NHK Radio Japan drops German, Italian, Malaysian and Swedish.

Posted: 30 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Effective 1 October. Also reductions to Japanese, English, French, and Spanish shortwave transmissions. NHK Radio Japan website. Kai Ludwig heard the final Radio Japan broadcast in German: "Anchored by a Japanese lady who said that she's the only one who has not left yet. They presented a fairytale about the minister who discovered the force of the pictures and thus no longer wants to listen but only to watch anymore. Really great, I can't remember any farewell programme with such an excellent allusion to the policy of the respective station."

More media news -- and commentary -- about Burma.

Posted: 30 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"We are watching our fellow human beings struggle to do something we take for granted every day: find out what is happening and share that information with others. The next time we are tempted to curtail the flow of information in our own country because it is uncomfortable, inconvenient or reveals the abuses and dishonesty of the powerful, we should remember the people of Myanmar. One tiny bulb at a time, against all odds, they are struggling to turn on the lights." Stephanie Salter, Terre Haute Tribune-Star, 29 September 2007. "The courage of these people shows that it is more challenging than ever for governments to shut down the flow of information. The Web has unleashed a tremendous global force." Tom Plate, CNN, 30 September 2007. "The owner of an electronics shop said his stock of short-wave radios had sold out as soon as they arrived." The Independent, 30 September 2007. Among Rohingya minority Burmese now in Bangladesh: "Mohammed Salim, who feeds his family of eight by carrying mud on building sites, listens to the BBC Burmese Service on his shortwave radio to find out what he can." BBC News, 29 September 2007. "Using secret material smuggled out of Myanmar, the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma's radio and TV stations are a key source of information for those inside and outside the country on the government's crackdown on protesters." Reuters, 30 September 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Fighting the Taliban with cultural understanding.

Posted: 30 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Australian officer says: "The effect of Australian soldiers who were able to say g'day in the local language was often quite pronounced, especially in the smaller, more remote villages." Tom Hyland, The Age (Melbourne), 30 September 2007. "The United States is losing the war in Afghanistan one Pashtun village at a time, bursting into schoolyards full of children with guns bristling, kicking in village doors, searching women, speeding down city streets, and putting out cross-cultural gibberish in totally ineffectual InfoOps and PsyOps campaigns—all of which are anathema to the Afghans." Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason, Orbis, Winter 2007.

Niger police arrest RFI reporter (updated again).

Posted: 30 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of Moussa Kaka, director of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya and Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, who was arrested yesterday evening and who is being held at police headquarters in Niamey." Reporters sans frontières, 21 September 2007. See also: AP, 22 September 2007. -- Reuters, 22 September 2007. -- AFP, 22 September 2007. "The correspondent for Radio France International (RFI) in Niger was being held without charge Tuesday, according to his lawyer." AFP, 25 September 2007. "The correspondent for Radio France International (RFI) in Niger has been charged with 'complicity to undermine state security', his lawyer told AFP on Wednesday." AFP, 26 September 2007. See also RFI statement, 26 September 2007. Update: Kaka's lawyer says case "is devoid of substance." AFP, 29 September 2007.

In Turkmenistan, some websites blocked, some not (updated).

Posted: 30 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Several sites, especially news sites that deal with Turkmenistan, are blocked. In addition to EurasiaNet.org, the list of forbidden sites includes Ferghana.ru, Centrasia.ru, Prima News and Gunogdar.org, a Turkmenistan opposition web site. The site for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is not blocked, while that of the Voice of America is. There are other apparent holes in the government’s filter, as the site for Transitions Online. No general news sites, such as those of the BBC, New York Times or CNN appear to be blocked." Eurasianet.org, 28 September 2007. Update: Turkmenistan has purchased 30-second ads on EuroNews, telling about the country's "Turkmen carpets, Akhal-Teke horses, silver decorations, ancient architectural monuments and unique nature." Turkmenistan.ru, 27 September 2007.

Latest media news about Burma.

Posted: 29 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America and Radio Free Asia have doubled their broadcasts to Myanmar in response to the military-run government's crackdown on protesters." AP, 27 September 2007. For expanded VOA Burmese schedule, see VOA press release, 26 September 2007. No schedule of expanded RFA Burmese at the RFA website. "American broadcasters must step lively here. ... Lessons from Hungary and Poland remind us that it is one thing to keep the public informed, it’s quite another to give them false confidence that the United States is willing to take any further action." LeftEnd, MountainRunner blog, 28 September 2007. "Lines formed at stores in Yangon ... for shortwave radios, with people eager to tune into BBC, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America." AP, 29 September 2007. "The official English-language television station, MRTV-3, reported that people were being intimidated into joining the demonstrations. Screen captions ran scrolling messages saying: 'We favour stability. We favour peace. We oppose unrest and violence.' Another screen caption, also read by an announcer, said the BBC and the Voice of America were broadcasting 'a sky-full of lies'. Another said: 'Beware of destructionists, BBC and VOA.'" BBC News, 28 September 2007. Podcast interview with head of BBC Burmese. The Guardian organgrinder, 28 September 2007. "Pro-democracy dissidents are having their say and we've broadcast the comments of world leaders telling the military junta to stop its attacks. Let us know what you think of the push for democracy as people in Myanmar/Burma confront the military dictators. We'll publish your comments here on our Internet page. Please include your phone number too so we can call you back to record your comments as we prepare a special 'Shout via Short Wave' programme." Radio Netherlands, 28 September 2007. "Hundreds of people have been smuggling out pictures and eyewitness reports of the protests in Myanmar this week." Radio Netheralnds, 28 September 2007. "A dedicated YouTube playlist with a collection of video material from the recent government attacks on monks in Myanmar now is available here on EUX.TV." EUX.TV, 28 September 2007. "The Burmese junta was last night desperately trying to shut down internet and telephone links to the outside world after a stream of blogs and mobile phone videos began capturing the dramatic events on the streets." The Guardian, 27 September 2007. Internet service providers "BaganNet and Myanmar Post and Telecom were shut down Friday, although big companies and embassies hooked up to the Web by satellite remained online." AP, 28 September 2007. In Battle Creek, Michigan, "some 400 exiles, particularly those from Chin, a state in northwestern Burma, have settled in the past 20 years. At the Asia Food Market on West Columbia Avenue, Joy Hrangthawng tuned in to a Burmese-language news report from Radio Free Asia on a laptop computer behind the counter." Battle Creek Enquirer, 27 September 2007. Aljazeera English story about Democratic Voice of Burma, via YouTube, 27 September 2007. Thanks to Mike Barraclough for this news tip. See previous post about same subject.

Obituaries from Hawaii.

Posted: 29 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Erik Hazelhoff, 90, apponted director of Radio Free Europe just after the 1956 Hungarian uprising. A Dutch hero of World War II, he became a U.S. citizen in 1953 and settled in Hawaii in 1971. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 29 September 2007. "After the war, he immigrated to the United States, where he worked for various media, including NBC, and in 1955, he returned to Europe to work as a producer for Radio Free Europe." AP, 29 September 2007. See also Radio Netherlands Media Network, 29 September 2007. Dr. Richard Wood, 67, well-known shortwave and medium wave DXer. Born in Scotland, he taught languages at several U.S. universities, before settling in Hawaii, where he operated Richard's Fruitstand. DX Listening Digest, 28 September 2007. See also DX Listening Digest, 12 January 2006 and Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 September 2007.

Aljazeera English via "one of the majors" in the USA?

Posted: 29 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English chief Nigel Parsons says the network is stepping up efforts to gain U.S. cable or satellite TV distribution, and talks are going well with 'one of the majors.'" Parsons also criticizes U.S. media coverage of the visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations: "I’m not defending him as necessarily a good guy, but I’m not rushing to judgment on him either." Multichannel News, 27 September 2007. "Al Jazeera English has appointed former Turner Broadcasting System executive Phil Lawrie as the director of global distribution, with responsibility for obtaining broad distribution in the U.S. market, as well as deeper penetration in India and other key markets worldwide." WorldScreen.com, 27 September 2007. "The channel's hope is that US providers will eventually be forced by popular demand to include it in their service, much like MTV achieved with its 'I want my MTV' campaign in the 1980s. But the channel might face an even bigger obstacle than hyped-up fears about terrorism: the public's lack of interest in international news." Financial Times Deutschland, 27 September 2007. Arab documentary maker says: "Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya and so on, we've been following a BBC criteria for our documentaries. I'm trying to find a compromise between television documentary and documentary for cinema." Daily Star (Beirut), 29 September 2007.

Voice of Zimbabwe: the 24-hour station that broadcasts four hours a day.

Posted: 29 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Zimbabwe's information minister encourages the Voice of Zimbabwe "to increase broadcasting hours from four to 12 hours. He also discussed aspects on how the public can access shortwave transmission. It was noted that most of the people do not have shortwave receivers and hence mooted the possibility of importing these into the country most likely from China. ... Voice of Zimbabwe is available on shortwave on 5 975 kilohertz in the 49-metre band during the day and on 4 828 kilohertz in the 60-metre band at night. It broadcasts from 6pm to 10pm and plays music throughout the remaining hours." The Herald (Harare), 29 September 2007.

Cyberscots.

Posted: 29 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"In days gone by, being an expat meant you were limited to receiving newspapers by post from the home country or the odd TV news item via BBC World. Now, the internet and satellite television means expats can import their own media wholesale - broadband news bulletins, online newspapers and entire TV channels piped into your overseas residence." The Scotsman, 28 September 2007.

Come to Iran. Stay for a while.

Posted: 28 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday invited Voice of America (VOA) reporter Nazzy Beglari-Scarlet to visit Iran. The invitation, made during a conversation between the reporter and the president following his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, came one week after another U.S.-funded broadcast reporter, Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima, was released from a six-month detention in Iran." Voice of America press release, 26 September 2007, which does not say if Ms. Beglari-Scarlet will actually go to Iran.

Recent press freedom appeals involve U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 28 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
The Committee to Protect Journalists, in note to president of Azerbaijan, says it "is deeply disturbed by the seizure, beating, and imprisonment of Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev, regional correspondent for the opposition newspaper Yeni Musavat, by officials in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic last weekend. ... The week before the attack, Mehdiyev discussed the region’s social and political problems in an interview on Azadliq Radio, the Azeri service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty." CPJ, 27 September 2007. Reporters sans frontières "today condemned a wave of arrests of dissidents yesterday as a peaceful protest in support of political prisoners was being prepared in front of the Justice Ministry in the Havana. Among the around 30 people arrested and still being held are ... Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, correspondent for the websites Payolibre and Nueva Prensa Cubana and Radio Martí." RSF, 28 September 2007

Amateur radio exhibit near U.S. Capitol will demonstrate use of shortwave communications in emergencies.

Posted: 28 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"There will be a communication trailer, tent type shelter, four HF transceivers -- voice, PSK, and Winlink -- and VHF equipment at the site. The local Voice of America (VOA) organization and MARS have local repeaters and digipeaters available. Power will come from solar panels and generators with battery backup." On 3 October between the Capitol Building and the U.S. Botanic Garden. American Radio Relay League, 27 September 2007.

Will BBC World live down its "Second Life" marketing gimmick?

Posted: 28 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
The target is "internationalists." "'They are the decision-drivers, avid travellers, big spenders and conscientious consumers. They are global influencers, early adopters, and frequent travellers who are committed to global issues and life-long learning. They are BBC World’s viewers.' said the BBC’s somewhat flamboyant press release. One of the methods being introduced by the BBC to reach these avid travellers, decision drivers, etc., is a conference to be held on a 'Second Life' virtual world island, created especially for the campaign where conference guests will create their own avatars." Rapid TV News, 28 September 2007. See also Marketing Week, 27 September 2007. And said BBC World press release, 26 September 2007.

Memories of shortwave listening (updated).

