reach their target areas, because if the signals reached orbit, perhaps they did not refract off the ionosphere for successful terrestrial skywave propagation.

DRM, and its big wide bandwidths, in the news.

Posted: 06 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
In India, Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia's Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) trials include full badwidth 18-kHz channels on medium wave for high fidelity. Also shortwave, including 26 MHz for local service. Radio World, 6 July 2007. European Commission: "New broadcasting services based on digital technologies such as DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) technology offer the prospects of reviving long-distance radio and contribute to the dissemination of European culture and perspectives on the global scene. Further HF spectrum for broadcasting will assist the successful uptake of digital radio broadcasting technologies." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 5 July 2007. Irish broadcast engineer says: "For a mere €4 million, the former Athlone mediumwave site could be adapted to digital shortwave and so provide a service to our citizens across the EU." And comments. Media Network, 4 July 2007.

The Beeb's detractors write letters (updated).

Posted: 06 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"In fact, listening today to BBC World Service news is much more reminiscent of tuning into 'Moscow Mailbag,' that lumbering propaganda screed of Radio Moscow, circa 1965-70." James Connelly (and three other letters) to Wall Street Journal, 5 July 2007. But the difference between Radio Moscow and BBC World Service is that the former never had much of an audience, while World Service has just announced a record weekly audience of 183 million. Obviously, BBC World Service is doing something right. U.S. decision makers should find out what that is, and not be distracted by those who glibly dismiss the World Service as propaganda. Update: "Those who had been listening to the BBC World Service's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian issue with Gaza often in the limelight would have been hard pressed not to notice the irony of Alan Johnston's kidnapping, carried out by the same people whose cause he and his news organisation had championed for years." Andy Leitner, letter to Bangkok Post, 5 July 2007.

The Alan Johnston captivity: lessons about old and new media.

Posted: 05 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Would his captors have given him a computer to listen to the BBC World Service on the internet? Would his captors have given him a television, wiring it in to an external antenna or for cable? And, of course: Would that radio have been less useful had the BBC World Service not broadcast on 1323AM in the Middle East? It’s probably no exaggeration to say that the BBC World Service saved Alan Johnston’s sanity. It’s a slight exaggeration, but probably justifiable, to claim that it may even have saved his life. And it did it on old-fashioned AM radio. No whistles, no bells, no internet, no DTV. Radio futurologists like me (I just made that up, it sounds good) are forever saying that radio is going multi-platform. It is. But. The bedrock of radio - and still the place where most listeners are - is old-fashioned, portable, analogue radio. Radio broadcasters forget that at our peril." James Cridland (BBC's new Head of Future Media and Technology, Audio and Music) in his personal James Cridland's Blog, 4 July 2007. Thanks to Mike Barraclough for mentioning this.

Opposition supports Radio Australia revival.

Posted: 05 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd: "Labor believes that Radio Australia has an important role to play, particularly through its regional language programs in getting the message out about what Australia now wishes to do in partnership with the region. For a small investment we can have a great impact – exposing people in neighbouring nations to quality independent broadcasting and to an Australian voice. It is well documented that Radio Australia’s broadcast footprint for its shortwave services have been emasculated by the current government – in large part because of its decision to offload the powerful Cox Peninsula transmitters – and to lease them to an organisation called 'Christian Vision'. Radio Australia has also been further emasculated through the slash and burn of its regional language programs. For example the number of Indonesian language specialists working for Radio Australia has been cut in half. As part of Australia’s reengagement with our immediate region, a Federal Labor Government will rebuild Radio Australia. There is so much good that Australia is doing (and more that it could be doing) in the region but we are not getting the message across to local communities. With the downgrading of Radio Australia we have cut off our nose to spite our face." Kevin Rudd speech, Australian Labor Party, 5 July 2007. Radio Australia adds FM outlets in the "Cook Islands (Rarotonga 93FM), Papua New Guinea (Lae 102.1FM), Kiribati (Tarawa 90FM) and shortly Vanuatu (Santo 103FM)." Pacific Media Watch, 5 July 2007. Frances Herman, former CEO of the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited, on his way to a conference at Radio Australia, was stopped from leaving Fiji. Fiji Times, 5 July 2007. See also ABC News, 5 July 2007.

