"Those Weird Commercials from Russia Today."

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"A year into the phenomenon of Taxi TV — the channels that now play in the back of New York City cabs — and one of the major advertisers deserves more scrutiny. The advertiser is Russia Today, a pro-Kremlin site and YouTube channel that is part of a 24-hour English-language news channel in Russia. ... The newest enigmatic Russia TV ad, which is in heavy rotation in many NYC cabs, is graphically fascinating—and completely disconcerting. I can’t get that mistaken-pill thing—the trucker with the blister pack—out of my head." Virginia Heffernen, New York Times The Medium, 30 December 2008, with YouTube video of the ad.

More critiques of Gaza television coverage.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Millions of Arabs across the Middle East and north Africa are watching vivid and often shocking coverage of the Israeli military onslaught on Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Arabic satellite TV channels, with al-Jazeera again leading the field. Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, has four correspondents in Gaza and its bulletins are broadcasting graphic images that would never find their way on to western TV screens. ... Precise audience figures are hard to come by, but al-Jazeera claims it has a regular audience of 50 million, rising during a crisis of this magnitude. Anecdotal evidence suggests that from Yemen to Morocco it is easily beating its nearest satellite rivals, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya and the BBC Arabic TV, launched this year." The Guardian, 31 December 2008.
     "There are several free options if you would like to get more balanced coverage in your elusive search for the truth. One option is to go to www.livestation.com and download the application. After downloading, you will be able to watch English language Al-Jazeera, or listen to BBC and other stations to get a more balanced view of the realties in Gaza and the Israeli massacre. Additionally, you can check PressTV, which is based in Tehran at www.PressTV.com and watch it live. You also can go to www.LinkTV.com which provides feeds from many news channels across the Middle East." Ashahed M. Muhammad, Mathaba.net, 30 December 2008.
     "Although my network, Al Jazeera English, has been the only TV outlet broadcasting internationally from the strip since the blockade began, the Arab world has been awash with images of the suffering people are enduring there. Israel's disproportionate use of force against the 1.5 million Gazans, half of whom are children, is widely portrayed as a war crime that undermines America and its friends in the region." Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst, Al Jazeera English, International Herald Tribune, 30 December 2008.
     "A producer with Fox News e-mailed me, asking for an interview on what the situation was like in Gaza. Like many people, he didn't realize that I'm not actually in Gaza and that Israel has prevented journalists from entering since the conflict began. The poor guy was clearly desperate for some sort of on-the-ground perspective, and I saw my opportunity. I told him by phone. 'You know, I can get you in touch with a really good reporter and fluent English speaker who's been reporting from the Gaza Strip for months.' He got excited. I waited for a few seconds to build anticipation. 'His name is Ayman Mohyeldin and he's with Al Jazeera English.' I could actually feel him deflate through my cellphone. 'Oh ... well, I don't think I can pull that off.'" Ashraf Khalil, Los Angeles Times Babylon & Beyond blog, 30 December 2008. And, yes, I looked for negative opinions about Al Jazeera's coverage. They will show up eventually. See previous post about same subject.

CNN's Oakley departs.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
CNN European political editor Robin Oakley on leaving CNN: "After my eight years (nearly) as European Political Editor Tony and I have agreed that on December 31 I should end my full-time role at CNN, a fast-evolving organization with fresh needs and priorities." Media Bistro, 30 December 2008.

And Press TV is probably treating her very well.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Former Sunday Express journalist Yvonne Ridley has been awarded more than £20,000 in compensation and £5,000 costs after winning a case for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination against the Islam Channel. ... Earlier this year Ridley won nearly £14,000 in damages after winning a four-year unfair dismissal case against Arabic TV station al-Jazeera. ... She ... now works for the Iranian-based 24-hour English language news channel PressTV, where she fronts her own London-based current affairs show, The Agenda." The Guardian, 31 December 2008.

The politics of Radio Australia's Indonesia coverage, 30 years ago.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
In 1978: "The Australian government considered moving ABC journalists out of Indonesia to avoid offending the Indonesian government with reports about East Timor and the corruption of the Suharto regime. In a submission to cabinet released by the National Archives of Australia, foreign affairs minister Andrew Peacock said he had regular complaints from the Indonesian government about ABC reports. Mr Peacock was critical of journalists, including the late Richard Carleton, for their role in what he saw as fanning the flames of anti-Indonesian sentiment, particular in relation to East Timor. He went as far as to ask that the government use its proximity to the ABC to influence the type of journalists and managers in charge of broadcasts to Indonesia. 'Radio Australia, because of the ABC's statutory relationship with the Australian Government and because it has a large Indonesian audience, is particularly closely monitored by Indonesian officials for the possible dissemination of "unhelpful" views and opinions about Indonesia,' the submission stated." The Age (Melbourne), 1 January 2009. See also Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January 2009.

Another UK fan of World Service.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Obviously, I have to flirt around a bit but there are stations I really ought to go steady with. BBC World Service for one. Digital radio makes it available round the clock, without fiddling to find Short Wave or waiting for it to take over from Radio 4 in the small hours. Quantities of unexpected delight were to be found in Too Many Santas (World Service) on Boxing Day. This gem of a feature, midwinter tales from the far north, was presented by Heidi Mikalsen and produced by Matt Thompson." Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 29 December 2008. And many North Americans use the internet to listen to BBC Radio 4, because it's like BBC World Service used to be.

In Germany, a New Year's Eve international broadcasting tradition.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Millions of Germans will settle down in front of their TV sets on New Year's Eve for what has become an annual ritual -- the airing of an ancient British comedy sketch starring a long-dead, music-hall comedian. This year is the 45th anniversary of the broadcast, which has become as much a part of New Year's Eve for Germans as singing 'Auld Lang Syne' is in English-speaking countries. The 15-minute sketch, acted by Freddie Frinton and May Warden, this year will be televised by every major regional public TV channel in Germany and by a scattering of commercial networks as well. The black-and-white British slapstick sketch, totally unknown in the English-speaking world, has become the highest-rated TV show in German history, and has spawned fan clubs and a cult following of viewers who stage parties to recreate the sketch at home." DPA via Deutsche Welle, 31 December 2008. See the video on YouTube.

Chinese president addresses world via CRI.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The New Year's bell is about to ring, and 2009 is soon to begin. At this beautiful moment of bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new, via China Radio International, China National Radio and China Central Television, I'm delighted to extend New Year wishes to Chinese of all ethnic groups, to compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, to overseas Chinese and to friends all over the world!" President Hu Jintao via China Radio International, 31 December 2008.

Via the internet: authentically degraded shortwave signals.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"If you've ever wanted to try out a shortwave radio and listen to commercial stations from all over the planet, you can do so over the Internet. Just go to http://www.tinyurl.com/BITS-026 where you can actually operate a shortwave radio located in New York from your home here in Beautiful Marion County ... and yes, you CAN hear whatever the radio picks up ... that's kind of neat!" Emery Schley, Ocala Star-Banner, 30 December 2008. Actually, shortwave has mostly noncommercial stations. For commercial stations, direct internet audio streams are a better bet.

Listening to the world see in the new year.

Posted: 31 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Is it the last day of 2008 already? In past years, I devoted great energy to listening to the coming of the new year on radio stations throughout the world, formerly on shortwave only, more recently adding internet radio.
     Today, I slept right through Radio New Zealand at 1100 UTC. Using www.reciva.com or other useful portal, here is what I will try later today: 2030-2105 UTC: a Russian station. 2130-2205: a Ukrainian, Finnish, or South African station. 2230-2305: Radio Nacional de España (RNE1). 2305-2358: BBC Radio Scotland. 2359-0000: I'll listen to the 61-second minute, because of this year's leap second, on the National Institute of Standards and Technology's WWV. (For more about that, see Contra Costa Times, 31 December 2008.)
     As usual, I probably won't stay awake for the 0500 UTC new year in Washington, but the 0330 UTC new year on a Newfoundland station is a possibility.
     Thanks to all of you for reading this website, and for writing in. All the best for 2009.
     PS: And please bear with me as I type "2008" when I should type "2009" for the next two weeks or so.

Shortwave anyone? Azerbaijan affirms ban of foreign stations on its FM dial.

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Azerbaijan's National Television and Radio Council has ruled that it will ban international radio stations from broadcasting on national frequencies. The ban, which is due to come into effect on January 1, will terminate radio broadcasts by the BBC, Voice of America, and RFE/RL's Azeri-language service, Radio Azadliq. The council first announced the proposal in late October, but this ruling finalizes the decision. The council has argued that national FM and medium-wave radio frequencies are the property of the government, and as such cannot be used by international broadcasters. ... Although the banned broadcasters will still have access to satellite, cable, and Internet platforms in Azerbaijan, the ban on radio transmissions is expected to eliminate the vast majority of the stations' current audience." RFE/RL News, 30 December 2008.
     "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President Jeffrey Gedmin called today's decision by the government of Azerbaijan to take foreign broadcasters off the air 'a sad day for the Azeri people, who will now find themselves without access to free and independent media.'" RFE/RL press release, 30 December 2008.
     "'The decision also refers to Europa Plus [Russian commercial] radio station. We have given a chance to them to bring their activity in compliance with Azerbaijani radio stations within two years. Yet, in fact they function as a foreign radio and transmit in a foreign language most of the time. In this connection we will appeal to the court to annul license of this radio station', announced chairman of the National Council." Today.az, 30 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Cuba opening its airwaves is about as likely as the United States giving up a broadcasting bureaucracy.

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"It's time for Cuba and the United States to replace pugilism with diplomacy — time for both to make some meaningful concessions to bring this fight to an end. And just what concessions do I have in mind? Well, to begin with, the incoming Obama administration should shut down TV and Radio Marti, the U.S. federally funded Spanish-language stations that attempt to penetrate Cuba's airwaves with "news" shows largely controlled by Cuban exiles in South Florida. In return, Cuba should open its broadcast airwaves to legitimate news programs that come from beyond its borders so that its people — like those in many other countries — can get a broader perspective of the world." DeWayne Wickham, USA Today, 30 December 2008.

Did Reagan telegraph plays to RFE?

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Exponents like Ronald Reagan (once a top baseball commentator) would lie through their teeth about plays they were getting third-hand over the news wires. Later, when president, Reagan used this falsifying of what actually happened at baseball games as a template for how he wanted Radio Free Europe and other US propaganda organs to work." Steven Wells, The Guardian's The Sport Blog, 30 December 2008. There were concerns about the journalistic independence of U.S. international broadcasting during the Reagan administration (and during other administrations), but I've never heard of his applying his baseball play-by-play technique to RFE, etc. I think he had bigger fish to fry. For some details of Reagan's baseball announcing career, see Corey Deitz, About.com.

We are paying a dear price for eliminating a bureaucracy.

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration and Congress abolished the United States Information Agency, the key agency through which the nation fought its war of ideas with the Soviet Union. In the heady thinking of that decade, the spread of free markets and rising living standards across the globe were supposed to reduce the threats to our well-being from abroad. But while that 'Washington Census' held sway in the West, a rabidly anti-modern, anti-American ideology spread along the rocky terrain of Afghanistan and in mosques and madrassas across the Muslim world, planting the seeds of death and destruction. Thus came the bombings of the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, of the World Trade Center in 1993, of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and of the USS Cole in 2000, all of which culminated in the flames of 9/11." Lawrence J. Haas, North Star Writers Group, 30 December 2008. All that because USIA was eliminated? And USIA did not disappear until 1999. The writer airbrushes out the fact that the late Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) was the prime mover in the folding of USIA into the State Department.

Iranian blogger on hunger strike, in prison.

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Shahnaz Gholami, an online Iranian journalist and rights activist, has begun a hunger strike in Tabriz city prison. The editor of the 'Azerzan' blog, Gholami was accused of publishing propaganda against the Islamic republic and jeopardizing national security. She was sentenced to six months in prison last month. ... The blogger’s arrest in November came a few days before a pro-government publication, 'Sobh-e Sadegh,' called the Internet a Western tool of subversion. In its article, 'Sobh-e Sadegh' accused the U.S. government of attacking 'the opinions of young Iranians and the world population for its own interests.' Among other 'tools of subversion,' the Iranian publication listed RFE/RL, Voice of America, and CNN, as well as Google and Yahoo! search engines." RFE/RL Watchdog, 29 December 2008.

Why is Al Jazeera Arabic not available in the USA via Livestation?

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Middle East-based news station, Al Jazeera Arabic, is now available live over broadband on the Livestation network. ... Al Jazeera Arabic is available on Livestation in every country except the US, where it is blocked." IPTV Watch, 29 December 2008. Blocked? Or just unavailable due to rights issues? The Livestation press release of 11 December 2008 does say that "Al Jazeera Arabic ... can be received anywhere in the world except the USA by anyone with a broadband connection." I can receive Al Jazeera Arabic via livenewscameras.com and the English version directly from aljazeera.net.

Israeli psyop calling Gaza telephones?

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Recorded-voice "phone calls have become common across the Gaza Strip, in what many see as a new stage in the psychological campaign to destabilise the Hamas-controlled territory. The messages vary, spreading fear and confusion, according to Sari Bashi, of the Israeli human rights organisation Gisha. Some tell people that they must leave their homes immediately to avoid being harmed, others are similar to the warning received by Mohammed. Some are direct threats: 'Leave your house; it will be bombed soon.'" The Times via The Australian, 30 December 2008.

Critiques of television coverage of the Gaza fighting (updated).

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee on Sunday criticized international media outlets who were not giving sufficient voice to Israel's take on the fighting in Gaza. 'Some of the foreign media are not getting the Israeli side into their reporting,' Whbee told The Jerusalem Post. This means the international media have often failed to report on the pervasive Kassam attacks that preceded the [current] violence, he said. ... Despite repeated requests, the Post could not obtain a response from international media bureaus in Israel, including the BBC and Al-Jazeera." Jerusalem Post, 28 December 2008.
     "If you were up all Saturday night watching the Gaza horror show on different TV channels, you would have noticed the glaring discrepancies in coverage. Predictably, BBC, CNN and, of course, "fair and balanced" Fox News, did not broadcast the images edged in the minds of all those who saw Al Jazeera - Arabic and English - on Saturday. If you missed the regional stations, then you would have missed the scale - and cruelty - of the Israeli attack, and its most telling images." Omar Shariff, Gulf News (Dubai), 28 December 2008.
     "Tim Marshall, of Sky News, is walking proof that 'a little knowledge is dangerous'. ... Turn to Sky 514 or 515, Al Jazeera English or Press TV and you'll see what's really happening. Once you have done, you'll find it hard to watch Marshall again." George Galloway, Daily Record (Glasgow), 29 December 2008.
     "CNN International's coverage of yesterday's fighting in Gaza concluded at midnight with a rush of images: mangled civilians writhing in the rubble, primitive hospitals overflowing with the wounded, fireballs mushrooming between apartment complexes, the funeral of a Palestinian child. Missing from the montage, however, was even a fleeting glimpse of the tens of thousands of Israelis who spent last night and much of last week in bomb shelters; of the house in Netivot, where a man was killed by a Grad missile; or indeed any of the hundreds of rockets, mortar shells, and other projectiles fired by Hamas since the breakdown of the so-called ceasefire. This was CNN at its unprincipled worst, grossly skewering its coverage of a complex event and deceiving its viewers." Michael Oren, The New Republic, 28 December 2008.
     Update: "Using figures taken from a Foreign Ministry media tracking operation run out of the television studios in Neveh Ilan, Shir-On cites an eight-hour period between 4 p.m. and midnight Sunday during which tracking of CNN, the BBC, Sky News, Fox, Al-Jazeera English and France 24 yielded 335 combined minutes of Gaza coverage. Of these, 58 minutes were given to Israeli representatives, while only 19 were given to Palestinian ones." Jerusalem Post, 30 December 2008.
     "Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni criticized Arab media bias in an interview with the pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera on Monday. 'When you show one-sided images from Gaza you're not helping peace,' she told her interviewer. Arab media outlets broadcast images that inspire rage and hostility, Livni said, adding, 'We want a better future for this region.' Arab media have repeatedly broadcast images of children supposedly wounded or killed in the Gaza operation, and many outlets have failed to mention that the vast majority of those killed were armed members of Hamas and other terrorist groups." Israel National News, 29 December 2008.
     "Say what you will about Al Jazeera, but the landmark Arab satellite news channel has absolutely led the pack in conveying the realities of the ongoing Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. In both its original Arabic and fledgling English-language versions, Jazeera has blanketed the story, bringing real-time images that it's likely most American viewers will never see." Ashraf Khalil, Los Angeles Times Babylon & Beyond blog, 29 December 2008.

Israeli public diplomacy deals with its Gaza actions (updated).

Posted: 30 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Foreign Ministry launched a public relations blitz Saturday to counter the pictures coming out of Gaza, stressing that the goal of the operation was to strike a major blow to Hamas‚ terror infrastructure and protect Israeli citizens. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and spokespeople from the Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister's Office and the IDF Spokesman's Office took to the airwaves - including the Arab satellite stations - with the message that Israel has been patient up until now, but could not tolerate the unending attacks, and that Hamas was the party responsible for the suffering that would incur." Jerusalem Post, 28 December 2008.
     "For years, Israel has been totally defeated on the 'soft power' battlefields, which are dominated by the UN, the media and powerful nongovernmental organizations funded by European governments that claim to speak in the name of human rights and international morality." Gerald M. Steinberg, Jerusalem Post, 28 December 2008.
     Update: "Olmert asked Netanyahu to join Israel's public relations efforts as he did during the Second Lebanon War. Netanyahu's spokesman said he responded affirmatively and without hesitation despite being the leader of the opposition in the middle of an election campaign. ... The Likud leader ran into trouble after he traveled to the United Kingdom as part of a public diplomacy campaign during the Second Lebanon War. A television investigation months later revealed that he had spent large sums of money in London on a posh hotel, food, laundry, theatre tickets and a hairdresser for his wife, Sara." Jerusalem Post, 29 December 2008.
     "Unlike in previous military crises, 'we have close coordination and unified messages between agencies,' says Yarden Vatikai, the director of the National Information Directorate, which is seeing its first trial by fire. Established in the wake of the Winograd Report's criticism of insufficient coordination in the media effort during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the NID's purpose is to synchronize the content and tone of Israel's message across the many organizations that carry it to the world, whether official or unofficial." Jerusalem Post, 30 December 2008.
     "In the midst of its Gaza operations, the IDF is entering yet another conflict zone: the Internet. The Israeli army announced yesterday the creation of its own YouTube channel, through which it will disseminate footage of precision bombing operations in the Gaza Strip, as well as aid distribution and other footage of interest to the international community." Jerusalem Post, 30 December 2008.
     "Reporters from every major news organization, from the BBC and CNN to The New York Times and The Washington Post to NPR and McClatchy to AP and Fox News, are being barred by Israel from going into Gaza to cover the deadliest military campaign there since Israel seized the area from Egypt in the 1967 war. The Foreign Press Association, of which McClatchy Newspapers is a part, has called the Israeli closure 'insufferable' and asked the Israeli Supreme Court to take immediate action to lift the ban." Dion Nissenbaum, Jerusalem bureau chief, McClatchy Newspapers, 29 December 2008.

VOA and RFE Cold War history, embellished a bit.

Posted: 29 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"This Dec. 16, 1953 file photo shows Jiri Wertheimer, left, and Zdenek Volf at a press conference in Regensburg, Germany. The two stole a single engine plane from the Prague Communist Youth Flying Club and flew it across the frontier, evading Czech Air Force Messerschmitts and gunfire from Soviet watch watch towers to escape from communist Czechoslovakia in December of 1953. The press conference was broadcast to Eastern Europe by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe as part of the psychological warfare aspect of the U.S. Escapee Program." AP, 27 December 2008. The picture shows VOA and RFE microphone flags of that era. Psychological warfare? Maybe, but the story would have been covered by VOA and RFE as part of their normal current affairs coverage. See also accompanying AP, 28 December 2008.

Will BBC "explore new opportunities" in Asia?

Posted: 29 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC veteran, Nic van Zwanenberg is to quit his job as director, distribution and development, Greater and Indo-China, with effect from Wednesday. Sources within the BBC said van Zwanenberg's departure was 'entirely voluntary' and 'not about reducing headcount,' in the Hong Kong office, though others point to a forthcoming reweighting to Singapore of the BBC's personnel in Asia.
... 'After 15 rewarding years in programme development, distribution and strategic relations in both London and (for the last 8 years) in Hong Kong, I am taking a short break in Europe. After the Chinese New Year in Singapore, I will be back in Hong Kong to explore new opportunities,' van Zwanenberg said in an email sent to business contacts." Variety Asia, 29 December 2008.

Now broadcasting internationally: the Chechen channel.

Posted: 28 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Sergei S. alerts us to this Russia Today report: "Chechnya TV's main channel, which was founded five years ago, is now available on global satellite networks. With nearly 200,000 Chechens living outside Russia, it thus becomes the major information outlet for the diaspora scattered around the world." In Chechen and Russian for now, plans to add English and Arabic. YouTube, 26 December 2008.

Death of Carol Gombakomba, VOA Studio 7 broadcaster (updated).

Posted: 27 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Association of Zimbabwe Journalists would like to convey its deepest sympathies to the Gombakomba family following her passing away late Thursday afternoon after a long and brave fight with cancer. ... After a decade with the ZBC, [Carol Gombakomba] left to go to Canada in 2001 and was recruited by the Voice of America to become one of the pioneers on Studio 7, a radio station that broadcasts from Washington D.C. to Zimbabwe on a daily basis. She was still with Studio 7 at the time of her death." Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 19 December 2008.
     Update: "Carole's meticulous and thoughtful reporting, her calm, authoritative on-air presence, and her determined coverage of health issues--including Zimbabwe's devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic--made her an editorial mainstay of Studio 7 and a beloved figure among listeners." Brendan Murphy, Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 26 December 2008. See also her last VOA byline, 25 November 2008.

State Department official defends her Twitter tweets (updated).