Posted: 28 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"I was an 8-year-old boy on the tip of South Africa, and I was listening to a shortwave radio broadcast of Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon. And I thought, 'A country that can do something like that, I've just got to go there.'" Fauquier Times-Democrat, 26 September 2007. "It was just past midnight on June 6, 1944, and most of The Attleboro Sun's employees were asleep at home. Only Frank Feeney was sitting in the darkened newsroom, listening to a shortwave radio and keeping vigil by the AP teletype, when the news finally came." Sun Chronicle (Attleboro MA). 26 September 2007. "My only experience with Iran was as a shortwave radio listener. I used to belong to the shortwave radio club of the National Iranian Radio and Television during the 1970s until the Islamic revolution of 1979." Roberto Carlos Alvarez-galloso, merinews, 26 September 2007. "I didn't have any business life in 1987. I was listening to Voice of America and BBC through muffling stations—I am not sure I use the word properly." Condé Nast Portfolio, 25 September 2007. Update: "Sitting in his house near the Baroque St. Matthew’s Church in Prague’s placid neighborhood of Hanspaulka, Czech painter and printmaker Jir(í Anderle, now 71, was mesmerized by the colorful play of light in the sky. Anderle heard of clashes in the center of the city on a forbidden Voice of America broadcast on the radio and wondered what the future might bring." Prague Post, 26 September 2007. "We also monitored shortwave radio broadcasts. With an array of antennas in the backyard and on the roof, we could pull in stations from Africa and Europe, along with the Africa services of the BBC and the Voice of America. The bloodless Portuguese revolution of April 25, 1974, which ended the dictatorship, was played out on Radio Portugal." allAfrica.com, 27 September 2007.

RAI shortwave close to getting the boot.

Posted: 28 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Notification of the termination, on 30 September, of shortwave broadcasts from RAI Italy is still not mentioned at the RAI International website. Nor has there been any story about this from a major news source.

But see: Italradio.org, 27 September 2007, in English and Italian. Also: panem et circenses 2, 27 September 2007. Photos of the RAI shortwave transmitting site are available at mediasuk.org.

The demise of RAI shortwave was first reported about two months ago. See DX Listening Digest, 28 June 2007.

I was not able to hear the English service of RAI at UTC 0055 on 28 September (EDT 8:55pm on 27 September) on 11800 kHz. I don't think the frequency was inaudible due to poor propagation; rather, the transmitter did not seem to be on the air. Perhaps the RAI shortwave engineers have turned off the transmitter ahead of the announced 30 September termination of RAI's international radio broadcasts.

On the RAI International multilingual stream, the announcer in Spanish said that RAI will no longer transmit in Spanish as of 1 October. In the Portuguese transmission, the announcer said that programs in languages other than Italian would no longer be broadcast. In the English broadcast, the news reader tersely stated (hear audio) that RAI shortwave broadcasts would no longer be heard after 1 October. That covers all the bases: it appears that shortwave and non-Italian radio broadcasts by any medium will end.

As with previous impending shutdowns of international broadcasting services, the feelings of the staff seem to be transmitted more through the selection of music than through scripted statements. (I heard this most recently when Radio Budapest ended its foreign language programming.) After the Portuguese broadcast, the first tune played was George Michael's "Careless Whisper" ("I'm never gonna dance again..."). After the English broadcast, Led Zepplin's "Tangerine" ("Thinking how it used to be... .")
.

See previous post about same subject.

"Huddling around shortwave radios" and other media news from Burma.

Posted: 27 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The main websites providing up-to-the-minute information are run by Burmese exiles. The Democratic Voice of Burma, originally just an opposition shortwave radio station, operates out of Norway. Its news editor said from Oslo last night: 'We had been getting information through mobile phones but these have been cut off. Then our reporters used cybercafes but the traffic has really slowed down in the last few hours. Some of the landlines we used have also been closed, so we cannot get in touch with our people.'" The Guardian, 27 September 2007. "Cellphones and the Internet are playing a crucial role in telling the world about the country's pro-democracy protests, with video footage sometimes transmitted one frame at a time." AP and LA Times via Seattle Times, 27 September 2007. "Shop doors were closed, but inside people could be seen huddling around short-wave radios, hoping to catch some news from foreign media about the clampdown." AFP, 27 September 2007. "Most of the country’s mobile phone lines have been cut and the Internet network has been drastically reduced." Reporters sans frontières, 26 September 2007. Chief of VOA Burmese and director of Democatic Voice of Burma interviewed on PBS NewsHour, 26 September 2007. Head of BBC Burmese answers questions about Burma. BBC News, 26 September 2007. Laura Bush interview on VOA gets wide press coverage. "I want to say to the armed guards and to the soldiers: Don't fire on your people. Don't fire on your neighbors." AP, 27 September 2007. "I hope that the people of Burma know that the world does stand with them and that we are watching them." New York Sun, 27 September 2007. "Unprecedented personal intervention." New York Sun, 27 September 2007. Interview transcript. White House, 26 September 2007.

More VOA to the Horn of Africa?

Posted: 27 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
House Foreign Affairs Committee passes Ethiopia democracy bill includes "expansion of Voice of America broadcasts directed to Ethiopia." VOA News, 26 September 2007. Thankfully, the bill doesn't call for a "Radio Free Ethiopia," to duplicate the work VOA is already doing in Amharic, Afan Oromo, and Tigrigna. Actually, I hesitate to mention this: the idea is so bad that it has a good chance of adoption.

RFE/RL gets the *other* story on 25 September.

Posted: 26 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The pack of TV cameras arrived at Columbia University in time for copious coverage of the campus appearance by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, but they were too late for what a National Journal blogger called 'another potentially crazy world leader' on the school’s dance card on Monday. Luckily, Radio Free Europe/Free Liberty was on hand to hear a keynote address by Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the relatively new president of Turkmenistan, one of the weirdest and most repressive governments on earth. ... His final puzzling move was to tell attendees that his staff would be happy to answer any further questions. But RFE/RL, evidently the only organization to publish a report on the event in English, got nowhere when it tried to take him up on the offer." New York Times The Lede blog, 25 September 2007.

Former VOA director hocks a clock.

Posted: 26 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"A sunny yellow Fabergé clock stole the show at Sloans and Kenyon's latest auction, selling for $123,900, four times the expected price. The piece, sold by well-known Washingtonian Richard Carlson, former head of the Voice of America and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was bought by a phone bidder." Forbes, 25 September 2007.

World Service seeks listener/user advice for website redesign.

Posted: 26 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Over the coming months the BBC World Service will be working on creating a new look and feel to the English site and we could really use listeners’ help. It has been nearly four years since bbcworldservice.com was last given an overhaul and during this time, both the internet and you the user have gone through a huge transformation. We want to take the site back to the drawing board so that we can exploit the functionality and usability that the web now offers. We have set up a forum to discuss the current site and also allow you to provide feedback on some of the news designs as we create them." BBC World Service website, 25 September 2007.

Calling Burma during a time of crisis.

Posted: 26 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Human rights workers says: "We actually are seeing an unprecedented wave of media technology being used in Burma and we're seeing this not just in Rangoon but also in Mandalay, in other parts, other states and divisions in Burma. So, the eyes of the international community are firmly on Burma but this information is also being broadcast back into Burma to the general population through radio services such as the Voice of America and other radio stations and that has actually helped the people of Burma to be better informed." VOA News, 25 September 2007. Laura Bush interviewed by VOA re Burma. VOA News, 26 September 2007. France 24 website invites questions for its correspondents "in and around Burma covering the protests against the military dictatorship." France 24, 26 September 2007. PBS NewsHour today (26 September) will have an interview with the VOA Burmese Service chief.

Arab satellite broadcaster MBC Group faces increased competition.

Posted: 26 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Its "Al-Arabiya, which launched in 2003 as a direct competitor to Al-Jazeera, has bitten into its controversial rival's market share -- even surpassing it in ratings with its coverage of last summer's war between Israel and Lebanon -- ... has already felt the effects of the BBC's Arabic-language newscaster, set to start broadcasting by the end of the year. A dozen Al-Arabiya staff have jumped ship to join the new BBC channel." Variety, 25 September 2007.

"Mixed bag" for the first year of Aljazeera English.

Posted: 26 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The biggest challenge lying ahead for the channel may ... [be] how the satcaster will handle the likely outbreak of a major regional crisis. The station launched too late to cover last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon." Variety, 25 September 2007. "Al Jazeera English is believed to be in talks with Virgin Media about launching the channel on cable" in the UK, where it is now available only via satellite. Digital Spy, 26 September 2007.

Israel could perhaps take this as a compliment (updated).

Posted: 26 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Aljazeera on Monday referred its Arab viewers to the [Israel Defense Forces] Home Front Command's newly launched Arabic Web site, ahead of a planned emergency drill in Syria later in the day." Jerusalem Post, 24 September 2007. The site, www.oref.org.il, now has versions in Arabic and English, as well as Hebrew. It's mostly civil defense information for persons inside Israel. Presumably Alajeera deemed that information also useful to Syrians in an attack simulation. Update: "The new site's servers are provided by a civilian company and are expected to be able to maintain the heavy traffic expected during a war." Jerusalem Post, 25 September 2007.

In a hard-hitting speech, perhaps "Radio Free Europe" has a better ring than "Voice of America."

Posted: 25 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
From the now-famous speech by Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger, introducing Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "In our country, you are interviewed by our press and asked that you to speak here today. And while my colleague at the Law School Michael Dorf spoke to Radio Free Europe [sic, Voice of America] viewers in Iran a short while ago on the tenets of freedom of speech in this country, I propose going further than that." Columbia University transcript, 24 September 2007.

VOA Arabic archives now available.

Posted: 25 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The American Embassy in Cairo, in cooperation with the Voice of America (VOA), has produced a compilation of recordings from the archives of the VOA Arabic service." It's on three CDs, or: "Audio files and transcripts of the ... collection are available at the U.S. Embassy Cairo website at http://egypt.usembassy.gov." VOA News, 21 September 2007.

First Lady plans public diplomacy trip.

Posted: 25 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Laura Bush "will visit the Middle East in October to highlight the fight against breast cancer in places like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. ... At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino indicated that the trip aimed to bolster US 'public diplomacy,' a term referring to Washington's global outreach to burnish its image in the Muslim world amid the war in Iraq." AFP, 24 September 2007.

New musical brand identity for BBC World Service (updated).

Posted: 25 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"From Monday, the BBC World Service will have a refreshed and much more joined-up station sound. This new identity includes new programme music, new idents and other branding elements heard through the day." BBC World Service website, 20 September 2007. "There is also a download-able ringtone for the most loyal listeners and additional work to support the 75th anniversary of the BBC World Service in December." RadioToday.co.uk, 21 September 2007. Update: "Broadcasts of 'Lilliburlero', long a theme identified with the World Service, will continue at least six times a day." Digital Spy, 25 September 2007.

International broadcasting reporters face adversities.

Posted: 25 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Niger transfers Radio France International reporter Moussa Kaka from police custody to prison. Committee to Protect Journalists, 24 September 2007. See also RFI, 24 September 2007, and previous post about M. Kaka. RFI and BBC reporters "physically assaulted" by Liberian presidential bodyguards. Center For Media Studies and Peace Building (Monrovia), 24 September 2007. Two reporters of Poland-based Radio Racyja receive warning from Belarus for "working without accreditation." Reporters sans frontières, 25 September 2007.

Enough bandwidth for international broadcasting via IPTV?

Posted: 25 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"According to Broadcast International, the infrastructure for delivering on the promise of IPTV – HD-quality video delivered on an IP broadband network, wherever and whenever users want it – is not yet ready for prime time. The weak spot in the delivery chain is inadequate video compression technology... . As new video content sources proliferate – from traditional broadcast media, to portal players such as Yahoo! and Google, to YouTube-style user-generated content – bandwidth will be devoured at unprecedented levels, precipitating a 'crisis in bandwidth.'" Broadcast International press release, 25 September 2007.

BBC signs broadband advertisers, if the BBC Trust goes along.

Posted: 24 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"International news channel BBC World has signed five major companies to advertise on its new broadband on-demand news service. ... 'Our news clips have been available in broadband on third-party commercial websites for some time, so it makes sense for us to upgrade our service so audiences can enjoy the same broadband quality clips on our own site.'" But: "The BBC Trust is still considering the decision to allow advertising across its international site bbc.com, with a announcement expected in October." Digital Spy, 24 September 2007.

One of the last great shortwave events?

Posted: 24 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Several prominent show business personalities and celebrities of Myanmar also echoed their support of the protests via shortwave radio and called on the public to join the growing protest." AHN, 24 September 2007. "Two leading Burmese actors, comedian Zaganar and heart-throb movie star Kyaw Thu, came to Shwedagon yesterday to bring food and water to the monks, witnesses said. Both men had spoken on shortwave radio urging people to support the protests." AFP, 25 September 2007. "Win Min, a Myanmar analyst who teaches at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, said prominent Myanmar actors and celebrities had spoken on shortwave radio to throw their support behind the rallies and to urge the public to join." AFP, 24 September 2007. "From a warehouse-like building in Norway's capital, a tiny broadcast network called the Democratic Voice of Burma is struggling to provide news and encouragement to countrymen rising up against the military dictatorship at home." AP, 24 September 2007.

