Australia is examining its international broadcasting as part of ABC review (updated again).

Posted: 31 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Australia's international broadcasting presence is largely dependent on Radio Australia and Australia Network television. Both platforms are editorially controlled by the ABC. ... A discussion paper issued by [Australia's] Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy ... says the editorial independence of international broadcasting services is likely to be a key factor in building and maintaining audience loyalty, particularly in countries where state-owned media is often politically aligned. It then goes on to argue that any attempt to specify priorities for overseas broadcasting will need to ensure that the editorial independence of these services is not undermined. ... The question here is whether the ABC, fundamentally a domestic broadcaster, is the appropriate organisation to build Australia's image internationally. If not it should be uncoupled from this role." Malcolm Colless, The Australian, 28 October 2008.
     From the discussion paper: "In light of rapid changes in technology it is reasonable to consider whether this platform mix remains the most efficient and cost-effective way of projecting Australian values and perspectives to overseas audiences. For example, in relation to Radio Australia, it may be useful to consider whether shortwave radio will still be relevant in 2020, or whether resources would be better directed toward FM retransmission, online delivery or satellite distribution." Australia's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, 16 October 2008.
     It seems that some Australians, like some Americans, have trouble grasping the concept of international broadcasting. It should not be the role of Radio Australia and Australia Network to "build Australia's image." This is because people tune to international broadcasting to get news and information that is more credible or otherwise an improvement on the news and information they get from their domestic media. Australia's international broadcasters ensure that their audiences abroad are well informed about Australia and about regional and global affairs. Providing such a service speaks well for Australia. And, so, the Australian government should continue to pay for these services, even though it does not have editorial control over them. Building Australia's image should be the work of complementary offices within the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Or vehicles such as the Australia Report, distributed by the Australian embassy in Washington.
     "Malcolm Colless argues the ABC is 'hopelessly outgunned' in delivering Australia Network television and Radio Australia to Asia Pacific audiences. With respect, it is Malcolm who is outgunned in his lack of understanding of the competitive strength of the ABC’s international services. Australia Network broadcasts to 44 nations through 22 million homes from more than 400 distributors in Asia and the Pacific. In India, for example, rather than being outgunned, Australia Network has recently exceeded the reach of either BBC World or CNN in the six largest cities. Radio Australia broadcasts in seven regional languages where the principal distribution is RA local FM stations or online. The Radio Australia podcast English for Tourism attracts 2.5 million downloads a year." Murray Green, Director, ABC International, The Australian Letters Blog, 29 October 2008.
     Update: "The one thing Colless forgot to mention is that there is only one realistic competitor to the ABC to run Australia Network. And that competitor is – surprise – the Australian arm of Sky TV, partly owned by Rupert Murdoch. The five year international TV contract, let by Foreign Affairs, comes up for renewal in 2010. Channel Nine – sinking under debt – will not be in the race. Channel Seven had its go at running the Asia Pacific TV service and the effort went broke. Channel Ten’s minimal reporting resources mean it’s a non-starter. Sky was the one true contestant when the ABC had its contract renewed in 2005. Alexander Downer’s decision to leave the international service with the ABC was an unusual example of a politician saying 'no' to the business interests of Rupert Murdoch. But Downer did one thing to give hope to Sky. He changed the name of the service from ABC Asia Pacific to Australia Network. That means there’d be no need to strip the ABC from the masthead if the contract went to a different bidder." Graeme Dobell, The Interpreter, 31 October 2008.

Obama and America's global image.

Posted: 30 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"One week before Election Day, the world is revising its opinion of America. After a drop of confidence in the United States, presidential candidate Barack Obama has revived the U.S. brand, exporting a vision of American renewal to a world watching the election with unprecedented interest. ... But while Obama is the clear global choice, pinning the world's hopes on one man opens the risk of unfulfilled hopes and mismanaged expectations." Lara Setrakian, ABC News, 28 October 2008. The article includes a region-by-region review of public opinion towards the United States.

Glassman on public diplomacy and the election winners (updated).

Posted: 30 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The victory of Democrat nominee Barack Obama in the US Presidential elections would be a 'great thing' for the country, a senior state department official said. '... I'm not endorsing a particular candidate here... But I think it would be a "great thing" for the US to elect an African-American,' Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, James Glassman said. But for that matter Glassman also emphasis that it would be great to have a woman as President or vice President." Press Trust of India, 29 October 2008.
     PTI was reporting on a briefing by Mr. Glassman, which included this excerpt: "Q: You talk about the war of ideas, but, you know, what is the war of ideas? ... I’m not sure if the word 'war' is going to be misconstrued in the region, that you’re having a war of ideas with people. ... Don’t you think it’s, you know, more of an exchange of -- an exchange of ideas? Because I really feel as if, the more that you talk -- I understand the war on terrorism, but ideas shouldn’t be about a war. ... Glassman: I agree with you the war of ideas is not the best phrase here, and I have -- and previously, I have entertained substitutes and I continue to." State Department transcript, 28 October 2008.
     Update: James Glassman spoke about the work of 'digital outreach teams' that will work to improve the image of the United States and fight extremist propaganda on the Internet. ... [They] work in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu now, but Glassman said the hiring of Russian-language specialists is under consideration. Russian officials have not officially reacted to that possibility. Russian bloggers are discussing it very actively, however." Kommersant, 30 October 2008.

BBCWS will examine Caucasus "PR battle."

Posted: 30 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Russia and Georgia "saw 24-hour, global news as a kind of parallel theatre of war where they had to join battle. Both paid public relations firms to advise them. ... Russia seems to have been slightly disappointed with the result. ... You can hear the programme 'The PR Battle for the Caucasus' on the BBC World Service from 2306 GMT on Sunday, and also online." BBC News, 29 October 2008.

China launches Venezuelan satellite to transmit Telesur, etc.

Posted: 30 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
A satellite launched by China for Venezuela "will help [Hugo Chavez] spread his revolutionary message across Latin America. A rocket launched from China's western Sichuan province carried the 5.1-ton satellite into space and it is supposed to reach its final orbit 21,900 miles (36,500 kilometers) above the earth next week. It will begin carrying radio, television and other data transmissions in early 2009 after three months of tests. ... 'This is a satellite for freedom,' Chavez said in a nationally televised address following the launch. ...Information Minister Andres Izarra said the satellite will help expand the reach of the Caracas-based Telesur television network, which is financed mostly by Venezuela." AP, 29 October 2008. "The Simón Bolívar satellite, named after the Latin American independence hero, will circle the earth at an altitude of 36,000 km in an orbit to which Uruguay has rights. Its 1,300 MHz signal will reach from southern Mexico to central Argentina and Chile." Inter Press Service, 29 October 2008. It will have 12 C-band transponder and 14 Ku-band transponders according to Xinhua, via Gunter's Space Page. Will this satellite have the channels that will encourage Latin American viewers to point their dishes in its direction?

United States opens public diplomacy facility in Brussels.

Posted: 29 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US has opened a media facility in Brussels, offering the 12,000 journalists working there the chance to organise interviews with the many senior officials passing through this busy capital city. The facility is one of the latest initiatives by the Secretary of State, which has given public diplomacy a much higher profile during George Bush’s second term. The term public diplomacy was used in the 1960s to describe aspects of international diplomacy other than contact between governments. It was originally a polite way of describing propaganda but this is certainly not the case any longer. The deputy assistant for public diplomacy at the Secretary of State, Colleen Graffy, was in Malta recently, and she explained to www.di-ve.com that propaganda has very limited impact nowadays. 'Public diplomacy is interactive whereas propaganda is one-way. Even Youtube allows comments nowadays. You cannot get away with a propaganda approach any more,' she said." di-ve.com (Malta), 29 October 2008.

Alberto Fernandez on US public diplomacy to Sudan.

Posted: 29 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Alberto Fernandez, the American charge de’affaires in Sudan, "one of the few who speak fluent Arabic at the State Department": "IOL: What role has public diplomacy played in attempts to normalize relations between the US and Sudan? Fernandez: That is a better question I think for the Sudanese rather than for me. I think we are very active in public diplomacy in Sudan. We are being very aggressive about speaking with the press in Arabic and we make ourselves available. I certainly make myself available, sometimes I think more than I would like to the Sudanese press so they certainly have opportunities to ask me all kind of questions, negative questions and hostile questions, whatever they want, and we try to answer them as seriously and respectfully as possible. We also try to do as much outreach as we can in the public diplomacy field with the Sudanese people, for example, we are renovating the Ali Dinar museum in El-Fisher in Darfur which was the palace of the last sultan of Darfur and is a very lovely little museum there. We are doing other things as well. I am still frustrated that we haven’t re-established education exchange programs with Sudan." IslamOnline.net, 29 October 2008.

CNN International replaces (ahem) Nuts TV on UK digital platform.

Posted: 29 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nuts TV, IPC Media's spin-off of its men's weekly magazine, will stop broadcasting on Freeview in January 2009, and will be replaced with European news channel CNN International. ... The launch of the CNN International European news channel on Freeview will mark CNN's UK debut on digital terrestrial television. CNN International will be available seven days a week in a primetime evening block, offering world, business and sports news, as well as comment, interviews and feature programming." Brand Republic, 29 October 2008.

Asia is "major priority" for BBC Worldwide.

Posted: 29 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Growth in Asia is a major priority for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of U.K. pubcaster BBC. ... The Beeb only carved out a channels division within Worldwide in the last two years and broke up the generalist BBC World net into separate news and entertainment strands. It now offers six channels in the Asian region." Variey, 28 October 2008.
     "BBC Worldwide Channels has named Ian McDonough as its VP of commercial development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. ... He will be responsible for growing revenue lines and subscription figures for the new portfolio of thematic channels, including BBC Entertainment, BBC HD, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies, as well as BBC World News." WorldScreen.com, 28 October 2008.

Thailand will block "inappropriate" websites.

Posted: 29 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Thailand's government said on Monday it plans to set up an Internet firewall to block Web sites deemed insulting to the country's beloved monarch, as well as others considered to have inappropriate content. Communications Minister Mun Patanotai said his ministry is considering spending between 100 million and 500 million baht ($2.9 million and $14.6 million) to build a gateway to monitor and block such Web sites." AP, 28 October 2008.

DW-TV especially for Asia.

Posted: 29 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"German pubcaster Deutsche Welle is launching its first Asia-specific DW-TV channel Jan. 5, company executives said Tuesday... 'By uncoupling this feed from DW's other TV feeds, we have more freedom to configure the channel or to tailor it according to Asian needs,' DW Asia/Australia distribution head Angelika Newel said. ... The Asia channel will have about 18 hours of English-language content. German content will be offered in two three-hour blocks a day. The schedule will include more lifestyle content, which is particularly popular in Asia, Newel said. The network has about 900 content partners in Asia. Newel said DW-TV had grown exponentially in the region in the past 12 months, adding direct-broadcast satellite, IPTV, on-demand and mobile platforms." Hollywood Reporter, 29 October 2008.

Expanded cooperation between Kenyan and Chinese broadcasters.

Posted: 29 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Kenya Broadcasting Corporation -KBC- is seeking to expand the cooperation between Central China Television - CCTv to include symbiotic sharing of programs on culture and tourism. The National Broadcaster is also working on its programming in which the two institutions can share knowledge on program development with emphasis on educating the public in both countries on the cultures of their respective people. ... Through the cooperation China Radio International also runs two hour feeds everyday on KBC Radio." KBC, 29 October 2008.

Jazz in the USSR and successor states.

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cultural warfare has a long history in the [former Soviet Union]. During the Cold War, the Voice of America broadcast jazz behind the Iron Curtain. The Soviet Union possessed fearsome weapons systems but could not compete with U.S. popular culture. 'Jazz connected American and Soviet culture like a wire,' said George Yashvili, a sculptor whose career began when bushy-browed Leonid Brezhnev ran the Kremlin. With the curtains drawn and volume down, Mr. Yashvili, now 52, listened to the jazz broadcasts, warbled by the KGB´s efforts to jam the radio frequency. 'Under the communist regime, jazz was forbidden because it was believed to be capitalistic music,' said Misha Giorgadze, a music promoter in Tbilisi. Today it is difficult to walk around Tbilisi without hearing jazz. It is played in bars, cafes and stores - even in Gori, Josef Stalin´s hometown." Dan Catchpole, Washington Times, 27 October 2008.

At least the $300m will "engage and inspire" defense contractors.

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is planning for "a $300m, three-year effort to 'engage and inspire' Iraq's population to support its government and US policies through a variety of programmes ranging from media products to entertainment (an additional $15m a year would be spent polling Iraqis). This is a huge amount by soft-power standards. The state department expects to spend just $5.6m on public diplomacy in Iraq in fiscal 2008. ... Public-diplomacy specialists have ... been put off by Gates's indoctrination mission. As one noted scholar informed me by e-mail: 'Communication that is seen as propaganda does not attract and thus does not produce soft power.'" John Brown, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 27 October 2008.

On 13 January, Smith-Mundt will be domestically discussed.

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mark your calendar for January 13, 2009. That is the confirmed date for 'The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948: Past, Present, and Future', a symposium to discuss the legislation on which America’s arsenal of persuasion is anchored. The one-day event will be hosted in Washington, D.C., with the location and co-sponsor all but confirmed. The format is four 90 minute panels and will emphasize Q&A, discourse, and debate and not presentations or monologues. The four panels will focus on past, present, future, what to do, respectively." MountainRunner, 27 October 2008. See previous post with discussion of Smith-Mundt.

Georgi Markov back in the news.

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1969 [Georgi Markov] defected to Italy, where Nikola had already settled, but soon moved on to London. There, he began to work for the BBC World Service, Radio Free Europe, and the German television [sic, was only radio back then] news station Deutsche Welle. Sentenced in absentia to six years and six months in jail, in 1975 he began a regular BBC series that critiqued life back in Bulgaria. It so infuriated the authorities in Sofia, that Hristov's research suggests they complained to Moscow about both the damage he was doing to Bulgaria's international image and its potential to incite Bulgarians illegally listening to his broadcasts. 'While other émigrés just swore at the system, he was analyzing it. He was uniquely brave,' says [Bulgarian journalist Hristo] Hristov." Christian Science Monitor, 28 October 2008. See previous post about same subject.

If this brand needs a slogan, how about: "Land of the lowest priced Chinese imports."

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Efforts to actively promote Brand America began in the Clinton administration with the establishment of the position of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs." Around the Net in Brand Marketing, 27 October 2008. Actually the undersecretary was established to replace the director of the old U.S. Information Agency. From 1953 to 1999, USIA promoted the United States without resorting to the vulgarism "Brand America."

They didn't like my slogan: "Colombia will kidnap your heart."

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Working with Colombia's export, tourism and investment promotion agency, Proexport, [David] Lightle devised a campaign called Colombia es Pasión, or 'Colombia is Passion.' Now, the public-private partnership behind the campaign operates two stores in Bogota that offer hundreds of products featuring the campaign's heart-shaped logo. ... Eager to highlight their advantages, and play down their faults, Colombia and a growing number of countries are using branding strategies to set themselves apart in the global marketplace. But even as country branding campaigns proliferate, some critics say that such efforts often amount to mere sloganeering and question how much they actually enhance a country's reputation." Wall Street Journal, 27 October 2008.

South Korea-Abu Dhabi media exchange.

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) signed a co-operation agreement today with Arirang, the Korean global satellite broadcaster, to exchange programmes and possibly join forces on content in the future. ... Arirang is Korea’s first English-language broadcasting network, launched by the Korean International Broadcasting Foundation in 1997. Today, it broadcasts 24 hours a day and reaches 62.6 million households in 188 countries. ... Arirang launched an Arabic service in 2004 to be closer to the Arab region, and already has a co-operation agreement with Qatar. Its programmes can be seen via free-to-air satellite in the region on ArabSat 4B." The National (Abu Dhabi), 26 October 2008.

A collegiate cheer for Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English is journalism as it should be, and journalism as it used to be. Instead of serving as a podium for charismatic commentators, it gives voice to the voiceless by exposing underreported stories from around the world. Similarly, it doesn’t reinforce the status quo but questions authority at its roots. Forget about the mantra 'no news is good news;' the network understands that fear-mongering is a thing for politicians, not journalists." Mike Snyder, Tufts Observer, 27 October 2008.

Info or infomercial?

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News has teamed up with India's Ministry of Tourism to create a six-part travel series that will debut on the international news channel this week. Travel India will present different facets of modern India as it exists today, featuring topics like spiritual sites, urban business centres and underdeveloped rural areas." C21Media, 27 October 2008. Are these programs or informercials? For the answer: "Made by the BBC World News creative solutions team, the commercial presentations will be showcased across Europe, Asia-Pacific, South Asia, the Middle East and Australia, as well as BBC World News programmes on United Airlines and US Airways." Haymarket Media, 28 October 2008.

Worldspace: further adventures in Chapter 11.

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Worldspace "announced that on Oct. 21, 2008, it received notice from the staff of The Nasdaq Stock Market, LLC that the Company will be delisted. ... In its letter to the Company, The Nasdaq Stock Market staff also cited the Company as non-compliant ... because the Company's market value of listed securities for 10 consecutive trading days had fallen been below the minimum $50,000,000 requirement for continued inclusion... The Company does not intend to appeal The Nasdaq Stock Market staff's determination." Worldspace press release, 27 October 2008. Worldspace stock closed at 20 cents on 27 October. NASDAQ.
     "We hope for the sake of staff - and creditors - that they get what is rightfully theirs. They have worked hard for Worldspace and should receive their due. But we also hope that much the same happens to Noah Samara. Through public statement after public statement he has over-promised and wholly under-delivered to Worldspace's patient shareholders." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 26 October 2008.
     "Worldspace, in its requirements to potential buyers is setting some extremely tough terms on possible buyers/investors." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 27 October 2008.
     "WorldSpace has been rechristened 1WorldSpace and has done a remarkable job for people like me, offering 24/7 channels on old Hindi film music, Carnatic and Hindustani music and World Music. It has also had mysteriously underused data download channels but I always used to fantasize about the day when I could use a WorldSpace (or any other suitable satellite radio) to download from the sky any content I want anytime." N. Madhavan, Hindustan Times, 26 October 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Another new internet radio receives "stations in remote parts of the world."

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Sanyo Internet Radio R227 with built-in WIFI provides an easy to use Internet audio interface that plays thousands of stations and podcasts from around the world without a subscription fee. ... 'Canada is one of the most multicultural and urban concentrated countries in the world, and the SANYO Internet Radio R227 meets the needs of those radio aficionados perfectly,' says Barry Richler, Vice President, Consumer Products, Sanyo Canada. 'Many radio stations in remote parts of the world cannot be consistently received on conventional shortwave radios. Also, it is difficult to receive AM signals in many downtown offices and condominiums. The problem is easily solved by accessing a station's web stream instead. ... It will make you fall in love with radio all over again.'" Sanyo Canada press release, 27 October 2008.

Shortwave in the car?

