Undersea cable damage slows internet "from Cairo to Colombo."

Posted: 31 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Internet outages disrupted business and personal usage across a wide swathe of the Middle East on Wednesday after two undersea cables in the Mediterranean were damaged, government officials and Internet service providers said." AP, 31 January 2008. "'People should know how to use the Internet because people who download music and films are going to affect businesses who have more important things to do.'" AFP, 31 January 2008.

Glassman promises "global ideological engagement."

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"If I am confirmed, this will be the main focus of my attention: the war of ideas – perhaps better expressed as global ideological engagement. ... The organization disseminates its messages through mass media and the Internet, and our job is not merely to explain and advocate American values and policies but to counter the disturbingly persuasive ideology of the enemy." James K. Glassman at his hearing to be confirmed as under secretary of State for public diplomacy, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 30 January 2008. "When Senate Democrat Robert Menendez asked whether U.S. public diplomacy should 'tell it like it is.' Glassman said 'we have to be honest' adding 'we don't do propaganda.'" VOA News, 31 January 2008. Glassman at hearing: "Our enemies are eating our lunch in terms of getting the word out in digital technology." CNN, 30 January 2008. The most interesting part of the hearing was this exchange (mp3) between Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mr. Glassman. Mr. Glassman's statement that "we don't do propaganda ... It's not particularly effective. ... People have more than one source of information, we can't really fool them very well," is encouraging. However, this and other parts of the hearing suggest that American decision makers still muddle the complementary journalistic role of international broadcasting and advocacy role of public diplomacy. See also Diane Farsetta, PR Watch, 31 January 2008.

VOA broadcaster experienced Benazir Bhutto's photographic memory.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Murtaza Solangi, a Voice of America broadcaster who had been close to BB ... says that many times after interviewing BB for Voice of America, she would call him and request him to delete some portion of her answer. She would tell him the question number and precisely when she had given the answer. Mr Solangi wondered if she had in front her a recording of the interview. But everyone close to her knows that she had a photographic memory." Dr Manzur Ejaz, Daily Times (Lahore), 30 January 2008.

International broadcasters cover the U.S. presidential election.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Former ABC "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel "will be assessing and analyzing the Super Tuesday primary election results on a five-hour edition of 'BBC World News America'" on 5 February. TVWeek, 29 January 2008. See also BBC World press release, 30 January 2008. "BBC World Service and Chicago Public Radio present a major debate on the big election issues live from Chicago on Saturday 2 February." BBCWS website. "On February 4, the Voice of America (VOA) will begin airing a series of in-depth television reports on the impact of U.S. elections on Africa as part of VOA TV to Africa's special U.S. presidential election coverage." VOA press release not found at VOA website, but via Garoweonline, 29 January 2008. CNN International and CNN en Español will simulcast CNN's Republican debate on 30 January, and Democratic debate on 31 January. Multichannel News, 29 January 2008.

Comic book psyop in the Philippines.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"American forces battling insurgents have added two new tools in their arsenals: iPods and comic books. Seriously. In the Philippines, U.S. Army psychological operations officers have distributed 600,000 copies of Barbargsa -- Blood of the Honorable. It's a comic book starring 'Ameer,' a 'practitioner of kuntao, which is a local form of martial arts. Like Zorro or Batman, he dons a mask and vows to protect the downtrodden and innocent victims of terrorists.' ... In Iraq, I saw similar attempts to turn terrorist-fighters into superheroes, for the local kids to idolize. There, a psychological operations ('psyops') team printed up t-shirts showing a stylized, improbably muscle-bound Iraq policeman. 'The real Mujahadeen,' the shirts read." Noah Shachtman, Wired Danger Room blog, 29 January 2008, citing National Defense magazine, February 2008.

National Review mentions international broadcasters.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rasoul Montakhab-Nia, deputy head of the E'temad Melli party of former speaker of the parliament, Mehdi Karroubi, claims he has never spoken to Radio Farda (The Persian section of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty) and that radio station had someone impersonate his voice." From review of Iranian news by Ali Alfoneh, National Review Online, 29 January 2008. "President Bush and Condoleezza Rice appear to be flailing for their legacy. They might turn no farther than imprisoned Libyan dissident Fathi El-Jahmi. ... 'The charges against him appear to relate to his contact with US diplomats before his arrest and to his outspoken interviews in March 2004 with satellite news channels, including Dubai-based Al Arabiya and US-based Al Hurra.'" Michael Rubin, NRO, 29 January 2008. "'Threatened by murder, kidnapping and intimidation, Christians are coming under pressure both from lawlessness and from Islamic radicalism in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province which borders Afghanistan. Most recently, on January 17th a church minister, Sajid William, was shot dead in Peshawar, the capital city of the province.' ... There are far more Christians in Pakistan than, say, Palestinians in Gaza. But will The New York Times, or the BBC, or CNN International, cover a story that doesn’t involve demeaning Israel or the United States?" Tom Gross, NRO, 30 January 2008. Related: "Ajay Topno, a Christian missionary belonging to the Trans World Radio, was killed for his Christian activities among poor people in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, reported the All India Christian Council on Sept. 21." Zenit, 27 January 2008. Trans World Radio is a Protestant evangelical international broadcaster with headquarters in Cary, North Carolina.

Bangladesh: BBC by way of fewer keystrokes.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has teamed up with Bangladesh's leading news website bdnews24.com so its users can listen to BBC World Service radio. Thanks to the new partnership, visitors to the 24/7 site across the world can now access BBC radio programmes in English and Bangla." BBC World Service press release, 29 January 2008. This does not add to the number of Bangladesh households that can receive World Service, because anyone who has access to bdnews.24 also has access to www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice. However, some people might see the link to BBCWS audio who would not have listened otherwise. In a 2007 survey, only about 1.5% of adults in Bangladesh say have any type of access to the internet.

Bring the world to Enid, Oklahoma?

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Subscribers complain about the local cable television service. "Glenn Houser [sic] ... complained about content and asked who decides what programming will be allowed. Houser suggested CNN International and the English language version of Arabic television station Al Jazeera be added for additional content." Enid News, 30 January 2008. That's Glenn Hauser of World of Radio.

Aljazeera still waiting for access to India.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Officials from Al Jazeera ... expressed disappointment with [India's] information and broadcasting ministry for delaying permission to the English news channel to downlink in India. ... Though the news broadcaster is focusing on the English news channel, reports suggest an Urdu news channel from Al Jazeera is also in the offing. An official from the Qatari news channel said it would be another year or so until Al Jazeera in Urdu was aired in India. Mr Anmol Saxena, bureau chief, Al Jazeera, India said the government had cited a long wait list of channels wanting to downlink in India as the reason for the delay for the controversial news channel to get permission here. 'But we hope that we will be given the licence in March.'" The Statesman (Kolkata), 28 January 2008. Aljazeera sponsors three-day Cable TV Show in Kolkata. The Financial Express (New Delhi), 28 January 2008.

Involving Aljazeera in the plot.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Parviz Khan, a British and Pakistani passport holder, "formed a plan to kidnap a Muslim soldier in the central city of Birmingham ... tie up the victim, film his murder and release the video to Arab television station Al Jazeera ... with the aim of sowing panic and fear in the British army and public." Reuters, 29 January 2008.

Vuitton will use ads on the international channels to compete with Nutella. Or maybe I should read the article again.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In an unusual marketing move for a fashion and luxury goods brand, Louis Vuitton said Tuesday that it planned to advertise on television for the first time, with a travel-themed 90-second spot that was shot in France, Spain, India and Japan. ... Pietro Beccari, Louis Vuitton’s head of marketing ... said the ad would be particularly useful in reaching new audiences in fast-growing markets like China, where the image of Louis Vuitton may be less established than in Western countries. The company said it would run the ad in 'rigorously selected cinemas' and on cable and satellite channels that were likely to attract well-traveled audiences. These will include news channels like CNN and BBC World, which many business travelers watch in their hotel rooms... . 'We will not use television in the way Nutella is using it,' he said, referring to the chocolate-hazelnut spread. ... 'We will not be on TF1.'" New York Times, 30 January 2008.

U.S. public diplomacy: creating a positive by doubling a negative.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US embassy in Khartoum issued a statement today denying that its charge d’affaires, Alberto Fernandez, was misquoted by Reuters in an interview conducted last week. Hours after the embassy declined to comment to Sudan Tribune on the issue of misquotation, its public diplomacy officer Walter Braunohler said in a statement that 'every quote of the Chargé d’affaires that appeared in the article was accurate'. ... The official Sudan news agency (SUNA) said that [Fernandez] informed foreign ministry officials that he was 'misquoted' by Reuter’s reporter Opheera Mcdoom." Sudan Tribune, 29 January 2008.

The U.S. government shortwave station with a very specific format.

Posted: 30 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
New fiberglass antennas for the National Institute of Standards and Technology's WWVH on Kauai. "The information broadcast by WWVH includes time announcements, standard time intervals, standard frequencies, geophysical alerts, marine storm warnings, and Global Positioning System (GPS) status reports." Frequencies are 2.5, 5, 10, and 15 MHz. NIST press release, 17 January 2008. A similar station, WWV, transmits from Colorado.

How the entities of U.S. international broadcasting are described in the press.

Posted: 29 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Kim [Je-yell], who set up a dental clinic in 1997 in the northeastern city of Rajin, was arrested Nov. 3 by North Korean security officials, according to Voice of America, a U.S. government-funded radio station." AP, 28 January 2008. "Government-funded" is better than "official," see previous post Note that BBC World Service is rarely described as "government-funded." "The North's State Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to hold performances in London and Middlesbrough in September in what would be its largest-ever shows abroad, according to Radio Free Asia. The concerts will be telecast live, added the U.S.-government funded station." Yonhap, 28 January 2008. "The US-backed Al-Hurra television station on Saturday said the Anbar provincial council would not fly the new flag, but Khamis Ahmed, a senior member of the body, denied the report." Reuters, 27 January 2008. "Speaking for VOA, Gary Thatcher, an associate director at the International Broadcasting Bureau, said one of its stringer reporters was killed in Kyrgyzstan in October 2007 after refusing to bow to threats against his reporting. Also, Parnaz Azima, a reporter for VOA-affiliate Radio Farda, was detained in Iran between January and September in 2007." America.gov, 18 January 2008. "The deputy director of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights and head of the League for Defense Of Human Rights in Iran, Abdolkarim Lahidji, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that such amputations are considered torture and an illegitimate form of punishment." RFE/RL News, 7 January 2008.

Ireland no longer calling Northern Ireland on the medium wave.

Posted: 28 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"For generations of Irish nationalists and republicans in Northern Ireland, RTE Radio 1 was a link to the Irish nation beyond the border. Even today, for many in Northern Ireland the 'national' broadcaster isn't the BBC, but RTE. Now, RTE's decision to unplug its medium-wave service on the island has provoked a political row that even encompasses the Good Friday agreement. ... An RTE spokesperson said: 'RTE is acutely aware that listeners in Northern Ireland and the Irish community in Britain need access to Irish news, current affairs and culture. This is why RTE has decided to maintain its LW 252 [kHz] service, which provides approximately 80% coverage in Britain. RTE, unlike other broadcasting corporations, does not have the population or resources to support three frequencies, which are expensive to operate.'" The Guardian, 28 January 2008. "Our audience research tells us that MW listening is largely based on habit rather than necessity. Our job now is to convince MW listeners that there are other ways to listen that are as good as, if not better, than Medium Wave." RTÉ press release, 21 January 2008.

An Aljazeera English "relaunch" later this year.

Posted: 28 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English (AJE), which celebrated its first anniversary last November, is planning a hard relaunch in the second quarter of this year with 'new programmes and new people'. ... 'We are only a year old and I wouldn’t even pretend that we are close to breaking even. We’re not. The advertising cake for television in the Middle East is a relatively small cake and so I think it would be very difficult to break even on that. We have an opportunity now to pick up adverts from around the world.'" Summary of Nigel Parsons speech in Singapore, INSEAD Knowledge, 5 January 2008. The "new people" apparently means getting rid of some of the old people, as evidenced by discontent reported on 22 January 2008 and 19 December 2007.

"Can Censorship still be Effective?" Yes.

Posted: 28 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"I watched the video tapes broadcasted by youtube website for the reconciliation and tolerance rally run in Aden January 13 which al-Jazeera and AL-Hurra TVs were not allowed to cover. After that, I started thinking how fruitless are the government efforts in banning TV reporters from covering the ongoing protests in the southern governorates or any other activities. We do now live in a digital era where censorship and control are no longer effective. ... Access to some independent websites including Yemen Portal, Yemen’s first internet search engine, was blocked to suppress their reporting and criticism." Dr. Mohammed Al-Qadhi, Yemen Times, 28 January 2008. The contradiction in Dr. Al-Qadhi's essay points out the need for international broadcasting to retain access to media more robust than the present-day internet in overcoming censorship and resisting interdiction.

MSNBC Africa launches and is available via free satellite platform. Not so fast, says South African regulator.

Posted: 28 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) warned on Friday that it could block Free2View's satellite signal, or take other action, if the UK-based free-to-air broadcaster continued operating without a licence. Free2View launched its satellite broadcasting services last week, which will provide consumers with access to a variety of channels; such as live news programmes and documentaries for free. ... Elissa Wilding, the chief operating officer of Great Media, the owner of Free2View, said the company was operating legally as its channels were linked directly from the US. Currently, Free2View provides MSNBC, a US-based news channel." Business Report (Johannesburg), 28 January 2008. "MSNBC Africa is a joint-venture between London-based Great Media Limited and MSNBC and is built on the worldwide resources of NBC News. ... 'The expansion is integral to NBC News' commitment to growing its business internationally,' Steve Capus, president of NBC News, commented. 'The opportunities are limitless and as MSNBC continues to grow and thrive within the US, the timing is right for us to increase its global presence as well.' Currently MSNBC Africa is on what is probably Africa's most powerful and biggest KU band satellite footprint, Eutelsat WSA at 7degrees East. 'This will ensure that viewers from SA, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Angola, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Congo, Gabon, DRC, Malawi and Uganda will be able to have the opportunity to view America's fastest news channel.'" Biz-Community (Cape Town), 21 January 2008. "Great Media Limited's Chief Technical Officer Malcolm Ramsay commented at the launch, 'When the majority of Africa lives on a dollar a day, it is unethical to have the audacity to charge for television. The days of monopolies supplying and charging the privileged few for content are over, Southern Africa now has a window to the world, that will engage, entertain and empower.'" Filmmaker South Africa, 21 January 2008. Strange marketing tactic. Marketingweb, 22 January 2008. See original press release, apparently from MSNBC, via TVNewser, 15 November 2007. Consistent with the murkiness of most African satellite television startups, I can't find websites for free2view or for Great Media Ltd.

Kenya: newest chapter of hate radio?

Posted: 28 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a chilling echo of Rwanda's genocidal Radio Milles Collines, media monitors said that programmes and songs played on Kenyan local language stations helped incite tribal killings. ... National broadcasters in English and Kiswahili have been praised for even-handed election reporting and peace-building efforts since fighting broke out. But attention is now focusing on smaller local-language stations serving different tribes, such as Kass FM for the Kalenjins, Lake Victoria for the Luos and the Kikuyu Kameme and Iroono. Presenters running phone-in shows allowed their callers to rant unchecked, Mr Mucheke said, using obscure metaphors to signify to other tribes and provoke retaliation." The Telegraph, 27 January 2008.

Complaints about VOA Somali (updated).

