VOA reports on Zogby Arab nations survey.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
A University of Maryland/Zogby International poll in six Arab nations "also looked at some of the public diplomacy efforts the U.S. has launched since the terrorist attacks of 2001, including new radio and television broadcasting services designed to reach large Arab audiences. The survey showed that across the Arab world, viewership of the U.S.-sponsored Al Hurra television service remains at just 2 percent, while the Arab-run Al-Jazeera TV network enjoys a 53 percent share of the Arab audience." VOA News, 29 April 2008. Actually, those are the percentages of respondents who watch the station "most often" for international news. For viewing at least five days a week, it's Aljazeera 60%, Alhurra 9%. See previous post.

Obit: deputy director of the "other" RFA.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Public television pioneer James Day, who created San Francisco's PBS station KQED died of respiratory failure April 24 in New York. He was 89. ... Prior to entering public television, Day was Director of Public Affairs and Education for NBC's San Francisco station, a Civilian Radio Specialist with the Allied Occupation of Japan, and Deputy Director of Radio Free Asia." Variety, 29 April 2008. Refers to the Radio Free Asia of the early 1950s. See previous post.

RFE/RL thanks Belarus online community for help during cyberattack (updated).

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Belarus Service is lauding the country's online journalism community for rallying to the U.S.-funded broadcaster's assistance after its website suffered a crippling cyberattack. ... At the attack's height, RFE/RL websites were receiving up to 50,000 fake hits every second." RFE/RL News, 29 April 2008. The story provides no information about what the Belarus online community did to assist RFE/RL. -- "The broadcaster suggested the government of authoritarian Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko could be behind the attack. 'It's very hard to be certain in these cases but because the target was the Belarus service it does look like it's coming from the Belarus government,' said Diane Zeleny, spokeswoman for the broadcaster. 'For our listeners in Belarus, it's quite dramatic," Zeleny said. "They cannot reach us right now. This is a pretty massive attack.'" AP, 28 April 2008. "While a state-sponsored attack isn't outside the realm of possibility, there was no mention that it might be the grassroots work of Belarusian nationalists. Recent attacks against CNN.com, were the work of Chinese hacktivists who downloaded and installed DDoS applications as a way of registering their displeasure of the news site's recent coverage of demonstrations against the Olympic torch relay. 'Utilizing the bandwidth of the over 200 million nationalism minded Chinese Internet users can greatly outpace any botnet's capacity if coordinated,' researcher Dancho Danchev wrote. To that end, he said, Chinese script kiddies circulated programs such as anticnn.exe and Super DDoS. Attacks such as these were also waged last year against Estonia and are sometimes referred to as 'asymmetric' because a relatively small group of individuals with modest means is able to hobble much a bigger target. It's not hard to imagine that something similar is afoot in Belarus." The Register, 29 April 2008. See also editorial about the "plucky broadcaster," Wall Street Journal, 29 April 2008.
     Our friend Sergei wonders about the phrase "Kosovo in Serbia" in this sentence of the RFE/RL press release: "RFE/RL is taking countermeasures to restore service to affected RFE/RL Internet sites in Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kosovo in Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Croatia, as well as Belarus." Sergei adds: "DOS attacks are very common in Russia and other parts of the former USSR. I believe every noticeable site has already experienced them, including the official sites for the United Russia Party, President Putin, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc. So this is like finding a virus in an email attachement - nothing extraordinary. But I guess it's a nice excuse for heavy self-promotion." See previous post about same subject.
     Update: "State Department spokeswoman Jessica Simon said in an interview with RFE/RL that the attack was 'another example of the assault against free and independent media in Belarus.'" RFE/RL News, 29 April 2008. "So-called 'hacktivist' attacks have become increasingly common and more dangerous in recent years. ... The concept of hacktivism goes back more than 20 years, but a changing internet climate seems to be making the attacks more dangerous and effective." vnunet.com, 30 April 2008.

Why not just attach an antenna to American Eagle 4935 from Miami to Key West?

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), International Broadcasting Bureau (BBG/IBB), as a result of findings of a market survey, intends to negotiate and award a non-competitive contract with Phoenix Air Group, Inc (PAG) Cartersville, GA. The contract will require PAG to provide air services for TV Martí’s airborne broadcasting platform called AeroMartí that is located at the Naval Air Station - Key West, Florida." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 April 2008 citing FedBizOpps.gov, 22 April 2008. -- "Cuba denounced the sustained US radio and TV aggression on Tuesday, and highlighted the recent support of the World Radiocommunication Conference. The conference, held in Geneva in November, concluded that broadcasting to Cuba from US aircraft is in violation of the Radiocommunication Regulations, said Ileana Nunez, Cuban ambassador to the UN." Prensa Latina, 29 April 2008.

Some international broadcasting anniversaries.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
News about international broadcasting history reported by the Radio Netherlands Media Network blog -- Radio Sweden (external service) turns 70 this year. -- Voice of Russia World Service celebrates 30 years on air. -- Radio Prague issues special QSL card for 18 May (anniversary) only -- Radio Nostalgia: LM Radio Museum and Sound Archive (cross-border station from Mozambique to South Africa). -- See also the Radio Netherlands 60th Anniversary page (actually last year). And a 1961 recording of Radio Nederland's "Happy Station" program at the RNW Historical Audio Archive (as noted by Mike Barraclough, May World DX Club Contact via DX Listening Digest, 26 April 2008).

"Dallas" as international broadcasting and public diplomacy.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The impact of 'Dallas' on people's worldviews reminds us that the 'vulgar' popular culture that left-wing highbrows and right-wing cultural conservatives love to hate is every bit as important as chin-stroking politics in fomenting real social change. Whether it's the junkie-rock band Velvet Underground inspiring anti-communist dissidents in Prague, or the movie 'Titanic' inspiring subversive haircut styles in Taliban Afghanistan (the theocrats' Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice regularly rounded up would-be Leonardo DiCaprios), throwaway cultural products influence far-flung cultures in ways that are impossible to predict or control, even (or especially) by the artists themselves. That lesson is more relevant than ever in an increasingly globalized world in which movies, music and more cross borders with impunity -- and the free West engages the semi-free East, whether in China or Iran. For all the talk of boycotts and bombs, if the United States is interested in spreading American values and institutions, a little TV-land may go a lot further than armored personnel carriers." Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, Washington Post, 27 April 2008. "What is today’s Dallas? That is, what definitively American phenomenon is being broadcast to a world-viewership? Furthermore, what does today’s product say about today’s America? Unquestionably, the U.S.’s biggest cultural export is the multimedia spectacle of the current presidential election. In particular, it is the Democratic showdown between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that holds the world’s attention." Abe Greenwald, Commentary website, 28 April 2008.

Actually, much dirt has already been dug.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Not far off is the day when nations employ 'oppo-researchers' to dig up dirt on other countries; to run negative ads; to poll-test their every press release; to switch the colors of their ministers' threads from dull gray to earth tone; to blow every statement, no matter how inoffensive, out of proportion; to, well, run their affairs just like our candidates run their campaigns." Lionel Beehner, USA Today blog, 30 April 2008.

Shopping malls and Leninism.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The century ahead will not be a struggle between China and the United States for global leadership. This is not a balance-of-power gladiatorial contest. There will, however, be a battle of ideas. Does the world want and need Leninism with its shopping malls? Do governments have to lock up dissidents in order to deliver prosperity? Or does the world want the sort of freedom that embraces politics as well as economics?" Chris Patten, Daily Star (Beirut), 30 April 2008.

So Alhurra didn't get this scoop?

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International's Nic Robertson is given exclusive access to film inside Camp Bucca in Iraq in a two-part exclusive showing today on CNN International at 9pm local time. Camp Bucca is the largest American detention facility in Iraq, with nearly 20,000 detainees; two thousand of whom are members of Al-Qaeda." Press release via ArabianBusiness.com, 28 April 2008.

No more XM abroad via AOL.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Around the globe, users of the free 'AOL Radio' on-line music streaming service will find themselves without the popular American XM satellite radio channels, after the agreement between the two firms lapses today. ... For Europeans, 'AOL Radio' provided ... the only chance to tune into some of XM radio's 80+ advertising-free music channels. ... And while XM's online-only subscription dubbed 'XMRO' would in theory provide the same level of service as AOL Radio with XM did, its user agreement is full of references limiting service to 'U.S. Residents' and requiring a 'U.S. mailing address', we suspect for music licensing reasons." The Inquirer, 30 April 2008.

BBC World News drops WLIW as U.S. distributor; WLIW developing competing news program.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News programming will have a new distributor to public-television stations this fall under an agreement struck between the BBC and KCET in Los Angeles. WLIW, a public station on Long Island, N.Y., currently distributes BBC World News programming to more than 200 Public Broadcasting Service affiliates. ... A month ago, a story in The Wall Street Journal indicated BBC Worldwide America chief Garth Ancier planned to 'renegotiate' the distribution terms of BBC World News programming on PBS to avoid undercutting BBC World News America, the flagship nightly news program on BBC America and on the BBC World News channel. The story quoted WLIW general manager Terrel Cass as saying he hoped to persuade the BBC to avoid making such changes." Multichannel News, 28 April 2008. "The New York public television stations WNET and WLIW plan to drop a BBC-produced nightly newscast in the fall and replace it with a new half-hour program focused on international issues that will be produced by WLIW, the station is expected to announce on Wednesday. The weekday program, with the working title 'Your World Tonight,' is also expected to replace 'BBC World News' on an undetermined number of the more than 200 public stations nationwide that carry the BBC program. WLIW has distributed the BBC show to public television since 1998." New York Times, 30 April 2008.

London calling Quebec via Vermont, but maybe not for long.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"French-language news-talk radio station CHLT-FM, located in Sherbrooke and owned by Toronto-based Corus Entertainment, has asked the CRTC to change its frequency from 102.1 FM to 107.7 FM. That's right next door to [Vermont Public Radio's] station WVPS, which broadcasts at 107.9 FM. CHLT has also asked for an increase to its power so it can cover a greater area. According to VPR president Mark Vogelzang, a stronger signal for CHLT, combined with its proposed new frequency, could block the Vermont station's signal in areas like Granby, Cowansville, Knowlton, Lac Brome, Magog, Ayers Cliff and Stanstead. ... 'Our Canadian listeners have been listening to Vermont Public Radio, National Public Radio and the BBC World Service on this frequency since 1980.'" Montreal Gazette, 29 April 2008.

And, of course, hearing VOA was out of the question.

Posted: 30 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
CBS News video journalist Richard Butler, kidnapped from a hotel in Basra, Iraq, in February and held by Shiite militants for two months, said one of his captors "brought me a cheap little radio, which unfortunately, partly due to the fact that it was cheap and nasty and partly due to the fact that BBC World Service is suffering budget cuts like the rest of us in the news media, I wasn't able to get much on it." CBS News, 28 April 2008.

EuroNews censored (or censoring itself) in Russian?

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch Russia: "How is the situation for foreign TV channels? EuroNews, which can be received via satellite, has recently started to broadcast in Russian. Lokshina: EuroNews is indeed broadcasting in Russian but the news format is quite different from the one you used to know from Brussels or their European appearance in general. Although not being dominated by propaganda, their news reporting is at least censored. Moreover, satellite TV can only be accessed by those who are willing to pay, meaning that in the provinces there are only very few people actually able to see this programme." EurActiv.com, 29 April 2008.

Reprieve for TV5 Monde as France reorganizes its international broadcasting.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages and Chair of the Conference of Ministers Responsible for TV5MONDE, was delighted today about the agreement in principle reached by all the partner governments to ensure the future of TV5MONDE. ... This agreement in principle recognizes, among other things, the independence of TV5MONDE and the importance of preserving this important tool for the promotion of the French language and the values of the Francophonie. It opens doors to increased broadcasting of programs from Canada and other countries of the Francophonie on TV5MONDE and makes provisions for cooperative relationships and partnerships with the information channels France 24 and RFI." Canadian Heritage press release, 29 April 2008. See also RadioCanada.ca, 29 April 2008. And La Presse Canadienne, 29 April 2008. See also TV5 Monde website. See previous post about same subject.

DW-TV sways an opinion in Canada.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"I saw a program on Deutsche Welle Television in which they built an overpass at a busy intersection in Europe in a matter of a few days. The piles were drilled earlier and a prefabricated steel structure was installed. In the morning, traffic was crossing over the road. Is this not possible in Canada?" Ed Gunther, letter to Edmonton Journal, 28 April 2008.

Another internet radio review.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"When I was a boy, I wanted a shortwave radio. I was fascinated by the idea of listening to radio programs from around the world. I didn't get one until I was an adult, by which time the reason I had wanted one was diminished: In recent years, most of the national radio services around the world have stopped or cut back on their shortwave broadcasting, opting instead to broadcast via the Web. Britain's BBC is a prime example. Some years ago its World Service stopped broadcasting directly into North America via shortwave. Meanwhile, although radio broadcasters have embraced modern times, with some 10,000 around the world now streaming their programs online, radio makers haven't caught the hint. Why don't more radios feature an Internet connection? The appeal is obvious, if only because tuning in to a broadcast on a computer isn't as easy as flipping on a radio on the nightstand or in your kitchen. This is why I was excited to try the Aluratek Internet Radio Alarm Clock. Priced at $199, the Aluratek is a basic clock radio that can pick up both traditional FM signals as well as Internet broadcasts via an Ethernet cable or your Wi-Fi wireless router." Arik Hesseldahl, Business Week, 29 April 2008. See previous post about internet radios.

Application for domestic shortwave DRM experiment in Alaska.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Digital Aurora Radio Technologies of Delta Junction, AK has applied to the FCC for authorization to experiment with statewide DRM in the 5, 7 and 9 MHz shortwave bands. ... 'The ultimate goal of this project is to provide a terrestrial digital radio service to the citizens of Alaska,' the company said. 'In general, the population of Alaska is underserved with respect to the ability to have a high quality, reliable public radio audio service. This is especially true for sparsely populated areas of the state.' ... A unique element of the proposed station is its use of government surplus over-the-horizon (OTH) radar transmitters." 26MHz.us, 29 April 2008. Benn Kobb is tracking such experimental license applications in his new radiospectrum.info.

Shortwave noise news.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
The American Radio Relay League wins an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals concerning a Federal Communications Commission ruling about Broadband over Power Line (BPL). BPL transmits on shortwave frequencies via unshielded electrical lines, causing interference to broadcasts and amateur radio communications in the shortwave frequencies. ARRL, 25 April 2008. "The Universal Powerline Association [UK] wants to collaborate with service providers, network equipment manufacturers and network operators on the development of the PowerMAX Powerline Communication Standard (PLC). PowerMAX is intended to transport data at 400Mbps+ via electricity cables... Because of its sensitivity to radio interference, PLC remains controversial. It uses a high frequency carrier signal to transmit data along electricity cables. These cables are ill suited to the transmission of high frequency signals because they have very high attenuation at high frequencies and also radiate part of the signal's energy. This can cause interference with radio systems operating on the short wave band – typically 2 to 32MHz. It is not only radio hams who would suffer – the interference can affect emergency services radio and also the new DRM radio broadcasts." heise online, 29 April 2008.

Domestic dissemination in the news (updated).

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Gartner, chairman and principal owner of the Iowa Cubs baseball team, will deliver the keynote address at The University of South Dakota's 121st spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10." Press & Dakotan, 26 April 2008. Gartner is notable in our business for his Gartner v. USIA. See previous post for details. -- Author John Stauber on Pentagon campaign to sell the Iraq war: "Now, the Pentagon might contest that, but we've had various laws on the books in our country going back to the 1920s. It is illegal for the U.S. government to propagandize citizens in this way." PBS NewsHour via The Nation, 12 May 2008 issue. See previous post about same subject. Update: "It violates, for starters, specific restrictions that Congress has been placing in its annual appropriation bills every year since 1951. According to those restrictions, 'No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress.'" PR Watch.org, 28 April 2008.

VOA (urgently) calling Americans abroad.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Sunday evening [20 April] ... Studio 7 hosted by the Voice of America made a special announcement from the American Embassy in Harare advising all American citizens resident in Zimbabwe to move to safe areas as they expected that violence would break out at any moment, due to delays by [the Zimbabwe Election Commission] in announcing the [election] results." The Herald (Harare), 29 April 2008.

Remembering (maybe) VOA 65 years ago.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Filipino World War II veterans would have received $3.2 billion worth of benefits from the United States had it not been for the Rescission Act of 1946, which effectively dashed promises held out as they fought alongside American troops six decades ago." Eighty-one year old "Representative Antonio Magsaysay-Diaz, himself a World War II veteran ... recalled hearing on Voice of America, the US radio network based in Washington, 'almost everyday' the promise made by Roosevelt during the war." Philippine Daily Inquirer, 28 April 2008. Although U.S. broadcasts to East Asia during World War II may not have used the name "Voice of America." See previous post.

The Wall Street Journal describes the RFA part of the U.S. international broadcasting elephant.

