Are you a good hacktivist or a bad hacktivist?

Posted: 31 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Skilled 'hacktivists' in the United States and elsewhere are constantly inventing sofware and tactics to make it easier for ordinary Chinese to beat the system. Just as the United States supported efforts during the Cold War to break down the Iron Curtain’s control of information fow, principally through use of radio and short-wave, so it should support those private 'entrepreneurs' who are trying to open electronic information channels for the average Chinese, mindful of the dangers that such tools can be employed for nefarious purposes as well." From William F. Schulz, "Strategic Persistence: How the United States Can Help Improve Human Rights in China," Center for American Progress, 29 January 2009.

BBC Prime leaves Dutch cable.

Posted: 31 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"UPC Nederland will drop BBC Prime from its digital bouquet at the beginning of February. The Dutch cabler will continue to carry the national BBC channels BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four as well as BBC World News." Broadband TV News, 29 January 2009. Isn't BBC Prime a commercial channel consisting of programming from the noncommercial BBC channels One through Four? If so, no great loss for UPC Nederland subscribers.

John Bolton, on BBC Persian TV, via Press TV: "Washington has suffered a humiliating defeat."

Posted: 31 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Former US envoy to the UN John Bolton says Washington has suffered a humiliating defeat in its drive against Iran's nuclear activities. In a Friday interview with BBC Persian, Bolton said Washington's efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear achievements have come to naught as Tehran has successfully managed to defend its national interests.' Press TV, 31 January 2009.
     "The Iranian media is keeping up its conspiracy theories against the Baha’is: for example, just as the BBC Persian-language television channel was launched, an article on the aims of this new British service appeared, from the news agency Tabnak, which belongs to the former Revolutionary Guards general Mohssen Rezai. This report obviously referred to Baha’i connections with the BBC Persian-language radio service, which has been broadcasting daily since 1941." Iran Press Watch, 29 January 2009.

And three doors down from the boiler room...

Posted: 30 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The number of venues for the practice of public diplomacy has continued to grow. Although USIA-run libraries once served as a beacon, the Internet now brings mass connectivity to billions [sic] in the developed and developing worlds. Internet cafes in the Middle East may be both vehicles for societal development and cybermasdrassas. The United States needs an innovative way to engage in public diplomacy in cyberspace. We recommend the creation of a Center for Digital Diplomacy at the Department of State, where U.S. diplomatic professionals could work America's immigrant population to send a clear message that the U.S. is present on the world stage and listening." From Christopher Bronk, Information Technology Policy: Recommendations fro the Next Administration, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University, 19 December 2008, via Tech Daily Dose, 29 January 2009. Would this replace the functions under the undersecretary of State for public diplomacy? Or compete with them? What would become of the Bureau of International Information Programs, doing much of the same work already?

Will public diplomacy be two doors beyond the boiler room?

Posted: 30 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Proximity to the Secretary is everything on the 7th floor of the State Department building, and we hear that the much-respected Burns, the under secretary for political affairs (or 'P'), and his staff have been bumped from the relatively central office suite normally reserved for P and unceremoniously reassigned to the less-desirable 'G' suites down the hall. The folks in the G offices (normally for the under secretary for global affairs) are apparently being bumped even farther down the hall to the 'R' offices, normally occupied by the under secretary for public diplomacy. Where the R folks are going is anyone's guess, but it's presumably the far-from-coveted 6th floor -- hardly a good message to send about the importance of public diplomacy under a new administration." Carolyn O'Hara, Foreign Policy blog, 29 January 2009.

Why foreign policy needs a "PD perspective."

Posted: 30 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
From interview with John Brown, former U.S. Foreign Service officer now teaching at Georgetown University: "The most important public diplomacy priority for the Obama administration is having a 'PD perspective' when formulating and then implementing policy. Greater resources for well-crafted overseas outreach programmes are all well and good, but public diplomacy must be present during the policy-making process and after. Foreign public opinion must be taken into serious consideration. "Selling" a policy framed in a vacuum in Washington without considering the reactions of overseas publics has little chance of success. Indeed, efforts to convince foreigners that a policy conceived without their concerns in mind deserves their support often backfires by being considered propaganda overseas. The Bush administration's "justification" for the invasion of Iraq is a tragic example of this mistaken viewpoint." William Fisher, Inter Press Service, 29 January 2009. See also John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review.

She is not yet impressed by BBC Arabic TV.

Posted: 30 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Arabic recently announced that it had extended transmission from 12 to 24 hours a day after nearly one year has passed since the channel was launched. Those in charge of the channel said that it will work towards in-depth coverage of the region by upholding the distinguished news values associated with the BBC, and its accuracy and impartiality in particular. ... BBC Arabic didn’t seem to have one exclusive story about the events in Gaza. Nor did it have any exclusives on the events in Iraq or Lebanon. It is not enough to broadcast for longer and to launch methods for audience participation through YouTube so that Arabs can express their views, which hardly gives the impression that the channel has broken molds and taboos. This article is not calling for BBC Arabic to join in with Arabic divisions but rather calls for the audience to see that the current Arab media is incomplete without the BBC. Without doubt, the administration of the British channel must realize that a practical problem is obstructing its performance in the Arab world and that it is only natural since bias and divisions prevail amongst many of its Arab journalists, and this has stopped impartiality in its path. Through the performance of some BBC reporters and presenters, it seems that they have failed to follow the standards of the BBC in general. They are like Arab migrants who travel to Europe but fail to integrate into their new societies." Diana Mukkaled, Asharq Alawsat, 29 January 2009.

Alhurra reporter allowed in to Iraqi voting place.

Posted: 30 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Journalists in at least three Iraqi cities were harassed on Wednesday as police, soldiers, prisoners, some government employees, and displaced persons kicked off the early voting phase of Iraq's provincial councils elections, according to local and international news reports and journalists who spoke to CPJ. ... In Hilla, the capital of Babil province, police prevented eight journalists from entering a polling station inside the city's main hospital, according to two local reporters. After waiting for more than four hours, IECI officials allowed only two journalists, one working for the state-run Al-Iraqiya and another for the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra channel into the voting center out of a larger group, the journalists told CPJ. Only those two journalists had accreditations." Committee to Protect Journalists, 29 January 2009.

More American misunderstanding of international broadcasting.

Posted: 30 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Some years ago Radio Sawa was ridiculed for being the Britney Spears answer to the war on terror. The program format is mostly Western pop music, some indigenous pop, and a little public affairs, a soft sell to get others to support US interests in the region." Nancy Snow, Huffington Post, 29 January 2009. Radio Sawa is not, or at least should not be, "sell," soft or otherwise. In the Arab World, people are generally using television for news, radio for entertainment. Radio Sawa provides a youth-oriented entertainment that draws in audiences, who are there to hear brief but reliable newscasts that provide an antidote to the anti-American propaganda coming from other sources. Reliable news in larger doses would be the job of Alhurra.
     "Al-Hurra, and its sister radio station Radio Sawa, were meant to showcase US foreign policy in the Middle East and compete with Al-Jazeera and other networks including Al-Arabiya." Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune, 30 January 2009. Not "showcase," either.

Obama on Al Arabiya: more discussion (updated).

Posted: 30 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Obama could have talked to Al Hurra, the U.S. taxpayer-sponsored Middle East TV Network that was founded on Valentine's Day 2004. A sit-down on Al Hurra would have been a boon to that fledgling network, but it's not the station with a tag line that reads, 'Your leading source for news in the Middle East.' He was wise not to choose Al Jazeera, though it is still the most popular satellite television news channel in the Middle East. Al Jazeerah's ratings jumped even higher during its around-the-clock coverage of the Gaza conflict. Nevertheless, Al Jazeera would have been a political hot potato and this president seeks to remain Mr. Cool. ... Al Arabiya stepped in to fill a void between Al Hurra, which still has a marginal audience in most parts of the Middle East, and Al Jazeera. That void could be called by a number of identifiers: neutral, central, moderate. There is no U.S. media network to compare here, and as a station owned in part by the Saudi government, being neutral and objective may be a tall order." Nancy Snow, Huffington Post, 28 January 2009.
     "Not only was it his first TV interview from the White House since his inauguration on January 20, but his administration had picked a Dubai-based Arabic-language news channel and not CNN, Fox, BBC – insert big western media outlet here." Menassat, 28 January 2009.
     "Yousef Munayyer, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: 'If the goal was to reach the Arab and Muslim world, one would think that he would speak to them through Al Jazeera, which has a much greater and more diverse market share than Al Arabiya, which has the majority of its viewership in the Arabian Gulf nations.' ... Chester Crocker, Georgetown University: 'This is public diplomacy. It is mood music. Muslim audiences — as the president said in the interview — will ultimately watch U.S. actions and decisions, not just U.S. interviews.' ... Bradley Blakeman, Republican strategist: 'The president was pandering and weak.'" Politico, 29 January 2009.
     "Al Arabiya - Female announcer indicates pride that Obama chose their channel to give his first interview. Opinions about the interview were mixed. Shot of the inauguration with additional comment that US power has changed. ... We are told that Arabs were usually last in the rounds of dialog. Anchor reiterates that Obama has done something unprecedented." From review of Arab television stations by Aimee Kligman,, 28 January 2009.
     "President Obama deserves congratulations for his interview on Al Arabiya, a network that has shown responsibility and professionalism, lately in stark contrast lately to Al Jazeera. As someone who has dealt with all the major Arabic language stations, I suggest that his next interview should be on Radio Sawa, the U.S.-taxpayer-funded radio network that is aimed mainly at young people, with a mix of music and public affairs. It's the largest single Arabic-language net in the Mideast and has a big audience in some critical markets, including the West Bank, where it's broadcast on five separate FM stations. Next, he should do a call-in show, "Roundtable With You," on Persian News Network, a U.S.-funded satellite stream in Farsi that reaches more than 28 percent of Iranians each week. PNN is the best way directly to reach the Iranian people. ... After that, perhaps Al Jazeera and Alhurra." James K. Glassman, The Washington Note, 28 January 2009. Mr. Glassman, previously chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and recently departed as undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, does not mention that Persian News Network is a service of the Voice of America.
     "With all due respect, if Team Obama was really dumb enough to play one Arab media outlet off another so blatantly, then they've failed to learn one lesson of the previous administration. George Bush also favored Arabiya over Jazeera, granting it an interview in 2004, and that earned Arabiya the reputation of Western tool. (In fairness, top Bush cabinet officials often spoke to Jazeera.) In this sense, I believe history is repeating itself: Obama's people went with Al Arabiya because it was not likely to subject the President to the tough interrogation he would've gotten on Al Jazeera. ... Unfortunately, Al Arabiya's Washington bureau chief did not even raise the subject of Hamas with President Obama!" Aaron Barnhart, TV Barn blog, Kansas City Star, 29 January 2009.
     Update: "It is regrettable, however, that Obama did not deliver his first interview to an Arab audience on al-Hurra, the U.S. government-funded Arabic-language satellite channel. Al-Hurra's comparative advantage in the Arab television market should be that it is the 'must-see' station to learn about U.S. politics, policy, society, and culture; this status can only be achieved if the president, the White House, and the administration writ large acts in partnership with this mission. U.S. taxpayers deserve full cooperation between various arms of government in contributing to al-Hurra's success. Even though the Bush administration did not adequately support al-Hurra in this effort, the station still registered significant gains in viewership over the past two years, as evidenced by both independent observers and results from television ratings firms. It would be sad if the al-Arabiya interview signals similar disinterest in al-Hurra's success on the part of the new administration." Robert Satloff, host of Dakhil Washington, a public affairs talk show on Alhurra, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 29 January 2009.
     "The U.S.-funded Al Hurra was not an option because it is not permitted to broadcast in the U.S. and has a negligible audience share in the Middle East, according to a study by Shibley Telhami at the University of Maryland. Essentially Obama had to decide between the two leading Arabic satellite news providers: the Dubai-based Al Arabiya, part of the Saudi-owned MBC group, and Al Jazeera, the pioneering Doha-based network funded by Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad Khalifa al-Thani. ... 'From the perspective of the American government, Al Jazeera is considered sympathetic to extremist groups and extremist elements in the Muslim and the Arab world and Obama was not going to give credibility to a satellite station that promotes extremism and sides with the negative forces that the U.S. is trying to address,' Salmeh Nematt, international editor of the Daily Beast and former Washington bureau chief for al-Hayat, said to 'This is why he chose Al Arabiya, a prominent satellite channel that is professional.'" Courtney C. Radsch, Al Arabiya, 29 January 2009.
     "Should Obama have gone to Jazeera instead? Perhaps not, for both domestic reasons (the criticism he would expose himself to, even if unwarranted) and because there are genuine US complaints about Jazeera. But at some later point, he should go to Jazeera - especially if it is to pitch a major conflict resolution initiative in the region. At the end of the day, despite its bias, Arabiya is the number two pan-Arab stations. (In many countries, like the rest of the world, Arabs actually watch their national TV stations most.) Obama’s next move should be to disband al-Hurra. It’s a useless waste of money." The Arabist blog, 28 January 2009.
     See previous posts:
Why Al Arabiya and not Alhurra? (28 January)
Why Al Arabiya and not Al Jazeera? (28 January)
Obama selects Al Arabiya for first television interview. (27 January)

CNN adds three international correspondents.

Posted: 29 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN Worldwide has announced it is adding three new international correspondents, in Afghanistan, China and the United Arab Emirates. This brings the CNN total of international newsgathering locations to 33, according to the release. Atia Abawi will be based in Afghanistan, Stan Grant in the UAE and Emily Chang will be the network's second correspondent in Beijing.", 28 January 2009.

Al Jazeera calling the world.

Posted: 29 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Arab broadcasts once relied on western media for news of the Arab world, but no more, said Adel Iskandar, co-author of Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East. "Finally, the Arab media is reaching out to tell their own story in their own way and the world is listening,' he said in an interview. ... Although Arab media have been around for hundreds of years, until recently they were directed solely to an Arab audience. The West’s perception of the Middle East was cast by how its own media portrayed the region. ... The launch of the 24-hour television news service Al Jazeera English in Nov 2006 gave the world an alternative." The National, 29 January 2009.
     "On the editorial side, the [decision of Al Jazeera English] to have a team in Gaza permanently is part of a broader mission to cover what some at the station have called the 'south', or underreported part of the world. ... Many western news organisations were hesitant to send staff to Gaza after the BBC’s Gaza reporter was captured and held for nearly four months by militants in 2007. ... On the technical side, the conflict coincided with Al Jazeera introducing several innovative online initiatives, including a citizen journalism portal that encouraged viewers to submit photos and eyewitness accounts. As soon as the conflict broke out, the channel increased online efforts, creating a page on the microblogging site Twitter for Gaza updates and experimenting with interactive maps." The National, 29 January 2009.
     Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee's "interview to Al Jazeera is part of India’s efforts to influence public opinion in the Arab world in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. Sections of the Arab media have tended to echo Pakistan’s line on the Mumbai terror attacks without adequately highlighting India’s position. ... The Arabic Al Jazeera channel rivals the BBC in worldwide audiences with an estimated 40 to 50 million viewers. Al Jazeera English has an estimated reach of around 100 million households. Al Jazeera is trying to enter India as well, but its application for downlinking is still awaiting a security clearance from the home ministry." Indo-Asian News Service, 28 January 2009.

DW, RFI, Al Arabiya websites blocked in Iran.

Posted: 29 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "condemns the wave of censorship that has hit many Iranian and foreign Farsi-language websites since 24 January. Most of the sites contain articles critical of the government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose term expires on 12 June. International news media websites have also been blocked since 26 January. ... The Farsi-language site of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle has been inaccessible since 26 January, as has the Farsi version of the Radio France Internationale site and the Arabic-language site of the satellite TV station Al-Arabiya." RSF, 28 January 2009.

Do VOA and RFA lack street cred in China?

Posted: 29 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"One-way monologues through the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia don't have much street cred with China's Internet generation, to be honest. It's time to upgrade your public diplomacy strategy for the 21st Century. ... The U.S. embassy in Beijing should build a Chinese-language website modeled after, focused not just on U.S.-China relations, but on the range of concerns and interests - from environment, to food safety, to factory safety standards, to education and real estate law -- shared by ordinary Chinese and Americans. Some linguistically talented State Department employees should start blogging in Chinese. Open up the comments sections, see how the Chinese blogosphere responds, then respond to them in turn. Translate some of the Chinese conversation into English for Americans to read and react, then translate it back. Sure there will be censorship problems on the Chinese side, but if enough Chinese find the conversation important and relevant to their lives, the censors ultimately won't be able to stop it." Rebecca McKinnon's Blog, 27 January 2009.
     Well, there is already 美国参考 -- in Chinese. It or some other site could be operated out of the U.S. embassy in Beijing, but the Chinese authorities could still block it, just as they block thousands of other sites. "Public diplomacy strategy for the 21st century" notwithstanding, the question remains how to get information into a country that is hellbent on blocking that information. Although savvy internet users in China can try to use proxy sites and anti-censorship software, the internet retains the disadvantage of using landlines inside China. Shortwave radio, that quaint 20th century medium, has the advantage of dropping into China wirelessly. The physics of shortwave favors distant over nearby signals, providing a natural resistance to jamming. Shortwave radios of improving quality are being sold in China. A strategy that drops shortwave in favor of the internet could put China into an information blackout.

RFA scoop falls flat?

Posted: 29 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"A spokesman for Gov. Bill Richardson says a report that the governor might be tapped for a special envoy job in the Obama administration is false. 'It’s not true. The governor is not interested, and he hasn’t discussed it with anyone,' spokesman Pahl Shipley said this evening. The report, from U.S.-run Radio Free Asia and relayed by the Korea Herald in South Korea, states that the Obama administration is considering making Richardson a special envoy assigned to deal with the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program." New Mexico Independent, 28 January 2009.

NHK World will relaunch on 2 February, apparently as "NHK World."

