China favored to win the gold in the website blocking event.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"International media should have been told they would not have completely free access to the Internet before they arrived to report on the Beijing Olympics, IOC press chief Kevan Gosper told Reuters on Thursday." Reuters, 31 July 2008.
     "IOC Press Commission head Kevan Gosper has apologised for misleading the media by promising journalists that internet access during the Beijing Olympics would be unfettered." The Australian, 31 July 2008.
     "Chinese organisers said that the censorship would not hamper journalists in their job of reporting on the Games. Sun Weide, a Bocog official, said that the plan had always been to provide 'sufficient' internet access for foreign reporters. Sites run by the Falun Gong religious sect remain inaccessible, as do most sites with the word Tibet in their internet address." The Times, 31 July 2008.
     "A BOCOG spokesman, Sun Weide, said that the authorities would provide 'sufficient and convenient Internet access' so that reporting on the Olympics would 'not be affected.' But he refused to explain what 'sufficient' meant in the government's eyes, and he did not disclose which websites would be blocked." Globe and Mail, 31 July 2008.
     "Jonathan Watts, president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, said he was disappointed that Beijing had failed to honor its agreement to temporarily remove the firewall that prevented Chinese citizens from fully using the Internet. "Obviously if reporters can't access all the sites they want to see, they can't do their jobs,' he said. 'Unfortunately such restrictions are normal for reporters in China, but the Olympics were supposed to be different.'" International Herald Tribune, 31 July 2008.
     "The cosy deal between two of the world's most powerful bodies — the Chinese Communist Party and the International Olympic Committee — to strip away media freedoms reflects badly on both." Jacquelin Magnay, The Age (Melbourne), 1 August 2008.
     "When China made its bid for the Olympics seven years ago, it promised that the foreign media would have 'complete freedom to report.'" Interntional Freedom of Expression Exchange, 30 July 2008.
     Reporters sans frontieres "condemns the International Olympic Committee’s acceptance of the fact the Chinese authorities are blocking access to certain websites at the Olympic Games media centre in Beijing. More than 20,000 foreign journalists are affected. The organization also condemns the cynicism of the Chinese authorities, who have yet again lied, and the IOC’s inability to prevent this situation because of its refusal to speak out for several years." RSF, 30 July 2008.
     Kai Ludwig translates and summarizes German newspaper interview with Deutsche Welle spokesman Berthold Stevens: "Deutsche Welle will not protest the blocking of its website in the Olympic press centre at Beijing. For a couple of years, DW has been working on getting a broadcasting licence in China. Thus it is in the interest of DW to get, in the long term, its feet on the Chinese TV market by way of further licences and cooperations. The website blocking is not a new situation and apparently just temporary, this happens time and again. DW offers internet and radio services for China, radio on shortwave because it is more difficult to block. Although individual TV productions are rebroadcast by Chinese stations in Guangdong, Hongkong and Taiwan [as in original], DW-TV as program in its entirety is not available in China." Deutscher Depeschendienst, 31 July 2008. This aspect not mentioned in DW's own story, 30 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

McCain adviser sees RFE/RL as model for victory in Afghanistan.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Re John McCain's "chief ideologue and foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann": "Take his position on Afghanistan. Scheunemann says 'this is by no means a military struggle.' Huh? We're not at war there? Nope, he says. Soft power will save the day (neocons are big fans of the effectiveness of American propaganda, never failing to mention how Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty won us the Cold War and how similar efforts can win over Muslim hearts and minds)." Lionel Beehner, Huffington Post, 30 July 2008. See previous post about Scheunemann.

CBC seeks Chinese Canadian "customers" through new website (updated).

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"CBC British Columbia is hoping to widen its customer base through a new website that provides the latest news in the Chinese language. The website, www.cbc.ca/bc/chinesenews, was launched Tuesday night in association with Radio Canada International and will provide CBC’s local, national and international news in simplified and traditional Chinese characters." Vancouver Sun, 23 July 2008. Update: "CBC has announced the addition of a daily online Olympic highlights package in Mandarin. Beginning Aug. 9, and continuing through to Aug. 24, four Web sites, including CBCSports.ca, will feature the daily Mandarin-language Olympic highlights package." National Post, 30 July 2008.

BBC Arabic adds SMS via mobile phones.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The availability of the BBC's multimedia service for the Arab world has further expanded across the Middle East thanks to the launch of mobile-phone partnerships in the Palestinian territories, Oman and Jordan. In addition to the availability of BBC Arabic on television, radio and online, international news seekers in these territories can now access the BBC Arabic content via their mobile phones. Subscribers to Al Jawwal – the operator in the West Bank and Gaza – can now receive SMS messages with top news stories from BBC Arabic." BBC World Service press release, 31 July 2008.

Winning hearts and minds: Turkish soap popular among Arab viewers.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In Saudi Arabia, the only country with ratings, about three to four million people watch ["Noor"] daily, out of a population of nearly 28 million, according to MBC, the Saudi-owned satellite channel that airs the show dubbed into Arabic for Middle East audiences." AP, 28 July 2008. "And finally it has happened: Saudi Arabia’s leading cleric has condemned the soap opera as 'wicked' and 'malevolent'." The National (Abu Dhabi), 28 July 2008. Fatwa. AHN Media, 28 July 2008.

Is the Taliban winning the "war of words"?

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Canada, the United States and other countries with military forces in Afghanistan are losing a propaganda battle to a resurgent Taliban movement, a respected international think tank says. Taliban militants with their faces covered pose for invited photographers in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, earlier this month. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said the Afghan insurgency's military capabilities are often overestimated, but a sophisticated multi-media propaganda campaign is projecting a Taliban movement that is increasingly confident of its ability to exploit opponents' weaknesses." CBC News, 25 July 2008. "Though the Taliban are understandably not easy to access, they provide ready updates on information and operations and their own claims. According to the ICG, the Taliban's rudimentary website is updated several times a day and the Taliban are able to put out their story rapidly, though its messages are sometimes contradictory." Aunohita Mojumdar, Asia Times, 26 July 2008. See also ICG press release, 24 July 2008 (with link to the report).

Will Telesur also ask that the hostages be returned to FARC? (updated)

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Telesur TV channel might file a lawsuit against the Colombian government, as many voices join rejection of the illegal use of the Telesur logo during Operation Jaque." [to rescue Ingrid Betancourt and others held captive by the FARC]. Prensa Latina, 27 July 2008. "Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said that his country will not apologize for the use of the logo of Venezuela-based television news organization Telesur, during the rescue of 15 hostages from members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). 'To be honest, we did not believe that (the use of Telesur logo) was important. We did never think that this would cause any reaction.'" El Universal, 25 July 2008. " Jean-Francois Julliard, deputy director of the press advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders, said authorities can endanger journalists when they pose as members of the news media. 'We think it is a dangerous practice because it puts in danger real journalists,' he said." CNN, 24 July 2008. Update: "Impersonating journalists or human rights workers in Colombia endangers their colleagues on dangerous assignments around the world. 'It increases the risks, especially at a time when reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan are being kidnapped and accused of being spies,' said Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director. 'These tactics should only be used as an absolute last resort, as they endanger all journalists, particularly those working in conflict zones who rely on status as neutral observers to keep them safe.'" Committee to Protect Journalists, 30 July 2008. See also CPJ, 29 July 2008.

DRM tests in India.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
All India Radio and the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union reported to the International Telecommunications Union about Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) tests in India, during May, on medium wave, and on 3, 6, and 26 MHz shortwave. Results were generally good. Alokesh Gupta, RadioActivity, via 26MHz.us, 28 July 2008 (with link to the report).

Worldspace: death spiral financing? (updated)

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
In an SEC filing, Worldspace summarizes a meeting in which it promises to pay "4 'investors' an aggregate of $18.5m on July 25, which includes $15.2m of the principal. In return the investors have agreed to extend until September 15 the maturity date of the remaining amounts, and further will change the Sept 30 due date to Dec 31 2008 if Worldspace has paid in full by Sept 15 the amounts due on the loans. ... Quite what this means to Worldspace’s ongoing operations in Europe is difficult to fathom. Certainly its “partner” in Italy (Class Editori) and its 35% stake in the Italian operation needs clarification, as does the status of Worldspace Europe generally." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 27 July 2008. Worldspace "has pledged its European assets to the debt-holders." Rapid TV News, 24 July 2008. Full disclosure: I have a soft spot in my heart for corporations that try to make a go of audacious new technologies. As such, it would give me no joy to see Worldspace fail. It would, instead, give me joy to see Worldspace find its way out of its present fix. In a previous post, I floated the idea of Worldspace making its money not from from subscriber-listeners, but from from broadcasters leasing time on its channels. The result would be programming that few of us would want to listen to, but it might keep Worldspace in business. Update: "Worldspace must now find at least $52m by mid-September, as well as continue funding its day-to-day operations. It can anticipate $13m from Noah Samara’s Yenura – and will continue to attempt to raise more cash. But one has to wonder where the fresh money might come from." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 28 July 2008. Reader comments. Rapid TV News, 29 July 2008. Dave Kruger, CEO of competitor Onda Media: “I have nothing to say pejoratively against Worldspace in any way whatsoever. The people we are dealing with recognise the differences between us [and Worldspace] and they do not confuse us. What we don’t want to see happen is that the public gets confused.” Rapid TV News, 30 July 2008.

Case against RFI reporter in Niger thrown out, but prosecution appeals (updated).

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A senior judge in Niger has thrown out the case against a journalist working for French radio, detained for 10 months on suspicion of collaborating with Tuareg rebels, his lawyer said on Wednesday. It is the second time a judge has ordered the release of Moussa Kaka, who works for French state broadcaster Radio France International (RFI). He was arrested in September last year." Reuters, 23 July 2008. "Niger prosecutors again appealed Friday against a court order to free imprisoned Radio France correspondent in Niger Moussa Kaka, the prosecution service said." AFP, 25 July 2008. Update: "Niger's Court of Appeal is to rule next month whether to release jailed Radio France International correspondent Moussa Kaka, his legal team said Tuesday after a court hearing." AFP, 30 July 2008. Reporters sans frontieres "strongly condemns today’s decision by Niger’s public prosecutor to appeal against an investigating judge’s decision five days ago to dismiss the charges on which Radio Saraounia manager Moussa Kaka has been held since last September. The authorities would have had to free Kaka if the prosecutor had not filed his appeal." RSF, 28 July 2008.

Head of BBC Chinese disinvited from Olympics opening.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"China's commitment to media freedom at the Olympics will again be called into question after an invitation to attend the opening ceremony was withdrawn from a senior BBC employee. Lorna Ball, head of BBC Chinese, had expected to be a guest of China Radio International (CRI), the state broadcaster, at the ceremony in Beijing on Friday week. It was interpreted as a sign that the mood of the authorities towards the World Service's Cantonese- and Mandarin-language arms might be thawing." The Guardian, 30 July 2008.

Meanwhile, will the Olympics websites keep up with demand?

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Back in 2000 the Sydney games generated an astonishing amount of traffic to Olympics websites, and in the last four years the number of net users has almost doubled from around 750 million to 1.4 billion. That is going to place a massive strain on the official Olympics website and the associated infrastructure, and it will be interesting to see how it stands up. Over the past few months we've seen a number of high-profile websites fail, including Amazon and Facebook, and just this week when Amazon's S3 service was offline for several hours because of too much 'gossiping' between servers - that's the official explanation, honest." Bill Thompson, BBC News, 29 July 2008.

From China: a lesson about internet-only international broadcasting.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Internet censorship is nothing new to people logging on in China. The government blocks a number of sites it considers sensitive. It now appears that thousands of journalists arriving in Beijing to cover the Olympics will face a similar situation. At the Olympic Main Press Centre, situated next to the main sporting venues, websites that are off limits include news sites. The BBC's English-language website is available, but not the Chinese-language version, apparently 'Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage'. Other Chinese-language news websites that have been blocked include radio station Voice of America and Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily." BBC News, 30 July 2008.
     "Journalists connecting to the Internet at the Beijing International Media Center (BIMC) are discovering that despite promises of an open reporting environment, China is still blocking access to some Web sites." PCWorld, 30 July 2008.
     "China's Communist Party regime has put in place a reinvigorated internet censorship program blocking controversial websites for journalists at the Beijing Olympic Games while demanding that hotels implement an intrusive spyware program to monitor guests' internet use." Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 2008.
     "'This type of censorship would have been unthinkable in Athens, but China seems to have more formalities,' said Mihai Mironica, a journalist with ProTV in Romania. 'If journalists cannot fully access the Internet here, it will definitely be a problem.'" Fox News, 30 July 2008.
     "The International Olympic Committee interceded Tuesday after journalists complained of Chinese censorship and low Internet speeds at the main Olympic press centre. Gilbert Felli, the committee's Olympic Games executive director, met with the organisers of the Beijing Olympic Games to discuss the issue, said Kevin Gosper, chairman of the committee's media commission." DPA, 30 July 2008.
     "IOC press chief Kevan Gosper said Wednesday that the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) will impose 'limitations on website access.' 'I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related,' he said." CTV.ca, 30 July 2008.
     "The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday denied knowing in advance of China's plans to restrict the internet for foreign media and said it was pushing for curbs to be lifted." AFP, 30 July 2008.
     Radio Free Asia president Libby Liu is among contributors to The Interesting Times China blog (www.i-Times.org), which examines "the worsening press freedom conditions in China as the Aug. 8 opening of the Beijing Olympic Games approaches." Editor & Publisher, 29 July 2008.

Proshchai Radiostantsiya Golos Ameriki: VOA Russian is now internet-only.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America ... has ceased its on-air Russian-language radio broadcasts as of July 26. The broadcasts were stopped despite concerns expressed by U.S. lawmakers and human rights NGOs that freedom of speech remains restricted in Russia. In an apparent effort to limit negative publicity and possible embarrassment, neither VOA nor BBG issued any public statements in English prior to taking the programs off the air after more than sixty years of uninterrupted broadcasting. A one paragraph announcement on the VOA Russian language web site, posted on July 26, stated that as of next day VOA programming in Russian will be available only through the Internet." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 29 July 2008.
     Sergei writes: "The closure of VoA's Russian radio service hasn't been reported widely in the Russian-language press. Estonian delfi.ee was the first to notice the event. Delfi's report was timely reprinted by famous Russian daily Izvestia [31 July 2008, in Russian]. The article is titled somewhat misleadingly The Voice of America Left Russia's Air. Instead of its Russian programming, VoA's AM affiliate in Moscow (810 kHz) now carries English instruction broadcasts. SW frequencies used by the VoA's Russian are off for now. Will they be picked up by R.Libery Russian?"
     Kai Ludwig writes: "So much for the promise to restore the funding of Russian broadcasts [by the Senate Appropriations Committee]. ... On Aug 1st the Russian service of Radio Liberty starts to use the transmitter hours of the now gone VOA broadcasts in Russian, mostly on the old frequencies. ... So the shortwave transmissions of Radio Liberty in Russian will not be curtailed but instead even expanded, at least for now (I would not rule out that it is just temporarily until they can cancel the airtime)."
     The last VOA Russian broadcasts, on Saturday, are available on this page for the next couple of days. Even if you do not have Russian, you can tell that that these are farewell programs.
     "Just after former Russian President Vladimir Putin anointed his political successor last December, the Web site of Russian opposition leader Carry Kasparov was hit by [denial of service] attacks for nearly two weeks." Foreign Policy, July/August 2008.
     See also ProPublica, 24 July 2008.

Death of Leonard Reed, retired VOA manager.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1965, Mr. Reed was placed in charge of English-language broadcasting for the VOA. Later, a dispute over the agency's reporting during the Vietnam War era led to Mr. Reed's removal by the then-head of the U.S. Information Agency. Mr. Reed was dismissed over the objections of the VOA's director at the time, John Charles Daly, a veteran journalist and television and radio personality, who resigned in protest. John Jacobs, a friend of more than 60 years who also worked with Mr. Reed, said the issue was whether the State Department would dictate the VOA's editorial policies. 'They decided we should parrot the administration line, but we were all newsmen, and there was always a big resistance to that,' Mr. Jacobs said. 'We wanted to do an honorable job, which is by far the best propaganda.'" Baltimore Sun, 28 July 2008. This is a reminder of why VOA employees fought for decades to separate VOA from USIA. This finally happened with legislation in the 1990s. Many of those who would like to restore USIA would also like, in the name of "coordination," to place U.S. international broadcasting back under that USIA. That would doom U.S. international broadcasting to, at best, a second rate status.

Even James "War of Ideas" Glassman does not like the term "war of ideas."

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Friday at the New America Foundation, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, James Glassman, spoke about America’s strategy in the so called ‘war of ideas’. ... Glassman’s speech took on an amused tone when he mentioned that he himself disliked the name ‘war of ideas’, despite his unofficial title as its ‘commander in chief’. He insisted that the name has connotations that imply a simple, two sided ‘us vs. them’ struggle. Instead, Glassman was adamant that the objective is not to get anyone to accept our own ideologies, but rather simply to have them reject ideologies that promote unprovoked violence." Jeffrey Asjes, Partnership for a Secure America, 27 July 2008. See also Daily Analysis, Council on Foreign Relations, 21 July 2008.
     "I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard [Glassman] use the word 'respect' for one of the core principles that should define reciprocal American interaction with people in the Middle East and Asia, because that is such a crucial and largely missing element in this domain. It will be important to see if this shift results in changes on the ground. The bad news is that major aspects of the US public diplomacy program remain very thin in relevance, credibility and efficacy." Rami G. Khouri, The Daily Star (Beirut), 26 July 2008.
     "Proponents of change are seeking to evolve US public diplomacy and humanitarian efforts into a more strategic and coordinated framework." Peter A Buxbaum, International Relations and Security Network, 28 July 2008.

