What's behind the troubles at Aljazeera English?

Posted: 31 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is said by one source that executives on the main Arabic al-Jazeera network are trying to exert more control over the English-language channel, which is mainly staffed by western journalists. One notable bone of contention allegedly came in the reporting of the arrest in Sudan last year of the British teacher Gillian Gibbons, for suggesting that a teddy bear be named Muhammad. There are claims that some at the top of al-Jazeera English wanted the station to take a 'more Islamic slant'. There is a also a belief among some staff that the English-language rolling news service cost too much to set up - and now it's time for the cutbacks." The Guardian, 31 March 2008. See previous post about same subject. -- "Al Jazeera's chief executive Wadah Khanfar has been revealed as the most powerful Arab in the media sector, according to ArabianBusiness.com's Power 100 list for this year." ArabianBusiness.com, 31 March 2008.

Report: Alhurra correspondent likes the Arab satellite television charter (updated).

Posted: 31 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Re the Arab information ministers' satellite television charter: "Proponents of the initiative believe that it will help improve the quality of the media by removing those channels carrying questionable content and lacking in informative messages. ... Mohammed al-Radmi, a correspondent for the al-Hurra channels, gave his point of view about the document, saying, 'I support the document agreed upon by the Arab Information Ministers because it aims to respect the minds of our Arabic audience. The multi-satellite channels serving the Arabic media have achieved their ambition of being respectable among other world channels. Every state seeks the improvement of its political and social fields and some media news channels create problems and crisis. This document is trying to put some pressure on those channel.'" Yemen Observer, 29 March 2008. See previous post about same subject. -- Update: "It remains unclear whether the charter is merely a symbolic gesture or whether it constitutes a concrete step toward a repressive pan-Arab media policy regime. With over 400 channels peddling fortune-tellers, alternative medicines, jihadist ideas, titillating bodies, and stock market schemes, alongside more mainstream news and entertainment, a regulatory framework is not in itself a bad idea. But Arab governments' record on finding the fine line between preventing harmful content and protecting freedom of expression is dismal." Marwan M. Kraidy, Daily Star (Beirut), 31 March 2008.

The pro-Beijing websites strike back.

Posted: 31 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Armed with nationalism and the Internet, young Chinese abroad have launched a wave of attacks accusing Western media of bias in reporting on unrest in Tibet and defending Beijing's crackdown. ... One Web site, http://www.anti-cnn.com, complained that several news outlets showed photos of police in Nepal scuffling with protesters and misidentified the security forces as Chinese. It accused U.S.-based CNN of improperly cropping a photo of Chinese military vehicles on its Web site to remove Tibetan rioters who were pelting the trucks with rocks. CNN insisted it has reported impartially." AP, 30 March 2008.

One shortwave station that is celebrating an anniversary rather than shutting down.

Posted: 31 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio station KTWR will hold its 30th anniversary celebration with a fiesta at the station from 3 to 5 p.m. on April 12. ... KTWR shortwave radio station broadcasts to Asia and the South Pacific and in more than 70 countries." Pacific Daily News (Hagatna, Guam), 31 March 2008. KTWR, on Guam, is owned by Protestant evangelical international broadcaster Trans World Radio, whose headquarters are in Cary, North Carolina.

Protracted U.S. election process is good public diplomacy.

Posted: 30 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton struggling against each other for every superdelegate, every pending state primary, every vote is the best thing America has had going for it in some time on the 'global public diplomacy' front. John McCain's subtle flirtation with vice presidential possibilities ranging from his former rival Mitt Romney to Mike Huckabee to Michael Bloomberg to Condoleezza Rice -- among others -- has caught the attention of people in Mumbai, Jakarta, Rio, Riyadh, Beijing, Damascus, and far more. The world is seeing Americans struggle about who U.S. citizens want in the White House. There is no stacked deck, no automatic succession, no heir apparent." Steve Clemons, Huffington Post, 30 March 2008.

U.S. outreach to the Arabs, 56 years ago.

Posted: 30 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"As we search for ways to improve America's relationship with Muslims, we would do well to recall the most successful example of U.S. cultural diplomacy in the Muslim world: the Hajj Airlift in 1952, when the U.S. Air Force flew nearly 4,000 Muslims from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca. ... The Hajj Airlift provides us with two lessons for public diplomacy and the Muslim world: First, if we retain flexible conceptions of public diplomacy and take advantage of opportunities quickly, we can achieve significant diplomatic successes. Second, if we do not follow up on future public diplomacy successes, they may disappear from public consciousness and be of little value to us as a tool of statecraft." Sean Foley, The Tennessean (Nashville), 30 March 2008.

New Radio Netherlands internet-only radio station.

Posted: 30 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today marks the official launch of RNW24, an experimental Internet-only radio station operated by the Dutch department of Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The format is simple - Dutch popular music, with news in Dutch every hour on the hour." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 30 March 2008. The Radio Netherlands transmission schedule effective 30 March, with all RNW transmissions from all sites, and all stations using the Radio Netherlands relays sites in Bonaire and Madagascar, is available at Radio Netherlands, 30 March 2008.

The Canadian example: maybe the best public diplomacy is no public diplomacy.

Posted: 30 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Canada, by contrast, has scrapped its entire public diplomacy program. Under the Liberals, it was $25 million -- less per capita that the Americans, Australians and Japanese spend and significantly less than the Europeans. Today, Canada does not engage in public diplomacy at all. It does not tell the Canadian story internationally, through its artists or through its diplomatic corps." Todd Babiak, Edmonton Journal, 30 March 2008. "In study after study after study that we have done in the last 25 years or so, and in practically every other study done by anybody else who has tried to measure the image of Canada, one thing comes out loud and clear -- and this is the image of trustworthiness. People trust Canadians, no matter whom you ask, no matter where. That is a core competence. When I say they trust us, we score at the top of any other nation anywhere." Andrew Potter, The Ottawa Citizen, 30 March 2008.

News agencies again cite RFA on new Tibet unrest.

Posted: 30 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several hundred people took part in the protest at the Jokhang, the U.S.-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia reported. It cited an unidentified witness as saying there were fist fights. A woman who answered the phone at Lhasa government headquarters said the reported protest was merely a rumour." AP, 30 March 2008. "Security forces surrounded residential areas near the Ramoche and Jokhang temples while several hundred Tibetans staged a rally, Radio Free Asia reported, citing unnamed witnesses in Lhasa." Washington Post, 30 March 2008. See also the RFA story, 29 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

BBC Chinese website unblocked in Xi'an?

Posted: 30 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Foreign bloggers across China enthusiastically greeted the recent de-blocking of BBC News, but the key to the story was that the Chinese language service was still blocked. Now even the Chinese site is available in once city. As a rule, internet censorship in China is more stringent when content appears in Chinese. ... But reports are now coming out of Xi'an, a major city in east-central China, that even the Chinese language service is accessible." Graham Webster, CNET Sinobyte blog, 29 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Bush calling Iran, via VOA and Radio Farda: a change in the wind?

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Bush's interviews with the government-supported Voice of America and Radio Farda, especially the latter, were a masterly piece in political overture. He held out none of the customary threats against Iran. This time, there was not even the trademark insistence that 'all options are on the table'. There were no barbs aimed at President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Least of all, there were no calls for a regime change in Tehran. Bush simply said something that he might as well have said about Saudi Arabia or Egypt. As he put it, 'So this is a regime and a society that's got a long way to go [in reform].' Bush spoke of the evolution of the Iranian regime's character rather than its overthrow. The criticism, if any, of Iranian government policies approached nowhere near the diatribes of the past." M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times, 27 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

What do Martha Stewart and public diplomacy have in common?

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. announces election of Charlotte Beers to its Board of Directors. "Ms. Beers' election marks her return to MSLO's Board; she served as a director from 1999 to 2001, resigning to take a role in the Bush Administration as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from October 2001 through March 2003." MSLO press release, 28 March 2008.

The UK Foreign Office supports (note the wording) independent media.

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Human rights are relevant not just to how we respond to those who threaten us, but to how we empower those who share our views and aspirations. That is why ... we are promoting an independent media through projects in Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East, and through our support for BBC World service's launch of 24-hour BBC Arabic and BBC Persian TV." David Miliband, UK Foreign Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 25 March 2008. Notice that he said "promoting an independent media" and not "promoting freedom and democracy" or "winning hearts and minds." It's an important distinction that the British seem to understand, even if the Americans do not.

One thing shortwave is still good for.

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Six weeks' worth of mail - letters, parcels, care packages and even telephone and utility bills - landed Thursday in the midst of the dusty outpost [in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan] that's currently home to the gunners of C Troop, B Battery from the 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, based in Shilo, Man. ... Bombardier Clinton Staples, 33, from Portage la Prairie, Man., seemed to score the biggest haul: four separate packages from his parents, his grandmother and his girlfriend. 'It's almost like Christmas,' Staples beamed as he sorted through a motherlode of snacks and treats, wartime essentials, family photos and even a short-wave radio so he can listen to the BBC." Canadian Press, 28 March 2008. BBC is still available on shortwave in that part of the world. VOA English is becoming scarce, and the BBG is keen for it to disappear outside of Africa. RCI could do with some shortwave relays in the area, given the Canadian commitment in Afghanistan.

Mark your calendar for these events (updated).

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Book launch: Local Voices/Global Perspectives: Challenges Ahead for U.S. International Media, edited by Alan Heil. "The anthology brings together exclusive contributions of 22 specialists in the field and examines issues facing publicly-funded overseas networks in a rapidly changing world of digital, web-based media and new distribution technologies." 4 April 2008, 9:00 a.m., National Press Club, more information from Public Diplomacy Council. See also Public Diplomacy Council press release, 27 March 2008.
     Jeffrey Gedmin, president of RFE/RL, "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: A Leader in America's Battle for Hearts and Minds in the 21st Century," at Heritage Foundation, 10 April 2008, 11:00 a.m. I hope he also talks about RFE/RL's very good news service. Its audience listens for that, rather than for any "hearts and minds" nonsense. See previous post.
     "Cultural Diplomacy: Its Past and Future," at University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA), 2 April 2008, 2:00 p.m. -- "Cultural Diplomacy and Dave Brubeck" at the Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, 8 April 2008, 6:00 p.m. -- America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World Exhibition Opening Reception and Concert – 3 April 2008, 6:30pm, and Cultural Diplomacy Discussion and Concert, 11 April 2008 (time not specified), Meridian International Center (Washington, DC). Times and more information about the 11 April events at University of the Pacific website. -- "Dave Brubeck, Goodwill Ambassador of Jazz," at Voice of America Auditorium, 9 April 2008, 7:30 p.m., Smithsonian Resident Associate Program.
     "The 3rd annual Arab Broadcast Forum takes place on May 4-5 in Abu Dhabi." Includes: "The Art of Elections: US Elections and the Arab World. Produced by CNN International." Menassat, 27 March 2008.
     Updated: "Approximately 800 guests from around the world will be in Bonn for the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum from June 2-4, 2008. The theme of this year’s conference will be the 'Role of the Media in Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention.' ... Among those who have confirmed their participation in the event include ... Antoine Schwarz, Managing Director of Radio France Internationale and Dan Austin, Director of Voice of America." DW press release, 28 February 2008. See also http://dw-gmf.de/. Registration will cost you €90 to 245, or €40 to 90 if you're a student.

WorldSpace losses increase, but gets nod for terrestrial repeaters in Switzerland (updated).

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
The Company ended the quarter with 174,166 subscribers worldwide, a loss of 3,478 from the close of the prior quarter, reflecting the cessation of current marketing efforts in Europe ahead of the company’s efforts to commence mobile service there beginning with Italy in 2009. In India, the Company lost 1,827 net subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2007, reflecting continued reduced marketing in that region while the Company awaits regulatory approval for its mobile system, ending the period with 163,075 subscribers in India, compared to 162,010 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2006. ... WorldSpace recorded a net loss for the fourth quarter of 2007 of $46.0 million, or $1.10 per share, compared with a net loss of $33.8 million, or $0.89 per share for the fourth quarter of 2006." CEO Noah Samara: "Our goals for 2008 include securing licenses and approvals in at least four additional major European countries as well as India. We are working on the development of a satellite/terrestrial hybrid service for India and the Middle East, with the Indian service still remaining subject to securing the necessary government approvals for the terrestrial component." Worldspace press release, 20 March 2008. Worldspace "has received approval from Switzerland's Office Fédéral de la Communication (OFCOM) to operate terrestrial repeaters that will work in conjunction with its existing satellite network to provide Swiss consumers with a subscription-based satellite radio service." Worldspace press release, 20 March 2008. "The regulator TRAI has recently suggested that India should relax its tough limits on foreign ownership and inward investment into DTH broadcasting. ... This could potentially help WorldSpace to expand its presence in India." TechWatch, 21 March 2008. Update: "Cash-strapped satellite radio broadcaster is about to have its annual accounts 'qualified' by auditors Grant Thornton, 'expressing doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern based on its current financial resources'. WorldSpace is still scratching around for cash to stay afloat, and one option now under consideration is the sale and leaseback of its pair of satellites. It has also abandoned plans for the time being to launch its back-up satellite for Europe." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 24 March 2008. In 1997, BBC World Service also did a sale and leaseback of its shortwave transmitters, which, although it brought cash, was not for the same reasons of financial duress.

Increased solar activity is good for shortwave (updated).

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
On the 11-year sunspot cycle: "These solar windstorms have been known to knock out power grids and TV broadcasts, and our growing reliance on space-based technology makes us more vulnerable than ever to their effects. On January 3, scientists discovered a reverse-polarity sunspot, signaling the start of a new cycle -- and some are predicting that at its peak (in about four years) things are gonna get nasty. Here's a forecast for 2012. ... Electrons absorb the energy in shortwave signals, causing radio blackouts -- and unscheduled stops in Anchorage." Wired, 24 March 2008. The sunspot maximum will bring some interruptions to shortwave broadcasts, but in general it is a good thing for shortwave. The sunspot maximum allows better propagation in the higher (above 12 MHz) shortwave broadcast bands, opening up more usable frequencies. Update: "'We have two solar cycles in progress at the same time. Solar Cycle 24 has begun (the first new-cycle spot appeared in January 2008), but Solar Cycle 23 has not ended.'" Physorg.com, 28 March 2008.

And when our signal from Beijing is restored, we'll find out if the diver made it to the water.

Posted: 29 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The International Olympic Committee has asked China to promise not to delay transmissions of the Beijing games, after France raised concerns about Chinese television’s censoring of Tibet protests at the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece this week. French TV executives have asked the European Broadcasting Union to extract guarantees from Beijing that transmissions will be live and uninterrupted even if protests take place." Financial Times, 27 March 2008.

Alhurra scoop, or psyop?

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US-funded Arab television station Al Hurra reported that a contingent of US Marines was now in Basra's city center and involved mainly in sniper operations. This could not be immediately confirmed with the US military. But several residents reported that they saw snipers posted on roof tops especially in the neighborhood of Tamimyah. The US military has so far insisted that only US advisers and so-called 'transition teams' embedded with Iraqi troops are in Basra." Christian Science Monitor, 27 March 2008. "Already there were reports by US-funded Al Hurra TV, citing hospital sources, that at least 20 people have been killed and 140 wounded in sporadic clashes in Sadr City since Tuesday." Christian Science Monitor, 27 March 2008. "'Iraq after the American withdrawal ... will be Lebanon on steroids.'" CNN, 27 March 2008.

Preserving the VOA Bethany shortwave site.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
West Chester Township, Ohio, is "working to convert the 1940s Voice of America broadcast building into a public museum. It was at this station that messages were sent in more than 50 languages, waging war on Nazi Germany's radio propaganda. The big radio towers came down in 1997, three years after the station closed. The museum would honor VOA's history and broadcasting technology." Cincinnati Enquirer, 28 March 2008. Not all of VOA's 50+ languages were transmitted via Bethany. In its latter years, it was used for transmissions to Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Nothing that a new bureaucracy and budget increase for U.S. public diplomacy can't overcome.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
In recent poll, the U.S. plan to deploy elements of a ballistic missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic "has created a clear divide across the Atlantic: pluralities in every European country oppose it, while Americans favor it, 49-25 percent. Opposition is particularly high in Germany (71 percent against, 19 percent for), Spain (61-19) and France (58-22). ... And at least 10 percent of the people in every European country see the United States as a potential military threat." International Herald Tribune, 28 March 2008.

China's soft power not all it's cracked up to be?

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
David L. Shambaugh, director of the China policy program at George Washington University "characterized the government's attempt so far to manage its image in the aftermath of the violence as 'heavy-handed' -- resorting to vilification of the Dalai Lama and questioning the motives of foreign critics. 'The government is not particularly adept at public diplomacy, as they define it as 'external propaganda' and pursue it as such,' he said. But a Beijing-based scholar and political analyst said some party factions do not care much about China's image abroad, even in this Olympic year, provided the party is seen to be firmly in control." Washington Post, 28 March 2008.

Mainstream media now reporting on the Aljazeera English defections.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"David Marash, the most prominent American anchor on Al Jazeera English, has quit the 24-hour international news channel, citing an increased level of editorial control exercised by the channel’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar. ... He said he also sensed an anti-American sensibility creeping into the coverage. " New York Times, 28 March 2008.
     Marash "said there was a 'reflexive adversarial editorial stance' against Americans at Al-Jazeera English. ... Marash is being being replaced by former CNN International host Shihab Rattansi and he said that there were now more Canadians than US citizens working at the Washington Bureau." Brand Republic, 28 March 2008. See also NYT TV Decoder, 27 March 2008.
     "Will Stebbins, Washington bureau chief for Al-Jazeera English, denied any bias against Americans. 'We certainly evaluate U.S. policy rigorously,' he said. 'But we do our best to give everyone a fair shout.'" AP, 28 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "The fight in Basra is being billed as the Iraqi government versus the militias of Shi'ite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. But it's just as much a fight between rival Shi'ite factions. This Al-Jazeera English clip gives as good a primer as any on who the groups are, and why they're fighting. Just filter out the standard Al-Jaz sneer -- there's good information here." Noah Shachtman, Wired Danger Room blog, 27 March 2008.
     "Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser al-Missned, the wife of the Emir of Qatar ... put full weight behind the founding of al-Jazeera's Children Channel, in addition to the 24-hour news service, to promote education among Arab children." Asia Times, 28 March 2008.

Israel no long speaking to Aljazeera (updated).

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Israel has decided to impose an official embargo of the Arabic Al Jazeera satellite TV network due to the Foreign Ministry's assessment that the station functions as a propaganda arm in the Arab war against the Jewish State." IsraelNN,com, 12 March 2008. "Israel blasts al-Jazeera for one-sided coverage that primarily serves Hamas. 'The station does not act with fundamental objectivity and of course does not cover the rocket attacks in Ashkelon and the Gaza vicinity with the same intensity (that it covers Palestinian causalities in Gaza).'" Ynetnews.com, 12 March 2008. "If Israel institutes a boycott, nothing will happen. Al-Jazeera will continue being the biggest Arabic media outlet in the world, and Israel will have lost even the smallest chance of influencing the channel's coverage. If you're not in the ring, you've given up the fight, as former ambassador to Egypt and Sweden Zvi Mazel likes to say. ... Israel should not abandon the Al-Jazeera screens entirely to its detractors, but should send the right people to be interviewed: eloquent, assertive speakers who could also attack the channel's coverage on the air." Amir Mizroch, Jerusalem Post, 12 March 2008. "The loss of Israeli officials is a gain to Al-Jazeera, and let them enjoy the other domesticated Arab satellite channels promoting the American and Israeli projects in the region under pretexts of liberalism and neutrality." Palestinian-owned, London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi, 13 March 2008, via Arab Media & Society, 14 March 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: Aljazeera "is about as popular in the palaces of the Arab world as in the halls of the Knesset. Which is precisely why it is so influential among the Arab public, and why non-Arab governments seeking to influence Arabs – whether Israeli or American – ignore the channel at their own peril." Lawrence Pintak, Washington Post PostGlobal blog, 26 March 2008.

New bias charge against BBC (updated).

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"A lawyer who has been managing a campaign against the British Broadcasting Corporation's news coverage of Israel for several years now has claimed that the BBC allowed its Arabic-language station to air a biased commentary in favor of Iran and Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War." Ynetnews, 25 March 2008. Also reported by Press TV, 26 March 2008. Update: "In 2000, Mr Asserson set up www.bbcwatch.co.uk." The Jewish Chronicle, 28 March 2008. "Given the current state of world affairs – and with the BBC just having launched an Arabic TV service to rival al Jazeera -- surely these revelations should now be raised in the House of Commons as a matter of urgency?" Melanie Phillips, Spectator.co.uk, 27 March 2008. -- A new organization seeking to promote accurate and responsible media coverage of Israel in the UK is to be launched in London on Friday. ... Just Journalism is an independent organization funded by private individuals and led by Egyptian-born journalist and Middle East commentator Adel Darwish." Jerusalem Post, 27 March 2008. Website mentioned, but no URL given, and I can't find it. Update: Jukka Kinkamo tried the obvious URL -- www.justjournalism.com -- and it worked. Sort of like the "rapid response" unit of the U.S. State Department's public diplomacy office, but (apparently) privately funded.