We usually read about VOA jazz listeners who later become musicians.

Posted: 23 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Harrison H. Schmitt remembers exactly where he was on Oct. 4, 1957. A Fulbright scholar living with a farm family, he was examining the rocks of western Norway. He had turned on the radio to listen to a jazz show on Voice of America and was stunned, he recalled the other day, by the news report that preceded the music: The Soviet Union had launched a satellite into space. That news jolted Schmitt, who later became an Apollo astronaut and a Republican senator." Yahoo! News, 22 September 2007.

America is so free that a trio can have five people.

Posted: 23 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Musical group Trio Chicago & Friends will travel to Jordan and Ethiopia on a public diplomacy mission. Karen Hughes "had been following the Trio's work, which has usually involved an invitation from a U.S. ambassador to the group of classical musicians to visit them and to tour. The group plays both classical music and typically American compositions by artists such as Duke Ellington. Hughes invited Johnston and Golub to the State Department in Washington, D.C. They met in Hughes' office, which is right down the hall from that of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice." The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), 21 September 2007.

Sampling from the BBC internet radio "buffet."

Posted: 23 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The real revelation of the past two years is Internet radio, which streams flawlessly through an extra pair of speakers I've set up in my sitting room and gives me an ear to ideas from all over the world. And though I dip into several American channels, I find the highest percentage of quality programs comes, free of charge, from the BBC. Short-wave radio enthusiasts have long tuned into the BBC World Service, probably the most prestigious 24-hour news service the airwaves have ever known. You can listen to the World Service now anytime through the Internet, but you can also tune to all of the BBC's radio channels, local and national. ... There is, indeed, only one problem with all this: You are spoiled for choice. To go to the directory of programs is to face the intellectual equivalent of the most lavish cruise-liner buffet you've ever heard about." Randall Curb, Press-Register (Birmingham, Alabama), 23 September 2007.

The U.S. public diplomacy blog team: here today.

Posted: 22 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Some analysts question whether the blog team will survive beyond the tenure of Karen P. Hughes, the confidante of President Bush who runs public diplomacy. The department expects to add seven more team members within the next month — four more in Arabic, two in Farsi and one in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. The team concentrates on about a dozen mainstream Web sites such as chat rooms set up by the BBC and Al Jazeera or charismatic Muslim figures like Amr Khaled, as well as Arab news sites like Elaph.com. They choose them based on high traffic and a focus on United States policy, and they always identify themselves as being from the State Department." New York Times, 22 September 2007. Virtual Presence Posts (VPPs) are "transforming the operations of State and overseas posts by pushing public diplomacy beyond currently served cities and regions to areas which have had little direct interaction with the USG." State Department press release, 22 September 2007.

Karen Hughes sees opening in al-Qaeda's reduced popularity (updated).

Posted: 22 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The drop in support for violent extremists presents an opportunity to expand our efforts to nurture common interests with people overseas and work with them to counter al-Qaeda's attempts to radicalize young people. Al-Qaeda's growing Internet propaganda activities glorify violence and seek to exploit local grievances, from political oppression to a lack of economic opportunities. In contrast, America's public diplomacy programs are engaging young people constructively, through English-language teaching, educational exchanges, music and sports diplomacy." Karen P. Hughes, Washington Post, 16 September 2007. Update: "There is not a word, not one, about democratization. The utopian goal of flipping the Middle East into a shining prosperous crest of democracies was dropped from Secretary of Defense Gates' last speech, and was barely mentioned in President Bush's last national broadcast on September 13, 2007. ...if one makes support for democracy the litmus test for those Muslims we can work with, and defines all those who do not yet share this belief as the enemy, then we shall find most Muslims on the wrong side of the fence. In contrast, if we come to view all those who reject violence, terrorism and civil war as potential 'Partners in Peace,' we will find many Muslims on the right side of the fence." Amitai Etzioni, Huffington Post, 21 September 2007. "She barely mentioned that the formerly positive view of America held by an overwhelming majority of people in the Middle East has dropped precipitously." Robert Anton Mertz, letter to Washington Post, 22 September 2007.

BBC Arabic television is still not on the air.

Posted: 22 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"If anything, an Arabic channel from London is late in coming. It arrives at a time of market saturation, as well as audience fatigue with government-backed Arabic news. However, despite the plethora of hair-sprayed anchors and battlefield correspondents, the Middle East remains untapped in terms of investigative journalism; reporting that does not shy away from the so called 'red-lines' of Arab politics and society. ... This time around, British taxpayers will pick up the entire bill, yet at a proposed budget of $38 million, it will still be lower than the cost of setting up either Al-Jazeera or Al Arabiya. BBC will have to vie for viewers with dozens of smaller channels across the region, which act simply as conduits of political parties in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories." Variety, 21 September 2007.

Singing "The BBC Replaced the Blues Blues."

Posted: 22 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Complaint about the new schedule on public radio station WUAL, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: "Get this: the new lineup on Saturday has no music shows on until Bama Bluegrass at 7 p.m. and has, in the biggest abomination of all, axed Steve Cushing's 'Blues Before Sunrise' in favor of the BBC World News, which WUAL is now running all night every night of the week." Tommy Stevenson, Tuscaloosa News blog, 21 September 2007.

Arrivederci Roma?

Posted: 22 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Report that the international shortwave service of Italy's public broadcaster RAI will end on 30 September. Italy has been on shortwave since 1930, and RAI now transmits in 26 languages. David de Jong, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 22 September 2007. Already one protest. Rassegna-News, 21 September 2007. History of Italian shortwave broadcasting and link to audio stream of RAI international channel at RAI website. See Kim's comments.

TV 5 Monde participant nations worried about reform of French international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 22 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"French-speaking shareholders such as Québec and Belgium are urging that TV5 keep its full-programming and multilateral line as well as its French-speaking community point-of-view on international events, as opposed to an exclusively French point-of-view." Rapid TV News, 8 September 2007. Update: France picks up two-thirds of the €90-million ($126.8-million) budget, and is in a position to dictate terms. AFP, 22 September 2007.

One cheer for Press TV news coverage.

Posted: 22 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Press TV had covered Zimbabwe as effectively as the BBC, RNW [Radio Netherlands], CBC/RCI [Canada] and CRI [China]. This type of in-depth coverage does not obtain in the 'mainstream media' of USA except in the case of PBS [Public Broadcasting Service]. Press TV deserves hundred percent for its unbiased report on Zimbabwe and Mugabe." Roberto Carlos Alvarez-galloso, Merinews, 22 September 2007.

Web chat as public diplomacy.

Posted: 21 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
A web chat will feature "Seema Matin, a public diplomacy officer for the US Department of State. Matin will discuss what life is like in America for Muslim women, who choose to wear the hijab, and how she and others are marking the festive season. Matin’s focus as a public diplomacy officer is on Muslim outreach efforts. Currently working for Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes, Matin has been recognized for her contributions to one of Hughes’ 'War of Ideas' initiatives, which focuses on countering ideological support for terrorism." Arab News, 21 September 2007.

Brookings experts say the darndest things.

Posted: 21 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
At recent Brookings event, panelist suggests "low audience numbers [for Alhurra and Radio Farda] are made up mostly of people already sympathetic to the U.S., and all but the fringes of that group are likely to be further alienated by the more ideologically rigid programming coming over the airwaves. Meanwhile, neoconservatives have been working to co-opt the already-fledgling public diplomacy apparatus, forcing out an experienced producer working towards a broader audience share, Larry Register, by means of a smear campaign via the domestic neoconservative media." Ali Gharib, Inter Press Service, 20 September 2007. Surveys actually show fairly large audiences for Radio Farda. Also from Brookings experts: "Dialogue: Instead of just producing propaganda, the effort should be audience-centered and designed to build dialogue. It should emphasize "listening" as much as 'talking.' Outreach: Rather than "preaching to the choir," the United States should engage a varied set of regional constituencies, including social conservatives who may be controversial but carry the greatest influence within the target populations" ABC News, 19 September 2007.

An Ahmadinejad hypothetical.

Posted: 21 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
If he were allowed to visit the World Trade Center site, "he is in New York giving a press conference, tens of Persian intellectuals and political dissidents flood the conference and ask pointed questions about the theocratic state's violations of human rights, women's freedoms, economy and joblessness, massive censorship of channels of information - including the recent blocking of the Google Website and gmail service to be accessed from within Iran - and every other travesty he has brought upon his country. Then let him stumble over those questions and allow Iranians to watch his humiliation on their banned TV satellites and Voice Of America news network." Sam Sedaei, Huffington Post, 20 September 2007.

Poles criticize Russia Today re Katyn massacre.

Posted: 21 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
After visit by Polish presiden Lech Kaczynski to "Katyn - the site of mass murder of Polish POWs by NKVD at Stalin's personal order in 1940 ... the coverage by some Russian media, and most prominently by the Kremlin - controlled Russia Today television channel was hostile and unjustly biased, say commentators. The Russian media questioned the Russian responsibility for the Katyn mass murder and blamed Poland for the death of Russian POWs in 1920, during the Polish - Soviet war." Polish Radio External Service, 19 September 2007. "The Katyn massacre is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. The mass execution of Polish officers was ordered by Josef Stalin. Between 15,000 and 20,000 were killed." Russia Today, 17 September 2007.

A "low taste" void in China? U.S. broadcasters probably smell opportunity.

Posted: 21 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"China's broadcasting watchdog today announced a series of strict limits on popular TV and radio talent shows to curb what it called an inclination for 'low taste' among such programs. ... All talent selection shows on provincial-level satellite TV stations should be reported to the administration for approval three months ahead of their debut, including those broadcast by China's Central TV Station, China's National Radio, China Radio International and China Education TV station." Shanghai Daily, 22 September 2007.

Legislation would combat Vietnamese jamming (updated).

Posted: 20 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
House passes Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007, 414-3. It includes "over $10 million to help stop the Vietnamese Government’s jamming of Radio Free Asia." Rep. Chris Smith press release, 18 September 2007. VOA Vietnamese appears not to be jammed. It also broadcasts news about Vietnam, but proportionately less than RFA. Update: RFA "has been long notorious for distorting any stories regarding Vietnam. A Vietnamese abroad has stated that “most of RFA’s programmes are aimed at causing disorder in Vietnam. The issues which have been so far exploited by RFA included freedom, democracy and religion. They did not hesitate to create stories which never happened. They have never felt ashamed of reporting false stories. Regular guests of RFA are terrorist groups supported by Vietnamese living in exile." Nhân Dân (Hanoi), 20 September 2007.

More news about the found VOA jazz tapes (updated).

Posted: 20 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Sonny Rollins was surprised when a long-lost tape of his Carnegie Hall debut was discovered among the Voice of America's huge collection of recordings at the Library of Congress. But after listening to the tape, the tenor saxophonist got inspired to return to Carnegie to mark the 50th anniversary of that historic concert." AP, 18 September 2007. "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes ... noted the unifying power of jazz. Just prior to last night's performance, a tribute to Voice of America jazz disc jockey Willis Conover, who in the 1970s was the second most well-known American in the Soviet Union next to Richard Nixon, she cited how Conover's broadcasts brought the true essence of America to people who were on the other side of the Iron Curtain." DCist, 18 September 2007 Update: See summary of jazz seminar and concert at VOA at usinfo.state.gov, 19 September 2007.

BBC Global News recruiting digital marketing agencies (updated).

Posted: 20 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's global news division, which includes BBC World Service and BBC World, is seeking to create a small roster of digital marketing agencies that will supply strategic advice and campaigns to boost brand awareness. The chosen agencies will provide a range of digital marketing campaigns over a two-year period, promoting the BBC news brands, services and programmes." Brand Republic, 14 September 2007. See also Marketing Week, 17 September 2007. Update: "'Because the division is international-facing, dealing with audiences in Russia, Asia and the Middle East, we needed to have a separate roster of agencies that can handle different languages, alphabets and fonts.'" Design Week, 19 September 2007.

Would Scottish broadcasting "parochialism" be a problem in an age of international channels?