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia's "reporting on the crisis in Tibet has reignited longstanding ill will with China over the U.S. government's Cold War-era broadcasting system, while also highlighting a question that hangs over the radio service's mission: Is it a news outlet or a propaganda tool? The Chinese government says the station has done "non-objective, unfair and unbalanced coverage of China for a long time," according to a foreign ministry spokeswoman. ... Dick Richter, RFA's founding president, who retired in 2004, says when he first heard the idea for RFA, he was suspicious. 'I thought this was going to be a broadcast station whose principle aim would be to appease the right wing Republican faction of the U.S. government and basically be a broadcaster whose principal aim would be to "kill the Commies,"' he says. 'But I said "that is not what we are going to do." The legislation says we have to be objective.'" Wall Street Journal, 29 April 2008. Also available at The Tibetan Times, 29 April 2008.
     Another article that misinforms by providing an incomplete picture of U.S. international broadcasting.
     It makes no mention that Voice of America also broadcasts to China and Tibet, in Mandarin and Tibetan, with much of the same news about China and Tibet that is broadcast by RFA. And so a big part of the story was missed by the WSJ reporters: why does the United States have two stations doing much the same thing?
     If they investigated this part of the story, they would have been told by some experts and senior officials in that VOA only provides information about the United States. This, of course, would be rubbish.
     Surveys show that audiences in China want news about China and news about the rest of the world. The "theory" of U.S. international broadcasting requires RFA to be deficient in its coverage of world news, and VOA to be deficient in its coverage of news about China. The theoretical structure of U.S. international does not include a station that gives the audience the mix of news that it wants. Under the theory, that privilege is ceded to BBC World Service.
     I don't doubt that RFA tries to be a conscientious, objective news service. But because it is under pressure to fill its lengthy daily broadcast time with news and information only about the target country, it might have to run with a story that is not as well developed as they would like it to be. A full-service international broadcasting service could set aside that story about the target country for another day, to gather more facts, and run an international or U.S. news story instead.
     Also RFA, in broadcasting to China only news about China, with emphasis on the news that is ignored by the Chinese state controlled state media, could be perceived as the "Voice of Bad News About China," even given that each story is factually correct. This could chafe even dissidents in China. A full-service station could smooth that out, in part by including a few stories that show that things are also not always rosy in the United States.
     To compete with the BBC world services and with the increasingly competitive domestic media of China, the very good efforts of RFA, and the very good efforts of VOA, must be combined to form an excellent multimedia international broadcasting service.

Shop talk: VOA program discusses U.S. international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 29 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
On 26 April, the topic on VOA's Press Conference USA was "U.S. International Broadcasting, and the challenges that lie ahead." Guests were two retired senior VOA officials: Alan Heil and Barry Zorthian. Audio available at the PCUSA web page.
     The program was introduced as "the need to take a serious look at why America is losing its friends in the world, and what can be done to reverse the trend." It would be miraculous if U.S. international broadcasting could reverse that trend. I would think that U.S. policies would have a greater role.
     Mr. Zorthian described "surrogate broadcasting" (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia) as "the presentation of a radio broadcast that the target audience would have had in its own territory if it had a free press. It's a substitute for a national radio network." On the other hand, according to Mr. Zorthian, "the Voice of America's mission, as defined by its charter, is to project the United States, its actions, it policies."
     VOA does that. But as anyone who listens to VOA would attest, VOA spends much of its time providing listeners with information about their own countries. I.e., it also has a significant "surrogate" role. VOA must do this to attract an audience.
     And so there continues to be a disconnect between U.S. international broadcasting as described by prominent persons, and U.S. international broadcasting as it really is.
     Later in the program, Mr. Zorthian said: "Let me point out that numbers of listeners are not the end goal. Sure it's great to have an audience and to have widespread popularity, but it's the makeup of that audience, and in the case of the Voice, reaching the people who want to know what the U.S. is doing. Most viewers want to see what is happening next door, but there are certain ones who want to see beyond that. And if we can get those viewers, they're the ones who tend to set the outlook of a country, and help determine the actions of the other country, that's what we want to reach."
     This view, shared by others, is that U.S. international broadcasting should be divided as follows: VOA will provide information about the United States, and the surrogate stations will have an audience.
     Much of the interview dealt with issues discussed in a new book edited by Mr. Heil, Local Voices/Global Perspectives: Challenges Ahead for U.S. International Media, published by the Public Diplomacy Council. See also Amazon.com.

     Update: "The book, Local Voices/Global Perspectives: Challenges Ahead for U.S. International Media, which explores these issues from the viewpoint of more than 20 contributors, is now available on the Web through [withheld]@GWU.edu or on amazon.com." VOA News, 29 April 2008. The text of the book is not available "on the Web." You have to *buy* the print version. And that thing with the "@" is an e-mail address, not a web URL. It's also going to be spam city, now that VOA has published the e-mail address in its website. The web links for information about the book are in the paragraph above.

"Credible voices, outside of the U.S. government."

Posted: 28 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The top White House terrorism expert thinks some gains are being made in the worldwide public relations battle against al-Qaeda, as the administration and its overseas allies press efforts to show that Osama bin Laden's network is killing Muslim civilians rather than defending its interests." Juan Carlos Zarate, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, said "'credible voices, outside of the U.S. government,' had to carry the messages." Washington Post, 29 April 2008. See Zarate speech transcript at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, 23 April 2008.

Another VOA jazz alumnus.

Posted: 28 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Indian author Max Babi is fascinated by literature, but "his love for jazz is not far behind. He's conducted workshops, set up jazz clubs, and is a founding member of the seven-year-old Pune Jazz Club. 'My lonesome childhood (being a bookworm) was peopled by the short-wave radio where I discovered the Voice Of America Jazz Hour.'" Business Standard, 27 April 2008.

Test of the transmission technologies: RFE/RL hit by "mass cyberattack."

Posted: 28 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"An attack of unprecedented scale and intensity is under way against the Internet sites of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Belarus Service and more than half a dozen other RFE/RL language broadcasting sites. ... RFE/RL President Jeff Gedmin compared the situation to the Cold War days when RFE/RL radio broadcasting to Communist countries was jammed. ... RFE/RL is taking countermeasures to restore service to affected RFE/RL Internet sites in Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kosovo in Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Croatia, as well as Belarus." RFE/RL press release, 28 April 2008. See also RFE/RL News, 28 April 2008. Interview with RFE/RL Belarus Director Alyaksandr Lukashuk: "We went back to our old methods, calling our correspondents over the phone, taking their messages, recording them here, and making [shortwave] radio programs. ... RFE/RL: Since you have been off the air for so long, how did you get the word out for people to tune in to their shortwave radios again? Lukashuk: That was a problem. That is why we used other friendly sites to advertise our radio programming." RFE/RL News, 28 April 2008. And, hence, shortwave. Shortwave is the only medium of international broadcasting granted immunity from interdiction by the laws of physics. This is because shortwave signals travel better over long distances (e.g. from the listener to the distant foreign station) than over short distances (e.g. from the listener to the jamming transmitter in his/her own country). The internet is more vulnerable to interdiction because its information is usually transmitted via landlines in the target country, and thus subject to the regulation and interference of the government of the target country. Shortwave is the failsafe, but if we reach the point where not enough broadcasters have shortwave transmitters, and not enough audiences have shortwave radios, the shortwave communication system breaks down, and the dictators win.

The non-history of VOA relays in Cyprus.

Posted: 27 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"1960: The Voice of America radio station has expressed the desire to set up a transmitting site on Cyprus." Famagusta Gazette (Nicosia), 27 April 2008. VOA did not get its Cyprus relay, and settled on a medium wave relay in Greece, farther from the Levant. This is probably one of the reasons VOA Arabic did not compete well with BBC Arabic or Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East, each of which did have Cyprus medium wave relays. Spurred by the efforts of then BBG member Norm Pattiz, VOA Arabic successor Radio Sawa did get a Cyprus medium wave relay (981 kHz) in 2002. This transmitter allows Radio Sawa to be heard in Egypt and other Arab countries where it is not allowed FM relays. See my commentary, Radio Netherlands, 23 June 2005.

Expanding EuroBoredom to 400 million households.

Posted: 27 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The European Commission will today (25 April) launch a comprehensive audiovisual media strategy to 'increase coverage of EU affairs' and help people engage in a proper debate on EU policies. ... A frequent complaint among Brussels commentators is that the EU news agenda is too 'boring' to stimulate widespread public and media attention. ... The Commission will particularly focus on continuing support for the Europe-wide TV channel EuroNews, notably ensuring that the station's new service in Arabic can begin in July 2008. This should increase the channel's global reach to some '400 million households,' according to the Commission." EurActiv, 25 April 2008.

Ohio radio station broadcasts in French Accent.

Posted: 27 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"There's a new guy in town -- radio town, that is. His mellow voice comes out of the night from 9 p.m. to midnight every Saturday on WTAM AM/1100 on the 'Simon Rendezvous' show. The show opens pretty much the same way every time: 'Bon soir Cleveland; Bon soir. I have crossed the ocean only to be with you. I have crossed the ocean to bring back joy to Cleveland.' That's the voice of Simon Badinter, a Parisian and the new man on the air. The show started on a trial basis in the afternoon last November. Now it's a regular part of the Saturday lineup. Badinter is French, and he makes the most of the reputation Frenchmen have for being sexy and charismatic." Morning Journal (Lorain), 27 April 2008.

Another six months for HCJB shortwave.

Posted: 27 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Broadcasts from HCJB Global Voice's shortwave station in Ecuador will continue at least through October 2008 as the Quito airport authority has granted the mission?s request to postpone the dismantling of its shortwave radio towers. Radio Station HCJB's agreement two years earlier with the Quito Airport Corporation (CORPAQ) had required the mission to remove the towers in Pifo, a town near Ecuador's capital city of Quito, to make way for a new international airport. Languages that air via shortwave from Ecuador include Portuguese, Spanish, Quichua, Quechua, German, Low German, Cofán, Waorani and Culina. ... What will happen after 2008? 'We will continue to broadcast after the 2008 deadline on the remaining antennas for as long as we feel is reasonable and prudent.'" HCJB press release, sometime in April 2008. Unfortunately, HCJB does not date its press releases. Protestant evangelical HCJB's shortwave transmissions from Ecuador date back to 25 December 1931.

RFI reporter's radio station in Niger closed down.

Posted: 27 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Accra-based sub-regional media freedom watchdog, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Friday denounced Nigerien authorities for closing down a private radio station, 'Sahara FM', and called on the government to re-open it immediately... " Raliou Ahmed Assaleh, director of Sahara FM, is a correspondent for Radio France International. Panapress, 26 April 2008.

Telesur implicated in FARC intrigue.

Posted: 27 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"María Augusta Calle -- also the head of Venezuela's Telesur TV network in Ecuador and a supporter of President Hugo Chávez -- let the [FARC] rebels use her bank account for at least one transaction and helped promote their ideas through another news agency she directs, [a] Colombian offical said." Miami Herald, 27 April 2008.

Chinese criticize the CNN they can't watch (updated again).

Posted: 27 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia quoted former senior Chinese reporter Ling Cangzhou, 'There are people criticizing CNN, but we think this is because most of them have been unable to watch CNN. If they were able to actually watch CNN, they might not be so biased.'" Epoch Times, 23 April 2008. "A Chinese primary school teacher and a beautician have filed a suit against CNN in New York over remarks they say insulted the Chinese people and are seeking $1.3 billion in compensation -- $1 per person in China, a Hong Kong newspaper reported." Reuters, 24 April 2008. Thanks to Sergei Sosedkin for the news tip. "Shut-up CNN" T-shirts sold in China. Daily Mail, 23 April 2008. Update: New "smash hit" song is "Don't Be Too CNN." CCTV.com, 18 April 2008.

Coburn continues pressure (on the wrong agency) about VOA Persian.

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
At Senate hearing "Senator [Tom] Coburn [R-OK] called for more oversight over the U.S.-funded VOA Persian Service, which, he said, has delivered broadcast that have been slanted in favor of the Iranian government. He said the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. government international broadcasting, is not aware of the contents of the programs because no one on the board speaks Farsi. Deputy Assistant Secretary [of State] Feltman says Secretary Rice has been in contact with officials of the Broadcasting Board about the matter. VOA management has defended the Persian broadcasts as balanced, accurate and objective, and says the radio and television programs give equal airing of opposing views. Senator Coburn called on the State Department to provide Congress with translations of the Persian Service broadcasts." VOA News, 24 April 2008. See previous post about same subject. Well, okay, Secretary Rice, represented by the acting under secretary for public diplomacy, has one vote on the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

US shortwave to East Asia in World War II.

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
History of shortwave transmitters KWID and KWIX, near San Francisco, transmitting for the Office of War Information, 1942-1953. "FDR stated that both NBC and CBS had been invited to install shortwave stations in California, but both had declined due to huge financial losses at their shortwave stations already on the air with programming beamed to Latin America. Congress would not appropriate funding for this new international radio project, the president stated, so he would make payment out of discretionary funds available at the White House. ... The Chinese ambassador to the United States made a request to the U. S. State Department on July 4, 1943 for the Spanish programming from their own shortwave station, XGOY in Chungking, to be relayed by KWID to Latin America. The United States denied the relay request as a matter of foreign policy at the time." Adrian Peterson, Radio World, 23 April 2008. It seems the name "Voice of America" was not used for U.S. broadcasts to East Asia, at least not until after the war. See my Communications World script, 11 December 1999, and try to find a copy of William Winter, Voice from America: a Broadcaster's Diary, 1941-1944, Anvil Publishing (Manila) 1994.

VOA plays hardball.

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Among questions to Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asia: "Ambassador, I'm Niharika Acharya with the Voice of America. You spoke about problems that need to be addressed. Let's talk about one that seems to have cropped up in the past two days. I'm talking about Iranian President Ahmadi-Nejad's forthcoming trip to India. Well, basically, the Indian Government seems to be stung by the U.S. suggestion that India should use this trip as an occasion to persuade Iran to end its uranium enrichment program. India's shot back saying they don't need guidance on how to conduct their bilateral affairs. Do you feel this has actually hurt rather than helped the U.S., this not-so-subtle suggestion? Boucher: First of all, I think many of you might have been at Tom Casey's briefing and it was pretty subtle if you ask me. It was a lot more subtle than I used to do it when I was in - over there. So I do - don't think he was, in any way, pointing the finger at India... ." Three other VOA reporters asked questions at the press conference, including one about whether the United States uses a base in Uzbekistan. State Department, 23 April 2008.

Jazz at (past and present) VOA locations.

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"A five-event series of jazz concerts at Voice of America Park [former VOA Bethany, Ohio, transmitting site] begins Friday, April 25. MetroParks of Butler County and Miami University's Voice of America Learning Center have partnered to sponsor the Smooth Jazz on the Lake series, which will run 6 to 9 p.m. on five Friday evenings." Hamilton Journal-News, 23 April 2008. Although Willis Conover probably would not have approved of "smooth jazz." -- The Willis Conover memorial concert is tonight at the VOA Auditorium. See previous post. More about Conover and the concert by John McCaslin, Townhall.com, 25 April 2008.

RFE alumnae obits (updated).

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Prominent Polish historian and émigré writer Andrzej Pomian has died in Washington at the age of 97. ... In 1955 Andrzej Pomian emigrated to the United States and settled in Washington. He was a correspondent of the Polish Section of Radio Free Europe." Polskie Radio, 21 April 2008. Monica Lovinescu, 85. "Between 1951 and 1974, Monica Lovinescu contributed to Romanian-language broadcasts of Radiodiffusion Française and worked as a member of its Eastern Europe staff. She became a journalist for Radio Free Europe in 1962 and created two weekly pieces that were influential in generating internal Romanian opposition to the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. She informed Romanians about cultural and political trends in the Free World." AP, 21 April 2008. Update: "Lovinescu's crucial impact on Romania's culture is inextricably linked to her major role as a cultural commentator for Radio Free Europe (RFE). There is no exaggeration in saying that no other RFE broadcast was more execrated, abhorred, and feared by Ceausescu and the communist nomenklatura than those undertaken by Lovinescu and her husband, Virgil Ierunca. ... Her RFE broadcasts were precisely an antidote to the official mendacity, a voice of truth speaking for those condemned to silence." Vladimir Tismaneanu, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 24 April 2008.

RFE/RL: Russian television production "borders on agitprop."

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"'The Caucasus Plan,' aired by Russia's Channel One on April 22, is labeled a 'documentary,' but borders at times on Soviet-style agitprop. It claims that Chechnya's battle for independence from Russia in the 1990s was orchestrated by the West. France, the filmmakers allege, produced new passports for the fledgling republic; Germany helped out by printing the new currency; and behind the scenes, of course, the Americans were directing the whole show." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 23 April 2008.

"It's short wave in hi-fi!"

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Review of the Com One Phoenix Wi Fi Radio. "It’s most refreshing to enjoy your morning news from Toronto, London, Paris, or the New York Times’ WQXR. I’ve been listening to a different one each day and feeling like an aural globe-trotter." John Sunier, Audiophile Audition, 24 April 2008. So not really shortwave, but a radio-like device that receives internet radio stations. See also Wifi Radio Review.

A mysterious international video news site.

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mediascrape, an online video site that translates and syndicates international news, has raised $3.2 million from unknown investors. There aren’t many more details at this point. Partners include BBC News, Reuters, CBC News, Asia News International and thirty other leading news broadcasters around the world, the company claims. It also allows individuals to submit their own news stories. The Montreal, Canada-based company is a bit strange, though... ." VentureBeat via WRAL.com, 25 April 2009.

Who massacred whom?

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"A team from the international TV channel Al Jazeera is currently in the eastern province of Igdir to shoot a documentary program on the massacres committed by Armenians on Turks. Al Jazeera, an Arab news channel broadcasting in Arabic and English, planned to shoot a program about the massacres committed by Armenians, the channel's Turkey bureau chief Yousef Sharif told reporters on Thursday." Hürriyet, 25 April 2008. "Armenia's new president has vowed to step up efforts to have mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire recognised as genocide." Aljazeera.net. 24 April 2008.

More from the Arab Media Forum.