Posted: 27 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Communicating in this peppy, informal medium helped to personalize my visit and enhance my impact as a U.S. official. When I met with students at the University of Bucharest, and later with Moldovan bloggers, we were connected before I even arrived. One young Romanian student said: 'We feel like we already know you -- you are not some intimidating government official. We feel comfortable talking with you.' Isn't that what effective public diplomacy is about?" Colleen P. Graffy, deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, Washington Post, 24 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Twitter has become such a phenomenon that I looked into it. Eventually I decided I would not sign up. I operate this website that answers the question, "what is happening in international broadcasting and public diplomacy?" Twitter asks the question, "what are you doing?" From me, the answer would usually be: nothing that would be of any interest to anyone.
     Update: "It is all very well for State Department officials and other practitioners, pundits and kibitzers in the field of public diplomacy to wax enthusiastic over their efforts and achievements in that area of mass communications. The fact is, however, that no amount of communications expertise, technical enhancements, financial resources, programming innovations or related gimmicks (e.g. blogging, and Twitter with its tweets) are likely by themselves to produce measurable changes in America's global image so long as our society and political leaders are seen to behave in ways that belie the values we profess to hold dear." Thomas J. Carolan Jr., letter to The Washington Post, 27 December 2008.

U.S. psyop in the Philippines.

Posted: 27 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
About the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force directing Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines: "An important component of their work is providing 'information operations support' to the Philippine armed forces. Psychological operations specialists showed us two initiatives designed to counter the terrorists' propaganda. One is a text messaging campaign (texting is the preferred medium of communication here) that encourages recipients to participate in peace-promotion programs and report information to Philippine authorities on terrorist activities. The other is a slickly produced comic book series aimed at 18-to-24-year-old males, the prime recruits for all extremist groups, featuring a Jack Bauer-style hero battling villainous terrorists. All of the products have to be translated into multiple languages because of the multiplicity of regional tongues spoken in these polyglot islands." Max Boot & Richard Bennet, The Weeklty Standard, via The Mindanao Examiner, 27 December 2008.

Has BBC already decided who it wants as new BBCWS director? (updated again)

Posted: 27 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The decision to exclude outsiders for the director of the World Service, which is funded by the Foreign Office, will put the corporation on a collision course with the government. On Tuesday Bill Rammell, the Foreign Office minister, was challenged by the Tory MP Greg Hands, in a Commons debate about then world service, about the next director. ... The closing date for applications, January 4, has given only 11 days for candidates to apply creating the suspicion that the BBC has already decided who it wants to run the World Service which broadcasts in 32 languages to different parts of the world. Mr Hands said: 'This does sound like a jobs for the boy stitch-up.' ... When Nigel Chapman, the outgoing director, announced he was resigning from the World Service, a group of historians issued a statement urging the BBC to take care with the appointment. It said: 'We hope that the BBC will now appoint to the post of World Service director someone with a genuine respect for the intelligence of listeners, a good knowledge of international affairs and a determination to defend the World Service against attempts by any government to interfere with its independence.'" The Telegraph, 19 December 2008.
     "The BBC has been forced to back down over its decision to allow only internal candidates to apply for the £300,000 post of director of the World Service. The policy reversal was announced after a number of key figures associated with the World Service including Sir John Tusa, a former director, wrote to the Daily Telegraph to object. ... The BBC in a statement said: 'The position of Director, BBC World Service will be advertised externally in January following the degree of interest in the post. The closing date will be extended to Monday 26 January, 2009.'" The Telegraph, 23 December 2008.
     "It is clear from even the most cursory comparison of broadcasting schedules that the claims by the minister and Nigel Chapman, the outgoing director, about 'increased cultural output' are empty; all longer features about literature, history and British culture are to be axed. ... To maintain the BBC World Service’s reputation, the new managing director must be chosen through a fully open selection process. In addition, a new managing director must be authoritative in news and current affairs, capable of resisting pressure from all governments and should not believe that the World Service can be founded on the perceived importance of marketing." Letter signed by Robert Chander, John Tusa, and others to The Telegraph, 22 December 2008.
     Update: "The letter from correspondents with an interest in Russian affairs makes the erroneous assumption that the BBC World Service’s decision to stop a number of feature programmes means there will be no place for radio output about arts and culture. We have expressly told the writers of the letter that these important subjects will have a higher-profile place in daily output, especially at weekends, when audiences will be most likely to listen. They will also feature prominently on BBCRussian.com – with the potential to dwarf the reach of radio, which has declined markedly in recent years." Richard Sambrook, director, BBC Global News Division, letter to The Telegraph, 26 December 2008.

And when there are twenty trendy web platforms, journalists will collapse from exhaustion.

Posted: 27 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
At a UN panel on 4 December, Sarah Brown, senior journalist at Al Jazeera English "pointed to the fact that recent studies had indicated that the amount of time spent by the average consumer watching television was slowing as more and more people looked to the Internet for their viewing needs. She described the use of new media by Al Jazeera including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube to try to improve its audience reach and get its material to as many different people as possible. Ms. Brown stressed that she saw her role as a journalist as being able to utilise all of these networks whenever a story broke, in order to monitor and gather information, and ultimately filter that information in a coherent manner that also reflected her station’s news agenda." MaximsNews Network, 27 December 2008.

Historic Swiss medium wave transmitter closes down Sunday.

Posted: 27 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The medium wave transmitter at Beromünster in central Switzerland will go silent forever on Sunday night, 77 years and seven months after it first came into service. ... Look on the dial of any decent radio from the past. Beromünster features on the far right along with other great names, for example Lyons, Stuttgart, Vienna, Berlin, Monte Ceneri (southern Switzerland), AFN and Budapest." During World War II, "there were weekly commentaries on the situation from radio legend Jean-Rodolphe von Salis, and everyone was glued not to the box but to the radio. Beromünster was respected, not just in Switzerland, as the only independent German-language broadcaster." swissinfo, 27 December 2008. Its frequency is 531 kHz.

By now, Deutsche Welle probably wishes it never started a Chinese service.

Posted: 27 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Kai Ludwig in Germany has been following more news about the festering controversy involving Deutsche Welle and its Chinese broadcasts. According to one report, "Matthias von Hein, head of the Chinese service, was removed from this position. Some other members of the Chinese service will be disciplined." See separate page for Kai's summary translations. See previous post about same subject.

VOA modified by an unfortunate adjective.

Posted: 26 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Wednesday, the official Voice of America radio quoted Mr Gates as saying that the United States was preparing to fight 'irregular wars' across the Muslim world for years to come. The VOA report was based on a study by the US Joint Forces Command saying that the United States was prepared to confront insurgencies and small-scale threats for the next 25 year" Dawn (Karachi), 25 December 2008. Newspaper writers often use "official" to describe a media outlet that is providing an official government position, rather than objective news.

The United States is entertaining, if not influencing, Arab audiences.

Posted: 26 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"As much of the world remains askance in its views toward U.S. foreign policy, they still want their MTV. Viacom’s launch of MTV Arabia in autumn 2007 has proven successful in its target market, while taking local cultural sensitivities into account. And American programs such as the tabloid news show 'Inside Edition,' Oprah Winfrey’s top talk show and '8 Simple Rules,' a sitcom airing on ABC, are getting a fresh wave of viewers by way of the MBC family of satellite networks, beamed from Saudi Arabia across the Arabic-speaking world." Anne Szustek, findingDulcinea, 25 December 2008.

Azerbaijan's foreign radio ban postponed?

Posted: 26 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"A group of experts representing the Council of Broadcasting of Radio Stations 'Voice of America' and 'Liberty' [RFE/RL] can visit Azerbaijan next year. ... Earlier the American party discussed in Azerbaijan the matter of broadcasting of foreign radio channels with the NBCA reps and the Azerbaijani government. The American side applied with statement not to stop broadcasting of the stations on 31 December as it was announced earlier but continue it and thereby create conditions for further working out of the issue." ABC.az, 25 December 2008.
     "The U.S. Embassy to Azerbaijan, Head of the Public Relations Department Mr. Terry Davidson said the version of broadcasting 'Liberty' and 'The Voice of America' radio stations via Internet and satellite is not acceptable. 'Internet and satellite communications are not widely used by population and hence such kind of broadcasting might decrease number of listeners. We will share our opinion with the Azerbaijani Government and hope they will understand us,' Mr. Davidson said." ABC.az, 26 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

The BBC in Khmer: short films rather than radio.

Posted: 26 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service Trust released a 30-minute drama last week called The Village Nurse's Charms, which is aimed at educating Cambodians on how to better protect themselves against malaria. In the short film, Samphors - a beautiful young nurse - returns to her village and finds herself caught in a love triangle between an ice cream salesman-malaria health volunteer and a handsome young actor. In order to compete for the love of Samphors, the smitten health volunteer will need to prove himself worthy. And, surely, his knowledge of malaria prevention will come in handy." The Phnom Penh Post, 26 December 2008. And this despite the fact that BBC World Service does not have, nor has ever had, a Khmer service.

BBC via SLBC: selective inaudibility (updated again).

Posted: 26 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the past few days, the BBC World Service has been jammed by the state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC). ... On 10 December, the authorities jammed a report about protests by politicians in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu who objected to being called 'jokers' by the Sri Lankan army chief. On 27 November, reports on a speech by the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels and a press conference by representatives of the Defence Watch website were rendered inaudible by the SLBC, which is contractually obliged to retransmit the BBC’s Tamil and Sinhala programmes every day. The SLBC has, since August, been broadcasting a programme immediately after the BBC programming to give the official Sri Lankan government take on what the BBC’s journalists have just reported." Reporters sans frontières, 12 December 2008. "BBC Sinhala (Sandeshaya) and Tamil (Thamil Osai) language programmes are transmitted through SLBC under an agreement between the BBC and the SLBC." BBC News, 30 November 2008. "Although the BBC local language programmes ... are available online, this censorship affects the the vast majority of Sri Lankans who are not connected to the internet." Free Media Movement (Colombo), 30 November 2008.
     "Teleshan Networks Limited (TNL) Chairman Shan Wickremesinghe has already exposed the BBC's policy of luring unsuspecting broadcasters into signing agreements that eventually force the latter to accept double standards on terrorism. ... 'How many people are listening to the BBC Sinhala and Tamil services? It is good mostly for the whisky-gulping Colombo 7 crowd. The average citizen is not interested in it. The people and the country have gained hardly anything from BBC news programs on Sri Lanka. We should make use of other international broadcasting services like the Deutsche Welle and Voice of America to explain the facts here to the world.'" Janaka Perera, Asian Tribune, 22 December 2008.
     Update: "Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe ... simply need not care a hoot for contractual obligations if he can successfully challenge the BBC in a court of law, because that is exactly what is urgently required instead of merely condemning it. The harm Sandeshaya [BBC Sinhala] is doing to the country is far more than the money lost by failing to honour the contract." C.P.Kuruppu, Asian Tribune, 26 December 2008.

Russia Today will need to update its film library before there is any "rapprochement."

Posted: 25 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Yemen Times interviews Professor Vitaly Naumkin, director of the Center for Arab Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences. "YT: The Russia Today satellite channel broadcasts in the Arabic language, often with you as a guest; what is the main aim of this channel? Naumkin: The aim of the channel is to create rapprochement between the Russian and Arab cultures. The aim is also to make Arabs acquainted with what is going on in Russia in a transparent way. YT: The channel recently broadcast a film about Yemen. It was out-dated. Aren't there are other films? Naumkin: I had an idea to form a team of three photographers and a producer to make a film about Socotra, and about the work of the Russian mission there, but the mission arrived late due to technical reasons. We will carry out this project next year." Yemen Today, 25 December 2008.

Memo to VOA, BBC, RFI and other Russian services increasingly relying on the internet:

Posted: 24 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Moscow has been forced to recognize that the Internet now represents an increasingly serious challenger to its control of the media space and hence of the public agenda in that country. And that recognition has led the government to seek to control a [medium] that many Russian officials had thought that they could ignore. ... The FSB [Federal Security Service] has taken a new and more active role: Its officers visited the moderators of the ru_auto Internet community and asked that they not post stories about the automobile protests, visits that intimidated some but encouraged others to go public. ... More visits and denial of service attacks are likely as officials try to balance their desire to control the Russian news environment with both their image abroad and the need many Russian researchers have for access to the kind of politically innocuous information that is readily available to them now only on line." Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, 24 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Alhurra will woo Arab audiences with extreme weather, Thomas Friedman.

Posted: 24 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Connecticut-based factual distributor CableReady has secured several new international partnerships with broadcasters in the Middle East, Scandinavia, Australia, France and Spain. Pan-regional network Alhurra/Middle East Television picked up a programming package comprising extreme weather series Epic Conditions (15x30’), interstitials series NY Times Short-Form: Travel Postcards (15x5’) and hour-long docs Inside Indonesia: Struggle for the Soul of Islam and Thomas L Friedman Reporting: The Other Side of Outsourcing." C21Media, 24 December 2008.

Convicted for relaying Al Manar.

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"A New York City man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization by broadcasting Hezbollah television channel Al Manar to U.S. customers, federal prosecutors said. In a plea deal, Javed Iqbal, 45, a Pakistani who moved to the United States more than 25 years ago, admitted that between about September 2005 and August 2006 he provided satellite transmission services through his Brooklyn-based company HDTV Ltd to Al Manar, in exchange for thousands of dollars payment." Reuters, 23 December 2008.

Is making war of ideas a good idea?

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the long term, a crude propaganda campaign thinly disguised under the term 'war of ideas' may in fact discredit the U.S. far more than its 'enemies' by confirming what violent extremists claim -- that America is not truthful about what it does, what many in the world are predisposed to believe, given the Bush administration's hypocritical record in Iraq and elsewhere. As a noted scholar, known for not mincing words, informed me by e-mail, Glassman's war of ideas is simply 'dumb.' 'Because,' he explains, 'the most subversive thing we can do is be ourselves, guilelessly and unapologetically. Wars of ideas are not our style.' (He also notes, on a less idealistic level, that 'as any poker player knows, you don't win the game by announcing that you are out to win the game.' I would only add to this observation that seasoned propagandists, approve of them or not, know that the best propaganda is the least propagandistic: subtlety, not bombs or a loudly-proclaimed 'war on ideas,' is the best propaganda, especially in the long-term. Just ask the BBC.)" John Brown, CommonDreams.org, 21 December 2008. See also previous post about same subject.

Zimbabwe government commentator compares international broadcasters to Rwandan hate radio.

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Efforts to tear apart the Unity Accord have seen propaganda stations being established in western capitals, their broadcasts target mainly the south-western parts of the country. Stations such as Short Wave Radio Africa, the (United Kingdom), Voice of the People (the Netherlands) and Studio 7 (Voice of America) were not set up as public spheres, but are instruments of subversion and division. These stations which are modelled along Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines radio of Rwanda which precipitated the 1994 genocide, propagate hate speech." Caesar Zvayi, The Herald (Government of Zimbabwe), 22 December 2008.

RFE/RL executive editor compares Sarah Palin to Margaret Thatcher.

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"As it happens, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. And as a matter of fact, Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin have a great deal in common. They are far from identical; they rose in different political systems requiring different skills. As a parliamentarian, Mrs. Thatcher needed forensic and debating skills which her training in Oxford politics and as a tax lawyer gave her. Mrs. Palin is a good speaker, but she needs to hone her debating tactics if she is to match those of the Iron Lady. On the other hand, Mrs. Palin rose in state politics to jobs requiring executive ability. Her successful conduct of the negotiations with Canada, Canadian provinces and American states over the Alaska pipeline was a larger executive task than anything handled by Mrs. Thatcher until she entered the Cabinet and, arguably, until she became prime minister." John O'Sullivan, Wall Street Journal, 23 December 2008.

Iran: where SMS messages might be a crime.

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tehran's Prosecutor-General Saaid Mortazawi says a special office will open this week to review Internet- and SMS-related crimes and violations, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. Mortazawi said his office will review election campaign violations made in the sending of SMS messages. He said the office will also investigate offensive statements made in SMS messages." RFE/RL Watchdog, 21 December 2008.

BBC returns to the air in Kyrgyzstan; not so RFE/RL (updated).

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has resumed local language broadcasts in Kyrgyzstan two weeks after having its programming pulled off the air over an alleged breach of contractual obligations, the British station said Wednesday. ... Melis Eshimkanov, who heads the state broadcaster, says the BBC has failed to live up to a pledge to install four relay stations across the country. He also said the only two relay stations built so far are near the border with authoritarian Uzbekistan, where the BBC is banned from operating. Government critics accuse Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan of coordinating efforts to clamp down on independent media in the region." AP, 17 December 2008.
     "The U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty condemned as 'unacceptable' conditions set by authorities in Kyrgyzstan for the network to resume broadcasting in the post-Soviet republic. The network said in a statement that its Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, will not be allowed to broadcast unless its programming is first submitted to the government for approval, or guarantees it will not be offensive." AP, 16 December 2008.
     Reporters sans frontières "deplores the Kyrgyz government’s refusal to resume local retransmission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Kyrgyz service unless it submits programmes for prior approval." RSF, 17 December 2008.
     "When faced with an ailing and deeply corrupt economy and countrywide power cuts, the best the Kyrgyzstani government can do is crack down on one of the most reliable, independent sources of information in the country." Freedom House, 17 December 2008.
     Update: "The NTRK chief took a softer line in an interview in which he and Azattyk director Tynchtybek Chorotegin both participated. In the interview, published on the BBC Kyrgyz Service’s website on December 18, Eshimkanov made it clear that NTRK wanted to know the content of programmes in advance, but not to listen to them. He said that after a new law on TV and radio was passed in June making broadcasting companies answerable for all their content, he had asked RFE/RL to agree to a contractual change under which it would assume responsibility for any defamatory statements. He said RFE/RL refused to accept these terms. For his part, Chorotegin insisted that Azattyk sought to maintain balance in its output. 'Each of our programmes has to have a representative of the government or a minister present,' he said. 'If senior officials don’t have the time, we invite people who support the authorities’ position.'" Anara Yusupova, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 22 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Azerbaijan: Senator Lugar joins protest of planned foreign radio shutoff (updated again).

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has written to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in an effort to persuade Baku not to move forward with the removal of RFE/RL, Voice of America, and the BBC from the country's national airwaves. While commending Aliyev on a number of recent initiatives, Lugar said he was 'disappointed' to hear of the October announcement by the country's National Radio and Television Council, which said that, according to Azerbaijani law, foreign radio stations would have to stop broadcasting on local frequencies as of January 1." RFE/RL Watchdog, 9 December 2008.
     "U.S. ambassador in Azerbaijan Anne Derse said to journalists that she was sure that the issue would be solved positively. 'The broadcasting of radio stations via internet is not a way out,' Derse said." Trend News Agency, 10 December 2008.
     "It should be noted that most international organizations, including OSCE, CE and others, criticize possible halt of radio stations in Azerbaijan and have appealed to the country's leadership with a request to prevent it." Today.Az, 10 December 2008.
     "If the Azeri government succeeds in suffocating independent media, the 'new generation of export routes' [columnist Stanley] Weiss envisions will emerge in a society that lacks the rule of law and basic accountability. That's bad for business, bad for American interests and bad for the people of Azerbaijan." Jeffrey Gedmin, president of RFE/RL, letter to the International Herald Tribune, 15 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "The initiative to stop the broadcasting of foreign radio stations in the territory of Azerbaijan by the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Azerbaijan is quite legal, Ali Hasanov, the head of the Public and Political Department of the President’s Administration told. ... Hasanov supports Council’s decision and cited an example the Turkish TRT channel, which is being broadcasted in Azerbaijan through the interstate agreement. The final decision will be made at the meeting of the National Council on Dec.25." Trend News Agency, 18 December 2008.
     Update: "Recent government threats to stop issuing broadcast licenses to foreign media, including the BBC and Voice of America, is further evidence of crumbling press freedom here and may reflect the country's shift away from Washington in favor of Russia, experts say. ... The popularity of foreign broadcasters has skyrocketed in recent years, and the threats to remove them from the airwaves have sparked grass-roots opposition campaigns on the Web. One listener recently wrote to Radio Liberty, 'I was not this upset when my father died.'" Christian Science Monitor, 23 December 2008.

One effect of the old Radio Peking shortwave broadcasts.

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The annual 'Friendship Award,' initiated in 1991, is given to foreign experts who have worked in China and made great contributions to the country's development. Two scientists from Australia, among others, received this prestigious distinction this year. David Michalk, an expert on livestock husbandry, was one of them. Michalk jokes that his fascination with China started when he was only eight. 'I can remember listening to Radio Peking when I was just a young boy of 8 years old. And we used to listen on the short-wave radio. That was not always very clear, but we could always tune it in if we got up on the tanks, so we were high enough that we could actually get a good signal.' Michalk says each time he listened to the English Service of Radio Peking, the predecessor of China Radio International, he was curious about the country on the other end. His curiosity compelled him to visit and work in China 20 years later, for the first time." China Radio International, 22 December 2008.

Worldspace creditors are not holding their breath.

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"More than 200 creditors are directly affected by Worldspace’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A preliminary hearing took place on Dec 16, with the Delaware bankruptcy court setting a deadline of Feb 5 2009 for all claims to be submitted. But the major claims are already in, not least Worldspace’s lavish travel and expenses debt to American Express amounting to more than $300,000. The grand total of its debts and obligations (some of which are disputed) comes in at more than $2bn." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 21 December 2008. Best hope for a turnaround might be to turn Worldspace into a "voice from home" service for U.S. military personnel, Peace Corps volunteers, etc., and personnel of other countries who find themselves in remote locations. As I have written previously, religious broadcasters might also be interested. The limited remaining lifespan of the Worldspace satellites is a problem, however. See previous post about Worldspace.

Asian Television Awards for two CNN International programs (updated).