Posted: 29 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Japanese public broadcaster NHK is launching a 24-hour English-language international TV news channel, joining an increasingly crowded market in a bid to give the country a global voice to match its economic clout. ... 'We would like to put Japan from the rear seat of the plane to the cockpit, and be more active on the global scene,' said Hatsuhisa Takashima, who heads Japan International Broadcasting, Inc., the NHK subsidiary in charge of distributing the channel. By beefing up news content and commissioning more external programming for NHK World TV, a channel already available to 80 million households worldwide, NHK hopes to attract more viewers. It eventually aims to rank alongside CNN and BBC World in the global news market, corporation executives said on Wednesday. ... The corporation hopes to extend its reach to 150 million households within five years from its Feb. 2 re-launch, compared with 276 million households for BBC World News." Reuters, 28 January 2009.
     "During the first week of the new schedule a series of interviews, including swimmer Kosuke Kitajima and violinist Midori Goto, will be broadcast as part of a partnership with five Tokyo-based commercial broadcasters." Broadband TV News, 26 January 2009. See also comments by Yoshinori Imai, executive vice president, at NHK January 2009 press conference.
     "In a twist, some of the original programs will be produced by major commercial television networks, according to Hatsuhisa Takashima, CEO and president of Japan International Broadcasting Inc., the NHK subsidiary that will handle distribution of the new channel. These programs will run with commercials alongside NHK's noncommercial shows. ... The service will not be available to viewers in Japan, partly due to broadcasting laws, but Takashima said he hoped this would change in 'the not-too-distant future' because there have been many inquiries about the channel from foreign residents and Japanese who are studying English." The Japan Times, 29 January 2009.
     "Despite its purported ambitions to be an Asian channel, the tone and content thus far appear largely Japan-centric, raising questions about the channel's editorial independence. JIB CEO Hatsuhisa Takashima assured reporters that opinions opposed to the views of the Japanese government will be permitted, in spite of public subsidies for the channel and past claims of political influence on NHK content. 'There have been times when NHK has been harshly critical of the Japanese government, and this will carry on,' Takashima said." Hollywood Reporter, 28 January 2009. See also Kyodo, 28 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     Apparently NHK World will remain the name of the channel, with Japan International Broadcasting as a corporate entity supporting the channel.
     "NHK WORLD TV is looking for viewers willing to work as NHK WORLD TV program monitors. ... [Between 1 April and 30 September 2009] Monitors will be asked to select one or two programs each week from those listed on the web page below, describe their thoughts and opinions on them in a report 300-400 words long, and then send that report to us by e-mail." NHK World website.

Different channels, very different visions of the Gaza conflict.

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Add Gaza to Afghanistan, Iraq, the sieges of Jenin and Ramallah, and Lebanon; another conflict that Arabs and Americans see through completely different lenses. More fodder for the stereotypes. More reason each side fails to understand the other. More reason to hate. ... Put simply, Gaza was background noise. Yes, it generally made the front page of the newspapers and the main newscasts, but – particularly on television – the humanity, the scale and the context of the conflict were AWOL. Arabs and Israelis were at it again; now let’s get back to Obama, the economy and New Year’s Eve. ... Al Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, has focused on vivid images of bloodshed accompanied by commentary thick with moral outrage. Rival Al Arabiya, owned by Saudi interests close to the royal family, has chosen to avoid the most graphic footage and take a more measured tone. The contrasting approaches reflect both the very different perceptions of the role of Arab journalism in the two newsrooms and the political rift between their respective patrons. ... The domestic CNN was dominated by commentary supporting Israeli actions, while the international feed was focused on the devastation on the ground. ... But with its mix of Arab and Western correspondents, news executives from Canadian, British and Arab networks, and access to the regional infrastructure and expertise of Al Jazeera Arabic, AJE is a channel born to cover this conflict." Lawrence Pintak, Arab Media & Society, January 2009.

Controversy over BBC's refusal to broadcast Gaza aid appeal (third update).

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC was engaged in a war of words with ministers last night over its refusal to broadcast an urgent appeal for humanitarian aid to Gaza. Government figures, aid workers and BBC staff expressed outrage that the corporation has not backed down, as some of its rivals did yesterday, and broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal. The BBC said yesterday it was concerned that access to aid in Gaza might be problematic, and that it did not want to endanger the public's perception of the impartiality of its reporting. ... Many former BBC stalwarts were appalled at the news and called for an immediate reversal of the decision. John Tusa, former managing director of BBC World Service, said: 'It's a terrible mistake and I think they have lost for the moment any sense of judgement and a good deal of courage. Anybody who thinks giving aid to badly injured children in Gaza would be taken as bias needs their heads examined.'" The Independent, 25 January 2009.
     "This is what one former BBC World Service current affairs producer wrote to his colleagues yesterday: '... I am rarely moved to comment on aspects of the BBC I can no longer influence. But I confess I am deeply saddened and confused - and frankly pleased to be distanced from such decisions - after listening to Caroline Thomson's obfuscating defence on Today of the refusal to broadcast the joint charity appeal on behalf of the suffering in Gaza. The question of partiality is a red herring. It is for the general public to respond to a humanitarian disaster as they choose.'" Tim Llewellyn , The Observer, 25 January 2009.
     "Outside the UK the BBC’s decision and the fury is caused has been, Middle East press excepted, largely ignored. Nobody can imagine CNN International or Radio France Internationale or Deutsche Welle participating in the same. With a global perspective, Mark Thompson made the correct decision to protect brand BBC from the appearance of bias in a particularly sensitive region. ... Supporting a humanitarian appeal – local to the UK – would well be within the BBC’s public service remit. Appeals for aid to flood victims in southeast England comes to mind. Once beyond the United Kingdom the BBC’s context changes and questions to objectivity should not be given opportunity regardless of delighted partisans." Michael Hedges,, 26 January 2009.
     "Al Jazeera English has contacted the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to support their call to broadcast announcements for humanitarian aid for the victims of the Gaza War. Al Jazeera English has pledged to run public service announcements in UK prime time on Al Jazeera English at no cost in support of the Committee's appeal." The Peninsula (Doha), 25 January 2009.
     "What do you think, is the BBC and Sky News right not to air the Gaza appeal? Is it a public broadcaster’s job to air charity appeals or should it focus on delivering accurate stories about these conflicts and let people make-up their minds?" World Have Your Say, BBC World Service, 26 January 2009.
      "It is true that the Disasters Emergency Committee – the initiators of the appeal for Gaza – consists entirely of charities, rather than overtly political organisations. Thus it is argued that the BBC is simply wrong in seeing any danger of political bias in its campaign. Unfortunately things are not so clear cut. I am sure that Islamic Relief, one of the member agencies of the DEC, is untainted by any whiff of political partiality in the Israel-Hamas conflict. The same, however, cannot be said of every one of the other 12 participating charities. Christian Aid, for example, called this month on Gordon Brown to 'push for the EU to suspend its talks with Israel on upgrading relations': because Israel was 'in breach of international humanitarian law in targeting civilians in Gaza, Christian Aid holds that these talks must be suspended.' The only effect of this intervention was to demonstrate that Christian Aid has taken sides in the conflict between Israel and Hamas (it is in fact the latter which actually 'targets civilians'). Christian Aid can thus no longer be considered an honest broker when it insists that its role in delivering aid will be completely free of any political interference – a particular concern for the BBC given that one of its 10 internal 'Guiding Principles of Impartiality' contains the following: 'Those that use campaigns should remember that campaigners have an agenda and should not generally be regarded as objective observers of a situation: charity workers ... for instance.' Of course, no mainstream British politician will ever dare criticise Christian Aid – it would be like spitting in Church." Dominic Lawson, The Independent, 27 January 2009.
     "Inevitably an appeal would use pictures which are the same or similar to those we would be using in our news programmes but would do so with the objective of encouraging public donations. The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story." Mark Thompson, BBC director general, BBC The Editors blog, 24 January 2009. I agree with BBC management on this one. Better to err against bias and the appearance of bias.
     Update: "The head of the UN"s nuclear watchdog has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the corporation's decision not to air an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee. In a statement to the Guardian, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner, unleashed a stinging denunciation of the BBC, deepening the damage already caused by the controversy. The statement, from his office at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the BBC decision not to air the aid appeal for victims of the conflict 'violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong'. It said the IAEA director had cancelled interviews with BBC World Service television and radio, which had been scheduled to take place at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Saturday." The Guardian, 28 January 2009.
     "The hypocrisy of the BBC is truly legendary. They refuse to broadcast a humanitarian appeal for Gaza but BBC World was broadcasting ads for the Indian army immediately before and after their news services during the Kargil crisis." Shireen M Mazari, The News (Karachi), 28 January 2009. Apparently refers to ads for the Indian Army Welfare Fund broadcast on commercial channel BBC World in 1999.

Is the good news for Worldspace much too little, much too late?

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the communications minister, has issued a policy directive for the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to approve licences for satellite infrastructure providers, paving the way for WorldSpace to continue its operations in South Africa." Business Report (Johannesburg), 27 January 2009.
     "On the very day that its assets were being sold off to the highest bidder, the South African government has – at long last – issued a long-awaited licence to Worldspace to operate in the country. ... However, a more pressing priority is to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in one form or other, and for the confusion over ownership of the Afristar satellite transponders to be clarified by the Delaware bankruptcy court. News on that should emerge over the next day or so." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 27 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

RFI's FM station in Uganda owes license fee.

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Uganda's "Broadcasting Council has threatened to close 32 television and FM radio stations over defaulting on licence fees. Kagole Kivumbi, the council’s secretary, said yesterday the two-week notice that expires on February 9, is intended to give an opportunity to the affected stations to pay-up. ... Some of the affected stations include Mama FM, NBS TV, Voice of Toro, TV WA and Radio France Internationale." The New Vision (Kampala), 27 January 2009.

Public diplomacy no longer a bolt-on?

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"A new tone has entered American policy towards the Middle East. Not before time. It is hard to exaggerate the importance of this, after a Bush administration that thought public diplomacy was a bolt-on that could be supplied by Madison Avenue, which would rebrand America and win back market share from the jihadis." Editorial, Financial Times, 28 January 2009.
     "The power of public diplomacy -- communication, advocacy, development, and outreach -- has been famously extolled yet infamously executed. Under Bush it floundered -- dreary dogma chasing its own frayed tale. But now we have a Decider who is also a Conceptualizer. A 21st Century Great Communicator who is a Global Ambassador." Martin Schram, Scripps Howard, 27 January 2009.
     On Al Arabiya: "Obama emphasised his willingness to listen and repeatedly talked about ensuring about a better future for the children. He struck a far more doveish tone than he did either in his inaugural address or on the campaign trail; it was clear quite his comments were not aimed at a domestic audience." James Forsyth,, 27 January 2009.
     "President Obama is turning out to be a new asset for public diplomacy, as U.S. ambassadors refer to his unique personal story and call for change in their own appeals to foreign audiences." James Morrison, Washington Times, 27 January 2009.
     "In the first edition of BBC World News America's 'Moment of Change' we look at what might be done to repair America's reputation. Jonathan Beale reports." BBC World News America, 27 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Online traffic spikes on Obama inauguration day.

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
BBC: "The number of those watching the live stream concurrently peaked at about 230,000 (just after 1700 GMT) ... totalling over two million page views. More than seven million users came to the site overall, which is high but below the numbers we recorded for the US election itself. Of those, roughly 1.5 million unique users accessed video (or audio)." Livestation "served half a million streams on the day. ... 'There was lots of activity in the chat rooms, especially on Al Jazeera English.'" "The BBC ... has raised some eyebrows across the pond for Newsnight’s editing of an Obama speech." paidContent:UK, 27 January 2009.

The Obama interview: why Al Arabiya and not Alhurra?

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"I am curious whether the choice of al-Arabiya signals the administration's abandonment of the U.S.-funded al-Hurra satellite channel. Al-Arabiya is the second-most popular channel in the Arabic-speaking Middle East (after al-Jazeera), so audience reach was not the only factor Obama's handlers considered when determining on which Arabic satellite station he should appear." Michael Rubin, National Review Online The Corner, 27 January 2009. Actually, the second most popular news channel.
     "Not al-Hurra. Wouldn't it be nice if the United States had its own Arabic-language satellite television station to present such exclusive, desirable interviews? Oh, wait... the U.S. has spent half a billion dollars on one which nobody watches." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 27 January 2009.
     "Setting aside the fact that people only watch it when their cats accidentally step on their remote controls, al-Hurra is -- like the administration that sponsored it -- a sump of incompetence that can't even maintain a consistently pro-American line of propaganda." davenoon, Lawyers, Guns and Money blog, 27 January 2009.
     "Obama’s predecessor pumped more than $500 million into Alhurra, which has been plagued [1] by serious staff problems, financial mismanagement and long-standing concerns inside the U.S. government and Congress regarding its content. The president’s decision to go with Al Arabiya [2] led several media watchers to wonder whether Alhurra would continue to receive the same kind of cash flow from the Obama administration as it enjoyed under former president Bush." ProPublica, 27 January 2009.
     "It raises the question - why is Washington wasting hundreds of millions on the stagnant Al Hurra and its insignificant audience?" Kalash, Kabobfest, 26 January 2009.
     Alhurra's audience numbers are fairly respectable for an Arabic-language station from a non-Arab country. Intra-Arab news channels will have the advantage unless they are really bad.
     A more interesting contest will be between the two leading non-Arab Arabic-language contenders, Alhurra and BBC Arabic TV. Especially now that the latter has been on the air for almost a year and has ratcheted up to 24 hours a day. BBC and BBG are too polite to divulge each other's audience numbers, but perhaps an enterprising journalist can get hold of these data.
     If Alhurra is to compete as a predominantly news channel, it will need the backing of all the journalistic resources of U.S. international broadcasting. The present feudal "system" of U.S. international broadcasting, with competing and overlapping elements, must be rationalized. Alhurra and all of U.S. international broadcasting will also have to make more use of U.S. private domestic news entities.

The Obama interview: why Al Arabiya and not Al Jazeera?

Posted: 28 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Obama's choice of Al-Arabiya network, which is owned by a Saudi businessman, follows the lead of the Bush administration, which gave several presidential interviews to that news channel. 'The U.S. sees Al-Arabiya as a friendly Arab channel, whereas they see Al-Jazeera as confrontational,' said Lawrence Pintak, director of the journalism training center at the American University in Cairo. Hady Amr, director of the Brookings Doha Center, an arm of the U.S. think-tank in the Qatari capital, described decision to make the first presidential interview with an Arabic news network as 'stunning.'" AP, 27 January 2009.
     "Mr Obama's selection of al-Arabiya over its better-known rival al-Jazeera or the US-funded network al-Hurra emphasised his desire to reach out to the Muslim world without seeming to pander to America's fiercest critics. al-Arabiya – founded in 2003 in deliberate counterpoint to al-Jazeera, which its Saudi Arabian founders saw as too sympathetic to the Jihadist cause – has an audience of 23 million." The Independent, 28 January 2009.
     "The channel is seen as a prominent voice of moderation in the Middle East, preferring calm analysis to what many see as rival al-Jazeera's more sensational coverage. The Obama scoop came at a good moment for al-Arabiya, which had seen ratings falter during the recent Israeli war in Gaza as al-Jazeera provided blanket coverage of Palestinian suffering." Scott MacLeod, Time, 28 January 2009. See also CNN, 27 January 2009.
     "Al Arabiya's Arab satellite rival Al Jazeera has been low key about the interview, mostly out of competitive reasons. They've barely mentioned it, [a State Department] official said." MSNBC, 27 January 2009.
     "Al Arabiya is part of a major Arabic news network, considered second in global coverage to Al Jazeera, which may yet see a nod from the Obama administration down the road -- but seeing that George W. Bush may have joked and/or been serious about bombing an Al Jazeera office in Baghdad, Al Jazeera may still be too much of a leap for the bounding forward new US President." Steve Clemons, Huffington Post, 27 January 2009.
     "Much will be made of Mr Obama’s choice of Al Arabiya over the more widely watched Al Jazeera network. The fact that Al Jazeera has a decidedly less pro-United States editorial stance than Al Arabiya probably figured into Mr Obama’s decision, yet there are possible political considerations behind the choice as well. That the latter is a Saudi channel, based in the UAE, and the former is a Qatari network will no doubt factor into the analysis of his decision." The National (Abu Dhabi), 28 January 2009.
     "It gave a boost to a Saudi-owned news channel founded in 2003 to present a more balanced view of regional conflicts than was being produced by the more Islamist-leaning Al Jazeera network. The latter has since become more objective in its coverage, possibly because it was losing viewers to Al Arabiya. Now it has even more incentive to play fair: the chance of landing the next Obama exclusive." Edtorial, Los Angeles Times, 28 January 2009.
     "Mr Obama has given his first formal television interview as US President to the Dubai-based station, al-Arabiya – not, it should be noted, to al-Jazeera, which has been the station routinely chosen by al-Qa'ida to convey its message of scorn and hostility to the West, but to a station with an equally extensive reach across the region." Leader, The Independent, 28 January 2009.
     "Now here's Barack Obama, World Superstar, beloved of billions, inviting the less hysterical than al-Jazeera (but still dishonest) al-Arabiya TV into the White House for a chat." Rick Moran, American Thinker, 27 January 2009.
     "Now, if Obama's people could start working quietly behind the scenes to get U.S. media goniffs to start carrying Al Jazeera on their cable systems. Then, he could actually do an interview on Al Jazeera, and most Americans could watch it." Ward Harkavy, The Village Voice blog, 27 January 2009.
     "It’s certainly not as credible as Al-Jazeera, but Obama would catch a lot of hell for appearing on Al-Jazeera. In a few years, I’m sure he’ll do it. But it’s too early for that now." fostert comment to Yglesias blog, 27 January 2009, and see other comments.
     "In the Middle East, the moderate news channel Al-Arabiya drubs other Arabic news channels in popularity, including the controversial Al-Jazeera and the U.S. government's Al-Hurra - the latter of which is getting better numbers than before, but nothing to match Al-Arabiya's." Alvin Snyder, Middle East Times, 28 January 2009.
     "This is also outreach to Saudi Arabia. Al-Arabiya is the Saudi contestant in the Arab media wars, and scoring the first interview with Obama is a major coup. It has lost a lot of ground because of Gaza, and this will help it regain some buzz. ... Granting the first interview to al-Jazeera would have reached a much larger audience, and would have been more daring -- like going on to Fox News instead of MSNBC." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 27 January 2009.
     "Al Arabiya is an international news station that broadcasts in Arabic from Dubai; most of its funding comes from Saudi Arabia. In terms of its popularity and ratings in the Arab world, it is a distant second to the Doha-based Al Jazeera - the network Obama should have sat down with if he really wanted to reach the largest possible audience. ... From a US perspective, in the realm of media, Al Arabiya represents the moderates and Al Jazeera the radicals. While such generalizations are inaccurate and unfair, there are reasons for them. Al Jazeera is well known for a certain degree of sympathy to the Palestinian resistance; however, watching news reports on Al Arabiya, one often gets the impression that their editorial line is not too far off from the political agenda of the US government." Kalash, Kabobfest, 26 January 2009.
     "Al Arabiya despite what they are claimed are highly criticized for being biased to the American administration and its allies in the region. The American administration should have chosen either BBC Arabic 'couple of other benefits' or Al Jazeera 'of course Al Jazeera can be a controversial choice.' I prefer BBC Arabic despite it is not originally an Arabic network but if Obama wants to send a message to the Muslim world regarding Peace, mutual relations and Iran, what would be better than BBC Arabic and its newly young sister BBC Farsi!!? Anyhow It is a scoop for Al Arabiya , yet I doubt it will make me watch them as I watch BBC Arabic or Al Jazeera 'despite the later attack on Egypt.'" Zeinobia, Egyptian Chronicles blog, 27 January 2009.
     See also Why Al Arabiya and not Alhurra? See previous post about same subject.