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The second day of the Arab Media Forum held here in Dubai saw serious criticism of the Arab League Broadcasting Charter issued by Arab ministers of information, to regulate satellite broadcasting in the region. ... Defending the broadcasting charter, Salah Aeddine of Arab States Broadcasting Union said that with the flourishing of over 500 satellite channels in the region, it’s important to regulate their operations as it’s the existing practice in the Western countries as well." Khaleej Times, 25 April 2008. Nigel Parsons, managing director, Al Jazeera English International [sic], ... said Al Jazeera International enjoys a wide range of freedom. He said from the moment he joined Al Jazeera, he told its owners that he did not want any interference in his job or in the way he works. He said Al Jazeera International was not competing with Al Jazeera Arabic. Gulf News, 25 April 2008.

Be also careful about the assertions of World Service directors.

Posted: 25 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Arab countries should be careful about the impact of government-owned Western satellite channels preaching their perspectives of world events and they being beamed into the Arab drawing rooms, cautioned Nigel Chapman, Director of BBC World Service. ... 'These channels have a slightly different purpose. They project their national point of view. The views aired by France 24 Arabic propagate the French point of view. Likewise, Al-Hurra funded by the US government is the voice for the American point of view of the stories of the world,' said Chapman. ... He added that what differentiates BBC from its competitors in the region is that BBC gives international and multi-layered perspectives on Middle East issues while others promote their national perspectives about the same." Khaleej Times, 25 April 2008.
     Mr. Chapman has said this sort of thing before. I assume he provided content analyses to back up his remarkable assertions, and I look forward to reviewing such data. If not, he might consider being more careful about what he says in the future.
     Perhaps Mr. Chapman is going by the organizational structures of Alhurra and France 24. Alhurra is part of a Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) Inc, and is under the authority and "firewall" of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. This, structurally at least, is similar to BBC as a publicly funded corporation operating under a board.
     France 24 is, for now, owned by TF1 and France Télévisions. The private versus government nature of French broadcasting entities is always murky, but France 24 does not seem to be merely a French government propaganda organ. On 24 April, they broadcast to the world a not especially friendly interview with President Sarkozy by five French journalists.
     Maybe Mr. Chapman's critique is based on the extent to which American and French officials are interviewed or quoted on Alhurra and France 24, respectively. Again, data on this would be welcomed, indeed mandatory. And if BBC is holding back on interviewing or quoting British officials, why?
     This website has questioned the independence of U.S. international broadcasting. But this is based on patterns in actual content (see, for example, previous posts on 30 November 2007 and 1 January 2007), or on statements made by its executives (see post on 29 July 2008).
     But, then, there are also the unambiguous statements about journalistic independence made by Daniel Nassif, news director of Alhurra (previous post on 14 April 2008). And the fact that nine percent of adults in six Arab countries watch Alhurra at least five days a week (see previous post on 17 April 2008), an unlikely achievement for a mere propaganda station.
     The analysis of the independence of U.S. international broadcasting is, therefore, complex. Unless he has the evidence asked for above, Mr. Chapman's sound bites are not equal to the task.

     "'Being independent and courageous comes with a responsibility to be careful and serious and to own up to your mistakes, which are essential to build trust and credibility. In today's world of great choice, objectivity still remains important,' [Chapman emphasized at the Arab Media Forum]. Highlighting the initial reluctance of local media in accepting international broadcast firms, he said with the creation of a global village, audiences need the support of both national and international media to understand their world." Zawya, 24 April 2008. "He also pointed out that user generated content is a great interactive tool but can never replace well crafted and researched pieces developed by international broadcasters. Underlining that the challenge lay in integrating the two mediums [sic] together, he said, 'A perfect media environment can only be created by the successful merger of old and new media.'" ArabianBusiness.com, 24 April 2008.

Shortwave radios figure in the end of a White House career.

Posted: 24 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"In late March, [Felipe] Sixto suddenly resigned [as special assistant to the President] as the Justice Department and U.S. Agency for International Development investigated allegations he misused an unspecified amount of U.S. grant money intended to promote democracy in Cuba. [Frank Calzon, head of the Center for a Free Cuba} realized something was wrong back in January, when he wanted to buy shortwave radios. His group has sent around 30,000 shortwave radios to Cuba over the last 10 years, so dissidents and others can get unfettered news about Cuba and the world. Though Calzon was not specific about what drew his attention to the problem, he apparently found discrepancies in what the Center paid for the radios when Sixto handled the transactions and what they cost now." Miami Herald, 24 April 2008. And some of those cheap shortwave radios can't pick up all the frequencies used by Radio Martí. -- "Between 1996 and 2006, the United States has supplied the internal counterrevolution with about 385,000 pounds of medicine, food, clothing, over 23,000 short-wave radios and millions of books, bulletins and informative material." Prensa Latina, 24 April 2008.

No charges against VOA reporter in Zimbabwe.

Posted: 24 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mutare public prosecutor Malvern Musarurwa has declined to prosecute freelance journalist Sydney Saize... The specific allegation against Saize was that, on 18 January 2006, he peddled the falsehood to Voice of America's Studio 7 that two teachers from Gomorefu Secondary School in the Marange Communal Lands had been assaulted by ZANU PF youths, war veterans and the youth militia, commonly referred to as Green Bombers." Media Institute of Southern Africa, 23 Africa 2008.

Tibet activists thank VOA and RFA Tibetan.

Posted: 24 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Finally, I want to express deep appreciation for the political and programmatic support that the U.S. Congress has provided to the Tibetan people. This support – from humanitarian assistance to refugees to Voice of America and Radio Free Asia Tibetan language broadcasts has been crucial and has created a nation of people who still the United States of America as a beacon of freedom in a sometimes very dark world. Of this support, the American people can be very proud." Richard Gere, testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 23 April 2008. "We would like to recognize the important contribution of the Tibetan language broadcast services at Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, and Voice of Tibet, which have served as a critical line of communication in and out of Tibet." Lodi Gyari, special envoy of the Dalai Lama, tetsimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, via International Campaign for Tibet, 23 April 2008.

Do this as a radio story. No, a television plus web story. No, a web plus audio story. No, a web-only story. On second thought...

Posted: 24 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The first stage of the BBC’s newsroom integration project was completed on Monday as journalists from the corporation’s rolling television news service began working in a common newsroom with their colleagues from radio and television news bulletins. BBC head of newsroom Peter Horrocks described this week’s changes as the first phase of the BBC’s effort to integrate its news operation across media. ... Journalists from the BBC’s international news channel, BBC World News, and those responsible for the text-based sections of the BBC News website will be brought into the converged newsroom in the coming weeks." Press Gazette, 24 April 2008.

Is All Qaeda really winning the public relations war?

Posted: 24 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates [said] in a speech last November: 'Public relations was invented in the United States, yet we are miserable at communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society...It is just plain embarrassing that al Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the Internet than America.' Is it really? Or do such statements exaggerate the Internet skills of militant Islamists and underplay self-inflicted American public relations wounds, from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib to support for Israel and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? ... Al Qaeda is nearing the 20th anniversary of its foundation, next August, and there are signs that the movement is having an increasingly hard time maintaining the lustre of what has become a globally recognised brand." Bernd Debusmann, Reuters, 23 April 2008. Al Qaeda has no great web site or television or radio station. But it can appeal to certain segments of Arab and Muslim publics through demagoguery. No overt U.S. international broadcaster could appeal to those prejudices by saying nasty things about Israel and the United States, by promoting a fundamentalist version of Islam, and by condemning believers of anything else.

Taking the fun out of Afghan television.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Afghan government has ordered independent television stations in Kabul to stop broadcasting programs deemed 'un-Islamic' or that 'undermine Afghan culture.' Indian soap operas, hugely popular among Afghans, are among the shows that have been branded 'un-Islamic,' and television stations have been given orders to take them off the air. ... Many ordinary Afghans say they don’t have too many options for fun and leisure, and that banning their favorite television serials deprives them of what little enjoyment they have in their war-torn, impoverished country." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 22 April 2008.

Spam Free China.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"To Americans and other Westerners, it might seem odd that Internet censorship is still possible at a time when YouTube, satellite TV and online chat rooms produce an overwhelming flow of real-time news and data. Yet authoritarian regimes from Cuba to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan rely on a mix of sophisticated technology and old-fashioned intimidation to ensure that dissent can be repressed, even in the Information Age. No one does it quite like China, which has proved that old-school communist apparatchiks could tame something as wild as the Web. China has the world's 'most sophisticated' Internet filtering system, according to the OpenNet Initiative, an academic cooperative that tracks censorship issues." Bill Xia, Falun Gong member and founder of Dynamic Internet Technology "sends millions of e-mail messages into China for customers such as Voice of America and the activist group Human Rights in China. The e-mails contain links to forbidden sites at an ever-changing list of temporary Internet addresses, part of an effort to stay a step ahead of Chinese censors. Traffic on his network of 'proxy' websites picked up in February, when heavy snows blocked traffic and shut train service in southern China, Xia says. The Chinese government was reluctant to admit anything had gone wrong, so frustrated travelers turned to renegade websites to get practical information on weather conditions and rail service." USA Today, 23 April 2008.

RSF discusses Chinese jamming.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"To prevent the Tibetan population from getting access to uncensored news reports, the authorities have stepped up the jamming of international radio stations that broadcast in Tibetan such as Voice of Tibet and Radio Free Asia. Violating international rules governing short and medium wave broadcasting, the Chinese authorities transmit low-pitched noise on the same frequencies as the foreign stations. Voice of Tibet manager Oystein Alme told Reporters Without Borders: 'We have noted a significant increasing in jamming since 16 March, especially in the cities where the government has invested tens of millions of dollars to install antennae to prevent Tibetans from listening to us.'" Reporters sans frontières, 23 April 2008. Including the famous Firedrake jamming signal, which involves many transmitters blocking several foreign stations.
     "People may have got the impression that Chinese soldiers cracked down with iron fists on Tibetan monks demonstrating peacefully, and that many Tibetans died from the bullets of the conquerors. However, as the Austrian newspaper der Standard pointed out on March 26, these reports were based on second-hand information from exiled Tibetans living in India and Radio Free Asia, a private radio station funded by the US Congress. As der Standard noted, few have mentioned that neither of these sources is neutral." Minister Counsellor Hong Xiayong, The Straits Times (Singapore), via Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, 23 April 2008.

Xinhua compared to BBC, RFI, NHK.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Xinhua is the state-owned, state-controlled, international news service of the communist government of the People's Republic of China. Like the United Kingdom's BBC or France's Radio France Internationale or Japan's NHK broadcasting organization, Xinhua offers its news reports to a global audience in various languages. Unlike other countries' government-supported news-and-information services, however, the Chinese organization is charged with carrying out a more clearly pronounced and obvious propaganda role on behalf of the government in Beijing." Edward M. Gomez, San Francisco Chronicle's World Views, 22 April 2008.

FEBC adds Black Hmong.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Last month, Far East Broadcasting Company added a new language to their roster -- Black Hmong - which brings the total to 159 languages heard on FEBC's programs. Black Hmong is the third Hmong language offered through FEBC's international ministry. ... The Hmong, located in southern China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Burma, total 4-5 million people." Mission Network News, 22 April 2008. -- FEBC is a Protestant evangelical international broadcaster with headquarters in La Mirada, California. The Black Hmong are located in northern Vietnam and Laos.

Background about the Arab Satellite Broadcasting Charter.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Egyptian-Saudi sponsored charter, once approved by national legislatures, will allow governments to suspend or revoke broadcasting licenses on very general grounds. This will affect existing stations such Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and Alhurra, which allow freewheeling debates, uncensored call-ins and live coverage that often transgress traditional red lines and draconian domestic press laws and penal codes." Oxford Analytica via Forbes.com, 23 April 2008.

This calls for a Radio Negative Syria.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"It's the midmorning commute, and 'Good Morning Syria,' the nation's hottest radio show, is just hitting its stride. ... At the center of this opening is Ms. [Honey] Sayed and the 'Good Morning Syria' program at Madina FM, the oldest of nine new commercial radio stations. All sprang up over the last few years with the approval of President Bashar al-Assad. ... Authorities closely monitor the media here for political provocations. But as long as they avoid talking about religion or politics and keep the discussion upbeat, they seem to be on safe ground. 'Even the news we give is always positive,' says Sayed. 'Never anything negative!" she exclaims, with a bubbly laugh that is her signature. 'If they want negative, they can go to Al Jazeera.'" Los Angeles Times, 24 April 2008. Frequencies of 101.5 and 100.5 MHz, and the website is www.almadinafm.com. The format is Radio Sawa-like, with a mix of Arab and Western pop hits.

DW seeking Poles leaving the UK.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle TV, the international German broadcaster, is looking for Polish people that are leaving the UK for Poland. We are specifically looking for people who have not earned much more than the minimum wage and who find that the weakening pound presents a problem for them." Goniec.com, 23 April 2008.

EuroNews to the USA.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The international European news network EuroNews is airing two English-language news blocks to more than 15 million households in the U.S. via independent non-commercial broadcaster MHz Worldview. The 30-minute newscasts are featured on MHz Worldview at 8:30 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. ET each weekday." WorldScreen.com, 21 April 2008.

RFE's new cheerleader.

Posted: 23 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Reputation to the contrary, RFE [Radio Free Europe] is not American propaganda radio. It is better described as 'surrogate radio': a broadcasting service that supplies local, national and international news, in radio, Internet and sometimes video form, in countries where other local news is weak or unavailable. ... RFE does have a good number of admirers in Washington, as well as a few constructive critics, usually people who wish it did more things better. What it does not have, however, is an advocate: someone, in Congress, the White House or on the campaign trail who remembers that Americans have done soft power rather well in the past, that the collapse of the dollar is more than a minor irritant for rich tourists, that with better transmitters we could reach more Iranians, and that we could easily swap a few helicopters for better-informed Afghans." Anne Applebaum, Washington Post, 22 April 2008. This piece is so jam-packed with misinformation, it requires a Kim's Commentary to sort it out.

Disconcerting verbiage about the VOA Botswana relay.

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The argument over how Botswana is going to be affected should there be civil unrest in Zimbabwe features in taxi conversations, workplaces and even in private homes. ... One political activist claimed that Botswana would be directly affected because if any country wanted to launch any attacks on Zimbabwe it has to settle some where in Botswana in order to hit the intended targets in Zimbabwe. ... 'Mugabe and US President George W Bush are bitter enemies so the first thing Zimbabwe is going to do, in case of a civil war, is to come directly to Selebi-Phikwe to destroy the Voice of America (VOA) offices in order to cut off any possible communication with the Pentagon in Washington DC. So we in Phikwe would be the first to be affected.'" Mmegi (Gabarone), 21 April 2008. Selibi-Phikwe is the location of an International Broadcasting Bureau relay station with a 600-kilowatt medium wave transmitter. IBB' four 100-kilowatt shortwave transmitters are nearby in Moepeng Hill.

RFA and NED as "destablizers" in China.

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Boycott fever seems to be the mood on the streets of China these days is a testament to how discontent with domestic problems has been eclipsed by disappointment with the West. ... Lack of respect is central to the informal eruptions of popular Chinese anger in the street in recent years, whether it be anti-Japan, anti-France or anti-CNN movements. Whether the issue at hand is being portrayed as willing idiots in Japanese textbooks, or being treated with dismissive disdain by the French president or being manipulated by US government-backed destabilisers such as the National Endowment for Democracy, Radio Free Asia and the CIA-tinged Free Tibet movement, the resentment is real." Philip J. Cunningham, Bangkok Post, 22 April 2008.

Another satellite dish crackdown in China.

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Seventeen government departments will launch a joint city-wide campaign to wipe out illegal television satellites that can receive foreign TV programs across Shanghai, the Oriental Morning Post reported today." Oriental Morning Post, quoted by Shanghai Daily, via Danwei, 14 April 2008. Crackdowns on satellite dishes occur periodically in China, and enforcement varies by city.

A former CRI broadcaster now "a popular blogger."

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Li Ou (李鸥), a journalist-turned mayor is on today's front page of New Culture View. In an interview with the newspaper, Li talked about his double identity as both a government official and a popular blogger. Li's bio shows that he was once a journalist of China Radio International and vice chief editor of a newspaper." Danwei, 22 April 2008.

Pope Benedict's miracle: broadcasting to Russia while visiting the United States.

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"A broadcast by Pope Benedict XVI on Russian state television has been hailed as a landmark in Orthodox-Catholic relations. ... Timed for release on the Pope’s birthday, the broadcast -- part of which was in Russian -- shows Pope Benedict XVI highlighting the importance of Church unity. ... Broadcast to about two-thirds of Russia on Wednesday (16th April) afternoon, the 30-minute programme had huge exposure. Many viewers were from outside Russia with Vesti being described as equivalent to the BBC World Service." Aid to the Church in Need press release, 22 April 2008.

The litigious international broadcaster.

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Former Sunday Express journalist Yvonne Ridley has won a case for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination against The Islam Channel. ... Last month Ridley won nearly £14,000 in damages after winning a four-year unfair dismissal case against Arabic TV station al-Jazeera. ... Ridley hit the headlines when she was held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan while on assignment with the Sunday Express in 2001. She subsequently converted to Islam and 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, 21 April 2008.

Aljazeera's Ethiopian detractors.

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The state-run and hawkish Al-Jazeera has nearly lost all its worth in the international media after its continued propaganda on countries its Qatar 'government' does not like. ... Al Jazeera’s latest African victim is Ethiopia, after the Qatar regime signed a memorandum with the Eritrean one-party regime." Behailu Damte, Nazret.com, 21 April 2008.

Counterclockwise?

