BBC's new Pashto service for the border region.

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service launches today a special news and current affairs programme for audiences in the Southern and Eastern regions of Afghanistan. Stasu Narray, from the BBC Pashto service, will bring 30 minutes of news and in-depth analysis to Pashto-speakers, including those on the Pakistan border, every day at 2100 in Afghanistan (2130 in Pakistan)." BBC World Service press release, 28 August 2008. Appears to compete with VOA Deewa Radio, Pashto for the Pakistan frontier region, established on September 2006. See previous post.

The real question is whether BBC has gone for the bait (updated).

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A Whitehall counter-terrorism unit is targeting the BBC and other media organisations as part of a new global propaganda push designed to 'taint the al-Qaida brand', according to a secret Home Office paper seen by the Guardian. ... The report, headed, Challenging violent extremist ideology through communications, says: 'We are pushing this material to UK media channels, eg a BBC radio programme exposing tensions between AQ leadership and supporters. And a restricted working group will communicate niche messages through media and non-media.' The disclosure that a Whitehall counter-terrorism propaganda operation is promoting material to the BBC and other media will raise fresh concerns about official news management in a highly sensitive area. ... The document also notes that al-Qaida has to 'feed its new franchises with propaganda to keep the "brand" alive at all costs'." The Guardian, 26 August 2008. This is not startling news, unless the counter-terrorism unit is engaging in disinformation. Any government agency can and should propose story ideas and interviews to the news media. The media, in turn, decide what is newsworthy, and present the content according to their own standards. It seems that differences between AQ leadership and their supporters were inevitable, and have already been picked up by the news media without the need for any intrigue.
     Update: "The BBC admitted yesterday that its security correspondent Frank Gardner and a colleague met members of Whitehall's research, information and communications unit (Ricu). The programme, al-Qa'ida's Enemy Within, was broadcast on Radio 4 on 7 August. ... Nicola Meyrick, executive editor of current affairs on BBC Radio, dismissed any suggestion of collusion between the programme's makers and the Whitehall propaganda unit." The Independent, 29 August 2008.

RFE and RL subject of a new(?) documentary.

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"'To Russia, With Love' tells the story of the Cold War from a most unusual perspective: Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. A radio station for the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Conceived as a propaganda instrument and financed by the CIA, RFE over the years changed its face and provided the people under Soviet rule with information and news not available to them in any other form. Like any broadcaster in a democratic country." German documentary producer Tangram website. See also trailer at YouTube. And don't miss the "related videos" at YouTube. As for the trailer itself, it shows a copyright of 2005. How long has this film been in production?

VOA musical associations in the news.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Like many other young Cuban musicians, [Arturo Sandoval] discreetly listened to Willis Conover's 'Jazz Hour' broadcasts on the Voice of America radio station, a dangerous thing to do at a time when jazz music was out of favor with the island's Communist government." jazz.com encyclopedia entry. See previous post about same subject.
     "Uptown Records is proud to announce the release of two new additions to its stellar Flashback Series, featuring two of the jazz world's most immortal figures - Charlie Parker, Washington, D.C., May 23, 1948 and Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, Showtime at the Spotlite. ... Charlie Parker, Washington, D.C. is from a live concert produced by the eminent producer and radio figure Willis Conover, whose Voice of America broadcasts promoted good will and captivated millions of jazz fans all over the world for more than 40 years." eJazzNews.com, 28 August 2008. Conover did not begin working for VOA until 1955, but he was a commercial radio jazz presenter dating back to the early 1940s.
     "A group of 178 community and business leaders from West Chester and Liberty townships [Ohio] gathered at The Savannah at Chappell Crossing Aug. 21 to honor West Chester Chamber Alliance president/CEO Joe Hinson and Vice President Kathy Rambo, who both celebrate their 10th year with the chamber this year. ... [It included] a song about the duo sung by Miami University Voice of America Learning Center director Rod Nimtz." Hamilton Journal-News, 28 August 2008. Nimtz, director of the Miami University facility at the former VOA Bethany, Ohio, transmitting site, is apparently quite the musician.
     "Between 1964 and 1968 the Voice of America recorded two of the era's greatest korafolas. The VOA's African Program Center in Monrovia, Liberia had just recently opened its doors in 1964 when Leo Sarkisian met Papa Susso from the Gambia." VOA African Music Treasures blog, 19 August 2008.
     Another VOA music blog, in development, is Brian Silver's voaworldmusic.blogspot.com. Type the URL and you may see "This blog is open to invited readers only." But, eventually, it should be available to the rest of us. A VOA world music radio program would also be nice, but radio is so twentieth century.

Development in Zimbabwe court case related to VOA.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Gweru magistrate, Rosa Takuva, on Monday relaxed bail conditions for Peter Muchengeti ... who was arrested last month [and] is facing charges [arising] from comments Muchengeti allegedly made to the Voice of America Radio Network (Studio 7 Broadcasting) through its reporter Patience Rusere that six bodies had been discovered at Matshekandumba Village at the 30-kilometre peg along the Gweru-Kwekwe Road." Radio Voice of the People, 29 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     At the State University of New York, Oswego, on 7 October: Mary Bivens of the history department will speak on “Robert Mugabe: Global Opinion from the BBC World Service.” SUNY Oswego, 29 August 2007.

VOA election coverage via new website and (if one were to know) via radio.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
VOA's new election coverage website is www.usavotes2008.com. Also additional times and frequencies for VOA radio coverage of the Democratic and Republic conventions. However, the added frequencies are apparently not publicized anywhere, so presumably listeners must happen upon them while tuning their shortwave radios. As the only IBB employee specifically prohibited from receiving IBB Engineering frequency change memos, I can't help in this regard. This prohibition stems from my past tendency of passing schedule information on to the audience. Doing that, of course, increased the risk of VOA transmissions being intercepted by listeners. In the post 9-11 world, we can never be too careful. -- See also discussion in DX Listening Digest, 28 August 2008.

Obama's heritage attracts VOA audience in Kenya.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America says its broadcasting services to Kenya were busy during the Democratic national convention keeping up with the interest from African countries. Barack Obama's father was Kenyan. The Voice of America says affiliates in Kenya and Tanzania wre 'keenly interested' in the both parties and conventions. But VOA concedes that there is 'added interest in this election from VOA's audience in Africa because Barack Obama has a connection to Kenya through his father.'" Broadcasting & Cable, 29 August 2008.

Joe Biden and international broadcasting.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ted Kaufman is a charter member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and other U.S. international broadcasting agencies. He is a close friend of Joseph Biden, and was his chief of staff in the Senate for 19 years. Kaufman told VOA that Biden brings decades of foreign policy expertise to the table, but that is not all. 'The biggest thing he brings to the ticket is he is qualified to be president of the United States,' Kaufman noted." VOA News, 27 August 2008.
     "Governor Ted Kaufman, chief of staff and long-time associate of Biden, said in Denver yesterday that should the Delaware senator become vice-president of the United States, Biden will insist that all war-crimes indictees in the Balkans face justice and back the NATO integration of the South-East European countries." B92 (Belgrade), 28 August 2008. Mr. Kaufman is not a state governor, but a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
     "Biden has been a major supporter of American propaganda tools like the Arabic satellite channel al-Hurra, hinting at a conviction that the problem isn't Washington's policies so much as the packaging of those policies." Scott MacLeod. Time, 27 August 2008.
     "It is true that Biden talks of his support for Israel in principle, but the reality is that he has done his utmost to thwart keeping the possibility of a military option open to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. As a result he was even praised recently on the Iranian regime’s official propaganda arm, Press TV." Tom Gross, National Review Online, 30 August 2008.

Will VOA cuts be an issue in the presidential campaign? (updated)

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a move seen as a foreign policy embarrassment for Senator Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, the Senate staff of Senator Joe Biden was said to be involved in stopping the Voice of America (VOA) radio programs to Russia just 12 days before Moscow launched its military attack on Georgia." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 23 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: "The BBG spokesperson denies that Senator Biden’s staff played any special role in supporting the elimination of VOA radio broadcasts to Russia, which was described by a media freedom nonprofit, FreeMediaOnline.org, as a foreign policy and public diplomacy blunder. In 2005, a CNN news report accused Senator Biden of playing politics with U.S. international broadcasting." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 27 August 2008.

Moving the needle? How about pinning the needle?

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Former president Jimmy Carter said Wednesday that if Barack Obama were elected president, he could improve the US image overseas 'in 10 minutes' with a strong inaugural speech, according to a broadcast interview with Voice of America." DPA, 28 August 2008.
     "Carter lit into the present administration, at least by inference, saying that Obama can say: 'When I am president of the United States, we will never torture another prisoner. While I am president of the United States, we will never go to war against another country unless our own security is directly threatened. When I am President of the United States, we will be the champion of human rights all over the earth.' Is that a surprising message for the government to beam to the world? No, says VOA public affairs officer Noreen Kinnavy. 'By its charter, we have to cover all aspects of our society.'" Broadcasting & Cable, 27 August 2008. See also VOA News, 28 August 2008.

Deaths of Tom Kneitel and Koji Yamada, shortwave hobby writers.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tom Kneitel, who loved radios from the time he was a kid, turned his hobby into a career, writing magazine articles and books for other radio buffs. Known by his CB handle 'Tomcat,' Kneitel was a storied figure in the world of CBs, short-waves and scanners." Orlando Sentinel, 24 August 2008. "'He kind of defined the personal communications hobby -- he brought together the whole range of disparate subcultures if you will -- it's all hobby radio. He was the one who brought them together. He saw the fun in the whole thing.'" American Radio Relay League, 25 August 2008. See also tribute at Popular Communications, where Kneitel was the founding editor. -- I remember Kneitel's advice column in Electronics Illustrated in the 1960s. When a reader would ask how to modify a certain receiver or transmitter, he would sometimes invoke Kneitel's Law: "If that damn thing works at all, leave it alone." Advice I have followed since.
     "Mr. Koji Yamada, Japanese famous shortwave writer, died by liver cancer on August 19. He was 67 years old. He just returned from the trip to KBS World Radio in Korea in July. He was called 'BCL no kamisama' (Ace BCL) in Japan. He wrote a great many books of shortwave listening in Japan. He was a mastermind of 1970-1980's 'BCL boom' in Japan, producing more than 3,000,000 young shortwave listeners (BCL). He had many friends in shortwave radio stations in the world, especially South Korea and Taiwan. In March this year he wrote a new book 'Resuming BCL' for aged who were the BCL in their young days, and the books were sold out." Takahito Akabayashi, DX Listening Digest, 28 August 2008. BCL stands for broadcast listener. It is the common term in Japan and elsewhere in East Asia for hobbyist listeners to long distance shortwave and medium wave broadcasts. The featured radio of the BCL boom was the Sony ICF-5900W.

Death of Abie Nathan, offshore peace broadcaster.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Abie Nathan, an Israeli peace activist who blazed trails to Egypt and the Palestinians that his country would eventually follow, died on Wednesday. He was 81. ... From 1973 to 1993 his "Voice of Peace" radio station, on a ship anchored off the Israeli coast, broadcast pop music and messages of peace in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Short of funds to continue to operate the station, he scuttled the vessel in 1993, the same year Israel and Arafat's PLO signed their first interim peace deal." Reuters, 27 August 2008.
     "In 1973 he began the Voice of Peace, a radio station which transmitted from a former Dutch cargo vessel anchored in international waters off the coast of Tel Aviv. The station was funded in part by John Lennon and had 20 million listeners during the 1970s. The Voice of Peace, which broadcast mostly popular music programmes, stopped its transmissions in 1988." Radio Netherlands, 27 August 2008.
     "Abie will be remembered ... as the man from 'Twilight Time,' the unforgettable program on the Voice of Peace, with its daily moment of silence - perhaps the last time we heard silence here, not just incessant intolerable noise. When the Peace Boat was sunk by its founder, Abie and all his charm sank with it in the public awareness." Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, 28 August 2008.
     "Doing the “right thing” around here means eulogizing Abie Nathan as the 'peace sailor' and the 'fighter for peace' while saying nothing about his ongoing ideological criminality and illegal meetings with terror leaders, just because it was done on behalf of the holy peace." Uri Orbach, Ynetnews, 30 August 2008.
     "On Yom Kippur in 1973, when I heard planes overhead and rumors of an impending war on two fronts, I came home from synagogue and listened to the only station that was broadcasting on Yom Kippur - Abie Nathan's 'Voice of Peace.' His message: 'Soldiers must refuse orders, and must not fight. Instead, they should extend a peaceful hand to the attacking Egyptian and Syrian armies.' Throughout the day, Mr. Nathan played the song '(All We Are Saying Is) Give Peace A Chance,' and this was the only radio station that was operating. ... A few days into the Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence closed down Mr. Nathan's transmitter, which operated from Israel hotel magnate Yekutiel X. Federman's Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv." David Bedein, The Bulletin (Philadelphia), 29 August 2008.
     "Even Abie Nathan's detractors spoke warmly of him on Thursday." Jerusalem Post, 28 August 2008.
     The station was heard widely via its 50 kilowatt medium wave signal. See technical details in Wikipedia's Voice of Peace entry. -- Didn't Nathan transmit for a time off the coast of Cyprus, to placate the civil war there? Or did he just plan to?

TV Martí inteerviews Cuban "punk rocker."

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Gorki Aguila, the "Cuban rocker whose biting profanity-laced lyrics against the Castro government has previously gotten him in trouble is now in detention and expected to face trial Friday. ... In a recent interview with TV Martí, the U.S.-funded anti-Castro news broadcast, Aguila said the Castro government constantly harasses the group, because the music caught officials by surprise." Miami Herald, 27 August 2008. TV Martí can be "anti-Castro" or "news," but it can't be both.

"Alone, disliked and mistrusted."

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"It will take time to repair the damage done to America's image abroad. The perception of any country is shaped by a series of events that create a general image. These events are cast as human interest stories by the foreign media, including those in countries where a central U.S. foreign policy objective is to promote democracy and human rights. ... Right after 9/11, the U.S. benefited from global solidarity. Today it is largely alone, disliked and mistrusted, with worldwide consensus that in the key area of human rights and the rule of law, the U.S. disgraced itself." Lanny A. Breuer and Mark Brzezinski, Washington Times, 28 August 2008.

Public diplomacy from the Legislative Branch.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
The first Muslim member of Congress, Minnesota Democratic Representative Keith Ellison's "dovish foreign policy is just about the opposite of the Bush administration's, yet he has teamed up with the State Department on public diplomacy to tout what he calls 'core' American values of democracy and human rights. He has done events with U.S. embassies overseas and speaks to visiting groups in Washington arranged by the State Department, such as a delegation of French Muslims last month." Fox News, 27 August 2008.

Evidence that Radio Sawa is just like U.S. commercial radio.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"I just wanted to express my madness about the lack of good radio stations that you can tune in while heading to work every morning. ... The one driving me mad is the Arab radio station Radio Sawa broadcasting from Washington through Dubai (as they say) … Radio Sawa for an unknown reason plays the same music every single day. I do not understand whether it is a lack of managing the station or lack of records in their studio. It’s so pathetic that every time I tune in to Radio Sawa It’s always the same ten lousy singers singing the same ten low class songs!" Nawaf Abu-Ghazaleh (Dubai), letter to 7 Days (UAE), 28 August 2008.

U.S. Iraq withdrawal: Alhurra reports, State deflects.

Posted: 29 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States asked Iraq for permission to keep troops there to 2015 but compromised with Iraqi negotiators on 2011, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said. ... 'It was a U.S. proposal for the date which is 2015, and an Iraqi one which is 2010, then we agreed to make it 2011,' Talabani said in an interview with al-Hurra TV, a transcript of which was posted on his party's website on Wednesday." Reuters, 28 August 2008. The Alhurra interview is also cited by Fox News, 27 August 2008. And Xinhua, 27 August 2008. And Al Alam (Iran), 27 August 2008. But not by the BBC or RFE/RL (at least in English) websites. VOA reports the story, but does not cite Alhurra.
     "Q: Iraqi President Talabani is quoted as having said in a TV interview with Al Hurra that the United States had asked Iraq for permission to maintain a U.S. troop presence there until 2015. Is that correct? [Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman]: What I can say, Arshad, is that, as you know, there are discussions going on between the United States and Iraqi Government. ... I don’t have anything new to offer other than what we’ve said, and that we think this is an important agreement." State Department press briefing, 27 August 2008.

Al Jazeera disinvited from Golden, Colorado, backyard (updated).

Posted: 29 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Golden City Manager Mike Bestor has withdrawn his barbecue invitation to a news channel based in the Middle East after a community uproar that spilled over into the City Council Thursday night. Bestor said he issued the invitation to Al Jazeera Englis, which is based in the Middle East, as a private citizen. The network planned to do interviews at the gathering as part of its Democratic National Convention next week. The city issued a statement Thursday night in which Bestor said he realized his job indirectly linked the event to the city." Denver Post, 21 August 2008.
     Al Jazeera: "All of us at al-Jazeera English hope that you take the time to learn a bit more about what we do and what we represent. We want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to visit your city and we assure you that our reporting will be nothing less than balanced, informative and professional." Denver Post, 23 August 2008.
     "Pre-chosen Golden residents were scheduled to dine on al-Jazeera-provided hot dogs and hamburgers and be interviewed about their reactions to Obama's speech as well as views on health care and the environment." Denver Post, 23 August 2008.
     "During two hours of public comment at the council meeting, residents spoke for and against al-Jazeera broadcasting from Golden. Jim Dale, who is a veteran, said at the meeting that he has fought for First Amendment rights and welcomes the network. Others questioned whether the network will skew coverage a particular way and whether the network's presence is disrespectful to veterans and those serving in the military. 'It's not OK for the city to roll out the red carpet for a network that is so closely tied to terrorists,' said Steve Hosie." Denver Post, 24 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: "Word spread that three rival biker gangs ... declared a truce for the night so they could meet at the Buffalo Rose in a united protest against al-Jazeera. But the network stood its ground and set up its cameras. Across the street ... protesters had shirts printed up for the occasion, saying 'Buffalo Rose/Tokyo Rose' in English and Arabic, although they botched the Arabic translation. ... Across the street, a smaller group of Golden residents lined up in a counterprotest. A bunch of right-wing fanatics, grumbled one." Washington Post, 28 August 2008. See also report on KDVR-TV (Denver), 29 August 2008.

Burma: radio for weather and objectivity.

Posted: 28 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio has long been an important source of news and information in Myanmar, and many listen in for news of relief and recovery efforts. Kyaw Kyaw, with two other families, purchased a US$5 radio - allowing them to listen to weather broadcasts - an activity they now recognise could well save their lives in future. ... Some also sees radio as a more objective source of information: 'I like to listen to both state-owned and foreign [Burmese programme] radios like BBC and VOA (Voice of America),' said Lwin Maung, a 32-year old fisherman in Kunchangone who often tunes into the latter’s regular Burmese broadcasts." Integrated Regional Information Networks, 27 August 2008.

International television comes to Macs.

Posted: 28 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Online television streaming service Livestation has launched a Mac client, bringing free streaming news television to Apple fans. P2P powered Livestation launched last year as a streaming television platform that offered legal feeds from news services such as the BBC, later adding additional channels including Russia Today, Al Jazeera English, Euronews and France 24." The Inquisitr, 27 August 2008.

RFA's "profound disappointment" about Olympics accreditation.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"At the conclusion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Radio Free Asia (RFA) today expressed profound disappointment at the Beijing Olympic Committee’s barring of an RFA reporter accredited to cover the Games. Despite RFA’s repeated requests and fulfillment of all media accreditation requirements, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to produce the Olympic Identity and Accreditation Card (OIAC) required of RFA’s Tibetan-American journalist Dhondup Gonsar. ... 'Regrettably, the world has learned that China remains hostile to the free flow of information, which prevents the Chinese people from acquiring essential information about the world and about their own country.'" RFA press release, 25 August 2008.