BBC South Asia staff consider strike over relocation plan.

Posted: 27 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Staff working in the South Asian section of the BBC World Service are to ballot on possible strike action over redundancies and plans to relocate jobs and programme-making overseas. The BBC World Service is looking to cut 34 posts from its London-based South Asian operation as it restructures its Hindi, Nepalese and Urdu divisions, relocating production and jobs to existing centres in Islamabad, Delhi and Kathmandu. Four jobs are expected to be cut from the Nepalese service, with a further 16 from Urdu and 14 from the Hindi service. ... The relocation of World Service South Asia staff will leave a small unit for all three services based in London as online and radio operations are moved to local centres overseas. This, along with local recruitment, will mean the World Service will have 80% of the staff for its Hindi operation based in Delhi, with 50% of Urdu and Nepalese service employees based in their respective local centres." The Guardian, January 26 2009.

Euronews: broadcasting by committee.

Posted: 27 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Euronews has announced a restructuring that combines publishing company Secemie SA with operating company Socemie SA. The new legal entity will be known as Euronews SA and operate under French law. At the same time, the 15-year old news channel has created a new governance organisation. It will consist of a supervisory board and an executive committee. The board comprises three individuals; Pier Luigi Malesani (president of Rai International), who will serve as president; Andrey Bystritsky (chairman of The Voice of Russia and an advisor to the DG of VGTRK, who is the board’s VP; and Stéphanie Martin (director of diversification and thematic channels at France Télévisions). Nine shareholding public television channels are also present in France Televisions, represented by Laurence Schwob; RAI (Italy), represented by Stefano Lupp; RTR (Russia), represented by Oleg Kuprianov; SSR (Switzerland), represented by Willi Burkhalter; RTP (Portugal), represented by José Lopes de Araujo; RTBF (Belgium), represented by Pierre Couchard; ERT (Greece), represented by Fotini Yiannoulatou; TV4 (Sweden), represented by Kajsa Stål and NTU (Ukraine), represented by Vladimir Nora." Broadband TV News, 26 January 2009.

Something is cooking in Azerbaijan.

Posted: 27 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Ann Derse said to reporters on Jan. 26 that she has introduced to the Azerbaijani government proposals of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors on the resumption of broadcast of the U.S. Voice of America and Radio Liberty radio stations in Azerbaijan. The U.S. delegation will visit Azerbaijan to discuss mutual broadcasting in early February." Trend News Agency, 26 January 2009. See also Trend News Agency, 26 January 2009 and Today.Az, 26 January 2009.
     With BBC Azeri off of FM in Azerbaijan, its new (restored?) shortwave transmissions are 0300-0315 UTC Mon-Fri on 5915, 6085, and 7105 kHz. And 1600-1630 UTC on 6010, 9450, 11690 kHz. Ivo Ovanov, Radio Bulgaria DX News, via WWDXC BC-DX Top News, 25 January 2009, via Kai Ludwig news tip. Is this in addition to other shortwave transmissions, or was there no shortwave before 25 January? Difficult to tell from See previous post about Azerbaijan.

New VOA tri-lingual, multi-waveband service to Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.

Posted: 27 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Starting today, people in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, as well as the rest of the country, can listen to a six-hour radio program of news and information in Pashto, Urdu and English on FM, AM, shortwave and the Internet. The trilingual program will feature news packages, talk shows and in-depth analysis of events in the United States and Pakistan. It will be broadcast across Pakistan, with a focus on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, from 12 a.m. until 6 a.m. The format replaces an existing program that was exclusively on music. ... VOA's broadcasting to Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province can be found online at, and" VOA press release, 26 January 2009. The "12 a.m. until 6 a.m." is presumably local time in Pakistan, thus 1900-0100 UTC. I cannot find any information about the new broadcast at, at least not in English. No VOA English or Deewa Radio transmissions to South Asia at 1900-0100 UTC are listed in the VOA frequency schedule. VOA Urdu (Radio Aap ki Dunyaa) is listed during these hours, but only on its medium wave frequencies of 972 and 1539 kHz, not the advertised shortwave or FM.

Another unfortunate description of VOA.

Posted: 27 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The official Voice of America radio, which seeks policy guidelines from the US State Department, noted that Ambassador Holbrooke’s 'plan will most likely focus on countering Taliban bases in Pakistan’s tribal regions that are blamed for contributing to a spike in violence on both sides of the border'." The Peninsula (Doha), 27 January 2009. This refers to a story by Barry Newhouse, VOA News, 23 January 2009. As a VOA news story, it was not vetted by the State Department. The writer of the article in The Peninsula might be thinking of the editorials on VOA, which are edited and approved by the State Department. The Peninsula article is attributed to "Internews," which does not seem to be the same as the international media development organization Internews. I was able to track the article back to a piece by Anwar Iqbal in Dawn (Karachi), 26 January 2009.

Obama selects Al Arabiya for first television interview as president.

Posted: 27 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"In his first interview with an Arab television station, United States President Barack Obama Monday told Al Arabiya that Americans are not the enemy of the Muslim world and said Israel and the Palestinians should resume peace negotiations. 'My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy,' Obama told Al Arabiya’s Hisham Melhem in an interview broadcast Tuesday morning." Al Arabiya, 27 January 2009.
     "Obama's comments came during his first formal television interview as president, with a correspondent from al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite network that is one of the largest English-language [sic] TV outlets aimed at Arab audiences." Washington Post, 27 January 2009. Actually, Al Arabiya is an Arabic-language channel.
     "How much confidence and sense of purpose does it take for a man who was pilloried by the fever-swamps as a 'secret Muslim' throughout the primary and general elections to give his first Presidential interview not to the liberal loyalists at MSNBC, but to Al-Arabiya, an Arab TV network with a reach of 23 million viewers. This is public diplomacy, my friends. This is a man who is serious about winning back hearts and minds. This is the power of Barack Hussein Obama’s celebrity at its height, leveraged to speak to the Arab Street. What’s 'smart power'? This is smart power." Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, 26 January 2009.
     "The interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president’s international popularity." Ben Smith, Politico, 26 January 2009.
     "While Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both have appeared on the network (which is Saudi financed), the president's media team seemed to be driving home a message in their choice of venue. The interview itself is as much a signal to the Muslim world as the words he said." Sam Stein, Huffington Post, 26 January 2009.
     "This interview is a big deal. The tone is studiously non-belligerent. It will confuse some in the Middle East even further - in particular, perhaps, persuading Iran's most senior leaders that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not perhaps the best man to counter the Obama appeal." Justin Webb's America, BBC News, 27 January 2009.
     Al Arabiya "reaches an estimated 130 million Arabic speakers. By comparison, roughly 280 million people live in the Arab Middle East. According to the BBC, the network claims to be one of the top-rated pan-Arab stations but 'angered the US' for its coverage of the violence in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the network openly hostile to US interests after it broadcast pictures of masked men who threatened to kill members of the US-appointed governing council. A U.S. Department of State spokesman said at the time that 'to air the remarks of these masked terrorists to be irresponsible in the extreme'.", 26 January 2009. Refers to profile by Peter Feuilherade, BBC Monitoring, 25 November 2003.
     The choice of Al Arabiya rather than Al Jazeera is interesting. Al Arabiya is generally considered the more moderate of the two, at least from a US perspective.

A shofar to compete with Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 26 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"During the three weeks of the war between Israel and the Hamas, I was asked often what the Jews of the Diaspora could do for Israel. The answer that seems to have emerged: develop a global TV network and Internet portal. ... An important conveyer of the Hamas narrative was Al Jazeera, which recently recognized the importance of communication not only with the Arab world in its native Arabic but with the English-speaking world as well. Al Jazeera gave the Hamas a media edge with which Israel could not compete. The network was on the scene in real time, and while it had the 'credibility' of being an independent news source, it became the shofar of the Hamas narrative." Jonathan Mirvis, JTA, 25 January 2009. See previous post (and whatever happened to that proposed channel?).

Shortwave broadcasting: SSB versus DRM versus DRM.

Posted: 26 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"ITU [International Telecommunications Union] processes are involved and often long-winded. To arrive at decisions that affect the whole world is an arduous task and involves many experts assembled from around the world in study groups. The long-drawn out processes on the one hand ensure inclusivity but at other times result in decisions that are super[s]eded by developments. A classic example is in the case of broadcasters. A decision was made that shortwave broadcasters would adopt single sideband as a standard to reduce bandwidth and increase efficiency. Because of the need to give the world time to change over to a new technology, up to seven or more years will lapse before a new standard is implemented. SSB for shortwave broadcasting was super[s]eded by digital rights management (DRM), a digital service that has just been introduced by some of the larger broadcasters in Europe." Hans vd Groenendaal,, 25 January 2009.
     Digital rights management is the more famous DRM, but he meant to write Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), a system for transmitting digitally on long, medium and shortwave.
     Actually, it's unfortunate that single sideband was never implemented for shortwave broadcasting. That type of transmission would have eliminated selective fading, in which one sideband clashes with the other. Also, if all stations transmitted on upper sideband, much interference among adjacent channel stations would have been eliminated. The required bandwidth for SSB would be much narrower than the 10 kHz wide swath required by DRM.
     In contrast to DRM, for which standalone receivers are very slow to develop, synchronous-detection receivers capable of picking up reduced-carrier single sideband transmissions have been available for years. Their battery consumption is, for now, much less than the processor-intensive DRM receivers.
     Most importantly, SSB shortwave transmission would be robust, capable of trans-oceanic distances, and intelligible above many instances of co-channel interference. DRM is much less forgiving in the adverse conditions for which shortwave is infamous.

     Update: Thanks to George Woodard, who improves upon my oversimplified description of selective fading: "Selective fading is not 'when sidebands clash', but rather when a variable narrow bandwidth of frequencies undergo multipath propagation where two signals cancel each other. In AM, the terrible garbled sound that we all experience is when the carrier signal frequency gets cancelled, leaving only the sidebands."

Gaza media update for 25 January 2009.

Posted: 25 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"In an age whereby anyone with a camera-phone and Internet access can instantly propagate his or her version of ‘truth’ to the world at large, militaries and governments must realise that it takes more than fuzzy images of so-called precision strikes to win the propaganda war." Ong Weichong, Khaleej Times, 24 January 2009.
     "Following Israel's incursion into Gaza at the end of last year, the repletion of media-bashing seemed to increase exponentially on both sides of the equation -- both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian -- until it reached a point where one could only feel confounded with the validity of either side's argument. Ultimately, there was no other option but to conclude that all such equally misplaced instances of censure may as well cancel each other out." Stuart Whatley, Huffington Post, 23 January 2009.
     "The international media have to solve this dilemma on a day-to-day basis, and reach a decision on how much people can see. They have to strike a balance between showing images of the aftermath of attacks – pools of blood, pockmarked buildings - and graphic images of dead or injured people, without compromising their credibility as impartial news reporters." Abeer Mishkhas, Khaleej Times, 25 January 2009.
     "There were no cheers in the Ranoush Café in Gaza City when Barack Obama was inaugurated. A few dozen young Palestinians watched the proceedings on one of the place's four televisions, listening to Al-Jazeera's Arabic voice-over as they sucked on Hubbly Bubblies, which are big water pipes with burning charcoal in the bowl." Newsweek, 24 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera audience in the USA spikes during Gaza conflict.

Posted: 25 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"American viewership of Al-Jazeera English rose dramatically during the Israel-Hamas war, partly because the channel had what CNN and other international networks didn't have: reporters inside Gaza. But the viewers weren't watching it on television, where the Arab network's English-language station has almost no U.S. presence. Instead, the station streamed video of Israel's offensive against Hamas on the Internet and took advantage of emerging online media such as the microblogging Web site Twitter to provide real-time updates." AP, 24 January 2009.

More inauguration and the world media (updated).

Posted: 25 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Around the world, Tuesday's inauguration of Obama, the 44th U.S. president, attracted large VOA audiences who tuned in, listened to or read about the history-making events on the steps of the Capitol and the Mall. ... More than 200 VOA journalists covered the inaugural events, with VOA translating the inaugural speech into 45 languages, providing it to more than 134 million people who obtain VOA on a variety of platforms: radio, television and Internet." Voice of America press release, 22 January 2009. See also DX Listening Digest, 21 January 2009.
     "Tuesday night was also the time to play 'Hunt the inauguration' on the various media, all of which happen to be electronic. And as there is a national deficit of power, particularly marked in a one-kilometre radius of my house, this presented a number of logistical problems. The recent installation of a UPS has made life easier, but not actually easy. I can run the computer and lights in my office-cum-lounge -- but not the TV at the same time; and if all else failed there was a battery-powered shortwave radio." Chris Cork, The News (Karachi), 22 January 2009.
     "Attendees to a national pastors conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM) were inspired as they listened to the inauguration of President Barack Obama on short wave radio... Some of the participants also were able to watch news clips of the event at a nearby house that had the town’s only television set, which received its signal via satellite." Evangelical Covenant Church, 21 January 2009.
     "Iranians anxious for better relations with the United States ... eagerly tuned their illegal satellite dishes to such foreign television stations as CNN and the BBC’s new Persian TV to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony after most state-controlled media in the Islamic Republic capital sulkily ignored the historic event." The National, 22 January 2009.
     "Arab media provided extensive coverage of the Obama inauguration but in some cases the event was preempted by, or given equal time, with the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and the Arab economic summit in Kuwait." Magda Abu-Fadil, Huffington Post, 21 January 2009.
     "In what seemed to be a break from long-standing tradition, news photographers were not allowed into the Oval Office to take photos of the new President's first full day at work. Instead, the White House provided photos to the news agencies. The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France Presse have all refused to distribute these photos of Obama at work on Wednesday. Michael Oreskes, managing editor of U.S. News for the AP referred to them as 'visual press releases.'" Washington Examiner, 22 January 2009.
     Update: "Most Americans do not watch or hear 'their' broadcasting service, the Voice of America. But thanks to the service, which first went on the air in 1942, hundreds of millions of people worldwide had live coverage of how Americans conduct themselves when they transfer power. ... So when Obama addressed Muslims directly, saying: 'We seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and respect,' he was heard. And not just in Indonesia, but in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and countless other places. Being able to communicate is a powerful tool. Taxpayers are well served by their investment." Editorial, Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail, 24 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

The Obama public diplomacy honeymoon.

Posted: 25 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"President Barack Obama has already scored his first major victory against anti-American demagogues worldwide. He has put them on the defensive by the sheer power of his popularity in their own countries. ... In many countries, Obama has a more positive image than that of the local head of state. That has put many anti-American leaders – Venezuela's narcissist-Leninist President Hugo Chavez among them – in the awkward position of having to tone down their daily tirade of epithets against the United States or risk being out of touch with their own people." Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald, 23 January 2009.
     "What was striking in [Obama's inaugural] address was the absence of any grandiose promises, such as those Bush made in his second inaugural to expand freedom and 'end tyranny in our world.' ... So when Obama said 'we are ready to lead once more,' he was emphasizing leadership with a difference. His global honeymoon may last longer than many expect." Trudy Rubin, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 23 January 2009.
     "Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress ... thinks Pakistan – with its first democratically elected government in more than a decade but ongoing security threats within and from without – will be the initial test of the new strategy. The toughest, but the first." Lynda Hurst, Toronto Star, 24 January 2009.
     "Since 9/11 Americans have been told that the so-called war on terror required the government to know everything about its citizens while they needed to know as little as possible about the process of government. It was a Faustian pact that both Democrats and Republicans always felt uncomfortable with. It nurtured the fungus of corruption in an administration that shunned accountability and invited the opposite of trust. The 2008 election was a popular insurrection against the paranoia, secrecy and high-handedness of the Bush era. It was also a shot fired across the bows of the Clintons and the mouldy scent of dynastic entitlement. Instead of Molotov cocktails and rocks these polite rebels used the web and the ballot. Barack Obama has created a friendly beast that roared for him and wants to be stroked. He will have a tough time keeping it tame." Matt Frei, anchor of BBC World News America, The Guardian, 24 January 2009.
     "The departure of George W. Bush deprived al-Qaeda of a polarizing American leader who reliably drove recruits and donations to the terrorist group. With Obama, al-Qaeda faces an entirely new challenge, experts say: a U.S. president who campaigned to end the Iraq war and to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and who polls show is well liked throughout the Muslim world. Whether the pro-Obama sentiment will last remains to be seen." Washington Post, 25 January 2009.

Now available: the VOA MBA.

Posted: 25 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Miami University’s new two-year MBA program in West Chester has opened for applications, university officials announced Friday. ... Classes, which begin in August, will be held at the university’s Voice of America Learning Center, at 7847 VOA Park Drive, just off Tylersville Road in West Chester. ... Online registration for the information sessions is available on the MBA Web site," Dayton Business Journal, 23 January 2009. At the site of the former VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station. See previous post.

Public diplomacy to virtual Islam is easier than public diplomacy to actual Islam because, in the former, you can program in virtual success.

Posted: 24 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"After a year of exploring digital Islamic communities, Joshua S. Fouts and Rita J. King, Senior Fellows at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, produced a report which concludes: “engaging with people in virtual worlds who self-identify as Muslim can be part of a broader public diplomacy strategy to foster inclusive perspectives on religion, society, and coexistence.” Fouts: "Just as shortwave radio was a lifeline to people in information-starved societies in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, so now is the Internet a new venue for the voice of the marginalized or oppressed. Our project was an effort to understand and chronicle what was going on in virtual world communities. There are now millions of people around the world who are part of them. The Gartner Research firm predicted in April 2007 that 80% of all internet users will have an avatar version of themselves by 2011." Bill Berkowitz, Religion Dispatches, 23 January 2009. And I will be among the 20% who will not have an avatar version. Maintaining the coherence of the actual version of myself will be a sufficient challenge in 2011. One way I will do this is to communicate, via shortwave, using my amateur radio transceiver.