Posted: 28 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Like its predecessor, BBC-Somali, the VOA Somali Service is dominated by [Union of Islamic Courts] supporters." Abdirahman Warsame, American Thinker, 12 January 2008. VOA Somali continues to be cited frequently by other news entities, e.g. Garowe Online, 11 January 2008, and SomaliNet, 11 January 2008. Update: "VOA's Somali Service has interviewed the full range of political leaders and personalities, including those from the Transitional Federal Government, the Union of Islamic Courts, and other relevant political groups. It has presented the views of a wide range of ordinary Somali citizens as well, opening a broadcast space for the public discussion of Somalia's future. Responsibility for preparing these interviews rotates among the staff, and our editors insure that the interviews in no way reflect the personal convictions of the journalists who conduct them." VOA/IBB spokesperson Letitia King, letter to American Thinker, 14 January 2008. "Unlike VOA, the BBC-Somali service is not new to these controversial issues, as many widely believe it has been controlled by UIC supporters and members. Early last year, the Puntland regional government and its parliament voted in favor of a bill to have the BBC radio banned from operating inside Puntland, saying it is 'being partisan and pro-Islamic Courts.' Critics say, as BBC radio has the largest reach inside Somalia; it has been a key part of the prevalent clan media wars for many years." Jimma Times (Addis Ababa), 28 January 2008.

Obama on the Martís.

Posted: 28 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Barak Obama "voted twice to cut off funding to the controversial Radio and TV Marti broadcasts, which receive $35 million a year from the U.S. government to beam anti-Castro programming to the island. The TV station, which receives most of the money, is jammed by the Cubans." Miami Herald, 26 January 2008. Florida is usually a pivotal state in general elections. If Obama is nominated, will he change his stance on the Martís? See previous post about John McCain and Radio/TV Martí.

On YouTube, seven minutes about Radio Havana Cuba (updated).

Posted: 27 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Interesting though not especially critical documentary is produced by Media Television. YouTube, 8 January 2008. Thanks to Mike Barraclough for this news tip. Update: "A recent study revealed that since [Radio Havana Cuba's] foundation in 1961 under the name Short Wave International, nearly one million listeners from 200 countries have sent messages in support of the station and Cuba." Cuba Headlines, 27 January 2008. Interesting that this website, if not originating in Cuba, then at least sympathetic to Cuba, features photos of 1950's era cars on it home page. Those cars are now a matter of pride, or at least something to attract tourists to Cuba.

A Canadian hosts a television program in China.

Posted: 27 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"As a reporter who spent several years in the trenches in Vancouver, I've learned that even that modest experience brings unearned credibility when TV channels are seeking talent in China. I've recently stumbled into what some consider the holy grail of television jobs -- host of a travel show. It all began simply: A channel in Tianjin, about 100 kilometres southeast of Beijing, was seeking a host for a show called BizTraveler. It's patterned after Business Traveler, hosted by the either-love-him-or-hate-him Richard Quest on CNN's International channel." Cam Macmurchy, Victoria Times Colonist, 27 January 2008.

And who said shortwave was dead? (updated again)

Posted: 27 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"30,000 Kilohertz of Sound is a theater group which creates improvised shows inspired by shortwave radio. Its website, www.30000khz.com, says shows '...[take] place in the dark, utilizing shortwave radio transmissions as inspiration.'" Corey's Radio Blog, About.com, 2 January 2008. Review: "Strange radio crackling and beeping filled our ears. Wickens was in the back in a sound booth fiddling with a short wave radio the size of toolbox. Some voices came on. They were talking about insurance, or doctors, I think. It didn’t matter. What did matter was what the comedians back stage would do with the sound clip of material they were just given." Kimberly Thorpe, New York Press, 24 January 2008. Another review. New Yorker, 4 February 2008. "Arriving in May is the Shortwave Set's tentatively titled 'Replica Sun Machine,' which features production by Danger Mouse and a 24-piece orchestra conducted by Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks." Billboard, 25 January 2008. "Shortwave Fade are the winners of the indie/rock showcase at www.slicethepie.com and we will now receive £15,000 to produce our first album!" Shortwave Fade website. Update: "White Flight," by White Flight: "A mess of battered electronic beats, acid-folk yelps and disruptive samples from Bollywood movies and shortwave radio, it makes absolutely no sense. But it might suck you in." Ben Rayner, Toronto Star, 27 January 2008.

Award for former Radio Australia head Jean-Gabriel Manguy.

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
The Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's "Elizabeth R Award for Exceptional Contribution to Public Service Broadcasting, was presented to Jean-Gabriel Manguy for his work as Head of Radio Australia. He left Radio Australia - the international radio service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation - in 2007 after 10 years with the broadcaster." Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, 25 January 2008.

Russians prefer their upbeat domestic media.

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Some foreign-owned media also broadcast news in Russian. One of the most popular, the news channel Euronews, runs nightly and in the mornings on one of the federal TV channels, and 24 hours a day on pay TV and the Internet. Although Euronews has no exclusive coverage of Russia, it broadcasts in-depth reports about European affairs and the news of the rest of the world. Foreign radio broadcasters offering 24-hour news and commentary are Svoboda (Radio Liberty), which is financed by the U.S. government, and the BBC Russian service. Many Russians regard these stations' websites as reliable news sources. Along with Internet news resources, many Russian viewers also have access the major worldwide television news channels such as CNN, BBC World, and CNBC. The Russian public, however, instinctively tends to trust domestic more than foreign media." Maria Yulikova, Transitions Online, 25 January 2008.

Comparative news channels, as viewed in Southeast Asia.

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is great to sit here in SE Asia and still feel in touch with the world. On my cable network I get BBC, Asia News, Bloomberg, and Al Jazeera in English. I only consider Asia News and Bloomberg as being non-partisan and reasonably honest. It seems that BBC has sold out, altho the Brits were never far from the pockets of Arab Oil Money. Al Jazeera is subtly biased, not the drooling, raving, maniacal Arab hordes portrayed in much of the American media. They hire English speakers from the UK, and the women newscasters are beautiful, caucasian, often blonde, and have that sexy English accent with none of the harsh edges. Al Jazeera is very astute." barak's blog, Capitol Hill Blue, 26 January 2008.

VOA, damned by analogy.

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Our meeting [in Moscow], which took place Sept. 10-14, 2007, was sponsored by the Valdai International Discussion Club, an annual gathering of 40-45 experts from the West who meet informally with their Russian counterparts to discuss where Russia is heading. The event, which serves as part of the Kremlin’s public relations efforts, is jointly sponsored by the Russian state news agency, RIA Novosti, and the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, an independent organization providing foreign policy expertise. (In the United States, the best analogy would be to sponsorship by the Voice of America and the Council on Foreign Relations.)" Nicolai N. Petro, University of Virginia's A&S Online, 23 January 2008.

Most interesting recent headline (updated).

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"VOA to host world ski event." Middletown (OH) Journal, 22 January 2008. Actually the 2008 Junior US Open Waterski Championships will be held 20 and 21 June on the 35-acre lake in our favorite park, the Voice of America Park in West Chester Township, Ohio -- the former VOA Bethany transmitting station. Meanwhile, at the site of a proposed but never constructed VOA transmission site in Washington state: "Clallam County’s gun owners showed up in record numbers last week to speak out against a management plan that could end hunting in the Dungeness Recreation Area on Voice of America Road northwest of Sequim." Sequim Gazette, 23 January 2008. See previous post about this site in Washington. -- Update: Back in Ohio: West Chester Township trustees give preliminary approval to spend $1.75 million for renovations to the Voice of America transmitter building, adjacent to the park. Cincinnati Enquirer, 24 January 2008. See previous post about same subject.

An Indian critique of BBC World priorities.

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"One evening last week, on the day Heathrow airport was temporarily shut after a British Airways aeroplane made an emergency landing, a few friends were sitting before a TV and carrying out a conversation. Learning of the airport’s closure from an Indian news channel, we were anxious to know more. 'Switch to BBC,' someone advised. 'I don’t think you’ll get much there,' I cautioned, 'More likely they will be covering Kenya.' It was a flippant but strangely accurate aside. BBC World Service was indeed showing Kenya with a quivering tone it reserves for Third World disasters. CNN, on the other hand, was covering the incident at Heathrow in great detail." Swapan Dasgupta, The Telegraph (Calcutta), 25 January 2008.

Making do with Aljazeera.

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"As a journalist, I abhor all censorship and welcome any free exchange of views, even those as false and inflammatory as sometimes find expression on Al-Jazeera. There's also no doubt that the Israeli government cannot afford not to take advantage of the platform that Al-Jazeera sometimes provides for it to present its views in Arab media markets which otherwise would not permit any Israeli representation at all." Calev Ben-David, Jerusalem Post, 24 January 2008.

NBC buys into India's NDTV.

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"NBC Universal is picking up a 26% stake in a unit of New Delhi Television for $150 million, as higher advertising revenues and an expanding market for cable television in India drives growth. ... 'This will be a significant investment in an important emerging market and further illustrates our commitment to expand internationally, particularly in high-growth areas.'" Forbes, 22 January 2008.

A shortwave admixture (to be taken with grains of salt).

Posted: 26 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"I heard [Bobby] Fischer on a short-wave radio broadcast one night in the late ‘90s, playing R&B records and railing against an international Zionist conspiracy, his paranoia fairly rattling the speakers." Courtney Haden, Birmingham (AL) Weekly, 24 January 2008. I was never aware that Fischer had a shortwave program, but articles written in 1962 and 1971 mentioned that he listened to shortwave. -- "In Vietnam in 1969. On a slow day ... a fellow soldier offered to turn on his shortwave radio, strictly prohibited in war zones, and wanted to know which station to play. 'I spoke right up and said, "930 WKY". ... After fine-tuning to the station, the soldiers were greeted to the sounds of the Four Seasons singing 'Walk Like a Man' and 'Sherry,' along with [WKY DJ Ronnie] Kaye's voice." The Oklahoman, 25 January 2008. Reception of this five kilowatt Oklahoma City station in Vietnam would be theoretically possible, but unlikely. Shortwave is not a means to hear medium wave (AM) stations beyond their normal range. Update: Glenn Hauser informs: "AFRTS, then on shortwave, had some programs featuring hometown radio stations, altho even then was mostly talk. More likely something like that would have
been on AFVN, not SW," i.e., the U.S. Armed Forces Radio within Vietnam, which had its own DJs.
-- "I had grown up with Test Match Special, broadcast from England on short-wave radio, and from it had formed a particular - and peculiar - idea of English commentators and English cricket grounds." Soumya Bhattacharya, cricinfo, 23 January 2008.

Alhurra's video scoop (updated).

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in confusion for a third straight day regarding the security collapse in Basra, Nasiriya and Diwaniya, as eyewitnesses told az-Zaman that police fired randomly in residential areas to surround elements opposed to Maliki's rule and Iranian influence. The chief of police in Basra vowed to punish policemen who appeared on the video, aired on the American al-Hurra TV, beating up an injured man who was bleeding." Az-Zaman (Iraq, London) via Middle East Times, 21 January 2008. Update: "Radio Sawa has the bloody footage. Check it out." David Axe, Wired Danger Room blog, 22 January 2008.

TV Martí. It's not pork. It's puerco.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
While campaigning in Florida, John McCain "spoke to issues close to the heart of the Cuban-American community, reiterating his support for funding for Radio and TV Martí, the U.S. government-funded broadcasts to the island that have been under fire in recent years by those who question their reach and effectiveness. 'I'll spend anything that's necessary for the cause of freedom,' McCain said. 'We know what won the cold war: Radio Free Europe... and other means of communication that inspired hope in those who were living under communist oppression the same way that Radio Martí inspires hope in people who are living in one of the most brutal and oppressive governments in history.'" Miami Herald, 21 January 2008. "As president, John McCain will work to ensure that money spent by Congress, and contributed by hardworking American taxpayers, is used wisely and prudently on legitimate national priorities, not squandered on wasteful pet projects and special interest earmarks." McCain for President website. TV Martí's signal, whether terrestrial or via satellite, is relatively easy to block. Much more difficult to block is Radio Martí via shortwave, but this works best by transmitting on as many frequencies as possible from as many disparate sites as possible. So the fiscally conservative solution would be to 1) shut down TV Martí, 2) restore Radio Martí shortwave transmissions from Delano and Greenville Site A, and 3) maybe hire shortwave time from other sites.

A Cuban-Iranian jamming axis?

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the most troubling threats in America's backyard is the emerging axis of Cuba's Communist regime and the Iranian government, assisted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Cuban President Fidel Castro has been cultivating the Islamist regime in Tehran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Currently, the relationship focuses on jamming radio and television broadcasts. ... In July 2003, the Cuban dictator began jamming Voice of America transmission as well as radio stations operated by Iranian democracy advocates." Editorial, Washington Times, 23 January 2008. So the Cubans and Iranians, both of whom jam foreign broadcasts, are now helping each other in this endeavor? News to me. The 2003 jamming of satellite transmissions to Iran from Cuban soil was short-lived. Reports were that it came from an Iranian embassy compound and was shut down by Cuban authorities. See Asia Times, 22 August 2003.

One attempt to make money from international broadcasting.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Thanks to the media and the Internet, a form of 'global' or 'world' English is now spreading that is starting to rival the previous standard forms of British and American English. ... Audioster (http://www.audioster.com) is the first web service to propose a new lesson every day on an international subject by selecting the best reports from Voice of America radio." Edulang press release, 22 January 2008. But it will cost you from €2 for 24 hours to €149 for one year. Cheaper, i.e. free, to go to www.voanews.com.

International broadcasting directors alarmed that they may again have to rely on shortwave (updated again).

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The directors of the BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and the Voice of America issued an unprecedented joint resolution denouncing what they termed growing trends towards media restrictions and attacks on journalists in many of the countries to which they broadcast." From the statement: "Particularly disturbing are new efforts by some governments, through the licensing and regulatory process, to restrict or forbid local rebroadcasts of our programs on radio and television through local partnerships. And more states are deliberately interfering with broadcast signals or are attempting to block or censor the Internet." VOA press release, 7 January 2008. Also available as BBC World Service press release, 7 January 2008. And Radio Netherlands press release, 8 January 2008. Update: "In recent years, international broadcasters have adapted their transmissions away from traditional shortwave frequencies in favor of using local affiliates and television stations because fewer people are listening to shortwave transmissions worldwide. The practice has saved money and improved the quality and availability of reception, but also has placed the broadcasters more at the mercy of the institutions and governments in the host countries. Deliberate interference or jamming of signals by some governments still is an issue and has expanded to blocking Internet access. Most recently, local rebroadcasts in some countries are being restricted or discontinued, often because of government licensing and regulatory processes." America.gov, 18 January 2008.

The speech that was "Trotskyed" from the State Department website.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Speech by Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush's special envoy on North Korea, was removed from the State Department website. "Unclear who airbrushed -- or as they say at Foggy Bottom, Trotskyed -- the transcript." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 23 January 2007. "We're sorry. That page can't be found and may have been moved." State Department website. But the Google cache feature found the deleted transcript. "The State Department has taken the unusual step of publicly disavowing the remarks of special envoy Lefkowitz, who said Thursday North Korea is not serious about giving up its nuclear weapons, and is only using the Chinese-sponsored six-party talks as a way of extorting aid." VOA News, 18 January 2008.

The murky culture war payroll.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
On intellectuals funded by the "C.I.A. as part of its propaganda war against the Soviet Union. ... perhaps the most successful use of 'soft power' in American history. ... There’s enough ethical quicksand here to sink an aircraft carrier. It’s clear that the C.I.A.’s cultural war wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if it had been public (if only because Congress would never have agreed to subsidize the American liberals, European Socialists and avant-garde artists that the sophisticated C.I.A. was happy to take under its wing)." New York Times Paper Cuts blog, 23 January 2008.

