And, no, the spokesman is not Goofy (updated).

Posted: 31 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State in partnership with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts premiered 'Welcome: Portraits of America,' a multi-media initiative to welcome international visitors to the United States. The donation from Disney included a seven-minute film and hundreds of still images, featuring American people from all regions and walks of life." State Department press release, 22 October 2007. "It will be shown starting this week at Washington Dulles International Airport and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport." Orlando Sentinel, 23 October 2007. "Travel industry leaders lauded a new partnership between Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and the U.S. Government to welcome international visitors, calling it 'a major contribution to improve America’s image.'" Travel Industry Association press release, 23 October 2007. Update: "Walt Disney Co. chose to include footage of only the Horseshoe Falls, most of which lies on the Canadian side of the border. The video fails to show the American and Bridal Veil falls, the two cascades entirely within the Unites States." Buffalo News, 31 October 2007.

Feel-good public diplomacy.

Posted: 31 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Navy hospital ship Comfort succeeded as a public relations tool but fell short of realizing its public health potential during a four-month tour of 12 South and Central American countries, critics say. ... Bush adviser Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs ... initiated the Comfort’s medical diplomacy mission after visiting Latin American leaders in 2006 and finding that they felt ignored by the U.S. She said publicity was a central objective of the mission from the start." AP, 31 October 2007. Based on stories in the Baltimore Sun, 28 October and 29 October 2007.

"New channels galore as BBC aims to rule the world."

Posted: 31 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, is to launch a further 30 channels internationally, as well as a high-definition outlet and an on-demand service in the United States, as part of the next stage of its aggressive expansion plan. ... 'We are not doing expat channels any more.'" The Guardian, 29 October 2007. "Critics have hit out at these spiralling ambitions claiming it is behaving more like a global media empire than a public service broadcaster." thisislondon.co.uk, 30 October 2007.

Should Americans listen to VOA to get all the news?

Posted: 31 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Legislation strengthening the 1973 War Powers Act which (if successful) could mean a showdown on the separation of powers before the Supreme Court. This showdown may determine once and for all the limits of the president to order American troops into battle. ... The media, except for one story in a local North Carolina paper and one story from Voice of America, completely ignored [the sponsors'] announcement." Chris Weigant, Huffington Post, 29 October 2007.

Hulu: un-international broadcasting.

Posted: 31 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"NBC Universal and News Corp. have launched a beta version of Hulu, an advertising-driven Web site where users can view for free television shows, clips and movies. ... Although statements announcing Hulu's beta roll-out said it is a site that allows people to see their favorite videos 'anywhere,' only viewers in the United States are currently able to see Hulu clips, a restriction reportedly designed to protect international broadcasting rights. Many who responded to the call for comments were unhappy about that." E-Commerce Times, 29 October 2007. "Popular series, such as Lost, 24 and The Sopranos, tend to be shown first in the US and then later in different countries. But Jason Kilar, chief executive of the Hulu venture, which launches in test phase on Monday, said the explosion of online video made it inevitable the TV industry would also move towards simultaneous global distribution." Financial Times, 30 October 2007.

Notes on Dipnotes (the new State Department blog).

Posted: 30 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"While short postings from Karen Hughes or updates on official diplomatic activities yield scant interest, provocative topics like 'Should the United States play a role in the creation of a Palestinian State?' or a discussion of how to convince nations to stop the violence in Burma draw in the most respondents. These kinds of posts are not only a way to invite more participation in the foreign policy conversation; they are a means for the State Department to gauge global public opinion in a way that moves beyond polling." Craig Hayden, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 24 October 2007. State Alumni website live chat with Karen Hughes. State Department press release, 24 October 2007.

A critique of VOA's critique of "Rendition."

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Rendition, the gripping new movie by award-winning South African director Gavin Hood, is suffering the fate of many good political films -- damned by faint praise. ... The Voice of America is distributing a review that claims that Rendition 'is drowning in the blank stares of a hapless CIA agent {Jake Gyllenhaal} and the whimpers of a helpless soccer mom {Reese Witherspoon}.' You did know that the Voice of America does movie reviews, didn't you?" Marc Norton, BeyondChron.org, 28 October 2007. See also the review by Penelope Poulou, VOA News, 22 October 2007. If VOA firmly positions itself as an independent news entity, reviews such as this are appropriate. But if VOA is to be a platypus duckbill, combining news and public diplomacy, then VOA reviews of films, plays, books, etc. on matters of political significance become problematic.

Radio Farda listeners respond to new U.S. sanctions.

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The announcement of new U.S. sanctions against Iran, including the designation of the elite Quds Force as a terrorist group, has spurred a wave of strong responses from Iranians across the political spectrum. ... In emails and phone calls to Radio Farda, some listeners and web users have welcomed the move as a step in the right direction -- while others have voiced concerns that ordinary Iranians will be hurt by the U.S. sanctions." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 26 October 2007.

Reporter who formerly worked for VOA and RFE/RL Uzbek killed in Kyrgyzstan (updated).

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"An unknown gunman fired three shots at Alisher Saipov at close range as he was leaving his office in the city of Osh." AP, 25 October 2007. "He wrote extensively about torture in Uzbek President Islam Karimov's prisons, about the clampdown on dissent and the plight of the Uzbek refugees living in Kyrgyzstan." BBC News, 25 October 2007. VOA director Danforth Austin: "We are all deeply saddened by Alisher's brutal death but firmly resolved to continue reporting events in Kyrgyzstan and throughout Central Asia." Voice of America press release, 24 October 2007. Update: "In his reports for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and various regional websites, Alisher wrote endlessly about torture in Karimov's prisons, the brutal clampdown on dissent, the climate of fear and the total economic collapse of Central Asia's most populous state." Natalia Antelava, Central Asia Correspondent for the BBC, The Observer, 28 October 2007.

"Snack size" international television via mobile in Hong Kong.

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Hong Kong mobile operator Smartone-Vodafone has launched its 'high-definition' 3G mobile TV service with a dig at other operators’ 'rehashed free terrestrial TV programmes'. ... Programming will be in the form of 'snack size' shows 'ideal for those moments in the day when you have some down time or traveling to and from work.' ... Channels include Animax, BBC World, Bloomberg TV, Chinese News [sic -- what is this?], CNBC and CNN International, as well as Cartoon Network cartoons and a movie news channel." Rapid TV News, 28 October 2007.

Pubs fined for showing Aljazeera.

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Television and football chiefs have launched a crackdown on hundreds of Scottish pubs and clubs who draw in huge crowds by showing major games without paying a penny to the broadcasters. ... Justine Thomson, who runs The Mallard in Perth, had been showing football broadcast by Doha-based channel al-Jazeera before being caught." The Scotsman, 28 October 2007.

U.S. Government will argue against more shortwave spectrum for broadcasting (updated again).

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
At the World Radiocommunication Conference starting in Geneva on 22 October: "Shortwave broadcasters such as the BBC and Defense users such as the Navy will battle at the WRC over spectrum used for high-frequency communications in the 4 to 10 MHz bands... . The broadcasters want to use this band to replace their scratchy and noisy analog broadcasts with a new digital service that will provide near FM-radio quality. But the Navy wants to use HF bands - underutilized since the demise of Morse code - to support the broadcast of data over new IP-based services at far less cost than sending data by satellite. ...except for the European Union, countries are heading into the WRC aligned with the U.S. position to not allow an expansion of shortwave broadcasting in the HF band." Government Executive, 15 October 2007. European spokesman: "It’s clear that the USA is using quasi technical arguments that are only of political nature and do not have any technical justification." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 18 October 2007. Update: "European nations at the conference represented by the 48-member European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrators advocate allocating portions of the HF band to digital shortwave broadcasting by stations such as the BBC in the UK and Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Germany. [John Grimes, assistant secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration] said the United States is 'standing hard' on any incursions by broadcasters into the HF bands used by Defense and military forces in other countries, including some in Europe." Government Executive, 25 October 2007.

BBC, RNW going multimedia to South Asia.

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Going beyond its traditional medium of radio, BBC is looking at opportunities in the new media market -- Internet, mobile phones and FM radio -- in South Asia. It is also trying to produce a majority of its regional language programmes locally." Khabrein.info, 24 October 2007. "After a long-term presence in India with short wave and satellite radio broadcasts, Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) now aims to expand its activities in India. Keeping in mind the rapid growth of the number of FM stations and multimedia platforms in India, Radio Netherlands has now decided to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with Indian media organisations." exchange4media.com, 25 October 2007.

BBC's Alan Johnston recalls kidnapping ordeal.

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"As we turned a corner, there, standing in a garden, was my old friend and colleague, Fayed Abu Shamalla of the BBC Arabic service. Only then did I know that my kidnap was over, and that I was free." BBC News, 25 October 2007. "Alan Johnston has spent the past four months 'enjoying his freedom', but expects to return to a post within BBC World Service in London in the New Year." Press Gazette, 26 October 2007.

President Bush, addresing Cuba via Radio/TV Martí, yearns for the days when the ruling class did not live in mansions.

Posted: 28 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Housing for many ordinary Cubans is in very poor condition, while the ruling class lives in mansions. ... All nations can make tangible efforts to show public support for those who love freedom on the island. ...They can use their lobbies of the embassies to give Cubans access to the Internet and to books and to magazines. ... At this moment, my words are being transmitted into — live into Cuba by media outlets in the free world — including Radio and TV Marti. To those Cubans who are listening — perhaps at great risk — I would like to speak to you directly. Some of you are members of the Cuban military, or the police, or officials in the government. You may have once believed in the revolution. Now you can see its failure. When Cubans rise up to demand their liberty, they — they — the liberty they deserve, you've got to make a choice. Will you defend a disgraced and dying order by using force against your own people? Or will you embrace your people's desire for change?" White House transcript, 24 October 2007. "His address was broadcast into Cuba by Radio Marti and TV Marti. Addressing Cubans directly, watching and listening 'perhaps at great risk,' he issued what may be the strongest call for resistance ever delivered by a U.S. president — even reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's 'tear down this wall' speech in Berlin." Editorial, Investor's Business Daily, 24 October 2007. "The arrogant and interventionist tone, the ignorance about the island's reality and its history, the obvious manipulation of facts, the speculation about violence did not make for a great speech. ... Ironically, the President got his wish and his counterproductive speech did get to the Cuban people through the island's own newspapers and TV stations - and with the blessing of the Communist government. What that says about his message is a different matter." Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News, 28 October 2007. And just four days later, the IBB shortwave transmitting station at Delano, California, used by Radio Martí. Even in this age of modern technologies, the best way to overcome attempts to block information is to transmit via shortwave, on as many frequencies as possible, from as many sites as possible. As of 28 October, one of those sites is gone.

Delano's last day (corrected).

Posted: 25 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
The final day of transmission from the IBB shortwave transmitting station at Delano, California, will be as follows (times UTC, frequencies in kHz)...

