VOA! Korean content deal with Yahoo! Korea.

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Yahoo! Korea announced today that it will offer Voice of America news covering the Korean Peninsula, international and U.S. news. The online news service will cover breaking political, diplomatic, and international news from hard-to-access areas of North Korea and the Korean Peninsula. Under this partnership agreement, Yahoo! Korea will offer VOA news in the Korean language in real time, giving Korean users free access to news flashes on important topics such as the six-party negotiations regarding North Korea and major policy decisions of the U.S. Administration and Congress. The VOA news service will be available on Yahoo! Korea mid-March. VOA press release, 27 February 2008. 1) Is www.voanews.com/korean not already offering news "in real time"? 2) Isn't "news from hard-to-access areas of North Korea" supposed to be Radio Free Asia's specialty? 3) Does this deal change the BBG/IBB/VOA policy of the past few years that VOA Korean is directed to North Korea, not South Korea? If it's still North Korea only, we know that Kim Jong-il probably has internet access. And that's really enough to justify this new VOA Korean attention to the internet. Also, North Koreans in China have more access to the internet than they did in North Korea, although VOA websites are generally blocked in China. Yahoo! Korea is definitely popular in South Korea and among the Korean diaspora, and it will provide more exposure to VOA Korean news items than voanews.com itself.

Unless this was a set up, Robin Williams rescued BBC World.

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The actor-comedian was in the audience at the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., last night when a technical glitch halted a panel discussion that was being recorded by the BBC. ... Williams was sitting in the row behind me at the panel discussion on new media. Before the host, BBC World presenter Matt Frei, could finish his introduction of panelist Sergey Brin from Google, he announced the BBC was having a technical issue. ... That's when a voice behind me spoke up, presumably a heckler, and began speaking loudly as if he were conducting a live news feed... ." Wired epicenter blog, 28 February 2008.

The writer does what most viewers don't: pay attention to Press TV.

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the summer of 2007, the IRI matched CNN and BBC with their PressTV. http://www.presstv.ir/ The IRI home page lists its address in Tehran. In reality, its studio is in the UK and it rents satellite studios elsewhere, including Washington DC. Since its launch, the programming of Press TV has been cleverly matched with PBS and C-Span. For example, The American Dream program is a match of the PBS series, 'America at a Cross Road.' Cleverly putting negative material into American journalist´s words has made Press TV a household name among journalists seeking information or ex-experts eager to express their views. Its webpage is much larger than expected of a small network playing with big media names." Ghazal Omid, American Chronicle, 27 February 2008.

Is 2008 the year of IPTV in the United States?

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Broadcast content management and delivery company GlobeCast ... says that 2008 is the year of IPTV in the US and GlobeCast will be highlighting its role in the development of this emerging medium with a live demonstration at Nab. GlobeCast's subsidiary WorldTV recently launched an IPTV platform in Canada with NeuLion to bring multicultural content to new markets, and is also aggregating multinational content for a major US telecom company." Indiantelevision.com, 28 February 2008.

Now that shortwave broadcasts are closing down, someone in Pakistan has stumbled on a way to block a website worldwide (updated).

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"YouTube was back up two hours after Pakistan, in trying to block access to the site by its own citizens, inadvertently made the video-sharing site inaccessible to users around the world. The blackout left network administrators and Internet activists wondering Monday how Pakistan's actions, meant to restrict only its own citizens from gaining access to YouTube, could have such widespread reverberations - and whether such a disruption could be reproduced by someone with more malicious intent. ... YouTube has removed the video clip that had concerned Pakistani officials." International Herald Tribune, 26 February 2008. Apparently first repoirted by Adil Najam, Pakistaniat.com, 22 February 2008. "Sunday's inadvertent disruption of Google's YouTube video service underscores a flaw in the Internet's design that could some day lead to a serious security problem, according to networking experts. The issue lies in the way Internet Service Providers (ISPs) share Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing information." InfoWorld, 26 February 2008. "Pakistani authorities on Friday took the Aaj TV news channel off cable networks after it aired a show by an anchor that had been blacklisted by the military regime." MyNews.in, 23 February 2008. Update: "So what's to stop another Internet service provider--especially a government-owned one--from intentionally trying this trick? It's easy enough to imagine a situation in which North Korea feels like yanking Voice of America off the Internet, or some nations choosing to assail al-Jazeera (their satellite broadcasts already have been interrupted). The short answer is that while the Internet is anarchic, it's not that anarchic. ... And when one network provider misbehaves and broadcasts a false claim to be the proper destination for certain Internet addresses--as Pakistan Telecom (AS 17557) did this week--it's easy enough to figure out what's going on. If AS 17557 hadn't backed down and fixed the problem relatively quickly, some network providers probably would have 'blackholed' it by ignoring some or all of its broadcasts." Declan McCullagh, CNET News, 28 February 2008.

Anyone who listens to VOA for 12 hours would know that it has little to do with "strategic information."

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"I think the next person who suggests the creation of a strategic information agency should be locked into a tiny little room and forced to listen to Voice of America for 12 hours straight. They'll repent in no time. No they won't, actually, they'll go nuts first. They'll be begging for CNN and Fox News, I promise you. ... The notion of a 'strategic information agency' presumes that the government, the U.S. government no less, can compete with the global information market. That argument, on its face, is worth discussing before anyone goes forward with the creation of an entirely new bureaucracy." Sharon Weinberger, Wired Danger Room blog, 27 February 2008. "Iran Freedom Movement's Ebrahim Yazdi slams Voice of America's Persian service." From Iran news round up in National Review's the corner, 29 February 2008.

Crime wave on roads named for VOA (updated again).

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"A 31-year-old, self-employed man reported that someone broke into his vehicle near 300 Voice of America Site C Road on Wednesday and stole tools and equipment valued at $6,500." The Daily Reflector (Greenville NC), 26 January 2008. The VOA Site C near Greenville was the administrative center for the two shortwave sites (A and B), and it was used for satellite communications. It was closed a few years ago. From previous post: "A 51-year-old man reported to the Pitt County Sheriff's Office that someone broke into his home in the 3300 block of Voice of America Road in Grimesland on Wednesday and stole two rifles valued at $2,150, two shotguns valued at $800, a rifle scope valued at $500 and a set of audio speakers valued at $600." The Daily Reflector (Greenville NC), 21 December 2007. A 37-year-old man reported that someone broke into his home in the 1500 block of Voice of America Site C Road on Tuesday and stole insulated wiring valued at $500. Daily Reflector (Greenville NC), 14 February 2008. Update: "Two 25-year-old Sharonville women were charged with theft after they allegedly attempted to steal $467 worth of video games and DVDs from Target at 7644 Voice of America Centre Drive." [Near old Bethany, Ohio, transmitting station.] Lebanon (OH) Western Star, 27 February 2008.

Canadian military tries to understand women.

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"A first-of-its kind study into Afghan women has been launched by Canadian soldiers in conjunction with coalition forces throughout southern Afghanistan. ... The goal of the study is to examine what role women play in Afghanistan, in the context of understanding how women are affected by military operations and how they can play a role in keeping Afghanistan stable and secure. It will be carried out by three soldiers and an analyst over the next year, part of what the military calls psy-ops, or psychological operations - the winning of trust and consent among the population. Half the battle is trying to understand the population, the other half is trying to get the population to understand what the military is doing. ... 'Women are not well-understood.'" Canadian Press, 28 February 2008.

Can the "move the needle" Americans comprehend "gradual and imperceptible"? (updated)

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The American ‘symphony diplomacy’ is not simply aimed at entertaining the public but also seeks to build a new exchange platform for the two countries. All public diplomacy programs serve a country's short-term or long-term foreign policies. The New York Philharmonic hopes to win public acknowledgement for improving bilateral ties. The biggest problem concerning public diplomacy is how to assess its effect. Evaluating the scale of the Pyongyang performance of the Philharmonic is not enough to validly assess its impact. Public diplomacy advocates expect to wield gradual and imperceptible cultural influence." Zhou Qing’an, researcher at the International Center for Communications Studies, Tsinghua University, China.org.cn, 27 February 2008. Update: In the State Department’s Public Diplomacy office, "performance-based budgeting" is based on "15 measurements, nine of which are annual and long-term outcomes, such as surveys that gauge how well foreign audiences understand the United States." Government Computer News, 28 February 2008. How is this done? If understanding of the United States is compared between those who have access to U.S. public diplomacy materials, and those who don't, the resulting correlation would not indicate if the former caused the latter, or the latter caused the former. Or, much more difficultly, an artificial or field experiment could be conducted, with a before-and-after test of difference. This would determine if the needle is significantly moved.

Nice place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit there.

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tourist numbers to the United States have plummeted and its unfriendly entry processes are being blamed. In 2007, overseas visitors to the United States numbered 23.2 million, 11% fewer than in 2000. Visits from Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Brazil are all still down. The US has now been displaced by China as the world's third most-visited country." Reuters, 28 February 2008.

First "victim" of new Arab satellite television charter?

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Al-Baraka, an "Arab business channel based on Islamic values" owned by Saudi Holding Company was taken off Nilesat officially "because of some missing documents. If it fails to get its paperwork in order, the station might be closed permanently. But observers are saying that al-Baraka might well be the first victim of the controversial Arab satellite TV charter that was signed by the Arab League's Information Ministers earlier this month." Menassat, 27 February 2008."Arab governments should publicly reject those elements of a proposed regional policy on satellite television broadcasting that would seriously restrict freedom of expression and information, Human Rights Watch said today. ... 'Many Arab states routinely use this language of "state interests" and "national sovereignty" as an excuse to imprison journalists and intimidate critics. These so-called principles are nothing but a crude assault on free speech.'" HRW, 26 February 2008. See previous post about the charter.

France 24 making news in the Indian Ocean region.

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sri Lankan Embassy in France has strongly objected to France 24, an English TV channel distorting the situation in Sri Lankan when they broadcast a the special report 'Sri Lanka: Tamil Mothers Waiting for Their Sons.'" Asian Tribune, 28 February 2008. See also Asian Tribune, 27 February 2008 "Far from the eyes of international media, Madagascar is still counting the bodies left in the wake of Hurricane Ivan, which struck the African island between January 17 and 19. By Tuesday, 60 people had been declared dead, while 17 were still missing. ... Western media appear unmoved by the ever-stronger hurricanes striking Africa’s largest Island. French media produced not a single article on the issue, despite the sizeable number of Madagascan immigrants on French soil. 'CNN did a piece, remarks Kenneth Walter. That’s all.'" France 24, 26 February 2008.

International channels in Austria and Portugal.

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Cable operator UPC Austria offers, in digital packages: Eurosport Polska, Eurosport Türkçe, HRT TV 1, BHT 1, RTS Sat, TV Polonia, POLSAT 2, Duna TV, Al Jazeera, France 24, 24 VESTI news, RAI Due, TVEi, RTR Planeta, EDTV1, and CCTV4. Broadband TV News, 27 February 2008. On Portugal Telecom Meo TV IPTV service: Fox Crime, Fox, Euronews, Sky News, BBC World, CNBC, Bloomberg, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Music, Nat Geo Wild, RTP África, Eurochannel, BBC Prime and RTL. ipTVnews, 28 February 2008.

Scientology related group gets its word out via CNN International.

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) an independent non-profit group headquartered in Los Angeles, announced visitors to their website have tripled since their human rights Public Service Announcements (PSAs) began airing on CNN International last month. ... Inspired by humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard ... (t)he human rights Public Service Announcements were created with the help of the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International." American Chronicle, 27 February 2008. I assume these "PSAs" are actually ads paid for by YHRI.

Telesur: official channel of FARC hostage releases.

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Four hostages were freed by Colombian rebels Wednesday after six years of captivity and flown to Venezuela, where they appealed to President Hugo Chavez to help press for the freedom of all remaining hostages. ... In a video of the handover, officials spotted the captives awaiting them on a rise in a clearing. The hostages wept as they hugged those sent for them. ... The video was broadcast by the Caracas-based TV channel Telesur." AP, 28 February 2008. See also Telesur, 27 February 2008. Telesur actually spells it teleSUR, but that's too many upper case letters in the wrong place.

Press TV is neighbor to Christian channels on ViewAfrica.

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
ViewAfrica has contracted for additional capacity on Intelsat 10 for "free-to-air programming bouquets reaching all the Sub-Saharan countries. ... ViewAfrica Network ... carries a free-to-air bouquet of religious and general entertainment programming that currently includes the following networks: Daystar, LoveWorld, Press TV and Supreme Master TV. ViewAfrica is among 27 DTH platforms built on the global Intelsat system." Intelsat Press Release, 27 February 2008. Press TV is Iran's English-language news channel. Daystar and LoveWorld are Christian channels. I didn't try to dig into Supreme Master TV's theological underpinnings, but they are obviously against killing animals.

Listening to BBC during this crisis here, and that crisis there.

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"As he stood among crowds of protesters in Prague’s Wenceslas Square in 1989 at the climax of Czechoslovakia’s democratic 'velvet' revolution, BBC correspondent Allan Little was approached by a group of people. 'Are you from the BBC?' they said. 'We listen to the Czech service, but in secret under the stairs.' Once, when reporting in Africa, a man involved in the 1970s’ Zimbabwean war of independence told Little that while some of his fellow fighters listened to the local radio 'to feel good about themselves', he tuned into the BBC World Service 'to find out what was really going on'." Press Gazette, 28 February 2008.

Still talking about BBC dropping shortwave to Europe (updated).

Posted: 28 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Not that one can’t listen to the BBC World Service any more in Europe. It’s on the Internet and on many local AM or FM transmitters throughout the continent delivered with satellite quality. Here in Geneva, FTM’s hometown, BBC hourly news bulletins are part of World Radio Switzerland on FM and on DAB throughout the rest of the country (not that we know anyone in Switzerland who owns a DAB radio). For the older generation (that means pre-Internet) the World Service and Voice of America on shortwave were about the only way to listen to English speaking voices and keep up with world affairs no matter where you were in Europe. And ftm’s Philip Stone recalls that when he transferred from Europe to Indianapolis (real culture shock!) in 1979 he found that neither the local newspaper nor broadcasters catered to his thirst for international news so out came the trusty Panasonic shortwave radio bought in a hard currency shop in Moscow in 1974 at a real bargain and he was up to date with the chimes of Big Ben. Couldn’t do that now, of course, since BBC shortwave transmissions to North America ended in 2001." followthemedia.com, 24 February 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: Internet radio listening rates have increased and are "at least high enough to claim another casualty this month. The BBC -- which does Webcasting as well or better than anybody, at www.bbc.co.uk -- dropped shortwave service in English to Europe. Online service led the BBC to drop shortwave broadcasts to North America in 2001." Cleveland Plain Dealer, 27 February 2008. See also discussion of BBC's shortwave cutbacks by Jay Heyl, Jim Tonne, Scott Fybush, Harry Helms, Jason Gardner, and Glenn Hauser in ABDX via Glenn's DX Listening Digest, 26 February 2008.

Why didn't they just record stuff off a shortwave radio?

Posted: 27 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
For the computer game BioShock: "The first challenge was with the audio logs and short-wave radios. In order to create the 'sound' of these powerful but archaic devices, the team applied a wealth of post-production. Distortion, down-sampling, gating, and mid-band EQs all helped create the "old-time radio' sound." GameSpy, 26 February 2008. Young people now play computer games using artificially created shortwave sounds. In my day, young people listened to shortwave.

Want to join the European Union? First let's see if your people will watch EuroNews.

Posted: 27 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) has started partnership negotiations with European news channel Euronews, which broadcasts news in eight different languages. Whether Turkish will be included as a ninth language in Euronews' multilingual news portfolio depends on a decision to be made today in a meeting of top-level representatives from Euronews and TRT." Turkish Daily News, 27 February 2008.

Ruan quanli: softer than soft power.

Posted: 27 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the buzzwords in Chinese foreign policy circles is ruan quanli—the Chinese term for 'soft power.' This idea was invented by the American political scientist Joseph Nye in 1990, but it is being promoted with far more zeal in Beijing than in Washington DC. In April 2006, a conference was organised in Beijing to launch the 'China dream'—China's answer to the American dream. It was an attempt to associate the People's Republic with three powerful ideas: economic development, political sovereignty and international law. Whereas American diplomats talk about regime change, their Chinese counterparts talk about respect for sovereignty and the diversity of civilisations. Whereas US foreign policy uses sanctions and isolation to back up its political objectives, the Chinese offer aid and trade with no strings. Whereas America imposes its preferences on reluctant allies, China makes a virtue of at least appearing to listen to other countries." Prospect, March 2008.

Paris, Illinois? We thought you were from Paris ... oh, never mind.

Posted: 27 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several Paris residents and other citizen diplomats from across the nation recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV) annual meeting. ... The purpose of the meeting is to deepen participants' understanding of U.S. public diplomacy, U.S. foreign policy, and the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)." Paris (IL) Beacon, 26 February 2008.