Posted: 22 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth. ... The meeting also reviewed what has been described as a Mecca watch, the brainchild of a French Muslim. The watch is said to rotate anti-clockwise and is supposed to help Muslims determine the direction of Mecca from any point on Earth." BBC News, 21 April 2008. Of course, in 1961, GMT was replaced by Coordinated Universal Time. In French, it's temps universel coordonné. It's abbreviated UTC, which, as a compromise, stands for nothing. UTC is derived from a consortium of observatories rather than just the Greenwich observatory. But, for us mortals, UTC is the same as GMT. Mecca Time would probably be three hours and something ahead of UTC/GMT.

BBC is blogging its way into Russia.

Posted: 21 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service is linking up with Russia's biggest blogging platform as it attempts to increase its audience base in the face of media restrictions. The BBC service is now only available on medium-wave radio in Russia after all three of the country's FM broadcasters dropped it. From today the BBC will invite the nine million Russian users of blogging platform LiveJournal to contribute local news stories and join discussions on BBC News." The Guardian, 21 April 2008. See also BBC World Service press release, 21 April 2008.

CNN website disrupted, apparently by Chinese hackers.

Posted: 21 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"A growing movement to protest against CNN's coverage of China has generated its own website, theme song and now, it seems, army of hackers. On Friday, the Time Warner-owned Cable News Network website experienced problems that prevented users from accessing the site -- what appeared to be a 'denial of service' attack instigated by hackers. Users trying to access CNN.com were unable to do so, at least temporarily, in certain Asian markets, including Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and mainland China." Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2008.

Switching desks in the front office.

Posted: 20 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Jeffrey Trimble has been named Executive Director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). As Executive Director, Trimble will advise the Board on developments in international broadcasting and will manage the BBG staff, which provides the Board with technical, professional, and administrative support as well as strategic guidance and program oversight. Mr. Trimble joined the BBG in 2007 [as] Director of Programming... Prior to assuming his position at BBG, Mr. Trimble had a 10-year career at Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) where he was Acting President from November 2005 until March 2007." BBG press release, 18 April 2008. Trimble replaces Jan Brambilla, who becomes the BBG's "director of management planning."

VOA: Ethiopia's surrogate broadcaster.

Posted: 20 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Only about one-sixth of the Ethiopian population lives in cities with Internet access. And even there, a reader or writer in an Internet cafe must be always careful that no one in the police catches him looking at a dissident Web site. Most of the Ethiopian population lives in rural areas where the only news source is the radio. And the government controls all radio (and television and newspapers). Thus, the one-hour daily native-language broadcasts from Voice of America may be the only source for uncensored news." Rocky Mountain News, 19 April 2008.

Senator Coburn should be pleased by this assessment of U.S. broadcasts to Iran.

Posted: 20 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nikahang Kowsar, an Iranian cartoonist, radio producer, news-wire editor, blogger and photographer, recently attended a conference hosted by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), which brought together journalists to discuss social, economic, and political issues in Iran. ... IJNet: How do you view the Iranian TV and radio stations in the U.S. that broadcast to Iran? NK: VOA (Persian) and Radio Farda [Radio Free Europe-Persian] have an agenda, and are well funded to gradually change the attitude of the Iranian audience against the Islamic Republic. I don't call this journalism. It's propaganda. Other channels are just good for entertaining the public. That's all. They are wasting a lot of time, money and energy." International Center for Journalists, 18 April 2008. See previous post about Senator Coburn.

A lot of jazz about the absence of USIA.

Posted: 20 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is admirable that the State Department is honoring (Dave) Brubeck for the valuable cultural diplomacy he and his quartet practiced with government sponsorship as recently as the 1980s. But what is the policy of The United States today in using culture to reach out to the world? Sad to report, official cultural diplomacy is largely dormant at a time when the country's international image is at its lowest point in decades. ... Let us hope that the next administration will understand the importance and impact of what the USIA did--when there was a USIA--and revive the agency or create one like it." Doug Ramsey, Rifftides blog, 9 April 2008. Cultural diplomacy does continue under the State Department's public diplomacy office. Also, the National Endowment for the Arts has its International Partnerships. It is the amount of budget devoted to such activities, rather than the existence or absence of USIA, that is the key issue. Now, if cultural outreach needs to be depoliticized in some sort of independent agency, that could be an interesting discussion.

Domestic psyop gambit?

Posted: 20 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Many also shared with Mr. Bush’s national security team a belief that pessimistic war coverage broke the nation’s will to win in Vietnam, and there was a mutual resolve not to let that happen with this [Iraq] war. This was a major theme, for example, with Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst from 2001 to 2007. A retired Army general who had specialized in psychological warfare, Mr. Vallely co-authored a paper in 1980 that accused American news organizations of failing to defend the nation from 'enemy' propaganda during Vietnam. 'We lost the war — not because we were outfought, but because we were out Psyoped,' he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to psychological operations in future wars — taking aim at not just foreign adversaries but domestic audiences, too. He called his approach 'MindWar' — using network TV and radio to 'strengthen our national will to victory.'" David Barstow, New York Times, 20 April 2008.

Sky to Dubai?

Posted: 20 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sky News, the big daddy of rolling news, seeks to join other international TV news channels that established bureaus in Dubai, senior officials said. ...they are looking at other places too, such as Doha, base of Al Jazeera Arabic and English." Xpress (Dubai), 20 April 2008.

Let's hope MBN Inc. closes higher that day.

Posted: 19 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Dr. Naser M.Y. Al Belooshi, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States, will preside over the closing bell [of the NASDAQ stock market]. Ambassador Belooshi will be joined by Brian Conniff, President of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa) and Joaquin Blaya, Broadcasting Board of Governors." MBN press release, 18 April 2008.

Some of us in international broadcasting could use a drink.

Posted: 19 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Eric Felten might be called a retro Renaissance man. When not hosting a current-affairs program on the Voice of America, he writes a column on cocktails for the weekend Wall Street Journal, plays the trombone, sings, and conducts a full swing orchestra. ... As well as being wonderful, however, this is a book that is hard to categorize. How’s Your Drink? is not one of those handy technical manuals, kept next to the cocktail cabinet to be surreptitiously consulted by the host at parties. It’s much more fun than that." John O'Sullivan, National Review Online, 21 April 2008, review of Felton's How's Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well. Felton is host of On the Line, produced by the International Bureau's Office of Policy, which also writes the editorials on VOA "reflecting the views of the United States government."

"TV5 Monde: L'impasse persiste."

Posted: 19 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"L'avenir de la station TV5 Monde continue de susciter un profond débat entre ses différents partenaires. Mercredi, la réunion du conseil d'administration de de la chaîne a été des plus houleuses et s'est terminée sur une impasse. ... France 24 et RFI seront regroupées au sein du holding France Monde tandis que TV5 Monde demeurera une entité à part." Radio-canada.ca, 16 April 2008. "L'appellation initialement prévue de la holding « France Monde » a été abandonnée en raison de problèmes techniques, fait-on savoir." Radio France Internationale, 16 April 2008. Thanks to Kai Ludwig for the news tip.

WorldSpace to bid for L band spectrum in the UK.

Posted: 19 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"UK regulator Ofcom has published the list of approved bidders for the forthcoming L-Band spectrum. L-Band fits between 1452 and 1492MHz... One bidder struggling to conceal its intentions is WorldSpace. It operates a couple of satellites broadcasting radio around the world in the L-Band spectrum, and with a footprint that covers the UK. It's already bought the rights to the upper (12.5MHz wide) block in Switzerland, Germany ,and Italy, and is confident it'll grab it in the UK too. Part of WorldSpace's confidence is based on the Maastricht 2002 Plan, which allocates that top block to satellite radio across Europe. Unfortunately for WorldSpace, the UK is not a signatory to that agreement, so not bound by it, though anyone operating in the top block will not be protected (legally) from interference coming from WorldSpace's broadcasts which cover most of the continent. Whether the UK is ready to pay for satellite radio is also open to question. WorldSpace makes much of its lack of on-air advertising and the range of stations it offers, but with DAB already offering a range of BBC content (thus with no advertising) and failing so badly, it's hard to imagine users flocking to a system that requires line-of-sight to the sky, and a subscription to receive stations." The Register, 18 April 2008.

International broadcasters in prison.

Posted: 19 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"On 15 April 2008, FREE FM, the first and only prison community radio in the Caribbean, moved its transmission beyond the walls of the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre to the world through the participation in the Caribbean Community Internet Radio Portal (CIRP)." UNESCO, 18 April 2008.

Presidents of RFE/RL and Azerbaijan agree to disagree.

Posted: 18 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Jeffrey Gedmin met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku today for a wide-ranging discussion on press freedom and economic development in Azerbaijan. Gedmin expressed concern about the government's intensifying crackdown on media. Aliyev denied there were any constraints on the media, saying: 'We are completely free. We have hundreds of newspapers, we promote Internet use, and we encourage foreign broadcasters. You will not find any media restrictions in Azerbaijan.'" RFE/RL press release, 15 April 2008. Azerbaijani government statement: "Media reports that Azerbaijani President said there was no need for Radio Liberty do not reflect reality and the suppositions on the closure of the radio are groundless." Azeri-Press Agency, 18 April 2008.

Village head says don't listen to RFE/RL.

Posted: 18 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Residents of Zovuni village say that the village head, Serzh Avetisian has found new methods to restrict people’s right to information. He bans residents to listen to 'Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty' in the village. Serzh Avetsisian calls people his office and instructs them not to listen to the radio station." A1plus.am, 16 April 2008.

RFA, BBC, DVB Burmese broadcasters detained in New Delhi.

Posted: 18 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Hundreds of pro-Tibet activists and Tibetan exiles were arrested when [the Olympic torch] was carried through New Delhi before being put aboard a plane to Bangkok. The Shwe Gas Pipeline Campaign Committee-India said on Thursday that the detained activists included several Burmese journalists -- Kyaw Thu Ra, of the BBC Burmese service, Khin Maung Latt, of DVB Television, Nay Lyin, of Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service, and Myo Myint Aung, news editor of the Khonumthung news agency." The Irrawaddy, 18 April 2008. "The Dalai Lama simultaneously intensified his efforts to incite and plot riots in Tibet. On January 19, 1990, he said over the BBC: If the Beijing government fails to hold talks with him on his plan of Tibet's autonomy within a year, he will have to change his stand of compromise with China; many young Tibetans stand for the use of force. On April 4, 1991, the Dalai Lama said in the Tibetan language program of the Voice of America, 'All matters shall be further strengthened for Tibet's independence.'" People's Daily Online, 18 April 2008.

Unhappy about IBC Tamil Radio.

Posted: 18 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Sri Lankan High Commission in London has neither been able to convince the UK's Home Office or the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorism branch of the seriousness of the LTTE's IBC Tamil radio’s broadcasts and the potential serious threat to the lives of thousands of civilians and politicians and Government leaders in Sri Lanka opposed to the LTTE by allowing them to continue with their terrorist broadcasts." Asian Tribune, 18 April 2008. The station transmits to Sri Lanka one hour a day on shortwave via a leased transmitter in Wertachtal, Germany. Also available via satellite and the internet: www.ibctamil.net.

BBC.com news now comes with click-to-play.

Posted: 18 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World has launched embedded news video clips on BBC.com. This new service allows users to view broadband-quality news video within the text content page, rather than launching a separate player, and is predicted to increase news video usage on the site. ... A multi-dimensional trade marketing campaign is running to support the launch of the new service, including a microsite which can be viewed at bbcreachingmillions.com." BBC World press release, 17 April 2008. Here's an example.

Is Livestation the next platform for international broadcasting?

Posted: 18 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation allows users to watch 24-hour news networks on their computer, in real time. Not clips; not webcasts; but the actual channel, live. So far, in beta testing, those networks include ITN, BBC, SkyNews, Al Jazeera and several others. Over the next few months the founders of Livestation will be making their pitch to American channels, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC." Still in testing phase, with launch expected in the fourth quarter. Mediabistro.com, 18 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

USA not the center circle of the Aljazeera Englsh target audience.

Posted: 17 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Story about Josh Rushing, former Marine captain who now works for Aljazeera English: "While working for Al Jazeera gives him more freedom to report on events that may get little airplay in the United States, his employer is less interested in building a bridge to reach Americans than it is intent on finding an audience elsewhere in the world. 'I don’t thing they’re really concerned with building any kind of diplomatic bridge,' he said. 'We really look at our audience as a global audience; there are a billion TV sets that aren’t in this country.'" Providence Journal, 17 April 2008.

Patraeus/Crocker hearings buried, "even on Alhurra" (updated).

Posted: 17 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The congressional testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker has barely registered in Iraq. Several parliament members were unaware of what was said at the hearings. Many Baghdad residents had no idea they had taken place. Even on Alhurra, a U.S.-funded Arabic satellite channel, the testimony was the 10th and final report on Wednesday's evening newscast, following dispatches on Egyptian politics and the state of emergency preparedness in Syria." Washington Post, 9 April 2008. Update: "In fact, Alhurra gave extensive coverage to the hearings, broadcasting eight hours of testimony live, with Arabic translations... . By broadcasting the hearings unedited and in their entirety, Alhurra, unlike other broadcasters, provided Iraqis with the full scope of the debate." Brian Coniff, president, Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra and Radio Sawa), letter to Washington Post, 17 April 2008. See previous posts about Alhurra on 17 April and 14 April.

Maybe Press TV can break the story about Iran's first nuclear weapon test.

Posted: 17 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Samsung is reported to be in the process of developing a micro fuel cell and hydrogen generator that will eventually be capable of powering small electronic devices, such as mobile phone, for up to 10 hours. ... According to Iranian news site Press TV, which broke the story, Samsung has already enabled the technology to function and is now working hard to maximise the cell’s performance while minimising its size." TechRadar, 16 April 2008. Refers to story at Press TV website, 15 April 2008. Not a scoop for Press TV, because it was reported by CNET's News.com, 7 April 2008. See also Samsung press release, 15 October 2007.

Maybe David Marash can write a column.

Posted: 17 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Martin Newland, the former editor of The Daily Telegraph, is set to launch on Thursday a new Abu Dhabi newspaper, which has the backing of the Arab emirate's $850 billion dollar sovereign wealth fund. ... Mr Newland is trying to do what nobody in the Middle East has done before: launch a quality, pan-Arab, English language newspaper, creating the print equivalent of the Al Jazeera television news channel." Times Online, 16 April 2008. "In the United Arab Emirates, where it is illegal to publish items that could foster dissent or harm state interests, the newspaper may follow its peers and avoid issues such as corruption and politics." Bloomberg, 16 April 2008.

March audience survey results for Alhurra: not bad.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Brookings Institution on 17 April, Shibley Telhami presented results of a March 2008 survey in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Most of the questions were about political opinion, but some had to do with media use.
     "When you watch international news, which of the following network's news broadcasts do you watch most often?" Al Jazeera 53%; Al Arabiya 9%; MBC 7%, Al Manar 2%, Alhurra 2%.
     Networks watched "daily" or "5 or 6 times a week": Al Jazeera 60%, Al Arabiya 25%, MBC 23%, Alhurra 9%; Al Manar 4%. Complete survey findings available at Brookings website.
     It would be unreasonable to expect Alhurra, as the outside station, to be watched "most often" by Arab audiences. For viewing five or more days per week, Alurra has a respectable audience of almost ten percent. And it's encouraging that Alhurra's audience, measured this way, is larger than that of Hezbollah's Al Manar.
     In next year's survey, we'll find out how well Alhurra competes with the new BBC Arabic channel. It would be interesting if it also asks about the Arabic television services of France 24, Russia Today, DW-TV, EuroNews, etc.
     It would be especially helpful if the Broadcasting Board of Governors releases the results of its own surveys in the Arab nations.

AP photographer hears Radio Sawa get the scoop about his prison release.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein was reunited with family and colleagues Wednesday, ending more than two years in U.S. military custody after Iraqi judges dropped all legal proceedings against him. ... Hussein said he heard about the amnesty rulings while listening to Radio Sawa, an Arabic language station financed by the United States. But he received formal notice about the military's decision to free him just a few hours in advance." AP, 16 April 2008.

There he goes again.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Jeffrey Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, speaking at Heritage Foundation on 10 April: "We're not Voice of America. I happen to love Voice of America. As an American I think we need both. I think they're absolutely complimentary, and absolutely reinforcing. But Voice of America is chiefly about us, about explaining American foreign policies, and American society, and American culture." Audio available at Heritage Foundation. See previous post about a similar Gedmin speech at CSIS.
     This is U.S. international broadcasting not as it is, but as it is repeatedly described to gullible audiences, e.g. the distinguished experts of Washington's think tanks.
     If Gedmin loves VOA, he ought to listen to VOA sometime. He would discover that a great deal of VOA content is about the countries to which it broadcasts. He should be appalled by the extent to which VOA and the Radio Free stations are going after the same stories.
     Herein lies the lose-lose situation faced by U.S. international broadcasting.
     USIB loses with the status quo: the duplication in 23 languages, the fragmentation, the competition among its elements for audience, talent, and resources. This is a main reason the United States spends more on international broadcasting than Britain, while the BBC has more worldwide audience than all the elements of USIB combined.
     USIB would also lose if its mythology is enforced. Simply eliminate duplication (I can see this in a future Heritage bullet point) by requiring VOA to broadcast only "about us," i.e. U.S. news. U.S. foreign policy, U.S. culture, with maybe also some world news. VOA would quickly lose most of its audience, because most of the audience for international broadcasting listens mostly to get the reliable news about their own countries that they aren't getting from their state controlled domestic media. Worse, the audience would have tune to two U.S. stations to get all the news: the "surrogate" station for news about their own country, VOA for news about the rest of the world. The audience, of course, won't put up with such nonsense. They will tune to BBC to get all the news from the convenience of one station.
     There is one win in this lose-lose situation. Multiple suites full of senior managers have jobs, even though one suite full would be more effective and less costly to the taxpayers. Those multiple senior managers can keep their jobs by continuing to give speeches in Washington, home of the distinguished experts who just fell off the turnip wagon.