UTC 27 October:
1600-2400 13820 Radio Martí
2100-2130 21555 VOA Creole

UTC 28 October:
0030-0200 9560 VOA Spanish
0200-0230 5890 Radio Thailand English
0230-0330 5890 Radio Thailand Thai

The last VOA English from Delano will be VOA Special English, UTC 27 October (Friday evening, 26 October, U.S. time) at 0130-0200 UTC on 13740. (Special English is Monday through Friday only to the Americas.)

Thanks to Glenn Hauser for corrections: VOA Creole is 2100-2130 UTC, not 1700-1730, Radio Martí is on 13820, not 13740. Glenn also reminds us that Friday evening EDT will be the last broadcast of the long-standing Buenas Noches, América program on VOA Spanish (0130-0200 UTC).

New twist in the case of VOA stringer in Kosovo.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Kosovo police said Tuesday that reported attack on Vesna Bojicic most likely did not take place." B92, 23 October 2007. "Witnesses interviewed by the police said they saw Bojicic in a night club in Gracanica that night, while others said they tried to help her after she was involved in a traffic accident the next morning." B92, 24 October 2007. Kosovo Police Service says it has "'reasons to believe that VOA correspondent Vesna Bojicic has issued false statements' about the incident in which she was allegedly attacked by masked, unidentified assailants. ... Bojicic has denied all these claims, and expressed surprise that police could have started an investigation without even talking to her first. 'I don’t know how the police can say something like this when they haven’t even interviewed me yet'." Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, 25 October 2007. See also VOA News, 23 October 2007. See previous post about same subject.

VOA stringer honored.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
International Women's Media Federation "Lifetime Achievement Award went to a journalist from Zimbabwe who contributes to the Voice of America and also writes for British, South African and US news organizations. Peta Thornycroft reports on human rights abuses and government repression despite the difficulties journalists face in Zimbabwe." VOA News, 24 October 2007.

The Dalai Lama, multimedia via VOA (updated).

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"As Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal today, Voice of America (VOA) broadcast the award ceremony and the Dalai Lama's acceptance speech live to Tibet via radio, television, and the Internet." VOA press release, 17 October 2007. A live telecast of the award ceremony broadcast by Voice of America Tibetan TV was shown on a large screen at Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, India. Phayul.com, 16 October 2007. Update: "The Voice of America broadcast the Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony live to Tibet via radio, television and the internet last Wednesday, although it is unclear how many Tibetans would have been able to witness the broadcast, given high levels of jamming of VOA’s service to Tibetan areas, especially towns and cities, by the Chinese authorities. One report indicated that satellite receivers in Amdo may have been confiscated over the past week in order to attempt to prevent viewing of the ceremony." International Campaign for Tibet, 23 October 2007.

Radio Netherlands after Flevo.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
The Radio Netherlands transmission schedule effective 28 October shows, as previously reported, no transmissions from its site in Flevo, the Netherlands. RNW will be using its Bonaire and Madagascar relays, and leased facilities in other countries. RNW itself is leasing (or bartering) time to other stations, such as "IBB" (presumably Radio Farda) via Madagascar at 0500-0600 UTC, and China Radio International in Spanish via Bonaire at 0000-0100. Radio Netherlands, 23 October 2007. By cutting transmissions from Flevo, "we are saving money, and as a bonus the ability to split our transmissions across more sites means that some listeners can expect stronger signals. Also, we have cut out a few hours of Dutch transmissions where the listening audience was quite small, and boosted other transmissions with additional frequencies." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 23 October 2007.

He wants a "Radio Free America."

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Cold War supplies a precedent. If the corporate mass media will not provide the American public with accurate and unbiased national and world news, then perhaps the foreign media might serve this purpose. The Guardian of the United Kingdom is doing so splendidly with its American edition. The BBC news, which is available on TV cable and satellite, and the CBC, which can be accessed close to the Canadian border, understandably broadcast news about their own respective countries. Expanded coverage of news of special interest to American audiences would be much appreciated. The US government might protest. But official Soviet protests did not silence Radio Free Europe or The Voice of America." Ernest Partridge, Democratic Underground, 23 October 2007. The new "BBC World News America" might fit his bill, but is probably not (yet) available on his local cable system. (By the way, for all those unpenetrated parts of North America, BBC could put the audio portion of BBCWNA on shortwave, with adverts.) In the meantime, there is the BBC News Americas web page. And, no, the U.S. government won't protest.

Alhurra reporter caught up in debate on women driving.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Nawal Al Shalhoub, wife of the Saudi Consul General in Dubai, said during a panel discussion about women and public affairs ... it is OK for her not to drive in Saudi Arabia. Nadine Al Bedair, a Saudi presenter and producer of Al Hurra TV, who was in the audience at the Emirates Towers, responded: 'She doesn't have the right to speak on behalf of all Saudi women who don't have any social or political rights. It's humiliating to say that.'" Gulf News ,21 October 2007.

RFE/RL correspondent in Baghdad missing since 22 October.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The correspondent, who works for RFE/RL's Arabic-language Radio Free Iraq, was on her way to an interview but never arrived. Police found the body of her driver shot and dumped in the street. Their car remains missing." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 22 October 2007. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 23 October 2007. RFE/RL will host conference "What Unites And What Divides Us? Tough Questions For Islam And The West." Obcanský institut, 23 October 2007.

Cultural sensitivity is the universal language.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Soldiers with Charlie Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., on Thursday after 15 months on the job in Iraq. ... Many of the soldiers do not have advanced language training, but are trained to be culturally sensitive... . The company supported a variety of missions, including those of the 4th Psychological Operations Group for which they conducted 18 leaflet drops." Army Times, 23 October 2007.

DW and NPR in new partnership.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle (DW) and National Public Radio (NPR) have announced a unique partnership that will allow additional radio listeners in several locations worldwide to hear programming from Deutsche Welle, Germany’s news broadcaster. NPR Worldwide and NPR’s Berlin FM station, NPR FM 104.1 have launched a one-hour block of DW-RADIO’s English program including 'Inside Europe' and a specially repackaged version of 'Quadriga', the weekly talk show produced for DW-TV." Deutsche Welle press release, 22 October 2007. Even with this agreement, U.S. public radio outlets for DW content are likely to remain sparse. DW is no longer transmitting in English or German on shortwave to North America. The best bet now is the internet live stream and on-demand offerings at www.dw-world.de.

America calling Russia, with Israeli help.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. must reach over the heads of the Russian leadership to the people of Russia through a comprehensive public diplomacy strategy via the Internet, international broadcasters, visitor programs, and exchanges, to debunk the myth that the U.S. is hostile to Russia. The U.S. may reach out to the Russian-language talent which is currently available in Israel to get help in broadcasting and communications." Ariel Cohen, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 23 October 2007. Recall that, in 1990, Israel did not allow construction of a VOA shortwave relay station, with interference to migrating birds as one of the stated reasons. See American University case study.

Radio Luxembourg as "Radio Free Europe in reverse."

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Presley's performance of 'Heartbreak Hotel' — the only performance that mattered — was first heard mainly on the jukeboxes of dance halls and coffee bars and on the nightly English-language broadcasts of Radio Luxembourg, a clear-channel commercial station that provided the youth of Britain with a service comparable to that of Radio Free Europe in reverse. It was five hundred miles from Luxembourg to Liverpool, but on most nights the signal carried tolerably well, accompanied by just enough static to enhance the aura of mystery that surrounded rock 'n' roll. Thirteen years after the release of 'Heartbreak Hotel,' a leading theorist of mass communications asked a leading practitioner of mass communications how he got his start. 'I heard Elvis Presley,' John Lennon told Marshall McLuhan. 'There were a lot of other things going on, but that was the conversion. I kind of dropped everything.'" Excerpt from Jonathan Gould, Can't Buy Me Love, USA Today, 21 October 2007.

At Etón, the accent is on shortwave radios (and on the second syllable).

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Essentially, Etón makes a radio that can be used wherever you are and in an appropriate size. If you want to listen to broadcasting worldwide, you'll need a short-wave radio." Maggie O'Sullivan, The Telegraph, 22 October 2007. Meaning that if you are in a place with no internet access, or no satellite dish, you can still get news from distant places using a portable shortwave radio. See also Etón Corporation website.

Routing around China's net censorship.

Posted: 24 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"For all its ambition, the gears of the giant surveillance machine keep getting fouled with sand. On one side of the Great Firewall, a small industry is sprouting up, dedicated to evading blocks and monitors. Libertarian software engineers, enterprising students, banned religious groups, and regular for-profit companies compete with one another to launch new downloadable tools that outfox the censors. They exploit proxy servers, deploy encryption technology, and ferret out holes in the wall. ... Their techniques confirm John Gilmore's adage: 'The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.' Oliver August, Wired, 23 October 2007. "If none of these techniques gain you access the outside world, throw away your computer and get a shortwave radio." Foreign Policy, October 2007.

BBC World versus CNN International.

Posted: 21 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has for far too long been obsessed with a 'me too' philosophy which compels it to do EVERYTHING that any other broadcaster does. For example there is CNN so the BBC feels compelled to have BBC World which it can't resource enough to be an effective competitor. If a news story breaks over the weekend BBC World is often hours behind its competitors. Why not combine BBC World and News 24 for much of the time and simply put some adverts on the international feed?" david119, The Guardian, 19 October 2007.

Radio Free Asia, unfettered in Cambodia.

Posted: 21 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"A recent report details the challenges faced by Cambodians working for Radio Free Asia (RFA) – the country’s only major media outlet not controlled by the government." International Journalists' Network, 19 October 2007. Disreagrds VOA Khmer, on the same Phnom Penh FM station as RFA Khmer. The said report, however, does not not overlook VOA: "RFA and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America are neck and neck in claiming the country’s largest listening audience... . Established in Cambodia soon after Hun Sen launched his 1997 coup, RFA immediately introduced a new, grassroots style of radio reporting, including on-the-ground sound bites from people affected by the news. ... This unfettered approach to the news has, over the years, lured listeners away from state-controlled stations, which still focus on senior government officials’ statements and activities." Committee to Protect Journalists, 10 October 2007.

Karen Hughes: education and exchange programs "most important" public diplomacy tool (updated).

Posted: 21 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"I believe that our education and exchange programs have proven to be our single-most important public diplomacy tool over the past years–that's why I've worked to dramatically expand them." U.S. State Department, 18 October 2007. "A number of people told me pretty frankly this job was 'Mission Impossible' –to take on America's public diplomacy at a time of war and rising anti-Americanism, with misinformation, propaganda, and vitriolic criticism being directed against us on everything from the internet to satellite television." U.S. State Department, 18 October 2007. Update: "To perform in [the United States], foreign artists of all stripes -- punk rockers, ballet dancers, folk musicians, acrobats -- are funneled through a one-size-fits-all 'nonimmigrant' visa process whose costs and complications have become prohibitive, according to booking agents, managers and presenters. ... Presenters say it is virtually impossible to bring in Burmese or Cuban artists. Performers from Iran, Syria and North Korea undergo especially tough scrutiny. But recently it has become trickier for virtually any foreign artist to get a visa. This summer, Ella Baff, executive director of Jacob's Pillow, the venerable dance festival in Massachusetts, said she had trouble bringing in a visiting scholar from Montreal." Washington Post, 20 October 2007.