HCJB Ecuador will stay on shortwave a bit longer.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Religious broadcaster HCJB in Ecuador granted at least six month extension before dismantling the last of its shortwave antennas, necessary to make way for airport construction near Quito. ... 'T this means that we can continue broadcasting on two shortwave frequencies to Brazil. ... It also means we can continue with test transmissions of digital shortwave signals to Europe and other countries while opening the way to digital shortwave broadcasting to Brazil.'" DRM shortwave will be used to feed the HCJB local operation in Brazil. HCJB press release, undated, January 2008.

Iranians have taken to text messaging.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The SMS craze has reached epidemic proportions, creating an invisible but booming social network that is far more extensive than it might appear. It has ceased to be merely a way of sending a quick alert, and become a method of political and cultural discourse, filling the gap left by the dearth of free and independent media of the conventional sort. ... Within a few days of the start of petrol rationing this summer, a text message has spread across the country like wildfire. The joke read, 'Ahmadinejad was asked what people without petrol should ride on. He replied that they should ride on the 17 million who voted for him.' That message was soon up on weblogs in places as far apart as Khuzestan, Mashhad, Tabriz, Esfahan and Tehran; it was cited by Voice of America’s Persian service and got a mention from Ebrahim Nabavi, a well-known Iranian satirist living abroad." Peyvand, 23 January 2008.

All that BBC Worldwide experience will now be unleashed on pre-schoolers worldwide.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"International broadcaster and distributor of thematic channels, Chello Zone, a subsidiary of Chellomedia, has announced the appointment of Wayne Dunsford as General Manager of the recently launched global pre-school channel JimJam. ... Dunsford brings almost 20 years of extensive experience in channel management to the role, from the initial development of BBC-branded channels in continental Europe including the launch of BBC TV Europe, the BBC’s first continental European channel – later renamed BBC World Service Television - to Director of Channels, EMEIA at BBC Worldwide. Responsible for driving the growth of existing BBC Worldwide channels and developing new channel propositions, his successes included creating and launching BBC Food in Africa, Europe and the Middle East as well as developing BBC Japan and a version of BBC Prime for Asian markets." 4rfv.co.uk, 24 January 2008. See also www.jimjam.tv.

CBC outsources its international program sales.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"CBC/Radio-Canada has received Board approval to proceed with the sale of international distribution rights and assets currently managed by CBC's international sales division to Fireworks International... . The deal, first announced December 18, 2007, includes international rights to CBC's program catalogue of approximately 135 active titles, comprising 700 hours of quality television programming, plus all of the liabilities and receivables associated with the catalogue. ... 'We believe this represents ... an opportunity for greater exposure and sales internationally.'" Canadian Broadcasting Corporation press release, 23 January 2008.

Zim columnists launch offensive against Western broadcasters.

Posted: 25 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Peta "Thornycroft, on a weekly basis continues to freely file stories that demonise Zimbabwe and its leadership on the pirate radio station, Studio 7 of the Voice of America. She also writes freely about all the negative issues she can think of regarding the Government of Zimbabwe, with no comebacks." Stephen T. Maimbodei, The Herald (Harare), 24 January 2008. See previous post about Thornycroft's Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women's Media Federation. -- "This is why the BBC was banned from Zimbabwe, because it was partisan and acting on behalf of the British government who have an agenda against Zanu-PF and the Government it leads, an agenda they have sought to internationalise. It is true that the ordinary Zimbabwean can afford a satellite dish and can tune and view the BBC and many other international television and radio stations." Leo Makombe, The Herald (Harare), 22 January 2008.

During crises, television news is sometimes available only via radio.

Posted: 24 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
In Gaza: "From small transistor radios, people listened to Al-Jazeera news broadcasts on local radio stations throughout the day. This was their only link to the world, as no newspapers are reaching the Strip either." Palestine Media Center, 23 January 2008. "Fortunately for those who wanted all-Gaza, all-the-time, there was still Al-Jazeera, which had been on the scene with live broadcasts and commentary from the very moment that Hamas had decided to cut the power in Gaza and send it into darkness on Sunday night. Indeed, so ready was Al-Jazeera with live coverage of candle-bearing Palestinian children and immediate reaction from across the Arab world, that Israeli officials said Tuesday they strongly suspect the Arab news network had coordinated its coverage in advance with the Hamas leadership." Calev Ben-David, Jerusalem Post, 22 January 2008.

New hardware will allow Guam public radio to relay Radio Australia and RNZI.

Posted: 23 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"KPRG [Agana, Guam] recently took advantage of advancing computer technology and replaced the old double-satellite link with a less costly and more flexible broadband connection. The move frees up the KPRG satellite dish to receive programming from other sources such as Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand International, in order to add a Pacific regional focus to KPRG's existing fare of news programming from NPR, BBC and other sources." Marianas Variety, 23 January 2008.

Even the BBC chairman has trouble with the BBC World-this-and-that nomenclature.

Posted: 23 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons: "I’m very clear that there are those who believe there are other ways the BBC could be funded. Indeed, government has itself decided that in BBC World the BBC should have a trading arm actively seeking to bring in income to reduce the pressure on the licence fee." icWales.co.uk, 23 January 2008. I think he meant "BBC Worldwide," the international commercial arm of BBC. "BBC World" is the 24-hour English-language global television news channel. "BBC World Service" is the global radio service in several languages. "Under the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949, the BBC is funded by television licensing fees as well as merchandise and programming sale to other markets, including the United States. Foreign BBC enterprises such as BBC America, BBC Canada and BBC World are commercially funded as the Wireless Telegraphy Act doesn't prevent the BBC from raising money commercially in foreign markets." Variety via SyFy, 21 January 2008.

China's soft power will hit harder.

Posted: 23 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Chinese President Hu Jintao has told officials to breathe new life into propaganda efforts, putting renewed emphasis on a key pillar of Communist rule ahead of this summer's Beijing Olympic Games. Hu's remarks at a major party gathering reflected the government's traditional focus on controlling information and guiding public opinion, yet also indicated concern that those efforts were losing their edge in the face of the Internet and other independent sources of information and entertainment. ... The reports did not indicate any direct mention of the Olympics by Hu. However, they said he called for boosting China's 'cultural soft power,' a reference to influence in culture, sports and other spheres outside traditional military might and hard-nosed diplomacy." AP, 23 January 2008. "China is looking to the growth of the South Korean [film] industry as a model to develop a future export industry and as a way of projecting 'soft power' to the region and the world." Radio Australia, 23 January 2008.

Reports: RFI off of FM in The Gambia (updated).

Posted: 23 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Listeners of Radio France International (RFI) in The Gambia have in recent days had cause to scramble for alternative sources of news, entertainment and all other services hitherto made accessible to them by the FM station, which has been out of transmission since Tuesday, 15th January. Meanwhile in a news release from the Department of State for Communications, Information and Technology, the department has repudiated with resentment a news report carried out by RFI claiming that some terrorists who murdered four French nationals in Mauritania escaped through Guinea Bissau to the Gambia." The Point (Banjul), 21 January 2008. "Listeners of the popular radio station have called on the government to reopen the radio. 'RFI is my favorite radio. I listened to its news and other programs. I don’t listen to Radio Gambia because its news is all about promoting the President and his party. With RFI, we can get better idea about current news and international events.'" Landing Badjie, Freedom Newspaper, 21 January 2008. I could not find any mention of this at www.rfi.fr. The Bajul FM frequency of RFI transmitted the 4 1/2 daily hours of RFI English to Africa, with French filling the rest of the day. It is now falling back on the two shortwave frequencies available for each of its English transmissions to Africa. See RFI English web page. Update: "Accra-based pro-media rights body, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), on Tuesday strongly condemned the Gambian authorities for suspending Radio France International (RFI) broadcast in the tiny West African country." Panapress, 22 January 2008. See also MFWA, 22 January 2008. Others Gambian stations closed previously. afrol News, 23 January 2008.

Blunderbuss shots at U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 23 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"A new post of under-secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs was created in the state department to 'engage' the Muslims. President Bush naively thought he could stop religious extremism by lecturing to them that America stood for freedom, justice, opportunity and respect for all. But, since when have empty platitudes changed people's way of thinking? Never." Anjum Niaz, The News International (Karachi), 22 January 2008. "Public diplomacy efforts have an abysmal track record in the Muslim world. If locals are not fond of American foreign policy, no amount of cultural exchanges is going to sway them. Rather the best policy is one of restraint that seeks to win over locals by integrating them into the fabric of the state socioeconomically, culturally, and politically." Lionel Beehner, Huffington Post, 21 January 2008. "The ring finger is for Diplomacy: Sustain the Hope with Public Diplomacy Programs which are specifically designed to bolster a Vision of Hope, and to carry it forward, such as: Empowering Women, Student and Cultural Exchanges, Media Campaigns, Expanding the Peace Corps, and International Conferences." Nissim Dahan, Mideast Youth, 21 January 2008. "Then there is public diplomacy, the effort to explain our view of the just society to Muslim audiences. Surely, there can be bipartisan agreement that spending tax dollars broadcasting Britney Spears into the Middle East is a waste of money. It's also a diversion from what we ought to be doing, which is demonstrating by radio and TV programming for the Islamic world that robust political debate is good for society and can lead to agreement, not chaos. Then there is the Internet. Has anyone begun to think through a comprehensive strategy for countering the jihadist propaganda (and worse) readily available online?" George Weigel, USA Today, 22 January 2008. Do a little bit of research, and the "Britney Spears" radio broadcasts (which are mostly not Britney Spears) make some sense. People in the Middle East are using television for news, current affairs, and "freight." The radio audience is more interested in music. Radio Sawa and Radio Farda appear to be attracting large audiences, who are then captive for brief but substantive newscasts. As for the internet, the State Department already has Arabic speakers working the Arab blogs.

One place where international broadcasting is fashionable.

Posted: 22 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) Latin America, Inc. has reached a long-term distribution, advertising sales and trademark agreement with Fashion TV, the first and only worldwide channel entirely dedicated to fashion, beauty, design and lifestyle. ... As part of this pact, Turner Latin America will continue to distribute Fashion TV (FTV) throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as to the Hispanic audience in the United States." Turner Broadcasting press release, 22 January 2008.

Videos that are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike news.

Posted: 22 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"World Television, the leading video communications company for corporations and governments, has reached agreement with the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to deliver up-to-date video news stories over the Internet, inline with its policy goals. The FCO, the government department responsible for overseas relations and foreign affairs, uses World Television’s Channel Player to display video news items produced in multiple languages by British Satellite News (BSN), the free television news and features service. Video is undoubtedly the most influential tool for organisations to communicate key messages to varied and geographically-disparate audiences. Along with traditional broadcast audiences, the FCO is now able to directly access other audiences through its Channel Player, which is available in both English and Arabic via the FCO’s homepage. World Television has ensured that the Player reaches the widest possible audience by distributing it to a number of third party portals including YouTube and MetaCafe." World Television press release, 21 January 2008. See also World Television website (which does not have the press release). And British Satellite News, "news with a British perspective."

Being an independent nation means experts will write essays about how bad your public diplomacy is.

Posted: 22 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
The symposium "Scotland’s Place in the World will look at how public diplomacy and cultural relations are becoming increasingly important in developing international relations and gaining understanding and influence in today's world. With the election of a minority Scottish Government and the current debate over constitutional change in the UK, it will also examine Scotland's own place in the world and the role that such relations might play." British Council Scotland website. Alas, we missed it. The symposium was on 22 January.

British staff tiff at Aljazeera.

Posted: 22 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a tiff that speaks volumes about the naiveté with which they ventured into the Arab world, the largely British staff at Al Jazeera English is in an uproar over cuts in salaries and benefits and the sense that, as one anonymous insider posted on the Dubai media blog, 'despite many members of staff putting in over 70 hour weeks and not taking leave for over a year, Al Jazeera doesn’t really seem to care.' With some employees quitting and others talking of a strike, the blogger wrote, there is an overwhelming sense in the newsroom that 'we are being used.' Journalists in the Arab world being used? Perish the thought." Lawrence Pintak, Arab Media & Society, January 2008

Pay-TV versus mobile phones in Africa.

Posted: 22 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The astounding take-up of mobile phone usage in Africa has been noticed by both African and international broadcasters. In conflict zones people are sending pictures and video to television stations. Radio talk-shows have become vibrant – and often quite wild – with callers on mobile phones able to easily interact. Informa Telecoms & Media forecast 2008 mobile phone subscription growth in Africa is the highest of all the worlds’ regions, 18.7%, surpassing the Asia Pacific region at 16.05%. ... For pay-TV operators the mobile phone growth rates in Africa are a veritable challenge, simple economics playing the major role. The cost of a satellite dish, set-top box and the subscription fees run 6 to 8 times as pricey as a cellphone subscription, handset included." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 22 January 2008.

The CNN global news expansion: "simple really."

Posted: 21 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Broadcasters desperately seeking a roadmap through the challenges of the digital world could do worse than look at the approach of Tony Maddox. The former BBC newsman who runs CNN International is in the middle of implementing a big idea. While other media organisations are responding to difficult times by cutting back – the BBC alone is getting rid of hundreds of UK journalists – Maddox is expanding: more correspondents, more news bureaux. ... Which is why CNN International let its contracts with the news agency Reuters run out last year, in what many people would consider a very 'courageous' decision. The money saved, plus millions of dollars more, has gone into an expansion of staff journalism. Once you have got your own content, you then use all available methods of distribution to get it to audiences, wherever they are – including YouTube. But it is the content that is in the driving seat, not the delivery platforms. Simple really." Raymond Snoddy, The Independent, 21 January 2008. Interview with CNN's Richard Quest. The Independent, 21 January 2008.

Using Radio Sawa as a news conduit.

Posted: 21 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"As sniping and rocket launching across the border between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Israeli Negev were described as 'war' by Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas of Palestinian Authority threatened to quit peace talks and even to resign his post, according to a report on the State Department-sponsored [sic] Radio Sawa. ... An unnamed source in Mr. Abbas's office wrote to the Gaza offices of Radio Sawa to say the Palestinian Authority chief is 'considering the possibility of ending negotiations with Israel because of the continuing raids on the Gaza Strip,' according to the American government-owned broadcast network's Web site." New York Sun, 18 January 2008. Radio Sawa has Gaza offices?

Radio Pakistan external service drops eight languages, retains seven (updated).

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has decided to retain and reinforce its external service broadcasts in Hindi, Gujrati, Bangla, Pushto, Dari, Persian and Chinese languages. ... The contents of the programmes of these services will be improved in line with the international broadcast partners with more emphasis on news and current affairs along with entertainment, it added. Simultaneously there would be readjustment of broadcast transmitters and the services would be relayed through powerful transmitters to improve the signals of the broadcasts." Associated Press of Pakistan, 5 January 2008. Extrapolating from the Radio Pakistan External Service schedule web page, the following languages would be dropped: English, Turkish, Turki (Turkmen?), Arabic, Tamil, Sinhali, Nepali, and Russian. The schedule also lists an "Assamese Service (English)." Unsure if this is actually English or Assamese. Have these languages already been discontinued? The web page schedule still shows these languages as effective through 30 March 2008. "I had noted that there has been no English from Pakistan the past few days, so I e mailed the organization and asked them if it has been cancelled. In a return e mail, it was stated that this service had been cancelled as of January 5th 2008 (English to Europe 0730-0830 15100 and 17835)." Chris Lewis, England, World of Radio, 9 January 2008, via DX Listening Digest, 10 January 2008. In addition to its "External Service," Radio Pakistan also has a "World Service" for Pakistanis abroad, which includes English at 1600-1615 UTC, and is still listed at this schedule, effective through 30 March 2008. Is this English still on the air? Update: More about the Radio Pakistan external service, from Aslam Javaid, Lahore, in DX Listening Digest, 19 January 2008.