How BBC's new business plan affects the United States.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Civil servant Mark Thompson wants to turn the British Broadcasting Corp. into an empire on which the sun never sets. To do that, the BBC's 50-year-old chief executive is determined to get the world to watch more British drama, comedy and news online. ... [BBC America head Garth] Ancier says he plans to renegotiate a deal with PBS to force its affiliates broadcast BBC news bulletins less frequently. The bulletins may be reducing interest in BBC World News America, he explains. If the BBC limits access, PBS would likely lose funding from its corporate sponsors because of lost viewership and have to drop BBC news broadcasts entirely, says Terrel Cass, president and general manager of WLIW in Long Island, New York, which distributes BBC news to 220 PBS affiliates." Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2008. Actually, the sun never set on the BBC "empire" as early as the 1930s, by dint of its shortwave transmissions.

BBC's news, information, and infomercial channel.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World, the BBC's commercially-funded international 24-hour news and information channel, has produced a series of short programmes entitled Nature's Business, which explore how a company can effectively apply business strategies and practices gleaned from nature. The one-minute short programmes are to be sponsored by Suzlon Energy, marking the launch of their first-ever international corporate campaign, and will target business decision makers and upscale audiences across the regions of North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and South Asia." BBC World(?) press release, 27 March 2008. BBC World press releases tend to call these productions "programmes," but they're really image advertisements.

Tanzania calling other countries.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
The new Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation will include "international broadcasting in English for 12 hours daily and in French for two hours." Its predecessor Tanganyika Broadcasting Services "contributed a lot to the struggle for the liberation of a string of African countries, among them Angola, Comoros, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe." The Guardian (Dar es Salaam), 27 March 2008.

Voice of Mongolia looks to internet to increase number of listeners.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Representatives of the National Public Radio and Television gathered Thursday to share views on the current state and further trends of the radio station 'Voice of Mongolia'. A technical and technological modernization and a need to increase a number of listeners are the most urgent issues of the 'Voice of Mongolia' -- one of the channels to advertise Mongolia abroad. The attendees of the consultation supported an initiative to broadcast the Voice of Mongolia via Internet. ... Today, it transmits 6-hour programs in Mongolian, English, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese languages every day." Montsame, 27 March 2008.

Zattoo broadband TV has a shortwave-like function.

Posted: 28 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The UK version includes BBC Three, BBC Four, Channel 4, Five, France 24 and perhaps significantly TV Polonia. Despite the growth in Polish nationals living in the UK over the past few years the international channel of the Polish public broadcaster is not available on Sky or on Virgin Media; Poles are instead putting up dishes to receive their channels direct from Eutelsat, but in a transient community this is not always possible. 'Foreign language programmes are something that we plan to add more and more. ... We saw a lot of usage with the Spanish ex-pats with the recent Spanish elections, but we are also looking at other community channels.' Advertising for TV Polonia has been made on Polish language websites." Broadband TV News, 27 March 2008.

More about Aljazeera and its difficulties.

Posted: 27 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera English has been going through troubled times, with senior executives quitting and reports of major financial cutbacks. ... But all of this has bypassed Sir David [Frost]. 'I certainly have seen no sign of any cutbacks ... It's true that a number of people have left but they have been replaced. There is always a turnover of staff in the first two years of a new TV station.'" Daily Mail, 26 March 2008. See previous post about same subject. -- "Al-Jazeera (both Arabic and English) has scores of staffers in Washington, but not one gets into the White House to ask a tough question. Al-Jazeera reporters in Afghanistan and Iraq have braved U.S. missiles, but Al-Jazeera reporters in Washington have not braved White House news conferences." Sam Husseini, Counterpunch, 26 March 2008. Aljazeera does news feature about Stilton cheese. Melton Times, 27 March 2008.

Latest from our China/Tibet basket.

Posted: 27 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC English-language website is not presently blocked in China, but: "A firewall remains in place for Chinese-language services on the BBC News site, and BBC World News television remains available in China only in luxury hotels and residence compounds." Hollywood Reporter, 25 March 2008. See previous post about same subect. -- "Activists at the International Tibet Support Network are being sent e-mails that appear to come from sympathetic organisations, with attached documents containing statements of support or evidence of human rights breaches by the Chinese governments. When opened the documents, which can be Word, Excel or PDF files, use common security loopholes to try to install programs that will monitor the user's online activity and send information back to a well-known Chinese website that has been used in the past for this sort of surveillance." Bill Thompson, BBC News, 26 March 2008. "The Chinese government bans CNN in most homes. The talk of China in recent days? The news coverage on CNN. Since March 21, Beijing Internet entrepreneur Rao Jin has been operating the Web site anti-cnn.com to document what he sees as inaccurate foreign coverage of the recent unrest in Tibet." Wall Street Journal, 26 March 2008. "Google Inc.'s board of directors is opposing a shareholder initiative to ban Internet censorship as well as the creation of a separate board committee to review the company's policies on human rights. ... Google was criticized for launching a search service in 2006 aimed at Chinese users that blocks results considered objectionable to government of the People's Republic of China. The company said it struggled over the decision but concluded that it was better to provide some Internet service than none at all." Computerworld, 26 March 2008. "Quite possibly one of the busiest people in China right now are the television censors. As international news broadcasters like the BBC World Service Television and CNN International play footage around the clock of the Tibet unrest, viewers with access to satellite TV in Beijing and across cities in China find themselves scratching their heads as reports suddenly go to black whenever the word 'Tibet' comes up." Adrienne Mong (in Beijing), NBC News World Blog, 27 March 2008.

Two examples of Indian "soft power."

Posted: 27 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"A project to translate major Indian literary works into Arabic is on the anvil as part of India's efforts to project its soft power in the Gulf." News Post India, 27 March 2008. "The Indian cinema and entertainment industry has spread its wings worldwide - not just winning accolades from its widely dispersed diaspora and international audiences and earning huge profits abroad but also luring foreign investment." IANS, 26 March 2008.

U.S. international broadcasting needs the "correct media mix."

Posted: 26 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Vince Nowicki, director of engineering at the International Broadcasting Bureau, responds to the 21 February Radio World article by Jack Quinn and Nick Olguin decrying the closing of IBB shortwave sites at Kavala, Playa de Pals, etc. He writes that their commentary "is out of step with the realities of today’s sophisticated audience and the strategic media markets for U.S. international broadcasting. ... Nostalgia for Cold War methods does not get the job done in the new millennium. ... Using the correct media mix — be it Internet, TV, AM, FM or shortwave radio — preferred by the audience, and not simply grasping on to old approaches, is the only way we can reach today’s worldwide audience." Radio World, 26 March 2008. Also in the same issue of Radio World, but not available online, is a letter from VOA union president Tim Shamble disagreeing with Quinn and Olguin's suggestion that IBB shortwave sites be privatized. Also, a feature about Jeff White, co-founder and general manager of WRMI, Radio Miami International, a private shortwave station.

Accusations against U.S. broadcasts to Iran hold up Glassman confirmation?

Posted: 26 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Farda and its official U.S. counterpart, the Voice of America’s Persian Service, have reportedly engaged in recent years in practices that have raised questions about whose side they were on. Whistle-blowers and independent monitors have repeatedly warned that these agencies broadcast into Iran programming that actually advances not the cause of freedom, but the agenda of the Iranian regime that President Bush has correctly decried. Improvements have been made at Radio Farda by Jeff Gedmin, the new and highly regarded head of RFE/RL, but concerns about program content persist. Such concerns have outraged Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security subcommittee charged with overseeing U.S. international broadcasts. ... Sen. Coburn has put a hold on the nomination of James Glassman, the current BBG chairman, to become what amounts to America’s combatant commander in the War of Ideas." Frank J. Gaffney Jr., Townhall.com, 24 March 2008. Mr. Glassman was nominated to succeed Karen Hughes as under secretary of State for public diplomacy.

Swapping shortwave transmission time.

Posted: 26 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
The complicated exchange of transmitter time involving Radio Netherlands with the International Broadcasting Bureau, Radio Sweden, Radio Canada International, Deutsche Welle, China Radio International, etc. is discussed by Kai Ludwig and Glenn Hauser in DX Listening Digest, 22 March 2008. Radio Netherlands continues not to use the only shortwave site in the Netherlands, at Flevo, owned by KPN. Kai asks: "What happened to this plant; does KPN still keep the transmitters there in black heating mode or have they been mothballed if not shut down definitely?"

Developments in Turkish international and non-Turkish-language broadcasting.

Posted: 26 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to a bill submitted to Parliament by the government, one of the five TRT [Turkish public broadcaster] channels will be set aside for broadcast in non-Turkish languages used by Turkish citizens, most notably Kurdish but also including Arabic and Farsi." Today's Zaman, 26 March 2008. New Voice of Turkey radio broadcast in "Dari, Farsi and Pashto dialects and for Uzbeks living in Afghanistan." Anatolia via BBC Monitoring via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 20 March 2008. After this weekend at 1500-1600 UTC on 11730 kHz. VOT already had broadcasts in Farsi for Iran and Uzbek for Uzbekistan. For complete Voice of Turkey schedule, see DX Listening Digest, 22 March 2008. One development in that schedule is the use of a Radio Canada International transmitter at Sackville, NB, for English to the Americas at 0300-0359 UTC.

"High profile defections" at Aljazeera English.

Posted: 25 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera English, the global news channel launched as a sibling to the Arab-language service, has suffered its most high profile defections yet amid growing unease among staff about its future. Steve Clark, a former senior executive at ITN and Sky News and a driving force behind the launch of al-Jazeera English, resigned at the end of last week while David Marash, a former CBS Nightline presenter who was the senior anchor in Washington, has also quit. ... Facing competition from the new BBC World Service Arab language channel and other rivals, [Aljazeera management is] believed to want to see resources concentrated on consolidating popularity among its heartland audience." The Guardian, 26 March 2008.

This idea is good only for the person who gets the cabinet-level job.

Posted: 25 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"What’s needed instead is a dedicated, Cabinet-level agency–call it the Department of Global Information and Communications (DGIC). Its mission would be to make the case for America as a force for peace, prosperity, and political reform, an America whose policies serve global interests as well as its own. Its functions would include training public diplomacy officers for embassies and consulates around the world; assuming responsibility for international broadcasting; monitoring global public opinion through regular surveys as well as qualitative assessments; expanding vital people-to-people programs, including speaker tours, English language teaching, and exchanges of scholars, students, and cultural institutions; and launching a massive new translation program, an 'American Knowledge Library Initiative,' to make the best of our thought and culture available abroad. As a cabinet-level agency, a DGIC’s representative would be at the table–with equal standing–during interagency meetings, articulating in advance the likely consequences of policy options for our standing in the world." William A. Galston, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Spring 2008.
     And while we're at it, let's create cabinet-level agencies for offshore fishing rights and for the Interstate Highway System.
     We could re-create the USIA under a new name, but overseas public diplomacy activities would continue to operate through U.S. embassies. Public diplomacy officers would not be able to make any moves, down to and including scratching their left earlobes, without approval of the ambassador or DCM. Public diplomacy might move, de jure, from the State Department to the new "independent" cabinet-level agency, but, de facto, it would still be controlled by the State Department. The only real difference would be a new large layer of senior bureaucracy. Think tank fellows like new senior bureaucracies.
     The worst feature of this proposal is that the new agency would assume responsibility for international broadcasting. The employees of the Voice of America fought for decades to separate themselves from USIA. This is because the advocacy function of USIA was incompatible with the journalism function of VOA.
     Or does Dr. Galston think that international broadcasting should be doing advocacy along with all the other elements of this new public diplomacy agency? As in: extoll this, condemn that, emphasize this, downplay that, and watch global public opinion fall into place in mechanistic, logical positivistic, Pavlov's-dog fashion.
     The audience for international broadcasting tunes in for news that is more credible than the news from their domestic broadcasting. U.S. international broadcasting that has a cabinet official as its Big Boss would not be independent, would not achieve credibility, and would not have an audience.

In China, the foreign media are blocked. Are not blocked. Are blocked. Are not blocked...

Posted: 25 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is not clear why China's net population, the world's largest, is suddenly able to view the BBC News website after years of being blocked. Nor is it clear how long the access will continue. But what is certain is that China's authorities have dynamic control of what their citizens can and cannot access." BBC News, 25 March 2008.
     "I am excited to have my long-blocked 'homepage' back and curious to see how long the blockage remains lifted. Periodic blockages of youtube, cbc.ca (I am Canadian) and CNN are not uncommon, but have never, in my experience lasted longer than a couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see how long access to BBC news will remain (relatively) unrestricted." BBC News, 25 March 2008.
     "A new book details the extent to which countries across the globe are increasingly censoring online information they find strategically, politically or culturally threatening. Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering challenges the long-standing assumption that the internet is an unfettered space where citizens from around the world can freely communicate and mobilise. In fact, the book makes it clear that the scope, scale and sophistication of net censorship are growing." BBC News, 25 March 2008.
     "The jammers, the plug-pullers and the internet blockers are hard at work in Beijing. The strategy is crude but effective and this is how it works. As I watched my colleagues on BBC World report on the riots in Tibet two weeks ago, the television in my Beijing hotel suddenly went dark. No test card, no patriotic music, just a blank screen and silence. When the Tibet report was done, back came the picture. So I turned to my laptop. The BBC Online version of events in Lhasa? Unavailable. The Guardian story? Blocked. There were lane closures all over the information superhighway." Stephen Sackur, The Guardian, 24 March 2008.
     "Chinese state television cut away from the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece today as two protesters tried to disrupt the speech given by China's organising committee chief Liu Qi." AFP, 24 March 2008.

Latest stories: Tibet and the international media.

Posted: 25 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The humble radio has become the most prominent source of information for Tibetans in Sikkim in these turbulent times. Many like Sonam Tokeyal tunes in the radio every morning at 4.30 am, following the incidents of violence in Tibet in March. ... He only relies on news relayed in Tibetan language and for that listens to the programmes of Radio Free Asia, Voice of America in the wee hours of morning. Karma Thinley, vice president of Tibetan Youth Club in Sikkim claims that China is now trying to disturb the frequency of these radio programmes." Indian Express (Mumbai), 25 March 2008. "The World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum have protested to Chinese President Hu Jintao against the crackdown on coverage of events in Tibet and the banning of foreign media." WAN, 24 March 2008. Evidence has emerged of the Chinese regime having staged violence in Lhasa in order to discredit the peaceful protests of Buddhist monks. ... 'This photo with this man in it was sent by the Chinese embassy to BBC and Radio Free Asia. The other photo was sent out later. They are exactly the same except the man has disappeared from the second photo.'" Phayul.com, 22 March 2008.

Comments as Israel drops its shortwave broadcasting (except Farsi).

Posted: 25 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Foreign broadcasting should be increased, not cut. Israel should have its own television channel. And, most importantly, our prime minister needs to break with his own and his predecessors' failure to date, and devote at least as much focus to Israel's image worldwide as to his own image at home." Editorial, Jerusalem Post, 24 March 2008. "With today's brave new world characterized by around-the-clock global media outlets and high-speed Internet access in even less developed countries, how can it be that Israel doesn't have an English language or Arabic language news channel, and is in fact cutting back on its foreign language radio transmissions?" Gavin Gross, Jerusalem Post, 24 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Comic book in Arabic about MLK, nonviolence.

Posted: 24 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
The American Islamic Congress today announced that its office in Cairo, Egypt, has published an Arabic comic book on Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy of nonviolence. Called 'The Montgomery Story,' the comic book was published fifty years ago in the US and helped inspire the American civil-rights movement in the 1960s. 'Nonviolent activism is needed in the Middle East more than ever,' said Dalia Ziada, director of AIC-Egypt. ... 'Martin Luther King's legacy offers a powerful alternative to violence, and we hope this new Arabic comic book can inspire young Middle Easterners to take responsible action for reform,' said Ziada." AIC press release, 24 March 2008.

VOA museum volunteer is veteran of the year.

Posted: 24 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Joe Wright has been named Veteran of the Year by the Butler County Veterans Administration. The 31-year West Chester Twp. man had a 27-year career in the Army, but many area residents know him for his involvement with a more local government institution. 'It's just something I'm proud of having done,' Wright said of his involvement with restoration and museum creation efforts at the VOA Bethany Station, home of the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting. Wright and his wife, Jean, staff the museum's gift shop at least once a month and during tours." Middletown (OH) Journal, 23 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

SABC available in Washington, if you have digital television.

Posted: 24 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"A Pan-African view of the world will take the airwaves via MHz Networks 2 next month with the launch of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) News International beginning April 1. SABC News is the largest news organization in the country of South Africa, as well as the African continent and is the first African owned and controlled news channel dedicated to reporting continental and international news from an African perspective. ... The channel will also include live streaming of French news bulletins via the SABC News website... . Selected news programs will also be included in MHz Worldview, making SABC programming available throughout the US to over 15 million households via broadcast, cable and satellite." MHz Networks press release, 17 March 2008. It's available in in the Washington area on subchannel 2 of MHz Networks' digital terrestrial channel 56, replacing the Russian-language Russian World TV announced in MHz Networks press release, 14 April 2006 (pdf).

BBC also broadcasts to the United States in English.

Posted: 24 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's Spanish multimedia service, BBC Mundo, is launching the second part of its US Hispanic initiative ¿Hablas Español?, as part of its coverage of the US election campaign. During a three-week road-trip which starts in Seattle, Washington, on Friday 28 March, the BBC Mundo team will travel across the northern part of the US, discussing key issues affecting the Hispanic communities, while speaking only Spanish. BBC Mundo correspondents, Jose Baig and Carlos Ceresole, will document their entire experience via daily blogs, videos and pictures which will feature on the new US Hispanic page, Mundo USA on the BBC's award-winning website bbcmundo.com." BBC World Service press release, 24 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Is text messaging breaking through the firewall?

Posted: 24 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"In most of the third world before the coming of wireless connection—the internet and the cell phone— ...
there was normally one television channel, state owned, which broadcast to the capital city and a few other urban areas. Every newscast, everyday began as follows: 'Today the president of the republic, His Excellency (insert local dictator’s name here) (show picture of dictator) reviewed/met with (cut to film of local dance group, tractor factory, etc.) to the sounds of the cheering citizens.' ... Anyone with any wealth or interest in the truth listened to the shortwave broadcasts of the BBC, Voice of America or Radio Netherlands (or, for French speakers, Radio France and the French versions of the BBC etc.). ... This technological bottleneck led to a situation where the government could control to a substantial degree what the local population knew of events in the world at large and from relatively inaccessible parts of their own country. This control was never absolute, but with a largely poor and illiterate population, control of information was a powerful tool in a government’s hands. ... Today, cell phone providers in Kenya estimate that 10 million Kenyans either own their own cell phone or have easy access to one. ... What this means to the average middle class Kenyan is that the truth is now what CNN in New York [sic], or the BBC in London, says, or what comes from a chat with Uncle Achmed in Mombassa. This news comes with pictures, video and blogs that run the gamut from political to rap music. The government no longer controls the flow of information. Anyone with an airtime card and a camera phone can document anything, anywhere." Garret Jones, enerpub, 23 March 2008. Unlike shortwave, mobile phones and the internet involve domestic networks which are subject to government control.

Radio Death Cab For Cutie International.

Posted: 24 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Feature on public radio station KEXP, Seattle, which "has helped vault bands (Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, Nirvana) from obscurity to fame. ... A pioneer in Internet radio, the station's listening audience already reaches around the globe (maps with push-pins showing listener requests from all seven continents hang in the studio)." Seattle Times, 24 March 2008. "It seems that web radio is the new short wave; capable of international broadcasting, across borders and even listened to by people who speak different languages. Like short wave, it has the drawback that portable listening is still difficult, often impossible. But unlike short wave, reasonable quality stereo music can be broadcast :-)" Anthony's Radio Blog, 14 March 2008.

DW content on the server.

Posted: 24 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle Radio will begin making much of its content available to U.S. public radio stations in April via the Public Radio Exchange server-based radio network. ... Deutsche Welle programs available in April include the news magazine 'Inside Europe' and weekly feature programs 'Eurovox,' 'Living Planet' and the youth-oriented 'Cool' magazine. Also launching in April is 'Inspired Minds,' a series of sound-rich modules profiling creative people." Radio World, 21 March 2008. Not mentioned yet at Public Radio Exchange website. "Swarthmore’s War News Radio has once again been named among the most-licensed producer groups by the Public Radio Exchange. The merit is well-deserved, as the weekly program, which continues to inform listeners across the world on the current situation in Iraq, reaches its three year mark this month. Since its launch, War News Radio has received much recognition and praise, including nods from the New York Times, NPR, and the BBC, for its trained perspective and in-depth reporting on general as well as rarely mentioned issues in Iraq." The Daily Gazette (Swarthmore College), 24 March 2008.

Publicity that Radio Farda could perhaps do without.