The U.S. "shared values" ads, and a discussion of propaganda (updated).

Posted: 21 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"One of the hallmarks of propaganda is that its practitioners are wholly preoccupied with the question of whether their message 'works' and are indifferent to the question of whether their message is 'true.' At the risk of sounding like a moralist and scold, I believe that honesty is important in communications, even if dishonest messages sometimes 'produce the results we want.'" Sheldon Rampton, Center for Media & Democracy, 17 October 2007. Update: "Believe or not, America is more Muslim-friendly since 9/11, and more so than the rest of the western world. ... America does not need to spend millions of dollars on public relations campaigns at Al-Jazeera and other satellite networks in the Middle East to promote a positive image." Mahmoud El-Yousseph, Atlantic Free Press, 20 Octover 2007.

"Why Democracy" films get airplay on international channels.

Posted: 21 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
The documentary film Egypt: We Are Watching You "was produced by the 'Why Democracy?' project, a global media campaign launched this month to provoke discussion concerning the conditions of governance facing people from different societies and cultures, as well as the broader understanding of democracy. Ten one-hour films made by award-winning independent filmmakers, with subjects ranging from US torture methods to the election of a class monitor in a Chinese primary school to the Danish cartoon scandal, in addition to 20 short films on similar topics, are being aired around the world on over 40 broadcast channels. Egypt: We Are Watching You ... will be shown on BBC World on 20 October and on the Al-Arabiya on 5 November." Al-Ahram Weekly, 18 October 2007. See also BBC World Why Democracy web page.

Hostages listened to VOA.

Posted: 20 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Very few good things came out of 9/11. One of them might have been that Gracia Burnham was freed. The Burnhams, despite their captivity, actually were able to listen to Voice of America that day; before they went to bed that night they sang the Star Spangled Banner softly, Gracia says in one of the many interviews she did for this show." Cable360Net, 19 October 2007. VOA broke news of 1982 football stadium stampede in Moscow. uefa.com, 19 October 2007.

VOA loses FM outlet in Puntland.

Posted: 20 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Somali authorities in the semiautonomous Puntland region shut down a community-based radio station in the region's capital on Friday. Puntland police stormed the compound of Radio Garowe at 5pm local time and ordered the radio to get off the air. ... Radio Garowe, based in the Puntland capital, rebroadcasts Voice of America's Somali and English programs daily to a local audience." Garowe Online, 19 October 2007. A good substitute would have been the IBB Kavala relay, with a good shortwave signal to northeastern Africa, and whose medium wave (1260 kHz) was often heard there. The BBG closed Kavala in the spring of 2006.

Burma: still broadcasting into, but more difficult to get information out of.

Posted: 20 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"For Aye Chan Naing, director of the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma, the suppression of both the voices of the public and of journalists in Burma has made the double-checking of information all the more difficult. 'While we still have regular communication with our reporters on the ground, getting accurate information is getting to be a challenge,' he said. But people are still turning to shortwave radio to listen to broadcasts by the Burmese media abroad. 'The military may be aware of this, but this does not prevent people from listening to the BBC, Democratic Voice of Burma or Radio Free Asia,' said Network Media Group editor Moe Zaw. All these stations can be accessed via shortwave radio at certain times of the day. At best, they get more information from sources in the border areas." Inter Press Service, 19 October 2007.

The dangerous profession of international broadcasting.

Posted: 19 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"A longtime Voice of America (VOA) freelance reporter was beaten and threatened in her home in Kosovo early Tuesday morning in retaliation for her reporting. The journalist, Vesna Bojicic, has vowed to keep reporting despite the threats." VOA press release, 17 October 2007. "Veton Elshani, spokesman for the Kosovo international police service, said they have not opened an investigation because Bojicic has not reported the assault." UPI, 18 October 2007.

BBC domestic reorganization, job cuts, strike threat.

Posted: 19 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
Includes "the amalgamation of the BBC's television, radio and online newsrooms in an attempt to avoid duplication. BBC bosses have said that in the future, they envision journalists filing news for all media lines." CBC News, 18 October 2007. With a budget increase for BBC Global News, presumably the world services will not suffer job cuts. But the world services make use of BBC central newsroom output, which will be affected. See also journalism.co.uk, 18 October 2007. And BBC press release, 18 October 2007.

French international broadcasting moves toward rationalization, and maybe new brand.

Posted: 19 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"An internal report commissioned by Radio France International management has proposed a merger with international news channel France 24 within two years. The move would be made in three stages, beginning with the co-operation of the two news teams, the bringing together of the staff on a single site, and finally the merger of the teams and statutes into a new company. Most controversially, the report’s authors call for the creation of a new brand for the merged organization." Broadband TV News, 18 October 2007. RFI's trade union unhappy. AFP, 18 October 2007. Re Sarkozy's private life: "'French journalists, unlike Anglo-Saxon journalists, believe that full disclosure is not desirable,' said Loic Hervouet, Radio France Internationale's ombudsman, in a story published on the France 24 all-news TV station's website. 'Such information is considered pure fluff.'" CanWest, 17 October 2007.

Zimbabwe official: "Nothing wrong with Studio 7."

Posted: 19 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Alfred Mandere, chief executive officer of state owned transmission company, Transmedia, surprised ruling party MPs when he said there was nothing wrong with villagers listening to Studio7, the Voice of America programme beamed into Zimbabwe from Washington. Government calls Studio7 a 'pirate station', and has listed it as one of a number of stations it says are part of a Western 'regime change' plot. Mandere told legislators ZBH should encourage the use of short-wave in areas beyond its FM broadcasts. 'But they would end up listening to Studio7,' said ZANU PF Chitungwiza Senator Forbes Magadu. To which Mandere replied: 'There is nothing wrong with Studio7.'" Financial Gazette, 18 October 2007.
See also VOA News, 18 October 2007.

Remembering Radio Solidarnosc, 25 years ago.

Posted: 19 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Zbyszek and I were wondering what music ringtone we should choose. We considered such pathetic compositions as ‘The Revolutionary Étude’ by Chopin. However, Zosia Romanowska warned us against it and tried to convince us that it should be a catchy melody. At last she said, ‘Since we have war let it be a fragment of the song performed during the Nazi occupation, ‘Siekiera, motyka...’ [Axe, hoe]." Niedziela, 18 October 2007.

Broadcasts to North Korea: trust but cross-check.

Posted: 19 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"In regards to whether the North Korean people are likely to believe what they hear in South Korean broadcasts, [Open Radio for North Korea president Ha Tae Kyung] replied that 'often in a country of dictatorship, the people trust rumors more than their official broadcasts. In the case of our foreign broadcast, because we have multiple sources and the Voice of America – radio for Asia [sic -- probably Radio Free Asia], they can cross-check each with the other. The trust level goes up when they listen to the same story from all these different kinds of broadcasts.'" The Daily NK, 18 October 2007.

BBC World loses money, but will carry on (updated).

Posted: 17 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Bosses have also come under fire over their refusal to axe the BBC World news channel, which loses up to £15 million a year. Despite the fact that BBC World carries advertising its losses cost the corporation up to 25 pence on every pound of revenue. In 2004, Michael Grade, then the chairman of the BBC, threatened BBC World with closure saying it 'can't go on sustaining losses'. However, the corporation says BBC World is too important to be closed." thisislondon.co.uk, 15 October 2007. "The scale of the losses incurred by BBC World, the BBC’s worst performing service, is similar to the savings that the corporation’s news division is being asked to find, expected to amount to £100 million over six years. ... The Times understands that BBC World will not be earmarked for closure when Mark Thompson, the Director-General, presents a five-year plan for the corporation this week. He is expected to announce about 2,600 job losses on Thursday, including as many as 600 in BBC News." The Times, 15 October 2007. Update: BBC World, its commercially funded, international 24-hour news channel which broadcasts in more than 200 countries, BBC World Service and World Service radio will not directly be affected by the cuts, and BBC Worldwide is Europe's most successful exporter of television programmes. Reuters, 16 October 2007. "BBC staff could strike as early as the end of November if the corporation goes ahead and sends out redundancy notices tomorrow, broadcasting unions warned today." Media Guardian, 18 October 2007. So the BBC world services would not be affected by the budget cuts, but would presumably be involved in the threatened strike. And at about the time of the debut of the BBC Arabic television channel.

Net censorship update.

Posted: 17 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Burma is not alone in seeking to control what its citizens do online, although the severity of the controls there is exceptional even among more repressive regimes. And every country has to face the question of how much it tries to control what people can say or do online." Bill Thompson, BBC News, 17 October 2007. "Government repression in some countries has shifted from journalists to bloggers, with the vitality of the Internet triggering a more focused crackdown as blogs increasingly take the place of mainstream news media." Washington Post, 17 October 2007. "Charging that a top Yahoo! Inc. official provided incorrect information regarding a Chinese human rights case to Congress, the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday called on the company’s leadership to appear before the panel." The Hill, 16 October 2007.

France 24 and BBC in a "Gallic philosophical debate" about objectivity (updated).

Posted: 16 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
Alain de Pouzilhac, chief executive of France 24, says the BBC's claim of objectivity is "BS." Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News, responded: "France 24 was explicitly set up by the French President to convey a French view of events. The BBC World Service has never set out to portray a British view." The Independent, 15 October 2007. Update: "French international channel France 24 plans to extend its Arabic channel from four to 12 hours by next January. The managing board of the channel is currently trying to convince the French state to give the service €5 million more, that would add €3 million to the Arabic service. France 24 argues that compared to BBC Worldwide, which will pour €36 million into its Arab news channel, its needs are much cheaper, but needs more to stay in the international course." Rapid TV News, 16 October 2007.

Israel, USA calling Iran (updated).

Posted: 15 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Israel Broadcasting Authority has begun formalizing a proposal initiated by Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman to broadcast Persian and Azeri language programming to residents of Iran. The plan is to bring breaking news and reruns to Iranians 24 hours a day via a television channel, a radio station and an internet Web site." Ha'aretz, 9 October 2007. No mention of the IBA Persian radio broadcasts to Iran that have been on the air for several years. "A coalition spearheaded by an Iranian-American group Thursday urged Congress to cut 75 million dollars in funding for democracy promotion in Iran, saying it did more harm than good." AFP, 12 October 2007. Update: "Iranians have already benefited immeasurably from democracy funding, especially from the Persian-language broadcasts by Voice of America television and Radio Farda ('Tomorrow'), for which a majority of the $75 million at issue now is allocated. These broadcasts offer news and perspectives to the Iranian public that they would not otherwise have, including news regarding developments inside their own country. The broadcasts are popular with millions of diverse Iranians and have successfully broken the Islamic Republic's attempt to isolate the country from external sources of information. The Iranian regime could not be happier to see its popular nemeses -- VOA television and Radio Farda -- exterminated by Iranian Americans and others purporting to do good." Akbar Atri, Wall Street Journal, 15 October 2007.