Obama: U.S. public diplomacy a "disaster."

Posted: 27 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The question then is what do we do with the 1.3 billion Muslims, who are along a spectrum of belief. Some extraordinarily moderate, some very pious but not violent. How do we reach out to them? And it is my strong belief that that is the battlefield that we have to worry about, and that is where we have been losing badly over the last 7 years. That is where Iraq has been a disaster. That is where the lack of effective public diplomacy has been a disaster." New York Sun, 25 February 2008.

Botswanian columnist says MSNBC is not a substitute for BBC World.

Posted: 27 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"I'm not saying BBC World is perfect, but it stacks up pretty well against the rest of what's floating around on the air waves and, unlike many stations, it can be very educational. BTV used to relay the British made programmes when they didn't have any shows of their own to air, but as those of you who own TVs but don't subscribe to a satellite service already know, they dropped the service about a month ago. Evidently, the contract ran out and BTV officials chose not to renew. ... What we are now getting during BTV downtime is a mixture of test patterns and rather odd MSNBC programmes from the United States. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, MSNBC specialises in US election coverage and interviews with skinheads, white supremacist and mass murderers." The Voice (Francistown), 26 February 2008.

Confusion on the WSJ op-ed page.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Columnist argues that the United Staes and South Korea should broadcast on "AM" (medium wave) to North Korea. Melanie Kirkpatrick, Wall Street Journal, 25 February 2008. But the United States and South Korea already transmit to North Korea on medium wave. This op-ed has so many facts wrong that I must respond on a separate page. (If WSJ is inaccessible, the op-ed is also available at The Daily NK, 26 February 2008 -- scroll down for the English).

Re-invoking Turkey's reported rejection of a VOA/RFE/RL relay site.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Among examples of Turkey’s "unreliability for United States strategic purposes": "The Turkish government refused repeated American requests for the installation of antennas in Turkey concerning 11 transmitters whose broadcasts would have been directed primarily to the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites. The initiative by the United States Department of State sought to improve reception of programs broadcast by Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and the Voice of America." Gene Rossides, Greek News, 25 February 2008. The Hellenic News of America attributes this to a story in the 22 July 1983 issue of Newsweek.

Here's the plan: on weekends, European young people will listen to a "magazine on culture and backgrounds" and thus will no longer think the EU is boring.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Euranet. That is the name of the new radio and internet project that will commence broadcasting on 31 March 2008. It is a consortium of sixteen radio stations from thirteen countries. ... Every weekday there will be half an hour of European news. On Saturday and Sunday there will be a European magazine on culture and backgrounds. ... The sixteen broadcasters are targeting a young section of the population: the 20 to 45-year- olds. They are commonly seen as a difficult target group that is perceiving the European Union as a boring and complicated phenomenon." Radio Netherlands, 26 February 2008. "Initially, broadcasts will be in 10 languages (Bulgarian, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish), but they will gradually expand to the 23 languages of the EU." European Commission press release, 24 February 2008. See also Deutsche Welle, 26 February 2008.

Sixth anniversary of UN's Radio Okapi in the D.R. Congo.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Over the years, Radio Okapi has seen a remarkable progression with a diversification of its broadcasting networks from FM, to shortwave and the internet. Today it's the only media that covers and broadcasts to the entire territory of the DRC. With 200 employees, the majority of which are Congolese, it's considered as the most popular and most believable radio in the country, with an audience of nearly 30% of the Congolese population." MONUC press release, 25 February 2008.

Radio Australia will get celebrity scrutiny.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Australian Government's 2020 summit in April (2008): "Cate Blanchett ... will lead the 'Towards a creative Australia' group. This section of the agenda intriguingly includes 'Future directions for the ABC, SBS, Australia Television [sic, Australia Network?] and Radio Australia', about which the Prime Minister is known to have strong views." Crikey, 26 February 2008. See also PM Rudd press release, 3 February 2008.

Prison time for passing news to RFA.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"A Vietnamese court rejected the appeals of four activists jailed after they helped found an independent labour union and handed out pro-democracy leaflets, a judge confirmed Tuesday. Judge Nguyen Xuan Phat of Ho Chi Minh City's Supreme Court of Appeals said the court Monday upheld the sentences of the four activists to between 1.5 and 4.5 years in prison. According to press accounts, Tran Thi Le Hong, Phung Quang Quyen, Doan Van Dien, and his son Doan Huy Chuong had collected complaints of government land-rights violations and passed them on to Western news sources, including Radio Free Asia." DPA, 26 February 2008. "Taking advantage of spontaneous labour strikes in the country, in December 2006 Dien asked his son Chuong to role-play a worker to give a phone interview to Hoa Mai Club Radio and the Radio Free Asia (RFA), to distort facts, accusing that the Vietnamese authorities repressed workers and arrested demonstrators." Vietnam News Agency, 26 February 2008. Radio Hoa-Mai is an exile dissident radio service using time on a shortwave transmitter in Naalehu, Hawaii, leased from World Harvest Radio. The schedule is Wednesday 1200-1300 UTC on 12120 kHz.

So let's send our children to China to help overcome net censorship.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Technology columnist Rob Pegoraro, responding to a parent's lament that his/her son is using a proxy site to circumvent Windows Vista parental controls: "By typing a blocked site's address into a proxy-server site, a user can drive around Vista's roadblocks. These sites themselves can be restricted, but there are quite a few around; that whole exercise will degenerate into a game of Whack-a-Mole. ... This may be an upsetting realization. If you want to feel better about it, consider what this suggests about the odds of the Chinese government keeping a billion or so Internet users away from parts of the Internet." Washington Post, 24 February 2008.

Would you pay three dollars a month for Aljazeera English?

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera English availability on SingTel's mioTV internet TV platform in Singapore begins next week. It will cost about three dollars U.S. per month. Reed Business Information, 26 February 2008. "Sri Lanka Tourism has joined hands with Qatar based Al Jazeera channel on a major publicity campaign targeting Arabic speaking travellers in the Middle East market." Sunday Times (Colombo), 24 February 2008.

CNN is "very particular" about international partners.

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Louise Sams, president of Turner Broadcasting Systems International: "From a linear channels prospect, we have joint ventures in Spain, Turkey, India and Japan, and we continue to look for more opportunities. Those prospects are probably few and far between, in part because there are a lot of strong, local news players and plenty of countries that don’t need a local/international news network. And we have to be very particular about who we partner with. (We have to make sure) they are willing to adhere to the CNN editorial guidelines." WorldScreen.com, October 2007 (but distributed on the net 25 February 2008).

Nigerian bank is exclusive sponsor of CNN's Inside Africa (updated).

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International has announced Zenith Bank as the exclusive sponsor of its popular weekly feature programme, Inside Africa. ... Zenith Bank's campaign on CNN International positions the company in front of an international audience of over 200 million households and hotel rooms worldwide. Comprising both on-air and online elements, the campaign will run across the network's channels and website." Bizcommunity.com, 19 February 2008. Update: "CNN International has appointed Segun Akpata as its exclusive ad sales representative in Nigeria, in recognition of his pivotal role in implementing the growing number of advertising deals secured by CNN International in the country and to consolidate the company’s presence in the African market." ScreenAfrica.com, 26 February 2008.

More foreign channels on Doordarshan satellite?

Posted: 26 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"India state broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) has reduced its carriage fees for satellite channels from the current Rs10m ($221m) a year to Rs2.5m ($55.3m) for local channels and Rs5m ($110m) for foreign channels. Move is part of the broadcaster's strategy to build its free-to-air satellite platform and create a 100 channel offer under the DD Direct+ brand. ... Doordarshan operates the only free-to-air satellite platform in India but expansion of the channel offer has been hindered by the high fees charged to channels for carriage. The cut in fees sends a strong message to channel providers that the broadcaster is serious both about expanding the breadth of its channel offer and boosting the appeal of the service to India's satellite early adopters." Presently, Deutsche Welle's DW-TV is the only news oriented foreign channel on DD Direct+. Screen Digest, 24 February 2008.

The French and Francophone international broadcasting reorganization inches forward (updated again).

Posted: 25 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The international partners of the TV5 Monde channel, who are meeting in Ottawa at the weekend, are preparing a response to Paris’s reorganisation of its foreign broadcasting. Yesterday, the French government appointed Alain de Pouzilhac, chairman and managing director of France 24, with the task of creating a holding company called France Monde. The new entity should bring France 24, Radio France Internationale and TV5Monde under one single umbrella." Broadband TV News, 21 February 2008. "French President Nicolas Sarkozy Wednesday officially launched France Monde, a new company under which state-owned radio RFI (Radio France International) and television networks TV5-Monde and France 24 will operate." Hollywood Reporter, 22 February 2008. "'Alain de Pouzilhac is expected to chair this new organization, which will be in charge of modernizing … French and French-speaking international public broadcasting,' said a statement from President Sarkozy’s office. Renowned French journalist Christine Ockrent will become general director of France Monde." WorldScreen.com, 22 February 2008. "Adding to the controversy is the appointment of prominent political journalist Christine Ockrent as France Monde's executive director. Ockrent is the wife of Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose office is partially responsible for overseeing TV5 Monde." Variety, 21 February 2008. See also AFP, 22 February 2008. Update: Alain de Pouzilhac: "We have to take advantage of the technology revolution. We will try to build a new model, especially a French model and not to be a copy of somebody else. At this time, with the digital world, it is possible to build a new model of a very highly competitive company." International Herald Tribune, 24 February 2008.

Aljazeera English: employee dissatisfaction update.

Posted: 25 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera's English news service has made concessions that Nigel Parsons, its managing director, hopes will prevent an exodus of expatriate staff from the fledgeling television station. Mr Parsons has been struggling to contain a staff revolt after the Qatari owners of the 24-hour news service insisted on integrating it with al-Jazeera's Arabic channels. ... Morale at al-Jazeera English has been poor since its launch a year ago, a factor that has contributed to tensions between English-speaking journalists and their Arabic-speaking counterparts. 'There was some concern that we [the English service] would take the brand to the wider world and destroy it,'" The Times, 25 February 2008.

More RFE Romanian history in the news.

Posted: 25 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Romanian anti-communist dissident Doina Cornea, Romanian dissident during the Ceausescu regime: "As my calls to fight the oppression were broadcast on Radio Free Europe and followed by my telephone number and address, many people across Romania tried to get in touch with me, only to find themselves grabbed by the Securitate. It was very moving to find these people's letters, complete with envelopes, in one of the files." BBC News, 25 February 2008.

Bhutan broadcasting to the world (updated).

Posted: 24 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), the country's national broadcaster, has launched an online radio service. ... The online service is available for 15 hours a day, from 1200 to 0300 GMT. It can be accessed via the BBS website: http://www.bbs.com.bt/. Launched in 1973, BBS Radio broadcasts on FM in the national language, Dzongkha, as well as Sharchop, Lhotsham and English. Its shortwave service can be heard as far afield as Europe and New Zealand." Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, 22 February 2008. The URL did not work when I tried it 24 February at 1135 UTC. Update: Anydy Sennitt writes: "The ABU item you quoted about Bhutan has the UTC time wrong by 12 hours. They added 6 hours to UTC instead of subtracting it. The correct times are 0000-1500 UTC. Surprised you could not get the website to work, as it was working fine less than half an hour later." See Radio Netherlands Media Network, 24 February 2008. I still can't get www.bbs.com.bt to open, as of 2000 UTC on 24 February.

Please join us

Posted: 24 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
at the Winter SWL Festival, 7-8 March at Kulpsville (near Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. We are a friendly, informal, aging group of radio enthusiasts. Shortwave radio may be on the wane, but its past and present are still the subject of many interesting forums and discussions. As usual, I will organize an exhibit of DRM digital shortwave and internet wi-fi radio receivers.

BBG criticizes Arab satellite broadcasting charter (updated: BBC, CNN mum).

Posted: 24 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has criticized adoption of a new broadcasting charter on February 12, 2008 by Arab information ministers and is urging the League of Arab States to reconsider the decision. ... 'The global communications revolution has greatly enhanced the free flows of news and information via satellite television and radio around the world. Overall, this revolution has been beneficial. While inaccurate and biased information is sometimes disseminated, the competition among free media will itself lead to the truth. Suppression of unpopular views will not.'" Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 21 February 2008. See previous post about the charter. Update: "A spokesman for the BBC said: 'We have not seen the charter and would need to study it before making detailed comment. But, reading the reports, we have seen nothing to indicate that the charter is directed at serious news channels with robust editorial guidelines to support impartiality and editorial independence. The BBC would be concerned by moves to curtail responsible and independent journalism in the region.' ... CNN, the world's largest news channel, with the biggest global reach, has also remained silent, and that has exposed some deep divisions between al-Jazeera and its western competitors." James Robinson, The Observer, 24 February 2008.

Maybe they should have rolled a bigger barrel.

Posted: 24 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Protesters against Iraq's oil law roll barrels down 16th Street NW in Washington. "Maintaining its tradition of largely ignoring events critical of U.S. policy in Iraq, U.S. corporate news outlets were conspicuously absent from yesterday's new conference and protest. United Press International, Talk Radio News, Voice of America and a D.C. television station were the only U.S. news media present. Representing the international press were Reuters; Agence France Press, one of the world's top newswires; Telesur, a TV network serving much of Latin America; Al Jazeera; and the Japanese newspaper, Akahata." Pacific Free Press, 23 February 2008. But I found no coverage of this protest from VOA, or any other news organization.

Award for study of Charlotte Beers' ads in Muslim countries.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Advertising Research Foundation has awarded SMU advertising professor Dr. Alice Kendrick with the Research Innovation Award for her work involving commercials and United States diplomacy. Her experiments analyzed the effectiveness of commercials that presented testimonials from Muslims in the United States. The American government showed these commercials in predominantly Muslim countries to, according to Kendrick, 'engender goodwill with the citizens.' While most people felt that such commercials were a ridiculous idea, she demonstrated, through methods of measuring ad effectiveness, that 'the commercials resulted in more favorable attitudes.'" The Daily Campus (Southern Methodist University), 15 February 2008. See also pdf file of "Advertising as Public Diplomacy: Attitude Change Among International Audiences," by Alice Kendrick and Jami A. Fullerton.

In Shan State, Burma: detained for listening to foreign radio.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"In September 2007, the village tract leader of Kun Mong village tract in Kaeng Tawng sub-township of Murng-Nai township, was summoned to the base of LIB 569 and detained by the military authorities for regularly tuning to foreign news broadcasts on his shortwave radio. ... 'He often listens to the news broadcasts in Burmese from foreign radio stations like BBC and RFA, and spreads the news to make people hate the Burmese military.' ... said Maj. Thein Aung." Shan Herald Agency for News, 24 February 2008.

Learn Chinese at a Chiang Kai-shek Academy?

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
In Taiwan: "Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou said on Friday that he will launch a cultural diplomacy fund if elected president. Ma said the fund would be worth NT$5 billion (about US$160 million). Ma said the money would elevate the country's profile and make culture the center of its soft power. ... He also proposed forming a Taiwan academy similar to China's Confucius Academy, which addresses the needs of foreigners learning Chinese language and culture." Radio Taiwan International, 22 February 2008.

Kenneth Tomlinson, commentator.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Former BBG chairman and conservative Kenneth Tomlinson writes op-ed criticizing conservative op-ed columnist Mark Helprin's criticism of conservative talk radio. Washington Times, 23 February 2008. "During the year following his departure from the White House, Ronald Reagan was visiting New York and lunched one day with a number of his former appointees. About 20 of us gathered in a room at the Sky Club overlooking Manhattan. It was clear something very specific was on the President’s mind that day. No sooner had we taken our seats at the table than he began, 'I only wish more people who served in our administration had understood a basic principle about government.' Then, with emphasis, he declared: 'Government is not the solution. Government is the problem!' So many times I have recalled Reagan’s admonition as we have watched Republicans (sometimes even conservatives) drift into the trap of government as the solution." Kenneth Tomlinson, Human Events, 24 January 2008. Indeed. As BBG chairman from 2002 to 2007, Tomlinson did not speak out (at least publicly) for the reform of U.S. international broadcasting. USIB is a confederacy of entities with overlapping output, competing with each other for budget, talent, and audience. A rationalization would allow the budget of USIB to be reduced to that of BBC World Service. The resulting concentration of resources could enable USIB to increase its audience to that of BBC World Service. The present ungainly structure of USIB is due, in part, to expansion during the Reagan Administration.