The news channels that we aren't getting to see.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two weeks ago, Dave Marash, whom I interviewed on multiple occasions and who really seemed to be having a good time being Al Jazeera English's U.S. anchor, announced he was leaving, that he had been demoted and furthermore, that all that everyone was saying about the loss of editorial control was true. But the loss of AJE as a reliable, scrappy news force doesn't mean there aren't other world news outlets ... that we also aren't getting to see. There's BBC World, France 24 and even poor benighted CNNi, not to mention the fine work of Link TV that is available on satellite but not on cable. In an election year especially, it's vital that viewers let cable operators know that they know what they are missing, and they don't like it." Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star TV Barn blog, 14 April 2008.

China complains.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Robert Menard, secretary general of Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders) "publicly admitted accepting sponsorship from the United States, France and some Western countries, including the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). ... The 'Voice of Tibet' shortwave radio station was actually established by the NED." People's Daily Online, 15 April 2008. "Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu lambasted a CNN commentator, Jack Cafferty, for his 'vicious' commentary on China." McClatchy Newspapers, 15 April 2008.

Israeli authorities bust peace pirate (updated).

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"South Africa journalist Mark Klusener was ordered to pay 25 000 shekels and be placed under house arrest by a court in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon... . Klusener and other staff members were arrested for operating a pirate radio station. Klusener is news director of 93,6 Ram FM, based in Jerusalem." Independent Online (Cape Town), 8 April 2008. "The English-language station, RAM-FM, plays Western music and tries to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through its broadcasts." Jerusalem Post, 8 April 2008. "The station employs Israeli announcers and writers, like Mike Brand, alongside Palestinians like Arda Aghazarian, who presents a daily, lunch program with Brand. This attempt to maintain balance is also evident in the content of news bulletins. 'We won't use a term like "terrorist," which is considered offensive in Palestinian eyes, nor will we use "freedom fighter,"'" Ha'aretz, 9 April 2008. Update: "SA broadcast journalist Mark Klusener, who was arrested for allegedly operating a pirate radio station, was released from house arrest in Jerusalem on Tuesday. ... The station stands accused of operating without the necessary broadcasting permit in Jerusalem where it broadcasts on the 87.7 FM frequency - a fact that the station has denied. ... Established by the South African company Primedia, Ram FM is Palestinian-licensed, but broadcasts throughout Israel and Palestine and describes itself as apolitical. ... Klusener has also worked for a number of international media including the Scotsman, the Economist, Channel 4, Radio France International and Vatican Radio." News24 (Cape Town), 15 April 2008.

More pay for DW Rwanda relay staff.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Employees should use trade unions to realise their labour rights, Abdon Nkotanyi, the Secretary General of Rwandan Trade Union has said. ... The remarks come shortly after the workers' union successfully negotiated for Deutsche Welle Radio (DW) employees to get salary rise of 80 per cent. Some of the workers in this international radio station were being paid a paltry Frw30,000 yet their counter parts in German [sic] were getting better salaries. ... The negotiations have been ongoing-for over two years." The New Times (Kigali), 15 April 2008.

EuroNews: poor reception in Poland.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Polish media officials have rebuffed EuroNews in its bid to add a Polish stream, even though "if Poland joined EuroNews the service would be offered in Polish worldwide and the Polish TV state channel would provide a member of the management team to oversee the editorial content of the channel. ... In our view, the Polish refusal is solely political. Poland does not need Euronews in Polish because it has the Voice of America in Polish. You see, Brussels is good for financial benefits. When issues become political, Washington does not allow any European competition in its own 'territories.'" Kassandra's Notebook, New Europe, 14 April 2008. VOA has not broadcast in Polish since 2003. See also Warsaw Business Journal, 7 April 2008.

The BBC rebranding and its international implications.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The global channel BBC World will henceforth be known as BBC World News, just to remind dozier viewers exactly what it does. ... Globally, the BBC has an audience of 233 million, with a stated intention to expand it to beyond 250 million by 2012, partly through the help of the new Arabic TV service (to complement Arabic radio and online) and the launch later this year of a Farsi TV service. [BBC deputy director general Mark] Byford claims that the often-criticised BBC World, a commercially-funded operation, is turning a corner. It is 'on course to break even', he says. 'It's miles better than it was five years ago in editorial direction and content. Everywhere you travel people say that. When I was director of the World Service and Global News people would sometimes say "It's not as good as it should be", they now say "BBC World, I couldn't do without it." That's terrific!'" The Independent, 14 April 2008. "BBC News is hoping a £550,000 revamp of its image to include a new red globe symbol will help bring together the various parts of its sprawling operations, from the international news channel to local bulletins. ... The rebranding is a response to the proliferation of news websites, news aggregators such as Google News and TV channels that older news providers are increasingly having to contend with. The BBC, like its mainstream media rivals, is keen to raise the profile of its brand." The Guardian, 15 April 2008. See the red globe visual at BBC News, 15 April 2008.

Tom Coburn, MD, keeps James Glassman in the waiting room.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Senator Tom Coburn, MD, has put a hold on the confirmation of James Glassman to succeed Karen Hughes as under secretary of State for public diplomacy. "Mr. Coburn has sought for years to obtain English transcripts of Farsi-language U.S. government broadcasts from the ... Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). Mr. Glassman is BBG chairman. In his requests, the senator has cited reports of mismanagement of VOA's Persian service that has allowed anti-American content to creep into broadcasts. He also has expressed concerns that the service gives too much time to guests with pro-Iranian views. 'VOA has not been aggressive enough in promoting values of individual liberty and freedom in its Persian broadcasts,' said an aide to Mr. Coburn, who declined to give his name. The senator's office did not provide specific examples of anti-American or pro-Iranian language used in broadcasts. ... The BBG has released about 140 hours of Persian service transcripts on its Web site, but Mr. Coburn has asked for thousands of hours, officials said. The National Virtual Translation Center (NVTC) transcribes the scripts and charges up to $3,300 for an hour of air time, a VOA source said, adding that using cheaper services has resulted in 'mistranslations.' Congressional officials said the Senate approved some funds for transcribing purposes in a 'pilot project' last year, but they are not nearly enough to satisfy Mr. Coburn's request." Washington Times, 7 April 2008. See Kim's commentary.
     "This is while VOA is widely seen in Iran as a heavily biased propaganda machine in favor of the US." Press TV, 7 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "In the US, the integration of journalism and PR is further advanced, and a recent trend has been labelled 'journo-lobbying'. Tech Central Station, a Washington-based project pioneered by the journalist James Glassman, is a cross between a website and a magazine that acts like a lobbying company. The DCI Group, a prominent Washington lobbying firm, not only publishes the site, it shares most of the same owners, staff and offices." David Miller and William Dinan, The Independent, 14 April 2008.

Complaint about VOA's coverage before Pope's visit to Washington.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Pope Benedict XVI hasn’t even arrived in the United States, and mainstream media outlets are featuring feminist Catholic dissenters in their reporting of the upcoming papal visit. In one such example, the Voice of America, the 'international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government,' decided to cover a former Catholic nun who has been 'ordained' as a priest." Newsbusters, 11 April 2008. VOA interviews Ted Lipien, former director of VOA's European Division, about his new book, Wojtyla’s Women: How Women, History and Polish Traditions Shaped the Life of Pope John Paul II and Changed the Catholic Church. Blogger News Network, 11 April 2008. At Washington conference,"'Why We Listen When the Pope Speaks,' sponsored by the Lepanto Foundation, a nonprofit institution founded to defend the principles of Western, Christian civilization ... John O'Sullivan, executive editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, said ... 'This pope is only asking Islam to make the same changes that Christianity already made. To recognize that religion cannot be spread with force. This ... can only be done by a pope.'" Georgie Anne Geyer, Yahoo! News, 10 April 2008.

The latest BBG meeting we could not attend.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Re the meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors on 9 April 2008: "The members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet in closed session to review and discuss a number of issues relating to U.S. Government-funded nonmilitary international broadcasting. They will address internal procedural, budgetary, and personnel issues, as well as sensitive foreign policy issues relating to potential options in the U.S. international broadcasting field. This meeting is closed because if open it likely would either disclose matters that would be properly classified to be kept secret in the interest of foreign policy under the appropriate executive order (5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(1)) or would disclose information the premature disclosure of which would be likely to significantly frustrate implementation of a proposed agency action." Federal Register via Justia.com, 9 April 2008. So, not much advance notice. Such notifications are routine, as the BBG has never had a public meeting.

Still trying to save VOA Greek.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association ... submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, State, and Related Programs, requesting the federal government to restore $480,000 in funding for the Voice of America Greek Service for Fiscal Year 2009." Hellenic News of America, 10 April 2008. Greek is among VOA languages slated by the BBG for elimination in FY 2009. See previous post about same subject.

One of the penalities for listening to VOA's Studio 7.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Financial Gazette has also obtained a dossier containing names of thousands of teachers barred by [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] from working as election officers. ... Reasons listed for barring the teachers range from being 'MDC supporter' to 'found listening to Studio7', a Zimbabwe-focused Voice of America channel broadcasting into the country on medium and short wave." Financial Gazette, 10 April 2008.

Slain RFE/RL reporters memorialized at Newseum.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The names of four RFE/RL journalists killed for doing their jobs - simply reporting the news - have been etched onto a series of glass panels at the Journalists Memorial in Washington, DC's Newseum, which opens today." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press releae, 11 April 2008. Kyrgyzstan again closes investigation of murder of Alisher Saipov, former reporter for Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Committee to Protect Journalists, 10 April 2008.

Dave Brubeck wins a Ben Franklin.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck was presented with the State Department's inaugural Ben Franklin Award for public diplomacy "for promoting America with concerts in countries from Iraq to Poland." Also receiving Ben Franklins: Search for Common Ground, consumer products maker Johnson & Johnson Inc. and the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy. Reuters, 8 April 2008. See also State Department media note, 8 April 2008. "'Cultural diplomacy was one of the best decisions the State Department ever made. What started with Dave Brubeck's tour has morphed into a modern day tour of musicians and bands around the world.'" The Hatchet, 10 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Book report.

Posted: 14 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Review of Yale Richmond, Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey. "An important theme in Richmond's book is that public diplomacy practitioners, if they are to be effective in serving U.S. national interests, must be given leeway to carry out their duties." John Brown, AmericanDiplomacy.org, 6 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Alhurra: "Our role is not to advocate policy."

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Daniel Nassif, news director of Alhurra. "How do you think that the United States is currently perceived in the Arab world? Can Alhurra make a difference in that perception? Should it try? Daniel Nassif: We are not a gauge for a popularity contest in the Middle East. Our mission by law is to provide accurate and objective news to the region. Alhurra's role is to report U.S. policy accurately to an audience that has often not received accurate and objective reports, but our role is not to advocate policy." Interviewed by Adam Pechter, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2008. This is an extensive interview, with good questions, and encouraging answers from Mr. Nassif, indicating that he understands why audiences turn to international broadcasting. Mr. Nassif mentions that, in a bid for transparency, Alhurra is "looking into the possibility of live-streaming online." If that's too costly, why not a much less expensive live audio stream of Alhurra?

"Willful ignorance of the world" allows more time for celebrity news.

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"When it comes to knowledge of most of the world beyond our borders, the American people have a lot of catching up to do, and they're not getting much help from television news. Overseas coverage of television news has never been more costly. The plunging value of the U.S. dollar, the surging price to be paid for security, the shrinking, aging audience for news, the coming recession, all give TV news executives reasonable excuses for neglecting international coverage. And the uniquely interesting and uniquely extended presidential campaign of 2008 has in itself taken a double toll, displacing both budget and air time that might have gone to covering the world. ... I recently left Al Jazeera/English because of defects I saw in its attitude toward and coverage of the United States. But I still will watch regularly for its excellent coverage of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Without it, I'd be blind to half the planet. Why would anyone want that? Why do we as a nation, as a viewing audience, permit it: television news that institutionalizes willful ignorance of the world?" David Marash, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 12 April 2008.

The Dalai Lama and his BBC habit.

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Writer-journalist Pico Iyer "remembers the Dalai Lama telling him once that he was addicted to the BBC World Service Broadcast every morning. 'It's always struck me that he follows the news more closely and precisely than most journalists or most leaders that I know. It’s interesting how the examples he uses come from the Korean War 50 years ago, and the scientific discoveries this morning.'" The Times of India, 12 April 2008.

Rupert Murdoch revising the history of international broadcasting?

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Speaking at Georgetown University on 2 April, News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch provided his own version of one of the most important episodes in the history of international broadcasting. By most accounts (see, for example, The Observer, 24 August 2003), in 1994, Murdoch forced the BBC off of his Star TV satellite beam into China because of politico-commercial pressure from Beijing.
     Responding to a question from a Chinese student at Georgetown, Murdoch said: "I better be careful answering this. I always get into trouble when I speak about China. ... we were losing a lot of money when I bought it. One of the channels they had was the BBC on it, for which it was paying ten million dollars a year. And I said the BBC has a lot more money than I. They can get there own transponder on their own satellite. And that was taken as kowtowing to the Chinese government. And I've had that hang around my neck forever." (Video of Murdoch's speech and the Q&A available from Georgetown University, 3 April 2008.)
     "Hold it right there, Rupe, and let me tighten that necktie with a retrospective of your comments about the BBC and Star." Jack Shafer, Slate, 2 April 2008. See also previous posts on 25 May 2007 and 9 August 2007.

Australia calling.

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tourism Australia is back on air with BBC World with the launch of a special set of celebrity testimonial advertisements that showcase the travel experiences of well-known Indian personalities in the fields of business and entertainment. The three segments will run throughout the day on BBC World's South Asia beam to complement Tourism Australia's 'So Where The Bloody Hell Are You?' advertising campaign,.'" Press release via Indiantelevision.com, 10 April 2008.
     Prime Minister Kevin Rudd criticized "the Chinese over human rights abuses in Tibet ... in public, in front of a Chinese audience. It's true that the Chinese censored this part of Rudd's speech at Beijing University. That is not the point. The Chinese were ropeable at Rudd's statement and millions of Chinese will hear about it one way and another. It figured prominently in CNN and BBC reports this week, as well as coverage by Deutsche Welle and countless other news services. I myself did an interview with Al Jazeera's global audience explaining Rudd's statements. These statements featured heavily in The Economist, as they did in newspapers and journals across the world. Given the internet, much of this finds its way back to the Chinese public." Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 12 April 2008.
     The Australian Government has "axed the 'Australia on the World Stage' fund, which will deliver $19 million in savings." The Australian, 11 April 2008.

DW's new politically unstable service.

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"DW-RADIO programming in Romanian is now being broadcast in Moldova via Radio Vocea Basarabiei, which broadcasts in the capital city Chisinau and across the country via ten additional VHF frequencies. Programming from DW-RADIO is also being broadcast in the breakaway republic of Transnistria. This is the first time that DW has been present in the politically unstable region." Deutsche Welle press release, 8 April 2008.

Telesur might have to expand beyond Spanish before it tries this.

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela's deputy foreign minister for Africa ... Reinaldo Bolivar, on a visit to Senegal, said his oil-rich South American nation would host a summit of African and South American nations in November to discuss cooperation ranging from energy to banking between the two regions. ... November's summit ... would also propose ... the expansion into Africa of the state-owned Telesur media group operating in some South American countries. Libya, Algeria, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia had all expressed interest, Bolivar said." Reuters, 11 April 2008.

BBC, Aljazeera, and God, via low-cost satellite package.

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"African satcaster GTV launched a budget package of channels last week, starting at $10, around half the price of its previous lowest-cost package. GTV was launched in Africa, excluding South Africa, in July by London-based Gateway Communications, as a lower-cost alternative for consumers who cannot afford long-dominant South Africa-based pan-African satcaster MultiChoice. ... Channels available on GTV include BBC World, Al-Jazeera, Sky News, MTV Base, Zee Cinema, Nickelodeon, MGM, TV5 Monde, Fox Sports, G Sports and God. MultiChoice offers 50-plus channels but is significantly more expensive." Variety, 11 April 2008.

Shortwave for music, even "with a lot of static."

Posted: 13 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"After her father's death, [Israeli singer Ilana] Elia took out the tapes he used to record from Radio Kurdistan ('from the short-wave radio, with a lot of static') and began listening to them. She was thrilled by the treasure she had discovered. 'It's the most primal kind of song I know, song that really comes from the gut, and its power shook me out of my coma.'" Ha'aretz,, 13 April 2008.

Selected excerpts of CRI mail are unanimous in support of China's response to Tibet crisis.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Some CRI [China Radio International] netizens and listeners across the globe have voiced their support for the Chinese government in the wake of the Lhasa riots. ... 'I have been to Tibet for three times, and I could say that local people's lives have been greatly improved, and that road conditions there have been getting better, and Lhasa has been getting prettier.' ... 'CRI's reports on the Lhasa riots are timely and resourceful. I feel outraged on Dalai clique's attempt to split Tibet from China.' ... 'In January 2007, I read an article carried by a magazine affiliated to Voice of America, which devoted a long page to discuss the Tibet Issue. The article said they supported the anti-government forces to resist the governance by Chinese central government, and supported them to spit Tibet from Chinese territory to establish an illegal regime.'" CRI English via People's Daily Online, 10 April 2008. See also CRI's "The Truth About the Lhasa Riot" web page. -- "The monks who spoke to foreign reporters in Johkang Temple during their Lhasa visit were not punished, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet regional government, in Beijing Wednesday. ... Citing a monk claiming that the authority killed more than 100 people in Lhasa, he said that the monk himself later said he learned this from the Voice of America." Xinhua, 9 April 2008.