CRI's Olympics web pages for Muslims.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"China Radio International has started a new program on its website that provides information about the Beijing Olympics and the capital for people in predominantly Muslim countries. ... It is the first of its kind to offer information in Indonesian, Malay, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hausa and Pushtu." CRI, 27 July 2008.

Differences of opinion about NTDT via Eutelsat.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The only uncensored Chinese-language TV network broadcasting in China says its satellite company has shut down its signal because of pressure from the Chinese government. The satellite company, Paris-based Eutelsat, says the signal to China was cut because of a technical problem. But New Tang Dynasty Television, an independent station with offices in 70 U.S. cities, including Palo Alto, says Eutelsat cut its signal at the request of government officials in China." San Francisco Chronicle, 26 July 2008. "Eutelsat affirms that it holds absolutely no prejudice against channels broadcast by its satellites and notably NTDTV." Eutelsat press release, 25 July 2008. "In the view of Broadband TV News, NTDTV is seeking to make political capital out of a situation that was clearly out of anyone’s control." Broadband TV News, 28 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "Established in 2003, [Sound of Hope] started shortwave broadcasting that, beginning in 2007, reached the entire of China for 14 hours daily. It reports on the suffering of Chinese minorities, corruption of government officials, persecution of religions and campaigns against freedom of the press. ... SOH is seeking to break the communist regime’s blockade of free information through large-scale shortwave radio broadcasting directly to the Mainland Chinese population." Epoch Times, 26 July 2008.

Burlington Telecom and Al Jazeera sign a contract.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The City of Burlington’s municipal telecom company, Burlington Telecom, has reached a contractual agreement to continue carrying the Al Jazeera English channel. ... Consistent with the practice regarding all BT carriage agreements, terms of the contract with AJE were not disclosed." Burlington Free Press, 24 July 2008. See also Bill Aswad, BFP, 29 July 2008. And Leendert Huisman, letter to BFP, 28 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Maybe if there were a shopping channel on which you can buy small foreign countries.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"I've heard various theories as to why AJE is not getting the kind of traction in America that it's getting in Israel and Germany and other countries. There is, of course, the brand name, which is one of the best known and most respected media brands everywhere else in the world but here. There's the widespread belief among cable operators that global news is a non-starter for American TV viewers (which is why you don't have BBC World on your system either)." Aaron Barnhert, Kansas City Star, TV Barn, 24 July 2008.

Ted Koppel praises BBC, except when it's wrong.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Ted Koppel, now commentator on BBC World Service: "We were sitting on the apron of Saddam Hussein international airport with the first element of the Third and listening to the BBC taking at face value what the Iraqi military spokesman was saying, that the US forces were still 70 miles away, and ignoring claims by the American military. There seemed to be a tendency sometimes on the part of some elements of the BBC back then to want to disregard everything that US military was saying." ... "There are thousands of [BBC] reporters around the world. People who can actually bring us the news from distant places, what a concept! There has never been a time when there has been a greater need to know what is going on in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Latin America, and Africa, where the BBC actually has [its own] reporters on the ground." The Independent, 28 July 2008.

BBC Arabic investigating an Arab nation.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Arabic television investigative program, 'The Fact-Finding Commission' (Lajnat Taqqasi Al Haqqaeq) recently visited Kuwait to investigate the conditions of foreign workers, discover who is responsible for this situation and to ask Kuwaiti officials and other relevant parties some questions - as well as to investigate whether the workers themselves are contributing to their plight." Kuwait Times, 25 July 2008

La revedere to BBC Romanian.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nothing tells you more about the upheavals in world politics than which languages the World Service broadcasts in and which ones it doesn’t - a decision ultimately taken by the Foreign Office, which pays for the World Service, rather than the BBC. Romanian is not the last Romance language beamed by Bush House, which still broadcasts French (to Africa), Portuguese (to Brazil) and Spanish (to Latin America). It is, however, the last language aimed at a country now belonging to the European Union - so in that sense, it marks the end of an era." The Sunday Times, 27 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

As part of the new realities, World Service broadcasters will sleep on the sofas of their listeners.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two British trade unions have launched an online petition as part of their campaign to prevent the BBC from off-shoring jobs and programmes of the Hindi, Urdu and other languages to south Asia. The petition has been launched by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU). ... Mike Gardner, Head of Media Relations at the BBC World Service, told PTI: ... 'The proposed redeployments of staff to India, Pakistan and Nepal recognise the new media realities in those countries. It has been BBC World Service's policy for its language services to be working closer to the audiences they serve for some time.'" Press Trust of India, 25 July 2008. See also NUJ "Save the World Service" page. See previous post about same subject.

BBC World will no longer sponsor this, or that? (updated and corrected)

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has said it will no longer accept sponsorship of its events, such as Sports Personality of the Year and Proms in the Park, after a report found its editorial integrity was compromised by a commercial tie-in. ... The new policy applies to licence-fee-funded services and the BBC World Service, and is likely to cost the BBC around £1.5m (US$3m) a year." C21Media.net. 21 July 2008. Does this pertain more to BBC World News, more than BBC World Service? The former sponsored several events outside the UK. Correction: If I had read the article more carefully, I would have seen that this is about BBC events that are sponsored, like Proms in the Park. It's not about the BBC's sponsorship of other events. Thanks to no less than Martin Buxton, writer of the story, and James Cridland, Head of Future Media & Technology, Audio & Music, BBC, for the clarification.

Or how about a private USIA?

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), along with a panel of foreign policy and communications experts, spoke at the Heritage Foundation about creating a new organization to facilitate international communication and diplomacy. Thornberry said that today’s post-Sept. 11 national security issues require government agencies to work together for solutions. In addition, he said that this communication is important for international diplomacy to solve global issues. Thornberry proposed the creation of a private organization much like the United States Information Agency (USIA) which was dissolved in 1999, to reach this goal." Talk Radio News Service, 22 July 2008. See also Heritage Foundation, 22 July 2008. All sorts of organizations can engage in international outreach for the good of the United States, but only the government can engage in public diplomacy.

FBIS memories.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Former editor of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service: "We did nothing very secret or anywhere near as glamorous as a James Bond escapade; all the programs – and the news agencies we watched – were out there, mostly in the short wave bands for anyone to access if they had the time, the equipment (a Zenith transoceanic radio worked very well) and the language skills needed to glean the information. In those Cold War days, listening to and translating news items into English from Radio Moscow and satellite states’ broadcasts from Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, East Berlin, Sofia, Beijing, Pyongyang, Havana and, yes, even Tirana, proved invaluable to the agency, the White House and the rest of the intelligence community. President Kennedy learned that the Soviet naval vessels were being turned around and would not attempt to cross the Cuban blockade from a news 'flash' on Radio Moscow in 1962." David Hubler, Washington Technology, 22 July 2008. Andy Sennitt comments: "The broadcasts from Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, East Berlin, Sofia and Tirana were actually listened to and translated by BBC monitors at Caversham. BBC Monitoring Service (as it then was) and FBIS had a cooperation agreement to minimise duplication of effort."

Worldspace, or 1worldspace, paid for "I am many; my world is 1."

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"1worldspace ... today unveiled '1worldspace' as its new corporate identity and brand, and launched a re-designed company website showcasing this new positioning. Developed by PIR Marketing to reflect the Company's mission and vision, the new 1worldspace brand and tagline--'I am many; my world is 1' -- celebrate the power of 1worldspace to bring together people from all over the world through the power of satellite communications and award-winning content." 1worldspace press release, 22 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

House resolutions take aim at Middle Eastern television stations, and the satellites that relay them.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
H. Res. 1308, introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) "(1) condemns the broadcast of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States by media based in the Middle East; (2) urges governments throughout the Middle East, American allies, and other responsible nations to officially and publically repudiate purveyors of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States; and (3) calls on the President to-- (A) designate al-Aqsa TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT); (B) designate as SDGTs satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as SDGTs to broadcast their channels for providing financial, material, or technological support to terrorist entities." It also mentions Iran's Press TV and that it "is transmitted via the satellite providers ArabSat, NileSat, AsiaSat, HotBird, HispaSat, IntelSat, and Galaxy, and is viewable in North America, South America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa." via Thomas. "Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee, praised the passage of House Resolution 1069, a resolution condemning Middle East media that incites violence against Americans and the United States and our ally Israel, in the House Foreign Affairs Committee." Rep. Wexler press release, 17 July 2008. Designating Arabsat and Nilesat as SDGTs could have remifications for Alhurra, distributed primarily by those two satellite services.

China: previously blocked websites accessible, for now.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Reports from Twitter pals around China are still coming in, but for at least many of us living here a huge litany of hitherto verboten sites are now accessible this morning. For me, at least, the list includes a number of controversial Chinese-language sites ordinarily off limits: Apple Daily, Boxun, Radio Free Asia’s simplified Chinese site even." Kaiser Kuo, Ogilvy China Digital Watch, 23 July 2008.

Victories all around in European elite survey.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to the 2007 European Media and Marketing Survey (EMS) survey, which polls the main income earner in Europe's top 20% of homes by income, Sky News increased its daily reach to 5.3% from 5% in 2006. ... On a monthly reach basis, however, CNN International was most popular with EMS Regular viewers, reaching 33.4%, compared to EuroNews' monthly reach of 31.4%." Brand Republic, 23 July 2008. "The survey of affluent adults shows BBC World News to be the only major international news channel to have grown year-on-year in the three main viewing measures - daily, weekly and monthly reach." BBC World News press release, 23 July 2008.

BBC's tri-media election bus begins its tour.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Global News today announces its US08 Election bus tour across America to report the build-up to the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, with coverage commencing on Wednesday, 10 September from LA. The initiative, which heads up extensive election programming, planned by the BBC’s international facing news division, will carry a tri-media team of journalists from BBC World Service radio and online (English Network and Language Services), BBC World News and BBC America television, including flagship news programme BBC World News America, and bbc.com/news." BBC World News press release, 22 July 2008.

BBC World Service: Quaecunque, subject to local restrictions.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"When the Nigerian government stopped local stations rebroadcasting foreign news programmes in 2004, the World Service lost 1.5 million listeners. When the same rule was imposed in India, the losses were far higher – around 12 million between 1995 and 2002 – and signalled a ‘dramatic drop in overall radio listening’, according to the BBC. FM listeners are the denizens of large cities. If they have access to a good shortwave radio, they can always fall back on the traditions of the rural areas (this is what happened in Nigeria), where shortwave is still the way to pick up the service. It would be a high-risk strategy to move production away from Bush House to local stations, even if it meant saving millions of pounds in overheads and salaries by paying programme makers at local rates. What if national broadcasting regulators in Country X decided some of the content was undesirable? The answer, possibly, is that it could be fed to Bush House and repackaged for shortwave broadcast while being kept off the local FM outlet. But it wouldn’t be long before a local station producing controversial shows for transmission from outside the country (and back into it) came under pressure." Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books, 31 July 2008 issue.

Al Jazeera English adds another non-English speaking country.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Satellite Network has unveiled a new contract with TSF On Sat that takes the channel to over 3.2 million households across Spain on the Hispasat satellite network. ... Al Jazeera English programming will be broadcast on TSF's satellite platform and on digital terrestrial television services in Northern Spain and Southern France (including Barcelona, the whole Pyrennes and touristic Costa Brava area); on cable in all Spanish and French major cities and on the station's Internet channel." Al Jazeera English, 23 July 2008.

Death of Charles Z Wick, USIA director under Reagan, founder of Worldnet.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Wick, 90, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, according to his son, Douglas. Wick was the longest-serving director of the USIA, manning the post from March 1981 to January 1989. During that time, he is credited with modernizing the agency with computer networks and doubling its budget. In 1983, he began WORLDNET, the first live global satellite television network designed to link Washington with U.S. embassies and posts overseas." Contra Costa Times, 22 July 2008. See also AP, 22 July 2008. And Washington Post, 23 July 2008. "'Telling about America means telling people about America's foreign policy,' he told the Washington Post in 1986. 'Right now that policy is set by Ronald Reagan, and if we're going to tell the story accurately, we have to make clear what President Reagan believes in and what his policies stand for.'" Los Angeles Times, 23 July 2008.

Alhurra covers Obama visit to Iraq, while Iraqi media give it a miss.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"During his brief visit to Iraq, Barack Obama has been greeted by busloads of Iraqi cameramen vying for shots of his arrivals and departures at meetings with government officials. But on government-sponsored Al Iraqiya television Monday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee received second billing to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's departure for Europe. Only Al Hurra, the U.S.-sponsored channel, led with the story." Los Angeles Times, 22 July 2008. See also Alhurra, 22 July 2008.

Washington Examiner comments about its reporter's payment from Alhurra.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
ProPublica reports about its response from Washington Examiner executive editor Stephen Smith about its journalist Bill Sammon receiving payment for an appearance on Alhurra. ProPublica, 21 July 2008. But what if a Washington Examiner reporter received a payment for an appearance on BBC, or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or Deutsche Welle, or Radio Netherlands, etc.? Can ProPublica demonstrate that these organizations are not autonomous because they are publicly funded? If not, can ProPublica tell us why Alhurra is government controlled, while the other broadcasting organizations are not? See previous post about same subject.

Public diplomacy by dint of fourth-grade textbooks.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States, of course, is not a Muslim nation, and Americans cannot by themselves orchestrate a meaningful Muslim response to Saudi extremism. But we do have a large Muslim population, we do have friends in the moderate Muslim world and we do have some money -- mostly wasted -- to spend on public diplomacy. We also have two presidential candidates who are arguing hard about the best way to combat terrorism, the best way to deploy guns and aid, the best uses of American military power. Here is a novel idea for both of them: Make sure that children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and in Islamic schools all around the world have decent fourth-grade textbooks. Help persuade the Muslim world to write and distribute them. It might save a lot of trouble a few years later on." Anne Applebaum, 22 July 2008.

America calling Iran, but not in Cold War fashion.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. debate about direct engagement is a relic of the cold war, when Russians had to trade illicit American jazz records and listen on earphones to Voice of America broadcasts in order to get Western ideas. In the digital age, thanks to cell phones, text messaging, Skype, YouTube and satellite TV broadcasts from the 'Tehrangeles' studios in Los Angeles, Iranians are well plugged in to American culture. Internet cafes are everywhere, and video conferencing puts American and Iranian students and faculty in routine conversation. As a university program director told me in Tehran, 'Dialogue takes place between Iranians and Americans whether anyone likes it or not.'" Brian T. Edwards, Chicago Tribune, 20 July 2008.

A Canadian artist's response to Al-Jazeera access restrictions in Canada.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"While at Carleton University in Ottawa recently, [London, Ontario-based artist Jamelie Hassan] discovered the university's art gallery shared a building with the School of Journalism. It was an 'a-ha' moment – Hassan had already created an installation piece using Arabic script, which she hopes will be exhibited at the gallery there. 'It resembles the script for Al-Jazeera [the all-news network based out of Qatar] but not really because it translates as 'shame on you' – shame in reference to the Canadian context.' Canadians are unable to access Al-Jazeera English – referred to as the CNN of the Arab world. There were so many restrictions put up by the CRTC, the network decided not to launch in this country." rabble.ca, 22 July 2008. "Al Jazeera: Was approved by the CRTC in 2004 as an optional cable and satellite offering, but on the condition that any carrier distributing it must edit out any instances of illegal hate speech. Cable companies declared that these restrictions would make it too expensive to carry Al Jazeera." Wikipedia CRTC entry.

North Korea was conspicuously absent.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In an event appropriately titled the 1st Japan-China-South Korea Editors' Seminar, 41 senior editors and journalists from Japan, China and South Korea, met in Seoul for the first of such a gathering. ... Jin Dong-guang, chief of Korean-language broadcasting at state-owned China Radio International (CRI), noted that due to growing competition with U.S. and European media, it was crucial for the three countries to strengthen their cooperation. 'Specifically,' reported Pressnet, 'Jin called for a system to share information among media in the three countries and to promote joint projects in newsgathering and content production, as well as in other fields.'" The Editors Weblog, 21 July 2008.

Memories of Ezra Pound, international broadcaster (updated).

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ezra Pound, the genius poet and cultural iconoc[l]ast who shocked and disturbed Americans with his pro-Fascist broadcasts during World War II, paid a very private visit to Rutherford 50 years ago, staying at the 9 Ridge Road residence of his life-long friend, William Carlos Williams. ... No American could have been more disturbed by Pound’s broadcast rantings, against everyone from Franklin Roosevelt to the Jews, than Florence 'Floss' Williams, who reported being 'happy and relieved' when the Pounds left her home that hot June day in 1958. Seventeen years earlier, Flossie had raced home on a July morning to tell her husband that a Rutherford bank employee had listened to one of Pound’s broadcasts – via shortwave radio connection to Radio Rome. Between his innocuous musings and superlatives for the dictator, Benito Mussolini, Pound interjected, 'As my friend Doc Williams of New Jersey would say...' Floss feared for her husband. And Williams just grew more incensed with his old college chum." South Bergenite (New Jersey), 2 July 2008. Update: Also listen also to "The Trial of Ezra Pound," a documentary investigation BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature, 20 July 2008. The audio should be available through 26 July.

"No nonsense news" on CNN and CNN International.

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
“'Fareed Zakaria GPS' (GPS stands for 'Global Public Square') ... is, in effect, an international version of 'Meet The Press,' with prominent newsmakers answering his tough, well-researched questions. ... In an era in which Americans are demanding — and thus getting — less international news, Zakaria’s 'GPS' is an auspicious event indeed. Only 'BBC World News' has been offering this kind of responsible global perspective and news to U.S. view." Bill Mann, Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA), 20 July 2008.

The Chinese Dream vies with the American Dream.

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Beijing has tried to build up its own soft power by sharing its development expertise while stressing its commitment to multilateralism and peaceful integration (in contrast to Washington's neo-liberalism, unilateralism and imperial urge). And it has used a battery of public diplomacy techniques -- from international TV stations to cultural institutes -- to promote a 'Chinese Dream' as an alternative to the American Dream. The Olympics is the most dramatic ad for this new China." Mark Leonard, The Spectator, 16 July 2008.