Posted: 23 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"During a recent interview with Radio Farda, a U.S. government-run radio service that broadcasts into Iran in the Farsi language, President Bush falsely claimed that Iran 'declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people.'" Think Progress, 21 March 2008.
     "Radio Farda is a propaganda station, and uh, propaganda doesn't work if it's patently false, George. If the idea was to get the Iranian people on your (or our) side, if the idea was to convince them that their government is acting foolishly and dangerously, then you just scored a big fat zero. Might as well stop funding Farda and save some much needed bucks, for whatever little credibility it had inside Iran (and believe me, it was always slight) just got thrown out the window." Hooman Majd, Huffington Post, 21 March 2008.
     "President Bush made the allegation toward the end of an interview with Radio Farda, the U.S. funded Persian-language radio station. ... The danger: comments like Bush's could embolden the hardest of the hardliners in the Iranian government." Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times Babylon & Beyond blog, 22 March 2008.
     "According to the White House a misleading transcript of the interview is to blame." AGI, 21 March 2008.
     "Pundits maintain that President Bush's recent remarks not only question the credibility of international organizations such as the UN nuclear watchdog but also the reliability of US intelligence." Press TV, 21 March 2008.
     "Bush told U.S.-funded Radio Farda, which broadcasts into Iran in Farsi, that Iranian leaders have 'declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people,' a statement that went well beyond the findings of the NIE." Iranmania, 23 March 2008.
     "The remarks were broadcast over Radio Farda, a State Department-funded [sic], Farsi-language station. Friday’s Washington Post immediately carried the subhead: 'Experts Say President Is Wrong and Is Escalating Tensions.'" Asian Tribune, 23 March 2008.
     The President's assertion about Iran's nuclear intentions was not challenged by the Radio Farda interviewer, whose next question was: "Mr. President, while democracy is everyone's rightful way of life, in Iran, on the other hand, there is no respect for the basic rights of Iranian citizens, there is no rule of law, and there is certainly no freedom of speech. Do you believe the people of Iran stand a chance against this regime to bring about a positive change anytime soon, with your support?" RFE/RL transcript, 20 March 2008. Nor has the RFE/RL website reported (at least in English) about the reaction to Bush's statement. See previous post about same subject.

A CRI reporter's version of events in Tibet.

Posted: 23 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Lin Shaowen, journalist, China Radio International: "It wasn’t a peaceful march because people were carrying dangerous things. They burned shops. They looted, ransacked and targeted civilians. That points to a violent riot rather than a peaceful demonstration. These people are well organized. Chinese authorities say the Dalai Lama’s supporters plotted it." Interviewed by Stuart Loory, Columbia Missourian, 23 March 2008.

Criticism of RFA from waaaay outside of its target area.

Posted: 23 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cuba on Saturday rejected criticism of China for its crackdown on recent riots in Tibet, which has led to calls for a possible boycott of this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. In an e-mail statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, Havana also accused U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia of being the principal voice behind talk of a boycott." AP, 22 March 2008. "It is evident that these disturbances have been induced and promoted from outside the country. For Cuba, the role played by the so-called Radio Free Asia has been revealing; it is the main mouthpiece of the current anti-China media campaign, and its sponsors are the same who defend those inciting separatism within China." Cuban government statement via Granma International, 22 March 2008.

Private U.S. station part of the great March 2008 shortwave shutdown.

Posted: 23 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
The end of March 2008 marks several notable reductions of shortwave broadcasting. 1) BBC World Service will eliminate all of its remaining shortwave to the Caribbean, and its shortwave transmissions to East and South-East Asia "between 10 am-5 pm and 12-2 am local" (but Glenn Hauser asks what does that mean in a region whose time zone sspan from UTC + 6.5 to UTC + 9?). 2) Kol Israel to drop all shortwave except for Farsi. 3) The International Broadcasting Bureau gives its Morocco relay station back to Morocco, with VOA transmissions going to other sites, including Bonaire. One more shortwave broadcaster will leave the air:
     "Yes, KTBN, a client of mine since the mid 1980s, will be leaving the HF airways at 0100 UT March 30. With all of the 'junk' on the air, this regrettably, ends 20 years of excellent religious and informational programming on HF. It will be missed." George Jacobs to Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 22 March 2008.
     KTBN transmits from near Salt Lake City with a single 100-kW shortwave transmitter, with content consisting of the audio portion of its owner Trinity Broadcasting Network. In 1990, Trinity purchased KUSW, one of only four U.S. shortwave stations that attempted to make a profit through mostly music programming and spot ad sales, rather than block times sales to mostly religious program makers. The other stations were WRNO, New Orelans; KYOI, Saipan (targeting Japan); and WRUL, later WNYW, New York in the 1960s. KTBN's frequencies will be given over to a revived WRNO, now a religious broadcaster, which hopes to be on the air by April, after suffering from a fire and Hurricane Katrina damage.

Postmortem debate about suicide of BBC World Service Trust executive.

Posted: 23 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The grieving husband of a BBC charity executive who committed suicide last year has claimed that worry over "rotten work practices" and bullying contributed to her death. Mother-of-three Kari Boto, 53, walked into the sea near the family home in Felixstowe, Suffolk, and drowned two weeks after quitting as director of international operations for the BBC World Service Trust (WST). ... 'When she arrived she found the place was in a mess and she was struggling without back-up. She was overcome with anxiety.'" Daily Mail, 23 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Backpedaling at the BBC.

Posted: 23 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has apologized for significant errors in two recent news reports on Israel. ... News anchor Geeta Guru-Murthy said: 'Now, we would like to clarify a report we heard at this hour last Friday about the attack by a Palestinian gunman on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem. In the report, the day after the attack, BBC World said that the gunman's home in east Jerusalem had been demolished by the Israeli authorities. That was not correct, and the images broadcast were of another demolition.'" Jerusalem Post, 22 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Tibet riot coverage absent from televisions in China -- and the United States.

Posted: 22 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Here's why I love the British media: Last week, during a pre-dawn drive to work, I flipped on the BBC World Service. They were going nuts: something between a riot and a rebellion had broken out in Tibet. Buildings were burning. Molotov cocktails were being hurled. Fighting, casualties, mayhem, oppression ... Do you know what the top story was on the American news networks? Umm ... I can't remember either. I think it had something to do with Obama and Hillary and some sort of slimy statement made by one or both of the candidates' surrogates. I really can't recall, it was that petty. The BBC pointed out that the Chinese government was censoring just about everything coming in and out of Tibet. The conflict would be kept off the Chinese news; even wealthier folks with cable would see their TVs suddenly go black as soon as Western networks mentioned the occupied Himalayan territory. This week, as the riots rage on, why not get yourself up to speed on the films that the Chinese government doesn't want its own people to see. You may not see them on American TV either." D. Maass, film.com, 21 March 2008. "China's soft-power stratagem to convince the world of positive systemic change stumbled badly in the month of March, as Beijing bungled its handling of ethnic strife in Tibet and of issues related to citizens' civil and judiciary rights." UPI, 21 March 2008.

BBC World Service "kowtowing" to tyrants?

Posted: 22 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"A group of Russian dissidents has accused the BBC World Service of "kowtowing" to tyrannical regimes with the blessing of the Government. Oleg Gordievsky, who defected from the Soviet Union, and Vladimir Bukovsky, who was a prisoner of the regime for more than 12 years, claimed the BBC Arabic TV news service was favouring despotic regimes." The Telegraph, 22 March 2008. "Last year, when the Chinese authorities tightened media control within the country and mounted pressure on foreign broadcasters, the BBC responded by cutting transmissions and making about a third of the Chinese service's staff redundant. ... Long gone are the days of the Cold War when the BBC helped to make the world a safer place by speaking the truth, however uncomfortable for some of the audience." Vladimir Bukovsky, Oleg Gordievsky, Martin Dewhirst, Sergei Cristo, Leonid Finkelstein, letter to The Telegraph, 22 March 2008. See previous post about cuts to BBC Chinese.

For the rest of this interview with President Bush, please retune to the other U.S. international broadcasting station.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"President George Bush expressed his support for both Iranian reformers and a civilian nuclear-energy program for Iran powered by reactor fuel from Russia. In an exclusive interview with the Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) that was broadcast by satellite Thursday to Iran, the president said, 'My thought is that the reformers inside Iran are brave people, they've got no better friend than George W. Bush, and I ask for God's blessings on them on their very important work. And secondly, that I would do nothing to undermine their efforts.'" VOA press release, 20 March 2008. "U.S. President George W. Bush has told Persian-language broadcaster Radio Farda in an exclusive interview that it is Iran's 'right' to have a civilian nuclear-power program but that there is no need for the country to enrich uranium." RFE/RL News, 20 March 2008. See also RFE/RL press release, 19 March 2008. Transcript of Radio Farda interiew. RFE/RL News, 20 March 2008. Transcript of VOA interview. White House, 19 March 2008. In the U.S. system of international broadcasting, the audience must listen to two stations to hear everything the President has to say, and the President has to be interviewed by two U.S. stations to say everything he wants to say.
     "President Bush contended that Iran has 'declared they want a nuclear weapon to destroy people' and that the Islamic Republic could be hiding a secret program. Iran, however, has never publicly proclaimed a desire for nuclear weapons and has repeatedly insisted that the uranium enrichment program it is operating in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions is for civilian power plants, not warheads. ... Bush made his assertion Wednesday in an interview marking the Iranian New Year with Radio Farda, a U.S. government-run radio service that broadcasts into Iran in the Farsi language." McClatchy Newspapers, 21 March 2008. "The White House on Friday sought to back pedal on comments by President George W. Bush accusing Iran of having said it was seeking a nuclear bomb. ... 'The president shorthanded his answer with regard to Iran's previously secret nuclear weapons program and their current enrichment and ballistic missile testing,' said national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe." AFP, 21 March 2008. "The President of the United States George W. Bush has made another blunder after he gave a radio interview about Iran's nuclear program." Press TV, 21 March 2008.

No longer huddling around the shortwave: Tibetans in Singapore listen to RFA via podcast.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"They may not hold a Tibetan passport, and some have never lived in their motherland. But gathered at a meditation centre in Geylang listening to a news podcast downloaded from website Radio Free Asia, their passion for the Tibetan cause is clear." Today Online, 21 March 2008. "Thousands of Tibetans in southwestern China’s Sichuan province are still defying a Chinese crackdown in the area, staging protests calling for peaceful dialogue with their exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports." RFA, 20 March 2008. "With the advent of the World Wide Web, it was thought that such barriers to information would topple. Instead the Chinese government created what has ironically come to be known as "The Great Firewall of China," a well-funded, sophisticated, and ultimately successful effort to control the Internet and ensure that reporting and discussion about Tibet and other sensitive subjects such as relations with Taiwan — or what really happened at Tiananmen Square — remained severely constrained. Will the world media now allow the Chinese government to establish 'information dominance' over the Tibetans – and the rest of us?" Rory O'Connor, Gather, 20 March 2008. The awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama "was broadcast over the Internet by Voice of America and Tibetans saw it as a sign of support from the American government for Tibetan freedom, and misinterpreted it to think it might lead to some real political backing." Patrick French, interviewed by Tehelka, 21 March 2008.

Armenian children "angered" by unavailability of RFE/RL.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Karen Mnatsakanyan, a teacher from Yerevan, says that when pupils began discussing the March 1 events during classes they particularly spoke about the work of the media. 'Our children are much more informed than we were years ago and modern technologies contribute to this. They say they mainly watched Yerkir Media TV station. They were angered at the discontinued broadcasts of the Armenian-language programs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.'" ArmeniaNow.com, 21 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Free Afghanistan's "Person of the Year."

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Listeners of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan (RFA) voted for Gul Agha Sherzai, the governor of the eastern Nangarhar Province, in the first-ever nationwide 'Person Of The Year' contest. The award is given for advancing the cause of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and reconstruction." RFE/RL News, 20 March 2008. "Huh. That sounds all well and good until you acquaint yourself with the UNODC 2007 survey of opium production in Afghanistan and see in the last year, after several years of a steady drop almost to zero, opium cultivation spiked by 285%. That is, Nangarhar went from one of the great success stories in the counternarcotics campaign to one of its most abysmal failures." Joshua Foust, Registan.net, 20 March 2008. How about a person of the year for advancing the cause of journalism independent of government agendas?

BBC World Service collaborates with Radio Netherlands on dykes.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Each year the BBC World Service collaborates with radio stations from around the world to make a documentary series on a contemporary subject of international importance and interest. Each partner station contributes a documentary which gives a local interpretation of the chosen theme, and this year the theme is Escape. Programme One: Escaping the Water Wolf. Made by Michele Ernsting of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, it looks at the constant battle of the Netherlands to keep the water out." BBC World Service website, 17 March 2008.

BBC F1 coverage will probably not be broadcast internationally.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
British Formula One coverage returns to BBC. "Unfortunately, due to rights issues, the BBC coverage will almost certainly not be available on BBC World and other platforms. However, the BBC does intend to stream live coverage from its website. However, it is possible that this will not be available outside the UK - depending, again, on rights issues." The Chief Officers' Network, 21 March 2008.

Dayton interviewees can't watch themselves on television.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The stories of two former Dayton auto industry workers will be viewed internationally as part of a new Al Jazeera English documentary-style series the week of April 13. ... The controversial Qatar-based network reaches 100 million homes worldwide, but is not available in the Dayton or most of Ohio. The network's programs can be viewed on its Internet site and YouTube channel. ... Dayton was chosen as a location because of economic losses in manufacturing." Dayton Daily News, 21 March 2008.

French international broadcasting reporters ejected from Chad, Zimbabwe.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "is dismayed to learn that the Chadian authorities have withdrawn the press accreditation of French journalist Sonia Rolley, the N’Djamena correspondent of Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Agence France-Presse (AFP), forcing her to leave the country." RSF, 20 March 2008. "Two weeks ago, journalists from a European television station, France 24, 'sneaked' into [Zimbabwe] to cover the polls but were arrested and deported." newzimbabwe.com, 20 March 2008.

The channels you can watch in expensive Chinese hotels.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"On February 18, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) provided provincial broadcasting authorities with a list of 33 overseas satellite channels that hotels and other venues may apply to show in 2008. The list includes CNN, HBO, Cinemax, CNBC Asia Pacific, MTV Mandarin, NGC Asia, Star Movie International, Channel V, AXN, Discovery, Hallmark, BBC World, NHK World Premium, Phoenix Movies, Phoenix Chinese, TVB8, TVB Galax, NOW, MASTV, Phoenix InfoNews, Bloomberg, Xing Kong Wei Shi, EuroSports News, CETV, Horizon Channel, SunTV, Celestial Movies, Channel NewsAsia, TV5, Cuba Vision International, KBS World, ESPN, and Star Sports." Marbridge Daily, 19 March 2008. Although content within those channels can be selectively censored, as per previous post.

Kol Israel Farsi broadcasts stay on shortwave, but other languages sign off.

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Four million shekels have been allocated in the IBA's budget to spare Israel Radio's budget-threatened shortwave Farsi broadcasts, which are widely listened to in Iran, and are regarded as a crucial bridge to the Jewish community there. But the radio respite has not been extended to the IBA's other foreign language broadcasts, including English, which will no longer be available to radio listeners outside Israel after the end of this month. The broadcasts will continue in Israel on the Reka channel, available on medium wave and FM, but the shortwave broadcasts will cease, silencing Israel Radio's English, Amharic, French, Spanish, Yiddish and other foreign language overseas transmissions for the first time in decades. Would-be listeners will henceforth only be able to hear the programs via the Internet." Jerusalem Post, 21 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Turning the old Soviet-who-discovered-jazz-on-VOA on its head (updated).

Posted: 21 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the 1980s, a blind blues musician named Paul Pena tuned in to a shortwave broadcast on Radio Moscow and heard something he'd never heard before: A vocalist from the Central Asian republic of Tuva sung three distinct pitches at the same time. There was a sustained low note, like the drone on a bagpipe, and two higher notes, like birdcalls or flutes. Intrigued, he spent the next nine years perfecting the technique and eventually won a throat-singing contest in the nation where it originated." Des Moines Register, 7 February 2008. Update: "Like the late blues musician Paul Pena in the award-winning documentary 'Genghis Blues,' I first heard throat singing on a shortwave radio. Static and the occasional invasion of some Senegalese news broadcast muddled the multiple pitches characteristic of the technique, creating an otherworldly cocktail of sound." Eric Omlie, Stamford (CT) Times, 21 March 2008.

Multimedia: RFE/RL is a book publisher, too.

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"A launch party for a book of memoirs penned by Ivonka Survila, the Canadian-based head of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR)’s Rada (government in exile), took place in Minsk on the evening of March 17. ... He thanked the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for publishing the book ahead of the BNR’s 90th anniversary to be marked on March 25. Alyaksandr Lukashuk, director of the radio network’s Belarusian service, said that the memoirs were based on a series of pieces prepared by Ms. Survila for the radio show 'Modern Memoirs.'" naviny.by, 19 March 2008.

Reconstitute USIA as a uniformed service?

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The single biggest thing the United States can do to defeat global terrorism is to recreate the U.S. Information Agency, a public-diplomacy entity that was dissolved in 1999, (Army Lt. Col. John A.) Nagl said. 'This war is primarily a war of ideas; secondarily an economic war; and third, a military war,' Nagl explained. 'We have not, I don’t think, put the proper emphasis on economic development and on the power of ideas and education.'" American Forces Press Service, 19 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Robot cat will deepen understanding of Japan.

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"There's been a lot of discussion over the past few years about the United States' pitiful efforts at public diplomacy. Maybe the State Department just isn't being creative enough: 'Japan has created an unusual government post to promote animation, and named a perfect figure Wednesday to the position: a popular cartoon robot cat named Doraemon. ... "Doraemon, I hope you will travel around the world as an anime ambassador to deepen people's understanding of Japan so they will become friends with Japan."'" Foreign Policy Passport, 19 March 2008.

U.S. international broadcasting and the Iranian election boycott (updated).

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) declared that the boycott of the Friday’s parliamentary elections by the Iranian people was unprecedented, the Arabic language Al-Hurra TV reported on Friday." National Council of Resistance of Iran, 15 March 2008. Some other news agencies mentioned the boycott, but did not attach that much significance to it. From a previous post: "Here's one, just in: 'Participating in this election means supporting the regime. Those who are for it can go and vote.' So says Said from Tehran, one of scores of Radio Farda listeners who have sent in their views -- by text message or e-mail -- on what the Iranian authorities insist are democratic parliamentary polls." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 13 March 2008. -- "The massive turnout and energetic participation of overwhelmingly young people in this election shows that the new round of United Nations Security Council sanctions and massive U.S. anti-Iran propaganda beamed at the youth of Iran, especially the wealthy strata in northern Tehran and other metropolitan centers, did not affect the nation’s clarity of purpose. ... According to IRNA (the Islamic Republic News Agency), the tens of millions of dollars spent by the U.S. on satellite TV and radio programs, such as Radio Farda, BBC, and Voice of America, to undermine the ruling faction of the Iranian government, headed by President Ahmadinejad, and at the same time, prop-up the so-called reformist faction, served in fact as a booster to the Iranian people’s sense of responsibility and patriotism." Mathaba, 16 March 2008. Update: "Next, it was the turn of the nationwide radio and TV networks to start a media blitz against reformists and in favor of conservative candidates - particularly the pro-government forces. Mysteriously, government jamming of foreign-based broadcasts by opposition groups as well as the popular Persian-language Voice of America - all of whom had been calling for a boycott of the elections - came to a stop in the days leading up to the election. It is well-documented that a low turnout always benefits the conservatives, since those boycotting, although constituting as much as half the population, are overwhelmingly against the status quo, while the hard-liners' supporters, although constituting less than a quarter of the population, never fail to show up at the voting booths." Kamal Nazer Yasin, ISN Security Watch, 19 March 2008.

New Bangladesh FM deals for VOA, BBC.

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Today (89.6 FM) now broadcasts 5-minutes of world and U.S. news produced by VOA’s Bangla Service daily between 11:45 p.m. to 12 a.m. (1745 to 1800 UTC). In addition, a 10-minute English-language newscast jointly produced by Radio Today and VOA will air at nightly at 9:45 p.m. local time. ... Beginning March 12, Radio Aamar (101 FM) broadcasts the first 30 minutes of VOA’s daily one-hour Bangla-language program six days a week from 10:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in Dhaka (1600 to 1630 UTC). Every Wednesday, Radio Aamer broadcasts the entire 60 minutes, including the popular call-in show Hello Washington." Voice of America press release, 19 March 2008. "The BBC Bangla service programmes will be available on FM radio in six more districts soon in addition to Dhaka. Bangladesh Betar will relay the programmes in Chittagong, Khulna Rajshahi, Sylhet, Rangpur and Comilla four times a day." The Daily Star (Dhaka), 20 March 2008. These are FM transmitters installed by the International Broadcasting Bureau for VOA, and used to relay VOA broadcasts from 2002 to 2007.

Search your dial for expanded RFA, VOA Tibetan and VOA Swahili (updated).

