VOA jazz from the "citadel on the hill."

Posted: 30 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today, as Poland sheds the remnants of its communist past, jazz enjoys a special place in the nation’s affection, thanks in no small part to Willis Conover’s Music USA and Jazz Hour broadcasts on Voice of America—the short wave radio station heard by an estimated 100 million people behind the former Iron Curtain during the darkest days of the Cold War. As a result of Conover’s broadcasts, Poles will probably always associate jazz with freedom and an idealized vision of America as the 'citadel on the hill' and the 'last best hope for mankind.'" Stuart Nicholson, jazz.com, 29 November 2008.

Filling all that international television time requires translations.

Posted: 30 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Compass Languages was recently tapped to translate more than 100 History Channel episodes into Farsi for broadcast in Iran in 2009. The Crofton [Maryland]-based firm was selected for the task by Voice of America, an international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government." The Capital (Annapolis), 30 November 2008. These History Channel episodes will be competing with whatever is on the new BBC Farsi television channel. Update: I'm informed that VOA Persian television has already been using translated History Channel material, so BBC Farsi TV will be competing against that. And much of the History Channel fare is very good.

U.S. public diplomacy outpost on the West Bank.

Posted: 30 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A U.S.-funded youth center that has opened in the West Bank village of Beita is meant to show America at its can-do best: It will teach English and computer courses, hoping to provide an antidote to political extremism along the way. But if organizers hope the locals will also learn to love America a little - that's a much harder sell." AP via Ha'aretz, 30 November 2008.

A meeting of the Italian language radio broadcasters.

Posted: 30 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
“'The Role of Italian Language in the Global and Local Media' was the topic of the 7th Italradio Forum, held from November 21 to 23 in the Romanian city of Timisuara. The discussion gathered the reporters, linguists and university professors from Italy, Serbia, Romania, Slovenia and Russia, and their colleagues from Greece, Turkey and Switzerland joined the discussion through the phone link. For the first time Serbia had its representatives, coming from the Italian service of our radio. That was a good opportunity for the Italian Service of the International Radio Serbia to establish its position among other media that do broadcasts in the Italian language." Radio Srbija, 29 November 2008. Less and less Italian to be heard on shortwave, especially since RAI dropped all shortwave broadcasting in Sepptember 2007. It's still available online at www.international.rai.it/radio/. International Radio Serbia's Italian broadcast is at 1830-1900 UTC on 7200 kHz.

More about Mumbai and international twittercasting.

Posted: 30 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The issue with Twitter as a news source is that it's not organized to handle news reporting. Frankly it's a complete mess. Twitter users are tagging way too many messages which only adds to the noise. This noise makes allowing potential 'real news' to get through nearly impossible." Allen Stern, Information Week, 29 November 2008.
     "'When you look at TV, you see one channel at a time, then you go to another channel,' said Dina Mehta, an ethnographer and social media consultant in Mumbai. 'On Twitter, you get feeds from many different people at the same time.' Citizen journalists avoided some of the bureaucratic headaches faced by media organizations. At the end of the day on Friday, CNN’s license to transmit live video in India expired, forcing the network’s correspondents to report via telephone. CNN and other channels in the United States relied on live coverage and taped reports from Indian networks." New York Times. 29 November 2008.
     "Blogs and social networking sites like Twitter and Flickr buzzed with eyewitness accounts from India's financial capital, providing some of the first photos of the besieged targets and serving as a forum for pleas for updates on friends and family." AP, 30 November 2008.
     "This just reveals what the online world can really do in such crisis situations. Blogs, YouTube, Twitter and even Google, if used well and with caution the news can actually be broadcasted faster and more efficient than ever. Unfortunately, journalism still has an ace up its sleeve, and that ace is called professionalism and reliability. Journalists usually verify their data and are trained to offer information in such a way that it is useful. The twitter postings related to Mumbai were only valuable if taken as a whole, individually they lacked consistency." Davie Barret, eFluxMedia, 30 November 2008.
     "I am a Sri Lankan, and I have been listening to the Mumbai attacks from the day it happened on Wed, our time 3.00 a.m. in the morning and from that time onwards to the live broadcasts from CNN International, shown - my eyes were only glued to CNN TV with great shock and horror as the drama in real life unfolded before my very eyes. At the same time I was also on ireport web site talking back and forth to my friends about this horror..." Kandy, iReport, 30 November 2008.
     "Something police and the military need to remember in the future, is that these aren't guerillas using sticks or something to attack. If they can get their hands on an AK-47, they can get their hands on a BlackBerry, more easily in fact. Reports are the police were surprised that the terrorists had Blackberrys, but they shouldn't be. However, while terrorists used their BlackBerrys to help themselves, so did survivors. According to reports, Amit Gupta used his own BlackBerry to keep track of things once the cable feed was cut off from the Oberoi Trident Hotel. He survived a 42-hour ordeal, all told, and despite it all, is going back to work on Monday." Iria, Huliq News, 30 November 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Labor issues at RFE/RL.

Posted: 29 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Under Jeffrey Gedmin, RFE/RL is embroiled in ugly lawsuits with its former employees who, contrary to the strict requirements of Czech labor law, were fired without any reason given to them and with no warning whatsoever. No disciplinary measures at all were applied prior to their termination. RFE/RL justifies such a mode of firing its employees in the Czech Republic by the use of American 'employment-at-will' doctrine." Lev Roitman, "a former senior editor with RFE/RL [who] retired in 2004 after 30 years of service," The Herald News (Fall River, MA), 28 November 2008. See previous post about RFE/RL and Gedmin.

International broadcasting interviewee in exile.

Posted: 29 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Arash "Sigarchi escaped to the United States while on medical leave from prison in Rashat, where he was serving a three-year sentence on charges that included espionage, engaging in propaganda against the system, and undermining national security. The charges followed interviews he gave to BBC World Service radio and the U.S. government-funded Radio Farda." One of "five snapshots of journalists in exile," Committee to Protect Journalists, November 2008.

Blogs in closed societies: opportunity or blather?

Posted: 29 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
At a recent Open Society Institute "panel discussion on the role of the blogosphere in closed societies. ... -A picture of sunny optimism, articulated by writers like Don Tapscott, who see the opportunity to contribute and collaborate online as creating a generation of citizens who are more involved and creative than a previous generation of passive media consumers. -A dystopian vision advanced by folks like Andrew Keen, suggesting that the unedited blather of user-generated content will cause us to devalue and neglect expert content and may decrease meaningful participation." Ethan Zuckerman, Worldchanging, 28 November 2008.

The Mumbai terrorist attacks: traditional journalism versus tweets.

Posted: 29 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"First-hand accounts of the deadly Mumbai attacks are pouring in on Twitter, Flickr, and other social media." Noah Shachtman, Wired Danger Room, 26 November 2008.
     "As someone who has previously equated 'citizen journalism' with 'citizen dentistry' Twitter heads were obviously going to have a hard time convincing me. ... Looking through the Twitter search stream for 'Mumbai', I see so much useless information, I quickly get the feeling I am wasting my time." Andrew Stroehlein, Reuters AlertNet, 28 November 2008.
     "Twitter users swapped messages at a breakneck pace as the events unfolded, whether it was seeking information on family or friends or links to the latest breaking news reports. There were even unconfirmed reports that the Indian authorities had tried to stop people posting to Twitter because of fears the information could be used by the militants still holding hostages." AFP, 28 November 2008.
     "The question now is how to manage--if it is manageable at all--the information that comes to the forefront when anyone with a cellphone or a cheap laptop can blast information around the globe with a few keystrokes. There are some reports that Indian authorities asked those in Mumbai to stop Twittering about the event in order to keep the activities of police quiet." Forbes.com, 28 November 2008.
     "Indian officials said at least five BlackBerry handsets found on the nine dead terrorists showed they had surfed British websites. ... Key figures in the gang were said to have equipped themselves with BlackBerrys to monitor British news if power was cut to televisions." The Sun, 29 November 2008.
     "As the Mumbai Terror attack played out through Thursday and Friday bringing India’s financial capital to a grinding halt, the Internet became the link between people across nations. It has been in many ways the coming of age of the Indian blogosphere." indianexpress.com, 29 November 2008.
     "Despite the tremendous volume of information — and its immediacy — coming from Mumbai via Twitter, getting context about the situation has been a struggle. While a few people have been tweeting firsthand accounts, much of the information has been re-tweets or just rambling, reaction-based tweets. Maybe I was overcome with emotion, but the sheer volume of tweets and lack of clarity only fed my frustration with Twitter. (I’m sure it’s the same kind of frustration people feel with blogs at times as well.)" GigaOM, 28 November 2008.
     "A glance at Twitter during the day quickly revealed that being first was mostly preferred to being right - posts claiming that the stand-off had ended at the Taj Mahal hotel were followed by reports of further explosions. ... But the TV news, broadcasting live to India and the world, also got things wrong. In the chaos of Mumbai, it was tempting to trust the observations of an individual on the ground sharing his own limited observations, than the distant news-desks assimilating thousands of reports." Demotix, The Telegraph, 28 November 2008.
     "Around the web there have been mixed reviews of the Twitter reporting of the Mumbai terror strikes. Some of the mainstream press was rather critical of the reporting quality... In general, I found international media coverage of the terror strike to be woefully inadequate. Mainstream news sites like Reuters did provide some well written summaries of the events, but did not give us anything that had not been previously tweeted, re-tweeted and re-re-tweeted. Over the past two days, social media sites have provided more than an additional source of information, they provided a viable alternative to the mainstream press. Sure it was raw, and there were a few idiots who wanted to make a scene, but at the end of the day a good deal of truth came out." C.S. Magor, UberReview, 28 November 2008.
     "Many Twitterers just repeat headlines they see on local tv, rather than reporting their own observations. Rumours keep being repeated without ever being checked. Journalists say the social networking site can provide some of the basic material, fast and topical, but there is still a need for all those facts and non-facts to be filtered, tied together and put into context." Radio Netherlands, 28 November 2008.
     "A group of Mumbai-based bloggers turned their Metroblog into a news wire service, while the blog MumbaiHelp offered to help users get through to their family and friends in the city, or to get information about them, and has had a number of successes. Flickr also proved a useful source of haunting images chronicling the aftermath of the attacks. Journalist Vinukumar Ranganathan's stream of photos were published by CNN and other major broadcasters. ... However, as is the case with such widespread dissemination of information, a vast number of the posts on Twitter amounted to unsubstantiated rumors and wild inaccuracies. ... A quick trawl through the enormous numbers of tweets showed that most were sourced from mainstream media." CNN, 28 November 2008.
     "The biggest problem with the huge amounts of information coming in is how to make sense of it. Which are trusted sources, for instance, that won’t publish false or exaggerated information? You can’t tell that very easily. We really need context for what happened in Mumbai, with seasoned, trusted sources that can help analyse and interpret the events and this is where good journalism comes in. ... Amazingly enough, given all the above, there are managers of some news organisations who still think that relying on the phone and wire services, with social media and much of the internet firewalled off by corporate MIS makes for an acceptable work environment for journalists." Juha Saarinen Auckland, Fairfax Business Media, 28 November 2008.

BBG member to the US Senate (updated).

Posted: 28 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Ted Kaufman, adviser to Vice President elect Joseph R. Biden and charter member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, has been selected by Delaware's governor to take Biden's Senate seat. CQ Politics, 24 November 2008. "Mr. Kaufman has been a dedicated guardian of the journalistic independence of our broadcasters and a passionate advocate of the Agency's mission. He helped lead the BBG to become an independent federal agency in 1999, and set a standard for the bipartisan work of the Board. ... The people of Delaware are fortunate to have a man of such distinction as their Senator." BBG statement, 25 November 2008. Kaufman background. Wilmington News Journal, 24 November 2008. So the BBG is now down to four members, plus the ex oficio Secretary of State.
     Update: "Ted Kaufman was the primary force behind the shutting down of many Voice of America radio broadcasts, including programs to Russia, a secretive action taken last summer only days before the Russian army attacked Georgia. ... Upon learning of Ted Kaufman’s appointment to the U.S. Senate, a high-ranking Union leader told FreeMediaOnline.org that 'Ted Kaufman was no friend to the employees of the VOA.'" Ted Lipien, Free Media Online blog, 28 November 2008. See previous post.

Media cover the Mumbai attacks -- with varying results.

Posted: 28 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News America was one of the first networks with a reporter on the ground in Mumbai yesterday. Anchor Matt Frei also spoke with one of the hotel guests hiding at the Taj Mahal hotel." Media Bistro, 27 November 2008.
     "The Fox News channel does not have anywhere near the worldwide on-staff resources that CNN International does, but it plugged into NDTV (New Delhi Television) for some excellent coverage and images of the early and ongoing attacks. Don't get too excited about Fox's performance, though, by 10 p.m. it was airing a rerun of Greta Van Susteren's softball interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. CNN was all over the story, and you could feel its strength build as staffers came back to work and joined in. CNN International had much help in terms of imagery from sister channel IBN (India Broadcast News). CNN stayed on the case throughout the night. But on MSNBC, no real coverage -- nothing except a brief mention and discussion at the anchor desk in New York. Isn't this a great way to cut reporting costs -- just stop doing it." David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun, 26 November 2008.
     "Al Jazeera English has the best TV coverage out of the region at the moment. Again, context is so important. Radio used to have the best 'pictures' and analysis. Not any more." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog, 27 November 2008.
     "Voice of America, U.S. taxpayer-funded international broadcaster, was off the air with shortwave Hindi radio broadcasts to India during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The decision to silence these radio broadcasts was made earlier this year by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a U.S. Government agency." Ted Lipien, Free Media Online blog, 28 November 2008.

VOA reporter participates in Chinese media "peer review."

Posted: 28 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Local and international media gathered at the Press Hall of the All China Journalists Association (ACJA) in Beijing Thursday morning to commemorate the 30th anniversary of China's opening-up policy and to examine how this had impacted on the nation's media. ... Reporters from Voice of America, the Guardian, Asahi Shimbun, various European, China's Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao media all gathered to probe the panelists on the recent melamine milk scandal, coverage of the May 12 earthquake, openness during the Olympics, increasing demands for advertising revenue and the proliferation of new media including online and hand-held content such as mobile phone news." China Daily, 27 November 2008.

Worldspace, and ex-Worldspace, personnel notes.

Posted: 28 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"WorldSpace filed last month for Chapter 11 in a Wilmington, Del., court, to 'engage in an orderly process' to raise money to repay debts by either a sale or recapitalization, executives said in a statement. The company listed liabilities of $2.1 billion and assets of $307.4 million. WorldSpace has reduced its work force in Silver Spring to about 50 from 111 employees some 18 months ago." The Gazette (Maryland), 27 November 2008.
     "TerreStar Corporation today announced that Vincent Loiacono has joined TerreStar as Chief Accounting Officer and Principal Accounting Officer responsible for the financial planning, analysis, and treasury activities; reporting to TerreStar President Jeffrey Epstein ... [who said] 'We welcome the addition of Vincent's level of professionalism and financial discipline and believe there is great value in his experience with both public companies and start-ups - including an initial public offering (IPO).' Prior to joining TerreStar, Loiacono served as Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller of WorldSpace, Inc, a satellite-based radio and data broadcasting service, which operated in countries in Africa, Asia and Western Europe. He was responsible for all global accounting activities, including compliance and controls, financial reporting, accounting transactional work processes and financial information systems, as well as financial standards, planning and financial support to its global businesses such as a $221 million IPO for WorldSpace.'" TerreStar press release, 26 November 2008. See previous post about Worldspace.

Home-grown competition claims success over BBC World News.

Posted: 27 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Just eight weeks into its run, the new nightly news program Worldfocus is coming on strong, beating its nearest head-to-head competitor BBC World News last night. The program, anchored by former CNN and NBC News anchor/correspondent Martin Savidge, airs on PBS stations in various cities, at various times. BBC World News also airs on PBS stations throughout the country and on BBC America on cable. Last night, in all markets, Worldfocus drew 328,892 viewers, up 16% from its lifetime average of 283,749. BBC World News drew 312,310, down 15% from its 8-week average of 365,592. The New York-based internationally-focused news program performed even better in the top 30 markets, topping the BBC program on both Monday and Tuesday of this week. (Note: Because it also airs on cable, BBC World News will have more viewers than listed above which is the average for the airings on PBS stations.)" Media Bistro, 26 November 2008.

Growing audience for international television channel in NZ.

Posted: 27 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Triangle Television is attracting a rapidly growing number of viewers in the Auckland market, the latest Neilsen Media cumulative audience figures reveal. The survey returned cumulative audience of more than 403,000 viewers for the month of October for Triangle. ... Its reputation is also growing throughout New Zealand ... for being the channel that offers alternative views on world news. The channels screen news and current affairs services in English from Al Jazeerah, Euro News, Deutsche Welle (DW), Voice of America, PBS, McLaughlin Group (US politics), Frost over the World (David Frost) and Tongan, Fijian, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, French, Swiss, Flemish, Greek, Russian, Chinese, Thai and Japanese language news. ... 'We are able to instantly switch to Al Jazeerah, Voice of America or DW should something of worldwide significance happen, which allows us to provide local and meaningful perspectives.'" Triangle Television press release, 27 November 2008.

VOA on Facebook and Twitter (but not yet for sale on eBay).

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
From VOA memo on 26 November: "Go to the Facebook Home page and type Voice of America in the search bar in order to locate the special page. This page features live RSS feeds of VOA’s Top News Stories in four languages, videos from VOA’s YouTube page, links to VOA programming, descriptions of upcoming VOA events and more." On Twitter: "One of our special pages is titled VOA_News. It provides the top news stories in English to users who select to follow our headlines. As we gain more experience with Twitter, we will add headlines in other languages and additional content, including photographs. You can visit it by going to www.Twitter.com/voa_news."

Out: listeners. In: citizen journalists.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
The Broadcasting Board of Governors and The George Washington University Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications will host International News Coverage in a New Media World: The Decline of the Foreign Correspondent and the Rise of the Citizen Journalist, on 10 December at GWU. BBG announcement and RSVP.
      "A citizen-journalism upload portal has been launched by Qatar-based Arabic satellite network Al Jazeera, "seeking eyewitness news reports from its vast international audience." The Editors Weblog, 27 November 2008.
     "But then the bloggers appear, writers of no training but natural talent, positioned by chance to see events and parts of the world which the news machines cannot reach." George Brock, The Times Literary Supplement, 26 November 2008.

Another State Department video contest.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The State Department and Adobe Foundation will announce the launch of an online video contest to amplify U.S. public diplomacy using Web-based outreach campaigns and social media platforms on Monday, Dec. 1. The 'My Culture + Your Culture = ? Share Your Story' contest is part of a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs initiative to encourage cross-cultural community building and mutual understanding via the Web and social media platforms." National Journal Tech Daily Dose, 24 November 2008. See also State Department press release, 25 November 2008.
     And the Democracy Video Challenge deadline is 30 January 2009. See the competition's website and previous post.

"Youth" is the word to describe young people who behave as adults would want them to (updated).

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School, the U.S. Department of State and Access 360 Media are bringing leaders of 17 pioneering organizations from 15 countries together with technology experts next month in New York for the first-ever conclave to empower youth against violence and oppression through the use of the latest online tools. These young leaders will form a new group, the Alliance of Youth Movements, which will produce a field manual for youth empowerment. The field manual will stand in stark contrast to the Al-Qaeda manual on the basics of terrorism, found by Coalition Forces in Iraq. ... 'The State Department is proud to play a role in highlighting the new wave of civil-society empowerment that is happening online,' said James K. Glassman, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs." Howcast/State Department press release, 18 November 2008.
     Update: See State Department briefing, 24 November 2008. And James Glassman op-ed, Miami Herald, 25 November 2008. Also posted at the website of the President of Colombia. See also AFP, 25 November 2008.

Three indictments related to murder of RFA GC (updated).

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Three men at the center of an enduring murder mystery in an elegant Dupont Circle townhouse have been indicted on obstruction of justice charges as police continue to investigate the slaying of Robert Wone, a rising star in Washington's legal community who was fatally stabbed two years ago while staying overnight at the home. ... No one has yet been accused of killing Wone, 32, a highly regarded lawyer who was found dead in a guest room on Aug. 2, 2006. He was president-elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association's Washington chapter and had recently become general counsel at Radio Free Asia." Washington Post, 21 November 2008. Two of the indicted pleaded not guilty. "They were released from custody and ordered to wear ankle monitoring bracelets." Washington Post, 22 November 2008. See also The Flat Hat (College of William and Mary), 21 November 2008. -- Blog of LegalTimes, 20 November 2008. -- Legal Times, 24 November 2008 issue. -- ABC News, 21 November 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: Wone's widow and family file a $20 million lawsuit against the three indicted. Washington Post, 26 November 2008. See also The Blog of Legal Times, 25 November 2008 and another story, same date, from BLT.

More intrigue in the history of RFE.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Czechoslovak secret service StB and the Soviet KGB closely collaborated when infiltrating the structures of the U.S.-sponsored broadcaster Radio Free Europe (RFE), historian Jan Kalous said at a conference on NKVD/KGB on Friday. ... 'The link of the [Russian emigre organisation Narodno-Trudovoy soyuz (NTS)] with Czechoslovak emigres and RFE broadcasts was interesting for the StB,' Kalous said." Prague Daily Monitor, 24 November 2008.

BET to Africa via GTV.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"African pay-TV network GTV is launching Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the Afro Music Channel on its service as of December 1. BET will kick off on GTV with a slate of hit programming, including 106 & Park, Real Life Divas, College Hill, Keyshia Cole and Leading Men, as well as special events such as the BET Awards, BET Hip Hop Awards and Celebration of Gospel." WorldScreen.com, 25 November 2008.

Nigel Chapman departing as BBC World Service director (updated).