Catching up on the news of religious international broadcasters.

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"HCJB Global is seeking a new president committed to the cause of Christ, with good communications, fundraising, and relational skills. Its three main goals for the future include engaging Sub-Saharan Africa with a combination of life-transforming media and healthcare, empowering radio stations around the world, and developing a mobilization center to equip Latin American missionaries to use media and healthcare in ministry." Mission Network News, 26 June 2008. Contrasts from earlier days of HCJB, which concentrated on shortwave.
     "The Internet is allowing something illegal into Portugal. And Trans World Radio is the organization getting it in there. John Summerville with TWR says, 'In Portugal, it is illegal to have a Christian radio station like we're accustomed to hearing in the U.S. If you have more than two hours of Christian broadcasting, then the government mandates a whole other set of rules for that radio station, and most radio stations aren't willing to go there.' However, Internet radio allows them to have a full-time Christian radio station without the rules." Mission Network News, 25 June 2008. Shortwave would have been used for that purpose in previous years.
     The Far East Broadcasting Company "is committing to distributing 20,000 radios to survivors (of China's May earthquake). Radios are a lifeline to emergency and health information and spiritual encouragement. More than 1,200 have already been given. Shortly after the disaster, FEBC began airing specially designed programs to help those in need. Programming included a disease prevention and control program hosted by an experienced medical doctor." Mission Network News, 23 June 2008. Shortwave radios? Would have to be. But how were these distributed in China?

Did CNN's African journalist of the year exercise "responsibility"? (updated)

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Ghana's president John Agyekum Kufuor "said when a delegation from the CNN and multi choice paid a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu, on Friday. 'Freedom of expression, yes, but this must be balanced with more responsibility.' Mr Tony Maddox, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of CNN, International, led the delegation. They are in Accra for the CNN-multi choice African Journalist of the Year 2008 Award Ceremony to be held at the Banquet Hall on Saturday.'" Ghana News Agency, 18 July 2008. Update: "A Zimbabwean journalist has won the prestigious CNN-sponsored African Journalist of the year competition for an uncompromising documentary examining his troubled country's struggle against HIV-AIDS.Hopewell Rugoh-Chin'ono's 'Pain in My Heart' garnered him top prize at this year's CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2008 Awards Ceremony after beating 1911 entries from a record 44 nations across the continent. ... CNN International's Managing Director Tony Maddox ... said the awards, now in their 13th year, had 'unearthed a wealth of voices from around Africa, each demonstrating a quality of journalism, and in some cases a resourcefulness and bravery in pursuing the story which has my deepest admiration.'" CNN, 21 July 2008.

SW Radio Africa: more frequencies than Harare can jam (updated).

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Eight years ago, Jackson, a freelance journalist, launched an independent radio station in Harare; six days later, Mugabe shut it down. 'I realised independent radio just wasn't going to happen in Zimbabwe,' says Jackson. 'But the situation was deteriorating and it was extremely important that news got out.' Jackson came to Britain and, in December 2001, launched Short Wave Radio Africa. ... 'It's hard for people in the West to understand what it's like not to get any information,' Jackson says. ... The Zimbabwean government has jammed the station's main frequency almost constantly since 2005, forcing VT Communications, the British company that transmits content on the station's behalf, to find alternatives. 'The only way around this is to broadcast on more frequencies than the government can jam,' says Jackson." Metro.co.uk, 17 July 2008. OK, as long as the shortwave transmitters are available. Update: "Radio remains the best medium for communicating with people in Zimbabwe. People who don't have a television or a personal computer will generally either own a radio or have access to one – wind-up and solar-powered devices are popular. Shortwave is a powerful tool against dictators and despots – a signal can travel thousands of miles, so broadcasts can be transmitted into Zimbabwe from anywhere in the world." The Independemt, 21 July 2008.

Hey, if you'll buy the Nicky Butler Multigemstone Sterling Silver Square Ring on Home Shopping Network, you'll buy this: U.S. international broadcasting on U.S. cable.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) "is set to introduce a bill seeking to reorganize the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a congressional aide told Inside the Pentagon on condition of anonymity. ... Under the proposed legislation, the BBG may begin to negotiate licenses with American cable television systems to broadcast its programs in the United States, he explained. The legislation also 'consolidates overlapping bureaucracies' and appoints a director of international broadcasting instead of leaving the task to the board itself, the congressional aide said." InsideDefense.com, 18 July 2008.
     Consolidating overlapping bureaucracies makes sense, but little else in this strange story which, alas, to access, you must give up your billing details. We might want to wait for a second source, in any case.
     This is the Ileana Ros-Lehtinenn who thinks that U.S. international broadcasting should be for the purpose of advocating administration policies, and she scoffs at the notion of providing the straight news that is the reason most people tune to international broadcasts. (See previous post.)
     And what U.S. international broadcasting would U.S. cable television systems take? VOA has a 24-hour English television channel, sort of, consisting largely of acquired programs, many of which VOA would not contractually be allowed to transmit within the United States.
     The domestic dissemination prohibition, just one part of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, is mainly a nuisance, because it's unenforceable and because it prevents U.S. shortwave listeners from receiving a VOA program schedule.
     But Ros-Lehtinen's legislation will put shivers up spines, reminding people of the thinking that led to the domestic dissemination exclusion in 1948. This attempt to eliminate it will probably enshrine it into perpetuity.
     If there is to be a rewrite of Smith-Mundt, it should once and for all disentangle U.S. public diplomacy and U.S. international broadcasting. The former explains and advocates U.S. policies, officially, on behalf of the U.S. Government, the only entity qualified to engage in U.S. public diplomacy. The latter provides the comprehensive, reliable, credible news that is lacking in its audience's home countries. To achieve the necessary credibility, U.S. international broadcasting must be independent. It must not be like Senators Smith and Mundt envisioned it.
     As for domestic dissemination, a Smith-Mundt rewrite should acknowledge the ability and the right of Americans to see what the U.S. public diplomacy and U.S. international broadcasting are transmitting to the world. But here, a distinction should be made between voluntary and involuntary means of doing this.
     If an American wants to go to a website, or write to the State Department to get a transcript, or purchase a video through the Government Printing Office, no problem. But if the U.S. government starts to promote its policies using channels on your cable system, or commercials inserted within your favorite television program, or on billboards visible during your morning commute, questions should be asked.
     It does happen: armed forces recruiting, Smokey Bear, your deposit insured by FDIC, etc. But administrations advocating their policy goals on your television, or on signs along the freeway? For a taste of that, visit Cuba. Oops, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen wouldn't like that very much.

RFA gets new equipment to help it compete with crosstown rival VOA.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia will install Axia Audio consoles and IP-Audio networking equipment as part of news studios at its Washington facility. ... The manufacturer said the project will encompass 35 studios." Radio World, 18 July 2008. Meanwhile, a few blocks away at VOA headquarters, many studios are idle as VOA drops language services or shifts to television. RFA has the stringers and news agency subscriptions for very good coverage of East Asia. VOA has the capability to cover world news (also of interest to East Asian audiences) and U.S. news. VOA has the television capabilities that RFA is lacking. RFA has some good shortwave transmitter leases, while VOA has choice medium wave transmitters and access to relays in Thailand and the Philippines. The situation screams for a merger.

Nelson Poynter and VOA's early history.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"During World War II [Nelson Poynter, founder of The Poynter Institute] held a number of government positions: He helped organize the Foreign Information Service, which started the Voice of America radio service, and in one of his last assignments worked for the Office of War Information's Bureau of Motion Pictures in Hollywood, Calif." Poynter Online, 17 July 2008.

Domestic DRM shortwave will be tested in Alaska (updated).

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The Federal Communications Commission issued an Experimental Radio Service license to Digital Aurora Radio Technologies of Delta Junction, Alaska, "to determine the impact of high latitude HF ionospheric propagation on digital audio modulation using the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) system; to determine the transmission power levels required to provide adequate signal for high reliability reception throughout Alaska; and to determine an antenna specification for delivery of the digital signal throughout Alaska." 26MHz.us, 15 July 2008. Update: "DRM could be used for military purposes in much the same way the British used the BBC’s shortwave services during World War II to transmit programming to occupied Europe and beam coded messages to agents operating behind enemy lines, radio analysts said. The company told FCC that its initial tests would be funded by and conducted for the Defense’s Joint Electromagnetic Technologies program, a classified operation whose mission is to develop technologies for use by special forces and intelligence units." Nextgov.com, 18 July 2008.

CNN's international news site (whatever that is) sees spike in demand for videos.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN's international news site has seen a 250% increase in traffic to its video reports in the past year, according to the company, reflecting an industry-wide surge in demand for video content. The US news broadcaster, which relaunched its international site in October last year, saw its biggest traffic spikes in May around its video reports of the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in Sichuan. ... Max Raven, CNN International's senior vice-president of ad sales, said advertisers are interested in the geo-targeting possibilities of video online." The Guardian, 18 July 2008. Unsure if this refers to the website that pops up if you click "international" at the the top of www.cnn.com. Or the CNN International television website.

LiveStation users add channels -- with some reception difficulties.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"LiveStation, a Microsoft-backed Web TV venture, has added several viewer-selected channels to its news-centered lineup. ... Viewers have added 247 channels thus far by pasting in the URL of the stream on the LiveStation Web site. ... Depending on your location, however, you might not have access to all those stations. A version tested by AppScout in New York City had access to Al Jazeera in English, France 24 in English and French, and Russia Today in English. I added a few channels via livestation.com on Friday morning with mixed results. I easily connected to Bloomberg, Sky News, all the C-SPAN channels, and BBC Parliament. I was not able to connect to CNN, the Discovery Channel, CNBC, or BBC News 24 and instead received a notice that said, 'Signal unavailable. LiveStation is trying to reconnect.'" AppScout, 18 July 2008. The 247 channels include both video and audio, among them VOA New Now, VOA Chinese radio, and VOA Chinese video (which didn't work for me -- requires appointment viewing?).

Israel uses YouTube and voice messages to send a message.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Israel's government has posted a video on the website, YouTube, explaining to the Arab world its position on the freed Lebanese militant, Samir Qantar. Qantar, convicted of murdering three people, had been Lebanon's longest-held prisoner in Israel until Wednesday. His release, part of an exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers, was greeted with jubilation in Lebanon. But the video says in Arabic that for the rest of the civilised world Qantar is 'the most despicable of murderers'. ... Ofir Gendelman, deputy director of the Arab press and public affairs division in the Israeli foreign ministry ... said the clip was part of a new Israeli initiative to target the Arab world directly through the internet. 'The age of waiting for an interview with an Arab station is over," he told Yedioth Ahronoth. 'The aim is to create a dialogue through the channel's talkback mechanism.' Hezbollah's television station, al-Manar, is reporting that the Israelis are also sending voice messages to mobile phones in Lebanon, promising Israeli retaliation for any Hezbollah attack. The Lebanese minister for telecommunications has said he has ordered his staff to take all necessary steps to stop such a 'flagrant violation' of his country's sovereignty." BBC News, 17 July 2008. These new media apparently replace shortwave, dropped (except for Farsi) by Israel earlier this year. See previous post.

Australian international broadcasters finally welcome in Fiji.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"An Australian Broadcasting Corporation team that had visa applications to Fiji rejected arrived in country on Friday to film a program focussing on the Pacific. ABC director international relations Murray Green said they were gathering material for a new program called Pacific Pulse ... which airs on the Australian Network." Fiji Times, 14 July 2008. Actually, that's Australia Network, the international television channel of the ABC. See previous post about same subject.

Glassman's war of ideas.

Posted: 18 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Undersecretary for public diplomacy James K. Glassman "said the 'war of ideas' - a repugnant term reminiscent of another, the 'clash of civilisations' - is as important as military action against the 'global war on terror. ... What Glassman [seems] to miss is that this divisive approach will not eliminate the unpopularity of the Bush administration - not America - in the region." George Hishmeh, Gulf News, 17 July 2008.
     "The war of ideas is really a battle of alternatives, alternative visions, and our goal is to divert recruits from the violent extremist vision. Our role is as a facilitator of choice. We help build networks and movements, put tools in the hands of young people to make their own choices, rather than dictating those choices. ... We’ve already done a major reorganization both at State and the interagency to help in this overall effort, and I’ve listed five focal points of our programs: Muslim society, especially involving young people at the grassroots; Middle East elites who involve themselves in ideology and religious doctrine; foreign fighters who have poured into Iraq and Afghanistan; private sector expertise; and Iran." Glassman remarks at the Washington Foreign Press Center, America.gov, 16 July 2008. See previous post about Glassman.

With Secretary Rice in attendance, Secretary Gates says "slick PR" is not the solution.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'The solution is not to be found in some slick PR campaign or by trying to out-propagandize Al Qaeda, but through the steady accumulation of actions and results that build trust and credibility over time,' [Defense Secretary Robert M.] Gates said. The remark seemed directed toward some of the Bush administration's public diplomacy efforts in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks." Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2008.
     "Countless people in foreign countries wandered into a United States Information Agency library, or heard from a visiting speaker and had their opinions about America transformed by learning about our history and culture and values. Others behind the Iron Curtain were inspired to resist by what they heard on Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America. In all, these non-military efforts – these tools of persuasion and inspiration – were indispensable to the outcome of the defining ideological struggle of the 20th century. I believe that they are just as indispensable in the 21st century – and maybe more so." Transcript of the Gates speech in Washington, Defense Department, 15 July 2008. RFE and VOA as "tools of persuasion and inspiration," leaving unsaid the main reason they were listened to: comprehensive, reliable news.

VOA website keeps down the downtime.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Survey by web site monitoring service provider Pingdom shows that the Voice of America website (voanews.com) has among the least downtime of major news sites -- only 51 minutes from January through June 2008, i.e. 99.98% uptime. Web Host Industry Review, 16 July 2008. See also Pingdom blog, 15 July 2008. This machine-based measurement means that outside users could access the sites, but not necessarily that the sites' editors could always update the sites in a timely manner.

Some good news about Alhurra dribbles out.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"For a three-year stint, beginning in 2004, [Anthony Ibrahim] had served as the color analyst for NBA broadcasts on the Arabic network Al-Hurra, a federally sponsored satellite channel that the Washington Post called the 'centerpiece of a U.S. government campaign to spread democracy in the Middle East.' Al-Hurra, which is based in Virginia and has been funded with $350 million of U.S. taxpayer money since '04, would use TNT video feeds of marquee NBA games, with Ibrahim serving, essentially, as its version of Doug Collins. That made Ibrahim a known voice to Iranian NBA fans such as [Arsalan] Kazemi." Luke Winn, SI.com, 15 July 2008. Arsalan Kazemi, the main topic of this story, is an Iranian prospect for U.S. college basketball teams. And, apparently, he understands Arabic.
     This SI.com story would be welcome positive coverage for Alhurra. For a look back at the recent reports about controversies at Alhurra, see Craig Hayden, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 24 June 2008.

Senate committee restores funds for VOA, RFE/RL languages -- but not for Alhurra.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
For FY 2009, beginning 1 October 2008, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee "provides $693 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an increase of $23 million above the FY08 enacted level and $6 million below the request. The bill provides funding for broadcasting in languages which the Administration proposed to eliminate in FY09, such as Russian, Kazak, Uzbek, Tibetan and the to the Balkans, where freedom of speech remains restricted and broadcasting is still necessary. The Committee does not provide funds for the expansion of Alhurra programming in Arabic." Senator Patrick Leahy press release, 17 July 2008. First fallout of the recent reports about Alhurra? None of the mentioned VOA and RFE/RL languages would have been eliminated, though they would have been reduced, such as dropping VOA Russian radio while keeping an internet presence. Will the House of Representatives go along with this restored money for U.S. international broadcasting? See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL and BBC Romanian: closed too early?

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The recent announcement that RFE/RL's Romanian Service would be shut down after nearly 60 years on the air has prompted a debate over the role of the media in the country. Many credit the broadcasts of RFE/RL -- as well as the BBC, which also will conclude its Romanian broadcasts on July 31 -- with contributing to the fall of communism. Some fear the closures could not come at a worse time and will strip Romania's media landscape of the last remaining sources of objective, independent news reporting at a time when corruption and political intrigue are on the rise." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 15 July 2008. See previous posts about closure of RFE/RL Romanian and of BBC Romanian.

Memorial to slain U.S. international broadcasters.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) dedicated its memorial to journalists slain in the line of duty, honoring ten fallen broadcasters and reporters [who have worked for U.S. international broadcasting]. ... The memorial, placed in the main corridor of the Wilbur J. Cohen building in Washington, D.C. [the VOA headquarters], honors Leonid Karas, Abdulrachmann Fatalibey, Georgi Markov, Iskandar Khatloni, Abdul-Hussein Khazal, Ricardo de Mello, Ogulsapar Muradova, Khamail Muhsin Khalaf, Nazar Abdulwahid Al-Radhi, and Alisher Saipov." BBG press release, 16 July 2008. See also biographies of the slain journalists and transcripts of remarks by BBG members. And RFE/RL News, 16 July 2008.

Al Jazeera English adds two non-English speaking countries -- via internet based media.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English has added 5m potential new viewing homes in Poland, but not on TV. AJE has been added to Onet.pl, described as Poland’s biggest online portal, and will be the service’s first live streamed international news channel." Rapid TV News, 15 July 2008. "Al Jazeera English, the English-language service of the popular Arabic satellite news channel, made its debut yesterday in Taiwan. The channel is now available through Chunghwa Telecom’s Multimedia-on-Demand (MOD) service, an Internet TV service offered by the state-controlled telecommunications giant that to date has almost 500,000 subscribers nationwide." Media Channel, 17 July 2008.