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
RFA Tibetan expands from 6 to 8 hours per day, VOA Tibetan from 4 to 6 hours per day. "VOA also will double its weekly Tibetan-language television programming from one to two hours via the AsiaSat 3 satellite." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 17 March 2008. BBG was planning reductions to RFA and VOA Tibetan for FY 2008. BBG press release, 5 February 2008. VOA expands "Swahili broadcasts to Kenya" by 30 minutes per day, at 0930-1000 UTC Monday-Friday and 1700-1730 UTC on weekends. VOA press release, 17 March 2008. Frequency or frequencies not provided in the press release, and not (yet) available at the VOA Swahili or English web pages. If shortwave, then also audible in Tanzania and Uganda. Update: The VOA Frequencies page shows 7380 and 9440 as the frequencies for the new Swahili weekday transmission, but gives the time at 0900 to 0930 UTC. This differs from the 0930-1000 time given in the VOA press release. The new VOA Tibetan transmissions are not shown on the VOA Frequencies page, and the VOA Tibetan Service website does not provide any frequency schedule. Nor are the new RFA Tibetan transmission listed on the RFA Frequencies page. Wolfgang Bueschel, reporting to DXLD Yahoo! newsgroup, 20 March 2008, has the correct times and frequencies. And he notes that China is also jamming the All India Radio Tibetan Service.

Wikileak's bloggers' auxiliary gets videos into China.

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Whistleblower website Wikileaks has made 35 censored videos of civil unrest in Tibet available in a bid to get round the 'great firewall of China'. Wikileaks said that posting the videos was a "response to the Chinese Public Security Bureau's carte-blanche censorship of YouTube, the BBC, CNN, the Guardian and other sites" that had carried sensitive video footage about Tibet. Wikileaks, which earlier this month successfully saw off legal action that threatened to shut the website, is calling on bloggers to post footage to help it circumvent the Chinese internet censorship." The Guardian, 19 March 2008. "The Beijing government is frantic to contain the story. China has banned foreign journalists from traveling to Tibet, and tourists reportedly are being ordered out. But Radio Free Asia continues to report on the Chinese crackdown. Information, in the Internet age, respects no borders." Editorial, Chicago Tribune, 18 March 2008. VOA also reports on the Chinese crackdown, but consistently loses the PR war to RFA. And, as previously noted, "Radio Free Asia" makes better copy than "Voice of America." Also, information via the internet faces formidable borders set up by the Chinese. Shortwave is more difficult to interdict.

Kenyan VP commends China for solidarity and good cocktails.

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has commended China and other friendly countries for standing in solidarity with Kenya during the recent post election crisis. Mr. Kalonzo particularly thanked Chinese government for not issuing negative travel advisories to its citizens despite other countries having warned their nationals against visiting Kenya. ... The Vice President made the remarks Wednesday evening during a cocktail party hosted by the China Radio International in conjunction with Kenya Broadcasting Co-operation in honor of Chinese Media delegation visiting Kenya." Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 20 March 2008. Ding Bangying, director of China Radio International, was at the reception. The Standard (Nairobi), 21 March 2008.

More comparisons of the news channels.

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"I have been watching CNN, BBC World, Sky News and, yes, the highly objectionable Fox News, which I now call the 'shouting channel' because the participants keep shouting at one another on a regular basis." Mervyn Bradley, letter to the Gisborne (New Zealand) Herald, 20 March 2008. Phil Kent, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, on some of the channels he can watch in his office. CNN International: "This is the CNN you see outside the United States." ... CNN: ("The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer) "A great example of a show perfectly matched for a personality and a time period." ... BBC: "Not what I would call fast-paced ..." ... Fox News Channel: "Wolf's show is better, but I think Neil Cavuto's show is a very respectable news show." ... Fox Business Network: "Any new channel needs a couple of years" before people pass judgment on it." ... Al Jazeera: "The famous Al Jazeera. I don't watch Al Jazeera." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 19 March 2008. "Dozens of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars gathered in Silver Spring, Maryland last weekend for the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan hearings (3/13/08-3/16/08), where they offered harrowing testimony about atrocities they had witnessed or participated in directly. ... The hearings were covered as far afield as the U.K. (Guardian, 3/17/08), Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3/14/08), Croatia (Javno, 3/16/08), and Iran (Press TV, 3/14/08). Yet there has been an almost complete media blackout on this historic news event in the U.S. corporate media. ... None of the major broadcast TV networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) have mentioned the hearings in their newscasts. PBS has been silent as well." Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, 19 March 2008. "During the 1991 Gulf War, only CNN and the BBC had correspondents in Baghdad. So the international TV audience, irrespective of its location, saw the conflict through their lenses. Twelve years later, when the Bush administration, backed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, invaded Iraq, Al Jazeera Arabic broke this duopoly. ... Soon France 24 came on the air, broadcasting in English and French from a French viewpoint, followed in mid-2007 by the English-language Press TV, which aimed to provide an Iranian perspective. Russia was next in line for 24-hour TV news in English for the global audience. Meanwhile, spurred by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Telesur, a pan-Latin-American TV channel based in Caracas, began competing with CNN in Spanish for a mass audience. As with Qatar, so with Russia and Venezuela, the funding for these TV news ventures has come from soaring national hydrocarbon incomes -- a factor draining American hegemony not just in imagery but in reality." Dilip Hiro, Biddho.com, 20 March 2008.

Aljazeera: focusing on the victims?

Posted: 20 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"No other television news channel has shaped the reporting on the Iraq crisis as al-Jazeera. While Western news media tend to report on troop movements and military missions, the Qatar-based al-Jazeera has been focussing on the victims, and more than any other broadcaster has shown the ugly face of the war." Monsters and Critics, 20 March 2008. A graduate student in speech communications at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Chris Collins read a powerful indictment against the U.S. commander in chief of the Armed Forces - President George Bush. 'Bush, beware the world recognizes an arrogant liar.' ... The words were not Collins' own. He read from poet Sami Muhyideen al-Haj, an Al-Jazeera journalist, cameraman and poet who was jailed at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay." The Southern Illinoisian (Carbondale), 19 March 2008.

Is the Chinese Communist Party "delegitimizing itself" through its firewall efforts?

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Despite the central government’s intensive censoring, Chinese 'net bugs' have been engaging in vibrant online discussions, sharing cellphone videos, and accessing foreign sites carrying news of Tibet. Therefore, Beijing’s blocking of sites has only been partially successful in controlling the news. And by being only partially successful, the Chinese government has put itself in the worst possible position. It has irritated its online community and created an odious reputation for itself outside China while permitting news to spread inside its borders. To the extent that people believe they are not getting the entire story, they think the worst about the authorities as wild rumors pass as fact. In short, the Communist Party is delegitimizing itself at an important moment." Gordon G. Chang, Pajamas Media, 19 March 2008.
     "Western governments can help breach the propaganda wall ... by stepping up broadcasting about the crisis on the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and the BBC." Editorial, Los Angeles Times, 19 March 2008.
     "The Western version of events fuels the belief that Beijing is still a repressive government, willing to use brutal methods to crush opposition. In China, media reports match concerns that the world is ignorant, eager to demonise China and may even want to contain its rise, our correspondent says." BBC News, 18 March 2008.
     Wall Street Journal links to this Radio Free Asia story about Chinese blogger and human rights actvist Hu Jia in its Law Blog, 18 March 2008. See previous post about the Tibet/China situation.

IWPR co-production with RFE/RL claims success in Bosnia.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Facing Justice, a radio programme [Institute for WEar & Peace Reporting] produces jointly with Radio Free Europe, RFE, has received very positive reviews from listeners in Bosnia. Launched in November, Facing Justice is aired by 40 radio stations in the region. The half hour show will bolster IWPR efforts to expand public access to regular, reliable and objective information on the war crimes justice process in former Yugoslavia - essential for long-term democratisation and reconciliation." IWPR, 19 March 2008.

Former Radio Liberty director is now SVP at Hudson.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"S. Enders Wimbush, Director of Hudson Institute's Center for Future Security Strategies, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, International Programs and Policy. ... From 1987 to 1993, Wimbush served on the frontlines of America's strategic communications efforts as director of Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany. During his tenure, the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Wimbush had the honor of opening Radio Liberty's offices in Moscow, Kiev, and elsewhere in the former USSR." Hudson Institute press release, 18 March 2008. "Strategic communications"? Successful international broadcasting consists of credible news, and credible news is not "strategic." And is "frontline" a word? Anyway, Hudson is the rolling stone of think tanks, starting in 1961 at Croton-on-Hudson, New York (hence the name), moving to Indianapolis in 1984, then to Washington in 2004. I hope, for Mr. Wimbush's sake, they don't decide to pull up stakes again and move to, say, Dubuque.

Fill 'er up with Venezuelan public diplomacy at the CITGO sign.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The agent of Chavez’s foreign aid program to Americans is former Rep. Joe Kennedy (D.-Mass.). Kennedy heads a nonprofit called Citizens Energy Corporation, which he founded in 1979 to provide discounted home heating oil to low-income people in Massachusetts. ... Kennedy rarely mentions Chavez publicly, but the television and radio messages that advertise his charitable program are paid for by Venezuela by way of the CITGO oil company, which also provides most of the discounted heating oil. ... How is CITGO connected to Hugo Chavez? ... In 1986, Southland sold a 50% share of the company to the national oil company of Venezuela, which bought the other half in 1990. By the late 1990s, CITGO was refining and distributing oil and operating almost 15,000 retail gas stations in the U.S., more than any other company. No one much cared about the company’s ultimate owner." Matthew Vadum and Ana Maria Ortiz, Human Events, 19 March 2008. ... "We are all americanos and together we share the Bolivarian mission of giving hope and a better life to the poorest and most vulnerable, whether they live in Venezuela or Vermont. Our oil revenues are bringing literacy, health care and job training to millions of Venezuelans and it is our wish to extend this prosperity throughout the hemisphere. In September, I went to New York where I again met and fell in love with the soul of America. This program fulfills a promise I made to the people of the United States and it is a gift warmly given to our American friends." Hugo Chavez, from 2006-2007 Discounted Heated Oil Project media kit, CITGO website.

How BBC World will deal with "flirtatious" viewers in India.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Vaishali Sharma, marketing head for BBC Worldwide in India: "How do you propose to grab a substantial share of a market that is increasingly getting fragmented and where viewers are turning more flirtatious by the day? [Sharma:} While at one end, the market may be getting fragmented, at the other, there seems to be emerging a growing need for genres that are impacting viewers lives. We are aware that BBC World will become important to our viewers in India as they increasingly need and consume international news." The Financial Express (New Delhi), 18 March 2008.

In the "war of satellites," South Korean international station learns that too positive is not competitive.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Arirang TV ... has been criticized for concentrating too much on the positive aspects of Korean society, and basically working in conjunction with the government. It is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, but the CEO [Chang Myung-hosa] id that it operates independently when it comes to planning and producing programs. 'It is true that ignoring the negative aspects of Korean society undermines our credibility as a media company,' Chang admitted. 'We don't necessarily have to dig up the darker aspects of this society, but we now have to present all aspects of Korea to be more credible and competitive.' ... 'Arirang TV made an early start, but now, more countries are creating channels to send their voices around the world,' said the CEO. 'It is a war of satellites; more nutrition is needed for a medium like Arirang TV (to better Korea's image).'" The Korea Herald, 17 March 2008.

Calls for Arab satellite television charter to be replaced by self-regulation.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
At Brookings Center Doha discussion, Ibrahim Helal, deputy managing director said that "the Arab ministers 'got the good cards mixed with bad cards' and came out with a single charter – poorly and unprofessionally written – for most of the almost 500 satellite channels in the Arab world. ... Suggestions of taking the lead in self-regulation, thereby pre-empting any action by the Arab governments and involving the people in the fight against the implementation of the charter were also made at the meeting. ... Some satellite channels have already received warning notices that their contracts would not be renewed, it is learnt." Gulf Times, 19 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Release Moussa Kaka.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Niger Association of Independent Press Editors (ANEPI) and the Network of Journalists for Human Rights (RJDH) - two Niamey-based organisations - have joined Reporters Without Borders in signing an appeal for the release of Moussa Kaka, the Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale (RFI), who was arrested in Niamey on 20 September, exactly six months ago." Reporters sans frontières, 19 March 2008. See previous post about Niger.

Not a fan of the Zimbabwe opposition shortwave stations.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
For the first time I listened to the news bulletin on one short wave pirate radio station based in the UK. I was shocked when I listened to the news broadcast. The negativity that surrounds that program left a lot to be desired. The disrespect and the high level of propaganda spread was shocking. This station reminded me of Ian Smith's broadcasts after UDI and in the 70s." Gerald Masanganise, letter to the Zimbabwe Guardian, 19 March 2008.

When "all else is dead," will shortwave still be alive?

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Arthur C. Clarke, writing after the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004: "When electricity and telephones -- both fixed and mobile -- failed in the worst-affected areas, amateur radio enthusiasts restored the first communication links with the outside world. Courageous and resourceful radio hams were at the forefront of relief efforts in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands off the coast of India, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, and many other locations. We might never know how many lives they saved and how many minds they put at ease, but we owe a debt to Marconi's faithful followers. As Victor Goonetilleke, president of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka, remarked, 'When all else is dead, shortwave is alive.'" Wired, February 2005.

Notes on the decline of shortwave broadcasting.

Posted: 19 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"On the reception side, shortwave radio has to fight through increasing levels of electrical noise from our burgeoning array of computers, video games, compact florescent lights and other gadgetry. The portable radios casual shortwave listeners use often can’t overcome the interference levels. Those dedicated souls who install elaborate receiving set ups with external antenna are rewarded with signals of dubious reliability, especially during the current sunspot minimum. The manufacture and sales of high-end shortwave receivers has pretty much ceased, reflecting the dwindling number of shortwave listeners." Jim Tedford, Radio Enthusast blog, 17 March 2008.

VOA reports on decline of the U.S. image abroad.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States' image in the world has suffered as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, a report said Monday. Voice of America reported that international approval of the United States is at an all-time low, with demonstrations protesting U.S. policy commonplace in the international community." UPI, 17 March 2008. "President Bush has stated he will bring American forces home as quickly as the situation in Iraq allows. [Pew Research Center president] Andrew Kohut says, if Iraq is stabilized, lasting democracy takes root, and most U.S. combat forces withdraw, he expects global anger over the U.S. involvement in Iraq to subside." VOA News, 17 March 2008.

The Tibet crisis and the international media, continued.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"'There are a lot of people that think the Internet is going to bring information and democracy and pluralism in China just by existing,' says Rebecca Mackinnon, assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong's Journalism & Media Studies Center. 'I think what we're seeing with this situation in Tibet is while the Chinese government's system of Internet censorship controls and propaganda is not infallible by any means, it works well enough in times of crisis like this.'" Business Week, 17 March 2008.
     "The other important issue in all this is how Google will respond to China's ban. A representative said that the company is 'looking into the matter,' and trying to 'ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible.' But what happens if China wants Google to begin self censoring videos or wants to know the names of the people who posted the clips of the Tibet violence?" CNET News, 17 March 2008.
     "The relative silence from Asia about the way China has managed the violent unrest in Tibet speaks volumes about the power Beijing wields over the region's politics and economics, analysts said." Reuters, 18 March 2008.
     "Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA), based in the United States, along with Voice of Tibet (VOT), based in India, are the three main radio stations that broadcast programmes to Tibet in the Tibetan language, but these programmes are systematically jammed. Thanks to their acquisition of ALLISS aerials made by the French company Thalès, the authorities have been able to boost their capacity to jam broadcasts, particularly in Tibet. Radio Free Asia has as a result been forced to use around a score of different frequencies to try to get round this censorship." Reporters sans frontières, 17 March 2008.
     "The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia on Tuesday quoted an unidentified witness as saying that authorities in Lhasa began arresting hundreds of people after the deadline. No details were given and China's tight control over information and ban on trips by foreign reporters made it difficult to confirm the figure." AP, 18 March 2008.
     "Authorities in the Tibetan capital have begun arresting hundreds of people in the wake of anti-Chinese protests over the weekend as a deadline passed for those involved in the marches, demonstrations, and rioting to 'surrender' to police, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. ... To add your name to our mailing list, send an e-mail to engnews-join@rfanews.org." Radio Free Asia, 17 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Cross-border broadcasts are annoying North Korean officials (updated again).

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"North Korea on Sunday accused South Korean conservatives of stepping up propaganda radio broadcasts against Pyongyang in collaboration with the US and Japan. A spokesman for the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, a communist party-run body, warned the broadcasts would only increase tension in inter-Korean ties. The spokesman claimed radio stations such as 'Broadcasting for the North,' 'Missionary Broadcasting for the North' and 'Voice of Freedom' were 'an intolerable confrontation campaign against the nation and reunification,' he said in a statement." AFP, 16 March 2008. See also Korean Central News Agency, 16 March 2008. "Pyongyang, after dealing with two consecutive liberal South Korean governments for the past 10 years, is moving to adjust its strategy following Lee Myung-bak's landslide victory in December. Lee, a CEO-turned politician, won the presidential race on the ticket of the conservative Grand National Party. The party has persistently been critical of what it calls 'appeasement' policies towards the North and said it will revamp Seoul's North Korean policy from scratch." Yonhap, 16 March 2008. "Calls to the Korean-language offices of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia in Washington, D.C. were not answered." AP, 17 March 2008. They're probably too busy making programs. Calls to the public affairs offices of VOA and RFA would probably have been more fruitful. Update: "The establishment of the Korean broadcasting service in medium waves at American Radio Free Asia as well as the total increase in the time of propaganda broadcasting on North Korea was the reason for critical remarks by Pyongyang." Itar-Tass, 18 March 2008.

Samsung denies RFA Olympic torch report, if RFA reported it.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Samsung Group, a major sponsor of the torch relay for the coming Beijing Olympics, denied Tuesday it has been informed by China of North Korea's decision to bar South Korean and United States nationals from carrying the torch on its soil. The denial comes after Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported the North has notified Olympic officials in Beijing of the decision and that Samsung, which selected the torch runners, learned the news from Chinese officials. Calls and email seeking confirmation of the report by the U.S. government-funded broadcaster were not immediately returned by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games." The Korea Times, 18 March 2008.

Strategic medicine.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
U.S. Army doctors and nurses will visit remote areas in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia on "Sight, Sound, and Smile Missions," treating eye and ear ailments and performing plastic surgery. "While the medical missions are genuine humanitarian works, they have a wider, more subtle motive, which is the application of "soft power" intended to win friends and deter potential adversaries." Richard Halloran, Real Clear Politics, 17 March 2008.

International channels mentioned in annual report on U.S. news media.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC World, Aljazeera English, France 24, and their lack of access to U.S. cable television, are mentioned in the Alternative subsection of the Cable TV section of "The State of the News Media 2008," Project for Excellence in Media. The same report cites Nielsen NetRatings data showing U.S. readership of the BBC News website dropping 12% from 2006 to 2007, to 4.4 million visitors per month. Online Ownership section, ibid.

TWR-India is 30 years old.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Trans World Radio began broadcasting in five Indian languages in 1978 from a single AM-station with a 400,000-watt transmitter. ... Today, the ministry has grown to 62 languages reaching out via shortwave, AM, FM, as well as podcasting, television audio feed and Internet audio streaming. Listener response varies from 30,000 to 60,000 each month. To mark the 30-year milestone, TWR-India is organizing national listener rallies, clergy development meetings, women's meetings, musical events and more interactive programs across the country." Mission Network News, 18 March 2008. Trans World radio is a Protestant evangelical international broadcaster with headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. The 400 kW medium wave station mentioned in this item is in Sri Lanka and still operates. See also TWR website.

George Galloway is no fan of Aljazeera English.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Pro-Arab" MP George Galloway "criticised the English-language version of Arab news channel Al Jazeera for not doing enough to promote Arab issues around the world. 'They spent a billion dollars on that station and virtually nobody knows it exists,' he said, describing the station's coverage as 'timid'. 'It is not popular in style and is like watching the Economist on television.'" Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), 18 March 2008.

Did CNN have its own domestic dissemination prohibition? (updated)

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
In May 2003: "When (former New York Times reporter) Judith Miller was really on her rampage with the (U.S. Army) Special Unit trying to find weapons of mass destruction in May 2003, right after the invasion, I go on a show with former CIA Director James Woolsey. They put me on a show on CNN International, by the way, because they won't let me on CNN domestic." John R. McCarthur, interviewed by Marc Cooper, Huffington Post, 14 March 2008. Update:"While domestic CNN focused on happy stories of American courage and appreciative Iraqis, CNNI carried more scenes of wounded civilians overflowing Iraqi hospitals. 'During the Gulf War in 1991, [CNN] presented a uniform global feed that showed the war largely through American eyes,' the Wall Street Journal reported. 'Since then, CNN has developed several overseas networks that increasingly cater their programming to regional audiences and advertisers.' Left unsaid by the Journal’s formulation of how CNN’s overseas affiliates 'cater' to foreign audiences was the flip side of that coin, that domestic CNN was freer to shape a version of the news that was more satisfying to Americans." Robert, Sam, and Nat Parry, Consortiumnews.com, 18 March 2008.