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Director of the BBC World Service Nigel Chapman is leaving the corporation after 31 years to become chief executive of children’s charity Plan International. He has been director of the World Service since 2004 and has previously been director of BBC Online and controller of English Regions. Chapman has also worked as a producer and editor on a number of news and current affairs programmes. BBC director of global news Richard Sambrook said today in a message to staff: 'I'd like to pay tribute to the huge contribution Nigel has made to the BBC - and in particular to the World Service over the last eight years. He has overseen the biggest restructuring of the service since it was launched and the move into language television and the strengthening of our internet presence. The World Service today is stronger than when he joined it and enjoys the largest audience it has ever had - a fitting tribute to his hard work and commitment.'" Press Gazette, 25 November 2008.
     Update: "In a separate note to staff, Chapman said: 'There is never a perfect time to leave something as fascinating and all-consuming as the World Service. There is always more to do: new audience demands to meet, new services to launch and existing ones to improve.'" Radioandmusic.com, 26 November 2008.

Encore: RFI on strike.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several thousand radio and television workers took the streets Tuesday to protest a law to reform public media being discussed in the National Assembly. According to France Televisions management, 43.3 per cent of the company's personnel stopped work. Several Radio France stations were interrupted and most of RFI programming in French and other languages." Radio France Internationale, 26 November 2008.

DW Indonesian celebrates its 45th anniversary.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"From November 21-23, Deutsche Welle will be meeting with its listeners and partners in Indonesia, as they come together in Jakarta to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Indonesian programming on DW-RADIO. ... This year, Indonesia will also be in focus in the blogosphere. For the first time ever, Deutsche Welle will be presenting an award for blogs in Indonesian at this year’s BOBs Awards on November 27." DW press release, 21 November 2008.

This year's DW blog awards will be blogged (updated).

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the fourth year in a row, Deutsche Welle will be presenting its Reporters Without Borders Award for blogging at the BOBs Awards on November 27. This award is the result of a cooperative project with Reporters Without Borders designed to recognize bloggers who use the platform to highlight, promote and further the advancement of the freedom of opinion throughout the world. ... This year’s BOBs Awards will be announced at a ceremony on November 27 at the Communication Museum in Berlin. The BOBs is the world’s largest international blogging competition – drawing in more than 7,000 nominations per year. It was developed in 2004 and now has 16 categories, with winners being chosen by both an international jury of media experts and bloggers and through online voting. Judges look at blogs in 11 different languages – making the BOBs the world‘s only awards competition that offers a comprehensive overview of the global blogosphere. For the first time ever, this year’s BOBs ceremony will also be broadcast via livestream and live blogging. The livestream is available through Sevenload and Peter Bihr will be creating and posting the live blog (http://www.thewavingcat.com/)." DW press release, 24 November 2008.
     Update: "Cedric Kalonji, a blogger from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s BOBs Awards on November 27 at the Communication Museum in Berlin. Kalonji was awarded the best French-language blog at the BOBs in 2007 and will speak about his personal experiences and how blogging has changed his life." DW press release, 26 November 2008.
     "Local authorities prevent the participation of a prominent Chinese citizen journalist in Deutsche Welle's international weblog awards, The BOBs, in Berlin. Chinese authorities are preventing Chinese blogger and citizen journalist Shuguang Zhou from leaving for Germany without providing any official justification." DW press release, 25 November 2008. See also The BOB's website.

Reported, and not reported, on Al Jazeera.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Foreign Press Association (of London) Media Awards: "Story of the year by a member of the FPA was clinched by Jonah Hull's The War in Georgia, which was broadcast on the al-Jazeera English channel." The Guardian, 26 November 2008.
     "Farah Abd Jameh, apparently one of the [Somali] pirates, contacted the Arab television network Al-Jazeera to announce the gang's ransom demand: 'The ransom will be taken in cash to the oil tanker. We assure the safety of the ship that carries the ransom. We will mechanically count the money and we have machines that can detect fake money.'" sail-world.com, 26 November 2008.
     South Africa: "In damning footage being aired worldwide by international news channel Al Jazeera, Jason Mkhwane, the chairperson of the league branch in Sedibeng, southern Gauteng, is heard saying: 'People like Terror Lekota and all those people who want to destroy the history of the organisation (ANC), they behave like cockroaches and they must be destroyed'." The Star (Johennesburg), 26 November 2008.
     "Janesville [Wisconsin] doesn’t make international news very often. But the impending end of SUV production here, throwing hundreds out of work, has caught the attention of news organizations from Europe, the Far East and the Middle East. ... Swedish national TV recently interviewed Bob Borremans, executive director of the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, about the GM situation. Borremans said he turned down a request from Al Jazeera English, the TV news channel headquartered in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. 'I didn’t think Al Jazeera was somebody we necessarily wanted to be interviewed by and broadcast over there,' Borremans said. Borremans said he has since heard that Al Jazeera has a good reputation and wonders if he should have done the interview." Janesville Gazette, 26 November 2008.

Russian-Georgian media war carries on (updated).

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Georgia has launched a campaign to counter an increasing number of media reports which allege that the government of Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president, was responsible for starting the war with Russia in August. ... The government-funded Georgia Update website issued a detailed rebuttal of what it called 'inaccurate and incomplete' Western media stories this week. It has also published transcripts of intercepted mobile-phone conversations which it claims prove that Russian troops moved into South Ossetia before the war, forcing Georgia to defend itself by fighting back. On the other side, two professionally-designed websites, Truth for Ossetia and Help Ossetia Now, have been set up to portray Georgia as the aggressor." Aljazeera.net, 23 November 2008.
     Update: "This battle of words has been highlighted by Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili, who said that an information war for international public opinion was in progress and claimed that Moscow was investing large sums of money in a propaganda campaign to change the West’s perception of the conflict. 'We know for sure that Russia allocated quite an impressive number of dollars to spin anti-Georgian sentiments in the West, and we see some results of that, but I think truth will prevail,' he told Al Jazeera." Roger N McDermott, The Jamestown Foundation, 25 November 2008.

Back in the news: Canadian psyop in Afghanistan.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"While the Taliban have made intimidation and propaganda almost an art form, it's the job of Psy Ops to visit village leaders and try and undo the damage. Psy Ops is not as much about military intelligence as 'influence peddling' - a sales job aimed at getting the impoverished local people to accept the Canadian Forces. It might be considered an anti-propaganda unit. But the Zhari district is worth a study all of its own. It is a favourite haunt of the Taliban, but there are also villages that are pro-government. 'The one next to the police sub station,' Rogers said, pointing to a village a few hundred metres away, 'is one of the most friendly, permissive villages there is. The next one over, you can tell there's a sense of fear, whispering, caution about who is observing,' he continued. 'And the last village over: the last time we were there, it was a firefight.'" The Canadian Press, 24 November 2008. See previous post about same subject.

China-India cyber psyop.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"At the core of India-China tension is the difference in perceptions between the two and it is here that the psychological warfare or psyops plays the crucial role. As psyops is often defined as management of perceptions, a distinct part of psychological warfare is the strategic use of propaganda through the Internet, media and print literature. China in recent times is developing psychological warfare as a new strategy for both wartime and peacetime uses. Cyber-nationalism thus is a part of psyops which the Chinese government uses to bolster its strategic policies and to reinforce its domestic legitimacy." Abanti Bhattacharya, Asia Times, 27 November 2008.

HCJB-built shortwave transmitter on air at TWR Swaziland.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A new 100,000-watt shortwave transmitter built at the HCJB Global Technology Center in Elkhart, Ind., is on the air at the Trans World Radio (TWR) site in Swaziland, broadcasting a message of hope across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Through a cooperative effort between the two organizations, the HC100 transmitter began broadcasting about 12 hours a day on Oct. 23, replacing an outdated Continental unit and joining two other HC100s, also from Elkhart. ... 'The primary target areas are eastern and southern Africa, but our transmitters in Swaziland reach locations as far away as Pakistan. We broadcast in approximately 30 languages with our three HC100 transmitters.'" HCJB press release, 25 November 2008. See previous post about the HCJB Global Technology Center in Elkhart, my home town.

Give thanks that we don't have to get our news via shortwave?

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Among the 'small' things that we have come to overlook and not appreciate. ... We may gripe about the television shows on our 50-inch wide screens. Consider those around the globe who may still rely, for entertainment and news, on a simple, short-wave radio powered by the sun or hand-cranked magneto because batteries are too expensive or just not available." Al Campbell, Cape May County (NJ) Herald, 25 November 2008.

Christian Science Monitor, soon to drop print, previously dropped shortwave.

Posted: 26 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
From timeline to mark the Monitor's 100th anniversary: "1920: The Monitor joins several other newspapers in developing distribution of worldwide news via radio, beginning AM transmission in February 1922, adding programming seven years later, and expanding to shortwave broadcasts by late 1935. ... February 1987: The World Service of The Christian Science Monitor” begins broadcasting on international shortwave radio to Europe and Africa from station WCSN in Scotts Corners, Maine – and a year later to Japan, Korea, and China from station KYOI on Saipan, Mariana Islands. ... 1989: “MonitoRadio Early Edition” premières on American Public Radio stations. Shortwave expands to reach Latin America and the Pacific Rim. ... 1997: MonitoRadio shuts down in June; shortwave scaled back." Christian Science Monitor, 25 November 2008. Not mentioned is that, in June 2004, the Christian Science church sold its last shortwave facility, in South Carolina, to World Harvest Radio.

Christine Amanpour will anchor program on CNN International.

Posted: 25 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"In her 25 years at CNN, Christiane Amanpour has hopscotched the world, the very model of a foreign correspondent, turning up at seemingly every war, genocide, famine and natural disaster, slipping through previously closed borders and interviewing even the most recalcitrant of foreign leaders. But there is one thing she has never done: anchored her own daily news show. That will change next year, when she starts a nightly program on CNN International, which is retooling its lineup. An edited version of Ms. Amanpour’s show is expected to be shown on the weekends on CNN’s United States channel. ... Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, said: 'Our thinking was we wanted a big, the biggest, name to hub our international prime time, and when it comes to global international superstars that list pretty much begins and ends with Christiane Amanpour.'" New York Times, 23 November 2008.

More sparring about BBC Russian (updated).

Posted: 25 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mr Chapman seems oddly reluctant to believe that BBC employees can be subjected to intimidation. Everywhere, he is moving programmers 'closer to their audiences'. It is his intention that the Russian-language programme Early Hour, at present broadcast to Central Asia and the Caucasus from London, should instead be broadcast from Moscow. Does he really believe that, in the event of another crisis between Russia and Georgia, editors and producers in Moscow will feel able to broadcast freely?" Robert Chandler, letter to The Times, 17 November 2008. See previous post about same subject and for earlier letters to The Times.
     "Only time will tell if the letter writers’ concerns are justified. But if Russia’s Internet can attract both an unorthodox start-up like Demotix, and a venerable institution like the BBC, it suggests that the tide of change is strong, but not necessarily malignant. 'There is a balance to be had between bearing your past in mind and changing to reflect current realities' [said Sarah Gibson, head of BBC Russian]." Roland Oliphant, Russia Profile, 17 November 2008. Update: Chandler responds to Oliphant: "There is no justification for existence of the BBC Russian Service unless it provides something different from any other broadcaster or website. And there are, at present, some good Russian-language online news services. The Russian service should be proud, rather than ashamed, of what has made it unique. This, above all, means serious pre-recorded features incorporating a variety of voices and viewpoints." via Johnson's Russia List, 19 November 2008.
     Somewhat related: Recent BBC "licence-fee refuseniks include Vladimir Bukovsky, a former Russian dissident." The Times, 16 November 2008.

BBG takes "sharp exception" to PDC white paper.

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) takes sharp exception to many points in 'Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting for a New Era,' a statement issued by the Public Diplomacy Council (PDC) on November 17. It is false to claim that the BBG has acted in any way that contravenes Congress. The BBG received Congressional approval for all program changes that have been made, including language service reductions. The PDC should correct its error." BBG press release, 24 November 2008. See previous post about same subject, including Kim's comments.

Give me the equivalent of six Apaches and I can duplicate VOA worldwide (updated).

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today, the nonprofit, U.S.-funded RFE reaches 30 million people, in 28 languages, in 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Central Asian republics. All for the relatively low price of $83 million. That is approximately the cost of four Apache helicopters and, inarguably, provides a significant bang for the buck. 'Give me the equivalent of six Apaches and we'd probably change the world,' said Gedmin over coffee while in Washington this week. ... Gedmin, who is one of the signatories to a 1998 letter urging President Bill Clinton to overthrow Saddam Hussein, is hardly a touchy-feely guy. But he appreciates that the war of ideas is best fought with the 'weapon of the word.' Give that man six Apaches." Kathleen Parker, Washington Post, 21 November 2008. Update: "The real issue behind RFE/RL is that of an anachronistic 'cold war' bureaucracy that has outlived its usefulness (a few saves in Afghanistan, notwithstanding). Washington is replete with Federal Agencies that, originally designed with a purposeful mission, have outlived its efficacy but have refused to be terminated. The law of the bureaucracy states Federal programs and agencies must search for new missions to continue to receive federal funding. So it is with RFE/RL. The new Obama administration will be facing close to a Trillion dollar deficit in the upcoming fiscal year. Getting rid of superfluous, outmoded agencies and programs like RFE/RL will be a necessity to avoid saddling this generation of workers with oppressive taxes." Ron Lafond, letter to Wilmington (NC) Star News, 23 November 2008.
     "'In public diplomacy, the messenger matters,' [RFE/RL president Jeffery] Gedmin said to a packed house at the DC-based Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC). 'President-elect Obama's global appeal marks a real opportunity for the U.S. to improve its image overseas. But the message matters, too – his administration needs to craft sound policies that advance our interests and values.' ... The discussion, titled Public Diplomacy in the Age of Obama: Getting the War of Ideas Right, was arranged at the invitation of EPPC Senior Fellow Senator Rick Santorum. Both speakers argued that U.S. International broadcasters such as the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and RFE/RL are effective tools of soft power that advance America's foreign policy interests." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 21 November 2008. Just provide a credible new service, and "America's foreign policy interests" will be served by well-informed publics. Best to leave the talk of public diplomacy, soft power, and improving the U.S. image to the public diplomacy people, elsewhere in Washington. Update: Transcript now available. Gedmin: "We need -- in my view -- Voice of America. Voice of America cannot be replaced or supplanted by other things. And the argument that we have international media, we have CNN, in my view just doesn’t cut ice. I think it’s really lacking in any kind of compelling rationale. I love markets – CNN and other things like that are commercial – but I do think markets at times lack wisdom and judiciousness and have flaws. They do give us things like Paris Hilton and pet rocks. ... I think we ought to continue to provide, through government, surrogate broadcasting. That’s what Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty does. But before that sounds too self-serving, just look at what a sister organization of ours does – Radio Free Asia in China, in North Korea, in Burma. It is remarkable work. It’s serious. They have audience, they have impact." EPPC website.
     Stephen Miller's The Peculiar Life of Sundays is reviewed by Jay Tolson, who "will become the news director at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in December," Wall Street Journal, 22 November 2008.

Publisher questions RFA broadcasts to Cambodia.

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia, which is supported by US taxpayers' money including mine, justifies its existence by providing 'news and information' that citizens of totalitarian countries are deprived of. It therefore targets its broadcasts to such 'deprived' countries as China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Burma. RFA also spends millions of dollars in broadcasting to Cambodia. As the publisher of The Cambodia Daily, a newspaper which has appeared every day uninterruptedly for the past 15 years, I would like to challenge RFA's claim that this is another country that has no free access to news and therefore it needs to be fed RFA's news feed to be properly informed. The Cambodia Daily freely disseminates news and opinion without any interference from the government. Our newspaper has never been censored, threatened or otherwise been interfered with even though the powers that be don't necessarily like what we print." Bernard Krisher, undated op-ed, The Cambodia Daily.
     With weekly audiences of 27% for VOA and 22% for RFA (higher in Phnom Penh), there is obviously demand for international radio among the Cambodian population. Large audiences for international broadcasting are predicted not only by control of the domestic media by the target country's government, but also by limited resources in the target country to report news about the country. VOA and RFA Khmer compete in such a market, with the added advantage of access to two FM stations in Cambodia, a fact that supports Mr. Krisher's observation that Cambodia is not "another country that has no free access to news."

Shortwave listening 70 years ago.

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio announcer Al Vinson recalls his family around the radio each night during the Depression years: "We had a console radio, American Bosch, It even had a shortwave band, and in those days of little electrical interference, I could hear ships at sea, police calls, ham radio operators and shortwave stations from around the world. I listened to those after everyone else had gone to bed." Lufkin (TX) Daily Times, 23 November 2008.

New web offerings from Turkey's international broadcaster (updated).

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Turkey's state-run television and radio network TRT on Thursday began broadcasting news in 30 different languages on its website. The languages that the website "www.trt-world.com" uses include languages such as English, Turkish, French, German, Chinese, Arabic, Albanian, Azeri, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Persian, Georgian, Spanish, Greek, the Urdu and Tatar." Xinhua, 20 November 2008.
     Update: "Let us not allow 'teething problems' blur the fact that this new-look TRT will be a new and very useful tool for information about Turkey and for us to see how Turkey views the world." Ariana Ferentinou, Hurriyet, 24 November 2008.

BBC Worldwide hire has a big territory.

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide has announced the appointment of PV Shyam as the distribution head for the South Asian business. ... Shyam’s role will encompass creating distribution strategies to increase the reach and revenue of the current BBC branded TV channels and to launch new channels in India. In addition he will also create strategies for new markets like Pakistan and Sri Lanka and presence on new platforms like IPTV and mobile." TVNext, 24 November 2008.

A cheer for World Service.

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"I’m particularly fond of the World Service so I get a bit miffed when I hear unjustified criticism. ... In addition to English broadcasts, the World Service has thirty two language channels, from Arabic and Urdu to Portuguese and Persian. Many of these were also broadcasting from Washington. World Service is funded by the Foreign Office so, in theory, none of its activities draw upon the £3.3 billion licence fee that so exercises certain tabloids. In practice, correspondents also submit to UK outlets and in the modern, internal-market BBC, the exact arrangements are best unravelled by highly-paid accountants." Colin Shelbourn, The Westmorland Gazette, 23 November 2008.

Subsidized versus unsubsidized pan-European media.

Posted: 24 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The European media landscape is one which is fragmented, firstly in terms of readers for the obvious reasons of overlapping markets and spheres of reader, language etc, and secondly in terms of platforms, formats, quality and more. I was quite upset to read last month that EUX.TV, a service providing European video news analyses will have to significantly reduce its output. EUX, with its platform limited to internet, has undoubtedly been a success. With 2 million views of the videos in two years, it is safe to say that it has certainly managed to reach and engage Europeans looking for information on EU Affairs. It is absolutely ridiculous to watch millions dished out to Europarl TV, Euronews, the infamous MyParl, countless think tanks, European foundations, etc etc etc, while projects with a future such as EUX.TV go under. Europe needs independent media, on all popular platforms." Unnamed commentator, New Europe, 24 November 2008.

CNN's plans for Abu Dhabi.

Posted: 23 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International's plan to start live daily news programming from Abu Dhabi is getting closer to becoming a reality as its new broadcasting facility is shaping up in the capital. This move signals the global network's expanded on-the-ground commitment to the Middle East and marks CNN's first regularly scheduled daily live show from the region. ... CNN's Abu Dhabi operation complements its presence in Dubai and will be the fourth international broadcast centre alongside those in London, Hong Kong and Mexico City; and US production centres in Atlanta, Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles. ... In addition to the launch of live daily news programming, CNN will also move the production of its popular Middle East focused feature shows Inside the Middle East and Marketplace Middle East to the UAE." Zawya, 23 November 2008. Similar to CNN press release in previous post.

Arab commentator's unflattering look-back at Bush Administration international communication.

Posted: 23 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Proof of the failure of Bush's public diplomacy campaign is also to be found in the spate of resignations tendered by officials responsible for it, starting with Charlotte Beers in February 2003, only a year and a half after having been put in charge of improving the US's image in the Arab and Islamic world. Ambassador Margaret Tutwiler did not fare better; she lasted only six months before handing in her resignation. Beers and Tutwiler were quickly joined by Karen Hughes and Egyptian Dina Habib Paul. Further testimony can be found in the dismissal of Norman Pattiz, who had originated the ideas of Sawa Radio and Al-Hurra TV, and then of the director of Al-Hurra, Mufaq Harb, who was replaced by a former CNN official, probably because the latter would agree to policies that Harb would not. The train of resignations and dismissals were the natural consequence of the Bush administration's determination to cling to the very policies and modes of behaviour that had alienated so much of the Arab world." Amr Abdel-Atti, Al-Ahram Weekly, 20 November 2008.

Some bureaucrat in Iran read five million websites, then banned them (updated).

Posted: 23 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iran has blocked access to more than five million Internet sites, whose content is mostly perceived as immoral and anti-social, a judiciary official was quoted as saying on Wednesday." AFP, 19 November 2008.
     "Well-known Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan has been arrested and is being interrogated several weeks after his return to Iran, reports today the conservative news website, Tabnak, run by the former commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezai. ... Derakhshan, who would regularly visit the U.S. to participate in conferences on the media and give interviews to Iranian as well as American news outlets such as New York’s Daily Sun and Voice of America’s Persian Service as a blogger critical of Iran, turned especially anti-American when, following an entry in his blog that he was residing in Brooklyn, New York, he was told by US authorities in November 2005, that he could not reenter the country because he had no residence visa." Iran Visual News Corps, 19 November 2008.
     Update: "According to Iranian law, every ISP must be approved by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. They are also required to install special filters to control the content of websites and e-mails passing through their network. ISPs that fail to comply with these rules face heavy penalties or closure. At least 10 ISPs in Iran have reportedly been closed for failing to install content-control software. In addition, every website in Iran is required to register with the Culture Ministry. Hessam, an Internet cafe owner in Tehran, tells RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that the registration procedure is extremely complicated and is designed to discourage people from creating new websites." RFE/RL Watchdog, 21 November 2008.