Typical of Americans who assume that if it's international broadcasting, it must be propaganda.

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"This afternoon, Andre Bauer and I were in a tent on the State House lawn, informing the Mideast. Alhurra TV, which is a government-funded agency that broadcasts in Arabic to the region -- it's the Mideast version of Voice of America -- asked me to do a live deal from their setup at the State House. It was my first direct experience with actual, sure-enough propaganda, and I liked it fine." Columnist Brad Warthen's blog at The State (Columbia SC), 19 January 2008.

Why some Americans turn to VOA for news.

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute's "2008 State of the World" report "got covered in Canada, Australia, India, Britain, France and China. Even in turmoil-wracked Kenya, Business Day Africa picked it up. But here? A few specialized environmental news groups took notice. The Voice of America broadcast overseas about it. But there was hardly a whisper out of The Washington Post, or the New York Times, or the Los Angeles Times, or any other major U.S. news outlet." Neal Peirce, Hartford Courant, 20 January 2008.

What happened in Baku?

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Head of the Cabinet’s press service Akif Ali’s complaint against head of Voice of America radio’s Baku bureau Tapdig Farhadoglu ... [was} considered and relevant decisions were passed at the meeting" of the Azerbaijani Press Council’s Commission for Complaints on 18 January. Azeri Press Agency, 18 January 2008. But no information about the decisions.

Towards a new AM-band transmitter for Radio Martí.

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors - Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) has issued a tender for the supply of turnkey services to upgrade the power distribution system at its Marathon Transmitter Station in the Florida Keys. Work involves upgrading one of two existing electrical power services provided by the public utility service to better accommodate the planned installation of a new 100kW mediumwave transmitter system." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 18 January 2008, citing FedBizOpps, 16 January 2008. This is for the Radio Martí AM-band transmitter on 1180 kHz, operating at 100 kilowatts, twice the maximum power of private U.S. AM stations.

Dubai versus London as a pan-Arab media hub.

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
On the decline of London as a pan-Arab media hub: "Although Dubai has boomed spectacularly as the new regional media hub, its recent muzzling of the Pakistani Geo Television channel raises questions about the potential constraints on the freedom of any pan-Arab outlet that establishes itself there. This may not be a pressing practical concern for most. For the politically controversial and independent of state patronage, however, official attitudes to the media will have to change markedly within the Arab world before they can do entirely without a base beyond its borders." Najm Jarrah, Arab Media & Society, January 2008.

British Council: "less appreciated even than the BBC World Service"? (updated)

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Twenty years ago "the British Council was protesting that its budget was half that of the German and US equivalents, and a quarter that of the French. This remains roughly the case today. The council must earn what it can from teaching English - an increasingly competitive business - and selling university courses; but one of its core activities, the supply of local libraries, is pathetically underfinanced. Libraries are still the easiest way of reaching and creating young Anglophiles. In this the council has always been not just the poor relation of the Foreign Office, but less appreciated even than the BBC World Service." Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 18 January 2008. "The British Council is a body at the soft end of soft power." Leader, Financial Times, 18 January 2008. Update: "After the Orange Revolution in Ukraine brought in a pro-Western government, the Kremlin claimed the upheaval had been fuelled by the Americans and openly accused the West of trying to meddle and undermine Russia. Perhaps seen through this veil of Russia's fresh paranoia, books about the British way of life in a British Council library no longer seemed so innocuous. ... Cultural diplomacy is no longer a political backwater." BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall, BBC News, 19 January 2008.

Deutsche Welle not long for the Kurzwelle?

Posted: 20 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a just aired Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenberg radio interview (which will later appear online) Christoph Lanz, the director of DW TV, had been asked about the outcomes of a DW management conference which took place yesterday or a few days ago. His reply in a loose translation of this non-formal talk: 'As an example, we talked about where we will finally say good-bye to shortwave, [reference to DW's history]. In Africa one can certainly not do without it so far, but things are entirely different in Asia although one has to make distinctions there.'" Kai Ludwig, Germany, direct and via DX Listening Digest, 19 January 2008.

Aljazeera: best coverage of "prexy" Bush in the Middle East.

Posted: 19 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"It was Al Jazeera that delivered regional audiences the most extensive coverage of U.S. prexy Bush's Middle East tour. Ironically, the network most criticized by the Bush Administration often provided more exposure to the president's activities than many of the major TV networks in the United States. On several occasions, flagship U.S. evening newscasts at ABC and NBC seemed to flatly ignore the activities of the president in favor of stories covering presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama as well as Brittney Spears." Variety, 18 January 2008. "As Bush arrived in the Persian Gulf region, Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based pan-Arab television station, aired a live hourlong interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who railed against the United States." Los Angeles Times, 19 January 2008. Toronto artist Stephen Andrews' works deal with "the media representations of war. Abu Ghraib and the shattered landscape of Baghdad." His 'research involves reading newspapers (The Guardian is his favourite), watching CNN and Fox News ('the great thing about them is that they are so obviously biased that their slant is readable') ... . When I ask him for his most reliable source, he responds, unequivocally: 'Al-Jazeera/English. No question.' But don't they just peddle their own form of propaganda, I ask? 'Watch it some time,' he says. 'They have David Frost on there as a commentator. It's fantastic. It's the only place you can see images of collateral damage.'" Sarah Milroy, Globe and Mail, 19 January 2008. American Jewish filmmakers who produced a documentary about the commercialization of Christianity "moved outside their comfort zone even further to sell their documentary to Al Jazeera’s newly launched English-language network. Bly was looking for an outlet for his first fully independent film produced by his company Powder Keg Republic, and Al Jazeera’s round-the-clock English broadcast was looking for content to fill air time. 'People advised me against getting involved (with Al Jazeera), particularly since I already had an inflammatory topic. I said, "Who else is offering to air the program?"'" Cleveland Jewish News, 18 January 2008.

Highly placed wives and international broadcasting.

Posted: 19 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
In "exclusive" interview with the VOA Afghanistan Service, First Lady Laura Bush said "she hopes to return as a private citizen and continue working to improve the lives of women and children in Afghanistan." VOA News, 18 January 2008. See also VOA press release, 17 January 2008. And transcript, 17 January 2008. "Exclusive" presumably means that this interview on U.S. government funded VOA was not available to its archrival, U.S. government funded Radio Free Afghanistan. Christine Ockrent, wife of French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner "is reportedly paid about £90,000 a year for weekly three-minute shows in French and English on France 24." The Telegraph, 19 January 2008.

New RFE/RL front-office hires are mostly from the outside.

Posted: 19 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
John N. Catlett, chief operating officer, "was the final manager of the legendary Radio Luxembourg, and he introduced the first private radio stations to India in 2001 for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation." Ricki Green, senior editor, "was producer and executive producer of Washington Week in Review, PBS's longest running public affairs program." John O'Sullivan, executive editor, "helped found the Canadian daily, the National Post [and was] editor of the magazines The National Interest and National Review." Julia Ragona, chief broadcast operations officer, joined RFE/RL in 2003 and was previous director of marketing and affiliate development. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 16 January 2008. "It's rather rare that international broadcaster RFE/RL adds several new people at once to its top ranks. President Jeff Gedmin has certainly been on a talent hunt. I've known John Catlett since the Metromedia Radio days. He's an extraordinary manager with great depth in international broadcasting." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 20 January 2008.

Radio Netherlands' new FM strategy in India.

Posted: 19 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands "plans to create local content for Indian private FM stations customized to local preferences. ... RNW is present on shortwave (SW) and Worldspace, but the response is not encouraging, 'Due to the increase in the number of FM stations in India, our shortwave audience is declining. Instead, we are now seeking partnerships with Indian radio stations. We think this is the right time since there are so many new radio stations starting up in India. RNW already has partnerships with 3000+ radio stations worldwide. We have a lot of experience in working through this model. We will be distinguishing ourselves by thinking globally, but acting locally.' ... It also plans to explore possibilities in other multimedia platforms like DTH, mobile and cable." Radioandmusic.com, 17 January 2008. This new strategy does make sense, but keep this in mind: the Indian private FM stations cannot broadcast news, either their own or that of international partners. They can relegate your programs to fringe hours. They can drop your programming when they get bored with it. International radio stations like to mention their umpteen thousand partners around the world, but usually this means agreements had, at one time, been signed with umpteen thousand partner stations. It does not necessarily mean that those partner stations are actually using your programs now. Shortwave may be passé, but it least its a way to get your radio program to every square kilometer of India at the time of your choosing.

Trans World Radio medium wave relay in Benin is on the air.

Posted: 19 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The transmitter was powered up and audio is fed into it. All went well. However, due to the defective insulator, the test transmissions are only at 50kW (half power) and 100% modulation. ... As [TWR personnel] drove south through Benin from Parakou to Cotonou, they listened to the signal. They could still hear it all the way into the capital, a five hour drive (300km) during daylight!" Trans World Radio-Africa, 17 January 2008. "Once in operation, the broadcasts will reach Benin, Togo, parts of Nigeria, Ghana, Mauritania, Algeria, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso." TWR UK website. "With at least 15 languages reaching into 9 countries, they will be able to reach areas that are difficult to reach, such as northern Nigeria. There is a specific group that they hope they will be able to impact. 'We'll broadcast on a regular basis, every night, and Islam is growing there.'" Mission Network News, 17 January 2008. The transmitter is on 1566 kHz. Protestant evangelical Trans World Radio has its headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. Previous reports about the Benin facility have mentioned that it has room to add shortwave transmitters.

Old news: Ethiopian jamming (updated).

Posted: 19 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The chairperson of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, Hassan Shire Shiek, says the Ethiopian government has created stations to deliberately disrupt the signals of DW and VOA’s Amharic and Oromifa programs." VOA News, 16 January 2008. This does not really update the report by VOA News, 26 November 2007. Update: "Listeners are encouraged to call and inform VOA which line is jammed and which one is clear and the cat and mouse game will go on for the near future. It is sad VOA's board is not coming out in the open and give its ultimatum to the Ethiopian regime." Tedla Asfaw, AfricanPath, 17 January 2008.

Back in the news: the VOA Israeli relay that never was.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Fifteen years after one of Israel's most important environmental battles, the proposed construction of the Voice of America radio station in the northern Arava, the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) again claims that the region is in serious environmental danger. ... [Hothouses are proposed] where the Voice of America high-power transmitters were planned. The fight over the radio station began in the late 1980s, when the Israel agreed to the U.S. request to build the station, to be able to broadcast to what was then the Soviet Union. The plan was canceled in 1993 after a battle by environmentalists, which included an appeal to then vice president Al Gore." Ha'aretz, 17 January 2008. Preparations for the relay facility were officially conducted by a subsidiary of RFE/RL Inc., because such business was more easily conducted by an "excepted" U.S. government funded corporation than by a government agency. (I can't remember the name of the subsidiary.) Both VOA and RFE/RL would have used the relay station.

Were Tomlinson, Rove, Murdoch, and the neocons behind the VOA service cuts?

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Journalists at the Voice of America (VOA) have long been up in arms over the move by the Bush administration and members of the International Broadcasting Board (IBB) [sic] to shut down traditionally independent VOA radio broadcasts into key parts of the world and provide more support for more politically-biased broadcasts that hew to the neocon line. The move to close some VOA broadcasts were supported by then-Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman Ken Tomlinson, a longtime friend of right-wing GOP operatives, including Karl Rove, who was recently signed up by the Washington Post Company's other major publication, Newsweek, as a columnist. The IBB favors forcing international listeners of the VOA to broadcasts by Alhurra, the Arabic language satellite TV channel; Radio Sawa, the Arabic language radio network; Radio Farda, the Persian language radio station that broadcasts into Iran; Radio Free Afghanistan; Radio TV Marti, that broadcasts into Cuba; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that broadcasts into the former USSR and Eastern Europe; and Radio Free Asia, that broadcasts into China, North Kore, Southeast Asia, and Tibet. The curtailment of VOA broadcasts is also intended to force more people to the right-wing satellite networks operated by Rupert Murdoch's worldwide media empire." Wayne Madsen, OpEdNews.com, 16 January 2008.

Death of Frank Baba, former chief of VOA Japanese Service.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Frank Baba, a Japanese-American who helped launch Japan's post-World War II broadcasting industry as a member of the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces, died of old age in California on Wednesday, his family said. He was 93." Kyoto, January 17 2008. Thanks to Masao Hosoya for this news. Mr. Baba was a former chief of the VOA Japanese Service, which closed in 1970. He also worked for USIA and was instrumental in developing Japan's post-war broadcasting system. See Japanese-American Veterans Association of Washington DC Newsletter, January/February 2001.

But cats will not be herded, nor will they coordinate with the president.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
A new U.S. Chief Marketing Officer "must have a clear strategy, with a coherent message from the president, to improve America's brand overseas and, just as important and absent today, be the internal facilitator across all the touch points of our brand... the herder of cats. This begins with our own government. Everybody who works for the U.S. government overseas is a representative of America, and they will shape America's brand. But, the CMO's work cannot end with employees and representatives of the U.S. government. The CMO must reach out to private sector influencers and provide them with resources and strategy for showing the world what's great about America. We need that super-coordinator reaching out to, coaching, cajoling and inspiring to align all these communicators, including domestic and international business leaders, our relief workers abroad, U.S. travelers, Hollywood celebrities, our own folks in media, academia, NGOs, etc. The role of our many potential 'ambassadors,' cannot be underestimated." Keith Ferrazzi, Huffington Post, 16 January 2008.

Searching for the Aljazeera-al-Qaeda connection, 130 times.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Exclusive" interview with brother of Aljazeera cameraman held at Guantanamo: "Sami Al-Haj is a victim of a political operation against Al Jazeera, which Washington does not approve of. And as evidence of this is the fact that he was interrogated 130 times. And during these times, the interrogations were all about Al Jazeera and alleged relations between Al Jazeera and al-Qaeda." Democracy Now!, 15 January 2008.

PsyOp: replacing their graffiti with our graffiti.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Members of the 318th Tactical Psyops Company "press the flesh, meeting people, asking about their problems, how the U.S. military can help, if people who fled the area are moving back. At the same time, they keep a sharp eye out for graffiti praising insurgents or promoting sectarianism. 'Over there,” Michael, an Iraqi interpreter on a patrol, said while pointing at a wall along a deserted and garbage-strewn street. 'It says "Long live the mujahedeen."' Bowyer and Michael jumped out of their Hummer, spray cans in hand. As Bowyer covered the graffito, Michael sprayed a new message: 'Mujahedeen -- if you fight Coalition forces you will die. Your fate is in your hands.' Continuing on foot Bowyer and Michael did the same to the infrequent anti-coalition messages they found, erasing the old, replacing it with something new: 'No to Sectarianism, yes to peace' they wrote. 'One people, one Iraq.'" Richard Tomkins, Human Events, 17 January 2008.

Australia, less on the world stage.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Just as other countries, those in our region included, are ramping up programs designed to project soft power, the Rudd Government has decided to scrap Australia's. ... Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner announced this week that more than $20 million would be saved by scrapping the Australia on the World Stage initiative, and 'through reductions in other cultural relations funding'." Rosemary Sorensen, The Australian, 17 January 2008. "Planned events included 'major cultural promotions in key countries including China, Indonesia and the US'." The Australian, 17 January 2008.