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"'CNN Today' and 'Talk Asia', two of CNN's flagship programs produced in the network's regional headquarters in Hong Kong, scooped prizes at the prestigious Asian Television Awards held yesterday in Singapore. Overcoming extensive competition from across the region, ‘CNN Today' was selected as Asia-Pacific's Best News Program. ... Hosted by Anjali Rao, CNN's weekly half-hour chat show ‘Talk Asia' took the Asian Television Award for ‘Best Talk Show'." Turner Asia press release, 12 December 2008. List of all 2008 Asian Television Awards at OnScreen Asia website. Update: "Discovery Networks Asia Pacific bagged the Cable & Satellite Network of the Year award for the second year." Indianatelevision.com, 22 December 2008.

English-language channels combined in Spain's new English TV+ (updated).

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
In Spain, Sogecable's satellite pay TV operator Digital+ has launched "an English learning channel, English TV+, addressed to English speakers living in Spain. The channel includes the most demanded contents of well known channels such as BBC World, Sky News, CNBC, CNN International or Fox News." Rapid TV News, 9 December 2008. "English learning," or for those who already know English?
     Update: "Sogecable's Digital+'s English TV+ is not a channel as Rapid TV News published several days ago but an offering of different English content the operator has launched to address Spain's English speaking viewers." Rapid TV News, 21 December 2008.

Now China blocks NY Times; but BBC, VOA unblocked? (updated)

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Chinese authorities have begun blocking access from mainland China to the Web site of The New York Times even while lifting some of the restrictions they had recently imposed on the Web sites of other media outlets. When computer users in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou tried to connect on Friday morning to nytimes.com, they received a message that the site was not available; some users were cut off on Thursday as early as 8 p.m. The blocking was still in effect on Saturday morning. But the Chinese-language Web sites of BBC, Voice of America and Asiaweek, all of which had been blocked earlier this week, were accessible by Friday. The Web site of Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper, was blocked earlier this week and still restricted on Friday." New York Times, 19 December 2008. The unblocking of BBC and VOA websites is not reported elsewhere. VOA cites the New York Times story, see VOA News, 20 December 2008, but did not consult VOA's own internet experts. See also AP, 20 December 2008 and Reuters, 20 December 2008.      Update: "The Chinese government unblocked the Web site of The New York Times on Monday, allowing Internet users in mainland China to view the site after access had been stopped for more than three days." New York Times, 22 December 2008. The blocking and unblocking of the NY Times website happened so quickly that we are seeing, on the same day, news organizations reporting both that the site is blocked and unblocked. See, for example, TG Daily, 23 December 2008, and CBC News, 22 December 2008. Reports that the BBC and VOA websites are blocked also linger. My sources in China indicate that the BBC, VOA, and NY times are all now unblocked. But net censorship in China varies from node to node. Readers in China: what websites are blocked and unblocked at your location? Please e-mail. See previous post about same subject.

Secretary Rice: U.S. international broadcasting elements "admired because they were contrary to propaganda."

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Interviewed by Robert McMahon, Council on Foreign Relations: "Q: So we’re on the subject of what’s being discussed quite a bit today, soft power, and that there’s going to be seemingly a new introduction of soft power in the next administration. One aspect of that that doesn't get mentioned that much is something that I know a little bit about, is U.S.-funded broadcasting, international broadcasting. But there’s a debate that’s looming, especially in Congress, over whether U.S.-funded broadcasting, TV and so forth, should be a -- something that evangelizes democracy or something that is purely journalism and then provides a forum with which these local – you know, with which countries can hear in their own language about things like democracy, but doesn't necessarily have the mission of democratization. How do you see that, the role of foreign broadcasting? Secretary Rice: Well, I think that foreign broadcasting, by its very nature, it is telling the truth and it’s showing the examples of democracy and giving people access to information where they wouldn't otherwise get it, then you are, in fact, part of the democratization process in these countries. Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, which – Radio Liberty, which I know well as a former specialist on Soviet Union, were admired because they told the truth. They were admired because they were contrary to the propaganda that people had ceased to believe. And in places like the Middle East, where we’re fighting a massive propaganda machine about what America is, what American policies are, it’s extremely important to be able to have this broadcasting. And the President has increased the money for broadcasting dramatically in his Administration." State Department transcript, 18 December 2008.

No more ankle bracelets for three indicted on charges related to murder of RFA GC.

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Score one for the defense. The government will no longer electronically track the travels of Arent Fox's Joseph Price, his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky, and their roommate Dylan Ward. And that 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew? Gone, too. D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg on Friday loosened the government's grip on Price, Zaborsky and Ward, who are charged with obstructing the D.C. police investigation of the death of Robert Wone in 2006. Police say Wone, general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was restrained, sexually assaulted, and fatally stabbed in the Swann Street Northwest, Washington, D.C., home of Price and Zaborsky." Law.com, 22 December 2008. See also Washington Post, 20 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Sawa journalist unfamiliar with gumshoe reporters?

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
On the shoe throwing incident in Baghdad: "Omar Hammadi, a reporter for Radio Sawa, said he felt Zaidi’s actions were 'courageous' but undesirable. 'Professionally, it is wrong,' he said. 'Shoes have never been a tool for journalistic work. He could have written a report on the conference – it would have been more effective.'" Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 19 December 2008.
     "To some Iraqi reporters, al-Zaidi's actions were a clear transgression of journalistic responsibility. The Iraqi Union of Journalists stressed that point Monday when it criticized al-Zaidi. 'This person was looking for fame and he found that,' said Fadhil al-Nashimi, a journalist for the U.S.-funded Al Hurra television station in Iraq. 'This behavior is damaging to the reputation of journalists and Iraqis,' he said. 'This behavior isn't befitting of journalists.'" McClatchy Newspapers, 16 December 2008.

Microbroadcasting psyop in Iraq (updated).

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Maj. Byron Sarchet, a PsyOps operations officer with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division ... wanted to broadcast a pro-coalition message during heavy fighting in the city. So he liberated the radio transmitter from a State Department embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (e-PRT), put the radio on the roof of a building, and started broadcasting. ... 'We're going to broadcast into Sadr City on it.' The programming is mostly pop music, interlaced with coalition messages and numbers for an anonymous tips line. Sarchet said the music was a counter to religious extremism of the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) militia, which had cracked down on the sale of pop music as part of a puritanical campaign." Nathan Hodge, Wired Danger Room blog, 16 December 2008.
     Update: In Sadr City, "an Army psychological operations team was on hand, cranking Iraqi pop music through a portable loudspeaker system and passing around flags with an 'Iraqi unity' slogan. Staff Sgt. Kent Crandall, a psyops specialist, even had a few beanies embroidered with the slogan." Nathan Hodge, Wired Danger Room blog, 19 December 2008.

Australia Network on Malaysian satellite platform.

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Now you can tune in to Astro for fascinating insights Down Under. If you haven’t already heard, Australia Network (AN) became the latest addition to the satellite broadcaster’s stable of channels yesterday. ... The network will join the Astro News Package that comprises regional and international news channels including CNN, BBC World, Al-Jazeera English, The Astro News Channel, CNBC Asia and Bloomberg Television, as well as other local and regional operators in the Astro Family Package that includes Astro Awani, Bernama TV and CCTV9. The array of programming offered by AN ranges from news and current affairs, documentaries, entertainment and sports to renowned children’s and English language learning shows." Includes the three-hour "ABC News Breakfast." The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 21 December 2008. Astro is a direct-to-home satellite service for Malaysia.
     "As a student in Australia, I volunteered on migrant radio, which provides a slice of home entertainment for the migrants and essential information to them irrespective of social, economic, religious and racial background. ... I would like to suggest that the Government, RTM, TV3 and/or Astro consider setting up a free-to-air radio station to help foreign workers or migrants in our country." EY, letter to The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 16 December 2008.

Shortwave and newer media get the news in and out of Burma.

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the major changes, [Norway-based journalist Htet Aung Kyaw] said, is the advent of new media which allowed people to share information faster and to a wider audience. The 2007 protests, for instance, are a prime example of this power given to the people. Through mobile phones and the Internet, particularly via blogs and through the contributions of citizen journalists, the outside world was able to witness the events in Burma. Short-wave radio also helped a lot in the pro-democracy movement's information campaign, especially via such programmes as Radio Free Asia Burmese and the Democratic Voice of Burma. 'The media coverage provided by those in exile is crucial given the current unrest ... This time, four short-wave radio stations, a satellite television channel broadcasting to Burma and the Democratic Voice of Burma TV and radio provide non-stop reports from inside Burma,' he wrote for Thailand's English-language daily 'The Nation' on Oct. 2, 2007." Mindanao Examiner, 19 December 2008.

A shortwave hypothetical.

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is a strange business, the life of a fan. Very few people get away without at least a mild hankering after one team or another. Jack Nicholson would probably have another 30 films to his credit if he wasn't such a devout LA Lakers fans. Every Saturday, Osama bin Laden is probably pointing a Roberts radio at the sky trying to tune in to the BBC World Service to hear how the Arsenal got on, a legacy from his days spent in London." Keith Duggan, Irish Times, 20 December 2008.

German swing band shortwave propaganda of WWII.

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Although the Nazis banished jazz and swing from German soil when they came to power, branding it 'degenerate music,' propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was not above using popular music to spread the word abroad about the joys of dictatorship and ethnic cleansing. From 1940 to 1945, Charlie and His Orchestra recorded nearly 100 covers of pop hits, substituting Nazi propaganda – including virulent anti-Semitism – for the real lyrics. German shortwave radio broadcasts of this music were heard in all the Allied countries. Like the members of the Reichs-orchester, the members of Charlie and His Orchestra were exempt from military service and had access to money, food and shelter even when other Germans had nothing left." John Terauds, Toronto Star, 20 December 2008. For more about this subject, I recommend Horst J.P. Bergmeier and Rainer E. Lotz, Hitler's Airwaves: The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing, Yale University Press, 1997. It covers the swing band aspect, and even includes a CD of its tunes, replete with hateful lyrics. More importantly, the book is a thorough account of German shortwave broadcasting before and during World War II.

Livestation for otherwise unavailable news channels (updated).

Posted: 21 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"So how much longer is it really going to matter that Al Jazeera English is not available on American cable systems? ... Today... I downloaded a new program called LiveStation that carries a number of poorly-distributed English-language news channels live -- let me say that in boldface: live -- on its special program. The video quality is OK (full-screen mode is kinda homebrew-looking) but you don't tune in Al Jazeera English for the video quality. ... You tune in for the reporting from corners of the world that drop off the NBC-ABC-CBS map from time to time (not sure if they were ever on Fox's map)." Aaron Barnhart, TV Barn, 18 December 2008.
     Update: "Even as [a] new arrival to the United States, I have quickly seen that this has its own limits. Most world news channels I am accustomed to are not available here so Americans are only fed a specific diet of 'news.' BBC World is not available here; just BBC America, which is not as good. Moreover, one of the best international news channels worldwide, Al Jazeera English, is almost unavailable in this country while the rest of the world watches it. Even CNN international is out of reach. Unless there is something to hide, why don’t Americans have access to these international news channels." Tsigue Shiferaw, Black Star News, 20 December 2008.
     "America claims to be the land of the free, yet an effort to make the Arab satellite broadcast al-Jazeera English available as a paid option on cable TV channels was rejected for political reasons." Ray Hanania, Arabisto.com, 19 December 2008.

Re-examining Smith-Mundt. But to what end?

Posted: 20 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, commonly called the Smith-Mundt Act, ... was and is the foundation of America's arsenal of persuasion. The Act's principles are timeless and are echoed in modern recommendations on reforming America's public diplomacy: tell the truth; explain the motives of the United States; bolster morale and extend hope; give a true and convincing picture of American life, methods and ideals; combat misrepresentation and distortion; and aggressively interpret and support American foreign policy. The purpose of the Act was to 'promote the better understanding of the United States among the peoples of the world and to strengthen cooperative international relations.' But today, nearly everything about the Act has been forgotten. What had been a relatively minor clause intended to prevent the State Department from undermining the government - a fear held by both Congress and the FBI - and to protect the commercial interests of private media is now believed to be the sole purpose of the Act." Matt Armstrong, Washington Times, 19 December 2008.
     At Matt's symposium on public diplomacy, to be held 13 January (see previous post), I'll be interested to know what parts of Smith-Mundt need to be resurrected.
     The Smith-Mundt Act has largely been superseded by subsequent legislation, most recently the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 and the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998.
     The latter act eliminated the United States Information Agency and folded its public diplomacy functions back into the State Department, which is where they were when Smith-Mundt was signed into law in 1948. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) was the prime mover of the 1998 legislation. Always keen to reduce the size of government, he saw that the USIA worked so closely with State that it might as well be part of State.
     Both acts brought about the separation of U.S. international broadcasting from U.S. public diplomacy. This independence was necessary to achieve the credibility that is required for success in international broadcasting. For all the wisdom contained in Smith-Mundt, its authors thought that international broadcasting could be employed as just another form of propaganda. (Yes, the act says "tell the truth," but in the persuasive arts, that means accentuating some truths and downplaying other truths.)
     Any re-absorption of international broadcasting into U.S. public diplomacy, now advocated by many public diplomacy experts, would result in the failure of U.S. international broadcasting. It would bring about a model of international broadcasting that is centrally planned rather than market based. The market for international broadcasting does not seek propaganda. Instead, they tune in for the reliable, credible news that is the antidote to propaganda.

Myths of domestic dissemination.

Posted: 20 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The State Department is prohibited from actively publicizing the work it does in land mine removal. Without the efforts of non-governmental groups like Roots of Peace, the public would go largely unaware of the positive impact and the role individual citizens can play in removing land mines." Marin (CA) Independent Journal, 18 December 2008.
     Really? At www.state.gov, there is plenty of information about State Department efforts in landmine removal, including SAFE PASSAGE: A Newsletter for the Humanitarian Mine Action and Small Arms/Light Weapons Communities, October 2008.
     On more controversial topics, State Department officials don't hesitate to defend U.S. policies domestically. See, for example, Secretary of State Rice defending U.S. actions in Iraq, during an interview with the Council on Foreign Relation's Robert McMahon, Washington Post, 19 December 2008.
     Now, if the State Department or White House, sometime before 20 January, purchases full page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post defending Bush Administration policies in the Middle East, that might actually rouse the ghosts of Smith and Mundt.

Worldfocus makes use of "broadcasters with a political bias."

Posted: 19 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Unlike the 30-minute 'BBC World News' broadcasts shown on numerous public television stations, 'Worldfocus' specifically targets an American audience, [anchor Martin] Savidge said. Many of the broadcast’s reports come from well established international broadcasters, such as Britain’s ITN and Germany’s Duetsche Welle. Some come from broadcasters with a political bias, even an anti-American point of view. 'We clearly mention that in the introduction of the story if we use one of their reports,' Savidge said. 'But just because they have a particular ax to grind doesn’t mean that their insights, or even hearing their perspective, say on the war in Iraq, isn’t of value to the American audience.' Seeing the news from another viewpoint may give the American audience insight as to why this nation is unpopular in some parts of the world, Savidge said." West Life (Cleveland), 17 December 2008. See previous post about Worldfocus.

Belarus: propaganda via inserted ads.

Posted: 19 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Belarusian commercials have been appearing on Euronews during blocs of ads and sometimes weather reports for some months. A Pro-Lukashenka public and political magazine 'Planeta', running about flaws and taints of the west, is being actively advertised on the TV channel, 'Nasha Nova' newspaper reports. By the way, those who watch Euronews via a satellite dish are deprived of the opportunity of seeing Belarusian ads and can enjoy high-quality European commercials." Charter 97, 18 December 2008. So, apparently, the ads are inserted into the EuroNews feed on Belarus cable systems.

Press TV reports its personnel injured in West Bank.

Posted: 19 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cameraman Mustafa Khabeesa was shot by Israeli soldiers with a rubber bullet, while correspondent Sari Al-Khalili was knocked unconscious by teargas on Friday." Press TV, 19 December 2008.
     Former Prime Minister Tony Blair "is currently a special envoy to the Middle East, where he has taken a tough stance on Iran's plans to build a nuclear weapon. So it may well interest him to learn that his sister-in-law is now on the payroll of the Iranian government. Lauren Booth recently took over a presenting slot on the state-funded news channel, Press TV." Henry Deedes, The Independent, 19 December 2008.

BBCWS "exploring" multilingual domestic coverage of 2012 Olympics.

Posted: 19 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Coverage of the London 2012 Olympics could be broadcast in a range of languages across Britain under plans being drawn up by the BBC World Service. ... A BBC World Service spokesman said: 'The BBC is exploring ways of offering coverage in a range of languages nationally and locally around the 2012 Olympic Games.'" The Herald (Glasgow), 19 December 2008. Shortwave has generally been exempt from international rights issues, so the same coverage could maybe be transmitted via that medium.

Did BBCWS depart from "own editorial guidelines"?

Posted: 19 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"It seems that the BBC’s commitment to impartial reporting has fallen by the wayside. The BBC’s World Service radio broadcast on December 15, 2008 included an interview with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad... While Mr. Fayad accused Israel of 'non-compliance' with their Road Map obligations by continuing settlement activity, no Israeli perspective was heard. ... Thus the BBC misleads its audience and departs from its own editorial guidelines." Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, 18 November 2008. CAMERA could complain here.

The worldwide shortwave family of hostages.

Posted: 19 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Ingrid Betancourt "was the Colombian presidential candidate kidnapped by rebels, and held in the depths of the jungle for more than six years. ... As it happens, I was held hostage at the same time as the Colombian. I was kidnapped last year in Gaza by a group called the Army of Islam. And in our very different prisons, half a world apart, our guards gave us both battered old radios. Through the BBC's broadcasts, in my cell, I had followed Ingrid's story. And later I learned that, in her jungle hideout, she had followed mine." Alan Johnston, BBC News, 19 December 2008. Thanks to Agostino Pendola in Italy for the news tip.

Old shortwave stories.

Posted: 19 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The early radio was one of the simplest electric circuits that existed in the 1930s, but for a monumentally curious 10-year-old Hardy Trolander, that mysterious machine was the door to a lifetime of inventing and improving the art of problem-solving. ... Though Trolander can look back on a lot of years of success, he maintains his characteristic interest in doing exactly what he started with, fixing old radios. In the bedroom of his Friends Care Community independent living apartment on Aspen Court, he keeps five 1930s short wave radios, all of which work. One is tuned to a Xenia AM weather station, another brings in a news station from Australia every morning, and the one placed by itself in the very center of the desk is tuned in to the Denver clock’s local standard time." Yellow Springs (OH) News, 18 December 2008. The second mentioned broadcast would be Radio Australia, which has delivered a strong, reliable signal to North America on 9580 kHz during the past several decades. As for the "standard time," this might be the National Institute of Standards and Technology's WWV, Boulder, Colorado, on one of its shortwave frequencies.
     "Project SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment), the world’s first communications satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral using an Atlas rocket on 18 December, 1958. This experiment was design to test the feasibility of transmitting messages though outer space from one ground station to one or more other receiving centres. The satellite, which was in [orbit] for only 12 days, was loaded with a tape recorder containing a Christmas message from the U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower. His voice transmission [wishing] for 'peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere' was successfully broadcasted to the entire planet on a short-wave frequency." ISC Intelligence in Science, 18 December 2008.

At former VOA shortwave sites: sledding, Santa, and a homeless shelter.

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"State leaders and community members celebrated the dedication of two additional homeless shelters yesterday on the Leeward Coast. The shelters, Ulu ke Kukui in Maili and Kumuhonua in Kalaeloa, were the last of five on the Leeward Coast constructed under the state emergency proclamation implemented 2 1/2 years ago to address the growing homeless problem. ... A community learning center, kitchen, multipurpose room and classrooms for adults and a children's center were also constructed on the 6.2-acre portion of the 89-acre former Voice of America site in Maili." Honolulu Star Bulletin, 18 December 2008. This VOA shortwave transmitting site closed in 1968.
     Former VOA director Mary Bitterman will address graduates at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa on 20 December. Honolulu Advertiser, 18 December 2008.
     Meanwhile, at the former VOA transmitting site near Bethany, Ohio: "Sleds will be slow down the hill at Voice of America Park again this year due to a failed agreement between the county's MetroParks Board and a local contractor, MetroParks officials said this week. Butler County MetroParks contracted with Cincinnati-based John R. Jurgensen Co. to help make improvements to the sledding hill at VOA, widen portions of the park's lake, and get a jump on a proposed amphitheater. ... So far, only a portion of the dirt — near the lake at VOA — has been removed and the agreement expires Dec. 31." Western Star (Lebanon OH), 10 December 2008.
     "Breakfast with Santa will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 20 in the Ronald Reagan Lodge at Voice of America Park." Oxford (OH) Press, 15 December 2008.

Radio Veritas Asia "listens to listeners" in Burma, and runs a lucky draw.

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Listeners play a vital role in how Radio Veritas Asia (RVA) runs its service in Myanmar where radio still matters. A key to the Myanmar service's success is that it 'listens to listeners,' says Sister Cecilia San Yu Maw, coordinator of RVA's Mandalay Support Center. ... Attending the event to which all listeners had been invited were 75 people from across Myanmar, along with seven Catholic priests and two Buddhist monks. ... At the annual meeting for listeners, the center solicits their feedback, offers advice and runs a lucky draw, to strengthen its ties with the listeners. About 75 percent of listeners, it estimates, are not Catholics. ... RVA Myanmar Service, which estimates having 600,000 listeners, is broadcast 27 minutes each morning and the same every evening. ... from Quezon City, the Philippines, where RVA is based" Union of Catholic Asian News, 16 December 2008.

Religious international broadcasting in the time of cholera.