Posted: 28 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
New Silicon Laboratories automotive radio receiver chip "supports worldwide radio band requirements, including FM, FM radio data system (RDS), AM, long wave (LW), short wave (SW) and weather bands, giving customers the flexibility to support a variety of world wide needs with a single design." Silicon Laboratories press release, 27 October 2008. I checked the specs: the shortwave receive range is 2.3 to 30 MHz, thus covering all the HF broadcast bands. Car radios with shortwave bands, never plentiful, are now extremely rare.

Head of Russia Today defends her channel.

Posted: 27 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Margarita Simonyan, 28-year-old editor in chief of Russia Today: "'Whatever comes from Russia, especially if it gets government support, is going to be bad, bad propaganda. Is anyone worried that the BBC is getting its funding from people's taxes? Nobody seems worried by that.' She says the channel reports on whatever she and its editorial staff decide is newsworthy that day - without interference from the Kremlin. For example, they cover anti-government protests, she notes." Washington Times, 27 October 2008.

French government pays €4 million for France 24, in step towards consolidating French international broadcasting.

Posted: 27 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The French government [bought] out shares held by private network TF1 and public TV group France Televisions in Gallic international news channel France 24 for 2 million euros ($2.5 million) each. Alain de Pouzilhac, CEO of state media holding France Monde, will head up the network formerly shared between TF1 and France Televisions. TF1 originally asked for up to 90 million euros ($112.2 million) to give up its share in France 24 peacefully, despite the fact that its original investment was only 17,500 euros ($21,822). ... Once signed, the deal will add France 24 to the France Monde state holding banding together public radio group RF1 and worldwide TV channel TV5 Monde." Hollywood Reporter, 27 October 2008. The holding entity is Audiovisuel extérieur de la France.

Report: Oganesian out at Voice of Russia.

Posted: 26 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Kai Ludwig in Germany writes: "Armen Oganesian, the chairman of Voice of Russia [successor to Radio Moscow], has been fired by Vladimir Putin on Oct 23. The reasons for this step remain unclear. New head of VOR is Andrei Bystritsky, formerly a deputy director of VGTRK (All-Russia State Television and Radio Company). Earlier he was the head of Radio Mayak." He spotted the report in Lenta.ru, 27 October 2008. Oganesian seems to have hosted his last "Vis-a-vis With the World" on VOR on 16 October.

Was that Elvis listening to VOA Russian radio? (updated)

Posted: 26 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA) has taken a small step to restore radio broadcasts to Russia which were terminated by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) shortly before the Russian military attack on Georgia. Responding to criticism from Congress and media freedom organizations, the BBG staff has allowed VOA to start producing a 30 min. radio news program in Russian for online placement. The new program, 'Panorama,' is described on the VOA Russian website as a daily broadcast but it has not been updated within the last 24 hours and its future remains unclear." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 22 October 2008. I don't see any link to "Панорама" at voanews.com/russian. Update: David Murphy found Панорама at www.voanews.com/russian/podcasts.cfm. David translates from Russian the description of the program: "Our 30-minute program lets you know about the latest events happening in the world and the opinions of leading experts.You'll get to know what American newspapers are writing about Russia, and what Americans are thinking about and discussing. We'll also let you know about the latest achievements in science and technology, medicine and health. You'll also hear news about American theater, cinema and art. The podcast is published on Thursdays and Fridays, and from November 3 it will be published from Monday to Friday and will be updated at 17:30 Moscow time."

One year since the murder of Uzbek reporter for RFE/RL, VOA.

Posted: 25 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"On the first anniversary of Uzbek journalist Alisher Sayipov’s fatal shooting in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, Reporters Without Borders calls on the Kyrgyz authorities to relaunch the murder investigation, which has made no substantial progress and has been suspended twice. 'The lack of any substantial progress is disgraceful.' ... Aged 26, Sayipov worked for RFE and Voice of America, and wrote for websites such as Uznews and Ferghana and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting." Reporters sans frontières, 24 October 2008.
     "It is puzzling that the case is gathering dust after what appeared to be a good start. Ten months ago, a high-ranking police officer announced that the murder weapon had been traced; bullet casings had been recovered from the crime scene; and the investigation had a photo of two men suspected in killing Saipov.It is puzzling that the case is gathering dust after what appeared to be a good start. Ten months ago, a high-ranking police officer announced that the murder weapon had been traced; bullet casings had been recovered from the crime scene; and the investigation had a photo of two men suspected in killing Saipov." Committee to Protect Journalists, 23 October 2008.
     "Unfortunately, any serious official investigation into his killing appears to have been buried along with Saipov." Commentary by Sojida Djakhfarova, director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, RFE/RL, 24 October 2008.

Worldspace copes with its "financial maturity."

Posted: 25 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace's India operation is not included in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy. ... Founder Noah Samara is still at the helm." Rapid TV News, 23 October 2008.
     "Indian service providers of WorldSpace, the popular satellite radio service provider that has now filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in the US, are now exploring legal options to get their money back. ... M Sebastian, managing director, WorldSpace India, said, 'We have filed under Chapter 11 for protection. This is just normal financial restructuring procedure. We want to systematically restructure our debt, and it is not going to affect our business in any way. We will continue to provide radio services to our existing customers and keep selling our sets to new customers.'" Televisionpoint.com, 24 October 2008.
     Worldspace "will slow down its aggressive customer acquisition plan in India while tapping alternate revenue streams, a senior executive said. 'The business in India has reached a certain level of financial maturity and we have achieved cash flow break even. But we can move in an aggressive manner towards customer acquisition and new level of services once the restructuring in US happens,' Worldspace India managing director M Sebastian said." Indiantelevision.com, 23 October 2008.
     "Most of the debt — about $1.8 billion — is contingent on a royalty deal that relates to the company's pretax earnings increasing to a certain level, said Judith Pryor, WorldSpace senior vice president for corporate affairs." Gazette.Net, 24 October 2008. Ms. Pryor, spokesperson for Worldspace through thick and thin, is now especially earning her pay, if indeed she is getting paid. See previous post about Worldspace.

Pleased to meet you, too, now get your teeth out of my neck.

Posted: 25 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"A €4.2 million campaign sponsored by the Romanian government [was] introduced last month to counter lurid media accounts of crimes said to be committed by Romanians. Branded 'Romania, pleased to meet you!' the campaign has taken out ads in print and on television. In a globalized world, it seems somewhat unreal that one European people should have to spend money like this to introduce itself to another. After all, both are among the 27 nations in the European Union, and the Romanians are proud of their Roman heritage. ... What remains is the fact that the Romanians have such a bad reputation here (and in Spain, where a similar campaign - Hola Soy Rumano - was also started) that the Romanian government had to call in professional spin doctors to counter it. ... Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 8,000 Romanians in Italy, and now there are more than a million." Elisabetta Povoledo, International Herald Tribune, 24 October 2008. See also the Hola Soy Romano website (I haven't found the Italian language site yet) and previous post.

Another musician who was inspired by shortwave (updated: and another).

Posted: 25 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
In the 1960s, trumpeter Don Cherry "'was the first person I knew who actively used world-music material in the 1960s,' [Creative Music Studio co-founder Karl] Berger said. 'He had a shortwave radio on all day. Even in a movie theater.'" New York Times, 21 October 2008.
     Update: Gregory Kozak of Vancouver's ScrapArtsMusic "spent his childhood listening to hours upon hours of music from throughout the world over his shortwave radio." Macon (GA) Telegraph, 24 October 2008.

Is BBC avoiding the "R-word"?

Posted: 25 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC is facing claims that it is avoiding using the 'R-word' - recession - to avoid being too depressing about the gloomy situation. It has been alleged that reporters have been encouraged to opt for 'downturn'. Sources have suggested that those covering the story for the BBC World Service have also been given the phrase 'global financial crisis' to use. BBC reporters have allegedly been encouraged to use the word 'downturn' to avoid making viewers anxious about the economy. The edict, which the corporation is denying, was said to have been brought in on the same day that Gordon Brown used the word recession for the first time." Daily Mail, 24 October 2008. A good project for a graduate student somewhere would be to search news.google.com on 'bbc recession', 'bbc downturn', 'bbc "global financial crisis"'.

CNN International explains the U.S. election internationally.

Posted: 24 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"It's not been hard to generate global interest in the US election. Everything we've done on it has triggered a spike and a huge response. On television and online, we've been bombarded with election emails and videos on anything from the involvement of the US in Iraq to moose hunting in Alaska. ... Meanwhile, because CNN International is available in more than 200 countries and territories, our brief is to explain how the election affects the rest of the world." Nick Wrenn, managing editor, CNN International for Europe, Middle East & Africa, Broadcast, 23 October 2008. "CNN International will simulcast the main US CNN domestic channel's coverage from midnight as the results come in, describing its election night programme as the 'most demanding and technologically advanced production' it has ever staged." The Guardian, 22 October 2008.

France 24 poll: Brits yawn at U.S. election.

Posted: 24 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The latest FRANCE 24 / Harris Interactive poll in partnership with the International Herald Tribune reveals some surprising results concerning expectations in Europe and the United States regarding the impending election of the 44th American President. Whilst Europeans declare themselves to be fascinated by this election, nearly one in two British respondents (47%) say that they are not at all interested in the vote. Conversely, Germans are the most enthusiastic Europeans with 85% of those interviewed interested in the election." France 24 press release, 23 October 2008. See also International Herald Tribune, 23 October 2008.

Still-new Al Jazeera English starts "Renewal Project."

Posted: 24 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English, which lost quite a few hands due to the alleged bullying culture that was prevailing there, now finds itself trying to find space for those who want to come back. ... [Managing director Tony] Burman now has started the 'AJE Renewal Project' in order to articulate more clearly its editorial vision, values and priorities and reflect them in the channel's daily news and overall presentation to the public. Youth are targeted as an audience and Burman feels the website should be the first route into AJE. 'The website must be rich with high quality video content and have content and features not available on the TV channel,' a memo to AJE staff said." The Peninsula (Doha), 25 October 2008.

Al Jazeera's controversial coverage of the U.S. election.

Posted: 24 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Casey Kaufmann is an American reporter working for Al Jazeera English. On a recent assignment he documented the views from a selection of John McCain and Sarah Palin supporters of at a Republican rally in Ohio. Some of those voices revealed not just fundamental misunderstandings of the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, but also an underlying racial prejudice. Within a week the report had become by far the most watched Al Jazeera English video on Youtube." Al Jazeera English, 24 October 2008.
     "The way that the U.S. is portrayed on Al Jazeera matters, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We followed up the initial piece by sending the reporter to get reaction from African-American Obama supporters. We gave the last word in this saga to the owner of a PR firm in Atlanta: 'They are not America. They don't reflect America, they don't represent the America that I live in and am a part of, and they don't reflect the majority of Americans.'" Tony Burman, Al Jazeera English managing director, Huffington Post, 20 October 2008.
     Middle Eastern bloggers react. Amira Al Hussaini, Huffington Post, 24 October 2008.
     "'We’ll be mounting our most ambitious broadcast yet,' a 12-hour marathon emanating from its Washington, D.C., bureau and including reporting from 11 U.S. locations and 14 nations. Parent company Al Jazeera will beam AJE’s coverage to its estimated 53 million international viewers." Variety, 23 October 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Israel spars with Hamas video sharing website.

Posted: 24 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Last week the Intelligence Terrorism Information Center, a Ramat Hasharon-based research center closely associated with Israel's Shin Bet and Military Intelligence, released a report detailing the establishment by Hamas of AqsaTube, a video-sharing web platform closely modeled on the popular YouTube, but filled with videos praising suicide martyrdom and showing how to build bombs and carry out attacks. Following publication of the story in The Jerusalem Post, Google removed its AdSense program from the Hamas Web site, and one day later, AqsaTube's French Internet Service Provider OVH took the Islamist site off-line. But on Wednesday, AqsaTube was back up, bigger and more brazen than before." Jerusalem Post, 23 October 2008.

North Korea clamps down on mobile phones and South Korean videos.

Posted: 24 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"North Korea is clamping down on mobile phones and long distance telephone calls to prevent the spread of news about a worsening food crisis, according to the United Nations investigator on human rights for the isolated communist country. ... 'Some inhabitants watch clandestinely video and TV programs from the south, but in 2008 there were reports of crackdowns on South Korean videos.' [He] decried severe constraints on civil and political rights in North Korea, citing reports of 'a clampdown on cellphone and long-distance telephone calls to prevent people from reporting on food shortages'. Recent visitors to the country report that North Koreans are no longer allowed to use mobile phones at all." The Times, 24 October 2008.

Radio amateurs will keep DRM experiment out of their 40 meter band.

Posted: 24 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
The American Radio Relay League filed a Petition for Modification or Cancellation of Experimental Authorization with the FCC with respect to WE2XRH, the planned experimental Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) shortwave station of Digital Aurora Radio Technologies (DART) in Alaska. At issue are the frequency ranges specified in the license: 4.50-5.10 MHz, 7.10-7.60 MHz and 9.25-9.95 MHz. That includes 7.1 to 7.3 MHz, which is part of the 40 meter amateur radio band. ARRL: "It is astonishing that the FCC would grant this experimental license for operation at such a high power level in a band that is allocated exclusively to a service with which such operation is clearly incompatible." ARRL, 22 October 2008. "On October 24, the FCC responded by issuing an amended license that redefined one of the station's frequency ranges to eliminate conflict with the Amateur Radio Service. The amended license narrows the range to 7.30 to 7.60 MHz and gives as the reason for the change, 'operation in the band 7.1-7.3 MHz will cause harmful interference to Amateur Radio Service licensees.'" ARRL, 24 October 2008. The project, to determine if DRM digital shortwave can provide an FM-like radio service to all parts of Alaska, is helped along by a $3.2 million earmark, arranged by Senator Ted Stevens, in the FY08 budget. See previous post about DART.

The Worldspace bankruptcy process proceeds.

Posted: 23 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Worldspace "has received approval of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware for the first part of an interim Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) financing in an amount up to $2M which will enable the Company to meet payroll obligations to critical employees and commence a process to sell the Company or its assets. ... The Bank Street Group LLC has been appointed as the Company's financial advisor in support of the sale and/or restructuring process and all interested parties should contact Bank Street ... for further information. In other announcements, 1worldspace appointed Robert Schmitz of Quest Turnaround Advisors, LLC as its Chief Restructuring Officer reporting to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Noah Samara to assist the Company through an orderly sale or recapitalization process. 1worldspace India, a wholly owned independent business unit operating in the market where most of the Company's customers are located and revenues are generated, has not filed for protection from its creditors and continues its business activities in the ordinary course." Worldspace press release, 22 October 2008.
     "The Indian subsidiary of US-based satellite radio provider WorldSpace Inc., WorldSpace India Pvt. Ltd plans to revamp services in the country, said a top official. In its relaunched version, WorldSpace will be called “1worldspace.” It will sport a new logo and its current marketing slogan -- So much to hear -- will be changed. It is yet to decide on a new tag line. ... Besides the rebranding, the company plans to make its services mobile. It has applied for the mobility licence. Once that get through, the service will be available through data cards in portable devices. ... 'WorldSpace has not been able to maintain high quality content. Yes, they are different from FM as they have little talk and no advertisements but how are they different from an iPod or a personalized playlist?' asked Sunil Kumar, managing director at radio business consultancy Big River Radio (India) Pvt. Ltd" livemint.com (Delhi), 23 October 2008.
     "Ondas Media plans to use Spanish-allocated frequencies to launch a pan-European pay-radio system, similar to that provided in the USA by Sirius-XM. However, there have been anxieties that Worldspace's recent financial collapse would affect Ondas' prospects over Europe. 'Not so,' implies Dave Kruger, Ondas Media's CEO. 'Relative to Worldspace, I don't think that many people are surprised by their bankruptcy filing.'" Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 22 October 2008. See previous post about Worldspace.

CNBC, BBC plans for the Middle East.

Posted: 23 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNBC, the global broadcaster of live business and financial news, announced plans for a weekly segment focused on the region today, plus tie-ups with a series of regional events and conferences. Meanwhile, the BBC World Service has revealed plans to expand its London based BBC Persian, which currently only provides radio and online services, to a television station in Farsi for Iran later this year. 'It will initially broadcast eight hours a day, seven days a week,' said Lala Najafova, the international publicist for BBC World Service. 'It will be freely available to anyone with a satellite dish or cable connection in the region.'" The National (Abu Dhabi), 22 October 2008. Will every cable system in the region carry BBC Persian television? I don't think so, and especially not in Iran. As for satellite reception, Iran has a history of complicating that by way of outlawing and confiscating dishes, and by jamming satellite signals.

Fox shows via IPTV to Japan.

Posted: 23 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"GyaO Next, the broadband TV service operated by media conglom Usen, started webcasting Fox On-Demand, a new service offering dramas from the Fox Channel, on Wednesday. ... Programs will include 'Bones,' 'Ali McBeal' and 'Boston Legal.' GyaO Next is an IPTV service whose programming ranges from Hollywood pics and TV dramas to BBC World News and National Geographic Channel." Variety, 22 October 2008.

RFI was on a one-day strike (again).

Posted: 23 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio France Internationale is on a one-day strike on Wednesday to protest the reform of public media approved by cabinet today. The sweeping reforms, proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy one year ago, affect the financing of French public media. All paid advertising in the public media will be eliminated." RFI, 22 October 2008.

US international broadcasts criticized at UN meeting.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
At session of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) of the United Nations General Assembly: Kang Myong Chol of North Korea said "'information technologies continued to be misused by certain countries in pursuit of "sinister political purposes'. A typical example of that was the United States' 'Radio Free Asia' programme, which targeted Asian countries, including his own. That violated the United Nations Charter and international laws stipulating State relations. In that context, he said the first task was to establish a new and just information order, which had been urgently demanded by the developing countries that constituted the overwhelming majority of United Nations membership." Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz of Cuba "denounced the well-known 'television aggression' that the United States continued to wage against Cuba, openly infringing on the principles of the international law and the procedures of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Indeed, that Union had concluded at its last World Conference held in Geneva, that transmission from United States aircrafts to Cuba violated its radio-communications regulations. Yet, each week more than 1,920 hours of radio and television were broadcast to Cuba through 32 different frequencies. The United States had, since 2003, used the Pentagon's C-130 solo command aircraft to beam invasive signals. Several of the stations broadcasting in Cuba, such as Radio and TV Marti, were United States Government properties, while others were linked to well-known terrorists who lived in the United States and acted against Cuba." UN General Assembly via ReliefWeb, 21 October 2008.

Telling America's story to the world (updated).