BBC set to promote its global channels.

Posted: 15 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC Global Channels has confirmed its international planning and buying business has been awarded to Mediaedge:cia. The account will be managed from London by MEC’s international division Global Solutions. It has been tasked with helping the channel devise a global communications plan and to work on launch campaigns as the business rolls-out across Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa." mad.co.uk, 15 October 2007.

BBC World taken off a direct-to-home satellite service in India.

Posted: 15 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The private channels that were recently disconnected from DD Direct Plus include Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, BBC World, Star Utsav and Akash Bangla, sources said. 'These private channels failed to pay Rs one crore in annual carriage fees that Prasar Bharati had demanded for space on DD Direct. That’s why they were disconnected,' a source in Doordarshan said." Business Standard, 15 October 2007. About $250,000 by my calculation.

Does Burma need a dose of Indian soft power?

Posted: 15 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"No other country has more of a reservoir of soft power assets in Myanmar than India. Today, the democracy movement there is led by a woman who once lived in India, and is the author of a book called Burma and India: Some Aspects of Intellectual Life under Colonialism. We should not squander these soft power resources by letting our obsession with economic growth and energy security and our security establishment’s inclination to put counter-insurgency ahead of conflict resolution stand in the way of a more imaginative Myanmar policy." Sanjib Baruah, The Telegraph (Kolkata), 15 October 2007.

Big plans for the new African news channel A24 (uploaded).

Posted: 15 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
It "will have breaking news, analysis and a platform to share ideas between Africans wherever they are. It will use a range of distribution methods and the channel bosses plan to encourage its audience to send user-generated content to its Nairobi headquarters. Eventually, A24 will run 46 news bureaus across Africa." Chris Cramer (former managing director of CNN International), The Age (Melbourne), 11 October 2007. This article does not mention apparent competitor SABC News International. Update: "A24 ... will encourage intra-African dialogue by presenting relevant stories told by African journalists, going beyond the litany of disease, poverty, and corruption. Instead, A24 will explore investment, development, and trade, among other subjects — areas frequently ignored by the world’s media." The East African, 15 October 2007.

CPC provides CRI, with refreshments.

Posted: 15 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
The media center of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, "with a web portal of www.cpcnews.cn, provides journalists with free Internet access, free news photos taken by the State-run Xinhua News Agency, free audio-video signals from China Central Television, China National Radio and China Radio International, as well as free soft drinks." Xinhua, 14 October 2007. "China's televisions, radios and websites are going to live cover the opening ceremony of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. Monday. ... China Radio International (CRI) is scheduled to broadcast in a wide variety of languages such as mandarin Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, German, Arabic, Japanese, Korean and Mongolian." Xinhua, 14 October 2007.

Satellite television to Israel is disrupted, apparently accidentally.

Posted: 14 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Watching television in Lebanon and Israel has become a jarring experience over recent weeks. Frustrated viewers have inundated their cable and satellite providers complaining that the onscreen images constantly flicker and freeze. Analysts on both sides of the border suspect covert military activity but, like any good Middle Eastern story, theories abound as to who is the culprit. The onset of the problems coincided with a Sept. 6 Israeli air raid on Syria. Television signals began to deteriorate shortly afterward and on Sept. 12, Lebanon's Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh told local daily An Nahar that interference had 'started with the aggressive Israeli infiltration on Syria.' But by Sept. 20, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which also linked reception problems to the raid, reported 'Syrian espionage activities on northern Israel using Russian experts' as a possible cause of the disruption. A third theory emerged on Sept. 23 when satellite industry publication Rapid TV News cited reports that strong radar signals were being generated by 'various intelligence elements, chiefly Western countries, which are trying to fathom the intentions of Israel and Syria in the near future.'" Variety, 5 October 2007. "Mysterious high-powered transmissions have caused a month of severe interference with Israeli satellite television, threatening the commercial viability of the country's major sat-broadcaster." The Register, 11 October 2007. "Desperate viewers of Desperate Housewives, frustrated followers of The Bold and the Beautiful, and other TV lovers have been bombarding the switchboard of the Israeli satellite broadcaster Yes, and have launched a 122 million shekel (£15 million) class action suit against the company for failing to deliver the goods." The Telegraph, 12 October 2007. "Ron Eilon, CEO of Yes, said recently that he knew the source of the disruptions but could not reveal it, though he hinted that some naval vessel was involved." Jerusalem Post, 10 October 2007. "Security elements thought the plethora of theories about the source of the trouble (including Russian radar, some postulated) was hilarious. The source could have been located within a matter of minutes using the Israeli army's advanced technology, they say, it's just that the army had refused to help. Until Monday, that is." Ha'aretz, 11 October 2007. "The minister of communications was AWOL and at Yes they claim that he also did nothing to help discover the problem. A mobile laboratory belonging to the Communications Ministry, which serves to evaluate the broadcasting signals, was not used to analyze the problem." Editorial, Ha'aretz, 11 October 2007. "Maalot The Israel Rating Company Ltd. has put the bonds of YES satellite broadcaster on its watch list in view of the ongoing disruptions in the company’s broadcasts." Globes, 14 October 2007.

Pakistanis getting their home news from Indian media?

Posted: 14 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Since March, the momentous events in Pakistan have made the Indian media a surrogate platform for Pakistan’s political opposition and its media. In that sense India has gone from being enemy to sympathetic neighbour, whose press is lending its shoulder with some alacrity, though the government and the State media here have been circumspect. An unusual situation for a neighbourhood where the media in each country always viewed the other through a nationalistic prism. ... On the eve of his arrival in Pakistan last month, Nawaz Sharif was handing out exclusive interviews to anybody who asked on this side of the border. And when he did arrive briefly on Pak soil, the live breaking news on almost all Indian news channels went on for a while. Neither BBC World nor CNN however, saw fit to cover the event live." The Hindu, 14 October 2007.

Ford Foundation funds international broadcasting projects.

Posted: 14 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Ford Foundation is celebrating a new season of the Global Perspectives Project, an innovative public media initiative that brings programs by independent producers from around the world to U.S audiences and takes American programs overseas." Recipients include Independent Television Service (ITVS) (see previous post), LinkTV, OneWorld US, PBS World, and Public Radio International. Ford Foundation press release, 10 October 2007.

The environmental CNN.

Posted: 14 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"CNN will air a two-part special series Planet In Peril on 24 and 25 October... . The show which took nearly a year to make takes viewers to four continents and 13 countries where environmental change is not a theory, or possibility, but a crisis happening in real time." Indiantelevision.com, 13 October 2007. "CNN International opens their story, 'Gore Shares Prize with U.N. Panel,' by acknowledging the work Gore has done. Then it quickly digresses into a discussion of a campaign urging him to run for president." Joe Brewer, BuzzFlash, 12 Octover 2007. Gary Strieker, formerly CNN International’s chief environmental correspondent, is keynote speaker at Earth Journalism Network's Beijing workshop. Internews press release, 11 October 2007.

Aljazeera English under scholars' scrutiny.

Posted: 14 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded $59,000 grant to two scholars to survey how Aljazeera English "impacts cross-cultural dialogue, understanding and the likelihood of conflict among its audiences. 'Both the U.S. government and cable system operators have kept Al Jazeera at arms' length, to say the least. Is that attitude backed up by the facts? That's what we'd like to know.'" USC Annenberg press release, 9 October 2007. "A new study by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRINFO) found that online media do not effectively address human rights causes in Arab countries. ...the study focused on eight of the biggest Arabic news sites: aljazeera.net, alarabiya.net, islamonline.net, elaph.com, copts-united.com, moheet.com, middle-east-online.com and naseej.com." International Journalists' Network, 12 October 2007. Feminist Ann Friedman "pleasantly surprised" by her interview on Aljazeera English, but not so pleased with her CNN experience. New Voices, 12 October 2007. "I admire Aljazeera English’s honesty in telling us the news East Africa is watching at 7am was actually recorded at 2am GMT. But news works best if the viewer has the feeling that it is being aired live." Moses Serugo, Sunday Monitor (Kampala), 14 October 2007.

More VOA jazz.

Posted: 13 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
Cuban-American trumpeter Arturo Sandoval: "Born in a small town near Havana, Cuba in 1949, the young musician was captivated by jazz even though it was tough to find anyone playing it. 'It was kind of difficult,' Sandoval said. 'The only way we had to hear any was on short wave radio.' Sandoval listened to 'Jazz Hour,' hosted by Willis Conover, on Voice of America. 'That was the only source.'" Tampa Bay Newspapers, 10 October 2007.

In Burma, protesters chant "down with whatever the name of that station is."

Posted: 13 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Thousands at a government-staged mass rally in Yangon shouted slogans Saturday against Western powers and the foreign media, whom the military regime accuses of fomenting recent pro-democracy protests. 'Down with BBC! Down with VOA! Down with Radio Free America [sic],' the crowds chanted at the rally." AP, 13 October 2007. "In the aftermath of the protests the military has cut the country's internet connection to stem the flood of protest images to the outside world. Cable TV, however, remains connected and residents in Rangoon watched the brutal crackdown in their city on TV sets tuned to CNN and the BBC. ... Burma's state-run TV channels and newspapers have been packed since last week with footage of big pro-government demonstrations in provincial areas. In daily, full-page notices in newspapers and frequent TV announcements the public are warned against tuning into the 'traitors,' 'saboteurs,' and 'neo-colonialists' at the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia." The Guardian, 13 October 2007.

Arrested for being an RFI reporter? (updated)

Posted: 13 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, managing editor of privately-owned bi-monthly Aïr Info, published in Agadez, northern Niger, who was arrested yesterday at Niamey airport as he prepared to board a plane for France ... is accused of being 'the correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI) in Agadez'."
Reporters sans frontières, 10 October 2007. See previous post about RFI woes in Niger. Update: Transferred back to his home town. No formal charges filed. VOA News, 12 October 2007.

A pitch for wind-up radios (updated).

Posted: 13 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"With all of the learning opportunities we have, all of the chances to put technology to work for us -- it can be easy to forget how desperate for information people are in other parts of the world." The Freeplay Foundation distributes "wind-up or solar powered FM-AM, and short wave radios give the poorest of the poor, access to long distance education in areas without schools." KGO-TV, 2 October 2007. Update: "'When the original, spring-based Lifelines were distributed to orphans in the sub-Saharan nation of Rwanda, nearly all of these children began using the radios to listen to the news. They wanted to know what was happening at their borders, and radio was the voice of authority for them.'" Scientific American, 12 October 2007.