International broadcasting is becoming a factor in the Obama campaign.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"His record voting in the Senate against TV Marti, which would provide Cubans with real news, suggests he's insincere about promoting democracy, to say the least." Investor's Business Daily, 22 February 2008. "For news, the family has to rely on Granma, the state-run newspaper, or the five state-run television channels — all mouthpieces of the regime. The police check the roof periodically for the aerials that Cubans use clandestinely to listen to Radio Marti, the Miami-based Cuban station." The Times, 23 February 2008. The police are probably looking for satellite dishes. The antenna for Radio Martí medium wave reception is usually inside the radio, and for shortwave reception is either the attached whip, or a discreet piece of wire. See previous post about the Martís. -- "When in 1933 Hitler came to power, by short-wave radio I listened to his orations. His ranting denunciations and 'blood and soil' aggressiveness were spine-chilling. Through their orators, we can see into their souls. Nobody’s perfect; but the soul I see in Obama’s orations is good, and intending the good of all, including God’s good earth." Willis E. Elliott, Washington Post On Faith, 23 February 2008.

The contrasting paths of two international broadcasters.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"What really irritated me about Toomas Ilves was the fact that he and I had started off in almost the same job and I had become 'Our Own Correspondent' while he had become a head of state. ... I was a talks writer in the Russian section of the BBC World Service, and he was something similar in the Estonian section of Radio Free Europe. ... From Radio Free Europe he went to Washington - as Estonian ambassador - while I had gone from the World Service to the BBC News bureau in Moscow." Tim Whewell, BBC News, 23 February 2008.

Reading matter.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Public Diplomacy in a Changing World" is the subject of the 14 articles in the March 2008 issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. (No free electronic access; try your nearest university library.) --
     Reviews of Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (Harvard University Press), about CIA funding of front groups that paid American artists and intellectuals in the cultural Cold War. "Mr. Wilford undermines rather than bolsters the boast made by CIA man Frank Wisner, who called his agency a 'Mighty Wurlitzer,' a mass of information and intelligence capable of playing the tunes the rest of the world would dance to." Ronald Radosh, New York Sun, 6 February 2008. "In its founding years, the U.S. Information Agency demonstrated repeatedly that it, too, could play the game and, on occasion, play it better. The USIA, like the CIA, planted columns abroad written under pseudonyms. I wrote two for the USIA, one, as Paul L. Ford, on foreign affairs, the other, as Benjamin E. West, on developments in what Ronald Reagan would one day call 'the Evil Empire.'" Wes Pedersen, letter to Washington Post, 3 February 2008, commenting on book review in the Washington Post, 27 January 2008. Other reviews: The Guardian, 3 February 2008 -- New York Times, 20 January 2008. -- Wall Street Journal, 24 January 2008. -- Bloomberg, 22 February 2008.
     New book: Yale Richmond, Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey, "detailing the doings of a U.S. Foreign Service Cultural Officer in five hot spots of the Cold War – Germany, Laos, Poland, Austria, and the Soviet Union." Berghahn Books. See this excerpt about Mr. Richmond's monitoring of jamming in Moscow.
     "Japanese intellectuals did not take American scholarship and culture very seriously until the end of World War II. The long association between Japanese intellectuals and their European counterparts made it easier for Japanese intellectuals to discuss European social concepts than American ones." From Takeshi Matsuda, "Soft Power: The U.S. Cultural Offensive and Japanese Intellectuals," Japan Focus, 20 February 2008.
     The Reporters sans frontières 2008 Annual Report reviews the "plight of journalists" in 98 countries. It includes many references to international broadcasting, e.g. relays shut down, and reporters harassed, arrested, or worse.

Uzbek security forces involved in killing of VOA-RFE/RL reporter? (updated)

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The International Crisis Group says the recent killing of a prominent Kyrgyz journalist raises questions about Uzbekistan's authoritarian government. In a report released Thursday, the Brussels-based advocacy group says there are what it calls 'strong indications' that Uzbek security forces were involved in the murder of Alisher Saipov. ... Saipov was the founder of an Uzbek-language newspaper. He also reported for the U.S.-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty." VOA News, 14 February 2008. See also International Crisis Group, 14 February 2008. Update: "We are extremely concerned at the suspension of the investigation into Alisher Saipov’s murder. We are perplexed and disappointed at the conflicting statements made by government officials in charge of the probe, and authorities’ apparent unwillingness to consider Saipov’s sensitive journalism as a motive." Committee to Protect Journalists, 22 February 2008.

RFA's Wu Jing wins a Gracie Allen.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) today announced that Radio Free Asia (RFA) Mandarin service broadcaster Wu Jing has won this year’s Gracie Allen Award for Most Outstanding Series. Wu Jing’s eight-part series, 'The Internet and Civil Rights in China,' was recognized for its 'superior quality in writing, production, and programming.'" RFA press release, 20 February 2008.

This would have been news if they did not sign the pledge.

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"China's eight leading online media officially sanctioned to publish news signed the 'Chinese Pact on the Self-discipline on Visual-Audio Programs and Services of the Internet' Friday, urging all domestic websites to spread positive, healthy programs and boycott corrupt, outdated ones. ... The eight signers are the official websites of Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, the State Council Press Office, China Radio International, China Central Television, China Youth Daily, China Economic Daily, and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television." Xinhua, 22 February 2008.

UN uses international channels to urge you to get on the No. 15 bus, then transfer to the No. 27 tram, then get on the No. 219 regional train....

Posted: 23 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United Nations has created its first global TV campaign to raise awareness about climate change by promoting the benefits of public transport. ... The ad, which is animated in the style of a children's drawing, ends with a call for people to 'choose public transport' to help reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. ... The ad will initially run on channels including BBC World, CNN, Sky News, Bloomberg, E! Entertainment, Eurosport and TV5. It has been adapted to run in languages including French, German, Spanish and Japanese, with more local and regional versions expected as the campaign rolls out globally." The Guardian, 22 February 2008.

What is RFA telling the Uyghurs?

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"'We love the United States!' one man told me. 'They will come help us kick out China.' The largest Uyghur independence group, the ETIM, seeks the recreation of the free Republic of East Turkestan declared by earlier Uyghur rebels. The Home of East Turkestan Youth, known as 'Xinjiang’s Hamas,' has two thousand members. 'I listen to Radio Free Asia,' added an older guy knowingly. Radio Free Asia aired broadcasts in the Uyghur language. 'America is coming to give us our freedom, we know that, but when exactly?'" Gary Palast, Pacific Free Press, 21 February 2008. As the only useful external station broadcasting in Uighur, RFA has a sizeable audience in that region. I assume RFA is not leading its Uyghur audience to mistaken conclusions, à la RFE Hungarian in 1956.

North Korea intensifies actions against foreign media (updated).

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several foreign-based radio stations have increased their airtime while newspapers available online, in particular the Daily NK, have stepped up their coverage. But Pyongyang responded to the challenges by resuming jamming independent and dissident radios from broadcasting to its people. They are Free North Korea Radio, Voice of America, Open Radio for North Korea, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Chosun. The Korean Workers' Party fiercely condemned foreign news aimed at destabilizing the regime and the security forces were ordered to act to prevent foreign videos, publications, telephones and CDs from coming into the country." The Korea Times, 18 February 2008. Update: "'Voice of Korea' of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korea’s public service broadcaster, has to create more radio programs targeting North Korean audience. In addition, more support should be provided for private radio stations dedicated to North Korean audience such as Radio Free Chosun, Free North Korea Radio and Open Radio for North Korea, all of which have been run without support from government. In fact, most private radio stations have been operating with no support from the government, and that is why they use foreign radio frequencies and transmitters. Even worse, they cannot provide radio programs with a high sound quality for their North Korean audience since they use a low radio transmitting power. Private radio stations targeting North Korea should be allowed to use domestic frequencies and transmitters." Lee Kwang Baek, The Daily NK, 21 February 2008.

March is China month on BBC World.

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World is launching a themed series Inside China, which run globally throughout March. The series which will include news reports, documentary and factual programmes, will examine the impact of China's headlong rush for economic growth and mark the upcoming Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. ... There is also a special page on the BBC World website bbcworld.com, which will keep viewers up-to-date with all the latest programmes which make up the Inside China season." Indiantelevision.com, 20 February 2008. I can't find that web page, nor any mention of Inside China. Perhaps not posted yet.

CCTV gets what TV Martí wants: relays inside Cuba.

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The China Central Television (CCTV) opened three channels in Cuba on Sunday with the signal reaching hotels, education centers and diplomatic venues throughout the country. ... Meanwhile, Cuba’s Cubavision International is making headway in China with services already landing in 16 provinces, as part of the bilateral project. This is very important because China is the first Asian nation to receive the Cuban broadcasts." Radio Cadena Agramonte (Camagüey), 18 February 2008. "...coinciding with Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s decision to end his 49-year rule" Variety, 19 February 2008.

As Fidel exits, the Martís are in the news (and comment) (updated).

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Among those who heard the news early was Esther, a retired teacher who listens regularly to her favourite station, Radio Martí." The Independent, 20 February 2008. "Every time Congress tightened the embargo - or souped up the signal at anti-Castro Radio Martí - the Cuban president would make another rousing speech against yanqui imperialism - and a toss a few dozen more political prisoners in jail." Ellis Henican, Newsday, 20 February 2008. "Crackpot Radio Marti propaganda broadcasts." Pat Murphy, Idaho Mountain Express, 20 February 2008. More about Obama and Clinton voting differently about TV Martí funding. John Nichols, The Nation, 20 February 2008. Update: "The U.S. government is expanding its political broadcasts into Cuba, in light of Fidel Castro's resignation. TV and Radio Marti, a Miami-based federal government broadcast agency, is offering what one manager calls 'wall-to-wall' coverage of the Castro resignation. ... To overcome the Castros' efforts to jam the Marti broadcast signal, the U.S. government relies on military planes to relay the signal into Cuba from airspace above the water offshore." Story is accompanied by a slideshow and videos showing TV Martí operations. WJAC-TV (Johnstown PA), 20 February 2008. It's just one airplane, a 1960s-vintage Gulfstream G-1 propjet owned by IBB. And it flies not "offshore," but above the Florida Keys, within U.S. territory.

CNN International has not yet returned to CNN.

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several tipsters have inquired about where Your World Today has gone, the show that brings an hour of CNN International programming to the CNN U.S. airwaves. TVNewser reported last month that the NoonET show was slated to return after Super Tuesday, but the program has yet to come back." Media Bistro, 20 February 2008. Also noticed by Joe Hanlon, reporting to DX Listening Digest, 15 February 2008. What we get instead is not even where the candidates stand on the issues, but which candidates are moving up, and which are moving down. It is incessant and boring.

WRN/Gorillabox deal promises mobile TV for international broadcasters.

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"WRN, the international London-headquartered TV and radio transmission company has partnered with Gorillabox, the fully managed mobile TV enabler, to provide a range of mobile TV services to media companies around the world. Gorillabox’s G-Box platform, which can create, host and deliver a mobile internet site, will be made available to WRN’s clients around the world. These include international public service broadcasters such as Voice of America, commercial stations such as Virgin Radio, satellite bouquet operators and community stations." WRN via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 21 February 2008.

Venezuela will resume its international shortwave service "pretty soon."

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"There is still more good news for short wave listeners around the world from Radio Nacional of Venezuela, their international service, Canal Internacional... a new short wave transmitting station is now under construction there. The new installation will include a 50 kiloWatt transmitter to be operated on the 60 meters Tropical Band, and five 100 kiloWatts short wave transmitters to be operated with several antenna arrays. The new transmitting station is located in the State of Guarico, and the antenna systems will include several high gain curtain arrays and also quadrant type omnidirectional antennas for short and medium range coverage. ... The Radio Nacional of Venezuela engineering department is in charge of the project and it is expected that the first transmitter may be on the air pretty soon. The new Venezuelan international broadcasting facility is going to be one of the most modern and energy efficient installations in the Americas, and its antenna systems where designed with coverage of the Americas as the prime target area, but as expected, it may be heard around the world when propagation conditions are good. The old Venezuelan Radio Nacional 50 kiloWatt transmitter on 9540 kiloHertz may also soon be back on the air on that traditional frequency that has been in use by the station for many years. At the present time Radio Nacional of Venezuela Canal Internacional is broadcasting via the Radio Cuba transmitters outside Havana , according to an agreement between the two nations." Arnie Coro, Radio Havana, via Shortwave Central, 14 February 2008.

"The end of public radio on shortwave?"

Posted: 21 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
In light of the BBC World Service decision to close the last of its shortwave transmissions to Europe, the subject is discussed on the Multimedia Show of the English External Service of Polish Radio, 20 February 2008. "It became immediately evident to interested observers that the BBG considers high-powered shortwave as something from medieval times. Neither did they appreciate, nor understand the technical properties, capabilities, and value of mainstay shortwave facilities. The Board began eliminating stations almost immediately, and started re-allocating associated funding to create technology with which they were more familiar." Jack Quinn and Nick Olguin, Radio World, via OregonGuy blog, 19 February 2008. Survivalist recommends shortwave radio. DestinySurvival.com, 20 February 2008. This item seems much like an advertisement for the Eton FR350 wind-up radio. Such radios are one of the most viable present markets for shortwave. Most shortwave radios with such wind-up power capabilities (when electricity is not available) do not have precision digital frequency readout -- but that would add to power consumption. See also Etón website. See previous post about BBC shortwave cuts.

BBC shortwave to Europe, RIP (updated again).

Posted: 20 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The remaining BBC World Service shortwave transmissions to Europe will close on 18th February 2008. This change is being made in line with listener trends in radio. Increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to listen to radio on a range of other platforms including FM, satellite and online, with fewer listening on shortwave. This is particularly the case in Europe, where the majority of shortwave transmissions ceased in March 2007. The current closures affect the remaining transmissions heard in southern Europe. This will be a loss to some listeners, but there are alternative ways of hearing BBC programmes." BBC World Service website, 8 February 2008. BBC provides details on the various alternatives to shortwave. For example: "Frequencies for western Russia remain, however, and listeners in south-eastern Europe may be able to pick up frequencies for the Middle East when atmospheric conditions permit." BBCWS web page. "Frankly I think today is a rather momentous day, meaning the end of analogue shortwave as we know it in the developed parts of the world. Shortwave radio is certainly the medium of last resort." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog, 18 February 2008. "Jonathan Marks, a former radio executive and consultant for international broadcasting, said the decision by the BBC was simply another sign of shortwave radio's 'long, slow fade.'" International Herald Tribune, 18 February 2008. See also Kim Andrew Elliott, "Shortwave Broadcasting Begins Its Long Slow Fade (but International Broadcasting Endures)," World Radio TV Handbook, 1995 edition. -- "The worst human interface ever is the old SW radio dial with a 1000 stations crammed into a few mm's marked as the 49 metre band." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance blog, 19 February 2008. BBC DRM digital shortwave transmissions to Europe will continue for the time being. Mauri, drmrx.org forum, 14 February 2008. Update: See also The Guardian, 20 February 2008.

But will you be able to hear anything on that shortwave radio?

Posted: 20 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Article describes five techniques to overcome internet censorship, concluding: "If none of these techniques gain you access the outside world, throw away your computer and get a shortwave radio." Foreign Policy website, February 2008. The reference to shortwave radio, probably meant as a humorous riff, is actually valid. When the internet is blocked, or during a time of crisis or disaster, the internet, along with cell phone networks, and other local communications and broadcasting systems, may be unavailable, at least temporarily. So you will turn to your shortwave radio for news and information. However, we have recently been reading about the many international broadcasters reducing or eliminating their shortwave output, most recently the BBC to Europe. When shortwave is needed, will shortwave transmitters be on the air? Will audiences still have working shortwave radios?

Aljazeera visits the heartland -- where it is still unavailable on cable.

Posted: 20 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Will Stebbins, who oversees operations on three continents — North and South America and Antarctica — from offices in Washington, D.C., told a crowd of Kansas University journalism students that since launching in November 2006, Al-Jazeera English has restored some of the dignity to the media in the United States." Lawrence Journal-World, 20 February 2008. "'The West was reporting its perspective from where the missiles took off while we were reporting our perspective from where the missiles landed,' Stebbins said. 'Al Jazeera would show the bloody aftermath, which was quite messy.'" University Daily Kansan, 20 February 2008.

Passing around CDs as a medium of international broadcasting.

Posted: 20 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"During last September Saffron Revolution, people from former capital Rangoon and all other provincial cities received the up-to-date news footages through Aljazeera, BBC, CNN and the DVB TVs. Afterward, some IT activists put those dissenting footages into compact discs and delivered to people who could not have access to satellite dishes and Internet. Such activities allow many Burmese citizens to see news footages of the recent mass anti-government demonstrations, and the brutal crackdown that ensued." Asian Tribune, 20 February 2008.

New blog: "U.S. Elections and the World."

Posted: 20 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Although the header says "Public Diplomacy and the 2008 Election." "We are interested in how the candidates and their policies are viewed by the world’s publics and how the candidates are communicating – or planning to — with the world." publicdiplomacy.foreignpolicyblogs.com. Too bad it missed most of the run-up to the primaries, which occasionally dealt with world public opinion.

The bullet theory usually doesn't work, but there are exceptions.