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is no accident that the English-language operation of al-Jazeera, the Arab-language news network, tried to capture and broadcast to the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere a glimpse of America's more sinister side. Al-Jazeera found it in St. Clairsville, Ohio, a white, working-class community that was the site of an Oct. 12 Palin rally. ... With Palin's supporters chanting in the background, Kauffman tells viewers that the divisive nature of this year's presidential campaign has brought into the open what is usually discussed behind closed doors in America. 'It's a reminder,' intoned [AJE reporter Casey] Kauffman, 'that hate and fear are powerful forces in American society.' Was this fodder served up by al-Jazeera to feed anti-American sentiment overseas? To be sure. But the camera didn't lie. Did al-Jazeera, however, record the whole truth?" Colbert I. King, Washington Post, 18 October 2008.
     "The Republican chairman in eastern Ohio's Belmont County complains a video viewed frequently on the Web takes comments from local people out of context. The clip on YouTube.com comes from the English channel of the Middle East network Al-Jazeera. A reporter talked with supporters of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin after her recent rally in St. Clairsville." Ohio.com, 20 October 2008.
     "Arab propaganda channel Al-Jazeera's intervention in the U.S. presidential contest is ... extremely significant. Al-Jazeera, a mouthpiece for enemies of the United States, aired a Moammar Gadhafi speech praising Obama and followed with a story depicting supporters of Sarah Palin as white racist Christians." Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media, 19 October 2008.
     Update: Tony Burman, managing director of Al Jazeera English, letter to the Washington Post: "In his column, King accurately conveyed the point of the news report as described by the Al Jazeera reporter. These rallies are bringing into the open what is usually hidden in US elections and this `is a reminder that hate and fear are still powerful forces in American society'. But then King's column veered into the ditch with a gratuitous and uninformed shot at Al Jazeera's motives: ‘Was this fodder served up by Al Jazeera to feed anti-American sentiment overseas? To be sure. But the camera didn't lie. Did Al Jazeera, however, record the whole truth?.’" The Peninsula (Doha), 22 October 2008. The letter has apparently not yet been published by the Post.
     "A film crew from the Arab television network Al-Jazeera visited northwestern Indiana to interview voters for a segment on the U.S. presidential election. ... [Filmmaker Chris] Henderson said the two-man crew hasn't encountered much resistance to Al-Jazeera from the people they've interviewed. 'It's not always the first thing we mention, but if they ask us who we're shooting for, we're honest about it,' he said. 'We don't really have anything to hide. We're cognizant that people may have hesitancy because what's been broadcast in the U.S. about it.'" AP via The Elkhart Truth, 21 October 2008.

A new president for TWR.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"International Christian broadcaster Trans World Radio (TWR) officially announced today the selection of Lauren Libby as its new president and CEO. The unanimous decision by TWR’s Board of Directors to elect Mr. Libby came after an exhaustive six-month search process. ... Libby’s 30-plus years of experience primarily come from an extensive career with The Navigators. Most recently, he has served as a member of the U.S. Navigator National Executive Team -- a six-member group responsible for corporate ministry decisions, the organization’s 1,500 field staff and finances for the U.S. Navigator corporation." TWR press release, 21 October 2008. See previous post about same subject.

BBC World Service prepares for "conversation" on its budget.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service has said it is already gearing up for 'a very tough conversation' with the Government when its funding comes up for renewal shortly after the next general election. World Service director Nigel Chapman told a Voice of the Listener and Viewer meeting yesterday that the current turmoil in the global economy -- and the Government's decision to pump cash into troubled banks -- could have a knock-on effect on the amount the network receives from the Foreign Office. He said the Labour government had been keen supporters of the World Service, which is funded by a £270m-a-year grant-in-aid from the Foreign Office, but dismissed suggestions that a swing to a Conservative government at the next general election could have a negative impact on how much the service receives. 'We've had good settlements from this Labour government,' he said. 'They've always given us an inflation-plus increase. The money comes with strings - it has to be used for very specific things. There's always been cross-party support for the World Service. I've got more supporters in Parliament than I need. If I have to mobilise the army it would be very large. Politicians in any party realise it wouldn't be worth having a fight with the World Service - you just damage your reputation.' ... The latest project for the World Service is the launch 'within weeks' of a new Farsi-language multimedia rolling news service, which Chapman said had received long-term Home Office funding 'as far as the eye can see'. The BBC Persian service will provide news to the people of Iran by satellite, with Farsi-speaking correspondents stationed in major news spots such as Washington, Beirut and Kabul." Press Gazette, 22 October 2008. The "very specific things" presuambly refers to the establishment of new language services, not the dissemination of certain content.

All the BBC brands will come together for U.S. election night.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"On November 4, the BBC is to broadcast a single election night programme that will be simulcast on BBC1 and the BBC News channel in the UK, on BBC America in the US, and BBC World News internationally. The election night show will also be streamed on the BBC's UK and international websites. Because the BBC America and BBC World News channels are commercial operations, they will still include advertising breaks in their coverage, although these will be limited the corporation said." Ted Koppel will provide analysis. The Guardian, 22 October 2008. See also BBC News press release, 22 October 2008, which refers to BBC World News as "BBC World," thus ignoring the BBC's £550,000 rebranding exercise, per previous post.

Condoleezza Rice interviewed by BBC Arabic.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Luke Ahmed: There is a perception in the Middle East that says Iraq has now been destroyed, Afghanistan in a civil war, Israel-Palestinian conflict is still in limbo, Pakistan is on the edge of civil war, Usama bin Ladin is still at large, and the U.S. world economy is in chaos. Looking at this, how do you think the history will judge this period, first, whether you agree or disagree with that? And do you think that all happened because the Bush Administration following ideology instead of policy? Rice: I believe the Middle East is a very different place today, but I think it’s a different place for the better." State Department transcript, 20 October 2008. See also BBC News, 20 September 2008. The BBC interview is covered by Iran's Press TV on 21 October 2008 and 22 October 2008. But not by VOA.

Ukrainian president interviewed by international radios.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"President Victor Yushchenko gave an interview to world’s leading radio stations: BBC, Svoboda [RFE/RL], Deutsche Welle and Radio France, according to the President`s press-office. During the interview President Yushchenko has been answering questions about the plan of minimization of world financial crisis impact on Ukraine, organization and holding pre-term parliamentary election, gas talks with Russia, etc. The interview is scheduled to be on air of the radio stations on October 22 and 23." UNIAN News Agency, 22 October 2008. VOA Ukrainian, the demise of whose radio service has been postponed to 31 December, is not mentioned.

Interference to shortwave increasing "at an impressive rate."

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"PLC (or power line communication) adaptors utilise your home's electricity wiring to extend your broadband network and are increasing in popularity at an impressive rate. ... It turns out PLC adaptors produce RF interference, which may knock out shortwave radio reception within the immediate vicinity. Radio hams aren't happy, viewing this technology an indiscriminate and clumsy airwave pollutant. There are pressure groups dedicated to securing legislation against PLC - I contacted one named UKQRM, which has produced YouTube videos ... purporting to show the interference in action. ... From anecdotal evidence it seems there are products available that interfere with shortwave frequencies, not just amateur bands but with radio stations like the BBC World Service. I have been contacted by an ex-BBC transmissions engineer who claims to have investigated dozens of interference problems reported by radio listeners, and has been personally affected." Keith Stuart, The Guardian Games blog, 22 October 2008. The technology is called broadband over power line (BPL) in the United States.

NTDTV versus Eutelsat will not go away.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"After months of square-offs between a European satellite company and an independent television channel attempting to restore its broadcast of uncensored news to China, a letter from the U.S Committee on Foreign Affairs weighed in on the fight for information freedom. 'As members of the United States Congress, we are writing to respectfully request that Eutelsat restore New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV)'s signal into China as soon as possible,' said a letter addressed last week by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 64 other members of U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. to the European satellite provider Eutelsat." Epoch Times, 21 October 2008. The letter is, I think, from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. I can't find the letter or mention of it at Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's website, or at the Committee website, or at the Committee Republican website See previous post about same subject.

New IPTV service in France includes international channels.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Bouygues Telecom has now launched its IPTV offer using the so-called BBbox (see also Broadband TV News passim). The basic tier offers 51 television channels and includes broadband access, fixed line telephony and up to three hours mobile phone credit for €39.90 a month." International channels include 2M Maroc, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera English, APSARA TV (Cambodia), CNBC Europe, CNN, Deutsche Welle, Euronews Français, Sky News, and TV5 Monde. Broadband TV News, 21 October 2008.

"Pan-EMEA" channels are multi-platform.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The assortment of pan-EMEA [Europe, the Middle East, and Africa] broadcasters with multi-platform offers ranges from specialist news services, CNN International and CNBC Europe, to mainstream news channels. ... News broadcaster CNN International is the market-leading news channel in the region. Launched in EMEA about 12 years ago after it was established in the US, it now airs to 149 million households and hotels via cable and satellite across the EMEA region. The broadcaster uses the internet to leverage the value of its news content. ... The news broadcaster CNBC launched in 1998 and now reaches 100 million households across Europe via cable and satellite, and has six million viewers a month. Its advertising model has evolved over the course of the past decade. ... Most of CNBC 's advertising deals span different media, including online and even print - the broadcaster's magazine European Business is distributed through travel points such as airports." Lucy Rouse, Media Week, 21 October 2008. Strangely, no mention of BBC World News or Al Jazeera English. Perhaps the article was meant to be USA-centric.

The international broadcasting of the World Series.

Posted: 22 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The World Series between the Phillies and Rays will have a worldwide reach with Major League Baseball International broadcasting the games in 13 languages to 229 countries and territories around the globe. Utilizing its own production team and facilities, MLB International will also broadcast the World Series to nearly one million United States Armed Forces personnel stationed throughout the world as well as aboard U.S. Naval ships-at-sea via the Armed Forces Network and the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. In addition to MLB International's broadcasts, there will be eight foreign broadcasters on hand to call games live." MLB.com, 20 October 2008.

Reruns on Worldspace?

Posted: 21 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sources at bankrupt Worldspace's Washington HQ say that virtually all the programming and content staff have now been dismissed, with a source stating that the dismissed personnel have not been paid salaries owed to them (which may be remedied once Worldspace can access funds). The same process is well advanced in India where staff have been let go. It seems the company is now wholly concerned in selling off assets." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 21 October 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     The press release about the Chapter 11 reorganization is now posted at www.1worldspace.com. "1worldspace" is the new Worldspace brand that everyone seems to be ignoring.
     On the Worldspace channel guide, Radio Sawa is no longer listed. However, Radio Voyager is. Radio Voyager is the privatized successor to the old VOA Europe. It was eventually absorbed by Worldspace as one of its music channels: "Best Mix of Today's Best Music."
     Meanwhile, back at the www.1worldspace.com home page, it sure looks to me like the tennis player and the orchestra conductor are the same person.

Filipino assesses the London broadcasting scene.

Posted: 21 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The serviced apartment in Kensington that I am billeted in has a limited cable TV menu. It has BBC-1 and BBC-2, which are anemic cousins of BBC World that I have become addicted to in Manila. But it has no CNN, a major shortcoming considering the accelerating momentum of the presidential elections in the US, as the global economy spirals out of control. BBC-1 and BBC-2 are just not up to it. Even less so is something called Sky News, which purports to give the latest news every 15 minutes. But repeating basically the same news reports every 15 minutes during the day is not the same as delivering in-depth analysis and detailed reportage, which CNN and BBC World perform with seamless efficiency and professionalism. I frankly found the radio a more satisfying medium here. I found myself spending more time with LBC -- which I presume stands for London Broadcasting Corporation -- and BBC Radio 4, than with the TV channels." Antonio C. Abaya, Manila Standard Today, 21 October 2008.

Still as rare as the pale-headed brush finch: standalone DRM receivers.

Posted: 21 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Mirics/NewStar-based DRM receiver from UniWave ... is a SW/MW/LW/FM radio with DRM on SW and MW. ... Target availability January 2009." 26MHz.us, 21 October 2008. Does not specify the price or shortwave frequency coverage. Mentions that the headphone jack has "FM stereo in phones." How about DRM, which has stereo capabilities on MW and SW, as well?
     "DRM Member Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia showcases its latest DRM offerings at the Africast exhibition in Abuja, Nigeria, taking place from October 21-23. The Thomson stand will be featuring live DRM demonstrations with the latest digital receiver sets as well as a wide variety of product presentations. From the broadcasting side, the DRM Members BBC, CVC, Deutsche Welle (DW) and TDF actively contribute to the Africast exhibition by broadcasting in DRM to Africa." DRM Consortium website, 20 October 2008.

Faith Satellite Radio has faith in Worldspace.

Posted: 21 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"In cooperation with Signis, the World Catholic Association for Communication, [Faith Satellite Radio] began in earnest to develop a plan for broadcasting quality Catholic Christian programming to the 14 million square miles of Africa as well as parts of Europe. Currently, FSR uses the Worldspace Satellite Radio Network’s AfriStar satellite. In order to receive programs, parishes need a special radio capable of receiving the satellite’s signal and decoding the FSR channel. Once installed, the receiver will provide programming for the listener with no fading, noise, or interference. In addition, the radio boasts a USB port to connect to a computer. This allows the parish to receive documents and other data as well." Catholic Online, 21 October 2008. Complicated, of course, by Worldspace's Chapter 11 protection and uncertain future. See previous post. FSR would be an example of an alternative business plan for Worldspace that I floated on 29 November 2007. Instead of revenue from subscriber/listeners, income would come from broadcasters that buy channels on the Worldspace system. The broadcasters would recruit their own listeners, or may have listeners already lined up. The broadcasters would supply receivers (they could be single-channel) to those listeners, either at a profit, at cost, or on a subsidized basis. Religious broadcasters would be likely clients. Most of the programming would not have much appeal except to the broadcasters' particular audiences.

Russian television viewers focus grouped, subject of new book.

Posted: 21 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"In her groundbreaking new book, Television, Power, and the Public in Russia, Duke University professor and Russia media specialist Ellen Mickiewicz brings a unique and informed focus on a usually neglected but crucial dimension in Russian television: the audience. In her analysis of detailed focus group transcripts carried out specifically in four different Russian cities (Moscow, Rostov, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod), Professor Mickiewicz discovers that Russian television viewers are actually much more sophisticated than their leaders, and probably Western observers for that matter, may think." Review by Christopher Deliso, Balkananalysis.com, 18 October 2008. See also Cambridge University Press blurb.

Khatami tries again to create a satellite television channel.

Posted: 21 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami announced on Monday the creation of a new satellite TV network. The network's aim will be to 'promote dialogue between civilisations.' However, article 175 of Iran's constitution forbids private television and radio channels that do not fit the 'Islamic criteria' or 'having the best interests of the country' from being set-up. ... Three years ago, Khatami attempted to broadcast in Farsi language from Dubai's Media City, but permission was denied. ... Khatami was president of Iran from 1997-2005." Adnkronos International, 20 October 2008.

Late Mormon president had applied for VOA job in 1951, thus checked by FBI.

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Four decades before he became president of the LDS Church, the U.S. government investigated whether Gordon B. Hinckley was a foreign spy. The answer appears to be no, according to an FBI file released last week. The file shows that in 1951 the FBI conducted a background check on Hinckley in anticipation of him receiving a government job. The job would have been with Voice of America, a U.S. State Department-run radio network still broadcasting today. For much of the Cold War, federal law prohibited foreign agents from working at the network. ... Matthew Armstrong, a public diplomacy consultant who has studied American propaganda, said anyone applying for Voice of America was scrutinized in those days. Only people applying to work in the atomic weapons program received a more-thorough background check, Armstrong said. 'There's just great concern the State Department folks that were going to be involved in [Voice of America] were going to be sympathetic to the Communists,' Armstrong explained. The documents do not specify whether Hinckley applied to Voice of America or was recruited. There's no evidence he took or received the job." Salt Lake Tribune, 20 October 2008. This may be less of a story than it seems. Anyone who is offered a federal job is investigated, not so much to determine that the applicant is a spy, but to determine is he/she is susceptible to variety of reprobations.

BBC Knowledge gets prime time in South Korea.

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC has announced an agreement to launch a BBC Knowledge branded programme block on Science TV in Korea. Science TV is one of the YTN Group’s three cable and satellite channels in South Korea. This is the first-ever launch of the BBC Knowledge brand in South Korea and the first branded programme block for the channel brand. Set to launch on 27 October 2008, the block will be subtitled in Korean and will reach about 10 million households every week night during prime time, from 8 pm to 10 pm." Indiantelevision.com, 20 October 2008.

BBCWS coverage of US election is multimedia, multimodal.

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"World Service’s English language division wanted to cover the American election in a way that felt inclusive, more representative of the whole country. They thought of an election bus, US08, crossing the country, talking to ordinary people, reporting. The Global Division came on board, plus World News TV, 12 World Service language stations, BBC America and American partner stations. For the past four weeks the bus has been travelling from Los Angeles to New York, via Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania. You can hear this on the radio. But go on the website and new dimensions add themselves. A map shows you the bus’s destinations. Click to find out what’s happening to the tyre business in Akron, what ordinary people thought of the big debates. Click for things that inform and expand the news. This is a different kind of radio." The Telegraph, 18 October 2008.

New BBCWS arts show: "nothing is out of bounds."

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Roger Moore, Toni Morrison, Candace Bushnell, Neil Gaiman and Curtis Sittenfeld will appear on BBC World Service's brand-new daily arts and entertainment show, The Strand, during the launch week from Monday 27 October. Presented by Harriett Gilbert and Mark Coles, the half-hour programme takes listeners on a worldwide journey through arts, culture and entertainment. According to the programme-makers, 'Nothing creative is out of bounds' -- and The Strand will bring the best, newest and most exciting creative enterprises to listeners around the world." BBC World Service press release, 20 October 2008.

Online radio in Egypt.

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"In recent months, one of the most valuable ‘media’ in Egypt in terms of providing information has been weblogs and social networking sites. The young generation, which has almost lost its trust in the traditional media, believes that its voice will be better heard online rather than via the broadcasting towers. Now, citizens are starting to literally speak their minds through online radio stations that transmit from Egypt, for Egyptians and run by Egyptians." Business Today Egypt, October 2008

The CNN is always greener on the other side of the street.

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"What I have enjoyed the most ... is the quality of the election coverage on CNN. Periodically, CNN International breaks for the domestic feed and the programming is so much better that you realise how much those of us who do not live in the United States are missing. In particular, Anderson Cooper would be a huge star if we saw much more of him." Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times, 17 October 2008. For the other side of the coin, see previous post.

From Radio Canada International to RCIviva, from shortwave to podcast.

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The annual Migr@tions Online Film Festival and Competition [is] Canada's first and only online film festival dealing with issues of immigration – something close to the hearts of the loyal listeners of the organizer, RCIviva, Radio-Canada International's web-based service. ... Following its move from short-wave frequency to internet podcast in 2006, RCIviva initiated the virtual film festival last year, hoping to enrich its multicultural fan base's experience by adding the visual element on its website." Toronto Star, 18 October 2008.

RFA reports that CCTV2 pulls talk show about milk scandal.