NPR mentions US international broadcasting.

Posted: 23 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iranians are big TV watchers, and they've been watching coverage of the American presidential election. Voice of America says calls and e-mails have been pouring in to their Persian News Network service in support of President-elect Obama." National Public Radio All Things Considered, 15 November 2008.
     "In Iraq, there's been an upsurge in violence in the past 10 days or so, mainly in the form of bombing attacks on police patrols and civilians. But it's difficult to gauge how serious the upsurge may be, because U.S. and Iraqi sources give widely differing reports of the casualties. ... The attack in Baghdad's Kasra neighborhood was horrendous by any standard: A car bomb struck a busy street at morning rush hour. ... Video taken by the U.S.-supported al-Hurra television showed the bus, its windows blasted out. The blood-spattered floor of the bus was strewn with girls' shoes and sandals." NPR Weekend Edition Sunday, 16 November 2008.

VOA calling Tibet.

Posted: 23 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Yesterday, Voice of America's Tibetan Service invited me to participate in its weekly TV program, Kunleng, to discuss the ongoing Special General Meeting of Tibetans in Dharamsala. This program is quite popular within the Tibetan community in exile. I understand that Tibetans in Tibet, too, are able to watch the program through different means." Bhuchung K. Tsering, vice president at the International Campaign for Tibet, News Blaze, 21 November 2008.
     "Singer-Songwriter Phil Void's rock music career began with instructions from the Dalai Lama himself to continue performing his songs about Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan freedom, and the New Yorker has spent nearly 35 years doing just that. Formerly Philip Hemley from Woodstock, Void has been coming to Dharamsala every year since 1975, when he first formed the Dharma Bums, named after the Jack Kerouac book of the same name. ... In a travel shop, two Tibetan Buddhist monks warmly embrace Void and say they are delighted at the way foreigners are helping them. 'They play a very important role in the independence movement. We know him from Voice of America and we love his performance.'" Irish Times, 21 November 2008.

DW-TV in US fiber optic distribution deal.

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Comcast-owned International Networks, an aggregator of multi-ethnic programming in the U.S., has struck a deal to launch German channels Deutsche Welle and ProSiebenSat.1 Welt on Verizon's FiOS TV service. The two general-entertainment networks have launched on FiOS TV in Maryland, Virginia and southeastern Pennsylvania, with additional markets to follow. The channels are sold together in a package for $14.99 per month." WorldScreen.com, 21 November 2008. FiOS is a Verizon-owned fiber optic broadband and multichannel distributor, and thus actually a competitor to Comcast. See also International Networks website.

Not broadcasting. but still using shortwave.

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Global ALE High Frequency Network (HFN) http://hflink.net/ -- an international Amateur Radio Service organization of ham operators dedicated to emergency/relief radio communications -- has become the first network to operate continuously for more than 500 days on all international Amateur Radio shortwave bands simultaneously. According to HFN International ALE Coordinator Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA, the main purpose of the Network is to provide efficient emergency and disaster relief communications to remote areas of the world. ... Relying on ionospheric radio communications, interconnected HFN base stations scan the radio bands every 10 seconds, from 3.5 MHz-28.0 MHz. Through this Net, Crystal said, ham operators stay connected with each other at all hours of the day or night in any mode of operation, and can send Internet e-mail or cell phone mobile text messages from the field." American Radio Relay League, 21 November 2008. In a future crisis, after all the shortwave broadcasters that transmit reliable news have disappeared, and after most people no longer have shortwave receivers, it will be necessary for governments to resurrect shortwave news broadcasts through whatever transmitters they can find. The radio amateurs mentioned in this article will be able to monitor these newscasts, and can pass the information on to their local publics.

Report: more jamming by Ethiopia.

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Meles dictatorship in Ethiopia has jammed a radio program that was being broadcast to Ethiopia from Europe by the Ginbot 7 Movement for Freedom and Democracy, according to Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa. Voice of Ginbot 7 was launched on September 11, 2008, and had been heard through out Ethiopia and most countries in eastern Africa." Ethiopian Review, 20 November 2008. The Ginbot 7 schedule is 1700-1730 UTC on 12120 and 15350 kHz shortwave. See also Ginbot 7 website.

The Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture on his 100th birthday.

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Alistair Cooke would have been one hundred years old this November. As part of the BBC's centenary celebrations, David Mamet has been invited to deliver this year's prestigious 'Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture'. Established in Alistair's honour after his death in 2004, the first Memorial Lecturer was Senator John McCain. David Mamet will give his lecture before an invited audience at the newly opened Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California. It will be broadcast round the world on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service to up to 60 million people. And the subject of the lecture, fittingly, is 'language' - a passion for both David Mamet and Alistair Cooke." BBC World Service, 22 November 2008, with audio of the lecture. -- Disappointing that Mamet had never heard Cooke's "Letter From America," and indeed did not know much about Cooke. A future Cooke memorial lecture should be given by someone who actually heard "Letter From America," in all its glory via shortwave. Actually, in the final years of "Letter From America," it was transmitted only at times when World Service was typically not heard in the United States. This was based on the chopped logic that the program was about the United States but for audiences outside the United States.

BBC World News to the Twin Cities, digitally.

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) today announced its channel line-up and other services to serve its audiences in the era of digital television and beyond. ... 2-3 tpt LIFE, a new channel featuring a mix of lifestyle and how-to programming, convenient encore presentations of PBS programs, and favorites like Charlie Rose and the BBC World News" Asian American Press (St. Paul, MN), 19 November 2008. BBC World News may find itself on secondary digital channels of public television stations throughout the United States. In theory, this should not be a problem, as everyone should have a digital converter or other access to digital channels by February 2009. But are all the Twin Cities cable systems carrying all the tpt digital channels?

BBC as an alternative to SLBC for "discerning listeners."

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rather unfortunately, the grand old dame of Torrington Square [Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation] never had a chance to aspire to her true potential. Early on, our political parties realised the power of the airwaves and never allowed SLBC to evolve into a public service broadcaster that it was meant to be. Over the years, governments of different political colour and hue persistently misused the station for their narrow, partisan needs. State broadcasting in Sri Lanka is misinterpreted as government broadcasting which in turn is reduced to shameless propaganda. This perversion is at its worst in the news bulletins, which over the years have become daily chronicles of the head of state and powerful ministers, never mind the real news. To find out what was really happening in their own country, discerning listeners used to turn to foreign radio stations on shortwave, especially the BBC." Nalaka Gunawardene, groundviews, 21 November 2008.

Radio Dabanga now broadcasting to Darfur.

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A new radio station went on air Saturday, said reporters of Radio Dabanga, who pledged to report from inside Sudan as well as abroad. News and information programmes will commence on December 1st. ... The journalists will broadcast in three vernacular languages—soon to be expanded to four—and said they will produce 'independent news and relevant information for all Darfuri' ... Radio Dabanga is a project of the Radio Darfur Network, a coalition of Sudanese journalists and international media development organizations, supported by a consortium of international donors, humanitarian community organizations and local NGOs. The radio station is operated by Press Now in the Netherlands. ... The station broadcasts on shortwave radio at 07:30-08:30 Sudan time on 7315 kHz, 41 meter band, or 13800 kHz, 22 meter band." Also via NileSat, Arabsat, and Hotbird 6. Sudan Tribune, 21 November 2008.

Just tune to channel 527,443: Israel tries YouTube in Arabic (updated).

Posted: 22 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Foreign Ministry has launched a YouTube channel in Arabic which is meant to bypass Arab media and give Israel's version of current events directly to Arab viewers, Haaretz has learned. The ministry's Arab media department chief Ofir Gendelman told Haaretz on Wednesday that they seek to reduce Israel's dependency on Arab media channels, who tend to give Israeli spokespersons relatively limited airtime. ... Gendelman says that the channel will update more frequently, and that the Ministry considers adding English subtitles." Ha'aretz, 19 November 2008.
     Update: "The reason why Israeli Foreign Ministry is using the Internet is because it allows them to reach the young generation across the Arab world, which is more hi-tech, more affluent and educated, more internationally aware and open to different views, [Professor Gerald Steinberg, Political Studies Department Chair at Bar Ilan University] said. 'Israel is taking public diplomacy seriously for the first time. The government is actually looking at long-term efforts to reach out, of which YouTube is one of many,' he said." Xinhua, 22 November 2008. See also Menassat, 21 November 2008.

Discussion of Azerbaijan's foreign radio ban continues (updated).

Posted: 21 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Chairman of National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Azerbaijan (NTRBC) called on international organizations and ambassadors to respect Azerbaijan’s laws. 'If international organizations achieve broadcast of foreign radio stations in Azerbaijan, I will be sorry about it,' NTRBC chairman Nushiravan Maharramli told Trend News. ... At present, US Voice of America, Radio Liberty and BBC radio stations and Turkish TRT TV channel broadcast in Azerbaijan. The contract signed with the above-mentioned radios and TV expires at the end of the year. Frequencies of all foreign radios broadcasting in Azerbaijan are expected to be withdrawn by the end of the year. ... The broadcast of foreign radio stations and TV channels should meet requirements of world experience. 'Azerbaijan should act in accordance with the US and European experience. Can the countries making these statements permit TV channels of other countries to broadcast on their frequencies,' Maharramli said." Trend News Agency, 18 November 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     I can't think of any international broadcasters that have full-time access to U.S. terrestrial analog radio or channels. BBC World Service is full time on some public radio stations' secondary HD digital channels. MHZ Networks in the Washington, D.C., area has foreign channels on its secondary digital channels.
     In Washington, Radio France International (in French) in China Radio International (in English) purchase weekday time on WUST, 1120 kHz AM. There are similar time purchases in some other U.S. cities.
     In the United States, only U.S. citizens can hold broadcast licenses. But there are no laws against content from international broadcasting entities on U.S. stations, part time or full time. The actual restraint is market forces. Time on terrestrial television and FM stations is expensive, and many stations would be unwilling to sell it to foreign broadcasters at any price because it would disrupt the U.S. stations' formats.

     "'The U.S. does not support the decision of Azerbaijan on possible close of broadcasting of foreign radio stations in the territory of Azerbaijan. We respect the laws in Azerbaijan, however, we believe that the problem can be removed more easily than closing,' David Kramer, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said." Trend News Agency, 19 November 2008, includes video. -- Update: See also VOA News, 20 November 2008.
     "Fakhraddin Gasimov, 34, said he was very worried by the announcement. He said that television news is not worth watching, and he relies on Radio Liberty to get up-to date reliable information. 'On Radio Liberty, as opposed to other stations, you can find out the position both of the authorities and of the opposition,' said Gasimov. 'I love listening to their discussions on political topics. If these radio stations shut down, we won’t know what’s really happening in the country.'" Sevinj Telmangyzy, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 20 November 2008.
     "At the same time the chairman of the National Council noted that this ban is not related to separate programs, which local TV channels may take from foreign colleagues. 'Let's assume that someone buys a license for any program, demonstrated in foreign TV channels. He may use it both as his own production, without pointing at the logotype of a foreign TV channel', said Meherremli." Today.Az, 21 November 2008.

In these recommendations for U.S. international broadcasting, there is sure to be a paragraph you like.

Posted: 21 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"By broad consensus of its members, the Public Diplomacy Council strongly recommends to the new Administration and Congress an urgent reform of America’s publicly funded international broadcasting." Text available as the Word document "Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting for a New Era," at the Public Diplomacy Council, 17 November 2008. See also Andy Sennitt's summary of the recommendations, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 21 November 2008 and Kim's comments.

Abu Dhabi's new media zone may have strings attached.

Posted: 21 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Abu Dhabi is creating the "twofour54" (for the city's geographic coordinates) media zone to rival to Dubai Media City. "One major criticism of the cash-heavy media havens, however, is that while there are clear advantages in both forging a new power center for global news content and ensuring Middle East events are covered exclusively from the region, other more newsworthy areas are being ignored as a result. Rather than investing heavily in a Baghdad news bureau or reporting capabilities in the Gaza Strip, where news content runs high, media moguls are opting for the well-resourced but typically less relevant Gulf states. According to a recent report by US daily The Washington Post, the number of Western journalists operating out of Baghdad is sharply declining. What also worries critics is that international news organizations are situating themselves in a traditionally autocratic area of the world. The UAE, which ranked 65 out of 169 nations on the Reporters Without Borders 2007 Press Freedom Index, continues to keep draconian press laws on the books. Everything produced in the twofour54 zone will be subject to both the laws of Abu Dhabi and UAE federal regulations, allowing the country’s National Media Council the right to censor the material and with strong implications for the nature of the content. Doha-based Al Jazeera, arguably the most popular news network in the Arab world that is now making headway in international markets with its English-language channel, noticeably fails to report on the Qatari royal family." Business Today Egypt, November 2008.

Shortwave listening in the 1960s (updated).

Posted: 21 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"When I QSL'd Radio Peking, I opened a Pandora's Box. Not only did I receive a handsome QSL card from the Chinese broadcaster, but I received propaganda -- lots of it. It seemed like every week I would receive something new from Radio Peking: Books, magazines, Mao's "Little Red Book," calendars, a huge poster of Chairman Mao and more! While I was having a blast receiving all this stuff, my father was very concerned." Stan Horzepa, American Radio Relay League, 7 November 2008. Update: See follow-up by Stan Horzepa, ARRL, 21 November 2008. For much more shortwave history, see previous post about two recent books by Jerome S. Berg.

RFE-RL's Uzbek husband-wife team.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 2005, when the government of Uzbekistan cracked down brutally on unarmed protestors in the eastern city of Andijan, [Uzbek journalist Umida] Niyazova was one of the few independent witnesses to whom the media could turn. She became a vital source of information. After the massacre, she started working as a freelancer for Radio Free Europe. She hosted a biweekly program, taking listeners into the homes of women whose male relatives had been killed, jailed or forced into exile by the government of Islam Karimov. Her own husband, who operated a private television station, had been driven out of Uzbekistan. State authorities closed the station and froze his bank account. He now works for Radio Liberty in Prague." Toronto Star, 19 November 2008.

For the new administration, two cheers for VOA.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The international buzz caused by President-elect Obama earlier in the month offers him an opportunity to revive what had been a valuable American resource for so many years. In short, the reputation of the Voice needs to be revived and treasured -- not squandered as it has been by the Bush Administration the past eight years." Murray Fromson, Huffington Post, 19 November 2008.
     "The members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors have made many mistakes over the past decade. As President, you will have the unique opportunity to reverse those mistakes. And if you do, America’s Voice can once again be heard loudly and clearly throughout the world and regain its place as the beacon of liberty to the world. If, by some remote chance, you do say 'yes, we can,' it would surely be a Happy Thanksgiving for many Voice of America employees." "QuoVadis," Free Media Online blog, 19 November 2008.

Kurt Weill wrote a song for VOA, 65 years ago.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Fugitives," at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York, is based on composers whose work was condemned by the Nazis. "In some ways the most dramatic moment of the evening was a song Weill wrote for Voice of America to be broadcast into Germany in 1943. The text, by Walter Mehring, is the plea of a woman who fell in love too heedlessly and longs for the day she can rid herself of a cruel and faithless lover, a clear analogy with Germany and the man it once idolized, Hitler. [Soprano Kate] Lindsey sang it with shattering force." Howard Kissell, New York Daily News, 18 November 2008.

VOA's jazz history is still in the news.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the first time in his life [U.S. ambassador to Russia John Beyrly] heard jazz when he came to the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He said that his family used to listen to classic or pop music and never to jazz. All Leningrad citizens listened to jazz at the time. ... 'I want to say that in the Soviet time the American radio “The Voice of America” was broadcasted in your country. The Soviet government was trying to jam the broadcasts, though, people listened to it. I think it influenced your people. So, due to your country I fell in love with jazz!'" Восток Медиа, 17 November 2008.
     VOA "was the regularly scheduled broadcasts of Willis Conover, the music maestro who spread the love of American jazz around the world. During the worst of times in the Soviet Union I remember Russian musicians taping Conover's daily programs and then transcribing the music to sheet music for jam sessions of their own." Murray Fromson, Huffington Post, 19 November 2008.
     "In Pune, plasma technologist Max Babi talks about Pune Jazz Club which he helped form seven years ago. ... 'Short wave radio drew me to jazz in 1959 when I was 10. I fell in love with Voice of America’s Jazz Hour and Music USA. Attending Jazz Yatra in Mumbai in 1978 transformed my love for jazz into a regular passion,' says Babi." The Times of India, 17 November 2008.

Sports, picnics on a piece of VOA history.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Butler County [Ohio] officials told trustees Tuesday, Nov. 18, they were one step closer to adopting the final plans for the enhancement of Voice of America Park. A $20 million, 10-year Park Enhancement Plan, which was presented to trustees Tuesday, includes 23 multipurpose playing fields — for soccer, lacrosse, football or other sports — softball and baseball complexes, play structures, restrooms, concession stands and even an amphitheater and several picnic shelters." Western Star (Lebanon OH), 18 November 2008. Adjacent to Miami University Voice of America Learning Center, subject of previous post, both on the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station site.

CRI gets five FM outlets in Liberia.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Government of the People's Republic of China has turned over to the Liberian Government, newly renovated and expanded facilities of the Liberia Broadcasting System. Wednesday's ceremony also marked the formal launch of the China/LBS Radio Project, under which the Chinese Government has provided a 10-thousand kilowatt FM transmitter to boost the station's radio transmission throughout the country. A second transmitter has also been provided by the Chinese to relay English programs produced by China Radio International throughout Liberia. The transmission will also provide 3-hours of radio programming in Chinese." Government of Liberia press release, 19 November 2008. "Starting today, listeners in Liberia will be able to hear China Radio International's programs on five FM different stations in the West African country." CRI News, 19 November 2008. Liberia was the location of a major VOA shortwave relay site, until it was destroyed in 1990 during the civil war in that country.

Is BBC compensating for something?

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News has created an oversize microphone at Berlin Hauptbahnhof to draw attention to the channel’s 'probing and courageous' journalism. ... Alongside it is the strapline 'you can’t bury a powerful question'. Passers by can also access a 30-second TV commercial on their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. ... The microphone is also appearing in a series of advertisements currently running in a cross-media campaign in Germany." Broadband TV News, 19 November 2008.

How to present news online.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Web site for BBC News may be the best example of how journalistic organizations can deliver context in the digital environment. A news story about the Russia-Georgia crisis, for example, is displayed alongside a list of links to a map of the region, a country profile, an explanation of the crisis, a summary of Russian foreign policy, and related news articles and video footage. All online BBC News stories are presented in this manner, giving consumers multiple ways to learn about and understand an issue." Bree Nordenson, Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 2008. For international broadcasters, the difficulty of presenting news is compounded by the need to do in multiple languages, most of which are not the native language of the broadcasting country.

Replace the VOA newsroom with a Facebook account?

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"'We have not done the creative conceptualizing,' [biographer Walter] Isaacson said. 'We are still using Voice of America and Radio Free Europe instead of getting the people who created Facebook and Google to come up with new ways to use social networking.' He explained that the reliance on old institutions created for a different set of global problems 'shows a lack of creativity' in today’s society. He added that the administration of President-elect Barack Obama must address pressing problems in creative ways." Daily Princetonian, 19 November 2008.

The best public diplomacy is less public diplomacy. And other advice for the new administration.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
From review of Peter W. Galbraith, Unintended Consequences: How the War in Iraq Strengthened America's Enemies: "Galbraith's ideas for repairing the damage include giving the UN more of a role in nation-building (and the United States less), deemphasizing the spread of freedom, using less public diplomacy and more one-on-one negotiations with countries we don't like." Cluade R. Marx, Boston Globe, 18 November 2008.
     "In my 2006 critique of U.S. foreign policy, I built a case that we were becoming seen as a one-hit wonder in international affairs--searching for a kind word for others to say about us or some small token of support for which we will heap out praise. Our public diplomacy reflected this search to be the world's American Idol. ... I, an American citizen, see no value in the U.S. being viewed as the Number One country in the world. Number One brings on so many challenges. And frankly it just doesn't hold." Nancy Snow, Huffington Post, 16 November 2008.
     "Public diplomacy — overseas cultural and information programs designed to gain support and/or understanding for our policies — should be a top priority for the incoming administration. This will require a complete reorganization of the State Department’s unwieldy and unresponsive public diplomacy structure. ... The Obama administration should ... reiterate the executive order designating State as the lead agency on foreign affairs, including public diplomacy." Guy W. Farmer, Nevada Appeal, 16 November 2008.
     "The State Department itself is in dire need of reform, and should lose an array of public diplomacy activities and assets, which it has been wasting. It should focus more narrowly on traditional diplomacy in state-to-state and multilateral settings. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, where most of the new thinking on this topic has taken place, could be called in to coordinate activities through its combatant command structures, which are the prime examples currently of U.S interagency coordination directed at different regions of the world. While Mr. Obama is riding high in the opinion polls, he may not perceive how critical this task is. But one thing is clear: No human being can sustain the political image erected by the Obama campaign when it comes to real policy choices and decisions. And when that time comes, the need for public diplomacy will become clear." Hell Dale, Washington Times, 19 November 2008. See also related paper at Heritage Foundation, 20 November 2008.
     "There’s also been discussion about what is our outreach: are we doing enough in the public affairs and public diplomacy world. There are 39 positions in the budget to expand public diplomacy and educational and cultural exchanges, again, focusing on what the Secretary sees is major needs in the time ahead." Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management, State Department, 18 November 2008.
     "Surveys consistently indicate a very unfavorable opinion of the U.S. in Turkey. This underlines the need to implement a broad public diplomacy strategy to win the hearts of the Turkish public." Ö. Faruk Logoglu, former ambassador of Turkey to the United States, Hurriyet, 20 November 2008.
     "Suw and I are huge fans of This American Life, a show on NPR in the US. We often listen to the podcast over breakfast on the weekends. My friend Mohamed Nanabhy says that the US government should spend its public diplomacy budget on This American Life because it’s such a good representative for the US." Kevin Anderson, Corante, 20 November 2008.
     "Historically the U. S. government has paid attention to cultural diplomacy during times of war, only to interrupt these efforts during times of peace. The success of cultural diplomacy cannot be measured, making it a difficult tactic to rely on, or invest in. After one hundred years, however, there is certainly proof of its importance – as the 'hearts and minds' literature that has recently emerged indicates. President-elect Obama appears to be aware of this, and we can only hope that he has the opportunity, and strength of character, to follow through with his plans." Monika Revilla, Cultural Diplomacy News, 18 November 2008.
     "At the end of the day, strategic communications - the sum total of the government's efforts to influence foreign opinion - is bigger than public diplomacy. It also must explain the purposes of foreign policy to Americans. Americans are understandably averse to government 'propaganda,' if propaganda means deception and manipulation. This is not the same thing as the government explaining to citizens what it is trying to accomplish with their tax dollars. Safeguards for telling the truth can be found to prevent abuse." Kim Holmes, Washington Times, 20 November 2008.
     "Instantaneous global communications make it impossible for the U.S. government to segregate information intended for domestic and foreign audiences; the Smith-Mundt Act must be amended accordingly." From "Basic Principles on Improving U.S. Public Diplomacy," Public Diplomacy Council, 17 November 2008.
     An interesting if blood-chilling proposal from the Public Diplomacy Council. It would be good for them to issue a paper to describe what content they intend us domestic audiences to receive.
     Actually, because the BBC can now restrict its broadcast archives to UK users, and its commercial website to non-UK users, this means that the new age of "instantaneous global communications" includes means for the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition finally to be enforced.