Analysis (finally) of the NTDTV-Eutelsat contretemps.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"So what are the facts here? That Eutelsat suffered the loss of power back in June is undoubted. That EuroNews and NTDTV lost their carriage is also correct. However, EuroNews quietly and diligently gained carriage elsewhere (on AsiaSat 2 at 100.5 deg East). Much the same options were open to NTDTV, but one has to wonder why (in the words of one industry insider) 'nobody is taking their calls'. Perhaps NTDTV is simply using the whole unfortunate incident to protest, happily raising its profile but at the same time creating for itself a reputation that the station really is too hot to handle. ... Eutelsat, not unreasonably, hopes this storm will quickly blow over. But NTDTV must also understand that in carrying the programming that it does – much of which is excellent and uncontroversial – it isn’t wise to shoot your carrier." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 25 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Glassman in Qatar.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Under secretary of State for public diplomacy James Glassman visits Doha. "'We strongly believe that the war against violent extremism is not just a military struggle, in fact it is mostly a struggle having to do with the ideas and in that struggle we have a common cause with the people of Qatar, the people of the region and the government of the region as the threat in this region is not great as compared to the United States.' ... Regarding the image of America that people in the Middle East have, he said, 'As far as the US image is concerned there are certainly areas where the majority of people in this region disagree with our policy. Overtime the policy will change and I think that the friendship between the people here and the people in the US will grow.'" The Peninsula (Doha), 26 August 2008.

New pay website aggregates Arabic television streams.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"JumpTV and Neulion announced the launch of a new online service – www.talfazat.com – that delivers the largest selection of live and on-demand Arabic television content available anywhere. Talfazat.com offers Arabs worldwide an opportunity to tune into their favorite live television channels or on-demand programs with a simple Internet connection. Talfazat.com features more than 35 of the most popular channels and over thousands of hours of video-on-demand from leading Arabic content providers including Dubai TV, LBC, Aljazeera News, Aljazeera English, Rotana, Future TV, New TV, 2M and many others. ... Talfazat.com is a subscription-based service." JumpTV press release, 26 August 2008. BBC Arabic, Alhurra, and the Arabic streams of France 24, EuroNews, DW-TV, and Russia Today are not among the offered channels.

Al Jazeera looks at privatization "in the long term."

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera, the Arab broadcaster owned by the Emirate of Qatar, could be privatised if its plan to expand into televising the Champions League and other sports proves lucrative. Wadah Khanfar, the network's director-general ... said: 'It will be up to the board to decide, but it is a realistic possibility in the long term. But it is not realistic in the next two years. We have to be able to maintain the independence of our editorial line and we have to no longer depend on subsidy. We have a plan - that will take a few years - so that we become self-financing.'" The Times, 26 August 2008.
     Deal with OTRUM ("hospitality entertainment specialists") puts Al Jazeera in more European and Middle Eastern hotel rooms. WorldScreen.com, 25 August 2008.

International broadcasting and the Democrats.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Democratic National Convention: "All the usual networks are here, but it’s the foreign outlets that are worth a second look. The Arabic language news network Al Jazeera is one of the international networks including the BBC and Agence France Presse. On their Web site, Al Jazeera promises to provide 'news, views and a healthy degree of skepticism.'" KMGH-TV (Denver), 25 August 2008.
     "On the Al-Jazeera English Web site, the analysis of Biden presented by Marwan Bishara, 'Al-Jazeera's senior political analyst,' was seriously flawed factually and poorly researched." Dave Kopel, Rocky Mountain News, 25 August 2008.
     "In September 1998, for example, Biden told the Czech foreign minister that cutting radio broadcasts into Iran might better encourage dialogue. ... Biden's political games have made him Tehran's favorite senator. As Gen. David Petraeus struggled to unite Iraqis across the ethnic and sectarian divide, Iran's Press TV seized on Biden's plan for partitioning Iraq and featured his statements with the headline 'US plans to disintegrate Iraq.'" Michel Rubin, Washington Post, 26 August 2008.
     "Iranian Press TV is covering the Democratic National Convention. On the first day, correspondent Jihan Hafiz talked to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, and others." MEMRI, 26 August 2008.

International broadcasters provide news of Iranian clergy corruption.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Abbas Palizdar -- a former director of fundamental studies at the Research Institute of the Iranian Parliament ... exposed 123 cases involving alleged economic corruption among high-ranking Iranian clergy... Initially, the Iranian officialdom sought to ignore Palizdar. His speeches received no attention in the state-controlled press for a couple of weeks. But the story spread on the Internet, and foreign broadcasters such as Voice of America-Persian, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Radio Farda pursued his allegations -- Farda even aired an interview with Palizdar in which Palizdar claimed Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamadani, chairman of the judiciary committee of the Iranian parliament, had attempted to suppress the findings of his investigations." Ali Alfoneh, American Enterprise Institute, 21 August 2008.

The hazards of working for Alhurra in Iraq (updated).

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"When the U.S. government put up the money for a new TV network in Iraq in early 2004, one of its first recruits was Mahmoud Fouad, 35, who was assigned to cover security. Though the regional version of the Al-Hurra (Freedom) station has few viewers, the Iraqi channel quickly established itself as a leading source of local news. Fouad soon found himself attracting stares from strangers in the streets, attention that was unnerving at a time when the Sunni insurgency was gathering pace. Threats forced him to flee his home, and his parents were ordered by gunmen to disown him, for fear of their lives." Liz Sly, Chicago Tribune, 2 August 2008.
     Update: "The article incorrectly asserts that the pan-Arab version of Alhurra Television has few viewers. In fact, independent research firms such ACNielsen state that Alhurra has a weekly reach of 26 million people, a vast majority of whom find the news to be credible." Alhurra spokesperson Deirdre Kline, letter to Chicago Tribune, 25 August 2008.

I'm sure U.S. corporations would be more than happy to allow the U.S. government to manipulate their international advertising (updated).

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Let's lose the government-centric mentality and engage in cooperative marketing with America's dynamic private sector. You'll find people clamoring for American products like iPods and Nike shoes in places around the world where we've never had a consulate, much less a library or a cultural center. Why not harness the power of America's global brand leaders to tell stories with cross-cultural appeal? If the U.S. government was engaged, Nike's pre-Olympics ad campaign could feature Joe Alexander, an All-American college basketball star who grew up playing pickup games on public courts in Beijing and Hong Kong. Coca Cola and the U.S. government could team up to sponsor concerts by Dhani, an Indonesian rock star whose father and grandfather were militant Islamists, but who today preaches tolerance." Frederick (Rick) Barton and Matthew Rojansky, Des Moines Register, 18 August 2008.
     "There are countless acts of public diplomacy being engaged in every day by NGOs, companies, cultural, religious and athletic organizations. But as a strategic matter, it has been a scattershot approach. The next U. S. president should make an effort to consolidate and guide these measures under a single roof that should span government and the private sector. I endorse a public-private Institute for Public Diplomacy that puts public diplomacy resources where they are most needed and where they can most amplify American messages and values." Jay T. Snyder, The Buffalo News, 18 August 2008.
     Diplomacy, including public diplomacy, can only be the purview of a national government. So while private international outreach is desirable, private public diplomacy is not possible. Furthermore, the NGOs, companies, and other organizations have good reasons to keep their international activities separate from those of the U.S. government. Universities, mentioned in Mr. Snyder's essay, should study but not become involved in U.S. public diplomacy, for reasons of academic independence.
     Update: "Expecting Nike or Coke to welcome government efforts to piggyback messages onto their global ad campaigns is a non-starter. The public and private sectors don't engage together that way internationally. ... We need a holistic, comprehensive approach to public diplomacy: Use the new technology in strategic combination with the proven human elements of effective public-diplomacy programs, including educational and cultural exchanges and next-generation leadership initiatives." Doug Wilson, Des Moines Register, 25 August 2008.

Challenges of the commercial side of international broadcasting.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As the newly installed head of global content at ITV, Mr Bartlett has a responsibility that could make or break Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster: finding new sources of income as the old ones dry up. The 53-year-old Californian is responsible for producing programmes that will make the broadcaster money when sold overseas, either complete or as formats to be adapted for different markets. One of the few shreds of comfort for ITV [is] £30m of foreign sales from the reality show, Come Dine With Me. All Mr Bartlett has to do is replicate that success, the work of one of his predecessors, every year and several times over. ... 'I guess my head is in the global content side, but my heart is in the PLC.'" Financial Times, 23 August 2008. Is "PLC" product life cycle? Or (less likely) Presbyterian Ladies' College?

World Service correspondent's comments about Taliban become tabloid fodder.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Lyse Doucet, ... [BBC World Service] veteran correspondent and presenter, who played a key role in the BBC's coverage of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, told the Edinburgh International Television Conference: "What's lacking in the coverage of the Afghans is the sense of the humanity of the Afghans. 'In the Prince Harry coverage for example, there were all these people out there you never really saw them. You knew that the bombs were dropping in that direction and the guns pointing in that direction but you never got a sense of how Afghans are as a people.'" The Telegraph, 25 August 2008.
     "Presenter Lyse Doucet’s astonishing statement comes as an Apache gunship hero revealed the fanatics aim to capture a British soldier and SKIN HIM LIVE on the internet." The Sun, 25 August 2008.
     "She's right. The media not only fails to convey how much misery has been wrought on these proud and hardy people in the supposed search for a chronically-ill bearded cave dweller, who by all accounts has long relocated to Pakistan, it also neglects to explain what Western troops are still doing there." Linda S. Heard, Gulf News, 25 August 2008.

France 24 stringer kidnapped in Somalia.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "is worried about the abduction of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout, Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan and Somali photographer Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi. Gunmen kidnapped them and their driver Mahad on 23 August near Mogadishu for reasons that are not yet clear. Lindhout, who is normally based in Baghdad, works for French TV station France 24." RSF, 24 August 2008.

China, soft power, and confusion about U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As the flags are lowered over the 2008 Olympic games, China is basking in the achievement of a major objective -- an increase of its soft power. ... China has created some 200 Confucius Institutes around the world to teach its language and culture, and while the Voice of America's was cutting its Chinese broadcasts from 19 to 14 hours a day, China Radio International was increasing its broadcasts in English to 24 hours a day." Joseph Nye, Huffington Post, 24 July 2008. Actually, U.S. international broadcasting in Mandarin remains 24 hours a day: 12 hours for Voice of America, 12 hours for Radio Free Asia. VOA English broadcasts on shortwave have been reduced, reflecting the downward trend in shortwave listening in many parts of the world. China Radio International continues to transmit in English 24 hours a day -- different hours to different targets, and with many repeats. But CRI includes several large anglophone nations as target countries that VOA does not, e.g., the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia.
     "I watched CNN International get blacked out when it ran something Chinese authorities found disagreeable. I watched iTunes notify me it was unavailable in China (Apple was selling songs that advocated for a free Tibet)." Jeff Glor, CBS News, 25 August 2008.

In North Korea, the "cadres" listen to internationl radio.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several sources from North Korea report that 'Irrespective of rank, the trend of listening to foreign radio broadcasts is expanding among officials of the Party, the administration or the National Security Agency, even the rank-and-file servants.' A source from South Pyungan said that 'Everybody knows that those who listen to foreign radio broadcasts the most are the cadres. They have been listening to foreign radio because they were wondering in which situation Chosun (North Korea) is placed in international society.' ... The foreign radio broadcasts that North Koreans can access are 'Voice of Korea,' from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America (VOA), Korean language broadcasting from the Yanbian region of China and other broadcasts from South Korean religious organizations and NGOs." Daily NK, 25 Augut 2008.

Add Las Vegas to the places where BBC World News us unlikely to be seen on the local cable.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"We took our road trips west, starting with Las Vegas. ... Vegas itself is ghastly. We stayed at the Bellagio hotel, the famous one from Ocean’s Eleven, and like every hotel there, it’s both smart and grim, because it has slot machines and roulette tables in the lobby. Our kids didn’t know whether they’d gone to heaven or hell. Really, we were there for the scenery, which is jaw-dropping. It looks like Mars." BBC World News America anchor Matt Frei, The Sunday Times, 24 August 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Rwandan official grumbles about BBC, VOA (updated).

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA) broadcast local language programmes that harm Rwanda's social cohesion, Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said on national television late yesterday. She said that the two radio services in Kinyarwanda and Kirundi - the official languages in Rwanda and Burundi respectively - aired 'programmes that destroy Rwanda's social fabric.' 'The source of the problem comes from Rwandan journalists working for these radio stations,' Mushikiwabo said. She said that government officials had recently stopped granting interviews to the BBC and VOA." Money Biz (Johannesburg), 19 August 2008. Somewhat worrying, as an information minister probably has something to say about the FM rebroadcasts of BBC and VOA in Rwanda.
     Update: "Foreign radio stations, among them the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) and Voice Of America (VOA), have been strongly warned to desist from non factual reporting or else risk being banned from broadcasting in Rwanda." The New Times (Kigali), 23 August 2008.

VOA Hindi radio will close.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America’s (VoA) Hindi service which was launched in 1955 would be shut down with effect from Sept 30, thereby rendering six of its permanent staff in New Delhi jobless. Besides, a large number of VoA listeners would be bereft of its news bulletins to which they were addicted for decades together." Top News (India), 23 August 2008. Actually, VOA Hindi radio broadcasts are slated for closure, but the service continue it television and web presence, for now.

Next U.S. public diplomcy hub: Johannesburg.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"More than ever, foreign citizens receive information and form opinions from television. Around the world, access to the rapidly-growing number of stations on satellite television has dramatically increased the range and quantity of news and information. To address the challenges of this new media environment, the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs launched in September 2006, the Regional Media Hubs Initiative, with facilities in Brussels, Dubai, and London. ... Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James Glassman plans to extend the Regional Media Hubs initiative to other regions of the world before the end of 2008, starting in Johannesburg." State Department, 21 August 2008.
     "The US Embassy in Jordan is the headquarters for a regional public diplomacy initiative designed to expand the array of literature available in Arabic, the Arabic Book Program. Established in 1986 and with a second office in Cairo, the program works with local publishers to sponsor translation and publication of select books by American writers into Arabic." Rachel Brandenberg , Diplomatic Courier via International Relations and Security Network, 22 August 2008.

Musically influenced by international radio.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Saturday jazz night atop Baltimore's World Trade Center: "...devoted jazz listeners from the area, including Anatoly Gelvasser, 64, of Owings Mills. Gelvasser first heard jazz when he was growing up in Russia. He says he built a short-wave radio to tune in to Voice of America and listen to jazz. His love of the genre was one factor that contributed to his move from Russia. Since then he has spent his time searching for the best music in the area." Washington Post, 22 August 2008.
     Interview with someone from quartet Franz Ferdinand: "What's with all the references to the shipping forecast on Lucid Dreaming, the new tune you've just posted on your website? I used to go to bed with the radio on. The BBC World Service would be playing and I'd have these weird lucid dreams about what I was hearing -- the shipping forecast would enter my dreams. So would news events. I would respond to what was coming into my ears." Independent (Dublin), 22 August 2008. "I'm livin' on shortwave streams tonight."

Worldfocus: world news for the USA that is not from BBC (updated).

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The correspondent Martin Savidge is leaving NBC News for public television, where he is to become the anchor of a new weeknight broadcast that will focus on international news. WLIW in New York, which is developing the program, is expected to announce his appointment on Wednesday. The newscast, 'Worldfocus,' is scheduled to start broadcasting Oct. 6 on a lineup of public television stations nationwide that is still being assembled but already includes stations in 8 of the top 10 markets. On WLIW and its sister station, WNET, the newscast will replace 'BBC World News,' with two airings on each station each night. ... The newscast will rely on a still-growing list of partnerships, some formal and some ad hoc, with other news organizations that Mr. Rosenwasser said includes NBC, ABC, ITN of Britain, ABC of Australia and a number of European broadcasters, as well as The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times." New York Times, 19 August 2008.
     Update: "While [U.S.] networks react to breaking international news, their default position has become the titillating and freaky: Lost coeds or toddlers, divorce by homicide, celebrity gossip and political mud-slinging, as partisan hacks opine from the safety of cozy studios. Recognizing the void this slide has created, a few alternative outlets have stepped forward. In addition to 'BBC World News America,' some PBS stations will begin carrying 'Worldfocus,' a nightly half-hour devoted to global reporting and issues hosted by NBC News' Martin Savidge, scheduled to premiere in October." Brian Lowry, Variety, 22 August 2008.
     At the Republican national convention in St. Paul: "The glowing ring of big-time media signs is a convention icon. Beyond being colorful, they send a huge message: The World Is Watching. The media giants are definitely coming, but the mix is different than at previous conventions. Many have scaled back for budget reasons, thanks to a shifting media landscape and the long primary fight. ... The illuminated media ring in St. Paul will feature more outlets, such as Voice of America and Alhurra TV — and fewer from the likes of CBS and ABC." TwinCities.com, 23 August 2008.

Israel shuts down BBC relay, other stations, in Hebron.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The IDF shut down BBC radio transmitters in Hebron on Wednesday, acting on orders of the Communications Ministry and citing interference with communications at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The IDF Spokesman said the transmitters were illegal, adding that the Communications Ministry had found them to be jeopardizing contact between Ben-Gurion's control tower and passenger aircraft. BBC employees had raised the issue during a press conference held by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday. A government official said in response that in addition to the BBC's transmitters, a number of additional transmitters had been shut down, including some inside Israel, as they were 'endangering civilian aviation, a problem we have been suffering from for a long time.'" Jerusalem Post, 21 August 2008.
     "Israeli forces invaded Hebron late on Wednesday morning and forced their way into the offices of "One FM" radio and arresting the director of the station Mohammad Qafisha. Israeli soldiers also raided the studio of the station Al-Huriyya (Freedom) and arrested worker Mahmoud Qneibi. Israeli forces also invaded the office of Al- Majd radio, which is in the same building as a local BBC affiliate. Witnesses said Israeli troops broke down the door of the office." Ma'an News Agency, 21 August 2008. BBC can till reach the region, even during daylight, from its medium wave relay in Cyprus -- if people in the region remember that there are radio stations on the MW band.

New book looks at the "Al Jazeera Effect."

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Philip Seib takes on a timely subject in 'The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics' (Potomac Books, $25). The book looks at the battle of influence worldwide that takes place not in war zones, but on newscasts, talk shows, blogs and the Internet. Traditional political change has been cast aside for the ways of new media, which is reshaping our world and future." Pasadena Star-News, 23 August 2008. See also Potomac Books Inc. blurbs on Seib's The Al Jazeera Effect and his previous Broadcasts From the Blitz. Apropos of nothing, between undergraduate and graduate studies, in the 1970s, I worked briefly for a previous Potomac Books, editing their Washington refrence book.

Disputing the comparison of Hungary 1956 and Georgia 2008.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Liberation' rhetoric before and during the 1956 presidential election campaign may have contributed to East Europeans' exaggerated expectations about Western support for their freedom. But no Western broadcaster, including Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, encouraged captive peoples to rise up or expect that Western armies would restore their freedom." Former RFE director Ross Johnson, letter to Washington Post, 23 Augut 2008. See previous posts about same subject on 15 August 2008 and 14 November 2006.

Georgia's "media savvy" versus Russia's "vintage Soviet propaganda."

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S.-educated Saakashvili's media savvy, along with his English-language skills and apparently insatiable appetite for interviews, have helped ensure that his version of this month's events has become the dominant narrative in Western media coverage. ... 'The Russian authorities are significantly more interested in getting internal support for their actions,' said [Oleg] Panfilov, who has been monitoring Russian, Georgian and international coverage. 'We are seeing the return of vintage Soviet propaganda. Television expresses only the official point of view of the Kremlin.'" Los Angeles Times, 23 August 2008. -- Although Saakashvili loses points for eating his tie on camera. Moscow Times, 22 August 2008.

"The first modern cyberwar?"

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Theoretically taking down Georgian government sites could have prevented Georgia from publicising its side of the conflict. However, some Georgian sites were migrated to new locations. More importantly, the Georgian government's message was getting out to the world." Aaron Mannes and James Hendler, The Guardian Comment is Free, 22 August 2008.
     "The nature of the Internet is such that it is almost impossible to respond quickly enough. The government doesn't maintain its own botnets—large networks of zombified computers standing ready to attack—but can rent one from a crime network, like the Russian Business Network. Then, through state-controlled media, the government can inspire waves of nationalists to amplify the destructive force. 'Everybody with a laptop has the responsibility to attack the enemy—and you find out who the enemy is by looking at what the government is saying.'" Newsweek, 23 August 2008.

Now iTunes is blocked in China.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Apple’s online music store, iTunes, has been blocked in China after more than 40 Olympic athletes downloaded a pro-Tibet album from the site." The Times, 22 August 2008.
     Reporters sans frontières "has confirmed that access to around 30 human rights websites and Chinese-language news websites is still blocked in China, including in the foreign press centres. The latest website to be censored is iTunes. A pro-Tibetan NGO said this was because the iTunes site enabled athletes in Beijing to listen to pro-Tibetan songs." RSF, 22 August 2008.

An Englishman's gig on CRI.