Buzz might as well try to fetch the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Buzz Technologies Inc has released an upgraded version of the TV software featuring over 5000 channels, in more than 100 languages... . Buzz Sat TV - Featuring Bloomberg, BBC News, CNN International, ESPN, Fashion TV, NASA and YouTube! With 378 million TV households and 152 million cable TV households at the end of 2007, China is the world's largest TV market. Its cable TV industry generated 3.4bn in revenue in 2007 and is expected to grow at over seven per cent year-on-year to be worth Euro 4.8bn by 2012." Buzz Technologies, 16 July 2008. This strange Buzz press release, like previous strange Buzz press releases, associates its product with the Chinese television market, but doesn't say how -- or even if -- it would penetrate the Chinese television market.

Radio soap in Rwanda teaches health issues.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mugeni and Muhire are known throughout Rwanda as the stars of a radio soap opera, Urunana (hand in hand). The stories of Mugeni and Muhire and other characters are being used to educate Rwandans on a number of health issues including contraception, Malaria, HIV testing, nutrition and the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. The programme airs twice a week on BBC World Service and Radio Rwanda and is listened to by approximately 74% of the nine million population." Jenny Holden, International Development Journalism Competition, The Guardian, 17 July 2008. See also The New Times (Kigali), 6 July 2008.

More BBC World Service (non-news) programming on the Indian FM dial.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service today confirmed that its programmes will be available on Vivek 90.4 FM, the first community radio station in Chandigarh, India. ... Vivek 90.4 FM is a community radio initiative at Vivek High School, Chandigarh, and has been on air since March 2007. ... The BBC is offering Vivek 90.4 FM the following programmes:" "Discovery," "Culture Shock," "Top of the Pops," "The Ticket," "One Planet," "Health Fact Files," "Charlie Gillett's World of Music," and "Science in Action." BBC World Service press release, 17 July 2008. No BBCWS newss, however, as news is not allowed on private (non-All India Radio) Indian FM stations. For BBC World Service news, there is still shortwave, for the time being. BBC World News is allowed on Indian DTH satellite television and cable television systems.

The deals that are made in post-shortwave international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A cross selection of British MPs have accused the BBC of jeopardizing its editorial independence by entering into a pre-censorship agreement with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). An Early Day Motion, raised by Respect leader George Galloway, said it was opposed to the outsourcing of BBC World Service jobs from the UK and was 'gravely concerned' at the arrangement the BBC entered into in a letter from its South Asian Business Development. The letter to PEMRA 'gives the Pakistan authority, an agency of a foreign state, prior clearance for all contents and programs transmitted on behalf of the World Service by local Pakistani stations," it said. The motion, supported by Liberal Democrat and Labor MPs, including Pakistan-born Mohammed Sarwar, pointed out that there was a commitment to editorial independence that is enshrined in the BBC's charter. But the arrangement with PEMRA 'jeopardizes that independence', it warned, while calling on the British government 'to withhold its approval for this and similar arrangements'." Pakistan Daily, 9 July 2008. See text of the early day motion. See previous post about the PEMRA controvery, and previous post about the same subject about BBCWS "offshoring" of jobs, separate issues addressed in the early day motion. -- Update: "'BBC World Service content, including what is re-broadcast by partners on FM frequencies, conforms only to BBC editorial values and guidelines,' said Foreign Office Minister Jim Murphy. 'BBC World Service has total editorial control over its programming whether that programming is broadcast directly by it on short wave or medium wave or via third party distribution arrangements,' Murphy said in a parliamentary reply published Tuesday." Mathaba News Network, 16 July 2008.

WorldSpace: when all else fails, rebrand (updated).

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
WorldSpace seems now to be "1worldspace." The www.worldspace.com website now bounces over to www.1worldspace.com, a redesigned site with a new logo and slogan: "I am many. my world is 1." The regional websites (India, Europe, Middle East) are still just "Worldspace."
     "Worldspace might well still pull a survival rabbit out of its hat. It has done so before. But more than flourishes of press releases it needs magically to drum up cash – lots of it, if the business is to survive and achieve a few of its European goals." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 14 July 2008. "Satellite radio’s moment as a widely used platform never arrived. Terrestrial radio broadcasters in Europe, exceptions being the UK and Denmark, have found little consumer interest in moving from the FM band. The offering needs to be quite special for people to buy a new kind of receiver." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 16 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: Judith Prior, Worldspace’s SVP/corporate communications, responds to recent reports by Rapid TV News. Rapid TV News, 16 July 2008.

Telesur was impersonated in rescue of FARC hostages.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Months in the planning, the Colombian operation was designed to mimic a Venezuelan humanitarian mission that picked up six hostages freed by the guerrillas in January and February. Two army agents posted as TV journalists for the Caracas station Telesur." Houston Chronicle, 17 July 2007.
     "Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels have rejected peace talks with the government of President Alvaro Uribe, according to a letter shown on Venezuelan state television yesterday. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by their Spanish acronym FARC, instead demanded to meet with leftist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, according to the letter broadcast on Telesur." AFP, 16 July 2008.

GAO investigates contracts for Radio/TV Marti relays via Florida stations.

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The International Broadcasting Bureau's "'approach for awarding the Radio Mambi and TV Azteca contracts did not reflect sound business practices,' the report by the Congress' Government Accountability Office concluded. It urged greater oversight by the IBB of the contracting process. The report found the noncompetitive agreements with local stations Radio Mambi and TV Azteca were generally completed by mid-October of 2006, but that the IBB, which also oversees the Voice of American and Radio Free Europe [sic], did not notify its legal and contracting department until more than a month later — two days before the contract was to be signed. In responding to a draft of the report, IBB officials said they decided against publicly seeking competitive offers because they did not believe they would get satisfactory responses from other potential providers." AP, 16 July 2008. IBB is not the parent agency of RFE/RL, although it provides engineering and adminstrative services to RFE/RL. -- "The 30-page report is the first in a series of GAO reports on the operations of Radio and TV Marti, which beam commentary, entertainment and news to Cuba under the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which is based in Miami. GAO released the report as part of an ongoing broader probe into the management and broadcasting practices of the controversial Radio and TV Marti services. GAO opened the probe in response to a formal request from Rep. William D. Delahunt, D-Mass., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international organizations, human rights and oversight." Miami Herald, 15 July 2008. Full report available at GAO, 11 July 2008.

News agencies cite RFA on Uighur executions (updated: RFA corrects).

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
New York Times uses Radio Free Asia as a news agency for its report about China's execution of two Uihers. New York Times, 12 July 2008. "China has executed two Uighurs and sentenced another 15 to jail for alleged terrorist links, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia said in a report just days after Beijing warned of attacks aimed at the Olympics." Reuters, 12 July 2008. "China has executed two Uighurs and sentenced 15 others to prison in its Central Asian region of Xinjiang after a court convicted them of terrorism, US-based Radio Free Asia reported on Saturday." DPA, 12 July 2008. See also RFA, 11 July 2008. RFA is the only major international broadcaster with transmissions in the Uighur language.
     Update: "While most of the major news agencies remain rather conservative with reporting on the details, the RFA article claims that according to a woman who was at the public trial (allegedly, the community members were forced to attend), the sentenced and executed individuals were the scheming terrorists who were apprehended during the Akto daring raid of January 2007. The RFA articles as well as the bigger news companies name the two executed parties as Mukhtar Setiwaldi and Abduweli Imin. ... The two individuals who were singled out as ringleaders for the terrorism operation and summarily executed in November of 2007 were named Abduwali Yiming (阿不都外力·依明) and Muhataer Setiwalidi (穆合塔?·色提瓦力迪) - or, the Chinese transliterations of Abduweli Imin and Mukhtar Setiwaldi. ... My suspicions that the contradictions could be resolved by the possibility that RFA was simply wrong in its reporting turned out to be correct. The RFA article has now quietly updated its article to accommodate the discrepencies." The New Dominion, 14 July 2008. RFA "corrects and clarifies," RFA News, still dated 11 July 2008.

British psyop in Musa Qala, Afghanistan.

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The town bazaar falls strangely silent as the soldiers move through. Trading comes to a halt and the townspeople retreat under the canopies of their open-fronted shops. The stares are mainly hard and hostile, but the soldiers manage to juggle their security operation with an amiable show, waving and calling 'salaam alaikum' (may peace be with you) and handing out sweets to some of the children. Some do wave and smile back. Judging the 'atmospherics' of the bazaar is a key purpose of the patrol. Today the hostility was judged to be about normal, with some signs of improvement. Communicating with the Musa Qala people is difficult. Most have no basic literacy. Musa Qala FM has been set up to deliver news on Army activities and anti-Taliban messages. It is basically a propaganda machine, [British Army Captain Christian] Howard said, but is also one of a few tools available to reach out to the townspeople." The Herald (Glasgow), 13 July 2008.

EuroNews Arabic startup generates comment. Farsi next?

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The political climate in the region and specifically the European role in the Middle East is what led to the launching of this channel, however it should have learned from the mistakes of others. The Europeans are trying to enter the Arab world through the media. It does not work." Fadi Abu Sa’ada, Palestine News Network, 14 July 2008.
     "Arabic programming will be the same as for the seven other languages, served by the same images. They will include a news edition every 30 minutes, magazines on society, culture, sport, business and its famous No Comment section. Euronews wants to keep to its line of international news channel and thinks its competitors will be CNN and BBC more than Al-Jazeera or al-Arabiya." Rapid TV News, 13 July 2008.
     European Union external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner says "the best way to improve the visibility of EU engagement is through a 'joint TV channel we pay for,' which she compared to CNN. She did not say whether Euronews was that channel, but expressed her satisfaction with the launch of the Arabic language service of Euronews. Services in Persian and Farsi [sic] are also under preparation, she added." EurActiv.com, 15 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Al Manar becomes more "regional."

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Manar, which calls itself the 'Station of the Resistance,' began broadcasting in 1989. The Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah regards it as part of the 'psychological warfare' against Israel. But in addition to news and political programs, the channel broadcasts health and family programs, entertainment shows, educational programs for children and video clips glorifying the group's 'martyrs.' ... The U.S. State Department listed the station as a terrorist organization in 2004, when Al Manar was accused of anti-Semitism for airing a controversial series about the Jewish diaspora. It was banned in North America and other locations. But since 2005, Al Manar can be viewed anywhere in the world through its website, which is in Arabic and English, and where viewers from various regions post comments." Raed Rafei, Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2008.

Loss of Radio Australia shortwave facility recalled as a "mistake."

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Viewed from a Washington perch, the foreign policy performance of the Rudd Government in its first six months has been strong. ... To provide historical context, consider the early foreign policy performance of the Howard government, described by one sympathetic observer as 'nervous and uncertain'. In its first year, that government botched the race debate generated by Pauline Hanson, which caused many in our region to question our bona fides. ... Mistakes and distractions continued into the second year, with the downgrading of Radio Australia's coverage of South-East Asia." Michael Fullilove, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2008. Refers to a site near Darwin, Radio Australia's largest shortwave facility until it was divested in 1997 by the Liberal-National coalition government of Prime Minister John Howard. It is now owned by religious broadcaster CVC.

Should BBC be funded like BBC World Service?

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Former BBC director general Greg Dyke calls for an end to the UK's television licence fee, "arguing that it will be harder to collect with the growth of internet television. He says a government grant would save up to £200 million a year spent collecting licence fees, which he described as a 'desperately unfair tax'. ... The standard argument against funding the BBC through general taxation is that it would potentially compromise the political independence of the BBC. However, the BBC World Service is funded by a government grant and is generally recognised for its editorial impartiality." informitv, 12 July 2008. Switzerland might make people who watch television via broadband or mobile device pay that country's television license fee. followthemedia.com, 15 July 2008.

BBC World and the Building 7 consipiracy theories.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the drawbacks of 24-hour rolling news is the over-reliance on presenters interviewing reporters in a fact vacuum. In The Conspiracy Files (BBC2) we learnt that the paranoid ravings of the 9/11 'Truth' movement are partly inspired by such an exchange between a BBC World presenter and the reporter Jane Standley. When word came through on that extraordinary September day that Tower 7 of the World Trade Centre had collapsed, the presenter in London asked Standley, in New York, 'What more can you tell us about the collapse?' Knowing nothing, she ad-libbed: 'Only what you already know.' In fact, the tower (not one of the Twin Towers) was still standing - despite concern for its stability - and didn't fall for another 27 minutes. So the Truthers concluded that the BBC was also part of the conspiracy to blow up the World Trade Centre, along with the American government, police, fire service and mass media. That's where you end up when speculation gets the edge on reporting: feeding the fantasies of the chronically deluded." Andrew Anthony, The Observer, 13 July 2008. See also BBC News, 4 July 2008.

On Chicago's FM dial: BBC's competition replaced by BBC.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Global Overnight,' a nightly compilation of news from radio services around the world, is the latest casualty of programming changes at Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM (91.5). Replacing the four-hour block at midnight will be 'BBC World Service.'" Chicago Sun-Times, 15 July 2008. "Global Overnight" is a compilation of English-language programs of international radio stations, via World Radio Network. Per previous post, stations heard were Channel Africa, China Radio International, Israel Radio, Radio Canada International, Radio Polonia, and Voice of Russia.

Those foreign stations on Rwanda's FM dial.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Lawmakers in the lower chamber are demanding that government comes up with a plan to develop government media with the aim of countering the influence that foreign media is having locally, RNA reports. In a session Tuesday in which Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo had been summoned, several lawmakers wondered why government media was not able to compete for local audience with broadcasters such the BBC and VOA. At the heart of their concerns was to have the minister explain why people in large parts of Rwanda were not accessing local TV and Radio signal but were able to listen to foreign stations." Rwanda News Agency, 15 July 2008. BBC, VOA, DW, and RFI have full-time FM channels in Rwanda.

New Chinese jamming equipment for Zimbabwe?

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In order to boost its jamming operations against the UK based SW Radio Africa and Voice of America's Studio 7, the government recently received another shipment of the latest in radio wave jamming equipment from China. Landing records, shown to us at the Harare International Airport by port authorities, confirmed that the government received the equipment on May 17. The equipment was among several other items the Chinese delivered, including an assortment of sophisticated military surveillance hardware. Jamming of radio waves is accomplished by transmitting a strong signal on the same frequency as that used for broadcasting by the pirate radio stations. Both Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa have taken on to broadcasting on multiple frequencies in order to beat the jamming operation carried out by the CIO with the assistance of the Chinese attaches." Harare Tribune, 14 July 2008.

From shortwave to Blackberry.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The world definitely seems smaller. Until this trip I used to get my English language news by tuning my shortwave to the BBC World Service. Now, I am carrying a hand held Blackberry that allows me to access the Internet and its Web sites from almost anywhere." Rick Sallinger, KCNC-TV (Denver), 15 July 2008. The Blackberry is undeniably more convenient: 24-hour access to your favorite news source, and fewer reception problems. But on the day of the big crisis, shortwave will work. Will the Blackberry?

WorldSpace: no news is bad news? (updated)

Posted: 13 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rapid TV News exists to report the news, but sometimes when nothing happens that can be newsworthy. Such is the case with Worldspace, which by July 9 should have repaid its bridging loan debt-holders more than $20m as part of a restructuring commitment issued on July 1. As at press time on July 10 no statement was forthcoming from the company." Rapid TV News, 10 July 2008. Update: "Sources within the company say senior staff have already forfeited at least two salary payments, and this coming Tuesday’s payroll will again evidently have problems.Another source says that CEO Noah Samara last week held an all-staff meeting, telling them: 'We just need funding and execution.' ... What are Worldspace’s assets? A couple of tired satellites and a partly-built ground-spare that needs cash spent on it to ready it for launch (and a launch/insurance bill to get it into orbit)." Rapid TV News, 13 July 2008.

Cliff May nominated to BBG.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
President Bush nominates Clifford D. May "to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2009, [replacing] Mark McKinnon." And withdraws its nomination of Mark McKinnon (see previous post) "for a term expiring August 13, 2009, vice Fayza Veronique Boulad Rodman, which was sent to the Senate on January 9, 2007." White House, 10 July 2008. "President George W. Bush has nominated Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors for the remainder of a three-year term expiring August 13, 2009. 'In this very challenging period of history, it is vital that the United States communicate with audiences abroad clearly and creatively,' said May. 'I will be honored and privileged if I can assist with this mission.'" FDD press release, 11 July 2008. See also May's "Notes and Comments" at the FDD website. "If [the BBG's] mission was not originally intended to be a purveyor of propaganda, the Bush administration has seen to it that that is what it has become. Now President Bush has made his latest attempt to further mire the agency in disgrace by nominating Clifford May to the Board. May is a former Republican National Committee communications director and the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, whose list of directors and advisors reads like a who's who of neocon warmongers. He is an advocate of torture abroad, the suspension of civil liberties at home, and always the supremacy of America by virtue of its military might." Daily Kos, 12 July 2008.
     May is one of the people recommended for BBG membership by Senator Tom Coburn in his 4 April 2008 letter to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. See previous post. May has experience as a journalist, but his recent work has been more in the line of polemics. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the BBG's work is more in the line of journalism. If confirmed, May can try to compel U.S. international broadcasting to 1) report the news, or 2) send a message. It all depends on whether he wants U.S. international broadcasting 1) to have an audience, or 2) not.

RFE/RL Turkmen commentator freed from detention (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL commentator Sazak Durdymuradov has been released following two weeks of detention in Turkmenistan. The move came amid growing pressure on Turkmen authorities to release Durdymuradov from a remote psychiatric hospital known as the 'Turkmen Gulag.'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 5 July 2008. "Sazak Durdymuradov, a frequent unpaid contributor to RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service, has said he intends to keep working for RFE/RL, despite enduring two harrowing weeks in detention because of his work." RFE/RL News, 8 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: "A security officer warned him to 'go and tell the truth' about his treatment in detention, and not to 'slander' in his broadcasts, he said. Reports of Durdymuradov’s unlawful detention and alleged torture had outraged the international community, which called for his immediate release. CPJ attempted to interview Durdymuradov today, but was unable to get through to him." Committee to Protect Journalists, 11 July 2008.