China's global media expansion: "We don't need to worry about the money." (updated)

Posted: 24 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Yu Guoming, vice dean of the journalism school at Renmin University in Beijing, said that over the past two months he had served as a consultant to the government organizations and that Xinhua did have plans to get a license to create a 24-hour news channel that would broadcast in English internationally. Mr. Yu said that no decision on funding had been made for the various media outlets, but that the goal was for China to improve its image abroad and to create international news organizations that would be more respected, possibly with fewer controls from Beijing. 'The government will do it, but how and what they are going to do is still under discussion,' Mr. Yu said by telephone on Wednesday." New York Times, 14 January 2009.
     John Marcom, former vice-president of Yahoo! and former president of Time Inc International: "Money doesn't buy necessarily the know-how or the talent to do stuff that will hold people's attention and engage consumers. Money doesn't really buy if we're talking about news, money doesn't buy credibility, which is probably the biggest thing that consumers of news judge news on, and they know what balance is and they know what fairness is. And even in China despite I think attempts to block some content, people get a lot of content from around the world from a lot of different sources." Radio Australia "Connect Asia," 15 January 2009.
     "Weber Shandwick Asia-Pacific chairman Tim Sutton noted that the plan would entail a 'steep learning curve' for the channels involved. 'I wouldn't discourage it at all - it seems to be part of China continuing to engage the world out there,' he said. 'But can they make the service sufficiently credible and do they have the ability to talk in a high-pressure, sceptical environment?'" PRWeek, 16 January 2009.
     "(Rare) good news for English-speaking journalists: these Chinese media outlets are going on a hiring spree! At least someone is sure to benefit from this plan." James Fallows, The Atlantic blog, 14 January 2009.
     "An official with the new service, who asked not to be named, said: 'We plan to launch (the Arabic channel) in September...and will hire about 100 Arabic-speaking people...We don't need to worry about the money, CCTV has all the money.'" AFP, 15 January 2009.
     "The first step would be the launch of a second national English-language newspaper by Global Times, an affiliate of the Communist Party's mouthpiece People's Daily, in April, observers said. ... Guo Ke, a journalism professor at Shanghai International Studies University, said the government had picked Global Times rather than People's Daily because the affiliate had created a market-oriented newspaper." Financial Times, 14 January 2009.
     Update: "In an article on the difficulties facing the global marketing of Chinese values and culture, Tsinghua University media scholar Li Xiguang noted that 'the soft power of a country manifests itself in whether it has the power to define and interpret "universal values" such as democracy, freedom and human rights.' Li pointed out that in order to enhance the attractiveness of 'socialism with Chinese characteristics', 'we must let the whole world hear the stories that Chinese citizens have to tell about their democracy, liberty, human rights and rule of law' (People’s Daily net, January 5). The problem, of course, is that intellectuals bold enough to air their views on democracy and political reform have been harassed if not incarcerated by the authorities." Willy Lam, The Jamestown Foundation, 22 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Gaza media update for 23 January 2009.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"As the conflict continued in Gaza, Al Jazeera English producer Jeremy Young was on the look-out for stories related to the situation in Gaza, but tied to the United States. He found one in Pine Bluff [Arkansas]. The Pine Bluff Arsenal is a military facility that, according to its website, provides 'expertise and specialized munitions and chemical-biological defense products and services.' Some of those specialized munitions have found their way into Israeli hands and have been used during the conflict. According to Young, the Arsenal is the only place in the northern hemisphere that produces munitions filled with white phosphorous. Young says the substance is not considered a chemical weapon and is used for crowd suppression and, at night, illumination." Arkansas Times, 22 January 2009.
     "If isn’t among your bookmarks, that’s a mistake. This Arab satellite network’s people are in Gaza. I value Aljazeera because of its perspective. London’s daily Independent is to carry Al Jazeera English TV updates on That’s great news because few U.S. cable/satellite companies carry Al Jazeera." Ben L Kaufman, CityBeat (Cincinnati), 21 January 2009.
     "Mohammed Daraghmeh, who covers the PA for the Associated Press out of Ramallah, discussed the major sources of news for Palestinians. ... 'Seventy-five percent of Palestinians watch Al Jazeera, then Al Arabiya [Arab satellite news channels], and very few watch or believe local Palestinian media,' he said. He said Al Jazeera's on-scene coverage was graphic but accurate. They became 'controversial' by choosing which commentators to interview. 'All of the commentators and politicians which were interviewed were biased towards Hamas,' he said. Al Arabiya, at least, included the Fatah point of view, he said." Jerusalem Post, 21 January 2009.
     "Channel 2 foreign news editor Arad Nir told The Jerusalem Post ... 'The media in this war clearly took a side. It didn't give an equal voice to the Israeli and Gazan sides in its reportage.'" Jerusalem Post, 22 January 2009.
     "The Israeli army also set up a YouTube channel and uploaded videos of some of their air raids on Gaza. While no official online presence has been established by Hamas, pro-Palestinian supporters have been using videos and images to effectively deliver their message.", 21 January 2009.
     Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University: "I think what has become really interesting is that in an era when you have armed conflict between states, you now have people online looking to see how [they] can become part of that conflict without leaving their computers." Christian Science Monitor, 23 January 2009.
     "The Director General of the BBC has rebuffed a request from the Government to reconsider its decision not to broadcast a charity appeal for the aid effort in Gaza. ... Mark Thompson, the head of the corporation, said that even if it was possible to deliver aid to Gaza, the BBC would not transmit an appeal from the Disasters & Emergency Committee (DEC) because to do so would tarnish the broadcaster’s attempts to remain impartial in the conflict." The Times, 23 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Public diplomacy in uniform: send USNS Mercy to Gaza.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"As President Barack Obama assumes office, his first diplomatic overture to the region should be to immediately address Palestinian suffering in Gaza. Treating Gaza's health care crisis with action would go a long way to address the urgent medical needs of Gazans and re-position the United States, whose image suffered tremendously due to the government's complicity in the recent Israeli offensive, as a force of good in the region. ... One of the most powerful and visible symbols of American empathy with those in disaster-hit areas is the USNS Mercy, the leading hospital ship in the U.S. Navy. As a ship committed to emergency medical care, it is one of America's most notable tools of medical diplomacy, having gained attention for its humanitarian contributions in tsunami-hit Asia in 2006. It would provide more capacity for health care and make a more prominent public diplomacy statement to the Arab world." Will Youmans, The Jerusalem Fund, 21 January 2009. See previous post about USNS Mercy.

Oprah: better than public diplomacy?

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a region where people overwhelmingly disapprove of American policy toward the Arab world, Oprah has quietly emerged as a better cultural ambassador than any public diplomacy effort in recent memory. As the months passed, I heard more from fans of Oprah. They are women representing a spectrum of class and religious orientation — conservative women, veiled women, liberal women and even women who don’t speak much English but read the Arabic subtitles. Mazen Hayek, the marketing director for MBC4, the channel that airs 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' in the Middle East, says the enormous positive feedback the station receives speaks for itself: 'The best reward [is] hearing people tell you, we learn more from the Oprah show than from our schools, our universities. So the effect of Oprah on people’s lives is very positive.'" Worldfocus, 22 January 2009.

The land where anyone who gives $109,600 to the party in power can rise to become undersecretary for public diplomacy.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Official Washington is abuzz with word that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is poised to tap a longtime friend and Democratic mega-donor as her undersecretary for public diplomacy. Judith A. McHale, one of the area's most prominent female executives, who stepped down in 2006 as president of Discovery Communications, may take a job that has been especially difficult given Washington's reputation abroad. Her résumé doesn't reflect an excess of diplomatic experience, but we're reminded that this is a job that involves selling a message. McHale has been close to Clinton for decades and was an early and prolific fundraiser for the former first lady's presidential bid. During the 2008 campaign cycle, McHale donated $109,600 to Democratic politicians and campaign committees, campaign finance records show." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 23 January 2009. As long as she knows that she has no executive authority over U.S. international broadcasting, other than one vote, on behalf of the Secretary of State, on the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
     "The position of Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs should go to someone with experience in and a vision for public diplomacy, and who will be in a position to effectively integrate public diplomacy concerns into the policy-making process. ... Whoever is appointed as Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy needs to be in a position to quickly assert authority over an inter-agency balance currently sharply skewed towards the Pentagon." March Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 23 January 2009, and comments.
     "It would sure be nice to get someone for this job who speaks a few languages, has spent a lot of time overseas, and doesn't think of the job as merely a branding exercise." Kevin Drum, Mother Jones blog, 23 January 2009.

To every type of diplomacy there is a point in time.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
EU enlargement commissioner Oli Rehn on Croatian/Slovenian border dispute: "It's better that we work on the basis of silent diplomacy than public diplomacy at this point in time." AFP, 22 January 2009. See previous post.
     "Tim Geithner is going hard after the Chinese for manipulating their currency to keep prices low on their exports. While this is a legitimate concern, the monetary policy saber-rattling is political grandstanding here that is not the most effective way of delivering a message to a Chinese government that is already worried that an Obama Administration tactic will be to scapegoat them. ... And given the contraction in growth they showed in the fourth quarter, falling to 6.5 percent, China is entering some pretty precarious waters for 2009 -- where we will have a strong national interest in helping them maintain stability. Sometimes the best diplomacy is not the most public diplomacy." David J. Rothkopf, Foreign Policy, 23 January 2009.

Bulgarians (or at least expats in Bulgaria) want their BBC back.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"A campaign to restore BBC World Service to Bulgaria’s FM frequency has been launched on Facebook following the decision, taken last September, to ban the BBC World Service broadcasts in the country. Enraged listeners have posted comments on the Facebook page – 'I want my BBC back' – urging for the programme to be restored to its normal frequency. Although the BBC can still be heard via satellite or online, it’s clear that the decision has riled many listeners who found it more convenient to tune in to the broadcasts on the radio. ... Although the 'executioner' was technically not the Bulgarian Government, but rather the Council for Electronic Media (using the lame excuse that the BBC had abjured on its licence agreement by broadcasting in English), it was clear that recent events had influenced the watchdog’s judgement. ... More recently, several BBC programmes had antagonised the Bulgarian Government. In particular, the BBC’s controversial report on the Mogilino children’s home – 'Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children' – offended the powers-that-be. President Georgi Purvanov even went as far as to accuse the BBC of waging 'an anti-Bulgarian campaign'." The Sofia Echo, 23 January 2009. BBC dropped its Bulgarian service at the end of 2005. Bulgarian authorities would not allow an FM license for an all-English BBC channel.

Vatican's YouTube channel joins the "great aeropagus."

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Vatican launched its own YouTube channel Friday, showcasing clips of Pope Benedict XVI in a bid to both engage with the digital generation and better control the papal image online. ... The site,, was launched the same day the pontiff praised as a 'gift to humanity' the potential benefits of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace." AP, 23 January 2009.
     "So that the Church and its message continue to be present in the great aeropagus of social communications as defined by John Paul II and so that it is not a stranger to those spaces where numerous young people search for answers and meaning in their lives, you must find new ways to spread voices and images of hope through the ever-evolving communications system that surrounds our planet." Pope Benedict XVI on YouTube, 22 January 2009.
     In addition to, which "Joined: June 05, 2008," there is, which "Joined: November 21, 2005." The two sites are slightly different. Go to YouTube and try to find this Vatican channel if you don't know the URL. Fortunately, would be most people's first guess.
     "The Pope warned in his message, Friday, which also marked the Church's World Day of Communications, that the new technologies of internet communication could reduce real human contact. 'If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development,' he said. Plainly, the pontiff is planning to avoid getting sucked into an addiction to Facebook." Jeff Israely, 23 January 2009.

"Privatized" US international broadcasting denies workers' rights, he writes.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Anna Karapetian, a journalist from Armenia who in radio broadcasts funded by the U.S. government reported on human rights abuses in her country ... hopes that with Mr. Obama’s strong commitment to protecting workers’ rights, the new administration will end the policy of a U.S. government agency which can arbitrarily fire its foreign journalists working abroad and denies them many of the basic labor law protections available to Americans citizens and residents of other democratic countries. The policy in question was instituted by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the Federal government agency which manages privatized U.S.-funded international broadcasting stations, such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Alhurra Television. Ms. Karapetian became one of the victims of the policy when she was fired from her broadcasting job at RFE/RL in the Czech Republic after almost 12 years of employment, which she describes as 'impeccable,' with 'very good' and 'excellent' performance reviews. ... The PR problem created by these cases and the damage to America’s image abroad can be traced back to the actions of a relatively small group of unelected U.S. government officials. Less than ten men and women, selected by the leadership of their political parties, appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, serve at any one time on the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. Most of them are political loyalists and private businessmen without much foreign policy and human rights advocacy experience." Ted Lipien, Free Media Online blog, 22 January 2009. So eliminate the BBG, and the employees of U.S. international broadcasting will have to deal with an unelected, presidentially-appointed director presiding over a politicized government agency, whose employees are prohibited from going on strike.

VOA Persian can "go anywhere, anytime, live."

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"One Million Signature Campaign, a grassroots Iranian women's organization that received the prestigious 2009 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom today, is the subject of special, in-depth Voice of America (VOA) coverage. ... One Million Signature Campaign works against discriminatory laws in Iran, such as men's uncontested right to divorce, polygamy, and child custody. Alex Belida, PNN's acting director, said the coverage is an example of the network's 'ability to go anywhere, anytime, live, to bring our Iranian audience news and information that they deserve to see and hear.' ... VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four adult Iranians tuning into a VOA show at least once a week. PNN broadcasts seven hours of television a day, repeated for a full 24 hours." VOA press release, 21 January 2009.
     "Because the [new BBC Persian TV] is partly [sic] funded by Britain’s foreign office, some [Iranians] view the station as a government tool. 'The British meddled in our affairs in the past and even now they have a leading role in convincing the European Union to impose sanctions on us. The BBC is an instrument of the foreign office. They shouldn’t be allowed to wage a propaganda war against the Iranian nation through their television,' said Ali Shokri, a civil servant. However, he admitted the network was a quality operation. 'The new television is different from other foreign or foreign-based Persian televisions like the Voice of America television in that their professional standards are much higher. They know how to look unbiased and impartial and that makes them even doubly dangerous,' Mr Shokri said." The National, 23 January 2009.
     Reporters sans frontières "condemns the decision by culture and Islamic orientation minister Mohammad Hossein Safar-Harandi to ban the BBC’s new Farsi-language TV station from operating in Iran, and to forbid Iranian journalists to work for foreign news media. As well as preventing Iranian journalists from covering freely domestic news, the government is now also trying to gag foreign news media. ... 'The foreign media are clearly seen as unwanted observers, and the government’s exaggerated suspicions and security obsessions have now driven it to ban any contact with journalists. This decision aims to intimidate journalists and violates the free flow of information.'" RSF, 23 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

CNN invites bloggers to submit "Dear Davos" questions (updated).

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"From January 28 to February 1 CNN will be broadcasting live and reporting online from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as the world's leading powerbrokers and moneymakers gather to discuss the state of the world in 2009. ... As part of this year's 'Dear Davos' coverage, CNN is inviting a selection of influential bloggers to submit their questions to be put to our guests during our daily coverage. If you are blogger and would like to participate please send us details of your blog and the question you would like to ask." CNN, 9 January 2009.
     Update: "CNN International will be offering unrivalled coverage of this year's meeting all of next week, both on television and online. Watch out for business coverage and analysis from Richard Quest and Charles Hodson with daily interviews with some of the biggest names in corporate boardrooms. On Friday January 30 Christiane Amanpour hosts an exclusive panel discussion in conjunction with YouTube on the challenges facing Barack Obama, with guests including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, British and French foreign ministers David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner and Mohammed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency." Press release language in CNN news story, 23 January 2009.

Australian government tries to digest 2,400 suggestions about public broadcasting.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ABC should use Australian Muslims to provide a 24 hour international radio service to educate Islamic communities overseas, one of 2,400 public submissions to a federal government review suggests." Brisbane Times, 23 January 2009. See also Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, press release, 23 January 2009, with link to all the submissions, which are too numerous to read and, alas, not searchable for phrases such as "Radio Australia." See previous post about same subject.

CNN International digitally terrestrially in Australia.

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"A bunch of Optus mobile customer with Nokia N96 phones are getting to enjoy the benefits of digital video broadcast to handheld (DVB-H) services under Australia's second trial of the technology which delivers up to 30 video channels over a single 7MHz UHF TV broadcast channel. The trial which will run until 28 February, is running nine video streams and has been made available to selected Optus mobile customers. The content includes: Seven Digital, ABC1, SBS Digital, Fox Sports News. Sky News Business, CNN International and Cartoon Network, MTV and MySpace Road Tour." iTWire, 23 January 2009.

Will Cuban dissidents' dissent lead to the descent of Radio Martí? (updated)

Posted: 23 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Dissident organization in Cuba complains to the US State Department about the content of Radio Martí. "Según los disidentes, la emisora estaría más en función de la política de Miami que de las necesidades informativas de Cuba, razón por la cual fue creada y por la que recibe millones de dólares de financiamiento federal. ... 'En Radio Martí no comprenden que su misión es dar información al pueblo de Cuba de lo que ocurre en Cuba para romper el monopolio oficial'." BBC Mundo, 21 January 2009.
     Update: "The head of Miami-based Radio and TV Martí will stay on in his post -- at least temporarily -- despite an administration change in Washington that was expected to result in a resignation for the political appointee. Pedro Roig, director of the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting, was asked to stay on by the federal agency that controls Radio and TV Martí, and is traveling to Washington, D.C., on Monday to meet with the officials who oversee his operation. 'Roig was asked to stay on by the board in consultation with the [President Barack] Obama team,' said Tish King, a spokeswoman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors." Miami Herald, 22 January 2009. I thought the point of the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 is for senior appointments to be made by the firewall Broadcasting Board of Governors rather than by the president. If new senior managers, such as the the director of Radio/TV Martí and the director of Voice of America, are named by, or because of, the new administration, this would be an indication that U.S. international broadcasting lacks the independence necessary to achieve the credibility that is required for success in international broadcasting. It would also beg the question: why does the BBG exist?
     Spanish version of above:, 23 July 2009.
     "Los principales líderes de la coalición Agenda para la Transición han decidido temporalmente realizar un boicot a la emisora y no hacer contribuciones a su Departamento de Noticias, hasta que no existan indicios de una transformación que abra las puertas a un flujo informativo favorable a la audiencia en la isla." elNuevoHerald,com, 16 January 2009.
     "Para todo cubano que ame la patria y su libertad la importancia de Radio Martí es enorme e intransferible." Nicolas Perez Diez Argüelles,, 21 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

A Canadian watches (non-Cuban) television in Cuba.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"You can easily get 100 channels on cable here in Canada and you still won't see a view of the world as penetrating as that revealed by the dozen or so international channels I got in my hotel room in [Cuba]." The channels included China's CCTV, a German business station, and CNN. "If the only U.S. news available to you is CNN, and you think (as many do) that CNN is the most respected source of television journalism in that country, then you will develop the impression that there is in fact no journalism in that country at all. You might come away with the conviction that the bizarre obsessions of the 'news' channel, so heavily biased as they are toward the entertainment industry, are about as useful and objective as the 'news' reports from Beijing." Russell Smith, Globe and Mail, 22 January 2009.

New BBC World Service Trust director has Oxfam experience.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service Trust has appointed ex-Oxfam executive Caroline Nursey as its new director. Nursey has held a range of director-level roles with Oxfam in the UK and abroad, most recently interim regional director for West Africa. She will take up her position with the BBC's international charity in April. The BBC World Service Trust, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, aims to reduce poverty and promote human rights in developing countries through the innovative and creative use of the media." Charity Finance, 20 January 2009. The consortium of international broadcasters proposed by Deutsche Welle director Erik Bettermann would "increase their focus" on human rights in their broadcasts. (See previous post.) The BBCWS Trust also promotes human rights, but through a separate entity that is not involved with the journalistic output of BBC World Service. This is still problematic, but not as much as the DW proposal. Perhaps the BBC World Trust could evolve into an International Public Service Broadcasters Trust.