U.S. international broadcasting and the Iranian election boycott.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) declared that the boycott of the Friday’s parliamentary elections by the Iranian people was unprecedented, the Arabic language Al-Hurra TV reported on Friday." National Council of Resistance of Iran, 15 March 2008. Some other news agencies mentioned the boycott, but did not attach that much significance to it. From a previous post: "Here's one, just in: 'Participating in this election means supporting the regime. Those who are for it can go and vote.' So says Said from Tehran, one of scores of Radio Farda listeners who have sent in their views -- by text message or e-mail -- on what the Iranian authorities insist are democratic parliamentary polls." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 13 March 2008. -- "The massive turnout and energetic participation of overwhelmingly young people in this election shows that the new round of United Nations Security Council sanctions and massive U.S. anti-Iran propaganda beamed at the youth of Iran, especially the wealthy strata in northern Tehran and other metropolitan centers, did not affect the nation’s clarity of purpose. ... According to IRNA (the Islamic Republic News Agency), the tens of millions of dollars spent by the U.S. on satellite TV and radio programs, such as Radio Farda, BBC, and Voice of America, to undermine the ruling faction of the Iranian government, headed by President Ahmadinejad, and at the same time, prop-up the so-called reformist faction, served in fact as a booster to the Iranian people’s sense of responsibility and patriotism." Mathaba, 16 March 2008.

Will DRM provide a "real chance" for small countries' international broadcasting?

Posted: 18 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Now with digital media moving towards border-crossing and pan-continental broadcast levels the editorial and commercial opportunities are greater than ever before. At last a real chance for small countries with international broadcast capabilities and allocated broadcast frequencies like Malta to really show off a country's potential to an international audience. With it comes an awareness boost and all sorts of opportunities from regular business to tourism. DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) is utilising old former international broadcast frequencies and recycling antique crackly medium-wave and short-wave channels for international digital broadcasting. As DAB is being consigned to the waste bin in Germany, it's DRM that's being employed as the preferred digital radio broadcaster. The same in China, India and Mexico. In the UK, media giants like GCap and Virgin are closing down DAB stations. The BBC, along with other international broadcasters, is already running DRM tests." Ian Waugh, Prime Digital Broadcasting, Harrow, UK, Times of Malta, 18 March 2008. Successful trans-Atlantic reception of Vatican Radio DRM transmissions, morning and evening, at the recent Winter SWL Fest, suggests that DRM shortwave transmissions from Malta might be heard in North America as well as Europe. There is, however, still a dearth of DRM receivers. And a big question is what advantage DRM radio broadcasts would have over a website. See also Prime Digital Broadcasting's Prime DRM website. -- A regional DRM shortwave system based (hypothetically) in Syracuse, New York, is is presented at the TCI website. -- The potential application of DRM on the little-used 26 MHz shortwave broadcast band is discussed at www.26mhz.us.

Seems like a coca-induced international television deal (updated).

Posted: 18 Mar 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. Update: "Rep. Jerry Weller, Illinois Republican, visited Bolivia last month and said Iran plans to 'launch anti-American and fundamentalist propaganda from our own doorstep.'" Washington Times, 18 March 2008.

More Tibet crisis and international media.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese government has cracked down on international media coverage of the unrest in Tibet, blocking websites and censoring the local feeds of broadcasters including BBC World and CNN. ... According to three separate reports posted on Danwei - a website specialising in the Chinese media and advertising industry - the Guardian website has been blocked, with Chinese users receiving a 'connection reset' error. YouTube and Yahoo have also been affected, Danwei has reported." The Guardian, 17 March 2008. "The Great Firewall of China has been reinforced to stop the flow of information about Tibetan independence protests spreading on the mainland." Variety Asia, 17 March 2008. "According to the local Chinese government: 'Tibetans gathered for the Monlam festival protested when police interrogated a Tibetan. Those Tibetan youths who were involved in the protests were interrogated, and those who were slightly injured were handed over to their parents for advice and guidance. So the county is peaceful as before.' But Radio Free Asia has another version: 'Under the pressure of a massive Tibetan demonstration, the local government had to release all those who were arrested on the first day of protest. Many of them were severely beaten and tortured.'" Rediff News, 17 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Zimbabwe court date for VOA Studio 7 reporter.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sydney Saize, a journalist based in this eastern border city, will next month appear before the magistrate courts facing charges of practicing journalism without accreditation from the government regulating body. Saize is alleged to have had worked as a journalist without being accredited by the Tafataona Mahoso Media and Information Commission (MIC) which has since been renamed Zimbabwe Media Commission. Saize, 34, was arrested in January 2006 at the Aloe Park in the city after he was caught allegedly gathering news on behalf of Studio 7, a Washington DC-based radio station [part of VOA] that broadcasts daily into Zimbabwe. Several Zimbabwean journalists work for Studio 7, a radio station based in the United States capital. The radio station broadcasts on short-wave and beams news about Zimbabwe on a daily basis." Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 17 March 2008.

Do foreign broadcasts "prop up" the Iranian reformists?

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to IRNA (the Islamic Republic News Agency), the tens of millions of dollars spent by the U.S. on satellite TV and radio programs, such as Radio Farda, BBC, and Voice of America, to undermine the ruling faction of the Iranian government, headed by President Ahmadinejad, and at the same time, prop-up the so-called reformist faction, served in fact as a booster to the Iranian people’s sense of responsibility and patriotism." Mathaba, 16 March 2008.

CNN expands in Middle East, but still not adding an Arabic television channel.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN for sure had the advantage amongst the foreign channels as it was the first to start operations, but its transmission has so far been restricted to English language only. As Arabic channels get their share of attention, CNN stays firm on its choice of language. ... In Dubai, CNN maintains its presence with a correspondent and a bureau chief. CNN has an elaborate Arabic website and that remains its only interaction with the Arab audience. Emphasising that, [CNN SVP Rani] Raad was categorical in his response stating there is not a big enough market to launch an Arabic channel to make it commercially viable." Emirates Business 24/7, 17 March 2008.

Trying to get the news out of Iraq.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the least reported or acknowledged aspects of the dangers of reporting Iraq is that it is now only the richest news organisations that can remain there. The reason is simple - insurance. The costs of sending staff to Baghdad and keeping them there are astronomical: western 'security advisers' ('mercenaries' is more accurate) employed by television organisations get paid around £400-700 each a day." Rageh Omaar, The Guardian, 17 March 2008. "The face of the BBC during the bombing of Baghdad, baby-faced Omaar, 40, ... broke from the corporation because he 'wanted to be free'. He wrote a book called Only Half of Me on the experiences of British Muslims and then, in 2006, joined the news channel Al Jazeera English." The Independent, 17 March 2008.

Venezuela's "happy" propaganda.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela can meet the communication challenge to wage a battle in the field of ideas, because it has the necessary tools and talents, Communication and Information Minister Andres Izarra said. ... Moreover, in order to make the official propaganda digestible, creativity must be used, with happy and dynamic concepts, commonly used by everyone, with the goal of presenting the achievements of the revolutionary process, he explained." Prensa Latina (Cuba), 17 March 2008.

The "big name" international news channels, according to the Taipei Times.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Some 500 to 600 foreign journalists from 35 countries and regions are expected in Taiwan to report on Saturday's presidential election... ... It is expected that big name networks, including CNN, the BBC, Germany's ARD, Japan's NHK, Iran's Press TV, Saudi Arabia's al-Arabiyah, and Eurovison, which provides news to more than 300 news sources in Europe, will report on the election. Local correspondents from China's Xinhua news agency and other Chinese media outlets will also be covering the event." Taipei Times, 18 March 2008.

Israel prepares to quit shortwave.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Israel Radio’s shortwave radio broadcasts in all languages will cease on March 31. Shortwave radio broadcasts have been under threat of closure for years, but were saved in the past by a barrage of protest letters from listeners around the world. ... IBA spokeswoman Linda Bar said the IBA will be seeking funding to allow Farsi-language broadcasts to remain on shortwave." Jerusalem Post via BBC Monitoring via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 March 2008 (I can't find the article at the Jerusalem Post website). See previous post about same subject. -- "The Israel Government Tourist Office in Montreal has just launched a French-language Web site in an attempt to 'reach out' to Canada's Francophone community." Jerusalem Post, 16 March 2008.

The BBC's shortwave switch-off extends to the Caribbean, East Asia.

Posted: 17 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service shortwave transmissions to the Caribbean will close on March 23rd 2008. Many listeners in the Caribbean and around the world no longer listen via shortwave. Instead they are choosing to listen to the radio on other platforms including FM, satellite and online." BBC World Service website. I'm sure there are some Caribbean islands, and certainly in the sea between the islands, not covered by FM relays of World Service. See also BBC shortwave schedule (in English) to the Caribbean. -- "BBC World Service shortwave transmissions to East and South-East Asia will be reduced on 30th March 2008." BBC World Service website, 14 March 2008.

The Tibet crisis and the international media.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Video showed armed Chinese police, dressed in riot gear, searching door to door through the Tai Yan Dao section of Lhasa -- near the Potala Palace. There was no sign of violence between the police or residents. CNN International's live rebroadcast of the video was not blacked out by the Chinese government to viewers in that country. The government sometimes exercises its power to censor CNN's broadcast of stories sensitive to China by interrupting the broadcast as it is fed into the country." CNN, 16 March 2008. "Internet users in China were blocked from seeing YouTube.com on Sunday after dozens of videos about protests in Tibet appeared on the popular U.S. video Web site." AP, 16 March 2008. "This month BBC World TV is running a series of short documentaries on China. ... They show what China outside Beijing or Shanghai looks like, in a way TV news rarely does. Why these are being broadcast with no interference I can't say. In a similar development, unlike yesterday, today both CNN and the BBC, along with the French, German, and Japanese news stations, are broadcasting Lhasa footage without being censored. On the other hand, my experience confirms Danwei's report that YouTube is now blacked out." James Fallows, blogging from China, The Atlantic, 16 March 2008 (see also his previous entries). Lhasa Eyewitness: "'I personally saw more than a hundred Tibetans killed when the Chinese fired at the crowd. Many of those killed were young Tibetans, both boys and girls,' he said. His report, in an interview with Radio Free Asia, is unconfirmed, but the Tibet government in exile also reported a rising death toll." San Francisco Sentinel, 15 March 2008. "A visiting monk from the countryside who joined the protests in Xiahe said they had heard about the Lhasa protests through the telephone grapevine, through Voice of America radio broadcasts in local dialects and from families who have satellite television." Sydney Morning Herald, 17 March 2008. This might actually refer to RFA broadcasts, which I believe are in more Tibetan dialects than VOA. But VOA and RFA Tibetan are used interchangeably, serving largely the same purpose, and thus are confused by listeners and observers. See previous post about same subject.

Atlanta tornado forces CNN and CNN International to simulcast.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Despite attempts to cover workstations with blue tarpaulin and continue a normal service, the decision was taken to suspend the separate broadcasts of CNN US and CNN International and operate a single news service from the facilities of CNN International." Digital Spy, 15 March 2008. "Hopefully CNN takes note from how today has worked, and realizes the CNNI set is a nice set, and maybe it should be used more often." Newscast Studio, 15 March 2008.

Where flattery will get U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Public diplomacy is important. It's not just about Muslims admiring us and respecting us; what's more important to them is that we admire and respect them. Muslims give us a long list of things they admire about the West, yet when asked what we can do to improve things, they want us to respect them and stop looking down on them. Our public diplomacy needs to move from selling America to affirming other cultures for what they are." Dalia Mogahed, who helped organize a survey of 50,000 Muslims in more than 35 countries, interviewed by U.S. News & World Report, 14 March 2008. "We should always have a proud public diplomacy, not a passive public diplomacy, and that point is critical. ... The United States should never hang its head in the diplomatic arena for any reason--Guantanamo, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Iraq, whatever." Henry R. Nau, Heritage Foundation, 14 March 2008.

Afghan awards for Radio Free Afghanistan reporters.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two young female journalists working for RFE/RL in Kabul have been recognized for superior reporting on international and domestic issues facing Afghanistan. In recognition of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, the Afghan National Union of Journalists presented Hassiba Shaheed, 24, and Lina Sharifi, 21, with the awards during a March 11 ceremony in Kabul." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 14 March 2008.

Aljazeera in the news.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Children's Channel continues to mark success in Arab and international festivals, with the Cairo International Film Festival for Children's Gold Prize for the televised magazine 'Tariq Al-Najah'. ... Tariq Al-Najah, a new televised magazine with a totally unique concept to the Arab children television. Each weekly episode gives an Arab child the opportunity to personally experience his or her dream job." AME Info, 16 March 2008. "The Arab TV network Al Jazeera came to film this solitary urban stronghold [Musa Qala, Afghanistan], defying President Hamid Karzai and his allies in the United Kingdom, United States and United Nations." The Scotsman, 16 March 2008.

BBG reaction to Iranian legal threats against VOA interviewee (updated).

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) deplores threats by a senior Iranian official against reformist lawmaker Nouradin Pirmoazen, who criticized government actions in the run-up to Iran's March 14 Parliamentary elections during an exclusive interview with the Voice of America's Persian News Network. ... 'It is absurd and cowardly to call Nouradin Pirmoazen's statement an act of treason.' ... said James K. Glassman, Chairman of the BBG." BBG press release, 13 March 2008. See previous post about same subject. -- "Here's one, just in: 'Participating in this election means supporting the regime. Those who are for it can go and vote.' So says Said from Tehran, one of scores of Radio Farda listeners who have sent in their views -- by text message or e-mail -- on what the Iranian authorities insist are democratic parliamentary polls." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 13 March 2008. Update: "When asked of the Voice of America's interview with Iranian lawmaker Noureddin Pir-Moazzen, [Iranian Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein] Elham said giving interviews to foreign media is not against the law but any responsible Iranian should not give interviews to hostile media." Press TV, 16 March 2008.

President of VOA museum is citizen of the year.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Bill Zerkle, long-time West Chester resident and former township parks director, received the Citizen of the Year award at the West Chester Chamber Alliance annual dinner and awards gala Friday night at the Savannah Center at Chappell Crossing. Zerkle [was} instrumental in development of Wiggly Field dog park and [is] president of the Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting." Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 March 2008. "While an exact date isn't set, visitors to Voice of America Park will be able to tell when West Chester Twp. gives its roughly 250-acre share of the park to Butler County MetroParks. After the hand over later this month, the portion of the park that was free — containing the sports fields — will now cost $2 per vehicle or $5 per year to enter. The new fees will help fund numerous improvements at the park, according to the MetroParks board." Lebanon (OH) Western Star, 12 March 2008. And for evidence of civilization creeping up on the former VOA site, making it unsuitable for shortwave transmissions, see Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 March 2008. Meanwhile, at another old VOA transmitting site: "The Baguio Airsoft Group (BAG) will be conducting the first Baguio Airsoft friendship game on March 22 ... will be conducted at the whole of Scout Hill and the former Voice of America (VOA) grounds." Sun.Star, 16 March 2008. This was the VOA shortwave relay at Poro, the Philippines. And "airsoft" is sort of like paintball.

Russia Today's access to the United States restricted by the market, not by the law.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is my understanding that a significant limitation on Russia Today’s viewership is phony legal restrictions by American authorities. (Never mind the squawking that emanates from Washington if any country dares to obstruct Voice of America or the ludicrously obsolete 'surrogate' RFE/RL.)" James George Jatras, Russia Profile.org, 14 March 2008. And much more discussion about Russia Today and Russian public diplomacy in this piece. There are no legal restrictions on Russia Today, just marketing decisions by cable and satellite companies. Russia Today is available on Galaxy 25, 97 deg. west, receivable with a 75-cm elliptical dish. The video stream is available at www.russiatoday.ru -- "Globecast is a North American provider of satellite content that operates on the Galaxy 25 satellite and is the only company in North America to carry Al Jazeera English. This past week, the WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment] and Globecast came together on a deal to have Globecast be the satellite distributer of WWE PPVs to all of the WWE's local cable, fiber-optic, and national satellite providers." 411mania.com, 15 March 2008.

Arab reaction to the new BBC Arabic channel.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"As the heavyweight news channel in the region, Al-Jazeera perhaps should have no worries. They have a loyal following and have rightfully earned the title of 'the people’s choice. Other networks, however, may find their audiences shrinking and moving away toward the new kid on the block." Tariq A. Al-Maeena, Arab News, 15 March 2008.
     "If Arab governments do impose restrictions on Arab satellite channels the result will be to control the transfer of news and not its reception. The skies are full of non-Arab satellites and viewers will still have free access to them. ... In the Arab consciousness the BBC is associated with news in the absence of news, and history seems to be repeating itself as the BBC establishes a TV presence." Media expert Ayman El-Sayyad, quoted by Al-Ahram Weekly, 13 March 2008.
     "The Arab League last month adopted a satellite broadcasting charter, which analysts say is aimed at restricting the relative freedom enjoyed by broadcasters, particularly in relation to the discussion of political and religious matters. 'If there is any suggestion that... freedom of expression, freedom of information or the activities of responsible journalists should be curtailed, that would be very bad news indeed,' Jerry Timmins, head of the BBC World Service for the Middle East and Africa, said in an interview. 'Time will tell what the true intent behind it [the charter] is and we need to watch it very carefully.'" ArabianBusiness.com, 16 March 2008.
     "The best test for all will be a big event in the region with all parties' interests at stake. Their way of coverage will determine if Arab audiences would prefer news from Doha, Dubai or London - or even Beirut or Tehran. Let us wait and see." Ahmad Mustafa, Gulf News, 16 March 2008.
     "'Britain has interfered in the Arab public opinion for purely political reasons,' said the Syrian al-Thawra newspaper. ... Britain sensed the importance of launching a news channel, after the U.S. established al-Hurra, which covers stories in keeping with a U.S. perspective, the Syrian paper said." Ha'aretz, 14 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Did CNN have its own domestic dissemination prohibition?

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
In May 2003: "When (former New York Times reporter) Judith Miller was really on her rampage with the (U.S. Army) Special Unit trying to find weapons of mass destruction in May 2003, right after the invasion, I go on a show with former CIA Director James Woolsey. They put me on a show on CNN International, by the way, because they won't let me on CNN domestic." John R. McCarthur, interviewed by Marc Cooper, Huffington Post, 14 March 2008.

Skeptical about cultural diplomacy.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The New York Philharmonic’s trip last month to Pyongyang was a pleasant symbol of cultural outreach. Only the naïve, though, think it will encourage the North Korean regime to behave better or provide required information on its nuclear weapons programs and proliferation to other countries. ... A visiting former U.S. official characterized the musical event as 'firing a 16-inch broadside of soft power into the hearts and minds of the North Korean people.' But North Korean official radio, which reaches more citizens than television, did not carry the performance. The concert certainly didn’t moderate North Korea’s official press, which stepped up its anti-American propaganda, accusing Washington of preparing to attack the North." Bruce Klingner, Fox News, 14 March 2008. The North Korean press is always accusing the United States of preparing to attack.

China, where they think public diplomacy is for domestic dissemination.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's press conference, answering a question from China Radio International about public diplomacy: "I would like to emphasize that China's diplomacy is people's diplomacy. It is people oriented. We have paid special attention to soliciting public views and suggestions on China's diplomacy through a variety of channels. We have kept the public informed of China's foreign policy through the Internet and other means." Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, 14 March 2008.

China jams BBC *Uzbek.*

Posted: 15 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBCWS broadcasts in Uzbek twice a day, for half an hour on each occasion. The Chinese jam the service, as they do not want the Uzbek-speaking minority in western China to tune in. In addition to the commonly-heard Firedrake or Firedragon jamming (continuous 'crash-bang' Chinese music), I was very interested to hear what appeared to be a regular Chinese station being used for the jamming. This allows the Chinese to claim that the jamming is just 'accidental' interference. However, they give the game away by only putting on the interference for the exact 30-minute duration of the BBC Uzbek broadcasts!! ... But I`m pleased to say that the jamming was far from being fully effective." Chris Greenway, reporting from Tashkent to BDXC-UK, March 2008, via DX Listening Digest, 9 March 2008.

Recent international broadcasting news that you didn't read about here.

Posted: 15 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link

AEI fellow says international law is for wussy "bureaucratic lawyers."

Posted: 15 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"U.S. freedom broadcasts to the island--Radio Martí and TV Martí--should be stepped up to convey a message of international solidarity with the Cuban people and to reassure them that they have nothing to fear as they reject dictatorship and reclaim their future. To elude the regime's electronic jamming of these broadcasts, Bush should overrule bureaucratic lawyers to authorize airborne broadcasts over international waters." Robert F. Noriega, American Enterprise Institute, 12 March 2008.

Jazz via shortwave during World War II.

Posted: 15 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"While growing up in Europe, dividing his time between Switzerland and Italy, [photographer Paul] Studer discovered jazz. It was what played in the background during World War II, as everyone listened to shortwave radios -- BBC, the Voice of America -- 'waiting for the whole thing to end.'"
The Oregonian, 14 March 2008. Probably the big band and crooner versions of jazz. I don't think VOA had much time for jazz during World War II, but read this about the American Broadcasting Station in Europe, operating from England, and thus with clearer reception for music: "ABSIE's pride & joy were its musical programs, as American as pie à la mode. According to captured Germans, the favorite Allied program heard in Germany was Music for the Wehrmacht, which featured songs by topnotch performers like Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore." Time, 16 July 1945.

Eleven days later, United States condemns prison sentence of Radio Farda broadcaster.