Posted: 23 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A North Derbyshire man who hosts a show on a popular English-language radio station in China is living an Olympic dream by experiencing the hype first hand. Richard Bradbury, from Hollingwood, went to China on a one-month trip but three years later is still living and working in Beijing. He co-hosts a radio show called 'The Pulse' on China Radio International after impressing station bosses with the demo tape he sent in while trying to secure a job and a visa to allow him to stay in the country." Derbyshire Times, 22 August 2008. The Pulse is mainly for CRI's English-speaking audience inside China.

A bit of World Service at the Olympics closing ceremony.

Posted: 23 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
At the the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony, during the ceremonial handover to the 2012 London Summer Olypics: "An animated title sequence bookended by the BBC World Service call sign, This Is London, will be played on the screens as a red double-decker bus, No 2012, arrives in the stadium. ... Jerusalem, Greensleeves and excerpts from the shipping forecast read by Radio 4 regular Zeb Soanes interweave with three traditional sea shanties with harmonies based on the chimes of Big Ben." The Guardian, 23 August 2008.

Does the BBG like RFE/RL better than VOA?

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"FreeMediaOnline.org has learned ... that Senator Biden’s staff had told the BBG staff it would be safe to stop VOA Russian broadcasts and beef up Prague and Moscow-based RFE/RL. RFE/RL is incorporated in Delaware, Senator Biden’s and Mr. Hirschberg’s home state, while Jeff Trimble has for years been trying to preserve the future of the semi-private RFE/RL, his former employer, at the expense of the Congressionally chartered Voice of America. Still, to avoid any bad publicity, the BBG staff suggested that the decision be carried out without any public announcement from the BBG or VOA, and set the termination date for late July, when most members of Congress are away from Washington. Voice of America director Dan Austin carried out the BBG order. Previous VOA directors who had opposed BBG directives were either fired or had to resign. ... The BBG also forced RFE/RL journalists in Prague to adopt a more Russia-patriotic and less political tone to appeal to a Russian audience and increase ratings." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 20 August 2008. A "less political tone" means less propaganda, which improves credibility, which, yes, increases audience size. I am wondering what is wrong with having a larger audience, as long as the truth has not been compromised.
     "The Administration's FY 2008 budget, as approved by Congress, provided that all BBG broadcasting to Georgia was to be done by RFE/RL after September 30, 2008. However, given the critical nature of events in Georgia, this week the BBG approved continuation of VOA Georgian surge broadcasts for the foreseeable future." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 19 August 2008.
     "According to a source within the bipartisan but Bush-appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which manages VOA and other government sponsored U.S. broadcasting, Senator Biden’s staff successfully worked behind the scenes with the BBG to kill VOA Russian radio broadcasts and almost succeeded in closing down VOA radio service to Georgia. ... The BBG staff, headed by Jeff Trimble, a former acting president of RFE/RL, apparently wanted to terminate Voice of America radio to Russia as quickly as possible to avoid being stopped by any new action in Congress, which had previously reversed similar cuts sought by the BBG and the Bush Administration." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 21 August 2008. See previous posts on 20 August, 15 August, and 10 August 2008.

A visit to the RFE/RL Georgian Service.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Fresh off another in a mounting series of 16-hour workdays, David Kakabadze, director of the Georgian Service, was prepping for four hours of live broadcasts into Georgia that evening. ... The rest of the five-person Georgian team based in Prague was trickling in after another late night on the job, the 15-person bureau based in Tbilisi no doubt frantically catching up with events on the ground. ... Deputy Director Bidzina Ramischwili, ... who describes himself as 'an anti-Bolshevik, has a mixed history of work and study in Germany and scored a job at RFE/RL after meeting up with old friends at a Georgia-Germany European Championships football qualifier." Prague Post, 20 August 2008.
     "On Aug. 18, President Václav Klaus, known for his pro-Russia views, strongly criticized Georgia in the media, asserting that President Mikheil Saakashvili’s 'fatal' actions against the separatist region of South Ossetia were to blame for the current conflict. ... 'To hear this from someone who experienced the communist era, who knows what it means to live under communist rule, is surprising and disappointing,' said Radio Free Europe Georgia Service Director David Kakabadze in Prague. 'I agree with his statement that it is important to know who started the conflict, but I’m surprised he doesn’t know Russia is the side provoking its neighbors.'" Prague Post, 20 August 2008.

CPJ protests Georgian blocking of Russian television, websites.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists today urged the Georgian government to stop blocking Russian broadcasts and Web sites. According to the Moscow-based radio Ekho Moskvy, Russian Television International (RTVi) broadcasting was cut after it aired Ekho Moskvy’s interview with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the conflict in South Ossetia and the future of the relationship between Russia and Georgia. ... RTVi is a New York-based independent Russian-language broadcaster that broadcasts via satellite; their programs in Georgia are transmitted by local cable companies. ... According to the Moscow Times, Georgian authorities have been blocking Russian news channels Rossiya, Channel One, and NTV, as well as Web sites ending in '.ru' since August 9. Zviad Pochkhua, editor-in-chief of the Tbilisi-based English-language newspaper The Financial, told CPJ that Russian news sites are accessible only via proxy servers, and that Russian news channels have been blocked since last week due to 'biased reporting and propaganda.'" CPJ, 19 August 2008. See also RTVI website.

Livestation notes surge in Russia Today viewing.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation, the company which delivers high-quality live TV over broadband, says viewing figures for its Russia Today live streaming service increased ten fold during the two weeks of fighting in South Ossetia. Viewers spent an average of 25 minutes a visit watching Russia Today's live coverage unfold on the Livestation service. Viewing for all the Livestation live channels, which include BBC World, Al Jazeera English, Euronews and France 24 increased significantly during the two weeks, but Russia Today's figures significantly outstripped the rest. ... 'With no need for satellite dishes pointing in the right direction, set-top-boxes, smart cards and expensive subscriptions, people can now watch what matters most to them on their computers anywhere in the world.'" Livestation press release, 20 August 2008.

BBC calling the USA: shortwave out, magazine in.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Those silly British, don't they know no one wants to buy magazine ads? The BBC doesn't care. Jolly good. The company was going to launch a massive print publication no matter what, and today we're blessed with the fruits of its labor. We're blessed with BBC Knowledge Magazine, which features a title that makes us want to run to the nearest newsstand and pay $5.99 (.5 quid). According to a release, Knowledge is 'aimed at 'the curious mind' and offering informative, entertaining and inspirational features on science, history and nature,' or exactly like Mentalfloss, except backed by a multinational corporation." FishbowlNY, 19 August 2008.

Maybe he can cover the closing ceremony (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"There was also no new information forthcoming Monday on the status of the attempt by a broadcast service funded by the American Government, Radio Free Asia, to send a Tibetan-American, Dhondup Gonsar, to cover the games. Mr. Gonsar was accredited by the U.S. Olympic Committee and cleared for a credential, but the Chinese Foreign Ministry has failed to issue visa clearance for him. The utility of any permission for Mr. Gonsar to cover the Olympics is clearly dwindling, as the Games wind down. 'The approval of visa is something to do with the authority of the hosting country. They also have the right not to disclose the information on this matter,' [secretary-general and executive vice president of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, Wang Wei] said defensively." New York Sun, 18 August 2008. See also RFA website and its coverage of the Olympics.
     Update: "'We’ve asked for more information on this case, which we are told is pending,' IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Tuesday in response to CPJ’s e-mail request for information about Gonsar’s visa. ... 'By refusing to let me in, China is really missing a chance to show its openness, particularly after the events in Tibet in March,' Gonsar said." Committee to Protect Journalists, 20 August 2008.

Radio in India then (1970s) and now.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today, the modern radio is sharp, smart and digital; cigarette case shaped devices priced at a few hundred and aimed at a crowd for whom short and medium waves do not exist. These are the digital FM radios that, industry experts promise, will shrink further in size. ... [Aslam Sher Khan, one of the biggest Indian stars of the 1970s] prefers the short-wave programmes from all corners of the world -- Voice of America and BBC being her favourites. 'Never mind, where I am in the house, I can hear my radio. There are no hassles of ear-plugs and I never lose track of the time,' she says. Yet, it’s a sign of the times that only one store in Delhi -- in the old quarters of the city -- stocks standalone Philips radios. Shweta S, a 30-something publishing professional based in Delhi, blames bad reception of SW and MW for the death of the radio. At one time, Radio Ceylon was hot with music lovers. This was where Ameen Sayani hosted Cibaca Geetmala, and this was also where one listened to the latest Western music, still alien to the Akashvani fans. On Sunday evenings, the ‘70s youth who loved Beatles and Abba tuned in. 'I am so tired of the frequent ad breaks and incessant banter of FM RJs that I would really like to tune into SW and MW but all I get are garbled sounds,' she says."
Screen (Mumbai), 22 August 2008.

Via Al Jazeera, Golden, Colorado, hopes to tone down the hate (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"An estimated 120 million households in 80 countries will get a selective snapshot of the West when Al Jazeera English network pays a visit to Golden for two days during the Democratic National Convention. 'Our objective is to present a slice of mainstream America,' said Julian Ingle, political program editor for Al Jazeera's Washington bureau. ... 'This is an international broadcast and we're trying to show the world that we're decent, happy people,' [Golden city manager Mike] Bestor said. 'So we welcome them. They (viewers) can see what life in Golden is all about and maybe they can decide to not hate us.'" Denver Post, 12 August 2008.
     Update: "Despite some news stories that suggested otherwise, Al Jazeera English approached our city staff to let them know of their plans to broadcast from Golden. They didn't ask for permission. City staff treated them professionally and respectfully as they would any news agency. ... The city manager believed by holding the BBQ at his home he would be able to help make sure that they get a representative group of Golden citizens and that we'd stand a better chance of their coverage fairly capturing Golden, its diverse political views, and our collective commitment to democracy and the democratic process. No city funds are being used." Golden mayor Jacob Smith, YourHub.com, 20 August 2008.

RSF reminds us that RFI reporter is still in Niger prison (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "is dismayed by the obstinacy with which Niger’s authorities are keeping journalist Moussa Kaka in prison, despite a judge’s decision to dismiss the case against him. At the request of the prosecutor’s office, a Niamey appeal court today overturned a ruling issued by an investigating judge in June for Kaka’s provisional release. ... The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka was arrested in Niamey on 20 September 2007 on a charge 'complicity in a conspiracy against state authority.'" RSF, 19 August 2008. Update: "Radio France International correspondent Moussa Kaka's bail demand has been rejected by Niger's Court of Appeal. The decision came after a senior judge ruled there was no case against Kaka earlier this month and ordered the charges to be dropped." RFI, 20 August 2008.

NTDTV still tring to get back on apparently fried W5 transponder (updated again).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"'As of August 1, Eutelsat has had a free transponder facing Asia, and is contract-bound to resume the NTDTV transmission immediately,' said Jan Jekielek, International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) representative in Poland (and also a staff member of The Epoch Times), who organized the event. Eutelsat, in an August 13 letter to ISHR from Deputy CEO Jean-Paul Brillaud, reiterated its position that a technical malfunction on W5 prevents the company from resuming NTDTV’s signal. However, on July 31, Eutelsat ended its contract with the Broadcasting Board Governors (BBG), the independent federal agency responsible for all U.S. government-backed international civilian broadcasting, opening up another W5 transponder over Asia, The Epoch Times has learned. ... Ton Van Anh, Vietnamese Radio Free Asia correspondent, also spoke at the event. 'People in many Asian countries have to be very discreet to receive independent broadcasts, and even then they are often jammed,' observed Van An Anh, adding that now they also have to worry about corporations such as Eutelsat blocking signals." Epoch Times, 15 August 2008. -- The Lyngsat page for Eutelsat W5 shows no stations now using the S1 beam to Asia. See also sat-nd.com, 12 July 2008. And previous post about same subject.
     Update on 19 August: "Eutelsat claims that four of the satellite’s transponders, including C4 and C6, had to be turned off to allow the other 20 to keep going. But Reporters Without Borders has learned that the C6 transponder has been used again for transmission, although reports about the 16 June incident by Eutelsat-Thales Alenia Space (the satellite’s constructor) said this would not be possible." Reporters sans frontières, 18 August 2008. "The response NTDTV has had from Eutelsat is always the same, 'We cannot resume broadcasting for technical reasons. Please contact our competitors.' But these competitors are non-starters for NTDTV as one of the other two satellites is owned by the Chinese Communist Party and the third belongs to Intelsat, a company which, over many years, has not responded to NTDTV's attempts to communicate." Epoch Times, 18 August 2008.
     Update on 21 August: "The IFJ says that the so-called technical problems have evaporated since last week when Radio Free Asia and Voice of America stopped using the Eutelsat satellite. This means that there is a technical availabity for broadcasting NTDTV, contrary to what the leaders of Eutelsat have claimed. ... The IFJ says that it is no surprise that the suppression of the NTDTV channels occured precisely over the highly sensitive period of the Olympic games in China and that the technical excuses do not seem to be founded. 'We expect Eutelsat to stop hiding behind technical mumbo-jumbo and let this broadcaster operate freely.' ... [IFJ adds:] We wish to make it clear that NTDTV was not the only channel affected by the action of Eutelsat to shut down part of its satellite signal capacity for broadcasts to China. We apologise for this innacuracy in our earlier statement. We have offered Eutelsat the opportunity to comment on our press statement." International Federation of Journalists, 20 August 2008. So the fact that BBG is no longer using a Eutelsat W5 does not necessarily free up a transponder for NTDTV, because several broadcasters were affected by the Eutelsat W5 power failure. It would be helpful for Eutelsat to issue a detailed technical description of what happened to W5 and what its remaining capabilities are.

Al-Manar via Indosat's Palapa C2 (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. government is concerned that a television channel backed by the Hezbollah militant group is using an Indonesian satellite to broadcast to the Asia-Pacific region, an American Embassy spokesman said Thursday. Al-Manar TV has rented Indonesia's Palapa C2 satellite through operator PT Indosat on a contract due to expire in April 2011, according to Indosat spokeswoman Adita Irawati. ... The U.S. government has informally shared concerns with authorities in Jakarta about Al-Manar broadcasting from Indonesia ... 'The U.S. government has no right to intervene in Indosat's affairs,' [Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Muhammad] Nuh said." AP, 14 August 2008.
     Update: "Australia is seeking to block a radical anti-Israel satellite TV channel linked to the militant Hezbollah group and broadcast from neighbouring Indonesia, the government's broadcast watchdog said on Thursday. ... Launched in 1991 with backing from Iran, the station has just resumed broadcasting into Asia and the Pacific using the Indosat telecommunications service partly owned by the Indonesian government. ... Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja, head of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, said the broadcasts posed no threat to the national interest or security. 'We are also monitoring its contents, and it's good to have a balance of news from America and the West,' he said. Al-Manar could only be seen with a satellite dish, in other words by less than one percent of the 226 million people in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country." Reuters, 21 August 2008.

Making U.S. international broadcasting like it used to be.

Posted: 20 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"VOA has played a unique role among U.S. broadcasting entities. It is the only agency mandated by law that explains U.S. foreign policy, presents 'responsible discussions and opinion on [U.S. policy],' and offers a 'balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.' Unfortunately, VOA has fallen into decline since the end of the Cold War and, in particular, since the demise of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in 1999. ... Currently, the BBG lacks clearly defined strategic objectives. Congress and the Administration should delineate the mission of U.S broadcasting, specify the rolls of each organization (i.e., VOA and semi-private entities), define the target audiences, and create a process for targeting, clearing, and assessing messages." Helle C. Dale and Oliver Horn, Heritage Foundation, 18 August 2008.
     "FreeMediaOnline.org has warned the BBG against destroying the U.S.-based Voice of America on air Russian broadcasts and placing all U.S.-funded radio to Russia with the Prague and Moscow-based semi-private Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). RFE/RL managers and reporters working and living in Russia as Russian citizens are open to intimidation and recruitment by Mr. Putin's secret police. Knowing Mr. Putin's record of silencing independent media in Russia, sabotaging of Internet sites, and using the KGB's successor agency (Mr. Putin's old employer) to intimidate and shut down TV and radio stations, the BBG actions harm media freedom and pose a serious risk to U.S. national security." FreeMediaOnline.org press release, 19 August 2008.
     Many VOA employees will appreciate these expressions of support for VOA. However, restoring the status quo in U.S. international broadcasting is not the way to cope with an increasingly competitive and complicated world media environment.
     The theory is that VOA explains U.S. policies and projects American thought and institutions, while the surrogate stations (RFE/RL and Radio Free Asia) provide news about the target countries.
     This is not the reality of U.S. international broadcasting. In actual practice, VOA also broadcasts news about its target countries. And RFE/RL and RFA cover U.S. policies and reaction covering those target countries. This is because audiences will not put up with having to listen to two U.S. stations to get all the news.
     So, amid finite budgets, limited resources, and scarce talent, U.S. international broadcasting consists of elements that overlap and compete with one other.
     To the Caucasus, to Russia, to Central Asia, to most of East Asia, U.S. international broadcasting faces two daunting tasks. The first is getting reliable news and information out of closed regions. The second is getting that news and information back to audiences in those countries in the face of expanding forms of censorship. U.S. international broadcasting can succeed only if it is consolidated.
     Dale and Horn mention "strategic objectives" for U.S. successful international broadcasting. Audiences for international broadcasting have their own objective, which is to obtain news that is more comprehensive, reliable, and credible than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media. Content that is a product of "strategic objectives" rather than solid journalism will not attract those audiences.

     See previous posts on 15 August 2008 and 10 August 2008.

The Georgian conflict and the confounding of cross-border information.

Posted: 20 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Georgian authorities have blocked most access to Russian news broadcasters and websites since the outbreak of the conflict with Moscow. Georgia's Interior Ministry said the action was not anti-democratic, but Russian broadcasts could not be allowed to 'scare our population'. ... Georgian media, private and state-owned, are generally under the sway of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who promotes his country as a Western-style democracy. However, the country's main opposition television station was shut by the Interior Ministry at gunpoint in November and some of its equipment was smashed up." PC Magazine, 19 August 2008.
     "Within hours after fighting erupted, Russian hackers had established a site, StopGeorgia.ru, that showed a list of Georgian Web sites targeted and which sites had been brought down, and allowed visitors to download a simple program to enable their own computers to join the attack." UPI, 19 August 2008.
     "NATO calls it iWar... 'It's very easy to cause a lot of trouble using three guys and a laptop.'" Canadian Press, 19 August 2008.
     "What frustrates computer-security experts is that the features that make the Internet such an invaluable resource -- its openness and interconnectedness -- also make it easier for hackers to do harm. As a staple of 21st-century warfare, cyberattacks will become increasingly sophisticated, forcing governments and private industry to build ever-stronger firewalls and other defenses, experts said." CNN, 18 August 2008.
     "Internet access, in one form or another, is being driven into developing nations at an astonishing rate, thanks to a combination of philanthropy and profit-making. ... PC manufacturers, meanwhile, already rely on developing markets in China, Russia, India, and Brazil to drive both growth and profits. Any effective security policy will have to take such growth into account, and plan accordingly. At present, technological dominance and superior infrastructure may give the United States a decisive edge, but history teaches that this edge will inevitably degrade as other countries either catch up or as the threats themselves evolve." Joel Hruska, ars technica, 18 August 2008.
     "From a domestic perspective, the most frightening thing about this whole Georgian cyber-attack situation isn't that we're vulnerable to a similar onslaught of legions of cyber-warriors, government-sponsored or not, it's that Washington doesn't really know what it's doing." Cyrus Farivar, Salon Machinist blog, 18 August 2008.

Voice of Russia expands broadcasts "for Georgia."

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of Russia radio station will increase its broadcasting from Moscow for Georgia by using additional transmitters and increasing airtime. 'Voice of Russia will increase its broadcasting for Georgia by increasing the number of short- and medium-wave transmitters. The broadcasting facilities of the seven transmission units in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar and Samara have now been connected,' the Voice of Russia said in a press statement. Moreover, Voice of Russia's Russian programs will be re- broadcast in the Abkhaz capital on the FM frequency at 107.9 MHz. ... On August 9, a decree by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and the decision by Georgia's National Security Council banned all Russian television and radio channels and barred access to the Russian part of the Internet. Voice of Russia stopped its broadcasting from Tbilisi for Georgia from the early hours of August 8. The radio station started broadcasting for Georgia from Moscow." Interfax, 17 August 2008. See also website of Voice of Russia, successor to Radio Moscow. Sergei tells me these VOR broadcasts are not in Georgian, but Russian: "Most educated Georgians speak fluent Russian so it's not the problem. The poor quality of those programs is another issue."