USA Today will close its international edition, seek partners abroad.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"USA Today said Friday it will stop publishing its international edition on Feb. 6 but will look for partners in Europe and South America to continue operating it. Under such an arrangement, similar to one USA Today recently launched in the Caribbean, USA Today would produce the articles, photos and other content, and the partners would print the newspaper locally and sell ads themselves. USA Today would get an unspecified per-copy licensing fee. 'This allows us to continue our international presence under more favorable financial conditions,' USA Today said in a statement to The Associated Press. ... The decision to pull back abroad comes as its national rivals, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, are both expanding, particularly online. The Journal, under News Corp., already has European and Asian editions in print and is looking to gain readers by developing a Web site and content tailored to readers there, not simply stories about those regions written for a U.S. audience. The Times, meanwhile, has combined forces online with a sister paper, the International Herald Tribune." AP, 16 January 2009.

World radio on thumb-sized gadget (plugged into your PC).

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"I've been using a thumb-size gadget that is a riveting example of how the Internet has turned our vast planet into a small village. Plug the USB Internet Radio Jukebox into your PC (Windows only) and a world of sound and opinion awaits. Sure, you can use your browser to find the Web sites from public and private radio stations from Australia to Zimbabwe, but that's quite a task if you don't know the call letters. Aluratek's USB radio is a tuner that uncovers these gems. It claims access to more than 13,000 stations—all for $39, money well spent for an audio world tour. ... I've enjoyed world tunes from Sky.FM, classical music from Spain and folk from Canada's CBC. Some stations have failed to connect at times, but that's been rare." Eric Benderoff, Chicago Tribune, 22 January 2009.

Chinese television censors part of Obama's inaugural speech.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Only minutes into his presidency and Barack Obama had already been censored by the Chinese. References to communism and to dissent in his inaugural address were deleted from Chinese-language translations in the state news media. And during a television report, state-run CCTV abruptly cut away from the English-language video of Obama's speech Tuesday, leaving the anchorwoman and a Washington correspondent clearly befuddled about how to fill the airtime." Los Angeles Times, 22 January 2009. See also Danwei, 21 January 2009 and Shanghaist, 21 January 2009.
     "The first question asked at the foreign ministry briefing Thursday was about Chinese media censorship of President Obama's inauguration address. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu denied any government involvement. Jiang says she is not aware of any censorship. At the same time, she says Chinese media have the right to make their own editorial decisions." VOA News, 22 January 2009.
     "While Americans had millions of ways to watch Obama's inauguration speech, here in China, I'm giving thanks for my one: gray-market Filipino satellite. Without it, I would've missed anything past where Obama muttered 'communists.' Right now, satellite television is still technically illegal in China, thanks to a 1993 regulation that said only hotels, media outlets and apartment buildings that are specifically for foreigners are allowed to use satellite dishes. Because of that, there's no China-branded satellite company and most TVs come with just the smattering of local regional Chinese channels and, of course, the CCTV. There's a way around it though. A gray market has popped up in most cities to provide satellite cable services -- including cable boxes and regularly updated encryption cards -- for anyone willing to pay. Roughly $300 a year will get you channels like BBC World and CNN, HBO and (my personal favorite) the Discovery Channel." Elaine Chow, Gizmodo, 21 January 2009.
     "Chinese state media have launched an unexpected broadside at both departing President George W. Bush and his successor, President Barack Obama." The Telegraph, 22 January 2009.

"Inter-state agreements" might get foreign stations back on FM in Azerbaijan (updated).

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"International radio stations will be aired in Azerbaijan in the frames of inter-state agreements. 'International radio stations will be broadcast in Azerbaijan if we get inter-state agreements with them,' said the President of TV/Radio Broadcast National Committee of Azerbaijan Nushireva Mageramli.", 20 January 2009. This may mean that if Voice of Azerbaijan can get access to FM stations in the foreign stations' countries, the foreign stations can have access to FM in Azerbaijan.
     "The Baku police prevented an unauthorized protest by the opposition Musavat party on Jan. 21. Roughly 20 Musavat members hoisting the slogan 'Return FM Frequencies to Foreign Stations!' protested against the suspension of foreign radio stations broadcasting on Azerbaijani national frequencies." Trend News Agency, 21 January 2009.
     EU commissioner for external relations and the European neighborhood policy Benito Ferrero Waldner" "Azerbaijan is an economically developed country and freedom of speech should be respected here." Trend News Agency, 21 January 2009.
     "In the first week after the 1990 [Soviet] invasion, local state television was shut down. Soviet agents had blown up the Baku broadcast transmitters hours before the tanks rolled in. Only the Azeri-language programs of Radio Liberty, broadcasting from Munich, broke through the media blackout. The short-wave broadcasts of Radio Azadliq were a lifeline to the outside world, and a symbol of hope and the dream of freedom for the protesters. It is sadly ironic that now -- 19 years later -- the Azerbaijan government has banned international broadcasting in the country and Radio Azadliq, its mission far from accomplished, is again broadcasting only on short-wave frequencies." Commentary by Kenan Aliyev, director of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, RFE/RL 20 January 2009.
     Update: "This week the issue (including with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan) was also raised by assistant deputy US secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia Mathew Braiza. In particular the parties are discussing the matter of further broadcasting of foreign state radio stations BBC (UK), Voice of America and Freedom (US). Although they are rarities of the cold war, the US and Europe consider them as near as the only source of qualitative information for Azerbaijani citizens. At the same time the zealots of 'freedom of word' and 'access to information' do not conduct speech in support of close private commercial radio stations (for example, France’s Europe+), although audience of Europa+ was larger than audience of BBC, Vo[i]ce of America and Freedom rolled into one.'", 22 January 2009.

Reported arrests of BBC "agents" in Iran.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Second Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Policy and National Security Parliamentary Commission in Iran said the Security Ministry arrested several BBC Persian Service reporters who were planning a revolution under the guise of journalistic activities." Trend News Agency, 22 January 2009. "According to Aftab News' political desk, Khorasan daily in its Thursday edition [22 January 2009] has quoted the deputy chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee [Hoseyn Sobhani-nia,] as saying that: 'The Intelligence Ministry has arrested the key agents of the active network of BBC Persian TV in Iran. According to them [the agents], they have been acting in line with a soft coup policy under a media cover.'" BBC Monitoring, 21 January 2009.
     "In December, the Islamic Republic arrested several BBC reporters over espionage activities against the country." Press TV, 22 January 2009. Same arrests as reported above? See previous post about same subject.

A null theory of public diplomacy.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Yes, Obama, by his presence and personality, has changed the atmospherics of U.S. foreign relations. America's reputation around the world has for some time been at a nadir, so there is nowhere to go but up. But the United States' poor image abroad has not been the result of a marketing failure, and, thus, better public diplomacy will not lead to victory in the 'Battle of Ideas.' Anti-Americanism thrives, not because others misunderstand the United States, but because they perceive its aims and tactics all too well. The Bush administration's greatest perceived foreign-policy failures -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, unimpeded global warming -- could not have been overcome with better public diplomacy, and recent improvements in trans-Atlantic relations cannot be credited to an improved sales pitch. The world is rightly waiting to see if Obama will match his words with actions. Public diplomacy can matter only at the margins." David M. Edelstein and Ronald R. Krebs, Foreign Policy, January 2009.
     "Heretical as it seems for an advertising blog, I would suggest a completely different orientation for America’s next brand manager - one which does not involve advertising. Instead of limiting U.S. brand efforts to the State Department and the Office for Public Diplomacy, President Obama should put a real, live brand manager in the West Wing. The incoming administration understands that the largest part of perception of the U.S. will be shaped by the President and by foreign policy." David Vinjamuri, author of Accidental Branding, press release, 19 January 2009.

Underwhelming leaflets over Iraq.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Department of Defense last week made public some interesting psychological operations leaflets that were proposed for the impending [Iraq] military campaign. ... The Pentagon also released a memo by Marshall Billingslea, then the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, to Doug Feith, the Pentagon's former policy chief. 'Doug,' he writes, 'We have been sort of underwhelmed by the quality of the leaflets dropped over Iraq. Most of them are boring.'" Noah Shachtman, Wired Danger Room, 20 January 2009.

Al Jazeera deals in Lebanon, Malaysia.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network has secured distribution for five of its channels, including Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English, with the Lebanese cable operators ECOnet and Cablevision. The deals cover carriage for Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Documentary Channel and Al Jazeera Sport 1 and 2.", 21 January 2009.
     "Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC) will attempt to bring Qatar to Malaysia and later to the world through its new 3D animated series called ‘Salaheldine’." The Peninsula (Doha), 21 January 2009.

Gaza media update for 21 January 2009.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"War has a way of lifting or bringing down media outlets. CNN made its debut in the first American war on Iraq. Al [Jazeera] Arabic succeeded with the second intifada and this war on Gaza the clear winner has been Al Jazeera International. With non Arab western journalists denied entry into Gaza, the only English language media outlet which had the field to itself succeeded in not only filling the gap but doing so with professionalism and balance. Unlike its mother station Al Jazeera Arabic which got carried away emotionally in more than one occasion, Al Jazeera international kept is poise and won the respect of many around the world. Al Arrabiyeh [Al Arabiya] pan Arab station won the respect of many even if it wasn't the number won watched Arab station (that ranking continues to go to Al Jazeera Arabic). [Al Arabiya] succeeded by giving much more serious analysis, much better field reporting (with serious human interest stories) and was not afraid or worried about showing Palestinians saying that they were scared. Al Arrabiyeh also didn't fall prey to repeating ad [nauseum] images that should never have been shown on any tv station without warning to the viewers. It did more to humanize Palestinians than any other media outlet, showing children express fear and concern rather than restrict tv appearances only to bravado statements of courage and fearlessness. The BBC radio broadcasts in Arabic were major winners as well replacing the number one spot that in the past Monte Carlo broadcasts had filled." Daoud Kuttab, Palestine News Network, 21 January 2009.
     "Here is a video clip of a presenter on the Arabic language television station Al-Arabiya laughing incredulously when she is apparently told live on air that a missile has been launched against the Israelis from beneath the building. When the IDF subsequently shelled the building as a result, drawing international condemnation, TV networks based there denied that rockets had been launched from anywhere nearby." Melanie Phillips, The Spectator, 21 January 2009.
     "Social media are playing a growing role in the current conflict for several reasons. There is a natural increase in use of the technologies, especially in the Arab World as internet penetration rates continue to grow. The decades-festering Arab-Israeli conflict has built and galvanized large constituencies around the world who are eager to lend their side a hand in the media battle. But above all, social media have advanced to the fore in this round of fighting because of Israel’s decision to impose a media blackout on Gaza." Will Ward, Arab Media & Society, Winter 2009. See previous post about same subject.

"Western publics know less about the countries their governments are planning to invade."

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"TV executives in Europe and the United States are following a bizarre kind of logic: the more inter-connected the world becomes, the less foreign coverage we have beamed into our sitting rooms. Even though dramatic events like the global credit crunch show how inter-dependent we all are, recent research in Britain, America and Eastern Europe all point to media moguls' increasing reluctance to invest in overseas programming. ... The Tyndall Report, which monitors nightly newscasts of the three American broadcast television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, says their 2008 news coverage of foreign stories was the lowest in 21 years - and that takes into account their sports coverage from the Beijing Olympics, which got by far the most airtime. ... The business model that dominates U.S. and increasingly British broadcasters has spread. In Eastern Europe the scene is changing fast. As owners increasingly 'demand quick, high returns on their investments' they have 'cut foreign reporting and other forms of expensive coverage due to the availability of such information on the internet', according to recent research by U.S. think tank Open Society Institute. But it's a frightening prospect that Western publics know less about the countries their governments are planning to invade, or the wars and humanitarian disasters their governments are ignoring - or even the connections between climate change and future crises on the other side of the world." Alex Whiting, Thomson Reuters Foundation AlertNet, 21 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBCWS talk show will broadcast from Florida soup kitchen.

Posted: 22 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"For the first time in the history of the BBC's 'World Have Your Say,' the groundbreaking radio show will broadcast live from Florida on Jan. 22 and 23. [The program] will broadcast before a live audience from the WGCU studios on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University on Friday, Jan. 23. ... Host Ros Atkins and the BBC staff will broadcast from the Community Cooperative Ministries Soup Kitchen, 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. on Thursday, Jan. 22, from 1 to 2 p.m." Fort Myers Florida Weekly, 21 January 2009.

Iranian official says BBC Persian TV is illegal.

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The activities of the week-old BBC Persian TV channel are illegal, a top Iranian official said Wednesday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. The minister of culture and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, also banned Iranian journalists and artists from working for the channel. A BBC spokesman in London, England, said the corporation is breaking no laws in Iran." CNN, 21 January 2009.
     "The activity of the Persian TV channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Iran is illegal, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Hossein Safar-Harandi said on Wednesday." Islamic Republic News Agency, 21 January 2009.
     "Iran on Wednesday warned the BBC Tehran bureau against contributing to the network's newly-launched Farsi-language television channel, which is banned from operating in Iran, Fars news agency reported. 'BBC English channel will be confronted if it abuses its legal rights by producing reports for BBC Persian and we are continually on watch for that,' Culture Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi said." AFP, 21 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

The inauguration and the world media.

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Broadcasters around the world ripped up their schedules Tuesday to carry live coverage of President Barack Obama's inauguration, as U.S. political historians, pundits and celebrities were called on to provide commentary on the historic proceedings." Reuters, 21 January 2009.
     "With Saudi-sponsored Al Arabiya channel and Al Jazeera English as exceptions, most Arab satellite stations ignored Barack Obama's inauguration." Jamal Dajani, Huffington Post, 21 January 2009.
     "I watched most of it on Al-Jazeera English whose coverage was, I thought, exemplary. Respectful and paying due attention to the historic nature of the moment, but more restrained and level-headed than most others, including, of course, the BBC." Alex Massie, The Spectator (UK), 21 January 2009.
     "Following Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th US president, commentary in the international media focussed on his ability to carry out a mandate for change. Many expected any such change to be gradual." BBC Monitoring compilation via BBC News, 21 January 2009.
     "As I was driving back from the [Gaza] border tonight to my hotel [in Egypt] I passed cafes where men gather to smoke, to talk and drink tea, where the televisions were not tuned to the football, as they were earlier in the day, but to the inauguration of President Obama." Jeremy Bowen, BBC News, 21 January 2009.
     "Watching CNN without commercials for an hour before Obama’s inauguration until after his speech was perfect but by the time the parade began CNN started making up for lost time with its frequent commercial breaks really becoming irritating. But switch to the other international cable news networks and by then they seemed to be back to regular programming. Then we happened upon the UK’s Sky News and they had the parade with hardly any commercial breaks -- TV on a major event as it should have remained!" Philip Stone,, 21 January 2009.
     "For the rest of the world it was the top story, but state media in communist North Korea disposed of President Barack Obama's inauguration in one paragraph Wednesday." AFP, 21 January 2009.
     "As Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, a new 17-nation poll conducted for BBC World Service finds widespread and growing optimism that his presidency will lead to improved relations between the United States and the rest of the world." BBC World Service press release, 20 January 2009.
     "Radio Australia's Joanna McCarthy has been in the United States for the past six months. She covered Barack Obama's election victory in November and was among the estimated crowd of one million people who took to the streets of Washington for the President's inauguration." Radio Australia, 21 January 2009.
     "In Tehran, families gathered to hear Obama's speech, translated into Persian on the Voice of America. 'I love listening to his speeches, and I admire him,' a young Iranian woman, who asked not to be identified, wrote in an e-mail." Boston Globe, 21 January 2009.
     "In response to the rising tide of violence, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy gave an extemporaneous radio address over Voice of America, his words beamed to nations around the world. 'There’s no question that in the next 30 or 40 years a Negro can also achieve the same position that my brother has as president of the United States, certainly within that period of time.'" Jeff Mullin, Enid (OK) News & Eagle, 21 January 2009. RFK on VOA has been widely reported in the last few days, and even during the weeks leading up to the inauguration. VOA generally does not have audio archives going that far back. Robert Kennedy's remarks on VOA are attributed to the Washington Post, 27 May 1968. I have not yet verified that.
     "Millions of Twittering, Digging, Facebooking, video streaming Web users turned online chatter into a cacophony Tuesday as President Barack Obama was inaugurated. Traffic on social networking and social news sites surged, and video streaming providers were pushed to their limits." TechNewsWorld, 21 January 2009.

RFE/RL reporters pressured in Turkmenistan (updated).

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"A correspondent working for RFE/RL's Turkmen Service has been interrogated and threatened by state security officers. Dovletmurat Yazguliev says he and his wife were summoned to a local administrative office where secret service officers and local government officials questioned them in late December. He says he was asked to stop working for RFE/RL." RFE/RL News, 5 January 2009.
     Reporters sans frontières "is very worried by the harassment of two Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondents in Turkmenistan. Dovletmurat Yazguliev and Osman Hallyev, who report for RFE/RL’s Turkmen service from the provinces, have both been subjected to threats and intimidation by local intelligence officers in the last two weeks." RSF, 8 January 2009.
     Update: "Journalist Osman Hallyev continues to receive death threats as pressure on him and his family members continues because of his work for RFE/RL's Turkmen Service." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 14 January 2009.

RFE/RL editor attacked in Kazakhstan.

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the fourth attack on an RFE/RL journalist in Central Asia this year, the editor of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service website was attacked by a group of men outside his home last night in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Ermek Boltay, a young journalist whose most recent reporting focused on social unrest in Almaty, was hit with a glass bottle and kicked until he lost consciousness by unidentified assailants. The perpetrators left without taking his wallet or any personal possessions." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 19 January 2009. Reporters sans frontières voices concern. RSF, 21 January 2009.

Should international broadcasters focus on human rights, or the news?

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle's Director General Erik Bettermann has called for an international media alliance for human rights. Independent international broadcasters in particular were 'a significant factor in efforts to secure greater importance and implementation of human rights in countries around the world,' he said. Bettermann called on leading Western international broadcasters, such as Deutsche Welle, BBC and Radio France International, to increase their focus on these issues. Independent media were 'powerful instruments to provide human rights with a voice,' Bettermann said." Deutsche Welle, 20 January 2009. "Independent" international broadcasters are primarily news organizations. Should news organizations advocate for causes, even commendable causes such as human rights? International broadcasters serve human rights by reporting how current events affect human rights, and how people and organizations rise up to protect human rights. They can best do this if their reporting is perceived as credible. That can be achieved if their reporting on human rights is neither more nor less than what would be generated by a legitimate, respected news organization with no agenda other than to report the news. There are other organizations, such as Amnesty International, that can do the advocating.
     "Bettermann said the prerequisites for the acceptance of these broadcasters/ media services are credibility of the country they represent, as well as the credibility of the broadcaster itself. 'Nothing is more damaging than double standards, disinterest or imbalanced reports,' said Bettermann. 'In this regard, the media also has to report about the beneficiaries of human rights abuses -- even when the chain of beneficiaries continues to our front door.'" DW press release, 20 January 2009. Actually, "disinterest" contributes to credibility in journalism. Also, the notion of human rights abuses as having "beneficiaries" is a bit confusing, but perhaps he means those who profit from, or derive confessions by means of, human rights abuses. This might a problem of translation of the press release from the German.