U.S. public diplomacy: two men on base.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"I am very pleased to welcome all of you here this morning to announce our new American Public Diplomacy Envoy Ken Griffey, Jr. Ken joins Michelle Kwan, Fran Drescher, and Cal Ripken, Jr. as Americans who go out on behalf of the values of the United States – not the Government of the United States, but the values of the United States – to engage with people around the world from very special positions." special positions." Condoleezza Rice, State Department, 18 November 2008.
     "Well, we are back on U.S. soil after a very rewarding visit to Nicaragua. As I mentioned yesterday, we couldn't conduct our events in the city of Leon because of the unrest after the recent elections, but I don't believe that hampered our trip too much." Cal Ripkin Jr., Sporting News, 18 November 2008.
     It's interesting that two of the four public diplomacy envoys are baseball stars. The number of baseball-playing nations is finite: USA, Canada, countries of the Caribbean basin, Japan, Taiwan, and perhaps a couple of others. But the appeal of Ripken and Griffey is certainly apparent in places like Nicaragua. And baseball is more international than, say, U.S. football.

Don't send us your football video. Don't use our football video.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"With satellite technology, European football games that were previously only listened to on short wave radio are now brought into the homes of non-Europeans thousands of miles away. ... Sierra Leoneans are more interested in watching a team like Manchester United playing against either Chelsea or Arsenal than supporting the development of local teams like Lions, Black pool, Edwards and Olympic." Joe Sawan, Standard Times Press News (Freetown), 18 November 2008.
     "In a session with Phil Lines, the English Premier League’s Director of Media Operations and International Broadcasting, discussion inevitably also touched on signal theft: 'I’m very worried [about piracy] going into China and anywhere the internet has grown quickly,' Lines said, explaining that lax regulation made it too easy for rogues to crack encryption codes and launch distribution businesses." asiamediajournal.com, 17 November 2008.

A variation of domestic dissemination.

Posted: 20 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The National Journalism Foundation would essentially serve as a re-invented Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Annual funding should increase from $200 million to $3 billion. (One percent of the total cost of the Iraq War; four percent of the federal bank bailout.) Similar to the NSF, the National Journalism Foundation would regularly award grants to individuals, organizations, and institutions that propose projects which serve to better inform the American public about their communities, government, nation, and the rest of the world." David Sasaki, PBS MediaShift Idea Lab, 17 November 2008. See previous post about similar subject.

Can a president say no to a BBC interview?

Posted: 19 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Estonian foreign politicians say President Toomas Hendrik Ilves made a mistake when he rejected a BBC offer for interview on Hardtalk during his visit to UK. Postimees writes that Estonia’s key foreign policy makers say that the offer was a unique opportunity for the Estonian President to present the case as Estonians see it and that turning it down was foolish. ... Estonian diplomats said that since the Hardtalk studio in Woodgreen is far from the centre of London and it was Friday with the usual traffic jams, there was no way that Ilves would have been able to do both things." Baltic Business News, 18 November 2008.

Al Jazeera opens sales office in Kuala Lumpur.

Posted: 19 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network has announced the opening of a Commercial Sales office in Kuala Lumpur to be launched in Q1 2009 to focus on serving the Asia Pacific market. The office and existing commercial division will help advertisers and business partners in the region capitalize on Al Jazeera's global reach and international brand. 'This is an important stepping stone for our commercial efforts in the region as we begin to extend our global brand. While we remain focused on bringing ground-breaking news to the world, we are venturing and expanding into new commercial areas. The Al Jazeera family of channels which now includes Al Jazeera Satellite Channel, Al Jazeera English, six Sports Channels and Al Jazeera Documentary.'" Al Jazeera press release via asiamediajournal.com, 18 November 2008.

BBC sells content to planes, trains, ships.

Posted: 18 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"'We supply over 140 airlines per annum; sometimes one title, sometimes dozens per month, depending on the airline,' says Julia Lewis, BBC Worldwide’s sales and marketing manager for in-flight entertainment, who refers to transportation-related TV as the 'captive-audience' business. 'In addition, BBC Worldwide supplies BBC News to over 20 airlines on a daily basis. BBC World was part of the First Great Western on-board train trial in a Volo train carriage, which was extremely successful [in 2005]. Hundreds of titles are used in cruise ships around the world -- and again, BBC World can be supplied to certain ships in certain waters.'" WorldScreen.com, October 2008.

More star-studded galas coming soon.

Posted: 18 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service leads the way in this year's Foreign Press Association Media Awards with six nominations. The broadcaster is nominated for financial story of the year, sports story of the year, travel & tourism story of the year (TV and radio), radio story of the year and also has two nominations for environment story of the year." Press Gazette, 17 November 2008. "RBC-TV has been named the best news channel in Europe. It received the Hot Bird TV Award in the News nomination Monday. RBC-TV has outstripped the BBC Arabic service, Bloomberg Television, and France24 in the News nomination." Russia-IC, 18 November 2008.

Former CNN International MD rails against "lousy journalism."

Posted: 18 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Chris Cramer, "a former BBC News executive, retired from his role as CNN International managing director last year. In his new job, he oversees Reuters’ multimedia journalism, reporting to editor-in-chief David Schlesinger. He said that while Reuters journalists were required to adhere to the group’s principles of integrity, independence and freedom from bias, the same could not be said for a number of other news providers. 'There is plenty of lousy journalism out there today, which may be why the public are so distrusting of the traditional media,' he said." Press Gazette, Press Gazette, 18 November 2008.
     Full text of his speech. "How about creating fake election messages to distort one candidates viewpoint - to advantage the other. We saw many examples of that in the recent US election. In fact do social or political campaigners - people desperate for change - need to abide by those same codes of conduct relating to integrity or the invasion of privacy that news organizations like Reuters, the BBC and CNN have to abide by?" journalism.co.uk, 18 November 2008.

If my math is correct: just under five blog readers per blog writer.

Posted: 18 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nick Guthrie, editor of Dateline London, BBC, ... said 12 million adults in the US regularly contributed to blogs that found 57 million readers. ... Francis Matthew, editor at large, Gulf News, said ... 'a major problem of working online is dealing with the clutter and prejudice which is all over the place and emphasises the importance of good editors to produce reliable sites.'" Gulf News (Dubai), 16 November 2008.

Worldspace no longer uplinking from London.

Posted: 18 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace (UK) Ltd called in the liquidators on Friday Nov 14. The action means an immediate suspension of the Afristar channels that were being transmitted from London by WRN. The move also means that Worldspace UK’s few remaining staff have been let go, according to informed sources. London employees have received no salaries since September. Telemetry, care and control of Afristar are still being carried out. Insiders suggest that Afristar is still carrying some radio channels beamed up from South Africa." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 16 November 2008. See also comments and previous post about same subject.

Still some (non broadcast) uses for shortwave.

Posted: 18 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
New Rohde & Shwarz products "provide interoperable data exchange via shortwave between allied forces. The software makes it possible to transmit text-based messages, file attachments, and IP data by using an HF modem ... to provide data transmission rates from 75 bits per second to 9600 bits per second (coded) in the shortwave channel." Military & Aerospace Electronics, 16 November 2008. See also Rohde & Shwarz press release, 14 November 2008. "In view of the gradual decline in the use of shortwave for international broadcasting, it’s interesting to note that the high frequency bands continue to be of significant use for other purposes." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 November 2008.

VOA in the Plum Book.

Posted: 17 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors needs a Senior Advisor for the Voice of America in its International Bureau. You would report to ... Barack Obama. ... You can see [this listing] and thousands more in the new 'Plum Book,' just out Wednesday. An updated version comes out every four years, shortly after each presidential election. It lists available jobs, and in the 2008 edition, you'll find more than 7,000 of them. Four thousand of the positions require presidential appointments." MyFox National, 13 November 2008. The presidential appointments are "schedule C" jobs, given to political allies rather than through the competitive Civil Service hiring system. Each U.S. government agency gets a few schedule C's. Most of the schedule C employees I have encountered at VOA and the IBB have been hard workers, interesting company, and quickly get into the institutional spirit of protecting VOA's journalistic integrity. However, because U.S. international broadcasting can succeed only if it is credible, and it can achieve credibility only if it is independent, a senior adviser to VOA who "would report to Barack Obama" is not a good idea.

Al Jazeera English "working more closely with" Al Jazeera Arabic.

Posted: 17 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Al Jazeera English director Tony Burman: "We are committed to working more closely with our colleagues at Al Jazeera Arabic. We want to expand our coverage to all kinds of media platforms to appeal to audiences who want to access our journalism on their own terms." The Peninsula (Doha), 16 November 2008.
     "Al Jazeera television, the English version, has done a ... presentation on [Connecticut art collector Leslet] Roy’s role in saving [Iraqi artist Ala] Bashir’s works, films that have been seen in 137 countries. 'I watched it at Westville Pizza because I didn’t have satellite,' Roy said of the West Rock film, which was seen in 137 countries, but is not generally known in the U.S." New Haven Register, 16 November 2008.

DW Chinese controversy continues to simmer (updated again).

Posted: 17 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Zhang Danhong, vice director of the Chinese Department of Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) recently created an uproar when she openly defended the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since Zhang’s speech, several Chinese scholars have carefully monitored Voice of Germany (VoG), including content from its China broadcasting division and Web site. When the German Parliament recently reconvened after their summer recess, eight Chinese scholars representing various China democracy organizations wrote an open letter to the Parliament recommending complete reorganization of Voice of Germany’s Chinese Department. ... On September 19, 2008, the German newsweekly Der Spiegel published the Chinese scholars’ open letter to the German Parliament. Der Spiegel suggested that Voice of Germany needs to investigate whether its Chinese Department has provided space for the CCP’s propaganda purposes." Epoch Times, 25 eptember 2008. See also Der Spiegel on 19 September and 24 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Letter to DW refers to another letter to DW about the subject. Epoch Times, 10 November 2008. Maybe I missed something, but this matter is now beyond my comprehension.
     Update: Interview with Chinese social economist He Qinglian: "An article by Radio Free Asia reported that the DW followed orders from the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department and discontinued your column. Recently, they invited you to write a column again, but you refused. Could you give a little more detail on this? He QL: In March 2005, the DW Chinese edition invited me to write two to four commentaries on China per month. The director of the Chinese edition was Matthias von Hein, and the person who contacted me was Zhang Danhong. She told me she’d seen me in Cologne, but I could not recall this. During the first four months, cooperation was smooth. Afterward, I felt there were some disagreements between Zhang and me. She wrote to me in August saying that I was not permitted to write commentaries, because the rules of DW said only directors could write them." Epoch Times, 14 November 2008.

Old international broadcasting.

Posted: 17 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Summary of a 1931 Harper's article about international radio: “With a good set you can make fascinating journeys by radio, though you find the air surprisingly crowded and ripped with government stations’ code messages to fleets and colonies. You can pick up the music box signal of Budapest, the nightingale note used by Italian stations, the shrill bell of Fecamp, or the deep boom of Strasbourg." Jeff Davis, KE9V.net, 12 November 2008. Herper's subscribers can read the full article here.

Shortwave in the arts.

Posted: 16 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
In Royal Ballet's Infra: "On and on they come – we must be seeing the entire Royal Ballet tramp past – as Max Richter's score for string quintet and distant shortwave radio crackle rises to its melancholy climax." The Independent, 16 November 2008. At the Arts Theatre Cronulla (NSW Australia): The "very funny stage version of Allo Allo! is based on the hugely popular BBC television series. The action takes place in a small town in France during the German occupation in World War II... With a cast of 19 and a stuffed parrot doubling as a covert shortwave radio, this production is one of the biggest challenges the theatre has undertaken in recent years partly due to limited space." The Leader (Rockdale NSW), 16 November 2008.

Radio Netherlands resumes Arabic radio, with a "moderate sound" (updated).

Posted: 16 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Netherlands Worldwide is launching an Arabic radio programme called 'Huna Amsterdam' (This is Amsterdam calling). The Arabic department is venturing into a thick jungle of satellite and radio stations with its programme of daily news and current affairs. Nevertheless, Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) believes it has something to add to the media landscape. ... Fourteen years ago, the emergence of satellite stations was the reason why RNW ended its shortwave radio broadcasts in Arabic. Now, RNW sees new opportunities, via the Internet, satellite, shortwave, mediumwave and FM. ... Radio Netherlands Worldwide Director-General Jan Hoek: 'More than ever the two worlds seem to be talking simultaneously and at cross purposes, rather than with each other. The Arabic world is clearly in need of an independent moderate (Muslim) sound, one which encourages dialogue.'" Radio Netherlands, 27 October 2008.
     Update: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide is officially launching its Arabic radio programme today in the Moroccan capital Rabat. ... After the opening ceremony in Rabat, Moroccan and Dutch journalists will debate image forming and stereotypes in the Arab and Western media. The title of the debate is 'Moroccan scoundrels and Dutch contempt'." Radio Netherlands, 15 November 2008.

BBC World Service will reduce Russian radio by 19 hours a week (yet another letter to The Times).

Posted: 16 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The [BBC] Russian service plans to cut broadcasts by 19 hours a week. Sixty-four distinguished experts have written to The Times in protest. They are right to do so. The Russian service should rethink. It has its reasons for the cuts. Fewer and fewer Russians listen to short-wave radios. More and more get all their news via the web. Nigel Chapman, the World Service's Director, says the Russian service is simply rebalancing its output to reflect this new reality while ensuring that in-depth news programming does not suffer. Related Links But the Russian service is more than a news service for Russians. It is cultural diplomacy, funded by the Foreign Office to improve Britain's currently woeful image from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. Bush House mandarins admit that some of the cultural programmes facing the axe had loyal followings. So keep them on the air." Leader, The Times, 7 November 2008.
     "The Russian service had a fine record of producing long format features of unique depth and diversity of opinion on matters of serious political and cultural concern. Expansion of internet services is no compensation for the loss of these features. The BBC World Service should be held to account by the press for its inexplicable actions — and everyone who realises that BBC World Service broadcasts are the best ambassadors we have for this country should make their views known." Aforementioned letter to The Times, 7 November 2008.
     "BBC World Service director, Nigel Chapman, has responded forcefully to the group ... [He] said the overall loss to the schedule was 19 hours, many of them repeats. The changes were designed to boost newsgathering and strengthen its offering in peak time and on the web in light of the withdrawal of several FM partners and changing audience habits." The Guardian, 7 November 2008.
     I haven't seen the BBC announcement about these cuts, but they were hinted at in their press release of 8 October. See previous post.
     On 7 November, the BBC World Service program Europe Today included an interview with Robert Chandler, one of the distinguished experts, and with Nigel Chapman, director of BBC World Service. Listen to mp3. Thanks to Jonathan Marks for alerting me to these interviews.
     "The letter (Nov 7) about the BBC Russian service contains inaccuracies and distorts our proposals to strengthen our output for Russia. We are all agreed on the aim of increasing and improving the impact of the service in a complex Russian media landscape where short-wave listening is rapidly declining. We have 730,000 weekly radio listeners in Russia — down from 1.3 million in 2005. Therefore we are moving resources from the non-news or obsolete parts of the radio schedule — dropping seven hours a week of news bulletins for FM partners we no longer have and light feature programmes with little analysis; and 11.5 hours a week of repeats." Nigel Chapman, letter to The Times, 10 November 2008.
     "It would be more heartening if he showed some awareness of the possibility that the decline of his audience might result from a decline in the quality of the service’s output. The wish to make programmes acceptable on Russian FM stations may have backfired. It is also possible that this loss of audience is partly due to the short- waves cut of 2003 and the loss of the repeats that were the only way of enabling programmes to reach an audience spread across 11 time zones." Robert Chandler, letter to The Times, 12 November 2008.
     "I cannot let the inaccuracies and assertions from Robert Chandler about the BBC World Service (letter, Nov 12) go unchallenged as they imply we are prepared to compromise our independence, and our editorial standards, to attract audiences. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The problems we have faced in acquiring carriage on FM in Russia emanated from the growing impact the distinctive programmes were having with audiences, not from lowering the quality of our output. As a result, the authorities brought persistent pressure to bear upon our partners to drop our programmes." Nigel Chapman, letter to The Times, 14 November 2008.
     Update: When I joined the service in 1989, it had a vibrant, if somewhat eccentric, atmosphere of creativity. Intellectual debate was an integral part of programme making, originality was encouraged and each member of the service took pride in his work. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, John Tusa, then the director of the World Service, lifted the ban on the recruitment of journalists who had been employed by the media in their countries. For the Russian Service it meant recruitment of the people who, before the collapse of the Soviet regime, had worked for the Soviet propaganda machine. ... Many of them have gradually taken editorial positions in the Russian Service and started, in a very subtle way, bending BBC editorial guidelines to suit their political views. ... The only section of the Russian Service still producing programmes of intellectual distinction and outstanding cultural depth was the features department. It is hardly surprising to me that, when economic necessity dictated, the editors of the Russian Service decided to close the features section, the last centre of excellence and free-thinking." Irina Shumovitch, letter to The Times, 15 November 2008.
     Changes to the BBC Russian Service are the subject of an interview with Nikki Clarke, the BBCWS Head of Region for America and Europe, on BBCWS "Over to You," 15 November 2008.

Americans listening to BBC, 63 years ago (updated).

Posted: 16 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Colin Jones of Boerne, Texas, was a World War II prisoner of war in Germany Stalag 17. "By means of ... bribery and blackmail, the prisoners maintained supplies of darkroom chemicals while also assembling a working radio. ... As the spring of 1945 progressed, the prisoners of Stalag 17 could hear Russian guns approaching. 'We listened to the BBC every night,' Jones said." Boerne Star, 11 November 2008.
     Update: According to Staff Sgt. Francis “Kelly” Parkinson of the 106th Infantry Division, captive in Stalag IV-B in 1945: "As winter turned into spring, the prisoners nightly picked up the BBC on carefully hidden radios. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the Allies were winning the war. And getting closer to the camp." Neosho (MO) Daily News, 15 November 2008.

Worldspace faces regulatory hurdles in India, NASDAQ delisting.

Posted: 14 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Satellite radio service provider WorldSpace India’s plan to expand its business locally and open additional revenue stream in the country — through setting up a studio for creating digital content and a call centre — seems to have hit regulatory hurdles. WorldSpace India’s proposal to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has been deferred till the Department of Information Technology (DIT) submits its views. Both the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) and the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) have informed FIPB that the matter is beyond their working area." Business Standard, 12 November 2008.
     Update: "The NASDAQ Stock Market announced today that it will delist the common stock of WorldSpace, Inc. WorldSpace, Inc.'s stock was suspended on October 30, 2008 and has not traded on NASDAQ since that time." NASDAQ press release, 13 November 2008. Stock at five cents a share on 14 November. See previous post.

North Korea watchers are like "old shortwave radio guys."

Posted: 14 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Kim's approach is, "Know thy enemy but don't let them know us,"' said Young Howard, who three years ago founded Open Radio for North Korea, a short-wave station that broadcasts two hours a day to the North from Seoul. ... 'There are a host of people who have made it their hobby to look at interesting features of the North Korean landscape,' said Scott Snyder, a Korea analyst for the Asia Foundation. 'They're like the old short-wave radio guys. They have tried to label stuff like North Korean nuclear facilities and the locations of airfields, and they spend time debating on Internet chat rooms.' Howard said he founded his Open Radio for North Korea broadcasts as a way to encourage the open trading of information between the Koreas." Los Angeles Times, 14 November 2008.

South African satellite platform brings international channels to growing audience.

Posted: 14 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The total DStv base is now at over 1.5 Million subscribers, with Compact making up almost 25% of these. Launched in February 2005 with just 13 channels, DStv Compact was aimed at a market thirsty for Pay TV, but not able to afford the full Premium Bouquet of more than 80 channels. DStv Compact started out slowly, but targeted marketing and an ever increasing amount of channels (now 35), has seen amazing acceptance and growth. ... 'DStv, once perceived as a luxury item, is more accessible and affordable through DStv Compact. Customers now have access to huge variety across the 35 channels. Channels such as MNet Action, Africa Magic, Hallmark, BBC World, Channel O and Animal Planet have found receptive audiences.'" Filmmaker South Africa, 14 November 2008. -- Per channel list, DStv Compact also carries CNN International, Al Jazeera English, CNBC Africa. Radio offerings include BBC, VOA, World Radio Network, China Radio International, Radio Netherlands, Radio France International.