Two recent tasks for U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'I think it is a public diplomacy issue or challenge for the United States not to give over the debate to Chavez, Morales and Fidel Castro, allowing them to shape the reason or motivation why the [new Fourth Fleet] created,' [General Barry McCaffrey] explained. 'When obviously it has nothing to do with that.'" VOA News, 11 July 2008. "On July 7th the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in an Address before the Arab Ambassadors stated that his Government was looking at the necessity of terminating foreign presence on Iraqi land and restoring full sovereignty. The U.S. public diplomacy machinery began operating in full swing after the statement was released and has emerged with a self justifying explanation: the remarks of the Iraqi Prime Minister are reflective of the confidence in the stability and democratic progress of Iraq facilitated through the efforts of the Coalition Forces." Madhavi Bhasin, San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, 11 July 2008.

Free WSJ subs: good public diplomacy?

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The visit of Warren Phillips, publisher and CEO of the Wall Street Journal, to Poland in 1960 illustrates how US Public Diplomacy, communicating directly with the people of other countries, could be practiced in a communist country. ... As customary for high-level visitors, Ambassador Jacob Beam gave a lunch for the WSJ’s Warren Phillips after which Beam and his senior staffers briefed Phillips on the political and economic situation in Poland. After the briefing, Phillips surprised us by asking 'Mr. Ambassador, what can the Wall Street Journal do for you?' Unprepared for such an offer, Beam turned to me, his Cultural Affairs Officer, and asked, 'Yale, what can the Wall Street Journal do for us?' Somehow, I came up with a novel idea. 'Mr. Phillips,' I said, 'Poland has 18 higher schools of economics, much like our business schools in the United States. Can you give each of them a six-month subscription to the Journal?' No problem, replied Phillips." Yale Richmond, Cultural Diplomacy News, 10 July 2008. This is back before "public diplomacy" was a term, at least in common use. And maybe not "public diplomacy," in any case, because presumably the content of the WSJ was independent of U.S. policy.

Election 2008: good public diplomacy?

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. has spent billions on public diplomacy..., but marketing works best when in alignment with changed facts. George W. Bush has helped with improvements in Iraq, diplomatic progress in the Mideast and particularly North Korea. But nothing has moved the world opinion needle more than Barack Obama's rise. John McCain's emergence on the Republican side of the ledger helps. He's a man of proven courage and integrity, a former prisoner of war who often stood for his own principles over party dogma. The Economist magazine's cover rightly labeled the two candidates, 'America at Its Best.'" Frederick Kempe, Bloomberg, 1 July 2008.

Music USA.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Recent reports have added Eminem, the Bee Gees and Neil Diamond to the roster reluctantly referred to by David Gray as 'Guantanamo Greatest Hits'. But what is it that makes one song more likely than another to be played on a maximum volume loop at terrorist suspects?" BBC News, 10 July 2008.

UK minister on public diplomacy: "genuine engagement, not propaganda."

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Jim Murphy, a UK foreign office minister ... has this week published a book looking in detail at how the UK can develop its public drive and help other states to do so. ... Mr Murphy refrains from criticising the US, but insists that when it comes to public diplomacy 'we need genuine engagement, not propaganda'. Second, Mr Murphy argues that governments must understand that 'an old-fashioned nation-branding approach to public diplomacy doesn’t change what foreigners think of your country'." Financial Times, 10 July 2008. See also BritainUSA, 10 July 2008. The entire "publication," a collection of essays, is available online at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website. Uncertain if it is also available in print. See previous post about same subject.

MD of DW-TV: DW not part of German public diplomacy.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Christoph Lanz, "managing director of Deutsche Welle television since 2002, describes his mission as 'to show Germany to the rest of the world. My mission is not to show the Good Germany or the Bad Germany, my mission is to show Germany as it represents itself.' ... Mr. Lanz maintains that Deutsche Welle’s independent organisation means that it is not part of German 'public diplomacy'. 'There is no non-governmental public diplomacy. From my understanding, public diplomacy is always something to do with the government, otherwise it wouldn’t fulfill the purpose of diplomacy. There has to be a mission, there has to be a direction that someone decides on in order to make public diplomacy a successful tool.' He classifies Deutsche Welle rather as part of the 'non-governmental cultural diplomacy', 'because we’re reporting on cultural affairs' in the broadest sense." Cultural Diplomacy News, 11 July 2008. Mr. Lanz is correct in saying "there is no non-governmental public diplomacy." That is why the tendency expand the term "public diplomacy" to include non-governmental international outreach renders the term meaningless. Mr. Lanz is further correct that an international broadcasting entity cannot achieve the necessary credibility for success if it is considered a part of a country's public diplomacy effort, even if it is funded by the country's government.

EuroNews Arabic starts today.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Euronews television is launching an Arabic service today to tap into a larger audience, but faces competition from numerous Arabic-language news channels already established in Europe. ... Euronews initially launched an Arabic version in 1997, but it was cancelled two years later. The reasons behind the current expansion are not only to boost the number of viewers. 'For political reasons, nearly everyone in Brussels agreed it was important to have an information service that makes a link' between Europe and the Arab world." The Peninsula, 12 July 2008. "Euronews has recruited a dedicated team of 17 Arabic-speaking journalists for the launch of the Arabic language service on 12th July, 2008. ... With these two satellites in the Euronews stable, the channel is now available in 248 million households in 135 countries worldwide." Middle East Online, 12 July 2008. EuroNews interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. EuroNews, 11 July 2008. Interview with Palestinian journalist Naela Khalil. EuroNews, 12 July 2008. In these two EuroNews stories, you can see how EuroNews works. There is no on-camera talent. Instead, there is one video stream, with separate audio streams in each of the channel's eight languages.

When using the internet might be as anonymous as listening to shortwave.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the internet’s best opportunity for users to remain anonymous is Tor, codeveloped by Roger Dingle. The product was not envisioned to be an anticensorship tool. Rather, Dingle’s group was originally funded by the U.S. Dept. of Defense and designed to allow users to travel the internet anonymously. It became popular with law enforcement officers setting up sting operations and corporate interests wishing to check out the competition without leaving tracks. However, a handful of news gathering organisations like Voice of America and Internews have also provided funding so that people to view their content from countries where it has been blocked." Global Voices, 10 July 2008.

Just when we thought the Aljazeera in Burlington story was over... (updated)

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Defenders Council of Vermont, a small group that led the fight against Burlington Telecom's continuing to air the 24-hour news channel Al-Jazeera English, will mount a petition drive to place a referendum question on the Burlington ballot in the November general election. ... 'Should Burlington Telecom enter into a contract with Al-Jazeera English, provided reasonable and agreeable terms can be reached by Burlington Telecom management?'" Burlington Free Press, 3 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: "Al Jazeera also has proven to be a serious competitor to public broadcast service channels in the United States by providing in depth reports about different parts of the United States. One episode of a program called 'Inside U.S.A' talked about gentrification in Harlem New York bringing attention to the plight of African Americas who are being uprooted from their homes and stores to make space for more well to do tenants from New York. Another episode of a program called 'Every Woman' focused on the plight of U.S. ex-servicewomen fighting for health care bureaucracy, unemployment, and high housing costs." Jalal Ghazi, New America Media, 11 July 2008. AJE's "Every Woman" is not to be confused with the "Everywoman" formerly on BBC World Service.

Cuts will affect seven VOA language services.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America plans to eliminate seven radio language services this year, reflecting the Bush administration's emphasis on outreach to the Muslim world. Among the cuts are the radio and TV broadcasts of the Russian service, along with radio broadcasts in Ukrainian, Serbian, Hindi, Macedonian, Bosnian and Georgian. ... Tish King, a spokeswoman for Voice of America, said ... Congress is on board with the cuts, which will be effective in September. Matthew Dennis, a spokesman for Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the BBG, cautioned that the appropriations process for VOA funds hasn't been finalized." ProPublica, 9 July 2008. The mentioned VOA services, except Georgian, will continue with internet and/or television. Some VOA services previously slated for elimination or reduction are spared. I will post a complete and specific list as soon as I have it. See previous post about same subject.

Shortwave remains relevant in Cameroon.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cameroonian authorities have lifted a ban on three private broadcasters summarily closed in connection with their critical coverage in February, but police are withholding equipment seized from one station, according to local journalists and news reports. Equinoxe Television, sister radio station Radio Equinoxe, and Magic FM were authorized to return to air on July 4 by Communications Minister Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam. However, police continued to hold the broadcasting equipment of Magic FM, a popular station and partner of international U.S. broadcaster Voice of America in the capital, Yaounde, Editor-in-Chief Roger Kiyeck told CPJ." Committee to Protect Journalists, 8 July 2008.

Slightly off topic, but we love the name.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Miami University will open the Voice of America Learning Center off Cox Road in January, but that might not be the end of its expansion into this fast-growing Butler County corridor. Miami owns 20 acres on the site, big enough to add as much as 8,000 square feet to the current 23,000, plus build up to four more buildings. While it has no current plans for new buildings, planners envision the possibility of a quadrangle between classroom structures, playing off the Georgian architecture at the main campus in Oxford. ... The center will conduct more than 75 classes per week. Those will include master’s level courses in education and undergraduate courses coordinated through Miami’s Hamilton and Middletown campuses. The university’s Corporate and Community Institute also will offer programs there. Miami’s Professional master’s in business administration program will open in West Chester in August 2009." Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 July 2008.
     "Voice of America Park in West Chester Twp. is scheduled to be the site of a free event that last year drew 3,500 spectators. The 2007 Concert at the Lake included the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra and West Chester Symphony Orchestra in a concert that culminated with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and a pyrotechnic display by Rozzi's Famous Fireworks. Organizers of this year's concert said they hope it will follow the trend of other repeat events at the popular park. 'For that park, when you schedule something a second year in a row, the attendance typically doubles,' said HFSO conductor and CEO Paul John Stanbery." Hamilton (OH) Journal-News, 8 July 2008. This is the old VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting site, still a very active place, where event attendance doubles from year to year.

Condoleezza Rice visits RFE/RL.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"As a specialist on the old Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, I know that, for people behind the Iron Curtain, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were their virtual passports out of tyranny and into freedom." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 8 July 2008 and links. -- Transcript of her remarks to RFE/RL. State Department, 8 July 2008. Transcript of Radio Farda interview with Secretary Rice. State Department, 8 July 2008.

Are we losing influence overseas because we think we can "sway a country's behavior"?

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"We are steadily losing our influence overseas, especially our ability to sway a country's behavior through cultural (i.e. blue jeans) or ideological (i.e. Radio Free Europe) means." Lionel Beehner, USA Today blog, 9 July 2008. Another U.S. commentator who does not understand the concept of international broadcasting (and who misuses "i.e."). Radio Free Europe did not have an audience because it fired salvos of pro-U.S., anti-communist ideology to its target audiences. It had an audience because it provided a news service that was more comprehensive, objective, and balanced that the news the target audiences were getting from their state-controlled domestic media.

RFA stories too good not to reproduce.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Influential North Koreans tried to bring McDonalds into the country, but the fast-food chain declined citing lack of profitability, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday." Chosun.com, 10 July 2008. "Cambodia’s 'jungle girl,' who lived alone in the forest for 18 years after vanishing at age nine, has learned to dress herself, bathe, and laugh in the year-and-a-half since she returned to her family, but she remains unable to speak, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports." Salem-News.com, 9 July 2008.

FARC at the receiving end of Colombian psyop.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Hey, guerrillas!' says the booming voice in Spanish. 'This is Ingrid Betancourt. Those of you who can hear me, they respected the lives of your commanders and they'll respect yours if you demobilize.' The military operation is part of a psy-ops campaign to persuade the estimated 60 rebels who were guarding Betancourt, three American contractors and 11 other hostages to desert the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC -- the oldest and largest active insurgency in Latin America." Miami Herald, 8 July 2008.

Karen Hughes hired by Hillary Clinton strategist.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Here's the latest eye-popping item in the Only-in-Downtown- Washington Department: Karen Hughes, the onetime indispensable communications aide to President Bush, has been hired by Mark J. Penn, the onetime indispensable aide to President Bill Clinton and, more recently, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Hughes, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, will join Burson-Marsteller, the public relations firm, as global vice chair." Washington Post, 10 July 2008. "Hughes, 51, started Wednesday at the firm's small office on Brazos Street in downtown Austin." Austin American-Statesman, 10 July 2008.

Look for your first issue of Problems of Terrorism.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"James Glassman, a former journalist and media publisher who was giving his first public address since becoming the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, acknowledged that opposition to America's foreign policy was one of the main reasons for the decline in America's image internationally. He also cited the government's failure to adequately explain those policies and the perception that the US doesn't listen to other nations' perspectives as driving the deterioration." Jerusalem Post, 8 July 2008. I thought Glassman's 30 June speech to the Council on Foreign Relations (previous post) was his first since becoming undersecretary for public diplomacy. In any case, the two speeches cover much the same ground. -- "We ourselves should not shrink from confidently opposing poisonous ideas -- even if they are rooted in a distorted and twisted interpretation of religious doctrine. To this end, we are working to develop the contemporary analogue to Problems of Communism, an important journal of the Cold War. The new journal will appear in both electronic and paper form and will also serve as a platform for conferences and discussions." Glassman to Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 8 July 2008. And like Problems of Communism, will Problems of Terrorism (probably won't be its actual title) be given Congressional approval for distribution within the United States? By the way, do listen to the audio file of the Q&A, which pops up after the audio of the speech. -- NB: James K. Glassman will be on CNN's Late Edition this Sunday, 13 July. National Journal The Hotline, 11 July 2008.

Is Iran using Photoshop to compensate for something?

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A photo on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Web site distributed Wednesday by Agence France-Presse showed four missiles launched simultaneously. That photo appeared on various Web sites Wednesday, including those of the New York Times and BBC News, and on the front pages of a number of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. The Associated Press and Reuters distributed similar photos, but they showed only three missiles." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 11 July 2008. Citing Little Green Footballs, 10 July 2008. Press TV uses the four-missile version. Press TV, 10 July 2008.

After Iranian missile tests, US and allies will fire back "intense public diplomacy campaign."

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Undersecretary of State William Burns "said the United States and the other nations are working on 'an intense public diplomacy campaign to explain what we're offering directly. ... We want the Iranian people to see clearly how serious we are about reconciliation and helping them to develop their full potential, but also who's responsible for Iran's isolation.'" Washington Post, 10 July 2008.
     Among RAND Corporation recommendations about U.S. strategy towards Iran: "-Pursue a more aggressive policy of public diplomacy by encouraging U.S. officials to provide interviews and commentary for Iranian media. -Tone down U.S. policy statements advocating regime change in Iran." RAND Corp. press release, 10 July 2008.
     "The State Department has refused to provide specific details on the nuances of [its Iran] democracy promotion project. The agency told lawmakers that the classified nature of the democracy promotion project serves to protect the identity of Iranian individuals and organizations that have received funding to promote a U.S. policy of regime change in Iran from being harassed or threatened by the Iranian government. Yet that is exactly what has happened to some Iranian dissidents—even those who have publicly denounced the program." The Public Record, 10 July 2008. Promoting democracy in secret seems incongruous. International broadcasting promotes democracy in Iran, without specifically promoting democracy, by reporting on the exercise of democracy in the free nations. It also covers contrasting political viewpoints inside Iran, which comes with the responsibility of determining which viewpoints are responsible and legitimate, and which are too radical for inclusion.

Iranian television station has Azerbaijani audience.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iran's state-run Sahar TV['s] efforts to broadcast to Azerbaijan in Azerbaijani often overpower domestic signals. They have even been said to reach as far as Baku, about 240 kilometers from the border. Much of Sahar's programming deals with religion, leading critics to suggest that the broadcasts are part of a wider effort to export the ideals of the Iranian Revolution. Some of those same detractors accuse Tehran of employing a 'soft power' assault to unduly influence the Azerbaijani public -- or even undermine indigenous culture or tradition." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 9 July 2008.

BBC World Service 2007/08 annual review: the competition may not enjoy reading it, but should.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The global audience is down slightly, from 183 to 182 million, but up from 38 to 40 million in English. "The estimate for Africa and the Middle East was up three million to 86 million, with strong performances in Nigeria and Kenya. Asia Pacific audiences were down by 3.1 million to 79.1 million, a decline largely attributable to Bangladesh, where there had been a major and arguably unsustainable increase during the previous year's political unrest." Two more capital cities have BBC FM presence. BBCWS director Nigel Chapman's annual salary is £228,000. BBC World Service press release, 8 July 2008 and the report itself. The BBCWS annual report is, of course, recommended reading. Its lessons for competitors: 1) consolidation of international broadcasting resources under one brand, 2) a domestic broadcasting partner (the parent BBC), 3) credibility by way of journalistic independence, 4) audience and market research which is heeded and turned into action, and 5) an appropriate mix of media -- although BBCWS (due largely to Parliamentary authorizations) has been slow to move into television in languages other than English.
     From the 2007/08 annual review of the BBC Trust (the governing board of all BBC): "The Trust’s audiences and performance committee commissioned independent research into the BBC Afghanistan service, and into the English Language Core Service (ELCS) on radio. The Afghanistan service received overwhelmingly positive responses. It is the most trusted source of news, and one of the most popular radio services in the country. However, competition from other Afghan media, including television, is growing. The challenge is to remain distinctive and relevant at a time of great social, economic and political change. Our ELCS research was carried out in key markets among opinion formers– a priority audience for the World Service. We found that the ELCS is valued for distinctive journalism that complements other news sources. However our research revealed that while there is an appetite for ELCS news-related output there is low awareness of it. Management is working to address this problem." BBC Trust press release, 8 July 2008, and the report itself. I confess that I've never heard of "English Language Core Service." Is that the BBC World Service English we North Americans used to hear on our shortwave radios? See also this March 2008 study on BBCWS ELCS.