When RFE/RL moves out, Czech National Museum will move in.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The National Museum is preparing for a major reconstruction — the largest in the 117 years of the history of the building that has become synonymous with Wenceslas Square. ... The reconstruction project also includes the acquisition of the building currently used by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is located north across the street from the National Museum. As early as next year, that new building will open limited exhibits to the public on its first floor and will house the museum’s administrative offices." Prague Post, 9 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Patraeus/Crocker hearings buried, "even on Alhurra."

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The congressional testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker has barely registered in Iraq. Several parliament members were unaware of what was said at the hearings. Many Baghdad residents had no idea they had taken place. Even on Alhurra, a U.S.-funded Arabic satellite channel, the testimony was the 10th and final report on Wednesday's evening newscast, following dispatches on Egyptian politics and the state of emergency preparedness in Syria." Washington Post, 9 April 2008. Alhurra purchases 25 hours of content from Dutch "factual specialist" Off The Fence. C21Media.net, 10 April 2008.

With all transmitters at full bore, the electric bill is now $1921.50 an hour.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
In the Northern Mariana Islands: "The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has increased its electric fuel rate this month for its commercial, government, and non-conforming load customers. ... The total rate per kilowatt hour for non-conforming load customers is up from $0.510 to $0.549. Non-conforming load refers to CUC’s Tinian customers which include the International Broadcasting Bureau." Marianas Variety, 10 April 2008. The IBB relay at Tinian, used for VOA, RFA, and transmitter exchange deals, has six 500-kilowatt and two 250-kilowatt transmitters, according the World Radio TV Handbook. IBB also has three 100-kilowatt transmitters on Saipan.

Maybe next in China: a workshop on politicodiversity?

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
US-based Internews orgnized an environmental journalism workshop in China. "Gary Strieker, CNN International’s former chief environmental correspondent ... was the lead trainer for the workshop. ... The CCTV reporters and producers received training on environmental issues such as biodiversity and pollution, along with journalistic training on topics such as the use of sources." Internews press release, 9 April 2008.

CNN International via Samsung handsets.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International and Samsung Electronics have joined to offer CNN's new mobile Java application to consumers, exclusively pre-loaded into Samsung handsets from June 2008 ... [Samsung is given] a six month window where it will be the exclusive device manufacturer to host this new Java service... . The partnership will be executed across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America." CNN press release, 10 April 2008.

Germany approves WorldSpace terrestrial repeaters.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace Satellite Radio announced its wholly owned subsidiary, Worldspace Europe, received approval from Germany's Federal Network Agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, to use 12.5 MHz of spectrum in the L-band (1479.5 - 1492 MHz) on a nation-wide basis for the operation of a terrestrial repeater network in Germany. The repeaters will work in conjunction with Worldspace's existing satellite network to provide German consumers with a subscription-based satellite radio service in automobiles. This authorization from the Bundesnetzagentur makes Germany the third European nation to enable satellite radio in automobiles." Businessofcinema.com, 10 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

US diplomat "put his foot in it," then apologizes to Press TV reporter.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"It's not often that an Iranian representative gets an apology from an American diplomat. But that's what happened at a news conference given by the US representative to the UN nuclear agency in Vienna, Greg Schulte, when a journalist from the Iranian state-funded television station Press-TV asked a question. Two questions, actually, both perfectly legit. ... Mr Schulte's immediate response was to ask whether everyone at the news conference was familiar with Press-TV. In case we weren't, he told us that it was a government-run station 'which has misquoted me'. ... The ambassador must have realised that he had put his foot in it, as he went over to the Press-TV journalist at the end of the news conference to say that it was 'nothing personal'." Anne Penketh, The Independent Indyblogs, 10 April 2008.

Al Manar, banned elsewhere, now on Indonesian satellite.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Hezbollah-owned Lebanese television channel Al Manar has begun broadcasts in Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Sunni Muslim population. The transmissions are broadcast via the Palapa C2 satellite owned by the Indonesia Telkom company, in which the Indonesian government holds a majority shareholding, BBC Monitoring reported. It quoted information published by Lyngsat Satellite website. ... Al Manar was designated a 'terrorist entity', and banned by the United States in December 2004. It has also been banned by France and Spain, and according to several reports it has also runs into some service and licence problems abroad, making it unavailable in the Netherlands, South America, Canada and Australia. In Southeast Asia, Al Manar TV launched on the Thai Shin Corporation's Thaicom satellite in January 2008, but transmissions were halted after a few days when the channel's links to Hezbollah were revealed." AKI, 9 April 2008. No mention of Indonesian-language dubs or subtitles on this Arabic-language channel.

Yalie recommends BBC and Aljazeera via RealPlayer.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"I’ve also discovered over the past few years that other countries have some pretty reputable video news services to offer. If you’ve gotten tired of Fox News’ 'O’Reilly Factor,' you might want to check out 'BBC World News,' available for a reasonable $5 monthly subscription at www.real.com. While in general, I hate RealPlayer, if you’re looking for a really alternative perspective, Al-Jazeera now broadcasts in English as well as Arabic, also through Real’s site." Barrett Williams, Yale Daily News, 9 April 2008.

Most online news is from the "offline media world."

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Guardian has gone from a newspaper with a nice website to an online information source that also publishes a dead tree edition, while the BBC's Royal Charter now puts the internet on an equal level with TV and radio -whatever my students may argue about the matter. Radio is undergoing its own reinvention as downloads and podcasts overcome old geographical and time-based constraints to allow any one of the net's billion or so users to get any show from any station whenever and wherever they like. The reinvention of television proceeds apace as services like the iPlayer and 4OD hasten the end of the broadcast model and move us to an 'any screen, any time, any place' model of programme distribution. ... Most of the news we read, watch and listen to is still produced by people employed to do so; most online news comes from companies that have a presence in the offline media world; and while user contributions are solicited and broadcast, they are still complementary to the material provided by the professionals." Bill Thompson, BBC News, 9 April 2008.

BBC Arabic seeking 35 million viewers in the not-so-crowded Arabic news channel market.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"'The news offering currently available to Arabic speakers is extremely limited in terms of numbers. People often talk about there being 500 [free-to-air] channels operating in the Middle East but most of these are religious or entertainment channels. You can count the number of news channels with a significant following on one hand,' says Hosam El Sokkari, the first Arab to take the top job at BBC Arabic. ... El Sokkari is confident that Arabic-speaking viewers are aware of the corporation's editorial policy and how that differentiates it from channels such as the US government-backed Al Hurra. ... 'We are talking to a number of satellite providers around the world, including the US, with a view to including the channel as part of their bouquet. ... We do have an objective of reaching 35 million people across all platforms in five years. That's our target but there is no condition that if we don't reach that figure funding will cease. ... I would of course, be very happy if we became the number one [television news service] in the Arab world.'" ArabianBusiness.com, 10 April 2008. "BBC World Service has chosen Dalet NewsPro as the digital production platform for BBC Persian Television, the new Persian channel that will be launched later this year. This 1.6 Million Euro Dalet system will empower BBC journalists to produce news and information programs for Iranian viewers." Dalet press release, 10 April 2008.

BBC: noncommercial in the UK, very commercial in the USA.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide is expanding its US ad sales team to sell ads across its growing stable of international properties, such as BBC.com. The newly expanded ad sales team will sell TV advertising across the BBC's pay-TV channels BBC America and BBC World News, previously handled by Discovery Communications. Additionally, the team will sell to US clients ads around the international version of the BBC's website, BBC.com, the fifth-largest US online broadcast news site. It recently introduced advertising for the first time." Brand Republic, 9 April 2008.

ISPs might have to "shape" bandwidth-intensive video on demand.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"UK ISPs, like those in much of the world, compete on price - balancing the amount and speed of bandwidth available to users for a fixed price. Some services sell a fixed maximum download limit per month and charge an additional fee for more use, and others sell a higher priced, unlimited use service. That was, ISPs say, fine until Christmas Day 2007. That was the day that the BBC updated its on-demand catch up service. The new service is appallingly named ('iPlayer') but it's simple to use, slick - and contains TV. Some of iPlayer's content is streamed, and some downloaded by P2P. And that's causing a huge load on the demands placed on broadband ISPs. P2P shares files by putting fragments of them on users' PCs. That means that the BBC is not actually the "server" for most programmes. But it's the fact that the BBC is so popular that is really causing the problem. Despite creeping - in BBC World blatant - Americanisation, the BBC remains a beacon of broadcasting around the world. And that means that ever more people look to watch its output. ... Some ISPs are now suggesting that the BBC site may be 'shaped' - that is restricted." The Chief Officers' Network, 10 April 2008. BBC content will soon be available on the Nintendo Wii, but only with the U.K. BBC press release, 9 April 2008.

DTH's everywhere.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"It seems every time I talk to people at the show [SatCom Africa], I am being told about a new DTH platform emerging somewhere. I am losing track!!! New DTH platforms are sprouting up in Africa, Asia and eastern Europe, in particular. It promises to be interesting to see which ones can build a profitable business." Mark Holmes, Satellite Today blog, 9 September 2008. DTH, as in direct-to-home satellite platforms. International broadcasters should take note. Those complacently broadcasting to Africa on shortwave and not investigating DTH options may suddently find themselves without their customary audiences.

Afghanistan: shortwave versus blimps.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
In most rural areas of Afghanistan, there are no landline phones or shortwave or any way other devices to communicate quickly. So Taliban militants, who rely on poor communication in rural areas, have recently been attacking cell phone facilities and confiscating phones, stripping locals of the chance to alert U.S. soldiers to their movements. ... [There is a plan] for Afghanistan, where the U.S. military would drop cheap cell phones that could also receive radio broadcasts in Taliban-dominated areas. U.S. psychological operations aircraft or blimps would transmit programming that these cell phones can receive — weather reports, health and farming updates, religious messages from moderate imams and local and national news." Fox News, 10 April 2008. The article is wrong about shortwave. Shortwave broadcasts reach all the nooks and crannies of Afghanistan -- for those who have shortwave radios. Transmissions from aircraft or blimps would be clearer than shortwave within the footprint of those aircraft. But short- to medium-distance shortwave transmissions on frequencies of 6 megahertz and below are fairly reliable and would require only one or two land-based transmitter sites within Afghanistan. Listeners would probably have to switch from daytime to nighttime frequencies.

A time and a place for shortwave.

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Iraq 2003: "My family fled the capital days before the Americans arrived and went to stay with relatives in Diyala province. We did not have exact directions to my cousin's house. But he was a tribal sheik, so I thought he would be easy to find. ... One day not long after we had arrived, we gathered to listen to a Sony shortwave radio. We were shocked to learn that the war was over." Caesar Ahmed, Los Angeles Times, 10 April 2008.

DW-TV gets ads in blinkx deal (updated).

Posted: 10 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"blinkx, the world's largest video search engine, today announced a partnership with Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcast service. ... Under the terms of the agreement, blinkx will leverage its AdHoc platform to place contextually relevant advertising against the footage, and will share resulting advertising revenue with Deutsche Welle." blinkx press release, 7 April 2008. Update: Similar blinkx deal with EuroNews. blinkx press release, 9 April 2008.

He's not the target demographic, but he listens anyway.

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"People looking forward to studying English after retirement might be encouraged by Mitsuo Kawasaki, who makes sure to study English every day--even at the age of 93. ... 'I read The Daily Yomiuri every day and listen to the Voice of America and BBC on the radio for about an hour each day.' Kawasaki said at his home in Nagoya. 'Their English is pretty fast, but I can pick up about 80 percent of what they say.' He has lost some of his hearing, so he uses headphones to listen to the programs. ... Another motivation for him to study English was life at the military base, where he saw Hawaii-born nisei listening to shortwave broadcasts and taking notes in shorthand. 'They rewrote the stories into ordinary English and sent them to headquarters. That's when I started listening to shortwave broadcasts.'" Daily Yomiuri, 8 April 2008.

China, Tibet, and the media, continued.

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Monday night as Paris was burning with controversy, the CCTV-4 [sic, probably CCTV-9] English language service veered from its thinly veiled “bash the West in order to pity and praise China” template for its 'Dialogue' talk show with a live broadcast about the Paris torch debacle that admitted all was not well before coasting into a final 15 minutes assuring viewers that while the flame may flicker, the Olympic spirit can never be truly extinguished." Asia Sentinel, 8 April 2008. "Chinese TV may not yet be ready for live and timely news reports on sensitive issues, but it now seems prepared to report on pro-Tibet protests and other anti-China demonstrations during this global Olympic torch relay — with a dose of its own spin." Chito Romana, ABC News, 7 April 2008. "In China, CNN and BBC World run with a few seconds delay so the government can black out anything awkward, but it is somewhat embarrassing to censor your own official press tour. Those with satellite TV therefore saw what happened, but most Chinese get only state TV." Channel 4 News, 7 April 2008. "'Security Fiasco,' France 24 television said in a banner headline running on the bottom of its screen." Reuters, 8 April 2008.

Ears burning: CNN denies talk of deals with CBS, AT&T.

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"CBS News on Monday denied it was in talks with CNN on a partnership that would cut the broadcaster's newsgathering capability. 'We are extremely satisfied with and proud of our newsgathering operation,' a CBS News spokeswoman said Monday." Reuters, 8 April 2008. "The head of AT&T’s wireless division said last week that CNN would provide the carrier’s second 'exclusive' TV channel — but the programmer said there is currently no such deal in place. Multichannel News, 7 April 2008. "CNN's Baghdad bureau chief and producer, Cal Perry, has been appointed as the network's new international correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon. ... In this new role, he will cover Lebanon and also support CNN's growing presence across the Middle East with editorial operations in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Baghdad, Cairo, Dubai and Jerusalem." Mediabistro, 7 April 2008. "Byron Harmon has been appointed to the newly created position of senior executive producer at CNN International... Based in Atlanta, Harmon will coordinate all of CNN International's live news programming output from the network's main production centers in London, Hong Kong and Atlanta as well as directing breakings news coverage." Mediabistro, 7 April 2008.

People abroad perceive that we use CAPITAL LETTERS too much (updated).

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"International broadcast journalist Daljit Dhaliwal has been named anchor of GLOBAL WATCH, a half-hour special program currently in production for PBS by KCET/Los Angeles. The announcement was made today by Al Jerome, KCET president and CEO. GLOBAL WATCH is a television and digital media initiative, which explores issues of interest around the world with particular attention to how the United States is perceived abroad. It will air nationally on PBS on Wednesday, April 9 at 10:30 p.m. (Please check local listings.)" KCET press release, 4 March 2008. Update: Premieres 9 April. For lineup, see KCET press release via News Blaze, 8 April 2008.

The Aljazeera English story continues to ferment.

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
David Marash interview: "Q: Were there any instances of raw anti-American editing or what you thought was unfair oversight of content? Marash: Nobody ever touched any of my work, but other people may have had a different experience. Q: What kinds of things did you hear about? A: It's not something I really want to discuss, but I'll say that other people told me they received strong editorial guidance from Doha." Daniel Stone, Newsweek website, 8 April 2008.
     "Accuracy in Media (AIM), the media watchdog group that campaigned to keep Al-Jazeera English off American airwaves in 2006, said today that Dave Marash's decision to leave the channel confirms its warnings and fears." AIM press release, 7 April 2008.
     "On average one construction worker dies a week in New York City - and for every one killed many more are injured. Latinos make up the largest, and fastest growing, group of victims, like "Juan", 35, who fell and split his head open on the job three years ago." Aljazeera, 7 April 2008.
     About recent general strike in Egypt, Aljazeera English had "far more incisive coverage than CNN." Freddy Deknatel, Huffington Post, 7 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Press TV cited on Iraq.

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iran’s Press TV reported last week that whatever so-called 'progress' there is in Iraq, the reduced levels of violence that the 'Surge' claims credit for was actually the result of a ceasefire that Sadr’s forces unilaterally proclaimed last June, in part at Iran’s urging." Danny Schechter. MediaChannel.org, 7 April 2008. "Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini "whose comments were translated by Iran's state Press TV satellite station, said [Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-] Maliki's [crackdown on militia in Basra] action was aimed at 'confronting illegal armed groups' and this was in the interest of Iraq and its neighbors." Reuters, 7 April 2008.

Listening to shortwave from space.

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Thirty years ago, a Czech citizen, Vladimir Remek, made history when he became the first man from a country other than the US or former Soviet Union to go into space. On 2 March 1978, he took off aboard the Soyuz 28 spacecraft for an eight-day mission to the Salyut 6 space station. ... The 190 hours spent in orbit were very momentous for Mr Remek, not least because he was the first citizen from his country and the first non-US, non-Soviet citizen to go to space. During the flight, he proudly listened to various short wave radio stations and heard his name and his country repeated in countless languages." CORDIS News, 8 April 2008.

Telecommunications in North Korea.

Posted: 08 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications controls TV and other broadcasting. There is no cable TV in North Korea. Authorities set up an ultra-short wave [probably VHF] relay station in each county to relay television broadcasts. ... People can now listen to 'Chosun Central Broadcasting,' but in rural areas, it is difficult to recieve signals because the broadcasting facilities and cables have already begun to deteriorate." Daily NK, 8 April 2008.

Recalling the jazz diplomacy of the 1950s.