Posted: 20 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The fear of so-called ‘parochialism’ is rendered absurd in the digital age. For example, the news audience in the UK can already select from CNN, France 24, Al Jazeera and other English language broadcasters. The question is not about ‘parochialism’ - in any case, that attribution probably overrates both the quality and cosmopolitanism of London-produced programming." Neil Blaine, allmediaScotland.com, 20 September 2007.

Zimbabwe: shortwave then and now.

Posted: 20 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Zimbabwe information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu says his country is "ahead in terms of media development, compared to other developing countries.He said the newly established [shortwave] radio news service - the Voice of Zimbabwe - was formed to reflect the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. ... Cde Ndlovu said before independence, the Smith regime would advise all manufacturers that they did not want radios with shortwave reception so that the people would not hear any news from outside the country." The Herald (Harare), 20 September 2007.

Central planning didn't work in the Soviet Union, either.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The President must establish a clearly defined role for the nation's PD agencies and help to ensure that their message is coherent and focused. ... The so-called VOA Charter ... [was] fundamentally inadequate as operational doctrine and did nothing to clarify the VOA mission and objectives. In fact, from the beginning, they served more as a bureaucratic device to protect the agency from unwanted outside interference in what were claimed to be professional journalistic decisions." Carnes Lord and Helle C. Dale, paper "produced by the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies," Heritage Foundation, 18 September 2007. "On the BBG, Congress needs to rewrite its charter to give a strong board chairman the power and control to be a real executive, who reports not only to the board, but also to the White House, from which public diplomacy strategy ought to emanate." Helle Dale, Washington Times, 19 September 2007. See Kim's commentary.

Finally: detained Radio Farda reporter leaves Iran.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL correspondent Parnaz Azima has arrived in the United States after being held in Iran as a virtual prisoner for eight months. Azima, a dual national of Iran and the United States, had been prevented from leaving the country after her passport was confiscated on January 25 in Tehran during a trip to visit her hospitalized mother." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 19 September 2007. "But criminal charges against her have not been lifted." RFE/RL press release, 18 September 2007. "Iranian authorities have discouraged Parnaz Azima from returning to Farda. In this context, it can be disheartening to witness the endless bickering in Washington over how to help Iranian civil society. It is strange to hear the outcry from some who rail against the U.S. government's earmark of $75 million to aid the effort. That seems a paltry sum considering the importance and magnitude of the task at hand. Does the regime use this modest support as a pretext to crack down on dissidents? Of course it does. That's what dictators do." Jeffrey Gedmin, president of RFE/RL, Washington Post, 19 September 2007.

International broadcasting is factor in Waxman probe of State IG.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House oversight committee, said the officials had contacted his office to complain that Howard Krongard, the state department's inspector-general, 'repeatedly halted or impeded' investigations undertaken by his office. ... In another case unrelated to Iraq, Mr Krongard allegedly alerted Kenneth Tomlinson, the head of the Broadcasting Board of [Governors], which operates Voice of America, to details of a congressional inquiry into allegations Mr Tomlinson was overcharging the government for his services. Mr Krongard allegedly faxed Mr Tomlinson a request for information from the investigators and a list of detailed complaints by a whistleblower." Financial Times, 19 September 2007. See also Waxman statement, 18 September 2007.

Broadcasts to Czechoslovakia in 1968 as a model for broadcasts to North Korea now?

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"According the book Prague's 200 Days by Harry Schwartz, the outgoing government controlled all of the domestic media, but dissident writings were smuggled out and broadcast back into Czechoslovakia on BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Free information played a powerful, transformative and peaceful role.

After discussing the effect of broadcasting, Schwartz summed up: 'it was much more difficult for the propaganda chiefs to justify the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia than the 1956 invasion of Hungary. Their audiences in 1968 were far better educated, much more sophisticated, and more acquainted with foreign countries through personal travel than were the 1956 audiences, composed of masses still emerging from the intellectual anesthesia of the Stalin period.'

This is crux of what broadcasting and other forms of disseminating factual information can do. I have used Cold War analogies, but independent broadcasting has also played an important role in other human rights movements in Burma, South Africa and Latin American countries, to cite some examples. As the Book of John says: 'You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.' Indeed, we already have indications that independent information sent into North Korea is reaching people and having an effect.

The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees broadcasts like Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, has commissioned studies by InterMedia to assess the effects of external broadcasting on North Korea. They interviewed defectors and have found that almost half of recent survey respondents have listened to foreign radio inside North Korea, despite the risk of punishment. The survey also found that more than one-third of respondents had modified their fixed-channel radios to receive foreign broadcasts. While this sample of defectors is probably not representative of the whole North Korean public, this nonetheless indicates that there is a strong and healthy demand inside North Korea for news and information from abroad.

The Special Envoy has worked with the Broadcasting Board of Governors to increase the duration and transmission quality of Korean broadcasts. We have also sought to obtain resources for the growing number of independent groups that transmit information. We have asked Australia to consider adding a Korean service to Radio Australia, and for the British to do the same with the BBC. We were pleased that the government of Japan began supporting a one-hour radio broadcast this year, and hope to see that effort expand and broaden in the future." Christian Whiton, Deputy Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, U.S. State Department, 18 September 2007. I wrote the questionnaire that elicited that information about the media environment in North Korea -- thus my ten-second juxtaposition to fame. By the way, do we really want to compete with the BBC in Korean?

RFA unhelpfully described.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Myanmar language service of Radio Free Asia, a US government shortwave station promoting democracy, reported on Tuesday night that monks staged similar protests in several other towns, including Kyaukpadaung, Pakokku, Sittwe and Aung Lan." AP, 18 September 2007. RFA's would have been more accurately described, and its cred better served, thus: "Radio Free Asia, a US government funded shortwave station providing news that is not available from Burma's state controlled media."

Salvos of cultural sensitivity.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
From review of Robert D. Kaplan, Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on The Ground: "The military has always undervalued its foreign area officers and Special Forces teams, whose successes come more slowly and are harder to quantify than those of conventional units conducting bombing raids or infantry-on-infantry battles. But by investing in small, culturally sensitive and linguistically skilled teams to send to the farthest reaches of America's de facto empire, the United States can minimize the number of times it is forced to send much larger forces into combat, according to Kaplan." Sean D. Naylor, Washington Post Book World, 16 September 2007. "Thirty-three students in the Army’s Information Operations Proponent graduated Friday from the Functional Area 30 Qualification Course... . [They will] coordinate the information engagement activities of Public Affairs, Psychological Operations, Defense/Military Support to Public Diplomacy, Civil Affairs and other offices that may be required to inform and influence the public in the unit’s operational environment." Leavenworth Times, 17 September 2007.

CNN expands presence in Turkey.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Building on its existing relationship with Turkish media giant Dogan Media Group, TBS will license the CNN International channel for distribution from this month via Dogan TV Holding's recently launched DTH platform, DSmart. Dogan already operates the CNN Turk channel, which airs in Turkish and was the first joint-venture for Turner and Dogan." C21Media.net, 19 September 2007.
Ian Carroll is new executive VP for Asia-Pacific for Turner Broadcasting. He "will oversee Turner's foray in new areas of business and will play a pivotal role in identifying new opportunities for Turner to reach a wider audience in Asia." Indiantelevision.com, 17 September 2007.

A jab at Radio Australia.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Australia's national radio broadcaster, Radio Australia, covered the [South Pacific Games] admirably, yet it was also responsible for an example of regional news stereotyping which the Games could have done without. In a brief break during an otherwise extremely long day's shooting, a young reporter, interviewing the Samoan Prime Minister, could not help but inject a loaded question about Australia's involvement in [Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands]. The Prime Minister's answer to that question, and not his participation in the Games, became the lead story of the day's news bulletin." Luke James, EurekaStreet.com.au, 20 September 2007.

XM will add South Asian channel.

Posted: 19 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Canada-based Asian Television Network will provide ATN-Asian Radio, a channel on XM satellite radio, for listeners in the United States and Canada. "While the majority of the channel's talk programming will be in English, there will be a substantial amount of content broadcast in South Asian languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi and Sinhalese, among others. ATN-Asian Radio will serve a massive South Asian diaspora in North America with origins in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, East and South Africa, The West Indies and other parts of the world." XM press release, 18 September 2007.

British Council brings play about Iraq War to Los Angeles.

Posted: 18 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Black Watch is based on recent interviews conducted by acclaimed Scottish playwright Gregory Burke with former soldiers who served in Iraq. ... 'Black Watch sheds light on one of the most complicated subjects currently sparking debate in both the United Kingdom and the United States,' said Sharon Memis, director of the British Council USA. 'In addition to being an outstanding example of contemporary Scottish drama, Black Watch offers the opportunity to think critically about our attitudes toward war and the military, the possibilities of intercultural dialogue and the unique relationship between the US and the UK.'" A related event in Los Angeles will be "a white paper and symposium about theater as a conduit for public diplomacy." Elites TV, 17 September 2007. See also British Council press release, 17 September 2007.

Glassman answers Boozman (updated).

Posted: 18 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Using a question by Rep. John Boozman (R., Ark.) to U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker as a peg, new Broadcasting Board of Governors chairman James Glass provides an overview of U.S. international broadcasting, including: "Alhurra has been running stories that jihadist-leaning media like Al Jazeera often ignore or distort. When President Bush spoke at the National Islamic Center in Washington, Alhurra covered it live. Recently, Alhurra has reported on freedom of the press in Yemen and allegations of torture of suspects by the Egyptian police; it has also held televised Town Hall Meetings in Washington and Cairo examining the impact of terrorism throughout the world." Op-ed, Wall Street Journal, 14 September 2007. Update: If you can't access the op-ed at the WSJ, it is also available at American Enterprise Institute, 17 September 2007.

Unexpected content from Iranian broadcasters (updated).

Posted: 17 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Every Monday night at 10 o'clock, Iranians by the millions tune into Channel One to watch the most expensive show ever aired on the Islamic republic's state-owned television. Its elaborate 1940s costumes and European locations are a far cry from the typical Iranian TV fare of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men. But the most surprising thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching tale of European Jews during World War II." Wall Street Journal, 7 September 2007. Update: "The show may reflect an attempt by Iran's leadership to moderate its image as anti-Semitic and to underline a distinction that Iranian officials often make -- that their conflict is with Israel, not with the Jewish people. ... The TV series has been a revelation for some Iranians since it began in April and has pulled viewers away from more popular satellite channels, which are banned but often watched anyway on illegal dishes." Washington Post, 16 September 2007. -- Press TV reports on new Jewish community cultural-sports complex in Tehran. Press TV, 3 September 2007. Reporters sans frontières "voiced concern today about a broadside on the media which the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, delivered during a speech to the Assembly of Experts on 5 September." RSF, 7 September 2007

Post-war words of caution from VOA's first broadcaster.

Posted: 17 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Writing in 1947, [William Harlan] Hale described a world in which the United States—the greatest military and economic power and the unchallenged victor of World War II—was in danger of being seen as arrogant and imperialist. Americans, however, saw themselves very differently, as standing up for what was right and promoting universal values. Does this sound familiar? The paradox of American foreign policy today is that the United States, though more powerful than ever, has rarely been so lost in the world and never more reviled." Anne-Marie Slaughter, Harper's, June 2007. Hale is famous for saying the first words on the Voice of America, in German, on 24 February 1942: "The news may be good. The news may be bad. We shall tell you the truth."

The presidential politics of BBG members.

Posted: 17 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Mark McKinnon is an unpaid adviser to John McCain, but would vote for Barack Obama. "An Obama presidency, he said, 'would send a great message to the country and the world.'" Austin American-Statesman, 16 September 2007. McKinnon is vice chairman of consulting firm Public Strategies, based in Austin. Another BBG member, Edward Kaufman, is president of a different Public Strategies, a political and management consulting firm based in Wilmington, Delaware. He is supporting Joe Biden's presidential bid. See Washington Post, 21 July 2007.

Russia targets British Council as well as BBC.

Posted: 17 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Britain, more than most, is finding the reshaped Russia uncomfortable to live with, with eerie echoes from the past. The BBC World Service disappeared from FM radio last month, after the last station that was retransmitting it, Bolshoye Radio, was told to drop it in a matter of hours or lose its licence. British Council offices have endured repeated tax inspections – the council’s English teaching is said to be a 'commercial activity' – and threats of closure by fire-safety officers." Times Online, 16 September 2007.

Getting the news into Burma.