Posted: 20 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"China's state-run Chinese Central Television (CCTV) pulled a talk show discussing the recent milk scandal on October 12 allegedly under the order of the Central Propaganda Department. ... The CCTV's talk-show program, Conversation, announced an episode, titled 'The Truth Behind the Milk,' to be broadcasted at 10 p.m., October 12, but another episode aired in its place. On the following Monday morning, CCTV explained that an equipment failure prevented the intended milk broadcast, but insiders say that Conversation received an order on Sunday afternoon to cut the program. Other media close to Conversation also received notice of this programming change. Radio Free Asia (RFA) called CCTV Channel 2 and the Conversation studio, but no one answered. According to Beijing Evening newspaper, there was no equipment failure. They say such an issue is unlikely to happen, especially since CCTV had already announced the show that morning." Radio Free Asia report reprinted by Epoch Times, 17 October 2008.

Commentator recommends Swiss public diplomacy to Turkey.

Posted: 19 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"A recent Turkish media delegation visit to Switzerland organized by the country's official public diplomacy agency has revealed Turkey's urgent need for a similar agency ... Präsenz Schweiz is the organization that coordinates the Swiss presence all over the world. It links Swiss organizations from the fields of business, politics, culture, tourism, sports and youth in a single network in order to promote the image of Switzerland worldwide. The organization was first established to break the negative image created in the 1990s when historical documents proved that Switzerland had been unable to maintain its neutrality during World War II and had a certain amount of responsibility in the atrocities perpetuated against the Jews during the war. A diplomat from Präsenz Schweiz told Sunday's Zaman that his organization supplies the missions of the Swiss Confederation all over the world with know-how and financing for cultural activities that will promote Switzerland's image. Präsenz Schweiz publishes booklets about Switzerland in several languages, including Turkish, and runs a Web site at swissworld.org, a gateway to Switzerland. There is no turkishworld.org or .com yet." Kerim Balci, Today's Zaman, 19 October 2008.

Iran charges contributor to VOA, RFI, DW with "publicity aganst the regime." (updated)

Posted: 19 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "today called for the release of a Kurdish contributor to national and foreign media, Massud Kurdpoor, who was arrested by intelligence ministry agents at his home in Bukan, Iranian Kurdistan on 7 August 2008. The teacher had been broadcasting regularly on foreign radio stations Voice of America, Radio France International and Deutsche Welle about increased repression and violations of human rights in the region. ... He was charged at the Mahabad revolutionary court on 7 September 2008 with 'publicity against the regime during interviews given to foreign and enemy media' without any lawyer in court to represent him." RSF, 10 September 2008.
     Update: "The Mahabad revolutionary court in [Iranian] Kurdistan on 15 October 2008 sentenced Kurdish journalist Massud Kurdpoor to one year in prison for 'publicity against the regime in interviews with foreign and enemy media'. His lawyer Abass Jamali said he had been placed in solitary confinement and denied all contact with his family. Kurdpoor, who is a teacher, gave interviews to a number of foreign radio stations - Voice of America, Radio France International, and Deutsche Welle - condemning deteriorating human rights in Kurdistan. He is held in jail in Mahabad, the region’s main city." Reporters sans frontières, 17 October 2008.

Uzbekistan: reporter for RFE/RL, VOA gets ten-year sentence (updated).

Posted: 19 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"An independent Uzbek journalist who worked for Western media outlets was sentenced to 10 years in prison on drug charges Friday, his lawyer said, in a case condemned by human rights groups. Solijon Abdurakhmanov, 58, was convicted of drug possession with intent to sell but claimed the case was fabricated as revenge for his reporting, which was often critical of the authorities, lawyer Rustam Tulaganov told AFP. ... Abdurakhmanov worked for Uznews.net, an independent Uzbek news website, as well as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting." AFP, 10 October 2008.
     "RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin condemned Abdurahmonov's conviction, saying that 'The sentencing of Mr. Abdurahmonov on such spurious allegations is an outrage against due process.' Gedmin notes that the case is 'yet another example of the Uzbek government's drive to wipe out any vestige of free speech and independent criticism in that country.'" RFE/RL press release, 10 October 2008.
     "The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s politicized imprisonment of independent journalist Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov and calls for his immediate and unconditional release." CPJ, 10 October 2008.
     Reporters sans frontières: “This sentence is disproportionate and unfair. Coming a week after the EU/Uzbekistan forum on liberalising the media and ahead of the EU’s decision about sanctions against Uzbekistan, it looks like provocation." RSF, 10 October 2008.
     Update: "The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, today asked the Uzbek government to review on appeal the 10-year prison sentence handed to well-known journalist Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov." Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 15 October 2008

Worldspace files for Chapter 11 reorganization.

Posted: 18 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"WorldSpace, Inc. ... today announced it, along with its U.S. subsidiaries WorldSpace Systems Corporation and AfriSpace, Inc. have filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The WorldSpace Board of Directors unanimously determined that Chapter 11 reorganization was necessary for the Company to engage in an orderly process to raise sufficient funds to repay its senior secured and convertible notes by means of either a sale of the Company or its assets, or a recapitalization of the Company. WorldSpace will continue to operate its business and manage its assets as a 'debtor-in-possession' under the jurisdiction of the court and in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and the orders of the court. The holders of the Company’s existing senior secured and convertible notes have agreed to provide, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, a 'debtor-in-possession' financing facility of up to $13 million for a period of 90 days in order to facilitate a sale transaction. The financing facility is expected to enable the Company to continue to pay salaries of critical employees and continue operations which are critical to preserving the value of its core assets through the term of the facility." Worldpace press release, 17 October 2008. Worldspace stock cloed at 18 cents on 17 October. Worldspace website.
          "Without the bankruptcy financing, the remaining critical employees will likely depart, which would 'impair' WorldSpace's ability to operate the satellites and continue as a going concern, [Worldspace CEO Noah] Samara said." Wall Street Journal, 18 October 2008.
     As I've written before, there is a place in my heart for companies that try to make a go of audacious new technologies. So I hope something good becomes of Worldspace. After all, Iridium is now viable after its bankruptcy. One challenge to the satellite radio business is that while people -- even people who can't afford it -- will pay serious money for television entertainment, they are much less likely to do so for radio entertainment.

Iran dismisses charges against Iranian-American who spoke on VOA.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"An Iranian court has dismissed all charges against a Lake Forest [California] mortgage banker accused of undermining national security, he said. Ali Shakeri, who was held for 140 days by Tehran and was among four Iranian-Americans detained and released at different times last year, said he knew the risk he was taking by making a second required appearance on Oct. 4 before a court in Tehran. It was the first time, Shakeri said, that about 25-30 counts, including speaking on Voice of America, writing Internet articles for Iranian newspapers ... were read in an Iranian court against him, before he got a chance to speak in his defense." Orange County Register, 15 October 2008.

New BBCWS news program for South Asia.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service is reaching out to audiences across South Asia with the launch of a special English-language news and current affairs programme - broadcast from the region and tailored for the region. From Monday 20 October, Evening Report will bring audiences in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - as well as South Asian diaspora audiences, wherever they are - half an hour of daily news and information, covering key regional developments and the most relevant global stories. ... Evening Report will be broadcast on shortwave across the region, on Worldspace satellite, via BBC Global News channel covering South and East Asia, and on FM in following locations: Bangladesh: Dhaka 100 FM Nepal: Kathmandu 103 FM Sri Lanka: via SLBC - Anuradhapura, Batticoloa and Tricomalee 99.6 FM, Colombo 95.6 and 96.4 FM, Galle 90.8 FM, Gampaha 96.4 FM, Kandy 96.4 FM, Matara 98.4 and 90.8 FM, Nuwara Eliya 100.2 FM." BBC World Service press release, 17 October 2008. Decades ago, BBC World Service had news programs focusing on South Asia. Note that the FM outlets do not include any in India, which does not allow news on non-AIR FM stations. Also, what is the "BBC Global News channel"?

BBC prevails in survey of European elites.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BE Europe 2008, the media survey of Europe’s Business Elite ... which covers 458,000 senior business people, reports that the BBC’s website and BBC World News television reach 57,000 upscale business users each day in Western Europe, outstripping all of their international broadcast news competitors (including Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Euronews, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Sky News and Al Jazeera English). The BBC website also has a larger monthly reach in Western and Central Europe than every broadcast and print news competitor surveyed (including CNN, Forbes, CNBC, Time, Business Week, WSJ, NY Times, Euro News, News Week, National Geographic, Economist, Bloomberg, Sky News, CNN and the FT)." BBC World Service press release, 14 October 2008.

BBC World Service compared to visions for U.S. international communication.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The British Government does not commission stories or sway the BBC's line. Governments of different political stripes have, from time to time, found themselves on the wrong side of the World Service's independent reporting. This independence and reporting of the facts has ensured continued credibility for the organisation. Public Affairs Officers or Diplomats like myself can no more tell the World Service what to report than we could tell Al Jazeera to spike a story on civilian casualties. The Arab 'street' or Soweto slums have become more and more media savvy. It would be a waste of money for the UK to pay for and serve up lukewarm propaganda. ... There is a wide ranging debate underway in Washington on how the US Government should go about influencing overseas. There seems to be a wide range of suggested approaches." Andy Price, First Secretary, Public Affairs, Washington, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office's UK in the USA, 14 October 2008.

Radio Sawa, Alhurra discussed at Dubai forum.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
At a Dubai forum discussing the role of media in the Arab world, Dr. Ali Al Shuaibi, a media expert from the UAE, "criticised the US controlled Arabic language Radio Sawa and the Al Hurra news channel. 'I was even told by an official from [the stations] once that the objective was to create a new generation of Arabs that thought differently,' he said." Gulf News, 16 October 2008.

No "substantial compensation" for former Al Jazeera exec.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"A former executive at al-Jazeera English seeking substantial compensation from the network has had her claim of discrimination dismissed by a London employment tribunal. Jo Burgin, former head of planning at the Doha-based channel in Qatar, was seeking compensation from al-Jazeera for alleged discrimination on the grounds of sex, race and religion following the non-renewal of her contract in April 2007." The Guardian, 16 October 2008.

No referendum on Al Jazeera access in Burlington.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the aftermath of their unsuccessful fight to have the 24-hour news channel Al-Jazeera English removed from Burlington Telecom’s programming, The Defenders Council of Vermont vowed to mount a petition drive and take the issue directly to voters in November. That won’t happen. Lori Olberg of the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office said the group missed the Sept. 25 deadline for ballot items." Burlington Free Press, 16 October 2008.

New media freedom center in "the birthplace of Al Jazeera."

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Doha Centre for Media Freedom was officially inaugurated yesterday, with officials declaring that the centre represented a 'triumph' both for the State of Qatar and for journalists around the world. ... Robert Menard, who runs the centre in Doha, explained that it had four main objectives which include providing practical assistance (such as medical care) to journalists in need; giving shelter to those who have had to flee their own countries; providing information, improving awareness and creating a link between the Eastern and Western media and creating a memorial to commemorate all the journalists who have lost their lives since 1971. And although the board members were keen to stress the international outreach of the centre, Menard made it clear that host Qatar would be scrutinised as closely as any other country. ... He added that he thought it 'entirely appropriate' to establish the centre in Qatar, 'the birthplace of Al Jazeera'." Gulf Times (Doha), 16 October 2008. "Nasser Al Othman, well-known Qatari journalist and member of the DCMF Advisory Council, said: 'With the setting up of this centre, I have a wonderful feeling of triumph. We want this to be bigger than Al Jazeera network. We want the DCMF to set its eyes on the entire world.'" The Peninsula, 16 October 2008.

East West Communications can definitely benefit from getting the South Korean "nation branding" account.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Korea can definitely benefit from a well-executed nation branding program. Already it has one of the world's strongest economies and some of the best international corporate brands, such as Hyundai, Samsung and LG. What it lacks is a distinct position in the world in the minds of most people. The lack of a strong, clear identity probably accounts for Korea's less than stellar results in nation brand surveys." Thomas Cromwell, "president of Washington DC-based East West Communications, a company specialized in nation branding and communications," The Korea Times, 17 October 2008. What self-respecting nation would reduce itself to a "brand"?

With a name like "Oxford Analytica," we thought they might know what they are talking about.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
In report about digital radio: "Digital satellite radio also seems likely to take off in much of the developing world, with satellite communications company Worldspace creating a network of three satellites to provide services to Asia, Latin America and Africa." Oxford Analytica, 18-24 October 2008. Worldspace has two satellites and long ago gave up plans for a Latin American service. As for "likely to take off," see previous post.
     "The Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) is a non-profit and non-commercial organisation and deals with telecasting and Public Performance rights on behalf of Indian Music Companies as well as Foreign Member Music Companies. This includes Music recorded in any format (Visual or Acoustic) or communicated by way of a Radio, a Worldspace receiver, Cable network or a Television set." screenindia.com, 17 October 2008. If Worldspace has to pay music rights in each of its target countries, this could become a considerable expense. There was never an attempt, that I know of, to make shortwave stations pay music rights in their various target countries.

ITN On on Livestation.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"ITN On one of the world’s leading producers of news and entertainment content for multimedia platforms joined Livestation today. Livestation viewers can now access ITN On’s made-for-broadband 24 hour channel, the only channel of its kind in the UK. Users can catch the latest national and international news as a well as showbiz and sports content. ... ITN On joins a growing list of Livestation partners who include Al Jazeera, BBC, Bloomberg, C-SPAN, Deutsche Welle, euronews, France 24 and Russia Today. ... ITN On is part of ITN, one of the world’s leading news and multimedia content companies. ITN On is the UK’s leading supplier of news and other video entertainment content to broadband, mobile and radio platforms." Livestation press release, 17 October 2008. ITN is the trading name of Independent Television News Limited, a company registered in England and Wales. -- What I like about Livestation is that it is spelled and capitalized "Livestation." Not LiveStation, or livestation, or LIVEstation, or liveSTATION, or (heaven help us) LIVESTATION.

Symphonic shortwave.

Posted: 17 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra "began in 1934 as a community orchestra with personnel drawn from area professional and amateur musicians. ... The first concert was Feb. 5, 1935. Its second concert that May made history when it was beamed on short wave radio to South America on General Electric Co. stations W2XAF and W2XAD, making it one of the first American orchestras to be heard overseas through this new medium." Daily Gazette (Schnenectady), 17 October 2008.

"To spread Moscow’s message across the entire world."

Posted: 16 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Russian government must prepare to fight information wars which are becoming an ever more important part of geopolitical life, restoring parts of the Soviet-era system and going beyond that as well, according to the dean of international relations at the foreign ministry’s Diplomatic Academy ... Igor Panarin ... He calls for the creation of a Russian council on public diplomacy, which Panarin says would include representatives of the government, the media, business, political parties and NGOs and possibly be headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. ... He suggests that Moscow should create a foreign policy government media corporation that would 'restore the potential of the [Soviet-era] mechanism of foreign political propaganda which was completely destroyed in the 1990s' and use satellite television to spread Moscow’s message across the entire world." Via Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, 15 October 2008.

They relayed shortwave news of WWII POWs (updated).

Posted: 16 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
From boyhood memories of George Teale, Grenfell, NSW, Australia: "A lot of local young men were POWs through the early forties and I used to listen to Radio Japan on short wave. 'Tokyo Rose' broadcast the names and addresses of prisoners each night and my friend Tom and I would take them down and write to their relatives and pass the messages on. We found this very rewarding. Stamps cost 1 1/2d (a penny halfpenny) in those days and I think Tom and I found it a drain on our limited resources. Many times we received letters of thanks from appreciative relatives, who, until hearing from us, had not known of their loved ones still being alive. One day, to our great joy, I received an envelope containing fifty pounds worth of stamps – problem solved." Grenfeld Record, 10 October 2008.
     Update: "It had been over 60 years since Bob Gardiner last saw the group of men he worked with as a prisoner of war in coal mines near Osaka. ... [His sister Betty Miller] and her family were living in Ballina [NSW] during the war. She said the family did not know if her brother was alive or dead for a long time. 'We got word that he was missing in action, believed killed, until we received a letter from the Unites States,' she said. The letter, from El Paso, Texas, said that the writer heard a shortwave message from a prison camp in Osaka. In the shortwave broadcast, Mr Gardiner said, 'Dear mother and family: I hope you are in the best of health as this leaves me at present. I have been receiving your letters and hope you received mine. How’s is dad? ... fishing I suppose?'" Tenterfield (NSW) Star, 14 October 2008.
     The famous New Zealand shortwave DXer Arthur Cushen provided a similar service during World War II.

RFI confirms that RFI and BBC will leave their Saxony FM outlets.

Posted: 16 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC/RFI Saxony will stop broadcasting on FM in Leipzig, Dresden, Chemnitz and Pirna at midnight on 31 October. Thanks to everyone who tuned it and listened over the last seven years. You can still listen to us via internet or via satellite on Astra digital 19.2 deg. east, Freq. 12.207 GHz." Radio France International, 10 October 2008, in German, translated by David Murphy in Dresden, who provided this news tip. David has not yet heard or seen a similar announcement from BBC. See previous post.

Deutschland Online relaunched -- in ten languages.

Posted: 16 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Deutschland Online ... is a modern, cross-media site offering users many new and useful functions. At www.magazine-deutschland.de you can find the articles and main themes from the print version of Deutschland magazine, plus a lot of useful and relevant additional information about Germany, including of course the latest news. Deutschland is a cross-media resource implemented by Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt-am-Main, in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office. Deutschland Online now offers all this in ten languages: German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. ... The new website's content partners are Facts about Germany, Young Germany, Deutsche Welle and the German Weather Service." Deutschland Online, 16 October 2008. Links to the ten languages, in those ten languages, should appear on the home page. How would someone who speaks, say, only Japanese know which pull-down menu selects the language?

Australia, South Africa promote themselves.

Posted: 16 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Australia's new advertising campaign employs videos made by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. They start in the UK on 8 October, and will appear in the US from late November/early December. See Tourism Australia web page. Very unusual approach: sort of like film noir as tourist promotion. See also australia.com.
     "South African Tourism continues its global marketing campaign with the launch this week of a BBC World campaign that will promote the joys of visiting South Africa to more than 78 million weekly television viewers and web surfers across the world." travelwires.com, 15 October 2008.

According to these descriptions, VOA is a state-run government shortwave broadcasting service.

Posted: 15 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"This article was written by Michael Bowman writing in Washington DC for Voice of America, a United States Government entity." Disclaimer at the bottom of VOA story reprinted by The Raleigh Telegram, 13 October 2008. Similar disclaimer: The Raleigh Telegram, 13 October 2008.
     The Raleigh Telegram is not restricted from using VOA material, either for copyright or Smith-Mundt reasons -- the newspaper used the articles on its own accord, and not with any encouragement from VOA. The description of VOA as "a United States Government entity" is, however, problematic. The description is correct: VOA is part of the International Broadcasting Bureau, a U.S. government agency. VOA employees are in the Civil Service. But the description might give readers the impression that the articles were written to convey U.S. policy. Actually, they are real news articles, the journalistic integrity of which is protected by the VOA Charter and by the 'firewall' Broadcasting Board of Governers. So maybe a better description would be "Voice of America, a U.S. government funded but autonomous news service."
     "U.S. bankers were summoned to the Treasury Department yesterday, as the U.S. government prepared additional measures to stabilize markets, reported the U.S. shortwave broadcasting service, The Voice of America." Money Morning, 14 October 2008.
     In a report from Beijing Thursday, the state-run Voice of America news agency quoted a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying he hopes Washington will 'honour its obligations and fulfil its anti-terrorism commitment' by returning the 17 [Uighurs held at Guantánamo] to China." CBC News, 9 October 2008.