Posted: 15 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States has condemned the decision by a court in Tehran to sentence an Iranian American journalist to a year in prison. Parnaz Azima was convicted in absentia of the so-called crime of 'spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic.' Ms. Azima is a journalist who works for Radio Farda, the U.S. supported Persian-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty." Editorial, Voice of America, 13 March 2008. This is based on rather old news. The story was reported on 2 March. But the editorials broadcast on VOA go through an often lengthy approval process, including the State Department. The Iranian oppression-du-jour is the treason threat against Nouradin Pirmoazen, but perhaps we'll have to wait until 23 March for an editorial about that. Note also that this VOA editorial describes Radio Farda as "the U.S. supported Persian-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty." Even RFE/RL itself gives VOA some credit for Radio Farda, describing it as "a joint, Persian-language broadcast venture between Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America." -- Parnaz Azima interviewed: "How does this court decision influence you professionally? PA: Well, professionally it doesn’t, really. They [the Iranian government] were advising me to concentrate on international or cultural events instead of human rights, but of course I won’t do that." The Prague Post, 12 March 2008.

"Kremlin Moves To Rein In Last Media Refuge"

Posted: 15 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"As censorship of the traditional media increased under President Vladimir Putin, the Internet quickly carved out a niche as a rare bastion of dissent and free expression for Russians. With its lively blogs and chat rooms, the Russian Internet has become the 21st-century equivalent of Soviet-era samizdat and hushed, kitchen-table political discussion. Are the bureaucrats and government censors finally preparing to stifle this last oasis of media freedom?" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 12 March 2008. Shortwave is the last media refuge. "Imagine if Bush had fired 50 state governors and appointed his own personal representatives instead. Imagine that he closed down The New York Times, The Washington Post, and all broadcast media that criticized his actions (with the exception of the Voice of America, a government-run broadcast company). Imagine that he had put all of his political prisoners in jail and all of their financial supporters. This is what Vladimir Putin has done." Henry R. Nau, Heritage Foundation 14 March 2008.

Ethiopian journalists in exile seeking funds for shortwave broadcasts back to Ethiopia.

Posted: 14 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"We take this opportunity to call upon all members of [the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association] and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and upon all professional colleagues and associations, to renew their traditional help and cooperation to enable us, the EFJA members, to launch a short-wave radio broadcasting service in Europe and to reach the hearts and minds of our people in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora." IFJ press release, 12 March 2008. They are apparently seeking to lease time on one of the European shortwave transmitters for hire, formerly used by the major European international radio services.

The story of a boy, his shortwave radio, and his FBI record.

Posted: 13 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rick landed himself on a government watch list when Rick was a thirteen year-old into ham and shortwave radio. In the late 1950s, Rick managed to tune in a station in China, and sent off the customary postcard that says to a shortwave station, 'Hey, I pulled in your signal.' Like any other station, the one in Communist China sent back a QSL card -- giving Rick bragging rights that he pulled in a Chinese station -- and then added his name and address to a Communist party propaganda mailing list. Soon after the 13 year-old got another note in the mail, this one from the U.S. government saying he was now under surveillance." Wired Threat Level blog, 12 March 2008. I've heard stories like these. I also know of other shortwave listeners who sent reception reports to, and received QSL cards from, communist countries, and went on to get military or government jobs.

News agencies cite RFA report on protests in Lhasa (updated).

Posted: 13 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"In Tibet, Radio Free Asia reported that as many as 300 monks marched five miles from a monastery outside the capital Lhasa to the city's center on the 49th anniversary of the uprising" against Chinese rule. AP, 11 March 2008. "Up to 60 Buddhist monks were arrested in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa as authorities quashed protests marking an uprising that led to the exile of the Dalai Lama, Radio Free Asia said Tuesday." AFP, 11 March 2008. "Chinese police have detained dozens of Tibetan monks after a march to demand the release of imprisoned supporters of the exiled Dalai Lama, US-based Radio Free Asia said on Tuesday." DPA, 11 March 2008. "China detained between 50 and 60 monks who led a march towards Tibet's capital Lhasa, according to a report by the U.S. government-funded radio station, Radio Free Asia." Reuters, 11 March 2008. The RFA story was used verbatim by Salem-News.com (Oregon), 10 March 2008. "Media reports say several hundred Tibetan monks took part in a rare protest march in Lhasa, to mark that event." VOA News, 11 March 2008. I.e., U.S. government funded VOA does not mention its archrival, U.S. government funded RFA. Update: "Tibetan Budhist monks listen to Radio Free Asia broadcast on the march, at Takipur, India, Tuesday, March 11, 2008." AP photo via Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, 13 March 2008. Sure it wasn't VOA Tibetan? Granted, "Radio Free Asia" makes better sounding copy than "Voice of America." RFA report on protesting workers in Guangdong cited by Reuters, 13 March 2008. With RFA as the sole source on so many reports from within China, RFA's reputation rides on the accuracy of these reports.

War of ideas: different opinions about public diplomacy.

Posted: 13 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Appoint a special envoy of public diplomacy to Pakistan who should be a strong advocate of great American values and traditions of plurality, tolerance, compassion and hard work." Among suggestions to Barack Obama by Raza Bokhari, press release via The Earth Times, 12 March 2008. "The next president should pay closer attention to public diplomacy, although [former deputy secretary of state Richard} Armitage cautioned that this does not entail a slick marketing campaign. 'I don’t see public diplomacy as an exercise in the U.S. talking louder or talking more. Nobody out there doesn’t understand the U.S. The question they have is: Do we understand them? A large part of public diplomacy should be to hush up and listen.'" TamilStar.com, 12 March 2008. "Our [Israeli] public diplomacy must respond more effectively to those who mindlessly denounce us for reacting 'disproportionately' in exercising our right to self-defense. Their condemnations are irrational, unprecedented and unquestionably reflect the application of double standards against us." Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, 11 March 2008.

Niger suspends RFI because of RFI's solidarity with its correspondent imprisoned in Niger.

Posted: 13 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "regrets yesterday’s decision by the Higher Council for Communication (CSC) to suspend local FM retransmission of the French public radio station Radio France Internationale (RFI) for three months for 'discrediting' Niger’s institutions by holding a day of solidarity with its imprisoned correspondent, Moussa Kaka, on 10 March." RSF, 13 March 2008. See also RFI, 13 March 2008. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

UK student DJs raise funds for SW Radio Africa.

Posted: 13 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"HearingAid is a project which will involve 14 student radio stations from all over the UK, and this week each one is having an event and a 12 hour or 24 hour broadcast from their student union. ... The cash raised will be split equally between three charities that use media to help people: The Mental Health Foundation, Shortwave Radio Africa, and Media For Development." Norwich Evening News, 13 March 2008.

China's public diplomacy offensive.

Posted: 13 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Some anti-China forces in the West see the Beijing Olympic Games as a great opportunity to force China into a political transformation, and blackening the Olympics and China has become their habitual method,' Zhao Qizheng, now vice chairman of a foreign policy advisory committee, wrote in the overseas edition of the People's Daily. China's controls on religion and news reporting, its problems with food safety and role in Sudan's Darfur region 'have been vastly exaggerated by the foreign media', Zhao wrote in the front-page commentary. Chinese officials had been too passive in the face of criticism, leaving the country's critics to dominate news coverage, he said, urging a public diplomacy offensive. On Thursday, China also issued its own assessment of human rights in the United States, which it said 'shows the United States itself has grave violations of human rights'." Reuters, 13 March 2008. Related: Xinhua, 13 March 2008.

The new media of international broadcasting and their tendency to suck bandwidth.

Posted: 13 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The ABC has announced four new Internet-based services that will deliver content to a PC or directly to a media player. ABC Playback, is a full-screen media player that will offer three channels of TV content delivered via the Internet. The new Internet service could end up with users chewing up vast amounts of broadband bandwidth as they stream content says a senior Telstra executive. 'We love these new services because once a consumer has used up their bandwidth allocation under a fixed price agreement they will have to pay for additional usage. The role out by TV station of IPTV content will drive up bandwidth useage and consumers have to be aware of this when they are accessing Internet Radio or IPTV offerings which are often large files.'" Smarthouse (Sydney), 12 March 2008. This item reads like a parody. But it does contain a lesson as IPTV and internet radio increasingly become media of international broadcasting: some audiences have fixed bandwidth allocations, and may have to pay to receive additional content. Shortwave may be "outmoded," but at least it does not "suck bandwidth."

The consequences of being interviewed on an international channel.

Posted: 12 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iran is launching an investigation into the 'treason' of a leading reformist MP who gave an interview to a US-funded Persian television channel, the intelligence minister said on Wednesday.
Noureddine Pir Mouazen, the spokesman of reformists in parliament, gave an interview about Friday's legislative elections to the Persian service of the Voice of America (VoA), a channel despised by Iran's clerical leaders. 'This has definitely been treason and an appalling act,' Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie told state-run news agency IRNA. 'The law bans people in such positions from interviews with foreign radios and television.' ... Dozens of Persian language radio and television stations like Voice of America broadcast to Iran from the United States and Europe. The authorities accuse the channels of broadcasting anti-Islamic republic propaganda and have banned satellite dishes to prevent polluting the public mind. But flouting of this rule is widespread." AFP, 12 March 2008. "Mohseni-Ejei noted that even someone who is not currently a lawmaker should avoid giving interviews to foreign media." Press TV, 12 March 2008. Does Press TV not interview people in countries other than Iran?
     Libya releases prominent dissident Fathi al-Jahmi, imprisoned without trial for nearly four years. Libya "first arrested al-Jahmi, a former provincial governor, after he criticized the government and Gadhafi. ... He was first sentenced to five years in prison and released after two years. On the day of his release in 2004, al-Jahmi gave an interview to U.S.-funded al-Hurra television, repeating his call for Libya's democratization. In another interview to the same station days later he called Gadhafi a dictator and said the Libyan leader wants people to worship him. He was arrested two weeks later, along with his wife and their eldest son." AP, 11 March 2008.
     "Admiral William Fallon, the top American commander in the Middle East whose views on Iran and other issues have seemed to put him at odds with the Bush administration, is retiring early, the Pentagon said Tuesday afternoon. ... Officials said the last straw ... came in an article in Esquire magazine by Thomas Barnett, a respected military analyst, that profiled Fallon under the headline, 'The Man Between War and Peace.' The article highlighted comments Fallon made to the Arab television station Al Jazeera last fall, in which he said that a 'constant drumbeat of conflict' from Washington that was directed at Iran and Iraq was 'not helpful and not useful.'" International Herald Tribune, 11 March 2008.

"Outmoded" shortwave and blogs bring uncensored information to Armenia (updated).

Posted: 12 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Sergei Sosedkin informs us that, after a few days without means of transmission, RFE/RL Armenian is now available on shortwave.
     "Broadcasts of the Voice of America and other international media have been blocked in Armenia under the state of emergency... 'They still are producing their TV programs, and they are transmitting them, but they're not being broadcast, VOA spokeswoman Letitia King said. The Armenian affiliate has agreed to save the feed for future use, she said." Washington Times, 8 March 2008.
     "Local stations can no longer use the Armenian language programs produced by foreign broadcasters including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. That drew an admirably strong protest from Washington’s Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent federal agency that supervises these stations, while the State Department has expressed its concern over the death toll. Their words would carry more weight if President Bush added his voice." Editorial, New York Times, 7 March 2008.
     "Opposition views and opinions could also be heard broadcast via Radio Free Europe, but retransmissions have been pulled from the airwaves since the state of emergency was declared. But, with online pro-opposition media outlets which haven’t complied with the restrictions now blocked inside the country, the situation has created an unprecedented opportunity for blogs to fill the gap. As many are hosted on generic servers such as Wordpress or Blogspot, access has not yet been restricted. However, YouTube, which was used by A1 Plus to disseminate video of the weekend’s riots, does appear to be inaccessible. ... Interestingly, one such blogger, Artmika at Unzipped, likens it to the old Soviet practice of 'samizdat.'" Global Voices Advocacy, 8 March 2008.
     "The YouTube blockage is undoubtedly to prevent Armenian citizens from viewing the official channel of A1plus news, the pro-opposition station that was taken off the air in 2002." Profy, 9 March 2008.
     Update: "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has restored broadcasting on shortwave frequencies to Armenia to counter the government's blackout on independent news. RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said today, 'It is disappointing that because of restrictions imposed by the Armenian government we have to take this step backward to an outmoded frequency we stopped using in Armenia three years ago, but I'm happy to say it is working.'" RFE/RL press release, 11 March 2008. Shortwave was never "moded." It was never the popular medium of choice. Shortwave has alwave been the frequency of necessity, to get programs into remote parts of one's own country, or into countries where that content is not allowed, or otherwise unavailable, through the domestic media. That was the case in the Armenia of the USSR, and it has become the case again in the past few days. Shortwave is "remoded." And it remains necessary for such occasions.
     RFE/RL broadcasts in Turkmen and Uzbek apparently still relayed via 864 kHz MW relay in Armenia. Radio Netherlands Media Network, 5-6 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

PsyOp in Afghanistan, in both directions.

Posted: 12 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Captain Thomas Neil, one of around 30 Canadian soldiers currently specializing in PsyOp in southern Afghanistan: "'Think of it as marketing, you pick a target, decide what effect you want to have and create a campaign based on a medium that will be most suitable.' In addition to obvious means like placing billboards by the roads to illustrate the dangers of unexploded ordnance or opium poppies, the specialists can be called in more dramatic means. ... 'We can move in with our loudspeakers and hammer them and wear them down.' ... The Taliban effectively use the internet to disseminate footage and photographs of attacks on Coalition troops, and bin Laden made several propaganda videotapes that were aired on global television networks. Leaflets calling for a holy war against the United States and its allies were also circulated in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 'Their psyops are very well coordinated and very well financed,' said Neil." DPA, 12 March 2008.

BBC Arabic: abandon calm and cool to attract viewers?

Posted: 12 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"As far as the format is concerned, BBC Arabic hasn't chosen the easiest route. Apart from news and analysis, the station wants to offer primarily discussion programmes. But already, tens of millions of Arab viewers are glued to the screen watching talk shows and discussion programmes, notably from al-Jazeera. They can best be described as lively, often overheated, and with fiery language. The BBC must be prepared to depart from its customary calm, cool style if it wants to attract the hoped-for 20 million viewers." Mohammed Abdulrahman and Nicolien den Boer, Radio Netherlands, 11 March 2008. Sidebar to same story: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide is planning to re-start Arabic radio transmissions in September 2008. The plan is to broadcast one hour a day, five days a week, on shortwave, mediumwave, FM, satellite and Internet. RNW's Arabic radio service, known in the Middle East as 'Radio Hilversum', closed in 1994 after nearly 50 years on the air." See previous post about BBC Arabic TV.

France 24 via Zattoo.

Posted: 12 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"New IPTV platform Zattoo has signed up its latest channels, adding Five, The Poker Channel and France 24 to its live TV-to-PC service, which now claims 1.8 million users." C21Media.net, 12 March 2008. France 24 live stream also available free at www.france24.com

RFE/RL Azeri to Iran: will it report the news, or foment strife?

Posted: 11 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US government is planning to beam Azeri-language radio broadcasts into Iran, in a bid to influence opinion among the significant ethnic Azeri population there. ... If approved, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty would begin broadcasting two hours a day of Azerbaijani-language programming in shortwave into Iran, said Jeff Trimble, director of programming for RFE/RL. ... Trimble denied that the intent of the new broadcasts would be to stir up ethnic strife. 'The professional journalistic code of RFE/RL … strictly prohibits the airing of programming or any kind of advocacy for secessionism. ... All throughout the history of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, there has been a tradition of minority-language broadcasting.'" Joshua Kucera, Eurasianet.org, 10 March 2008. "Influence opinion" is a typically American misdescription of the what RFE/RL, as a news organization, is supposed to be doing. Also, Trimble, though recently departed from RFE/RL, is program director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. See previous post about same subject.

For help pronouncing Medvyedyev, consult the Vyoice of America.

Posted: 11 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Russian names are just not something most Americans can do. And if the blogs and online pronunciation guides I've checked are any indication, they never will. ... There are many places to seek guidance. The Voice of America, among the more prominent, offers this phonetic spelling: 'mehd-V(y)EHD-yehf.' They also provided a voice recording by a man who actually tried that; in all fairness, he does a pretty good 'yehf.'" Serge Schmemann, International Herald Tribune, 10 March 2008. Refers to VOA's Pronunciation Guide, developed in part because so many U.S. news agencies would call VOA for advice on foreign pronunciations.

On-the-ground PsyOp in Iraq.

Posted: 11 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"We went out on a PsyOps (Psychological Operations) mission today. ... Our mission was to exploit the negative feeling the locals have toward the insurgency after a local sheik was killed. ... The message was well received by the locals. The sheiks who met with our commanders commented that it was a good message." Staff Sgt. Isaac Weix, USMC, Dunn County News (Menomonie, WI), 10 March 2008.

Can Obama re-brand America? (updated)

Posted: 11 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it’s central to an effective war strategy." Andrew Sullivan, Atlantic.com, 10 March 2008. Update: "I think some of the statement you see coming out from the Democratic side is to reassure the American public that although public diplomacy is going to be a major part of that foreign policy approach, it's not going to be at the expense of ensuring that we're going to be able to utilize military and other measures to take action against the threats." Barack Obama adviser John Brennan, interviewed by National Journal, 7 March 2008. "As with monarchies, there is one office that uniquely combines legislative and executive functions, albeit with little real power in either, and that historically has been used for the purposes of representing America to the world, usually at funerals. It's called the vice presidency. Mr. Obama says he's not interested." Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, 11 March 2008.

BBC Arabic TV is on the air.

Posted: 11 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"It hopes to attract 20 million viewers per week by 2010 and 35 million users per week for all three Arabic services - TV, radio and on the web." BBC News, 11 March 2008. "Will it be welcomed as impartial and objective - the qualities the BBC prides itself on - or will it be dismissed as at least in part a Western propaganda tool, toeing the line of its financial backer, the British Foreign Office?" BBC News, 11 March 2008. "To watch BBC Arabic's live stream online, go to BBCArabic.com and click on the red button (as pictured here)." Richard Sambrook, BBC News The Editors blog, 11 March 2008. See also analysis by BBC Monitoring, 11 March 2008.
     "Adel Darwish, political editor of the IC Group of Middle Eastern magazines, told The Associated Press that despite some hostility towards Britain in the Middle East because of the Iraq war, the BBC enjoyed a largely good reputation. 'The BBC is living on its old reputation. In the years after World War II, people would say that if they heard it on the      BBC, it must be true,' he said. 'That reputation, and the fact that the station will be free, should help it in the first few months. But they will have to prove themselves after that.'" CNN, 11 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "As a trusted worldwide brand, the BBC sees itself as an authority people turn to to verify what has actually happened. And its staff are sure it will spark new competition in the region." DPA, 11 March 2008.
     "I've compiled a short video report from the footage showing the thinking behind the BBC's shift in resources, putting more emphasis on video and new media services." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog, 11 March 2008.

Demand for southbound shortwave.

Posted: 11 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The next big project for LeSEA Broadcasting Network will be short-wave transmissions to Caribbean and Central South America from South Carolina, said Peter Sumrall, president and CEO of the network. 'There seems to be a great demand for short-wave facilities going in that direction'" Church Executive, 10 March 2008. LeSEA's World Harvest Radio already has two 500-kilowatt transmitters at Cypress Creek, South Carolina (a facility previously owned by the now-defunct Christian Science shortwave service). Perhaps they are planning to add one or more transmitters there. In addition, World Harvest Radio operates shortwave transmitters in Maine and Hawaii.

Will DOS or DOD win the "battle of narratives"?

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The war on terror is a form of political warfare and a battle of narratives which the United States is not winning. ... Because of the power of the Internet and the global media environment, terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda spend considerable time not just planning attacks, but how to promote them after the fact. ... One way to do this is to promote the development of independent global media. The State Department, not the Pentagon, should have the lead on public diplomacy and strategic global communications." Center for American Progess, 7 March 2008.

Listening to RFE Hungarian in 1956 ... in Cleveland.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"We lived in a kind of Hungarian immigrant ghetto on Cleveland's Near West Side; 'strudel ghetto' as some Americans called it. ... On October 24 1956, I found my parents huddled around our big, box-like Philips radio listening to Radio Free Europe. They were crying and holding each other. 'We can go back now,' my father said. 'Hungary will be free.'" Joe Eszterhas, The Guradian, 7 March 2008. A reminder that shortwave broadcasts usually can be heard outside their target areas, and that diaspora audiences took advantage of this. RFE and VOA early morning broadcasts to Eastern Europe, via transmitters in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Germany, and the UK, were often audible in the United States, where it was 10 or 11 p.m.

NPR management becoming less of a U.S. international broadcasting alumni club.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"National Public Radio chief executive Ken Stern is stepping down after a disagreement with the network's board of directors over the direction of the U.S. broadcaster. ... Stern, 44, had worked with former CEO [and still NPR president] Kevin Klose at Radio Free Europe and was hand-picked by Klose as his successor. He also is a past director of the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau in Washington and was deputy general counsel for then President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign." CBC News, 7 March 2008.