In 1999, did RFA "call to resist"?

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
In 1999, in Uygher region of China, "unemployed men were listening to the United States' Radio Free Asia and its calls to resist." Ted Rall, Yahoo! News, 4 July 2007. "Radio Free Asia quotes [Burmese Aids activist Phyu Phyu] Thin in an interview prior to her detention in which she suggests that Aids mortality figures in Burma could be far higher than the official tally." UNAids, 3 July 2007.

Foreign visitors and educational exchanges as public diplomacy.

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Senate committee passes Travel Promotion Act. “These Senators and others demonstrated great leadership today in recognizing the need for the federal government and the private sector to work together to promote international travel to this nation in order to advance our public diplomacy goals and grow our economy by welcoming more international guests.” Hotel & Motel Management, 3 July 2007. "Association of International Educators Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson urged Congress to ensure the establishment of an International Education Council charged with spearheading a national effort to restore the United States' attractiveness as a destination for international students and scholars" and emphasizes "the important contributions of international educational exchange to U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy efforts." NAFSA press release, 3 July 2007.

CNN revamps its website.

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"We believe that these primary site enhancements will lead to more engaging content, encourage repeat, longer and more interactive sessions and help us deliver further on our commitment to being the premier international news brand in the digital era." CNN press release, 3 July 2007. At the very bottom of the cnn.com, in very small type, are links to "International Edition" and "CNN International." "A live global television broadcast from St. Petersburg on Friday by international cable news network CNN was hit by a sudden downpour that cut short the half-hour show and left its presenter soaked." St. Petersburg Times, 3 July 2007.

Swiss international website swissinfo get swissfrancs, stays online.

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
The Swiss cabinet will "contribute more than SFr20 million ($16.5 million) for the next five years to swissinfo and to support agreements between the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and international broadcasters TV5 and 3Sat." In swissinfo: "Particular emphasis will be placed on topics such as direct democracy, human rights, Swiss values and traditions." swissinfo, 4 July 2007. Swissinfo.org is the website successor to Swiss Radio International.

Maintaining the young audience for Australian public radio, including Radio Australia (updated).

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Over 10.7 million podcasts have been downloaded this year, driving new audiences to programs like Radio National's Late Night Live, Radio Australia's English for Tourism and triple j's Hack." Mark Scott, Australian Broadcasting Corporation managing director, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2007. "ABC 702 is essential to Sydney. It is nothing like a commercial station, as many of its detractors say. It has a tiny marketing budget and yet in the ratings this week managed second. Find another government agency anywhere in a competitive and now ever wider market like Sydney achieving such success. It still has the best news, the best current affairs, the best sport, intelligent company and a commitment to impartiality, integrity and objectivity." Peter Wall, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2007. For those of us half a world away, the 702 ABC website has audio streams. Audio streams of other ABC domestic services are available at the ABC Radio Listen Online page. Update: "I've been doing Late Night Live for 16 years. It goes to air twice a day on 300 ABC stations and repeaters and pulls in one of Radio National's biggest audiences, far exceeding the circulation of many newspapers and light years ahead of mags such as The Bulletin. However, the audience size has stayed pretty steady, not shifting much up or down. LNL is also broadcast via Radio Australia, but I have no idea how many listen in. However, what we now know is that my little wireless program is a big hit via the web and podcasting." Phillip Adams, The Australian 3 July 2007.

International channels "play through" via new media.

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
On pay TV service GTV, rival to Multichoice Botswana: "There will also be play through channels such as Fox Sport Africa, BBC world, Sky News, CNN, Al Jazeera (English)." Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone), 3 July 2007. Channels on PrimeTV, IPTV platform in Cyprus, includes "CNN, Sky News, CNBC Europe, Deutche-Welle TV, Euronews, France 24 (both French and English channels), Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera International, BBC World, BBC Prime, Bloomberg Television." TVover.net, 3 July 2007. Channels on Online web TV provider Zattoo TV include "CNN, BBC World, Euronews and Al Jazeera. French public broadcasters, the three national RAI stations and Mediaset channels from Italy, Deutsche Welle TV." Broadband TV News, 4 July 2007.