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
U.S. based religious broadcaster Trans World Radio has prepared programs for Zimbabwe about how to combat and prevent cholera. "'The Gospel is kept low key in those programs, primarily due to the restrictions that are placed on broadcasting in Zimbabwe. But pointing people back to Trans World Radio and Trans World Radio's programs, they can be picked up through medium and short wave broadcasts.'" Mission Network News, 18 December 2008. "The programme is in English and Shona and covers topics such as how to identify cholera, how to prevent and treat it, the effects of cholera, the importance of hygiene and sanitation in disease prevention, the implications of cholera combined with HIV/AIDS and how to manage cholera when there is no clean water. 'Healthy Life' will be broadcast from our Swaziland transmitter and the programmes will also be recorded on CDs for the World Health Organization to distribute among community health workers." TWR Africa website, 11 December 2008.

Memorial to BBCWS Cold War staff?

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The government is to consider erecting a memorial to the BBC World Service staff who provided 'a beacon of hope, liberty and democracy' to people in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Foreign office minister Bill Rammell told MPs he would talk to ministerial colleagues about the idea. He said: 'It is an interesting suggestion and, if it finds support, we will put it forward to the BBC.'" Broadcast, 17 December 2008. Would this be a memorial to all BBCWS employees during the period, or just those (very few) who died in the line of duty?

Freedom Fone: audio snippets to mobile phones in Africa.

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"A new information service to deliver news and public-interest information via land, mobile and internet phones is being trialled in Zimbabwe. The 'Freedom Fone' project is being run by a non-governmental organisation called Kubatana. ... Audio files are stored by Freedom Fone in a content management system, which is updated through a simple browser interface. ... The target market for Freedom Fone is among development organisations or social groups in communities, who know that the best way to reach their audiences is through telephony rather than through tools like the internet and email." BBCWS Digital Planet, 17 December 2008.

How many Americans will click on "Zeitgeist is Germany"?

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Germany.info has launched an online advertising campaign on Politico.com, a top political news website with a large audience from across the United States -- the New York Times has called it 'a must-read for a large audience outside the Beltway.' The ads proclaim: 'Zeitgeist is German' as a green globe spins to show a red dot on Germany. The second frame invites viewers to: 'Get closer to the source' on www.Germany.info. The placement of banner ads for one month on the Politico.com homepage and on its news and blog pages is aimed at viewers who are searching for the latest insights during the remainder of the presidential transition period. It will allow Germany.info to reach an influential, politically engaged audience, bringing that audience in touch with the latest news, features and campaigns from Germany - in short, the German 'spirit of the times' or Zeitgeist." German Embassy Washington via redOrbit, 17 December 2008. I couldn't find any ads for Germany.info at Politico.com. But a sample ad is available at Germany.info, 15 December 2008.

Still writing about DW's Zhang Danhong.

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Zhang Danhong, former director of the Department of Chinese Language Radio at Deutsche Welle ... was suspended for saying strongly pro-China comments during the Olympic Games. ...[She] was raised in Beijing and went to Germany to attend a university in 1980s. She began working for the Department of Chinese Language Radio at Deutsche Welle in the 1990s. In 2004, she was appointed deputy director of the department. ... Yet suddenly, this journalist, who cared about human rights and who is doing well in her career, switched gears and nearly became a spokesperson for the Chinese Communist Party." Mo Li, Epoch Times, via Phayul.com, 18 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Listening to BBC in China, no longer furtively, no longer on shortwave.

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Anglo-Canadian Carl Crook "was born in Beijing in 1949, the year of the revolution, because his parents believed in the 'New China' and had come to work here. ... Crook remembers bringing his father a new shortwave radio every time he returned from a trip abroad, so that the old Englishman might tune in to his beloved BBC, which in official parlance constituted the crime of 'furtively listening to an enemy station.' Nowadays, like anyone else, Crook listens to the BBC on the Internet. And he doesn't have to fear neighborhood snoops." Christian Science Monitor, 19 December 2008. The English-language BBC website, which apparently is not blocked in China.

Canadian shortwave station with very tight format will change frequency.

Posted: 18 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"After 70 years of broadcasting Canada's official time, the National Research Council's shortwave station CHU will move the transmission frequency for the 7335 kHz transmitter to 7850 kHz. The change goes into effect at 0000 UTC on January 1, 2009. Broadcasting 24 hours a day, CHU is a part of NRC's system for disseminating official time throughout Canada. Listeners hear tones to mark the seconds, a voice to announce the time in French and English and digital data to set computers. ... Time transmissions on 3330 and 14670 kHz are not affected and will continue as before. In April 2007, the ITU reallocated the 7300-7350 kHz band from a fixed service to a broadcasting service. Since then, the NRC said there has been a lot of interference on the 7335 kHz frequency from many information broadcasters around the world." American Radio Relay League, 17 December 2008. See also National Research Council Canada website.

EU "concern" about RFE/RL, VOA reporter jailed in Uzbekistan.

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The European Union said on Tuesday it was seriously concerned by the 10-year jail terms given to a journalist and a rights activist in Uzbekistan and called on the authorities to ensure they were not mistreated ... referring to the terms handed to journalist Salijon Abdurakhmanov and rights activist Agzam Turgunov. ... Abdurakhmanov, who criticised the state in his articles, was sentenced for drug possession and intent to sell drugs, days before the European Union dropped most sanctions against Uzbekistan. The 58-year-old journalist, who has also worked for U.S.-based radio stations Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America in the past, denied all the charges." Reuters, 16 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

RCI: from radio internationally to video domestically.

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"CBC and Radio Canada International (RCI) teamed up for an outreach event at [Simon Fraser University] Surrey [B.C.], jointly hosting a special screening and panel presentation on immigration and South Asian life in B.C., hosted by CBC Radio's Meera Bains. The audience watched several episodes of the RCI web-series Embracing Canada, which follows Anshu Bhatia Singh and her family's migration from Mumbai to Surrey." The South Asian Link, 15 December 2008.

BBC Russian joins the very large and not very exclusive family of YouTube video makers.

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service today announces the launch of the new BBC Russian channel on YouTube. Alongside the BBC's current radio and online offering to Russian-speakers, the launch of this channel further expands the BBC's outreach to Russian-speaking audiences on a range of platforms. ... The BBC Russian channel is part of a portfolio of video news channels being developed by BBC World Service as it extends its relationship with YouTube. In what is the first multi-language deal by a major international news broadcaster with YouTube, users will have access to high-quality, independent and impartial news clips produced in Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. The new language channels are set to launch at the end of this year and start of 2009, and are an addition to the existing BBC World News channel, youtube.com/bbcworldnews, which showcases BBC news clips in English." BBC World Service press release, 16 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Japan's new English-language channel will begin "by March 2009."

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Kenjiro Monji ... Japan's director general of public diplomacy ... says Japan could do far more to capitalize on its deft touch with practical and whimsical technology alike as well as popular culture. He is enthusiastic about the startup of an English language TV broadcast – a BBC-like program by Japan International Broadcasting – that aims to reach most corners of the globe by March 2009." Christian Science Monitor, 17 December 2008.
     "It's clear that Japan needs to make a bigger effort to tell the world about itself. And the solution is a newly established company: Japan International Broadcasting Inc. (JIB). We at JIB will be offering round-the-clock English-language TV programming that informs the world about Japan and gives the benefits of a unique perspective on Asia. For up-to-the-minute content, we'll be drawing on Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, which has news-gathering operations throughout Japan, in nearly every country in Asia, and elsewhere around the world. We'll be producing original content with global relevance. And we'll be broadcasting a uniquely appealing mix of programs in four-hour cycles that are optimally suited to time zones around the world. With extensive cooperation from NHK and other Japanese broadcasters, Japan International Broadcasting Inc. is ready to dramatically step up the transmission of information from Japan to the rest of the world." Hatsuhisa Takashima, JIB CEO, JIB website. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera Arabic via Livestation.

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation, the destination for live TV over broadband, already has a number of Arabic news channels in its line up including BBC Arabic, Rusya al-Yaum, France 24 Arabic and Euronews Arabic. Al Jazeera Arabic is a 24-hour satellite news channel serving more than 40 million viewers in the Middle East and around the world. Now it can be received anywhere in the world except the USA by anyone with a broadband connection." Livestation press release, 11 December 2008.

Venezuela's Radiosur will start "first quarter of 2009" (updated).

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Venezuelan Minister for Communications and Information Jesse Chacon announced on Tuesday the creation of RADIOSUR in the first quarter of 2009, with a similar conception to that of TELESUR. In a press conference at the Miraflores Palace, the government headquarters, the Venezuelan minister said both structures would become defenders of the change projects in progress in developing countries." Prensa Latina, 9 December 2008. Radiosur has been planned for at least a year. See previous post. How will it transmit? Via shortwave? Construction of new shortwave transmitters and antennas in Venezuela was reported by Arnie Coro, Radio Havana Cuba, via DX Listening Digest, 12 February 2008.
     Venezuela's Communication & Information (MIJ) Minister, Jesse Chacon "has announced that [his predecessor Andres] Izarra will return to run Telesur and that a new branch of the channel will be opened next year with better technology." Vheadline, 10 December 2008. Is the "new branch" Radiosur?
     Update: "The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, ... [at] the 36th Summit of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) ... said that Venezuela will present the progress of the television channel Telesur and the creation of Radiosur, which is already structured." Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, 16 December 2008.

China promises "better services" to foreign journalists.

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The government welcomes more journalists from abroad to cover events in the country, a top official said on Tuesday, vowing to implement more regulations to provide better services to them. 'We will adhere to the policy of opening up and are ready to provide even better services to the Chinese and foreign media,' Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, said at a reception for journalists to welcome the New Year. ... Some of the overseas journalists said that though China's media policy was better than before, it still needed improvement. Zhang Ming, a Voice of America journalist based in Beijing, said some provincial authorities still did not follow the central government's regulation on the media." China Daily, 17 December 2008.

Chinese spokesman defends renewed blocking of websites (updated).

Posted: 17 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"[Unnamed reporter:] Regarding websites being blocked, you said just now that you were not aware of the specific case which includes the Chinese language website of the Voice of America, and also the websites of Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. In your answer you said that these cases were handled according to the law. Is there an understanding that these sites have violated the law of China? [Spokesperson Liu Jianchao:] As I have said, firstly, the Chinese Government exercises necessary management of internet according to the law, which is the same practice in other countries. Secondly, it is undeniable that some websites do violate the Chinese law. For instance, some websites publicly stage 'two Chinas' by putting the mainland China and China’s Taiwan Province into two independent categories, which has violated the Anti-Secession Law of China. I hope that these websites exercise self-discipline and abide by the Chinese laws, in order to pave the way for better internet cooperation." Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, 17 December 2008.
     Reporters sans frontières "condemns the Chinese government’s censorship of the websites of certain foreign news media such as Voice of America and the BBC and certain Chinese media based outside mainland China, which have been rendered inaccessible inside China since the start of December. ... 'The pretence of liberalisation is now over. The blocking of access to the websites of foreign news media speaks volumes about the government’s intolerance.'" RSF, 16 December 2008.
     "The censorship comes as the Chinese economy has slowed sharply this autumn and as leaders have begun cautioning about potential risks to social stability from the country's unemployed. Chinese officials are following a pattern over the years of censoring the Internet more tightly at times of economic or political stress." International Herald Tribune, 16 December 2008.
     "This may result in a less-than-smooth path for American companies like Google and Yahoo that could have gained some ground under looser rules." Doug Caverty, WebProNews, 16 December 2008.
     "A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are disappointed that Chinese-speaking audiences in China are not able to get access to the BBC's impartial and editorially independent news and information through BBCChinese.com. In the runup to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese residents were able to have some access to BBCChinese.com but now there seem to be more difficulties in viewing the site. We will endeavour to continue working with the Chinese authorities to improve access for our Chinese-speaking audiences in China.' Chinese authorities are understood to be far stricter with the Mandarin-language version of the BBC website at BBCChinese.com, which saw only slightly loosened restrictions during the Olympics. Both the BBC's Mandarin radio broadcasts and Mandarin-language site have been subject to restrictions, the latter for most of its 10-year existence." The Guardian, 16 December 2008.
      "'We have been unable to access the RFA Web site for a while since late last month,' Agricultural News Weekly editor Huang Liangtian said. 'Other media, such as the [Hong Kong-based] Ming Pao are also difficult to access if they aren't very complimentary about the Chinese government,' Huang added. 'Sometimes you can access these sites, but it takes a long time. Sometimes you can’t. It's the same with the BBC and the VOA as well.' ... Repeated calls to the General Administration of Press and Publications under the State Council, China's cabinet, produced a busy signal during office hours. ... 'But Web-savvy Chinese citizens can still access sensitive information online, getting around broad-brush controls aimed at keeping unwanted content away from the majority of Chinese.'" Radio Free Asia, 17 December 2008.
     See also PC World, 17 December 2008. -- AP, 17 December 2008. -- New York Times, 16 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

New BBC/DW DRM service for Europe: three testimonials, plus party pix (updated).

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
“It's great to hear your broadcasts in such a perfect, DRM way. I have a Morphy Richards digital receiver and the listening quality is always outstanding." Fabio Tagetti, via DRM Consortium, 15 December 2008, which also has pictures of the office party to mark the inaugural broadcast. Still no shortwave frequency schedule, however. Update: David Murphy in Dresden sends this URL for the shortwave frequencieas of the BBC/DW DRM service: www.drm.org/uploads/media/DRM_Frequencies_121208.pdf. Seems to be a recent addition to DRM.org press release, 10 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

France 24 video content deal with news websites.

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"France 24 said it has reached an agreement with Independent News & Media's London-based title to deliver daily video news reports to the Independent.co.uk website. ... The French broadcaster has signed five other deals to supply exclusive video news content in English and French with Australia's Fairfax.com.au, Yahoo's French website, Publico.pt in Portugal, Letemps.ch in Switzerland, and MSN in Belgium. According to France 24, the deals will allow its partner websites to offer users live broadcasts of major news events covered by the channel." The Guardian, 16 December 2008.

Japan's pop public diplomacy.

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"'To improve your image in the world, you have to make use of all the tools available,' says Kenjiro Monji, Japan's former ambassador to Iraq who recently became director general of public diplomacy, a post that was established three years ago. He is quick to note that pop culture doesn't need the government's promotional hand. But, he says, he can play a role as Japan takes note of a three-fold increase since 1990 in those studying Japanese." Christian Science Monitor, 15 December 2008.

Zimbabwe spokesman excoriates BBC and France 24 (updated again).

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
President Robert Mugabe was using sarcasm when he claimed Zimbabwe had defeated a cholera epidemic, a spokesman said Friday, accusing Western media of distorting his remarks. ... The government mouthpiece Herald newspaper quoted presidential spokesman George Charamba [who] denounced the BBC and France 24, which he said 'deliberately distort and misrepresent President Mugabe's remarks. Clearly, these two Western networks have chosen a path of wilful distortion of a clear statement and argument by the Zimbabwean president, in order to advance the war and regime change agenda of their expansionist governments.'" AFP, 12 December 2008.
     "The Voice of America (VOA) is providing Zimbabweans with vital information on health, politics and international developments during the crisis that led President Bush today to join those calling for the country's leader to step down. ... In recent months, Studio 7, a daily radio program that has been on the air since 2003, has reported in detail on the humanitarian crisis that intensified as the death toll from a cholera epidemic climbed to over 600, largely as a result of a lack of water treatment and broken sewage pipes." VOA press release, 9 December 2008.
      "Writing in his column, the acerbic Nathaniel Manheru, believed to be Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, says there is no need to have these organisations, including the BBC, represented in Zimbabwe when they did not respect their reporters on the ground. He says Zimbabwe does not need them. ... Reads part of the Manheru column on the media: 'The bylines on virtually all the false stories, the voices on the mendacious stories, are all from headquarters of the international news networks. It is true for Reuters, AFP, AP, BBC, France 24 International, Al Jazeera, the British Press, South African English Press etc, etc.'" Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 12 December 2008. See also said column by Nathaniel Manheru, Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 12 December 2008.
     "One of Zimbabwe's top officials blamed his country's spreading cholera outbreak on what he calls 'a genocidal onslaught' by Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler -- Britain." CNN International, 12 December 2008.
     "There are no independent radio or television stations in this country. The poverty is now so widespread the number of people who can afford shortwave radio or subscribe to overseas TV networks, through DStv is negligible." Chenjerai Chitsaru, Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 14 December 2008.
     Update: "Zimbabwe plans to slap a blanket ban on all foreign media foreign groups, accusing them of 'playing little gods' on the country’s affairs, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said here on Tuesday. ... Targeted media houses included Britain’s Reuters, Agence France Presse, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Associated Press of the USA, France 24 International and Al Jazeera from Qatar, which are accused of misrepresenting facts about Zimbabwe to suit the agendas of the news organisations’ host nations." African Press Agency, 16 December 2008. See also MISA press release (undated).

Former head of IBB, RFE/RL is candidate for journalism dean at Maryland.

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Kevin Klose, president of National Public Radio from December 1998 to September 2008, is a candidate for the vacant dean position at the [University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism]. Klose will be visiting the campus to meet with faculty and students of the journalism school, as well as Provost Nariman Farvardin and university President Dan Mote. Klose was also a reporter and editor at The Washington Post for 25 years. ... After leaving the Post and before coming to NPR, he served as the president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty." Diamondback Online, 15 December 2008. Klose was also director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, before departing for RFE/RL.

Kyrgyzstan: "ulterior motive" for RFE/RL, BBC remaining off air (updated).

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The decision by Kyrgyz authorities to halt broadcasts by U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the BBC are part of a campaign to curtail freedom of information, a local civil rights groups said Tuesday. ... 'The simultaneous shutting down of these foreign radio stations — which both broadcast high-quality journalism — leaves no doubt that the decision is prompted by the aim to isolate the Kyrgyz people, especially in the regions,' the Democracy and Civil Society coalition said in a statement." AP, 9 December 2008.
     "Joanna Levison, a senior media advisor with RFE/RL ... said RFE/RL was deeply frustrated by the situation but was still 'considering' sending two negotiators to Bishkek later this week if definite meetings could be made with either Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Eshimkanov or Medet Sadyrkulov, Bakiyev’s chief advisor. However, she added that the reluctance of the Kyrgyz authorities to rectify the situation has prompted RFE/RL to assume that an ulterior motive exists for the delay. ... The BBC said on December 8 that it had received no explanation for the suspension of its FM programming in both the Russian and Kyrgyz languages, but that negotiations were ongoing." EurasiaNet, 9 December 2008.
     "'The suspension, which began on October 8, was initially portrayed as a payment dispute, but we have since traced the payments and confirmed deposit and receipt,' said RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin. 'Nine weeks have passed. Our programs remain off the air. Kyrgyz officials have refused to meet with us to resolve the situation. Frankly, we expected more from a country trying to prove its reformist credentials in the region.'" RFE/RL press release, 7 December 2008.
     "The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, expressed concern today over the temporary suspension of broadcasts in Kyrgyzstan of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Kyrgyz-language service of the BBC. 'Both RFE/RL and BBC are reputable public-service sources of information for Kyrgyz society. Their suspension would be a loss to pluralism, which is a major OSCE commitment in the media field,' said Haraszti." OSCE press release, 12 December 2008. See also AFP, 12 December 2008.
     Update: "Kyrgyz authorities said today that Radio Azattyk, RFE/RL's popular Kyrgyz-language service, will not be restored to the airwaves unless its programs are submitted to the government for prior approval. Melis Eshimkanov, the head of Kyrgyzstan's state-controlled radio and TV broadcaster, said the programs are 'too negative and too critical' of the government and claimed that powerful Kyrgyz figures are behind the decision to keep Radio Azattyk off the air. ... RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said the move may force Radio Azattyk to put its broadcasts exclusively on shortwave frequencies for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union." RFE/RL press release, 15 December 2008.
     "Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun, speaking on December 10 in Bishkek to mark World Human Rights Day, said Radio Azattyk 'has played a big role in the progress of Kyrgyz democracy, in protecting human rights, in developing freedom of speech, in establishing impartiality in Kyrgyzstan.' ... At the same time, as a realist, I fear that Radio Azattyk's dilemma is a 'litmus test' for democratization in a country that is on the verge of forfeiting the reputation it enjoyed until very recently as a beacon of liberty and hope in Central Asia.'" Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Commentary & Analysis, RFE/RL, 16 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Iran: "additional measures to restrict internet."

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Iranian authorities, who admit to blocking access to over 5 million websites, have decided to take additional measures to restrict Internet access and crack down on bloggers. ... RFE/RL's Radio Farda has reported that intelligence services would also take part in the campaign. ... Some Iranian leaders have warned that the West is trying to provoke a 'Velvet Revolution' in Iran using the Internet. Alongside Iranian music, news, and political websites, they have also blocked access to popular foreign sites such as YouTube and Facebook. However, according to Said, a blogger in Tehran, the authorities' 'old method of filtering is not working anymore.' Said tells Radio Farda that 'with simple software or proxies, you can avoid any filter.'" RFE/RL News, 16 December 2008.

RFA: China again blocks foreign websites unblocked during the Olympics (updated).

Posted: 16 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two weeks before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Chinese government’s Internet firewall allowed access to several overseas websites which were considered very sensitive, including Radio Free Asia, Voice of America (VOA), BBC Chinese Network, Hong Kong’s Mingpao Daily News, Asia Weekly and Apple Daily News and others. However, these sites can no longer be accessed in China. Huang Liangtian, former editor-in-chief for 'Journal of the Common People,' and current editor-in-chief for 'China Agriculture Week' told Radio Free Asia, 'Your website has been blocked since last month. Ming Bao Daily News and other sensitive websites have been very hard to open since early this month. BBC and VOA Chinese Network have already been blocked too.'" Radio Free Asia via Epoch Times, 14 December 2008.
     Update: "China appears to have banned a number of foreign websites, including the BBC's Chinese language news site and Voice of America in Chinese. The sites had been unblocked after journalists attending the Beijing Olympics complained that the government was censoring sites deemed sensitive. But they have been banned again, along with some Hong Kong and Taiwan sites." BBC News, 16 December 2008.
     "China's foreign ministry said today that it was within its rights to block sites that showed content illegal under the country's law. A foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said the Chinese government 'could not deny' that it had issues with some sites." The Guardian, 16 December 2008.