Via CNN, TheMuslimGuy mentions US public diplomacy and BBC.

Posted: 14 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Letter to Obama: "Your unenviable task will be to undo the catastrophic policies of George W. Bush and his fellow neoconservative ideologues, facing the specter of al Qaeda's sinister terrorism while undertaking public diplomacy efforts addressing anti-Americanism around the world. Similarly, since the tragedy of September 11, the global Muslim community has continued its own daunting task of undoing catastrophic damage caused by Osama bin Laden and his creepy terrorist cronies. From global debates on religious extremism broadcast on BBC World Television to global interfaith outreach with the Vatican, we Muslims are in the midst of our own internal dialogue condemning terrorism and reclaiming the mantle of Islam from the rusted claws of dinosaur extremists." Arsalan Iftikhar, commentary on CNN, 14 November 2008.

World Service listeners question Taleban spokesman.

Posted: 14 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Speaking by telephone from a secret location in the region, Zabihullah Mujahid ... derided US President-elect Barack Obama. ... Speaking on the BBC's World Have Your Say programme, Mr Mujahid answered listeners for almost an hour, and took follow-up questions from the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner. He said the Taleban now controlled more than half of Afghanistan, and were running those areas in a more tolerant fashion than in previous years." BBC News, 14 November 2008. See also World Have Your Say blog, 12 November 2008.

Iranian messages for Obama, via VOA website.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iranians are flooding President-elect Barack Obama with personal messages on a special Persian-language website the Voice of America (VOA) created for people to express their views. ... The messages, posted on the site, will eventually be transmitted to the president-elect's transition office. ... 'I wish there were at least one media outlet in Iran that could express the joy of Iranians for you.'" VOA press release, 12 November 2008.

BBC election bus ends up in Bangladesh.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"From today, Tuesday 11 November, a BBC Bangla-branded bus starts from Khulna to travel to Rajshahi, Sylhet, Rangpur, Comilla and Chittagong – where the BBC broadcasts on FM frequencies – inviting audiences to "speak up" and share their views on issues important to them. ... As Bangladesh is moving towards a general election, BBC Bangla will bring views from the voters, plans and commitments from the prospective candidates and the fervour of political campaigning and debates." BBC World Service press release, 11 November 2008.

Gitmo alumnus is among AIB award winners.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sami Al Haj, the Al Jazeera cameraman detained for six years without trial at Guantanamo Bay, has been recognised with a special award from the Association of International Broadcasting. ... Other winners at last night's awards including the BBC World Service, which won two prizes - one for a The World Today report on China and the second for its cross-platform Bangladesh boat project. French rolling news TV network France 24, which celebrates its second birthday next month, won the award for best TV coverage of a news event for its reports from Burma." Press Gazette, 13 November 2008.
     "At a star-studded evening in London ... prizes to BBC World Service; Tinderbox Production; SABC; France 24; Al Jazeera; Link Research; Strix TV; Sveriges Radio; SVT; and NPO 3FM." AIB, 12 November 2008.

Morocco's public broadcaster buys into EuroNews.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Morocco’s public broadcasting company SNRT (Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et Télévision) has acquired a 0.33 per cent stake in European news channel euronews’ holding company, SECEMIE (Société Editrice de la Chaîne Européenne Multilingue d’Information euronews), to join the 22 existing shareholders from Europe. The catalyst for the arrival of the new Moroccan shareholder was the introduction of an eighth language to euronews, Arabic, on 12 July this year. ... EuroNews chairman and CEO Philippe Cayla said, 'SNRT will be instrumental in promoting euronews in Arabic.'" Apparent press release via Indiantelevision.com, 13 November 2008. Will other Arab broadcasters follow?

Turning the transmitters on ourselves.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"International broadcasting could move from primarily a means of projecting perceptions of the U.S. and reflecting (even if indirectly) U.S. policies to one which would be a platform for cooperation, mediation, and reception-- a mode of being informed as well as informing. ... Public diplomacy and international broadcasting might be constructed on principles of deeper reciprocity as well as rearticulated targeting. ... It would mean a possible repeal of the Smith-Mundt Act, which bars transmission of U.S. financed international broadcasting within the United States, a somewhat pointless prohibition in the Internet era. Reciprocity would, of course, broaden cultural exchange, including expanding cultural exchanges, but it would have consequences for the broadcasting sphere as well. ... Another citizen related challenge related to the future of international broadcasting is the dramatically changed political economy of U.S. news organizations and the continued decline of foreign coverage. Knowledge of the world is a public good. If the market cannot provide it in a way that is essential for citizenship, then other means to finance it must be found." Monroe Price, Huffington Post, 11 November 2008.
     Come to think of it, when foreigners come to the United States as part of State Department public diplomacy exchnage programs, is that a violation of the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition?
     The nice thing about Smith-Mundt is that is has always been unenforceable, even during the shortwave era of international broadcasting, and especially now in the internet age.
     But Smith-Mundt did prevent the government from diverting funds intended for international communication to a cheesy domestic PR campaign to advocate US policy goals. I'm afraid that might happen if Smith-Mundt is repealed.
     Americans have always had access to international news and foreign perspectives. In past years, they had to buy shortwave radios to get this content. Now it's a simpler matter of finding websites, such as BBC, other international broadcasters, newspapers abroad, news.yahoo.com, etc. No taxpayer money need be used.
     If all the U.S. international broadcasting (VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, MBN, Radio/TV Martí) were combined, it would result in a global newsgathering entity that could compete with the likes of BBC and Al Jazeera. Americans would benefit from having access to such a news service. The trick is to ensure that the funds for international broadcasting are spent on international broadcasting, with domestic consumption strictly a fringe benefit.
     See previous post.

Laura Bush via VOA unheeded in Burma.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Myanmar's military regime handed down harsh prison sentences to 14 pro-democracy activists Tuesday, a slap in the face to the United Nations and foreign governments that have demanded reforms from the ruling generals. ... The severe punishment is a foreign policy defeat for the outgoing Bush administration. First Lady Laura Bush has campaigned for democratic reform in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Her comments on the junta's hard line have been broadcast to Myanmar by the Voice of America, a popular shortwave service among Burmese hungry for information that challenges official propaganda." Los Angeles Times, 12 November 2008.

Never a CNN logo around when you need it.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International in conjunction with MyClick today announces the launch of CNN MyClick, an application that allows users to directly connect to CNN's free [subject to data charges that may apply in certain countries] mobile news site at cnnmobile.com utilizing camera mobile devices. Users can now take a picture of a CNN logo and within seconds connect to CNN's mobile news site to access the latest news headlines, stories and more. The technology has been designed so that it recognises the official CNN logo anywhere it is in print form which can include magazines, leaflets, brochures, billboards etc. or even when the image is captured from the television screen. ... The CNN MyClick application is currently available in more than 13 countries in Asia Pacific: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China." CNN press release, 11 November 2008.

In Rwanda: protests against Germany, including DW.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A diplomatic row is brewing between Rwanda, France and Germany over the 1994 assassination of the African country's then-president. Rwanda's current president has become involved, after the arrest of one of his aides in Germany. ... Several thousand demonstrators marched to the German embassy and the offices of the Deutsche Welle, Germany's national broadcaster." Sky News, 11 November 2008. A problematic development for DW, as it has a shortwave relay site in Rwanda. -- DW also reports on protest in Kigali, but does not mention that the demonstrators converged on the DW offices. DW-World.de, 13 November 2008.
      "Three days ago, I watched in disbelief as Ignace Murwanashyaka, the overall leader of FDLR, spoke on the German public Broadcasting Television (Deutsche Welle), in the safety of his home challenging the German law enforcement to come and arrest him, since they know his address. Indeed the DW programme hosted a number of other guests, including prominent German Human Rights activists and academics, who were all horrified by the fact that their government is protecting such an international criminal, as Murwanashyaka." Ngango Rukara, The New Times (Kigali), 11 November 2008.

Voice of Russia adds FM outlets in Kurdish Iraq.

Posted: 13 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of Russia radio station began broadcasting in Kurdish in Iraqi Kurdistan yesterday. Station spokesmen say the new project is nonpolitical and its goal is to bring the Russian and Kurdish people closer together. Analysts say that the project has an obvious political nature and that it is a means of advancing Russian interests in Kurdistan and throughout the Middle East. The Voice of Russia had considered a Kurdish service for several years, but funding restriction had prevented its implementation until now. The station’s director of regional broadcasts Mikhail Baryshev told Kommersant that a daily one-hour shortwave broadcast in Kurdish premiered in May of this year. Yesterday was the first broadcast on the FM band. Broadcast originate in Erbil, Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk and Dohuk, Iraq." Kommersant, 12 November 2008.

Winner of Radio Australia song contest is Pacific island reggae.

Posted: 12 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Vanuatu music festival will "feature the winner of the Radio Australia's new 'Pacific Break' competition, singing its winning entry. This is a competition to identify the best unsigned and undiscovered musicians in the Pacific which has been going on since early this year. The winner of the competition is Vanuatu band '26 Roots' a band from the Northern town of Luganville." Solomon Star, 12 November 2008. Download the winning song at the Radio Australia Pacific Break web site.

Euranet radio project to "become more interactive."

Posted: 12 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The EURANET European Radio Network is launching its new multilingual, interactive 'community on web' Internet platform. ... EURANET is an initiative devised at the instigation and with the financial support of the [European] Commission, although it enjoys full editorial freedom underpinned by an Editorial Charter. The network has been launched by European radio broadcasters including Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale, Radio Netherlands, Polskie Radio, Punto Radio [Spain] and RTBF [Belgium], and its purpose is to bring the European Union and its citizens closer together. Since April 2008, 16 broadcasters and 8 associate radio stations from 15 EU countries have been co-producing and broadcasting daily European current affairs programmes in 10 languages (Bulgarian, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish) – a number which will gradually increase until all 23 EU official languages are involved. The EURANET network has a weekly audience of 19 million listeners within the European Union and a further 30 million beyond the EU's borders. It is open to radio broadcasters of any kind (national, regional, local, public and private), provided that they comply with the rules laid down by the consortium. The daily programmes (which last between 30 and 60 minutes) will become more interactive when a shared Internet portal (www.euranet.eu) is launched." Public Technology.net, November 2008. Is this maybe old news? Because www.euranet.eu is already launched and already interactive. Also, it is not Euranet itself that has 49 million listeners. According to the Euranet corporate information, the stations that are members of the consortium "have between 12 and 19 million listeners per day in Europe and 30 million more worldwide." See previous post about same subject.

BBC websites affected by DDoS attack.

Posted: 12 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"All BBC web services including its most useful iPlayer were subjected to a DDoS attack last night. According to a missive we have seen, all its sites were slowed down considerably last night. For a while the BBC home page was either not responding or opening extremely slowly. In a statement to the INQ, the BBC said the attack originated in a number of different countries but didn't specify which. When the Beeb's techies blocked international access to a limited subset of servers, it resulted in a marked improvement of the serving of bbc.co.uk." The Inquirer, 7 November 2008. "One thing’s for sure - political DDoS attacks are going to get even more mainstream in 2009." Dancho Danchev, ZDNet, 11 November 2008. Similar DDOS attacks are to be expected in future crises. The fallback would be shortwave, but will shortwave be obliterated by noise from broadband over power line systems, whose users will be searching in vain for information from websites obliterated by DDoS attacks?

Listen to shortwave and paint what you hear.

Posted: 12 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
One of the designs festooning Dell laptop computers is by "Joseph Amedokpo [who] resides in the town of Vogan, Togo (West Africa) with his wife and five children. He supports his family through painting, using locally produced oils he blends by hand, on canvases made from recycled flour sacks. While painting, Amedokpo chats with frequent visitors and listens to a short wave radio, gaining a global perspective on peoples' failures and weakness, as well at their core strength and hope, which is reflected in his art." Dell press release, 11 November 2008. See his designs at this Dell web page.

IBM backs broadband via shortwave interference.

Posted: 12 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"IBM Corp. is throwing its considerable weight behind an idea that seemed to have faded: broadband Internet access delivered over ordinary power lines. The technology has been around for decades, but most efforts to implement the idea on a broad scale have failed to live up to expectations. Now, with somewhat scaled-back goals, improved technology, and a dose of low-interest federal loans, IBM is partnering with a small newcomer called International Broadband Electric Communications Inc. to try to make the idea work in rural communities that don't have other broadband options. ... But that stream of data has often run into interference with other wireless devices that happen to be nearby. Ham radio operators have been particularly irked, and even sued the FCC over it." AP, 12 November 2008.
     The IBM partner IBEC "'doesn't use the ham bands,' said BPL expert and ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, 'making it less likely that they will have any interference complaints from amateurs. Their equipment, however, does interfere with shortwave broadcast and other spectrum, but in the US, not many users have complained.'" American Radio Relay league, 12 November 2008.
     They preserve virgin forests and endangered wetlands. So why not preserve the one part of the radio spectrum that allows long distance communications by natural means, not involving satellites or undersea cables? Most broadband over power line (BPL) systems have used RF frequencies on shortwave frequencies within unshielded electric power lines, thus causing interference to international broadcasts and other users of shortwave. Shortwave may not be fashionable now, but it will be needed during future crises and emergencies.

More Barack-Obama-as-public diplomacy.

Posted: 11 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 2005, the Bush administration appointed fellow Texan Karen Hughes to be Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. At the time, this meant that Ms. Hughes had to accentuate America's many good works, while having to defend the two wars we were waging. It was a bad time and a tough sell and audiences seemed immune to the positive spin. She could not sway global opinion, no matter how many well-meaning projects we initiated. Polls overwhelmingly showed that the Muslim world preferred freedom and democracy to theocracy. They just did not want it served up by George Bush's PR representative. Rather than preach, build or spread democracy, we proved that our system works. By winning, Obama did more to teach the Iraqis about democracy than four years of nation building has done." Marcia DeSanctis, Huffington Post, 10 November 2008.
     "Plenty of Democratic and Republican foreign-policy mavens have lamented that the Bush administration ... treated public diplomacy as a marketing campaign rather than a grassroots effort to forge new alliances with key influencers abroad. The resurgence of so-called soft power will likely mark the first year of Obama's foreign policy. Success isn't guaranteed, of course, but expectations are high that his administration will make the effort." Shane Harris, Nextgov.com, 10 November 2008.

USAID's public diplomacy in the Middle East.

Posted: 11 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"'It is extremely important to keep in touch with the Middle Eastern American communities and keep them informed of our work and good will,' said Walid Maalouf, Director of USAID's Office of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs. Three major issues are important for Middle Eastern Americans he continued, 'Peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, freedom and democracy in the whole region and USAID development.' In order to learn more about USAID's Middle Eastern public diplomacy efforts, please visit www.usaid.gov/about_usaid/presidential_initiative/diplomacy/." USAID press release, 10 November 2008.

The future of the Associated Press in the international scheme of things.

Posted: 11 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN it has issued an invitation to newspapers to attend a meeting at its Atlanta headquarters in December, all expenses paid, to hear how CNN could serve as an AP replacement since, it says, it already operates its own internal newswire that could act as a basis for an AP substitute. Now that should be kind of interesting since when watching CNN International, at least, much of its breaking news is sourced to Reuters.com (they have to go to the free web site since they canceled the Reuters service directly), but it will be interesting to hear what CNN has in mind." Philip M. Stone, followthemedia.com, 11 November 2008.

CNN International means business in India.

Posted: 11 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"With the world mired in an ongoing financial crisis, attention is turning more than ever towards India's robust economic growth. CNN International has brought its viewers a week of in-depth live programming, India Means Business, that puts the country's economic fortunes firmly in the spotlight. The series examines how the world's largest democracy is coming of age as a business power house." Televisionpoint.com, 11 November 2008. Obviously vying with BBC World for this key target audience.

Channel NewsAsia cites success in Asian elite survey.

Posted: 11 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Decision makers in Singapore preferred Channel NewsAsia as their main news source among all media, including cable TV, print, radio and online reports, according to a recent survey by independent global market research firm, Synovate. ... More than four out of five (86 percent) named the channel as their most watched TV channel, including cable, for news content. This was followed by CNN, BBC World, CNBC Singapore, Bloomberg Television and other cable or satellite news channels." Bernama, 10 November 2008. Other channels will probably also claim success from this survey, by dint of other ways of measuring.

Iran's Press TV reports on criticisms of Ahmadinejad.

Posted: 11 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Prominent Iranian econ experts say President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic plans are costing the country dearly in a time of crisis. In an open letter to the president, top Iranian economists criticized the Ahmadinejad administration for not taking corrective measures to deal with the country's economic decline." Press TV, 8 November 2008. "The Iranian parliament will reportedly probe into the issue of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to US president-elect Barack Obama. 'Obviously the Majlis (parliament) is very concerned about the president's letter to Obama and will examine the issue within the coming days,' said Hamid-Reza Haji-Babaei, a member of the Majlis Presiding Board. ... No other Iranian president has sent such wishes to a US president-elect since the Islamic Revolution in 1979." Press TV, 10 November 2008.

PD at MSU (updated: and USC).

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Part of International Education Week and Michigan State University: "Public diplomacy discussions, Nov. 18-19, at MSU’s International Center. David Firestein, deputy executive director and senior advisor in the U.S. Department of State on Public Diplomacy, will discuss foreign perceptions of the United States and American perspectives of China and the U.S.-China relationship." MSU News, 6 November 2008.
     Update: "The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is proud to welcome contributors to The Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy to USC for a discussion on this major new publication." On 20 November 2008 with speakers Nancy Snow, Robert H. Gass, Matthew Armstrong. USC CPD.

Bring your grumpy teenagers to the VOA tour.

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Face it, it can be a pain to have teenage visitors over the holidays, and even your own wonderful kids can get grumpy if they're at home too long. ... An absolutely undiscovered gem is The Voice of America, located at 330 Independence Avenue., S.W., Washington, D.C. Studio tours are free and are offered M-F (except Federal holidays) at noon and 3pm. ... You'll have the opportunity to watch live radio and televised broadcasts to countries around the globe. Fascinating!" Risa Sandres, Examiner.com, 7 November 2008.

The hockey player who listened to shortwave (updated).

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
NHL Hall of Fame inductee Igor Larionov "said listening to broadcasts of the BBC and Voice of America awakened him to life beyond the Soviet borders." Ottawa Sun, 18 June 2008.
     Update: "From an early age, Larionov also saw beyond Soviet propaganda. By the age of 12, he was tuning into Russian-language BBC broadcasts, and listening to The Voice of America on an old transistor radio in his family's one-bedroom apartment." Canwest News Service, 10 November 2008.
     "Larionov recalled coming to breakfast during the [1980] Olympics, anticipating watching the game on tape delay later that evening. Word came via Voice of America radio that the U.S. team had defeated the powerful Russians, 4-3. Larionov still didn't believe it even as he watched the game later that evening." ESPN, 10 November 2008.

Radio/TV Martí in the new administration.

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Those hoping for an end to America's failed trade embargo of the island may have to wait a while longer, though; it's likely that Obama will favor an incremental thawing of relations -- increased diplomatic contact, perhaps a funding cut for TV Martí -- while saving unfettered trade as a reward for significant steps towards democratisation." Ben Whitford, The Guardian Comment is Free, 7 November 2008.
     "Radio and TV Martí must be more efficient and have more reach. Programming should focus more on what the opposition in Cuba is doing." Myriam Marquez, Miami Herald, 9 November 2008. Just report the news, and coverage of the opposition will follow as a matter of course.

Barack Obama as a one-person solution to US public diplomacy difficulties.

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"On the international scene, former White House-inspired lecturing about the virtues of American values became tedious. The public diplomacy orientation of the present administration has been ineffective on several levels. In general, it smacks of poor Madison Avenue marketing techniques. Targeted audiences are not convinced. They want discussion - give and take - and mutual respect." Earle Scarlett, Jamaica Observer, 9 November 2008.
     "Shortly after the election, I moderated a panel of journalists from Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America who discussed 'How the World Sees the U.S. Presidential Elections' for the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. What they said, along with the reaction from other foreign media and leaders, underlines the remarkable opportunities awaiting President-elect Barack Obama. He has a unique chance to stem the tide of anti-Americanism that threatens our security and our ability to lead. 'That one picture of Obama and his wife, African Americans, holding hands with [Joseph R.] Biden [Jr.] and his wife was worth more than all of the hundreds of millions this administration has spent on public diplomacy,' said panelist Paulo Sotero, former Washington correspondent for the Brazilian daily O Estado de S. Paulo." Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 November 2008.
     "Several global media outlets, including International Herald Tribune, Deutsche Welle and CBC, are running articles about what Obama’s victory means to their country and the world. ... For citizens around the world, his victory is a symbol of America’s renewal and rebirth." Sachin Seth, Blast Magazine, 8 November 2008.
     Zbigniew Brzezinski interview on Deutsche Welle about President-elect Obama's terrorism challenges is reported by Iran's Press TV, 8 November 2008.

BBC World News as Obama's "conduit to the world."