VOA will get an earful from Pakustan.

Posted: 12 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America is launching a one-hour news and current affairs programme from October 15 on its Urdu service. The phone-in programme, which will air in Pakistan from 8 to 9pm five days a week on Medium Wave 972 [via Tajikistan] and 1539 [via UAE] kilohertz, will be hosted by senior broadcaster Murtaza Solangi. ... At a time when Pakistan is going through major political changes, VOA expects that the programme will reach a wide audience, particularly in the country’s smaller towns and villages where people tune in to the radio more than in the cities." Daily Times (Lahore), 12 October 2007.

Insert a few useful clerics.

Posted: 12 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"More efforts are needed to boost the profile of those clerics who promote a message of tolerance and to facilitate the launch of satellitetv [sic] channels and websites with agendas aimed at reconciliation and peace. This should be the highest priority in the war of ideas -- information warfare that so far the U.S. has been fighting only half-heartedly, and unquestionably losing." Ariel Cohen, Real Clear Politics, 12 October 2007. "The most startling revelation concerning our struggle against aggressive Islamofascism is that the United States is not engaged in the war of ideas. There hasn’t been one initiative or program developed to engage the ideological forces of radical Islam. Our enemy in the global war against radical Islam stands unopposed on the ideological battlefield." Frank Salvato, News By Us, 12 October 2007.

BBC gets 70 million quid for Arabic and Persian television; Arabic will be 24 hours (updated again).

Posted: 12 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The two channels are the first television news services to be launched by the BBC in a decade and the first time the Foreign Office has given money for a specific TV service. ... The extra funding will also allow the World Service to enhance plans for its forthcoming Arabic language television news and information channel, moving it to a 24-hour service from the originally planned 12 hours a day." Reuters, 9 October 2007. See also BBC World Service press release, 9 October 2007. "The new deal will see the total World Service budget rise from £246m this financial year to £271m in 2010-2011." Media Guardian, 9 October 2007. "The BBC already has a high profile in the Middle East thanks to its long-standing and respected Arabic service radio broadcasts. The service is the BBC’s oldest language service after English and will mark its 70th anniversary in January. The BBC’s Persian web service is also known to be popular with Iranian auds and has been blocked and filtered by its government." Variety, 10 October 2007. British Council also gets funding increase. HM Treasury, 10 October 2007. At the same time, speculation that BBC domestic could lose up to 2,800 jobs. The Telegraph, 12 October 2007. Update: "The BBC has defended director-general Mark Thompson's decision to attend a cocktail party in India as he finalises plans to cut up to 2,800 jobs. Mr Thompson and three fellow executives have jetted off to Mumbai for a lavish bash to celebrate the BBC's success in India. The trip is costing a reported £12,000." The Press Association, 11 October 2007. See also The Telegraph (Calcutta), 11 October 2007.

Successes of China's "public" diplomacy.

Posted: 12 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"While Washington anoints ice skater Michelle Kwan and baseball legend Cal Ripken as public diplomacy emissaries, China is actively signing free trade agreements and extending development assistance to dozens of countries around the world." Price Floyd and Nirav Patel, Boston Globe, 12 October 2007. The activities of Chinese "public diplomacy" mentioned in this piece are really mostly just plain "diplomacy" -- evidence that the definition of "public diplomacy" may expanding to the point of no longer being very useful.

Russia Today takes in some audience research.

Posted: 12 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Russia Today is in the final stages of carrying out a major research study into viewer’s opinions of the channel, and Margarita Simoniyan, its editor in chief, isn’t surprised that viewers are increasingly appreciating the channel’s all-English news coverage." Rapid TV News, 12 October 2007. The channel does have some quirky but attractive aspects to it. Certainly better than the old Radio Moscow. View Russia Today at www.russiatoday.ru.

Two major shortwave sites (at least) off the air on 28 October.

Posted: 12 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
It appears that the Radio Netherlands site at Flevo, in in the station's home country, will end transmissions on 28 October, per discussion at DX Listening Digest, 9 October 2007. RNW will continue on shortwave from its relays at Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, and Madagascar, and via leased facilities. Also, the IBB Delano, California, station is scheduled to end transmissions of VOA and Radio Martí that same day.

The Radio/TV Martí debate continues.

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Arnaldo Coro, a Cuban professor at Havana's Jose Marti International Journalism Institute, claimed the Radio Marti signal has also fallen victim to 'physics' and 'Cuban ingenuity.' 'Cuban engineers have been able to develop the way of using the same radio frequency channels in such a way as to absolutely block the presence of the foreign station from coming into the Cuban territory,' he said." NBC News, 9 October 2007. Arnie Coro is also host of the "DXers Unlimited" program on the English Service of Radio Havana Cuba.

Burma: foreign broadcasters "signaled" out.

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The state-owned New Light of Myanmar newspaper ... signaled [sic, pun?] out 'big powers' and radio stations--the British Broadcasting Corp., Voice of America and Radio Free Asia--as behind the demonstrations, which were violently put down Sept. 26-27 in clashes condemned by nations around the world." AP, 11 October 2007. "Myanmar's junta, Voice of America steps up programming into the country to four hours a day from just over one. But VOA employees say they can't sustain that level without more money from Congress." Wall Street Journal, 12 October 2007.

Eating cockroaches and listening to VOA in a Vietnamese prison.

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"During his fourth year in prison, [Lam] Tran and four fellow inmates bribed a prison guard to get a radio to listen to the Voice of America. After an informer betrayed them, they were sentenced to six months in a 'disciplinary lock-up.' Tran's isolation cell was barely big enough to lie down in, and had one tiny window." Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10 October 2007. Vietnam pays $275,000 for ads on CNN International to promote tourism. Thanh Nien News, 11 October 2007.

Memos to Karen Hughes.

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"However noble the abstractions of your rhetoric, your speeches are uniformly received as irrelevant propaganda." Sidney Blumenthal, Salon, 11 October 2007. President's new National Strategy for Homeland Security mentions need to "'counter all forms of propaganda that distort and misrepresent U.S. policy by clearly communicating U.S. policies.' ... But, of course, distortion of policy may not be the problem. And, if there is the potential for radicalization that the strategy claims, discussions may not help the situation. No where does the strategy mention the Iraq war and its role in exacerbating hatred for our country. Apparently, the administration can't even imagine a need for actual change in foreign policy." William M. Arkin, Washington Post Early Warning blog, 10 October 2007.

More Kudos for BBC World News America. And is ABC taking note? (updated)

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"You’ll feel much more informed about what is really going on in the U.S. and the world than watching the combined 90 minutes of the offerings from CBS, NBC, and ABC or from watching CNN for twelve hours. ... Going against years of cuts, ABC News will be adding several more foreign bureaus. There is a twist, since they will not be fully staffed, but instead be one man bands where the reporter/producer will be using digital video cameras and computer editing." Gothamist, 5 October 2007. Update: "We in the United States ... tend to latch onto stories of freedom-fighting people and international tragedies, but tend not to seek much information about the everyday events of the rest of the world. That's strange in a world that is becoming increasingly smaller, due to technology, terrorism threats, travel, globalization and immigration. BBC is counting on an American audience that wants to know more about the world." Jane Burns, Capital Times (Madison WI), 9 October 2007.

Gee, expensive ad agency, thanks for calling attention to our "mere 60,000 boxes."

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"[Ogilvy & Mather's] Worldspace Satellite Radio 'There is so much hear' campaign featuring A R Rahman came as a shot in the arm increasing brand awareness from 40 to 80 per cent, generating over 2,00,000 enquiries in a period of 45 days since the launch of the campaign. 'This was considerable after selling a mere 60,000 boxes in a period of four years in India,' said O&M representatives." Indianatelevision.com, 10 October 2007.

Adventist World Radio uses domestic television to publicize international radio.

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Making Waves" television series "is meant to help church members in North America understand AWR's work around the world... . Because AWR doesn't broadcast in North America -- choosing instead to concentrate its programming in areas where the world's 'hardest-to-reach' people live -- 'few church members here are aware of what we really do.' ... Established in 1971, AWR now broadcasts thousands of hours of programming every day in 70 languages. People around the world tune in via AM/FM and shortwave radio, Internet podcasts and satellite transmitters." Adventist News Network, 9 October 2007.

Shanghai digital radio test will involve CRI.

Posted: 11 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The new digital radio receiver, unveiled yesterday at a press conference, resembles a GPS navigator. Besides receiving high quality programs, it can also provide instant traffic information to help motorists avoid congestion. Real-time weather forecasts and emergency announcements are also available from the device. It can display audio and video programs on a terminal screen, the report said. ... At the initial stage of the test run, radio service will incorporate programs from China Radio International, the largest English radio station in China, and local news and traffic radio channels." Shanghai Daily, 11 October 2007. "Video programs"? More evidence that all radio secretly desires to become television. The article does not mention if the system is Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), or the European style DAB.

Religious international broadcasting gets front-page attention in the Washington Post.

Posted: 09 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
Mozambican with a hand-cranked shortwave radio listens to Texas preacher J. Vernon McGee translated into Xitshwa, "spoken by only a million or so people." Article also mentions evangelical broadcaster Trans World Radio, as well as Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist broadcasting efforts. Washington Post, 7 October 2007. Surveys show that religious international broadcasters tend to have very small audiences, but their transmissions in obscure languages ignored by larger broadcasters do help. Protestant evangelical Far East Broadcasting Company promotes foster parenting in its Russian programs. Mission Network News, 9 October 2007

The difficult business of broadcasting to North Korea.

Posted: 09 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"In isolated North Korea, the only legal transistor radios have dials permanently set to government stations. But smugglers and itinerant traders bring an increasing number of radios into North Korea, according to anecdotal reports, and that is gratifying news for three tiny broadcasters that beam information north of the border." McClatchy, 7 October 2007. "Powerful transmitters – the BBC, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe – broadcast to Russia and her empire so successfully that in Prague in the Seventies people would come up to me in trams to pass on their thanks for the existence of the BBC Czech service. But not here. Every radio and television has its tuning dial soldered so that it can receive only North Korean signals. Inspectors visit frequently to check that nobody has tampered with this mental barricade. And, while a few brave souls defy this (resoldering the dials when an inspection is due), most are too frightened, or so loyal, that it would never occur to them to do so." Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail, 8 October 2007.

Latest from the Burma file.