Posted: 17 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"With state media strictly censored and most Internet news sites blocked, people in increasing numbers are tuning in to the shortwave broadcasts of such international radio stations as the BBC, the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Although the regime blocks most Internet news sites and keeps users under surveillance, those with the know-how are still able to access online services provided by The Irrawaddy, Mizzima and NewEra." The Irrawaddy, 17 September 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Still arguing for Aljazeera English on U.S. cable.

Posted: 16 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Here in America, cable and satellite companies appear to be utterly cowed by the prospect that there might be a negative reaction from viewers who have been manipulated by their own government leaders to see Al-Jazeera as a mouthpiece for terrorists. Even if Al-Jazeera were a mouthpiece for terrorists, which it is not, what right have they to deprive Americans of the ability to come to that judgment for themselves?" Joy Franklin, Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, 16 September 2007. See also interview with Prof. Mohammed el-Nawawy, Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, 16 September 2007.

The Cold War versus now.

Posted: 15 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"In Poland and East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, people had only the choice between their own state-run media and the more enticing state-run media from the West. Arab audiences at the beginning of the 21st century are inundated with choices, not only from land-based broadcasting stations in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman, but also from satellite networks. Al-Hurra and Sawa could not even begin to compete on the open airwaves with such much more attractive and sophisticated stations as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya." Amr Hamzawi, Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-17 September 2007. "The rockets that ended the Cold War had been fired by Radio Free Europe, not by American military." Ion Mihai Pacepa, FrontPage Magazine, 14 September 2007.

Horn of Africa media critic says no news is good news.

Posted: 15 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The most sensible thing we can ask of the BBC, al Jazeera and the likes—and the least they could do to help the Somalis help themselves—is to please give the Somalis a break—to ignore them altogether as they had stoically demonstrated for more than fifteen years—that is before they developed a sudden interest as soon as the momentum for peace kicked in." Getachew K. Reda, Geeska Afrika Online, 15 September 2007.

Pentagon Channel increasingly domestically disseminated.

Posted: 15 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Comcast will begin offering the Pentagon Channel to its digital cable subscribers in the [Washington] metro area starting next Tuesday. The programming, which will appear on channel 185, features Pentagon briefings, Capitol Hill testimony, news shows, special documentaries, profiles of military personnel, a fitness show and programs from Iraq and Afghanistan." Examiner (Washington), 13 September 2007.

BBC eases into the Indian FM market with "infotainment" (updated).

Posted: 15 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"For the first time, listeners in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and later Rourkela will be able to tune in to BBC programming on their new local FM station. Every hour, from 8am to 8pm, the BBC will provide local audiences with its infotainment updates, BBC Ek Minute, taking listeners inside the world of sports and entertainment. Every Sunday, Radio Choklate will re-broadcast the award-winning celebrity chat show, BBC Ek Mulaqat." BBC World Service press release, 7 September 2007. Update: "After syndicating content to Radio One, BBC is making its FM programming available on regional stations across India. BBC has started syndicating its content to Radio Tadka in Jaipur and Udaipur, Radio Tarang in Hissar and Radio Choklate in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack." Indiantelevision.com, 14 September 2007.

China Radio International's new local websites available globally.

Posted: 15 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"On Friday China's official broadcaster, China Radio International (CRI), officially launched online radio service stations in 11 major cities around the world. Nearly 80 hours of programs, in nine languages, will be broadcast daily." China.org.cn, 14 September 2007. See also China Radio International, 14 September 2007. Neither article mentions the URLs. For Washington, it's english.cri.cn/webcast_washington/index.htm -- none too easy to remember. At the top of that page is a pull-down menu that will take you to all of the 11 local sites. Of course, any attempt by VOA to create localized websites in China would be blocked. CRI English celebrates its 60th anniversary with a big cake. CRI, 15 September 2007.

A shortwave mixed bag.

Posted: 15 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"When I visited a couple of Canadian dealers that offer shortwave receivers for sale I noticed that neither carry Sony products. Curious, I checked out Sony's Canadian site. To my surprise nothing was to be found. Sony has long been in the shortwave biz, with some of their portables having reached legendary status in the hobby, such as the ICF2010. Apparently Sony has discontinued most of its shortwave product line, but a look at the US Sony site showed the SW7600GR was still available in the US." Tim Guegen blog, 15 September 2007. "Spin in journalism is nothing new and it exists on shortwave, to be sure. But with a shortwave radio, you can get many different viewpoints in a small amount of time. You might be surprised at some of the things you will hear! If you don’t mind a bit of static and keeping up with languages you may not know well, shortwave is an excellent source of news." Directions in New Media blog, 7 September 2007. Baptist mission workers helping with Hurricane Felix relief in Nicaragua "'have been hectically trying to find shortwave radios. When they get down there, they'll be taking five radios.' ...the shortwave radios provide the only communication from the remote northeast Atlantic coast area after the devastation caused by the hurricane. Plans are to train and certify people in Nicaragua to operate the radios once the mission group leaves." Register-Mail (Galesburg, Illinois), 14 September 2007. The last item probably refers to shortwave transceivers, which transmit as well as receive.

Afghan international channel comes from California (updated).

Posted: 15 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"A small upstart Afghan television station is beaming its Islamic message around the world from a warehouse in Hayward. ... They claim 500,000 viewers locally and on satellite worldwide. Noor TV has gotten e-mail from about 47 countries that watch their programming." KGO-TV, 11 September 2007. Update: In Afghanistan itself: "Saad Mohseni's ... five-year-old company -- which got start-up help from the U.S. Agency for International Development -- owns two of the most-watched television networks in Afghanistan, an FM radio station, a video production house, an ad agency, a music label and a small magazine." Washington Post, 14 September 2007.

Win hearts and minds? First win eyes and ears.

Posted: 14 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
At the 10 September House hearing on progress in Iraq, Rep. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) had this question for U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker: "Boozman: One of the frustrations I've had in traveling the area has been that our Voice of America-type efforts that were so successful in the Soviet Union, that sometimes people in the region have not spoken very highly of these. Can you tell us a little bit about our efforts to get our message to hearts and minds through the media? Crocker: Yes, sir, that is of course something that we've been engaged in since 2003, and as you suggest, with some fairly mixed results in trying to get this right. We've got a couple of vehicles out there for it. One of them is Alhurra, which has, quite frankly as I understand it, has been involved in a few controversies and has gone through high level personnel changes, as well as of course VOA which has been a stalwart all along, as you point out. It's a highly complex media environment that requires having people in place who know how messages resonate and know how to put them together. I was in Iraq in 2003 for several months as we put together the Governing Council and our first media efforts and coming back a little more than four years later, I've been impressed by some of the progress we have made. But to be perfectly frank with you, I think we still have a long way to go, both in Iraq and in the region, in articulating an effective message to Arab audiences." Of course, the "stalwart" VOA no longer has an Arabic Service. But Ambassdor Crocker is not responsible for U.S. international broadcasting, nor is the State Department. However, this exchange might shed some light on the challenges to U.S. international broadcasting. Rep. Boozman mentions "hearts and minds," and Ambassador Crocker speaks of "articulating an effective message." This comes just after the news (see previous post) that the new BBC Arabic channel has purchased satellite earth stations for "daily/hourly contribution feeds ... from four key locations throughout the Middle East." So while U.S. decision makers are thinking about what they want U.S. international broadcasting to accomplish, the BBC is thinking of what the Arab audience wants to accomplish by tuning in. The audience wants news from the source, as it is happening. Alhurra has a 3 1/2 year head start, but the BBC Arabic channel is more likely to become the "station of record" for Arab audiences, the channel to which they will tune when reports on Aljazeera on Alarabiya don't ring true.

Concepts of international broadcasting.

Posted: 14 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Karen Hughes "emphasizes the institutional 'firewalls' between the federal government and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) that oversees U.S. international broadcasting. First, I’m not sure there have been any studies of this, but I’m pretty sure the BBG and the federal government aren’t seen as distinctly separate by their target audiences in the Middle East." Craig Hayden, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 13 September 2007 There is plenty of evidence that the Foreign Office-funded BBC World Service is perceived as independent by most of its audiences. Same for Radio Australia and other Western stations that are part of statutory independent corporations. So the independence can be achieved, in reality and in perception, through decades of credible output. Re Radio Sawa and Radio Farda, Hughes says: "I think it’s important, particularly at a time when there is a great deal of choice in the environment, that we offer a program that’s listened to." Hayden comments: "It’s worth repeating here the anecdotal observations often cited in analysis of these outlets, that when the news comes on these stations, its listeners change the channel. Perhaps an alert reader of this blog can provide some clarification." The beauty part of the Radio Sawa/Radio Farda format is that it is not worth the effort to tune away for the five minutes or so devoted to the newscast. If that newscast is well written and well produced, an impressive amount of information can be imparted during those five minutes. Then multiply that over the many days that listeners tune in to this successful format.

The undoing of U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 14 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Even if the US tries to earn the trust and goodwill of people by various public diplomacy tools, mistakes on the ground, which immediately become visible to people via telecommunication devices, almost nullify those efforts. The war for the soul of Iraq was lost much earlier than the emergence of an organized insurgency. It was lost when broadcasts showed Americans turning a blind eye to the lootings. It was lost when the Abu Ghraib atrocities were tolerated. The US was seen as no different from other colonial powers, vehemently pursuing its own national interests with little respect for others." Ali H. Aslan, Journal of Turkish Weekly, 14 September 2007. And any attempt to spin these events, or to subject audiences to a one-sided news service, would just make things worse. On the other hand, a straight, balanced, non-public-diplomacy approach to international broadcasting would at least gain some respect for the United States because of its honest, straightforward approach. And the more positive news about U.S. activities in the Middle East would be believed. The audiences would also be impressed by coverage of the debate about these events within the United States. Even if the audience identifies with the opposition rather than the administration, they are still identifying with the United States.

DW back in Malta.

Posted: 14 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle crew was in Malta "to film sequences mainly involving tenor Joseph Calleja’s life here. ... In all, seven one-minute clips are to be produced." The Malta Independent, 14 September 2007. The time length suggests paid spots rather than news reports. Coincidentally, Malta is the site of a former DW shortwave and medium wave relay station.

International radio relevant in recent Burma unrest.

Posted: 14 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Photos and videos of the recent demonstrations have been smuggled out to the exile media, which have sent their reports and images back by radio, satellite TV and the Internet. Domestic media are tightly controlled by the junta and have little public credibility, so many people get their news from overseas. The establishment of the foreign-based radio stations and use of the Internet have meant that information about the protests has flowed more widely and rapidly than during past challenges to the government." AP, 14 September 2007. "The threat of a monk boycott of junta members was reported on the Myanmar-language services of the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Thailand-based news organisation." Reuters, 14 September 2007. See previous post about same subject.See previous post about same subject.

Iran's Press TV commissions Zogby poll in the United States.

Posted: 13 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
It finds that "42.5 percent of the respondents believed that the Bush Administration knew about the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center but did nothing to prevent the attacks." Press TV, 11 September 2007. But only(?) nine percent believe the 9/11 attacks "were carried out by the U.S. government." Zogby International press release, 11 September 2007. "That's cool, the Iranians paying Zogby to do a poll, comes out 42% believe that Bush either knew or allowed 9/11 to happen." Rush Limbaugh Show, 12 September 2007.

New CNN business program for the Middle East; other regions to follow.

Posted: 13 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The weekly 'CNN Marketplace Middle East' will begin broadcasting on September 28 ... It is expected that similar regional shows for business audiences in China, India and Latin America will be rolled out at a later date. Only 15 minutes long, the new programme will target the global business community and will cover the Middle East's stock, currency, commodity and bond markets as well the latest business news." Brand Republic, 13 September 2007.

In the U.K., as in the U.S., listening to World Service tends to be an overnight activity.

Posted: 13 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
UK mother of newborn says: "Last night she didn’t sleep at all between 11pm and 2.15am, then woke up again at 4am until 6am and then was awake again at 7.30am. I’m listening to a lot of the BBC World Service so am quite expert on foreign policy and the General Petraeus testimonies." The Times, 13 September 2007. She is referring to World Service on BBC Radio Four from 1:00 a.m. to 5:20 a.m.

EU PD to US.