Taking bets on the new BBC Arabic television channel.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"'I think there is a gap in the market that wasn't perhaps as visible seven or eight years ago where the audiences seem to be ready for a straight-down-the-line news offering from the BBC, because the BBC comes with huge heritage, with a big reputation and people's expectations of it are very high,' says BBC head of Africa and the Middle East Jerry Timmons. 'I think there's a feeling that people are a bit tired of some of the confrontational, heated debate out there and that there's room for a cooler, considered, analytical, straight-forward news offering.' ... The U.S.-backed Al-Hurra has found itself dismissed by Arab commentators as a mouthpiece for the American administration, while other Arab language news services offered by France, Germany and Russia have failed to make much of an impact." Variety, 7 March 2008.
     "'We do not fear competition,' said Ahmed al-Sheikh, editor-in-chief of the Doha-based, Qatari-funded Al Jazeera. 'In 12 years, we have gained enough experience and a network of correspondents strong enough to reach public opinion. The presence of an additional competitor will only encourage us to do better," AFP, 10 March 2008.
     "I anticipate that BBC Arabic TV will overtake both al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera to become the No. 1 Arabic news television service in as little as six weeks – by May 1, 2008. ... Expect also to see al-Hurra TV drop from its average 1 percent Zogby rating to 0 percent." David Chambers, Middle East Times, 11 March 2008.
     BBC Arabic head Hosam El Sokkari ... claimed it would better serve Arab audiences than Al-Jazeera. 'It can be their ears and eyes -- not just in the countries where people live, but throughout the region and around the rest of the world.'" France 24, 10 March 2008. (Same as this report in the Herald Sun (Melbourne), 10 March 2008.)
     "The BBC faces 'significant difficulties' in winning the Arab world over when it launches its TV news channel next week, according to media experts on the region. ... Dr Makram Khoury-Machool, a lecturer in media studies at Cambridge University, said the reaction would depend on how much it would be seen as 'a mouthpiece for the British Government'. ... Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi, chairman of Arab Media Watch, which campaigns for objective British coverage of Arab issues, said the BBC’s presenting style might not sit well with Arab audiences. '[They] like and are used to a certain style. The BBC is seen as a more sanitised version of coverage where with the others you see more graphic imagery, more opinionated – it’s something Arabs watch and trust.'" Press Gazette, 10 March 2008.
     "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) welcomes the addition of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) into the vibrant Arabic television marketplace with the launch of its Arabic Television Channel next week. ... 'Both Alhurra and BBC Arabic television come from long, well-tested journalistic traditions. More journalistic media choices can only further empower viewers in the Middle East who are seeking accurate and objective news and information,' said Brian Conniff, President of the Middle East Broadcast Networks (MBN) that incorporate Alhurra Television." BBG press release, 6 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

VOA's partner in Mogadishu closed again.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US government strongly condemned on Friday the closure of Somalia radios and the arrest of Shabelle Radio's director Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe amid continuing media crack down in the country?s capital Mogadishu after the security forces attacked three main stations in the capital last weekend. ... The closure and temporary cessation of broadcasts from Radio Shabelle, Horn Afrik, and Radio Simba marks another disturbing instance of the interruption of free media in Somalia." SomaliNet, 7 March 2008.

Is Radio/TV Martí a works project for Cuban American voters?

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"A taxpayer-funded 'embargo industry' ... employs hundreds, if not thousands, whose livelihoods depend on Cuba remaining, well — Cuba. It began during the Reagan years with appropriations for Radio and TV Marti that today top $500 million to beam U.S. propaganda into Cuba. In the case of TV Marti, even $225 million can't buy Cuban viewers since the Cuban government jams the signal. But a half a billion bucks does buy jobs, contracts and political loyalties." Lissa Weinmann, Foreign Policy in Focus, 7 March 2008.

Former Aljazeera broadcaster wins unfair-dismissal suit in Qatar court.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Yvonne Ridley, the former Express journalist who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been awarded nearly £14,000 in damages after winning a four-year unfair dismissal case against Arabic TV station al-Jazeera. ... Ridley claimed she was dismissed after complaining about the removal of stories she had published about the behaviour of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on al-Jazeera's English-language website. ... [Ridley] now works for the Iranian-based 24-hour English language news channel PressTV, where she fronts her own London-based current affairs show, The Agenda." The Guardian, 6 March 2008.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar no longer letting Aljazeera come between them.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Saudi Arabia will restore full diplomatic relations with Qatar. "The dispute between the Saudi and Qatari sides stemmed from criticism of the Saudi royal family aired on Al Jazeera satellite television channel. The origins of Al Jazeera form a tale of coincidence and intrigue that arguably says more about Qatar's international relations at the time of Al Jazeera's birth than any altruistic desire for a free press." Business Intelligence Middle East, 10 March 2008.

Israel "fed up" with Aljazeera (updated).

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Fed-up with Al-Jazeera's 'unprofessional' behavior in its recent coverage of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and other government bodies are refusing to deal with the Arabic television station. 'The State of Israel will be reviewing our relationship with Al-Jazeera.'" CNSNews.com, 5 March 2008. Update: "Al-Jazeera itself has a very selective interpretation of press freedom: one that allows it to brazenly broadcast exaggerated and outright false reports about Israel, but not give proper critical coverage to either its own sponsors in the Qatari regime or the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Hamas rulers of Gaza." Calev Ben-David, Jerusalem Post, 6 March 2008.

Israel should broadcast internationally. Actually, Israel has broadcast internationally for the past half century.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"At present, Israel does not posses communications media - neither radio, nor television - capable of transmitting the pictures and voices of Israel beyond a short range from our borders. The Foreign Ministry and the IDF Spokesperson have improved their treatment of Arab journalists stationed here, but with the lack of appropriate mass media tools in Israel, the skies above the Middle East are ruled by Arab satellites, their broadcasts reaching Europe and beyond. I'm not talking about propaganda. An independent, commercially funded communications network needs to be set up, broadly along the lines of Al-Jazeera or Al-Arabiya, capable of broadcasting to extensive audiences; and not affiliated with the Israeli government." Nachman Shai, Jerusalem Post, 5 March 2008. "On March 31, 2008, Kol Yisrael will cease all shortwave broadcasts abroad. From April 1, 2008, listeners can continue to hear our programs on the Web at: www.intkolisrael.com. In addition to real-time listening, previously broadcast programs will be accessible over a 24-hour period. Kol Yisrael's broadcasts can also be heard on the Web site: www.iba.org.il/reka" Israel Broacaasting Authority website. "IBA have been making such announcements at regular intervals for several years, but in the past there have always been last minute reprieves for SW. Maybe this time it`s for real. Dave Kenny, BDXC-UK via DX Listening Digest, DX Listening Digest, 8 March 2008. Contrary to the Jerusalem Post article, Kol Israel has had an international shortwave service since the 1950s. If it is finally dropped, perhaps most conspicuously missed would be its Persian Service. Kol Israel also has some unique services for the Diaspora, such as broadcasts in Ladino.

Vatican multimedia international.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Vatican is also increasingly making use of the Internet. The main Vatican Web page is one of the most visited in the world, but perhaps fewer are familiar with the material available from a number of the Vatican congregations that have developed their own Web sites. ... Vatican Radio is not confined to the realm of short-wave transmissions, making available on its Web page a broad range of audio material ready to be downloaded by those interested in accessing the content via Internet." Zenit, 9 March 2008.

Find the shortwave radio: VOA FM partner in Cameroon taken off the air (updated).

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Police in the capital, Yaoundé, today forced a popular radio station off the air and confiscated its equipment over commentary critical of the government during a call-in program, according to local journalists. Magic FM is the third broadcaster summarily closed by authorities within a week in response to critical coverage of public demonstrations fueled by a rise in prices and President Paul Biya’s bid to seek another term in office... ... Magic FM, a leading station in Yaoundé that partners with the U.S. government-funded Voice of America, is known for its pointed political coverage." Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 February 2008. Also try to find a VOA shortwave transmission, which will be more difficult at the end of this month, when IBB quits its Morocco relay. Update: "Polycarpe Essomba, a correspondant for Radio France Internationale in Douala, was forced to go into hiding due to the threats he and his family received during the crisis." International Federation of Journalists, 7 March 2008.

An unusually well informed North Korean.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"An apparatchik North Korean official ... was lean and smoked Marlboro lights. The American brand cigarettes and his talk of listening to the BBC and Voice of America made it clear he was one of the elite. His job, as best we could tell, was bossing the many 'minders' assigned to various press people." Barry Peterson, CBS News, 10 March 2008.

ABU to honor Peter Senger for his DRM work.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union will honor Peter Senger, chairman of the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium, and director DRM [sic], Deutsche Welle, with a lifetime achievement award at the ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium. ... The ABU award recognizes Senger’s commitment and long-time contribution to the development of the DRM standard. The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union says the DRM system has the potential to bring about a revolution in the radio broadcasting industry in Asia-Pacific region, given that many of the world’s large medium-wave and shortwave broadcasters operate there." ABU, 7 March 2008. Senger was director of engineering at DW until 2002.

Shortwave departing just as shortwave radios become cheaper, smaller, better.

Posted: 10 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Shortwave radio is rapidly becoming a museum concept and historical artifact, right next to telegrams and postal letters. Among the reasons ... were a declining audience (an aging one, too, I suspect), the rise of online news and music, and the cost of running those multi-megawatt transmitters and their corresponding antenna farms. The irony is that today's shortwave receiver is far cheaper, smaller and better than those of just a decade ago. ... Broadcast radio is still a very cost-effective way to reach remote, isolated and relatively poor regions with news, music and education." Bill Schweber, EE Times, 7 March 2008.

Iran sentences Radio Farda reporter in absentia (updated).

Posted: 08 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima was sentenced by an Iranian court yesterday to one year in prison, after being convicted of spreading anti-state propaganda.' Azima, a citizen of both Iran and the U.S., has returned to work with Radio Farda in Prague after spending eight months as a 'virtual prisoner' in the country in 2007. She now faces a stark choice -- return to Iran to serve the sentence, or forfeit the deed to her 95-year old mother's home in Tehran, which was turned over to the Iranian Judiciary in lieu of 510 million toomans ($550,000) in bail." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 2 March 2007. "Her lawyer told the ISNA news agency she was sentenced to jail in absentia on charges including spreading propaganda against Iran's Islamic government system and acting against national security, the ISNA news agency said. Lawyer Mohammad Hossein Aghasi said she had been acquitted of other charges including making illegitimate money and keeping a satellite dish, which is illegal in Iran." Reuters, 3 March 2008. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 March 2008. Update: Broadcasting Board of Governors condemns. BBG press release, 4 March 2008. "Filthy trick." New York Sun, 6 March 2008. "Naturally, little has been heard of the student uprising [at Shiraz University in central Iran during the past two weeks] on official Iranian media. But Radio Farda, a Persian-language, 24/7 radio service financed by the U.S., interviewed some of the demonstrators inside the campus." Pajamas Media, 5 March 2008. See Radio Farda video via Los Angeles Times Babylon & Beyond blog, 8 March 2008.

In Armenia, listening to RFE/RL sort of like the old days (updated: or not).

Posted: 06 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"When the [main] evening program of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Armenian Service begins, thousands of people in taxis, shops, at homes and in the streets try to tune in to listen to 'real news'. 'I don’t believe any information reported by television,' Anahit, a vendor at one of the shops in the city’s suburban district, says. Despite the working hour, together with her coworkers she listens to the [US-funded] radio station." ArmeniaNow.com, 29 February 2008. One big difference is that "Radio Azatutyun" now has FM affiliates throughout Armenia, so no need for shortwave. "Armenia is regularly advertised on international tourism markets. ... Since 2006 Armenia has been advertised on CNN and Euronews channels." ArmeniaNow.com, 29 February 2008. "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasts to Armenia are off the air since Saturday midnight and its Internet site has been blocked in a blackout on independent news, imposed as part of a state of emergency that went into effect on March 2." RFE/RL press release, 3 March 2008. No replacement shortwave frequencies listed at the RFE/RL website, yet. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 March 2008. Update: Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) strongly objects. BBG press release, 5 March 2008. See also VOA News, 5 March 2008.

New co-production deal for VOA in Bangladesh.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The broadcasting of news bulletin produced jointly by Radio Today FM 89.6 and Voice of America (VOA) started on Monday, says a press release. Henceforth the entire English bulletin will be broadcast at 9:45pm and only the international part of the news will be broadcast at 11:45pm directly from the Washington studio of Voice of America." Daily Star (Dhaka), 5 March 2008. At celebration of the 50th anniversary of the VOA Bangla Service, US Charge d'affaires Geeta Pasi lauded "the VOA's standards as the yardstick [and] said the station's success lies in its rigid standards of using several independent sources, accurate and fair reporting, and presenting a comprehensive view to its readers. VOA broadcasters set aside their personal and political views while performing official duties, she added." Daily Star, 5 March 2008.

And he wasn't telling the Czechoslovakians about theater in America.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Czech prime minister's medal for "Ivan Medek, journalist, musician and former head of president Vaclav Havel's office. ... Renowned journalist Medek devoted his whole life to battling the lack of freedom in any form. However, he views his work at the Voice of America radio station from which he addressed Czechs for nearly 15 years before the fall of communist as the most important period." CTK, 5 March 2008. During the Cold War, VOA, on the strength of its medium wave transmitter in Munich, and its coverage of Czechoslovakian domestic affairs, had a larger audience in Czechoslovakia than RFE.

FAIR takes issue with NPR coverage of Radio Sawa question.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"A recent NPR news segment (Weekend Edition, 2/23/08) that dismissed an Iraqi journalist's question about the pressing issue of U.S. immunity from prosecution suggests that critical journalism may be a foreign language to the public radio broadcaster. On its website, NPR summarized the segment as a look at U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey's Baghdad news conference, which featured questions from 'enthusiastic and sometimes incomprehensible Iraqi reporters.' The lead example NPR cited of such an 'incomprehensible' question was actually a perfectly sensible one--posed, through a translator, by a journalist for Radio Sawa, a U.S. government-funded radio station in Iraq." Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, 4 March 2008.

Public diplomacy on the campaign trail.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Barack Obama's counterterrorism plan ... prominently features the need for better public diplomacy and engagement with the 'crucial debate.. taking place within Islam'. ... John McCain, for his part, talks about creating a 'single, independent public diplomacy agency' to reverse our 'unilateral disarmament in the war of ideas.' ... But Hillary Clinton.... nothing. Her Foreign Affairs essay says not a single word about public diplomacy or the war of ideas." Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark blog, 3 March 2008. Might be something to be said for not holding up public diplomacy as the quick solution to our foreign policy woes. Ironically, close Clinton advisor Evelyn Lieberman was the first under secretary of State for public diplomacy. See also Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner blog, 5 March 2008. "University of Maryland Professor Thomas Schaller explained that Sen. Barack Obama could become part of America's new 'soft power,' as approval of U.S. policies worldwide has been declining in recent years." China Post (Taipei), 6 March 2008. "Professor Henry R. Nau referred to the ... 'soft power' option as 'Lilliputian diplomacy,' alluding to the small-peopled nation in 'Gulliver’s Travels,' and agreed ... 'there is no diplomacy without a show of credible force.'" Kami Dalton, Human Events, 6 March 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Calling the victims of North Korean abductions.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"JSR Shiokaze radio is broadcast once in the morning, once in the evening for 30 minutes. There are editions in Japanese, Korean, English and Chinese, rotated on a regular basis. It includes the latest news about the abduction issue, messages to those abducted and appeals for help in finding them." BBC News, 5 March 2008. If Radio Free Asia Korean achieves a good medium wave signal into North Korea, this might work better as a weekly program on RFA. Or as time leased, late at night, on a Japanese medium wave station audible in North Korea. (Japan has never used MW for external broadcasting, so that precedent would have to be broken.)

For coverage of the U.S. election, watch the U.K. channel.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"At 10 p.m., when Senator John McCain went on the air as the official Republican nominee and denounced his Democratic opponents’ primary process as 'an uncivil brawl for the spoils of power,' BBC America showed his speech live, and so did all the cable networks. The networks ignored it. The BBC wasn’t as quick on all breaking news — it didn’t bother to call Vermont for Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain at 7 p.m. the way CNN and the other American cable news shows did. But it did stay on the election, offering a long, somewhat pitying feature about economic conditions in Ohio." Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, 5 March 2008.

Moscow calling, again.

Posted: 05 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Flush with foreign reserves from oil and natural gas sales, the Kremlin is pumping tens of millions of dollars into various forms of public diplomacy. They include new media ventures to target international audiences; foundations to promote Russian language and culture around the world; conferences to charm Western opinion-makers; and nongovernmental organizations that are setting up shop in Western capitals to scrutinize the failings of Western democracy. ... Russia Today, a news channel set up in April 2005, is broadcasting in English and Arabic and planning to expand into Spanish. At first glance it looks a lot like CNN, but it can be a breathless cheerleader for the Kremlin." Washington Post, 6 March 2008. Better, and more balanced, than the old Radio Moscow, though.

More radio and television choices in Africa.

Posted: 05 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
New report by Balancing Act and InterMedia documents expansion in number of radio and television stations in Africa. "The most striking trend in terms of audiences is the rise in radio listenership. There is a huge appetite for FM music radio; consumers also hunger for entertainment television." InterMedia press release, 5 March 2008. InterMedia evolved from the old RFE/RL audience research office in Munich. It's now in Washington and has the contract for almost all the audience research for U.S. government funded international broadcasting.

BBC Arabic television positions itself, delicately.

Posted: 05 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nigel Chapman, BBC World Service director, said that the channel would 'cover the Arab world for the Arab world' and that this would be reflected in the way in which stories such as the violence in Gaza were presented. Despite Britain’s support for the United States-led invasion of Iraq, the BBC’s Arabic radio service, established more than 70 years ago, has maintained its credibility. However, reports on the television service must not demonstrate any 'pro-Arab' bias and should be editorially consistent with other BBC output." Adam Sherwin, The Times, 6 March 2008. See previous post about BBC Arabic TV.

Art imitates shortwave.

Posted: 05 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Recent experimental theater in Toronto include "a moving sound and movement piece featuring Turing at his Second World War listening post, scanning the airwaves on a shortwave radio. The other three performers positioned themselves behind microphones on the other side of the stage, mimicking the static, song and voices he picked up as he fiddled with the dials." Globe and Mail, 4 March 2008.

In Afghanistan, think twice about SMS as a news medium (updated).

Posted: 05 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Taliban militants destroyed a least three telecom towers in southern Afghanistan over the weekend after warning phone companies to shut down their signals at night or face attacks. The Taliban claims international forces track its members using signals from mobile phones, the principal means of communication in the war-torn country. ... Destruction of the telecommunication towers will affect thousands of cell-phone users in southern Afghanistan, including the Taliban itself, who rely on mobile phones for communications among its militants." RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan, 3 March 2008. Update: "A ... plan for Afghanistan is to drop cheap cell phones, that can also receive radio broadcasts, in Taliban dominated areas. These broadcasts would come from U.S. psyops aircraft or blimps overhead, that would transmit useful programming (weather reports, health, farming religious messages from moderate imams, husbandry tips and local and national news). The cell phone would only be able to call the equivalent of 911, which would be manned by the Afghan police." Strategy Page, 6 March 2008. With cell towers either destroyed, or never existing nearby, would the aircraft serve as the cell relays?

Radio Farda's new SMS service.

Posted: 04 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Farda, a U.S.-funded, Persian language broadcaster has launched a new text messaging service (SMS) for Iranians and is getting comments from hundreds of listeners on subjects ranging from politics to music to jokes. Radio Farda Editorial Director Golnaz Esfandiari says the SMS, launched on February 29, was an instant hit: 'In less than three days, we received over 300 messages from Marivan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tehran and many other places.' She said listeners are sending praise and criticism of Radio Farda programs, as well as comments on the forthcoming March 14 parliamentary elections and a range of problems in Iran." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 4 March 2008. "Earlier this year, the government appeared to be mounting a campaign to curb SMS, with the 'mobile phone police' controversy mentioned above coupled with threats by the judiciary to prosecute people who send overtly political messages. The impetus of this campaign appears to have subsided, however, and no remarks of this kind have been heard for some months. The official policy now seems to be to come to terms with and accommodate the SMS phenomenon, even if the flow of text messages represents a direct challenge to the state media monopoly and the political and social restrictions that are in place." Middle East Online, 22 January 2008. "In a move to control all information exchange on the day of the upcoming March 14, Majlis (parliamentary) elections, Vafa Ghafaryan the CEO of the Telecommunication Company of Iran said that all SMS contacts will be controlled by his staff." National Council of Resistance of Iran, 5 February 2008.

New VOA Amharic morning show.

Posted: 04 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America's (VOA) Amharic Service has launched a new morning radio show, offering an additional half-hour of up-to-the-minute news and information to millions of VOA listeners throughout Ethiopia. ... The morning show airs live, Monday-Friday at 0300 UTC (6:00 a.m. local) via shortwave." VOA press release, 3 March 2008. No frequencies provided, but according to the VOA frequency schedule, they are 7220, 9730, and 13605 kHz.

Granted, there is something alluring about yellow buses.