Humanitarian radio for Somalia increases to one hour per day.

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"IRIN Radio is now broadcasting humanitarian news and information in Somali for a full hour a day on short wave, covering the whole Somali-speaking region. In addition, seven radio partners in Somalia and one in Kenya are rebroadcasting the programme on their local FM stations. Find us on 17680 kHz on short wave from 0830-0930 GMT." Integrated Regional Information Networks, 20 January 2009. Some inexpensive radios in Africa with shortwave bands only tune as high as 12,000 kHz. Update: Jonathan Marks notes: "Most of the radios I see in West Africa can tune up to 21 MHz [21,000 kHz] these days, but the problem is that ... the radios' selectivity is a lot poorer than a decade ago. But you can't be choosy for 5 dollars."

Verbal food fight on Al Jazeera.

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Following are excerpts from a TV debate about whether President Bush is a war criminal ... on Al-Jazeera TV [presumably the Arabic version] on December 24, 2008. ... Abd Al-'Azim Al-Mughrabi: 'Go to...' Abd Al-Hadi Shalouf: 'You animal...' Abd Al-'Azim Al-Mughrabi: 'You collaborator, go to...' Abd Al-Hadi Shalouf: 'This is the language and culture of shoes.' Abd Al-'Azim Al-Mughrabi: 'You are a disgrace to international law!' Abd Al-Hadi Shalouf: 'Me a disgrace?!'" Middle East Media Research Institute, 19 January 2009.

Another US fan of CNN International.

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"AT&T rolled out U-verse, their competitor to cable TV service, in Madison [Wisconsin] last October. ... CNN International, the last cable news channel to offer actual news instead of 24/7 infotainment, is ... in the [most expensive] U300 tier. Charter [cable] includes CNN International in their digital cable package. I missed CNN International more than I thought I would and was glad to have it back when we switched back to Charter." goillini, Broadband DSL Reports, 20 January 2009.

Gaza media update for 20 January 2009.

Posted: 21 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"It appears that the prejudicial attitude toward the Gaza situation will have a highly negative effect on the national security of the United States. The Al Jazeera news network is broadcasting Israel’s indiscriminate attacks against the innocent citizens and children of Gaza, and against its mosques and Islamic universities, to 1.3 billion Muslims 24 hours a day in Arabic and English. The attacks on Hamas and Gaza are being etched into viewers’ minds as attacks on Islam, with the United States standing behind the scenes. This will operate as a negative factor in the United States’ war on terror as it unites the Islamic world and provides a new pretext for jihad to people like Osama Bin Laden." Moon Chung-in, The Hankyoreh (Seoul), 19 January 2009.
     "Gaining much international praise throughout the three-week war for its nearly constant coverage of the action, Al-Jazeera's popularity was undeniable. As one of the few news networks with reporters inside Gaza, they had been able to report from the frontlines of the battle, which brought new viewers to the network. But, [Egyptian independent Al-Dustour newspaper journalist Mohamed] Abdel Salam believes the network took advantage of the mass Arab support for Hamas. 'For example, a news channel like Al-Jazeera Arabic is making a bad situation worse,' and he pointed out the irony that at the same time 'Qatar has an American military base that sends weapons to Israel.' But others appreciate Al-Jazeera. Ahmed, a 41-year-old waiter in a trendy Cairo restaurant, argued that Al-Jazeera was the only means for him getting information that he could 'trust.' The national news, he says, is just the arm of the government and since 'all our government wants to do is walk with Washington,' he believes new sources are needed." Joseph Mayton, Middle East Times, 19 January 2009.
     "During the recent military campaign, Dr [Izeldeen] Abuelaish, who speaks fluent Hebrew, had been acting as an unofficial correspondent for a Tel Aviv-based TV station, giving daily updates by phone. It feels to me as if some of our audience is seeing and hearing about the high price ordinary Palestinians are paying in this conflict for the first time. He was determined to let Israelis know as much as possible about the suffering of Palestinian civilians under Israel's bombardment. Minutes after the shell hit his house, Dr Abuelaish phoned the station's presenter, Shlomi Eldar, to describe what had happened. The Israeli journalist looked awkward and visibly distressed as the doctor's disembodied voice is broadcast crying: 'My daughters, they killed them, Oh Lord. God, God, God.'" BBC News, 19 January 2009.
     "Even Al Jazeera English which had a good coverage of the conflict had one theme running through, which most of the BBC trained presenters continued to use: 'Israel had no choice but go into Gaza and stop Hamas' rockets'. It was mainly the Middle East experts brought alongside Israeli officials on Al Jazeera who pointed out the food and medicine blockade carried out by Israel against the people of Gaza and the continual attacks and kidnappings Israel carried out during the so-called truce that led to Hamas sending rockets into southern Israel." Shabana Syed, Arab News, via Al Arabiya, 20 January 2009.
     Isabel Smith of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) "reserves her harshest comments for CNN. She characterized the cable network’s coverage as 'horrific' and 'one-sided' and its failure to check facts 'very egregious.' On the other hand, Fox News Channel’s coverage has been 'decent'." New Jersey Jewish News, 20 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Iranian bloggers welcome BBC Persian TV.

Posted: 20 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The launch of BBC Persian TV has been the subject of much comment by Iranian bloggers. Most welcomed the new satellite TV channel and predicted that it would attract a large audience inside Iran and in other mainly Persian-speaking countries. ... 'I would like to say that after listening to all the garbage broadcast by Iranian-American television networks, this BBC team may be able to at least demonstrate what good programmes Iranians can produce if they are given the freedom to operate.' ... 'On the first day of its launch it showed how professional and appealing it is. Without a doubt, we have to accept that it is ahead of its main rival, the Voice of America's Persian television network.' ... 'It is run very professionally and proficiently… It is much more proficient than the VOA. The reason behind this is pretty obvious. The VOA is smaller than the BBC and it is not allowed to be broadcast inside the US. The BBC Persian [TV] should not forget one thing though. If it decides to insult the Iranian people's intelligence and does not cover the realities in Iran and maintain its relationship with the Iranian government it will be faced with a people who will switch over to the VOA channel and not come back.' ... 'It will motivate Iranian officials to come to their senses a little and start spending the huge budget they have on producing better TV programmes inside the country rather than on networks such as Press TV and al-Alam which spread lies.' ... 'The British know exactly when to do something. The BBC Persian TV has been launched at a time that the Iranian people are tired of the Los Angeles-based [Persian-language] TV channels, the Iranian Voice and Vision, and the VOA.'" BBC News, 19 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBC World Service covers the inauguration in text.

Posted: 20 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Refresh the page frequently. BBCWS website.
     BBC will broadcast Barack Obama's Inaugural speech "on the World Service and on BBC Arabic TV and BBC Persian TV." Press Gazette, 20 January 2009.
     "BBC World News America has unearthed a fascinating clip of Dr Martin Luther King speaking to the BBC's Bob McKenzie in 1964 in which Dr King predicts an African-American president 'in less than 40 years.'" BBCWNA website, 19 January 2009.
     "The National Radio of Angola (RNA) holds Tuesday, in partnership with the Voice of America (VOA), a radio-conference, after 05.30 pm, with two American experts from Washington, in the studios of Voice of America." Angola Press Agency, 19 January 2009.
     "Malaysians can be a part of world history by witnessing the inauguration of Illinois senator Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States today. ... The ceremony will be shown on Astro’s CNN (channel 511), Australia network (channel 521), CNBC (channel 518), Bloomberg (channel 519), Al-Jazeera (channel 512) and BBC World (channel 513)." Sun2Surf, 20 January 2009.
     "Radio Australia and the Australia Network will have live coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration, beginning 03:35 EST (16:35 Universal Time)." Australia Network News, 20 January 2009.
     "Other good online coverage comes from C-SPAN, whose Inauguration Hub allows to you choose from four different feeds offering different views of the day's events. Unlike many US news sites, C-SPAN allow non-US viewers to watch online and generally have the bandwidth to cope with the demand. For a global perspective, the free Livestation player lets you switch between streams from Al Jazeera, BBC World, C-Span, euronews and France 24 on your computer while chatting to other viewers and program producers." Crikey, 20 January 2009. See also additional VOA shortwave frequencies and previous post about same subject.

An "army of bloggers" on both sides of the Gaza conflict.

Posted: 20 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Israel's newest weapon on the public relations front is 'an army of bloggers,' according to a statement issued by the Absorption Ministry Sunday afternoon. In cooperation with the Foreign Ministry's Public Relations Department, the Absorption Ministry has initiated a statewide effort to locate volunteers who speak other languages, to take part in the country's PR efforts over the Internet. The volunteers will post comments in their native languages - including English, French, Spanish, German and others - on anti-Israel Web sites and blogs, presenting an Israeli perspective on the Middle East." Jerusalem Post, 18 Janaury 2009.
     "Eager to find new ways to bypass reporters and get out their message unfiltered, Israelis and Palestinians found cyberspace fertile ground for a propaganda war." New York Daily News, 19 January 2009.
     "Since the police’s dispersal of a demonstration in support for Palestinians in Gaza with rubber bullets and tear gas last December in the east of Saudi Arabia, hundreds of blogs and forums have flourished on the Web to carry out jihad (holy war) against Israel and the 'puppet' Arab regimes." Habib Trabelsi, Middle East Online, 18 January 2009.
     "Gaza seems to be winning the war against Israel - on Facebook, at least. Members of the popular social networking Web site have recently created a function allowing users to donate their status, or personal update, to any number of causes, including support for or opposition to the IDF offensive in Gaza.' Jerusalem Post, 18 January 2009.

VOA as domestic news agency.

Posted: 20 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
The Greensboro (NC) Telegram reprints a Voice of America story, by Kent Klein, about Barack Obama's train trip on 17 January. Greensboro Telegram, 17 January 2009. Full credit was given: "This article was written by Kent Klein of the Washington DC bureau of the Voice Of America news organization, which is operated by the US Government." Some at VOA may have preferred the wording "funded by the US government" rather than "operated." The use of VOA material by U.S. media entities generally does not run afoul of copyright or Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination provisions (see previous post). Usually, however, VOA stories covering international affairs are used.

RFI will drop 6 languages, 200 employees on 31 January (updated).

Posted: 20 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Radio France International will eliminate broadcasts in German, Albanian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Turkish, and Lao on 31 January. The French international broadcaster will also ley off 200 employees, including 106 journalists. Russian will be maintained as an internet service only. The cuts are necessary because of RFI's deficit of €17.2 million, €9 million incurred during 2008. Le Point, 15 January 2009.
     The French government may provide funding for an RFI reorganization plan if it gives priority to "strategic" target areas such as Russia, China and Iran, where 'between 25% and 45% of the population are connected to the internet.' RFI's shortwave and medium wave transmission might not be extended beyond 2011. Le Figaro, 15 January 2009. See also RFI, 15 January 2009.
     Le Point's story contradicts the assurance given by the RFI Russian Service (see previous post) that it would continue on shortwave until 2011. RFI could migrate to the internet, but content on that medium is easier to interdict than on shortwave, which may not be available in the future in contracts are severed. Thanks to Morand Fachot for the news tip.
     Update: Kai Ludwig in Germany provides these observations about RFI's plans.

Jim Glassman's public diplomacy valedictory (updated with text).

Posted: 19 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
On 14 January, James K. Glassman, under secretary of State for public diplomacy, gave "what he called his valedictory address, hosted by GWU's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. He reflected on his seven month tenure as Under-Secretary and presented a vision for the future of public diplomacy as 'Global Strategic Engagement.' He argued for both the benefits of traditional public diplomacy (exchange programs, English teaching, etc.) and for "public diplomacy 2.0" (engagement through online social networking). He gave a forceful and very thoughtful defense of 'Global Strategic Engagement' as 'non-military engagement with foreign publics' in pursuit of U.S. strategic interests, tightly integrated into wider policy objectives and well-coordinated at the inter-agency level. This means prioritizing the delegitimation of U.S. enemies (al-Qaeda and extremist ideologies) over improving U.S. favorability ratings abroad. I hope that his office posts the text of this talk to advance discussion of these important issues, and will link to it if they do." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 15 January 2009. Update: The text of Mr. Glassman's speech is available here.
     GWU does not have any audio or video of the speech. In fact, I could not find a web page for the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. (There is a small web page for its predecessor Public Diplomacy Institute.) The Elliott School of International Affairs listed the speech on its calendar as "part of the Elliott School's U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities series" but "sponsored by the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication." Is the Institute part of the Elliott School or, as previously, part of the School of Media and Public Affairs? I would prefer the former, because public diplomacy should not be in the same building as the journalism department. (By the way, I was a student of the Elliott School before it was the Elliott School.)

Shhh! Listen! Is that America's Voice coming from that America House?

Posted: 19 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"While Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke primarily in generalities during her four-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, her formal introductory statement and her 79-page written answers to questions for the record laid out some specific programs and goals that offer clues and insight on the incoming administration's foreign policy. In the battle of ideas, she said, the United States would go on the offensive implementing President-elect Barack Obama's pledges to open 'America Houses' in cities across the Arab world. These facilities, fashioned after a Cold War-era program, would have Internet libraries, English lessons and stories about Muslims in America. An initiative labeled 'America's Voice Corps' would recruit young Americans with language and public diplomacy skills to speak with and listen to people in the area. Completing the package would be a Global Education Fund to provide $2 billion for primary education around the world. But, she said, there would not be a return of the independent U.S. Information Agency." Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 19 January 2009. To avoid confusion with America's Voice Corps, the Voice of America might want to drop its spelled-out name and become VOA Inc., just as CBS no longer identifies itself as Columbia Broadcasting System.
     "Restoring trust and understanding in the US overseas won't be a quick fix. President Obama needs the courage and staying-power to invest heavily in the long-term business of cultural relations, if he's to rebuild lasting relations with other countries on a mutually beneficial and respectful footing. Cultural relations is not about business, not about governments, not about institutions, it's about people. Cultural relations fosters the cooperation that contributes to a safer, more prosperous world. It encourages co-existence by promoting trust, building understanding, and allowing people to explore what they have in common as well as their differences." Martin Davidson, chief executive of the British Council, Australia.TO, 19 January 2009.

New pan-Arab channel for preschoolers.

Posted: 19 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Baraem, the first pan-Arabic pre-school television channel, officially goes on air today from its headquarters located in [Qatar's] Education City. ... Commencing with a high portfolio of specialised pre-school programmes, Baraem targets children aged three to six and their parents with fun, trusted and rewarding television content. Up to 15 percent of the broadcast content will be produced by Baraem, and the rest will be programmes selected from international production houses matching the channel’s editorial policy and broadcast guidelines. ... With a key role to broadcast specialised pre-school programmes, Baraem is a free to view channel, using Arabic as the only language of broadcast. It will reach Arab countries and Europe through Arabsat, Nilesat and Hotbird, 17 hours a day." The Peninsula (Doha), 15 January 2009. "The channel will accompany Al Jazeera Childrens Channel's existing kids network, from the same backers, and will target three-to-six-year-olds." TBI Vision, 16 January 2009.

North Korea's idea of strategic communications.

Posted: 19 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Its military parades may be predictable and synchronised, but North Korea's brand of public diplomacy is anything but. And over the weekend, Pyongyang pulled another surprise, with a senior member of the Korean People's Army joint chiefs of staff appearing on state television. A uniformed member of the military bobbing up on TV is unusual, and he delivered a message dripping with menace. Accusing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his government of pushing for confrontation, the North's spokesman vowed his country would respond by taking an all-out confrontational posture to shatter the South." Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 19 January 2009.

Four stories about shortwave (three worth reading) (updated to five).

Posted: 19 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Now that the Internet is a fixture in many homes in the United States and Canada, there are few practical reasons to buy a shortwave radio. Thousands of stations that once were available only on the shortwave band are online. ... So why bother with shortwave? It's easy and cheap -- and fun. You can hear and learn things that you would never find even if you work your search engine like a mule. From Swaziland to Paris to Havana, shortwave broadcasters can surprise an adventurous listener more than any MP3 playlist. 'You tune carefully, twist the radio from side to side, and there's still a bit of a 'Hey, I made this happen!'" Reuters, 14 January 2009.
     "Since its introduction in the 1920s, shortwave radio has become mostly a hobby for radio enthusiasts, however the advent of streaming Internet audio has resulted in global access to several shortwave stations. Sometimes referred to as 'bootleg radio,' shortwave is primitive, but its affordability also makes it enjoyable. The Internet has presented new opportunities for shortwave radio enthusiasts. Whereas these operators were once limited by a definable distance, the Internet allows them to transmit their content across the globe." redOrbit, 15 January 2009. This article is an odd and nonsensical rewrite of the first (Reuters) story. For example, shortwave is not known as "bootleg" radio, except for a few unlicensed stations. The relationship between shortwave and the internet is so muddled in this piece that I won't try to untangle it.
     "The first digital shortwave transmitter of All India Radio started functioning from on Friday. The Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati, Mr. B. S. Lali ... said this transmitter is energy efficient said it will have wider reach and high quality broadcasting. Mr. Lali said that the aim of radio broadcasting is to reach those sections of population who have no access to information." All India Radio website, 16 January 2009. This would be the Digital Radio Mondiale system, using shortwave frequencies to reach remote areas of India with something approaching FM quality. Now DRM receivers will be needed to provide an audience for this new service.
     "Campaigners complaining about interference generated by BT's Vision product have financed independent tests to show that the kit BT is pushing fails to conform to the appropriate EU standards, prompting a complaint to trading standards officers. Shortwave radio users have been complaining for a while about interference generated by networking over mains wiring, with BT taking the majority of the flak, but until now the protestors have been complaining to Ofcom on the basis of illegal broadcasting. By demonstrating that retailers are selling kit that fails to meet EU standards the protestors could prevent its sale, not to mention the possibility of fines for those manufacturing or importing the kit. The kit provided by BT utilises powerline telecommunications (PLT) to connect components over mains wiring, but mains wiring is unshielded and therefore the house electrical system acts as a huge antenna generating radio signals that can interfere with low-frequency radio users nearby." The Register, 15 January 2009. If noise from systems such as this is below a certain level, DRM will overcome it and deliver a perfect signal. If the noise is above a certain level, the DRM signal disappears.
     Update: "Phil Stone remembers 35 years ago when UPI sent him to Helsinki as Bureau Manager. Stone didn’t speak a word of Finnish and not too many Finns in those days spoke much English and certainly the country’s domestic broadcasting and print was all in Finnish or Swedish. But every night Stone would switch on his trusty Panasonic shortwave, find just the right angle for the antenna, and lo and behold in came the trusty Big Ben chimes of the BBC and on Voice of America there was the news in special English (slowly read), and it just made “home” feel that much closer. Truth is, in the Stone basement there are three shortwave radios that for many a year have been unused. She who must be obeyed recently suggested they get tossed since they were just gathering dust but that is one argument she lost! Some things are still sacred.", 18 January 2009.