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Peter Horrocks, head of BBC newsroom, on US election-night coverage: "'The service we did was for BBC World News, the BBC News channel in the UK, BBC One and BBC America. It was only one service for all those different audiences, going head to head with CNN and the other American television services.' Is there not the danger that by going head to head with American networks, the BBC was not giving its British audience a sufficiently bespoke service? 'It’s an interesting balancing act. If we had done three or four different services for the different channels it would have been very costly.' ... Horrocks hopes the first black leader of America will now use the BBC as his conduit to the world. 'We will see if we can get an interview before or shortly after the inauguration to talk about foreign policy and America’s relationship with the world,' he says. 'The fact that the BBC has got 250 million people who use its news services is a big thing for any American politician to think about.'" The Independent, 10 November 2008.
     "At this time, Americans may need the perspective of someone from afar to help us understand ourselves better. ... Alistair Cooke was such a person; he died at age 95 in the midst of the 2004 presidential contest, after seven decades of exploring and interpreting the American mystique. ... [He] narrated the widely syndicated BBC World Service radio program 'Letter From America' for 58 years (2,869 installments)." Chuck Slocum, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9 November 2008.
     At the London International Awards, the grand prize in nontraditional category went to "BBDO, New York, for its 'Cables' campaign for BBC World. On the whitewashed sides of city buildings, the agency commissioned huge line drawings of news events -- a protest, a food drop -- with the lines meandering into the building's actual windows. See? They're actually coaxial cables, bringing news." Advertising Age, 10 November 2008. See also London International Awards web page.
     "Charlie Gillett’s World of Music, his weekly radio program, can be heard on BBC World Service, and ... it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that it’s the most interesting and exhilarating radio broadcast on the planet. Sound of the World Presents: Beyond the Horizon is essentially a selection of songs that Gillett has played on his radio program over the course of the past year." Douglas Heselgrave, The Music Box, 8 November 2008.

DW Chinese controversy continues to simmer (updated).

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Zhang Danhong, vice director of the Chinese Department of Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) recently created an uproar when she openly defended the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since Zhang’s speech, several Chinese scholars have carefully monitored Voice of Germany (VoG), including content from its China broadcasting division and Web site. When the German Parliament recently reconvened after their summer recess, eight Chinese scholars representing various China democracy organizations wrote an open letter to the Parliament recommending complete reorganization of Voice of Germany’s Chinese Department. ... On September 19, 2008, the German newsweekly Der Spiegel published the Chinese scholars’ open letter to the German Parliament. Der Spiegel suggested that Voice of Germany needs to investigate whether its Chinese Department has provided space for the CCP’s propaganda purposes." Epoch Times, 25 eptember 2008. See also Der Spiegel on 19 September and 24 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: Letter to DW refers to another letter to DW about the subject. Epoch Times, 10 November 2008. Maybe I missed something, but this matter is now beyond my comprehension.

DW and Russia Today: which is "state-run"?

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"As part of a feature on the international coverage of the American presidential election, several foreign news telecasts were carried by CSPAN on November 5. During the airing of the RT feed, CSPAN captioned 'Russia Today, State-Run.' In contrast, the German government funded Deutsche Welle (DW) did not have the 'State-Run' label, when CSPAN showed that station's news feed." Michael Averko, American Chronicle, 10 November 2008. The difference between "state-run" and "state-funded" is real, though it is subjective and divided by a continuum rather than a sharp line. However, Deutsche Welle, even though there are political aspects to its management, can make a better case for being "state-funded but not state-run" than can Russia Today. Russia Today gave at least the impression of being state-run during its coverage of the Georgian conflict.

Scandinavian media company brings Russian movie channel to U.S. homes.

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Modern Times Group MTG ... the international entertainment-broadcasting group, today announced the launch of Viasat´s TV1000 Russian Kino premium movie channel for the Russian speaking population of the United States. ... The Russian language speaking population in the US comprises between five and seven million people. TV1000 Russian Kino is included in DISH Network´s Russian Mega Pack, which offers five Russian language channels. ...
TV1000 was initially launched in Sweden, Norway and Denmark in 1989 and the brand has since been successfully exported, with a local version launched in Eastern Europe in 2003." Modern Times Group press release, 10 November 2008.

For expats in Cyprus, television is from back home.

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Expats lose a sense of place by ignoring local TV. Back in the 1980s and 90s the steady trickle of expats would receive their daily fix of news and entertainment exclusively on local TV. It was all a far cry from today with most new arrivals connected to the same channels they watched back home and have little or no time for Cyprus broadcasting. ... One satellite dealer is so savvy on the international broadcasting scene that he can list just about every private and state TV station on air today. 'People want satellite dishes, Bulgaria, Russia are really popular. We do Polish packages which have everything on them, Asian networks, Indian, you name it -- we can get you it.'" Cyprus Mail, 9 November 2008.

Shortwave in music titles and band names.

Posted: 10 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Shortwave is a new jazz CD by Christine Sehnaoui and Michel Waisvisz, released by the Lebanese label Al Maslakh. One of the cuts is "Finding The Short Wave In The Dark." Mark Corroto, All About Jazz, 8 November 2008.
     "Had enough of generic indie bands with skinny jeans and mad hair? Well, time for something completely different -- The Shortwave Set." Katie Campling, Huddersfiled Daily Examiner, 10 November 2008.

New Saudi concept of peaceful civic protest is familiar to anyone who has prepped for a colonoscopy.

Posted: 09 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A two-day hunger strike to protest against the extended detention of 11 Saudis who had called for political reforms drew more than 70 participants and was carried out without incident, according to two Saudis who helped organise the unusual action. 'It went very well,' said Mohammad Fahd al Qahtani, 42, a professor of economics. 'We want to use this new concept of peaceful civic protest to demonstrate for our rights.' ... Al Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite television channel, which often likes to tweak Saudi government sensibilities, broadcast an interview with Mr Qahtani. It was recorded in Al Jazeera’s Riyadh studio." The National (Abu Dhabi), 5 November 2008.
     "'There is a new kind of independence to be able to talk about issues that couldn’t be discussed before,' said Prof Philip Seib, launching his book, The Al Jazeera Effect, in Dubai Wednesday. ... In 1991, all people could watch was CNN or BBC,” Prof Seib said. 'In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there was Al Jazeera, Al-Manar, Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation… so many choices. What you see is a rise of indigenous media providing information, where Arab journalists are giving news to an Arab audience.'" The National, 5 November 2008. See previous post about Prof. Seib's book.
     “'The prospect of an Obama victory in the US will turn on its head the whole American relationship with the rest of the world,' [Al Jazeera English managing director Tony Burman] said. 'I think historians will circle November 2008 as a new point of departure for international affairs. That’s incredibly exciting and for an international news organisation like Al Jazeera, it’s very important. We believe that not only Americans but people worldwide will look to this new era with great interest and curiosity, and will make international organisations like Al Jazeera even more important.'” The National, 3 November 2008.
     "Al Jazeera has announced the launch of the Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk, which will be headed by Sami Al Haj, the Al Jazeera cameraman who was recently released from Guantanamo Bay after six and a half years of detention. The primary focus of the Desk will be to promote respect for human rights and public liberties by monitoring, documenting, broadcasting and raising awareness for these key issues in the world as a whole and in the Arab region in particular." Media Newslines, 9 November 2008.

Be careful not to attend the Fake Rolex Middle East Forum, down the dark alley.

Posted: 09 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Rolex Middle East Forum will feature nine international experts from diverse disciplines and nine of their counterparts from across the UAE and the region, and moderators Hala Gorani, of CNN International, and celebrated media personality Georges Kordahi of MBC. World-renowned heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, pioneering NASA astronaut Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, and former Ecuadorian environment minister Yolanda Kakabadse are among the distinguished panelists confirmed." Middle East Events, 9 November 2008.

International channels on new Serbian IPTV service.

Posted: 09 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Telekom Srbija has begun trialing its new IPTV service, which will be fully launched on December 1. Four packages will be available to Telekom Srbija’s ADSL subscribers. The 'Basic' one, costing €6.85 a month, will consist of 43 TV channels from Serbia and neighbouring countries, plus a selection of foreign channels including Cartoon Network, CNN, BBC World and Eurosport 1 and 2." Broadband TV News, 9 November 2008.

The news from Iraq, via BBC, via Radio Sawa, via Jerusalem Post (updated).

Posted: 09 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told BBC television on Thursday that he was confident that the new US president-elect would not try to undermine the security situation by accelerating the withdrawal of US troops from the country, according to Radio Sawa, an Arabic-language radio station funded by the US government." Jerusalem Post, 6 November 2008.
     "According to US-financed Al-Hurra television, the United States has responded only to some of the changes Baghdad wants made. It did not elaborate." AFP, 7 November 2008. "Al-Hurra, a television channel financed by the US, said that Washington has responded only to some of the changes Baghdad wants." Aljazeera.net, 7 November 2008. "US-financed" is certainly a more accurate description than, say, the CBC's "state-run." See previous post.
     Update: "But in the most positive indication in weeks that the Iraqi government is leaning toward backing the deal, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Iraq's al-Hurra TV station that 'the chances of signing an agreement are higher than before.'" Chicago Tribune, 8 November 2008. Well, then, not everyone is describing Alhurra correctly. This should actually be "the Iraqi service of the US-financed al-Hurra TV" -- wordy, but accurate.

Welcome to RFE/RL's new headquarters.

Posted: 08 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Entering the new Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) headquarters in Prague 10–Hagibor involves being subjected to security measures of airport-like proportions. Before setting foot on the premises, visitors are required to sign in, provide identification and pass through metal detectors sensitive enough to detect loose change or a belt buckle. Contents of all handbags are then thoroughly inspected. And that’s all before entering the building’s front doors, where a reception desk will administer additional measures. ... As part of the move, the technological infrastructure at RFE/RL is also receiving a complete, state-of-the-art overhaul including additional bandwidth for Internet, radio and television operations, and network security of the highest degree. ... Due to the size of the operation, employees will begin moving into the new headquarters in January 2009, adhering to a tight department-by-department schedule that officials describe as a 'leap-frog' process. Fiber optic connections between the old and new headquarters will ensure business as usual throughout the five-month process, expected to wrap in May." Prague Post, 5 November 2008.

Death of Henry Loomis, VOA director 1958-1965.

Posted: 08 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Mr. Loomis, named Voice of America director in 1958, "realized that English was becoming an international language and was eager for it to be more accessible to VOA's international audience. He pushed for the development of Special English, for listeners learning the language. The news was delivered at a slower pace of nine lines a minute, spoken accurately, and with a vocabulary limited to 1,500 words. Mr. Loomis quit as VOA director in 1965 after a falling-out with President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War. Johnson demanded that VOA keep quiet about American planes flying over Laos. Believing that VOA had an obligation to report the news, Mr. Loomis resigned in protest." Washington Post, 8 November 2008.-- See separate page for biographical account by his widow, Jacqueline Loomis, with additional comments by former VOA program director Alan Heil. -- See also Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 8 November 2008.

Tibetan monk who provided video to VOA is arrested.

Posted: 08 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Jigme, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, who provided a rare first-hand account of China's crackdown on Tibetan protesters to foreign media has been arbitrarily arrested by Sangchu County People's Armed Police(PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB)... At the beginning of September, the Voice of America's Tibetan Service in its Wednesday program Kunleng aired a video from Jigme giving detail accounts of Tibetan people's aspiration, torture and inhumane treatment meted out to monks of Labrang Monks who were detained during March Protest at the County government headquarters." Tibet Custom, 7 November 2008.

More reaction to Azerbaijan's plan to take foreign radios off FM dial (updated).

Posted: 08 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"USA is concerned over possible shutdown of some famous foreign radio stations in Azerbaijan, US ambassador to Azerbaijan Anne Derse told reporters. 'We are concerned with possible shutdown of some radio stations in Azerbaijan.'" Today.az, 6 November 2008. “We want to promote democracy, freedom of media and process of political reforming in Azerbaijan,’ Ambassador said. Trend News Agency, 5 November 2008.
     "American 'Liberty Radio' (or its Azeri name 'Azadlig') is going to react upon the statement of Azerbaijan National Broadcasting Council about closing of foreign radio stations. 'Azadlig' informed the Station’s administration is familiarized with the situation and deeply considering the matter. 'So far we are evaluating the information and going to make a decision linked with our respond. We believe our radio plays an important role for Azeri people by delivering professional non-censored news. We will keep on operating,' it was informed." ABC.az, 3 November 2008.
     "Radio listeners who depend on the three stations for regular news have created several online support groups on social-networking websites, including Facebook, Yahoo!, Day.az, terming the decision to stop the stations’ broadcasts 'a serious assault to freedom of speech.'" Eurasianet.org, 4 November 2008.
     "The Musavat [opposition] party adopted a special statement due to the possible shutdown of the Azadlyg, Voice of America and BBC radio stations. The party considers that by such actions the powers want to put a pressure on freedom of speech and press again." Today.az, 4 November 2008.
     "Voice of America journalists and media freedom organizations are concerned, however, that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a bipartisan body which oversees VOA and RFE/RL, will use the excuse of the crackdown on FM rebroadcasting in Azerbaijan to shut down the production in Washington of all VOA Azeri radio programs." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Networ, 5 November 2008.
     Update: "The United States is deeply concerned by reports that Azerbaijan’s National Television and Radio Council may discontinue local radio broadcasts of international media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Voice of America (VOA) and the BBC. The Chairman of Azerbaijan's National Television and Radio Council (NTRC) said on October 31, that foreign broadcasts on frequencies controlled by the government of Azerbaijan may cease in 2009. There was no advance communication with the affected broadcasters, nor with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which provides oversight for all U.S. international broadcasting. The United States believes that international broadcasters such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the BBC have enriched public debate in Azerbaijan and contribute to Azerbaijan’s democratic development. Discontinuing such broadcasts would send a disturbing message. We are seeking clarification from the Government of Azerbaijan." State Department press statement, 6 November 2008.
     "We call upon the Azerbaijan National Television and Radio Council to review their decision and to approach the issue from the perspective of freedom of expression and the public interest." Article 19, 5 November 2008 (pdf). See previous post about same subject.

Russian channels banned on Ukrainian cable (updated again).

Posted: 08 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"On September 23 the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council (NRTR), Ukraine’s media regulating body, ordered cable networks to stop re-broadcasting the state-controlled Russian channels ORT and RTR and the private Ren TV beginning November 1. The NRTR explained that RTR and Ren TV had unfairly competed with Ukrainian TV channels by broadcasting the same programs simultaneously... The Party of Regions of Ukraine (PRU), the main opposition party, accused the NRTR of discriminating against Russian channels. It noted that the NRTR did not ban the Russian-language programs of the RTVi and EuroNews channels, which are based outside Russia." Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, 29 October 2008.
"Cable operators in Ukraine are still counting the cost of the ban. But they say insist that regardless of their financial losses, it’s the country’s Russian speakers who will suffer. The number of potential viewers of these stations in Ukraine is around 15 million." Russia Today, 1 November 2008.
     Update: "The Western media, including Western-sponsored outlets in Ukraine present attempts to block Russian television not as censorship but as a blow for Ukrainian independence! What viewers in Ukraine is ignored so long as NATO's geo-political interests are served. American government-funded stations like Voice of America and Radio Liberty are allowed to broadcast independent news on Ukrainian channels but not Russian stations. Under the guise of promoting a free media market in countries like Ukraine Western taxpayers fund propaganda not only against other countries like Russia but also on behalf of one candidate in the country's political spectrum. Something illegal in the United States itself." Mark Almond, RIA Novosti, 6 November 2008.

Discovery World added to African satellite platform.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"GTV, the pan African pay TV network which is making giant strides in the Africa pay-TV market, announced on 5 November that it is launching Discovery World on its service on 10 November. GTV is teaming up with Discovery World to offer its viewers a showcase selection of high quality factual programming from around the globe. Viewers will be able to enjoy a mix of history, culture, real life stories, investigation and mystery. ... In addition to GTV’s own seven channels: G Prime, G Series, G Africa, G Sports 1, G Sports 2, G Xtra and G Star, GTV offers its subscribers BBC World, Sky News, Aljazeera International, Setanta Africa, Fox Sports Africa, E! Entertainment, MTV Base, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Kidsco, Zee Cinema, GOD, Kiss, France 24, Fox Life Action, Mangas, Encyclopedia, France 2, Turner Movie Classic France, NT1, MGM and TMC among others. GTV is currently available in Botswana, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is currently proceeding with a phased roll-out across sub-Saharan Africa." ScreenAfrica.com, 7 November 2008. See also www.gtv.tv.

China's CCTV, in French, to Europe.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Chinese broadcaster CCTV has selected GlobeCast to distribute its French language channel CCTV-F to the European market. CCTV-F features news, tourism and educational programs as well as Chinese performance art. Designed for an international audience, the programs carry French subtitles with some news hosted by French-speaking journalists. ... The channel will share a neighborhood with broadcasters such as France 24, Russia Today, Al Jazeera English and NHK World TV." GlobeCast press release, 6 November 2008.

Radio Netherlands gains FM affiliate in India.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) and Indian radio station Radio Chaska 95 FM have concluded a media partnership under which Radio Chaska will air the popular monthly chart show Euro Hit 40; one hour of the latest pop music from the European charts, compiled by RNW and presented in English. Jazz and classical music from RNW will be heard as well. Radio Chaska 95 FM is based in Gwalior City." Business of Cinema.com, 7 November 2008.

International broadcasting versus two-way dialogue.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"International broadcasting is our mainstay in public diplomacy, but think about it. What influences you? For me, it's a person I trust, someone who sits across the table from me in two-way dialogue and who I may end up collaborating with on some project. Listening to Radio Sawa or watching Al Hurra may reach a larger audience but won't engage people." Nancy Snow, Huffington Post, 6 November 2008.
     The United States spends more on international broadcasting than Britain, but the BBC world services have more audience worldwide than all the components of U.S. international broadcasting combined.
     A main reason for the underperformance of U.S. international broadcasting is that U.S. decision makers, experts, and distinguished fellows think of international broadcasting as just another arrow in the quiver of public diplomacy.
     This is an attempt to shove the proverbial square peg into a round hole. The round hole is the audience for international broadcasting. They do not tune in to get influenced or persuaded, but to get news that is more reliable, comprehensive, and credible than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media.
     Successful international broadcasters cringe when their profession is subsumed under public diplomacy. They recognize their job not as an attempt to change hearts and minds, because no one would listen to or watch such stuff, but to make sure audiences are well informed. Well informed publics vex dictators and terrorists.
     Two-way dialogue is great, and it should be a part of the U.S. public diplomacy effort. But it will never reach the numbers of people, and have the impact on nations as a whole, than does international broadcasting.
     And why can't broadcasting "engage people"? Good broadcasting absolutely does. It wouldn't have much of an audience otherwise.

Election odds and ends.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Public diplomacy and international broadcasting are, collectively, one of the "urgent issues" for the new administration, says the Government Accountability Office, with video of your third grade teacher.
     "Listeners in 85 countries heard Duke faculty members and student political leaders discuss Barack Obama’s historic election Wednesday as part of 'The World Today,' the British Broadcasting Company’s (BBC) signature world news program. Chloe Hadjimatheou, BBC World Service producer, said the 'Talking America Tour' stopped at Duke as a follow-up to its six-week, cross-country series portraying the mood in America during and after the campaign." Duke Today, 6 November 2008.
     "Bush had close and trusted confidante Karen Hughes lead a public diplomacy initiative to try to undo the damage done to U.S. international standing by his no-holds-barred policies in the war on terror. Hughes toiled away for some time with no visible results. By contrast, Obama has reversed the popular international perception of the United States at a stroke by being elected. This may change if he starts pursuing a protectionist trade policy, as some of his constituencies will demand, but it is still no mean feat." Martin Sieff, UPI, 6 November 2008.
     "Assuming we went in to remove Saddam, there was never a persuasive explanation given that the mission had changed and that we now needed to establish a democracy in Iraq. While the president gave a few thoughtful speeches on the subject, there was a massive failure of public diplomacy from the White House to get the 'democracy' message across. Accordingly, most Americans were never sold - and are still not sold - on the 'democracy' mission in Iraq." Daniel Gallington, Washington Times, 6 November 2008. This is either an advocacy of domestic dissemination, or a misuse of the term "public diplomacy."
     “'While I’m very pleased with the results, I appreciate the way Senator McCain made a gracious exit and expressed his goodwill towards Obama who was also not overtly triumphant,' said Paul J. Houge, Deputy Director at the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy. 'Above all we’re relieved that this election did not turn out to be as difficult as that of 2000.'" Indian Express, 6 November 2008.
     "Watching this election was certainly made far more enjoyable by the interactive, communal experience offered by the web. Alone on the sofa, with my family long since tucked up in bed, I was nevertheless connected to a worldwide community, and so able to shout at the TV or the web - and get a response." Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC News, 5 November 2008.
     "'Europeans Hope Obama's Change Reaches Across Atlantic' (Deutsche Welle) screamed from front pages in the United States and the world. Clearly, much of the world is hoping America, which is viewed by so many as a beacon of democracy, cleans up its house and endorses Change with a capital C." Robert Bridge, Moscow News, 6 November 2008. Mr. Bridge must think DW is a newspaper.

BBC offers its style guide in six languages.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the first time, journalists across the globe will have free access to BBC journalist training guides on the use of language previously only available to BBC reporters. The guides, which have been developed into six languages by BBC World Service and BBC College of Journalism, focus on language, in particular its usage and style when reporting and writing for TV, radio and online. The language used in each guide has been fine-tuned over many years by BBC journalists reporting in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Russian and Urdu." BBC World Service press release, 7 November 2008.

For President-Elect Obama, advice about Iran from a Radio Farda broadcaster.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"First, end the saber-rattling and initiate direct talks with the Iranian authorities. ... Second, you should realize that the majority of Iranian people bear no ill-will toward the United States, the West, or even Israel. ... Finally, I would stress the importance of boosting access to information and informed debate in Iran. The dictatorship there thrives because of its stranglehold on information and its ability to control and shape impressions and opinions. International broadcasting is one tool for expanding the terms of debate within Iran and arming moderates with the facts they need to change the system." Mohammad Reza Kazemi, broadcaster with RFE/RL's Persian-language Radio Farda, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 4 November 2008. "The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL."

For the demilitarization of U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today's public diplomats wear boots, not wingtips. Increasingly, the Defense Department is at the forefront of United States efforts to engage public opinion overseas. While the State Department formally leads the effort, the Pentagon has more money and personnel to carry out the public diplomacy mission. This trend is risky. The message foreign publics receive — not the message the U.S. sends — changes when the Pentagon is the messenger. Putting our military, not civilians, at the forefront of U.S. global communications undercuts the likelihood of success, distorts priorities and undermines the effectiveness of U.S. civilian agencies." Kristin M. Lord, Ithaca Journal, 6 November 2008.