Posted: 04 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"He started listening to the French service of Voice of America radio and was amazed to learn that elementary and secondary education in America is free. 'On top of that they have yellow buses that pick them up and take them to school all the time. The place I grew up, I had to walk for two hours to get to school. So I say that's (America is) a heaven for me,' Baba Moussa said. He decided to come to the United States to get an education in economics but first needed to learn English. He knew French and five Benin languages, and later learned German. He saved money for many weeks to buy an English newspaper. He taped the English version of the news off the Voice of America and would listen to his tapes over and over, picking out words and then finding them in the newspaper and a dictionary to learn their meanings." Wenatchee (WA) World, 3 March 2008.

Well, Canada would be the "frontline" of the USA (updated).

Posted: 04 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Canadian TV journalist and documentary-maker Avi Lewis is now with Al Jazeera's English-language news service as the host of its weekly news magazine show Frontline USA. The U.S.-produced program will look at the issues facing the presidential election, such as poverty, violence and health, as well as look at how U.S. policies have had an impact on other countries." Globe and Mail, 28 February 2008. The former CBC host "said he has found his work so far 'pretty difficult,' with public officials refusing to talk to him on the record for fear of political repercussions." National Post, 27 February 2008. "The Western media is failing to correct serious factual errors about Islam and the Middle East, according to" Aljazeera English anchor Sami Zeidan. Press Gazette, 27 February 2008. Ibrahim Hilal of the Al Jazeera English said, the 9/11 has made a drastic change in the attitude of the global media which are now easily excited by the very mention of the word 'terror attacks'." The Peninsula, 27 February 2008. Update: The first episode of Frontline: USA examines the effects of Hurricane Katrina, exploring why America failed to protect its poorest citizens and how this affects the way New Orleans will vote in the upcoming election. Torontoist, 3 March 2008 (with video).

Running water for your village? That's the other Corps.

Posted: 04 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Highly critical of the administration's public diplomacy efforts, [Barack Obama] has called for opening new U.S. consulates and cultural centers -- many of which were closed under Bush for budgetary and security reasons. In a plan reminiscent of the Peace Corps, he has said he would establish an 'America's Voice Corps' of 'talented young Americans' to spread a positive image overseas." WTOL-TV (Toledo), 3 March 2008.

Now he would have to carry a television and satellite dish in his backpack.

Posted: 04 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"In April 2006, Brandon Wilson began a 2,620-mile walk to promote peace on a path where Crusaders waged a religious war more than nine centuries ago. On the six-month trek from northern France to Israel he found that most people he encountered wanted peace. ... Alone, he hiked through central Turkey, listening to the BBC every evening on a short-wave radio he acquired along the way." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4 March 2008. He was hiking through the area to which BBC just ended its shortwave broadcasts. See previous post.

BBC announces 11 March start date for its Arabic television (updated).

Posted: 04 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Initially broadcast for 12 hours a day, the television channel is part of the BBC's integrated multimedia news service for the Arab world. It will move to 24/7 in the summer and is the BBC's first publicly-funded international television service. BBC Arabic is already available on air and on-demand 24 hours a day, seven days a week on radio, on the internet through bbcarabic.com, on mobiles and on handheld computers – in whatever way best suits the audience. ... BBC Arabic television is distributed on the Arabsat, Eutelsat and Nilesat satellite systems. ... 'BBC Arabic is already renowned for reporting more than just conflict and politics. BBC Arabic aims to continue to broaden the news agenda for audiences in the region. It will reflect the breadth of the Arab audience's interests.'" BBC World Service press release, 3 March 2008.
     Update: "Arab critics have questioned whether the BBC can succeed in a region where Britain is sometimes viewed with animosity, given its involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But [BBC World Service director Nigel] Chapman said the World Service's radio broadcasts, which have been beamed into the region in Arabic since the 1930s, had established the BBC's credibility. Faisal Abbas, media editor at Asharq al-Awsat, an Arabic language newspaper based in London, said the new channel could be handicapped by broadcasts that will be limited initially to half the day. 'We're not in 1998, we're in 2008,' he said. 'Now you have many strong media brands in the region. It's not only about content, it's also about practicality.'" International Herald Tribune, 3 March 2008.
     "On potentially controversial decisions such as the screening of videos from al-Qaida, or footage of deceased British soldiers, Chapman said it would follow 'exactly the same editorial values as any other part of the BBC'. He said he was reserving judgment on recent moves by the Arab League to draw up a new code of conduct for the media. He promised the channel would be 'careful about religious sensitivities and cultural sensitivities without using that as a way of watering down the BBC's determination to do strong journalism which is fair to all parties'." The Guardian, 4 March 2008.
     Tory MP Philip Davies: "I can't see what the point of it is. We seemed to have managed without one and I don't see what the need is to throw £25million into it. ... I'm not entirely sure I would share their confidence that all the punters out there will think it is marvellously impartial, particularly given that it is funded by the Foreign Office. I can't see Osama Bin Laden giving his latest tapes over to the BBC." Daily Mail, 3 March 2008.
     "The channel's launch comes 11 years after a previous attempt by the BBC to set up an Arabic television station in the Middle East ended in failure following editorial disagreements with its Saudi backers." The Telegraph, 4 March 2008.
     "Critics say the BBC has little chance of supplanting the established al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya channels and would have to avoid offending Arab Governments to survive. Ten World Service radio stations, mainly in Eastern Europe, have been axed to fund the channel." The Times, 4 March 2008.
     "The BBC will certainly give al-Jazeera a run for its money." Editorial, Middle East Times, 4 March 2008.
     "Few, however, doubt the Qatari broadcaster's dominance. Although its structure has been shaped by the 1994 BBC project, Al Jazeera has developed a confrontational style all its own, feeding into the region's increasingly tense social and political realities. 'The Arab street is emotional," says [Gallup's Jihad] Fakhreddine, 'and the emotional attachment to Al Jazeera is unprecedented.'" Menassat, 4 March 2008.

Amid all that coursework, don't forget what the audience wants.

Posted: 03 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and the Columbian College of Arts and Science's School of Media and Public Affairs will launch a master's degree in global communication in fall 2008. The new graduate program will help students understand the complex global information environment; its implications for governance, security, and business; and how to communicate effectively to global audiences."
GWU press release, 29 February 2008.

War of words: public affairs versus strategic information.

Posted: 03 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Strategic' information operations prosecuted overseas and targeted against terrorist propaganda have not been allowed to develop and mature because they were perceived as bureaucratic threats to the traditional public affairs function of our government. Ironically, efforts to get strategic information operations off the ground were countered by aggressive public affairs campaigns against them inside our own government. If we are serious about actually winning the war on terror, we must implement and sustain widespread and effective information operations and public diplomacy programs at both the local and strategic level. This effort has very little in common with dealing with the various press corps and is simply not the work for press secretaries and traditional public affairs people." Daniel Gallington, Washington Times, 2 March 2008.
     A central point is trying to escape from this vaguely worded op-ed. The writer seems to be suggesting that President Bush's "public affairs team" is preventing the Pentagon from carrying out its information operations. Really? The writer also regrets that the Pentagon was not able to keep its Office of Strategic Information.
     Maybe, however, the White House public affairs team has a point. It could be problematic to have the Defense Department, the State Department, and maybe some future replacement for USIA, all speaking for U.S. policies as each would like those policies to be. This could result in a "war of words" entirely within the U.S. government.
     Just sketching a few notes on the back of my napkin: 1) Broad U.S. foreign policy should be determined by the White House and NSC. 2) Those policies should be advocated and explained globally by the State Department public diplomacy office. This might be done by a reconstituted USIA, but the effort would be basically the same, save for the addition of a new layer of senior bureaucracy. 3) The Defense Department should support its operations and promote U.S. policies to enemy military personnel and local civilians, but only in areas of U.S. military activity. 4) U.S. international broadcasting should cater to the audience's need for credible news. As such, USIB would not be guided by policy. It would, however, report on those policies, thus helping foreign publics understand U.S. policies. 5) There may also be covert "black" communications efforts that claim to be one thing, but really are something else. The less we know about them, the better. Keep in mind that people are not so easily fooled.

CNN's international expansion includes the UAE.

Posted: 03 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with CNN International executive VP Tony Maddox. "Q: More and more international channels are entering the Middle East market, NDTV Arabia being the latest entry, with most making Dubai as their base. What is CNN’s strategy to deal with this increasing competition? Maddox: We welcome the global expansion of news channels as it gives the viewer choice and helps maintain and improve journalistic standards. CNN trusts that viewers will choose the brand that delivers balanced, accurate, objective news." Khaleej Times (Dubai), 3 March 2008.

Five years of Al-Arabiya.

Posted: 03 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television, one of two leading pan-Arab satellite news channels, marked its fifth anniversary on Monday saying it was targeting every Arabic speaker across the globe. ... 'Al-Jazeera expresses a populist view that champions the culture of resistance and tries to be popular and populist at the same time, whereas Al-Arabiya speaks for what is known as the “Arab moderate bloc" led by Saudi Arabia and tries to be both popular and conservative, while occasionally flirting with populism,' said Lebanese journalist Abdul Wahhab Badrakhan. ... As Al-Arabiya looks to build on the achievements of its relatively short life, the competition will, if anything, toughen, with the anticipated launch of an Arabic television channel by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) later this month" AFP, 3 March 2008.

WorldSpace: too many opportunities?

Posted: 03 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Omar Jaffrey, a senior analyst at UBS Investment Bank, on WorldSpace: "They have 25 MHz of bandwidth, and it is all in the sky. They now have a couple of very good partners, and they have to build on these and put fresh cash in place. They've got good people, and in some regards their biggest issue is that they've lots of opportunities. Perhaps too many, given that they're trying to be active in the Middle East, in Europe, China, India, South Africa. They are on the right path, and I think they have the ability to raise this cash although the climate isn't good right now." Rapid TV News, 2 March 2008.

Of course they will.

Posted: 03 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"The First Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top political advisory body, will open on Monday afternoon. ... The China National Radio, China Central Television and China Radio International will broadcast live the opening ceremony." Xinhua, 3 March 2008.

Public diplomacy in body armor.

Posted: 02 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"I’ll be the Public Diplomacy Officer at [the Provincial Reconstruction Team, Ninewa, Iraq]. My next article will provide more details about the actual work that I’m doing. For now, know that I’ve got my body armor and I’m ready to get to work building relationships and share our story with Iraqi citizens in Mosul. Public Diplomacy is all about reaching out to the Iraqi community members to engage them in programs that will inform them about U.S. culture and provide opportunities for average citizens from both countries to learn about each other -- that’s my mission for the next 12 months!" Diane Crow, Hillsdale (MI) Daily News, 1 March 2008.

A visit to Aljazeera.

Posted: 02 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"We were lucky to be able to visit the headquarters of the Al Jazeera television network in Doha. Al Jazeera, although only about a decade old, has established itself as an alternative to other TV networks. It gives multiple opinions and hosts debates on news and world issues. It aims to be the voice of the voiceless, the spokesperson told us. The buildings for the Arabic language and English networks are separated. The sheik of Qatar himself poured out US$150 million for the establishment of the network. In doing this, he made it clear to the board that the network should remain independent or else it would be dissolved. On their wall, there are stories on Al Jazeera's reporters who died or were kidnapped in the line of duty." Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, Jakarta Post, 2 March 2008.

More comparing and contrasting the international news channels.

Posted: 02 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Jamal Dajani, producer of "Mosaic" on Link TV: "A lot of Israelis were watching Al-Jazeera because the IBA (Israel Broadcasting Authority) was being censored. So if you were curious, and wanted to know where [Hezbollah’s] rockets were actually landing, you had to watch Al-Jazeera. ... I read British media, and watch France’s TV 5 on a regular basis. I can see the difference in coverage on the Arab-Israeli front, on the Iraqi front daily. Compared to the BBC to CNN, or Deutsche Welle, which we air here [at Link TV] and they’re light years ahead of the American media. But are they more Arab-friendly? Yes and no. Sometimes France’s TV 5 will go out of their way to be pro-Israel in their coverage." Zeek, March 2008.

How a Chinese manufacturer helps a Burmese resistance movement (updated).

Posted: 02 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"When [Burmese dissident] Tun Myint Aung shifts from one safehouse to another, he goes armed with two items that have become indispensable. They are a mobile phone and a portable, Chinese-made radio, to listen to such anti-junta stations like the Democratic Voice of Burma, based in Oslo, Norway. ... 'Through them I stay in touch with people outside, my friends, and follow the news about events in the country.' But his Tecsum shortwave radio has taken on added value in military-ruled Myanmar's current oppressive climate. 'The radio has become a social weapon for me and for our movement,' added Tun Myint Aung over the phone, an act that could get him jailed. 'It is how the messages against the military regime are broadcast by us and others against them.'" Asia Times, 29 February 2008. The radio brand is actually Tecsun. "'There are sufficient reasons to suspect the junta would prefer to contain, if possible, the overwhelming influence of China.'" Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March 2008. Update: "Several Burmese journalists joined the BBC, VOA and Radio Free Asia (Burmese services); the Democratic Voice of Burma was set up by exiled Burmese in Norway. These Burmese media groups have come of age and have proven themselves powerful in shaping public opinion and informing an international audience. ... Chinese-made radios quickly sold out in Burma as news-hungry people rushed to buy them and listen to news from foreign services. Satellite dishes were installed to receive TV broadcasts from abroad." The Irrawaddy, 1 March 2008.

New RFA Korean medium wave service (updated: VOA, too).

Posted: 02 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Beginning 2 March on 1350 kHz, 1500-1900 and 2100-2200 UTC, or 0000-0400 and 0600-0700 Korean time. S.Hasegawa and subsequent messages in DXLD Yahoo group, 29 February 2008. Update: Dragan Lekic, Serbia, in DX Listening Digest, 1 March 2008, notes expanded VOA Korean medium wave at the VOA frequency schedule. Now on 648 kHz (via one neighboring country) 1300-1500 and 1900-2100 UTC, or 2200-2400 and 0400-0600 Korea time, and on 1350 kHz (via another country, same relay as now used used by RFA), 1200-1300 UTC, or 2100-2200 Korea time. New medium wave not yet listed at RFA Korean web page. Nor yet at the VOA Korean webscast/schedule page. See previous post about VOA/RFA medium wave (or the alleged lack thereof) to North Korea. Second update: Andy Sennitt of Radio Netherlands Media Network writes: "The new 1350 frequency is mentioned on the RFA Korean site, but not on the page you linked. It's actually mentioned here: www.rfa.org/korean/rfa_medium_wave/. Roughly translated by Google, it reads: 'Free Asia broadcasts in March and is more convenient since you are so deuleulsil am Free Asia broadcasts, as a medium-wave broadcasts. ... We have freedom, you have your regular radio broadcasting frequencies to Asia, now hear the poem matchusi than shortwave broadcasts can be clean and rich sound to hear the broadcast. Of course, shortwave broadcasts and the Internet also remain intact, and you can also hear it." Thanks, Andy. I was looking and looking for that page. The Japanese DXers seem to be taking issue with the "clean and rich."

VOA and RFE/RL interview Belarus opposition politician.

Posted: 02 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Former candidate for presidency in Belarus and current political prisoner Alyaksandr Kazulin came back to the Vitsebsk colony No. 3 yesterday. Three days, which were given by the Belarusian regime under the pressure of world community to him to attend his wife’s funeral, have passed. His wife Iryna Kazulina died last Saturday from [heart] disease. ... The Russian service of the Voice of America managed to reach Alyaksandr Kazulin by phone, when the opposition leader, sentenced to 5 and a half years of imprisonment for protest against falsifying presidential election 2006, was going back to the place of imprisonment." Charter 97, 29 February 2008. Also interviewed by RFE/RL, 26 February 2008.

Music as outreach.

Posted: 02 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Editorial mentions Van Cliburn in Moscow 50 years ago, the New York Philharmonic in Pyongyang in February, and Willis Conover on VOA. "As Americans have witnessed for the past 50 years, when all else fails in the delicate dance of diplomacy, send in the musicians." Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1 March 2008.

In Switzerland, international radio is now domestic.

Posted: 01 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
"Organizationally, SSR-SRG idée Suisse is a holding company for regional radio and television companies, SwissTXT and news agency Swiss Info, the successor to short-wave service Swiss Radio International (SRI). ... The national channel, World Radio Switzerland (WRS), is an English-language service that emphasizes integrating foreigners into Swiss society. It functionally replaces WRG FM, a local Geneva station partially owned by French-speaking public broadcaster Radio Suisse Romande and the BBC World Service, which has been liquidated. WRS is heard on the same FM frequency once used by WRG as well as the DAB multiplexes operated by SSR-SRG." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 1 March 2008. A privately owned successor to Swiss Radio International is Switzerland in Sound.

Pentagon's public diplomacy official says the State Department is incapable of sending information from Iraq to Europe.

Posted: 01 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
At a Heritage Foundation event on public diplomacy, 13 February, Michael Doran, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Support to Public Diplomacy, discussed the proposal to create a new agency to revive the functions of the old U.S. Information Agency. As successes for the U.S. effort in Iraq occur, he posited, how could these be communicated to publics in, say, Europe? "State isn't resourced properly to do that. And also State is not organized to look at what's going on in Iraq and to put this out in Europe.... There does need to be some agency that is resourced and has the authorities to engage in this kind of informational struggle." Heritage Foundation, 13 February 2008.
     What on earth is he talking about? Doesn't State already have a presence in Iraq? Isn't State constructing a big-box embassy in Baghdad? I always understood that State and its embassies keep in touch through cables. And the U.S. embassies in Europe have spokespersons, press attachés, and the modern means of public relations.
     There were State Department employees at the Heritage event. I know they're supposed to be diplomatic, but I would have been tempted at least to cough noisily if claptrap were spoken about my agency.
     A new agency would do exactly the same thing as State does now. It would do so through U.S. embassies and with the approval of U.S. ambassadors. The only difference would be the addition of a hefty new layer of senior bureaucracy. That's pretty much why Senator Helms got rid of USIA.

RFE/RL president wants to expand "surrogate" broadcasting to Africa.

Posted: 01 Mar 2008   Print   Send a link
Answering a question from a Nigerian during his presentation to the CSIS on 14 February, Jeffery Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said: "I personally believe that there’s a very compelling case for more surrogate broadcasting. And you said it best, including in your country you know better than I, it’s not just philanthropy, it’s the strategic interest of the United States. ... And so, you know, with me you’re pushing on an open door, and if you want to give me your card and we’ll visit our board and we’ll stop by Congress and we’re ready to do business." See CSIS transcript. Oh oh. And as if this idea were not bad enough, it has also prompted me to write this commentary.

Memories of VOA Delano.

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"After 23,000 days of continuous transmissions, the station is empty and silent. This past July, its management authority, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, made the decision to shut it down permanently at the end of October. Among the VOA’s international broadcasting assets, Delano is unique. It’s the last of three such stations hastily constructed under extreme wartime restrictions and shortages for the express purpose of providing permanent shortwave broadcasting capability for the Office of War Information, the VOA’s precursor organization." James E. O'Neal, Radio World, 1 March 2008. And much more history of the VOA Delano, California, shortwave transmitting station in this very good article.

Information and misinformation about South Korean broadcasts to North Korea.

Posted: 29 Feb 2008   Print   Send a link
"Free North Korea Radio, based in Seoul, South Korea, broadcasts news of the outside world across the border. ... The radio program is three hours, but ... hopes to expand to five hours daily, broadcasting during the evenings and late at night, when he believes that most North Koreans are able to tune in. But running a radio station is expensive, and FNK Radio relies on donations from South Korean citizens as well as an annual grant indirectly from Washington, through the National Endowment for Democracy. Though funding is sometimes a struggle, they believe that the broadcast is vital to North Korea because the South Korean government stopped its own radio broadcasts into the country under the 'Sunshine Policy' instituted by former President Kim Dae Jung in 1988." CNN, 27 Febnruary 2008.
     This is the second time in a week that we have been told that South Korea no longer broadcasts to North Korea. What really happened is that, in August 2007, the Korean Broadcasting System's Social Education Service changed its name to KBS Global Korean Network. The GKN is nominally directed to Koreans living in the northeast Asian region, e.g. China and easetrn Russia. But its 500 and 1500 kilowatt medium wave transmitters still blanket North Korea with powerful signals.
     As part of South Korea's recent policy to minimize confrontation with the North, KBS Global Korean Network is not Overthrow Kim Jong-il Radio. I don't think GKN self-censors news about North Korea, but I'll check with my Korean confederates about this.
     But even if GKN makes no mention of North Korea, it still offers something very subversive to North Korean listeners: normalcy. Instead on martial music, a Korean love song. Instead of yet another talk prasing the accomplishments of the Dear Leader, a soap opera. Instead of a newscast consisting only of the claimed successes of the Pyongyang regime, a newscast telling listeners what is really happening in the world.
     The other KBS radio stations, intended for South Korea, are probably also audible in North Korea. They are even more more normal and thus even more subversive.
     It's interesting that Free North Korea Radio is receiving U.S. government funds to broadcast news about the outside world late at night to North Koreans. U.S. government funded VOA and RFA Korean also broadcast news about the outside world late at night to North Koreans. FNKR and the U.S. international broadcasting will compete simultaneously, dividing the small North Korean shortwave audience between them.