BBC Worldwide: international broadcasting that you pay for.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide has reported an 8.8% increase in year-on-year sales to £183.8m at its channels division, fuelled by improvements 'evenly spread' between UK and overseas markets. ... US revenues came predominantly from the BBC America. UK series such as Torchwood and Top Gear helped to double BBC America's ratings in the key 25 to 54 age group and add 7 million subscribers overall. ... Revenues from TV programmes to Europe were up 3.4% year on year to £116m and profits from the region grew 6.9% to £30.8m. Sales to the Americas were down to £69m from £78.2m the year before, but profits grew from £2.9m to £6.9m.
In the rest of the world, sales grew 6.9% year on year, with profit up 5.9% to £9m 'helped by the explosion of new video-on-demand customers'." The Guardian, 8 July 2008. See also BBC Worldwide press release, 8 July 2008. BBC Worldwide is the BBC's commercial subsidiary, with sales both the UK and abroad. It is not to be confused with BBC World Service or BBC World News, but BBC Worldwide does facilitate the international distribution of BBC programs and television channels, including BBC World News.

BBC America is BBC without the controversial bits.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Americans will soon get their first look at 'Skins,' a controversial British youth drama. First, however, some of the controversial bits will be trimmed off. 'The British shows are far edgier,' Garth Ancier, the head of the BBC America cable channel, told reporters Tuesday." Lansing State Journal, 9 July 2008.
     "You can always count on BBC America to class up the TV Critics Tour. Situated in between the flashy presentations of HBO and CNN and the numbing dumbness of the Game Show Network, the respected British broadcaster stands out as one of the few outposts of intelligence on the U.S. television landscape." Andrew Ryan, Globe and Mail, 8 July 2008.

BBC World Service: broadcasting less radio drama, holding more radio drama workshops.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The British Council and BBC World Service will jointly host a workshop to bring the art of writing drama for radio, to a wide range of Arab writers. ... The workshop, in English, will focus on why radio can be the most accessible and powerful way of telling your story. ... The purpose of the workshop is ... to find new voices for radio within the Arab world, to bring Arab stories to a wider audience and to alert writers to a number of outlets available to them for their work." The Peninsula, 9 July 2008.

Al-Jazeera, the edgy-question news channel.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"US officials know the importance of trying to shape America's image abroad. 'We will never say 'no' to their interview requests,' says David Foley, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. 'We see it as extremely important,' in part because it has an audience in the Middle East. Mr. Foley appears regularly on AJE and knows what to expect from their interviewers. 'They're much more personal and edgy in their questions' than American networks, he says, citing a recent exchange with AJE anchor Shihab Rattansi, who asked him: So, Mr. Foley, aren't you really impotent in the Middle East? 'That's not the sort of question you're going to get on CNN,' Foley says." Christian Science Monitor, 10 July 2008.

Al Jazeera English, all night in Fiji.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Customers of Fiji's newest television company, Mai TV will be able to see Arabic news service Al Jazeera International from tonight. Mai TV chief executive officer Richard Broadbridge said the company has secured free to air rights to Al Jazeera International to bring international news and current affairs. ... Al Jazeera International airs on Mai TV from 1030 p.m. to 11 a.m. daily [1030-2300 gmt], while German/English service Deutsche Welle will broadcast for only three hours daily." Fijilive website, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 9 July 2008.

Livestation now welcomes all channels.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation viewers can now customise their watching experience by adding their own choice of channels. Livestation viewers can now add any TV, radio or even webcam streams to their Livestation account for easy access. ... 'For broadcasters, it will provide an excellent opportunity to assess viewer demand so that they can then respond as they see fit. We will then work with the broadcasters to maximise the new found opportunities.' ... Livestation channels currently include Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Bloomberg Television, EuroNews (English, French, Italian and Spanish), France 24, i>Tele, Russia Today and BBC World Service." broadcastbuyer, 9 July 2008. See also www.livestation.com.

TV5 Monde remains on DISH French bouquet.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The international French language broadcaster TV5 Monde says it has renewed its distribution contract with Echostar’s DISH Network for a period of five years. The channel is part of a French language bouquet that also includes Euronews, 3A Télésud, Trace TV and Eurochannel. The channel claims to be the most watched of all foreign language broadcasters in the US except for Spanish language broadcasts, beating all other European and Asian language services." Broadband TV News, 9 July 2008. The package costs 20 dollars per month. Radio France Internationale is also available, à la carte, for one dollar per month. -- "RFI apparently went back on Dish Network at the beginning of May, after being abruptly replaced with a lame French webcaster in late December. ... RFI remains available free-to-air in North America on C-band and Ku-band satellite frequencies." Mike Cooper, DX Listening Digest, 3 July 2008.

ProPublica's new salvo against Alhurra looks at its Baghdad bureau.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A close look at both the content and personnel suggests the problems in the Baghdad bureau and the effort to broadcast programming for Iraqis are as profound as those that afflict the rest of the network. For one thing, the bureau tilts heavily toward Iran, according to former employees, U.S. government officials and academics who have watched the programs. ... Deirdre Kline, spokeswoman for Alhurra, declined to respond to any questions about Alhurra's broadcasts to Iraq. ... U.S. government polling shows Alhurra is the No. 4 network in Iraq. But that ranking reveals nothing about the content, the behind-the-scenes battles and the financial problems that have plagued the Iraqi broadcast." Dafna Linzer, ProPublica, 8 July 2008. If Alhurra is number 4 in Iraq, they must be doing something right. If that something is demagoguing insalubrious factions, then changes should be made. But it should take more than a ProPublica investigation to walk away from such success.

RFE/RL's control of Radio Farda is finally, officially "wrested."

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will consolidate the management of Radio Farda under Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as of July 7, 2008. RFE/RL and the Voice of America (VOA) had jointly operated this Persian-language radio and Internet service since its inception in December 2002. The new structure is designed to streamline operations of Radio Farda, which will continue its broadcasts from Washington, DC and Prague. ... VOA will continue its management of the VOA Persian News Network" on TV, radio, and internet. BBG press release, 7 July 2008. Is this the official announcement catching up with this Wall Street Journal story on 29 December 2007?: "Radio Farda is the priority fix. [New RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin] wrested full control over the station from Voice of America upon taking office, and put in new Iranian management. Next he looked at the programming."

"Fight Terror With YouTube" (updated)

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"When it comes to user-generated content and interactivity, Al Qaeda is now behind the curve. And the United States can help to keep it there by encouraging the growth of freer, more empowered online communities, especially in the Arab-Islamic world. ... Statements by Mr. bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, that are posted to YouTube do draw comments aplenty. But the reactions, which range from praise to blanket condemnation, are a far cry from the invariably positive feedback Al Qaeda gets on moderated jihadist forums. And even Al Qaeda’s biggest YouTube hits attract at most a small fraction of the millions of views that clips of Arab pop stars rack up routinely. ... There is a simple lesson here: unfettered access to a free Internet is not merely a goal to which we should aspire on principle, but also a very practical means of countering Al Qaeda. As users increasingly make themselves heard, the ensuing chaos will not be to everyone’s liking, but it may shake the online edifice of Al Qaeda’s totalitarian ideology." RFE/RL senior analyst Daniel Kimmage, New York Times, 26 June 2008. Update: "Two studies by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have looked at how al-Qaida and its affiliates have fared on interactive media. Sure, it's from Radio Free Europe, and we know from whence they come. But in a fascinating article in Wednesday's International Herald Tribune, one of the researchers, Daniel Kimmage, writing out of Baku, Azerbaijan, details some of the al-Qaida experience on YouTube. ... It seems simplistic to say the answer to the preachers of international terror lies in YouTube. But empowering the right of reply would be a good beginning." Robert Fox, The Guardian Comment is Free, 8 July 2008.

RFA author writes about Tibet.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Review of the book China's Tibet? Autonomy or Assimilation: "Warren Smith, who writes for Radio Free Asia's Tibetan Service, is ... scrupulously fair, including complete policy statements from Beijing and the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile. The conflicting issues -- of China's claims on Tibet, and the Tibetans' wishes for more autonomy -- are plain." Jonathan Mirsky, Wall Street Journal, 8 July 2008. See also Rowman and Littlefield blurb.

Policy trumps nation "branding."

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick, a public relations and communications firm: "Q: Can you tell me about the concept of 'Brand America' and how that might be changing? A: What is troubling ...is that since the end of the Cold War, we have cut back tremendously on spending for public diplomacy. And the reasoning was, you know, we won the war. So why would we need to spend anymore? But I think we're paying dearly for not having kept those programs up. This is partly a communications problem, but mostly a policy problem and we shouldn't mix the two. This happened in the early days after September 11 where there were a number of appointments made in the State Department, for example, of various marketers and the kind of belief was that if we get the right kind of marketer in there we could solve 'Brand America.' Well, I think this is naive. The fact is that there's a reason why we have difficulties around the world and we need to address those from a policy standpoint." CNNMoney.com, 7 July 2008. -- "For Brand America and Britain to shine , they will have to communicate how their values are beneficial for all of the world. ... Remember Radio Free Europe and the power of the ideas which it transmitted? Those who live without freedom in Burma, Zimbabwe or Iran find the courage from within themselves to fight for the liberty they see othr enjoying on tv and on the internet." Julie Meyer, City A.M. (London), 8 July 2008. RFE's listeners tuned in more for uncensored news than for "ideas.' However, the portrayals of the exercise of democracy, through the news and current affairs coverage of international broadcasters, is probably a powerful influence on audiences in undemocratic countries.

Disinformation on the large and small screens.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Much of the anti-American disinformation that is eagerly consumed overseas comes not from governments but from Hollywood. A frequent theme in American-made movies is the threat posed by rogue agencies within the U.S. government or by predatory American corporations that seek world domination. In Hollywood’s jaundiced view, the root cause of terrorism and of many of the Middle East’s chronic problems can be traced back to U.S. foreign policy. ... To counter the many conspiracy theories propagated by hostile governments and movements for political purposes, or by Hollywood to make a buck, it is important that the United States develops a strong public diplomacy effort to explain U.S. foreign policy goals, programs, and decisions. This is particularly important regarding the war in Iraq and the broader war against terrorism, where there is considerable suspicion about U.S. motives." Jim Phillips via Heritage Foundation blog, 7 July 2008. -- "Easily accessible satellite television and Internet streaming video will broaden Muslim youths' perception that the West is anti-Islamic. U.S. public diplomacy cannot negate the impressions formed by real-time video from Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan that shows Muslims battling 'aggressive' Western forces and validating bin Laden’s claim that the West intends to destroy Islam." Sunita Paul, American Chronicle, 7 July 2008.

No big surprise: North Korea endorses new call for a new world information order.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) urged developing countries to enhance cooperation to establish a new international information and communication order, the official KCNA news agency reported Tuesday. ... The unnamed head accused 'hostile forces' of setting up media including the 'Radio Free Asia' in a bid to 'distort the reality in the DPRK and slander Korean-style socialism,' said the KCNA." Xinhua, 8 July 2008.
     "At the 7th Conference of Information Ministers of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries held in Venezuela’s Margarita Island last week, more than 80 country delegations endorsed Venezuela’s proposal to create an alternative worldwide media network. The Margarita Declaration signed Friday lays out a working agenda for constructing a 'new international communicational order' that is meant to 'balance information and democratize the presence of the countries of the South in worldwide communication,' said the Venezuelan Minister of Communication and Information, Andrés Izarra, in his closing speech Friday." Venezuelanalysis.com, 6 July 2008. Did any delegation vote against it?
     "The Ministers opposed the use of the media as a tool for hostile propaganda against developing countries which are aimed at destabilising their Governments. They called for an immediate cessation of the radio electronic aggression against NAM Member Countries as it is an action contrary to the principles of international law. They reaffirmed that the radio electronic frequencies spectrum must be secured in favour of public interest and in accordance with the principle of legality. The Ministers expressed their support in particular to the decision of the latest International Conference on Radio Communications of the International Telecommunications Union on this subject." Isla Margarita Declaration on the Promotion of an Objective Voice from the South in the Face of the Current Trends in the Fields of Information and Communications, Non-Aligned Movement website. "Revitalize the functioning of BONAC, including its enlargement and serving as a NAM media network that acts as an instrument to enable the exchange of radio and TV programs among NAM members." Isla Margarita Program of Action, ibid. See previous post about same subject.

Internet radio hardware developer and content aggregator try a new position.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Torian Wireless, an Australian-based global innovator in the Internet radio industry, today announced a partnership with RadioTime, a developer of technology for finding and listening to more than 50,000 radio stations online, that positions RadioTime as Torian’s radio aggregation supplier. The agreement is a worldwide license and marketing deal, where RadioTime is the official provider behind Torian’s iRoamer free radio platform offerings. With the partnership, Torian has licensed RadioTime content as its radio listings aggregator for powering AM/FM radio access through its iRoamer Internet radio platform, offered to original equipment manufacturers (OEM). iRoamer provides a complete solution for manufacturers, who for the first time can offer a packaged Internet media solution into any consumer electronics product." Torian Wireless press release, 8 July 2008. Again, corporate-speak prevents full comprehension of what this is about. The www.radiotime.com website does have a large collection of internet radio streams, including many traditional international radio stations.

Ted Koppel, formerly of ABC, moves to BBC.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ted Koppel, one of the most respected and highly honored journalists in the U.S., will join the nightly newscast which airs on BBC America and BBC World News in an ongoing role as a contributing analyst. ... 'The BBC has worldwide capabilities that I can't think any American network matches. To the degree that our future in this country is dependent to any extent on what's happening in the rest of the world -- which you won't hear about a great deal on the American networks -- then the BBC can be very, very helpful.'" BBC America press release, 8 July 2008.

German PD commissioner: spin is now more difficult. Good.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Commissioner for Communication and Public Diplomacy of the German Foreign Office, Michael Zenner ... emphasizes ... that it is more difficult to play spin doctor today. On account of the increased openness of societies and access to repositories of information that come in almost as soon as the events themselves occur, the everyday person can and is impelled to verify information, which can effectively defend us against propaganda and manipulation." Cultural Diplomacy News, 8 July 2008.

(Not that many Americans can see it) Al-Jazeera will cover the Democratic convention.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Among the international broadcasters that will cover the Democratic National Convention in Denver is al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite news network based in Qatar. Al-Jazeera English (launched in 2006) and al-Jazeera Arabic, separate but collaborative networks, will send two dozen staffers each." Denver Post, 7 July 2008. Recall the Al-Jazeera logo controversy at the 2004 Republican convention. Washingtobn Post, 28 July 2008.

French police send Deutsche Welle video journalists back to Germany, or Belgium, or whatever.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"French police have prevented a German television team from shoot pictures at edge of the meeting of European Union interior ministers in Cannes, France, dpa reported. A Deutsche Welle team had wanted to film a small group of demonstrators, protesting the disputed immigration policy of the 27 European Union member states. Police held the team away from the scene of the protest until demonstrators were arrested and dispersed, Deutsche Welle correspondent Frank Hofmann said on Monday in Cannes." Trend News Agency, 8 July 2008. Xinhua describes DW as "Belgium based":
"A team from a Belgium-based public television channel, Deutsche Welle, which was filming the event, was on the other hand questioned briefly before being advised by the French to 'head back to Belgium.'" Xinhua, 8 July 2008.

BBG's Blaya: "credibility is paramount."

Posted: 07 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"By law, the mission of U.S. international broadcasting is journalistic -- not propagandistic. Pairing al-Hurra with al-Qaeda information operations, as The Post did, grossly distorts the channel's purpose. ... Credibility is paramount: As U.S. international broadcasting has learned through more than six decades of experience, if broadcasts cannot be trusted to tell the whole story, they will be ignored." Joaquin F. Blaya, member of Broadcasting Board of Governors, letter to the Washington Post, 7 July 2008. Responding to Post article cited in previous post.
     "First, why was Pro Publica using its philanthropic funding to, essentially, subsidize the cost of a segment for 60 Minutes, the most financially successful news show in the history of U.S. television? Second, how can Pro Publica be filling a grievous gap in the information available to the public when its story is duplicated simultaneously by [the Washington Post]?" Edward Wasserman, Miami Herald, 7 July 2008.

If you don't have live video, there is always "context."

Posted: 07 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Garth Ancier, president of BBC Worldwide America: "Clearly, we feel that BBC World News is an alternative to what you’re going to see on CNN or MSNBC. We really view the night before [the primaries] and the night after as more important. An American [viewer] is going to probably tune to CNN or MSNBC on the actual night because they’ve got the gizmos; they’ve got the giant staff. But if you want context, that’s not really what the American networks do best." Broadcasting & Cable, 7 July 2008.

Northern Marianas: Radio Australia is beneficiary of glitch.

Posted: 07 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands's "only public radio station came back on the air Friday afternoon after three weeks of technical problems. ... KRNM is also having an unrelated issue with its Internet streaming decoder, Pogue said. The glitch is preventing the station from receiving the bulk of its NPR and BBC programming. Some of the affected programs are NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and BBC news programs. Meantime, the station is airing more Radio Australia and alternative programs." Saipan Tribune, 8 July 2008.