Posted: 20 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Growing up in the Cold War years, I was taught to hate both Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Government, media, the church, and my schooling combined to incessantly vilify 'communist Cuba.' ... Our family moved into a different home, with furnishings included. Among them was a console short-wave radio. I quickly discovered that Radio Havana’s English language broadcast always came in clearly. I began listening on a regular basis. Almost immediately, I recognized, through the obviously sincere devotion of announcers and guests to poor people’s needs, that I’d been lied to about what Cuba actually represented." Dennis Rahkonen, Dissident Voice, 20 February 2008. 1 January 1959: "Castro decided to find a radio station so he could broadcast a message. About 11 a.m., Castro arrived in the town of Palma Soriano, where he found Radio Rebelde set up in a small house. The 'station' was a table-model 120-watt Collins shortwave transmitter, but it was strong enough to send a signal throughout Cuba." Miami Herald, 19 February 2008.

Pass it on: international news channels via new peer-to-peer platform (updated again).

Posted: 20 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The British tech start-up Skinkers is opening up the technical trial for its Livestation P2P platform today... European Livestation users will have access to the BBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, France 24 in French and English, Euronews, Canal+, Sky News and two BBC Radio stations with the new beta test unveiled today. US users will just get Al Jazeera, France 24 and BBC Radio for now... Skinkers is also announcing today that the former CNN International President Chris Cramer is joining the company as an advisor to help with its news strategy." NewTeeVee, 11 February 2008. "A download tested by PC Magazine on Tuesday morning easily connected to BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4, and intermittently linked up to the French version of France 24, but failed entirely to access Al Jazeera and the English version of France 24. LiveStation technical support said it would troubleshoot the connection problems." PC Magazine, 12 February 2008. Update: Skinkers founder Matteo Berlucchi: "The whole thing about rights and geographies I think is seriously put under discussion when you put things on the Internet. Because while a cable network and satellite network are very geographical by nature, the Internet is the least geographically structured thing in the world; it’s completely flat and open." WorldScreen.com, 19 February 2008.

Seems like a coca-induced international television deal.

Posted: 19 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iran plans to open a television station 'for all of Latin America' to be based in the coca-growing Andean foothills of Bolivia, President Evo Morales said Monday. ... The station would be 'for all of Bolivia, for all of Latin America, recognizing the great struggle of this peasant movement,' Morales [said]. ... Morales' description of a left-leaning channel reaching all of Latin American echoes the role now played by Telesur, a region-wide network backed by Chavez." AP, 19 February 2008.

And more Arabic television from Europe.

Posted: 19 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"France-based broadcaster EuroNews has secured five million euro from the European Commission to start broadcasting in Arabic, according to official European Union documents. Filings also show Radio France Internationale has won a 5.8 million euro contract to develop a multilingual pan-European radio network covering European affairs. According to a report in the Official Journal of the European Union, dated on the 13th of February, EuroNews was one of two bidders for a contract to produce and broadcast "an Arabic version of an international television news channel. The filing did not say who the other bidder was. Talk in Brussels has previously suggested that a Lebanese broadcaster was also vying for this contract." EUX-TV, 19 February 2008.

Not much entertainment value, but at least they will stay on shortwave.

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
U.S. Coast Guard decides to continue HF (shortwave) weather broadcasts for the high seas. "'There is no viable alternative to the USCG HF broadcasts because present alternatives are perceived by the public to be out of financial reach. Also, marine weather forecasts available through these alternative sources may not guarantee the same level of accuracy, timeliness, and/or sufficiency as provided by the USCG HF broadcasts.' While the Coast Guard does not have funds necessary to replace all of its HF transmitters, funds are available to replace the 20 transmitters used for weather broadcasts." U.S. Coast Guard press release, 7 February 2008. The Coast Guard might note that IBB has some unused transmitters at Delano, California, and Greenville, North Carolina.

Rock 'n' roll via international radio, 1956 (updated).

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
From review of new Hungarian-Serbian film: "A trippy fictional take on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the Soviets, 'The Sun Street Boys' arrives a year later than a raft of other similarly themed features, but bests them all in sheer visual chutzpah. ... Fueled by the tinny rock 'n' roll of Elvis Presley and Little Richard issuing from radios tuned to Voice of America, the kids alternate between nervous skirmishes and impromptu dance parties. A comic highlight follows the pitched debate over 'Rock Around the Clock': Some of the boys think it involves literally jumping around a timepiece, while a more informed compatriot advises them it means to dance all day long." Eddie Cockrell, Variety, 8 February 2008. I don't think VOA broadcast much rock music in the 1950s. It's possible that RFE had such a program. I suspect, though, they were listening to Radio Luxembourg on 1439 kHz medium wave. Update: Kai Ludwig in Germany (the part that was originally the GDR) writes that RFE did have a rock program. "I was told a story from these days a class on vacation was listening to RFE in Hungarian for music. Their teacher was of a hardcore kind, rigorously preventing them from tuning in to western stations. However, here he did not realize what was going on. It was in Hungaria. The teacher was wondering that this station is somewhat fishy but could not figure what it was and left the kids alone. Of course, the owner of the set was a radio enthusiast, thus knew about RFE. The same gentleman also still remembers the VOA relays via Woofferton [England] using shortwave as signal source, since they often sounded horrible to an extend that they were unlistenable." Here Kai is referring the the poor reception of the VOA shortwave feeder signal from the United States to the U.K. relay site. This was before satellite relays. RFE's programs originated in Munich, so they did not have the same problems with shortwave feeds, and thus were more suited to broadcast music programs.

Notice he says "encourage free debate" and not "promote freedom and democracy."

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Dictators and despots find it harder to hide in a world of satellite TV and the internet. And those who seek more freedom find it easier to mobilise support. There are things we can do to help. By supporting the creation of a free media, in the form of the BBC World Service, we encourage free debate." British foreign secretary David Miliband, Sunday Sun (Newscastle), 17 February 2008.

The perils of news when it is not live.

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC News 24 is dropping many of its specialist half-hour programmes for budget reasons. This may be no bad thing. Early on Friday morning, as news broke that the Chicago University [Northern Illinois University] massacre had killed five students, it was showing BBC World News America. Despite its title, because it was prerecorded Matt Frei's programme was still talking of 'injuries' and was contradicted by News 24's own ticker. Sky News also nearly got caught, showing at 12.30am a pre-recorded CBS News. After five minutes it abandoned it and switched to its own coverage." Andrew Billen, The Times, 18 February 2008. I thought the idea was for BBC World News America to be broadcast at evening prime time (7:00 p.m. Eastern) in North America, and also live at whatever local time for the rest of the world on BBC World. If live, BBCWNA would be on at midnight on the UK-domestic BBC News 24, after most viewers are asleep, but at least it would be current.

In any case, BBC World was probably happy to take the money.

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"I had not imagined that our rural unemployed are regular watchers of BBC World. I have changed my misconception after seeing a couple of badly made ads about the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) on the global news channel, exhorting the poor unemployed to go to their gram panchayats for getting jobs under the Act, rather than paying 'application fees' to a middleman. Clearly, the rural poor must be watching BBC World. ... Or is it just another manifestation of the mindless, bureaucratic fashion in which too many of our programmes are administered?" A V Rajwade, Business Standard (New Delhi), 18 February 2008.

CNN deal with Radio Haifa.

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Haifa has signed a cooperation agreement with CNN, which will come into effect in March. Radio Haifa will supply news reports to CNN, and will air CNN reports from around the world. ... Radio Haifa is the first radio station in the Middle East to sign a cooperation agreement with CNN." Globes, 17 February 2008.

Creative uses of shortwave radio.

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"[Randy] Thom came up through radio, working on dramas and documentaries, and his first film was 'Apocalypse Now.' [Walter] Murch got an Academy Award for the 1979 film, and his new protégé was fascinated watching him. Thom had noticed that if you set a short-wave radio on null frequencies, there would be a fluttering sound, a sort of ghostly strafing. Thom thought it sounded like a helicopter, but Murch used it as memorable background distortion for an audiotape recording of Col. Kurtz, Marlon Brando's mad military man." Los Angeles Times, 18 February 2008.

WRUL broadcaster surfaces.

Posted: 18 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"I also did a radio program for a year over WRUL radio called 'Calling Shortwave Listeners' or something like that. Each week I would play the sounds of a different satellite." Jim Howard, Howard's Notebook, 18 February 2008. WRUL, later WNYW, a.k.a. Radio New York Worldwide, was a popular private shortwave station during its 1960s heyday. See also this history of WRUL/WNYW by Lou Josephs.

Former RFE/RL president honors the late Rep. Tom Lantos.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tom fully supported the democracy-oriented broadcast journalism of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He and his beloved Annette visited the broadcast headquarters in Prague. His speech at the radios' dinner in 2001 commemorating 50 years of broadcasting remains a Web site gem. When the Russians kidnapped RFE/RL's Chechen correspondent Andre Babitsky and hid him in a farmhouse in Dagastan for nearly six weeks, Tom gladly added his voice to the chorus of pro-democracy advocates around the world urging the award-winning journalist's identification and release." Former RFE/RL president Tom Dine, Jerusalem Post, 16 February 2008. Good journalism is essential to democracy, but a good journalist would cringe at having his or her work described as "democracy-oriented." See previous post about Rep. Lantos.

Online ad campaign wants Pakistanis everywhere to click on bbcurdu.com.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has launched an online ad campaign, Election 2008, on bbcurdu.com to raise awareness of the website in Pakistan, USA, Canada, UAE and the UK. Aimed at Urdu-speaking international news seekers, wherever they are, it is timed to coincide with Pakistan's parliamentary elections and is carried by a range of websites including the online edition of the country's major daily newspaper, Jang, as well as Geo and MSN Messenger." BBC World Service press release, 14 February 2008. World Service opinion poll in Pakistan. BBCWS press release, 14 February 2008. David Frost, of "Frost Over The World" on Aljazeera English, recalls his interviews with Benazir Bhutto. The Telegraph, 17 February 2008.

"Unusual" apology for BBC World story.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"In an uncommon act of journalistic contrition, the BBC has apologized for equating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh as 'great national leaders.' The BBC took the unusual step after Don Mell, The Associated Press's former photographer in Beirut, lambasted the parallel, drawn by BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawkesley in a BBC World report last Thursday, as 'an outrage' and 'beyond belief.'" Jerusalem Post, 17 February 2007. "Forgive me if I greet the news of [Mughniyeh's] demise with considerable skepticism. His life's work was deception and it would pain me not to take that into account when reporting his death." CNN International news anchor Jim Clancy, CNN, 14 February 2008.

Three-day suspension for RCI employee.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
The labor union of Radio Canada International employees protests the decision of RCI to suspend Wojtek Gwiazda for three days, without pay. Gwiazda headed up an inter-union campaign against the shift of RCI's mandate from traditional international broadcasting to providing a service for new immigrants to Canada. Le Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada, 14 February 2008. See also English version of FNC-CSN press release. And RCI Action Committee.

Eritrea: Radio Sawa versus "Western media giants" (updated and corrected).

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Sawa in Eritrea. "In the 40s and 50s Eritrea was sentenced to a slow and silent death by suffocation. But now Eritrea, you have the means to speak and to speak loud and clear. Thanks to the 'equalizer' (the information super highway), the suffocation days, the days when Western media giants and mercenaries, used to break nations and societies at whim are over. With Dimtsi Hafash, ERI-TV, Radio Sawa, the Internet, and newspapers at her disposal; Eritrea have now the means and the ability to talk and talk loud and clear." Biddho.com, 9 February 2008. Unless there is another Radio Sawa, why would the U.S.-funded Radio Sawa counter the "western media giants"? The Radio Sawa website lists an FM outlet in "Amara," presumably Asmara. The Radio Sawa medium wave relay in Djibouti should also be heard well throughout Eritrea. Update: "There is no way that Radio Sawa would be broadcasting inside Eritrea. US-Eritrean relations are at a very low ebb. The listed Radio Sawa relay in Amara refers to Al-Amarah (Iraq) - not Asmara. The piece quoted by Kim was clearly written by a pro-government author. All the sources cited are government outlets. 'Radio Sawa' probably refers to Radio Zara - listed in World Radio TV Handbook; also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_of_Eritrea. 'Dimsti Hafash' is Voice of the Masses (i.e. Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea)." Chris Greenway, reporting to DX Listening Digest, 15 February 2008.

Influencing foreign publics by making them listen to two U.S. stations to get all the news (updated).

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"In an exclusive interview yesterday, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, spoke to Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) about Iranian government assistance to the Shia militants in Iraq." VOA press release, 12 February 2008. And, thus, Radio Farda listeners will not know what Ambassador Burns had to say about this subject. See previous post about same subject. Update: "I saw the items on your website about VOA Persian exclusives and Farda. Look, the interviews may be exclusive but just like a CNN or NYTimes exclusive with, say, the President, it doesn't mean other news organizations don't get access to the material and can't use it. I checked with VOA Persian News Network and was told Farda has access to everything PNN does. It's up to them at Farda whether to use or not use." Alex Belida of the VOA News Blog. If you're looking for the VOA News blog, there is no link on the voanews.com home page. Instead, on that home page, click on VOA English. Then, on the VOA English page, go down the left column. You'll find it (though I'm not sure why) under "Programs A to Z." Or, memorize the URL: voanewsblog.blogspot.com. However you get there, it's worth a look every few days. The most recent post has data on the number of visits per country.

Mp3 files for your weekend listening.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Think tank events on public diplomacy and international broadcasting. "Public Diplomacy: Reinvigorating America's Strategic Communications Policy," with speakers Tony Blankley, Michael Doran, Joseph Duffey, Colleen Graffy, and Helle Dale. Heritage Foundation, 13 February 2008. See also Washington Times, 15 February 2008. Jeffrey Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 14 February 2008. I will listen, probably while mopping the kitchen floor, and post summary and comments. Better yet, you listen and send in your summary and comments, and I'll post them here.

VOA reports on a U.S. Army PsyOp unit in Iraq (updated).

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"PsyOp teams operate in tandem with other military units by spreading information, providing services and promoting trust. After close to five years of war, building that kind of relationship is a difficult process." VOA News, 12 February 2008. "Part of the mission of U.S. Army PsyOp is to encourage Iraqis to turn to their government for solutions to problems." VOA News, 12 February 2008. Both reports by VOA's Adam Allington in Iraq. Update: "The 308th Psyops (Psychological Operations) Company used leaflets, posters, radio, television and even loudspeakers to make friends of civilians and to encourage enemy combatants to lay down their arms. That strategy, of course, didn’t work all the time. These soldiers carried weapons and they saw action." Kansas City Star, 14 February 2008.

Radio stations help Belarus learn about democracy and about broadcasting bureaucracy.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The current situation finds Poland as the major funder of two stations broadcasting into Belarus. But Poland faces the ire of other donors and governments after its failure to assist in broadening the reach of an international project also based within its borders: the European Radio for Belarus (ERB). ... The widely respected Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Svoboda, traditionally has appealed to an older clientele, feeding a strong diet of news and commentary to those already democratically inclined. While [Radio] Racja does have some ambitions to serve a Belarusian audience in Belarus proper, its main audience has always been their ethnic kin in Poland. ERB’s intentions are elsewhere: to use music and entertainment as a 'hook' to attract the under-35 generation in Belarus to more serious content." Transitions Online, 15 February 2008.

Shortwave -- this time "numbers stations" -- as music.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’s penultimate track, 'Poor Places', contains the record’s most dense and grating soundscapes. As it draws to a close, Tweedy’s voice and strumming are overtaken by static squeals and drones. Eventually a monotone and emotionally void female voice enters, repeating the words 'yankee', 'hotel' and 'foxtrot'. The sample comes from the Conet Project, a collection of found shortwave-radio recordings. Also known as numbers stations, shortwave radio transmissions have long been the subject of mystery and speculation. Often consisting of voices reading series of numbers or repeating single phrases, the stations are rumored to be part of government espionage." PopMatters, 15 February 2008.

Shortwave listening in California, 1958.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
From the 14 February 1958 issue: "Samuel K. Terry of Ocean Park has been a shortwave radio addict for many years. During World War II, he used to listen to Tokyo Rose lying about how many American ships the Japanese navy sank each day. He had three sons in the service. He has continued to derive great pleasure bringing in 'distance' on his seven-band Zenith. He gets the Voice of Spain from Madrid, Moscow, BBC [sic, ABC?] from Melbourne, Big Ben in London giving Greenwich meridian time, news from Montreal and police calls from Houston, Tulsa and Cincinnati." Los Angeles Times The Daily Mirror blog, 14 February 2008.

Malaysia's international channel will launch in April.

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"RTM World, a television programme based on information and entertainment, will be broadcast worldwide starting April. Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said for a start, RTM World would be available two hours daily from 2.30am to 4.30am [1830-2030 UTC]. ... He said RTM World would be broadcast using two Measat 3 satellites to reach about 70 per cent of the world population and Intelsat for coverage in Europe including United Kingdom and Africa. ... 'The programmes to be shown comprise genres like economy, tourism, culture, Islam Hadari, news and current issues. English will be the main language while programmes in Bahasa Malaysia or other languages will carry English subtitles.'" Bernama, 14 February 2008.