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Dave Brubeck "climbed aboard an East German train bound for Poland with his wife, son, three band mates and a musician's wife. When guards demanded to know why the Americans were carrying so much luggage, Brubeck recalls, he had to pantomime drumming to explain that they were musicians traveling with instruments. His 'boom, boom' drew suspicious glares, but they eventually made it to Warsaw. This was his introduction to the strange, ill-defined world of cultural diplomacy, a little-known sidelight of international relations, when musicians and other artists were sent abroad by the State Department and U.S. Information Agency as emissaries of the American way." Washington Post, 6 April 2008. See previous post about same subject. -- Horace Silver: Live at Newport '58: "Excluding the sample of Newport emcee Willis Conover's trademark patter, there are only four tracks on this disc." J. Hunter, All About Jazz, 7 April 2008.

Audacious hope for entry to the Chinese television market.

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Buzz Technologies Inc ... will make a strong challenge to China Digital in China as more and more people turn to their PC as a TV. ... Buzz is also in negotiation for the take over of a Pay Per View Company and through the strategic alliance with Archer (PINKS:AEMC) is in close contact with the state owned China Film Group. ... Buzz Sat TV - Featuring Bloomberg, BBC News, CNN International, ESPN, Fashion TV, NASA and YouTube! is a strong challenger in China and the rest of Asia to relatively expensive Cable Services." Buzz Technologies press release, 6 April 2008. This news release is vague and confusing, as in the www.12buzz.com website mentioned in the release. Plans to compete with Chinese cable, and to bring BBC, CNN, etc. to Chinese homes, should be taken with a grain of salt.

Screens still going blank in Chinese hotels.

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"This morning, while flipping through the channels of my hotel TV in Beijing, CNN International and the BBC were doing stories about the Olympic Torch relay going through Britain. Well, on CNN, just as the reporter began talking about the protesters who disrupted some of the relay activities, the screen went to blank! ... I've had no problems logging on to sites like ABC News, New York Times, etc ... but I can't log onto the political blog!" Miya Shay, KTRK (Houston) political blog, 6 April 2008.

China would have been better off just reporting the news.

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"'What's striking to me is that European public opinion, across borders and very often across party lines, has been rallying against China on Tibet,' said Francois Godement, head of the Asia Center in Paris. 'In terms of public diplomacy, China is losing in Europe, and this is a really new phenomenon if you look at the recent past,' he said. 'The way they are demonizing him [the Dalai Lama] doesn't go down well with the European public.'" Los Angeles Times, 7 April 2008.

Notes on admitting U.S. television into Canada.

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"If I had my way, I'd be more willing to let in CNN International, based out of London (more foreign news, more cultured accents and Larry King only once a day), rather than CNN's domestic service, which is based in Atlanta and features a seemingly steady parade of Amber alerts, freeway chases, tornadoes in Mississippi and political shouting matches (and Larry King four times a day!). ... The Canadian Bravo!, which is owned by CTV, features an eclectic lineup of arts and cultural programs; the U.S. Bravo, which is owned by the U.S. media conglomerate NBC-Universal, has swung heavily toward reality programs recently — reality programs that, in my view, are unwatchable." Alex Strachan, canada.com, 6 April 2008. "Organizations like Focus on Family are tailoring broadcasts to dodge Canadian 'hate crime' laws. American broadcasters with programs beamed north of the border would do better to form a coalition and speak the truth as they see it. If Radio Free Europe helped liberate eastern Europe, a similar effort might topple fanaticism in maple leaf country." Michael Acklet, WorldNetDaily, 7 April 2008.

Sderot calling.

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"It took more than seven years, but the [Israeli] Foreign Ministry on Sunday opened an office in rocket-plagued Sderot, in an effort to coordinate foreign news coverage and facilitate fact-finding and solidarity missions in the town and other communities under fire from the Gaza Strip. ... The two public diplomacy and media experts, who do not live in Sderot, will work in shifts during 'normal times' - when there is no major barrage of the town - and will receive reinforcements during times of greater violence." Jerusalem Post, 6 April 2008. "WQXR Radio, a New York City station owned by The New York Times, has refused to air a 15-second radio spot by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) because of descriptions 'outside our bounds of acceptability.' ... The commercial stated, 'Imagine you had fifteen seconds to find shelter from an incoming missile. Fifteen seconds to locate your children, help an elderly relative, assist a disabled person to find shelter. That's all the residents of Sderot and neighboring Israeli towns have.'" Arutz Sheva, 7 April 2008.

Aljazeera English staff: burned out or laughed off?

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"With 'thousands' of applicants lining up to fill the void the channel has laughed off claims that it is facing a crisis. Khalid Ali Johar, Al Jazeera’s human resources manager, told Gulf Times: 'This is not a red line for us to be worried about. It’s a normal cycle when you talk of HR; people come in and people leave.' ... According to one insider, as many as 50 employees will have gone by the end of April with a hundred more contemplating their futures – a fifth of the Doha workforce. The insider added that many workers were now close to 'burn out'." Gulf Times, 7 April 2008. "When a journalist of the stature of Dave Marash quits a news operation and cites editorial bias as one of the reasons, now is not the time to praise Al-Jazeera, but to offer constructive criticism." Calev Ben-David, Jerusalem Post, 3 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Environmental programs on the international channels.

Posted: 07 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Of late, it has been very encouraging to see that - the World’s major news channels have become very interested and vocal about the danger our Planet faces. For weeks, CNN aired the very interesting, informative and at the same time, heart wrenching and grim reports: ’Planet in Peril’; the BBC too, had its own ’Climate Change’ - reporting on the same, but with a complete different perspective. Even the recently launched Al Jazeera English channel, had it own version: Assignment Earth." Omar, Agoravox, 7 April 2008. "At MIPTV, the United Nations (UN) audiovisual family will offer green-themed documentaries and series to international broadcasters, led by the monthly magazine 21st Century, which is now airing on BBC World, RTVE and Zee TV." WorldScreen.com, 5 April 2008. Is this UN product a program, advert, or what? I don't see it on the BBC World schedule.

More discussion of RFA's parentage.

Posted: 06 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Unconfirmed reports of two monks attempting suicide were broadcast by Radio Free Asia, a US-funded and CIA-originated station broadcasting propaganda to communist countries since the Cold War." Bunn Nagara, The Sun (Kuala Lumpur), 6 April 2008. See previous post about same subject. Now a prominent newspaper in the region is associating RFA with the CIA. It is the previous, separate Radio Free Asia of the early 1950s that, according to accounts, was CIA-funded in the same manner as Radio Free Europe of that era. The present RFA's (and RFE's) funding and administration are overt, through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. It is unfortunate that RFA was compelled to take the same name of the less salubrious RFA of the 1950s. The article also mentions that RFA has been broadcasting "propaganda" since the Cold War. The present RFA went on the air in 1996, generally considered to be post-Cold War.

For how long can WorldSpace outlive Arthur C. Clarke?

Posted: 06 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
WorldSpace accounting firm Grant Thornton "expresses doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern based on its current financial resources. The Company acknowledges it needs to raise additional capital this year." WorldSpace press release, 4 April 2008. See previous post about same subject. -- Baltimore DJ Johnny Dark: "I turn 74 in July and on the 30th of May will have completed my 55th year in radio. I continue to play oldies on World Space Satellite Radio and am heard in 130 countries around the world. I receive e-mail fan mail daily and I doubt that all these listeners are balding and old. From their comments, some are just discovering this music." Baltimore Sun Random Rodricks, 5 April 2008.

Introduction to the world on a different wavelength.

Posted: 06 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Shortwave radio, but particularly BBC World Service, introduced us to the world. To distant and exotic lands, famous landmarks like London's chiming Big Ben, great personalities and ideas. Unlike television which matches words with images, shortwave radio left it to the imagination. ... Changing listening patterns, influenced by the advent of satellite broadcasting, the Internet, and the growing popularity of FM radio because of its crystal clear sound, have caused most global broadcasters significantly to reduce or abandon shortwave broadcasts to regions where these technologies now dominate." Reudon Eversley, The Nation (Barbados), 4 April 2008.

France 24's revisionist report about microcredit.

Posted: 06 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The brainchild of Rani’s fellow countryman Mohammed Yunus, who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, the Grameen Bank has been hailed for executing the microcredit mantra: giving the poor a helping hand, not a handout. ... But the situation is far from rosy in Kalihati, one of the first Bangladeshi villages to benefit from Grameen’s low interest credit scheme. The villagers here who have taken a loan are unable to reimburse their credit, and claim to be harassed by Grameen Bank representatives." France 24, 4 April 2008.

Better than jamming: entertainment.

Posted: 06 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Iranian "Dissidents' satellite TV broadcasts, mostly from California, home to a large population of Iranian Americans, have prospered. There are more than 20 satellite TV stations, stationed in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto, run by the dissidents broadcasting into Iran 24 hours a day. More than a dozen satellite radio stations are also broadcast into Iran. With the exception of the U.S.-backed Voice of America, these satellite TV stations have small budgets. As a result, their programs mostly broadcast banned pop singers' concerts and poignant criticism of the Islamic regime. The Iranian state has responded by outlawing satellite dishes and jamming the signals at several crucial political periods - but these measures haven't been nearly as brilliant as the latest strategy: entertaining the viewer." Elham Gheytanchi, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 April 2008.

How can you say you are seeing what we say you are not seeing?

Posted: 06 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Americans and Iraqis tell two different stories about the war in Iraq. Most Iraqis say that the U.S.-led invasion and occupation have fueled violence. The dominant American story is that U.S. forces are curbing sectarian violence and making things better in Iraq. This gap in perception severely undermines public diplomacy efforts throughout the Muslim world, and demands much greater effort toward understanding the Iraqi point of view." Lisa Schirch, Washington Post PostGlobal, 4 April 2008.

Muslim preachers international.

Posted: 06 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
A new breed of media-savvy Muslim preachers is taking to the stage and beaming messages to millions across the Middle East on a series of dedicated pan-Arab TV shows and channels. ... Their appeal is also going global. Execs at Al-Iqraa, for example, have already launched Albanian and Thai services. Work is also under way on an English-language satcaster, while Al-Mutawee, who is also Al-Iqraa's topper, was in Hong Kong recently to explore opening up a Chinese version of the channel." Variety, 4 April 2008.

VOA as a "massive internet portal."

Posted: 05 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Build up Brand America. Government agencies, including the USAID and United States Commercial Service, need to promote American brands, via the Web, hardware and software, to everywhere in the world where they are currently unknown or disliked. Voice of America needs to become a massive Internet portal to the American economy and media." Michael S. Malone, Wall Street Journal, 5 April 2008. U.S. international broadcasting will have no "massive" internet portal until the resources of its several overlapping, competing elements are rationalized into a single entity. In any case, Yahoo! already has a fairly massive international portal, in several languages, pointing to the U.S. media.

Detained for listening to RFA (but not in English).

Posted: 05 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Uighurs have been jailed for reading newspapers sympathetic to the cause of independence. Others have been detained merely for listening to Radio Free Asia, an English-language [sic] station funded by the US Congress." The Guardian, 5 April 2008. RFA does not broadcast on radio in English, though it offers English-language content at www.rfa.org. "The news of the demonstration [in Xinjing] was first broken by the US-run Radio Free Asia, which covered it on the basis of reports received from its sources in Xinjiang and Uighur political exiles in Turkey. The local authorities of Xinjiang initially denied and ridiculed the reports of the Radio, but they admitted on April 2,2008, that a demonstration did take place. ... The belated official confirmation of the incident has strengthened the credibility of the broadcasts of Radi Free Asia, which has now reported that the local authorities have undertaken house-to-house searches in the area looking for extremist suspects. ... Radio Free Asia has been disseminating detailed instructions to its listeners in Tibet and Xinjiang as to how to overcome the jamming of its broadcasts by the Chinese. Pakistan and Nepal have been playing a double game in the recent events. Pakistan has been pretending to co-operate with the Chinese against the Uighur extremists. At the same time, it has allowed Radio Free Asia to produce many of its Uighur language programmes in Pakistani territory. Similarly, the government of Nepal has been co-operating with the Chinese authorities for monitoring the activities of the Tibetan Youth Congress from Nepalese territory. At the same time. it has allowed Radio Free Asia to produce and transmit many of its Tibetan language programmes from the Nepalese soil." B. Raman, outlookindia.com, 3 April 2008.

Al-Qaeda: the message and the network.

Posted: 05 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Al-Qaeda Media Nexus," new study by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty "looks at the global message that Al-Qaeda puts out and that its affiliates put out. It also looks at the network that is behind that -- and then, how...they get that [message] out to the world." RFE/RL, 4 March 2008.

CBC protests the blocking of its website by China.

Posted: 05 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has formally complained to China's ambassador to Canada about the continued blocking of the broadcaster's websites in China. ... Access in China to CBC's French-language website Radio-Canada.ca has been blocked for six months, while access to the English site CBC.ca has been cut off since January." CBC News, 4 April 2008. Nevertheless, China Radio International continues to be relayed by via the shortwave facility of CBC's Radio Canada International, at Sackville, New Brunswick.

The task set out for BBC Arabic television.

Posted: 05 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC also will have to ensure its source of coin -- namely the British government -- doesn't allow Arab viewers to see the station as simply an extension of British foreign policy, a fate the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra has never been able to successfully shake off. That other foreign-funded Arab news services -- such as France 24, Russia Today, Germany's Deutsche-Welle and even Iran's Al-Alam -- have also failed to make any real dent in the popularity of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya also offers warnings." Variety, 4 April 2008

Monetizing VOA Special English content.

Posted: 04 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"At the Tesol 2008 Convention being held in New-York on 2-5 April 2008, Edulang will present Audioster, a daily web service which will upgrade your English using audio reports about international news. Edulang announces the availability of Audioster on 3G + mobiles phones known as smartphones, equipped with Windows mobile 6.0 and an Internet connection. Audioster is also accessible from a PC or Mac computer. With Audioster you can practice your English every day, using international news. Using a daily 3-minute radio report from Voice of America, you do interactive activities to practice contemporary English with a wide variety of accents. ... An Audioster subscription costs 20 euros incl VAT per month or 149 euros incl VAT per year." Edulang press release, 31 March 2008.

Looking back on coverage of the Tibet crisis.

Posted: 04 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"There is a simplistic 'Dalai Lama good, Chinese government bad' tendency in some reporting, and journalists make mistakes. A news agency photo of Chinese policemen rescuing someone from the mob was erroneously captioned as an arrest. A German TV station showed footage of police beating Tibetan rioters in Nepal, with voice-over saying it was in Lhasa. (That chief sub editor, video, should write a self-criticism.) Michael Portillo’s opinion piece in the Sunday Times comparing the Beijing Olympics in 2008 with Berlin in 1936 was over the top. But this is all a distraction from the real issues, namely that these are the most significant protests in China since Tiananmen Square, and journalists are being prevented from covering them." Lindsey Hilsum, Press Gazette, 4 April 2008.

You mean talking more loudly won't get the message across?

Posted: 04 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Pursue public diplomacy. What we do sends a more potent signal to the world than the cleverest PR campaign. But once we start doing smarter things, we should also be smart about promoting our efforts. For instance: Revive the U.S. Information Agency -- a once-vast independent entity that (though lecture programs, libraries, concerts, etc.) promoted not American policy but American values. Send as emissaries abroad people who understand the language and the area (not well-meaning provincials like Karen Hughes). ... Train customs officers to treat foreign visitors more courteously at embassies and airports." Fred Kaplan, Slate, 30 March 2008. USIA absolutely did promote U.S. policies. If a revived USIA does not promote U.S. policies abroad, another agency would have to do it.

Anholt's brand index expands to 50 nations.

Posted: 04 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, a division of GfK Custom Research North America, today announced a new partnership with renowned government advisor and author Simon Anholt to provide an expanded Nation Brands Index. The annual index is based on the perceptions of more than 20,000 people across the globe, ranking nations according to the strength and appeal of their image. Growing from 35 to now 50 countries, the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index measures the power and quality of each country's 'brand image'." Roper press release, 3 April 2008.

Might take your mind off sitting in the middle of those five seats.

Posted: 04 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"To accompany the launch of its new daily London-Los Angeles service on 31 March 2008, Air France is teaming up with the International news channel BBC World to offer customers their favourite daily news bulletins. Every month, close to 13,000 passengers on board the new London-Los Angeles flights will have access to the latest afternoon news bulletins (flight departs at 5pm), at over 30,000 feet." Easier Travel, 4 April 2008. No mention of any satellite-to-plane feed, so this must be a recording brought on board before departure.

Lots of FM for a station with no Khmer service.

Posted: 04 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"British Ambassador David Reader today signed for the launch of BBC 99.25 FM in Siem Reap, Cambodia which will broadcast the BBC's internationally famous radio programmes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The BBC are also celebrating an exciting new radio partnership with Love 97.5 FM [English-language station in Phnom Penh] who are now broadcasting the best of BBC World Service programming. ... The launch of BBC 99.25 FM and the new partnership with Love 97.5 FM complements the current BBC 100 FM relay broadcasting throughout Phnom Penh in Cambodia." BBC World Service press release, 3 April 2008.

New UN broadcast for Somalia.

Posted: 04 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) has launched direct broadcasts via short wave radio of Somali news and information at: Frequency 9665 kHz, 31 meter band, daily from 1730-1745 GMT (2030-2045 EAT)." Somalia Situation Report, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, via ReliefWeb, 4 April 2008. Competes with VOA Somali, at 1600-1800 UTC.

CRI cited by Western news media.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
""Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China's economy was fundamentally in good shape ... Wen's comments, made on Sunday in Laos where he was attending an environment summit, were carried on the China Radio International Web site (http://www.cnr.cn)." Reuters, 31 March 2008. -- Pilots disgruntled over labor issues disrupted 14 flights out of one Chinese city on Monday in an unusual display of defiance, state-run newspapers reported Thursday. ... The China Radio International Report said pilots were angry over being required to sign 99-year contracts with state-owned airlines that call for them to pay their employers up to 2.1 million yuan in compensation if they quit." AP, 3 April 2008. CRI also cited, for same news, by BBC News, 3 April 2008. "Incensed pilots for China's state-owned airlines are striking back -- with a strike -- at unfair employment policies." China Radio International, 2 April 2008.