Breaking Zimbabwe's broadcasting monopoly, maybe (updated).

Posted: 19 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Acting Minister of Information and Publicity, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, has promised that the government would ‘make provisions under the law’ that would allow more interested individuals or companies in the broadcasting sector. ... Currently, only the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts on four radio channels and one television channel. However, the populace turn to alternative broadcasts available on short-wave radio such as Short Wave Radio Africa, Radio Voice of the People and the Voice of America’s Studio 7." The Zimbabwean, 17 January 2009.
     Update: "Zimbabwe is arguably one of the few countries in the world where all four official radio stations in the country are State-owned and State-controlled. There is only one official television station that is also State-owned and State-controlled. Thus, the only access we have to alternative voices on the radio is by listening to outside-based radio stations such as Studio 7 and Voice of America. Only a few people can afford pay-per-view satellite television. The majority of the people are forced to buy free-to-air digital satellite decoders because the propaganda that is churned day in, day out by the State media is just too much for any right-thinking person to bear with." Obert gutu, ZimDaily, 19 January 2009.

Japan's image in the United States, and vice versa.

Posted: 18 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
In a chapter of Soft Power Superpowers: Cultural and National Assets of Japan and the U.S., Yasushi Watanabe and David L. McConnell eds: "Naoyuki Agawa, who served in the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., from 2002-2005, shows how Japan effectively engages in public diplomacy in the U.S. to improve Japan's image there and shape government policies. But achieving these objectives has little to do with inspiring the U.S. government, relying instead on doggedly working the media, hiring lobbyists and doling out grants. Ironically, even as the Japanese Embassy enjoyed success in winning over the U.S. public, Yasushi Watanabe notes that Japanese perceptions of the U.S. have steadily deteriorated." Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times, 18 January 2009. See also publisher M.E. Sharpe website, where I'm relieved to learn that "United States" is spelled out in the title of the book.

Al Jazeera: "biased, gruesome, and totally compelling."

Posted: 18 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Even if CNN could sneak a camera crew through the checkpoints, it's hard to imagine they would produce anything like what's on Al-Jazeera - an all-day, ever-shifting drama that throws war in your face with all its gruesome cruelty. It is openly partisan, almost never showing Israeli deaths or injuries. It is also provocative and upsetting in a way that looks nothing like news in the West. ... This is news without even the pretense of impartiality. After several days of following the Al-Jazeera coverage of Gaza, I've never seen a live interview with an Israeli, neither a politician nor a civilian. ... But in a larger sense, Al-Jazeera's graphic response to CNN-style 'bloodless war journalism' is a stinging rebuke to the way we now see and talk about war in the United States. It suggests that bloodless coverage of war is the privilege of a country far from conflict. Al-Jazeera's brand of news - you could call it 'blood journalism' - takes war for what it is: a brutal loss of human life. The images they show put you in visceral contact with the violence of war in a way statistics never could." Eric Calderwood, Boston Globe, 18 January 2009. Mr. Calderwood, a Harvard Ph.D. student, wrote this from Damascus. He does not specify, but seems to be writing about Al Jazeera Arabic, viewed by many Syrians. Watching Al Jazeera English, I have seen several interviews with Israeli spokespersons. Other news accounts state that Israelis are also interviewed on Al Jazeera Arabic.

BBC allegedly shedding its alleged anti-Americanism.

Posted: 18 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"It is not only the Bush presidency that is dying — so is the anti-Americanism of the BBC. Last June, I observed that the appointment of Justin Webb as North America editor was a key step in the BBC’s efforts to rehabilitate its American coverage, which it had started to accept was too scornful and dismissive. ... Webb’s latest programme, The Legacy of George W Bush, goes out on both the BBC World Service and Radio 4 tomorrow, and is likely to be as measured as all his other contributions. ... In seeking to shed the anti-American element of its liberal culture, the BBC must be careful not to swing too far the other way." Paul Donovan, The Sunday Times, 18 January 2009.

BBC Arabic TV expands to 24 hours (updated).

Posted: 18 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Monday 19 January 2009, the BBC will enhance its multimedia service in Arabic by extending the BBC Arabic television broadcasts to 24 hours a day and introducing five new television presenters from across the Arab world. ... In another recent development, BBC Arabic is now offering one-minute video news bulletins in Saudi Arabia, via operators STC and Mobily. ... Following an agreement with International Media Distribution (IMD), a division of ART – Arab Radio and Television – BBC Arabic television is broadcast for one hour every day, at 21.00 GMT, in the USA on the ART America Channel on the EchoStar platform. ART America will also join BBC Arabic television from 16.00 GMT on 20 January for six hours of special coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama." BBC World Service press release, 16 January 2009.
     Update: Biographies of the "five new talents" of BBC Arabic TV. AMEInfo, 18 January 2009.

CNN in the news includes appearance by RFE/RL exec.

Posted: 17 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
John O'Sullivan, executive editor at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, will be among guests on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, discussing "the inauguration; speechwriting; agenda setting." Los Angeles Times, 17 January 2009. This is seen on CNN domestic, Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
     "'Middle East Challenge', a one-hour CNN programme which takes an in-depth look at the Middle East in totality, will be broadcast on CNN International today and tomorrow. 'We wanted to pool our coverage from across the region to develop a picture of the Middle East as a whole. We covered the main issues – war and conflict – but also wanted to dig deeper and look behind the headlines.'" The Peninsula (Doha), 17 January 2009. But not available on the U.S. domestic CNN.
     "CNN has agreed to provide free air time for commercials touting Guam as a tourist destination to make up for the networks mistake in airing footage of Yap last year and calling it Guam. The Guam visitors bureau says the TV commercials promoting Guam as a world-class destination will begin airing on CNN and CNN International next week." Pacific News Center, 17 January 2009.

France 24 reporter still missing in Somalia despite release of colleague.

Posted: 17 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The National Union of Somali Journalists posted a notice on its website heralding the release of Abdifatah Mohamed Elmi and two drivers on Thursday night after 146 days in captivity. There's no word on Amanda Lindhout, a 27-year-old freelancer from Red Deer, Alta., and Nigel Brennan, a 37-year-old freelance Australian photojournalist, who were abducted alongside Elmi near Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Aug. 23. The group said Abdifatah told them that he was separated from Lindhout and Brennan soon after the kidnapping. ... Lindhout is usually based in Baghdad and reports from war zones in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan. She arrived in Somalia on Aug. 20 to work for the French TV station France 24." CBC News, 16 January 2009.

Azerbaijan steps up pressure on RFE/RL as citizens discover satellite radio.

Posted: 17 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Azadliq [RFE/RL Azerbaijani service] stopped its FM broadcasts on January 1 after a heavily criticized decision by Azerbaijan’s National Television and Radio Council that foreign-owned stations should not have access to the frequency. But official misgivings about the station apparently did not end there. On January 6, two representatives from the Ministry of Communications’ State Frequencies Commission visited the Radio Azadliq office, according to Baku bureau chief Khadija Ismayilova. The envoys demanded to be shown broadcast equipment, and started to tinker with it, she recounted. ... 'Although many listeners call us and ask how to listen to the radio via Internet and satellite, the majority of our audience listens to the radio on shortwave. But its quality is low and the broadcasting is just for one hour.' Police reportedly took an interest in regular gatherings by clients at one small Baku shop to hear Radio Azadliq programs broadcast by the shop’s satellite dish, according to Ismayilova. Elsewhere, Baku residents with satellite dishes have neighbors over to listen to the radio together. Radio Azadliq employees joke that it is the station’s 'contribution to the development of information technologies in Azerbaijan.'" Mina Muradova, Eurasianet, 16 January 2009. The availability of only one hour of RFE/RL Azerbaijani on shortwave might be because so many U.S. international broadcasting shortwave sites have been shut down. See previous post about same subject.

Still news about the new BBC Persian TV, but less pithy.

Posted: 17 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC College of Journalism has launched a Persian site aimed at promoting the reporting skills of BBC's Farsi speaking journalists in addition to interested journalists in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikstan.", 16 January 2009.
     "The BBC World Service has selected GlobeCast as its distribution partner for the launch of its new Farsi-language channel BBC Persian TV on the Telstar 12 and Hot Bird 6 satellites. BBC Persian TV will be available to IPTV, DTH and Cable Operators across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa." GlobeCast press release, 16 January 2009.
     Behrouz Afagh, head of Asia and Pacific at the BBC World Service: "I’ve worked as a journalist in the World Service for 25-odd years. I can't remember a single time – a single time – anyone has come to me and said you 'must' broadcast this or you 'must not'. Very often what we broadcast is in direct opposition to UK foreign policy. In the World Service we do interview the Taliban. We do interview people who are completely against the British presence in Afghanistan, they've got anti-British views, and they get on air." Professor Annabelle Sreberny of London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies: "VOA offers very little other than endlessly haranguing the regime. If Iranian-TV viewers are subject to propaganda, I don’t think propaganda coming from the other direction is all that helpful." Peyvand Khorsandi,, 17 January 2009.
     "In an hour length documentary entitled 'kaare inglisaast' (it’s the work of the British), the budding BBC Persian TV 'proved' that the conspiracy theory that suggests everything done in Iranian politics has its roots in London, is but a token of the age-old Iranian psychosomasis." Pashmaloo,, 16 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

VOA is a factor in plight of Zimbabwe activist.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Zimbabwe's top human rights activist broke down twice in court Thursday, as she described her detention and alleged torture by state agents last month, saying 'I feared for my life.' Jestina Mukoko, who heads the Zimbabwe Peace Project, is accused of plotting against President Robert Mugabe's government ... The activist said the assaults on her began after she denied ever working for the Voice of America. She worked for the Voice of People, a radio station that broadcasts into Zimbabwe from abroad." CNN, 16 January 2009.

BBC World News taps citizen journalists for weekly program.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Thousands of videos, pictures and emails are sent in to the BBC every week and we are now choosing the best ones to make it onto a new show called Your World News. So what do you have to do to make it on the programme? Quite simply, get out there and send us what's happening in your world. You could film a protest on your mobile, snap some fantastic weather pictures on your camera or record yourself on your webcam reacting to the week's big stories. But remember you should never put yourself in danger or break any laws." BBC News, 14 July 2009.

"Potential purchasers" for Worldspace (updated again).

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tomorrow, Jan 6, a hearing will take place in the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware to decide the date when an auction of Worldspace’s assets might take place, and to grant Worldspace another slice of operational cash as ‘Debtor in Possession’. The Court was told on Dec 30 that a number of potential bidders are conducting due diligence in preparation of bids for Worldspace’s assets. Worldspace is 'in discussions with a number of potential purchasers' said a Court affidavit submitted on Dec 30." Rapid TV News, 4 January 2009.
     "On January 6 the Delaware Bankruptcy Court confirmed that the deadline for bids for Worldspace’s assets must be submitted by Jan 21. The formal auction for the company’s assets will commence on Jan 26. Judge Peter J Walsh ruled that an extra 14 days be granted to give all potential bidders the extra time needed to conduct due diligence enquiries at Worldspace. We can confirm that Ondas Media, itself busy putting together its own plans for European satellite radio, is not interested in any Worldspace assets." Rapid TV News, 7 January 2009.
     Update: "Bankrupt satellite radio broadcaster Worldspace’s upcoming sale of its assets will be a fully open auction. According to Court documents, Worldspace is in the process 'of attempting to sell substantially all of their operating assets'. After the submission of bids, says the Court, 'the sale of [Worldspace] assets is the next significant step in the sale process [,,,] and would leave [Worldspace] with no valuable remaining principal assets'. ... The auction, to the 'highest and best bidders', is scheduled for Monday Jan 26, with a Sale Hearing slated for Jan 29. Up for sale are the company’s leases, a portion of the Singapore Telecom teleport lease, plus a host of computers, ground control equipment and such like. Of particular interest are Asset 9, the Afristar satellite; Asset 10, being the Asiastar satellite; Asset 3, described as 'a satellite construction in progress'; and Asset 4, being 'Satellite No 3 (F3)'." Rapid TV News, 15 January 2009.
     "Although the bankruptcy court documents indicate that multiple potential bidders have been kicking the tires, no one has stepped up to make a 'stalking horse' bid to claim the company unless a higher bid is submitted. So, this will be a wide open bidding process. The question is: Even if you wipe out all of the past debt, has anyone figured out how to make money going forward with satellite radio?" RBR & TVBR, 15 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Australian in PNG likes five percent of Australia Network.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Just for something different, I thought I’d file my blog from another country - well, I guess it’s only just another country. Only 30 years ago Australia granted independence to Papua New Guinea, and today it’s a rapidly growing nation of some six million people. ... The key and most comforting discovery during the lazy hours of last weekend, as I lounged in my unit watching scanning some 54 channels of satellite television (none of them Fox Sports), was that the Australia Network broadcasts A-league [football, i.e. soccer] matches live into Asia. This of course means the vast majority of the population of PNG does not watch nor have any idea about the A-league, however, for those expats, and wealthy individuals that can afford the subscription, they can continue to follow the league. Now I don’t really know what the Australia Network is (or who owns it), but 95% of the programming is crap we wouldn’t even see on Aurora, or Hallmark here, but thank the lord, the A-league is on the schedule." Mark Yule, FourFourTwo, 15 January 2009. See also

Supporters still want NTDTV back on ill-fated satellite (updated again).

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Five European Parliament (EP) Members are inviting the chairman of France-based satellite company Eutelsat to their next plenary session amidst reports that the company caved to pressure from the Chinese communist regime. The company ceased broadcast of an independent Chinese-language network [New Tang Dynasty TV] into communist-controlled China in June, citing technical reasons. ... 'There is plenty of spare capacity on Eutelsat's Satellite W5, particularly since the US Broadcast Board of Governors has withdrawn from it, for instance. Voice of America left Satellite W5 as of August 1, leaving excess capacity available,' said EP Member Bart Staes. 'The fact is, they're giving in to pressure from the Chinese communist regime.'" Epoch Times, 29 December 2008. NTDTV and Epoch Times are associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
     "Eutelsat W5 satellite, which back in June suffered a major power-failure, has lost a fifth transponder. This is the satellite that has caused Eutelsat more than a little publicity over the closure of a controversial Chinese channel. ... Following the failure of one of W5’s two solar panels on June 16, satellite builders Thales Alenia initiated an inquiry board to determine the cause of the problem, and has now issued its findings. Thales Alenia and Eutelsat, in a statement Sept 3, said the incident has reduced the satellite’s service life by some three years." Rapid TV News, 3 September 2008. See also Thales Alenia Space statement, 3 September 2008.
     "Eutelsat Chairman Giuliano Berretta was invited last month by five Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to discuss the company’s termination of an independent Chinese-language television network’s broadcast into China. In a letter dated Dec. 23, the Director of Strategy and Institutional Relations of Eutelsat turned down the invitation on behalf of Berretta. 'Unfortunately, considering the date of the plenary session and the commitments already planned, M. Berretta won’t be able to come in Strasbourg in January,' reads the letter." Epoch Times, 13 January 2009.
     Update: "The European Parliament, one of the most powerful legislative bodies in the world, is calling on satellite company Eutelsat to resume broadcast of an independent Chinese-language television network into communist-controlled China. The strong language directed at the private, France-based Eutelsat was officially approved by a majority of the 785 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) on Wednesday and is to be read by the EP President on Thursday." Epoch Times, 15 January 2009. I can't find anything about this at the European Parliament website.

Chinese students learn English with VOA's help.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"I don't know if this blog has any readers who work for the Voice of America, but I heard a story recently that I think should make Voice of America employees, and probably Americans in general, pretty proud. A Chinese student recently told me that when she was studying English, her teachers recommended that students listen to the Voice of America to practice their English. ... This student also told me that there is a Voice of America broadcast that is especially popular among beginning students. The station does some broadcasts in English that is spoken very slowly and uses a simple vocabulary. It is a good chance for these students to hear good English, but spoken in a way that is easier for them to understand. I wonder who the creative person was at the Voice of America who came up with this interesting, innovative idea in the first place." Steve Kelman, Federal Computer Week Lecturn blog, 15 January 2009, with comment that answers his question. See also About VOA Special English page.

Hudson Institute dichotomy: 1) VOA is about "us." 2) RFE/RL and RFA have an audience.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"An elementary starting point for formulating a new strategy for public diplomacy, therefore, would be to ask: What do we seek to accomplish? If we seek always to remain neutral, why do we bother with public diplomacy at all? Traditional public diplomacy concentrates on explaining US policies, putting forward a positive view of American life and culture, and generally working to predispose foreigners favorably toward the United States as a way to facilitate achieving our objectives. This part of the public diplomacy mission is all about 'us.' The second part, strategic communications, is all about 'them.' In particular, the mission of the 'surrogate' broadcasters -- Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Radio Marti -- is fundamentally different from that of the Voice of America and other pure public diplomacy instruments. The surrogate radios are less concerned with how or why people dislike us or with advocating for America than in spurring intelligent listeners to think about the costs to their nation of runaway ideologies and isolation from critical globalizing trends. They were designed to act as local stations where free local stations do not exist, and their mandate was to stir debate within societies like Iran, Cuba or North Korea in ways that weaken the ability of oppressive regimes to monopolize information and ideas and, hence, power." S. Enders Wimbush, former director of Radio Liberty, "Fixing Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communications," Hudson Institute, 14 January 2009.
     So, VOA is about "us," and RFE/RL and RFA are about "them." "Them," i.e. the audience for international broadcasting, is more interested in news about them than news about us. Pretty good deal for RFE/RL and RFA.
     What are "them" seeking to accomplish? "Them" have their own mission for international broadcasting. "Them" want mainly news about their own countries, and secondarily news about the rest of the world, including the United States. The best way to attract "them" as an audience is to give "them" all the news they want from the convenience of one station. In theory, no one U.S. international station does that. That privilege is ceded to BBC World Service.
     "Them" also want news that is more credible than the news that they get from their state-controlled domestic media. Credibility is the key. If U.S. international broadcasting is to be successful, it must consist of straight, objective, balanced news. It must contain no whiff of public diplomacy or strategic communications, which is not what "them" are looking for. As my grandfather Barney used to say: "them are smart."

"We can't rely on VOA alone."