RFI's Moussa Kaka remains in jail (updated).

Posted: 16 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"A court in Niger on Tuesday denied bail to journalist Moussa Kaka, behind bars since September for alleged links with a Tuareg rebel movement that has since threatened uranium mining in the north. Kaka, who is a correspondent for Radio France Internationale, was jailed on September 26 on the strength of wiretap phone tapes the prosecutor presented as evidence against him for complicity to undermine the authority of the state." AFP, 12 February 2008. See also RFI, 12 February 2008. Update: "The Niger authorities must free Moussa Kaka, a journalist behind bars since September for alleged links with a Tuareg rebel movement, as soon as possible, Amnesty International said in a statement received Friday." AFP, 15 February 2008. I can't find the statement at amnesty.org as of 16 February.

Mark McKinnon's past and possible future on the BBG.

Posted: 15 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Mark McKinnon, chief media adviser of the John McCain presidential campaign, said he would "be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama." Fox News, 14 February 2008. McKinnon was recess appointed to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in December 2006, but is not now on the Board. He is awaiting Senate confirmation for a regular appointment to the BBG. White House press office, 7 February 2008. "In 2005, he was nominated to fill a Democratic slot on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees American broadcasting abroad including Voice of America. After protests from Democratic senators reported by The Washington Post, the nomination was withdrawn and resubmitted to fill a Republican slot." Center for Public Integrity, 26 September 2006.

Latest skirmish in the Cuban-American media war.

Posted: 15 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Students whose images were exploited by different foreign media to present them as a sign of rebellion against the Cuban government spoke during a video interview denouncing the manipulations that occurred and denying that they were arrested on Tuesday. After taping the two hour conversation of Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban parliament, with students of the University of Computer Sciences (UCI) several news media began showing small fragments that they presented as illegal recordings that showed an uprising of students against the Cuban government. They didn’t mention that such activities are always filmed by the students and placed unabridged on the university intranet. On February 11, the foreign media began to report that student Eliecer Avila had been detained. The student explains in the new video that such a claim was false and the way it was perpetrated. The false information began on Radio and TV Marti, the stations created and funded by the US government 'to take the truth' to Cuba. However, once it was repeated by other media and news agencies the news item was taken off the Radio/TV Marti website." Periodico26.cu, 13 February 2008.

Secretary Rice emphasizes foreign students in FY 2009 public diplomacy budget.

Posted: 15 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"We, of course, have increased significantly the resources going to public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is going to have to be rebuilt over an extended period of time, but I think we’ve made great progress. We have increased again the number of foreign students who are studying in this country. After September 11th, those numbers collapsed to very low numbers, and I think that those of us who look to the long term know that when students from abroad get to know us and spend time here, and when our students get to go abroad, that is really the very best way for people to get to know America and to spread our values." Condoleezza Rice, opening remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, State Department, 13 February 2008. "I’m very grateful that we’ve been able to rebuild that function. There’s much more work to do. And I’m sure that Jim Glassman, as he replaces Karen Hughes, will put energy into that." Secretary Rice's opening remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, State Department, 13 February 2008.

Seems like old times: new Arab satellite broadcasting restrictions will affect international broadcasting.

Posted: 15 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Arab governments adopted on Tuesday a satellite broadcasting charter which will entrench state control over broadcasts and curtail political expression. The document, which echoes the language found in press laws used by some Arab countries to prosecute journalists critical of their governments, was endorsed at a meeting of Arab information ministers in Cairo. ... The charter bans broadcasting material seen as undermining 'social peace, national unity, public order and general propriety' -- accusations which Arab governments often throw at their opponents. Broadcasters can not criticise religions or defame political, national and religious leaders, it says." Reuters, 12 February 2008.
     "The Egyptian-Saudi proposal would allow governments in countries hosting satellite channels that violate the charter to suspend or revoke its broadcasting license, which would have a dampening effect on existing stations like Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and Al Hurra, for example, which actually allow free-wheeling debate, uncensored call-ins, and live coverage that often transgress traditional red lines and certainly abridge the draconian press laws and penal codes of each individual country." Courtney C. Radsch, Arabisto, 14 February 2008.
     "Since their emergence in the region, satellite TV stations have revolutionised the news media in the Arab world. Unlike the national TV stations that have to censor themselves, stations such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya are forums for free speech in which the peoples of the Arab world can hear their grievances expressed." Reporters sans frontières, 13 February 2008.
     "Egyptian Information Minister Anas El Fiqqi says the resolution is not intended to restrict the satellite media, but rather to set norms for regulating them. Yet the minister's statement fell short of convincing journalists, who contend that the governments are seeking to tighten their grip over the growing satellite media, which have been moving ahead with breaking political taboos. All Arab countries except Qatar accepted the resolution." Los Angeles Times Babylon & Beyond blog, 14 February 2008.
     "The Egyptian information minister, Anas El Fekki, said his country would start applying it immediately. Mr El Fekki delivered a strong attack on Arab satellite channels describing some as having deviated from the 'correct path' and saying that there was a need to protect viewers from their 'negative practices'." Financial Times, 14 February 2008.
     Qatar "said it needed further time to consider the document - and so al-Jazeera does not appear to be facing imminent curbs, says our correspondent." BBC News, 12 February 2008.
     "The Arab governments, and in particular the Saudi and Egyptian ones, want to take Arab public opinion to the previous lifeless era which prevailed before the satellite channels boom and in which the official media played the heroic role, that is, political programmes that had nothing to do with reality and reflected the views of the intelligence services and their rulers (rather than those of the public.) More seriously, these two countries are also the ones who are investing the most, through some of their followers, in the entertainment and amusement channels which are multiplying at a frightening rate. Many believe that they aim to corrupt the young generations and steer them away from the fundamental and essential issues which affect their future, such as unemployment, corruption, human rights violations, and all kinds of freedoms." Abd-al-Bari Atwan, editor in chief of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, 11 February 2008.
     "Wadah Khanfar, director-general of Al Jazeera, said in a statement issued on Friday: 'Any code of ethics or governance for journalistic practices should emerge, and be governed, from within the profession and not be imposed externally by political institutions. Al Jazeera considers the adoption of the charter ... a risk to the freedom of expression in the Arab world.'" Aljazeera.net, 15 February 2008.
     The charter seems to be aimed mainly at the free-wheeling talk shows featured on some of the pan-Arab channels. But even in Alhurra and the future BBC Arabic news programs, soundbites of opposition leaders will be included, perhaps subjecting these stations to banishment. It requires only one technician at Arabsat to push one button, and one technician at Nilesat to do the same, and Alhurra, BBC Arabic TV, France 24 Arabic, Russia Today Arabic, etc., will be deprived of most of their audiences.
     Arab audiences wanting unfettered news could perhaps turn their satellite dishes towards Eutelsat. More conveniently, they could take their shortwave radios out of the closet. Alhurra could put its audio track on shortwave transmitters as an expedient. But the BBG has closed the the IBB shortwave relay in Greece, and is about to close the relay in Morocco. This will leave U.S. international broadcasting hard pressed to remain a factor in the Arab world.

International-facing Newsnight is a best-of the domestic-facing Newsnight.

Posted: 14 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World is set to expand its news programming with Newsnight, the BBC’s hard-hitting weekly news programme featuring some of the toughest interviewers in journalism. The fifty minute long programme will be broadcast on BBC World, on Saturdays... Newsnight comes from the same team that produces Britain’s long-running nightly programme of the same name. The international-facing weekly version will showcase the best of its award-winning blend of features, investigations, interviews and discussions." BBC World press release, 13 February 2008.

While VOA and RFE/RL vie for exclusive interviews, BBC gets an exclusive interview with President Bush. (updated)

Posted: 14 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Matt Frei, presenter of BBC World News America, interviews President George W. Bush on Thursday 14 February. This special edition of the weekday programme will air globally on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 February at various times. The exclusive interview takes place at the White House on the eve of the president's visit to Africa." BBC World press release, 12 February 2008. Update: Transcript. "Frei: Your administration has given $15bn to treat Aids in Africa? Mr Bush: Yeah. Frei: Which is an unprecedented amount of money, and you want to double that amount yet again? Mr Bush: Yeah." BBC News, 14 February 2008. "U.S. President George W. Bush told Voice of America (VOA) today that Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has ruined that country." VOA press release, 14 January 2008. Actually an interview with several radio reporters on the eve of his second trip to Africa. VOA News, 14 February 2008.

France 24 Arabic service unveiled.

Posted: 14 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Agnes Levallois, deputy editorial director of France24's Arabic service. "How would you respond if a veiled woman journalist came to work in the Arabic section? A.L.: We haven't had to face such a situation yet. But, no, I would not allow a veiled woman on the screen. Q: Why? A.L.: Because France is a secular state." Asharq Al-Awsat via Menassat, 13 February 2008.

Psiphon wins a Netxplorateur.

Posted: 14 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Psiphon, an Internet censorship evading software project developed by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has been deemed 'the world’s most original, significant and exemplary Net and Digital Initiative' by a panel of French and international government, media and business experts. Psiphon was chosen first among 100 technology projects from around the world that were nominated for the Netxplorateur of the Year Grand Prix award." University of Toronto News, 14 February 2008. See also www.netxplorateur.org. "Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) today launched the latest salvo in the struggle to keep the Internet free from gatekeepers with the introduction of the 'Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008' (HR 5353). ... The new bill requires the FCC to actively protect the free-flowing Internet from gatekeepers, enforcing protections that 'guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet.'" SavetheInternet.com, 12 February 2008.

Free for the download: history of the debate on how to fund RFE and RL.

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XXIX, Eastern Europe; Eastern Mediterranean, 1969–1972. ... The second chapter, also a general one, deals with U.S. Government policy and the bureaucratic debate about—and ultimately, the decision on how to fund—Radio Free Europe (the U.S.-directed and clandestinely-funded broadcasting service aimed at Eastern Europe), and Radio Liberty (a similar service aimed at the Soviet Union)." Office of the Historian, State Department 12 February 2008. Download the chapter as a pdf file from this web page.

If you are in Iran and getting excellent reception of our frequency for Azerbaijan, please retune.

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Washington also intends to spend $65 million to 'support the aspirations of the Iranian people for a democratic and open society by promoting civil society, civic participation, media freedom and freedom of information.' It would also launch broadcasts of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Azerbaijani service into Iran, where at least a quarter of the population is ethnically Azeri." Eurasianet.org, 12 February 2008. RFE/RL's shortwave broadcasts in Azerbaijani are almost certainly already audible in Iran. The RFE/RL Azerbaijani medium wave transmitter on 1296 kHz might be heard in Iran, as well. Additional funds are probably not needed but, in the name of democracy and open society, will probably be spent.

Let the Desparate Housewives win Arab hearts and minds.

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Why can’t the U.S. government subsidize the distribution of regular American entertainment to the Arab World? I am not referring to the dry, policy-laden programming of Voice of America, nor to original pro-American shows that would inevitably involve consultations with American Muslim groups over whether the resulting productions violate politico-religious sensibilities. Let’s give them a heavy dose of what we give our own people, and which makes us so happy and wanting more. Not the pro-U.S. propaganda like what was produced in World War II. This would be 'The Office,' 'Desperate Housewives,' and 'Friday Night Lights,' without apologies." Jeffrey Breinholt, Counterrorism Blog, 12 February 2008. Apparent tongue-in-cheek notwithstanding, much of this programming is already sold to Arab television networks such as MBC. No government subsidy needed.

Former ambassador would shift gears on public diplomacy.

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Our public diplomacy, such as it is, has concentrated on explaining away or defending Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and "extraordinary rendition" rather than on seeking common ground with the world's Muslims, the vast majority of whom share our horror at Al Qaeda's amoral tactics and reject its deviant vision of Islam. We have an open invitation from the religious leaders of the Islamic world to open a dialogue to explore the possibility of a coordinated approach. It is past time for us to respond." Ambassador Charles W. Freeman, remarks to the MIT Security Studies Program, 11 February 2008, via Middle East Policy Council.

Botswanians can still hear BBC news on shortwave. Presumably. (updated)

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"I'm very thrilled that BTV has temporarily cut or suspended the broadcasting of BBC news on our national channel. And my wish is for BTV [Botswana Television] to get rid of this world news service forever since the time slot which has been occupied by this monstrous programme can appropriately be channeled to accommodate more local content." Rudeboy Necta, The Voice (Francistown), 5 February 2008. Update: "For several years BTV carried BBC World broadcasts more or less from midnight to noon when it didn't have its own programming to air. Three weeks ago, however, the contract for carrying the British station ran out, and since that time viewers ... have been treated to an attractive test pattern during the former BBC broadcast hours." The Voice (Francistown), 12 February 2008.

Three new Confucius Institute branch offices.

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
At Webster University, St. Louis. "Former Gov. Bob Holden, who runs a public policy institute at Webster and was involved in bringing the institute to Webster, acknowledged that the Confucius Institutes may be the People's Republic of China playing 'soft politics,' aiming to generate more goodwill toward it around the world. 'But it's in our interest to learn their culture and values.'" St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8 February 2008. At Valparaiso University. Munster (IN) Times, 13 February 2008. At Cleveland State University. The Cauldron, 11 February 2008. Discussion of Chinese soft power in other countries. Asia Times, 14 February 2008.

Revisionist 9-11 documentary sold to Aljazeera.

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Italian documentary feature "Zero: An Investigation Into 9/11 ... re-edited with an English voice-over for international distribution ... has already secured its first sale, to Al Jazeera International [sic] ... 'It proves conclusively that the official story of 9/11 is false and that whatever happened on that fateful day must be re-examined by an independent authority'" C21Media.net, 13 February 2008.

France 24 via another new technology incomprehensible to us owners of rotary-dial telephones.

Posted: 13 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Actimagine has previewed mobiclip.com, which gives users an online resource to store their videos via the handset. ... Actimagine also confirmed that France 24, the French and Arab-language international information channel, is to offer mobiclip.com users access to its live channels and podcasts. All France 24 content will be available free-of-charge." Mobile Entertainment, 13 February 2008. Don't bother going to the squatted mobilclip.com URL, but see actimagine.com.

RFI radio and web output affected by one-day strike.

Posted: 12 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"En raison d'un préavis de grève de l'ensemble de l'audiovisuel public français, RFI n'est pas en mesure d'assurer l'ensemble de ses programmes." Radio France Internationale, 13 February 2008. "Unions representing French state radio and television workers on Tuesday maintained a call for a strike for Wednesday to protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to ban advertising from the public broadcasting sector." Reuters, 12 February 2008.

BBG honors Tom Lantos.

Posted: 12 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors express their deepest regret at the passing of Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA). ... The BBG is gratified for his support for U.S. international broadcasting throughout the years, and especially for the inspiring words he shared with the world through the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America." BBG press release, 11 February 2008.

If public diplomacy strategies were wine, this would be Thunderbird.

Posted: 12 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Among advice from John C. Wohlstetter, senior fellow the Discovery Institute, for the new president: "Step up a non-apologetic public diplomacy that denies our adversaries free access to our media to propagandize, and covertly subsidizes moderate media organizations and leaders abroad (as we did during the Cold War)." Also: "Begin public service ads informing Americans better on how to cope in the aftermath of WMD attacks, or 'dirty bomb' attacks." FrontPage Magazine, 12 February 2008.

CNN's citizen journalists are citizens of 189 countries.

Posted: 12 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International's user-generated content service iReport, which launched in 2006 ... garnered 50,000 submissions, including mobile phone footage and images, from 189 countries worldwide in its first twelve months, driving the worldwide trend for 'citizen journalism' and giving audiences a deeper connection to network news." CNN International press release, 12 February 2008. The press release also reports on an Ericsson survey of mobile TV use, but doesn't say where the survey was conducted. Same as Ericsson press release, 12 February 2008.

Another comparison of the international news channels.

Posted: 12 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sky News plies tabloid journalism, while BBC World prides itself on bringing more in-depth coverage than CNN International, even if half the reporters on CNNI are ex-BBC anyway. The reporters on France 24 are more likely to focus on policy differences separating the American candidates, while also showing a very French appreciation for Mr. Obama's 'lyricism.' (What strikes one most about France 24 is its eye-scaldingly bright blue and white sets, which look as if they were designed for a detergent commercial.) Politically, Al Jazeera English, where Dave Marash plays the American wise man, veers furthest left. Anyone to the right of Senator McCain (i.e., most of the Republican Party) is likely to be referred to as 'far right' or 'ultra right.'" Brendan Bernhard, New York Sun, 12 February 2008.

The shortwave broadcast that came under artillery fire.