Posted: 09 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Bloggers were revealing what was happening in Burma more effectively than BBC, which could not get in." NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, dtt-net, 8 October 2007. "The BBC News website's Kate McGeown has just returned from visiting Burma's main city, Rangoon, in the aftermath of a crackdown against anti-government protests. ... The government is ... trying to play down the scale of the protests and the ensuing crackdown, saying they were the result of a few "destructive elements" fomented with the help of outside broadcasters such as the BBC Burmese Service and Voice of America." BBC News, 8 October 2007. "Underground prayer vigils were held throughout Burma on Saturday as those associated involved in the 'saffron revolt' were encouraged to do by a Buddhist monk interviewed by Radio Free Asia's Myanmar-language service." CTV.ca, 6 October 2007.

Alternatives to the U.S. news channels.

Posted: 09 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Go 'outside the box' and even outside the country to get news. 'A bit of Brit' is good for you. BBC America has an excellent one-hour program at 6 a.m. and another at 7 a.m. At 9 a.m., NPR [sic] has an hour of PRI International. At noon, CNN broadcasts CNN International. It'll stretch your mind. You'll also get more important foreign news than if you listened to cable news, the networks or NPR all day." James G. Wiles, The Bulletin (Philadelphia), 8 October 2007.

New media: disuniting the world.

Posted: 09 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Over recent years, as many media have become global, westernization has decreased. See for instance channels like al-Jazeera (now also in English), al-Arabiya or India's Star TV. Thus we find what Tunisian writer Abdelwahab Meddeb calls the "Egyptian paradox": as society becomes increasingly Americanized (through the incitement to consumerism and media consumption), the search for specificity becomes more intense and is promoted by those same media, that articulate and convey the difference." Andres Ortega, openDemocracy, 8 October 2007.

Scattered broadcasts to Iran.

Posted: 09 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
Several "scattered" Iranian separatist groups "broadcast propaganda in Arabic from foreign locations that are not clearly identified. The National Liberation Movement of Ahwaz, which advocates independence, operates Ahwaz TV, a satellite channel with an on-screen caption giving a fax number with a California area code. Another satellite channel, Al-Ahwaz TV, broadcast by Iranian exiles in California, is linked to the British-Ahwaz Friendship Society, which advocates regional autonomy for the province in a federal Iran. Nearly half ($36m) of the $75m 2006 US appropriation goes to support for the US-operated Voice of America and Radio Farda and to anti-regime broadcasting outlets run by Iranian exiles in the United States, Canada and Britain." Selig S. Harrison, Middle East Online, 9 October 2007.

Tim Llewellyn to Press TV?

Posted: 09 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
Former BBC reporter is now host of "Middle East Today" on the Iranian international channel, according to Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting Snapshots blog, 7 October 2007. I could find no other reports of this, not even at the Press TV website. The most recent video file of "Middle East Today" is from 19 September, when the host was Chris -- surname unintelligible on the screen. Iranian "Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini ... on Tuesday strongly condemned the arrest and beating up by US forces in Afghanistan of the Iranian English Press TV channel reporter in Kabul Faez Khorshid." Islamic Republic News Agency, 9 October 2007.

Evidence of the decline of the Voice of America.

Posted: 06 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
They let me back on the air, at least this weekend, with a report about an amateur radio exhibit near the U.S. Capitol. VOA "Our World," 6 October 2007. The radio amateurs "put their emergency communications skills to the test on October 3, demonstrating to members of Congress and other Federal agencies how ham radio continues to work when other means of communications are disabled during hurricanes or other natural or man-made disasters." American Radio Relay League, 5 October 2007.

What? Aung San Suu Kyi doesn't listen to Radio Free Asia?

Posted: 06 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"She rises early to meditate and spends much of her time reading books — mostly politics, philosophy and Buddhism — and listening to the BBC and Voice of America on the radio." AP, 5 October 2007. "Myanmar is apparently using photos sent to websites, television stations and other media to arrest protesters, while at the same time praising China's 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown which turned foreign news videos into virtual wanted posters to capture dissidents." Asia Times, 6 October 2007. Pro-Democracy activist says "everyone" in Burma "listens to the Burmese-language shortwave radio broadcasts from stations like the BBC, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and especially the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma." Newsweek, 4 October 2007. "The US administration has, meanwhile, increased its Burmese language service through the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia to provide 'factual reporting' to its listeners." Manik Mehta, Gulf News, 6 October 2007. "Burmese State Television Announcer: RFA, VOA and BBC, saboteurs, watch your step. The public be warned of killers in the airwaves, RFA, VOA and BBC. Beware! Don't be bought by those slickers." PBS NewsHour, 4 October 2007. Burmese television criticism of foreign broadcasters also mentioned on Aljazeera English "Listening Post," 5 October 2007.

The Kremlin versus RFE/RL.

Posted: 06 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The state is paying more attention to international media, especially international broadcasting. The authorities have focused on the broadcasts of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, whose radio programming provides an alternative news voice to listeners across the country. The Kremlin has undertaken an intimidation campaign against RFE/RL's partners -- Russian radio stations that rebroadcast Radio Liberty programs -- subjecting them to debilitating harassment. In August, Bolshoye Radio, a Moscow radio station, announced that it would no longer carry the BBC's Russian-language broadcasts. Although technical violations were cited as the official reason for the station's decision to pull the BBC off the air, many condemned the act as censorship." Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung, Moscow Times, 5 October 2007. RFE/RL holds conference in Prague to mark the one year anniversary of the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. RFE/RL News, 4 October 2007. "It's not a trend of one or two years, it's a trend of five and six and seven years. It is most definitively in my judgment a trend having to do with the current rule of Russia. They are, in principle, in word, in deed fundamentally illiberal, I'm sorry, but I think that's what you call that, and they do indeed have hostility to free institutions and certainly free media." RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin, quoted by Radio Prague, 4 October 2007. "A European human rights court decision against Russia for injuries and killings of civilians in Chechnya got little news coverage in Russia Friday. But for Petima Goygova, one of three women who filed the winning cases with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR,) the ruling was a source of comfort after the 2000 murder of her mother and brother in Chechnya, when Russian forces seized control of the capital Grozny. ... She first heard the news of the judgement on Radio Free Europe." DPA, 5 October 2007. "Two years after it was kicked out of Russia for airing an interview with a Chechen rebel leader, ABC is being allowed to send a reporter back to Moscow to head up its bureau there. ... The 2005 interview with Chechnya's Shamil Basayev, conducted by Andrei Babitski of Radio Free Europe, aired on ABC's Nightline." MovieWeb, 6 October 2007.

Kondracke calls for a more offensive public diplomacy.

Posted: 06 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The question is, how aggressive is [Karen] Hughes — and the U.S. government — in confronting not only al-Qaida, but the underlying ideology of radical Islam? Hughes and some of her aides often are so leery of offending Muslims that they hesitate even to use the term 'jihadist' because it has a religious interpretation. And even some officials who defend Hughes admit that the effort to combat radicalism needs more personnel and money — for sure, the $10 million that Congress is denying the U.S. Arabic broadcasting network, Al Hurra, as punishment for a former official’s decision to broadcast an interview with the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon." Mort Kondracke, Real Clear Politics, 4 October 2007. "More is being done worldwide to counter radical Islam than is commonly known, according to panelists speaking Thursday at the National Homeland Defense Foundation symposium in Colorado Springs." Colorado Springs Gazette, 5 October 2007.

Bloggers comment on State Department blogs.

Posted: 05 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"One other interesting project that State has embarked upon is having a few of its Arabic speakers go into mainstream Arabic-language online fora such as al-Jazeera, BBC Arabic, and Elaph.com and try to combat misperceptions of U.S. policy. What I like about this effort is that State's commenters are not trying to hide their State department affiliations, but are openly posting in their own names and as State Department employees." Blake Hounshell, Foreign Policy Passport blog, 3 October 2007. In the Dipnotes blog, "I'd rather see more items like the piece ... posted by somebody named Masharika Prejean, who was not clearly identified but seems to be some sort of visiting fellow. Writing from the UN in one of Dipnote's few opinionated posts, Prejean commented: '... If I could send Mr. Ahmadinejad a welcome message, it would go something like this: 'Sure, you can have your time at the podium because that’s how we do things in the U.S. I don’t have to like what you say, because that’s what the American way of agreeing to disagree is all about."'" Scott MacLeod, Time's The Middle East blog, 4 October 2007. "To see how it's done right, check out the site of Sherard Cowper-Coles, the UK's ambassador to Afghanistan." Joshua Keating, FP Passport blog, 4 October 2007.

Reconsidering we-talk-you-listen.

Posted: 05 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Bush administration’s push to create 'public diplomacy' campaigns to 'win the hearts and minds' of the Muslim world won more criticism than praise. From the start the new so-called diplomacy focused largely on promoting a positive image of the United States and its values, rather than engaging in a constructive dialogue around both common and contentious issues. Despite various attempts at change, the administration still seems unable to engage in real diplomacy. As CSIS notes, 'the main criticism of dialogue efforts with the Muslim world, including from government officials themselves, remains that they are focused more on talking than listening.'" Bridget Moix, Foreign Policy in Focus, 4 October 2007.

A public diplomacy future for Bill Clinton?

Posted: 05 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"If Hillary Clinton wins the US presidency, Bill Clinton will be given the job of repairing America's damaged international reputation, the former president tells the Guardian in an interview today. Mr Clinton, 61, reveals that his wife has said she would ask him to 'go out and immediately restore America's standing, go out and tell people America was open for business and cooperation again' after eight years marked by unilateralist policies that have 'enrage[d] the world'." The Guardian, 5 October 2007.

More shortwave memeories of Sputnik.

Posted: 05 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"[Palmer] Carlin and a colleague, Jim Warwick, had set up the receivers with antennae months earlier with the intention of studying the earth's ionosphere -- the uppermost part of the atmosphere. They were listening to static from radio sources around the world and taking data to learn how intense the ionosphere was, Carlin said. when Carlin and his buddies heard on the news that Sputnik was in orbit, he said, 'The guys grabbed the opportunity.'" Daily Camera (Boulder CO), 4 October 2007. The preceding includes a nice picture of the 1940s era Hallicrafters receiver used to hear Sputnik. "The first signals were picked up by a BBC radio operator shortly after midnight GMT when he heard a strange beep-beep-beep that was rapidly fading and drifting in frequency. ... Hundreds of thousands of radio amateur and shortwave listeners picked up signals from the spacecraft, as one of its transmitters operated at the frequency used by many countries for their standard time signals." New Straits Times, 3 October 2007. "The one thing Legg did not have was an antenna that could pick up transmissions on 20 MHz. So the resourceful Legg looked around his house and found something he thought could do the job: a wire-mesh mosquito screen on one of his windows. He ran a wire from the screen to his radio, dialed in 20 MHz and listened." Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2 October 2007.

The World Wide Web: who needs English?

Posted: 05 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Sample addresses in nearly a dozen languages will be added to the Internet's central directories as early as next week, paving the way for Web surfers around the world to get online without knowing any English. ... The 11 suffixes now under review will read 'test' in Arabic, Persian, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil." AP, 4 October 2007.