Former BBCWS MD, and I, remember the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The radio came on a minute or two before 8am on the morning of August 21, 1968. It always did. That was the start of family routine in our north London home. This morning, however, was shocking and unforgettable. The BBC bulletin led on the news that 165,000 Warsaw Pact forces had invaded Czechoslovakia from all points of the compass. ... I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1936, moving to England with my family when I was three. My first thought that morning was for my relatives, living mainly in Moravia. Ann and I, newly married, had visited them in 1961. We had experienced the dragooning of small-town life, the public loudspeakers barking out instructions to the farmers." John Tusa (managing director of BBC World Service 1986 to 1993), The Telegraph, 19 August 2008.
     Even before the Prague Spring, Radio Prague's English service had a relaxed tone, refreshing for stations from communist eastern Europe. One could sense that Czechoslovakia was the Warsaw Pact country most likely to reform. During the Prague Spring, Radio Prague was one of the best international radio stations on the air.
     It may have been the evening of August 20, U.S. time, that U.S. newscasts were reporting the invasion. As a teenager in northern Indiana, I tuned to Radio Prague's English broadcast at 0100 GMT on its 7345 kHz frequency. Instead of the usual "Forward Left" interval signal before the transmission, I heard stern march music. Then a routine broadcast of Radio Prague, making no mention of the invasion. It must have been recorded before the invasion began.
     The next night, Radio Prague did not appear. It did return weeks later, with the Radio Prague staff thanking listeners for their messages of support, and stating that the Soviet troops were not invited. After a few more days, the familiar voices disappeared from Radio Prague's English service, and the station took on a very pro-Soviet line.

     Meanwhile, the North American Service of Radio Moscow, having heard many references to Soviet invasion forces from Western news sources, started referring to U.S. troops in South Vietnam as U.S. invasion forces.
     "It was just at this time, literally days after the invasion, that a 24-year-old Englishwoman started working here at Radio Prague. Her name was Liz Skelton, and a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to record an interview with her as she revisited the building where she had worked 40 years before." David Vaughan, Radio Prague, 17 Augut 2008.

Worldspace reports less loss (updated).

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Worldspace, now known as 1worldspace, posted a net loss of $36 million, compared to $51.2 million, reported a year earlier. The has 171,657 subscribers worldwide, most in India. From 1worldspace press release via Washington Business Journal, 15 August 2008. Update: "The statement showed that the company is completely out of cash. ... To its credit Worldspace has shown that it can trim expenses in these desperate days, as it must given the decline in income in just about every aspect of its sales efforts." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 17 August 2008.

Channel selection at the Olympics media village.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Not that I've had any real time to watch it, but one of the great things about staying in the [Beijing Olympics] media village is the TV we have in our rooms. ... We have a real mixed bag of TV from around the world. In English, there's CNN International, BBC World, CNBC Asia, EuroSport News, HBO (movies in English with Chinese subtitles) and the English-language network of CCTV, China's state broadcast company. We also have MTV China, which mixes videos and other programming in English and Chinese. ... There are also CCTV channels in French and Spanish, as well as several in Chinese. I've also noticed channels from Italy, Korea and France." David Lassen, Ventura County Star, 19 August 2008.

More Olympics related web blocking -- but not in China.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Trying to access the official Olympic Web site (beijing2008.cn, or the English version, en.beijing2008.cn) from a computer on a U.S. military server will turn up only a 'Web site cannot be found' message. Similar problems are encountered when trying to access other Chinese sites with a .cn domain. When asked to try to log on to the Olympic Web site, users at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany, said they could not access the site. Access also was blocked to other China-based Web sites, such as chinadaily.cn, the English language Chinese news service, and english.gov.cn, the official Chinese government Web site, from the Navy base in Naples. The reason for the blockage is a bit unclear. Asked if all Chinese Web sites — those with a dot-cn domain — were blocked from DOD computers, officials from Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, the organization that oversees computer network security for DOD, gave an answer as cryptic as the scoring system for Olympic boxing." Stars and Stripes, 19 August 2008.

The DW languages are not new; the FM relays are.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle (DW) Radio, Germany’s international broadcaster, will soon broadcast programmes in three Indian languages, an official said Tuesday.The broadcaster and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) have signed an agreement to this effect, varsity pro-vice chancellor Latha Pillai said Tuesday. Gyan Vani FM, the radio channel of IGNOU, will facilitate broadcasting of DW-RADIO programming in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and English over campus radio at 29 universities across the country." Indo-Asian News Service, 19 August 2008. Actually, DW has broadcast in these three languages for many years. The FM rebroadcasts in India are new. They will not include news, which is not allowed on non-AIR FM stations in India.

DW still broadcasts in Romanian and is now on Romanian mobiles.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"COSMOTE Romania announces it has partnered with Deutsche Welle in order to offer its customers directly on their mobile phones the latest news provided by Germany’s international broadcaster, exclusively through the i-mode service. Under the 'News and Weather' section, i-mode users will now be able to have free and easy access to up to date content provided by Deutsche Welle, including the day’s top stories, news, business and politics." COSMOTE press release, 19 August 2008.

Brilliant network for global audience hungry for video.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"FORA.tv, (www.FORA.tv) the brilliant ideas network for video discourse and debate, and the Australian Broadcast Corporation, Australia's national public broadcaster, announced today a groundbreaking international licensing agreement and content sharing partnership. ... Through the partnership, ABC will utilize FORA.tv's interactive content delivery platform and a co-branded version of the proprietary FORA Video Player to reach a global audience hungry for entertaining, issue-oriented video." FORA.tv press release, 18 August 2008.

Gates (and some of his budget) for State.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"My choice [for McCain's secretary of State] would be Robert Gates, the current secretary of Defense. Mr. Gates is an advocate of a strong military supplemented by vigorous 'soft power,' or public diplomacy, and economic aid. Remarkable for a secretary of Defense, he has argued that the State Department is under-budgeted and understaffed. A new secretary of State will face major challenges, among them keeping terrorism at bay, burnishing America's image as a beacon of freedom, and preserving its superpower role as new rising nations seek to share it." John Hughes, Christian Science Monitor, 18 August 2008.

VOA and BBCWS are partners of yacht race. Somehow.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The acclaimed voice of the Volvo Ocean Race, Guy Swindells, and his radio team have been signed up for the 2008-09 edition of the round-the-world ocean marathon which starts in Alicante in October. ... 'We are ... building on our long-standing radio partners like the BBC World Service and Voice of America.'" Press release via nautica.it, 18 August 2008. What does this partnership entail? The remaining shortwave transmissions of the two stations would be a good way for the yachting teams to follow the news of their race along its route.

Not a banner day for CCTV.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tibetan rights campaigners staged a daring protest in Beijing Friday when they rappelled down the half-built new headquarters of state broadcaster China Central Television to unfurl a 'Free Tibet' banner over an Olympic Games billboard." Variety, 17 August 2008.
     "Police spent up to an hour getting them down, yet the incident was not referred to, much less shown, on any of CCTV's 18 channels. In fairness it is always difficult when a story breaks as far as two feet from your watercooler, so let us assume it was simply unable to get any reporters or cameramen outside in time." Marina Hyde, The Guardian sport blog, 16 August 2008.
     Medal count, showing China's big lead in gold medals, features at top of China Radio International Englih home page.

Guantánamo detention: "all about Al Jazeera."

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"After more than six years as a prisoner of the United States, former TV cameraman Sami al-Hajj is back at work with Al-Jazeera, the largest broadcaster in the Arab world, a thorn in the side of most Arab governments - and, by most indications, a target of deep hostility from the Bush administration. ... According to the Defense Department, al-Hajj was just another suspected terrorist among the 780 who have been held as enemy combatants since January 2002 at Guantanamo. But his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, says al-Hajj's imprisonment was all about Al-Jazeera. 'We calculated about 135 times he'd been interrogated, and about the first 120 the only interest they had was Al-Jazeera,' Smith said." San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 2008. See also sidebar, SF Chronicle, 17 August 2008.
     "Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman reported from the Guantanamo Bay trial of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver [and] examines what motivated Charles Swift, the US lawyer who defended him." Aljazeera.net, 12 August 2008.

Consolidation of French international broadcasting: trop cher?

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The French commercial broadcaster TF1 is seeking €90 million for its 50% stake in the international news channel France 24, according to a report in this morning’s Les Echos. The demand is deemed too high by the French government and blocks the formation of the new holding company for all French overseas broadcasters." Broadband TV News, 18 August 2008. See also Les Echos, 18 August 2008.

A satellite for Telesur.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela's first satellite, named after independence hero Simon Bolivar, is for broadcast and telecommunications purposes and is due to be launched from China in November, [Hugo] Chavez said. ... The Simon Bolivar will be used to expand the reach of the Venezuela-funded news network Telesur and reduce the cost of frequent state-television live links to speeches by Chavez and other official events." Reuters, 18 August 2008. Uncertain what the DTH capabilities of this satellite will be. It has both ku-band and C-band transponders.

The case for shortwave.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Former director of engineering of the International Broadcasting Bureau advocates for shortwave in international broadcasting. "RFE/RL and VOA began a highly successful campaign to launch local AM and FM former Soviet and Eastern Europe 'affiliate' stations to carry their respective programs. In the early days of this endeavor most RFE/RL/VOA/and BIB/BBG members and staff realized that, due to the history of conflict between western and Soviet societies, the so-called 'affiliates' could always 'pull the plug' on the arrangement. ... The 'pull-the-plug' reality, however, may be beginning to sink in to some current BBG members as they see what is happening in places like Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and many others, not to mention Afghanistan, Iraq and most countries in the Middle East — some of whom profess to be our friends yet are reluctant to allow us access to their radio stations, even for a fee. ... One million real-time listeners, small by shortwave standards, entail very high cost bandwidth requirements on the Internet. The competition, by start-up bloggers for example, could not possibly afford being on shortwave radio. The business example should be: 'Go where your competition can not follow.'" George Woodard, Radio World, 13 August 2008.
     Of the nine countries mentioned by George, the RFE/RL website says it has FM affiliates in Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. For now.
     As for the internet, this is a timely article, given the recent developments in the Russian-Georgian cyber war, with websites being shut down not only by governments but by individual hackers.
     I have always advocated for a global shortwave capacity for U.S. international broadcasting, to provide information during any future crises. Shortwave is the least interdictable of the media available to international broadcasting. However, with the closure of the IBB relays in Greece and Morocco, USIB shortwave capabilities are, arguably, no longer global.
     As audiences in many parts of the world now have access to FM radio, television (including satellite and cable television), and the internet, fewer are listening to shortwave, and fewer are replacing their shortwave radios. This has led to international broadcasters cutting back on their shortwave transmissions in favor of rebroadcasting, satellite television, and the internet.
     The remaining shortwave listeners are noticing fewer stations on their dials, and increased difficulties in listening due to the proliferation of interfering devices and appliances. (My shortwave listening in northern Virginia is curtailed as I fight a losing battle against local noise.) Will these listeners replace their shortwave radios?
     And, so, in the inevitable future emergencies, when local FM rebroadcasters are shut down, and the internet is blocked by governments and/or hackers, and satellite dishes are confiscated, will there still be the "critical mass" of shortwave radios and shortwave broadcast transmitters to provide information to communities that need it?

     "Unfortunately for us in Ghana, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation has bailed out of the Shortwave broadcasting which has a wider reach than FM." Amos Safo, Public Agenda (Accra), 18 August 2008.

RFE/RL adds one hour of Georgian. Now try to find it.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Until further notice, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Georgia Service will be adding a fourth hour of live, primetime news coverage to its listeners in Georgia and surrounding areas." RFE/RL press release, 11 August 2008.
     "Geez! WTFK?? They issue a press release and then include no details about the subject." Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 12 August 2008.
     "WTFK" means "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" a phrase that dates back to this 1986 incident. Anyway, Glenn is making the point that the press release does not provide any information about the frequency or even the time of this expanded RFE/RL Georgian broadcast, in case anyone might want to tune in. After some research, Glenn thinks the expansion is at 1800-1900 UTC on 7370 and 9370 kHz.
     To try to verify this, I looked at the RFE/RL Georgian website and clicked on its shortwave link. An English-language page popped up, stating, completely incorrectly: "This service does not have shortwave broadcast available."
     Perhaps RFE/RL is unconcerned about publicizing its shortwave frequencies because it thinks most people in Georgia are listening via its extensive network of FM affiliates in that country. What would be the present status of the FM affiliates in, say, Gori? Or the RFE/RL television affiliate on "6.00 kHz" in that city?

     "David Kakabadze, head of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Georgian Service, said it's no accident that the attacks coincided with Games. 'If you are asking my personal opinion, it's quite likely that it was very carefully planned,' Kakabadze said during a conference call with bloggers sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. 'August is the best time to carry out this kind of operation. Many Western politicians are on holiday, so the Western response took several days. I would say it came a bit too late.'" Washington Times, 15 August 2008.
     "Writing for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Brian Whitmore said: 'Before the guns of August, there were the manoeuvres of July. Less than one month before Russia's armed forces entered Georgia on Aug 8, they held massive military training exercises in the North Caucasus involving 8,000 servicemen and 700 pieces of military hardware.'" The National, 17 August 2008.

Update on the Russian-Georgian propaganda war.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US media, which obviously still has the Cold War macros, cranked out stuff about the awful Russians." Paul Wallis, digitaljournal.com, 16 August 2008.
     "Often I find myself in a minority, 'politically incorrect' corner, in my explanations of who really did what to whom. But in the case of Russia's incursion into Georgia, I find myself in the unaccustomed position of taking the majority view. So much so, that a couple of 'Russian experts' have asked me why I don't show my usual independence. Indeed, a standard leftwing commentator on the above-mentioned BBC has been publicly scratching his head, about how any foreign power could be losing a propaganda battle with the Bush administration." David Warren, The Ottawa Citizen, 16 August 2008.
     "Companies such as the state-run Gazprom, which owns strategic pipelines throughout the region, and Russian mobile telephone operators control infrastructure that has allowed Russia to quickly build up a new commercial hegemony. Ukraine and the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were the only former Soviet republics to side with Georgia this week, as Saakashvili's actions handed Putin an easy propaganda victory. Most Western governments and commentators rushed to accuse Russia of blatant aggression in sending its troops into Georgia's territory but Moscow has had little trouble presenting these charges as a case of biased hypocrisy." Peter Wilson, The Australian, 16 August 2008.
     "Russians were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to stop Barack Obama being elected president of the United States. The line came on the main news of Vesti FM, a state radio station that — like the Government and much of Russia's media — has reverted to the old habits of Soviet years, in which a sinister American hand was held to lie behind every conflict, especially those embarrassing to Moscow. Modern Russia may be plugged into the internet and the global marketplace but in the battle for world opinion the Kremlin is replaying the old black-and-white movie." Charles Bremner, The Times, 15 August 2008.
     In online discussion, Georgian ambassador to the United States answers questions, including: "Why should Abkhazian and S. Ossetians be forced to live under Georgian rule, if they don't want to? The world has looked favorable on granting independence to other ethnic enclaves, why should these two be any different?" Washington Post, 15 August 2008.
     "As bad as the bloodying of Georgia is, the broader consequences are worse. The United States fiddled while Georgia burned, not even reaching the right rhetorical level in its public statements until three days after the Russian invasion began, and not, at least to date, matching its rhetoric with anything even approximating decisive action." John R. Bolton, The Telegraph, 15 August 2008.

Update on the Russian-Georgian cyber war.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) Spam Data Mine is seeing new escalations in the so-called 'Russian-Georgian Cyber War'. More than 500 e-mails were received in a 90 minutes period this morning at UAB claiming to be a BBC story" about Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, which is actually a web page laden with viruses not detected by most product. UAB press release, 15 August 2008.
     "Hackers targeting Georgia in the midst of its conflict with Russia have started sending out a new batch of malicious spam messages, apparently with the aim of building a new botnet network of remote-controlled computers. The poorly worded messages started going out early Friday morning, and now make up close to 5% of the spam traffic measured by the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Spam Data Mine." Network World, 15 August 2008.
     "The Estonian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that it is sending two of its leading cyber-defense experts to Tbilisi to help stave off cyber-attacks emanating in Russia." The Baltic Times, 16 August 2008.
     VP of Arbor Networks, an Internet security company that tracks cyber attacks: "'They started out as some fairly small attacks and as the hostilities got bigger and bigger, we are now seeing some rather large attacks. While the attacks are probably being launched by Russia, we have no evidence to prove they are coming from the Russian government, themselves.' Those attacks helped take down government Web sites in Georgia, including that of the president, even replacing it with the image seen in this video clip." NECN.com, 16 August 2008.
     CFO of Atlanta-based internet hosting company Tulip Systems: "We brought the [Georgia presidential] site into our data center and our servers. We are broadcasting three TV stations out of here, and we also brought over another Web site, rustavi2, the largest TV network." Atlanta Journal Constitution, 17 August 2008.
     "The conflict between Russia and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia has underscored the relative anonymity of cyberattackers." FCW.com. 15 August 2008.
     "Dr David Betz, senior lecturer at the Department of War Studies of King's College, London, said: 'We're still in the wooden biplane era of cyber-war. It will get more sophisticated, probably quite quickly.'" The Independent, 17 August 2008.
     "Today, defence strategists recognise the full importance of computer networks. Where before carrier pigeons were shot out of the sky or jamming signals rendered radio communication impossible, telecom centres and Internet servers have become the prime targets. And in 2007, Estonia won the dubious honour of being the first obvious victim of a coordinated cyber attack by Russian hackers." Radio Netherlands, 15 August 2008.
     "Call it 'the fog of cyberwar'. Better yet, please don't. As the dust settles, it's unclear whether 'cyberwar' is even an appropriate term for what's taken place online as an actual war - the kind with guns and dead people - has transpired in Georgia. It's worth remembering that in this "cyberwar", the most serious consequence is that a website becomes temporarily inaccessible to viewers. It's a war being fought with paintballs, not with live rounds." Ethan Zuckerman, Reuters, 16 August 2008.
     "While Internet attacks continue in Georgia, security experts say the U.S. is not prepared for similar attacks that could steal confidential data and wreak havoc on U.S. computer systems." NewsFactor.com, 15 August 2008.
     "The Internet was not designed to be secure. Its architecture was developed by a relatively small group of researchers who knew and trusted one another. They didn't envision the Net becoming intertwined with commerce, manufacturing and the power grid, all of which are now to some degree vulnerable to cyber warriors. The ultimate solution is to redesign the Net, striking a better balance between security and the free flow of information. In the meantime, Georgia's experience serves as a warning to Internet users that war has been redefined to the detriment of civilians everywhere." Editorial, Los Angeles Times, 17 August 2008.
     "The truth about the war has been further obscured by hackers taking down all sites with the Georgian domain-suffix '.ge'. Much .ge content has migrated to Google’s blogspot.com servers, which are better-protected. But like all blogger content, the Georgian government’s official position has transmuted into mere opinion along with the private hosting. This is perhaps the first armed conflict that incorporated a serious component of cyber-war. Barring nuclear escalation, it will be remembered for that, rather than for the bloodshed. Every security establishment had better take note because this is likely to become a standard tactic in future conflicts." Devangshu Datta, Business Standard (New Delhi), 16 August 2008.

A South African reports from Georgia for Al Jazeera.

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Jonah "Hull, 35, was born in Zimbabwe but raised in Joburg. Educated at St John's College, and later at Wits University, he has an impressive background in international news and is no stranger to conflict zones. After a number of years with Associated Press Television News and later with Sky News, he crossed channels to the English language version of Al Jazeera in 2006 to pick up a posting to the Russian capital. Since then he has monitored Moscow stoking tension with Georgia, reporting regularly on the false threats that only became real last week." Saturday Star (Johannesburg), 16 August 2008.

No Russia Today on the Bulgarian seaside.