Posted: 13 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"In an effort to engage communications with the American public, the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States has partnered with Blue Water Media, a leading provider of publication web design solutions, to increase access and visibility to the EU website (http://www.eurunion.org). ... The new EU website will provide a host of new resources that will provide the public with news subscriptions, podcasts, message boards and calendars, newsletters, and tons of dynamic content." Press release, 13 September 2007

China's internet firewall is subject of a BBC radio play.

Posted: 13 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Seven Wonders of the Divided World," on BBC Radio 3, 9 September, consisted of seven mini dramas that "explored barriers between people across the globe." In one, "Thomas Crowe examined a boundary in cyber-space, The Great Firewall of China. But as filters sifted out material on the internet thought provocative by Chinese rulers, it was clear how constraints to free thought can be as daunting as solid walls." The Stage, 10 September 2007. Listen via Drama on 3 website before this weekend.

Weaknesses in China's internet firewall?

Posted: 13 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
New study investigates China's internet firewall and "discovered that it’s least effective when many Chinese are online at once, and also that the idea of the firewall is often more potent than the firewall itself." Digital Trends, 13 September 2007. "The government uses the pretext of watching people to encourage them to censor themselves because they think they're being watched." Computerworld, 12 September 2007. "We found that sometimes [it takes a few hops within China to get blocked], up to 13 hops. Some paths weren't filtered at all." eWeek, 12 September 2007. "On about 28% of the paths into China's net tested by the researchers, blocking failed altogether suggesting that web users would browse unencumbered at least some of the time." BBC News, 12 September 2007. "The work will be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery Computer and Communications Security Conference in Alexandria, Va., Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 2007." UC David press release, 11 September 2007. "Last week, ahead of China's Communist Party Congress next month, government officials reportedly took aim at a handful of interactive, user-generated Chinese Web 2.0 sites, shutting down the Internet data servers that support them. This news comes from Free Radio Asia, which, surprise, isn't available here. That hasn't stopped Chinese bloggers from buzzing about it." SFGate, 11 September 2007. Chinese official says the "United States and other Western countries use advanced technology 'to create an information hegemony' and relay unfavorable news from China, raising the risk of social instability. These countries 'have made the Internet a very important channel to infiltrate our politics, strengthening the delivery of Western democracy and values,' he added. 'More and more frequently, they organize writers to create bad information, exaggerating things that are inharmonious with our development and raise the specter of the China threat on the international scene.'" Washington Post, 12 September 2007.

"Surrogate" stations getting news from the source.

Posted: 12 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq correspondents in Iraq provide eyewitness assessments of the security situation "as top U.S. officials brief Congress this week on how well the troop surge strategy is working in Baghdad and central Iraq." RFE/RL News, 11 September 2007. RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan interviews Taliban spokesman again, this time about Hamid Karzai's offer of negotitations. RFE/RL, 10 September 2007. "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that residents of Oltiaryq district in Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley took to the streets on September 3 to protest against rising food prices." Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 11 September 2007. Burmnese "government troops and hired gunmen blocked the protesters, Radio Free Asia reported from Bangkok. One monk told the radio service that attackers rounded up fleeing monks with lassos and beat them with truncheons and rifle butts." Washington Post, 12 December 2007. Burma news from RFA also cited by Reuters, 12 September 2007.

Newt's idea of public diplomacy.

Posted: 12 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"It's relatively easy to imagine how an alternative history of the last six years might have involved the following key decisions having been taken and systematically implemented" ... including a decision "that since a sound effort to defeat the terrorists would have to begin with the support of allies and world opinion, great effort was going to have to be made to mobilize and sustain world opinion and to work closely with every government willing to fight to sustain civilization and the rule of law. The lessons of World War II and the Cold War in developing both overt and covert Public Diplomacy were applied to winning this new struggle." Newt Gingrich, Human Events, 11 September 2007. But great effort was made, including expensive new broadcasting and public diplomacy initiatives. But world opinion about the United States still plummeted, because no amount of propaganda can undo the negative reaction to unpopular policies. Also, the real lesson of World War II and the Cold War is that audiences for international broadcasting just want the reliable, credible news they are not getting from their domestic sources. But instead of that, Gingrich is perhaps thinking of a whopping huge budget increase to send more message (A), to audience (B), to bring about desired effects (C). It won't work, because audience (B) will be watching the BBC, to get the reliable, credible news they are not getting from their domestic sources.

U.S. public diplomacy to the Arabs: back to the drawing board.

Posted: 12 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"For Americans to understand the Arab world, they need to read what these indigenous Arabs write, understand what they watch, and listen to Arab academics rather than to heads of government. With an unprecedented rise in Arab discontent toward the US taking place, it is time for Washington to recognize the shortcomings of its public diplomacy efforts and try anew." Mohamed Elmenshawy, Christian Science Monitor, 11 September 2007.

U.S. music as U.S. public diplomacy (updated).

Posted: 12 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"'I'm less interested in telling people, 'This is what's great about America; jazz represents democracy,' " says [Ari Roland of the Ari Roland Quartet]. Rather, 'I'm interested in hitting on some of the very basic human themes that exist in jazz.' Yet, as a State Department-funded musician, his purpose is to at least show audiences how diverse, gloriously cacophonous, and ultimately cool the United States really is. ... President Dwight Eisenhower began sending jazz musicians abroad during the cold war as an answer to the Soviet cultural institutions like the Bolshoi Ballet. The government also broadcast American music on Radio Free Europe." Christian Science Monitor, 6 September 2007. Oops, Voice of America actually transmitted more jazz than RFE. But "Radio Free Europe" is a more memorable name than "Voice of America." See previous post about jazz. Update: "With other orthodox public diplomacy techniques apparently failing to render the desired fruits, the Bush administration seems to be invoking the Cold War strategy of using musicians to win lost hearts." And so the "funk infused" band Ozomatli will visit Indian subcontinent and key Arab countries. InFocus, September 2007.

China's public diplomacy not so great after all?

Posted: 12 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"As China prepares to celebrate its emergence as a global power at next year's Olympic Games, a rash of recent American and international opinion polls suggest that the Asian giant faces an uphill battle to convince the world it is worthy of its new status. And it is more than just a question of food or toys. Beijing's task is made harder, say Chinese and foreign analysts, because the ruling Communist Party has so far failed to learn the new ropes of international public diplomacy." Christian Science Monitor, 12 September 2007.
Contrasts with Joshua Kurlantzick's recent book, which is more impressed with China's "soft power." See previous post.

Duke, Dizzy, and Willis (updated).

Posted: 11 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Elliot[t] School of International Affairs at The George Washington University presents: Duke, Dizzy, and Diplomacy, Monday, September 17th, 2007, 3:00pm. This free public forum will explore the impact and importance jazz has had on promoting democratic values throughout the world. ... The discussion will be followed by a Tribute Concert to honor the late Willis Conover, originator and former host of the Voice of America’s Jazz program." USC Center on Public Affairs. Update: See also GWU Elliott School calendar. Concert information at Shortwave Central, 6 September 2007.  Cuban-American musician Arturo Sandoval "started listening to a jazz program on Voice of America radio -- landing him in jail during his military service." Miami Herald, 10 September 2007.

Sunnis' shifted hatred is "greatest public diplomacy triumph."

Posted: 11 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Whatever might have been the case in 2003, in 2007 we're fighting for our national security. Even if al-Qaeda didn't have a single operative in Iraq four and a half years ago — a proposition that remains in dispute — the terrorists subsequently declared it their main front. The move was a grave error for al-Qaeda. After a honeymoon in which Sunni insurgents allied themselves with foreign extremists, Iraqis found the severity and blood thirst of al-Qaeda in Iraq a far more insidious threat than the U.S. presence. Sunnis began to rally to the American side in an alliance of convenience. As a result, al-Qaeda is suffering not only a massive defeat but also a strategic humiliation. This violent rejection of al-Qaeda by fellow Sunni Muslims amounts to the greatest American public diplomacy triumph since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001." Ralph Peters, USA Today, (ahem) 11 September 2007.

Al-Qaeda's internet problems.

Posted: 11 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"From concept to published audio/video Internet distribution, al-Qaeda senior leadership must rely on several layers and linkages between them in order to get the message out via various Internet servers and networks for instant global dissemination. Each link has inherent security reliance and thus accompanying security risk." Steve Schipper, FrontPage Magazine, 11 September 2007. See previous post about same subject.

CNN drops Reuters (updated again).

Posted: 10 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"'To advantage CNN in the content marketplace and manage the continually rising costs associated with acquired assets, we are making significant investments in our own news gathering while simultaneously reducing our reliance on agency material,' Tony Maddox, executive vice president of CNN International, said." Reuters, 30 August 2007. Online television platform Jalipo adds CNN International. mad.co.uk, 28 August 2007. "There can be no question that CNN internationally, as opposed perhaps to US domestic that doesn’t have that much foreign coverage unless something big happens, is really going to miss Reuters and it means, simply, that there will now be times when the competition will beat CNN simply because it did not have that Reuters resource. No doubt CNN has decided to take its chances and hope that AP Television News is good enough." Philip Stone, followthemedia.com, 7 September 2007. Update: CNN did not immediately have excerpt of Osama Bin Laden video because it dropped its contract with Reuters.New York Times, 10 September 2007.

Radio Netherlands will be well placed in Washington.

Posted: 09 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Washington's public radio station WAMU, 88.5 MHz FM, will exile its Sunday bluegrass programming to its digital HD-2 channel. Other programs, mostly public-service, spoken-word programming will take over on WAMU's analog service (the one that most radios can hear), including Radio Netherlands' "The State We're In," Sundays at 4:00 p.m. WAMU's HD-3 channel will have extended BBC news programming. See WAMU website and new schedule.

Dodd opposed to both TV and Radio Martí.

Posted: 09 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Senator Chris Dodd, candidate for Democratic presidential nomination, would "shut down the 17-year-old TV Martí, a U.S. government-run television station that broadcasts to Cuba" adding that "taxpayers should not spend money on Radio Martí, a companion to the television station that virtually no one in Cuba sees." AP, 9 September 2007. Radio Martí probably is heard in Cuban by those who have shortwave radios. Any country with controlled domestic media needs an outside source of news about itself. Radio Martí provides this. More economically, so would VOA Spanish transmissions targeted to Cuba.

The international news channels are great, if you can watch them.

Posted: 09 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"In the last couple of years, there has been an increase in the number of free-to-air current affairs and news channels in the English language transmitted from satellites. Al Jazeera is one of them. In Europe this is usually via Hotbird, part of Eutelsat and, France 24 (Dec 2006) and Russia Today (spring 2005). It is good to have these alternative news providers in the age of globalization and international unrest. Apart from CNN and BBC World we also have China’s CCTV-9 and the pan European EuroNews. We need them. It gives viewers an opportunity to listen to world news from a non-Anglo-American perspective." Camen N. Pedrosa. The Philippine Star, 9 September 2007. "Why won’t cable carry [Aljazeera English]? It’s not fear of the Al-Jazeera name, say cable operators — there’s simply no demand for a world news channel in the U.S. That’s as irresponsible as it is silly." Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star, 8 September 2007.

Part of former VOA Bethany station will be university campus.

Posted: 08 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Miami University officials broke ground Wednesday on the $7.5 million Voice of America Learning Center in West Chester Township [Ohio]. Scheduled to open in January 2009, the 23,000-square-foot building will offer a professional MBA program from the Farmer School of Business, graduate courses in education and psychology and undergraduate courses in nursing. The center also will include a media studio and training space that can be used by local employers. The center will be built on 20 acres of decommissioned Voice of America relay station land the university received in 2000." Cincinnati Enquirer, 5 September 2007. See also Western-Star (Dayton), 6 September 2007. And Miami University press release, 27 August 2007.

Mysteries of the Osama Bin Laden video.