Gaza kidnappers release BBC's Alan Johnston

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Because I was able to listen to the BBC World Service, I got a sense that my folks were coping with it." Metro.co.uk, 4 July 2007. "Mr Johnston has worked diligently to separate fact from fiction, occasionally driving his BBC colleagues mad by insisting on going to mortuaries to check body counts rather than rely on unreliable street rumour." The Telegraph, 4 July 2007. See also BBC News, 4 July 2007. In other news of hostages and international broadcasting: In video of seven hostages held by Colombia rebels, "which was delivered to Holman Morris, the Colombia correspondent of al-Jazeera and Radio France Internationale, the hostages urge the government to talk to the rebels and not attempt a military rescue." BBC News, 4 July 2007.

Broadcasts from home for Chinese in Kenya.

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Despite the uncertainty of life abroad, many Chinese have managed to bring China to Africa. At a cost of $2,600 [presumably Kenyan shillings] for a TV satellite dish, CCTV can be watched in Nairobi. If that price is too steep, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation airs two hours of CCTV everyday as does Citizen TV. Also available is 91.3 FM China Radio International in Nairobi." East African Standard (Nairobi), 3 July 2007. "Last year, state-run China Radio International launched its FM station in the country. The move is seen as a way for the Asian country to have a greater influence in Africa. The station is transmitting 19 hours of programming in English, Kiswahili and standard Chinese." Business Daily, 28 June 2007.

An example of advocacy journalism.

Posted: 04 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"George Bistis, chief of the Greek Service of Voice of America (VOA), will receive the 2007 Gusi Peace Prize Award for Broadcast Journalism ... for his 'untiring efforts, working for people's amelioration, to find peaceful solutions to political and social issues through broadcast journalism, through Voice of America.'" VOA press release, 2 July 2007.

VOA's Talk to America: from microphone to keyboard.

Posted: 03 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
On 6 July, the Voice of America's "Talk to America" ends its 12 1/2 year run as VOA's live English-language radio talk show. On 11 June, "Talk to America" will become an online live text chat, T2A, accessible via www.voanews.com. For the time being, T2A will be once a week, Wednesdays, at 1800 UTC. On VOA News Now, news programming will take over Monday through Friday at 1400-1500 UTC, with "Reporters' Notebook" Fridays at 1430-1500. See VOA press release, 2 July 2007. And Talk to America web page. And VOA Snapshot, 24 June 2002.

Fallout from the Alhurra controversy: right-wing commentators going after Karen Hughes.

Posted: 03 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"When Ken Tomlinson calls for an investigation into the 'cover-up' of U.S. Arabic broadcasting outrages, it is clear he understands where that probe would lead: to Karen Hughes, under secretary of State for public diplomacy and a long-time member of President George W. Bush’s inner circle. In his last months as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. international broadcasting, Tomlinson clashed repeatedly with Hughes and her close ally, Democrat Joaquin Blaya, who chaired the BBG subcommittee on Middle East broadcasting. ... In retrospect, Hughes’s defense of what was happening at Alhurra is startling. Answering questions from skeptical members of Congress, Hughes declared: 'I want to say that I have heard rave reviews of Larry Register from people across the Middle East about his knowledge. We just had Joaquin Blaya, who is one of my colleagues on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, travel to the Middle East and again heard very high praise. . . . We believe that Alhurra is moving in an encouraging direction.'" William Schulz, Human Events, 2 July 2007.

The problem with "everybody's al-Qaeda."