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Weekly anecdotes and musings from Bulgaria’s seaside, part 3 of 3. Martinelli furniture, designer architecture, manicured lawns and pool bar were the foreground; and somewhere out on the sea on which we gazed, the Russian Black Sea fleet had been mobilised against Georgia. ... There was cable television to keep us briefed, with the BBC inevitably offering the most sober coverage; the thousands of civilian dead claimed by south Ossetian rebels was put in quotation marks by the Beeb, yet reported as bald fact by CNN. Sky News, again was on the somewhat more histrionic side. Sky divided its time between the Georgia crisis and the Olympic saga, in which it seemed to believe there was only a British team competing. Unfortunately, unlike a hotel we stayed in last year, there was no English-service Russia Today channel, which would have served up the Kremlin view undiluted, unedited and uncritically." Clive Leviev-Sawyer, Sofia Echo, 16 Augut 2008.
     "Kevin Owen, a presenter on HTV's Wales Tonight in the mid-1990s, is now reading out the Kremlin's version of events on Russia Today, the Moscow-based, English-language television station. 'Kevin's got to earn a living and I wish him well,' says his former boss Elis Owen, the managing director of ITV Wales. 'He was very professional when he worked for us and got on well with everybody.' Although it is owned by a non-profit organisation, the contents of Russia Today's website indicate that it is closely linked to the Russian state. A section is devoted to stories supportive of President Dmitri Medvedev." Tim Walker, The Telegraph, 14 August 2008.
     "Moscow is using novel methods to spread a very unsubtle, Cold War version of the Caucasian conflict to the world. Chief among them is Russia Today, a state 24-hour news channel that is fronted much of the time by cheery British and other English-speaking television professionals. The smiles and studio banter could come from BBC World or CNN but the story is unrelentingly the Kremlin version. Banners flash along at the bottom of the screen saying such things as 'genocide' and 'aggression' or 'city turns into human hell, many people still trapped under rubble'. ... The coverage goes down well in developing countries that want an alternative to CNN and BBC World Service, a Russian official said. 'We have learnt from Western TV how to simplify the narrative.'" Charles Bremner, The Times, 15 August 2008.

Exile novelists used to listen to BBC on the shortwave.

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Canadian in Greece to write "his debut novel." "My rent for a villa -- literally a stone’s throw from the water on the beach, just outside the sort of town -- was something like 650-700 bucks a month. I had a little living room, my bedroom, a tiny little suite kitchen, a television -- I watched [a lot of] BBC World...I can still recite most of the commercials from memory. It was the only English channel." National Post, 16 August 2008.

Pop-up boxes for the BBC's non-UK audience?

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC website is experimenting with a new hyperlinking system that provides extra information in pop-up boxes – and can be used for advertising. ... [System developer] Apture also promotes the system as an advertising platform, raising the question of whether it will be used for this purpose on pages targeted at non-UK audiences. But a spokesperson said BBC World and BBC.com, who would be affected, were not aware of the experiment." Personal Computer World, 15 August 2008.

Egyptian newspaper reports Alhurra "close down"?

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States is due to close down its Arabic-speaking space channel Alhurra after the White House realized that this space channel did not fulfil the goal sought from the space channel. Consequently, the $350 million which the US administration spent on Alhurra since February 2004 did not produce any results. Director of the Washington office of Al-Arabiya space channel, Hisham Milhim, said that despite this high cost, the Alhurra failed to rank even the fourth space channel for the viewers of the Arab space channels. He added: seldom would you find people who watch Alhurra." Egyptian opposition Labour Party newspaper Al-Sha'b website, in Arabic, via BBC Monitoring, 6 August 2008. I don't think this newspaper has any inside knowledge, but instead is leaping to a conclusion about a planned closure of Alhurra. The story basically reviews the negative press coverage about Alhurra a couple of months ago. See previous posts on 23 June 2008 and 17 April 2008.

"Why Al Jazeera Owes an Apology."

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Samir Kuntar is the killer who smashed the head of a 4-year-old girl with his rifle in 1979 after killing her father before her eyes. He was convicted, sentenced to 542 years in prison, and never expressed any remorse. He was released by Israel on July 26 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers... Then came Kuntar's birthday party, initiated by Al Jazeera's bureau in Beirut and aired on Al Jazeera TV July 19 (translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute). There was orchestral music, a huge birthday cake and infinite admiration by the Al Jazeera bureau chief announcing: 'Brother Samir, we would like to celebrate your birthday with you. You deserve even more than this . . . Happy birthday, brother Samir.' How amateurish was the Coliseum in Rome compared with modern-day satellite rituals of death and brutality. Imagine millions of living rooms watching their new role model, child-killer Kuntar, lowering a huge butcher knife onto his birthday cake to the sound of fireworks and male chorus: 'This is the sword of the Arabs, Samir.'" Judea Perl, Wall Street Journal, 16 August 2008.
     "Kuntar was convicted and sentenced to five life terms for killing a police officer, a civilian and a four-year-old child in a raid in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. But on Thursday he told the crowds that came out to welcome to his home town: 'I haven't for even one day regretted what I did. On the contrary I remain committed to my political convictions'" Kuntar said. 'I feel enormous joy because I have returned to the ranks of the resistance and to my family.' Kuntar's family says that he did not commit any of the murders and that the victims were killed in crossfire during a shootout with Israeli security forces trying to apprehend Kuntar and other members of his group." Al Jazeera English, 18 July 2008.

From our VOA file.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA), broadcasting in languages including Persian, Mandarin, Pashto and Urdu, will provide its international audience of an estimated 134 million with news, analysis and interviews from the Democratic and Republican Presidential Nominating Conventions. VOA (www.VOANews.com), the largest U.S. international broadcaster, is fielding a team of nearly 90 reporters, technicians, producers, directors, and coordinators to create a radio, television, and Internet broadcast center at both conventions. Broadcasters from 26 of VOA's 45 language services are providing virtually round-the-clock coverage." VOA press release, 12 August 2008.
     "It was standing room only at recent Farmfest political forums in Morgan, Minn., where agricultural leaders grilled congressional hopefuls and Democratic challenger Al Franken debated incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman. ... 'Farmfest’s political forum was off the charts. CNN, AP, and even the Voice of America came, for goodness gracious.'" The Daily Republic (Mitchell SD), 15 August 2008.
     "Visits to the Voice of America's (VOA) website www.VOANews.com increased 38 percent in the first part of August, reflecting intense interest in international news stories including the Beijing Olympics and Russia's invasion of Georgia." VOA press release, 7 August 2008.
     Among "hidden treasures" in D.C. federal buildings: "The Wilbur J. Cohen Building, which houses Voice of America, has bas-relief sculptures over each four building entrances. The bas-reliefs, along with most of the murals inside, reflect the theme of social security, because the building was originally built to house the Social Security Board, which never moved in. The Cohen building's auditorium has a mural on sliding panels that is usually hidden from the people who do make it into the building - in the auditorium, at the back of the stage, is a 12-by-16 foot mural by Philip Guston of a family eating a picnic and people working. The giant work of art is usually out of view when the auditorium is being used." Kansas City infoZine, 15 August 2008.

U.S. international broadcasts to Cambodia generate comment in Cambodia.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"On July 28, the Voice of America broadcast a four-party call to Cambodians and the world 'not to recognize the results of the July 27, 2008, elections.'" A. Gaffar Peang-Met, Guampdn.com, 13 August 2008. How VOA actually reported the election. VOA News, 27 July 2008.
     "On the question of the pre-election media environment, the [Cambodian National Election Commission] questioned the [EU Election Observation Mission's] view that there was 'unfair and unequal' access to media in favour of the ruling party. 'The opposition parties were able to freely convey their ideology and criticism of the government to listeners through Voice of America radio and Radio Free Asia," the statement said." The Phnom Penh Post, 15 August 2008.
     "A man who answered the phone of Prime Minister Hun Sen's nephew Hun Chea and identified himself as Hun Chea's younger brother admitted Tuesday to his family's involvement in a hit-and-run killing and blamed the victim for being inebriated. ... 'It's not right what Radio Free Asia broadcasted, saying that it was unintentional murder. It was not. It was a normal traffic accident in which the motorbike driver was very drunk,' he said." The Phnom Penh Post, 13 August 2008.

China: websites unblocked for journalists, not for the people.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As useful as the recent uproar over censorship in Beijing was for calling attention to the broader issue, the failure of outsiders to understand how censorship affects the Chinese Internet in practice is a source of frustration inside the country. Earlier this week, I heard from a blogger, Du Dongjin after he received an email from the Voice of America celebrating the unblocking of their Chinese website. 'In my point of view,' he complained, 'it is quite a plain comment that VOA does not care if there is Internet censorship in China. It only cares its own interests.' By this he meant that, whatever the incremental benefits, unblocking VOA's site -- or any other one or several foreign sites -- won't change the more problematic aspects of Beijing's web control." Rebecca MacKinnon, Wall Street Journal, 14 August 2008. There are varying reports about how far beyond the Beijing Olympics International Broadcasting Centre that the unblocking of certain websites extends.

CRI's reporter in exile in the USA.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Jimmy Cheng Qinghua, an editor for state-run China Radio International (CRI) in Beijing, who now lives in exile in the United States, gave CPJ the directives he saved while he worked on CRI's desk. They covered everything from sensitive political issues to banal tabloid scandals. Having released the information, Cheng knew he wouldn't be able to return to China without facing serious jail time." Bob Dietz, Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 13 August 2008.

Comparing Georgia 2008 with Hungary 1956.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In Budapest, Hungary in 1956, Radio Free Europe, the American foreign propaganda network, egged on the Hungarians, urging them to fight the Soviet army and advising various methods of resistance. We suggested, or at least implied, that the West would come to their rescue if they needed help. The Russians crushed the Hungarians, and we did nothing. Now it's Georgia's turn, and one again it's, 'You guys fight. We'll hold your coat.'" Reese Schonfeld, Huffington Post, 14 August 2008.
     "Saakashvili could have read vivid accounts of broadcasts, via the CIA-controlled Radio Free Europe, encouraging the Hungarians in 1956 to believe that if they rose against the Soviet occupier Nato troops would race to their aid." Alexander Cockburn, The First Post, 15 August 2008.
     John McCain's words to Georgia are "an example of the United States' unfortunate habit of giving much less powerful actors reason to believe that it will directly support them in times of trouble when it has no intention of doing so. It happened in the Hungarian uprising in 1956, when American-backed Radio Free Europe insinuated repeatedly that help fighting the Soviet Union was on the way." Editorial, The Globe and Mail, 14 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Remembering Radio Prague English broadcaster Olga Szántová (1932-2003).

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"She was also among the radio journalists who managed to carry on broadcasting secretly during the Soviet invasion of 1968, as several recordings from the time still bear witness. ... After the invasion, Olga’s job at the radio was increasingly under threat and she was forced to leave at the end of 1970. ... After she was thrown out of the radio Olga was not allowed anywhere near a microphone for nearly 20 years. ... It was with great enthusiasm that Olga returned to Radio Prague after the fall of communism, and she made a huge contribution to our programme, showing more energy than many people half her age." Radio Prague, 14 August 2008. I remember listening to her and her colleagues, on my shortwave radio, in 1968. Radio Prague remained defiant for a few days after the invasion, stating that the Soviet troops were not invited. Eventually, however, it became faithful to the Moscow line.

Public diplomacy budget cuts are nothing new.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As deputy director of the Office of East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the United States Information Agency, the public diplomacy agency abolished in 1999, I helped manage three successive years of cuts to the budgets for programs in 17 nations, including Australia, China, Japan and South Korea. Before that, for years I had to decide what programs and personnel to cut at overseas missions where I served. These cuts were always 10 percent of the budget or more and were imposed by the Office of Management and Budget or Congress." Nicholas Mele, letter to New York Times, 13 August 2008.

Voice of Nigeria plans three new languages.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria tells the Association for International Broadcasting: "We are planning three new languages, Chinese and either Hindi or Urdu, and Portuguese as we want to reach out to Lusophone Africa. The Chinese are already doing very well in their Hausa service of China Radio International. ... We are currently looking at the funding for Mandarin - our signal gets into China very well and we get a lot of letters from English listeners in China." AIB The Channel via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 13 August 2008.

Al Jazeera provokes "angry crowd" in Mauritania.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera's correspondent in Mauritania, Zeinab Bint Arbieh, barely managed to escape an angry crowd in the streets of the capital Nouakchott this week. Arbieh reported that the crowd of mostly young men and women, who were protesting against last week's military coup, were convinced that her coverage of the August 6 coup for Al Jazeera had been biased." But Mauritanian newspaper editor says: "Compared to other channels like Al Arabiya, BBC, Al Hurra and Al Alam, Al Jazeera's performance remains the better. It was more professional and more unbiased." Menassat, 14 August 2008.

Telesur accused of another FARC entanglement.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Telesur is again mired in controversy over its alleged links to Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas. The Caracas-based TV channel, most of whose funding comes from the government of Hugo Chávez, was accused in May of faking the origin of a FARC video. Now a Colombian journalist who works for the channel is accused of being a FARC collaborator." Miami Herald, 15 August 2008.

Heritage potshots at U.S. international broadcasting are unwittingly instructive.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The end of on-the-air broadcasts of Voice of America couldn’t come at worse time: Russia is providing an utterly skewed and one-sided picture of the war in Georgia domestically, while the Internet has only 15% to 18% penetration, limited primarily to medium and large cities. ... Today, when we should be engaged in war of ideas against radical Islamists, the situation is quite different. U.S. international broadcasting lacks talent, budget and credibility — be it Arabic, Farsi or Russian. Stations have a hard time competing with Al Jazeera, BBC or Russian state-run TV." Ariel Cohen, Heritage Foundation American Leadership blog, 14 August 2008.
     Dr. Cohen doesn't know it, but he has put his finger on the problem: "Stations have a hard time competing with Al Jazeera, BBC or Russian state-run TV." Note "stations" is plural, while BBC and Al Jazeera are singular, with all their resources combined in one organization. U.S. international broadcasting is a boondoggle of overlapping, competing efforts: VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, MBN, OCB. This structure creates a plethora of senior level plum jobs, but serves no other useful purpose. Until the United States consolidates this mélange and gets serious about international broadcasting, there will be no competing with BBC or Al Jazeera. And don't tell me that that one station is to provide U.S. news and policies, and then other is to provide news about the audience's own country. Why should the audience be burdened with the ludicrous task of tuning to two U.S. stations to get all the news?
     "Earlier this year, the Voice of America, one of America’s leading arms of public diplomacy in the world, made the decision to cut service in Georgia as of September. It had also made an earlier decision to decrease service into Russia to just a bit of tv and internet. This means basically that when US officials have weighed in on the latest developments, there is no US agency able to carry that message to the Georgian or Russian people." Moira Whelan, Democracy Arsenal, 14 August 2008. To the contrary, RFE/RL will continue to interview U.S. officials on matters affecting its target countries (see previous post), and will report on any U.S. policy pronouncements relevant to the region. And the Russian language U.S. public diplomacy website www.america.gov/ru continues on.

With every war comes a propaganda war.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Most of the Western media is based in Georgia. The Russians were slow to give access from their side and this has helped them lose the propaganda war." BBC News, 15 August 2008.
     "Georgia has dominated the psychological playing field from the beginning. As Mark Ames discovered, Georgian leaders were making collect calls to just about every influential person on Wall Street, convincing them that Georgia was the victim of Russian aggression even as Georgian rockets were leveling Tskhinvali. Yasha Levine, Media Channel, 14 August 2008.
     "Russia’s propaganda has been clumsy, while Georgia’s has been effective. But both kinds pose serious problems." Boris Dolgin, openDemocracy, 14 August 2008.
     "Moscow is using novel methods to spread a very unsubtle, Cold War version of the Caucasian conflict to the world. Chief among them is Russia Today, a state 24-hour news channel that is fronted much of the time by cheery British and other English-speaking television professionals. The smiles and studio banter could come from BBC World or CNN but the story is unrelentingly the Kremlin version." The Times, 15 August 2008.
     Russian deputy prime minsiter Sergei Ivanov: "I wouldn’t trust such eyewitnesses too much, as many of them resemble too much Goebbels’ propaganda, trying to present white as black and vice versa, trying to present a victim of an aggression as the initiator of the aggression, and vice versa. Our ground forces never crossed the border of the conflict zone – instead they launched strikes in response to the Georgian forces attacks, such as artillery, which were still targeting Tskhinvali. There was speculation, panicky rumours and disinformation – that Russian tanks had allegedly entered Gori; stories of Russian planes bombing Tbilisi. They were all Goebbels style lies invented by the Georgian leadership." EuroNews, 14 August 2008.
     "The Kremlin, facing little opposition in the domestic media, has nearly complete liberty to mold any desired public opinion. The main basis for the legitimacy of the Russian invasion of South Ossetia was the accusation that the Georgian shelled the region’s capital, Tskhinvali, killing close to 2,000 civilians. ... In return Georgia accused Russia of military aggression, and claimed its own military campaign was aimed at 'reestablishing the constitutional order' over the breakaway region." Dumitru Minzarari, Transitions Online, 15 October 2008.
     "Insofar as America is seen as weak, our enemies will redouble their actions and our friends will hold back, fearing that association with us will not protect them, and single them out for attack. Those consequences are immediate, traveling across the airwaves of the BBC and al Jazeera and the other propaganda outlets favored by our enemies." Michael Ledeen, National Review Online, 15 August 2008.

With every modern war comes a cyber war.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"For Russian netizens, 'unconventional' cyberwarfare—winning the hearts and minds of the West—became more important than crashing another server in Tbilisi. Managing information seemed all the more urgent as there were virtually no images from the first and the most controversial element in the whole war—the Georgian invasion of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia—and the destruction that, were one to believe the Kremlin’s account, followed shortly thereafter." Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy, August 2008.
     "As Georgian troops retreated to defend their capital from Russian attack, the websites of their government, also under fire, retreated to Google. In an Internet first, Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reopened its site on Google's free Blogger network and gave reporters a Gmail address to reach the National Security Council." Christian Science Monitor, 13 August 2008.
     "The attacks have already managed to compromise several government web sites, with continuing DDoS attacks against numerous other Georgian government sites, prompting the government to switch to hosting locations to the U.S, with Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs undertaking a desperate step in order to disseminate real-time information by moving to a Blogspot account." ZDNet, 11 August 2008.
     "Rather than blame the notorious Russian Business Network (RBN) -- as researcher Jart Armin did over the weekend -- other researchers said Tuesday that it appears the attacks originated from a 'hacker militia' of Russian botnet herders and volunteers." ITWorld, 12 August 2008.
     "I had a [simple] research objective: to test how much damage someone like me, who is quite aloof from the Kremlin physically and politically, could inflict upon Georgia's Web infrastructure, acting entirely on my own and using only a laptop and an Internet connection. If I succeeded, that would somewhat contradict the widely shared assumption—at least in most of the Western media—that the Kremlin is managing this cyberwarfare in a centralized fashion." Evgeny Morozov, Slate, 14 August 2008.
     "Is it possible that the Russian government encouraged (or even hired) hackers to trash Georgia web sites? You bet it is. Do we have the foggiest idea how many of the attacks were from government-connected types, and how many were from outsiders like Morozov? Unfortunately, we don't." Noah Schachtman, Wired Danger Room, 14 August 2008.
     Jose Nazario: "In mid-July, as there were some increased tensions between Russia and Georgia over these regions under dispute, we began seeing an attack commanded to a large botnet that was directed to flood the Georgian president's Web site with requests to load the page repeatedly as fast as possible." PBS NewsHour, 13 August 2008.
     "'Compared to the May 2007 Estonian attacks, these are more intense but have lasted (so far) for less time. This could be due to a number of factors, including more sizeable botnets with more bandwidth, better bandwidth at the victims, changes in our observations, or other factors.' ... On average attackers are throwing 211 Mbps at targeted systems in assaults that last for an average of just over two hours at a time." The Register, 14 August 2008.
     "In an intriguing cyber alliance, two Estonian computer experts are scheduled to arrive in Georgia by evening to keep the country's networks running amid an intense military confrontation with Russia. And Poland has lent space on its president's web page for Georgia to post updates on its ongoing conflict with Russia." Computerworld, 13 Augut 2008.
     "'A cyber warfare campaign by Russia is seriously disrupting many Georgian websites,' the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The Kremlin denied the accusations. 'On the contrary, a number of internet sites belonging to the Russian media and official organisations have fallen victim to concerted hacker attacks,' a spokesman said. ... It was the first time a known cyber attack had coincided with a shooting war; experts warned it was unlikely to be the last." The Australian, 15 August 2008.
     "Attacks have continued even after the president's website was transferred to another hosting company in the United States. The new host, Atlanta-based firm Tulip Systems, founded by Georgian-born Nino Doijashvili, has reported spurious traffic to the server outnumbering genuine traffic by as much as 5,000 to 1. The site was still unavailable at the time of writing so the ongoing cyber attack seems to be succeeding. Georgian media, telecommunications and transportation servers were also attacked." Martin J Young, Asia Times, 16 August 2008.
     "The online battle, which appears to have begun before the first shots were fired a week ago, is a preview of a new era in warfare — one the U.S. is not ready for, government officials and security experts say." Cox News Service, 15 August 2008.
     "National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell told a Senate committee that the United States is ill prepared for cyberattacks that could steal data or cause disruptions. He mentioned China and Russia as potential threats. McConnell said the military is best protected, but the federal government and private companies are vulnerable." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 15 August 2008.
     "The cyberattacks in Georgia are re-energizing a debate over whether the laws of war apply in cyberspace. Among the biggest questions: When is a cyberattack an act of war?" Wall Street Journal, 14 August 2008.
     "The U.S. Air Force is considering mothballing plans for its Cyber Command program. It may seem an odd time to halt development for a cyber defense program given the attention cast on cyber warfare this week in Georgia; however, new Air Force leadership may have looked at the host of government organizations designed to do essentially the same task and questioned whether the unit is necessary." TechNewsWorld, 14 August 2008.