Posted: 08 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Soon after Washington announced it had the video, all the Islamic militant Web sites that usually carry statements from al-Qaida went down and were inaccessible, in an unprecedented shutdown. The reason for the shutdown was not immediately known. Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News terrorism expert, said he suspected it was the work of al-Qaida itself, trying to find how the video leaked to U.S. officials. 'For them this is totally disruptive that the U.S. government could have a copy before their targeted audience does,' he said. 'They could be concerned and trying to plug the leak quickly.'" NBC News, 8 September 2007. "Since 9/11, the US has a number of non-governmental Al Qaeda watchers, who have been doing tremendous service to the cause of the war against global jihad by systematically monitoring the various Internet sites known to be used by Al Qaeda, its propaganda and PSYWAR wing calleed As Sahab and other pro-Al Qaeda organisations and drawing the attention of the international community and their policy makers to significant statements and developments. Many of them are very proficient in their command of the Arabic language and are also experts in information technology. Every time Al Qaeda and As Sahab have come out with an important statement or announcement, it is this community of voluntary Al Qaeda watchers, which has detected the imminence of the coming statement or announcement and alerted the public and the policy-makers. This community excelled itself even more than in the past on September 7, 2007. when it not only detected a brief alert issued by As Sahab regarding the imminence of a new video message by Osama bin Laden----the first since October,2004--- but even managed to get a copy of the video and put out its English transcript even before As Sahab could disseminate it through the Internet and the Al Jazeera TV station." B. Raman, Outlook India, 8 September 2007.

Why there will probably never be a George W. Bush School of Public Diplomacy.

Posted: 08 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Bush calls APEC "OPEC," refers to Australian forces as "Austrian," and almost fell off the dais. AP, 7 September 2007. Gets into testy exchange with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun. AP, 7 September 2007. Transcript and video. USA Today, 7 September 2007. "We're kicking ass." The Age, 6 September 2007. More to come? "The lame-duck two-termer is scheduling an exhausting year of focus on international relations and foreign travel that will keep him out of the country." ABC News, 7 September 2007.

Polls say the darndest things.

Posted: 08 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service poll in 22 countries -- widely cited by other news media -- shows most want U.S.-led forces to withdraw from Iraq. BBC News, 7 September 2007. See also BBC World Service press release, 7 September 2007. Chart on home page of the redesigned website of InterMedia -- corporation that evolved from the old RFE/RL research office in Munich and still handles most audience research for U.S. international broadcasting -- show favorability towards the United States deteriorating in Turkey since 2004. InterMedia website. Keep clicking refresh until you see that chart. "The United States is making progress in delegitimizing terrorism, but at the same time it is increasingly viewed as an aggressive and hostile power by much of the Muslim world – a fact that complicates counter-terrorism efforts." From “Are We Winning? Measuring Progress in the Struggle Against Violent Jihadism,” new report by the American Security Project. See also ASP Press release, 5 September 2007.

DW-TV's investigative journalism.

Posted: 08 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"In Belgium, there are fears that young people in many estates and even rural villages have fallen under the influence of Islamist extremists. The following video from Deutsche Welle's DW-TV (which we found on No Pasaran) shows an investigation into life in Muslim areas which have become 'no go zones' for non-Muslims." EUROSOC, 7 September 2007.

Direct-to-home satellite services to Africa expand.

Posted: 08 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"My TV distributes a bouquet of programming offering a mix of movies, sports, music, children’s, news and general interest channels to subscribers across sub-Saharan Africa. The company will utilize the Intelsat 10 satellite’s Ku-band payload to expand its programming, which currently includes MGM Channel, BBC World, Setanta Sports, Fox Sports, National Geographic Adventure, Trace TV, MCM Top, Baby TV, TéléTOON, Fashion TV and Africa Independent Television (AIT)." Intelsat press release, 6 September 2007.

Over here, we have caps that hold beer cans.

Posted: 08 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"'People to the Olympic Games have to wear a cap to shelter the summer sunlight anyway, if the cap happens to be a radio for the Olympic events, how can they refuse?' Xu Jun, director of the Olympic Radio of the China Radio International (CRI), said. ... The round-the-clock radio programs are to be transmitted to the caps in ... Chinese, English, Russian, French, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Korean and German, and will be largely from the CRI's Olympic Radio." Xinhua, 6 September 2007. CRI hosts one of the stages at this weekend's Beijing Pop Festival. China Daily, 7 September 2007. BBC reporter detained and question when trying to report from village of Shengyou. BBC News, 7 September 2007. "Wikipedia's English site is again blocked in China--possibly due to upcoming Communist Party Congress." IDG News Service, 6 September 2007.

Lieberman "upset" at Senate reduction in funding for Iran democracy promotion.

Posted: 06 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Senator Joseph Lieberman: "I was extremely upset when the [Senate appropriations subcommittee] came in with $25 million [down from Administration request of $75 million]. Part of their argument is that money from America is dangerous for Iranian dissidents or civil society groups to accept. But most of this is given through third parties in any case and my argument is, 'Let the Iranian groups themselves decide.' ... The $75 million is part of a $109 million request for Iran that includes funding for U.S. broadcasting into the country by the Radio Farda and Voice of America Persian services." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 6 September 2007. "This government seems to want to take Iran backward instead of forward. But there will be an effective system set up for distributing this money, and I don't know that I can talk about it too much more; but I think that groups that are interested will know how to find their way to this support, and perhaps people from the State Department and others will come on Radio Farda and explain in more detail." Lieberman, interviewed by Radio Farda, 5 September 2007.

For a change, good news from Iran (updated).

Posted: 06 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz Azima "banned from leaving Iran for the past seven months has been given permission to leave the country. [She] collected her passport from authorities today and told Radio Farda she would leave Iran in the near future. Iranian officials have charged Azima with spreading propaganda against the Iranian state." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 4 September 2007. Update: RFE/RL, BBG welcome return of Azima's passport. RFE/RL press release, 5 September 2007. See also RFE/RL News, 6 September 2007. Bail not returned. Her case is still open. RFE/RL News, 5 September 2007. We can breathe again when she's finally actually out of Iran.

Kudos for the VOA makeup lady.

Posted: 06 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"I was sweating in high sun light and summer heat on Washington streets before I was in VOA building. We were served with glass of chilled water at the makeup room and a very friendly woman came with her broad smile to welcome me inside the makeup room. I was so amazed to witness the skill and perfection of the makeup-woman who finished her job just in few minutes. I remembered those makeup men in Bangladesh, who used to work for my television channel spending hours in finishing make-up of each of the individual." Blitz (Dhaka), 6 September 2007.

BBC World's idea of a Walter Cronkite.

Posted: 06 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has decided a British voice is best suited for its upcoming newscast aimed at Americans. BBC correspondent Matt Frei was named anchor of 'BBC World News America,' becoming the face of BBC America’s new hour-long newscast launching Oct. 1. ... 'It think it will make for an intersting, slightly more detached view. Irreverent, but never dull.'" Variety, 6 September 2007. "He has a keen nose for a story." Media Guardian, 5 September 2007. "A second daily US newscast, World News Today, will go out at 10pm Eastern - 7pm in the West - and be presented by Philippa Thomas." Digital Spy, 5 September 2007.

New product line promises lower cost DRM (updated).

Posted: 06 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"With coverage from the low AM frequencies through to high L-band, the MSI001 allows creation of radios which support DRM along with other radio standards." And lower power consumption. Tech-On!, 5 September 2007. Update: At the IBC in Amsterdam, DRM receivers Morphy Richards, Blackfin, Himalaya, RadioScape, Bosch/Blaupunkt, WiNRADiO and Starwaves are on display. Radio Today.co.uk, 6 September 2007. See also Electronicstalk, 7 September 2007.

Hardballs or softballs? Senior State Department official interviewed by senior RFE/RL broadcasters.

Posted: 05 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"I just want to thank again the men and women of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty for what they're doing to bring objective, truthful information into parts of the world where the government is denying that information to their own people. And Iran is the number one country in question where there is censorship and where the government routinely tries to deny its people the right to understand what other countries think and are doing. I think RFE/RL has a great and significant role to play; and Jeff [Gedmin, president of RFE/RL Inc], under your direction, we know it's going to be a great success." R. Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, State Department press release, 5 September 2007. "We are about ideas. We are about democratic and liberal values, and we believe in 'soft power' and in the art of persuasion. We believe that these ideas and values are universal in their application, and while each country, according to its own preferences, traditions, and culture, will choose its way, we do believe -- I believe -- that given a choice between dictatorship and freedom, most people on this planet will choose freedom." Jeffrey Gedmin, interviewed by Czech Radio 6, 23 June 2007, via RFE/RL website.

VOA likened to Telesur.

Posted: 05 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Question to Bart Jones, author of Hugo: The Hugo Chavez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution: "What do you think about Hugo's funding of the Telesur network to counter foreign world media in Latin America and what are your thoughts about the US Government getting upset by this venture (however leftist it might be) in freedom of media expression in South America? Thanks. Bart Jones: Well, Chavez obviously wants to counter what he sees as the bias of some international television networks, and it would seem that if he has the money to do so, he has the right to pursue that. The United States does a similar thing through the Voice of America, in the sense that it presents a particular viewpoint, so I'm not sure they are on solid ground if they complain." Washington Post Book Work online discussion, 4 September 2007.

Rare sighting: "shortwave" and "sound quality" in the same sentence.

Posted: 05 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
In the development of car radios, now 75 years old, a milestone in 1952 was "the introduction of the short-wave radio that led to a significantly improved sound quality." Earthtimes.org, 5 September 2007. I like shortwave, but I would never claim that it improved sound quality over medium wave (AM). I think this is a mistranslation of ultra-shortwave, or, in German, Ultra-Kurzwelle (UKW), an early designation for FM. That said, Blaupunkt, the manufacturer featured in this article, was one of the few to make car radios with actual shortwave bands. Often it would be only the 6 MHz, or 49 meter, band. This "Europa band" is useful for intra-European broadcasting during daylight, when medium wave does not propagate over long distances.

Don't let the facts get in the way of your polemic.

Posted: 05 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
From review of Michael Ledeen, The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction: "Surely, he is right about the shameful ineffectiveness of Voice of America and Radio Farda, which should be performing a vital role in unifying Iranian dissenters." Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review Online, 4 September 2007. The most recent telephone survey into Iran yielded a past-week audience of 27% for VOA television and radio, and 13% for Radio Farda. Numbers that good are rarely seen international broadcasting. Apropos: "Israeli official in more than 25 years to directly address the people of Iran via live television. Danoch appeared on 'Roundtable With You,' a Persian-language call-in program that features interviews with newsmakers and personalities in the news. The show is broadcast by the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, D.C. It airs nightly to an audience of about 20 million to 25 million viewers in Iran and worldwide." Jewish Journal, 4 September 2007. "The Iranian people should be reassured of America’s intentions and encouraged to work for true democracy in their country through a Radio Free Iran broadcasts in the spirit of the Polish Solidarity movement that was so effective in undermining communism and the Soviets in Eastern Europe." Jonathan Strong, The Strong Conservative, 4 September 2007. Thus diluting U.S. resources and talent for broadcasting to Iran, although some Washington insiders will welcome the new layer of senior plum jobs. Audiences in Iran are seeking the news (and music) they can't get from their controlled domestic media, not a U.S. station that presumes to tell Iranians that they ought to be free and how they should go about becoming free.

Botswana local pols grumble about VOA relay site.

Posted: 04 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
One Francistown city council member asks telecommunications officials, "how much do you monitor their content to protect other countries surrounding us?" Another felt that "VOA was just here to monitor African countries" and wonders why VOA is heard when telephone callers are put on hold. Mmegi/The Reporter (Gabarone), 3 September 2007. A transmitting site would make a lousy monitoring site, because of the nearby RF causing interference. And that would also explain hearing VOA while on hold.

Taxi drivers who listen to international radio are "learned."

Posted: 04 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"I learn a great deal from taxi-drivers wherever I go. Taxi-drivers in Abu Dhabi, mostly from Pakistan, listen to the Urdu programs of BBC and Voice of America dutifully, so a discussion of Pakistani politics with them is always rewarding. In last one year, I have seen a steep decline of the popularity of President Pervez Musharraf among them. Singapore cabbies are a great source of knowledge ranging from local political economy to international politics. They are sometimes critical of Singapore's founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew. This is ironical, because Lee's pragmatic policy of 24 hours BBC world service on tap, along with his emphasis on education are some of the reasons why Singapore cabbies are so learned." Habibul Haque Khondker, The Daily Star (Dhaka), 3 September 2007. In Singapore, the writer refers to the 24-hour availability of BBC World Service on FM.

Foreign television tuning tips for UK viewers.

Posted: 04 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"While there is no French language TV on Freeview channels satellite viewers can receive the 24-hour news service France 24 on the standard BSkyB/Astra digital satellite. The more adventurous can follow the continental example and point a satellite dish at the Eutelsat Hotbird, which transmits free-to-view German domestic services plus the TV5 French-language service. It is also possible to receive the French domestic channels, unencrypted, from a satellite further west, Atlantic Bird 3 at 5 degrees west." Phil Ashby, letter to The Guardian, 3 September 2007.