VOA on FM in Freetown (updated).

Posted: 15 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) is launching a new FM radio station in Freetown, Sierra Leone, allowing audiences in the West African country's capital to listen to a variety of news, talk, sports and music programs 24 hours a day. The shows are available on 102.4 FM... VOA's launch on Saturday includes a ceremony attended by media professionals, government representatives, members of the private sector, VOA fan clubs in Freetown and U.S. Embassy officials." VOA press release, 10 October 2008.
     Minister of Presidential Affairs Alpha Kanu at ceremony: "We have over thirty operating radio stations and counting, over sixty registered newspapers and counting. Indeed, for our small size and population, one can safely say that we are among the nations with the highest number of radio stations per capita in the world. Today, that number has increased by the addition of no less a service than the renowned Voice of America English to Africa service on FM, which is now joining the BBC world Service and Radio France International." The Patriotic Vanguard (Freetown), 11 October 2008.
     Update: "United States Embassy Charge d’Affairs, Glen Fedzer, explained that technology has given everyone the chance for their voices to be heard. He explained that the challenge is the abundance of information, highlighting that it is not easy for Sierra Leoneans to discern the truth from the dozens of radio stations and over a 50 registered newspapers. He said that VOA could not stand alone as the only source of information about America, but it would stand above the others as the sources of reliable and objective news. The US Emissary expressed optimism that the people of Sierra Leone would choose VOA as the source of information that would never compromise the truth. Independent Media Commissioner, Christopher Johnson appealed to VOA to ensure that at least one program is done in one local language for the benefit of provincial listeners." Awoko, 14 October 2008.

Alhurra's "Wild and Wacky."

Posted: 15 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
In "latest round" of television programming licensing: "Middle Eastern sales are also growing, with Alhurra picking up nine hours of content, including America Wild and Wacky (6x60'), on bizarre US festivals, and the one-hour World's Finest Cars, a behind-the-scenes look at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance festival." C21Media.net, 21 October 2008.

A comparison of McCain and Obama international communication visions.

Posted: 15 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"High-flown rhetoric about winning 'hearts and minds' is easy; concrete programs that would measurably improve how others view the United States are more challenging. Nevertheless, both presidential candidates have put forth several concrete actions they will take to improve the American position. Their platforms can sounds similar -- both recommend revitalizing public diplomacy, for example. Yet a close look reveals a basic difference in how each candidate envisions communication. McCain advocates making sure the American message, and our 'positive image' gets to foreign publics; Obama advocates forging a dialogue with foreign publics to create a joint narrative about a shared future. McCain believes the United States leads by moral fiat based on its intrinsic leadership role; Obama believes the United States should lead by the example of its own behavior. McCain has said that cross-cultural knowledge can be weaponized to undermine violent extremists; Obama has suggested by example that cross-cultural knowledge can be used to understand and address societies where extremism has taken hold. McCain is into telling; Obama thinks we should listen first." Amy Zalman, Huffington Post, 14 October 2008.

Another Burmese exile website hacked.

Posted: 15 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
The websites of Mizzima News, an independent Burmese multi-media group based in New Delhi, were suspended by its hosting server on the evening of October 9 because the site had attracted several hacking attempts. They became fully operational only on October 14. ... 'This kind of well-organized attacking can't be done by individuals but is instead the disguised actions of an institution, most probably in this case the military regime,' said Sein Win, Mizzima's managing editor." Southeast Asian Press Alliance, 15 October 2008. See previous post about Burmese hacking.

BBC investigation involved in shutdown of spam operation.

Posted: 15 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"US regulators have struck a body blow at two men accused of masterminding the world's largest spam enterprise by obtaining a court order that shuts down some half-dozen companies they operated and freezing assets earned in the operation. ... To bolster their claim, the attorneys included a December 2007 conversation between [Lance] Atkinson and his brother Shane Atkinson shortly after he was contacted by the BBC and asked about Gencash, a spam operation allegedly maintained by the brothers. 'I had bbc world call my home,' Shane wrote in an instant message to his brother. 'i think you need to stop spamming asap.'" The Register, 14 October 2008.

Dubious descriptions of DRM.

Posted: 15 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
SABC plans for digital radio broadcasting. Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) "is a universal digital system for shortwave (SW), medium wave (MW) and long wave (LW), and uses frequencies below 30Mhz. DRM can fit in more channels at better quality than the current analogue." Biz-Community (Cape Town), 15 October 2008. Actually, on shortwave, DRM occupies three adjacent 5 kHz channels, compared to one for analog. The quality of DRM is better if reception conditions are good, but if they are not, the quality of analog is better because it can be heard, albeit at a degraded level, whereas the DRM audio is completely absent.

Discovery Channel, CNN dominate in pan-Asian audience survey.

Posted: 14 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to Synovate’s annual Pan Asia-Pacific Cross-Media (PAX) survey, Asian audiences are watching and reading news, education and business programmes and publications more than entertainment-based alternatives. The survey, which polled more than 20,000 audience members across 11 markets in the region between the third quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2008, found that the most watched television channel in the region is the Discovery Channel, with 20.2 per cent of those polled admitting to watching it within the past seven days. This is followed by CNN, with 17.1 per cent; National Geographic, with 16.7 per cent and Animal Planet, with 11.1 per cent. The trend is more evident among those who hold top management positions, as CNN draws 27.6 per cent of audiences; the Discovery Channel holds 23.7 percent; National Geographic has 18.5 percent; and BBC World is watched by 14.6 percent." Brand Republic, 14 October 2008. According to the Synovate PAX summary (pdf), the 11 markets are Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Taipei, Jakarta, Manila, India, Seoul, Sydney, Melbourne, and Tokyo, which is actually 12, so maybe Sydney and Melborne are counted as a single market.

A Radio Veritas listener in Burma.

Posted: 14 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Margaret Mary Mar Kauo, at 73 the oldest patient in the Catholic-run St. John's Leprosy Asylum in Mandalay: "An important lifeline, according to her, is Radio Veritas Asia, the Manila-based short-wave station run by Asia's Catholic bishops. 'I get world religious news and learn from teachings in the Bible by listening to Radio Veritas every morning,' she said." Spero News, 13 October 2008.

New mobile access for France 24.

Posted: 14 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"France 24 is launching a new VOD service known as France 24 Mobile. The new service will stream the three language versions of the international news channel in French, English and Arabic. A variety of programmes will also be available on demand. ... Users can register on the France 24 website. They will then be sent the necessary application by SMS. The system has been developed by Actimagine using its mobiclip.com platform." Broadband TV News, 14 October 2008. See also France 24 mobiclip mobile web page.

Ransom demand for Press TV freelancer.

Posted: 14 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Somali kidnappers threaten to kill Canadian journalist, Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer, Nigel Brennan if [$2.5 million] ransom is not paid. ... Lindhout, 27, a freelance television and print reporter from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, filed stories from Iraq on behalf of Press TV, Iran's 24-hour English-language news channel." Press TV, 13 October 2008.

More Abu Dhabi media hub in the news.

Posted: 13 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"A spate of companies announced that they were setting up shop in Abu Dhabi, an island city that is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The companies are CNN, the book publishers HarperCollins and Random House, the British Broadcasting Corporation, The Financial Times and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity arm of the financial news giant Thomson Reuters. ... All of this raises questions of whether the government, which is building the state-of-the-art facility, would exert control of the media." New York Times, 12 October 2008.
     "The BBC and Thomson Reuters have unveiled plans to export broadcast production and journalism expertise to Abu Dhabi as part of a large-scale project to develop a media economy in the region." The Guardian, 13 October 2008. See previous post about Abu Dhabi.

Satellite radios in European BMWs -- if there are satellites to transmit to them.

Posted: 13 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ondas Media, a would-be satellite pay-radio operator over Europe, has signed German auto-giant BMW to install its system. ... Both parties say they are aiming to see Ondas’ satellite radio chip-sets fitted into BMW vehicles starting in 2012. ... Ondas says it already holds terrestrial re-transmission licences for Germany (and Switzerland/Italy), but 2011 is not so far off if it intends building and launching a satellite to serve these markets. While building its own satellite is an option for Ondas (and it has an initial contract in place with Space Systems/Loral), there are other options. [Onda CEO] Dave Kruger is on record as saying that Ondas could lease suitable capacity, and as we have been reporting this past week there are a growing number of attractive options for Ondas including the S-Band for transmission." Rapid TV News, 12 October 2008.

Worldspace: penny stock (updated).

Posted: 13 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Beleaguered satellite operator Worldspace hit an all-time share-price low Oct 8, of just 52c, and giving the company a Market Capitalisation of $22.3m. This bad news was despite what might have been a good day for the broadcaster, helped by a report that Bharti Airtel, the new India DTH platform, is to take 10 of Worldspace’s radio channels as part of its 175 channel entertainment platform. Worldspace saw its shares tumble yesterday by 18.46% at one time, dropping from 74c to 53c. While Oct 8 was a volatile day on the world’s stock market, Worldspace’s 18% fall was exceptional." Rapid TV News, 8 October 2008. Closed at 60 cents on 9 October, per Worldspace website. If Worldspace fails as a satellite operator, perhaps it can still market its audio channels, which took some effort to develop, to cable and DTH systems around the world.
     Update: "Worldspace suffered more than most on Friday’s pre-US holiday stock-market rout. Worldspace fell 36% to an all-time low of 32c at one point, and finished the day at just 39c. In July its price was touching $3. The share price collapse means that Worldspace’s Market Capitalisation is now a mere $16.7m, and thus near-worthless. It is widely expected that Worldspace could now be dropped by the NASDAQ index. Four weeks ago founder and CEO Noah Samara offered to tender his resignation 'if requested', but that has seemingly not been called for." Rapid TV Times, 12 October 2008. Closed at 58 cents on 13 October. Worldspace website.

Two new books bring the history of shortwave broadcasting and listening up to date.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Both by Jerome S. Berg: Broadcasting on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today is "a detailed, year-by-year account of the shortwave bands in each year from 1945 to the present. It reviews what American listeners were hearing on the international and domestic shortwave bands, describes the arrivals and departures of stations, and recounts important shortwave events. The book also introduces readers to the several categories of broadcasters—international, domestic, religious, clandestine and pirate—and to private shortwave broadcasting in the United States." McFarland & Company, Publishers, website. Also: Listening on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today. "Written from the standpoint of the serious shortwave enthusiast, this book begins with an examination of the broader shortwave listening audience. It then presents in detail the histories of the major North American shortwave clubs and reviews the professional and listener-generated shortwave literature of the era. It also covers the DX programs and other listening fare to which shortwave listeners were most attracted and the QSL-cards they sought as confirmation of their reception." McFarland website. These continue the story from Jerry Berg's excellent On the Short Waves, 1923–1945, first published in 1999. See also www.ontheshortwaves.com.

Continental Electronics, manufacturer of shortwave tranmitters etc, changes hands.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Continental Electronics Corp., a maker of radio-frequency transmission equipment, has changed hands. The business, which has been based in South Dallas for all of its 62 years, was purchased for $24.5 million by Lone Star CRA Fund LP of Dallas. The seller was New York-based Veritas Capital. The privately held Continental manufactures radio-frequency transmitters used in high-definition radio broadcasting, AM and FM radio broadcasting and short-wave radio." Dallas Business Journal, 10 October 2008.

History of Hawaian radio station includes shortwave relays from Japan.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"KZOO-AM 1210 turns 45 years old Saturday. It first signed on the air Oct. 18, 1963. The primarily Japanese-language station has outlived competitors by staying focused on its niche audience and being not just a touch-point, but a lifeline for the community it serves. ... KZOO has a long history of simulcasts with Japanese radio stations and it 'would rebroadcast short-wave pickups from Japan,' according to Brock Whaley, a broadcast historian who works in Honolulu radio. Live broadcasts from Japan included sumo tournaments via phone line." Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 12 October 2008.

Radio amateurs continue to defend their shortwave spectrum.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
American Radio Relay League CEO David Sumner "said that amateurs will soon have cause to celebrate: March 29, 2009 marks the date that high-powered international broadcasting stations will be removed from the heart of the 40 meter band. 'We are working with the broadcasters to make sure the change takes place as agreed at the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC),' Sumner said. 'While it's probably too much to expect 100 percent instant compliance, we know that the responsible broadcasters are preparing to move out of the 7100-7200 kHz segment -- doubling the size of the worldwide 40 meter band and making this popular band more useful than it's been in 70 years.'" ARRL also continues to oppose interference from broadband over power line (BPL) systems. ARRL, 11 October 2008. For decades, 7100 to 7200 kHz was allocated for broadcasting in the Eastern Hemisphere, but for amateur radio in the Western Hemisphere. Shortwave broadcast signals easily reached the United States, especially those of Radio Moscow spec ifically and illegally beamed to North America. International broadcasters in the Eastern Hemisphere and radio amateurs in the Western Hemisphere will continue to share, with resulting clashes, 7200 to 7300 kHz.

Essay on Cold War history includes RFE/RL history.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Rich Cummings, former director of security for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, "joined the radio stations’ Munich headquarters just months before Carlos the Jackal, funded by the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, bombed the building, and he recalled the early years of his tenure as deadly serious, with constant worries about infiltration by spies. He also reminded me that the stations themselves were a microcosm of the internal dynamics of the cold war: many of the various nationalities who worked there had almost as much dislike for one another as they did for communism. In one memorable event, two staffers who had been doing some hard drinking in the headquarters canteen let their nationalist passions escalate into a fight in which one man put his cigarette out on the other’s forehead. In retaliation, the branded man bit off his opponent’s finger. Cummings, who still lives in Germany, continues to delve into the history of the cold war. His book, Cold War Radio, is scheduled for publication next year." Henry Hamman, Financial Times, 11 October 2008.

Radio/TV Marti is a football in the Florida Congressional elections.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Joe Garcia, former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz Balart's election opponent, noted many aid-to-Cuba programs including Miami-based Radio and TV Marti have been the subject of critical reports and accused of mismanagement and political cronyism." Miami Herald, 10 October 2008.
     "In 1995, Diaz-Balart was arrested outside the White House while protesting President Bill Clinton's Cuba policy. Just a year after his 1992 election to Congress, he took retribution on a lawmaker who had cut Radio and TV Marti's budget. Diaz-Balart slashed millions more from a project in the Colorado lawmaker's district." Miami Herald, 12 October 2008.
     "For the first time, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, 53, seeking a ninth term in the U.S. House, and his brother Mario, 46, seeking a fourth, face serious challenges from a different kind of Cuban-American, two Democrats from far less illustrious families. ... Both say they would consider cutting money for the U.S. government's Marti TV broadcasts to Cuba, a pet project of Diaz-Balarts, if the station cannot figure out how to get around Cuban jamming or shed its reputation for biased programming." AP, 21 March 2008, via Joe Garcia for Congress website.

Attributing magical powers to public diplomacy -- and to old bureaucracies.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"There is an alternative to the death, destruction, mistrust and misperceptions that our military actions have and continue to generate. There is a way to battle the lies and hatred of violent extremism that does not depend on F-16 fighters, nuclear aircraft carriers, M1 Abram tanks and most important, the sacrifice of brave American service men and women. It is called public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is best defined as the communication and presentation of America’s interests, culture and policies to foreign populations in a fashion that generates good will, respect and support. With the abolition of our government’s primary public diplomacy agency, the U.S. Information Agency, in 1999, public diplomacy has in essence become an afterthought." Joan Menard and Rick Rendon, The Herald News (Fall River, MA), 10 October 2008. With a budget of over $300 million, the State Department's public diplomacy section is hardly an "afterthought." The re-creation of USIA, or something like it, with not magically turn around the U.S. public diplomacy effort. And whatever we think of U.S. policies, many of them are unpopular abroad, and public diplomacy will not make them popular.

BBC's Carrie Gracie winner of BBC's Nick Clarke Award for interview with BBC's Alan Johnston.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"A BBC World Service interview with kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston has won an award for best broadcast interview of the year. Presenter Carrie Gracie was named as the winner of the Nick Clarke Award for her skilful questioning of the reporter who was held for four months in 2007." BBC News, 11 October 2008. See also BBC News press release, 26 September 2008.

CNN live from the new Abu Dhabi media zone.

Posted: 12 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International is to start broadcasting live daily news programming from a brand new broadcast facility in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. This landmark move signals the global network's significantly expanded on-the-ground commitment to the Middle East and marks CNN's first regularly scheduled daily live show from the region. The development is part of ongoing plans for CNN's new broadcast and production centre set to open in the Abu Dhabi Media Zone* in early 2009. ... CNN's Abu Dhabi operation complements its ongoing presence in Dubai and will be a fourth international broadcast centre alongside the existing facilities in London, Hong Kong and Mexico City." CNN Worldwide press release, 12 October 2008.
     Abu Dhabi "has launched twofour54, a multibillion-dollar hub for content creation across all forms of media in the Middle East. ... The latest initiative, which is supported by the Abu Dhabi government, has already signed up market-leading global brands such as CNN, the BBC, Harper Collins, Random House, the Thomson Reuters Foundation as well as Rotana Films, one of the Middle East's leading film companies. ... Twofour54 -- the name refers to Abu Dhabi's Atlas co-ordinates -- launched Oct. 12 and will open at a temporary site in the emirate's Sheik Khalifa Park in early 2009. The project will eventually move into a permanent 200,000 square-meter (2,152.9 sq. ft.) waterfront site." Variety 12 October 2008. See also Abu Dhabi press release, 12 October 2008.

More films by National Geographic, with Abu Dhabi help.

Posted: 11 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"National Geographic is entering a $100 million partnership with a media company owned by a Middle Eastern government. The deal is designed to at least double National Geographic's output of films for theatrical release. The arrangement with Abu Dhabi Media is intended to fuel a revolving fund that would produce half a billion dollars' worth of films over the next five years." Washington Post, 11 October 2008.

Al Arabiya is no longer master of its domain.

Posted: 11 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Arabiya's website remained down Saturday following an attack by hackers accusing the Dubai-based news channel of being pro-Sunni that shut down the channel's website shortly after midnight on Thursday. A warning message in Arabic and English was displayed that warned 'if attacks on Shiite websites continue, none of your websites will be safe.' ... Al Arabiya's servers were not hacked but the domain name company's system was hacked. Al Arabiya's website can currently be found at www.alarabiya.tv as administrators seek to get the main page back online at www.alarabiya.net." alarabiya.tv, 10 October 2008.
     "Gulf News has learned that Mohammad Al Mulla, Director of Dubai Media City, had sent a letter to Abdul Rahman Bin Rashid, head of the Al Arabiya channel, in June this year advising that the channel should take a neutral stand on political issues and sectarian friction. It has reportedly told the channel that the phrases and words it is using are seen as instigating sectarian strife between Arabs." Gulf News (Dubai), 10 October 2008.