A Canadian call for aggressive public diplomacy.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ottawa should use the Internet not only to uncover and impede terrorist infrastructure and planning in Canada but also to disseminate the rationales that underpin Canada's defence and foreign policy. When terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah run websites as sophisticated as those constructed by government agencies, it is clear that a propaganda battle for the hearts and minds of Canadians is at stake. Spreading hatred and sowing violence has never been so easy. But the street runs both ways: Just as jihadists use the Internet as a virtual call to arms, so, too, can governments, NGOs and religious institutions use it to combat terrorism. Government agencies can use the Web to disseminate information that contradicts the radicals' message. Winning the war of ideas will require a redoubling of efforts in the realm of public diplomacy that not only rebuffs the legitimizers of terrorism but also strengthens opposing viewpoints." Alex Wilner, Globe and Mail, 5 November 2008.

Listening to BBC on portable devices.

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
From review of Pioneer's XMp3 portable XM Satellite Radio receiver: "There is only one channel for the BBC world service on the XMp3. But if you have downloaded the Flycast application for your iPhone, you have a choice of about 20 BBC feeds, including the world service, and other news programs.Two years ago, that content wasn't available on a portable gadget." Eric Benderoff, Chicago Tribune, 6 November 2008.

Getting the US election news into Cuba (updated).

Posted: 07 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"While the state-controlled media has focused on the U.S. electoral process rather than the candidates, Cubans have managed to keep abreast of the 2008 campaign via word of mouth, illegal satellite hookups, limited Internet access and U.S.-sponsored Radio Marti broadcasts." Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), 26 October 2008. Not much election news on 28 October at www.martinoticias.com on 28 October 2008.
     Update: "It didn’t take long for Cubans to hear about the success of Barack Obama.
The girl’s dorm at Havana’s V.I. Lenin High School broke into cheers after 17-year-old Gabriela Sanchez received a cell phone text message from her mom watching the U.S. election results on satellite TV. Housewife Rosa Llanos heard the news on short wave radio and thought about her daughter and grandchild living in South Florida." NBC News, 5 November 2008.
     "The official midnight television news early Wednesday made brief mention of Barack Obama's historic victory, but many Cubans already knew. The TV set above the bar at the Hotel Presidente was tuned to the Spanish-language CNN broadcast all day, with workers stopping by for election updates. ... Other Cubans learned the news in phone calls from relatives across the Florida Straits. Some tuned into U.S.-sponsored Radio Marti or watched the day's events play out on illegal satellite hookups." Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), 6 November 2008.

Ondas Media will use elliptical orbits for its pan-European satellite radio service.

Posted: 06 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"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. ... 'We have a meaningful pan-European strategy in terms of regulation and frequencies. We are not hamstrung by L-Band, for example. Key to us is the transmission infrastructure, and while Worldspace’s satellite was designed to cover Africa we intend to launch our three satellites in a highly-elliptical orbit (HEO) which means our signal is ubiquitous over Europe.'" Rapid TV News, 3 November 2008.

New book about psyop.

Posted: 06 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"History Publishing Company of Palisades, NY has agreed to publish The War of Ideas: How Psychological Operations in Iraq Made the Surge Work by LTC. Carmine Cicalese, U.S Army. The War of Ideas is an inside look at the Psychological Operations or 'PSYOP,' used in Iraq by the Coalition Forces. Focusing on the Baghdad area and the ethnic fault line of the warring factions of the Sunni and Shia, the book recounts how an infusion of positive ideas based on truth and reality dispelled the turbulence of Civil War and helped to overcome the violence of the insurgency." History Publishing Company, 6 November 2008.

NPR's international talk show about the US election.

Posted: 06 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two days after President-elect Barack Obama’s victory, NPR News will assess the outcomes and implications of the historic election with 'Talk of the World,' an international call-in special giving listeners around the world a chance to discuss the election, and the global impact of the results. The program, hosted by NPR’s Neal Conan, will air on Thursday, November 6 from 2:00PM to 4:00PM (ET) [1900-2100 UTC] on NPR Member stations and broadcasters worldwide, and be streamed live at www.NPR.org. ... International audiences will also be able to hear the program on NPR Worldwide and the Armed Forces Radio in Europe; Worldspace Satellite Radio in Asia and Africa; World Radio Switzerland; Swedish Radio; Polish Radio; YLE Mondo in Finland; RTE Radio 1 in Ireland; Radio NABA in Latvia; and Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation." National Public Radio press release, 5 November 2008.

Watching the international channels on election night.

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Ireland: "NBC, frightened by the memory of Florida 2000, waited until four. CBS, carried live by RTE, jumped a minute later. ... Around the world the networks followed. Al Jazeera had two shy young people giving reaction from Tehran. David Mercer declared it 'a liberation feeling' on France 24. Euro News was a haven from the punditry, carrying the speeches live without comment. On the BBC they had the incomparable Gore Vidal. 'The Republican party is not a party like your parties in England,' he said. 'It is a mind set. They love war. They love money. They want to hang on to all the connections they have.'" Herald.ie, 5 November 2008.
     France: "Things were even more fun on the various French stations, including the English-language version of France 24, the country's proud riposte to CNN. Shakily but delightfully helmed by the honey-blonde Bond girl manquée, Andrea Sanke, who was so keen to talk to so many people she could never decide who to actually converse with, the evening was a feast of technical glitches, verbal pratfalls ('This election is being watched in the wider Middle Weast'; 'India [Indiana] has usually gone Republican in the past'), and technicians blocking the camera. The studio, all gleaming glass and icy blues, looked like an avant-garde bathroom in which you couldn't tell the washbasin from the toilet." Brendan Bernhard, The New Republic, 5 November 2008.
     Egypt: "CNN benefited from what it endlessly told us is 'the best political team on television,' and the BBC tapped experts such as ABC News Nightline host Ted Koppel and former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton. [Al Jazeera English], meanwhile, depended for analysis almost solely on former CNN White House correspondent Charles Bierbauer – brought back from obscurity in academia – and, a bit bizarrely, had U.S. political blogger John Nichols on the cavernous and seemingly abandoned set in Doha (yes, Doha, as in Qatar, 8,000 miles from the story), where Kamahl Santamaria was struggling with the slow and – in contrast to CNN and the BBC – dated-looking electoral map on the video wall. (That they were not in the U.S. was never overtly acknowledged during my channel surfing.)" Lawrence Pintak, Arab Media & Society, 6 November 2008.

Report: BBG won't release USC study on Alhurra.

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The government board [Broadcasting Board of Governors] that oversees the US-funded Arabic satellite channel Alhurra has refused to make public an independent study commissioned last year to review the network’s content. People who have read the study, which was completed in July, described it as highly critical of Alhurra, a four-year-old government broadcasting effort begun by President Bush that has cost U.S. taxpayers $500 million and has been shrouded in controversy. ... Philip Seib, who oversaw the Alhurra study at USC, said in June that the findings would be made public. But USC’s Center for Public Diplomacy has not done so. Shirene Walton, the Center’s deputy director, said the Center would not comment on publication plans and would not say whether the Center has been paid for the study." Dafna Linzer, Pro Publica, 4 November 2008.

VOA Urdu gets FM affiliate in far northern Pakistan.

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of Kashmir (www.vokfm105.com) in Rawalakot, Pakistan, is airing the Voice of America's (www.VOANews.com) Urdu programs daily, the first affiliation between the U.S. international broadcaster and a private FM station [in] the Southeast [sic] Asian country. 'This is a big step forward,' said VOA Director Danforth Austin. 'It allows people in Northeast Pakistan to hear VOA's news and information and it opens the door, we hope, to further ties between VOA and private broadcasters in Pakistan.'" VOA press release, 31 October 2008.

How many deals can he do for BBC in one year?

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service has appointed Indu Shekhar Sinha to take up the role of India Business Development Manager for one year. ... As India Business Development Manager, Indu Shekhar will be responsible for developing the distribution of BBC World Service output in India across a range of platforms including FM, broadband, DTH channel distribution system, mobile phones, satellite radio and TV." BBC World Service, 4 November 2008.

Revamped BBC Persian website takes up more horizontal space (updated).

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has launched a revamped Persian Web site featuring new multimedia components. ... The new bbcpersian.com Web site is also the first BBC World Service site to move to a wider format (1024 pixels)... The BBC Persian Web site is one of the most successful BBC World Service Web sites, averaging more than 19 million page impressions every month -- very impressive given that the Web site has been blocked in Iran since January 2006." International Journalists' Network, 27 October 2008.
     Update: "'By launching the website in this new attractive format, we are tapping into a huge Persian-speaking online community, be it in Iran, Afghanistan or diaspora audiences, making our content more widely available and more appealing to younger Persian users.'" BBC World Service press release, 4 November 2008.

VOA Spanish television gets carriage on canal MGM.

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"VOA Spanish-language news and cultural affairs programming will be carried on MGM's popular movie channel beginning November 3. MGM reaches 20 million households throughout the region on satellite and cable. ... ArteKultura (Art & Culture) will air Mondays at 7:00 a.m. The segment highlights cultural and entertainment news from the United States, including interviews with leading artists and musicians and features on concerts and performances. El Mundo al Día (The World Today) will air Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:00 a.m., with separate two-minute versions Mondays through Fridays between 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. El Mundo al Día covers the latest developments from Latin America, the United States and the world, interspersed with interviews with leading U.S. and Latin American newsmakers." Voice of America press release, 31 October 2008. Presumably these are U.S. Eastern Standard Time, the same time zone as in Colombia, Ecaudor, and Peru, a half hour behind Venezuela, one hour behind Bolivia, Paraguay and Chile, two hours behind Argentina. El Mundo al Día is broadcast live by VOA Monday through Friday at 5:00 p.m., hence the Tuesday through Friday delayed schedule on canal MGM. Canal MGM is on nine cable or adsl systems, and on DirecTV Latin America.

AJE's Latin American beat.

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"For all the apprehension the mere mention of Al Jazeera generates, its English service's most radical feature may simply be that it covers Latin America at all. Mainstream U.S. media, particularly television, rarely covers the region. AJE staffers say they seek to fill that void and influence English-speakers outside the United States, where it is largely unavailable. 'Taking an interest in Latin America is our greatest innovation,' said Will Stebbins, AJE's Americas Director, based in Washington." Miami Herald, 4 November 2008.

Foreign programs on Dutch channel.

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Dutch talk TV channel Het Gesprek (The Conversation) will relaunch in January with financial backing from the Postcode Lottery. ... Programming also include a daily World News bulletin from BBC World and next days broadcasts of the [US CBS] David Letterman Show." Broadband TV News, 4 November 2008. Presumably not subtitled or dubbed into Dutch, given the ability of many people in the Netherlands to speak English.

Radio and disasters (updated).

Posted: 05 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the days after Burma was hit by cyclone Nargis in May 2008, Kyaw Kyaw was desperate. His house had survived the cyclone - just. But what if more was coming? Kyaw needed to know. He and two other families scraped together $5 - enough to purchase something they saw as vital after the disaster: a small transistor-radio. ... In this emergency, one of the post-disaster resources providing such vital information was a dedicated five-minute daily Burmese-language broadcast by the BBC World Service Trust. In future disasters, such services need to be at the heart of the response." Imogen Wall, openDemocracy, 24 October 2008.
     Update: "The mission of Shelterbox USA, a non-profit disaster relief program, is to provide shelter, warmth and comfort to victims of natural and manmade disasters throughout the world. ... The standard Shelterbox weighs up to 110 pounds. They are sealed for security and banded for transit. Box content varies according to the nature of the disaster they are deployed. When the requirement arises, wind-up radios, both short wave and FM, are substituted for a sleeping bag in every tenth box sent to a disaster site." Lexington (NE) Clipper-Herald, 4 November 2008.

Election Day leftovers.

Posted: 04 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Radio and TV Martí, Alhurra TV, and Radio Sawa correspondents around the country and throughout the world will provide live election results, along with feedback and analysis in 60 languages. ... VOA's English-language radio and TV will carry non-stop simulcast programming from the time the polls close until the end of the victory speech." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 3 November 2008. The VOA television/radio simulcast was 0300-0500 UTC only. Does "simulcast" in this release mean radio plus web? For all of BBG, at least five newsrooms were involved, in some cases overlapping and competing among themselves. If all those newsrooms worked together, U.S. international broadcasting could have been a contender.
     "Alhurra, the American-funded Arabic-language television network, will offer 23 hours of live continuous coverage of the elections with reporters in Phoenix, Chicago, Miami, Columbus, Ohio, and Raleigh, N.C. - as well as reporters from Europe and the Middle East." Washington Times, 4 November 2008.
     From Obama victory speech: "[To] all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular but are destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand." VOA News, 5 November 2008. Complete transcript. AP, 5 November 2008.
     "Calls and e-mails congratulating Barack Obama poured into the Voice of America (VOA) Wednesday." VOA press release, 5 November 2008.

VOA's unpublicized election night transmissions (updated).

Posted: 04 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
The Voice of America will have additional transmissions for election night coverage, in English and other languages. See separate page.
     These additional transmissions are not publicized at www.voanews.com or at www.usavotes2008.com? Why not? Perhaps the logic is that if one has internet access, there is no need to listen to VOA via shortwave. But many people who can access a website may have problems listening to VOA via internet audio stream because of bandwidth issues. Or they may prefer to listen to VOA radio on a radio because it is more portable than a personal computer.
     VOA coverage will begin 4 November at 2200 UTC, with the first morning transmission to Asia. The first results may be available between 2300 and 2400 UTC. At 0300 UTC (UTC 5 November), a VOA English television/radio simulcast begins. I am told that a live video stream will be available, but from which site? voanews.com or usavotes2008.com?
     Normally, there are no VOA English shortwave broadcasts between 0700 and 1200 UTC. No additional election transmissions are scheduled for after 0700, but it is possible that the outcome will not be known by then, especially if some polling places close late due to long lines.
     Update: The VOA press release now has a link to a page showing the additional frequencies for VOA election day coverage. VOA press release, still dated 29 October 2008.
     I have learned that the VOA English-language television/radio simulcast that begins at 0300 UTC is scheduled to end at 0500 UTC. VOA English radio (to Africa) will then continue until 0700 UTC.
     I am not aware of any public list of television stations that will relay the VOA English television coverage, but I understand it includes stations in (or serving) Pakistan and African countries.
     Update on 5 November: The live video stream was available at voanews.com at 0300 UTC, providing solid reception on my broadband connection.

Coverage of the election day coverage.

Posted: 04 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Web TV aggregator Livestation combines some major-name international TV news services in one place, which will make for an interesting mix of perspectives that include euronews, France 24, C-Span, Russia Today, Deutsche Welle and Al-Jazeera English." Robert Andrews, The Guardian PDA, 4 November 2008.
     "Al Jazeera, the international Arabic-English language television network, is to hold a live remote broadcast at the Arab American Community Center of Greater Youngstown on election night." The Vindicator, 3 November 2008.
     "Luqman Ahmad, senior BBC Arabic Service correspondent in Washington, told The Daily Beast that in addition to two correspondents based in D.C., his division has sent six correspondents and four producers to cover the elections." Salameh Nematt, The Daily Beast, 3 November 2008.
     "As momentum builds towards the climax of the biggest event in the 2008 world political calendar, CNN International is putting viewer comment at the centre of its U.S presidential election coverage with its 'World View' initiative. 'World View' seeks to give voice to the thousands of young people worldwide who have something to say about the impact of the U.S elections on their country and continent by encouraging students to upload a self-authored video telling CNN why the 2008 U.S Election is important to them." CNN press release, 4 November 2008.
     "On CNN International Monday, one of its I-Reports editors said that one of his most difficult tasks was finding international McCain support videos that could be shown on air to balance the Obama I-Reports video that overwhelmingly flooded the site." followthemedia.com, 4 November 2008.

Watchdogs react to Azerbaijan's plans to evict foreign radios from the FM band.

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "has sent a letter to President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev appealing to him to intervene after the National Broadcasting Council announced it planned to take three foreign radios stations off the FM band by 2009. They are the BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America. ... The organisation pointed out that the three media involved 'provide comprehensive, high quality and objective news'. and 'contribute fundamentally to the continued pluralism that is virtually non-existent elsewhere in the Azerbaijan media.' It stressed that 'their popularity - particularly that of RFE/RL - demonstrates this'." RSF, 3 November 2008.
     Committee to Protect Journalists "deeply troubled" and reports that the "BBC, which broadcasts on FM and AM frequencies, said in a statement on Friday that it had recently negotiated the construction of three radio stations in Azerbaijan that would strengthen its transmissions." CPJ, 3 November 2008.
     Ban is opposed by opposition parties. Trend News Agency, 3 November 2008. See previous post about same subject.

BBC World News is for "Americans with passports."

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to Richard Sambrook, the BBC's global news director, the broadcaster chose to maintain its own channel [BBC America] rather than selling programmes to US broadcasters because 'the bigger vision is that the BBC is the UK's best chance of a global brand'. Cost-cutting at rival news organisations has made it harder to find original international reporting on US screens, says [Rome Hartman, executive producer of BBC World News America], who describes the target audience for BBC World News as 'Americans with passports'. He adds: 'There's a certain perception in American news networks that Americans are famously incurious people. I think as a mass-market proposition that's probably true, but an awful lot more Americans are curious about the world than network executives give them credit for.'" Financial Times, 3 November 2008.
     "Calls for the BBC to be privatised (mostly from its competitors) should be ignored. Whatever its faults, it has served the nation well. ... It is wonderful music, opera, ballet, drama, and intelligent debate. The BBC World Service is admired throughout the world." Bernard Dineen, Yorkshire Post, 3 November 2008.
     "Welcome to The Strand, the BBC World Service's new daily culture-fest, with weekend compilations. It boasts the splendid Harriett Gilbert, who painfully shows up certain would-be arty Radio 4 colleagues." Martin Hoyle, Financial Times, 1 November 2008. See previous post about The Strand and The Strand web page.
     Interview with Johnny Vaughan, 42, who presents the breakfast show on Capital Radio in London. "What would your desert island media be? The Sopranos, the Sunday edition of The New York Times, and the BBC World Service – when I was a nipper I went to jail for about two and a half years, and the radio became a background friend." The Independent, 3 November 2008.

New Zealander prefers foreign podcasts employing new technology.

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"I listen to podcasts all the time. Some of them do come from radio stations, but not local ones. I listen to Digital Planet from the BBC, The Music Show from ABC National Radio in Australia, Radio Free Amsterdam and the list goes on. As well as feeling like I have a relationship with the DJ, they use new technology, they are almost advertising free. On my Ipod I see images, have links to artist information and other enhanced services to go with these programs as well as in some cases also video." Luigi Cappel (PDAMan), geekzone.co.nz, 3 November 2008.

Reports: two channels taken off Nilesat.

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Monitoring stated Oct 30 that local reports suggest that two controversial Arabic channels had been removed from Nilesat’s platform of services. However, it is uncertain whether the channels have fallen foul of the censor -- or just haven’t been paying their bills." The channels are al-Hikmah and al-Barakah. Rapid TV News, 2 November 2008.

Doha Debates vote against McCain (updated).

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A unique Middle East debating forum has conclusively warned America that a victory by John McCain in the US Presidential election would seriously undermine already damaged relations with the Middle East. In the largest voting margin yet recorded in the Doha Debates, now in their fifth year, an audience of more than 350 people voted 87%-13% against a motion suggesting that the Middle East would be better off with McCain as President. ... The Doha Debates are a unique forum for free speech in the Arab world. Chaired by Tim Sebastian, the internationally renowned award winning broadcaster, the series has been broadcast on BBC World since January 2005." The Doha Debates press release, 28 October 2008. See also BBC World News Doha Debates page.
     Update: "I credit Tim Sebastian, moderator, and his production team for the vigor and refreshing candor of the debates, especially the motions which are surgical in their ability to cut through the blather and touch the sorest of nerves in the Arab and Muslim world and in doing so demolishing stereotypes and clearing the way for nuance. ... So tune in to this month's episode and watch how 'The Doha Debates' filled in the foreign policy gaps the U.S. Presidential Election debates missed." Mona Elthaway, PostGlobal, 1 November 2008.

Ten years of RFE/RL broadcasting to Iraq and Iran.

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Despite routine [harassment] and abuse from Iranian authorities and a dangerous security situation for journalists in Iraq, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Persian and Iraqi Services have survived and thrived since they first went on the air ten years ago today. ... In Iran, RFE/RL's Persian-language Service, Radio Farda ("Tomorrow"), is the most popular international radio broadcaster, on the air and online 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, broadcasting political, cultural, and economic news as well as sports and Western and Persian music. ... In Iraq, Radio Free Iraq (RFI) is on the air 17 hours-a-day and enjoys widespread admiration for its even-handed, professional approach to the issues." RFE/RL press release, 30 October 2008.

Russian broadcaster investigated for airing RFE/RL content.

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A Russian broadcaster is under investigation for airing US-managed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in violation of its license terms, Interfax news agency reported Saturday, citing police. TV-1, a television and radio company in the Siberian city of Tomsk, broke the terms of its broadcasting license by airing RFE/RL content over a four-year period, Tomsk region investigators said in a statement quoted by Interfax. 'As a result of unlawful business activities an especially large profit was made. From January 1, 2004 to December 30, 2007, TV-1 broadcast Radio Liberty's radio programmes, not stated in the terms of its license,' the statement said." AFP, 1 November 2008. "The investigators suspect TV-1 has received over $220,000 for airing RFE/RL radio programs from January 2004 to December 2007." RFE/RL News, 1 November 2008.

BBC on VOA's home turf; CNN as parody; France 24 spins the White House.