Experts reaffirm that audiences should tune to two U.S. stations to get a complete newscast.

Posted: 05 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Understanding the Mission of U.S. International Broadcasting," report on a meeting of 35 professionals in international broadcasting, convened near Chicago in April 2007 by the Hudson Institute and the McCormick Tribune Conference Series, is now available at the Hudson website.

Among the recommendations: "Reimpose and strengthen the conceptual and operational distinctions between the Voice of America, whose broadcasts should emphasize American life, values and policies, along with world news, and the 'surrogate' broadcast stations (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Radio Marti), whose primary function is to stimulate debate within the target area by serving as 'local' broadcasters."

See also companion op-ed by Steve Huntley, Chicago Sun-Times, 2 October 2007.

Virtually every sentence of this report is out of sync with why people tune to international broadcasts. Briefly, people use international broadcasts to get the reliable, credible news they are not getting from their state controlled domestic media. Primarily, they want news about their own country. But they also want a certain amount of world news, including a dollop of news about the United States. This report wants to "reimpose" the structure of U.S. international broadcasting, in which the audience must tune to two U.S. stations, at two different times, usually on two different frequencies, to get all the news they want.

Or they can tune to the BBC and get all the news they want from the convenience of one station. This is a main reason why British international broadcasting has a larger audience than U.S. international broadcasting, even though U.S. international broadcasting has a larger budget than British international broadcasting.

Nevertheless, the report calls for "appropriate sustained strategic funding." U.S. international broadcasting does not need a budget increase. It needs to be rationalized, along the lines of the antithesis of what is recommended in this report.

See Kim Andrew Elliott, "Too Many Voices of America," Foreign Policy, Winter 1989-90. And Mark Hopkins, "A Babel of Broadcasts," Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 1999.

China's revisionist reporting from Burma.

Posted: 04 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Global Times - a tabloid published by the People's Daily group - started the ball rolling when it sent its reporter to Yangon on September 28. ... 'There has still been no believable evidence that the reports of the new "bloody conflict" by the Western media are true,' he wrote, although he did not bother to quote protesters, locals or overseas consular staff apart from his driver. He did, however, refer to the state-controlled The New Light of Myanmar which claimed: 'The Voice of America and the BBC have told huge lies.'" Asia Times, 5 October 2007. VOA Burmese Service chief appears before Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Voice of America press release, 3 October 2007. "International Bloggers Day for Burma" was 4 October. On the same day, Radio Netherlands "broadcast messages of support to the people of Myanmar in their struggle for freedom and democracy in a special edition of Newsline entitled Shout with Short Wave." Radio Netherlands, 4 October 2007.

VOA reporter told to shut up and sit down.

Posted: 04 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The leader of the smaller faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is likely to get more unpopular in Zimbabwe media circles after he insulted a journalist at a press conference here recently. Professor Arthur Mutambara was said to be too exhausted to address a press conference at his first rally in South Africa. When asked by a journalist to address the press conference, he shouted 'shut up and sit down' to a correspondent for the Voice of America's Studio 7." The Zimbabwean, 4 October 2007.

In case you missed last Friday's Kanat Khamas Nojoom show...

Posted: 04 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
On the "Kanat Khamas Nojoom" show, on Lebanon's Rotana Mousiqa satellite channel, the special guest was Abdullah Rweished, "the ambassador of Gulf song." "During the program, a recording of the voice of the late, renowned musician Mohammad Abdul-Wahab was broadcast for the first time. The recording was made by the Voice of America Arabic Radio and Rweished went to considerable lengths to obtain a copy because he is a big fan of Abdul-Wahhab's music." Al Bawaba, 4 October 2007.

While BBC World conducts surveys in other countries, France 24 surveys *British* attitudes about immigration.

Posted: 04 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Alain de Pouzilhac, Chief Executive Officer, France 24, said, 'France 24 is seeking to open up an intelligent discussion on the issue of immigration. Its editorial style is to back up accurate news reporting with analysis, discussion and debate on complex issues such as this. The news media has a responsibility to help people and policy makers better understand, address and resolve an issue as sensitive as this one.' France 24 is launching a series of programmes relating to immigration in the United Kingdom and the results of this research study." France 24 press release, 4 October 2007. See also the story, France 24, 4 October 2007.

CNN International (unbuffered) available in NY and NJ via IPTV.

Posted: 04 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Time Warner Cable Business Class has launched an IPTV service for its business customers. Called BusinessLink.tv, the service delivers broadcast news and information channels directly to the computers of customers in select New York and New Jersey markets. ... The channels offered include NY1 News, CNN, CNN Headline News, CNN International, CNBC, CNBC World, Bloomberg TV, Fox News, Fox Business News and The Weather Channel." IPTV Watch, 4 October 2007. “Real-time news straight to your desktop. And avoid the buffering." Multichannel News, 3 October 2007. "Colleague Kent Pulliam happened to be vacationing in Italy two weeks ago and was trying to keep up with the world on CNN International News. Scores for American football … nearly non-existent. But the international community was very interested in KC Wolf [mascot] and the two security guards who tackled the knucklehead running on the field during the Chiefs-Vikings game. The video of KC Wolf’s effort was featured prominently in the newscast, including the final few seconds that showed him flexing his muscles. As for the score of the game? No mention." Kansas City Star, 3 October 2007.

Otherwise incomprehensible press release mentions students in Singapore receiving international news channels.

Posted: 04 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The ViewCast Osprey line of high-performance video capture cards is playing a starring role in educational Webcasting and distance learning programs at the National University of Singapore (NUS). ... NUScast is an Internet TV channel that enables faculty and students to access a full range of on-demand and live Webcast lectures, seminars, and campus events [and] BBC World, Channel News Asia, the Discovery Channel. ViewCast press release, 3 October 2007.

Aljazeera, carrying out the VOA mission.

Posted: 04 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"'It's not just about telling the rest of the world what is happening from inside the Middle East out. It's also about telling the rest of the world about America,' [Nigel Parsons, managing director of Aljazeera English] said, at a National Press Club forum in Washington, D.C. 'America is often accused of not understanding the outside world, ... of being very insular and of not understanding the events that shape its policies.' However, it's possible to turn that equation around, because the rest of the world 'actually understands very little about the United States,' he said. 'We hear about New York, we hear about Hollywood and we hear about things that go on inside the Beltway here in D.C. We don't hear much about that big bit in the middle.'" Scripps Howard, 3 Octover 2007.

RFA sued for photocopying.

Posted: 03 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"A small Cambodian newspaper has sued Radio Free Asia for purported copyright violations, charging that the station routinely copied and distributed issues to its staff in Washington and Bangkok and posted some of the paper's work without permission on the Internet. ... Officials at Radio Free Asia (RFA), a private, nonprofit broadcaster funded by the U.S. government, said they are aware of the lawsuit, but 'vigorously reject' the charges in the filing and are prepared to 'decisively refute [them] in court.'" Washington Times, 3 October 2007.

A skeptical Pakistani.

Posted: 03 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Looking at the U.S. strategy against terrorism, [Zamir Akram, the chief foreign policy adviser to Pakistan's prime minister] was critical of the U.S. government's overwhelming emphasis on military and intelligence efforts rather than on staging a more comprehensive effort to win the 'hearts and minds' of Muslims around the world. 'We have not seen the kind of concentrated effort that needs to be undertaken,' Akram says, expressing his skepticism about the success of former Bush adviser Karen Hughes in her role heading up the State Department's public diplomacy program. 'I have not really been able to see whether actions of the department can offset the negative things we see, not just in Pakistan, but across the world.'" U.S News, 2 October 2007.

New State Department blog targets domestic users (updated).

Posted: 03 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Dipnote is open to the public in addition to agency employees and thus different from the agency’s Office of eDiplomacy’s Communities @ State blog initiative, which is meant to be used in the agency. The program is also different from Office of Public Diplomacy efforts that focus on engaging foreign audiences through using blogs and other online tools." FCW.com, 27 September 2007. "We're new at this. It looks like we broke our own rule and used State jargon in our blog title. 'Dipnote' refers to a diplomatic note. It is one of the many way in which governments formally communicate with each other." Sean McCormick, Dipnote, 27 September 2007. "I pointed out the hypocrisy of his using our free speech and free media to criticize our country, yet if someone spoke out against his government in a similar way in Iran they would be arrested." Karen Hughes, Dipnote, 26 September 2007. Update: "This is what we've all been waiting for! No more media filters and distortions. Unbiased news directly from the federal government, a news source long noted for truthful, unbiased reporting." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 3 October 2007. Blog entries of Kristen Silverberg, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, usinfo.state.gov, 1 October 2007. "Change or dismantle Smith-Mundt altogether." MountainRunner blog, 28 September 2007.

But will more than two dozen Americans watch it?

Posted: 03 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
BBC World News America gets good reviews. "American television critics have given the BBC's first daily newscast tailored to the US market a warm reception, heaping praise on the programme for its unapologetic emphasis on international news." Digital Spy, 3 October 2007. "It not only covered the bases far better than anyone else in the TV news pantheon but also actually made a little global news itself during an interview with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in which she gave her approval for a U.S. military strike inside Pakistan to assassinate Osama bin Laden." Hollywood Reporter, 3 October 2007. "The title of BBC World News America needs a comma between 'News' and 'America.' As in: This is what world news looks like, America. Do you remember it?" James Poniewozik, Time Tuned In blog, 2 October 2007.

How two countries clamp down on communications.

Posted: 03 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"In last month's uprising in the isolated police state [Burma], they photographed and uploaded the demonstrations via cellphone. Images and videos bounced from Internet cafes to foreign blogs and international media, then sometimes back again to Burma (also known as Myanmar) by satellite TV and shortwave radio. The leap in technology didn't prevent the military from choosing – as it did in 1988 – to launch a violent crackdown. But it did make it harder for the regime to act quickly and secretly, say Internet-savvy activists." Christian Science Monitor, 3 October 2007. "An employee from the [Burmese] Transport Ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was told to sign a statement saying he and his family would not take part in any political activity and would not listen to foreign radio reports. Many Burmese use short-wave radios to pick up foreign English-language stations - a main source for news about their tightly controlled country." The Sun, 3 October 2007. "To give a short-wave radio to a Cuban national is, curiously enough, 'a violation of human rights.'" Frank Calzon, Miami Herald, 3 October 2007.

New outlet for international channels in New Zealand.

Posted: 03 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The second Freeview channel to begin broadcasting this week was officially launched in Auckland today. Triangle Stratos is a regional television channel that will screen a wide range of programming, from community and regional programmes from New Zealand, to coverage from international news sources, including Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle." National Business Review (Auckland), 3 October 2007. Freeview is a satellite and terrestrial digital television platform, the details of which probably only a New Zealander could explain. Stratos TV is a channel with international programming, including some from VOA-TV.