Posted: 03 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"A lot of bloggers have been complaining about the recent American tendency to describe every insurgent attack in Iraq as 'al-Qaeda'. They are right to complain, simply on the facts. Al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq coalition continues to represent only a minority of attacks against American forces or Iraqi government targets. ... the exaggeration of al-Qaeda's role works directly and devastatingly against American goals. It magnifies al-Qaeda's perceived power, strengthening its own media campaign and feeding its most powerful propaganda instrument." Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark blog, 2 July 2007.

BBC Live Earth Service.

Posted: 03 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Live Earth has virtually no media footprint in nations including China or Turkey, where environmental issues are less front-and-centre. ... Not so in Britain, where the participation of the BBC should ensure maximum viewing and listening impact from the Beeb's global network. ... The broadcaster ... has pledged coverage on its BBC World Service, which is available around the globe." Reuters Hollywood Reporter, 3 July 2007.

International radio via iPhone? Maybe not.

Posted: 03 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Given the iPhone’s compatibility with YouTube, we were hoping the device would also let us stream a wide variety Internet radio stations and MP3s. The good news is that yes, you can listen to some radio streams and MP3s using QuickTime, but most everything else (RealPlayer and Windows Media files) is off limits (for now, at least). So, we were able to listen to ... some archived news shows on KQED.com, but most of our attempts at streaming radio didn’t work." Rolling Stone Rock&Roll Daily, 2 July 2007.

Should be fun.

Posted: 03 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will meet on Friday, July 27, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Meridian International Center at 1630 Crescent Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009. The meeting is open to the public." Media note, U.S. Department of State, 2 July 2007.

Are recent U.S. public diplomacy initiatives working? Does it matter? (updated)

Posted: 03 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Some are skeptical of Bush's diplomacy effort, with its $796 million annual budget, asking if it exhibits the necessary urgency and scope. More broadly, they ask how successful such a campaign can be in the face of the Iraq war, the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, America's perceived pro-Israel tilt and other policies that have sparked hostility in many corners of the world, especially among Muslim populations." Chicago Tribune, 2 June 2007. "But does it matter what others think of the United States? Defenders of President Bush say the United States was attacked Sept. 11, 2001, and it was a wake-up call to stand up to terrorists, dictators with nuclear ambitions and despots like Saddam Hussein who threatened peace and stability in the Middle East. Public opinion elsewhere shouldn't matter as long as the United States stands firm and its people are made safe." Chuck Raasch, Newark Advocate, 30 June 2007. "Europeans consistently regard the US as the biggest threat to world stability, a new poll reveals." Financial Times, 1 July 2007. Update: "Hidden inside a new 47-nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey are some surprising oases of support for the world’s sole superpower." Foreign Policy, July 2007. "Many of the traditional instruments of US 'soft power,' such as public engagement and diplomacy, have been 'neglected and fallen into disrepair,' said the [Center for Strategic and International Studies], which has set up an independent panel to devise a new strategy to 'strengthen US influence, image and effectiveness in the world.'" P Parameswaran, Daily Times (Lahore), 1 July 2007. See CSIS Commission on Smart Power. "John Quincy Adams famously warned against going abroad in search of monsters to destroy, while Woodrow Wilson sought to make the world safe for democracy. Should we rest on the soft power of attractive ideas and example, or should we pursue a more 'activist Americanism' as George W. Bush has advocated?" Joseph S. Nye Jr., Washington Post Book World, 1 July 2007.

Senator Coburn calls for the "disinfecting" of "dangerous" U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on 6 June, Senator Tom Coburn called U.S. broadcasts to Iran "'dangerous'-- U.S. public diplomacy consisted of anti-American propaganda. But the BBG has not complied with requests for full translation of its broadcasts, and more BBG whistleblowers are reporting reprisals as a result of their criticism. The BBG, Senator Coburn said, 'can only be saved by the disinfecting quality of transparency.'" AEI Newsletter, July-August 2007. AEI announces the confirmation of AEI's James K. Glassman as the news chairman of the BBG. He will continue to edit AEI's magazine The American. AEI, 1 July 2007.

Daljit Dhaliwal puts up her feet and opines.