Reporting, and spinning, the conflict in Georgia.

Posted: 14 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"This has been a remarkably choreographed war. From the moment those first shots were fired the PR game began.
The shots came as most of the world's attention was on Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Olympics. A convenient distraction? Perhaps. But also a perfect opportunity for Prime Minister Putin to be seen in discussion with President Bush and both men used the pictures to their advantage." Sky News, 13 August 2008.
     "Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin has accused Western media orgs of bias in their coverage of the Georgia fighting, but U.S. and U.K. TV execs are unfazed, saying that claims of bias are 'bananas.'" Variety, 12 August 2008.
     "The Brussels PR agency promoting Russia's side in the dispute with Georgia has been criticised for being part of Russia's 'propaganda' machine. GPlus has been advising the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation since April 2006. Meanwhile, rival agency Aspect Consulting was hired by Georgia late last year to reach out to Western audiences." PRWeek, 14 August 2008.
     "John McCain's chief foreign policy adviser and his business partner lobbied the senator or his staff on 49 occasions in a 3 1/2-year span while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The payments raise ethical questions about the intersection of Randy Scheunemann's personal financial interests and his advice to the Republican presidential candidate who is seizing on Russian aggression in Georgia as a campaign issue." AP, 13 August 2008. See previous post about same subject. And TPM Muckraker, 14 August 2008.
     "The BBC World Service was already covering the build-up to the conflict at midnight last Thursday, ahead of most other news organisations who were focusing on the build-up to the Olympics. The BBC was lucky to have a permanent BBC correspondent based in Tbilisi – Matthew Colin. He was joined by the BBC’s Moscow correspondent Richard Galpin on the Friday, and by 6pm BBC News was broadcasting live from Tbilisi." Press Gazette, 14 August 2008.
     "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has two valuable video clips worth noting: the first is the South Ossetia/Georgia chronology of fighting, the second the rally of Eastern European leaders in Tbilisi three days ago." Russia Blog, 14 August 2008.

Al Jazeera gets its first Emmy nomination.

Posted: 14 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera's English-language coverage of the Myanmar crackdown and a current affairs program have earned the network its first International Emmy news nominations. Besides Al Jazeera English, the Qatar-based satellite news channel, nominated networks include the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., TV Globo in Brazil, Pro TV News in Romania, ITV News in the United Kingdom and SBS Broadcasting in the Netherlands." Reuters, 14 August 2008.

China: how will official DTH affect the satellite gray market?

Posted: 14 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"With the Chinasat-9 satellite in orbit, officially sanctioned satellite-TV services are set to become a reality in the world’s biggest market. ... For the Chinese population, the launch of Chinasat-9 in June is a highly significant event for the country. The satellite, manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, will provide coverage of the Olympics and also help initiate free direct-to-home (DTH) services in different regions of the country as part of a project dubbed Cuncuntong." Mark Holmes, Via Satellite, 1 August 2008. This is a domestic broadcasting story, but with implications for international broadcasting. Chinese households with gray market satellite receivers capable of receiving foreign television channels may migrate to the offerings of this new authorized DTH service. Or, with the new authorized DTH service in place, Chinese authorities may reinforce the prohibition against ownership of receivers capable of receiving other satellites. See Lyngsat's Chinasat 9 listing.

Successor to Radio Tirana on shortwave?

Posted: 13 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Home2US has added three premium channels produced by Albania’s Top Channel to the Home2US direct-to-home lineup, the company announced Aug. 13. ... 'The addition of Top Channel and its highly respected team of journalists and overall programming production quality to the Home2US lineup represent a premium expansion and a true win for Albanians living and working throughout America.'" Satellite Today, 13 August 2008. See also website of Home2US, "Gateway for International Broadcasters into the Americas."

U.S. public diplomacy calling young tribal audiences (updated again).

Posted: 13 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"James K. Glassman, the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, has launched a more aggressive program to counter Islamist extremism through a war of ideas. ... Mr. Glassman said he was reluctant to provide details of these efforts because it could cause problems for host governments. However, one program initiated this month with U.S. backing - Young Tribal Voices - involves the production of Pashtun radio dramas by students in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The broadcasts include anti-extremist themes and are beamed into the tribal regions, currently major al Qaeda and Taliban redoubts." Washington Times, 31 July 2008. Using whose transmitters? Incorporated in the programming of VOA or Radio Free Afghanistan? Update: Hal Ryder, Director, Educational Arts Resource Services, Inc., tells me that this program "was broadcast from the University of Peshawar using their transmitters." See also www.earsinc.com/blog.
     "In the July 31, 2008 Washington Times, Bill Gertz provides an interview with James K. Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, who is working on programs to 'push back against violent extremist ideology.' ... Then Mr. Glassman goes on to praise Sayyed Imam al-Sharif (aka 'Dr. Fadl') as a credible voice against extremists (whatever that means). Mr. Glassman fails to mention that al-Sharif calls for 'Jihad in Afghanistan [that] will lead to the creation of an Islamic state with the triumph of the Taliban, God willing.' This is the same Taliban that the American media are so outraged that Pakistan's ISI is reported to have been supporting. But Mr. Glassman is paid by American taxpayers as an American government employee to further promote individuals like al-Sharif to fight so-called 'extremists,' and the Washington Times prints his comments without rebuttal or challenge." Jeffrey Imm, Counterrorsim Blog, 1 August 2008.
     Glassman is scheduled to be a guest on CNN's Late Edition, Sunday, 3 August. AP, 2 August 2008. He was bumped from Late Edition a couple of weeks ago.

Death of Paul Norton, former VOA jazz host.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Paul Louis Norton, 79, a venerable WPVI-TV [Philadelphia] broadcaster for nearly 40 years, died Thursday of a stroke at Christiana Hospital. ... In 1956, Mr. Norton married Nancy Bieger, and the couple had five children. They moved to Washington, where Mr. Norton earned a bachelor's degree in English from Georgetown University. While going to college, he worked full time as a local disc jockey and television weatherman, a CBS network announcer, a newscaster for the Voice of America's worldwide English-language division, and a weekend host for its jazz program, Music, USA." Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 August 2008. Somewhere I have a recording, sent by a listener to my VOA Communications World program, of Paul Norton closing one of these weekend jazz programs. The weekday jazz host was, of course, Willis Conover. VOA actually did include the comma in the name of program "Music, USA."

Competing ideas about the "war of ideas."

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"US officials and policy analysts are talking less about 'winning the hearts and minds' of Arabs and Muslims worldwide as part of public diplomacy efforts, and instead are focusing on winning 'the war of ideas' against Islamic extremist groups. ... Such a complex concept as the war of ideas will continue to be debated throughout the remaining months left for the current US administration and into the next. How effectively it is executed will depend on the next president's clarity of vision and willingness to engage in the debate. To do so, as Amr and Singer wrote, the next administration 'should include seeking and integrating input from legislative bodies, universities, think-tanks, and friends in the Muslim world.'" Steven W. Barnes, The Daily Star (Beirut), 11 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Support domestic dissemination? Depends on who is in the White House.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the left, it means that the Bush Administration could have had at its disposal a state-controlled media organ with which to manipulate the public to support the war. It would also mean that Barack Obama, were he to become the next president, would be able to use that same power and money to convince the public that our military should pull out of Iraq." Sharon Weinberger, Wired Danger Room, 11 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

"Why TV news in the US is utter rubbish."

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the most sought-after war criminals in the world had been arrested and sent for trial; several new scientific breakthroughs had been announced; Zimbabwe edged carefully toward shared government; the Indian government dealt with votes of no-confidence and terrorist attacks; and countless other real stories came and went. For millions of Americans, these events appeared as 15-word tickertapes at the bottom of their 36-inch widescreen TVs." Kieren McCarthy, The Guardian's Comment is Free, 7 August 2008.
     "Sure, there are some important campaign stories, but too many recall playground name-calling. One way to avoid campaign news fatigue is to turn to BBC World Service and London and other foreign, English-language dailies." Ben L. Kaufman, City Beat (Cincinnati), 10 August 2008.

RFA protests to IOC about withheld visa.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A radio station banned by the Chinese authorities has filed a formal complaint with the International Olympic Committee after the Beijing organising committee (Bocog) failed to issue one of its correspondents with media accreditation. Dhondup Gonsar, who is of Tibetan descent and broadcasts in the Tibetan language on Radio Free Asia (RFA), is yet to receive his accreditation documents despite his application being approved by the IOC." The Guardian, 12 August 2008. "At yesterday's press conference, Jill Ku Martin, of Radio Free Asia, a non-profit broadcast service sponsored by the US Congress, demanded to know why her Tibetan colleague Dhondup Dansar had approval from the IOC to cover the Games but was barred from China by its Foreign Ministry." The Age (Melbourne), 13 August 2008.
     "Critics argue that China's censorship practices go against the Olympic spirit, which promotes peace and international co-operation." The Age (Melbourne), 11 August 2008.
     RFA reports on "phony worshipers" when President Bush attended Kuanjie Church in Beijing. Epoch Times, 11 August 2008.

More Radio Australia, BBC in the Northern Marianas.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"With station manager Carl Pogue leaving island this week, KRNM [public radio on Saipan] will be left with questions about the station's future. ... The station will not play any original content once Pogue leaves. The station will play NPR and BBC through an online stream, and use a satellite to play Radio Australia through the end of September or beginning of October, he said." Saipan Tribune, 13 August 2008.

"Remarkable growth" for Al Jazeera via mobile.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network has reported a period of remarkable growth for its mobile services in the first half of 2008. Fourteen new agreements with mobile operators make Al Jazeera Mobile's innovative Arabic and English language SMS, MMS and live streaming content accessible in several new markets worldwide. ... Over 40 mobile platforms worldwide now carry Al Jazeera Mobile." The Peninsula, 11 August 2008.

International media and the Georgian conflict.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Only days before the Russian military forces attacked Georgia, the Voice of America – a U.S. government-funded international broadcasting station created in 1942 to provide uncensored news, explain U.S. foreign policy and tell America’s story abroad – ceased its on-air Russian-language radio broadcasts without any public announcement. The decision to stop Russian-language VOA radio broadcasts was made not by the Voice of America broadcasters and management, who strongly objected to the idea, but by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which controls VOA and its budget." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 11 August 2008.
     "Russia's around the clock television news channel, Vesti 24, informed its viewers that Fidel Castro blames the conflict in Georgia on U.S. President George Bush. The station says the former Cuban leader told Mexican television that Georgian leaders would never have launched an attack on South Ossetia without prior agreement with Mr. Bush. ... This detail stands in stark contrast to a virtual blackout of information on Russian TV about attacks by Russian forces on targets in Georgia, including bombs dropped in the vicinity of the capital city, Tbilisi. Instead, Russian viewers have been shown horrific scenes of destruction in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, as well as interviews with distraught refugees." VOA News, 12 August 2008.
     "Für die Menschen in Georgien wird es indes immer schwieriger, Informationen von verschiedenen Seiten zu erhalten. Nicht nur die Webseiten mit dem Domain-Namen .ru sind offenbar gesperrt. Am Samstag erklärte Parlamentspräsident David Bakradse, in Georgien seien die russischen Fernsehsender abgeschaltet worden, da sie nur Falschinformationen über die Lage in Südossetien verbreiteten." tagesschau.de, 12 August 2008.
     "'Russia is punishing Georgia for its Western aspirations,' David Kakabadze, head of Radio Free Europe’s Georgian service, told the broadcaster." CNSNews, 11 August 2008. See the interview with Mr. Kakabadze at RFE/RL, 10 August 2008. And RFE/RL Georgia page.
     "Russian television is flush with footage of misery left by the Georgian assault in the separatist district of South Ossetia, but few, if any, reports mention Russia's bombing of Georgia. William Dunbar, a correspondent in Georgia for English-language state channel Russia Today, mentioned the bombing in a report Saturday, and he has not gone on air for the station since. 'I had a series of live, video satellite links scheduled for later that day, and they were canceled by Russia Today,' he said by telephone from Tbilisi on Sunday. 'The real news, the real facts of the matter, didn't conform to what they were trying to report, and therefore, they wouldn't let me report it. I felt that I had no choice but to resign,' he added." Moscow Times, 11 August 2008.
     "The front page of the website of Russian backed news agency, OSinform - osinform.ru - which is run by the breakaway region’s state radio and television station IR - retained the agency's header and logo, but otherwize the entire page was featuring Alania TV's website content, including its news and images. Alania TV is supported by the Georgian government, and targets audiences in the breakaway region. Another website of the breakaway region’s radio and television station - osradio.ru – was also hacked." The Financial, 11 August 2008.
     "The television antenna at my dacha, where I spent the weekend, has been picking up Euronews much better lately, and there I heard the following "objective" information: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev accuse Georgia of carrying out genocide in South Ossetia, while Saakashvili blames Russian aggression. Heart-rending images of the violence filled the screen, with 'no comment' as the only explanation." Alexei Pankin, Moscow Times, 12 August 2008.
     "As a youth, Gizo Ujarmeli of then-Soviet Georgia was drafted into the dreaded Interior Ministry. Posted as a border guard on the frozen steppe, he listened to Voice of America, taught himself English and dreamed of a day when he could live in freedom." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 August 2008.
     "Tearing down a narrow dirt side road in his aging Soviet-made Zhiguli, Ruslan Didoyev recalled with glee the illicit transmissions of Radio Free Europe that he listened to in his youth." Moscow Times, 12 August 2008.
     "Sen. John McCain ... repeatedly mispronounced the Georgian leader's name, referring to him as SHOSH-ka-vee-lee, instead of the correct, SAH-AH-kahsh-VEE-lee, according to Voice of America's handy pronunciation guide." Washington Independent, 11 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

NTDTV keeps up the pressure on Eutelsat access.

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Capitol Hill, in the House of Representatives Cannon Building, New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) held a press conference on August 7 about their broadcasts’ suspension by Eutelsat." Epoch Times, 9 August 2008.
     "The BBG is also canceling its agreement to broadcast freely via Eutelsat into China. This agreement was essential protection for the unique 'open satellite window' and assured 24/7 free broadcasting into China since 2005." Laurie Gorham, letter to Billings Gazette, 7 August 2008.
     "NTDTV is affiliated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China. So this may not be your average news channel. But here’s the important point: NTDTV was not blocked from China’s air space by direct order of the Chinese government. It was removed by the French satellite that had been carrying it. And Eutelsat’s embarrassed European owners first said the satellite had technical problems. That was not true. Details of the maneuvers are complex, involving even the repositioning of a Voice of America transponder." Editorial, Keene Sentinel, 8 August 2008.
     So, under the terms to the "open source window," about which I do not yet have full details, BBG's access to Eutelsat W5 provided protection to NTDTV's access to W5.
     Recall that Eutelsat maintains that the elimination of NDTV from W5 was caused by the "loss of the use of one of the spacecraft’s two solar arrays." (See previous post.) Eutelsat's detractors say this is not true. Would it be good for Eutelsat's business to be caught in a whopping, brazen lie? If China is the main customer, perhaps.
     So far, I have no reason to doubt Eutelsat's official explanation. Satellite anomalies such as these happen all the time. However, if after the Olympics, that second solar array suddenly works again, and the 20 transponders are restored, red flags may be raised, so to speak.

     "The decision by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the independent agency that oversees VOA and other U.S. public-diplomacy outlets, to stop using the Eutelsat W5 satellite for its services into China on July 31 made it much easier for the satellite's French owners to blackball NTDTV's broadcasts on the same satellite, NTDTV spokeswoman Carrie Hung said. ... BBG spokeswoman Letitia King also rejected the NTDTV's charges, saying the agency's July 31 switch to a different satellite was based on budgetary and transmission issues, not politics. She noted that the BBG had no contractual relationship with NTDTV, even though both were using the Eutelsat satellite." Washington Times, 11 August 2008.

Lesson of the Georgia conlict: prepare alternatives (like, maybe, shortwave).

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cyber attacks against Georgia would be militarily appropriate considering that they are reportedly sending 150 tanks and associated troops( I mean peace keepers) across the border. And, for that matter, Georgia has probably studied Russia’s cyber techniques and prepared its own strategic cyber attack capability. What does that mean for the rest of the world? It means we should prepare for spill over effects. There may be DDoS attacks against web sites or news outlets that are covering the current conflict. Either side might start messing with the Internet routing tables the way Pakistan did last January when YouTube was taken off the Internet by an engineer at a Pakistani ISP. CNN, FoxNews, and the like could find their voices silenced. Think about your reliance on critical web based resources. Prepare alternatives. That would be wise at anytime but during major world events it makes even more sense." Richard Stiennon, Network World, 9 August 2008. The preceding item mentioned by Jukka Kinkamo, who adds: "Is it really wise to shut down or reduce the bandwidth of the official websites which provide the should I say 'official propaganda' or government point of view to the world media. Is it wiser to establish mirror websites around the world (I think VOA has several mirrored websites on different subnets) and feed them via satellite in case of total knock out. Or is it still better to have 'couple' of 250kW ionosphere heaters [shortwave transmitters] ready, just in case. I'll bet the VOA mirrored system would have been down in case of US-USSR nuclear war. But HF [shortwave] would have worked with smaller units, of course when the ionosphere has stabilized after those high altitude detonations. It is *extremely* interesting to monitor this current situation." And the one upside of the current situation is that it very unlikely to result in anything nuclear.

Georgia on our minds.

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) is doubling its Georgian language broadcasts in the wake of fighting between Georgia and Russia in the breakaway province of South Ossetia. VOA's Geo[r]gian Service will produce a 60-minute program daily, up from 30 minutes, with news, information, interviews, analysis and reaction to the crisis in the former Soviet Republic. News is also available on the Internet at www.VOANews.com/georgian/. 'We want to make sure Georgians are fully informed about what's happening in their country,' said Steve Redisch, VOA's Executive Editor." VOA press release, 8 August 2008. -- See Kim's commentary.
     "After pressuring the pathetic Olmert government into suspending arms sales to Georgia in the faint suggestion that Russia might stop selling nuclear technology to Iran (which it will not) and intimidating the Voice of America into broadcasting a pro-Russian position-- Russia has begun the invasion of Georgia." Daniel Greenfield, Canadian Free Press, 8 August 2008.
     "Russian news authorities have released an interview with a woman who claims she is trapped in the basement of her bombed-out Tskhinvali home, with the body of her dead son beside her, following a Georgian missile attack. Russia Today, which is sponsored by the Moscow government, claims to have been contacted by Paeesia Sytnik by phone. She is reported to have said: 'The planes are bombing us. I am sitting here in the basement. Fire is raging above us. Let somebody come and help us.'" Scotland on Sunday, 10 August 2008.
     "The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Georgian Service reported that in Pot military boats of the Georgian armed forces were bombed, which led to death of at least two dozens of people. It also reported that infrastructure damage was also serious as a result of the air strikes." Caucaz.com, 9 August 2008.
     "Koba Liklikadze, a correspondent from Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty’s Georgian service, said: ‘Close to the artillery base, we saw a dreadful sight. Apart from the base itself, two apartment blocks were on fire. The yard was full of bodies.'" Daily Mail, 9 August 2008.
     "The U.S. taxpayer funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website published a ridiculous article by Echo Moskvy radio's Yulia Latynina, calling South Ossetia a 'terrorist state' and comparing the region to the PLO or Hezbollah statelets in southern Lebanon -- as if the South Ossetians were sending suicide bombers and rockets into Georgia." Charles Ganske, Russia Blog, 9 Augst 2008.
     "Can parties to the conflict attack radio and television stations? Military attacks on broadcast facilities used for military communications are legitimate under international humanitarian law, but such attacks on civilian television or radio stations are prohibited if they are designed primarily to undermine civilian morale or to psychologically harass the civilian population." Human Rights Watch, 8 August 2008.
     "In Tbilisi, a large radio and TV tower was blacked out early Saturday morning for fear of attack." Washington Post, 9 August 2008.
     "After the May 21 parliamentary elections - in which Mr. Saakashvili claimed a constitutional majority - television and radio stations were under threat. In fact, there is only one television station (Rustavi 2) left with permission to air any news at all. The station, as it happens, is owned and operated by the Georgian government. How convenient." Tsotne Bakuria, Washington Times, 10 August 2008.
     "Today, in his first interview on international television since the conflict in South Ossetia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told Bloomberg 'What we have here is a full scale Russian invasion of Georgian territory.'" Bloomberg press release, 8 August 2008.
     "This morning, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili took to the media to make his case. Saakashvili appeared on CNN American Morning just after 8:35amET, and was interviewed by Kiran Chetry in his first U.S. interview. He had previously been interviewed by BBC News and Bloomberg in the U.K." Media Bistro, 8 August 2008.
     'The potential war between Georgia and Russia was a top story on cable news before getting pushed off by the revelations about John Edwards' affair." Broadcasting & Cable, 8 August 2008.
     "As requested by community relay, the following is a report on the cyber war underway in parallel with conventional warfare. Many of Georgia’s internet servers were under external control from late Thursday, Russia’s invasion of Georgia commenced on Friday." Russian Business Network, 9 August 2008.