Radio Australia may lose its FM outlet on Saipan.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Public radio station KRNM may soon join the growing list of establishments that have gone out of business as a result of the [Commonwealth of the North Mariana Islands] shrinking economy. ... The station was forced to cut back on some of its programs last year because Guam's public radio station stopped using the satellite connection that both stations had shared, and KRNM could not afford to carry the cost on its own. It has turned, instead, to feed from Radio Australia, a public radio station from 'down under.'" Saipan Tribune, 17 January 2008. See also www.krnm.org.

In Seattle, Radio Netherlands bumps BBC.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"KBCS-FM/91.3 is replacing 'BBC World News' with 'World Radio Network' at 5 a.m. weekdays." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 16 January 2008. WRN provides streams of international radio programming, this one in English. It's listed at the KBCS (Bellevue WA) schedule as "World Radio Network." However, according to this WRN schedule, the content at 0500-0600 Pacific Time is Radio Netherlands. So why not just say "Radio Netherlands" in the KBCS schedule?

And today I learned that a a viral game is not something that will (necessarily) damage your computer.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC World Servive "has devised an online interactive football game named after one of its presenters. Farayi Mungazi's Penalty Shootout is to run for the duration of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which begins on January 20. The viral, which will also feature on Facebook, is being used to support the BBC's coverage of the continent's biggest football tournament." Brand Republic, 18 January 2008. "A viral game is a web based game on the Internet that is passed around to your friends, business colleagues and as many people that are unknown to you as possible giving it momentum, they then pass on the link to your game in an email, forum or word of mouth, which then starts a viral chain. There are two main purposes that a viral game serves, and that is business promotion and entertainment." www.viralgame.co.uk/viral_games More about BBCWS Nations Cup coverage. BBC News, 17 January 2008. "It’s a disease that afflicts African soccer fans every two years. Taking antibiotics won’t help you. Applying a bloodsucking leech to your skin won’t help you. Going to see a doctor won’t help you. When you have Nations Cup fever, there’s only one cure: watching Africa’s 16 top football teams compete over three weeks for the continental title." Sonny Young of VOA English-to-Africa's Sonny Side of Sports.

The import and export of television for young people.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Does it matter if [British teenagers] come to consume almost exclusively television programmes that are made abroad? It might. 'Grange Hill' and its ilk tackle awkward subjects that foreign series tend to shy away from, and in a British context that makes them more real to British children. And television helps to mould national identity. ... Finally, exporting programmes is a form of soft power. Big Bird is more famous than Condoleezza Rice; Britain's best ambassadors could well be the Teletubbies." The Economist, 17 January 2008.

Chinese television to Russia and beyond.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The first TV Channel of China will open on Feb. 8 in Russia to give the audiences in the Russian language region a full-scale guide to China, Chinese ambassador in Russia said here on Wednesday. ... The channel will focus on news about Sino-Russian relations, how to do business in China, programs teaching the Chinese language, series on China's art, culture, history, places of interest, and also well-chosen Chinese movies, teleplays, and cartoons. ... When the channel is completed, all residents in the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Balkan countries will receive the programs." Xinhua, 16 January 2008. An ITAR-TASS report in Russian, 17 January, via BBC Monitoring, says that the station's name is "Kitay" and that it "will be available via cable, the internet and mobile telephones." Is this new channel separate from CCTV's international operations? -- China's English-language CCTV-9 now available in Antigua. Antigua Sun, 7 January 2008.

Shortwave lives on, as musical expression (updated).

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood's "'Popcorn Superhet Receiver' — its title taken from a shortwave radio catalog — is an exploration of 'white noise,' a form of electronic noise that embraces every audible frequency and can sound like hissing or static. In its purest form, all frequencies are heard at the same intensity, but Mr. Greenwood takes artistic license: even when the chords are at their densest, melodies emerge as the strings change pitches. ... 'Popcorn Superhet Receiver' will be performed by the Wordless Music Orchestra on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Columbus Avenue at 60th Street; wordlessmusic.org." New York Times, 16 January 2008. Update: Reviewed: "The church was packed, and the audience — not the usual faces seen at classical or even new-music concerts — sat in rapt silence through Mr. Greenwood’s work and early Minimalist scores by Gavin Bryars and John Adams. As it turned out, Mr. Greenwood’s 20-minute work was by far the most viscerally exciting and intellectually engaging of the three." Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 18 January 2008. And, then, there is also the Canadian band Shortwave. Freshdaily Toronto, 16 January 2008. See (or listen to) also www.shortwavetheband.com.

International broadcasting and soft power on the campaign trail.

Posted: 18 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sen. Joe Lieberman was dispatched to Miami’s Little Havana on Thursday to woo influential Cuban-Americans to back GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. ... 'While change in Cuba will come from within, we need to help more,' Lieberman said. 'McCain would make Radio and TV Marti more effective and provide more material support to Cuba’s pro-democracy dissidents.'" Newsmax, 17 January 2008. John McCain's "foreign policy came up hours earlier when [Pakistani journalist] Jehangir Khattak left his lunch table at the Merrimack Restaurant in Manchester to take questions on a Voice of America call-in show broadcast in Pakistan. 'People in the cities have television,' he said. 'But not in the rural areas.' So Voice of America, the BBC World Service and Deutsche Welle are listened to avidly. ... Most of the callers to the show, he said, were ordinary people from the tribal regions that straddled the border with Afghanistan. One asked: 'If there is a change of government in Washington, D.C., will we continue to receive bombs or will we receive some aid, too?'" Irish Echo Online, 16-22 January 2008. "The big, thorny issues of terrorism, nuclear proliferation, rogue states and rising oil prices, do not get solved a la Bush by brandishing military might but rather through persuasion and soft power. Obama is America's soft power. His honeymoon will give him time to extend America's moral power in ways that are likely to yield global dividends. ... No wonder then that a woman journalist from the Muslim world remarked, in a private conversation, 'Elect Obama and we'll forgive you,' a comment that reflects the hunger abroad for real change in America." Henri J. Barkey and Tara Sonenshine, Huffington Post, 17 January 2008.

VOA News Blog discusses VOA news with the VOA audience.

Posted: 16 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"This month the Voice of America (VOA) enters into a dialogue with its Internet audience about its journalistic standards and editorial decisions through the just-launched VOA News Blog. ... The first installments are now online at http://voanewsblog.blogspot.com/. One talks about the new VOA handbook and the principles of credibility, independence, and respect that every VOA journalist must uphold." VOA press release, 15 January 2008. "VOA editorials reflect the official views of the US government. But please note, these editorials are not written by VOA journalists and when used in broadcasts, they are segregated in a distinct bloc of programming to make clear they are NOT part of the news." Alex Belida, editor of VOA News Blog, 14 January 2008.

VOA unhelpfully described, again.

Posted: 16 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America, the official broadcast network of the U.S. government, reports on a worsening of endemic economic problems in [Pakistan] following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in late December." Lee Hudson Teslik, Council on Foreign Relations, via Newsweek website, 15 January 2008. In many instances, it's good to be referred to as the official this or that. But a news organization does not want to be an "official" anything. -- "David Gollust, reporter with Voice of America (VOA), a U.S. government-backed news agency, wrote: 'The action, coinciding with President Bush's visit to Saudi Arabia, is part of a broader U.S. effort to bolster Gulf allies in the face of a more assertive Iran.'" AXcess News, 16 January 2007. Better, although "a U.S. funded but independent international broadcasting service" would be best, obliging VOA to live up to that description.

Sir Edmund Hillary funeral on RNZ and RNZI.

Posted: 16 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio New Zealand [domestic public broadcaster] will provide extensive coverage of the state funeral for Sir Edmund Hillary from St. Mary’s Church in Auckland on Tuesday 22nd January. ... People in the Pacific and parts of South East Asia listening on short wave will be able to tune in to Radio New Zealand International on the frequencies of 15,720 kHz for the analogue service, and 17,675 kHz for DRM." Radio New Zealand press release, 16 January 2008.

Reporting from Harare, anonymously, while millions view (updated).

Posted: 16 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"I am in Zimbabwe undercover, together with two colleagues. The BBC is banned, so it felt particularly good to broadcast live from here for last night's Ten O'Clock News. It's the first time any British television news organisation has broadcast from Zimbabwe since Mugabe refused to let foreign journalists come here. The biggest problem is that BBC World, our international television news channel, has a big following here, especially among the political elite. There's a real danger of being recognised and arrested." John Simpson, BBC world affairs editor, The Independent, 15 January 2008. See also BBC News, 15 January 2008. Update: More press attention to this forbidden BBC foray into Zimbabwe. See AFP, 15 January 2008. And The Guardian, 16 January 2008.

World Service "selling the soul of intelligence to the devil of mediocrity"? (updated)

Posted: 16 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a disastrous loss of confidence, this year the BBC started to sound like the average FM station. Described by critics as the worst catastrophe to afflict the BBC World Service, the Have Your Say programme comes at 7 am and 9 am East African time. The programme’s agenda is said to be set by listeners. Once underway, the tone is set by the angriest, loudest callers. The moderators encourage listeners — presumably a formless, unthinking mass — to enter the ring for a fight. It is like Jerry Springer without the pictures." David Kaiza, The East African (Nairobi), 14 January 2008. Update: This week, Marcel Berlins "listened to the BBC World Service: 'Sleepless, at night, I heard several excellent programmes, not dumbed down.'" The Guardian, 16 January 2008.

Blogging: medium of the young Arabs.

Posted: 14 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Much has been said about how Al Jazeera and other satellite channels in the Arab world have triumphed over state-owned media — but it is one old man's voice challenging another. The so-called 'new media' in the Arab world is still the old making little room for the voices of the young. And bloggers are mostly the young. And blogging is becoming powerful." Mona Eltahawy, Globe and Mail, 14 Janaury 2008.

CRI among Chinese media reporting protests against new chemical plant.

Posted: 14 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Lian Yue posted about 150,000 words related to the ... project on his blog since he first reproduced and posted the report by China Business on March 18, 2007. ... On May 30, he reproduced and posted on his blog a Xinhua news story that the Xiamen city government had announced it would suspend the project. On June 1, he reproduced a story by China Radio International reporting the demonstration against the proposed plant. During this time, it is unknown that how much pressure he endured but significantly on June 9, Lian changed his MSN signature to: Every word you say is under surveillance." China.org.cn, 14 January 2008.

Nothing improves perceptions like an office in New York.

Posted: 14 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Moscow-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation officially registered its New York branch on Dec. 31, several weeks after registering a branch in Paris, the chairman of the foundation said Friday. Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer and member of the Public Chamber, said his foundation's U.S. office would organize expert discussions about elections and human rights issues -- while helping improve Western perceptions of Russia. ... The foundation appears to be the latest attempt to influence foreign opinion about Russia through so-called "soft power" tactics. Another such project is Russia Today, a 24-hour English-language news station funded by the Kremlin." Moscow Times, 14 January 2008.

The dueling videos of the Strait of Hormuz (updated).

Posted: 14 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States and Iran have released contrasting videos showing what they say are details of an incident between U.S. and Iranian naval vessels, which occurred early Sunday morning in the Strait of Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf. The incident first set off a war of words. Now it is a war of competing images." National Public Radio, 11 November 2008. See also Christian Science Monitor, 12 January 2008. And NationalJournal.com/TheGate, 11 January 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: "The threatening radio transmission heard at the end of a video showing harassing maneuvers by Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz may have come from a locally famous heckler known among ship drivers as the 'Filipino Monkey.'" Navy Times, 13 January 2008.

What French-only French international broadcasting would be up against.

Posted: 14 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1999, French was the 11th most common first language in the world, with 77 million first language speakers and another 51 million second language speakers, according to the Ethnologue Report. Even though French retains a flavour of old-world romanticism and is consequently the second most commonly-taught second language in the world (after English), Time magazine rather snidely declared in November that 'France today is a wilting power in the global cultural marketplace' and 'only a handful' of the autumn season's crop of 727 new novels 'will find a publisher outside France. Fewer than a dozen make it to the U.S. in a typical year, while about 30 per cent of all fiction sold in France is translated from English'." Rashmee Roshan Lall, The Times of India, 14 January 2008. See previous post about same subject.

The abundant commodity of anti-Americanism (updated).

Posted: 14 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"This is the dilemma America faces: If it wants to be popular abroad, it will have to pay in terms of reduced security. And if it determines to protect the American way of life from global threats, then it will have to pay in terms of reduced popularity abroad." Soeren Kern, Spero News, 10 January 2008. "That’s not to argue that the United States cannot, and should not, take steps to put in place a smarter foreign policy designed to win it more friends abroad, while at the same time pursuing a robust defense of the national interest. It can, and it should. ... The trouble is that such changes would, I reckon, only alter perceptions of America at the margins. ... The pathologies of anti-Americanism run too deep." Andrew Stuttaford, National Review Online, 10 January 2008. Madeleine K. Albright wrote in her 7 January op-ed, "'I believe our country is still the best in the world.' Are nations competing in a race? ... If we are to move ourselves away from the politics of fear and toward something more akin to Wilsonian idealism, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as the best. This is an empty categorization and one that has nothing to do with patriotism." Philip Kao, letter to the Washington Post, 11 January 2008. Update: "It is essential for the US to argue vigorously for its policies, which it has failed to do. But a point-by-point defence is not enough: the challenge for the US is to break through the story that disposes too many Europeans to be suspicious of anything the US does, and to ignore anything that is not compatible with blaming America first." Ted R. Bromund, Yorkshire Post, 14 January 2008.

Alhurra, Sawa: more Muslim than the Muslims?

Posted: 13 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"An urgent reform, indeed purge, is needed at Al Hurra, the American government-sponsored Arabic-language television network, and Radio Sawa, its radio counterpart. Out with Islamist sensitivity gurus. In with serious anti-Islamofascists who are not confused about who the enemy is. I have listened and watched these two instruments of American foreign diplomacy for years, in shock at the their shallowness and desire to be more Muslim than Muslims themselves. America's war on terror is premised on the rejection of religious tyranny and the separation of mosque and state. These principles must be translated into Arabic programming in America's official voices." Youssef Ibrahim, New York Sun, 14 January 2008.

Should Washington recite the Koran?

Posted: 13 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"If I were directing the U.S. strategic information campaign, I would spend my dollars on collecting photos of the Muslim innocents al-Qaeda has killed and putting below them quotations from the Koran decrying such practices. These advertisements would appear in every newspaper and TV station in the Muslim world where I could buy print space or air time." Gary Anderson, Washington Post, 13 January 2008.

Saipan journalist visits Radio Australia.

Posted: 13 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, "which fills the airwaves of the public radio on Saipan, graciously provided me with a regional media development exposure. ... Hanh Tran, chief-executive-officer of ABC Radio Australia ... sees 2008 as an exciting year for the government-owned radio station. He said Australia’s new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged support for RA’s expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. 'We may have some increased presence in India, Burma and South Korea,' said Hanh. ... 'Our job is not to please any government.' said Hanh who also worked for the British Broadcasting Corp. in London before he moved to ABC’s RA. 'We report things as they are. We are different (from other government-owned stations) in that we are not running any ideological battles and we’re not defending the government. We are politically and commercially independent.'" Gemma Q. Casas, Marianas Variety, 14 January 2008.

Alhurra, the moderate voice.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
From "3-Minute Interview" with Julie Zann, Washington producer for Alhurra television: "When I was in Iraq over the summer, I discovered that unlike the United States, they do not have objective news reporting in the Middle East region at all. And so that is what Al Hurra attempts to do - provide a moderate voice of news to the Middle East, without bias. I think that's an invaluable service and it's why I really believe in working here." Washington Examiner, 12 January 2008.