Confucius say: soft power is not forced.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"As China's influence steadily expands around the globe, the country faces the public relations challenge of ensuring that the rest of the world sees it in a favorable light. China hopes to accomplish this goal through the use of 'soft power' by exporting its culture. ... Confucius' message on soft power was clear: Lead by moral authority, not force. Keep your own house in order, and others will follow your example. Whether China's leaders have learned these lessons remains to be seen." NPR, 2 April 2008.

New Chinese internal propaganda will feature negative portrayals of Tibet when it was independent.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"China has ordered ramped-up propaganda and ideological education in Tibet to build anti-separatist sentiment and to vilify the Dalai Lama after last month's protests, an official newspaper said Thursday. ... {Regional party chief Zhang Qingli} ordered officials to boost ideological education among young people, focusing on negative portrayals of Tibet prior to the communist invasion in 1950 and continued vilification of the Dalai Lama's political agenda." AP, 3 April 2008.

Xinhua: "Dalai clique" sends instructions via VOA Tibetan.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Dalai clique has found new ways to contact secessionists in Tibet. they would make appointments through telephone and Internet. At the appointed time, they would listen to Tibetan language programs on the Voice of America, through which they convey instructions from overseas and report latest development inside China." Xinhua, 2 April 2008. "Although based in the seclusive Himalayan town [of Dharamsala], the Dalai clique is well-informed as well as highly informative. The Dalai Lama and his supporters are quite adept in using extremely biased media such as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia to disseminate lies, rumors and propaganda, the newspaper [Global Times] said." Xinhua, 3 April 2008.

Eritrean opposition calling Eritrea, via Ethiopia.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Eritrean opposition groups are beaming television programmes into the country using technical facilities provided by the state television network in neighbouring Ethiopia. ... The 30-minute programmes go out four nights a week in Eritrea’s two main languages - in Tigrinya on Tuesdays andThursdays, and in Arabic on Wednesdays and Fridays." BBC Monitoring via Eritrea Daily, 2 April 2008.

Are BBC World and CNN International flattered by the imitation?

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sky News quietly slipped on air this morning with a package of new onscreen graphics which give it a more understated, less cluttered, look than the award-winning channel's old shouty self. The rolling news channel seems to have taken style tips from both its major rivals, BBC News 24 and CNN International, in what are its first major on-air changes for over a year." The Guardian organ grinder, 3 April 2008.

When Robin Williams rescued BBC World: video now available.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World was at TED to tape a special panel discussion on the media when it experienced technical difficulties and had to halt the taping a couple of minutes into the event. As the BBC moderator struggled to fill the dead air while the problem was being fixed, a loud heckler in the audience spoke up and grabbed everyone's attention. Once the audience realized it was Williams, he was encouraged to take the stage." Wired Epicenter blog, 2 April 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Alhurra reporter "lightly injured" in Iraq.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the southern city of Basra, a bomb attack hit a motorcade of senior officials from Iraq's Ministry of Defence, including the ministry spokesman, Mohamed al-Akari, according to al-Arabyia television. Al-Askari told the channel there were no casualties but a reporter from the Washington-based al-Hurra television was lightly injured." Monsters & Critics, 2 April 2008. "Mazin al-Tayyar, a reporter for the U.S.-funded al-Hurra TV station, said he was shot while accompanying commanders into the neighborhood and was in stable condition." CNN, 2 April 2008. -- France 24 claims exclusive report from Sadr City. France 24, 2 April 2008.

Understand our laws, dislike us less?

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Jay Feinman's book, Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About the American Legal System (Oxford University Press), "currently in its second American edition, has been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Dari, Pashtu, and Urdu. A Chinese translation is in the works. ... Several of the translations have been sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s International Information Program. As part of the department’s public diplomacy efforts, the book publishing program aims to foster a sense of mutual interests and shared values between Americans and people of different countries." Professor Feinman: "This isn’t about getting people to adopt American ways of law but about promoting the understanding of American ideals and culture." Rutgers University press release, 31 March 2008.

To make the United States less unpopular: dance, jazz, country and western.

Posted: 03 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Bill Hybl, new chairman of the Advisory Commission of Public Diplomacy "wants to improve the world's view of the United States through music, sports and cultural affairs. 'Public diplomacy is encouraging trust, understanding and goodwill on a personal basis, whether it's exchanges, cultural programs or public information officers,' he said. 'The challenges are pretty significant. We haven't, in my view, done enough to show what the American culture and ability - in music, sports, dance - really is. How do we magnify this, using coaches, jazz groups, country and western groups, and really show people in a definitive way what America does?'" Colorado Springs Gazette, 1 April 2008.

The good news is that the bad news is not as bad as last year.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Attitudes to the United States are improving, an opinion poll carried out for the BBC World Service suggests. The average percentage of people saying that the US has a positive influence has risen to 35% from 31% a year ago, according to the survey. Those saying the US has a negative influence fell five percentage points to 47%. The poll, part of a regular survey of world opinion, interviewed more than 17,000 people in 34 countries." BBC News, 2 April 2008. See also BBC News, 2 April 2008 and BBC World Service press release, 2 April 2008. Complete results available at WorldPublicOpinion.org, 1 April 2008. This survey was reported widely by other news organizations. The United States remains in a "club" with North Korea, Pakistan, Israel, and Iran: countries that more people believe have a mainly negative rather than a mainly positive influence in the world. The most positive views of the United States are in Kenya and the Philippines. The most negative views are in Germany, Turkey, and Egypt. -- "Germany's strong showing came as a complete surprise. It was the first time Germany had been included in the yearly survey, which has been gauging world opinions since 2005." Deutsche Welle, 2 April 2008.

NATO'S new natochannel.tv combines international broadcasting and public diplomacy.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"During the Bucharest Summit on 2-4 April, NATO will launch a new web-based television channel meant to improve understanding of the Alliance roles, operation and missions. The new TV channel is the result of close cooperation between the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the Danish Government to improve the way the Alliance communicates its work and image to the general public. ... Footage will also be available in broadcast quality for journalists and media networks to download." Trend News, 2 April 2008. See also Xinhua, 2 April 2008. And www.natochannel.tv, which has an interview about NATO's public diplomacy, including the new television services. Generally, I don't think that a combination of international broadcasting and public diplomacy will attract large audiences. But I've also wanted some sort of outlet for the "good news" about the activities of the United State sand its partners in Iraq and Afghanistan. As long as everyone understands that this isn't journalism, the content can provide a useful and interesting starting point for the inquiries of journalists, investigators, scholars, politicians, and other interested persons. The two reports from Afghanistan at natochannel.tv are an encouraging start. -- "The press center was silent as U.S. President George W. Bush delivered a morning address on April 2 from the Palace of the Deposit and Savings Bank. The president was visible on the live television feed, but it was hard to understand what he was saying. The sound wasn't working." RFE/RL News, 2 April 2008.

Afghan bureaucrats take aim at foreign television programs.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rahimullah Samandar, the president of the Independent Afghan Journalists Association, told RFE/RL that ... the Information and Culture Ministry and the Afghan Religious Council recently condemned several television broadcasters, including Tolo, Ariyana, and Noorin for broadcasting foreign TV series, which they deemed 'immoral.' They demanded that the television stations discontinue the series. Samandar says most ordinary Afghans, however, enjoy such programming. 'Afghans are tired of decades of war and restrictions, and now they want light and entertaining TV programs.'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 31 March 2008.

CDs on Katyn massacre includes RFE archives.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Polish Radio has issued a 4 CD set featuring a selection of recordings documenting the Katyn massacre of over 20,000 Polish officers by the Soviet NKVD police. ... The CD set also contains reports from the archives of Radio Free Europe, including an interview with General Wladyslaw Anders, as well as the testimonies about the Katyn massacre given before US Congress by Polish writers Jozef Mackiewicz and Ferdynand Goetel." Polskie Radio, 2 April 2008.

IOC to Beijing: unblock the internet.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Internet must be open during the Beijing Olympics. That was the message a top-ranking International Olympic Committee official delivered Tuesday to Beijing organizers during the first of three days of meetings — the last official sessions between IOC inspectors and the Chinese hosts before the games begin in just over four months. Beijing routinely blocks Chinese access to some foreign news Web sites and blogs, a practice it has stepped up since rioting broke out over two weeks ago in Tibet." AP, 1 April 2008. "Q: IOC officials say Internet in China must be fully open during the Olympic Games and the censorship should be lifted. Will China do so during the Games? A: The Chinese government has been proactively supporting and promoting the sound development of Internet. We have also borrowed the helpful experiences and practices of some western countries on Internet management. At present, our measures are in line with the general international practice. During the Games, we will honor our commitment in bidding for the Games and follow the general practice of Olympics so as to provide better service for the athletes and reporters." Spokesperson Jiang Yu's press conference, 1 April 2008, PRC Foreign Ministry, 1 April 2008.

China steps up jamming, says Voice of Tibet.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The exile radio network Voice of Tibet on Wednesday accused Beijing of stepping up jamming of its shortwave news broadcasts into the Himalayan province during a crackdown on anti-Chinese demonstrations in Tibet and ahead of the 2008 Olympics in China. ... 'The Chinese jamming transmissions contain a mixture of dragon dance music, drums and noise, and affects listening also in India, Nepal and Europe.'" AP, 2 April 2008. See previous post about same subject. Using the IBB Monitoring RMS receiver in Kathmandu, I did not find any samples of Voice of Tibet, but I did find RFA and VOA Tibetan thoroguhly jammed on most frequencies. However, in these audio samples, RFA Tibetan is fair with the Firedrake jammer in the background (27 and 29 March, 0114 UTC, 7470 kHz).

RFA websites will soon have new "look and feel."

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"We at Radio Free Asia have been hard at work finding ways to answer your comments and improve access to our Web sites. In a few days, our Web sites’ look and feel will change. Our new navigation and content display ensure that no matter how our visitors come to the sites, whether via proxy or directly, they will be able to easily and quickly access RFA news." RFA website, 1 April 2008. "Even as I write this, the Tibet story has slipped from the major news outlets. I had to go to the Radio Free Asia website to find an update." Eliot Pattison, via readers blog of seattlepi.com, 1 April 2008.

RFA report about protests by Uyghurs in Xinjiang widely cited by news agencies.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Tuesday, a local government Web site in Xinjiang reported that a protest has broken out in a market in the region on March 23. One official linked the incident to the unrest in Tibet. But U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia, which first reported the demonstration, said the protesters were demanding authorities not ban headscarves, and that they stop torturing Uighurs and release all political prisoners. It said several hundred Uighurs staged the protests in Hotan and a nearby county and were taken into custody. Fu Chao, an official with the Hotan Regional Administrative Office, disputed that characterization." AP, 2 April 2008. -- See also AP, 2 April 2008. -- The Times, 2 April 2008. -- BBC News, 2 April 2008. -- AFP, 2 April 2008. -- PTI, 2 April 2008. -- The RFA story was posted at News Blaze, 2 April 2008.

A colloquy about the funding of Radio Free Asia.

Posted: 02 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"With the CIA's deep involvement with the Free Tibet Movement and its funding of the suspiciously well-informed Radio Free Asia, it would seem somewhat unlikely that any revolt could have been planned or occurred without the prior knowledge, and even perhaps the agreement, of the National Clandestine Service (formerly known as the Directorate of Operations) at CIA headquarters in Langley." Richard M Bennett, Asia Times, 26 March 2008.
     Originally, I wasn't going to mention this item in a post, because it is so obviously wrong. RFA's funding is accounted for, and there is nothing suspicious about a good news organization getting scoops. However, James Glassman, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, responded: "Richard M Bennett made an outrageous, untrue, and defamatory claim about the financing of Radio Free Asia (RFA). ... Mr Bennett says that RFA's Tibet broadcasts are 'suspiciously well-informed.' There is nothing suspicious in the least about the RFA's journalistic achievements. They have been won the hard way - mainly by cultivating reliable sources in Tibet to bring accurate, unbiased news to the people of the region." Letter to Asia Times, 31 March 2008. Bennett responded back, mentioning the Radio Free Asia of the early 1950s. ibid.
     As documented in Eric Barnouw, The Image Empire: A history of broadcasting in the United States (Oxford University Press, 1970), Radio Free Asia "was luanched in 1952 with short-wave transmitters in Taiwan and the Philippines. Set up in similar fashion [as Radio Free Europe], it was shielded by a Committee for Free asia, which also carried on propaganda activities in other media, not only in Asia but also in the United States. ... The Committee for Free Asia was by an Asia Foundation, similarly financed. Radio Free Asia continued for about two years."
     The Asia Foundation still exists. Its website is vague about its history, other than to say that its activities are "drawing on more than 50 years of experience in Asia." In FY 2008, it received $15 million from the U.S. government, though it has many other donors.
     When the new "surrogate" station for Asia was funded by Congress in the mid-1990s, leaders of U.S. international broadcasting wisely planned to call it Asia Pacific Network -- a bland, neutral name that would have been unobjectionable to partners in the region. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), a prime mover in the creation of the new station, called those leaders into his office and very unwisely compelled them to revert to the originally designated Radio Free Asia.
     The content of RFA would probably not create any objections on the part of Thailand and the Philippines, host of two important IBB relay sites that RFA needed to reach its target countries. It was the name Radio Free Asia, with all its historical baggage, and its association with formerly CIA-funded Radio Free Europe, that caused those two countries to forbid RFA relays from their soil. RFA was forced to lease transmitters where it could.
     East Asia, because of its vastness, is one of the most difficult targets for international broadcasting to get a signal into. Because of its mostly competitive domestic media environments, it's one of the most difficult areas in which to cultivate an audience. Because of a lack of press freedom and other restrictions, it's one of the most challenging areas to get news out of. Successful international broadcasting to East Asia requires all of the resources U.S. international broadcasting can muster. As good as RFA and VOA are, they divide those resources, and compete for budget, talent, and audience. As such, U.S. international broadcasting to East Asia is less successful and more expensive than it ought to be.

A new season of shortwave broadcasting.

Posted: 01 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
Most shortwave broadcasters make seasonal frequency changes twice a year. A new season (A08) began on 30 March. DX Listening Digest, 30 March 2008, includes A08 schedules for many stations, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, BBC World Service, and Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. Also, observations by Kai Ludwig and editor Glenn Hauser, such as the fact that the IBB shortwave relay Briech, Morocco, slated to be returned to Morocco, is still transmitting non-IBB content. Also: "RCI has almost abandoned shortwave to Europe."

Funding for Kol Israel's last shortwave language.

Posted: 01 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Prime Minister's Office will assume responsibility for financing Israel Radio's Farsi (Persian) broadcasts, at an annual cost of NIS 3.6 million, according to an agreement reached recently between the office and the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA). Under the agreement, the Prime Minister's Office will cover the cost of refurbishing and maintaining the broadcasting facilities, which represents the bulk of the project's costs. However, the IBA will continue to provide the station's personnel. ... IBA officials insisted that despite the government funding, the Farsi broadcasts will not be propagandist in nature, and the Prime Minister's Office will have no influence on the broadcasts' content. The Farsi broadcasts had been in danger because Israel Radio intends to stop all its short-wave broadcasts as of today, due to the poor condition of its transmitters." Ha'aretz, 1 April 2008. A note from Daniel Rosenzweig confirms that all other Kol Israel shortwave broadcasts, including relays of the Reshet Bet domestic service, have left the air. Kol Israel International in 14 languages is now available as audio streams from www.intkolisrael.com. If your audience has web access, wouldn't they prefer to absorb your content by way of web pages rather than audio programs? That is, unless the content involves music, or personality, or something in which radio has the advantage. -- Also, interesting that IBA is keeping at least two shortwave transmitters on the air for one remaining language. On the other hand, maintaining the transmitters keeps them available in case they are needed in the future.

Thales: we don't sell jamming transmitters.

Posted: 01 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"French defence electronics firm Thales denied accusations by human rights campaigners it sold equipment to China that has helped Beijing scramble radio broadcasts. ... Thales said a former subsidiary had indeed sold 'standard short-wave radio broadcasting equipment to China' in 2002 but the equipment was designed for legal civil purposes." Reuters, 31 March 2008. See previous post about same subject. I've written before that I'm sure China uses its brand new imported shortwave transmitters for actual broadcasting, by China Radio International, etc. The new transmitters free up older domestic transmitters, the poor audio quality and frequency instability of which are actually beneficial for jamming. Often, instead of noise, China transmits content from China National Radio and other sources co-channel with the blocked station. China uses this method to claim that it is engaging in domestic shortwave broadcasting rather than jamming. One common type of audio used for China's co-channeling, dubbed Firedrake by DXers, consists of raucous excerpts of Chinese opera. Listen to this audio sample. See also discussion by Kai Ludwig and Glenn Hauser at the DXLD discussion group.

How six news channels covered Tibet.

Posted: 01 Apr 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera, which has broadcast videos of beheadings and is seen as sometimes sympathetic to terrorists. China’s own CCTV9, where the media is overseen by the state and even western journalists are tightly-regulated. The BBC, banned from some countries because it is a western oriented station and doesn’t play by government rules. Russia Today, reflecting a modern economic behemoth that understands the power of media in shaping world opinion. France 24, which has risen to become a world media power. CNN, the recognised planet television news giant, sometimes seen of underestimating events for western viewers." Kassandra's Notebook, New Europe, 31 March 2008.