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
U.S. viewers would write to anchor of PBS Wide Angle, former anchor of ITN World News: "'Thank goodness there is a program like yours, but we aren’t surprised that it coming from outside the United States because it is so difficult to get in depth international news coverage in this country.' And I think that sort of first alerted me to the idea and I thought, 'How can that be possible? This is the United States, it is the world’s sole superpower and what it does is important and has ramifications everywhere else in the world.'" Gothamist, 2 July 2007.

Is your country (or city) advertising on BBC and CNN?

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"It must also be said that Ukraine is one of the few countries in the region that has done nothing in the way of major television advertising. Any viewer of international television channels such as BBC World, CNN and CNBC is inundated with highly effective tourism advertising for Egypt, India and Russia. And it isn't just the larger countries. Some of the most creative international television advertising in recent months has been for tourism in Croatia - and even tiny Georgia." Oksana Bondarchuk, The Ukrainian Observer, 2 July 2007. For its 2014 Winter Olympics bid, Sochi, Russia, "has the most developed marketing program, including the placement of TV ads on CNN International and BBC World feeds." Moscow Times, 2 July 2007.

In the United States, spotty availability of international news channels.

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Including BBC World, Link TV, France 24, and Current TV. "My cable system actually lost a 24-hour world news channel in 2005 when the Canadian CBC Newsworld International was bought by a group led by Al Gore and turned into Current TV, a video jukebox of short-form films, many of them made by viewers. But Current TV likes world video, and features a lot of it, indeed has a department called Current International. Whether it's a report about rappers in Cuba or the 40 million Chinese who still live in caves or the intriguing news that Iran's fiery president is in trouble at home because of the skyrocketing price of tomatoes, there's no place to get such a wide and interesting array of little slices of life from our big blue marble than Current TV." Aaron Barnhart, TV Barn blog, 30 June 2007.

CNN International helps CNN cover London terror incident (updated).

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
Re London terrorist incident on 29 June: "CNN interrupted the 3am replay of Larry King Live for updates on the situation. A live simulcast of CNN International started at 4am and continued until 6am. 'As far as I can tell, MSNBC has no continuing coverage,' an e-mailer said at 3:40am. 'Every time I flip back to MSNBC, they are still running Abrams rerun on wrestling/steroid/murder story.'" mediabistro.com, 29 June 2007. Redesigned CNN website launches on 1 July. "The site will allow content localisation based on US postal codes. On the CNN International section of the site, localisation will be at the level of countries or some key cities." Press Gazette, 28 June 2007. Update: "For BBC World, once the “breaking news” was broken it was back to normal programming with normal newscasts containing other items of interest to its global audience via regular programming schedules. But on CNNI, it was all breaking news on one story – the two suspicious cars found in London with most of the city’s major road arteries closed down, and then the attack on Glasgow Airport. And they stayed with it, cancelling scheduled programming." followthemedia.com, 2 July 2007.

Iran's English-language Press Tv is on the air -- and it is weird.

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the channel has duty "to reveal what goes on behind the scenes of the propaganda news networks of mankind's enemies." Press TV, 2 July 2007. Video and audio stream available at www.presstv.ir. Plans to broadcast documentaries on American soldiers who quit the military. AP, 2 July 2007. "Although Iran uses satellite to broadcast programmes abroad, it remains illegal to have satellite television within the country, where officials frequently denounce the 'cultural decadence' spread by foreign channels." AFP, 2 July 2007. "There are also plans for a programme called Children of War, which will examine the effects of war on children in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon." BBC News, 2 July 2007.

Armenia closer to law discouraging foreign broadcasts.

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Opposition parties sought changes to scrap the draft legislation's apparent restrictions on RFE/RL broadcasts. But pro-government parties are reported to have amended that new language to restore the text's original intent. A final vote appeared likely to slip to July 3. The proposals would ban foreign broadcasts on public television and radio and heavily tax domestic retransmission on private stations of foreign-made programs. Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE's representative on media freedom, says it 'would amount to a ban' on RFE/RL." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 2 July 2007. "The new media rules proposed in Armenia do not, precisely, forbid foreign broadcasts on local frequencies. For local broadcasters to air programs from foreign broadcasters there would be, in these times of need, a fee. For RFE/RL that fee would be about $200 per hour. Do the math: 4 hours a day, 365 days a year means more than $300,000, sufficient for a personal assistant or five and that new BMW." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 2 July 2007. See previous post about same subject.