The Pentagon's public diplomacy effort explains itself.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Michael Doran, first deputy assistant secretary of Defense for support to public diplomacy. "Q: Shouldn't you be at the State Department? Doran: State absolutely has the lead. What the war has taught us is that the Department of Defense is engaged in public diplomacy activities all the time. One of the things we emphasize is awareness of the fact that actions speak louder than words. The military on the ground is very much aware of the fact that when they carry out an operation it has a huge impact on how people perceive what we're doing. There needs to be people at Defense who are thinking about this." Government Executive, 10 January 2008.

Think tanks dispense more advice about public diplomacy.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"If, as is expected, Nicaragua is benefiting from CAFTA-DR, the U.S. embassy in Managua should launch an aggressive public diplomacy campaign to inform all Nicaraguans of the proven benefits of free trade and CAFTA-DR. ... Increase and enhance the State Department's public diplomacy efforts in Nicaragua to en­courage the development of strong, transparent, market-based, and pro-democracy political parties, economic policies, and institutions." James M. Roberts, Heritage Foundation, 11 January 2008. Among "three major mistakes" of Bush Administration towards Pakistan: "The U.S. government has overemphasized military solutions to fighting terrorism, and has not focused sufficiently on democracy promotion, economic development, and public diplomacy." Brian Katulis and Caroline Wadhams, Center for American Progress, 11 January 2008.

Why Washington should leave Muslim moderation to the Muslim moderates (updated).

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Bush administration, Republican presidential candidates, and their Democratic counterparts all agree on the problem—the United States is losing the battle of ideas—and the solution: 'reaching out' to Muslim moderates. ... Current U.S. policy, however, seeks to render moderates less ambivalent, and that goes far in explaining its failings. The more the United States reaches out to Muslim moderates to bring them into the liberal fold, the more closely they appear to be aligned with the United States, and the less legitimacy they enjoy with the community that really matters: their co-religionists." Ronald R. Krebs, Slate, 3 January 2008. Update: "In Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action, theologian and biographer George Weigel reminds American readers that they need to keep their eyes on the ongoing ideological and theological struggle within Islam. He also offers sensible, if very broad, advice on how America should take a leading role in opposing the extremist strain. ... The problem, as Weigel passingly notes, is that American public diplomacy under a succession of woefully incapable leaders has done very little to identify and support the voices of moderation." Jay Tolson, U.S. News, 11 January 2008.

South Africa won't be the internet leader in 2008.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Pessimistic assessment of web access in South Africa in 2008 notes: "Telkom still controls the SAT3 undersea cable connection to the rest of the world, which will keep the cost of broadband connectivity prohibitively high, with competitors Seacom and EASSy only coming online in June 2009 and later in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, respectively. This makes internet connectivity unbelievably expensive compared with international standards, which is already widely documented." Llew Claasen, Mail & Guardian, 10 January 2008.

BBC and Afghan ministry differ about a World Service news story.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"'The reports that at least 20 civilians had been killed after recapturing Musa Qala by government troops are merely one sided and groundless,' Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi told a press conference." Xinhua, 9 January 2008. "The BBC strongly takes issue with criticism from the Afghan Ministry of Defence of its news coverage in Afghanistan." BBC World Service press release, 10 January 2008.

BBC on FM in India: everything but the news.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Two new BBC programs for FM stations in India. "BBC Fun and Games is a Saturday capsule of sports celebrity trivia from around the world. This spirited 15-minute sports magazine programme takes listeners into the glitz and glamour of the world of sport – everything from cricket to Formula 1. ... BBC Take One is broadcast every Thursday – which is when the industry previews film and delivers its box office reports. This programme gives an honest and informed opinion on the new films being released in the week, Bollywood and Hollywood." Indiantelevision.com, 11 January 2008. See also BBCWS press release, 11 January 2008.

European hotel guests can learn about Barack Obama's boyhood.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network announces a new deal with hotel entertainment specialists Hoist, to make its channels available in leading European hotels." AME Info, 12 January 2008. Those hotel guest may have seen the Aljazeera report about Barack Obama's "being gaga for girls" while attending school in Jakarta in the 1960s. Washington Post The Sleuth blog, 10 January 2008 (includes video of the AJE report).

Telesur's role in the release of hostages held by Colombian rebels (updated).

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Telesur, a station run by the Venezuelan government, filmed every stage of a dramatic process that had people across the region glued to their television sets." Washington Post, 11 January 2008. See "grabs" from Telesur in reports by Xinhua, 11 January 2008 and Reuters, 10 January 2008. Update: "Venezuelan Interior Minister Ramón Rodríguez Chacín also had outraged Colombians when he was videotaped by the Venezuelan-funded TV channel Telesur during the release telling the armed FARC guerrillas who freed the women: 'On behalf of President Chávez. . . we are paying attention to your struggle. . . . Keep up that spirit, keep up that strength and count on us.' The president of the Colombian congress, Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez, told the TV news channel RCN that Rodríguez Chacín's words had been received in Colombia with 'stupefaction and indignation.'" Miami Herald, 12 January 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Press TV misses the jubilation in Liverpool by 4 1/2 years.

Posted: 12 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Let the bells ring out for 08, right across the world. The first Iranian rolling news network broadcasting in English, called Press TV, had this announcement: 'Liverpool has been named Capital of Culture 2008 amid scenes of jubilation as the city looks forward to boosting its image in Europe.' Was the date of this story June 2003? Er, no. Thursday January 10, 2008 actually. Who said news travelled fast? If Iran is as quick at processing uranium as it is news stories then, phew, the rest of the world has little to fear." Liverpool Confidential, 10 January 2008.

La radiodiffusion internationale seulement en français n'est pas très internationale.

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Trade unions at France's international news channel France 24 have strongly criticized President Nicolas Sarkozy for saying the broadcaster should ditch its English and Arabic services and stick to French. ... 'How does one measure the world influence of a country and its culture? Is it by counting the number of people who speak its language? Or is it by counting those interested in its views and cultural knowledge, irrespective of language.'" Reuters, 11 January 2008. "France could beat the US tomorrow in the international broadcasting game – in fact I think the figures prove that in TV they already have. There are some obvious savings that can be made on the radio side. I think they seriously need to look at staffing levels at TV5. But a French-language-only policy is definitely NOT the way." Jonathan Marks, Broadband TV News, 11 January 2008. "Radio France Internationale (RFI) chief executive Antoine Schwarz said that his radio service broadcast on 170 stations across four continents would merge with France 24. The move marked the first step towards 'integration into a new group that will be formed for external broadcasting," said Schwarz.'" AFP, 10 January 2008. France 24 statement: "We are not opposed to a consolidation with other French international services such as Radio France Internationale and TV5. We are fully aware of the need for a rationalization of the three channels, economically and journalistically. What we do oppose is the forsaking of the whole project as it was originally intended, and the senselessness of this change." WorldScreen.com, 11 January 2008. "Mr Sarkozy's analysis was that France 24, RFI and TV5Monde combined were costing significantly more than BBC World (though less when the BBC World Service radio is added in) but had much less impact. It was a view not shared by Alain de Prouzilhac, chairman of France 24, who declared 'mission accomplished' last month, pointing to his station's availability in 80m households around the world, similar to BBC World and al-Jazeera." Financial Times, 10 January 2008. Vraiment? See previous post about same subject.

Senator Grassley at RFE/RL: are we encouraging Iranian young people enough to revolt?

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Senators Mel Martinez (R-Florida), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Larry Craig (R-Idaho) visit Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headquarters in Prague "as part of a democracy and trade promotion tour of Europe and Africa." RFE/RL press release, 9 January 2008. RFE/RL interview with Senator Grassley: "Almost all the money still gets spent on the military and when it comes to democracy promotion, be it in the form of foreign broadcasting, or opening U.S. cultural centers, or offering scholarships to foreign students, or boosting foreign language studies for Americans -- the funds are very low. Do you agree? Grassley: ...When I look at the debate on Iran, for instance, are we spending enough there? Are we encouraging the young people enough to revolt, as an example? Because there’s a real philosophy that young people are very fed up, that they’re ready for something new and we aren’t doing enough to promote that through the soft approach. I’m not in the middle of that political debate in Washington, but quite frankly, I don’t think we’re doing enough. If we could spend another $100 million on a soft approach in Iran, it would probably take care of a lot of stuff we’re going to have to spend in the future militarily." RFE/RL News, 9 January 2008. Public diplomacy mentioned in interview with Senator Craig, RFE/RL News, 9 January 2008.

Death of former RFE/RL president Glenn W. Ferguson (updated).

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"From 1978 to 1982, he was president of Radio Free Liberty-Radio Europe, based in Munich. He resigned in the midst of a long-running jurisdictional dispute within the Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty bureaucracy." Washington Post, 3 January 2008. From Arch Puddington, Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (University Press of Kentucky, 2000): "Ferguson, a Deomocrat, was dismissed because [Reagan's new Board for International Broadcasting chairman Frank] Shakespeare wanted a chief officer who shared his ideological perspective and activist goals." His replacement was James R. Buckley. (p 262) Update: RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin: "Ferguson's time in office was one of change for the Radios. Ferguson oversaw the company's streamlining of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty into a single administrative structure. He guided RFE/RL through one of its greatest challenges--the bombing of RFE/RL headquarters in Munich on February 21, 1981. Throughout his tenure and by all accounts, Ferguson led the organization with a deep, sincere commitment to the people of RFE/RL and the cause of freedom and democracy they served." RFE/RL press release, 9 January 2008.

Look for a six-part arts series on one of the BBC world services.

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The UK government has appointed British Museum director Neil MacGregor 'Chairman of World Collections', a new diplomatic post which will promote six national collections internationally and encourage links between these British institutions and the rest of the world, particularly Asia and Africa. ... The Department for Culture, Media and Sport says that Mr MacGregor will work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Council and the BBC World Service." The Art Newspaper, 10 January 2008.

Watchdog objects to palm oil council ads on BBC World.

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has refuted a British advertising watchdog’s claim that its advertisements are misleading. It said the TV advertisements, aired over BBC World last summer, stressed that oil palm plantations in Malaysia co-existed harmoniously with rainforests and that was the true picture it sought to portray. Britain's Advertising Standards Authority Council (BSAC) had said that the advertisements contained misleading claims of environmental sustainability in the production of the edible oil." The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 11 January 2008. BBC World also rejects the assertions of the Advertising Standards Authority. ASA ruling, 9 January 2008.

News channels missing details during the Bush visit?

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Palestinian rocket attacks on American International School in Gaza and on a house on Sderot not mentioned, "even in passing, on the almost non-stop coverage of Bush’s trip to the Middle East I have been watching today on BBC, CNN International, and Sky News." Tom Gross, National Review Online, 10 January 2008. "Possibly in protest of Bush's visit to the region, Palestinian militants in Gaza stepped up their ongoing rocket and mortar assault on southern Israel on Wednesday. None of the attacks resulted in casualties, but three Palestinians died after Israel's military struck back at northern Gaza." CNN News, 10 January 2008. The ynetnews story about the attack on Sderot, cited by Gross, said four people were injured.

Press TV's role in the Persian Gulf naval confrontation.

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iran released a videotape yesterday purporting to support its side of a continuing propaganda battle with Washington over a weekend naval confrontation in the narrow waterway leading into the Persian Gulf. The videotape, broadcast on Iran's state-owned Press TV channel, was meant to bolster Iran's contention that nothing more than routine contact took place between speedboats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and three U.S. warships attached to the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet." Los Angeles Times, 11 January 2008. "The clip aired on Iran's state-run English-language channel Press TV, whose signal is often blocked inside Iran. It also aired on the state-run Al-Alam Arabic channel, with an announcer saying the video showed 'a routine and regular measure.' At first, the footage was broadcast without sound, but state TV later aired it with audio of radio transmissions between the boats." AP, 10 January 2008. See also CNN, 10 January 2008. "The United States flatly dismissed on Wednesday the claim by Iran that the video and audio released by the Pentagon showing Iranian boats confronting U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf were fabricated. 'That's just ridiculous. I completely dismiss that,' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at a briefing." Xinhua, 10 January 2008. See also Press TV video (wmv format), 10 January 2008.

CRI broadcasters will be making radio by day, translating for the Olympics by night, and getting very little sleep.

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Beijing Olympic organizing committee (BOCOG) plans to offer interpretation services in 52 languages as well as Chinese, English and French. ... 'We are also hitting up organizations like the Foreign Ministry, China Radio International (CRI) and China Foreign Languages Publishing and Distribution Administration.'" China Daily, 11 January 2008. "When radio personality Chen Lianying learned Swahili at college, she never dreamed she would be providing translation services for African Olympians in China 40 years later. But that is what the China Radio International anchor was called on to do last week when Olympic marathon runner John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania visited Beijing." China Daily, 11 January 2008.

China Radio International: shortwave contrarian.

Posted: 11 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"At a time when there’s more of a need for global communication and understanding than ever before, every country in the world except one is either cutting back on - or ending outright - their government-sponsored international shortwave broadcasts. That includes Great Britain’s vaunted BBC and the U.S.A’s Voice of America. The one exception is China, which is actually boosting its broadcasts of news, documentaries and propaganda to the rest of the world." Keith Fitz-Gerald, Money Morning, 11 January 2008. The budgets for U.S. international broadcasting and for the BBC world services are actually increasing, but less of those budgets is going towards shortwave radio broadcasting. China Radio International is indeed the exception by ways of its purchase of new transmitters and expansion of services.

France will influence the world. But first the world must learn French.

Posted: 10 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"French President Nicolas Sarkozy is at odds with his foreign minister over whether the country's international television news channel should ditch English and Arabic, and broadcast only in French. ... Sarkozy said on Tuesday he wanted to set up a new umbrella group called 'France Monde' (France World) and it should broadcast only in French, which has caused consternation at France 24 and been opposed by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. ... Kouchner, who has complained of the French media's lesser presence on international airwaves and is overseeing the reform, said the next day he did not see things the same way. ... 'Competing in English with an information channel like CNN, like Al Jazeera or like BBC World seems useless to him. To me, it doesn't completely. I think there is a French touch that will have to be developed.' Kouchner added. ... Kouchner said he had lobbied successfully for subtitles and broadcasting in local languages in some regions." Reuters, 9 January 2008. "The main journalists union, the SNJ-CGT, reacted with fury to Sarkozy's announcement that his government would stop funding France 24's foreign language programming. The union's secretary general, Jean-Francois Tealdi, told Agence France Presse that the president was 'confusing the mission of France 24 and RFI, which was to cover world events with a different vision from that of the Anglo-Saxon approach, and the mission of TV5 Monde, which is to provide a space for the French-speaking world.'" Spiegel Online, 9 January 2008 "Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC’s Global News division, described the plan to integrate television, radio and online operations as 'the right thing to do'. The combination of World Service radio, BBC World television and international online services drove a 10 per cent increase in international audiences in 2007, he said. Mr Sambrook, who spent several hours with representatives from the Elysée palace last autumn, was more sceptical about whether Mr Sarkozy’s plan could create a service that was as trusted as the BBC. 'There is a direct link between credibility with audiences and independence [from government],' he said. Mr Sarkozy’s decision to scrap the English version of France 24 implied that 'they clearly haven’t taken that on board', he added. The success of the BBC World Service, founded in 1932, has been the key to the fact that the BBC is now often held in higher regard internationally than at home. 'We have the advantage of having been the first mover 75 years ago,' Mr Sambrook said. 'It will be very difficult to replicate that out of the box.'" Financial Times, 9 January 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Digital Radio Mondiale in the news.