A libertarian thinks about U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1953 I was smuggled out of Hungary by a professional 'flesh peddler' and landed, for three years, in Munich, Germany. That's because my father was working at Radio Free Europe there, as a director of sports coverage. ... I used to hang out a lot at the facilities in the English Garden and befriended a lot of expatriates from the various Iron Curtain countries who helped the effort to inform listeners in those countries about what went on in the world and whatever else they were supposed to be doing. ... Later, when I began to think more carefully about political matters, I had some trepidations about whether RFE and similar ventures carried out by the United States government could pass my libertarian test for what amounts to proper public policy. Should American citizens be forced to fund this kind of undertaking--including Voice of America and, later, several others, beaming news and, let's face it, propaganda to victims of Soviet and Soviet bloc oppression? Can this be construed as legitimate foreign policy for a bona fide free society? Why or why not?" Tibor R. Machan, Machan's Inputs, 7 August 2008.

Calling China. Calling Asia. Will an online strategy work?

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese Olympics are providing a powerful stimulus in the development of high-end anti-censorship technology that major media companies and individuals can use to sneak content through its Great Firewall. Psiphon Inc., a Toronto-based circumvention technology provider, recently released an upgrade to its software that allows the safe transmission of images in addition to text, says principal Rafal Rohozinski. ... 'Public broadcasters such as the BBC and Voice of America who have a mission to broadcast content not just nationally but internationally are investing heavily in online strategies as they're replacing their previous terrestrial and satellite strategies.'" InterGovWorld, 8 August 2008.
     "Will the internet change China or will China change the internet? Events in Beijing, where the Olympic Games are getting under way, leave little doubt it's the latter. More interesting, though, is that many Asian governments may be following China's lead. It could be an ominous sign for Asia's economic outlook." William Pesek, Bloomberg, 8 August 2008.
     "For reasons which defy comprehension, the Chinese government has chosen to ban the main website of [Right To Play], an international humanitarian-aid organization based in Toronto which has strong Olympic connections and seeks to reach children in the third world through sports and play." Ed Willes, The Province (Vancouver), 10 August 2008.
     "Plenty of websites are still blocked, such as Amnesty International, Free Tibet, and a YouTube video showing the 1989 protest and aftermath at Tiananmen Square." Allen Panzeri, Montreal Gazette, 10 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

International media in China, 1979.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Not to minimize current problems of human rights, restricted Internet access and press freedom, the openness of China today is almost impossible to comprehend. No country in the world has seen such accelerated change. ... The 'news' that people really trusted was word on the street. Unofficial rumors had much more currency than anything the government-run media claimed. With a shortwave radio, I could pick up BBC world news and Moscow Radio. You had to be in Shanghai or Hong Kong to hear the Voice of America broadcast. The International Herald Tribune arrived from Paris two days late and was sold only to foreigners. ... Officials were beginning to recognize the need for Chinese to learn English, which led to a TV broadcast of an obscure American science fiction series named 'Man from Atlantis.'" Timothy J. McNulty, Chicago Tribune, 8 August 2008.

Al Jazeera English expects permission to enter Indian market "quite soon" (i.e, don't hold your breath) (updated).

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Al Jazeera network is soon likely to be given permission by the Indian government to broadcast its English language television news channel in the country. 'Our understanding is that the external affairs ministry has cleared our application and the I&B (information and broadcasting) ministry is awaiting clearance from the home ministry,' said Anmol Saxena, India bureau chief of Al Jazeera English. 'We have been told the whole process will be completed quite soon.' ... The channel already partners Hindi news channel India TV through a September 2004 deal that allows both channels to broadcast each other’s content. ... The network also plans to launch an Urdu news channel primarily targeted at India." livemint.com, 8 August 2008. Update: “'We had a meeting yesterday with the information and broadcasting ministry and cleared out certain apprehensions they had about the association of Al Jazeera Arabic with the English Channel. We had applied for clearance some time back and are now hopeful that we would be able to start operations in India by early 2009,' says Al Jazeera English managing director Tony Burman." Indiantelevision.com, 9 August 2008. See also The Hindu Business Line, 10 August 2008.

Nevertheless, one more reporter than RFA usually has in China.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that Dhondup Gonsar, an American citizen of Tibetan ethnicity who works for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA), has not yet received press accreditation from Olympic organizers that would allow him to enter China to cover the Olympic Games, which begin Friday. Gonsar and Radio Free Asia officials in Washington have told CPJ that RFA was informed in writing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in July 2007 that RFA had been allocated two sets of press credentials by the IOC, but only received one, for RFA’s Mandarin-service reporter." CPJ, 8 August 2008. "'Twenty-four hours before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, RFA hasn’t received an entry permit for our Tibetan service broadcaster, U.S. citizen Dhondup Gonsar. We deplore this stonewalling by the Chinese authorities,' RFA president Libby Liu said." RFA press release, 7 August 2008.

RSF claims FM pirate gambit in Beijing.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Members of Reporters Without Borders today broadcast 'Radio Without Borders,' China’s only independent FM radio station, in Beijing just hours before the start of the Olympic Games opening ceremony. In a programme lasting 20 minutes, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Menard and Chinese human rights activists called on the Chinese government to respect free speech. ... The programme, in English, French and Mandarin, was heard in on 104.4 FM in different districts of the Chinese capital." Reporters sans frontieres, 8 August 2008 (includes audio of the broadcasts). "In different districts of the Chinese capital" implies either one transmitter powerful enough to reach more than one district, or several transmitters, each in different districts.
     "It’s hard to tell whether any [Beijing residents] were actually listening. The Wall Street Journal called stations in the city including Beijing Radio, Central Radio and China Radio International to see if they noticed this hijacking of the airwaves. It turns out that none of these stations broadcast on the 104.4 FM frequency. So would any listeners have been tuned into that frequency this morning?" Andrew Batson, Wall Street Journal, 8 August 2008.

A U.S. dog in the Muslim ideological fight?

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nearly seven years after the 9/11 attacks spawned the question, 'Why do they hate us?' and made the repair of America's poor international image a top foreign-policy pursuit, the Bush administration is taking a new tack in the 'war of ideas.' Out, or at least de-emphasized, is the effort to explain America and its widely disdained foreign policy. In, on the other hand, is a focus on defeating terrorism and in particular radical Islam by largely leaving America out of the equation. The plan, instead, is to promote alternatives to radical violent extremism and nurture the local forces deemed best suited to countering it." Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, 7 August 2008.
     Recommended reading, because it deals with public diplomacy at the theoretical level. It should stimulate thought experiments that will keep some of us awake at night.
     Can the United States really involve itself in any debate about moderate versus radical interpretations of Islam? Would U.S. support discredit any Muslim who advocates moderation and non-violence? (See previous posts on 20 May 2007, 20 June 2007, 2 December 2007, and 12 January 2008.) That support could be covert, but such schemes are eventually revealed, compounding any such discredit.
     Perhaps U.S. public diplomacy should leave "the effort to explain America and its widely disdained foreign policy" to U.S. international broadcasting. The latter, separate from U.S. public diplomacy, can report and explain without advocating. Propaganda advocating unpopular policies, adding insult to injury, may just make those policies even more unpopular.
     Indeed, the best outlet for Muslim moderates might be the BBC World Service, with its aggressive reporting from the Muslim countries and its interviews with personalities representing many points of views. When radicals and more reasonable minds are juxtaposed, the radicals are usually the worse for it.
     U.S. international broadcasting usually gets into trouble if it gives airtime to persons U.S. policy makers consider insalubrious. Recall the outcry after VOA's interview with Mullah Omar, or Alhurra broadcasting a speech by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah that led to the exit of Alhurra's news director. On the other hand, Radio Free Afghanistan often interviews Taliban spokesmen, and is probably considered a credible news outlet because of it.
     As for U.S. public diplomacy to the Muslim world, its best avenues may be shopping interviews with U.S. spokepersons and officials to the domestic media in those countries. And precise statements of U.S. policy at websites such as arabic.usinfo.state.gov and persian.usinfo.state.gov. (These sites apparently have not been renamed America.gov, as in the English version.) U.S. public diplomacy should also monitor the activities of moderates in the Muslim world. It may be determined that those activities are self sufficient, in which case the United States should consider leaving well enough alone.

Two views on the elimination of a Canadian public diplomacy program.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Members of Canada's arts community erupted yesterday upon hearing the federal government's decision to eliminate the already diminished Promart program, which provides grants to send artists and cultural figures abroad to raise the country's cultural profile. The program, administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, has an annual budget of $4.7-million and distributed grants to more than 300 individuals and arts organizations in 2006-2007. It will be discontinued as of March 31, 2009. 'This is unconscionable,' said Alain Pineau, national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts. 'This is a major hit and it reflects the total lack of comprehension of the government with regards to the role of arts and culture in representing the image of the country abroad.'" Globe and Mail, 9 August 2008.
     "Nonsense. If Canadian artists produce world-class art, then it will be noticed on the world stage -- with or without government assistance. Moreover, the Tories are not telling artists to stop producing their movies, paintings, alternative rock or books. Rather, they are simply telling them to stop financing their international junkets from the wallets of overburdened taxpayers. Except for those on their way to boring conferences in Finland, or cocktails with Cuba's communist junta, Canadians will no doubt heartily approve." Editorial, National Post, 9 Augist 2008.

HCJB engineer wins ARRL award.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Winner of the American Radio Relay League's Technical Excellence Award is John Stanley, who "has taught in several universities and has worked for all of the major religious broadcasters, but spent the majority of his time with HCJB in Quito, Ecuador where he oversaw the use of a 24-element quad antenna for broadcasting on the 21 MHz shortwave broadcast band. While at HCJB, Stanley designed and built several transmitters and did major work on the 20 kW unit presently used by HCJB for SSB and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) broadcasts." ARRL Letter, 8 August 2008.

Public diplomacy: posh propaganda?

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Governments around the world continually try, as ever, to boost their country's international standing and influence. But instead of pursuing these aims through warfare, domination, subversion, Machiavellian statecraft and secret alliances, as in the past, many are reaching for a fashionable new tool: 'public diplomacy'. Originally coined in the 1960s, public diplomacy is a means of advancing national foreign policy, security and economic objectives by engaging directly with peoples rather than with their governments – thereby rendering them more receptive and sympathetic to a given message or policy. Sceptics say this is merely a posh name for propaganda; proponents say public diplomacy's purposes are more benign." Simon Tisdall, The Guardian's Comment is Free, 6 August 2008.

Public diplomacy at the margins.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Should we be using more effort to win the hearts and minds of the people? Sure we should. On the other hand, we should not have any expectations that our efforts in that regard are going to be decisive. I think that there are analogies that can be drawn with the Cold War. Americans—especially Americans who are great admirers of Ronald Reagan—like to think that the United States won the Cold War. I think that's a misperception. The Soviet Union lost the Cold War. They lost in large part because of development internal to the Soviet Union, or more broadly, to the Soviet Empire, that brought that empire down. The people who won the Cold War were the dissidents of the Soviet Union and the dissidents of Eastern Europe. Pope John Paul II, those are the people who ended up demonstrating that the Soviet system had no legitimacy and could not work. And that was decisive. What did we, in the West, do to help the people, to help the dissidents to make their case? We did some things, but it was mostly within the margins. We could provide them with some money, with some tape recorders, with photocopying machines. We could covertly sponsor publications that might have helped to advance the cause of demonstration that communism was bankrupt, but it was all in the margin. So we should be trying today, in the concept of the strategy of containment, to have that, to make that contribution on the margin. To try to aid those in the Islamic world who represent liberal and humane values. We should do it with no expectation that a few billion dollars or a public diplomacy program there is going to turn the tide, because they're not. At the end of the day, they are going to have to solve their own problems." Andrew J. Bacevich, professor, Boston University, interviewed by Greg Bruno, Council on Foreign Relations, 5 August 2008.

China: let the web access games begin.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"This week the Chaos Computer Club, a German-based hacking group, used its website, ccc.de, to launch a toolkit designed to help journalists reporting from the Olympics to get uncensored access to western websites. The toolkit will be made available to journalists on a USB key that the CCC is calling the Freedom Stick." The Guardian, 7 August 2008.
     "The greatest game at the 2008 Olympics ... will be played on the Internet. Journalists, Olympic spectators, and Chinese citizens will attempt to write, publish, broadcast, and read stories. The Chinese government will attempt to control these stories or stop them entirely." Dan Costa, PC Magazine, 7 August 2008.

Yank says Brit used offensive word.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"I was flabbergasted as I listened to the 'BBC World Service' radio news program last evening (August 5, 2008) on KQED 88.5 FM. In the BBC's report of the arrival of the Olympics torch at the Beijing event, their reporter, Quentin Summerville, said, '... and the most feared 'Chinaman,' Yao Ming, ... ' Lest the BBC not know it yet, the term 'Chinaman' is a racially offensive and derogatory word. It is a racial slur. It is offensive to Chinese Americans, Asian Americans, and Asians." Jeff Clark, CEO, KQED, BeyondChron, 7 August 2008.

Getting the world news (rather than NFL news) in Milwaukee.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"If you need a dose of national and international news and you don’t have cable, Milwaukee Public TV offers German TV’s English-language 'Journal' at 5:30 weeknights, on Channel 36, followed at 6 by 'BBC World News' and at 6:30 by 'NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.' You can bet that none of them will ever be interrupted by coverage of Brett Favre." Tim Cuprisin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6 August 2008.

Replaces shuffleboard on the deck.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Wave Entertainment Network(TM), a division of SeaMobile(R) Enterprises, announced today its top-tier IPTV television platform available to the cruise line industry worldwide. The continually expanding lineup includes linear and on-demand programming services from major media companies such as A&E Networks, CBS, Comcast, Cox Communications, Discovery Networks, Fox Cable, Fox News, NBC Universal, Twentieth Century Fox Studios and Viacom. In addition, cruise line guests who are sailing in the Mediterranean are able to view television programs in a variety of different languages from the top European providers, including Euronews, BBC News, BBC Prime, France 24, TV5 Monde, RAI International, RAI News 24, DW TV, ARD, and TVE International." SeaMobile Enterprises press release, 7 August 2008.

Heritage is again trying to increase the size of the federal government, this time invoking the memory of Solzhenitsyn.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"There are important contemporary lessons to be learned from Solzhenitsyn's life and work, which transcend Russia and Communism. These lessons are overdue for today's American diplomacy. Thus far, the West has failed to find a comparable titan for the War of Ideas we need to wage against Islamist radicalism. ... Championing anti-authoritarian moderates and freedom fighters should take priority over pushing through hasty elections and calling the process 'democracy promotion.' A new U.S. public diplomacy and strategic communications agency would be instrumental in accomplishing such goals, as are non-profit organizations around the world." Ariel Cohen, Heritage Foundation, 5 August 2008.

VOA's PNN examines corruption in Iran.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) is examining corruption in Iran in a series of stories based on an Iranian parliamentary report obtained exclusively by the Persian News Network (PNN). The seven-part series, seen by millions of viewers across Iran on PNN's satellite TV channel, details, among other things, how Iranian Government officials accepted bribes from students seeking entry into the competitive university system." VOA press release, 4 August 2008. "VOA has dispatched 10 journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the" Summer Olympics. VOA press release, 6 August 2008.

Back when a person could be hired "on the spot" for a job in international broadcasting.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mike Costello, executive director of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, is retiring. ... Though Costello has made a name for himself in Cape Ann in the world of business, he began his career as a specialist in communist affairs for Radio Free Europe in the late 1960s. Costello did his undergraduate work in communist affairs before going on to Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy for his master's degree. Just weeks before graduating, Costello was able to get a hold of a Radio Free Europe recruiter as the man was getting into his taxi. Costello was signed up on the spot. Costello spent the next seven years in Munich, Germany, conducting research on Bulgarian and Polish affairs for the radio and analyzing broadcasts to make sure their commentary was not sensationalized." Gloucester (MA) Daily Times, 5 August 2008.

No CCTV, no Olympics breakfast at the Chinese Embassy.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Invitations were sent two weeks ago by the Chinese Embassy [in Ottawa], inviting guests on behalf of Ambassador Lan Lijun to 'watch the live TV broadcasting of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.' It was a breakfast event to take place between 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 8. Last Tuesday, however, invitees received emails and calls informing them that the event had been cancelled. When asked why, embassy spokesman Eugene Tian said the event was cancelled because it had become 'technically non-viable.' He said that when the embassy was planning the event, staff were unaware the official broadcast by China Central Television could not be obtained. The CBC holds exclusive broadcasting rights in Canada. ... 'Anyone at home, they can watch CBC,' he added. 'But for the embassy to host official events, we think it is proper to show the Chinese Central Television.'" Embassy, 6 August 2008.

RFI says its site is still blocked in China.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio France Internationale's website in Mandarin has been partially blocked, ahead of Thursday's opening of the Olympic Games. Despite an official promise to lift internet restrictions, only the homepage is now accessible with access to articles and broadcasts blocked." Radio France International 5 August 2008.
     "As Beijing Olympic Games approaches, Germany's English-language newspaper [sic] Deutsche Welle helped to deliver the good wishes from German political and business leaders, scholars and athletes on the quadrennial sports gala. 'Over the coming weeks, we will be cheering on our athletes. I believe that the Olympics will bring more openness to China. We certainly have every reason to wish for that,' German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted as saying by the latest issue of the monthly [sic]." Beijing 2008 Olympic Games official website, 6 August 2008.
     "Compared to the relatively powerless 250 million Chinese netizens, the 22,000 journalists registered to report on the Olympics – especially the foreign reporters – have already demonstrated their muscle in breaking through the firewall." UPI, 6 August 2008.
     "At an international tech gathering I attended when the journey of the Olympic torch was being interrupted on daily basis, the Chinese tech journalists that I spoke to were furious at the coverage that the Western media were giving to it. Their opinion? That it was being done deliberately to cause maximum embarrassment to China. The recent news about restricting Web access is building on this." Simon Perry, Digital Lifestyles, 6 August 2008.

How international media reach Burma.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Most people rely on the Burmese-language services of foreign broadcasters like the British Broadcasting Corp., the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Also broadcasting in Burmese are All-India Radio, Radio Thailand, China Radio International, the Voice of Malaysia, NHK Radio Japan, and a Christian radio station based in the Philippines. The Democratic Voice of Burma broadcasts in Burmese and in seven ethnic minority languages. In May 2005, DVB launched a TV station telecasting via satellite into the country. It remains the only Burmese-operated broadcasting operation that beams television signals straight into the country. Taking advantage of thousands of satellite dishes set up by both legal and black market operators in Rangoon, and even of a one-percent Internet penetration rate among the Burmese people, these foreign and exiled news groups exploit an inevitability in the flow of information in the digital age, but still underscore the desperation of Burma for news unfettered by government controls." Southeast Asian Press Alliance, 5 August 2008.

Religious broadcasting organizations swapping continents?