Alhurra journalist was intended target in Iraq.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iraqi authorities have unveiled a new hotline to protect journalists, but reporters in the world's most dangerous country still fear for their lives. Police say they have thwarted two attempts to assassinate journalists in two weeks since setting up the hotline with a journalists' rights group. One of the intended victims was Saad Qusay, a correspondent for the U.S.-funded Arabic-language TV channel al-Hurra in the southern city of Basra. The Interior Ministry says it captured a militia member who had threatened to kill him." Reuters, 8 October 2008

Senator Brownback wants VOA, etc., to be "state-run."

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
The text of S.3546, The Strategic Communications Act of 2008, introduced 23 September by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), is now available. Excerpts: "Abolishment of Broadcasting Board of Governors- The United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.) is repealed on the date that is 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act. ... There is established the National Center for Strategic Communication. ... The Center shall be headed by the Director of Strategic Communication, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. ... The primary missions of the Center are ... (6) to direct and coordinate foreign broadcasting by the United States Government."
     Even though the bill includes the traditional language that "United States international broadcasting shall include (1) news which is consistently reliable, authoritative, accurate, and comprehensive," meeting this requirement will be difficult in an agency whose director is appointed by the president. Furthermore, the preponderance of activities of the Center would have to do with the advocacy of U.S. policy.
     This is why Britain separates its international broadcasting and public diplomacy activities. It's also why the public broadcasting entity of virtually every industrialized democracy (including U.S. international broadcasting since 2004) is governed by a board and not directly by the government.
     The bill enshrines the existing structure of U.S. international broadcasting, mentioning specifically Voice of America, "surrogate broadcast programs," RFE/RL, RFA, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and (even though it no longer exists) Worldnet. Significantly, Alhurra, Radio Sawa, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) Inc. are not mentioned.
     A main reason that U.S. international broadcasting has less audience than British international broadcasting, even though the former has a larger budget than the latter, is because the former consists of these entities that fragment scarce resources, compete with each other, and force audiences to tune to two stations to get a complete newscast. Fiscally conservative S.3546 is not.
See previous post about same subject.

Did Zimbabwe's opposition take the liberty of agreeing to shut down VOA Studio 7?

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"President Mugabe is expected to meet MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara of MDC to come up with guidelines for the negotiators in their consultations in the allocation of ministries. ... [Zanu-PF negotiator Cde Patrick] Cde Chinamasa called for a paradigm shift by all the three parties and wondered why pirate radio stations like Studio 7, Voice of America and Radio Africa were still operating as MDC-T mouthpieces 24 days after the signing of the agreement which called for their shutdown." The Herald (Harare), 10 October 2008.

So the U.S. Institute for Peace will become a uniformed service? Or maybe I should read this again.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Army’s new 'how-to' manual on stability operations is a unique document that embraces joint effort as a reflection of the realities of a 21st-century world, a senior U.S. military officer said yesterday. ... The human element, or how to provide societal, political and economic stability for populations affected by conflict, should be a primary focus factor during stability operations, [Lt. Gen. William B.] Caldwell [IV] said. Elements of soft power, he said, include the diplomatic capabilities of the U.S. State Department, as well as the civil-economic expertise possessed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Institute for Peace, and other U.S. and international agencies." American Forces Press Service, 9 October 2009.

The dotted lines of democracy promotion.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Kenneth Wollack at the meeting of the Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion: "We could all make the case that [democracy promotion] does serve U.S. national interests and national security interests. But when we support people overseas in this engagement, it’s important for them to know we’re doing it because of them, not that we’re doing it because of us, and that they are not part of some American national security doctrine. If that is the message that is delivered overseas, then I think there is a danger over time of sort of severing that relationship of trust, so people on the ground will be seen as part of something foreign and part of something alien. So why I think this is very important, this relationship and enunciating this relationship in terms of implementing programs -- I think we have to ensure that these are dotted lines and not straight lines; that we are doing this because we believe in these causes and there are byproducts to this effort. And this is particularly important in light of the Pentagon’s growing role in the area of nation building and in the area of public diplomacy." Secretary Rice: "I agree completely." State Department, 8 October 2008.

Youth interaction, but not managed by the government.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Jared Cohen, author of book Children of Jihad, "noted that new developments make it easier for American youth to interact with their counterparts outside the free world. Such interaction could be essential in a forum where Western governments can no longer air their messages as easily as they could through Cold War organizations like Radio Free Europe. Instead, the web provides the capability for millions of young Americans to become what Cohen called 'diplomats', showing young Iranians or Saudis what it means to live under freedom -- from the comfort of their keyboard. However, he was more hesitant to speculate on how the energies of America’s youth could be channeled in such a direction. He hinted that the subject might be discussed in a future book, but strongly indicated that he did not think such an undertaking could be effectively managed by the government." Matt Lewis, Townhall.com, 9 October 2008

DW: more English at the expense of German?

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The German Focus magazine reports about a draft of the Deutsche Welle plannings for the period from 2010 to 2013. The paper carries a remark by director Erik Bettermann himself that it is 'not to be released to a public outside DW' (Is this his way to cryptically say 'please send this to the press'?). This document states states that 'important audiences can be reached only by considerably increasing the amount of English-language offerings'. DW considers itself as a competitor of BBC World and Al Jazeera. A 'very strained financial situation' is said to make rationalization measures necessary, and most of these cost savings will be done at the expense of German-language services. Thus DW employees already founded an initiative called 'Pro Deutsche Welle' that calls these plans 'a good-bye to our audiences'. The Focus report also points out that DW is required by law to promote the German language. ... At least these excerpts do not cover the aspect of TV vs. radio. I suspect that radio could be especially affected." Kai Ludwig, DX Listening Digest, 9 October 2008. See also Focus, 5 October 2008. I can't find a Pro Deutsche Welle website yet. The initiative will need a website if it is to have impact.

Leadership restructuring at BBC that probably only BBC leadership would understand.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
A restructuring of BBC leadership includes "a new International Forum, ... chaired by the Director-General, will deal with matters relating to the BBC's global services, international business development and operational issues overseas, and will allow unprecedented co-ordination of the BBC's international activities. ... A new International Forum, chaired by the Director-General, will focus on the BBC's international presence, strategies, policies and brand management. The Forum's membership will include the Deputy Director-General, the CEO of BBC Worldwide and Director of Global News and the Director of Marketing, Communications and Audiences. This new strategic forum will meet quarterly, beginning later this year. ... BBC Global News includes BBC World Service, BBC World News, and the BBC's international facing online news services, and provides a focal point for viewers and listeners around the world. Together, these services attract a combined global weekly audience of over 233 million." BBC press release, 7 October 2008.

BBC Russian reprioritizes: less radio, more internet.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service has announced changes which will further reinforce its Russian-language output. The main thrust of the reprioritised investment is placed on strengthening the website, bbcrussian.com, which has become the key method for delivery of all BBC content in Russian. The website is having a significant impact in Russia where it is easier to access than the BBC radio services, and where demand for online news is growing and becoming increasingly sophisticated. ... The BBC Russian radio also changes, with re-focusing of resources on peak listening times and with more investment in flagship news and current affairs programmes. ... The production of some short news bulletins, which were designed for Russian FM partners, will cease as the BBC no longer has these agreements." BBC World Service press release, 8 October 2008.
     "Unlike the Voice of America (VOA), which had eliminated radio broadcasts to Russia shortly before the Russian invasion of Georgia, the BBC has decided to continue producing Russian-language radio programs while also expanding its Internet and video production. ... FreeMediaOnline.org president Ted Lipien described the BBC plan as far more prudent and more realistic than the plan adopted in the U.S. by the Broadcasting Board of Governors for the Voice of America. Lipien said that unlike the BBC, the U.S. international broadcasting authority has made a strategic error that rewards Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, his close associates and other enemies of media freedom." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 8 October 2008.
     KimAndrewElliott.com president Kim Andrew Elliott (I just promoted myself to "president") says that to emulate the BBC's new multimedia approach to Russian, with its enhanced news reporting, U.S. international broadcasting can no longer afford to have two Russian services, RFE/RL and VOA, fragmenting scarce resources, competing with each other, and forcing audiences to tune to two stations to get a complete newscast.
     BBC World Service has been frustrated by Russian government discouragement of foreign broadcast relays on Russian FM stations. It still has medium wave outlets in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Ekaterinburg, as well as shortwave covering all of European Russia. But those wavebands are less popular these days in Russia, while internet and mobile access is expanding. Hence, BBC Russian radio hours will likely be reduced in deference to expanded web and text output. This will work as long as the Russian government does not block unwelcome websites.

From the couch in the front yard, BBC covers the U.S. election.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. presidential campaign is being followed with great interest around the world. Reporters with BBC World Service Radio, World News America, Radio one and BBC news online are covering the campaign. The BBC team is traveling coast-to-coast taking the pulse of the electorate as we head into the November election. ... West Virginia is the 18th stop on the BBC tour." WOWK-TV (Charleston WV), 9 October 2008. See also BBC US08 election bus itinerary at BBCWS website.
     "A team from Al Jazeera, the news agency sometimes called the CNN of the Middle East, is considering a live Election Day broadcast from Phoebus [Virginia]." Daily Press (Newport News VA), 9 October 2008. "Al Jazeera English, the third-largest English language international news network, came to Eddie George's Grill 27 Tuesday. The network hosted a panel of Ohio State students, who watched and discussed the second debate between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain." The Lantern, 9 October 2008.
     "As election day in the United States draws ever closer, CNN International invites audiences around the world to speak out on why this election matters to them." On "Worldview." CNN press release, 9 October 2008.
     "VoA once again canceled its Special English broadcast today, Oct. 3, 0130-0200 UT. Instead, a midsection of a fast-paced VP debate was carried on the usual Greenville frequencies of 6040 and 9820. Of course, the debate itself started at 0100. So it was picked up in Palin's mid-sentence right after a standard station's ID at 0130 (even though the carrier was up and running at least 20 min. earlier). No explanations of who's talking and what's the occasion were given. VoA finished its clandestine broadcast just as unexpectedly at 0200 by cutting Biden's response short." Sergei S., DX Listening Digest, 7 October 2008.

Al Jazeera English freelancers up for Peck Awards.

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Dispatches from freelance broadcast journalists in Kenya, Somalia, Burma, Palestine and Afghanistan have made the shortlist for this year's Rory Peck Awards. The awards, which recognise the work of freelance foreign journalists in danger zones, will be announced at a ceremony in London on 13 November. In the news category, two pieces broadcast by Al Jazeera English are shortlisted. Clifford Derrick is nominated for a report from a notorious Kenyan slum in the height of the post-election chaos and Subina Shresthra is shortlisted for a piece about the survivors of the Burmese cyclone." Press Gazette, 9 October 2008.

Four companies get Pentagon contracts to deliver deliverables to Iraq (updated).

Posted: 10 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to 'engage and inspire' the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government. The new contracts -- awarded last week to four companies -- will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls 'information/psychological operations' in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down. ... A lengthy list of 'deliverables' under the new contract proposal includes 'print columns, press statements, press releases, response-to-query, speeches and . . . opinion editorials'; radio broadcasts 'in excess of 300 news stories' monthly and 150 each on sports and economic themes; and 30- and 60-minute broadcast documentary and entertainment series. Contractors will also develop and maintain Web sites; assess news articles in the Iraqi, U.S. and international media; and determine ways to counter coverage deemed negative, according to the contract solicitation the government posted in May. Polls and focus groups will be used to monitor Iraqi attitudes under a separate three-year contract totaling up to $45 million. While U.S. law prohibits the use of government money to direct propaganda at U.S. audiences, the 'statement of work' included in the proposal, written by the U.S. Joint Contracting Command in Iraq, notes the need to 'communicate effectively with our strategic audiences (i.e. Iraqi, pan-Arabic, International, and U.S. audiences) to gain widespread acceptance of [U.S. and Iraqi government] core themes and messages.'" Karen De Young and Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 3 October 2008. This is in addition to the Radio Sawa and Alhurra transmitters and operations in Iraq, funded by BBG. See also Sadiq Green, digitaljournal.com, 5 October 2008.
     Update: "Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., on Thursday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking him to suspend $300 million in contracts for civilians to produce pro-American news stories, entertainment programs and public service ads in Iraq until the Senate Armed Services Committee and the next administration review the contracts. ... 'At a time when this country is facing such a grave economic crisis, and at a time when the government of Iraq now shows at least a $79 billion surplus from recent oil revenues, in my view it makes little sense for the U.S. Department of Defense to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to propagandize the Iraqi people.'" Government Executive, 9 October 2008. See also Army Times, 9 October 2008.

International Herald Tribune website will close.

Posted: 09 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The New York Times' Web site is getting more global, and IHT.com is going bye-bye. The Times told staff in an internal e-mail Tuesday that the paper's flagship Web site will soon become host to news from sister paper the International Herald Tribune and that the Tribune's site will be shuttered. ... The IHT site has long been an anachronism in an age where the flagship NYTimes.com was available anywhere in the world. ... So what happens to the print version of the IHT? That's the next question." Forbes, 7 October 2008. See also www.iht.com, while you can.

Even more shortwave as art.

Posted: 09 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the eighth Curve Art commission, Mexico-born Canada-based artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer transforms The Curve into a huge interactive sculpture which allows the visitor to see the usually invisible radio frequencies that constantly surround us. Through the use of sophisticated computerised tracking devices the visitor’s position in the gallery determines the tuning and volume of 36 radios. On entering the space each participant’s shadow will be cast on the vast curving wall. The outline of the projected shadow determines the frequency tuned, while its size controls the volume. Effectively, the work turns the human body into an antenna able to tune into the radio spectrum of London. Signals can be picked up from FM, AM, short wave, television, DAB, weather and amateur, as well as sounds from such sources as radio astronomy and low earth orbit satellite. The sounds are emitted by speakers located around the gallery." artdaily.org, 9 October 2008. See previous post about shortwave as art.

VOA television initiatives to Africa and Pakistan.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) today launched In Focus, a 30-minute television program that provides Africans with the latest news and information about Africa and the world. ... VOA airs In Focus Monday-Friday, 1630 -1700 UTC/GMT on Intelsat 907 and New Skies 703 satellites, with repeat transmissions immediately following. TV Africa in Accra, Ghana, WBS in Kampala, Uganda and Citizen TV in Nairobi, Kenya will carry the program." VOA press release, 6 October 2008.
     "The Voice of America (VOA) and Pakistan Television Network (PTV) are teaming up to produce live coverage and interactive analyses of the U.S. presidential debates for millions of Urdu-speaking Pakistani viewers." VOA press release, 6 October 2008.

The Worldnet brand lives on in outdated fact sheets.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Apple River State Bank was featured on the PBS show 'Nightly Business Report' on Thursday, Oct. 2. ... NBR is seen on more than 250 PBS stations. The program also is seen abroad via the International Broadcasting Bureau's Worldnet Satellite Network and the Armed Forces Television and Satellite Network." Telegraph Herald (Dubuque), 8 October 2008. The reference to Worldnet came from this NBR fact sheet. It needs to be updated, because Worldnet, founded by USIA director Charles Z Wick in 1983, merged with VOA in May 2004. However, at voanews.com, click on the TV Schedule link and you are presented with a page from the Broadcasting Board of Governors website, with the heading IBB Satellite Coverage. No mention of VOA or VOA-TV anywhere. Ambiguity about the branding of VOA television is therefore not surprising.

Democracy is ... voting often for your favorite video (updated).

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
The U.S. State Department's "The Democracy Video Challenge asks budding filmmakers, democracy advocates, and the general public to create video shorts that complete the phrase, 'Democracy is…' The winners will be selected by the online voting public." State Department, 10 September 2008. "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman will travel to the United Nations to participate in the launch of the Democracy Video Challenge and to highlight the UN’s first International Day of Democracy on Monday, September 15." State Department, 10 September 2008. The State Department might want to read about the BBC World Service's attempt to determine the world's most popular song by way of e-mail voting. The winner was the Irish anthem "A Nation Once Again" by the Wolfe Tones. See Sunday Mirror, 10 August 2003 and previous post.
     Update: "Hosting a youth-targeted video contest on YouTube is certainly not the first thing one would expect from the US government, or any State government for that matter, so this contest could be the opening of a new and updated chapter in public diplomacy." chiaramente, TakingITGlobal, 6 October 2008.

Public diplomacy and the theological can of worms.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Suggested question in the "moral debate" of the U.S. presidential election: "What role does distorted religious conviction play in creating the dangers we face from terrorists? How can American public diplomacy address those convictions?" George Weigel, Newsweek, 6 October 2008. It would be problematic, obviously, if U.S. public diplomacy gets involved in the debate about what is "distorted" in a religion. On the other hand, it can less problematically inform audiences about the advantages of religious tolerance in American society.

Embassies as public diplomacy.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The announcement last week that the United States will relocate its London embassy from Grosvenor Square, in the heart of the British capital, to an out-of-the-way spot south of the River Thames may be good news for property developers, but should concern almost everyone else. The London move is the latest and most dramatic example of a worrying trend toward vastly scaling down American public diplomacy abroad, abandoning embassies that were once beacons of American culture and openness in favour of walled suburban fortresses. ... Bunkered and isolated embassies are hardly the best advertisement for Washington's role in the world, and will remain a lasting hangover of the George W. Bush's prickly attitude toward much of the planet long after he leaves the White House." Editorial, Globe and Mail, 6 October 2008.

On U.S. public television, it's Worldfocus versus BBC World News.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"For 10 years, the BBC has largely had to itself the American market for television news that is not United States-centric, thanks to its distribution deal with public television and its cable network BBC America. That changed on Monday with the start of 'Worldfocus,' a half-hour nightly newscast being produced and distributed by the New York public broadcaster WLIW, Channel 21. ... In the New York metropolitan area, the half-hour BBC newscast will no longer be seen on WLIW and its sister station, WNET, Channel 13, where it occupied plum evening spots; the program garnered on average some 60,000 viewers per night on WLIW alone. Instead, viewers will find it on the less-viewed New Jersey Network, at 6:30 p.m., Eastern time. ... One area where the BBC hasn’t made any significant inroads is with its 24-hour cable news channel, BBC World News; the network is now carried in just three million homes in the United States, including the New York area by Cablevision and Verizon’s FiOS. 'I pitched my heart out to get it seen in more cities,' but that doesn’t seem to be attractive to cable operators at this point,' [BBC Worldwide America president Garth] Ancier said." New York Times, 7 October 2008.
     "This newscast is focused on international news and how it relates to Americans. ... We'll do 30 minutes of it every night and we do it in a way that's unlike the BBC, which says, here's all the international stuff, you figure out if it matters. We find all the international news that has a direct impact on Americans and we deliver it in a way that's written well, it's intelligent, it's interesting to watch. ... Perhaps the only other outlet that people can turn to [for foreign news] is the BBC, which is an excellent news organization. But I'll point out the first B in BBC is 'British,' and they have their own perspective of reporting and viewing the world." Broadcasting & Cable, 6 October 2008.
     "Al Jerome, president of KCET Los Angeles said Wednesday that the revamped BBC World News half-hour newscast it has just begun distributing in conjunction with the BBC has been cleared in all 30 of the top 30 markets, including 28 on the primary PBS affiliate in each. Only one noncom station in every market can carry 100% of its lineup, with other noncoms limited to no more than 25%. The show is cleared in 47 of the top 50 and 83 of the top 100." Broadcasting & Cable, 8 October 2008. See previous post about Worldfocus.