BBC World Service and the Queen's English.

Posted: 15 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"What used to be termed BBC English has been all but systematically eradicated from the Corporation. BBC English used to mean clear, intelligible English also known as Queen's English or Received Pronunciation. One of the last outposts where this survived was the World Service until it too fell victim to the imperative to be 'cool and edgy' which meant all the quotas for regional accents, jargon and slang. The victims in all this were the listeners - hundreds of millions around the world for whom the BBC World Service was a voice of truth. For many of those without English as a first language the broadcasts became if not unintelligible then certainly that bit harder to follow." Harry Phibbs, Daily Mail, 15 December 2008.

RFA report: new mobile phone service in North Korea (updated).

Posted: 15 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia reports that North Korea will start providing mobile phone services in Pyongyang within the month. The Washington-based broadcaster cited a Chinese trader in North Korea as saying the North Korean government is currently selling mobile phones for 700 U.S. dollars. The trader said that cellular service will begin on December tenth in Pyongyang and then later work its way to other parts of the country. Meanwhile, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said an Egyptian telecommunication company, Orascom, is working to set up communication services in Pyongyang, but added that it was unconfirmed whether the services will be up and running on schedule." KBS World Radio, 4 December 2008. See also cellular-news, 5 December 2008.
     Update: "North Korea on Monday inaugurated its first third-generation mobile phone service, state media in the secretive and impoverished communist state reported. The 3G service was launched 'with due ceremony' by government officials and by Naguib Sawiris, chairman and CEO of Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding, the Korean Central News Agency said." AFP, 15 December 2008.

Positioning shortwave radio for emergencies.

Posted: 15 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"National Geographic's self-powered emergency radio combines a radio, flashlight and cellphone battery charger. You'll always be able to tune into AM, FM, and seven international shortwave radio bands, charge your cellphone and have emergency light if the power goes out or you are exploring far from civilization." Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, NB), 13 December 2008. "Not everyone wants an iPod. These old-school pocket radios include seven international bands, an alarm clock, earphones and a carrying case." Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, 13 December 2008. Interesting that shortwave radios are no longer marketed "to hear news while it happens," but for their utility during emergencies. This model, manufactured by China's Tecsun, has, unlike some of the other self-powered models, fairly comprehensive coverage of the shortwave broadcast bands. Because of this, it actually could be useful in a future crisis. See review of this and other self-powered shortwave radios in the 2009 Passport to World Band Radio. See also equivalent Etón FR250.

All the Arabic-language international broadcasters will be there.

Posted: 15 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
The Arab Broadcast Forum, May 2009 on the Dead Sea in Jordan, will have a "hard-hitting agenda" and "features executives from some of the world’s leading broadcasters, including: Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera English, Abu Dhabi TV, AP Television News, BBC Arabic, CNN International, Deutsche Welle, Fox News, France 24, Jordan TV, LBC, Reuters TV, and Russia Today/Rusiya Al Yaum." Palestine News Network, 12 December 2008. They've all already confirmed?

Pakistani channel could "blow most of the other international news channels away."

Posted: 15 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
From review of the international channels' coverage of the Mumbai attacks: "What India is able to do through NDTV is give the world its point of view. Pakistan's viewpoint, on the other hand, is only available on the 'Specialist Channels' in Urdu. We desperately need a channel in English which beams along with the other international news channels. And unlike the Iranian channel, it must have reporters and anchors that are both aware of the issues and confident in English. If the few hours of Geo English and Dawn News that I have seen are anything to go by, I would say that we could very easily blow most of the other international news channels away." Ayesha Ijaz Khan, The News (Karachi), 13 December 2008.

Driving a stake in the heart of Romania's folk image.

Posted: 15 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Toby Moore, Public Relation expert from Monument PR, gave us his opinion on the folkloric show the Romanian embassy has organised for celebrating the 1st of December in London. ' ... The image such a performance conveys is of a backward country, one that lacks present and freshness. What does that say about Romania's present? How is it representative? I believe he should have organised something much bolder. I would have loved to see a Romanian rock concert.'" HotNews.ro, 12 December 2008.

Let's hope Mr. Chan has a multimedia mind.

Posted: 15 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide today announced the appointment of Mark Chan to the newly-created role of Regional Sales and Business Development Director for Digital Media and Formats in Asia. Mark Chan will deliver and grow BBC Worldwide Asia's Digital Media and Format licensing businesses across all platforms including terrestrial, cable, satellite, fixed line, internet and mobile, and will be dedicated to drive and develop sales in these areas." BBC Worldwide press release, 12 December 2008.
     Meanwhile, there has been a flurry of new articles in the UK about a possible merger or, or at least partnership between, BBC Worldwide and UK commercial public service Channel 4. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, is not the same as BBC World Service or BBC World News, but it does handle the establishment of BBC channels and sales of BBC programs abroad. How would any merger/partnership affect these international operations?
     "'The reason Worldwide is so successful is because of the BBC link, that's why ABC in America wants to work with us on Dancing With The Stars, for instance.'" Daily Mail, 13 December 2008.

Iranians get a peek at "anti-Iranian" film via VOA Persian TV.

Posted: 14 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
The film "The Wrestler" has been declared by Iranian media to be anti-Iranian, in part because the main character "Randy 'the Ram' Robinson, violently breaks a pole bearing an Iranian flag across his knee, after his opponent tries to use it to put him in a stranglehold. ... While there is virtually no chance of The Wrestler being given official screening permission in Iran, many Iranians have become familiar with it through promotional trailers shown on broadcaster, Voice of America's Persian-language satellite television channel." The Guardian, 13 December 2008.

USC report: Alhurra is "substandard" and needs "budget expansion."

Posted: 14 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"A study commissioned by the U.S. government concludes that America’s Arab-language broadcasts to the Middle East fail to meet basic journalistic standards and are seen by few. The study by researchers for the University of Southern California was based on a review of a full month’s broadcasts by Alhurra, the 24-hour news network created by President Bush to boost America’s image abroad. 'The quality of Alhurra’s journalism is substandard on several levels,' the researchers wrote. Its broadcasts 'lack appropriate balance and sourcing,' and 'relied on unsubstantiated information too often, allowed on-air expressions of personal judgments too frequently and failed to present opposing views in over 60 percent of its news stories.' ... In a surprising twist, the Dean of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, Ernest J. Wilson III, was named by Obama to lead the transition team for the BBG and other U.S. public diplomacy efforts inside the State Department. ... But for Alhurra to fulfill its dual mission of providing objective journalism while promoting U.S. policies, it would need a 'significant budget expansion.'" Dafna Linzer, Pro Publica, 11 December 2008.
     "Providing journalism while promoting U.S. policies"! The budget for U.S. international broadcasting could be increased to ten billion dollars, and it would not succeed in such a contradictory task.
     "Significant budget expansion" is the old, tiresome solution for the woes of any U.S. government endeavor. The BBC world services have a larger audience than U.S. international broadcasting, even though Britain spends less on international broadcasting than the United States. The solution, therefore, is a better organized international broadcasting effort, not more money. And we need decision makers who understand that you can never, never, never mix journalism and the promoting of U.S. policies.
     That's why U.S. international broadcasting and public diplomacy are in separate bureaucracies and separate buildings. They should be in separate cities. The fact that the Obama transition team has (according to Pro Publica) thrown U.S. international broadcasting in with the "other public diplomacy efforts inside the State Department" does not bode well.
     The USC and other documents about Alhurra are now available at the BBG website, for our holiday reading.

     "Alhurra is already drawing the largest audience U.S. international broadcasting has ever attracted in the Middle East. With the benefit of these independent analyses, we look forward to the continued growth of the network's audience and journalistic excellence." BBG statement, 11 December 2008.

Iranian students credit Radio Farda for their release from detention.

Posted: 14 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mahdieh Golrou, one of four Alameh Tabatabai University students arrested and subsequently released by authorities, thanked Radio Farda for its extensive coverage of their plight and credited Farda for facilitating their release. Golrou and fellow students were detained by Iranian police after a three-day protest against the government's education policies." RFE/RL, 11 December 2008.
     "A student at that demonstration told Radio Farda the protestors were demonstrating against 'President Ahmadinejad, the supreme leadership in Iran that does not accept criticism, the clampdowns on the political activities of university students, and the banning of publications.'" Editorial, VOA, 12 December 2008.
     "Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalia-born writer who has publicly criticized Islam, told Voice of America (VOA) that women need to draw attention to the lack of basic freedoms denied their gender in Iran and other Islamic societies. ... 'What women in Iran are enduring, living under Sharia law, is far worse than what I have ever experienced, and I feel for them,' she said." VOA press release, 12 December 2008.

RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin on the "crucial point" of credibility.

Posted: 14 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"WPR: Does the United States government or Congress have a say in what you broadcast? Gedmin: In the sense that our funder, the U.S. Congress, decides what it finances, yes. But if you're asking whether they tell us what to put in the programs, the answer is no. It may sound strange, even implausible. But it's true and it's a crucial point. Credibility is everything in this business. Our board, the Broadcast Board of Governors (BBG) -- they oversee all U.S. International broadcasting -- serves by law as a firewall to protect our editorial independence. The moment our audiences think we're pushing propaganda, that we're the mouthpiece of the U.S. government or a particular faction in Washington, we're dead in the water. I'm happy to say I've not encountered a single instance where someone in Washington has tried to meddle in our editorial affairs. WPR: To some that may even sound like too much freedom. So anything goes for Radio Liberty? Gedmin: I believe in a kind of paternal libertarianism in running this incredibly unique company. Of course, we have clear guidelines for journalistic ethics, we have prudent monitoring and mentoring throughout the company. We have as RFE/RL our intellectual and moral compass. But ultimately our Iranians, for example, will have their own authentic voice in which they speak to their fellow countrymen in Iran. To be credible, it can't be the voice of Jeff Gedmin, it can't be the voice of Washington." World Politics Review, 12 December 2008. Good, and well worded, answers by Gedmin. A big improvement over the ebullient rhetoric in some of his early statements as RFE/RL president.

Awards for RFE/RL Moldovan, Armenian services.

Posted: 14 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL’s Moldova Service has been awarded the grand prize for 'Promotion of Human Rights in Mass Media' by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Moldova." RFE/RL press release, 12 December 2008.
     "RFE/RL's Armenian service has been presented the "Responsible Coverage" award by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Armenian Public Relations Association (APRA) for its daily youth radio program, 'Maxliberty.'" RFE/RL press release, 5 December 2008.

RFE/RL's blogs.

Posted: 13 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media"
     "'Watchdog' is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region." -- Watchdog includes at least some of the material from the old RFE/RL Media Matters e-mail list.
     "The Power Vertical is a daily blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers."
     "The profiles in 'On the Front Lines' aim to shine a spotlight on the often heroic work of men and women who have dedicated their lives to the causes of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, human rights, ethnic tolerance, the environment, reconciliation, and democratic values."
     Also, RFE/RL's Commentary & Analysis contains, well, commentaries and analyses written by RFE/RL journalists and the occasional outside contributor. At the bottom of each essay is the disclaimer: "The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL."

Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and other places where international broadcasters are no longer welcome.

Posted: 13 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"International broadcasters are either warmly welcomed or shunned entirely by host governments. When most listeners and viewers use radios and TVs of the terrestrial kind that’s the place broadcasters want to be. But politics, nationalism and greed are making those frequencies off limits to the people with a message from afar. ... International broadcasters – and not limited to those funded by Western governments – continue to provide a remarkable service to those seeking it. Most are exploring every possible media platform on which to hang their message. But the benefit has an even bigger consequence. The international broadcasters also provide a benchmark of professionalism. Even if the message grates on politicians, that benefit is undeniable." Mentions rebroadcasting of foreign radio in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan, Zimbabwe, and Germany. Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 11 December 2008. A good overview of the benefits and pitfalls of international broadcasting access to channels in the target country. After the fall of communism, fledging radio stations in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union were willing to take Western broadcast content for free. Later, they offered the time for a price. Now, many of these countries won't sell time to foreign radio stations, at least not during favorable hours, because they can make more money broadcasting their own programming. International broadcasters might, at best, be relegated to the medium wave band.

Turkmenistan: RFE/RL correspondents "cut off from rest of world."

Posted: 13 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty’s correspondents and regular contributors have been cut off from the rest of the world and closely watched by National Security agents for the past month because of the parliamentary elections taking place on 14 December and an accompanying government desire to exert the utmost control over news and information. ... All attempts to call their mobile phones from abroad since 18 November have been blocked, as have their attempts to call abroad. ... RFE/RL correspondents still manage to communicate with the outside world via the Internet, but access to Internet cafés is also closely watched and is very expensive." Reporters sans frontières, 12 December 2008.

Biden's mixed blessing to U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 13 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"With regard to human rights, without the personal intervention of Joe Biden, there would be no Radio Free Asia or a Tibet Language Service by the Voice of America." William Triplett, Washington Times, 10 December 2008. Nor any Tibetan language service of Radio Free Asia, which competes with the Tibetan language service of VOA for budget, talent, frequencies, transmitter sites, news resources, etc., to a part of the world where we need all the resources we can muster, not those resources divided by two.

Should Glassman stay put? (updated)

Posted: 13 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"To fight terrorism of the kind that brutalized Mumbai, India, President-elect Barack Obama should retain James Glassman, the Bush administration's commander in the 'war of ideas' against extremism. In just six months in office, Glassman has invigorated and modernized U.S. programs to not just improve America's image in the world, but confront radical ideologies, including on the Internet." Morton Kondracke, Daily News Tribune (Waltham MA), 7 December 2008 (originally in Roll Call).
     "I don't want to take a job away from a deserving Democrat. But Glassman is an ideal successor to himself. He is not an ideologue. But he is a man of ideas, of democratic ideas. And he believes still in the power of the America message. No one in our politics dislikes him. That's not because he's soft. It's because he is straightforward and honest. He doesn't laugh at people with whom he disagrees." Marty Peretz, TNR The Spine blog, 5 December 2008.
     Glassman is willing to listen and to learn. Most importantly, as past chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and now under secretary of State for public diplomacy, he understands the complementary roles of international broadcasting and public diplomacy. Most U.S. decision makers and experts don't, thinking that international broadcasting, public diplomacy, psyop, disinformation, and goodness knows what else, should all be smooshed together as coordinated "strategic communications."
     I have doubts about some of Glassman's Public Diplomacy 2.0 ideas. But what's important is that he is trying stuff, and some of those new approaches will actually work. So, yes, let Glassman succeed himself.

     Update: "The core of the BBG strategy has been the dismantling of the Voice of America (VOA), the official yet journalistically independent U.S. broadcasting organization, which is subject to U.S. laws and strict fiscal accountability, and replacing it with a number of private broadcasters and contractors, some of them based overseas. Neoconservatives like Glassman were engaged in this effort primarily for ideological reasons, while liberal Democrats like Pattiz and Kaufman who unquestionably supported these ideas also saw benefits accruing to private consultants and contractors who have been linked to them through their business and political connections. As international public opinion surveys, U.S. government audits and reports by investigative journalists show, their efforts were a fiscal and editorial fiasco which turned overseas audiences against the United States." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 11 December 2008. The oxymoronic "official yet journalistically independent" suggests why VOA, as the platypus duckbill of international broadcasting, may have trouble surviving in the harsh evolutionary realities of 21st century global media. Furthermore, any impact of U.S. international broadcasting on "international public opinion" is dwarfed by the impact of U.S. policies and actions. International broadcasting can keep audiences well informed, and that is sufficient.
     Among winners and losers of the Bush Administration, Karen Hughes is listed as a loser: "If she’d stayed in Texas after leaving the administration in July 2002, her reputation as a spinner extraordinaire might have remained intact. Her second lap, as undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, will be remembered as a giant missed opportunity." Garrett M. Graff, Washingtonian Capital Comment blog, 12 December 2008.

Public affairs. Propaganda. Whatever.

Posted: 13 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Pentagon's inspector general said yesterday that the Defense Department's public affairs office may have 'inappropriately' merged public affairs and propaganda operations in 2007 and 2008 when it contracted out $1 million in work for a strategic communications plan for use by the military in collaboration with the State Department. ... Strategic communications programs, which have become a major part of the Pentagon's information operations carried out in the 'war of ideas' in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, should be under the oversight of the undersecretary of defense for policy, the report added. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs 'should only perform strategic communications responsibilities related to its public affairs mission,' the report said. It called attention to a May 2005 Defense Department publication titled 'Public Affairs,' which stated that public affairs and information operations 'differ with respect to the audience, scope and intent and must remain separate.'" Washington Post, 12 December 2008.
     "Let's not kid ourselves. The public affairs officers dealing with journalists embedded with Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan will spin, restrict and enhance their message as it suits their goals. They may not share information unless confronted with it. But we journalists don't tend to catch them in an outright lie. But, in an attempt to influence a government, group or individual's value systems or beliefs, psychological operations can and do distort the truth and lie." David Common, CBC News, 3 December 2008 (updated 13 December). See previous post about similar subject.

HRW protests Angolan conviction of former VOA stringer.

Posted: 12 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Angolan government should urgently end torture and unfair trials in state security cases, Human Rights Watch said today. Fourteen civilians who were arbitrarily detained and tortured in military custody are currently being held on security charges in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda. Since September 2007, the Angolan Armed Forces have arbitrarily detained at least 15 civilians and six military personnel in Cabinda, the oil-rich province that has long had a separatist insurgency. ... On September 16, 2008, a military court in Cabinda convicted a former Voice of America journalist, Fernando Lelo, and four soldiers of state security crimes and sentenced them to 12 years in prison. Human Rights Watch found the trial fell far short of international fair trial standards." Human Rights Watch, 10 December 2008.

Malaysian official opens public diplomacy event by dissing the Philippines.

Posted: 12 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"There is no need for any negotiations with Manila to get it to drop its claim on Sabah because Malaysia was formed in 1963 with international blessing, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said. He said Malaysia’s position was clear as the formation of Malaysia was based on the Cobbold Commission assessment report for the formation of the nation in 1963 and was recognised by the United Nations. 'I think the question of negotiating should not arise as we resolved this matter in 1963 when Malaysia was formed,' Rahim told reporters after launching his ministry’s nationwide Information Dissemination and Public Diplomacy programme here." The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 12 December 2008. See also Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, 10 December 2008.

International broadcasting and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Posted: 12 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the week of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the directors of five major international broadcasters - BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and the Voice of America - held a meeting in Paris at which they recognised the important contribution the Declaration has made to promoting a better-informed world. ... The directors agreed that their broadcasting organizations must continue to maintain the highest journalistic standards of accuracy, objectivity and truth in upholding the Declaration. They noted that some governments have been implicated in harassing, detaining, expelling, threatening or even killing journalists. They also expressed their regret at the efforts of some governments to contravene the Declaration through deliberate jamming of shortwave broadcasts and and the blocking of websites. ... Alain de Pouzilhac, CEO of Radio France Internationale said 'Our meeting in Paris was very constructive and I am delighted that these five major international broadcasters share the same desire to broadcast objective and impartial news to all target audiences'." Radio Netherlands, 11 December 2008. Mostly the same as VOA press release, 10 December 2008.
     "Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme: les 60 ans d'un texte fondateur pour la dignité humaine," special section of the RFI website leads with a report about Guantánamo. I can't find any coverage of the international broadcasters' meeting, however.
     "'Are Human Rights Toothless Paper Tigers?' With this question, Germany’s national news service Deutsche Welle (DW) begins an extensive report on 60 years of Human Rights and how they are complied with around the globe. The article was published at the German website of DW on Wednesday (Dec. 10th) and signed by journalist Mirjam Gehrke. DW’s reporter divides the text in four parts. In the first part—'prohibiting torture in the war against terror'—she refers to US-security policies after 9/11; in the second part—'human rights activists'—she writes about the situation of these in China; and in the third part she refers to Human Rights as a Millennium Goal." Semana.com (Bogotá), 11 December 2008.
     "Russia, Islam and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 10 December 2008.
     From White House fact sheet on Human Rights Day: "The Administration has helped users of new media to overcome censorship, report abuses, and advocate for freedom. U.S. international broadcasters funded by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) are overcoming censorship by gathering news from citizen journalists with cell phones, reporting the facts via SMS feeds and targeted e-mails, and encouraging citizens living in repressive regimes to join the information revolution with open discussions on radio and TV call-in shows and blogs. The BBG now offers diverse Internet products in all 60 broadcast languages, ranging from basic text to complex video and audio and live streaming." The White House, 10 December 2008.

Haven't they paid that €4 million for France 24 yet?

Posted: 12 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to Alain de Pouzilhac, the president of holding company Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France that includes France 24, TV5Monde and RFI, broadcasters TF1 and France Télévision should exit France 24’s stakes for an amount of €2 million each. Estimating the current value of the channel to reach €90 million, TF1, which put €18000 into France 24 at the beginning of the project, had first asked €45 million to exit." Rapid TV News, 11 December 2008. Seems to be the same news reported here on 27 October 2008.

Culture shock: from Voice of the Arabs to Voice of America.

Posted: 12 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Hafez Mizrahi, Washington-based journalist for Al Jazeera, 2000-2007, previously worked for Sawt El-Arab (Voice of the Arabs) in Egypt, then Voice of America in Washington. "'It was very difficult for me in the beginning to accept the idea of jumping from the Voice of the Arabs to Voice of America,' he jokes. But the experience was an important one for the young Mirazi, because although he had moved from one government-run station to another, the way news was handled was quite different. 'When I left, Israel was invading Beirut, and at Sawt El-Arab we faced a lot of political pressure to avoid saying anything that would ignite people’s nationalist emotions. And then I went to the States, and the first bulletin I announced included insults by Moammar El-Gaddafi against Ronald Reagan, describing him as ‘nothing but a cowboy.’ I was shocked that a government-run station would allow an Arab president to insult its own president on air. Of course in the end they put their own twist, but it revealed the difference between two types of media, one based on negating any people or news we disagree with, while the other acknowledges its opponents but tells the story with its own twist.' Fast forward 20 years, to 2003, and you find some American media making the same mistakes Mirazi had disapproved of in the Arab world." Manal el-Jesri, Egypt Today, December 2008.