Posted: 12 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rabbi Sidney Lefkowitz was a chaplain who went ashore on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. ... And on Oct. 29, 1944, he conducted the first Jewish service broadcast by NBC on Nazi soil. It was on the site of a synagogue burned to the ground by Nazis in 1938. The service was attacked by German artillery fire as it was being broadcast by shortwave radio to the United States over NBC. A video of the story can now be viewed online and has received thousands of viewings." Jacksonville Times-Union, 11 February 2008. Alas, the article does not provide the URL, but the YouTube video was easy enough to find, via a Google search, at militaryglobal.com, 28 December 2007.

The enjoyment of shortwave is in the hunt (updated again).

Posted: 12 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Missing the Internet's precision, what I think most recommends shortwave radio now is its offer of quest. It's in the hunting for something unknown that might not be there anyway, and if it is, may dissolve, sputtering, eaten by sunspots or zapped in static. One night down here, I picked up a great roll of African drumming that, in the dark, matched my notion of shortwave's greatest appeal." John Vinocur, International Herald Tribune, 8 February 2008. "When you think about the radio vs. the web, it’s hard to imagine that shortwave could last. In fact many countries no longer aim their broadcasts toward the US (BBC , Deutsche Welle) and I wonder if that’s not part of it: online radio and podcasts are much cheaper than a huge antenna. But no one can tell what you’re listening to on the radio. And you can’t get web access everywhere yet." Ken Denmead, Wired geekdad blog, 6 February 2008. New retro shortwave radio has a very wooden cabinet. Gizmodo, 7 February 2008. And retro performance, with the entire shortwave spectrum squished into a few inches of dial space. "I’m talking shortwave radio. I’m also talking about becoming a shortwave hobbyist the old-fashioned way, as opposed to over the Internet. That means buying a shortwave receiver and, in extreme cases, stringing up some wire between trees in your backyard. ... And since these are analog broadcasts as opposed to digital, you and your family will be subjected to squeals, crashes of static and signals that fade in and out. In return, you’ll open a door to tremendous surprises. I can only compare it to fishing: You never know what you’ll catch." Bill Husted, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8 February 2008. Update: "I'm primarily a shortwave listener because all radio streaming has been blocked on my computer at work. So, thank you for continuing your traditional shortwave broadcasts - I enjoy these more anyway, I think, because of the mystery of catching an RF signal bouncing off the ionosphere from a transmission emanating an ocean away." Eric Peterson of Biloxi, Mississippi, writing to Radio Netherlands, 12 February 2008.

Burmese overcome net censorship to learn about American democracy. Well, actually, to learn about American celebrity antics.

Posted: 11 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Foreign shortwave radio services are enormously popular here, with an estimated 40 percent of Burmese tuning in to the BBC, Voice of America Burmese broadcasts, Radio Free Asia, and the Democratic Voice of Burma. Small Chinese-made radios cost as little as $5. Watching satellite television is harder because of frequent electric outages, and the expense. Nonetheless, it is popular with Burmese gathering in tea shops to watch sports and catch news. ... The Internet cafes in these main cities are packed with youngsters overriding the blocks with endless formulas to reach proxy servers – and freely surfing the web, in open defiance of the law. They chat with friends across the border in Thailand, check gmail accounts, read news, search for scholarship opportunities overseas, and follow American celebrity antics." Christian Science Monitor, 11 February 2008. "Analysts say the regime was caught out by foreign news coverage of the last year's protests that was beamed back into the country by satellite, short wave radio and over the internet." The Telegraph, 11 February 2008. "The Press Scrutiny Board, a division under Burma's Ministry of Information, recently summoned periodical and journal editors to its office in the former capital Rangoon to warn them from inserting in their web edition articles and news reports that have not been checked by the censors." Southeast Asian Press Alliance, 12 February 2008.

New Radio Netherlands Chinese website: will it be blocked? (update)

Posted: 11 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The website will have to take some account of the limitations in China. RNW's Deputy Editor-in-Chief, China expert Ardi Bouwers, explains: 'We've chosen a realistic approach without setting ourselves editorial limitations. Bearing in mind the very specific information contained on the site, we don't expect to be blacked out by the Chinese government straightaway'. However, the editorial team are not going to avoid politically sensitive issues. 'We intend to make use of what room we believe is available. If risky topics are considered to be within the scope of the site, we'll publish.'" Radio Nederland Werelomroep press release, 8 February 2008. Radio Netherlands has never had a Mandarin language radio service. Update: China internet expert Xiao Qiang "considers the chance of this site being blocked slim. 'The site mainly focuses on news from the Netherlands. The fact that there is the odd critical article on the death penalty for instance will not immediately lead to the site being banned.' He surfs a few pages further and nods in agreement. 'But you never know with Chinese Internet censorship.'" Radio Netherlands, 11 February 2008.

If she doesn't mind wearing fatigues, she might have a job.

Posted: 10 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Dartmouth graduate, who studied Aljazeera in the Middle East as a Fulbright scholar, served as a White House intern, and whose dream is "starting a nonprofit to foster Western and Middle Eastern cultural understanding and to reform public diplomacy through media," cannot find a job in Washington. Jennifer Krimm, Washington Post, 10 February 2008. "Defense official Ryan Henry told the conference that public diplomacy is part of the mission of the new [Africa] command. He says the United States is competing in the marketplace of ideas with Islamic jihadists and conspiracy theorists, and others that he says are misinformed about U.S. intentions." Voice of America News, 9 February 2008.

China, where "the quest for information just enough of a nuisance" (updated).

Posted: 10 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Does the Chinese government really care if a citizen can look up the Tiananmen Square entry on Wikipedia? Of course not. Anyone who wants that information will get it—by using a proxy server or VPN, by e-mailing to a friend overseas, even by looking at the surprisingly broad array of foreign magazines that arrive, uncensored, in Chinese public libraries. What the government cares about is making the quest for information just enough of a nuisance that people generally won’t bother. Most Chinese people, like most Americans, are interested mainly in their own country. All around them is more information about China and things Chinese than they could possibly take in. The newsstands are bulging with papers and countless glossy magazines. The bookstores are big, well stocked, and full of patrons, and so are the public libraries. Video stores, with pirated versions of anything. Lots of TV channels. And of course the Internet, where sites in Chinese and about China constantly proliferate. When this much is available inside the Great Firewall, why go to the expense and bother, or incur the possible risk, of trying to look outside?" James Fallows, The Atlantic, March 2008. Similarly, someone in China with a fairly good shortwave radio, who tries all the broadcast times and all the frequencies, can usually hear VOA Mandarin, despite jamming. See my column in the NASWA Journal, February 2008. "Beijing is thought to have the planet's most sophisticated blocking equipment, which is used to guard virtual walls against external threats. Internally, it relies on a system of official monitoring and corporate self-censorship. Most of the routers and other parts come from US companies, such as Cisco. Campaigners suspect China is passing its censorship know-how to Cuba, Vietnam and several African countries. 'China is exporting a model where the internet is a tool for economical development, social networking, marketing business and propaganda, but not for free expression. China is very proud of this. They spent dozens of millions of euros to build firewalls, cyber-police and cyber-censors,' says Vincent Brossel of Reporters Without Borders." Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 9 February 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: "It doesn't take much to offend China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television - which, along with the Ministry of Information Industry, regulates the Internet. Besides the obvious taboos, the censors are acutely sensitive to the slightest affront to China's public image.: Barbara Demick, Baltimore Sun, 10 February 2008. "By last count, said Professor Ron Deibert, director of U of T’s Citizen Lab, 26 countries worldwide engaged in Internet censorship, blocking sites created by political opponents, human rights groups and international news. China, Iran, Syria, Uzbekistan and Burma are among the countries practising the most pervasive forms of Internet censorship." University of Toronto News, 4 February 2008.

Death of RFE Romanian broadcaster Max Banus.

Posted: 10 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1958, Banus was sentenced as a political prisoner by the communist regime to eight years in prison. He was freed four years later, after foreign pressure, and he emigrated to Israel, then to the United States and finally to Germany. He began working for Radio Free Europe in 1966." AP, 8 Febuary 2008.

Among the several new agencies proposed by John reduce-the-size-of-government McCain.

Posted: 09 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"'We must also revitalize our public diplomacy. In 1998, the Clinton administration and Congress mistakenly agreed to abolish the U.S. Information Agency and move its public diplomacy functions to the State Department. This amounted to unilateral disarmament in the war of ideas. I will work with Congress to create a new independent agency with the sole purpose of getting America's message to the world -- a critical element in combating Islamic extremism and restoring the positive image of our country abroad.' ... It is not, to say the least, a recipe for reducing the size of the federal government." Matt Welch, Reason, 8 February 2008. See previous post about McCain. "McCain has staked out hawkish territory on Venezuela and would surely escalate tensions with the South American nation. Most troubling is the Senator's strong push for renewed U.S. propaganda in the region. McCain has criticized the Venezuelan government's decision to not renew Radio Caracas Television's license, and has called for reestablishing an agency like the United States Information Agency (the USIA oversaw a variety of agencies including the Voice of America radio network before it was merged into the State Department in 1998)." Nikolas Kozloff, CounterPunch, 13 February 2008.

Let a hundred Aljazeeras bloom.

Posted: 09 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"While the quest for economic development a la Dubai is necessary to end the centuries of backwardness of the Muslim world, it is equally imperative for the Muslim countries to take bold and urgent steps to address their dangerous disconnect with the rest of the world. The experiment of Al Jazeera English has proved that it's possible to make professionally successful attempts on this front. If a tiny emirate like Qatar can do it, why can't big Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey come up with their own Al Jazeeras?" Aijaz Zaka Syed, Khaleej Times, 9 February 2008. "There was some debate when Shearman & Sterling [large law firm] moved into its London office as to whether they should have a TV in reception. They went with it, and it has apparently been popular with clients. But the Water Cooler was surprised last week to find it turned to Al-Jazeera's 24-hour English news channel. Is this the latest sign of the Middle East's growing importance to City legal practices? Or was someone merely having a laugh? Either way, order was soon restored and it was turned back to BBC News24." The Times, 8 February 2008.

Shooting blanks in the war of ideas.

Posted: 08 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Following the attacks of September 11, the US recognized the need to explain itself and its policies to the Muslim world and attempted to resuscitate its public diplomacy infrastructure. More than six years later, America continues to shoot blanks in the war of ideas, and anti-Americanism is at an all-time high." "Communication Breakdown: Losing the War of Ideas," America Abroad Radio, 3 October 2007 (broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio on 8 February 2008).

BBG details the FY 2009 budget request for U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 08 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Administration’s FY 2009 request for the BBG is $699.5 million dollars, an increase of 2.6% from FY 2008 levels. A key focus of the budget request is on building a significant expansion of Internet capability and programming. The Internet is a key source of news and information around the world, and also serves as a means of circumventing jamming and other government interference in our broadcasts. The proposed budget also continues funding initiatives to important Muslim and other critical audiences, including: •24-hour streams for VOA Persian TV and Radio Farda to Iran, •a daily three-hour live Alhurra television program broadcast from the Middle East, 24/7 news coverage by Alhurra, and customized news content on Radio Sawa, •Radio Deewa, VOA Pashto programming, to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, •VOA Urdu radio and television broadcasts to Pakistan, •VOA and RFE/RL Dari and Pashto programming to Afghanistan, •VOA Somali to Somalia; and •a 10-hour coordinated RFA and VOA stream to North Korea." ... "The FY 2008 appropriations bill included $12 million for the BBG that was designated as emergency supplemental funding and was used to continue the language services proposed for reduction in the FY 2008 request. The FY 2009 budget request does not assume the continuation of these supplemental funds, and reflects implementing most of the language service reductions proposed in the FY 2008 request by September 30, 2008. The FY 2009 budget request supports a continued, more robust VOA English website as a core news delivery system, as well as shortwave English broadcasts to key markets such as Africa and China where they continue to be viable." ... "With the shifting of priorities to the Middle East and the increasingly free media market in the former Yugoslavia, the BBG proposes eliminating RFE/RL’s South Slavic and Albanian language programming." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 7 February 2008, with accompanying BBG FY 2009 Budget Request. See previous post for summary of languages "proposed for reduction." This would include the BBG's long-desired elimination of VOA News Now, or "Worldwide English." VOA worldwide English would carry on as a "more robust" website. But keep in mind that VOA is one of only two media organizations with a truly global shortwave capability. VOA will be only one of hundreds of English-language news websites.

You can read the report, or just use it as ballast.

Posted: 08 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
The 2007 Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication has issued its 158-page report. It calls for the creation of a Center for Global Engagement, a 501(c)(3) corporation to serve as a "hub for innovation in cultural understanding, technology, and media." It also wants a permanent Strategic Communication Policy Coordinating Committee, with the participation of various federal agencies, including the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The Task Force recommends a "review of the mission, structure, funding, and performance of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, as an integral element of overall U.S. strategic communication capability." Download the report from the DSB's reports web page. "There is no reason why the United States cannot sustain an activity analogous to the UK government-funded BBC World Service, which has tremendous credibility around the world and serves as an instrument to promote truthful news and British values. Building up that credibility — building up that 'brand' — requires a decade or two of persistence." Report of the Defense Science Board 2004 Summer Study on Transition to and from Hostilities, accessible from the same DSB reports web page. The main reason the United States will probably never sustain an activity analogous to the BBC World Service is that U.S. experts insist on the "coordination" of U.S. international broadcasting by some White House office, and positioning U.S. international broadcasting "as an integral element of overall U.S. strategic communication capability." What U.S. experts consistently fail to understand is that audiences tune to foreign broadcasts to get news that is more reliable and comprehensive than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media. Credibility is therefore key to successful international broadcasting. Credibility is achieved through independence, not coordination. The audience for international broadcasting will sniff out a "coordinated" newscast within a few minutes, and retune to the BBC World Service.

China's internet firewall, and those who try to work around it (updated).

Posted: 08 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Even as anticensorship activism spreads, views are divided about whether a grass-roots campaign can prevail. Some see strong continued popular resistance to the limits imposed by tens of thousands of well-financed government technicians operating powerful computers and predict a breakthrough. Yuan Mingli, who created an anti-Great Firewall evasion group because of his love for Wikipedia, said the government was already at work on new generations of Internet technology aimed at insulating Chinese users even more from the rest of world. But he predicted its failure. 'That’s impossible, fundamentally, because people’s hearts have changed,' he said, adding that the system would 'eventually break down precisely because China cannot be completely disconnected to the outside world anymore.'" New York Times, 4 February 2008. Update: "Mr. Li, in his mid-20s, offered a $14 wager that he could get to any three blocked sites in less than five minutes. The bet was made. Opening a new browser, he promptly brought up outlawed content in Chinese and English from YouTube, Voice of America, Falun Gong and, for added measure, Reporters Without Borders — all within less than three minutes." Washington Times, 7 February 2008. "A pro-democracy Chinese activist plans to sue Google and Yahoo! for removing his name from their web search results. ... 'To make money, Google has become a servile Pekinese dog wagging its tail at the heels of the Chinese communists.'" The Register, 7 February 2008.

Which means that Radio Farda listeners could not hear about Iran's role in Afghan drug trafficking.

Posted: 07 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"In an exclusive interview this week with Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN), U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics, Counterproliferation and Global Threats Richard Douglas described Iran's role in the significant drug trafficking problems along its border with Afghanistan." VOA press release, 6 February 2008. See previous post about U.S. funded international broadcasters withholding news from one another by dint of exclusive interviews.

Smith-Mundt be damned, U.S. media help themselves to VOA content.

Posted: 07 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"This report [about recent tornadoes] was compiled from stories from Brian Wagner and Greg Flakus of Voice of America as well as from Raleigh Chronicle communications with Union University in Jackson, Tennessee." Raleigh Chronicle, 7 February 2008. "Brian Kuhn, chair of Plymouth’s Energy Committee, circulated a Voice of America article the other day describing increases in Renewable Energy installations. Here are some extracts." Francis Killorin, Wicked Local Plymouth (MA), 7 February 2008. KCHN, AM 1050, Brookshire, Texas, is rebroadcasting VOA Russian programming. Steve N5WBI reporting to ABDX via DX Listening Digest, 5 February 2008. U.S. media outlets can use VOA content if they obtain it on their own accord. VOA cannot encourage or facilitate this, though. This was determined in Gartner v. United States Information Agency, 1989. See this 1994 document by Alvin Snyder, from the Annenberg Washington Program.

Super Tuesday as soft power.

Posted: 07 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The reality show we call The American Election has - this time particularly - a cast of strong, contrasting, remarkable characters: Hillary, Obama, McCain, the egregious Mitt and the folksy Huckabee. (As in all good soap opera, one name only is required for most of the characters.) Moreover, the heart of the competition is not between contrasting policies, ideologies or visions. These will become more important once it is a straight Democrat-Republican general election this autumn, but for now these primaries are mainly about individual characters selling versions of themselves - and telling stories about themselves and America." Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, 7 February 2008. "While only American citizens can vote in U.S. elections, the entire world has an interest. Seven Medill students visited the Al Jazeera news bureau in Washington to watch the Super Tuesday results from an international perspective." Medill Reports, 6 February 2008. As in Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

France24.com: beaucoup de visiteurs.