Posted: 03 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Leading up to and on the United States Presidential Election Day, Tuesday 4 November, BBC World Service will bring live reports, special debates, interviews and other programming tailored for the African continent's diverse audiences. BBC journalists reporting in English, French, Hausa, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi and Swahili will be filing their stories for TV, radio and online from across Africa and key cities in the USA." BBC World Service press release, 30 October 2008.
     "If you're looking for bells and whistles on Election Night, the BBC is not your cuppa tea. 'I don't think the BBC will ever be, or aspire to be, the bells-and-whistles network,' says CBS exile Rome Hartman, executive producer of 'BBC World News America.' 'Fundamentally, we're about great stories. Graphics help, and they're cool. I have a lot of admiration for David Borhman and what he's doing at CNN. But at a certain point, it's almost parody.'" Media Bistro, 1 November 2008.
     "Swiss cable television carries stations from all over Western Europe. Just like their American counterparts, many have developed special graphics and logos to signal the commencement of a segment on U.S. presidential politics. My favorite is the spinning Maison Blanche - White House - on France 24, which hurtles through space like Dorothy's house into Oz." Kathleen MacKenzie, Denver Post, 31 October 2008.

"Green diplomacy" is explaining to the world how the United States protected the environment by not signing the Kyoto Protocol.

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
Deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy Coleen P. Graffy "explains that public diplomacy has many branches, two of which are cultural diplomacy and green diplomacy. The latter is a relatively new concept. The US wants to show that despite people’s perceptions, it has and is doing a lot in favour of the environment. ... Ms Graffy says, however, that despite what people thought, the US refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because it believes that it is fundamentally flawed, and is not the correct vehicle to produce real environmental solutions." The Malta Independent, 2 October 2008.
     "Bush has remained president for eight years ..., and these years seem to have confirmed our fear in that basement lab that America is going downhill. Bad news is prevalent, both from within the country and outside: the national debt, the questionable tax cuts and now the financial crisis; wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with human costs as high as the monetary costs; disasters of foreign policy and public diplomacy. America, at some level, reminds me of China in the late 1800s, when the country proudly considered itself the Middle Kingdom at the center of the world." Yiyin Li, Los Angeles Times, 2 November 2008.
     "Mr. Bush’s presidency imploded not because of any personal corruption or venality, but largely because he wrenched the United States out of the international community. His cowboy diplomacy 'defriended' the United States. He turned a superpower into a rogue country. Instead of isolating North Korea and Iran, he isolated us — and undermined his own ability to achieve his aims." Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, 1 November 2008.
     "The United States was once a beacon of democracy, the world's education destination, a model for the rule of law and an economic miracle. Today, we are associated as much with Guantanamo and Katrina as we are with Bretton Woods and the Fulbright Program. We have discredited our own values at the same time that we have preached them to others." Carola McGiffert, Washington Times, 2 November 2008.
     "The indirect costs, both of the war in particular and of the administration's unilateralist approach to foreign policy in general, have also been immense. The torture of prisoners, authorised at the highest level, has been an ethical and a public diplomacy catastrophe. At a moment when the global environment, the global economy and global stability all demand a transition to new sources of energy, the United States has been a global retrograde, wasteful in its consumption and heedless in its policy. Strategically and morally, the Bush administration has squandered the American capacity to counter the example and the swagger of its rivals." Editorial, The New Yorker, 13 October 2008.
     In recent speech, former Saudi Ambassador to Washington Prince Turki Al-Faisal said he is "'very much opposed' to a US policy that’s formulated 'only because of public opinion in the world.' Instead, he called for a policy that addresses 'what [under secretary of State for public diplomacy James Glassman] admits is a view among 80 percent of Muslims that America is out to destroy Islam.'" Arab News, 2 November 2008.

Speculation: CNN and BBC entry to Chinese television news.

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Is Hunan TV cooking up a competitor to CCTV's evening news program? An article that's making the rounds of domestic BBSs claims, without naming any sources, that Hunan TV has applied to [China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television] to gain an exemption from CCTV's 7pm Network News Broadcast, which is carried on major local and satellite stations across the country. ... The article speaks of a liberalizing media landscape that allows for a transformation of the traditional news-gathering paradigm: 'Many news reports would come out of exclusive partnerships with national-level media organizations like CNN and the BBC and would expose various issues that exist concerning society and behavior in China, analysing China's present and future from an outsider's perspective and placing China's problems before world-class experts. Such a reform has been long-awaited in today's increasingly-tolerant media environment.'" Danwei, 2 November 2008.

If there is a really stiff breeze, these things could land in Oregon (updated again).

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"A US activist and North Korean defectors said they floated tens of thousands of leaflets into the hardline communist state yesterday in defiance of appeals from South Korea's government and companies. uzanne Scholte, president of the Defense Forum Foundation, and members of the Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK) released 10 large balloons loaded with 100,000 leaflets from a fishing boat near the border in the Yellow Sea. ... 'The wind is now blowing to the north and I believe the leaflets will reach North Koreans.'" Macau Daily Times, 11 October 2008.
     "Communist North Korea accused South Korea Tuesday of waging 'psychological warfare' and said the launch of propaganda leaflets across their heavily fortified border could spark a military clash. The documents criticise North leader Kim Jong-Il, describing him as a murderous dictator and calling for an end to his rule. The official government newspaper Minju Joson said the Seoul government is condoning the spreading by South Korean activists of the leaflets despite Pyongyang's repeated protests." AFP, 21 Otcober 2008.
     Update: "Speaking of the efficacy of leaflet operations, [North Korea's] reaction thus far is a good measurement of feedback. The leaflet designers are people who lived in the North and are well aware of the psychological vulnerabilities of their target audience -- food and energy shortages are probably the most real source of the targets' dissatisfaction. The North Korean defectors also know the language of the target audience -- terms and spellings that are different from those that are used in the South." Tong Kim, The Korea Times, 2 November 2008.

Barbados commentator no longer enthused by shortwave.

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"No one is spending money on amplitude modulation (AM) radio. Even shortwave, a medium I once vigorously recommended but would be foolish to support now, is being fazed out. So Radio Barbados helped Grenada when Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004. Does that justify keeping a station on the air when the AM band has become a veritable wasteland? Turn on your radio and tell me if you can hear more than two AM stations, including Radio Barbados." Carl Moore, The Nation Newspaper (Bridgetown), 2 November 2008. Given the tendency of shortwave signals to travel better over long rather than short distances, shortwave would never have been a good choice for transmitting within Barbados. Mr. Moore's had recommended shortwave for broadcasts to Europe and North America, as reported by North American Shortwave Association Journal, April 1998.

In WWII, shortwave was part of a multimedia news operation.

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"[Sixty-six] years ago, in World War II, in the tropical jungle of Papua-New Guinea, where Allied troops were fighting Japanese invaders, a unique newspaper called Guinea Gold published a record number of world scoops. ... 'Soldiers with newspaper experience, who had been transferred from other units when Guinea Gold was established, wrote news stories by taking shorthand notes of shortwave radio bulletins from Australia, the US Armed Forces station in San Francisco, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), All-India Radio, and others. At Lae, the second-hand Miller high-speed flatbed press ran 20 hours a day, printing 34 million copies in little more than two years. When it was retired after the war, it had 50 welds. It's now an exhibit at the National War Museum in Canberra.'" Ohmy News, 1 November 2008.

VOA Delano shortwave facility is off the air but still in the news.

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mike Dorrough, a familiar name in radio technology, is taking part in efforts to save the retired VOA facility in Delano, Calif. Dorrough said he's trying to enlist the help of Delano city officials to restrain demolition of the facility; he says Mayor Sam Ramirez had not been aware that the facility might be removed. ... [Dorrough] calls the Delano facility 'part of America's broadcast history and the greatest radio/antenna landmark in California, if not the world.' The facility is as famous as Eiffel, Empire or Alpine 'but far more important in terms of its surpassing capabilities. It is also the last shortwave broadcast facility of its kind,' he wrote." Radio World Newsbytes, 24 October 2008.
     BBG spokesperson Letitia King: "Far from being the only VOA transmitting station, Delano is part of a network of over 70 transmitting sites and nearly 20 facilities worldwide run by the Broadcasting Board of Governors... The Delano facility has been a valued asset in our efforts to promote the values of democracy for 63 years but shortwave broadcasting is no longer the most effective way to reach our audiences in all parts of the world." Radio World Newsbytes, 31 October 2008.
     See also video by radionational1, YouTube, 31 October 2008. Thanks to Mike Barraclough for the YouTube tip.
     See also comments about Delano in my column in the December 2007 Journal of the North American Shortwave Association.

The US election in US public diplomacy and US international broadcasting.

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Although none of them are eligible to cast a vote in the upcoming presidential election, each member of the foreign journalist contingent that stopped in Hannibal Friday morning is keenly interested in the election’s outcome. Their visit to the Hannibal Courier-Post and meeting with HCP Editor Mary Lou Montgomery was one stop during a 10-day tour the group of journalists from around the globe is taking in the days leading up to the election. The trip is being sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Centers. Babs Chase of the state department explained the objective of the expedition. 'This tour is one of many that we’ve done throughout the election year to highlight democracy to countries all over the world,' she said. 'It’s a public diplomacy effort that the state department has been doing to show them all the exciting things going on with the election from going to rallies, talking to experts, talking to journalists about covering the campaigns, giving them the full picture so they can go back and share it with people in their own countries.'" Hannibal (MO) Courier-Post, 31 October 2008.
     "The world has never watched any vote, in any nation, so closely. In country after country, polls show record-high fascination with the outcome of the U.S. elections this Tuesday. In Japan, according to one poll, there's more interest in the election than there is in the United States. The Voice of America, which broadcasts in 45 languages to a worldwide audience of 134 million, is seeing 'unprecedented interest.' In Pakistan there was so much interest in the first presidential debate, the VOA changed its initial plans and broadcast the next two as well." Newsweek, 1 November 2008.

Al Jazeera English reports on the US election.

Posted: 02 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Arab-Americans are expected to vote in large numbers next week in what is arguably the most important US election for decades. But many of them feel they are being intimidated and dissuaded from casting their votes and the US presidential candidates have failed to engage them, representatives of major community organisations say." Al Jazeera English, 1 November 2008.
     "About 150 million homes in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia will discover Phoebus [Virginia] this weekend. The same will happen on Election Day when Al Jazeera English broadcasts from three locations on East Mellen Street beginning at 5 p.m. and going until the wee hours of the morning. ... The visit by Al Jazeera has stirred up conversations and trepidation throughout the city. ... Q: Is [Al Jazeera English] a terrorist organization? Is it affiliated with a terrorist organization? And does Al Jazeera behead people? A: No, no and no." Daily Press (Newport News VA), 1 November 2008.
     "Days before Election Day, Charles Bierbauer, former CNN senior White House correspondent, spoke Thursday to a tuned-in audience at the University South Carolina Beaufort's Bluffton campus about the presidential election and the role of the media. ... On Tuesday, he'll trade the ivory tower of academia for the news desk for a night. Bierbauer will offer analysis for Al Jazeera's English-language broadcast. 'Why, you might ask?' he said. 'If there's anywhere we're misunderstood ... it's on the Arab street. I'm not a propagandist. I'm a storyteller, and (on election night) I'll try to tell this fascinating story.'" IslandPaket.com, 31 October 2008.
     "Viewers of the election via Livestation will be able to see events as they unfold on their desktops and also be able to engage in real time chat with other viewers and even professional journalists and production staff from the networks. The news analysis and discussion events are planned to last at least 12 hours on each of the multiple news channels. The English version of the Arab news channel Al Jazeera will be offering viewers the opportunity to engage in live chat with their producers as the events happen." IPTV Watch, 31 October 2008.

The DW Chinese controversy continues.

Posted: 01 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"The affair about the Chinese service of Deutsche Welle has reached the next level: It turned into a row with Deutschlandfunk since a report of this Deutschlandradio station said about the style of DW Chinese that 'one has not to be a dissident to find it very reminiscent to Communist propaganda', adding that it would appear that DW German and DW Chinese are competitors, fighting each other. Deutsche Welle director Erik Bettermann complained in a letter to Deutschlandradio director Ernst Elitz that this Deutschlandfunk piece violated journalistic principles, did not consider many facts, suppressed informations, was biased and used unreliable sources. Deutschlandradio's program director Günter Müchler rejected these complaints and described it as regrettable that Deutsche Welle did not accept repeated invitations to explain their views for the report in question. Deutsche Welle says that they do not comment on this matter as long as internal investigations under way. However, Erik Bettermann already gave an interview for Evangelischer Pressedienst in which he said that so far no evidence for the accusations has been found." Kai Ludwig in Germany, summarizing and translating from Spiegel, 31 October 2008. Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandradio are German national noncommercial services that evolved from the old Deutschlandfunk, Germany's European international radio service before reunification. See previous post about same subject.

Worldfocus is no longer calling its partners "partner."

Posted: 01 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
In feedback to new public television newscast Worldfocus, a "major aggravator … our continuous use of the word 'partners.' This really does apparently get a lot of people’s goats. ... BCH put it ... poetically: 'I know “Our partner Deutsche Welle” better than I do the pledge of allegiance.' BCH and Richard, take heart — as of this week, the word 'partner' is gone from our lexicon!" Martin Savidge, Worldfocus website, 31 October 2008.

DW-TV expands its Arabic output again.

Posted: 01 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle is increasing the Arabic programming on DW-TV once again. Starting November 3, 2008, Germany’s international broadcaster will offer 12 hours of programming in Arabic – instead of the eight hours that were offered up until now. ... The 12-hour programming schedule for DW-TV ARABIA will be characterized by the latest news from politics, business, culture, society and sport. The schedule will be complemented by documentaries and features dubbed in Arabic and magazines with Arabic subtitles. DW-TV ARABIA is broadcast via Nilesat 102 and Hotbird 8. Its balanced mix of English and Arabic reaches more than 10 million viewers in more than 20 countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. ... Corresponding with the programming expansion in November, [DW Director General Erik] Bettermann announced a joint project with a partner in the Arabic world. 'We will start working with the Moroccan national broadcaster SNRT to produce Culture Salon – a show that examines the world of art and culture in Europe and Arabic countries.' This is the third co-production that has been developed by Deutsche Welle and its partners in the Arabic world in the last year." DW press release, 29 October 2008.

Foreign broadcasters disinvited from Azerbaijan's FM band.

Posted: 01 Nov 2008   Print   Send a link
"Foreign radio stations will not be broadcasted in Azerbaijan late in 2008, Nushiravan Maharramli, Chairman of National Television and Radio Council told APA. ... 'We raised the issue some years ago and demanded that broadcasting of foreign radio stations should be stopped in Azerbaijan and the issue should be solved in accordance with the current world practice. We realized the issue by stages because of poor development of cable network at that time. First of all we stopped transmission of Russian and Turkish TV Channels and French Radio Channel and then Voice of America and Azadlig Channels. We have signed one–year contract with BBC and Turkish TRT Channel', he said. Maharramli stated that above-said Channels were reminded a year ago that national frequency resources belonged to national bodies. 'We are in the last stage and should solve the issue once and for all. Foreign radio stations will remain without transmission frequency late in 2008,' he said. The Chairman added that radio stations function in Azerbaijan could be broadcasted via sputnik [satellite], internet and cable network like in European countries." Azeri Press Agency, 31 October 2008.
     "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) strongly objects to the proposal made by the government of Azerbaijan to discontinue local radio broadcasts of international media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA). 'Millions of people in the region rely on our high-quality news, information and analysis and we urge the government of Azerbaijan to reconsider this plan,' says BBG Board Member Steven J. Simmons. Simmons added that this follows a 'disturbing pattern' that began with harsh restrictions on private broadcasters within the country two years ago, and now directly impacts international media." BBG press release, 31 October 2008.
     “'Unfortunately, some organizations politicize the decision of the Council to stop broadcast of foreign radio stations. The decision was legally based,' Nushiravan Maharramli, the Chairman of the Azerbaijan National Television and Radio Council, told Trend News on 1 November." Trend News Agency, 1 November 2008.
     "The Azerbaijani government has repeatedly come under fire from international rights groups and Western governments for limiting media freedoms, including by jailing local journalists. Critics say foreign-funded news broadcasts are among the only sources of independent information in the oil-rich ex-Soviet republic." AFP, 1 November 2008.
     As shortwave listenership declined and FM grew in popularity, the decision makers of U.S. international broadcasting have been cutting back on shortwave transmissions and transmitter sites in favor of "placement" on FM stations inside the target country.
     The problem is that many countries (e.g. China, Burma, Vietnam, Zimbabwe) have never allowed such FM placement. Others have disinvited it, either for political reasons or because the FM band has become too commercially viable to be occupied by foreign broadcasts.
     International broadcasters must therefore find ways to get content into the countries that do not welcome news and information from foreign sources.
     Perhaps the best way is satellite television, supplemented in some cases by cable television systems that carry these international channels. This has worked well for CNN International, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera. There is, however, no successful satellite channel under BBG auspices. It's an expensive undertaking. And it would never be possible to maintain a satellite channel in all of the languages traditionally transmitted on shortwave.
     The internet is another method, suggested by Mr. Maharramli himself. In many countries, internet penetration is still low, but it is growing almost everywhere. The problem is that websites can be blocked. There are methods to work around net censorship, but they are outgunned by much lucrative software industries dedicated to helping organizations and countries block unwanted internet content. The internet is also vulnerable because it almost always involved landlines inside the target country.
     Finally, there is shortwave, the original medium used to get content into hostile media environments. Of all the media available to international broadcasting, only shortwave is granted by physics immunity from interdiction. Because ionospheric skywave propagation, distant transmissions are often heard better than closer (e.g. jamming) signals. The problem with shortwave is that there are fewer shortwave radios available in the shops, fewer people owning radios with shortwave bands, fewer listening to shortwave even if they do own such a radio, and fewer shortwave broadcasts worth listening to.
     International broadcasters with access to terrestrial FM or television in the target country might be able to achieve large, mass audiences. In most cases, however, non-mainstream media such as satellite, the internet, and shortwave must be used. In this case, a small-audience strategy must be employed, in which the audience is distinguished more by its quality and influence than by its quantity.

First arrest in murder of RFA GC.

Posted: 31 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Authorities arrested a man this week on obstruction of justice charges in the two-year-old investigation into the slaying of a prominent lawyer found stabbed in a townhouse near Dupont Circle. Dylan Ward, a resident of the home where Robert Wone was killed, was arrested Wednesday in Dade County, Fla., where he now lives, authorities said yesterday. The arrest is the first in the case since Wone, 32, was stabbed three times in the chest as he stayed overnight in the home Aug. 2, 2006. Wone was general counsel for Radio Free Asia." Washington Post, 31 October 2008. See also WTTG-TV, 30 October 2008 and Legal Times, 3 November 2008 issue. See previous post about same subject.

US international broadcasters cover US election night.

Posted: 31 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"Viewers from around the world also will ... have the opportunity to follow the U.S. presidential election as CNN International simulcasts many hours of CNN's non-stop coverage. The network has teams in place in more than 32 countries with correspondents in Obama's ancestral home town in Kenya as well as in Iraq, Israel and key capitals of Europe, Asia and Latin America. CNN Espanol also will provide rolling coverage of America Votes 2008. In addition, CNN-branded global networks and digital services such as CNN IBN in India, CNN Turk in Turkey, CNN+ in Spain and CNNArabic.com, CNN's Arabic language Web site will provide on-going coverage of 'Election Night in America.'" Media Bistro, 30 October 2008.
     "Live reports from Kenya, home of Barack Obama's late father, and Vietnam, where John McCain was imprisoned for seven years, highlight the Voice of America's (VOA) special election programs around the globe November 4. VOA’s coverage of the historic election will be available in English and 44 other languages that reach an estimated worldwide audience of 134 million. ... VOA's English-language radio and TV will air extensive election coverage, culminating in non-stop simulcast programming beginning at 10:00 p.m. EST (0300 UTC) and running until five minutes past the winning candidate's victory speech. ... Frequency and satellite broadcast information can be found on www.VOANews.com." VOA press release, 30 October 2008. If additional frequencies have been added for VOA election night coverage, I can't find them at voanews.com. The About VOA page has a banner for "VOA at the Conventions," which were over by early September.

Canadian psyop versus the Taliban.

Posted: 31 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"It's a familiar routine for local Afghan journalists: within seconds of a roadside blast or bomb attack, they get a boasting text message or phone call from the local Taliban information officer. 'They call right in to the radio presenter on the air,' says Khan Mohammed Khadim, manager of Kandahar's Killid group of stations. 'Much faster than the ISAF (western) information.' This is the front line in a different kind of fight in the struggle for Afghanistan. In their battle to win the hearts and minds of the local population, both the Taliban propaganda machine and Canadian information and 'psyops' teams are ramping up their efforts. ... Canadian money, too, buys ads on all local media. 'Some of the small radio stations are only surviving because of our advertising,' says Davis. Canada even runs a Pashtu-language radio station. RANA-FM broadcasts local music, talk and phone-in shows 24 hours a day." Brantford (Ontario) Expositor, 31 October 2008.

Online news and international broadcasting.

Posted: 31 Oct 2008   Print   Send a link
"In TV news, the power of the BBC brand means the BBC World News website can continue to offer free content, supported by ad revenue from over 300 different clients. 'As a broadcaster steeped in public service history, making information available as widely as possible is part of the BBC Global News divisions’ core objectives,' says Colin Lawrence, vice-president of advertising sales. ... CNN.com also takes the free content model but adds a twist - some value-added services cost the end user, in this case a rich-media mobile news service. Nick Wrenn, vice-president of CNN International Digital Services, says striking licencing deals with telcos for exclusive content rights has boosted revenues and brought profit to the network’s digital properties. For advertisers, that means double and triple plays. ... Unique content, video, mobile and blogs are the cornerstones of CNN International’s drive to increase revenues this year." Digital Media, 31 October 2008.