The broadcasting of baseball.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Parents of White Sox rookie Alexei Ramirez follow their son's career from Cuba. "In communist Cuba, only tourist hotels and foreigners have access to cable and satellite television. In a baseball-mad country, however, many Cubans rely on illegal satellite hookups, U.S.-funded Radio Marti reports and telephone calls from family and friends abroad for sports information." Chicago Tribune, 5 October 2008.
     "I was with an Army unit in 1945 on remote Attu Island in the Aleutians, listening on short-wave radio the last time the Cubs made it to the World Series." John Wirtz, letter to Chicago Tribune, 8 October 2008.

RFI correspondent released from Niger jail.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Moussa Kaka, a prominent radio journalist in Niger, was released provisionally on Tuesday after one year in detention for allegedly undermining state security. ... Kaka, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI), was arrested in September 2007 over telephone calls he made to Tuareg rebels based in the north. ... Clad in a T-shirt emblazoned with the RFI logo, the journalist looked drawn and stressed and sounded angry." AFP, 7 October 2008. See also RFI, 7 October 2008. His release is welcomed by Reporters sans frontières, 7 October 2008 and Committee to Protect Journalists, 7 October 2008.

Legal action against Indian hotel involves France 24.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Azamgarh police lodged an FIR [First Information Report] against a hotel owner for allegedly not providing information about foreign journalists who were there to interview families of those killed in Jamia encounter held in New Delhi recently. Two women journalists from France -- Lise Richard Thomas and Capucine Clair of news channel France 24 -- had put up at Hotel Gangotri in Azamgarh from October 1-4 during their stay in the city to interview family members of Bashir Ahmad and Mohammad Fakruddin who were killed in Jamia encounter by the Delhi police. 'We have not taken any action against any journalists whether Indian or foreigner, we have just slapped a case against the hotel owner as he has not given us the proper information of visiting foreign journalists.'" Zee News, 6 October 2008.

African pay TV service seeks content.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"GTV, the pan African pay TV service ... is keen to acquire programmes to fill slots for its seven channels, G Prime, G Series, G Africa, G Sports 1, G Sports 2, G Xtra and G Star. ... In addition to its own channels, subscribers to GTV’s service can also watch international channels such as BBC World, Sky News, MTV Base, E!, Aljazeera; Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among others." ScreenAfrica.com, 8 October 2008.

International channels to Greece via IPTV.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Greek telco Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) has revealed that it is undertaking a soft launch of its new IPTV service 'Conn-x' over its ADSL network to a 'limited number' of existing customers as part of ongoing trials." Twenty-one channels are mentioned, including Euronews, France 24 and Al Jazeera. ipTVnews, 8 October 2008.

Unconfirmed and probably bogus report: CNN plans Arabic channel.

Posted: 08 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"'ON TV is a liberal channel that focuses on reviving the Egyptian identity and the values of citizenship, freedom, equality, modernization, rationality and expresses all these values through its slogan , "stay in the light",' Emad Gad, head of the channel told Daily News Egypt. ... Western countries entered the race this year after several Arabic-speaking western channels were launched like BBC Arabic, Russia today, France 24, Euro news, Israel 2 and Deutchwelle [Deutsche Welle] as well as El Horra [Alhurra] channel, which is funded by the American government. CNN also plans to launch an Arabic speaking channel next year." Daily News Egypt, 7 October 2008. I have not seen reports elsewhere about a CNN Arabic channel. The possibility was discussed by Asharq Alawsat, 6 March 2008, but with no commitment from CNN. CNN does have its CNN Arabic website.

The challenge of directing questions to the appropriate bureaucrat (updated).

Posted: 07 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"James Glassman, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, gave incomplete and misleading answers when asked Friday whether the elimination of vernacular broadcasts to Georgia, Russia, and India is going to hurt his 'war of ideas' effort. Speaking in Washington at a National Press Club luncheon on 'The New Age of Public Diplomacy,' Glassman seemed surprised and annoyed by the question." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 4 October 2008. Maybe Mr. Glassman was annoyed because the question was directed to him, even though he is no longer CEO of U.S. international broadcasting. His authority over U.S. international broadcasting is now only one vote on the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Furthermore, the 'war of ideas' is a public diplomacy effort. To achieve the credibility necessary for success, U.S. international broadcasting must stick to reporting the news, and leave the 'war of ideas' stuff to public diplomacy.
     Update: Video of Glassman's speech at the National Press Club is now available at the C-Span Video Library. One passage from that speech: “U.S. international broadcasting, which is directed by an independent board that I used to chair and that, over the past eight years, has increased its weekly audience by 75 percent. Our mission since 1942 has been to broadcast in the vernacular – currently in 60 languages -- into countries that have limited freedom of the press, or none at all. For the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs this effort, 2008 has been a very good year. Our audience in Pakistan has doubled. We have done vital work in Burma and Tibet and Cuba and Georgia. Big gains have been achieved with our Voice of America television into Iran, where we broadcast seven hours a day, and we are effectively starting to shift our Russian strategy to the Internet. And just this week we started special programming into the camps of Darfur. Sadly, the Senate has not seen fit to approve a new slate of governors for the BBG: four Democrats and four Republicans. The BBG, America’s single largest public diplomacy program, operates today without a chairman and short by three governors. This state of affairs is extremely disappointing and harmful to the nation.”

NHK World TV to Europe via Astra.

Posted: 07 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Japan’s public broadcaster NHK says its NHK World TV English-language news channel is now available over Europe on Astra 1L as its first step toward region-wide coverage. ... By February next year the channel’s transmissions will be entirely in English. Makoto Harada, DG of NHK World TV said: 'Our launch on Astra 1L is our first step to provide opportunities for viewers in Europe to watch NHK World TV. We are hoping to offer a new eye for European viewers, to provide an alternative and unique perspective from Asia'." Rapid TV News, 5 October 2008. And will next February's all-English channel be the previously reported Japan International Broadcasting Inc.?

France 24 via DTH, IPTV, web TV, mobile TV.

Posted: 07 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"France 24 has announced the signing of a number of new international broadcasting agreements. In the UK, its English version is now available to Freesat as well as Sky subscribers, while in Greece it made its debut, in both French and English versions, on the IPTV platform operated by OTE at the beginning of this month. France 24 is also now available on Viasat’s DTH platform in Ukraine, and in the Middle East its coverage has been extended to the DU IPTV operation in UAE. France 24 is also being offered by the web TV operations Zattoo, Livestation and Real.Com, as well as to mobile users in Swede (Viasat) and Portugal (Meo)." Broadband TV News, 7 October 2008.

Jalipo, portal for international channels, signs off.

Posted: 07 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"ROK Entertainment has closed the over the top TV portal Jalipo after a period of uncertainty. ... 'We had high hopes for Jalipo when we acquired the business earlier this year, but it did not gain the traction we were expecting.' ... Jalipo launched its online marketplace in 2007 with a mix of live and on demand content. It ran a system of J Credits that were purchased to view content from channel partners including BBC Worldwide, Euronews, Al Jazeera English, Bloomberg, France 24, Rotana Europe, Deutsche Welle, Luxe, Mezzo and TeleSur." Broadband TV News, 7 October 2008. I.e., fee based, in contrast to livestation.com and livenewscameras.com, which are free. See previous post about same subject.

Livestation adds channels (four in Arabic) and facilitates interactivity.

Posted: 07 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation has added seven new partner channels to its live, interactive online TV service: BBC Arabic, C-SPAN, Rusya Al Yaum (Russia Today Arabic), France 24 (Arabic), Euronews (German, French and Arabic). Livestation works together with its partner channels to explore the potential of live TV online by offering new interactive features, driving traffic back to the broadcasters' sites and examining viewer behaviour in order to respond positively to new interactive broadcasting opportunities." Livestation press release, 3 October 2008.

Shedding light on "Lights on Darfur" (updated).

Posted: 07 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
A new U.S. broadcast in Arabic to the Darfur region has been heard by shortwave listeners. The name seems to be "Lights on Darfur." It is not branded as VOA, which has not an Arabic service since Radio Sawa was created in 2002. Nor is it branded as Radio Sawa. The schedule is 0300-0330 UTC on 4960, 5995, 11635 kHz; 1800-1830 on 4960, 9650, 11635; 1900-1930 on 5880, 9650, 11635. Listeners have been noting Radio Sawa (not normally on shortwave) and Radio Free Iraq at some of the above times and frequencies, rather than the "Lights on Darfur" broadcast, perhaps due to switching problems. See DX Mix News and and posts by Kai Ludwig and Mauno Ritola, DX Listening Digest, 1 October 2008 and posts to the accompanying groups.yahoo.com/group/dxld, especially 31450 and 31425.
     Update: "Checking VOA to Darfur 19.00 UTC tonight, 6/10/08 I think I caught an ID but I have to say it's very tricky for my ears. It's one of two words: 1) Adl Darfur which means Justice of Darfur. 2) aql Darfur which means Mind on Darfur. I have to say I tried several times to make sure which one is the right one....but the way they pronounce it it's almost the same in Arabic..and of course thanks to the heavy QRM [unintended interference from other stations] and not so good reception." Egyptian listener posting to groups.yahoo.com/group/dxld, 6 October 2008.
     I have learned from someone who works for the broadcast that its name is Affia Darfur. This is a colloquial greeting in Sudan, so it probably could be translated as "Hi, Darfur." More precisely, "Affia" means "good health."

Russian opposition: don't reduce RFE/RL Russian.

Posted: 06 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Three leading figures of the Russian opposition are calling on Washington to reverse its decision to reduce Radio Liberty’s Russian-language broadcasts next year, lest Russian citizens, at a time when Moscow has established 'practically complete control' over domestic radio and television lose a vital source of 'objective information.'... And they dismiss as 'illogical' the BBG’s explanation that it will use the resources now being devoted to radio broadcasting for the station’s Russian-language website. 'Government censorship in Russia,' they note, 'affects mostly television and radio,' while 'the Internet is independent.' Moreover, they noted, most Russians do not have access to the Internet." Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, 4 October 2008. So, if censorship in Russia affects mostly television and radio, this would make it difficult for RFE/RL to get access to Russian radio and television channels, thus forcing RFE/RL to make use of the internet to reach Russia. But, via the internet, RFE/RL competes with domestic Russian outlets that are still independent.

Fired, hired at France 24 (updated).

Posted: 06 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"French international news channel France 24 has named Vincent Giret editorial director after Gregoire Deniau was fired from the post last week, France 24 said Thursday. Deniau's dismissal for alleged 'professional mistakes' according to France 24 execs sent shockwaves among France 24's journalists who protested the 'unfair' decision." Hollywood Reporter, 2 October 2008.
     Update: "In mid-September, editorial director Gregoire Deniau and editor-in-chief Bertrand Coq -- both award-winning journalists -- were dismissed within a day of each other to the shock of staffers. A France 24 press release cited Coq's inappropriate 'behavior toward team members.' The net claimed that Deniau had made professional mistakes. But many staffers remain unconvinced by these reasons. 'What people didn't buy was management saying that the two dismissals were unconnected,' says a midlevel news editor. Deniau and Coq 'were as close as I've ever seen two people get in a newsroom.'" Variety, 3 October 2008.

Political controversy at Radio Taiwan International.

Posted: 05 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The [Radio Taiwan International] chairman and four other colleagues on the 15-member board submitted their collective resignation in the wake of news reports that the KMT government, notably the Government Information Office, and KMT lawmakers had put intense pressure on Cheng and RTI management to change its news and programming management. ... According to Taiwan media and RTI contributors, GIO claimed that RTI was an agency for 'international broadcasting' and should 'uphold the image of the Republic of China' and should also not be 'too' critical of the Chinese Communist Party-ruled People's Republic of China, apparently in accordance with ROC president Ma Ying-jeou's] policy of promoting cross-strait 'reconciliation' and his unilateral call for a 'diplomatic truce' with Beijing." Editorial, Taiwan News, 3 October 2008. A-gu (阿牛) has also been following the story in his That's Impossible! Politics from Taiwan blog, 2 October 2008 and linked previous posts. See also RTI website.

BBC has no Japanese Service, but it has a Japanese reporter.

Posted: 05 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mariko Oi has worked as the first Japanese reporter for BBC World News since last year. The 26-year-old Singapore-based journalist covers stories and conducts interviews concerning Asian economic issues. ... 'I'd been longing to work for the BBC since I was 16 years old,' Oi said." Daily Yomiuri, 4 October 2008. That would be the first Japanese reporter for BBC World News, the global English-language television news channel. BBC World Service had a Japanese Service until 1991, which no doubt had many Japanese reporters.

Al Jazeera making waves in Asia.

Posted: 05 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
In Burma, "more than ever, satellite TV and the Internet are making people aware of their government’s glacial pace of progress. One young woman told me that during last year’s uprisings, she was on the streets one day, shouting antigovernment slogans, and the next day stayed in, fearing a stray bullet, as she watched the blood-soaked crackdown live on Al Jazeera television." Daniel Pepper, New York Times, 4 October 2008.
     Bangladeshi workers were locked inside a partly-roofed fenced-up "cages" in Singapore. "News network Al Jazeera English broke the story last month after its correspondent, Mr Tony Birtley, visited the San's Marine office. ... Mr Birtley and his team filmed the workers in the fenced-up area as well as the encounter with the owners and subsequently posted their report on the Al Jazeera English YouTube channel. They also tried to enter the workers' dormitory but were stopped by a security guard. The guard confirmed there were 300 workers living there. ... The Manpower Ministry inspected the company's premises after Al Jazeera's report." Electric New Paper, 5 October 2008.

Turkish soap opera: sheikhs hate it, Arab women love it.

Posted: 05 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
In “Noor,” the popular Turkish series broadcast to Arab audiences via MBC, "the male protagonist, called Muhannad in the Arabic version, treats his wife as an equal and supports her career as a fashion designer. The show and the liberties it displayed prompted unusual condemnations from hard-line clerics throughout the Middle East, including Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Asheik, Saudi Arabia’s leading cleric, who instructed Muslims not to watch it. But the show appears to have been the single most popular television drama ever shown in the Arab world. The finale, broadcast on Aug. 30, drew 85 million viewers, according to surveys by the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation, the network that showed it. Of those, more than 51 million were women over 15, more than half the total number of adult women in the entire Arab world. Its handsome protagonist became a heartthrob, and his respectful treatment of his wife caused marital arguments and even divorces in several countries, according to reports in Arab newspapers. The success of 'Noor' was not just in its characters and themes, but also in its language. The show, which flopped when it was shown in Turkey, was dubbed for Arab audiences into colloquial Arabic, not the more formal version of the language spoken on news shows. This is rare in the Arab world, where most foreign shows are subtitled." Robert F. Worth, New York Times, 26 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

"John Logie Baird never saw this one coming."

Posted: 05 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"I have yet to meet anyone who has used mobile TV, or, indeed, ever heard it mentioned among any of my Facebook-using, BlackBerry-wielding, broadband-wired friends. At the moment, it appears to be little more than a niche service, albeit impressive, within the UAE. ... When the service was finally set up, it was impressive. There were only a few channels that appealed to me, but the ability to catch the latest news from Al Jazeera while stuck in a taxi in traffic definitely has its appeal. The picture resolution is poor, but – watching for one hour straight – the sound and picture streamed over the 3G network perfectly and without interruption. However, for mobile TV to be successful in the region, there needs to be more channels, and the set-up process must be more user-friendly. If mobile phone manufacturers and telecom operators ensure their products and services are compatible and mobile TV-ready, the service could, indeed, fly." Ben Flanagan, Emirates Business 24/7, 4 October 2008.

"Third party networks" discussed at GWU's what's-its-name public diplomacy center.

Posted: 04 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
At the panel at the George Washington University, "Public Diplomacy and the War of Ideas," on 30 September, moderator Marc Lynch began by saying that GWU's Public Diplomacy Instutute "has currently been relaunched. Not yet formally named, we're going with the name Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications for now. And this is actually our inaugural event."
     Among the subjects discussed: Michael Doran, deputy assistant secretary of defense for support to public diplomacy (pause for breath) on "empowering partners": "Agreed again that the U.S. government might not be the right messenger to contest al-Qaeda's interpretation of sharia, so needs to find ways to support the efforts of those in the Muslim world who want to do so. Again, he pointed to the bureaucratic problem: whose job is it in the government to partner with them? We're not set up, he argued, to create third party networks who might not necessarily support U.S. policy but whose efforts help American interests - i.e. Islamic conservatives who argue against al-Qaeda even as they promote conservative views that Americans don't like." From Marc's notes in his Abu Aardvark, 2 October 2008, with link to C-SPAN video.

The Listening Project: Americans get an earful.

Posted: 04 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"America is an ambitious country. It's home to busy people living demanding, thriving lives. We all have our own ideals and opinions concerning, well, everything. But do we ever stop to wonder what other people think of those ideals and opinions? ... 'The Listening Project' follows a team of intrepid Americans across the world as they seek the answer to the aforementioned question. All in all, fourteen different countries are visited and hundreds of people are interviewed." The Navigator (Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL), 1 October 2008. See also The Listening Project website.

Voice of Nigeria expands its shortwave operation, with digital capability.

Posted: 04 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of Nigeria (VON) transmitting station in Abuja will be completed by the first quarter of 2009, according to Alhaji Abubakar Jijiwa, the station's Director-General. ... The Director-General said that on completion, the project would produce the first radio station with capability to broadcast in digital and analogue systems, within the Short Wave Bands. ... He explained that the new transmitters would expand the international coverage of the station, because it would be heard worldwide. 'The station has the capability of a rotating antenna that can target any country in the world when desired.'" Daily Triumph (Kano), 3 October 2008. Based on this VON news story. Presumably the digital system is DRM, although VON is not presently listed as a DRM Consortium member at any level.

African broadcasters discuss prospects for African content.

Posted: 04 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
The CEO of Capital Radio (Nairobi), Chris Kirubi, tells a recent conference of African broadcasters and filmmakers: "'We need to tell our own story. If not, India and America will tell our story'. As anyone familiar with African broadcasting knows, this aspiration is generally defeated by the very cheap cost of international programming rights. ... As perceptions of Africa change, it is drawing in new investment. Al Jazeera's Director Global Distribution told the conference that it was developing a news centre in Nairobi that would tell Africa's story from a 'global south' perspective and that by this month its English-language channel would be reaching 15 million households across the continent." Russell Southwood, Balancing Act, via allAfrica.com, 2 October 2008. This detailed analysis is recommended reading, as its shows how the African media environment is becoming more complex. Success for international broadcasters targeting Africa will no longer be so easy.