Posted: 10 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Unlike FM and existing digital-radio services (which also use VHF) they do not need transmitters every few kilometres. Indeed, some AM broadcasts, especially on shortwave, bounce between the ionosphere and the ground in a way that allows them to travel huge distances—sometimes halfway round the world. This phenomenon, known as skywave, is particularly powerful at night. DRM provides the same range as these traditional AM transmissions without the interference—on the face of things, the best of both worlds. It is also cheap. It can be broadcast by modifying existing AM equipment and does not use as much electricity as an equivalent AM service." Economist, 8 January 2008. Some problems even within this one passage: 1) Americans will be confused by the phrase "AM broadcasts, especially on shortwave," given that "AM" and "SW" are separate bands on most American multi-band radios. It should have been explained more clearly that the longwave, medium wave (America's "AM"), and shortwave broadcasts bands all employ amplitude modulation (AM). 2) "Skywave is particularly powerful at night." Well, on shortwave, it is also "powerful" during the day, generally above 12 MHz. 3) "DRM provides the same range as these traditional AM transmissions without the interference." Actually, no. DRM is much more sensitive to interference and reduced signal strength, and completely drops out if vexed by one or both, whereas analog shortwave may still be intelligible, even if there is low signal strength or some interference on or near the channel. For this reason, DRM may be more useful for short- and medium-range transmissions, while keeping analog for long-haul circuits and adverse conditions such as jamming.

At least he didn't conclude the interview by saying "good job" (updated again).

Posted: 10 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Alhurra interviews President Bush just before his trip to the Middle East. Alhurra transcript, 4 January 2008. The top of the transcript says "Please Credit Alhurra," but so far no takers other than VOA News, 5 January 2008. Washington Post mentions the Alhurra interview in report from Jerusalem, 7 January 2008. And in column by Dan Froomkin, Washington Post, 7 January 2008. Update: "Before leaving Washington, Bush coincidentally urged Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a clearly defined outline for a Palestinian state. Bush's statement reaffirms a little noticed remark he had made to the US-sponsored Arabic language television station, Al Hurra, in which he fell short of the commitment at the Annapolis meeting, attended by nearly 50 countries, that a Palestinian state will be achieved by the end of this year." George S. Hishmeh, Gulf News, 10 January 2008.

CNN's Steve Redisch is new VOA executive editor (updated).

Posted: 10 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
He was "most recently was CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief and executive producer in charge of the CNN White House unit." At VOA, Redisch "will supervise the daily operations and activities of VOA’s news, programs, language services, broadcast operations and Internet departments." Voice of America director Dan Austin e-mail to staff, 7 January 2008. "Executive editor" is a new job title, and appears to function like an all-purpose deputy director. Update: See also VOA press release, 9 January 2008.

Staple of international radio broadcasting: the weekly youth program.

Posted: 09 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) has launched Heza, a weekly, half-hour Kinyarwanda-language radio program that addresses issues of concern to Rwandan youth. Heza includes roundtable discussions, news stories by young journalists, and music by some of Rwanda's most popular music bands. ... The program is a co-production of the German Development Service (an international development aid organization funded by the German government), the Voice of America, and the Forum des Jeunes Giramahoro in Rwanda." VOA press release, 8 January 2008. "The Voice of America (VOA) has launched African Music Treasures, its first weblog ("blog") designed especially for African music fans around the world. Matthew Lavoie, host of VOA's popular Music Time in Africa music show, will moderate the blog featuring music from VOA's extensive and rare African music collection, music commentary, audio clips, bios of interesting musicians, and chats with online participants. ... Join African Music Treasures by logging on to www.VOAafrica.com and clicking on the African Music Blog link." VOA press release, 8 January 2008.

Makes complete sense: British rock band on the Voice of America heard in Jordan.

Posted: 09 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Some years ago, I was being driven through Jordan in a vehicle with five Arabs, at least one of whom didn't speak any English at all. There was an oppressive silence, until the driver switched on the radio, and got Voice Of America doing a tribute to The Beatles. A few, familiar guitar notes played, there was a collective intake of breath, and suddenly five Arabs and yours truly joined in with: 'Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away' We all kept going to the end. It wasn't the greatest sound ever, but boy, was it heartfelt." The Press (York), 8 January 2008. If "some years ago," this may have been VOA English via Rhodes on 1260 kHz MW, recently shut down by the BBG.

News about our favorite park.

Posted: 09 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Despite a couple false starts, Butler County [Ohio] MetroParks officials hope to have a plan for developing Voice of America Park before the end of the year. Two project management firms vied Tuesday to head the project. ... 'You don't need to build a utopia before you start making improvements to the property.'" Hamilton (OH) Journal-News, 9 January 2008. This is the former VOA Bethany transmitting station.

Something for a world that wants "American nothing."

Posted: 09 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"A little over a year ago, this slogan adorned a South African billboard for DaimlerChrysler's Smart car: 'German engineering. Swiss innovation. American nothing.' New York ad executive Keith Reinhard recalls the slogan to make a point: When it comes to America's reputation, 'it has never been this bad.' Mr. Reinhard is president of Business for Diplomatic Action, a private-sector group of advertising and academic professionals trying to improve America's image in the world." Dallas News, 8 January 2008.

Sarkozy: best way to transmit the French perspective to the world is in French.

Posted: 09 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"President Nicolas Sarkozy said France will stop funding the English-language version of round-the-clock news channel France 24, calling for a new French-only network to replace it. 'With taxpayers' money, I am not prepared to broadcast a channel that does not speak French,' Sarkozy told a press conference. ... Sarkozy said a new channel, France Monde (France World), would be created 'as fast as possible, at any rate this year', grouping the resources of the existing networks Radio France Internationale, TV5 television, and France 24. ... 'Between Al-Jazeera, the Arab perspective, and CNN, the Anglo-Saxon perspective, we would like to carry more of a French perspective,' he said.
'We can perfectly have regional subtitling, in Spanish, Arabic, English, to carry a vision that is more French.'" Thomson Financial, 8 January 2008. "Mr Sarkozy ... wants to merge France24, the French version of CNN, with TV5Monde, a channel aimed at international audiences, and Radio France Internationale to form an umbrella organisation similar to the BBC World Service." Financial Times, 8 January 2008. "The position is distinctly different from the position taken by Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac, who was happy to see France 24 launch in its current format in December 2006, to give a French perspective on the world. The channel broadcasts in French, English and Arabic with plans to add a Spanish language version." Broadband TV News, 9 January 2008. "And he also turned his attention to how France is seen internationally via French media established for that purpose – TV5, general interest programming in French mostly supported by France but with Belgian, Swiss, and French-Canadian financial contributions, Radio France International (RFI) and France 24, Jacques Chirac’s creation of a 24-hour all news TV station to present the French point of view globally. Sarkozy said all had problems of one sort of another – he seemed to be saying RFI had editorial woes, France 24 was a fine editorial product but it just was not being seen in many global homes, and TV5 had financial issues. His solution, he said, is to bring all of them under one umbrella. He sounded very Chirac when he said he was not interested in investing in any channel that was not broadcasting in French although subtitles in Spanish and Arabic and the like were ok, but although unclear one assumes those comments were not directed at the English and other language outputs of France 24. ... So when Sarkozy started emphasizing how important he believed it was to get the French point of view across globally ftm flipped to CNN to see if it was covering the news conference live. No, it was regular programming. Then to BBC World. No, it was regular programming. Well, surely EuroNews, but no it, too, was regular programming. So it would seem on an international basis, for a non-French speaker to know what Sarkozy was talking about the only option was France 24, and before that network launched about a year ago Sarkozy’s full comments just would not have had global distribution. With that in mind, extended station carriage deals would seem to be a priority." Philip M. Stone, followthemedia.com. 9 January 2008.

The WorldSpace connection to Rep. William Jefferson.

Posted: 08 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Justice Department is for the first time disclosing the names of business executives and family members it says are connected to the public corruption case against Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans. ... [WorldSpace CEO Noah] Samara, according to the Justice Department, told investigators that Rep. Jefferson had pressed him to sign [a] contract and that he believed it was a bribe solicitation." New Orleans Times-Picayune, 8 January 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Comparing the channels seen in hotels in Asia.

Posted: 08 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In lots of places in Asia, you flick on the hotel TV and have a choice of two English-language news channels: CNN or BBC. But in several hotels in Thailand, we got neither. Instead, hotel guests were offered Al-Jazeera in English, and in one case a channel called Russia Today. In one hotel that had both Al-Jazeera and CNN, we found ourselves turning from CNN's endless U.S. election coverage to a wide array of foreign dispatches and debate programs on Al-Jazeera." Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers, 7 January 2008. "Zipping through the hundreds of international channels available on a satellite system in Beijing, the American election essentially disappears except for brief hourly reports on the BBC World News and the laughably breathless coverage on CNN on caucus night." Peter Osnos, The Century Foundation, 7 January 2008.

Fijian likes Radio Australia sports on his "genuine German-made Grundig."

Posted: 08 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"I read in the latest issue of one of our monthly mags about their suspicions of the Australian Government spreading Aussie propaganda via Radio Australia's growing broadcasting network throughout the pacific. I say, 'Bring it on' as Radio Australia's sports coverage in and of the pacific is second to none and in fact their news and interviews put many local broadcasters to shame. I also thoroughly enjoy listening to their live coverage of the Test cricket in Australia. Seriously, I've been hooked for years and in the early 70's, (before TV in Fiji) I used to connect a steel wire clothes hanger, hooked up to the galvanised steel roof guttering (for improved reception) to the family Grundig stereo: this was the genuine German-made Grundig and not the fakes doing the rounds today." No byline, Fiji Times, 7 January 2008.

New shortwave radios still spawn press releases.

Posted: 08 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Etón Corporation, the licensed distributor of the Grundig line of shortwave radios, announces the release of the Grundig GS350DL Fieldforce. The Grundig GS350DL Fieldforce is a well-designed shortwave radio, featuring a rugged body and military styling. ... 'This shortwave radio is ideal for enthusiasts and beginners alike'" Retail $100. Etón press release, 7 January 2008.
Review, with photos: "If you long for a simpler time when 'men were men and radios were analog with tuning knobs,' you may be a real fan of this radio." Russ Johnson, RadioIntel.com.

One reason people might be getting tired of listening to radio.

Posted: 08 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"I do subscribe to your podcasts feeds. However, I rarely listen to the podcasts. I am quite sensitive to the clipping and compression artefacts that are so evident in low-bitrate audio files like podcasts. I would much rather listen to a shortwave broadcast with some whistles and fading than to listen to a highly compressed audio file." Robert Sillett, writing to Radio Netherlands, 7 January 2008. A shortwave broadcast, even if it experiences some fading or interference, is nevertheless an uncompressed, analog, doule-sideband, amplitude modulated signal. The fatigue brought on by listening to compressed digital audio probably deserves more attention.

Early-Cold-War concerns about Soviet jamming of U.S. shortwave communications.

Posted: 07 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
In 1951, Robert Hooker, a Foreign Service officer ... [reported] that Soviet jammers (originally designed to block broadcasts by the Voice of America and other U.S.-backed shortwave stations such as Radio Free Europe) also had been used to block vital radio communications links. ... 'Russian jamming operation seems to us to have clear and serious implications extending beyond the immediate problems of the Voice of America. ... Already there have been deliberate, effective jamming of intercontinental point-to-point transmissions, both United States and British.... If our high-frequency communications were jammed (they could be jammed tomorrow) and the Atlantic cables were cut by submarine action, airmail would be our only means of communications with Europe.'" A present-day consultant calls Hooker's assessment "a bit of hyperbole" and adds, "HF [shortwave] jamming isn't as easy as some would suggest." Government Executive, 7 January 2008. Seems that the Soviets would have derived more value from monitoring rather than jamming such communications.

Cyclone forces Australian shortwave site off air, temporarily.

Posted: 06 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Due to severe cyclone weather conditions at our transmission site at the Cox peninsula," shortwave transmissions of religious broadcaster CVC are unavailable "until further notice." CVC website, 4 January 2008. This site, near Darwin, was Radio Australia's largest shortwave facility until it was divested in 1997 by the Liberal-National coalition government of Prime Minister John Howard. Back on the air, per update, 6 January, same web page.

Broadcaster questions the BBG's shortwave inaudibility initiative.

Posted: 06 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Recently, VOA has 'downsized' shortwave transmission capacity by cutting back at transmission facilities in Greece and Delano, California. It has severely impacted listening around the world! I have recently traveled to Africa and The Middle East on assignments. I could not receive broadcasts from VOA in most areas. However I could get the BBC, Deutsche Welle and many other international broadcast services." Dennis R. Israel, RadioDailyNews.com, 4 January 2008. Dennis Israel is general manager of WMET, 1160 AM, a station in the Washington with ethnic and other brokered programming.

India's best soft power "has nothing to do with government propaganda."

Posted: 06 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Indian TV soap opera 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi', dubbed into Dari ... is the most popular television show in Afghan history, with a 90% audience penetration. It's considered directly responsible for a spike in the sale of generator sets and even for absences from religious functions which clash with its broadcast times. ... That's soft power, and its particular strength is that it has nothing to do with government propaganda." Shashi Tharoor, The Sunday Times (Colombo), 6 January 2008.

Al Arabiya: voice of moderation, or "more pro-American than Al Hurra"?

Posted: 05 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, director of Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al Arabiya "says he has won the most important battle because Al Jazeera is no longer what it was. The rules have changed. In large part, he says, that is because Al Arabiya led the way, replacing the old, loaded terms with more neutral ones, offering a wider variety of opinions, aiming at balance. Other stations, including Al Jazeera, have begun to follow Al Arabiya's practices. ... At the same time, critics on the outside lambasted Al Arabiya as an American vehicle. Some mockingly called it 'Al Hebraia,' or the Hebrew, and accused it of being even more pro-American than Al Hurra, which is sponsored by the United States and widely dismissed in the Arab world as propaganda." International Herald Tribune, 4 January 2008.

The BBC in India, future and past.

Posted: 05 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Peter Mukerjea, head of new Indian broadcast group INX (channels 9X and 9XM) "is keen to further 'change the dynamics of the business' through alliances between producers and distributors that would cut the shows' costs and give more broadcaster input. 'I could see us allying with Endemol or BBC World,' he says." Variety, 4 January 2008. At the conclusion of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War: "It was heavenly, with the strains of a grand organ in a mid-night mass, in a cathedral in London, as they wafted over the ether on BBC World Service radio, to my lonely ears on the Front, which was very welcome change to terrific crashing big bangs of the M-16 jumping antipersonnel mine blasts set off mostly by dropping pine-cones, or the odd wild boar and porcupine, or even a chita at times." Frontier India, 4 January 2008.

Radio from Australia that is definitely not Radio Australia.

Posted: 05 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"BreakThru Radio (BTR), the Internet's source for the World's Best Independent Music, is proud to announce the premiere of 'TransPacific,' a brand new specialty show from Australian DJ Chris Hatzis. ... 'TransPacific' is dedicated to playing the most essential, vital new and independent music from both Australia and New Zealand. ... Using the cutting edge technology of UpSNAP, BreakThru Radio makes all of its shows more accessible to an on-the-go market of students and young professionals, via exclusive access to its on-demand programming through the medium of mobile phones." BreakThru Radio press release, 4 January 2008.

Harry Shearer, shortwave listener.