Jesse Helms, 1921-2008: engineered demise of USIA.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Former Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), who died 4 July: "1998: Succeeds in campaign to reorganize the U.S. State Department; the Arms Control Disarmament Agency and U.S. Information Agency are abolished and their functions are folded into the State Department." Citizen-Times (Asheville NC), 4 July 2008. "It’s hard picking the worst thing Senator Helms ever did, but one that should rank in the top five — one that most people overlook — is his willful destruction of the United States Information Agency. Today, almost everyone recognizes that the United States is woefully unprepared to win over hearts and minds in the Arab world." Charles J. Brown, Undiplomatic, 4 July 2008. So if USIA still existed, the Arabs would love America? -- "But abolishing the USIA was not a one-man show. There was more to it than a choice by President Clinton, even if it was his desk where the buck ultimately stopped. There was the USAID director who had the guts to fight for his agency and the USIA director who did not." Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner, 5 July 2008. In 2001, Helms instigated a major controversy at the Voice of America, protesting that it gave "equal times for Hitler" when in included excerpts of an interview with Yasir al Serri, leader of the Egyptian Islamist group Gama'a Islamiyya. William Safire, New York Times, 20 September 2001. See also Kathryn S. Wenner, American Journalism Review, December 2001. Helms also compelled Radio Free Asia to be named "Radio Free Asia," saddling RFA with Cold War baggage. See previous post.

Some confusion about James K. Glassman's new hat and old hat.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
James K. Glassman "as of 2005, was an enthusiastic proponent of US public diplomacy actively endeavoring to 'influence' foreign publics - the 'opinions of mankind.' His department's own web site still quotes him as saying, 'The task ahead.... [is to] engage in the most important ideological contest of our time – a contest that we will win.' But when faced with the enormous difficulty of the task, we have the new Secretary declaring that, 'our mission is not to improve America's standing in the world.' So which is it? To influence or not to influence; to engage or not; to 'win' but 'not improve America's image?' Hopefully Mr. Glassman will help us untie the knot in the near future." Scott Harrop, "Just World News," 5 July 2008. To which Mr. Glassman replied: "The BBG, with networks like Alhurra, has a clear mandate from Congress, and it is NOT to boost America's poll ratings. It is, instead, to promote freedom and enhance understanding of the United States and its policies through the practice of professional, objective journalism. That is an enormously important mission, but it is limited. Public diplomacy's mission is broader: to understand, inform, engage, and influence foreign publics." ibid. On 4 June, James K. Glassman was confirmed as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, thus relinquishing his role as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Those are two separate jobs, at times contradictory and adversarial. See "Put the News here and the Propaganda There".

Will he still think BBC World News is dull after it starts broadcasting from its new vibrant, flexible, bold, and creative studio?

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is only when travelling that you get a chance to really appreciate the poor quality of the BBC's international television offerings. Why does BBC World exist and why is it so unremittingly earnest and dull? What is the point of the 24-hour news channel, whatever it's called this week?" Alan Ruddock, The Observer, 6 July 2008.

BBC world services combine in new vibrant, flexible, bold, and creative studio.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC World News is to begin broadcasting from a new studio at Television Centre on Monday. ... A 'more vibrant and flexible environment' with 'bolder visuals' will give a 'more creative on-screen look', the corporation said. Also on Monday, BBC World News is introducing a new hour-long programme, World News Today, fronted by Mishal Husain and targeting peak time in the Asia Pacific region." Digital Spy, 4 July 2008. "The BBC is to pool the news gathering teams from BBC World News television, online and BBC World Service radio and online into a centralised pool to create a multimedia international news operation. The central world news hub, as the BBC is dubbing it, will begin operating on July 7. ... 'Now our international news talent is in one location, we can further strengthen our output across TV, online and radio platforms.'" Brand Republic, 4 July 2008.

Death of BBC World Service correspondent Charles Wheeler.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"After the war he joined the BBC where he began working on the sub-editors' desk in the Latin American section of the World Service. His command of German saw him move to Berlin in 1950 as the BBC's German Service correspondent." BBC News, 4 July 2008. See also BBC News, 4 July 2008. "Like his contemporary in Washington, Alistair Cooke, Charles Wheeler became a recognised authority on North America. Also like Cooke, he was an old-style journalist, and inclined to champion traditional values over new ways of working. It earned him a description from a former colleague as 'cantankerous, Luddite, and Napoleonic'. He admitted to the cantankerousness, saying it was largely due to the pressure to appear before the camera when he would rather stay anonymous as a voice-over." BBC On This Day website. See also From Our Own Correspondent, BBC, 4 July 2008.

Al-Jazeera English and the U.S. cable television information order.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Although the US government doesn't prevent access to the channel, many cable companies are reluctant to carry it... Subsequently, the channel has remained largely unavailable in the United States. In order to access the channel from most places within the country, Americans must pay upwards of $45 per month in addition to their usual subscription fee (on the DishTV network) - prohibitively expensive for many." Jillian Yirk, Global Voices, 5 July 2008.

The new New World Information Order movement invokes the role of Nyerere in the old New World Information Order movement.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has declared here that the report by a commission chaired by the Late Mwalimu Nyerere on cooperation among developing countries was still valid - and that it now needs a plan of action for its implementation. Chavez is one of the most radical leaders in the developing countries. He told ministers of information from 73 member countries of the nonaligned movement (NAM) meeting here to revive the cold-war era agenda of a new information and communications order, saying he was personally inspired by Mwalimu Nyerere's ideas and principles." Daily News (Dar es Salaam), 4 July 2008.
     Tanzanian information minister George Mkuchika "pledged that Tanzania would offer expertise in Kiswahili to a TV network to promote objective coverage of developing countries. The network – Telesur – is based in Caracas but Venezuela President Chavez said in his speech at the opening of the meeting that it would be more effective if regional centres were opened." Daily News, 6 July 2008.
     The NAM Final Declaration "rejects blockades and unilateral and coercive measures like those against Cuba that impede countries and peoples from enjoying their proper right to information. Cuba has suffered the restrictions of a blockade to develop communications and connection to the internet and access to undersea communications cables and technologies in power of US companies. The document, he added, rejects illegal radio and TV broadcasts that violate international laws, like those forced on Cuba and other NAM members." Prensa Latina, 5 July 2008.
     "Representing journalists from the province of Santiago de Cuba, Abisinia Fernandez, proposed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for the National Jose Marti Award for Journalism, for his role in the founding of the Telesur station and the Alo Presidente television program" Cuban News Agency, 5 July 2008.
     "Iran calls for the establishment of an international news network, saying the world needs an alternative to the mainstream media. 'World powers, especially America, now have a stranglehold on world media; they direct news and provide information to push their own interests,' said Iranian Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance for Press Affairs Ali-Reza Malekian. 'They refrain from publishing certain information about developing countries and sometimes propagate fabricated news,' he told a conference of Non-Aligned Movement communication ministers in Venezuela." Press TV, 4 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. For information about the old New World Information Order debate, that I studied in graduate school 33 years ago, start with this Wikipedia article.

Falun Gong related station off of Eutelsat (updated).

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV)'s broadcasts into Asia have been disrupted since June 16, 2008, with some fearing that it is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party's media censorship. ... The satellite provider, EutelSat, told the New York-headquartered station that their W5 satellite unexpectedly stopped because of a 'technical anomaly,' and that they did not know when it could be repaired." The Epoch Times, 30 June 2008. Updated: Eutelsat CEO Giuliano Berretta "has not resumed the broadcast for ambiguous technical reasons, indicating that no other transmitter is available. He has not explained why he shut off all transmitters to Asia except the Voice of America, and why the first transmitter being resumed is not for NTDTV. It makes people wonder whether there are some other reasons behind the scenes, and whether Mr. Berretta will resume the NTDTV broadcast even if W5 resumes full power. ... It's not wrong that Eutelsat wants to expand its business. However, we sincerely ask Eutelsat to consider how much of a future will be achieved by cooperating with the CCP, thereby sacrificing innate principles and the only window for the Chinese people to receive uncensored information?" New Tang Dynasty Television via Epoch Times, 4 July 2008.

A timely spotlight on SW Radio Africa (updated).

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"It's a constant battle, but exiled Zimbabweans are fighting to ensure SW Radio Africa's programmes reach their compatriots back in Africa. Station manager Gerry Jackson started the station in Harare in 2000, but it was quickly shut down by the government. Since then she and her team have struggled on in the UK against attempts to block the transmission." Sky News, 2 July 2008. Update: See also This is Local London, 5 July 2008.

New Burmese industry: modifying shortwave radios to eliminate the shortwave.

Posted: 05 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Relief supplies provided for Burma’s cyclone victims from China included 2000 radios. They were handed over to the junta authorities. Low-ranking officials were in a difficult situation when they received those cheap radios because they were not sure if they should give them to refugees or hold them back, so they asked their superiors what to do. The information about the radios pushed high-ranking officials into a tight corner. They seemed to be worried about affecting the relationship with China if they did not give the radios out. On the other hand, if they distributed the radios, the 2000 people who received them would be able to listen to foreign broadcasting services such as BBC, VOA, DVB and RFA, which they did not want their citizens to be able to access. Finally, an order came through that radios should be distributed to cyclone victims only after they had been adapted so that they could not be used to listen to foreign broadcasting services. As a consequence, engineers and officials at the Communication Department faced a heavy workload. They had to remove the short wave tuning system used by foreign broadcasting services to air their programmes from each radio. Engineers working for the Communication Department in Rangoon Division spent a lot of time on these radios worth US$ 5 each." Democratic Voice of Burma, 4 July 2008.

Air conditioning as public diplomacy.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a recent study by Terror Free Tomorrow and the New America Foundation, more than half of Pakistanis said the United States was to blame for violence inside the country today, as compared to only 8 percent blaming al Qaeda. This is a perception gap of enormous proportions, and a similarly epic public-diplomacy failure. [Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain] Haqqani's perceptive words regarding this public-diplomacy failure are worth recounting. He recounted youthful years studying inside an air-conditioned American library - this was the Cold War era - at a time when even well-to-do Pakistani families had few similarly attractive options (and exceedingly rare air conditioning). Where are public-diplomacy efforts today? The sorry truth is that they have failed in Pakistan just as they have in most Muslim-majority countries." Editorial, Washington Post, 2 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "H.R. 2553 would authorize the Department of State to establish and maintain libraries and resource centers at or connected with U.S. diplomatic missions. It would require the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy to report to the Congress on the functions and effectiveness of the libraries and resource centers. The department also would be required to show American films to promote American culture, society, history, and values." Congressional Budget office, 2 July 2008 (pdf).

Remembering deceased VOA/IBB employees.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"C. Evans Hays, 62, a broadcast journalist and senior news editor with the Voice of America who retired in 2003, died June 20 at Baptist Hospital of Miami of a cerebral hemorrhage. Mr. Hays worked for Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty in Munich before joining VOA in the late 1980s. He headed VOA's Bonn, Germany, bureau for several years and covered stories including German reunification and the Balkans wars." Washington Post, 1 July 2008.
     "Marion Rhodes Hales, 65, of Fairfax, Va., died Thursday, June 19, 2008, at Inova Fairfax Hospital. ... Marion first worked with ITT Telecommunications Corporation and since 1981 has worked as an electrical engineer with Voice of America." Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus, 22 June 2008.
     The Eugene K. Harr Theatre at the new arts center on Mountain View Street, Petersburg, West Virginia, is so named "because of his extraordinary gift to the Grant County Library through his estate. ... From [1988] until his retirement in 1999, he was a budget officer for the U.S. Information Agency, now known as International Broadcasting Bureau in Washington, D.C." Grant County Press, 3 July 2008.

"Family oriented alternative to YouTube" includes content from Press TV.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"While cable and dish services are swamped with religious channels, Muslims in the United States have unequal opportunities for access. MuslimChannels addresses this challenge with a unique approach, by offering the best of both worlds: Multiple live 24 x 7 broadcasts of religious, alternative news, and educational programming, as well as user video uploads, video sharing and formation of online communities." Press release, 3 July 2008 of www.MuslimChannels.tv "For Buddhists, who spend their day in pointless irrational rituals, life is always dark and stagnant." "The Error of Buddhism" at www.MuslimChannels.tv. -- In international broadcasting, Buddhism also has Christian detractors: "Unfortunately, Cambodia is a nation gripped by Buddhist traditions, woven into the fabric of people's lives for centuries." Far East Broadcasting Company, 7 February 2008. -- "Stephanie Khan, communication director of MuslimChannels ... claims that the exclusion of 'sexual' or 'hate' videos will make the site a haven for 'clean entertainment'." Social Media portal, 4 July 2008.

BBC faulted for its headlining of the Jerusalem bulldozer terrorist attack.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Even though a BBC reporter witnessed the recent bulldozer attack perpetrated by a Palestinian terrorist upon the citizens of Jerusalem, it's website chose to lead with 'Israel Bulldozer Driver Shot Dead'. ... Not to be outdone by its sister in the media, BBC World television coverage lead with the headline: 'Breaking News: Israel Attack: Jerusalem bulldozer driver shot dead by security'." digitaljournal.com, 3 July 2008. "While BBC Online currently covers the story 'Bulldozer rampage hits Jerusalem,' this was not the original headline. Offering a glimpse into the BBC's warped journalism, the initial headline read 'Israel bulldozer driver shot dead'." HonestReporting, 2 July 2008. See also BBC News, 2 July 2008. "The BBC has said it was wrong for its News at 10 programme to show the killing of a man who drove a bulldozer into a bus and several cars in Israel." BBC News, 4 July 2008.

In anticipation of BBC Persian television, Iranian commentator suggests the elimination of censorship.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"It has been reported that the Persian programme of the BBC television network will start its work in the near future. With the start of the activities of that network, another Persian language channel will be added to many networks that are already operating from abroad. ... BBC Radio is one of those networks, which seems to have the largest audience from that point of view. It is probable that when the new [BBC] television channel starts to broadcast, its influence would be even greater than that of the BBC Radio. The German Voice [Deutsche Welle], the French Radio and ... [Ellipses as published] also belong to the same category, but none of them has the same level of influence as the BBC has. ... The increase in the number of Persian language media broadcasting from abroad can be regarded as an opportunity for our country only if, on the one hand, our national media (including both the radio and television) is able to deal with the current affairs of the country without censorship, and if they can provide a platform for different viewpoints and can provide news and analysis in such a way that it would satisfy the needs of the society; and, on the other hand, alongside the national media, there are other permitted [presumably private] media and press that can publish and broadcast domestic and foreign reports without censorship." Azar Mansuri, Iranian newspaper E'temad website, via redOrbit, 3 July 2008.

BBC co-production looks at history of Beijing.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC will this month begin airing 'Beijing: Biography of an Imperial Capital,' the second factual skein it has co-produced with a Chinese broadcaster. ... It was made over an 18 month period as a co-venture between Beijing Television and Singapore's The Right Angle. It runs as a three-parter for the BBC and in 12 episodes for Beijing TV. ... Like most other foreign broadcasters, the BBC does not have 'landing rights' in China. Its World News net can only be viewed in China's top hotels and foreigner compounds and its website is blocked by country's Internet regulators, often referred to as 'the Great Firewall of China.'" Variety, 3 July 2008. So, unless I'm missing something, actually not a "Chinese broadcaster" but a Singaporean production company.

Instead of "bigger brains," CNN will have to settle for bigger audiences and bigger revenues.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News America is kicking the tires on its own election 2008 bus... The Washington, D.C.-based newscast will deploy its bus in the weeks between the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in late August and early September, respectively, and the election in November. ... The bus (no, it will not be a London double-decker) 'offers an opportunity to cover issues; to get the mood of America and the sense of how Americans feel about their place in the world,' said Rome Hartman, executive producer of BBC World News America. Correspondents will contribute regular bus blogs, while also servicing the BBC World Service radio network. Hartman conceded that the BBC World News bus may not have the high-tech gadgetry of, say, the CNN Election Express, a multimillion-dollar HD mobile newsroom. 'It won’t have the bells and whistles,' he added, 'but we’ll make up for it with bigger brains.'" Broadcasting & Cable, 3 July 2008. See also an American undergraduate's translation of Al-Jazeera Arabic coverage of the U.S. election. St, Louis Post-Dispatch The Platform blog, 3 July 2008.

Chronicling the accelerating decline of shortwave broadcasting.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Heidi Lucas of [Deutsche Welle] Customer Service said, 'DW`s objective is to do without shortwave, wherever possible, some day. But as far as I know, there are not yet plans to cease the German broadcasts for Australia. The future belongs to FM (via partner stations), satellite and above all to audio and video via the internet. Please do not forget: As long as DW has shortwave transmissions, we need reception reports'" Don Rhodes, BDXC-UK Communication, via DX Listening Digest, 1 July 2008.
     Some confusion whether Radio Singapore International will close down at the end of June or the end of July, but monitoring seems to indicate end of July. Also uncertain whether Singapore's domestic broadcasts will continue to be relayed via shortwave. Victor Goonetilleke and Rich McVicar, DXplorer, via, and Walt Salmaniw, Ron Howard, and Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 3 July 2008.
     Radio Taiwan International has dropped some of it shortwave relays via WYFR, Okeechobee, Florida. Jon Pukila, Dan Say, Kai Ludwig, and Glenn Hauser, reporting to DX Listening Digest, 3 July 2008. Consult DX Listening Digest for expert monitoring of the stations that are still transmitting on shortwave, and evidence of those who are not. International broadcasters do not always adequately state their intentions re shortwave.