Award for AJE's coverage of Burma crackdown.

Posted: 12 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English bagged a prestigious award at the Asian Television Awards (ATA) yesterday in Singapore. The channel won the honour for the best current affairs programme. Al Jazeera English received the award for 'Inside Myanmar -- The Crackdown.' Al Jazeera English Correspondent Tony Birtley’s exclusive undercover report from inside Myanmar broadcast the military launching a brutal crackdown against protesters seeking to lead a popular uprising against the regime." The Peninsula (Doha), 12 December 2008.

Availability of CNN International in New York community unappreciated by commentator.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Time Warner Cable, continuing to disturb the TV enjoyment of their customers. Just what we need, more news channels! CNN International and C-SPAN3 are not suitable consolation for the loss of four channels that people actually watch. How are decisions made at Time Warner Cable? Do they ask, 'What is the most senseless and dissatisfying choice we can make? Let's do that.' If you, too, are unhappy with Time Warner getting rid of WICU (15), WSEE (17), WPIX (11) and Global CIII (14) [Toronto] as of Dec. 31, contact them." April Diodato, The Observer (Dunkirk NY), 11 December 2008. Some viewers in the United States would appreciate the world news on CNN International largely absent on the domestic CNN and other U.S. news channels.

Australian will manage Al Jazeera English programs that are not transmitted in Australia.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Max Uechtritz has resigned as editor-in-chief of ninemsn to run English programming for Al Jazeera English in Doha. The former director of news at [Australia's] the ABC and the Nine Network will be running Al Jazeera English's suite of current affairs and documentary programs. Al Jazeera English is not yet available in Australia, but is one of the big three global news networks, alongside BBC World and CNN International and broadcasts to 130 million homes in 100 countries." The Australian, 11 December 2008.

BBC correspondent says Iraq needs U.S. shield.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"America must not do what it’s done before in the post–Cold War arena. In 1989, the US failed to build institutions in Pakistan, now one of the gravest threats to global security. In 2003, it took its eye off Afghanistan to concentrate on Iraq, and the Taliban once again encircle Kabul. If the US retains focus on Iraq, a beacon of democracy might eventually be established. Otherwise, other doctrines that filled the post-invasion vacuum may get a second wind to wage war and instability." Humphrey Hawksley, BBC world affairs correspondent, Yale Global, 10 December 2008.

Another review of CD by BBCWS World of Music host.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Charlie Gillett "host of the weekly BBC World Service show 'A World of Music,' brings all manner of sonic adventure aboard 'Beyond the Horizon' ... While Gillett could probably provide endless details about the differences between tracks, those who can't pick out the subtle nuances typifying various world-music instruments and rhythms will likely only hear similarities. It doesn't help that so many tracks stretch beyond the five- and six-minute mark. Still, Gillett makes the compilation entirely palatable, at least as background music, with a keen sense of tracking whereby one song logically leads to another in a progression that takes the audience on a gradual broad journey." Chuck Campbell, Scripps News, 8 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

New CRI FM outlet in Phnom Penh.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The China-Cambodia Friendship Radio (CCFR), a joint FM radio service between China Radio International (CRI) and Radio National of Kampuchea (RNK), was formally launched on Thursday in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. ... Listeners in Phnom Penh and surrounding areas will easily enjoy CCFR programs ranging from news on China and the world to Chinese and Cambodian music programs, according to a press release from CRI. The CCFR, with a frequency of FM 96.5 MHz, broadcasts from 6 a.m. (2300 GMT) to 24 p.m.(1700 GMT) local time everyday, the release said. The programs are in Cambodian, Chinese and English, it added." 11 December 2008. See also CRI, 11 December 2008.

New radio station for Seoul's anglophones.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Seoul’s new English-language TBS eFM features "a diverse mix of Korean and native English-speaking hosts, programming content blends an interesting balance of up-to-the minute news, current affairs and traffic and weather conditions, as well as information on Korean popular culture and in-depth commentary. Hourly international and national news updates are from sources such as the BBC. ... The station is a part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s effort to boost the nation’s image and tourism industry. To tune into TBS eFM, go to 101.3 FM or their web page, http://tbsefm.seoul.kr/" The Korea Times, 9 December 2008.

World Service fan in the UK.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"This week Marcel listened, [because of a hospital stay in the UK], to a lot of radio, especially in the middle of the night, and became besotted with the wonderfulness of the BBC World Service: 'It has managed to retain quality and variety, and is now even better, with an excellent new daily hour-long arts programme, The Strand.'" Marcel Berlins, Comment is free, The Guardian, 10 December 2008. Apparently referring to World Service programming relayed during the overnight hours on BBC Radio 4.

BBC World Service on Nokia mobile phones.

Posted: 11 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the first time, the BBC's English and Arabic international news channels are now part of Nokia's Internet Radio application on mobile phones, following an agreement between BBC World Service and Nokia. From today, three audio channels – BBC World Service in English, BBC World Service's 24-hour rolling news in English, and BBC Arabic – will be available on the latest Nokia mobile phone models as part of their preloaded Internet Radio application." BBC World Service press release, 9 December 2008.

Vietnam will police blogs. With Google and Yahoo! help?

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Vietnamese authorities plan to police the content of dissident blogs through random checks and self-policing by the country’s blogging community, a senior Vietnamese Internet security expert has said. 'There should be a legal corridor to assure better operation of the blogs,' the director of the state-run Bach Khoa Internet Security Center, Nguyen Tu Quang, told RFA’s Vietnamese service. 'We’ll manage them by randomly checking—we don’t need to control all the blogs.' ... Earlier this month, Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan was quoted as saying Hanoi would seek cooperation from Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help 'regulate' the country's flourishing blogging scene." Radio Free Asia, 9 December 2008.

Google and YouTube promises re human rights and democratization.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"America's Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday that internet company Google and online video site YouTube promised to cooperate in promoting the human rights of North Koreans and democratization of the nation via internet broadcasting. According to the RFA, the two companies discussed measures to distribute documents and videos containing human rights' issues in undemocratic countries including North Korea, Burma and Cuba at the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit held by the U.S. State Department in New York last week." chosun.com, 10 December 2008. We complain when Google and Yahoo are censored within countries like China. So do we really want Google and YouTube to be promoting things, no matter how commendable? Perhaps Google and Yahoo would be more useful as neutral, value-free, uncensored conveyances, leaving the promotion, persuasion and opinions to the users of those services.

Now fluttering over North Korea: dueling South Korean leaflets.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Conservatives in the South say leafleting is an effective means of helping North Koreans see the truth in a country where the use of radio, television, and Internet are severely limited. But liberals believe it will only enrage North Korea and result in worsening cross-border relations. Some left-leaning groups want to send in their own leaflets to make sure their view is also represented. ... Some defectors said leafleters lack understanding of the North, while others said the burgeoning leaflet war is a good thing. 'We absolutely welcome this move because, based on the explanation, the leaflets tell North Koreans about the superiority of a free democratic society and show how people in the South can express different opinions.'" Radio Free Asia, 9 December 2008. See also UPI, 10 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

China Radio International and Radio Television Malaysia exchange deal.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) will strengthen its partnership with China Radio International (CRI) through various initiatives to be implemented soon, Information Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said today. These would include an exchange programme between staff of RTM and CRI and rebroadcasting some of CRI programmes through RTM's radio stations, he told reporters after a 45-minute meeting with a nine-member CRI delegation led by its President and Editor-in-Chief, Wang Gengnian, at Angkasapuri here, Tuesday. ... 'We also discussed the possibility of programmes produced by RTM to be aired on CRI,' said Ahmad Shabery. Both organisations had also agreed to explore initiatives to cooperate in the emerging new media, including linking their official websites on the Internet and disseminating content via mobile phones." Bernama, 9 December 2008.
     "As for Radio 24 [in Malaysia], as if there wasn’t enough drama already, the station played dramatic music in the background as they reported about the landslide [at Bukit Antarabangsa in Kuala Lumpur]. I have never heard such a thing done on the BBC or the Voice of America." Anthony Thanasayan, The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 10 December 2008.

A Russian international broadcaster in China.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"China has experienced great changes during the past 30 years while maintaining its good traditions, a Russian journalist told Xinhua in a recent interview. Konstantin Garibov, 55, made his first trip to China in 1987 as correspondent of a Russian international radio station. ... Garibov and his family settled down in Beijing after he was recruited by the China Radio International in 1995. Then he worked as a language polisher in Xinhua news agency until he left for Russia in 2003." Xinhua, 10 December 2008. In 1987, it was still the USSR. The "Russian international radio station" was probably Radio Moscow, though it possibly could have been Radio Station Peace & Progress or one of the Russian-language international services.

The new BBC/DW DRM service is on the air. Now try to find it on your radio.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC and DW join in creating a new radio channel with a mix of global news and current affairs on Digital Radio Mondiale. On Dec. 10, European listeners will get the best of both stations in a single quality channel. Broadcast in clear digital quality, the new DRM channel will be available from early morning till late at night with global news and current affairs along with a rich mix of in-depth analysis, documentaries and cultural programs. The channel will target Western and Central Europe with a potential audience of 170 million listeners. ... Because it is digital, DRM reception is of equally high quality no matter where a listener turns it on -- in cities and in dense forests, inside a house or an apartment complex or even while driving a car. Plus, DRM is still a radio, meaning that listeners do not need an internet connection to listen to their favorite programs." DW, 12 December 2008. This is a DW news story, but it reads like a press release. And it does not provide the frequency of this new DRM service, or even indicate if it is medium wave or shortwave. DRM reception may not be of "equally high quality ... inside a house or an apartment complex" because DRM is vulnerable to signal loss due to the interference typically experienced inside these domiciles. See also the DW press release, 10 December 2008, which does provide, at least, the medium wave frequency: "The broadcast can be heard from 06:00 to 24:00 CET on shortwave and on 1296 medium wave." The 1296 kHz is via a 500-kilowatt BBC transmitter in Orfordness, England.
     See program schedule and other information at the DRM Consortium website, 10 December 2008. The DRM site has this schedule of all DRM transmissions, but the shortwave frequencies of this new BBC/DW service are not clearly identified, if they are there at all. Why are the parties involved making it so difficult to hear this new service on shortwave? U.S. members of the Yahoo drmna discussion group have been hearing the BBC/DW DRM transmission on 9545 kHz shortwave.
     David Murphy in Dresden writes: "I'm listening to BBC/DW on DRM on 3995 kHz. (A frequency previously used for DW DRM in English.) They have their own trails. At the top of this hour they said 'It's just approaching 18 CET and you're welcome on our very first day to the new DRM channel from the BBC and Deutsche Welle. It's great to have you with us. DRM Digital Radio. The BBC and Deutsche Welle on DRM Digital Radio. Better radio. Altogether.' From the schedule, it doesn't appear that any content will be available which is not already available through other means. (One of the arguments made about how to attract listeners is that it should be unique content.) But I'll not complain too loudly, since this DRM service is a reasonable replacement for my recently-lost FM BBC relay here."

Books for the shortwave listener.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
The 2009 Passport to World Band Radio "includes reviews of dozens of receivers and antennas; hour-by-hour descriptions of shows that can be heard in English; country-by-country schedules in English and other languages; frequency-by-frequency graphics of all channels and languages; and a look at developments in South America." Paul J. McLane, Radio World, 9 December 2009.
     PWBR's mainstay is its reviews of shortwave receivers, from small portables costing less than $50, to professional communications receivers with price tags up to $8000. PWBR obliquely acknowledges the declining availability of both shortwave broadcasts and shortwave receivers.
     Also available is the 2009 World Radio TV Handbook. The WRTH is much more about radio than television. Most of its pages are devoted to domestic radio in each country. Inexperienced readers might miss the international radio section near the back of the book, but this is the most convenient overview of international radio broadcasting, country by country, with schedules, information about transmitters, and contact information.
     Also keep in mind Jerry Berg's two recent books, Broadcasting on the Short Waves: 1945 to Today, and Listening on the Short Waves: 1945 to Today, both published by McFarland. See reviews.
     All of the above mentioned books are available at Universal Radio.

Qatar as media center: a mixed picture.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Qatari officials have spoken of attracting international TV and press correspondents to a new dedicated Media City, but analysts believe any plan would be stymied by the success of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in hosting media organisations. The state likes to say it is committed to freedom of speech but local and Arabic-speaking journalists say self-censorship is second nature: off-limits subjects include questioning the ruling family’s right to power or how it exercises that authority. ... Some of al-Jazeera’s boldness has been reined in. Critical coverage of Saudi Arabia has been toned down after Qatar last year publicly reconciled with Riyadh." Financial Times, 8 December 2008.

On Al Jazeera's children's channel: walking, talking, dancing Welsh sheep.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Famed for its videos of terrorists preaching jihad from caves, Al Jazeera has become one of the most controversial media organisations in the world. Which makes its latest link-up all the more surprising: a singing, dancing flock of multiracial Welsh sheep. S4C children’s show Meees has become the first UK programme to be co-produced with the Arabic broadcaster’s children’s channel, JCC. ... The programme’s executive producer, Nia Ceidiog, ... said: 'JCC like Meees because it’s about how you get on with each other and family values. That’s very important in Arabic culture. It’s also very funny and quite different – you don’t normally see sheep walking and talking.'" Western Mail (Cardiff), 9 December 2008.
     "Saladin," production of Malaysia's Multimedia Development Corporation, has co-production deal with Al Jazeera Children's Channel. WorldScreen.com, December 2008.

VOA-PBS "negotiations" affect Newshour viewing in New Zealand.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Problems in the United States between the PBS and Voice of America (VOA) TV networks has had an effect in New Zealand and called for a bit of Kiwi ingenuity. Jim Blackman, chief executive of Triangle and Stratos television channels, says the channels have not been able to access the Lehrer Newshour due to negotiations between the two US parties. 'While we were disappointed, our viewers were clearly annoyed and like us didn’t understand the reasons why,' says Blackman, who says the huge number of calls to the station spurred his team into finding a Kiwi fix. 'We contacted PBS direct and got permission to rebroadcast the Newshour at least in the meantime from another source.' ... The channels screen news and current affairs services in English from Al Jazeera, 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." Triangle Television press release, 10 December 2008. So it appears the Public Broadcasting System is no longer allowing VOA to carry Newshour on VOA's satellite network. Is PBS perhaps planning its own international distribution? Or maybe VOA is no longer allowing Newshour to hitchhike on VOA's satellite capacity to the Pacific region.
     Across the Tasman Sea, David Malone, chief executive of Premier Media Group, Sydney, watches "Sky News channel, BBC World and Fox News." The Age (Melbourne), 10 December 2008.

Free channels, via satellite, to African schools.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"MultiChoice Africa this week said it is proud to announce the addition of two more internationally acclaimed channels to the DStv Education Bouquet. This specialist bouquet is used at MultiChoice Resource Centres, which form part of the company’s extensive Pan-African corporate social investment strategy." BBC Knowledge and National Geographic Wild join the other channels available free to schools: History Channel, Mindset Learn, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, BBC World, and NBC. New Era (Windhoek), 9 December 2008. The "NBC" is probably Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.

Albanian television comes to Germany.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The German cable operator KabelBW has said it will expand its offer of international programming with the introduction of an Albanian pay-TV package and new Italian channels. From December 16, Kabel Digital International Albanian will offer ... RTV21, KTV Kohavision and TV Alsat and radio stations Radio Dukagjini and Radio 21." Broadband TV News, 9 december 2008.

Muslim-friendly Muxlim.com is from Finland, of all places.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"A trial version of the world's first Muslim-friendly virtual world has gone online where users can create their own persona, design their own rooms, buy virtual items and interact with others. Called Muxlim Pal and created by the Finnish-based company Muxlim.com, the English-language site caters primarily to Muslims living in western countries who long to reconnect with other Muslims and Muslim culture. ... On Muxlim.com, visitors can read Al-Jazeera news, listen to the Koran and chat with people, among other things." AFP, 10 December 2008.

How the international channels covered the Ghanaian election.

Posted: 10 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Praise for BBC World News and Al Jazeera English, but not for CNN International, Sky News, or EuroNews. Oluniyi David Ajao, Joy Online, 8 December 2008. "The pitiful global coverage of the Ghanaian election reinforces the need for better and wider spread African news coverage, that isn’t just the stereotypical coverage we’re so used to." Judith Townend, journalism.co.uk, 8 December 2008.

Radio France International Russian will drop shortwave in favor of internet and cell phone delivery.

Posted: 09 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Sergei S. writes: "RFI Russian will be abandoning SW for Internet and cell phone platforms. (Last December RFI voluntarily gave up its AM frequency in Moscow.) Previously RFI Russian reported on this sad development. They say they got many mail/email responses but it seems that RFI's destiny is sealed. Their last hope is a petition that has already been signed by 'French journalists, public figures, Russian émigrés' -- http://www.gopetition.com/online/23691.html." The petition mentions that the last day of shortwave will be 31 January. Sergei also forwards this e-mail (in Russian) to RFI Russian listeners. -- See also Ted Lipien, Free Media Online blog, 4 December 2008.

Border radio in 1960s South Africa (updated).

Posted: 09 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The radio waves in South Africa ... were controlled by the Nationalist government whose vigilance and restrictive mores prescribed content. Rock music, for example, was forbidden on Sundays. The state-owned SABC banned the Beatles because of a religious remark made by John Lennon and gagged a number of popular folk troubadours believing their subversive lyrics would agitate unrest. That hardly put us off. We were young, spirited and anxious to keep in touch with the ’60s revolution. LM Radio plugged the gap. Run by Issy Kirsch (of Talk Radio 702 fame), the station built a huge listenership by broadcasting non-stop rock and roll on short wave from Mozambique. Sunday evening’s LM Hit Parade, presented by David Davies, was the station’s most popular show by a long stretch." David Shapiro, The Times (Johannesburg), 11 November 2008. LM Radio, as in Lourenço Marques Radio, from what is now Maputo, functioning for South Africa much like Radio Luxembourg to the UK during the BBC monopoly. See also www.lmradio.org.
     Update: Chris Turner provides this correction: "LM Radio was owned by the Mozambican broadcaster Radio Clube de Mocambique. The English service franchise was held by a South African advertising mogule, Mr GJ McHarry. The station was actually operated and managed by Davenport and Meyer Pty Ltd who were based in Johannesburg. Richard Meyer was formerly General Manager at the International Broadcasting Company in London prior to World War II. Meyer was the boss of Radio Normandy and Radio Cote D Azur and also produced programming for Radio Luxembourg. Issie Kirsh was the founder of Swazi Music Radio which opened in 1969 as a competitor to LM Radio. SMR only really took off after LM Radio closed in 1975."

VOA among recipients of threatening e-mails.

Posted: 09 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"India has put several international airports on 'red alert' following repeated e-mailed threats to target air facilities in New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai and hijack airliners. ... Threatening e-mails sent to media organizations (including the Voice of America) have been traced to a computer relay server in Saudi Arabia." VOA News, 4 December 2008.

The new VOA calendars are out!

Posted: 09 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of Americas (VOA) 2009 calendar features individual stories and pictures of international broadcasters who reach millions of people around the world with news and information. ... The calendar features broadcasters who are natives of Burma, Haiti, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Tunisia, Indonesia, Iran, Tibet, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Pakistan." VOA press release, 5 December 2008, includes downloadable pdf version.

"Zha Zha Club" is CRI hit.

Posted: 09 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Taking the name of her first band Zha Zha Club as her brand, [Kelly Cha] pitched the idea of a radio show to China Radio International... It split between an hour of her DJ'ing and then interview and jam sessions. It was a hit. 'Right from the start, I played a lot of Western music and the jams were often covers of Beatles songs and such. It really connected with the audience.'" The Province (Vancouver), 7 December 2008. The program appears to be only on Easy FM, CRI's domestic service. The example I listened to was mostly in Mandarin, with some English. See also Zha Zha Club web page.

In Cuba, where PCs are generally unavailable, bloggers.

Posted: 09 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cuban bloggers began a workshop to exchange information despite warnings by the island's authorities not to do so, according to a press release issued Saturday in Havana." Latin American Herald Tribune, 7 December 2008.
     Yoani Sanchez's "lyrically and masterfully written blog, Generacion Y, is the most prominent online site in Cuba—if such a thing even exists. Access to the Internet is severely restricted there, and the Havana government shows no hesitation in censoring a long list of sites, including Sanchez's." Mother Jones, 8 December 2008.

December 1941: are accounts of phony shortwave weather reports just hot air?

Posted: 09 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"It was early morning, Thursday, Dec. 4, 1941, when senior radio operator Ralph Briggs came on duty to his post at the U.S. Navy shortwave monitoring station in Maryland. The radio crackled as he tuned his receiver to a specific station in order to begin daily monitoring of the regional weather forecast from Radio Tokyo, Japan. He began transcribing what he heard. [He heard the words:] 'Higashi no kaze ame.' 'East Wind, Rain.' ... They were one of three possible execute messages that Japanese diplomats around the world were told to listen for beginning on November 19. Those three words, meant war with the United States." Richard Olivastro, Townhall.com, 7 December 2008. See also WBRZ-TV, 7 December 2008.
     "After analyzing American and foreign intelligence sources and decrypted cables, historians for the National Security Agency concluded in a documentary history released last week that whatever other warnings reached Washington about the attack, the 'winds execute' message was not one of them." New York Times, 6 December 2008.
     Ethnic Japanese held in Canadian camps during World War II: "While radios were banned in the camp, along with cameras and newspapers, Otto said sympathetic deliverymen had smuggled one to the family, and some of the men had fashioned a crude short-wave radio. That was how they heard about the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and heard Emperor Hirohito saying he believed the war was over and apologizing to his own people." The Herald (Monterey CA), 7 December 2008.
     World War II in the Philippines: "As finances dwindled, food became scarce. I remember seeing Papa and our uncles risking arrest, huddled around a short-wave radio to listen to any voice that could tell them about victory and liberation." Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7 December 2008.