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Destroyed by Liberia's civil war, "ELWA most recently went back on the air in 1997 with a small FM transmitter. In 2000, HCJB Global Voice provided a low-power shortwave transmitter, again enabling the station to cover the entire region. Today, HCJB Global Voice is partnering with ELWA because 'much of their equipment was outdated. We committed to provide for them some training and some equipment.' ... Right now, the station airs eight hours of English broadcast per day and 1 1/2 hours of Liberian Language broadcast in Grebo, Kru, Gola, Bassa, Kpelle, Kissi, Dan, Krahn and Loma. It is supported almost entirely by local funds." Mission Network News, 6 August 2008.
     ELWA was a prominent Protestant evangelical shortwave broadcaster from the 1950s through the 1980s. It was owned by Sudan Interior Mission, and is still associated with its successor organization Serving in Mission. SIM's present connection with ELWA seems not to be given too much emphasis, perhaps to reinforce ELWA's present status as a Liberian domestic broadcaster. HCJB's connection to ELWA is lately getting get more publicity, in line with one of HCJB's three main goals: "engaging Sub-Saharan Africa with a combination of life-transforming media and healthcare." (See previous post.)
     Meanwhile, SIM is assisting Radio Mosoj Chaski, a low-powered Bolivian shortwave station broadcasting in Quechua. (See www.sim.org.au via Craig Seager, ARDXC via DX Listening Digest, 3 August 2008.) This is in the back yard of HCJB's original shortwave base in Ecuador, established in 1931. HCJB has broadcast in Quechua (among other languages) for decades. However, because airport construction will displace HCJB's antenna site, HCJB's shortwave operations in Ecuador have been curtailed and may end altogether.
See also hcjb.org.

Trans-planetary broadcasts may become part of an archive far, far away.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
UK television production company RDF and social networking service Bebo are collaborating "to send a signal to the planet Gliese C, more than 20 light years away, carrying 500 messages from earth. ... Radiowaves, such as those of a short-wave frequency, bounce back off the ionosphere and are therefore poor candidates to be picked up in space. But waves like FM radio or television signal can pierce it and travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of light. ... In the case of the RDF/Bebo message, it is being sent in a concentrated beam by the giant RT-70 radio telescope in Ukraine." BBC News, 6 August 2008.

Trans-Atlantic shortwave recordings added to LOC Registry.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Library of Congress selects for its 2007 National Recording Registry a recording on discs from 14 March 1925 "of the first scheduled transatlantic broadcast via shortwave, converted and sent to the [U.S.] listening public on the AM band." It is part of the collection of the University of Maryland's Library of American Broadcasting. LAB press release, 6 August 2008. See also LAB website, including its collection of shortwave broadcast QSL cards.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) and international broadcasting.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Solzhenitsyn had always been an avid listener to foreign radio stations on shortwave, and when he heard the news that 'Gulag' had been published abroad he allowed himself just a moment’s satisfaction. ... Not only was 'Gulag' now out in the West; it was also being read in Russian over Radio Liberty—a phenomenon that insured even greater outrage in the Kremlin." David Remnick, The New Yorker, 14 February 1994.
     After arriving in exile in Vermont, Solzhenitsyn listened to "BBC Russian-language news, which Solzhenitsyn would rush outdoors to tune in to on a portable shortwave radio." Serge Schemann, New York Times, 5 August 2008.
     "From exile, he read this series, 'The Red Wheel,' over The Voice of America, sending his words back into Russia. ... Critics said it revealed a deep anti-liberal bias." Martha Wexler, National Public Radio, 4 August 2008.

Murder of RFA GC unsolved after two years.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Silence now surrounds the unsolved homicide of Robert Wone, a rising lawyer stabbed to death two years ago. ... Police Inspector Rodney Parks said the case will remain open at least until next year when it is reviewed for active leads — a standard timeline for unsolved homicides. ... Wone lived in Oakton, Va., and prior to his death was general counsel at Radio Free Asia." Washington Examiner, 4 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

More articles in Epoch Times about Falun Gong media access to China.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several non-governmental organizations, supporters and viewers of New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) gathered in front of the Los Angeles Federal building on August 1. They demanded that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) continue its contract with Eutelsat (European Satellite Communication Company). Protestors said that instead of leaving the W5 satellite and transferring broadcasting of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) to Chinese communist regime controlled Asia Sat 3S satellite, the BBG should keep these programs on the W5 satellite and assist NTDTV to resume broadcasting to mainland China." Epoch Times, 4 August 2008. Letter to U.S. officials, Epoch Times, 3 August 2008. Another story: Epoch Times, 3 August 2008. "Most of the websites banned by the CCP remains out of reach in mainland China, including websites related to the Falun Gong spiritual practice, Tibet and the Tiananmen massacre." Epoch Times, 4 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

A call for China-US media reciprocity.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
When President Bush is in Beijing: "How about proposing a free information exchange agreement with China? The Chinese government is already educating the American public about China, without much reciprocity. Why shouldn't our own government-sponsored programs be able to tell the Chinese audience about the United States without censorship? Fair is fair. In fact, the Chinese have been operating freely in the United States for some time. Want to watch China's Central TV station in Chinese or English? Just subscribe to cable TV. Not enough for you? Dozens of Chinese channels are available by satellite. Want to read a Chinese newspaper? Buy a subscription. Chinese Web sites are free and are always available. China has developed plenty of ways, backed by massive government funding, to explain itself to U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, there is no reciprocity. Broadcasting into China by the Voice of America is often jammed, and its Web site is frequently blocked. And the impact of other U.S. government-sponsored programs is negligible." Sasha Gong, Washington Post, 4 August 2008.

Apropos: CRI will be rebroadcast in Athens.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis "said the Athens' municipal radio station has signed an agreement with China Radio International that would allow the broadcasting of news and other information in the Chinese language in Athens. 'I consider this cooperation very important as it promotes cultural exchanges and facilitates the life of Chinese people in Athens.'" Xinhua, 4 August 2008.

Watch the Olympics online, or not?

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"CCTV.com, the online division of China Central Television (CCTV), China's primary television broadcaster, has deployed ViewCast's Osprey-530 digital video capture cards with SimulStream(R) technology to enable live streaming of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to the CCTV.com Web site. ... CCTV.com has been granted the exclusive rights to stream the Olympic content by the International Olympic Committee." ViewCast press release, 5 August 2008. "Due to the International Olympic Committee's strict restrictions on the telecast of Olympic events, China Central Television's telecast rights are only allowed on the Chinese Mainland. Therefore, all CCTV International channels – CCTV-4, CCTV-9, CCTV-F, CCTV-E, will not broadcast the opening and closing ceremony and all the events of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games." CCTV.com web page. Overview of foreign broadcasters' experiences in covering the Olympics in China. Broadcasting & Cable, 4 August 2008.

The Al Jazeera detractors and their "dubious company."

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Those who oppose AJE's presence on American cable systems are doing what many have done before: shoot the messenger because they don't like the message. They are in dubious company. The list is long but most recently Vladimir Putin's government stopped the broadcast of BBC's Russian radio service calling it 'foreign propaganda' and 'anti-Russian.' Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Iran banned CNN after it claimed that CNN had misquoted a speech by the Iranian president. Al Jazeera Arabic has faced bans and fines in Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain." Shakuntala Rao, Burlington Free Press, 5 August 2008.

A reinvented World Service?

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign Office, supposedly as Britain's voice around the world. However, both the BBC and this government see its audience as being largely Africa and Asia, with eastern Europe and South America a poor third and fourth. That is why France has been dropped. Rather than present Britain to the world – as it once did with British plays, British music, British literature, news about Britain – it now sees itself as an uncritical broadcaster of global events. The little music played is anything but British. Like the Commonwealth, the BBC World Service has been re-invented. And like the Commonwealth, the mother country hardly gets a look in." Charles Durrant, letter to The Telegraph, 4 August 2008.

International radio via iPhone.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The outstanding new feature on Apple's iPhone - both the new 3G and original versions - is that it allows users to download and install applications. ... [A] music application I like is Nullriver's 'Tuner Internet Radio,' which costs about $6 and allows users to access hundreds of terrestrial radio stations from around the world. I got a kick using it to tune into a station in Jamaica, a rock channel out of Poland and to BBC's World Service." Troy Wolverton, San Jose Mercury News, 4 August 2008. See also Nullriver Tuner web page.

Indian regulator objects to loss of BBC channels from basic satellite package.

Posted: 03 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Broadcast tribunal TDSAT has issued notices to direct-to-home operator TataSky over a petition alleging 'illegal and unauthorised' removal of prime channels by the operator from its basic package has forced its subscribers to pay more. ... TataSky took off prime channels such as BBC World, Star Sports, ESPN, Star Cricket, Ten Sports, BBC Entertainment and BBC Celebrity from the basic package and placed them on add-on packages, wherein a higher subscription fee is charged, the petition said." PTI, 3 August 2008.

VOA a factor in Zimbabwe legal case.

Posted: 03 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A local magistrate last week granted an interdict barring police from interfere with the operations of a branch of a non-governmental organisation in a move that civic society has applauded. Magistrate Mrs Muchena granted the order last Wednesday to the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) by default after listed respondents failed to appear in court. ZIMCET regional manager, Peter Muchengeti through his lawyer Reginald Chidawanyika of Chitere and Chidawanyika law firm, had sought an interim relief order stopping police from interfering with ZIMCET operations, visiting its offices and harassing its employees or threatening them with arrest for unspecified charges. ... Muchengeti is being accused of publishing or communicating to another person 'a statement which is wholly or materially false with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of public violence or endangering public safety'. The charge was said to arise from comments Muchengeti allegedly made to the 'Voice of America Radio Network (Studio 7 Broadcasting) through its reporter Patience Rusere … which was wholly false, that there was a discovery of six bodies at Matshekandumba Village at the 30-kilometre peg along the Gweru- Kwekwe Road'." The Standard (Harare), 2 August 2008. See previous post about ame subject.

Press TV will participate in Gaza gambit.

Posted: 03 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A crew from Press TV in Iran have arrived in Cyprus to join a group of US-based activists who are planning to challenge Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory. The Free Gaza group announced last week its plan to sail to Gaza and try to test the Israeli claim that Gaza is free, by entering by sea to the port of Gaza. Award-winning journalist Yvonne Ridley, now working for Press TV, will set sail with the Free Gaza group which will make the trip in two Greek-flagged boats." Famagusta Gazette (Nicosia), 2 August 2008.

China: more websites to be unblocked (for foreign journalists)?

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Six days before the Beijing Olympics, Chinese and international organisers were working together on a compromise to unblock more censored websites for foreign media, a senior IOC official said Saturday. ... On Friday, the previously barred websites of Amnesty, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle were accessible. But many other sites were still blocked, including those linked to Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falungong spiritual movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and sites with information on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre." AFP, 2 August 2008.
     "Australian International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and head of the press commission, Kevan Gosper, said a working party had been established to ensure journalists could report on Games-related issues within China. 'The IOC put in place a working group with BOCOG to start examining one by one those sites on the internet that the international media thought should be unblocked,' he told reporters in Beijing." Australian Associated Press, 2 August 2008.
     Radio Netherlands reporter in Beijing "tested eight different websites and topics at three different locations on Friday." All were accessible at all locations except for Falun Gong and Tienanmen word searches, and China Digital Times, inaccessible at all locations. Sigrid Deters, Radio Netherlands, 1 August 2008.
     "The Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) announced today that their anti-censorship software tools are ready to help journalists and tourists during the
Olympics, to circumvent China's Internet blockade." GIFC press release, 2 August 2008.
     "The International Olympic Committee made no deal with China on limited Internet access for the media at the Beijing Olympics, IOC president Jacques Rogge said on Saturday. 'There has absolutely been no deal, no agreement with the Chinese,' Rogge told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa around IOC executive board meetings ahead of the August 8-24 Games." DPA, 2 August 2008.
     "The Chinese move is welcome, although the fact that it has come about cannot be credited to the International Olympic Committee, which has signally failed to insist that Beijing takes all necessary steps to ensure "the fullest coverage by the different media" (the words of its charter). First, the move injects a degree of transparency into the system of censorship. By unblocking access to these sites, the Chinese authorities appear to be distinguishing between organisations that are critical of the state and those they consider its enemies. That in itself is progress." Editorial, The Guardian, 2 August 2008.
     "I really don't understand why the journalists need those websites to report on the Olympics. Can't they write their stories by themselves or they need to copy them from other websites? This whole thing is just about whining and bashing on China." Comment to Danwei, 2 August 2008.
     "For ordinary Chinese, of course, the Internet and other media are strictly controlled -- not by Beijing alone. Western corporations like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have worked with Communist authorities to block sites that refer, for example, to Tibet's liberation movement or human-rights abuses in China." Spiegel Online, 1 August 2008. Yes, the unblocking of websites applies to journalists covering the Olympics, but may not, and probably does not, affect typical internet users throughout China. See previous post about same subject.

Falun Gong media press on access to Eutelsat (updated).

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Another snag has emerged, hindering New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) from resuming its broadcast into China. Recently, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)—which broadcasts Voice of America and Radio Free Asia into Asia—announced that it will soon switch from Eutelsat to Asiasat as its satellite provider. ... Because the BBG now uses the CCP-controlled Asiasat 3S, the Chinese regime can interfere with this signal at any time, terminating any program it desires. BBG originally used the Ku band (Kurtz-under band) on its W5 broadcast into China, allowing even relatively small satellite dishes to receive its signal, making it accessible to more viewers. On Asiasat, the BBG uses the C-Band television channel, requiring a much larger satellite dish—substantially reducing viewership and making it more easily detectible to Chinese Internet police." Epoch Times, 29 July 2008. See also Epoch Times, 28 July 2008 and 30 July 2008. Epoch Times and NTDTV are both related to the Falun Gong religious movement. On 30 July, I saw one woman in front of the VOA headquarters protesting BBG's exit from Eutelsat W5. BBG has not disputed Eutelsat's explanation (previous post) that channels were removed from W5 because of "an anomaly which led to the loss of the use of one of the spacecraft’s two solar arrays." In any case, the W5 footprint centers more on Southeast Asia than China. Asiasat 3 appears to be the most popular among home dish users in China. Less affluent households in China use C-band more than Ku-band dishes, because programming on the former tends to be free-to-air. The new official Chinese DTH satellite system, coming in the next few years, may change satellite use patterns. See previous post about same subject. Update: "In recent years, due to the Chinese regime’s interference, temptations, and machinations, BBG moved the signal of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) from the W5 satellite to the China-controlled satellite, AsiaSat 3S, at the end of 2007, and has chosen to formally end its contract with Eutelsat on July 31, 2008. That being the case, Eutelsat will have a better excuse to stop carrying NTDTV’s signal on Eutelsat’s W5." Wang Hua, Epoch Times, 1 August 2008. Unclear why NTDTV's signal on W5 is connected to those of the BBG.

Eighty years of Radio Taiwan International (and predecessors).

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Taiwan International (RTI) celebrated on Friday its 80th Anniversary and its 10th year as Taiwan's national broadcaster. ... RTI Chairman Cheng You said ... that RTI has come a long way and made some major changes. Chairman You said that the future of RTI will tend towards raising program quality and strengthening international broadcasting." RTI, 2 August 2008. "The original Central Broadcasting System and the international department of the Broadcasting Corporation of China came out of the Central Broadcasting System of the KMT government in Nanjing, China which was established in 1928." Introduction to RTI. Previous names for the international service were Voice of Free China and, later, Radio Taipei International, before settling on the present, more independent-minded "Radio Taiwan International."

Radio Netherlands on the Indian FM dial.

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands "has entered into partnership with Radio Misty 94.3FM, the North Bengal and Sikkim FM station that will air a variety of RNW music programmes ranging from European pop charts to classical, jazz and world music as also RNW radio books. After a long-term presence in India with short wave and satellite radio broadcasts, RNW has now begun to expand its activities in India." Radioandmusic.com, 2 August 2008. But no news, of course, as news is still banned on non-AIR FM stations.

Al Jazeera defends Arab media coverage of Darfur.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In recent months, western experts and media advocacy groups have said that the alleged crimes committed in Darfur – rape, burning and razing of villages, and the plight of tens of thousands of refugees – have been poorly reported in the Arab press. ... Ahmed Sheikh, the chief editor of Al Jazeera's Arabic channel, said it was Arab media that first reported on the violence in Darfur and brought it to the attention of the West. He said: 'As far as Al Jazeera [Arabic service] is concerned, it is unfair to say we were blind to Darfur, we were the first actually before any western media organisation even mentioned the word Darfur. We were the first to enter the area and do a documentary about it, and the first images of the burned villages and the atrocities committed there came on our screens not the BBC or CNN. We were the first to break the story.'" Aljazeera.net, 31 July 2008. See also Aljazeera.net, 21 July 2008.

Among the competitive challenges to Worldspace: a dongle.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"i-Radio Pop. Play and Record your favourite tunes over 12,000 (and increasing) stations worldwide. This USB plug n' play dongle streams high quality music live over the internet from any part of the world. One will be delighted to discover new tunes which you must have never heard before. This little dongle obviously scores if compared to World Space Radio. All you need is a internet connection with a speed of 128 Kbps to get going." Radioandmusic.com (Mumbai), 1 August 2008.

Radio Singapore International leaves the air.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Singapore's regional radio station, Radio Singapore International (RSI), ceased broadcasts on Thursday, ending its 15-year run. ... The regional shortwave radio service was set up in 1994 and broadcasted in English, Mandarin, Malay and Bahasa Indonesia. ... MediaCorp announced the decision nearly two months ago, saying it was because the effectiveness of a shortwave radio service had diminished over time, with changing technology and media consumption habits." Xinhua, 31 July 2008. "With its closure, the Kranji Shortwave Transmitting Station is also ceasing operations." Channel News Asia, 31 July 2008. "Thank you for visiting this page. Please note that Radio Singapore International’s shortwave
service has ended with effect from 1 August 2008, and the domain www.rsi.sg no longer exists." Radio Singapore International website, already shut down, so apparently no chance to hear archived audio of the last broadcasts. For monitoring of RSI's last broadcasts, consult DX Listening Digest on 31 July 2008 and 27 July 2008.

China relents: allows access to BBC, VOA, RFA, DW, but not all websites.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's Chinese-language website appeared to be unblocked on Thursday. Other Chinese-language websites, such as Voice of America and Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, also now appear accessible. But restrictions remain. The website of the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China, is still blocked." BBC News, 1 August 2008. "Journalists at the media centre were able to access sites for human rights advocate Amnesty International, US broadcaster Radio Free Asia, the China-critical Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, and Human Rights Watch as well as the site of a group advocating Taiwan independence." DPA, 1 August 2008. See also New York Times, 1 August 2008.
     Reporters sans frontiers "learned today that its website (www.rsf.org), which has been blocked in China since 2003, can now be accessed at the Olympic press centre in Beijing and in other parts of the capital, and in Shanghai." RSF, 1 August 2008. Included in advice for journalists covering the human rights situation in China: "Monitor the following independent Chinese-language sources of news about China: the BBC in Chinese (http://news.bbc.co.uk/chinese), Radio Free Asia in Chinese (www.rfa.org/mandarin) and Boxun (www.boxun.com)." RSF, 30 July 2008.
     "Amnesty International today welcomed the unblocking of its website in the Olympics media venues and reportedly in other parts of Beijing. But it insisted that the promise of 'complete media freedom' in China during the Olympics has still not been honoured and that the IOC and world leaders should press for an end to Internet censorship in China." amnesty.org.uk, 1 August 2008.
     "The National Press Club protests the decision by Olympic organizers to censor Internet access of journalists who are covering the Beijing Games." NPC press release, 31 July 2008.
     Kai Ludwig summarizes and translates: "DW's Chinese website is again accessible in China. But now they investigate a disruption of DW-TV on the cable net for Olympic facilities on July 29, which happened while a documentary about doping in China aired. The disruption had the appearance of a frozen image, as happens when a digital distribution chain loses its source." Deutsche Welle, 1 August 2008.
     "Like the old division of West and East Berlin, [the 2008 Olympics] has become a rare laboratory experiment in comparing ways of life. And, as with Berlin, the existing Chinese government may not be fully prepared for the implications of the result." Editorial, National Post, 1 August 2008.
     "Next week come the Games themselves, so lavish, so decorated with trappings of China's new power, so prefaced with human-dwarfing ceremonies of mass power, that we will be awoken sharply to a rising might that will soon dominate our century. In the meantime, we have the weasels of the IOC, showing this week how institutions we trust to spread Western values to a totalitarian regime, may in fact help instead to spread totalitarian values to the West." Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun (Melbourne), 1 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.