Consolidation of French international broadcasting brings transition to Radio France Internationale.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The head of a new, streamlined French media group, Alain de Pouzilhac, took over as CEO of Radio France Internationale on Tuesday, marking one of the first steps in a controversial overhaul of public broadcasting in France. Pouzilhac is already the head of Audiovisuel exterieur de la France (AEF), a group set up to bring together France’s international media stations: France24, RFI and France’s share of the international French-speaking channel TV5." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 2 July 2008, citing RFI, 30 June 2008.
     "From the outside, it looks like France 24 has, in effect, taken over Radio France Internationale, the international broadcasting radio service. France 24 is barely 18 months old and is a combined TV and Internet operation running in 3 languages. RFI has been around a lot longer, but is definitely more of a traditional radio network." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog, 2 July 2008.
     "Je voudrais continuer a developper RFI et pas uniquement dans des grands bassins d'audience [presumably Africa] mais sur des territoires dans lesquels nous devrons etre en conquete. Des territoires comme en Iran, au Proche et Moyen-Orient, en Europe de l'Est ou en Asie." RFI, 2 July 2008 (with link to 9-minute audio interview).
     Antoine Schwarz, outgoing president-directeur general of RFI, cites among his accomplishments the establishment of an FM rebroadcasting network slightly larger than that of BBC World Service. RFI press release, 4 July 2008.
     Christine Ockrent becomes "numero 2" at RFI. RFI press release, 3 July 2008. And Genevieve Goetzinger the directrice deleguee (deputy director). RFI press release, 3 July 2008.

International radio listeners are very well informed, even in captivity.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
French president Nicolas Sarkozy "said he was flabbergasted when [French-Colombian politician Ingrid] Betancourt called him from the tarmac as soon as her military helicopter had landed from the jungle, asking him to thank [his wife Carla] Bruni. The president was surprised that she knew all the details of their relationship and events. 'I was stupefied that she had followed all that very precisely,' he said. Betancourt had listened to Radio France International every day towards the end of her captivity." The Guardian, 4 July 2008.

Russia calling America: be more humble. America calling Russia: slow down for pedestrians.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of Russia Today TV: MN: "Do you think there are some things that Russia could teach America? MS: It seems that the United States should try to humble itself a bit. After all, it has been a very long time since Russia, for example, has lectured another country. MN: Is there anything that America could teach Russia? MS: Deriving from its culture of rules, America could teach Russia a better respect for the law. Even in small things, like not offering a bribe to a police officer, for example, or that motorists must slow down for pedestrians. MN: Okay, now I must ask you a question that everyone probably asks you. MS: If I take my orders from the Kremlin? MN: Yes [laughter]. MS: I'm tired of answering that, really. If I do get a call from the Kremlin, it might be from somebody who works in the Kremlin press pool inviting me to go out for a beer or something." Moscow News, 3 July 2008.

In the new world information order, state control would be a good thing.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Top-level experts opened Wednesday the Seventh Conference of [the Non Aligned Movement] Information Ministers with a series of proposals to be analyzed today by heads of delegations. The aim is to adopt concrete programs, as of experiences of the Movement and some members, to face the dominion of Northern countries and large companies in communication. This is part of a process to develop freedom of the press that in the past was identified with the right of media owners to decide editorial guidelines. That principle implied any state attempt to control was a violation of the right to inform. Even within extensive positions of NAM, with 117 members throughout the world, there is an appreciable advance in criteria for a new world information order, a concept limited to theory few years ago. An initiative for the ministers' analysis is the Latin American multi-state Telesur channel, an example most of countries attending the meeting consider can be extended throughout the continent." Prensa Latina, 3 July 2008. Venezuela's communication and information minister Andres Izarra: "We want a new international information order. Besides the consolidation and expansion of Telesur network, Venezuela is proposing to create a radio of the South and a network of content production that serves as an information databank for all our countries in order to achieve the democratization of information." El Universal (Caracas), 3 July 2008. "Delegates rejected the spreading of discriminatory and distorted reports about the nations of the South and they welcomed an initiative to reactivate broadcasting organizations of the Non Aligned Movement." Cuban News Agency, 3 July 2008. At NAM, Brazilian information vice minister discusses cooperation with Telesur. Telesur, 3 July 2008.

Our virtual country is so much easier to explain than the real one.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US State Department has begun exploring Second Life as a means to introduce people to American culture. Last year, it organized an eight-hour jazz concert that stretched across time zones. Next year, officials may work with Ohio University to coordinate tours of a virtual art exhibit led by the artist’s avatar. Already, several other countries, including Sweden and Estonia, have built cultural embassies in the online world." Christian Science Monitor, 2 July 2008. And, then, there is U.S. international broadcasting, portraying "first life" in the United States, and, if it is done correctly, avoiding anything that is "virtual."

Did Iranian foreign minister use VOA to make a point?

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki "expressed frustration that while Iran granted over 150 visas to U.S. journalists last year, Iranian journalists in the U.S. face restrictions. The U.S. Mission to the UN subsequently distinguished between independent journalists and those for state-run media. Iran's spokesman Mansour Sadeghi, at Wednesday['s] press conference, pointedly called on a reporter from Voice of America, perhaps for just this reason." Inner City Press, 2 July 2008.

Despite new book, we'll probably just shout more loudly.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Jim Murphy, UK Minister for Europe, author of "new book, Engagement: Public Diplomacy in a Globalized World, stresses that "public diplomacy shouldn't be a matter of 'just shouting your message more loudly,' but ... that it's perhaps more important to change our perception of others than their perception of us. ... And Murphy stressed the need to gain a solid grasp of the history and sensitivities an issue has for another country, ultimately seeking to understand how the world looks from the other side. Probably we shouldn't need to be reminded of such basics... " David Shorr, Democracy Arsenal, 2 July 2008.

DRM digital shortwave looks for a niche.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Summary of speech to National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters by former Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Consortium technical committee chairman Don Messer: "For shortwave — local community services, Alaska-type regional services, and long-range DRM services — the question is, 'are there markets — perhaps niche markets — in the U.S. for this kind of broadcasting?' The kinds of things I am talking about within the U.S. will require at least 1 to 2 to 3 years of testing. 'By that time, if there aren’t consumer receivers ready, forget you heard this speech.' Meanwhile, Messer pointed out that there are currently shortwave DRM transmissions to the United States from Canada, Bonaire, French Guiana and other sites. And 'nobody can prevent some Mexican entrepreneur from broadcasting out of Chihuahua or something like that as long as it’s coordinated with the HFCC.'" Jeff White, Radio World, 2 July 2008. See also NASB website. Andy Sennitt tells me no DRM transmissions are currently coming from Bonaire, although the capability remains.
     In Alaska, Digital Aurora Radio Technologies "DoD-funded [DRM] test would use existing 100 kW Continental transmitters designed for an Over-the-Horizon radar transmitting system formerly used in Cold War broadcasting and a digital signal generator operating from the Delta Junction area, some 130 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Other than that, the DoD connection is unclear.One transmitter producing output average power of 20 kW, in concert with an antenna that sends most of its radiated power into Alaska, should be able to be received throughout the state, the company believes. However, Digital Aurora needs to determine if such reception can be accomplished during times of high and low solar activity.' Radio World, 2 July 2008.

Via Al-Jazeera English, China gets an earful from Africans.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Last Wednesday's episode of The Riz Khan Show on Al Jazeera English dealt with Chinese industries in Africa. ... According to Khan's guests and several callers, Chinese nationals are 'enslaving' Nigerians, forging corrupt partnerships with African party leaders, using up the world's natural resources like there's no tomorrow, and possibly forming an 'upgraded replay of colonialism' in Africa. On the flip side of things, one caller demands to know why China is being demonized when Western countries have been doing similar things in Africa for years." Adrienne Wong, Shanghaiist, 3 July 2008.

Zimbabwean commentators criticize Western broadcasters.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Just last Sunday, the Voice of America State radio reported in one breath that South Africa had 'deported' hundreds of Zimbabwean immigrants but in the next breath the news bulletin said those affected had fled violent attacks on them to seek shelter and had said 'they wanted to return home.' While the contradiction should have been so obvious to the news writer, it appears that the over-riding desire to cause antagonism between the South African and Zimbabwean governments over the 'deportations' blinded that medium to the conflicting statements in the bulletin." Stephen Mpofu, The Herald (Harare), 3 July 2008.
     "Simple advice to the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera (English), etc: Do not put your media houses into disrepute by inviting shallow analysts and also learn to debate real issues: sanctions (Zidera 2002), IMF/WB policies, Lancaster House Constitution and the reneging of the British government on its land compensation obligations, interference in other countries’ affairs, colonial legacy, North/South trade and economic relations and imbalances, etc. These are some of the pertinent questions that need to be addressed on any Zimbabwean debate, rather than all these cosmetic issues you discuss, that are meant to win you viewership." Philip Murombedzi, The Zimbabwe Guardian, 3 July 2008.

Nigerians can now watch Fox News.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Nigerian DTH platform HiTS has added more capacity on the Eutelsat W4 slot at 36 degrees East. Zee Cinema UK and Fox News are among the new channels for the platform, which has secured more than 100,000 subscribers within 11 months of its launch. HiTS offers a mix of international and homegrown channels and is available booth on DTH and on a MMDS terrestrial network (wireless cable). ... International content includes Eurosport, News, E! Entertainment, CNBC Africa, BBC World News... ." Broadband TV News, Broadband TV News, 3 July 2008.

The RFE Romanian Service will become the RFE Moldovan/Transdniestrian Service.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is putting an end to its broadcast in Romanian language starting August 1 - the very same day when BBC Romania also goes off air, as announced a week ago - according to a letter sent by RFE/RL head Jeff Gedmin to his colleagues on Wednesday. But as opposite to BBC Romania, RFE/RL would continue to broadcast for the Republic of Moldova and the Transdniester region." HotNews.ro, 2 July 2008. "Since Romania's acces[s]ion to the EU last year, media competition has increased dramatically and Romanians now have access to more than 70 daily newspapers, 300 private FM radio stations, cable TV and the Internet." RFE/RL press release, 2 July 2008.

"Reporting Among Gangsters."

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty discusses his station's difficulties reporting from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. "The 'stans' of Central Asia, a group of largely poor countries, also have an image problem: Their names sound remote to Western ears, and their issues will never spark the interest or controversy of Iran or Tibet. Without the celebrity of a Dalai Lama, Westerners are simply unlikely to pay attention." Jeffrey Gedmin, Washington Post, 2 July 2008.

Beleaguered Alhurra is getting scoops.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iraqi officials have said little about a Hezbollah role in this country. However, President Jalal Talabani told U.S.-funded Alhurra television this week that 'there have been several occasions' when Hezbollah members or those who 'claim to belong to Hezbollah' have been detained in Iraq. He gave no further details." AP, 1 July 2008. "The Maysan [province of Iraq] police spokesman, speaking on al-Hurra television, said arrest warrants had been issued for the three members of the Maysan provincial council. He did not say why the warrants were issued." Reuters, 2 July 2008. The two stories hint that Alhurra reporters might want to work on their follow-up questioning.

So who can domestically disseminate, and who can't?

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"No one can tell the story of America’s global commitment to sustainable development and its contributions to our security better than the people who do the work every day. Yet their ability to do so is restricted by Section 501 of the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (the Smith-Mundt Act), which functionally restricts the ability of USAID to use public dollars to tell its story inside the United States. This legislation should be amended or repealed so that USAID, just like the Department of Defense, can tell the American people about the value of its work and continue to build public support for it." Center for American Progress, 1 July 2008. "There's one problem: USAID is not covered by Smith-Mundt, nor is the Department of Defense. USAID's failure in public diplomacy that engages a global audience, including Americans, is not a result of a Smith-Mundt prophylactic. The truth is USAID operates independently [of] America's public diplomacy efforts." Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner, 1 July 2008. Well, there is the USAID Office for Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs. Is this U.S. public diplomacy effort exempt from Smith-Mundt? In any case, the USAID website is effusively telling its story, and nothing at that site seem seems to discourage U.S. visitors. See, in particular, the Telling Our Story and FrontLines pages.

Glassman: public diplomacy is about influencing, and international broadcasting is part of public diplomacy.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
James K Glassman, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, in his "first speech," to the Council on Foreign Relations: "Public diplomacy is diplomacy that's aimed at publics, as opposed to officials. Public diplomacy, like official diplomacy and like war, when war becomes necessary, has as its mission the achievement of the national interest. Public diplomacy performs this mission by understanding, informing, engaging, and influencing foreign publics. Ultimately it is that last word, influencing, that counts the most. ... Before getting to the war of ideas, let me talk briefly about the more traditional tools of public diplomacy. Until a few weeks ago, I chaired ... the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which supervises taxpayer-funded U.S. international broadcasting." CFR, 30 June 2008. However, the audience for international broadcasting tunes in to be informed, not influenced. It is because of this theoretical disconnect that U.S. international broadcasting will probably remain number one in expenditures, but number two in audience size.

To know us is to love us? Comments on U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Talking the talk won't mean much if the United States isn't walking the walk. In this world of ubiquitous media, all American actions are public diplomacy -- and they speak much more loudly than the words generated by the public diplomacy shop." Star-Ledger (New Jersey), 1 July 2008. "The State Department should attempt to do better at 'public diplomacy.' The more people in some other countries know about America, after all, the less likely they are to want to destroy us." Wheeling News-Register, 1 July 2008. Pakistani Ambassador to United States Husain Haqqani: "Every time a significant, respectable Pakistani is humiliated at an American airport, despite having a valid visa, the story doesn't even make it into your papers, but it's the biggest story of the day in Pakistan." Daily Times (Lahore), 2 July 2008.

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday...

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
WorldSpace Satellite Radio "has agreed with each of the four holders of the Company's amended and restated secured notes (the Bridge Loan Notes) and second amended and restated convertible notes (the Convertible Notes) to defer until July 9, 2008 the Company's obligation to pay $19.86 million in principal amount of the Bridge Loan Notes including accrued but unpaid interest due on the Bridge Loan Notes and Convertible Notes that was scheduled to be paid on June 30, 2008." WorldSpace press release, 1 July 2008.

Alabama mayor will not talk to Al-Jazeera.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Reporters from Al Jazeera English will be in Birmingham [Alabama] Tuesday, for a story about Mayor Larry Langford's plan for a four-day work week for city employees." Birmingham News, 30 June 2008. "Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford today refused to interview with reporters from Al Jazeera English because he opposed the network's coverage of terrorist activities and its graphic display of an American being executed." Birmingham News, 1 July 2008.

BBC World News bumped from Amsterdam analog channels (updated).

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
On the UPC cable systems in the Netherlands, Discovery’s Animal Planet is added as an analog channel. To make room: "In Amsterdam, it is remarkably BBC World News that will disappear." Broadband TV New, 15 June 2008. Update: "Whilst it makes a lot of sense to migrate these kinds of channels behind a set-top box at some point in the future - the penetration of set-top boxes in the Netherlands is way too low at the moment. It is clearly much too early to be messing with the diversity of programmes on offer. As things stand now, most of the hotels in Amsterdam as well as 80% of the population will lose BBC News from cable as from July 1st." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance weblog, 30 June 2008. "UPC Nederland has stopped analogue distribution of TV5 Monde in large parts of its networks to make room for Animal Planet. The channel remains available in Amsterdam, where the cabler has ousted BBC World News... It is the only French language broadcaster available on most Dutch cable nets." Broadband TV News, 1 July 2008.

Canadian psyop and its "uncommitted target audience" in Afghanistan.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Sgt. Donald Clark, serving with Canadian forces in Afghanistan, is "second in command of a tactical information operations team, also called a psyops or psychological operations team. Clark and colleague Cpl. David Carr, also from Thunder Bay, spend most of their time outside the air field base as their job involves talking to 'the uncommitted target audience' -- Afghans -- in an effort to gain their support. 'We do this primarily by ensuring that people are informed of the facts, understand the consequences of actions and are aware of our intent,' Clark wrote. 'We also monitor Taliban information operations and dispel Taliban rumours that attempt to instill fear in the local populace -- a method the Taliban likes to use to control the largely uneducated villagers.' In fighting the information war, Clark‘s team uses leaflets, newspapers, radio and loudspeakers, but relies mainly on old-fashioned face-to-face talking." Chronicle Journal (Thunder Bay, Ontario), 2 July 2008.

German World War II broadcasts to the Middle East.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Forthcoming book by Prof. Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland details "Germany's propaganda outreach to the Arab world, which was designed by the German Foreign Office and broadcast over short-wave radio. 'When the Nazis broadcast propaganda in Arabic, Persian and Turkish to the Middle East, they were taking a narrative that they had developed - rooted in a paranoid fantasy of an international Jewish conspiracy - and presenting it in a different context,' Herf said. The radio broadcasts, primarily in Arabic, sought to create a connection between devout Muslims and the secular political message of Nazi Germany, and quickly outnumbered the Nazis' broadcasts to Europe and the United States, he said." Jerusalem Post, 1 July 2008. See also Prof. Herf web page.

Not universally celebrated: Press TV is one year old.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Mohammad Sarafraz, vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) World Service, on the first anniversary of Press TV: "Press TV has tried to open a new window for the English-speaking viewers, particularly American and European audiences and to deliver the news from a new perspective, and to some extent, it has been successful. ...
For example, Hezbollah is a very influential Lebanese group. According to various polls, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah is also one of the most popular figures in the Middle East. Despite all this, media outlets did not televise his speeches or censored most of it. However, Press TV has conducted live broadcasts of all his speeches along with simultaneous translation and given a voice to Hezbollah." Press TV, 2 July 2008. "It is difficult to measure the number of viewers of a television network within a year's time ... however, the website of Press TV has been visited by millions of people over the past year." Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 1 July 2008. "Looks like my analysis on Press TV was pretty good." Max Keiser, Huffington Post, 1 July 2008. See previous post about Press TV.

Memories of a pirate station.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio North Sea International was bigger, better and flashier than any other pirate. Aboard a Norwegian coaster converted into the radio ship Mebo II in a Hamburg shipyard, it came on the air on January 23 1970.
Painted in brilliant psychedelic colours and topped by a 50 metre high radio mast, it was, for me, a fascinating enigma from the start. Its conventional medium wave transmitter was more powerful than any other pirate radio ship, and most European national radio stations, and it also, surprisingly, broadcast on two short wave bands and on VHF. It was difficult to discern any commercial rationale behind the operation." Paul Harris, allmediaSCOTLAND.com, 1 July 2008. I remember hearing its shortwave signal on this side of the Atlantic.