"Little Mosque on Prairie" goes international (updated).

Posted: 03 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Little Mosque On The Prairie, the award-winning [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] breakout hit situation comedy that looks into the lives of a small Muslim community in the fictional prairie town of Mercy, will soon air in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Finland and Turkey." WestWind Pictures press release, 25 September 2007. Update: "The plot - a city slicker imam moving to the small fictional town of Mercy, Saskatchewan - resembles the American drama, Northern Exposure." Aljazeera.net, 2 October 2007.

Travails of a Radio Sawa reporter in Basra.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"As a reporter for a US-backed radio station in the southern city of Basra, Majid al-Brekan had received threats before - but none like this. One day in late March, as Brekan slipped into the driver's seat of his car in front of his house, he noticed three masked men riding on a motorcycle behind him. Fearing trouble, Brekan quickly turned on his ignition and slammed on the accelerator. The men shot and damaged his car, but Brekan escaped without injury. ... 'We are fearful and cautious about our work,' said Brekan, who works for Radio Sawa - an Arabic language radio station, funded by the United States government and broadcast throughout Iraq. 'We can't report the full story in detail because no one protects us.'" Electronic Iraq, 2 October 2007.

U.S. public diplomacy to Europe: two views.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"We've been bad at looking after our allies over the past five years, bad at thanking them or compensating them for military contributions to Iraq, bad at maintaining very basic aspects of public diplomacy, such as student-exchange programs. Still, NATO will not fall apart because our president has been rude to his German counterpart or a few Britons don't get scholarships. NATO will fall apart, however, if its American leaders are perceived as inept." Anne Applebaum, Washington Post, 2 October 2007. "We're expanding cultural exchanges, welcoming Hungarian musicians and drama groups, dancers and visual artists, to the United States, and in May, Sando Benko and his Dixieland Band played his 50th anniversary concert here in Hungary -- with a letter of congratulations from President Bush delivered by Ambassador Foley." Karen Hughes, State Department press release, 2 October 2007.

The media scene in Burma.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Everyone was glued to the radio waiting to hear the latest news from the BBC and Voice of America." BBC News, 1 October 2007. "Since the ruling junta started clamping down on the protests, the flow of information has dramatically slowed." BBC News, 2 October 2007. "A growing number of citizens in Yangon are shutting off the government-run nightly newscast, trying to send the subtle message to authorities that they are tired of listening to their propaganda, residents said Tuesday. Most are switching off the news for the first 15 minutes of the hour-long broadcast... . While the average Burmese must endure the staid, government news, more prosperous citizens long ago turned to Radio Free Asia or BBC for an accurate depiction of events in the country. Others also count on the Internet, which was shut down after protesters effectively used it for weeks to publicize the growing protest and subsequent crackdown." AP, 2 October 2007.

On Saipan public radio station, BBC is out, Radio Australia is in.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Since Saturday, [KRNM] has already stopped airing four programs distributed by Public Radio International-BBC News, Echoes, Living on Earth and Selected Shorts. The move is projected to save the station some $18,000 in its annual programming dues. ...the station would still have news programs. The station would be realigning its satellite dish at the NMC campus to receive news feeds from Radio Australia, which provides news programs at no cost." Saipan Tribune, 3 October 2007.

Religious international broadcaster is hiring.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"'CVC Voice Africa' is an English language radio service that will be launched into Africa in the final quarter of 2007 from our Cape Town studios as a 24 hour, 7 day a week signal, broadcasting to the continent of Africa, via shortwave, FM & AM affiliates as well as satellite and the internet. Its target group is 15 - 30 year olds seeking to know real answers to Life." Bizcommunity.com, 2 October 2007.

BBC World News America is on the air.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"If you're a regular viewer of the evening newscasts on the three broadcast networks, you probably don't recall seeing much reporting out of Myanmar before last week's unrest. But if you're part of the BBC's regular audience on TV, radio or the Internet, you likely have a better handle on events in the Asian country. That's a selling points for the new one-hour BBC newscast targeting American TV viewers." Tim Cuprisin, Milwakee Sentinel Journal, 30 September 2007. "BBC World News America" won't ignore breaking news from the United States — but if you're looking for extensive coverage of a tornado blowing apart some mobile homes, it's best to turn to the American networks. AP, 1 October 2007. See also BBC World News America web page.

A hotel television wish list.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Whenever I travel on business in Europe or Asia, the in-room television offers a tasty buffet of English-language and business-news options: CNN International; BBC World Service; CNBC; Bloomberg; Deutsche Welle; France 24; and many more. (There are lots of foreign-language news services too.) But in the United States, hotels are content to provide just CNN Headline News, which is virtually useless when it is broadcasting the rants of Nancy Grace or Glenn Beck." Joe Brancatelli, Condé Nast Portfolio, 2 October 2007.

To let them in, or not to let them in.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
Rep. Sam Farr (D-California) introduces the "Improving Public Diplomacy through International Travel Act." "Here's why: Foreign visitors don't feel welcome. International travelers say America has the world's worst entry process." Santa Cruz Sentinel, 28 September 2007. "Then why, despite her professed high regard for public diplomacy and the free exchange of ideas as key tools in the arsenal of U.S. foreign policy, is [Secretary] Rice permitting so many visas to be denied to foreign scholars who have been invited to the U.S. to engage in the free trade of ideas? The list is lengthy and growing." Stanford G. Thatcher, 30 September 2007.

ITVS: it's not the Voice of America.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Can documentaries by independent filmmakers promote global understanding? A $19 million initiative to be announced today by ITVS International, a unit of the federally mandated Independent Television Service, plans to try, by financing work by foreign filmmakers to be shown on American television and by arranging distribution of American-made independent movies abroad. ... Representative Tom Lantos, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, praised the initiative to take American films abroad, saying: 'It’s not the official Voice of America, but the voices of America. They penetrate into a variety of countries in a very unobtrusive and micro level.'" New York Times, 1 October 2007. "The Independent Television Service (ITVS) announced today that beginning in October 2007 and continuing throughout 2008, nearly 40 programs created by independent producers around the world will premiere to audiences across the United States via broadcast on PBS and the digital PBS World channel and on major commercial channels such as Sundance Channel and National Geographic Channel (six broadcasters in all) and via digital distribution and mobile phone." ITVS press release, 1 October 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Obit recalls VOA of WWII.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
AP reporter Morris Rosenberg "went abroad ... with the Office of War Information, an early government propaganda group. He spread leaflets in North Africa, Italy and Yugoslavia. Rosenberg met his wife through his adventures in Belgrade. Home on leave, he stopped at the Voice of America office in New York where Lucie Sternberg was working as a broadcaster. She was sending broadcasts to her former home in Zagreb, now part of Croatia, and when Rosenberg shared his overseas pictures, she recognized faces from her past." News & Observer (Raleigh NC), 30 September 2007.

Sputnik and other shortwave memories.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"Little Sputnik 1 caused a sensation 50 years ago this week when it began to orbit Earth, producing a strange beep that people could tune in with a short-wave radio." Orange County Register, 1 October 2007. "The soft beeping at 20.005 and 40.002 MHz in the short wave radio bands was the loudest alarm clock since Pearl Harbor." Wall Street Journal, 1 October 2007. "As one highly experienced US Army general said at the launch of a NATO communications satellite, 'This thing has to work! None of you were in World War 2, so you don’t know what it is like trying to fight a war using shortwave radio.'" The Space Review, 1 October 2007. "When I first arrived at [Armed Forces Network Europe] in October of 1966, anything we got from the States was sent on short wave. Sometimes the quality was very marginal, but it was the only thing we had." Stars and Stripes, 1 October 2007. "A Des Moines man flew choppers over Vietnam at night in '69 just so he could pick up games on his shortwave radio." Des Moines Register, 1 October 2007.

Now transmitting from your coffee table: Pridnestrovie.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"New book entitled Hier Spricht Radio PMR/This is Radio PMR is a coffee table book with photos from Pridnestrovie (a.k.a Transnistria or Transdniester), located between Moldova and Ukraine. Apart from photos - of which there are more than 150 - the book also has text, interview and personal stories of the lives and dreams of many of those who live in the unrecognized country. ... The title, This is Radio PMR, is taken from the call sign of Pridnestrovie's state-run propaganda radio which broadcasts every day in five different languages in a public diplomacy attempt to spread information about what goes on inside the new and emerging country." The Tiraspol Times, 1 October 2007.

Cold War blowtorch has new owner.

Posted: 02 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network monopoly has officially confirmed that it intends to acquire the Transdniestrian Radio and Television Center, which was once the base for Soviet radio broadcasting in the entire Western hemisphere. An RTRBN representative said that the broadcast center will permit it to enter the Moldovan, Transdniestrian and regional Ukrainian markets. In the 1990s, the broadcast center was one of the most powerful in Europe. Its broadcasts were heard in all European countries, the United States, Canada and Cuba. It was also used to jam such stations as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe." Kommersant, 1 October 2007.

Indonesia calling Singapore -- with that old-time brokered religious radio.

Posted: 01 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission in Riau Islands province has criticized a number of radio stations in Batam for selling airtime to religious groups from Singapore, allowing them to broadcast religious programs in foreign languages. ... "There are religious programs from the Confucian, Christian and other religions, and they are aired in English or Mandarin." ...the programs targeted Singapore listeners as the city state does not allow radio programs with religious content." Jakarta Post, 1 October 2007.

A mostly unceremonious end to 77 years of international radio from Italy (updated again).

Posted: 01 Oct 2007   Print   Send a link
The international radio broadcasts of RAI Italy have ended. But the pre-programmed RAI multilingual stream is still playing the usual opening announcements, e.g. Hungarian at 1935. But instead of the news, we hear bland instrumental music as filler.

David de Jong provides a good summary of the closure of RAI shortwave broadcasts at Radio Netherlands Media Network, 1 October 2007. David says that the news in English, French, and German on RAI's "Notturno Italiano" has also ended. However, the RAI International Onde Medie page still lists those three language for "Notturno Italiano." I think David is correct, but perhaps someone in Europe could listen at 2303, 0003, 0103, 0203, or 0303 UTC on 567, 657, or 900 kHz, to see if non-Italian news survives.

NB: David de Jong's writes on 2 October: "I discovered tonight that the English and French newscasts at Notturno Italiano on the mediumwave frequencies of Rai Radio 1 have continued, in contrast to earlier announcements. The German newscasts, however, seem to have disappeared." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 2 October 2007.

RAI's elimination of international shortwave broadcasts did get a brief mention by Italian newspaper columnist Ieri Ernesto Galli della Loggia, as mentiond by Andrea Lawendel in Radiopassionae, 30 September 2007. See also Hard Core DX, 28 September 2007, and Millecanali, 27 September 2007.

See Kim's updated farewell to RAI international radio, with audio excerpts.

See previous post about same subject.