Posted: 05 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Re the comedian and "Simpsons" voice actor: "A dedicated hobbyist in the radio tradition, Mr. Shearer has gone through 40 to 50 radios: a Hallicrafters table-size shortwave, an early Sony ICF and countless others, big, small, portable and pocket-size. ... For some eight years now, his flame has been a Sangean, model ATS-909, a digital shortwave radio. The 909 may not have the reach of fancier shortwave radios, but for Mr. Shearer’s purposes, it is nearly perfect. It is simple enough to involve little in the way of instructions, yet allows for the obsessive tinkering and tuning that is the hallmark of the radio hobbyist." New York Times, 6 January 2008. By "digital shortwave radio," the article means that the radio is analog but has digital frequency readout, not that it can receive digital modes such as DRM (without modification). I have owned an ATS-909 for years, and use it often. The ATS-909 is available at C. Crane, Universal Radio, and Grove Enterprises.

How people all over the world can see that American democracy consists of two-year-long campaigns by people who have no chance of becoming president.

Posted: 04 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Watching the end of the Iowa caucus elections from afar these days is hardly what it used to be. In the old days, we used to check into a big hotel with sketchy international television or go over to a U.S. embassy to see Armed Forces Network feeds of the action back home. Now, with CNN and CNBC (along with the BBC, France 24 English and even Al Jazeera English), you felt like you were in Des Moines again." Richard Reeves, Yahoo! News, 4 January 2008.

The soft (power) side of Barack Obama.

Posted: 04 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"If Obama can make a difference, it is not because of his policy choices, but because of what he is. The very moment he appears on the world's television screens, victorious and smiling, America's image and soft power would experience something like a Copernican revolution." Dominique Moisi, The Daily Star (Beirut), 4 January 2008. "He could be the first salvo of 'soft power' in a new phase of the war on terror, now that we have seen the limits of military might." Luke DeKoster, Sioux County Index, 4 January 2008. "A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can." Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, December 2007. Oprah Winfrey "has more soft power than any American and proved it by backing and putting Obama over the top." Diane Francis, National Post, 3 January 2008.

Is "soft power" no longer the flavor of the month? (updated)

Posted: 04 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"If American diplomacy were delivering on its promises, we'd be heading into boom times for peace and security. Instead, the new year begins with Washington foreign policy increasingly cocooned in a cloud of 'soft power,' trying to deflect threats through the wiles of diplomacy, the art of the deal. Welcome to the world of wishful thinking." Claudia Rosett, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 January 2008. Against the Tehran regime, "the West has essentially done nothing for years but chatter, send European 'soft-power' types into useless negotiations, and try weakly and sporadically to concoct a soup of sanctions that are nowhere near adequate to stop Iran's progress." Jamie Glazov, FrontPageMagazine, 4 January 2008. "Under the previous Liberal government, Canada's global influence declined while it diverted energy away from the important work of diplomacy and toward soft-power fantasies." Maxime Bernier, Canadian minister of foreign affairs, letter to Toronto Star, 3 January 2008. Update: "Bernier would do well to remember that Canadian soft power earned Lester Pearson a Nobel Prize." TomMcElroy, letter to the Toronto Star, 3 January 2008. "Since the Pierre Trudeau era, Canadian governments have sought to project influence on the world stage through tireless promotion of multilateralism, human rights and 'soft power.' That has changed in recent years, and Canada arguably has become more influential as a result of the change in strategy. With its surging oil sector, muscular military presence in Afghanistan, and hard-headed rejection of Kyoto, Mr. Harper’s government has forged an international role that his socialist-minded predecessors would hardly recognize." Jonathan Kay, National Post Full Comment blog, 4 January 2008. "We've been sun-shinning [sic] dictators for decades to the detriment of their enslaved populations as liberals banter on about soft power persuasion." John Mendez, American Thinker, 5 January 2008.

Japan's public diplomacy via YouTube.

Posted: 04 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a move to boost relations with the country’s Asian neighbors, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is now posting videos on YouTube — in English as well as Japanese. English is apparently widely used in Asia for cross-cultural communications, and the PM’s New Year’s Greeting (below) is an attempt to reach an audience outside of Japan’s borders. This example is more than just a bit dry, but like all online video, it has the advantage of bypassing mainstream media filters and reaching viewers directly." e.politics, 2 January 2008.

With only eight hours until ball dropped...

Posted: 04 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Those who had gathered at Times Square saw live pictures of New Year celebrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg, broadcast by Russia Today. New Yorkers had a chance to see the first 15 minutes of 2008 in Russia as Russia Today's correspondents brought the first reports from the festivities held in the key points of the country. Revelers in Times Square watched as RT correspondents met the people celebrating the New Year in Russia." Russia Today, 1 January 2008. This was at 2100 UTC, or 4:00 p.m. in New York.

International media entities accused of bias.

Posted: 04 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Americans catching the U.S. election coverage on BBC/World on Wednesday night found a typical dose of leftish European bias. While Katty Kay reported the Republicans were dismayed by a supposed teenage 'dating game' of disappointment with candidates like Romney and Huckabee, Matt Frei had a warmer take on Hillary Clinton: 'Her stump speech sounds as soothing as a bedtime story and her big selling point, experience.'" Tim Graham, NewsBusters, 3 January 2008. "James Murdoch, 34, who buys into global warming hysteria, has in recent days been labeled the 'News Corporation Heir' and 'Son King' because of changes in the company that have dramatically increased his power. The Fox News Channel is one part of Murdoch's News Corporation. ... James Murdoch, who dropped out of Harvard, runs BSkyB, a part of News Corporation which is airing Current TV, a television project sponsored by Gore, and the foreign–financed Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera English television channels." Accuracy in Media, 3 January 2008.

Obama calling Kenya, via VOA.

Posted: 03 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya, on Wednesday called for an end to the tribal violence that has roiled Kenya since its disputed election. In a statement broadcast over U.S. government-funded Voice of America radio, Obama, who seeks to become America's first black president, said he was 'deeply troubled' by the turmoil in the east African country." Reuters, 3 January 2008. See also Baltimore Sun's The Swamp, 2 January 2008. And the VOA report, 2 January 2008.

VOA adds Swahili transmission.

Posted: 03 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) will begin broadcasting a new Swahili program to East Africa on January 3. The 30-minute daily radio program will include live news reports from throughout Kenya, as well as analysis and discussion. ... The new program can be heard in Kenya from 6:00 to 6:30 a.m. [0300-0330 UTC] Monday through Friday via shortwave (7380 and 9440 kHz). VOA also broadcasts a Swahili evening program from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. [1630-1730 UTC] seven days a week on shortwave (9565, 13865, and 15730 kHz)." VOA press release, 2 January 2008. No mention of VOA's 24-hour FM transmitter in Nairobi. Is it no longer on the air? "Most people with short-wave radios are listening daily trying to catch up on the news." The Independent (Marshall MN), 4 January 2008. "The main local TV stations used to switch over to round-the-clock news channels like CNN and BBC World overnight. But when the ban came into effect, and international media networks increasingly started focusing on events in Kenya, local media abandoned that and screened repeats instead." Reuters, 2 January 2008.

A thesis to guide the Pentagon's advance on State's public diplomacy turf?

Posted: 03 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Maj. Chad Carroll's "The U.S. Army Public Diplomacy Officer: Military Public Affairs Officers’ Roles in the Global Information Environment" "won the 2007 Northwestern Mutual Best Master’s Thesis Award by the Institute for Public Relations." Cleburne (TX) Times-Review, 2 January 2008. "Turf issues will intensify and not just in AFRICOM office countries. ... Undertakings include a full gamut of activities ranging from humanitarian succor to AIDS prevention to democracy promotion. Obviously military programming risks USG duplication where USAID, CDC, public diplomacy outreach, Peace Corps and others are already engaged." Robert E. Gribbin, Africa Reflections blog, 3 January 2008.

Did World Service miss the new year's?

Posted: 03 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Landlord at a York pub, rather than tuning the pub's radio "to Radio One or Radio Two like everyone else in the country, he decided to show his intellectual side and tune it to the BBC World Service. Now he says he did have the foresight to check that the station broadcast the bongs of Big Ben at 6pm so claims he had no way of knowing the station would not be broadcasting the bongs at midnight. ... The teensy weensy bong problem meant that when people should have been linking arms, cheering and welcoming in the New Year with choruses of Auld Lang Syne they were actually listening to a documentary about arable farming in Iowa - or something along those lines." The Press (York), 3 January 2008. For once, I was listening to BBC Radio Scotland rather than BBC World Service at 2359 GMT on 31 December. Steve Lare in Holland, Michigan, did hear "the full strike of Big Ben on 7105 [kHz] via Cyprus." DX Listening Digest, 1 January 2008.

WorldSpace gets financing from entity controlled by WorldSpace CEO.

Posted: 03 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
The forty million dollar facility is from "Yenura is a special-purpose entity created to invest in Worldspace. It is controlled by Noah Samara, the chairman and chief executive of Worldspace. Shares of Worldspace, a Silver Spring, Md.-based satellite radio company, rose 21% to $2.04 on Wednesday." Thomson Financial, 2 January 2008. "Now here's where it gets interesting:" Orbitcast, 2 January 2008. See also WorldSpace press release, 2 January 2008. See previous post about WorldSpace.

Slain USAID official worked in radio (updated).

Posted: 03 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
USAID official John Granville, 33, killed in Sudan on 1 January, "had served in Sudan and in Nairobi and had distributed short-wave radios to give rural residents a link to Usaid broadcasts and to increase civic involvement." International Herald Tribune, 1 January 2008. Hans Johnson informs me that Mr. Granville worked with the USAID-funded Sudan Radio Service. More about his activities at USAID website. Update: "Granville's death deserves more extensive attention from our leaders. ... According to reports, Granville was helping to 'distribute 450,000 radios equipped with generator cranks and solar panels, which work in places with no electricity.'" Steve Clemons, TPM Cafe, 2 January 2008.

Burma: listening to shortwave now, by comparison, especially cheap.

Posted: 02 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Without warning, Myanmar's military junta has ordered a massive 166-fold rise in the annual satellite television levy in an apparent attempt to stop people watching dissident and international news broadcasts. ... According to official data, there were 60,000 registered satellite receivers in 2002, although a glance at the dish-clad roofs of Yangon apartment blocks suggests the real figure is much higher. Besides outside news, many people have satellite to watch European soccer or Chinese soap operas." Reuters, 2 January 2008. "Satellite television allows people in military-ruled Myanmar, where media is tightly controlled, to watch the BBC and the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), and listen to Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA)." Thomson Financial, 2 January 2008. There is some listening to VOA and RFA via satellite, but most is via shortwave. Democratic Voice of Burma, in addition to its shortwave radio broadcasts, has a satellite-distributed television program. "The tactic may backfire. Plenty of Burmese appear to have been using satellite dishes without paying any licence fee at all. Now others, who had been dutifully paying the fee, may join them." Financial Times, 2 January 2008.

Improving U.S. public diplomacy by sending abroad students who disagree with the president's policies.

Posted: 02 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Dustin "Byers, an exchange student in Tübingen, is one of a small army of young Americans being dispatched dispatched to the region's high schools in an attempt to help reverse Germany's transformation from best friend of the US in Europe to a stronghold of anti-Americanism. He made clear that he did not share his president's views and was keen to disavow Washington's foreign policy. 'There was no link between 9/11 and Iraq,' he told his audience. 'Pre-emptive war is no foreign policy - it's aggression.'" Financial Times Deutschland, 2 January 2008.

Democracy by example, not by admonition.

Posted: 02 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Democratic principles are rooted in human freedom and tested empirically over time. Other things being equal, or even unequal, I would advocate them as of universal application to every society. Those who espouse them merit not just the BBC World Service but active friendship and support, especially in time of trouble. But democracy is best propagated by example, not by conquest or official admonition." Simon Jenkins, The Guardian's comment is free, 2 January 2008.

New Year's Eve abroad, via radio.

Posted: 01 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Shortwave and internet radio is a great way to see in the new year over the world's time zones, starting with New Zealand at 1000 UTC and ending with Hawaii at 1000 UTC the next day. Keep in mind, however, that the Western new year is not such a big deal in some country, whose cultures have their own new year's days, some more ancient than a measly 2008 years.
     I'm not collecting audio from the 31 December/1 January broadcasts the way I did in years (decades) past for my defunct VOA program Communications World. But I did manage the catch two this year.
     At 2300 UTC, the lady on Radio Nacional de España was not quite as comical as in previous years in using onomatopoeia to describe the sounds in Madrid at the stroke of midnight. But it is still one of the most festive new year's to be heard on the radio (or internet radio). Just after midnight, RNE's party-of-the-air was introduced thus: "Bienvenidos. Bienvenidos a todos al club más exclusivo. El mejor lugar para pasar esta noche vieja. El Club 2008 de Radio Nacional de España." Listen to mp3 audio.
     At midnight UTC (GMT), perhaps one of the best vicarious new year's even parties via radio was from BBC Radio Scotland. The music party was going on when I logged on at 2330 UTC, and it (though not I) continued until 0100. At the midnight hour, they used the sound of Big Ben in London to strike the midnight hour, with the BBC Radio Scotland hosts speaking over it. At a few minutes past midnight, "Auld Lang Syne" on accordion, with live audience singing, from the homeland of that poem. Listen to mp3 audio.

Old Conover jazz shows on Georgian radio.

Posted: 01 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"On October 19, Radio Syndicate 104.3 is launching a new program Jazz Hour with Willis Conover. This is the original radio program that for almost 40 years was broadcast all over the world. The program comes to Georgia courtesy of Voice of America through the assistance and cooperation of the US Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia." Embassy press release, 18 October 2007. Spotted by Richard Cuff in swprograms, 28 December 2007.

Daniel Schorr: shortwave broadcaster.

Posted: 01 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"I did my first radio broadcast on ABC in 1948, reporting from Amsterdam on the first meeting of European notables after the war. I can still remember trying to make myself heard over a squawky shortwave signal. Winston Churchill delivered a historic speech about uniting the wartime enemies in a European council. Hard to remember, but there was no tape recording." National Public Radio, 31 December 2007.

How some Americans use the BBC world services.

Posted: 01 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
Member of World Schools Debating Team U.S.A "said she has been using those questions and information from the BBC World News program to beef up her international knowledge, a strategy endorsed by [her coach]." Iowa City Press-Citizen, 31 December 2007. "I'm a poor sleeper, but I have recently discovered that I can fall back into dreamland, reliably, simply by turning on the radio and listening to the BBC World News Service. There's something calming about those voices and accents, no matter what they're discussing. In fact, they have an alarming tendency to discuss everything in exactly the same tone of voice." Colin McEnroe, Hartford Courant, 30 December 2007. If 69-year-old finally sets sail: "He'll make salmon fillets, adjust his sails, listen to the BBC on his shortwave, and try to stay awake through the night, to steer clear of the big boats that can't see him." Los Angeles Times, 1 January 2008.

Using YouTube for Bhutto assassination news.

Posted: 01 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"A minute-long clip posted on the site by Al-Jazeera English drew about 185,000 views by 7 a.m. EST, about 24 hours after the attack occurred. The second-most-popular YouTube clip was a reposting of news reports from Channel Newsasia, CNN, BBC that were recorded by the user simply training a camera on a TV, flipping between channels occasionally. This clip attracted over 177,000 views within the 24-hour period." MediaDailyNews, 31 December 2007.

Hu is an international broadcaster for a day.

Posted: 01 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Chinese President Hu Jintao called for would peace and development in his New Year address, which was broadcast on Monday to domestic and overseas audience via state TV and radio stations. ... Hu's address, entitled 'Jointly push forward the great course of peace and development of humankind', was broadcast by China Radio International, China National Radio and China Central Television." Xinhua, 31 December 2007. Test of Hu's address: China Radio International, 31 December 2007.