If your country must be a "brand," how to promote it.

Posted: 04 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
From review of Monocle Magazine article: "Export your ethnic food and your wine or beer. If it becomes hip, so will your country. Also, spiff up your national airline. Make the planes run on time and tell the flight attendants to be pleasant, and the jet set will love you. And build an international retail chain. After all, look what Ikea did for Sweden. ... Is this good advice? I don't know. But I'm sure it's better to pay $10 for the magazine than millions for the consultants. Monocle interviews the consultants, and they don't seem like they're worth that much." Peter Carlson, Washington Post, 4 September 2007.

VOA needs English (translations).

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The problem is that the [Broadcasting Board of Governors] cannot properly oversee VOA because— get this — the agency does not produce English transcripts of its broadcasts. Let me say that another way: The agency tasked with overseeing the broadcasts that American taxpayers pay to create cannot do its job because the broadcasts aren't translated into our native language." Doug Wilson., Townhall.com, 3 September 2007. Back translation of all VOA content would introduce a huge bureaucracy, rivaling in cost the broadcasting effort itself. A more fiscally responsible solution: 1) Hire good journalists, proficient in the language, as language service chiefs, 2) maintain a program review process that evaluates a random selection of the service's content, 3) respond to complaints as they occur, and 4) continue to keep audio files of all content in each language. It has been said that a live video stream of Alhurra would be too expensive. But why not an audio stream?

America is a great country because its children are fat.

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"'The Profiles Series,' an award-winning educational television program dedicated to informative, educational programming, announced today that it will produce a special-edition program on overcoming childhood obesity in America. ... Covering a variety of topics including health, medical, business, and environmental issues, The Profiles Series can be seen on cable networks nationwide, and internationally on Voice of America Television." Profile Productions press release, 2 September 2007.

VOA's "overzealous" U.S. audience.

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Indeed, the Voice of America (VoA) radio and TV outlets that are bankrolled by the US government, do not broadcast on US soil, except for overzealous Americans who access the channel through web browsing. The country feeds on a lacklustre national version of Time Warner’s Cable News Network (CNN) not the engaging CNN International broadcast we know here. But the news coverage and item selection on native media struck us in the face: The most important news item on most local radio, TV and print media in the US is weather followed by traffic up dates and showbiz. Most of the news coverage is introspective; the media only covers local events in host communities and states – very rarely including national news items unless such events have direct bearing on the indigenous communities. And there is very minimal focus on international news." Tabu Butagira, Sunday Monitor (Kampala), 2 September 2007.

A U.S. public diplomacy citizens' auxiliary.

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"For the many Americans who work in non-profit organizations or in higher education, or who are enrolled in a college or a university, there are incredible opportunities for engagement. According to recent polls, US non-profits and educational institutions are viewed very favorably by foreign publics, particularly in the Middle East." Hady Amr and Steven W. Barnes, Daily Star (Beirut), 3 September 2007. As this article is clearly addressed to Americans, it would be helpful if this could be placed in a U.S. publication.

House bill would triple funding for U.S. public diplomacy to China.

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"US-China Diplomatic Expansion Act of 2007 ... triples funding for public diplomacy, boosts funding for a range of language, student and teacher exchange programs." China Daily, 3 September 2007. See also Rep. Mark Steven Kirk press release, 1 August 2007. H.R. 3272 would also increase funding for the "public diplomacy information technology infrastructure in the People’s Republic of China."

What U.S. public diplomacy is up against.

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The professional TV channels across the Middle East such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, with their viewing audiences in the tens of millions, are reporting daily on the carnage. The end result is an enduring perception across the Muslim world of the Iraq War as an out-and-out occupation of a major Arab state by a superpower that is determined to maintain control of the Persian Gulf region because it has nearly two-thirds of all the world's remaining oil." Paul Rogers, Yorkshire Post, 3 September 2007.

Washington shop sells adapters, and tries to adapt.

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Eport World specializes in 220-volt electronic gear for use use overseas. "When record players were expensive and harder to find outside the United States, Iranian VIPs would show up and load 50 at a time into a fleet of limousines. The end of the Cold War brought busloads of Russian delegates who visited the family's Export Electronics shop to stock up on electronics that were out of reach back home." Washington Post, 3 September 2007.

Is this the future of shortwave?

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
The Etón P9110 is an AM/FM/Shortwave radio, with "a flashlight, cell phone charger, siren, red strobe, and a hand crank so you can keep it powered." autoblog, 2 September 2007. In disaster or crisis situations, when local broadcasting, the internet, call phone networks, etc., go out of service due to overuse or deliberate damage, analog shortwave radios such as these may be the only working source of information. But will there still be shortwave broadcast transmitters to provide that information? Analog is more rubust than digital DRM in difficult reception conditions, and (for now) analog receivers are cheaper, simpler, and and consume less power. See also Etón website.

DRM: without receivers, is it radio?

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Kai Ludwig reports from the IFA broadcasting and electronics trade show in Berlin. Kai attended a session on Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), a new digital standard for shortwave, medium wave, and long wave broadcasting. Peter Senger, director of the DRM consortium, said that Taiwan manufacturer Sangean has withdrawn its planned DRM receiver, and referred the audience to Sangean for details. According to Kai, Senger regrets the overly optimistic announcements made two years ago about the availability of DRM receivers. Most of the session dealt with DRM+, a VHF version of DRM that could replace analog FM. Sangean's decision not to bring its DRM-40 is unfortunate for the DRM movement. I've used a prototype DRM-40, and it worked very well. Very few other standalone DRM receivers exist, e.g. the Morphy Richards 27024. Kai also reports that Deutschlandradio management has decided not to spend the 100,000 Euros necessary to restore its 6005 kHz shortwave transmitter, damaged by fire.

¿Como? BBC promotes Spanish in the United States, English in China (updated).

Posted: 03 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"ImpreMedia, the leading Spanish-language newspaper publisher in the United States, has joined forces with the BBC's Latin American service, BBC Mundo, to support the use of Spanish in Hispanic communities across the US." BBC World Service press release, 21 August 2007. Visitors to China's leading web portal, sina.com.cn, can now learn English with the BBC. The site offers its users direct access to the BBC Learning English content specially tailored for Chinese-speakers. ... 'We are delighted to partner with sina.com.cn to provide quality English learning content in China.'" BBC World Service press release, 21 August 2007. No mention here that the main BBC site is still blocked in China. Update: "The BBC is set to expand its online audiences in China thanks to a partnership agreement with the official portal of Xinjiang Province in Northwest China." BBC World Service press release, 29 August 2007.

Russia inserts its public diplomacy.

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Russia has redesigned its newspaper insert in The Washington Post (and probably other U.S. newspapers). The name of the 10-page supplement is now Russia: Beyond the Headlines. The 30 August issue includes a look back at the Cuban Missile Crisis and a schedule of Voice of Russia shortwave broadcasts to North America. See it online via Washington Post, 30 August 2007 or www.rbth.rg.ru. "As bad as Soviet propaganda was, it was always good enough that you could hum along to the strains of its martial music, but the amateurism of this supplement carries no tune. It's a bad sign for the Putin regime if it thinks this expensive PR exercise will elicit anything but laughter from the West." Jack Shafer, Slate, 30 August 2007.

Pridnestrovie calling the world.

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
From "unrecognized republic of Pridnestrovie," a.k.a. Transnistria and Transdniester, "propaganda-station 'Radio PMR' has expanded its international broadcast schedule. It now broadcasts in six languages for sixteen hours a day. The signal is reached in Africa, Australia, Asia, USA and South America. ... Radio PMR uses radio infrastructure which was inherited from a propaganda radio which was established by the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. Crude in the extreme, the broadcasts at the time were unable to convince foreign listeners of the benefits of living in the 'Workers' Paradise' and the Soviet Union ultimately lost its struggle with the West for the hearts and minds of listeners." English at 1700-1720 UTC on 6235 kHz shortwave. Tiraspol Times, 31 August 2007.

Denver viewers pick up Moscow, London, Berlin, and Paris on channel 12.

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Programming on KBDI, Denver's "alternative" public television station, "includes Russia Today, noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and fresh editions of BBC World News at 6:30 and 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can find DW-Journal, a German news show, at 11:30 p.m. daily, and France 24 News at 5 p.m. daily. All shows are aired in English." Rocky Mountain News, 1 September 2007.

Ecuador joins Telesur consortium.

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"Ecuador signed an agreement Thursday to acquire a 5 percent share of Venezuelan TV network Telesur. The two-year-old, Caracas-based station, which is supported by the Venezuelan government, has similar agreements with left-leaning governments in other Latin American nations: Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua." AP, 30 August 2007.

Join the club: Taiwan plans English-language international television channel (updated).

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Taiwan's "Government Information Office (GIO) will launch a new English-language TV channel next year to promote Taiwan." Spokesman says "initially the channel would be operated as a private firm with government funding" and that "the government would not get involved in the management, although the channel would rely on the government for funds. The GIO will eventually make the channel an independent TV station." Taipei Times, 9 August 2007. Update: "China's success in making itself heard in the international media must not be underestimated. In a situation where our adversary is winning the propaganda war, Taiwan needs to consider what it can do to redress the balance. Simply establishing an international TV channel will not be enough." Weber Lai, Taipei Times, 31 August 2007.

Another year of BOBs from DW.

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"DW-WORLD announces the start of the Best of the Blogs Awards, best known as The BOBs. The competition seeks to recognize ground-breaking bloggers and promote freedom of information worldwide." Deutsche Welle, 31 August 2007. Reporters sans frontières is again a partner. RSF, 31 August 2007. "Deutsche Welle says usage of its audio-visual items via the Internet by listeners and viewers has reached five million visits per month." Focus Information Agency, 31 August 2007.

Inuits connected via shortwave.

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
Canadian Inuit grandmother "was fascinated by the family's short-wave radio, forever tuning the dial through the crackling static in the hope of catching a few minutes of music or sound from the Inuit of Greenland on the BBC. 'We would be playing outside and she'd call us and she'd say: 'Come, come and listen to your faraway relatives! Listen to their singing!'" Granddaughter Mary Simon, at age 22, "moved to Montreal as an announcer and producer for the CBC's Northern Service." Globe and Mail, 31 August 2007. The CBC Northern Service transmitted on shortwave to remote areas on Canada, in English, French, and indigenous languages. The grandmother probably did not hear Inuit from the BBC, but more likely from Greenland's former shortwave broadcasts, or from the CBC Northern Service itself.

French international broadcasting to be rationalized? (updated again)

Posted: 01 Sep 2007   Print   Send a link
"The government intends to settle the tricky issue of foreign radio and television broadcasting by the end of the year. And for a very good reason, 300 million euros are spent each year to finance the various uncoordinated entities which make it up. Ranging from TV5 to France 24, without forgetting RFI or CFI." Le Figaro, 27 August 2007. "Radio France International (RFI) went back on the air in Niger, having been silenced by the authorities for a month." AFP, 23 August 2007. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner: "The fragmentation of our international audiovisual system, its lack of coherence, means and visibility merit a general reflection. By the end of the year, together with the culture ministry, I would like to have completed a proposal for a structure regrouping the operators TV5, France 24 and RFI and mobilizing them for new objectives including a common Internet portal." Reuters, 27 August 2007. "During my stay in Baghdad I could once again notice the huge impact of Arab and US TV channels. Owing to the lack of a strong French international broadcasting network we are not heard as we should. The scattering [in many operators] of our international broadcasting system, its lack of coherence, of resources and visibility require a global assessment. By the end of this year I would like to see a proposal jointly agreed [by all broadcasters] to bring together the operators – TV5, France 24, RFI – and to marshall their energy for new objectives such as a major common Internet portal" France diplomatie, 27 August 2007 (translated by Morand Fachot). Update: President Sarkozy: "The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has the same means as France's overseas broadcast media, but a much stronger visibility and influence. This is not about copying a model, but about creating the conditions for a coordinated and efficient conduct of our overseas broadcast policy (radio, television and Internet)." AFP, 31 August 2007. "Mali has one of the most vibrant and free press in the West Africa region and its newspapers have been filled with comment on the situation since the first attack last week, although journalists say they still rely on French broadcaster Radio France Internationale and the Agence France Presse for substantive news about events in the north." IRIN, 31 August 2007.