U.S. international broadcasting is "disengaged from the broader U.S. public diplomacy strategy." Good.

Posted: 08 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"America’s broadcasting strategy and organization needs a serious review and rethinking to adapt to the age we live in. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is a confusing jumble of broadcasting agencies that are currently disengaged from the broader U.S. public diplomacy strategy. A newly released BBG strategic plan for 2008-2013 calls for closer collaboration with U S public diplomacy but that effort has not yet begun and would represent a break from past principles While the various BBG services have introduced laudable new initiatives such as websites and call-in shows to facilitate dialogue as well as one-way messages, its methods are nonetheless in need of review. This review should include an analysis of U S government outreach to foreign media outlets in information-saturated markets as well as a review of media outlets funded by the American taxpayer." From Kristin M. Lord, "Voices of America: U.S. Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century," Brookings Institution, November 2008. Better than being disengaged from the broader reason people tune to international broadcasts. People do not go to the effort of tuning international broadcasts to get the latest public diplomacy. They tune in to get the latest, reliable, credible news. One of the chief purposes of the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 was to get U.S. international broadcasting "disengaged from the broader U.S. public diplomacy strategy." This would allow USIB to achieve credibility, without which there is no audience.

What do Whoopi Goldberg and James K. Glassman have in common?

Posted: 07 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Waiting for the world to change? So are Millions of viewers expected to visit howcast.com for a live stream of the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit. Access 360 Media, Facebook, Youtube, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the U.S. Department of State are also sponsoring the inaugural event at Columbia University Dec.4-5. Guest speakers include Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Moskovitz, the co-founder of Facebook, James K. Glassman, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State,Oscar Morales, Founder of One Million Voices Against the FARC,Roman Tsunder, Founder and President of Access 360 Media." Marketing Shift, 4 December 2008. See also Alliance of Youth Movements Summit.
     "Go on the Internet to make friends — and world peace. That was the message yesterday from a New York conference on the potential power of Internet social networking tools like Facebook to counter terrorism and repressive governments. 'New technology gives the United States and other free nations a significant advantage over terrorists,' US Undersecretary of State James Glassman told Web entrepreneurs and human rights activists at New York’s Columbia University Law School." AFP, 4 December 2008.
     "Internet social networking tools have also been key to many anti-war and anti-torture campaigns directed against US foreign policy, and which accuse Washington of committing war crimes." Middle East Online, 5 December 2008.
     "A member of an Islamic jihadist forum has urged supporters to wage a 'YouTube Invasion' by uploading propaganda videos to the popular video-sharing website." AFP, 4 December 2008.
     I'm too unsociable to socially network.

Public diplomacy: measuring the movement of the needle.

Posted: 07 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The State Department last year spent $357 million on diplomacy programs designed to create a positive image of the United States in other parts of the world. ... But in 2006, the OMB gave the State Department a poor rating on its ability to measure the effectiveness of those diplomacy programs. ... The division's first step was to reduce its number of performance measures from an unmanageable 898 down to 15, and to develop six outcome measurements. One of those six is 'Initiation of positive change to local communities'; another is 'Reduced anti-Americanism.' ... All of this resulted in a difficult-to-digest 300-page report. So the division created a Public Diplomacy Impact dashboard accessible on the State Department's intranet, based on Business Objects Xcelsius data-visualization software. The dashboard provides State Department executives with budget details, plus how far it's come in achieving its six outcome measures based on survey data." InformationWeek, 6 December 2008.
     This is certainly better than some some high-ranking bureaucrat proclaiming "we are doing an outstanding job." But there are some some pitfalls to these clinical assessments. For example, if comparisons are made between target countries, the difficulty of conducting research in each country, as well as cultural variables, must be taken into account.
     These types of measures will not work for international broadcasting. In contrast to public diplomacy, the role of international broadcasting is informing rather than persuading its audiences. The communication process of international broadcasting is subtle and takes place over the long term. Because the content focuses on news and current affairs rather than entertainment, it will not typically have mass appeal. Therefore, a good measure for international broadcasting would be the percent (not raw number) of better-educated persons who listen, view or use the international broadcaster's content each week.

Smith-Mundt will be discussed on 13 January.

Posted: 07 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948: A Discussion to Shape America's Discourse will take place January 13, 2009 at The Reserve Officer's Association in Washington, D.C., at the intersection of First Street and Constitution Avenue, NE. "The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 ... was distorted into a barrier of engagement. From its propaganda and counter-propaganda intentions, it transformed into an anti-propaganda law for reasons that had little to nothing to do with concerns over domestic influence and far removed from the original intent of the law. The resulting firewall has never been extensively explored or debated, the effects of which are broad and deep. The Smith-Mundt Act is believed by some to cover the activities of the State Department, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Defense Department, the Agency for International Development, and more. It is time to put the law into its proper context, especially in today's global information environment." Smith-Mundt Symposium website. See also mountainrunner.us.

VOA reports on Zimbabwean entry in RCI film competition.

Posted: 07 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Zimbabwean film maker Rumbi Katedza's short film 'Asylum' has been receiving rave reviews around the world. It's made it into the semi-final round of an international competition organized by Radio Canada [International]. ... She's calling on Zimbabweans to go to the Radio Canada International Migrations website www.rciviva.ca/migrations to watch her film." VOA News, 4 December 2008.

DW for China "will never be a surrogate service" (updated again).

Posted: 07 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
Kai Ludwig in Germany writes: "DW director Erik Bettermann said in an Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg interview about DW's Chinese service that it would be jammed by China at varying intensity. He said that they 'are playing music over it', an obvious reference to Firedrake [jamming using Chinese opera]. I never heard about DW being amongst the victims of the SARFT [China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television] transmission command, so what are the experiences? I tried some of the recordings of DW Chinese currently available in IBB's RMS and found that reception of the 1030-1150 transmission was rather noisy on all frequencies while for the 2300-2350 transmission Yelizovo (Kamchatka) on 11830 was pretty good. Be that as it may, nowhere a trace of jamming, also not of co-channeling with CNR-1, since what I heard was no doubt the DW programming, judging from German takes with voice-over and various keywords. ... And to summarize Bettermann's points of view: They have translated many Chinese programs (back) to German and found no any evidence for the claim that they praised the Chinese regime. [See previous post.] It can be asked how good the journalistic work was, but these critical points do not justify the assertion that DW is a mouthpiece of China's Communist Party. External experts will be consulted to improve the quality of the programmes. DW has to keep its journalistic distance, not only from the regime but also from the dissidents. 'We are no missionary station' and DW will never be a surrogate service, also not for countries with a dictatorship."
     "Germany's international broadcaster, government- funded Deutsche Welle (DW), said Monday an internal inquiry had disproved claims that its Chinese-language programming had a pro- Beijing bias. Before this year's summer Olympic Games in Beijing, controversy erupted over allegations by German critics that DW was not neutral. But a detailed analysis showed the 'groundless' claims were based on poor translations. DW chief executive Erik Bettermann also said DW would be increasing its English-language television programming abroad in the next few years, and as a first step would increase English transmissions to Asia to 18 hours daily." DPA, 1 December 2008. See also DW press release on 1 December 2008 and separate release, same date. And Deutschlandradio Kultur, 1 December 2008.
     See Kai's Ludwig's summary translation of these three items. This now has an update sent by Kai on 4 December 2008, including a statement by 100 DW staff members who have set up a "Pro Deutsche Welle" action group.

BBC withdraws report about Delhi airport incident.

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has expressed regret after wrongly reporting live on air yesterday night that six gunmen had been killed at Delhi airport in India. ... An unnamed BBC news correspondent, who was caught up in a security alert at the airport sparked by reports of gunshots, reported that he was told by staff that six gunmen had been killed. The report was first aired at 8.10pm yesterday night on the BBC News channel and was subsequently carried on the global BBC World News service and the BBC News website. Following denials by the Indian authorities, the BBC withdrew the claim." The Guardian, 5 December 2008.

VOV-CRI cooperation deal.

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Vietnamese radio station, the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) renewed a co-operation agreement with the Chinese broadcaster, China Radio International (CRI) in Hanoi on December 3. ... The renewed co-operation agreement was extended to encompass new co-operation fields, including television, the internet, and the exchange of trainees." Nhan Dan, 4 December 2008.

Al Jazeera English available in 20 million African households.

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network has revealed that its English news channel now broadcasts to more than 20 million households in Sub-Saharan Africa, following a raft of new distribution partnerships across the continent. Al Jazeera English is now available across Africa in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The channel's unique African access and its mission to focus on untold stories from underreported regions is proving to be immensely popular with African audiences." The Peninsula, 6 December 2008. "The Network has thirteen bureaus spread across the region, from Morocco to South Africa, and is the only international broadcaster with a permanent office in Zimbabwe." See previous post about same subject. The Tripoli Post, 5 December 2008. This presumably means that Al Jazeera English is now available to 20 million households in Africa, not that people in all those households are actually watching.

More about Al Jazeera's portal for unpaid -- oops -- citizen journalists (updated).

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"In an effort to increase citizen journalism in the Middle East, Al Jazeera has just launched a new Internet platform under the name 'Sharek' (to share or contribute in Arabic.) Through the site, users can upload video clips from mobile phones, web or video cams from events or everyday life in the Arab world. Users can also send their media files by email or directly through their mobile phones. ... The project is similar to CNN’s iReport. ... The site is currently available in Arabic, but word has it that an English language version is on its way." Menassat, 3 December 2008. Update: See also The National, 3 December 2008 and AdNation, 4 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Turkey's TRT claims to be "one of the world’s five largest broadcast corporations."

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), which has multilingual television programming in the works, has become one of the world’s five largest broadcast corporations with the introduction of Internet and radio broadcasts in 30 languages. ... One of the most interesting languages is Uygur. The language has had no radio broadcasts in the past, and special permission was obtained from the Chinese authorities. An overwhelmingly positive response has been received for the first radio station in Uygur and the accompanying Internet programming by Uygur Turks. ... The top four broadcast corporations in terms of multilingual content are: Voice of America (47 languages), China Radio [International] (45 languages), Voice of Russia (33 languages) and BBC World Service (32 languages). [TRT languages are] Arabic, Albanian, Azeri Turkish, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Dari, English, Farsi, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Pashto, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Uygur and Uzbek." International broadcasters are more often compared by their number of broadcast hours per week, rather than their number of languages. Deutsche Welle also claims 30 languages, and some religious international broadcasters would claim more. Also, Radio Free Asia has broadcast for a few years in Uyghur. And RFA certainly did not seek Chinese permission for those broadcasts. See previous post about same subject.

Internet restrictions in Russia?

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"In the name of fighting extremism, a group of United Russia Duma deputies has proposed new legislation that would allow the government to impose sanctions on those who distribute what Moscow believes are 'extremist' materials via the Internet and to close down the sites they post them on. But just how expansive their understanding of 'extremism' may be and how much of a threat what they are proposing to do poses to the free flow of information is suggested in an article posted on one Moscow analytic site day which defines as 'extremist' many things that most people would consider simply to be news and information. And even though the nature of the world wide web is such that Russian government efforts in this area are unlikely to be fully effective, such moves against what many consider to be the last free media space in Russia represent a further act of intimidation by Vladimir Putin and his associates against the embattled members of civil society in that country." Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, 5 December 2008.

Internet-based solutions for international radio listening.

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Not many people have shortwave radios in their attics anymore. I've known people who could waste hours listening to radio broadcasts from around the world just to see what life in other places is like. Thankfully, RadioBeta, a Web service that aggregates and streams radio stations all over the globe, gives me a chance to experience that sense of wonder for myself. With a few clicks I can listen to the top hits in the Dominican Republic, or listen to news programs from New Zealand." AppScout, 5 December 2008.
     "More than a half-century after introducing one of the world's first transistor radios, SANYO is making the exciting world of free internet radio easily accessible without a computer. Designed with the contemporary look and familiar functionality of a clock radio, and the sound quality of much more expensive audio systems, the SANYO Internet Radio R227 can play thousands of crystal-clear internet radio stations and podcasts, all without a subscription fee. ... The SANYO Internet Radio R227 has an MSRP of $169.99. It will be available in the U.S.A. in January 2009." Sanyo press release, 4 December 2008.
     "iLuv have officially announced their latest internet radio, the iLuv iNT170, with access to 15,000 radio stations and podcasts, twin 2.5W stereo speakers and WiFi." SlashGear, 4 December 2008.
     "WiFi internet radios, which allow people to listen to nearly 10,000 different stations from around the world, are set to become one of the Christmas must-have presents, with sales doubling in the last three months. ... Most sets list the stations by country, allowing people to tune into Quran Kareem Radio from Kuwait in the kitchen, or Bravo Radio from Bulgaria in the bathroom." The Telegraph, 28 November 2008.

International channels via Mobile TV in India.

Posted: 06 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Reliance Communications (RCom), Qualcomm, Aricent, and Aksh Optifibre are players actively promoting Mobile TV in India. RCom was reportedly the first operator to launch Mobile TV in December 2005. The company is offering live and synchronized audio as well as video streaming services over its CDMA 2000 1xRTT network and customers who have these handsets can go to Reliance Mobile World to view and download video clips. Channels such as Aaj Tak, NDTV, BBC World News, Times Now, and CNBC amongst others are available on Reliance Mobile World." Express Computer, 8 December 2008 issue.

Radio Free NK is winner of Reporters Without Borders Prize.

Posted: 05 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
A Reporters sans frontières jury "awarded the 2008 Media prize to Radio Free NK’s North Korean journalists in order to pay tribute to their courage and determination. Kim Jong-il’s totalitarian regime has Radio Free NK, North Korean’s first dissident radio station, in its sights. Obsessed by the desire to control news and information, the regime has on several occasions threatened to suspend dialogue with South Korea if this Seoul-based station is not banned. The North Korean journalists who produce Free NK’s programmes are often threatened and the South Korean police have been protecting its manager since a plot to kill him was foiled. ... Thanks to a network of clandestine correspondents inside North Korea and in the Chinese border area, Free NK is able to broadcast exclusive news reports about the world’s most closed country. Its manager, Kim Seong-min, a former North Korean government poet, uses a very 'North Korean' style in the programmes in order to better reach listeners who have heard nothing but official propaganda for 60 years." RSF, 4 December 2008.

Radio Farda chief editor "craves legitimacy."

Posted: 05 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Since becoming chief editor of Radio Farda a year ago, [Golnaz] Esfandiari has had one mission: to transform the 24-hour Persian-language news and music station into the best source of information on Iran in the world. ... Improvement means admitting that the station had its weaknesses. 'Before I joined Farda, I thought there was little story telling elements' in some broadcasts and 'very little or almost no interaction with listeners.' ... Esfandiari tries to combat skepticism that some Iranians might feel towards a U.S.-backed enterprise by providing professional, objective reporting that represents diverse perspectives left out of reports from inside Iran. She craves legitimacy. 'Nobody, nobody, tells us, "You have to report on this or do that,"' Esfandiari said to critics who call the station 'the CIA radio.'" Prague Wanderer, 30 November 2008.

RFE/RL journalist freed by Taliban (updated again).

Posted: 05 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Taliban militants who kidnapped two Afghan journalists have released them after three days in captivity, officials said Sunday. The two journalists freed late Saturday are Dawa Khan Menapal of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Aziz Popal, who worked for a local TV station in Kandahar... Salih Mohammad Salih, who worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said a Taliban commander named Rakmatullah repeatedly called him and told him he would send suicide bombers to attack him. Salih resigned from his job earlier this month. ... 'As you know I have no soldiers to protect me. I can't protect myself,' Salih said. 'And my company told me they could not protect me. That's why I left.'" AP, 30 November 2008.
     "Aziz Popal, 25 ... decided to try the dangerous six-hour drive with a colleague, Dawa Khan Menapal of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Afghan professionals who travel that road sometimes strip themselves of anything that might link them with the foreign presence in the country, leaving behind their ID cards, hiding personal electronics, and clearing numbers from their cell phones. But the journalists didn't have time for such preparations, and climbed into a Toyota Corolla with all the accessories of their profession: notebook, camera, and mini-disc audio recorder." Globe and Mail, 1 December 2008.
     Update: "I had gradually discovered that many of my captors were avid Radio Free Afghanistan (RFA) listeners. Many people in that southern region listen to our broadcasts, and the Taliban in particular. They never complained of any one-sidedness in RFA's coverage, I would note, although they frequently lamented that 'the media' did not give them fair coverage. During our captivity, local commanders repeatedly told me that their leaders wanted us to remember that we should always be independent journalists. I told them that we are independent journalists and our radio is independent with a policy of fairness. We follow internationally established principles of [balanced] journalism. And we will keep doing so forever -- again and again." Dawa Khan Meenapal, RFE/RL, 4 December 2008.

BBC, RFE/RL off the air in Kyrgyzstan.

Posted: 05 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Kyrgyzstan has taken the BBC's local radio service and U.S-funded Radio Liberty off the air after accusing them of violating their obligations, the Kyrgyz state broadcaster said on Friday. The state television and radio company KNTR said it had switched off the British Broadcasting Corporation's local radio service because it failed to install required radio equipment. ... He said the local service of Prague-based RFE/RL had also been taken off the air because it owed his company $57,000 (38,924 pounds) in service fees. RFE/RL could not be reached for comment." Reuters, 5 December 2008.
     "The BBC has broadcast news programs three hours daily on the state radio station in Russian and Kyrgyz. It has been operating in the former Soviet nation since the mid-1990s." AP, 5 December 2008.
     Not reported yet at the RFE/RL website, but: "Dozens of employees at the Kyrgyz National TV and Radio Broadcasting Corporation (UTRK) have begun a protest against the company's director." RFE/RL News, 4 December 2008.

Still much ado about Azerbaijan (updated).

Posted: 05 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The broadcast of foreign radio stations in Azerbaijan will depend on intergovernmental agreements, member of [the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council] Gafar Jabiyev, said. ... The Council can extend the term of license of foreign radio station only in case agreement is reached with the countries which own these radio stations including Voice of America, Radio Liberty and BBC, Jabiyev said." Trend News Agency, 3 December 2008.
     Officials of the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the U.S. Embassy Baku meet with the chairman of the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council Nushiravan Maharramli. APA (Baku), 3 December 2008.
     "Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis ... said he would discuss the issue with Azeri officials." RFE/RL News, 2 December 2008. See also VOA News, 2 December 2008.
     "The opposition says the proposed move was another attempt to stifle criticism of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, who won re-election in a landslide victory in October." The Moscow Times, 4 December 2008.
     Update: "A plan by Azerbaijan's government to suspend international radio broadcasts from local frequencies early next year would deal a serious blow to the country's already dismal press freedom record. The change, expected to take place January 1, would prevent most Azeri citizens from accessing news broadcasts from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the BBC and Voice of America. ... Blocking the broadcasts of Radio Liberty, The BBC and VOA would be a huge step backward in an environment that already suffers from a lack of credible, independent information," said Christopher Walker, Freedom House director of studies. "Azeri society will suffer as corruption becomes more deeply entrenched due to the country's increasingly non-transparent and unaccountable governance." Freedom House, 4 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.

BBC shipping container arrives in the United States (updated).

Posted: 05 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC World News America anchor "Matt Frei will broadcast portside as The BBC Box, a branded shipping container, arrives at the port of Los Angeles. The Box is criss-crossing the globe with various cargoes in an experiment to lift the veil on the global economy. The Box then begins a cross-country journey. Frei will talk to officials about the impact of the global economic downturn on the shipping industry." Media Bistro, 3 December 2008. See also BBC Box web page.
     Update: "Have you spotted the Box? Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk" BBC News, 4 December 2008. "You can imagine the creative meeting that took place for the BBC's latest adventure in programming-using-other-people's-money: To explain globalization, let's send a shipping container around the world! It'll be as compelling as stolen garden gnomes sending postcards home!" Denis Boyles, National Review Online media blog, 4 December 2008.

BBC World Service yields to Foreign Office request on Somali pirate report.

Posted: 04 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Foreign Office has effectively stopped the BBC World Service from broadcasting a radio programme relating to the Somalia Sirius Star pirate hijackings. The FO said the programme, which originally appeared on Radio 4 and had been repeated 48 times on the World Service network, was interfering with efforts to bring the hijack to a conclusion. The World Service agreed to the request, even though the programme is still available online. The episode of From Our Own Correspondent included a report that the pirates could be spoken to by telephone and the FO claimed members of the public were blocking phone lines to the ship, although the 'phone number was never revealed. The National Union of Journalists is not happy with what it sees as interference in independent reporting and wrote in a letter to World Service director Nigel Chapman: 'It may be that there was a good reason for the World Service decision but information from my members suggests otherwise. This is an issue that could severely damage the World Service's reputation for independent journalism because it looks as if we have given into government pressure for no good reason.' However, the BBC said the programme wasn't pulled because of the journalism and the FO had not affected the World Service's independence. A spokesperson said: 'The safety of the hostages is paramount and the [Foreign Office] is clear that this request was about saving lives and not editorial interference. We are satisfied that this is the case.'" www.publicservice.co.uk, 4 December 2008.
     "A spokesman for the FCO told the Guardian: 'The programme in question explained how easy it was to call the pirates on the telephone, on a number which is publicly available. We were asked to approach the BBC since, after each broadcast, the high volume of copycat calls to the number effectively closed the channel of communication with the hostage-takers. This hindered efforts to verify the crew's welfare and encourage their safe release. We explained this concern to the BBC which, upon consideration, undertook not to broadcast later repeats. We believe it right and proper to have such discussions with media outlets when lives may be at risks, as we have had in previous such cases. As the BBC has said, it considered our representations and chose itself to adjust its programming. This has nothing to do with questions of editorial independence, rather it is to do with both organisations being keen to avoid prolonging the hostages' ordeal.'" The Guardian, 4 December 2008.
     The headline of the first item, "Foreign Office stops BBC programme," was certainly enough to induce arythmia. Has World Service become an instrument of British public diplomacy? We are more used to reading about BBCWS defying the government.
     This incident could become fodder for those in the United States who want international broadcasting to be brought (back) into conformity with U.S. public diplomacy.
     The key distinction is that the content was withdrawn by the decision of the BBC, at the request of the Foreign Office. Most other independent news organizations have done the same, from time to time. There was -- apparently -- no actual directive handed down.
     BBC World Service will, in the long run, protect its reputation by declining government requests more often than it complies with them. And by continuing to insist that it is not part of UK public diplomacy (as it did on 15 December 2005). I hope the BBC issues a statement explaining this episode.
     See said report from "From Our Own Correspondent." The host of the program, Alan Johnston, was a detainee himself, held by the Army of Islam from March to July 2007.