A fascinating question ... unanswered (updated).

Posted: 02 Jul 2007   Print   Send a link
"Q: How would the BBC react if it gets tapes Al Jazeera does? [BBC World anchor] Nik Gowing: We have enormous respect for Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Arabic has evolved quite a lot in the last five years. They have been through great internal debate and it’s not just the monolithic organisation it was before the Iraq war." The Sunday Express (Mumbai), 1 July 2007. Update: "Talking about the effect of governmental pressure on media in his own country, Gowing said that even if media has to be anti-establishment for the sake of truth, it should be." Lucknow Newsline, 1 July 2007.

Television critic praises Aljazeera English.

Posted: 30 Jun 2007   Print   Send a link
"I’ve been monitoring the new channel for several months over the Internet, paying $6 a month to watch a video stream supplied by Real Networks. And I am convinced it is the most important English-language cable channel to come along since Fox News. It’s everything our cable news isn’t: global, meaty, consequential and compelling in the best sense of the word." Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star, 30 June 2007. "The U.S. is one of the few countries that, for the most part, doesn't carry the 24-hour BBC World news channel, which is available in 235 million households worldwide." Barnhart, Kansas City Star, 30 June 2007. "It’s not impossible to see Al Jazeera English on TV in our town. Walk into the Jerusalem Bakery on Westport Road most days and the flat screen in the dining area will likely be tuned to the channel. Owner Farid Azzeh pulls it in from Globecast, a specialty satellite-TV maker. It’s free once you buy the Globecast dish (about $200)." Barnhart, Kansas City Star, 1 July 2007. Samah El Shahat, development economist who now works for Aljazeera English: "I wanted a channel that was rooted in its sovereign audience. I found that very fundamental, and I also wanted a channel that wanted to challenge the mainstream." ArabianBusiness.com, 1 July 2007. Dave Marash, Aljazeera English Washington anchor: "We want to do fewer stories per half hour. Our 24-hour tempo is already radically slower than any of the other 24-hour news networks." Post-Journal (Jamestown NY), 30 June 2007.

Former Radio Beijing broadcaster talks about media controls in China.

Posted: 30 Jun 2007   Print   Send a link
"In the summer of 1978 I went back to Shanghai to visit my parents. One day, I switched the radio on and tuned to Radio Beijing's English broadcast. Since it was very hot inside the house I turned the volume a bit louder so that I could hear from outside the house. Not long afterwards, the lady from our neighborhood committee came round. Since she could not understand the language she thought I was listening to a foreign radio station. She started to question me about the content. When I explained to her it was one of OUR own radio stations she was not convinced. Only when the music 'East Is Red' came out of the program she was satisfied and left." Xiao Fan, Epoch Times, 1 July 2007.

Radio Budapest ends foreign language broadcasts.

Posted: 30 Jun 2007   Print   Send a link
Radio Budapest's last day of English broadcasting, on 30 June, with unceremonious, with the usual play of Insight Central Europe, co-produced with other international broadcasters of the region (Radio Prague, Radio Austria International, etc.). The actual goodbye, albeit brief, came at the end of the broadcast on 29 June. Listen to this mp3 excerpt. The farewell message confirmed that Radio Budapest will continue international broadcasts in Hungarian only. "This is part of changing the programme structure of Hungarian public radio in order to have a more cost-effective operation." See Radio Netherlands Media Network blog, 30 June 2007. See also discussion at DX Listening Digest, 30 June 2007. And Pester Lloyd, 27 June 2007. In its final days, the Radio Budapest English Service broadcast programs from its archives, including several presented by its former head, Charlie Coutts, who died in 2000. More about Mr. Coutts in his obituary, The Independent, 13 April 2000. See previous post about Radio Budapest.