Posted: 07 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"France24.com, the online portal of the French international news channel France 24, attracted 3.8 million unique visitors in December 2007, with the U.S. representing the largest share of the traffic. ... As measured by Nielsen/Médiamétrie, traffic to France24.com in December was 17 times greater than on the Al Jazeera website and 45 times greater than on the Euronews website." WorldScreen.com, 6 February 2008. Be ceraful with these web metrics, although Nielsen does use representative panels of web users. Why does France 24 attract more visitors than its competition? It might be that France 24 news items do get picked up frequently by search engines.

Comparing public diplomacy websites of Israel and China (updated).

Posted: 06 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Israeli site is (now) largely a propaganda site that will reinforce the views of its supporters, be treated sceptically by neutrals, and be ignored by its critics. The China site may have an underlying propagandistic drive, but it is sufficiently interesting, and China is sufficiently ill-known, to be interesting in its own right." David Bowen, Financial Times, 4 February 2008. Update: "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed Jewish Agency spokesman Yarden Vatikay director of a new bureau in the Prime Minister's Office in charge of public diplomacy, Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel told the Knesset's State Comptroller Committee Tuesday. The announcement came during a discussion in the committee on Israel's public diplomacy, following a comptroller report that slammed Israel's public relations efforts during the Second Lebanon War." Jerusalem Post, 6 February 2008.

DW-TV takes awards at New York Festivals.

Posted: 06 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"DW-TV has been awarded four prizes at the New York Festivals 2008 Television Broadcasting Awards. The 'euromaxx' TV magazine came home with two awards; one Bronze World Medal for the 12-part series called 'World Wide Video' and one Finalist Certificate for the series 'The Truth About Germany'." Deutsche Welle press release, 5 February 2008. Look for other international broadcasters to announce their prizes at the same event.

African countries take turns banning RFI (updated).

Posted: 06 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ivory Coast took Radio France International (RFI) off local airwaves on Friday with a demand that it base a reporter in the West African state after the last one was shot dead in 2003, the state media regulator said. The National Council for Audiovisual Communication (CNCA), which also suspended the station in 2005, accused RFI, one of the most popular stations in the country, of inaccurate and unprofessional news coverage. ... On Friday, only listeners with shortwave receivers could listen to the station." Reuters, 1 February 2008. See also AFP, 1 February 2008. See previous post about The Gambia suspending RFI. Update: "RFI News Director Geneviève Goetzinger acknowledged to CPJ that the station had failed to fulfill its pledge to appoint a permanent correspondent by the end of 2007, but called the ruling 'disproportional' to the reason given. She said the delay was due to internal legal assessments of safety issues of concern since a policeman killed RFI correspondent Jean Hélène in October 2003." Committee to Protect Journalists, 5 February 2008.

BBC World covers Super Tuesday, including the "rubbish."

Posted: 06 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"We’re trying to deliver a very smart program to an American audience, but also to a global audience." New York Times, 5 February 2008. "Of course, BBC World brought a uniquely British spin, with anchor Matt Frei asking at one point whether or not some exit poll information was 'rubbish.'" AP, 6 February 2008. "The BBC World Service's technology programme, Digital Planet has been looking at how many US states are going back to traditional voting methods after serious problems with electronic voting machines." BBC News, 6 February 2008.

Radio Sweden without the radio? (updated)

Posted: 06 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Digitalmagazin reports that Radio Sweden will end its German-language radio broadcasts on 30 March, leaving only a three-person web team in German. Gundula Adolfsson, head of Radio Sweden (international) notes that the station's audiences in English and German on shortwave have decreased "dramatically." Infosat, 1 February 2008. So this could happen to English, too? Thanks to Kai Ludwig for the news tip. Update: "English is not affected and not in danger of being taken off the air." George Wood, reporting to Radio Netherlands Media Network, 4 February 2008. See also announcement at Radio Sweden German website.

Proposed public diplomacy and international broadcasting budgets for fiscal 2009.

Posted: 05 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Administration FY 2009 budget calls for "more than 1,000 diplomats would be added to the U.S. foreign service" but including only "20 or so for public diplomacy." Reuters, 4 February 2008. "$395 million for public diplomacy to engage foreign audiences and win support for U.S. foreign policy goals." State Department, 4 January 2008. "The budget for the State Department requests $699 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors to 'provide accurate and objective news and information about the United States.' The broadcast will be made through television, radio and the Internet 'throughout the Middle East and to people living under tyranny in North Korea, Burma, Iran and Cuba.'" The Korea Times, 5 February 2008. "The administration is also requesting $34 million for Radio and TV Martí broadcasts to Cuba." Miami Herald, 5 February 2008. For additional details, see the State and International document from the OMB web page.

Only room for one BBC channel in the USA.

Posted: 05 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Garth Ancier, president of BBC Worldwide America: "Are there plans to launch any of the other BBC channels in the U.S., like CBeebies or BBC Lifestyle? Ancier: The difference between the U.S. and the rest of the world is that there is a real lack of channel space in the U.S. The reason you really don’t see that many channels launching here is because there simply isn’t enough carriage available." WorldScreen.com, January 2008. "There will be a lot of TV coverage of tonight's Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses, but if you're looking for something of an alternative view of the vote, you might want to check out what BBC America has to offer. The cable channel has expanded 'BBC World News America' to five hours starting at 4 p.m. to report and assess the results as they come in. Obviously, the show will be off the air before California weighs in, but the coverage is worth a stop if you're channel surfing early in the evening." Charlie McCollum, San Jose Mercury News, 5 February 2008.

Wise men subjugate themselves and do not listen to foreign stations.

Posted: 05 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"I’ve always figured Buddhism is the source of both this Burmese courtesy and passivity. The junta certainly likes to take advantage of Buddhist scripture for propaganda purposes. In that day’s edition of the state newspaper, a banner of text quoted the teachings of the Dhammapada: 'Irrigators guide the waters; arrow-makers fashion the shaft; carpenters bend the wood; Wise men subjugate themselves.' On the bottom fold was a rant against foreign news services. 'THE PUBLIC BE WARNED OF KILLERS ON THE AIRWAVES: RFA (Radio-Free Asia), VOA (Voice of America), BBC.'" Adam Karlin, World Hum, 4 February 2008. A 2007 survey in nine cities of Burma shows that 27% of adults listened to BBC during the past week, 22% VOA, 12% RFA. These are among the largest audiences for international broadcasting anywhere in the world. "International news organizations that have dedicated broadcasts into Burma have also been essential to mobilizing the population. Before the crackdown, the Voice of America, Democratic Voice of Burma and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had dedicated broadcast service of about an hour a day into the country, which they expanded to meet the population's needs for information. While not all Burmese have access to radio it is one of the cheaper and more accessible options, particularly for those living in rural areas." The Morung Express, 5 February 2008.

Interviews in exchange for Godiva chocolates?

Posted: 05 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Belgian "ambassadors in London, Paris and Madrid have already been able to arrange interviews of Belgian Interim Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt with The Financial Times and BBC World (Britain), Le Monde (France) and El Pais (Spain). The interviews with Le Monde and BBC World were taped recently; the interviews with El Pais and the FT are scheduled next week. ... It is unclear what Belgium has given Le Monde, the BBC, The Financial Times and El Pais in return for the interviews. The Belgian government has set aside a budget of 1 million euros for a publicity campaign which includes ads in The Economist and the FT and on various financial websites, as well as commercials on CNN, BBC World, Deutsche Welle and CNBC." The Brussels Journal, 4 Februart 2008. The article suggests scandalous behavior on the part of the mentioned media outlets. Unlikely, but enough for an enterprising independent journalist to look into.

Vesti now part of DirecTV's pricey Russian package.

Posted: 05 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"DIRECTV is growing its WorldDirect™ programming platform with the addition of Vesti, a Russian-language news channel covering major national and international news and events 24 hours-a-day seven days-a-week. ... Vesti is available in the RussianDirect™ II programming package, which also includes C1RW, Dom Kino, Muzika Pervogo, Vremya, RTR Planeta for $45.99 per month." DirecTV press release, 30 January 2008.

All that analysis for a $1.99 stock (updated).

Posted: 05 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"WorldSpace, Inc. (WRSP) closed yesterday at 1.99, a positive change of 0.05 or an increase of 2.58% from the previous close of 1.94. ... In yesterday's daily chart, WRSP's RSI indicator is in the neutral zone of 49.27% with no indication of an exhausted condition. MACD indicator so far reflects a weak bullish signal with the histogram reading above the 0 level at 0.077, but the 12-day and 26-day EMAs are in the negative zone of -0.166 and -0.246, respectively. Slow Stochastics indicator so far is in the neutral zone with readings of 57.49 %K and 47.60 %D, with the lines steeply curved upwards to indicate a bullish direction in the near-term. With 46.32% up from its 52-week low of 1.36 hit last January 9, share prices are reversing upwards after testing a significant support level turned pivot point for the stock." Beacon Equity Research, 29 January 2008. Update: "No news from the satellite radio company but share take a dive. Falls to $1.05 from $5.66." 24/7 Wall St., 4 February 2008.

D.C. big band events will include discussion of VOA's Willis Conover.

Posted: 04 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Big Band Jam! 2008 will be held April 18-27 at several locations in the Washington, DC, area including Blues Alley, the Voice of America Stage, the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. ... Multiple guest master classes will accompany feature performances, and there will be a round table discussion about the legendary Voice of America broadcast personality Willis Conover during 'Willis Conover Memorial Weekend' April 26-27. For more information, log on to www.bluesalley.org." All About Jazz, 4 February 2008.

VOA Urdu drops shortwave (updated).

Posted: 04 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
All shortwave frequencies for the VOA Urdu Service were eliminated on 28 January. Most of the Urdu shortwave frequencies were given over to VOA's Deewa radio (Pashto to northern Pakistan). VOA Urdu remains on 972 and 1539 kHz medium wave, via relays in neighboring nations. DXAsia.info, 16 January 2008. I can confirm this, even though the VOA Urdu and VOA frequencies web pages still show the shortwave frequencies. (The frequencies on the VOA Urdu web page were out of date, which could be one reason shortwave was not more popular.) Dropping shortwave is a risky move, given that Geo-TV, which carries VOA Urdu reports, was only recently allowed back on the air by Pakistan and by Dubai Media City. In a 2007 survey, before Geo-TV was taken down, the past-week audience for VOA was 6.5% of adults, versus 8% for BBC. BBC is radio only in Urdu, but somewhat over half of the VOA audience was, at the time of the survey, via Geo-TV. Of the VOA Urdu radio listeners, 51% said they listened via medium wave, 31% shortwave. (The rest didn't know or didn't answer.) If the VOA Urdu shortwave audience can't or won't find another medium, the VOA Urdu audience could be knocked down to 5.5% or thereabouts. Things could also get interesting in mid-summer: the VOA Urdu medium wave transmissions near dawn and dusk might not propagate if the sun is up. Update: "Urdu radio program aap ki dunya aired by the voice of America, is becoming increasingly popular in Chitral. When contacted different people to get their views in this regard, a large number of people told this scribe that they have switched over to the program aap ki dunya from television and other channels of radio due to its style, boldness and unique mode of presentation. Listened in Chitral on medium wave from 7 p.m to 7 a.m. PST, the radio broadcasts programs on current affairs, entertainment and sports, while the quality of reception of its signals is also excellent." Chitral (Pakistan) News, 3 February 2008.

Obama would open "America Houses" overseas.

Posted: 04 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"I have also called for a comprehensive public diplomacy program, including funding for 'America Houses' to incorporate youth centers and libraries that are needed throughout the broader Muslim World, and the establishment of a 'Voice Corps' to rapidly recruit and train fluent speakers of Arabic, Bahasa, Bahasa, Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish who can ensure our voice is heard - and that we listen - throughout the world. As President, I will lead this public diplomacy effort, beginning with a speech at a major Islamic forum in my first 100 days." San Francisco Chronicle, 4 February 2008. "The Bush administration's public diplomacy in Europe has been nothing short of shocking. It is all too appropriate that the position of assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy is currently vacant (though nominee James K. Glassman will likely be confirmed soon). The 2008 campaign has reminded the public overseas, and especially in allied countries, of the diversity and vibrancy of American democracy." James Forsyth, Foreign Policy Passport blog, 1 February 2008.

Iran's Press TV on journalists as targets in the war on terror.

Posted: 04 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Journalists who rejected the offer of being embedded and instead chose to work as unilaterals, ran the risk of their reporting being construed as activity of 'military significance'. As journalists at both the Al-Jazeera compound in Kabul and the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad found to their cost, this leaves unilaterals susceptible to attack from both insurgents and allied forces, especially if they are reporting from the enemy's side." Press TV, 3 February 2008

Transcripts from the early days of hate radio.

Posted: 04 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Under the direction of Alexander Kirk, the American Ambassador to Egypt, American diplomats in Cairo during World War II tape recorded Nazi Germany's Arabic language short-wave radio broadcasts to the Middle East. They translated them into English and sent verbatim transcripts of between 15 and 30 pages every week back to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. In the last sixty years, so far as I've been able to determined, what I will call 'the Kirk transcripts,' have lain unread in the National Archives of the United States, now located in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. I found them this summer. Hence, for the first time, they offer the most complete record of Nazi radio propaganda and greatly enrich our historical knowledge regarding the diffusion of National Socialist ideas to the Middle East." Jeffrey Herf, Telos, 4 February 2008.

Tie them up and read them papers on political communication theory until they agree to like America.

Posted: 04 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will meet on Thursday, February 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon in Room 602 (Lindner Family Commons) at the Elliot [sic] School of International Affairs, George Washington University, 1957 E Street NW, Washington, D.C. The meeting is open to the public. The Commissioners plan to discuss public diplomacy issues, including the application of political communication theory, and associated disciplines, in U.S. government public diplomacy efforts." State Department, 1 February 2008. Interesting that the meeting is being held at the Elliott School and not at GW's School of Media and Public Affairs, where the Public Diplomacy Institute and Public Diplomacy Council are located. The journalism department is in the School of Media and Public Affairs, but journalism really should not be in the same building as public affairs, public diplomacy, or public anything.

More information you can hear on one U.S. funded station but not on the other U.S. funded station.

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"In exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, [former Taliban commander Mullah Abdul] Salaam says he decided to support the Kabul government after he became convinced that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and his followers were violating the 'orders of God' as revealed in the Koran." RFE/RL News, 2 February 2008. Payback for the VOA Afghan Service's "exclusive" interview with Laura Bush? See previous post.

Truth dollars: not enough of each for RFE in the 50s and 60s.

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
From the 6 February 1958 issue: "A drive for 'Truth Dollars for Crusade of Freedom,' designed to keep the spirit of freedom alive behind the Iron Curtain, is currently being sponsored here for the first time. The McClain-Sealock Unit of the American Legion Auxiliary is sponsor of the crusade, and Mrs. John Terry is chairman. Objective of this important phase of 'Crusade for Freedom' is to spread support for the Crusade and Radio Free Europe throughout American communities. Receptacles for donations have been placed in Landers’ Pharmacy, the Lindale Auditorium Barber Shop and in Maple Street Pharmacy. Mrs. Terry will be in Knight’s Department Store in person Friday afternoon seeking contributions. Literature explaining the drive has been distributed. Funds raised will be sent to the New York 'Crusade for Freedom' office, and then to Russia. Those in charge of the campaign state that 'Soviet Communists today are making another all-out attack on the minds of men. The "Crusade for Freedom" is one of the very few ways that we individual Americans can directly counter this attack. Your part in the fight is very vital, and all contributions will be gladly accepted.'" Rome (GA) News-Tribune, 3 February 2008. The fiction back then was that such donations funded Radio Free Europe. Most of the budget actually came from covert U.S. government funding, until it went above board in 1978.

RFE/RL turns to "high-impact media" to reach Russia.

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Kremlin clearly has a comprehensive strategy to neutralize foreign broadcasters. Congressionally funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and BBC World's Russia service have seen a dramatic reduction in their broadcasting power. Though the trend has accelerated sharply in the past few years, the strategy to deploy these tactics was born as early as 2002 when Mr. Putin officially revoked the 1991 Yeltsin era decree that established RFE/RL's presence in Moscow. Foreign broadcasters rely on Russian partners to air their programming. From 27 partners in 2005 to only six today, the pressure on RFE/RL has been so intense that the "radios" are now revamping their Russia broadcasting strategy, turning to high-impact media that are less vulnerable to pressure." Diane Zeleny, RFE/RL director of communications, letter to Wall Street Journal, 1 February 2008.

Aljazeera's reception in South Carolina (updated: and Ohio).