Thoughts about public diplomacy to the Middle East.

Posted: 04 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The war against global terrorism has been fought on three major fronts: military, economic and diplomatic. As military experts have noted, while the military can capture and kill terrorists, it is not equipped to win the struggle for minds and hearts. This, many today would argue, requires a public diplomacy that addresses the ideological dimensions of war: the war of ideas and the foreign policies created. Government agencies, think tanks, and the military - all of which in the past had ignored the relationship of religion to politics and international affairs - now have special units of experts, conferences, workshops, and curricula focusing on Islam and Muslim politics and culture. Government leaders and politicians use and abuse religion in domestic and international politics, too often talking about and for Muslims who have not been heard. Few are able to base their conclusions on datadriven analysis that reflects the voices of majorities of Muslims across the world - data that are vital in a campaign of programmes and policies to win hearts and minds." John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, Gulf News (Dubai), 3 October 2008.
     "I left Egypt dispirited, pessimistic about the West's chances of influencing opinions in the Arab world. But the issue is too important for pessimism to prevail. The need for accurate information, for debate, for a marketplace of ideas in the Arab world is so great that the West must not be deterred from developing and implementing a massive, strategic public-diplomacy initiative in the Arab world." Mardo Soghom, senior market-media analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., via Payvand, 2 October 2008. I hope that Mr. Soghom doesn't think of RFE/RL as part of that "massive strategic public-diplomacy initiative," as RFE/RL's strength is in its news product. For public diplomacy, www.america.gov/ar/ is a more appropriate outlet.
     "If the war against jihadism is, at bottom, a contest between two very different ideas of the just society, what will you do to enhance our national capacity to make the case for civility, tolerance and religious freedom through our public diplomacy? Is broadcasting American pop culture into the Middle East the most effective way to illustrate our convictions about the good society? What should we be telling an Arab Islamic world, caught in a narrative of failure of its own making, about the goods that freedom brings? Or should we just drop the subject?" George Weigel, Tidings Online, 3 October 2008. Pop culture is one of the "goods that freedom brings." It also helps radio stations attract large audiences. The Radio Free stations specialize in telling target countries about the failures of their government's making. But too much of that can rub audiences the wrong way. That's why I think U.S. international broadcasting should be like British international broadcasting: one station, combining target country, world, and U.S. news. That would "smooth out" the content, leaving a less ruffled and more credulous audience.

Arab TV stations "influence how people are thinking about Americans."

Posted: 04 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Russell Hopley, instructor of Arabic at Bowdoin College, previously taught English at Fez, Morocco. "Despite standing out, Hopley said that he didn't feel like an outsider then as much as now. 'There's more of a distance now than before. People are more suspicious, before they were more impressed [to meet an American who spoke Arabic],' he said. Hopley attributed the change in reception not only to current United States involvement in the Middle East, but also to the presentation of Americans by Arabic media. He commented that 15 or 20 years ago there were very few Arabic television stations but now there are many — including the well-known Al-Jazeera — and they 'influence how people are thinking about Americans.' Additionally, Hopley said that the recent influx of Americans studying Arabic causes residents of Middle Eastern and North African nations to be suspicious of American interests in the region." The Bowdoin Orient, 3 October 2008.

New CNN International program will blog, Twitter, and talk about CNN.

Posted: 04 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Hello everyone and welcome to BackStory -- a new and exciting type of program for CNN International, and a new path for me personally. 'Backstory' is dynamic, fresh, personal look at how we get great stories. We hope you will be involved heavily in our program, in terms of content and in terms of feedback. We'll blog, we'll Twitter but we want your input too. The idea, as you'll see elsewhere on this site, is to bring you a perspective of the news, and the news business, that you don't see elsewhere. Added value if you like. We'll be giving more airtime to those who witness news events, showing you how we do things, give you context to news of the day and take you behind the headlines." Michael Holmes, CNN.com, 3 October 2008. WTSK? (What's the schedule, Kenneth?) The item does not say when the program will be broadcast, if indeed it will be broadcast via good old television. The not especially easy to find schedule for CNN International in Europe does not show any "Backstory," so maybe it is internet only. In that case, WTURLK? (What's the URL, Kenneth?) The item doesn't say that either. If you do watch/blog/Twitter "Backstory," you will have to find it first.

CNN adds third "operation" in India.

Posted: 03 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"As part of CNN's international newsgathering expansion and content ownership strategy, the network today announced the opening of its third editorial operation in Mumbai, India, as well as the appointment of Mallika Kapur, currently a London-based reporter, as the network's Mumbai-based international correspondent effective immediately. ... The expansion into Mumbai, India's financial capital, will support current CNN newsgathering operations in New Delhi and Chennai to develop the network's coverage in India, which is a nuclear power with population of over a billion people." CNN press release, 1 October 2008. That's the third "operation" (I guess they don't like to call it a "bureau") in India, not the third in Mumbai.

Study: China eavesdrops on Skype users.

Posted: 03 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"A study has shown that Skype users in China are being spied on, despite denials from the VoIP firm that this is the case. The Breaching Trust study by Nart Villeneuve at the University of Toronto shows that the authorities are continuously eavesdropping on Skype's Chinese service, TOM-Skype. ... The system scans for certain keywords in conversations, including 'democracy', 'Taiwan independence' and 'voice of America'. It also tracks specific user accounts of people under more rigorous surveillance." vnunet.com, 3 October 2008.

New project director for DRM consortium.

Posted: 03 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC India Business Development Manager Vineeta Dwivedi has been appointed as Project Director at Digital Radio Mondiale consortium (DRM) and would be resuming this responsibility from 1 November. ... As part of this new responsibility, Dwivedi would be leading the day to day management of the DRM consortium business and managing the activity of the DRM assistant and running effectively the DRM office. The task will also include implementing the DRM marketing and business strategy and effectively communicating the benefits of the technology to broadcasters, regulators, manufactures and others." Radioandmusic.com, 2 October 2008. See also DRM website.

A shortwave transmitting site that is not closing.

Posted: 03 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's Indian Ocean relay station is commemorating 20 years of transmissions from Grand Anse, Mahé, in the Seychelles. ... The BBC Indian Ocean relay station in the Seychelles broadcasts BBC World Service in a range of languages including the BBC's English-language output for Africa as well as programmes in Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Somali and French. ... Nigel Fry, Head, Transmission and Distribution, BBC World Service, says: 'The BBC Indian Ocean relay station constitutes the backbone of the BBC's shortwave broadcasts to East Africa. In many areas of the countries it covers, the shortwave broadcasts relayed by the station are the only way in which audiences can get BBC news and information.'" BBC World Service press release, 2 October 2008.

Three countries, one city, promote themselves.

Posted: 03 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The biggest advertising campaign to date presenting Poland kicked off on CNN television today. Two spots presenting Poland as a 'place to be' and a 'place to invest' aim at promoting this country as an attractive destination for tourists and businesspeople." Polskie Radio, 26 September 2008.
     Romania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs "will organize between 28th September – 9th October, a public diplomacy campaign in Italy, in order to prove that there are more things linking the Italians to the Romanians and less those that seem to separate them. The campaign takes place under the slogan 'Romania: un mondo da scoprire' ('Romania: a world to discover')." ISRIA, 2 October 2008.
     "Cambodia's recent 'Kingdom of Wonders' advertising campaign makes ecotourism one of the pillars of its campaign. Appearing on CNN International, advertisements feature ecotourism sites prominently, an attempt to show the world Cambodia has more to offer than just Angkor Wat." The Phnom Penh Post, 2 October 2008.
     "A new $2 million global marketing campaign to promote Miami-Dade County as a dynamic, world-class destination for business, vacation and meetings will be officially unveiled this afternoon at The Beacon Council's Annual Meeting. ... Television is being utilized in Europe and Latin America, with 'billboards' that lead into commercials on CNN International and CNN en Español." Miami-Dade Beacon Council press release, 2 October 2008.

Death of John H. Norris, founder of shortwave station WINB.

Posted: 02 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Dr. John H. Norris was co-founder, with his father, of the Red Lion Broadcasting Company, Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Red Lion Broadcasting was famous for the Fairness Doctrine test case in the Supreme Court (1969). Norris also founded private shortwave station WINB in 1962. It was the first U.S. private shortwave station licensed after World War II. WINB's content consists mainly of brokered evangelical and conservative political programs. See York (PA) Daily Record, 1 October 2008 and obituary, ibid, 30 September 2008. See also WINB and WGCB-TV websites.

C-SPAN goes (more) international via Livestation.

Posted: 02 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"US public affairs channel C-SPAN has become the tenth partner channel to join the Livestation web TV platform. The channel will be available to anyone outside of the United States. Although C-SPAN already offers a variety of streams on its own websites, the high-quality C-SPAN feed will give the channel greater prominence in this election year. ... Other Livestation partners include Al Jazeera, Bloomberg Television, Deutsche Welle TV and radio, Euronews, France 24, Russia Today, BBC World News and BBC World Service radio. The C-SPAN website describes the Livestation feed as a 'trial program'." Broadband TV News, 2 October 2008. I can't find reference to Livestation at www.c-span.org. Does Livestation provide a more "high quality" feed than from C-Span's own website? In any case, for those abroad who speak English, C-Span provides a comprehensive window on U.S. politics.

UK radio listener dislikes most chat, but:

Posted: 02 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Talk radio can be brilliant. Radio Four is often worth tuning into, then there is the BBC World Service, especially Outlook, which celebrates the weird and wonderful on this planet. The other night I couldn’t get to sleep, so tuned in. Who should be on but Sean Shannon, who’s just got into the Guinness Book of Records for being the fastest talker in the world, and he even recited Hamlet’s soliloquy to prove it, using around 12 words per second compared to an average of three. Now it’s not every day you hear that." Rosalind Gibb, News & Star (Carlisle), 2 October 2008.

International television developments in Colorado.

Posted: 02 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The nightly, half-hour Worldfocus debuts Monday (6:30 and 11:30) on KBDI-Channel 12, Colorado viewers will gain a broader perspective on international issues. KBDI President Wick Rowland said Worldfocus and KBDI's third digital channel, MHz Worldview, will make the public access channel a primary source for international news in Colorado. Hosted by Martin Savidge, formerly of CBS and CNN, it replaces BBC World News. Contributors will include ITN (Great Britain), NHK (Japan), TV Globo (Brazil), SABC (South Africa) and Asia News International." Rocky Mountain News, 1 October 2008. KBDI is a public television channel, not a "public access channel," which is usually on cable and grants airtime to just about anyone. See video of KBDI CEO explaining the change from BBC World News to Worldfocus at KBDI website. It seems that rival Rocky Mountain PBS now has the exclusive rights to BBC World News. See previous post about Worldfocus.

France 24 gets New York City outlet.

Posted: 02 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"New York City's official television station is now offering a program with the international news channel France 24. The 30-minute, English-language program began broadcasting Wednesday on NYC TV, reaching 7.3 million households in the New York tristate region. The weekday program airs at 7 p.m. EST (2300 GMT), and contains 10 minutes of top news followed by 20 minutes of business and culture programs" AP, 1 October 2008. NYC TV is a cable channel in New York City and vicinity. See NYC TV website, where I don't yet see France 24 in the schedule.

International channels via IPTV "for the major heats of the US Election."

Posted: 02 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The New Media Group’s IPTV platform World On-Demand is launching its World News Pack just in time for the major heats of the US Election. Increasingly a global event, the US presidential elections shall be presented by the World On-Demand to its IPTV subscribers in a new and unique way, from a variety of perspectives and points of view, in a way that only IPTV allows. ... World On-Demand is giving its subscribers BBC World News, FOX News, VOA, NDTV, Euronews, RTP, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, Sky News, the Australia Network and more in a single package and inviting participation in alternate points of view." New Media Group press release, 2 October 2008.

Four VOA radio services prepare to sign off (updated).

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
The VOA Serbian, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Hindi services will transmit their last radio broadcasts on 30 September. The services will continue via internet and/or television. VOA Hindi has a weekly report on India's Aaj Tak TV. VOA Serbian and Hindi have on shortwave until the end, while Bosnian and Macedonian were only via affiliates in their target countries, plus internet audio.
VOA Russian radio already ended on 26 July, continuing as an internet-only service. VOA Georgian was slated to close down completely, via all media, on 30 September, but the Georgian-Russian conflict has given that service an indefinite stay.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors reversed its decisions to eliminate VOA radio in Turkish, Croatian, and Greek.
RFE/RL radio broadcasts continue in Russian, Georgian Serbian, Bosnian, and Macedonian.
Update: I forgot to mention that VOA Ukrainian radio, slated to end 30 September, has been given a stay until the end of this year. Friends in Europe confirm that its shortwave frequencies are still on the air.
"VOA also is discontinuing its 30-minute Russian weekly television program and will deliver text, audio, and video content to Russia's fast-growing Internet market. VOA will be accessible through digital devices, including mobile Internet devices, cell phones that receive text and multi-media messages, and MP3 players. VOA's Russian radio broadcasts ended in July 2008. The change in VOA Russian's program delivery reflects the crackdown on independent media and freedom of speech in Russia. Russian government pressure has forced almost all VOA local radio and television affiliates to drop VOA and other international broadcasts. Shortwave radio listenership also has continued to decline throughout the country, with fewer than 2% of Russians using this medium weekly." VOA press release, 29 September 2008.

Losing a VOA job during the McCarthy years.

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1945, hired by the United States Information Agency as a writer and editor on the Voice of America, [Helene Pleasants] was sent to India and then to China. She was young, she fell in love. Of course. Things didn’t work out exactly as she had hoped. Of course. Neither did her job at the Voice of America. In 1951, the United States Civil Service Commission notified Helene that 'information' had been received, accusing her of sympathy with Soviet Russia and Communism. Helene answered in writing: 'I do NOT admire Russia. . . . I am NOT in effect, or any other way, in agreement with the Communists.' This was true, as I well know, having known Helene, but it was to no avail. After a two-year battle to save her job, she was fired from the Voice of America. It was 1953, at the height of McCarthy’s power, the year the Rosenbergs were executed." Dorothy Gallagher, New York Times, 26 September 2008.

Chinese economist summoned after RFA interview.

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese Human Rights Defenders revealed that economist, Qi Yanchen, who had already been imprisoned from 1999 to 2003, had been summoned by police after he criticised the authorities’ management of the [toxic milk] scandal in an interview with Radio Free Asia." Reporters sans frontières, 29 September 2008. "China's media still labor under tight control, despite promises to loosen up." Radio Free Asia, 1 October 2008.

Ben Franklin Award: honor or fruitcake?

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy is the most prestigious honor that the U.S. Department of State can bestow on American citizens who are making outstanding international contributions to public diplomacy. Nominations for this second annual award will be accepted from October 1, 2008 through December 15, 2008. ... Benjamin Franklin Awards will be presented in four categories: individuals, corporations, academic institutions (schools, universities, etc), and not-for-profit organizations (non-governmental organizations, foundations, associations, etc.). Special emphasis will be given to activities and programs that provide hope and opportunity in education, culture, and information; empower, educate, and inspire key audiences such as women, students, and educators; and engage under-served communities and grassroots organizations." State Department, 29 September 2008.
Are the Ben Franklin Awards really a good idea? If these organizations contribute to public diplomacy, it implies that everything they do is congruent with U.S. policy. On the flip side, many individuals, corporations, academic institutions, and not-for-profits, while happy to engage in activities abroad that speak well for the United States, will not want those activities associated with U.S. public diplomacy and therefore with U.S. foreign policy. This especially applies to universities, which must be academically independent.

U.S. soldiers, as if not busy enough, should also help Afghans bolster their own unique conceptions of open markets, transparent politics, and international engagement.

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
In Afghanistan: "Public diplomacy must accomplish on an intellectual level what protection and good governance achieve at the elemental level. Soldiers and advisers do not need to engage in a "war of ideas." Rather, they must expose the insurgents' ideology of fear, violence, and repression -- an ideology that offers Afghans no hope for the future. Public diplomacy is the responsibility of every soldier and adviser working at the local level. They should use education and support to enable Afghans to bolster their own unique conceptions of open markets, transparent politics, and international engagement." F. Jordan Evert, Christian Science Monitor, 29 September 2008.

Al Jazeera English: seeking success by not having a "home team."

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Is Al Jazeera English "a genuinely international station on a par with CNN and the BBC or do its roots in the Middle East -- the net's headquarters are in Qatar and it is funded by the Qatari government -- mean it is simply an English-language version of its sister Arabic channel? That question lies at the heart of the moves taking place at the net to see more ethnically diverse faces placed both on-screen and behind the camera. 'When you have over 40 nationalities working for you, it's important to reflect that diversity on-air and in leadership positions,' says [managing director Tony] Burman. 'The world is becoming more complicated and people are looking for a network that doesn't necessarily have a home team. The roots of CNN are still in Atlanta and the BBC, for all its professionalism, is still rooted in the British perspective. Our challenge is to make programs which have a real interest in understanding the world from a broad perspective.'" Ali Jaafra, Variety, 30 September 2008.

Welshman is Russia's best television news anchor.

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Former HTV [ITV contractor for Wales] presenter Kevin Owen has become the first foreign national to be named Russia’s best news anchor. Owen, of Merthyr Tydfil, picked up the award on Thursday at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, after beating competition from some of the country’s most established broadcasters. The 39-year-old moved to Russia in 2005 and became a presenter with 24-hour news channel, Russia Today." WalesOnline.co.uk, 1 October 2008.

BBC Worldwide hires ad sales VP, with a Channel 4 twist to the story.

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide has recruited Microsoft executive Chris Dobson to head up global ad sales. The move had been anticipated but has now been confirmed with Dobson taking the title executive vice president and general manager global ad sales for the BBC's commercial arm. He will oversee advertising activity across BBC Worldwide channels and online business together with BBC World News and joins on 6 October. The announcement comes only a few days after Ofcom made the suggestion that BBC Worldwide could be handed over to Channel 4 to plug the funding gap at the broadcaster as part of the regulator's review of Public Service Broadcasting obligations." mad.co.uk, 30 September 2008. With BBC Worldwide based largely on BBC content, or ads sold on BBC channels, how would a Channel 4 takeover work?

BBG DG in Kenya discusses media technologies.

Posted: 01 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, interviewed in Nairobi: "Thompson: The way people use media is changing. Once the BBC could reach millions of Kenyans just with short-wave radio. Both the KBC and BBC face the challenge of reaching out to new audiences and also using new technologies to get our content to audiences. Reporter: He said one of the biggest challenges to public broadcasters all over the world is how to sustain the independent opinions of editors and those of governments in power, a situation that makes it difficult to deny that the broadcasters are controlled by the government. Thompson: If you've got an emerging strong democracy with power- sharing and people from different perspectives having to work together, a strong, free media can play a very important part in strengthening democracy." Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 30 September 2008.