Heritage shoots self with own bullet point.

Posted: 04 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Launch a public diplomacy campaign to explain to the Iranian people how the regime's nuclear weapons program and hard-line policies hurt their economic and national interests. Iran's clerical regime has tightened its grip on the media in recent years, shutting down more than 100 independent newspapers, jailing journalists, closing down Web sites, and arresting bloggers. The U.S. and its allies should work to defeat the regime's suppression of independent media by increasing Farsi broadcasts by such government-sponsored media as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe (Radio Farda), and other information sources. The free flow of information is essential to the free flow of political ideas. The Iranian people need access to information about the activities of opposition groups, both within and outside of Iran, and the plight of dissidents." James Phillips and Peter Brookes, Heritage Foundation, 3 December 2008. So the United States should counter the suppression of independent media in Iran by suppressing the independence of U.S. international broadcasting, forcing the radios to adhere to U.S. public diplomacy talking points about Iran's nuclear program. Some of us think it would be better to allow the U.S. international broadcasters to cover the news. This will include Iran's nuclear program, and reaction thereto, as a matter of course.

More public diplomacy advice for the new administration.

Posted: 04 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The time when the US government's public diplomacy apparatus could control the message emanating from our shores is long past. What it can do is offer structure and context. Culturally speaking, Washington can't fight Hollywood when it comes to America's image overseas - but it can build on it. None of this is going to happen, however, unless the Obama administration makes international outreach an early, and visible, priority." Gordon Robison, Gulf News (Dubai), 2 December 2008.
     "At a time when America's need to engage with the world has never been greater, funding for public diplomacy has been shrinking. USIA libraries and cultural centers, where young Arabs once could interact with Americans, have long been shuttered. While terrorists set up Web chat rooms, we have no capacity to interact with a global generation that uses the Internet." Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 December 2008. Complete nonsense. The State Department has staff responding to overseas blogs in at least three languages. (See previous post.) There is also the public diplomacy America.gov in seven languages (it should be in more languages). And there are recent State Department initiatives in various social networking sites. On the international broadcasting side (which complements the public diplomacy side), VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, and the other elements have websites full of content, and they are also experimenting in the social networking realm.

NATO in Afghanistan: putting news and propaganda in the same outbox? (updated)

Posted: 04 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. general commanding NATO forces in Afghanistan has ordered a merger of the office that releases news with 'Psy Ops,' which deals with propaganda, a move that goes against the alliance's policy, three officials said. ... Information Operations advises on information designed to affect the will of the enemy, while Psy Ops includes so-called 'black operations,' or outright deception. While Public Affairs and Information Operations, PA and Info Ops in military jargon, 'are separate, but related functions,' according to the official NATO policy document on public affairs, 'PA is not an Info Ops discipline.'" Reuters, 29 November 2008.
     Update: "The U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan has scrapped a plan to merge the office that releases news with 'Psy Ops,' which deals with propaganda, to comply with alliance policy, a spokesman said on Wednesday." Reuters, 3 December 2008.

Australia experiments with web filtering.

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Australian government is due to start a series of field trials this month in order to filter websites that are harmful to children. ... Many from the internet industry and freedom of speech groups fear that if the filtering system is implemented, then other illegal content as well as material the government deems inappropriate could be added and blocked in the future." BBC News, 3 November 2008.

China requires internet cafes to change OS.

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Requirements that Internet cafes in a southern Chinese city install Chinese-developed operating systems are raising new concerns over cyber snooping by authorities, a U.S. government-funded radio station reported Wednesday. The new rules that went into effect Nov. 5 are aimed at cracking down on the use of pirated software, said Hu Shenghua, a spokesman for the Culture Bureau in the city of Nanchang. Internet cafe operators are required to remove unlicensed software and replace it with legitimate copies of either Microsoft Windows or China's homegrown Red Flag Linux operating system while paying a fee, he said. However, Radio Free Asia said cafes were being required to install Red Flag Linux even if they were using authorized copies of Windows." AP, 3 December 2008.
     "Bill Xia, president of Dynamic Internet Technology, said he doubted Red Flag would provide a significant advantage in censorship and surveillance—though it requires an additional step for users to install Freegate, a popular anti-censorship utility that Xia’s firm developed." Radio Free Asia, 3 December 2008.
     "House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Wednesday that the Chinese government's 'continued assault on civil liberties and political expression proves the fallacy of China's public relations campaign designed to create a façade of an open and tolerant society.' Ros-Lehtinen was responding to reports in Hong Kong that authorities are requiring Chinese-made replacements to Microsoft Windows XP operating systems in Internet cafes." Tech Daily Dose, 3 December 2008.

North Korea: leaflet cleanup troops mobilized (updated).

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"A U.S. broadcaster says North Korea has mobilized its troops to collect anti-communist leaflets distributed by South Korean civic groups off its western coast. Radio Free Asia reported that many leaflets were found in Jangyeon and Yongyeon in the North's Hwanghae Province. The report said Pyongyang’s intelligence agents are monitoring residents in the area and punishing those who read or keep the leaflets. " KBS Korea, 2 December 2008.
     Update: "Park Sang Hak, a North Korean defector, launches balloons bound for his homeland. They carry leaflets accusing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il of being a drinker of pricey wine, a seducer of other men's wives, a murderer, a slaveholder, a dictator and 'the devil.' ... But on Tuesday morning here at Paju, near the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, Park and his compatriots ran into a bunch of South Korean activists willing to fight to keep the balloons on the ground. Park's anti-Kim leaflets, they shouted, were a threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula." Washington Post, 3 December 2008.
     "Conservatives claim leafleting is an effective means of helping North Koreans see the truth in a country where the use of radio and television as well as the internet is limited. Liberals, to the contrary, believe it would only enrage North Korea and result in deteriorated ties." Yonhap, 3 December 2008.

VOA Hindi in content deal with India's Zee News.

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA), a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the US government, has joined hands with Zee News, a leading Indian news and current affairs channel, to broadcast its popular programme 'America Live' for Indian viewers. The first broadcast of the five-minute, daily news programme, carried by VOA affiliate station Zee News Monday, included the official US reaction to the Mumbai attacks, condolences to the victims from the US president George Bush and president-elect Barack Obama, and reactions from Indian-Americans who had relatives in Mumbai." Indo-Asian News Service, 2 December 2008. "Zee News will also telecast relevant stories in the afternoon 2 pm and prime time news bulletin, News Top 10. Apart from the regular news feed, Voice of America will also develop half-hour specials on topical issues for Zee News." Indiantelevision.com, 2 December 2008. This is a big deal for VOA Hindi, which has dropped its radio broadcasts, and now depends on television and internet to develop audiences in India.

VOA contracts for computer-game language teaching (updated).

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Los Angeles-based Alelo, the USC spinout which is developing 'serious' games to teach languages and cultures, has scored a contract with the Voice of America. ... The win opens a new market for Alelo, whose existing systems have been used for preparing the military for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. The firm's systems use a 'first person shooter' video game engine adapted to instead teach cultural nuances and language skills in spoken conversation. The firm's software has so far been applied to Chinese, Iraqi [sic], Pashto, and Dari." socalTECH.com, 6 November 2008. See also Alelo website. Update: "The program entitled, 'Dynamic English Learning Website', will incorporate automated speech recognition and artificial intelligence technologies that will enable learners of English to practice their conversational skills on the computer." Alelo website, November 2008.

For those of you who socially network...

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States is embracing social networks and other Web 2.0 tools to win the 'war of ideas' with Islamic militants and other extremist groups, a top US policy-maker said Monday. 'In the war of ideas our core task in 2008 is to create an environment hostile to violent extremism,' said James Glassman, the US undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs." AFP, 2 December 2008. See speech text at MountainRunner blog.
     "The State Department has launched a social networking site to promote international exchanges and enhance the United States' image abroad, particularly among young people. ExchangesConnect, administered by the department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, includes blog postings, photos and videos from users across the world interested in trading information on culture, language and global education programs. A newly designed Web site, exchanges.state.gov, is a portal to the social network and the agency's Facebook page. ExchangesConnect is free, but requires users to fill out a brief online registration." nextgov, 1 December 2008.
     "Have you ever dreamed of working with NASA scientists? How about flying through a hurricane or getting a front-row seat at a state department briefing? Now you can thanks to the exploding popularity of virtual worlds like Entropia and Second Life. It's estimated that 80 percent of active Internet users will live a virtual life within the next three years, and Uncle Sam is taking notice. The State Department is one of several government agencies already conducting business in these cyber communities." WBZ-TV (Boston), 1 December 2008.

Who will win the war of words -- State or Defense?

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Even with the Bush Administration's second-term renaissance, the Department of State is fairly demoralized, understaffed and underfunded. It will have to learn to compete with the DoD when it comes to the arenas of public diplomacy and peacebuilding. Its foreign service officers need to figure out how to use 21st century technology to communicate with the public. Clinton's primary challenge is managerial; she has to wrestle back resources, attract a new corps of diplomats, and justify State's place at the table." Marc Ambinder blog, The Atlantic, 1 December 2008.

Psyop depends on the weather.

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Thousands and thousands of dollar bill-sized leaflets were floating down on FOB Falcon. I knew exactly what had just happened. The greatest tool (or weapon) in a counterinsurgency fight (or insurgency, depending on which side you are on) is information. The local PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) team had just delivered their latest salvo. These leaflets had the picture of a local insurgent leader that we are homing in on, and offered a substantial reward for information leading to his capture. This tool has proven to be effective -- when dropped over the right villages. Unfortunately, the UH-60 Blackhawk pilots who dropped the leaflets didn't account for wind direction (rookies!) when they released their cargo. I'm sure they had the reload package ready to go by the time the pilots landed. Me, I've got a nice souvenir." Jedi blog (Iraq), posted 30 November 2008 (written 30 September 2008, referring to events on 27 September), via Sulphur Springs (TX) News-Telegram.

BBC imparts Knowledge to South Korea.

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Factual channel BBC Knowledge launched Monday on South Korean digital cable network CJ HelloVision. The Beeb recently launched content from the channel as a branded block on state-owned Science TV. ... BBC Entertainment and BBC World News are also available in Korea on satcaster Skylife." Variety Asia, 1 December 2008. "The channel will be on CJ HelloVision’s basic tier, making it available in 650,000 homes. Broadcasting 24 hours, the channel offers factual programming such as Top Gear and Walk On By: The Story of Popular Song." Rapid TV News, 1 December 2008.

BBC Persian television contracts for technical gear.

Posted: 03 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Autoscript has been selected by the BBC World Service to provide systems and services for the new BBC Persian television channel. The free-to-air channel will launch around the turn of the year with a production facility modelled on the one built for BBC Arabic, which went on air in March also featuring Autoscript prompting systems. ... A key difference is the specification for a dedicated Farsi speaking teleprompter to operate the Autoscript system which Autoscript are currently recruiting for. Four Tft 17-inch on-air monitors have been supplied supplemented with the Windows-based WinPlus prompting applications which works with all TrueType and Adobe fonts and with any language or character sets including Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Hindi and Farsi." broadcastbuyer, 1 December 2008. "Free-to-air"? As if there were any chance of extracting subscription fees from Iranian viewers? The recruiting for the "Farsi speaking teleprompter" might partly explain the delay in getting the BBC Farsi television channel on the air. And will it be BBC Farsi or BBC Persian? Because I've seen references to both (even in this one item).

CNN's new wire service will compete with AP, Reuters.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN, in the afterglow of an election season of record ratings for cable news, is elbowing in on a new line of business: catering to financially strained newspapers looking for an alternative to The Associated Press. Tom Curley, the head of The Associated Press, said CNN’s service needed improvement. ... For CNN it amounts to another expansion of its operations at a time of severe cutbacks across the media industry, especially at newspapers, which are facing the wrenching circumstances of both a faltering economy and the continuing flight of advertising dollars out of print and onto the Internet. And for The Associated Press, it represents a competitive threat, while some client newspapers already are leaving the service because of financial pressure. (CNN Wire would also compete with other services, like Bloomberg News and Thomson Reuters.)" New York Times, 30 November 2008. See previous post about AP.

CNNI documentary on genocide.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"News network CNN International has commissioned a two-hour doc telling the stories of people who tried to call attention to acts of genocide around the world. In CNN Presents: Scream Bloody Murder chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour reports on acts of genocide and those who tried to get the rest of the world to prevent them." C21Media.net, 1 December 2008.
     "At a time when most members of the media are desperate to show their web 2.0 smarts, Amanpour is defiantly unreconstructed. She does not use a BlackBerry. She hardly ever blogs. She does not Facebook. She is not even sure what Twitter is. 'It's a quality of life issue. I am a communicator. I need to talk to people,' she says. 'I don't like going to meetings where people are on their BlackBerry all the time. It's a divorced reality.'" The Guardian, 1 December 2008.

New CNN International manager for Europe and Africa.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International has promoted Deborah Rayner to its top European job, managing editor for Europe and Africa, CNNI vp and managing director Tony Maddox announced Monday. ... She will have oversight of all CNNI programming from London as well as its regional newsgathering in Europe and Africa, replacing CNN exec Nick Wrenn, who has been promoted to vp international digital services in Atlanta. ... 'One of the keys to our success in the future is harnessing the incredible reach of CNN International's resources to create engaging multiplatform news coverage and programming for an increasingly diverse and sophisticated audience,' [Maddox] added." The Hollywood Reporter, 1 December 2008.

Critiquing the television coverage of the Mumbai attacks.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ray Wadia, a media consultant and former CNN International executive producer said in a webcast from Mumbai that local residents who watched CNN coverage were disgusted by the emphasis on Western casualties. 'This is an attack on India and Indians first and foremost.'" MovieWeb, 1 December 2008.
     "Television coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai exposed the weakness of the broadcast and cable networks in responding to major events over a U.S. national holiday, several media critics have maintained. They were particularly critical of reports suggesting that the cadre of attackers had targeted U.S. and British citizens. In fact, of 183 known dead as of Monday evening only 18 were foreign nationals." contactmusic.com, 1 December 2008.
     "As terrorists descended last week on Mumbai, the financial and entertainment capital of India, the staffs at American TV news organizations scrambled to mobilize resources and personnel, underscoring the effects of deep cuts in foreign news operations. The dearth of reliable information on U.S. television over the three-day conflict that broke during the Thanksgiving holiday was obvious. TV news reports lacked precise numbers of targets, attackers, casualties and hostages. Some of the confusion could be attributed to misinformation—or none at all—from Indian authorities overwhelmed by the horrifically coordinated attacks. But the absence of boots-on-the-ground reporting was also apparent." Marisa Guthrie, Broadcasting & Cable, 3 December 2008.

Public diplomacy for a peace plan.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Palestinian Authority took the unusual move of placing full page adverts recently in regional and international newspapers to promote the Saudi-sponsored plan. A group of Israelis, including former generals and diplomats, have launched their own campaign in the Israeli media, advising their country grab a unique opportunity. ... Why not hire the professionals to market the Arab peace plan, and flood Israeli newspapers with it for weeks and months - not just a day? Why not target American publications and Arab titles too? ... Marketing is also about public diplomacy, something that Arab states only pursue grudgingly." Roula Khalaf, The Peninsula (Doha), 2 December 2008.

Both Al Jazeera's on digital cable in Turkey.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Both the Al Jazeera news channels - Arabic and English - have gained carriage on Turkey's fast-expanding digital cable system. ... Bridging Europe and Asia, and with a population of 70m, Turkey is a key market for the broadcaster. Both Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic are already carried on Turksat's free-to-air satellite DTH platform (reaching 6m households) and Al Jazeera English is carried on Digiturk's DTH service (reaching 2m households)." Rapid TV News, 1 December 2008.

BBC scholarships for aspiring Thai journalists.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News and the Council of the Mass Communications Faculty Members of Thailand (CMCT) are offering 30 training scholarships to university students who wish to become professional journalists and to enhance Thai journalism in the international arena. The top two successful applicants will be given the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience through training with professional journalists at world-class news organisations, the BBC World News headquarters in London and the TNN 24 news channel (also known as TrueVisions 07)." Bangkok Post, 2 December 2008.

Death of Vladimir Rubinstein, linguist with the BBC's wartime Monitoring Service.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Vladimir Rubinstein, who has died aged 91, was a significant figure in the BBC's crucial wartime monitoring of foreign radio broadcasts and in the global listening operations of the following decades. ... In the early days of the Second World War it was quickly recognised that the regular domestic German radio broadcasts, and also those of Russia, France and Italy, were just as important a source of information as coded, military transmissions. A new monitoring operation was therefore established, run by the BBC, using all available technology to find and record these broadcasts, and relaying any significant contents to the relevant government and military departments." The Telegraph, 1 December 2008.

Congressional attention to the Azerbaijan foreign radio ban (updated again).

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"The leaders of a key congressional human rights panel warned the president of Azerbaijan that he risks antagonizing the incoming Obama administration with his plans to shut down U.S. radio news broadcasts coming into the Eurasian nation. 'As you begin your second term and prepare to establish good working relations with President-elect Barack Obama with the goal of strengthening U.S.-Azerbaijani relations, we believe it would send exactly the wrong signal to terminate the FM broadcasts of RFE/RL [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] and VOA [the Voice of America] in Azerbaijan,' Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat, said in a letter this week to President Ilham Aliyev. Mr. Hastings, chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Mr. Cardin, the co-chairman, argued that the congressionally funded American radio stations set an example for Azerbaijani journalists by providing 'up-to-date, objective' news. 'Moreover, as Azerbaijan moves increasingly toward integration with the West, RFE/RL and VOA supply a model of media professionalism, as well as the sort of impartial and innovative programming Azerbaijan's citizens need to remain informed, engaged and competitive,' they said in their letter.' Washington Times, 26 November 2008. See also VOA News, 25 November 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "The decision regarding suspension of broadcast of foreign radio stations will be made in the second half of December. ... [Nushiravan Maharramli , chairman of National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council] said it is wrong to describe suspension of broadcast of foreign radio stations in Azerbaijan as a political and democratic issue. 'European countries consider it a technical matter. The attitude to our decisions is different as there is no standard situation in Azerbaijan as in Europe. This is simply a legal issue. It has nothing to do with politics.'" Trend News Agency, 27 November 2008.
     Update: "The Council of Europe has come out in support of further broadcasting of foreign radio stations in Azerbaijan. Broadcasting of these radio stations should be suspended since 1 January 2009 in accordance with the relevant decision of the National Broadcasting Council." ABC.AZ, 2 December 2008.
     "'I urge the Azerbaijani authorities to review plans on closing foreign radio stations and issue them a license for broadcasting', says a report of the OSCE special representative on freedom of speech Miklos Kharashti." Today.Az, 2 December 2008.

International radio via new digital radio channel in Ireland.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"RTÉ Choice is RTÉ Radio 1’s complementary or sister speech service. It will broadcast vintage RTÉ Radio programmes and also shows programming from international public service broadcasters such as National Public Radio (NPR) and the BBC World Service." Irish Times, 30 November 2008. See also RTÉ Choice web page, and click on Schedules, showing programs also from Radio Netherlands, Deutsche Welle, Vatican Radio, Radio Sweden, and other international broadcasters.

Confusing the enemy by increasing the size of the U.S. bureaucracy.

Posted: 02 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"Last week's terrorist assault in Mumbai brings into focus one of the biggest challenges facing President-elect Barack Obama and U.S. allies: How to defeat the ideology that underpins the global jihadist insurgency and unifies its diverse adherents? The U.S. government needs to resurrect the nonviolent practice of 'political warfare' and create an agency to manage it. The Bush administration started this process by providing more resources for public diplomacy and appointing prominent officials to oversee the task. But efforts to explain America's values and ideals to Muslims need to be supplemented with measures that confront directly the jihadist ideology. Mr. Obama's administration could use as a model the British Political Warfare Executive, which rallied support for the Allied cause behind enemy lines during World War II, or the U.S. Information Agency, which helped network opponents of communism and undermine Moscow's intellectual appeal during the Cold War. A civilian should sit atop this new organization. His or her mission should be to undermine the jihadist ideology that underpins terrorism. We believe this mission is so important that the person should answer directly to the President, just as military combatant commanders do. U.S. government-supported broadcasting, such as the Voice of America, should be adapted to this mission." Christian Whiton and Kristofer Harrison, Wall Street Journal, 30 November 2008.
     How to defeat an undesirable ideology? Create a new bureaucracy. It's Washington's favorite solution.
     And, once again, this plan for "political warfare" wants U.S. international broadcasting to join in the "mission." This probably means transmitting more of this, less of that, and hammering hard on key themes. This would be an application of the bullet theory of communication, which social scientists discarded by the 1940s. Nothing like early twentieth century thinking to form the basis of twenty-first century U.S. international communication.
     If U.S. international broadcasting is to attract an audience, its "mission" can only be defined by that audience. The audience is seeking news that is more reliable than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media. Credibility is the key.
     The benefits of funding an international broadcasting effort that simply informs are explained in "Air of Truth," New York Times, 4 June 2007.

     "The problem with this proposal is the same we have had with many others in the past: they are based on the premise that VOA is some sort of U.S. government mouthpiece." Alex Belida, VOA News Blog, 1 December 2008.