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Despite their success and growing prestige, [Aljazeera English] reporters are still fighting the stigma attached to the network in the United States. On Jan. 23, the crew ... covered an Obama event alongside other major networks at J.V. Martin Junior High, a 'corridor of shame' school in Dillon, S.C. When a school administrator learned they were from Al-Jazeera they were asked to leave the premises." Todd Morehead, Columbia (SC) City Paper, 30 January 2008. Update: Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist and editorial writer Elizabeth Sullivan "questioned the neutrality of Al-Jazeera, saying she had the impression that 'it has a Sunni orientation.'" Cleveland Jewish News editor Cynthia Dettelbach: "Our perception of Al-Jazeera is that it is a pro-Palestinian, pro-Arab, anti-Israel news organization." Cleveland Jewsih News, 31 January 2008.

And now will China Radio International host an event at the British Council?

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The government should initiate a dialogue with the political parties immediately but impose no conditions to make it successful with a view to resolving the prevailing crises, panelists at BBC Bangladesh Sanglap said yesterday. ... The other panelists are Manzurul Ahsan Khan, president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Prof Muzaffer Ahmad, chairman of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), and Prof Tajmeri SA Islam, vice-president of Dhaka University Teachers' Association (Duta). BBC Bangla Service in conjunction with the BBC World Service Trust organised the programme at Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre in [Dhaka]. Kamal Ahmed of BBC Bangla Service moderated it." The Daily Star (Dhaka), 3 February 2008.

Burmese-language shortwave services compare Burmese, Indonesian dictators.

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"When Indonesian dictator Suharto died last Sunday, Burmese-language short-wave radio stations and other Burmese media based abroad gave the news extensive coverage and offered comparative analyses. They attempted to draw similarities and contrasts between Suharto and Burma’s late tyrant Ne Win, and between the different directions the two countries have taken in their development." The Irrawaddy, 2 Febuary 2008.

DW-TV via new internet television platform (updated).

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle will launch a desktop video player based on the Miro internet TV platform. "'As Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle is trying to ensure a free flow of information worldwide and thus looks for partners to assist our users in managing and accessing all the information that's relevant to them,' said Holger Hank, Head of the New Media Department at Deutsche Welle. 'Deutsche Welle's Miro player gives users the chance to have a wide selection of subscription-based DW content in one place, right there on their desktop." Miro press release, 31 January 2008. See also Miro website. "Miro is designed to eliminate gatekeepers. Viewers can connect to any video provider that they want. This frees creators to use the video hosting setup that works best for them-- whether they choose to self-publish or use a service. It's the kind of openness that the internet allows and that we should all demand." Miro parent Participatory Culture Foundation. Update: "Nicholas P. Reville, executive director and co-founder of PCF ... said there are video and media companies that are spending millions to develop online video systems that restrict content and force viewers to pay or watch advertising.'Our feeling is that we don’t need corporate gatekeepers. We don’t need censorship of what people are connected to, what they’re watching.'" Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 3 February 2008. Not so much censorship, but protection of creative property.

France 24/TV5 Monde update (updated).

Posted: 03 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Belgian, Swiss, and Quebec partners of TV5 Monde express their unhappiness at French government plans to absorb TV5, with France 24 and Radio France International, into the proposed France Monde. Le Monde, 21 January 2008. "The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, may be forced to shelve his radical plans to launch an international news channel after Francophone broadcasters refused to play ball. ... His proposal has angered the backers of TV5 Monde, a joint venture between TV and radio broadcasters in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec. The channel, set up in 1984, is watched by more than 25 million viewers in more than 202 countries." The Guardian, 23 January 2008. "Since when did the French head of state have a veto over the airwaves? Answer: Always. ... Of course, the Arabic sub-station will not be finished. (A touchy subject. Must not upset those of Arab origin at home or abroad.) ... That's the end of the news. (In English). Goodnight." EURSOC, 23 January 2008. "Online video search company Blinkx will help preserve programmes from France 24, the English-language news channel that French president Nicholas Sarkozy has pledged to axe. Blinkx, which indexes and catalogues video from more than 220 partners, has added France 24 output to its portfolio just as president Sarkozy has signalled that the channel's days are numbered." C21Media.net, 23 January 2008. "blinkx will also place contextually relevant advertising against the footage, and will share resulting advertising revenue with FRANCE 24." blinkx press release, 23 January 2008. Epica award, marking creative achievement in advertising, for print "went to France 24, a new international news channel that tries to balance the Anglo-Saxon perspective of BBC World and CNN with a Gallic view of the world. The press campaign, produced by Paris start-up Marcel, features different interactive forces stylised as the cogs and pulleys of an engine." Marketing Week, 23 January 2008. Update: "France24 at least registers on radars. In an April-July survey of what European opinion leaders watch, France24 tied fourth with Bloomberg (both 9%), behind EuroNews (19%), BBC World (27%) and CNN (31%). In general auds, among international news channels, France24 overtakes Bloomberg to rank third in Europe." Variety, 1 February 2008.

Looks like VOA wasn't invited.

Posted: 02 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"On January 23, Freedom House, RFE/RL, and Radio Free Asia co-hosted a seminar entitled 'Countering Anti-Democratic Strategies: Beating Russia, Iran, and China at their own game.' ... The attendees represented a variety of organizations with expertise on this issue, including: Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, American Enterprise Institute, Carnegie Moscow Center, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Committee to Protect Journalists, National Endowment for Democracy, Open Society Institute, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Middlebury College, Princeton University, Stanford University, Broadcasting Board of Governors, Freedom House, Radio Free Asia, and RFE/RL." RFE/RL press release, 23 January 2008. Noble as the cause may be, is it appropriate for a news organization to co-host such an event?

Yes, Director of VOA is right up there with Vice President of the United States.

Posted: 02 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Tim Russert on "Morning Joe": "There's no doubt in my mind. The other day when Senator McCain proclaimed victory in Florida we mentioned there together at 30 Rock, he was just dangling the vice-presidency in front of Mike Huckabee. ... I mean, it may not -- it doesn't have to be the vice-presidency. It'll be something: Voice of America. He'll get a great job." Via NewsBusters, 1 February 2008.

News from another former VOA transmitting site.

Posted: 02 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"The citizens and people of the Voice of America (VOA) site in Careysburg, outside of Monrovia have commended the Commander and Soldiers of the UNMIL, GHANBBAT 7 for their numerous contributions rendered the community during their (the soldiers) stay there." Also mentions VOA Public School and "VOA community'." The Inquirer (Monrovia), 1 February 2008. VOA operated a shortwave relay station in Liberia from the early 1960s until it was destroyed during the civil war in 1990. For weeks after U.S. personnel evacuated the station, Liberian employees kept the relay station operating according to schedule. The site has since been a refugee community.

New essay about the "Tokyo Roses."

Posted: 02 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Wave after wave of air raids by day and relentless shelling by night kept the Allied troops dug in, in their jungle trenches. During the interludes you had Tokyo Rose playing 'Speak to me, my love'. Joseph Couperwaite, a former butler of mine, used to recall: 'Listening to the music she played followed by that seductive voice I felt as if one had died and gone to heaven!'" Mahmud Sipra, Daily Times (Lahore), 31 January 2008.

Is the honeymoon over for Aljazeera English? (updated)

Posted: 02 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera's troubled English language news channel is facing a 'serious staffing crisis' after scores of journalists left or have not had contracts renewed amid claims of a revolt over working conditions. ... One source said that the general belief among staff was that the English language rolling news service 'cost so much to set up that they are now cutting costs at the expense of quality and quantity'. ... Sources have added that executives on the main Arabic al-Jazeera network are trying to exert more control over the English language outlet, which is mainly staffed by western journalists." The Guardian, 30 January 2008. See previous post about same subject. -- "A former head of planning at Al Jazeera has had part of her case against the broadcaster dismissed in a pre-hearing review by [a U.K.] employment tribunal. Jo Burgin had taken the broadcaster to tribunal on the grounds of unfair dismissal, and a number of allegations of discrimination." Press Gazette, 29 January 2008. Update: "It was never clear who the viewer was: outside Africa and Asia, resources were stretched. The mix of news could only have pleased diehard internationalists; most people also want a good dollop of news from home, but there was little from the US or Britain, where many English-speaking viewers are likely to be. There was also precious little marketing or viewing data." Dan Sabbagh, The Times, 1 February 2008. What's wrong with a channel for "diehard internationalists"? It is very difficult for an international channel to beat a domestic channel at its own game. Furthermore, add up all the diehard internationals worldwide, and you have a sizeable, marketable audience. -- Feature about Old Miss graduate, "committed Christian, ... used to work for Fox News in Washington, D.C." who now works for Aljazeera English. Jackson Free Press, 30 January 2008.

VOA's musical past again in the news.

Posted: 01 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Sila Mutungi, Bay Area leader of the Afrofunk Experience band, immigrant from Kenya: "I love James Brown, I love Bob Marley, and I love (the late Nigerian superstar and Afrobeat pioneer) Fela Kuti. If I can fuse what I love and where I'm from with what I grew up hearing on Voice of America radio, I can create the music that is truest to me." San Jose Mercury News, 31 January 2008. Review of "Horace Silver, Live at Newport '58," found among VOA's jazz recordings at the Library of Congress. Chicago Reader, 31 January 2008. See previous post about the VOA recording of Silver.

RFE/RL, reporting from the Nazran police station.

Posted: 01 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
Danila Galperovich of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is among reporters detained by police in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia after covering an opposition rally. Committee to Protect Journalists, 29 January 2008. 'After the clashes ended, I was trying to clear up how many casualties there were on both sides,' Galperovich said. 'When I introduced myself to the police officers, they, without any comment, took away all my belongings and detained me for two hours at the local police department. Then when the republican and Nazran prosecutors appeared on the scene, all my personal belongings were returned to me. And I'm still in the local police department, waiting to be freed.'" RFE/RL News, 26 January 2008.

Which candidate for public diplomacy? (updated again)

Posted: 01 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"As valuable as Senator Obama's Kenyan roots and childhood in Indonesia are, these experiences are not, in fact, indicators of diplomatic skill or the knowledge of global affairs needed to navigate international relations in our treacherous world. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has been practicing public diplomacy for years and is widely respected around the world for her longtime commitment to international development, human rights and America's global leadership." Lissa Muscatine and Melanne Verve, Huffington Post, 24 January 2008. "Will John Edwards' smile or Obama's Kenyan roots simply melt away all the ill will stored up overseas? I doubt it. I have not seen a serious strategy on how to repair America's image abroad. Everyone kneels now before the altar of diplomacy but that only gets us so far. Apply more soft power? Trouble is that U.S. public diplomacy has an abysmal record in the Muslim world (Hi Magazine, anyone???). Go on a listening tour? If it didn't work for Karen Hughes, it won't work for Hillary Clinton." Lionel Beehner, Huffington Post, 24 January 2008. "With global views of the United States seemingly stuck at historic lows, improving America's image abroad has emerged as a prominent issue of the 2008 presidential campaign. ... But changing America's world image will take more than campaign rhetoric, experts say, especially in the post-9/11 era." Christian Science Monitor, 30 January 2008. Update: "While our presidential candidates have endlessly debated who-was-right-or-wrong-and-when about Iraq, the imperative of effective U.S. public diplomacy—of making the argument for freedom and decency effectively around the world—has gone largely unremarked." George Weigel, Newsweek, 4 February 2008 issue.

Rumsfeld calls for a new version of USIA (updated again).

Posted: 01 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"A 21st-century version of the USIA is needed to harness new communications techniques — from blogs to online social-networking sites to talk radio — to counter a constant torrent of propaganda from radical organizations, particularly in the Middle East, [former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld] said." Defense News, 23 January 2008.
     "I think this agency, a new agency has to be something that would take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that exist today. There are multiple channels for information . . . The Internet is there, blogs are there, talk radio is there, e-mails are there. There are all kinds of opportunities. We do not with any systematic organized way attempt to engage the battle of ideas and talk about the idea of beheading, and what it's about and what it means." Rumsfeld, quoted by Sharon Weinberger, Wired Danger Room blog, 23 January 2008.
     "What is called 'strategic communication' is hopelessly confused. On the one hand, there is the 'strategic' objective of countering ideological support for terrorism. On the other, there is the public relations effort on the part of the military to 'tell' its story, either in an effort to counter the bad news that they think fills the American news media or to win budget battles in Washington." William M. Arkin blog, Washington Post, 24 January 2008.
     "Keith M. Urbahn, an aide to Mr. Rumsfeld, e-mailed The Lede to make clear that the proposed agency would not be part of the Pentagon. Here’s his statement: 'The "21st-century agency for global communications" proposed by Mr. Rumsfeld would not be part of the Department of Defense, as is implied by some of the blog coverage of Wednesday’s remarks. It is Mr. Rumsfeld’s view that the Defense Department should not have the lead in such an agency, were it to be created. Ideally, the agency would be fully aligned with U.S. policies and principles, but independent of existing executive departments and agencies.'" Mike Nizza, The Lede blog, New York Times. 24 January 2008.
     "In the second Gulf war, the airplanes went home too early, leaving the airwaves wide open to their enemies. Iran moved up mobile transmitters to the border with Iraq and used TV to fill the gap left by the demise of the old Radio TV Baghdad. So, yes, the US seriously needs to review its overseas public diplomacy efforts. But the Rumsfeld approach is not the way of the 21st century and 2008 is not the year to be doing it." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog, 27 January 2008.
     Update: "If one reads between the lines of Rumsfeld and Gates's declarations on the importance of soft power, what they are in fact suggesting is that the US military has done all it can dutifully do supporting a legitimate American foreign policy but that US civilian propaganda (not the job of soldiers) has failed to do so." John Brown, The Guardian's comment is free, 30 January 2008.
     "Is Propaganda Public Diplomacy a Core Military Competency? Get Thee Back To Thy Foxhole." Gerald Loftus, Avuncular American, 1 February 2008.
     The new USIA would advocate U.S. policies and must be in lockstep with those policies. Its overseas personnel would work at, or at least in concert with, U.S. embassies. All their movements and significant activities would require ambassadorial approval. So why the need for an "independent" agency? A big reason would be its boondoggle value. The new USIA would have a director, deputy director, and several associate directors, along with senior advisers and special assistants to the aforementioned.
     One thing that the old "independent" USIA did do was to keep its subsidiary VOA from being independent enough to achieve the credibility that would have allowed it to compete more successfully in international broadcasting. When the new USIA is created (the idea is so bad that you can bet on it happening), the Voice of America and perhaps other elements of U.S. international broadcasting would likely be brought under it. This would allow for "coordination," as in coordinating the content that will probably still be referred to as "news."

Aljazeera English nominated for Royal Television Society awards.

Posted: 01 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Doha-based al-Jazeera English, which launched in November 2006, has ... been nominated in the closely fought best news channel category alongside last year's winner Sky News and BBC News 24. In addition Al-Jazeera English has scored two nominations in the young journalist of the year category, with Hamish Macdonald and Haru Mutasa going up against More4 News' Nima Elbagir." The awards will be presented 20 February. The Guardian, 30 January 2008.

Algerian radio takes on terrorism.

Posted: 31 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Algerian government has begun using Radio Qur’an to broadcast Islam-based arguments against violence and extremism. ... Though the FM station is only on the air from 5:00 AM to 11:00 AM, it has already had some impact on the anti-terrorist effort." Temoust.org via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 29 January 2008. Also broadcast internationally via leased shortwave transmitters, as reported by Ivo Ivanov, Bulgaria, to DX Listening Digest, 28 January 2008. And this would correspond with Ronald R. Krebs' argument that reaching out to Muslim moderates should be done by Muslims.

Rupert Murdoch and China: unsurprising revelations.

Posted: 31 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mr. Murdoch infuriated Chinese leaders when in 1993 he said in a speech in London that satellite television and technologies such as the fax machine had 'proved an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes'. In a book to be published next month, Bruce Dover, a former News Corp vice-president responsible for China, says the speech left [then-premier Li Peng] - who played a leading role in crushing Beijing's student-led protests in 1989 - 'incandescent with rage'. After Mr Li banned ordinary Chinese from using satellite dishes and in effect barred News Corp from the media market, Mr Murdoch spent years trying to regain Beijing's goodwill." Financial Times, 31 January 2008. "Today's Financial Times reports a bit of news about a forthcoming book, Rupert's Adventures in China, that Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal won't be able to ignore. Or will it?" Jack Shafer, Slate, 31 January 2008.

Another opportunity to watch international television on your computer display.

Posted: 31 Jan 2008   Print   Send a link
"Here's a suggestion for weathering the writer's strike: check out some international TV content. MiraWorldTV is a Windows Media Center plugin that lets you browse through a nice long list of internet TV streams and watch them from the comfort of your couch. ... Content ranges from Discovery Channel nature documentaries to BBC World News with some Japanese pop music videos thrown in for good measure." TV Squad, 30 January 2008.