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Barack Obama should take his "campaign around the world, and especially to the hotbeds of anti-Americanism. And he already has a roadmap: the same unprecedented approach he used to win the election. ... Public diplomacy must embrace the tools of modern communications: the Internet, the grassroots power of social networking, and other emerging technologies that are part of the daily fabric of young people’s lives. It’s a trend that has gone global. Nearly half the world’s population uses mobile phones and 22% of the world’s people have Internet access today, and usage is growing most rapidly in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. We can’t rely on the Voice of America and other conventional modes of communication alone." Jack Leslie, Brand Republic, 14 July 2009. Both U.S. public diplomacy and U.S. international broadcasting have already moved into the internet, social networking, and delivery to mobile devices. These media are "growing rapidly," and that's part of the problem. A couple of decades ago, VOA could compete because, for many audiences, news would be available only from 1) the domestic state-controlled broadcasting system, 2) BBC, or 3) VOA. Now improved domestic media, access to the internet, and mobile devices provide hundreds, even thousands of channels of content. In some markets, U.S. international broadcasting might have to latch on to the most successful of these rather than try to compete on its own.

MIT grad student recommends C-Spanization of US international broadcasting.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Bush administration’s announcement that a 'war of ideas' was a central front in America’s struggle with Al Qaeda demonstrated recognition that success cannot be achieved solely through strength of arms. Unfortunately, failures in the Bush team’s conception and execution require that President Obama launch an immediate, fundamental overhaul of U.S. efforts to engage the world’s citizens, particularly those in the Middle East. The Bush team labeled this ideological struggle a 'war' and fought it as such, pushing American news outlets that blasted pro-U.S. news and planting fake stories in foreign papers. Obama must recast U.S. efforts as a 'dialogue of ideas' rather than a 'war.' ... U.S. media outlets like Al-Hurra should be reconfigured to engage viewers using a C-Span-type model." Peter J. P. Krause, Ph.D. candidate, MIT Center for International Studies, 7 January 2009. So not just Alhurra but other U.S. international broadcasting outlets should follow the C-Span model. C-Span type programming would provide a "raw feed" of U.S. democracy in action. In Arabic, this might be a useful niche for U.S. international broadcasting, especially if Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and BBC Arabic prove to be unbeatable as news channels. But keep in mind that the C-Span audience is distinguished more by its quality than its quantity. U.S. international broadcasting and its Congressional benefactors would have to be willing to live with a relatively small number of viewers. Furthermore, while C-Span in the USA can produce content by having a camera in the room, USIB would have the additional expense of translating all that verbiage.

Al Jazeera is absent from Canadian cable.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"There’s one network conspicuously absent from Canadian cable and satellite television menus. That’s Al Jazeera, the Qatari broadcaster, winner of dozens of international news and current affair awards. Canadian Tony Burman, head of Al Jazeera’s English network and former CBC editor-in-chief, says that Al Jazeera English is seen in 130 million households in 105 countries. ... When I called up Star Choice to ask why it didn’t carry Al Jazeera, the perky young customer service agent said, 'What? Could you spell that for me?' ... This goes back to some tricky footwork by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. In 2004, the CRTC 'approved' distribution of Al Jazeera’s Arabic service, while slapping draconian restrictions on companies that distributed it. They would have to monitor it and delete anything that could be construed as 'abusive content.' ... Just three months later, the CRTC approved Fox News for Canadian distribution with no restrictions at all, despite the fact that some might construe much of what comes out of the mouths of Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter as 'abusive content.'" Joan Baxter, The Chronicle Herald (Halifax), 14 January 2009.

Al Jazeera via mobiles.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Satellite Network today announced the beta launch of its Arabic and English Mobile websites. The websites will work on any mobile handset that has web browsing capabilities. ... The mobile websites will provide Al Jazeera headline news, business reports, sports coverage and more. The launch of the mobile websites is part of the ongoing Al Jazeera New Media initiative, which includes delivering video and other content over interactive platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and iTunes as well as other popular services." Al Jazeera press release, 15 January 2009.

Al Jazeera Gaza video via anyone who wants to use it.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera is launching a free online service offering its video footage of the ongoing fighting in Gaza to users and TV stations worldwide to download, share and remix. The website features exclusive Arabic and English coverage produced by the network's correspondents and crews in the Gaza Strip. Al Jazeera has the distinct advantage over Western rivals in that it is the only national network in the Palestinian territory. It has six reporters in Gaza, two working for Al Jazeera English and four working for the more popular Arabic version. Users can download the broadcast quality footage for their own use provided it is attributed to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is the first news broadcaster to release its footage under the attribution license, which allows for commercial and non-commercial use." Brand Republic, 14 January 2009.
     "The film clips will be licensed under Creative Commons, the non-profit sharing system designed to protect creators' work online, and posted for use on the Al Jazeera Creative Commons Repository site.", 14 January 2009.
     "Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons organization and professor of law at Stanford University, added, 'Al Jazeera is teaching an important lesson about how free speech gets built and supported. By providing a free resource for the world, the network is encouraging wider debate and a richer understanding.'", 14 January 2009.

"Punchy" Al Jazeera content via The Independent website.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Independent has announced a new online partnership with Al Jazeera English for news bulletins from the broadcaster to appear daily on the Independent website. The deal, a UK exclusive, means that Al Jazeera English channel's video news bulletins, presented from the channel's broadcast centres in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington will be regularly uploaded on to the Independent site. The content is tailored to web users providing short, punchy news round-ups of 2-3 minutes duration and will be refreshed throughout the day." The Independent, 15 January 2009.
     "The newspaper signed a similar deal with France24 last month and has indicated it is planning a number of partnerships." The Guardian, 15 January 2009.

Al Jazeera increases exposure in USA via Worldfocus.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Al Jazeera Network plans to announce on Thursday that it has signed a deal to run its news on Worldfocus, a syndicated nightly news program produced in New York and distributed throughout the United States. The deal would help the international news network, one of the top services in the Arabic-speaking world, broaden its reach in the United States, where it so far has been available to only a limited audience. Worldfocus, hosted by former NBC News correspondent Martin Savidge, is produced by New York City public broadcaster WLIW and syndicated to a number of Public Broadcasting Service affiliates, as well as other stations in 60 U.S. markets, including 27 of the top 30." Reuters, 16 January 2009.
     "Worldfocus, hosted by former NBC News correspondent Martin Savidge, was launched to fill the void in international news coverage and inform American viewers about the relevance of international events." Multichannel News, 15 January 2009.
     "The PBS nightly news program 'Worldfocus,' which premiered in September, had its best night ever last night in the overnight household rating, averaging 330,478. The previous high for the New York-based, internationally-focused show was on Monday of this week. Its closest competitor, BBC World News (which airs on PBS as well as on BBC America on cable) averaged 256,951 last night in the overnight, metered markets." Media Bistro, 15 January 2009. Actually, Worldfocus is not listed by PBS at one of its programs, although it is distributed to many public television station stations that are PBS affiliates.

Save Delano, Part 2.

Posted: 16 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The follow-up to the Save the Delano VOA video, that details the true motives for the irrational decision to phase out American shortwave broadcasting to the world. The implications for security, America's image across the globe and the future of all forms of shortwave are grave." YouTube, 8 January 2009, with juxtaposed link to Part 1. Delano, California, is the site of a major VOA shortwave transmitting station, now at least partially dismantled. See previous post about same subject.

Azerbaijan's foreign radio ban continues, with protests thereto.

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"'The decision to ban foreign radio stations from broadcasting on Azerbaijani frequencies is not subject to debate,' Azerbaijan National Television and Radio Council Chairman Nushiravan Maharramli told Trend News on Jan. 15. ... Maharramli said broadcasting foreign radio stations on national frequencies would have been considered if the countries owning these stations also broadcasted foreign stations." Trend News Agency, 15 January 2009.
     "Azerbaijan’s opposition Musavat party appealed to the Baku City Administration to hold a protest. 'Musavat will protest the closing of Radio Liberty, Voice of America and BBC on national frequencies at the Azerbaijani National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council'." Trend News Agency, 15 January 2009. "During the action it is planned to chant 'Freedom of speech!', 'Create conditions for transmission of BBC, Voice of America on the national frequencies!' and so on. 50 people are expected to take part in the protest." Today.Az, 14 January 2009.
     "The Council of Europe (CE) finds it regrettable that the licenses of several foreign broadcasters have not been renewed in Azerbaijan." Trend News Agency, 15 January 2009. See also Council of Europe press release, 15 January 2009, and RFE/RL News, 15 January 2009.
     "Kicking international broadcasters out of the country may have been the government's final test of the levels of global reaction to its actions. And if any lesson has been learned in Baku, it is that the authorities need not be overly concerned with even pretending to adhere to internationally accepted democratic norms." Commentary by Gorkhmaz Asgarov, Washington correspondent for RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, RFE/RL, 14 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Free writers.

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Veteran journalist James Fallows is at his best when explaining complicated international transactions in plain language. ... Postcards from Tomorrow Square, Fallows’s new book about the rise of modern China, is full of engaging examples. ... Fallows accuses the 'Western press' of generally conveying a 'dim image' of China. Unfortunately, he fails to give specific examples of where the Western media go wrong. (He also blames the Chinese government for doing a lousy public relations job.) My own view is that China-based correspondents from the US and elsewhere deserve credit for covering tough subjects that Fallows barely touches on." Dan Southerland, "executive editor of congressionally funded Radio Free Asia," Christian Science Monitor, 15 January 2009.
     Jan "Palach's self-immolation on Jan. 16, 1969, was a peaceful act of protest, not a predatory act of war. For his protest against his countrymen's apathy to the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was true to the original meaning of martyrdom -- a self-sacrifice designed to save others, not to kill them." Luke Allnut, editor in chief of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's English-language website, writing a novel based on the last year of Jan Palach's life, Wall Street Journal, 14 January 2009.

Gedmin: "Majority" of messages to Radio Farda from Iran support Israel, not Hamas.

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Jeffrey Gedmin is president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, whose Iranian service, Radio Farda, has been receiving messages from its Iranian listeners regarding the war in Gaza. Many have been along the lines Iran’s rulers prefer and you might expect: 'Death to Israel, to the imperialists and Zionists!' But the 'majority,' Gedmin told me, has been of a different nature. Here’s a sampling (translated from the Farsi): 'The clerical regime is lying. It was not Israel who started this war.' 'Any other country [apart from Israel] would have done the same a long time ago.' 'Hamas should be destroyed. This cowardly group is taking cover in hospitals and residential areas. The people of Gaza should help Israel.'" Clifford May, National Review Online, 15 January 2009.

Next BBCWS television channel will be Urdu, pending funding.

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service is eyeing indigenous-language channels in the Indian subcontinent, China and Latin America, following the launches of its publicly funded BBC Arabic and BBC Persian television services. Next in the pipeline is an Urdu television channel which will target audiences in India and Pakistan, and sit alongside the corporation's well-established online and radio offerings in the language. 'We are looking at extending our multimedia presence there along the same lines as BBC Arabic and BBC Persian. We would try to launch [without a partner] but we would look at all options,' a spokesman said. The BBC has yet to secure funding or permission for the Urdu service but it is expected the channel would be paid for by UK taxpayers through a Foreign Office grant-in-aid." Broadcast, 14 January 2009.

BBC Persian TV, day 2, "a more journalistic approach than the VOA."

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Today, the BBC is valued by many ordinary Iranians as a trusted source of impartial news. Most Iranian officials, however, still view the corporation as a cap-doffing servant of the foreign ministry. 'It’s very hard to explain to Iranians that, although the BBC is partly funded by the UK government, it is editorially independent and sometimes its policy of independent broadcasting clashes with official UK policy,' said Jim Muir, the BBC’s staff correspondent in Tehran between 1999 and 2004. ... BBC Persian TV insists it is not going to be a hostile channel; that it will showcase the best of Iran. It 'has the audience’s needs at the heart of its agenda. It is contemporary in its style, and independent and penetrating in its journalism,' said Behrouz Afagh, head of BBC World Service’s Asia and Pacific region. By focusing on Iran’s vibrant cinema and art scene as well as news and current affairs, BBC Persian TV clearly hopes that suspicion in Iranian officialdom will eventually melt away." The National (Abu Dhabi), 15 January 2009.
     "The BBC has said the new channel would be seen in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and most countries in the Persian Gulf through Hotbird and Telstar satellite and cable services. It also will be available in Britain." AP, 14 January 2009.
     "The new BBC network is to emulate the 24-hour broadcast model already employed by the Voice of America. The BBC, however, says it wants a more journalistic approach than the VOA, which focuses more on standpoints of opposition groups and dissidents abroad. Iranian officials are not willing to cooperate with the VOA due to its direct affiliation with the White House. The BBC efforts to seek legal permission for a presence inside Iran in hopes of reflecting the Iranian viewpoint are at a standstill, since all requests have been rejected by Tehran. A large number of Iranians watch foreign news networks, including Farsi-language news programmes, via satellite. Those broadcasts are legally forbidden, but tolerated by the administration." DPA, 14 January 2009.
     "Many Iranians have access to satellite dishes, and they're already watching other foreign Persian-language stations, like the US sponsored Voice of America. But many Iranians don't trust it, because even though it's supposed to the independent, it's seen as rarely critical of the US government. 'I hope BBC Persian, you know, television to be broadcast, you know, independently, and not like Voice of America, you know, like propaganda of the US government.' That's Rusbeh Mirabrahami, an Iranian journalist now living in New York." The World (from BBC, PRI, and WGBH), 14 January 2009.
     "The BBC launched its Persian-language television channel today, despite it being described by an Iranian minister as contrary to his country's 'security'. Gholam Hossein Mohseini Ejehi was quoted by Iran's official IRNA news agency as saying the country would take measures against the channel. He said: 'We don't consider this channel to be appropriate for our security. We will take the necessary measures in this regard.'" The Independent, 14 January 2009. See also BBC Persian TV Promo. See previous post about same subject.

New platform for CNN International, Russia Today to the UK (updated).

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"News channel CNN International is to join the [UK] Freeview digital TV service from Thursday, just days before the inauguration of new US president Barack Obama. The move will mean Freevew viewers will have the choice of an international viewpoint on Obama's inauguration on 20 January, alongside that of the digital terrestrial TV service's two UK-based 24-hour news channels, Sky News and the BBC News channel. The channel will air on Freeview 84 seven days a week between the hours of 9pm and 1am. ... As part of its Freeview launch night programming, CNNI will air a one-hour special on the Middle East, entitled The Middle East Challenge, at 10pm, in which reporter Hala Gorani travels through the region to investigate the underlying issues creating roadblocks to economic and political progress." The Guardian, 13 January 2009. Unfortunately, CNN's slot at 2100 to 0100 UTC does not correspond with the time of the inauguration ceremony, 1500-1700 UTC.
     Update: "The launch offers CNN International’s existing partners including DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre), Emirates Airlines, Orascom Telecom and QFC (Qatar Financial Centre), even greater exposure amongst the channel’s diverse UK audience." CNN press release, 15 January 2009.
     "Russia Today is to broadcast on Freeview for a limited number of hours per day, it has emerged. ... According to a report on the Digital Spy forums, the channel's hours on Freeview will be 'quite restricted'." Digital Spy, 15 January 2009.

International broadcasters cover the inauguration.

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Special interactive television and radio programs, live video streaming and real-time blogging are among the programs Voice of America (VOA) is using to reach worldwide audiences with in-depth coverage of Barack Obama's historic presidential inauguration. Nearly 200 VOA journalists and technicians are fanning out across the city on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 to report - in 45 languages to an audience of 134 million - on Obama's swearing-in, inaugural speech and celebratory parade. They'll be stationed on the roof of VOA's headquarters in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, on Pennsylvania Avenue and in front of the White House." VOA press release, 15 January 2009. Additional VOA shortwave transmissions not mentioned in this release, or at, or at, but they are listed on this separate page.
     "Millions of people across the world are expected to watch the inauguration of the new president with a sense of pride and hope for a better future, and will look to Mr. Obama's administration for a new kind of American leadership." VOA News, 14 January 2009.
     AP's "Global Media Services, which specializes in working out the logistics for live coverage of breaking news and special events around the world for AP’s broadcast clients, will have operations set up at Capitol Hill, Lafayette Park, Freedom Park, the Voice of America Building, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Mall and the AP Washington bureau, to enable global coverage of Inauguration Day by the world’s media." AP press release, 15 January 2009.
     "Another interesting only-on-the-web way to watch is through P2P app Livestation, where you can switch between a variety of international perspectives on the inauguration, including Al Jazeera English, the BBC World News, C-SPAN, euronews, and France 24." NewTeeVee, 14 January 2009.
     "Pity the poor Republicans sailing on Princess Cruises ships next week. Even hundreds of miles out to sea they won't be able to get away from Obama madness. A spokeswoman for Princess tells USA TODAY the line will show next week's historic Presidential inauguration live across all of its ships via satellite through CNN International." USA Today Cruise Log blog, 15 January 2009.
     "AETN has closed a raft of deals with broadcasters across Europe and the Middle East for single doc Biography: Barack Obama (1x60') ahead of the US president-elect's inauguration next week. The programme has been licensed to ATV (Hungary); ETB and Telemadrid (Spain); TV2 (Norway); CT1 and CT2 (Czech Republic); N-TV (Germany); Nelonen, Jim TV and Liv TV (Finland); RTP2 (Portugal); Schweizer Fernsehen (German-speaking Switzerland); and RTL4, RTL5, RTL7 and RTL8 (the Netherlands and Luxemburg). [Barack Obama - ] The single doc has also been taken by Metro TV (Indonesia) and Voice of America (the Middle East), and will air on AETN's Bio channel in the UK, South-east Asia, Spain and Portugal, Israel, Canada, Latin America and Germany.", 15 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Public diplomacy and information operations to combat terrorism.

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Focused and sufficiently resourced public diplomacy and information-operations campaigns to discredit these leaders and undermine images of their and their groups’ omnipotence are critical elements in effectively countering terrorism. ... Psychological operations that seek not only to kill and capture terrorists or insurgents, but also to persuade them to surrender have a particularly important role in these efforts. Even if the results of such efforts require time to succeed, the suspicion and mistrust sown within terrorist and insurgent ranks might force our enemies to expend more time and energy on watching their backs and monitoring their comrades than in planning and attacking us. The problem is that no agency or office has the lead for overseeing, coordinating and integrating information operations. Multiple agencies share this mission and within those agencies multiple offices claim responsibility: the result is duplication and redundancy and many voices speaking at once rather than one voice with one clear, authoritative message directing this process." Bruce Hoffman, National Interest, 13 January 2009. Content that discredits terrorist leaders might not be so effective if it comes from a U.S. source, or at least a source identified with the United States. As for the "multiple agencies," I assume the problem is coordinating Defense and (if there are any) intelligence agency efforts, because public diplomacy and especially (overt) international broadcasting shouldn't really be doing "information operations." Wouldn't the National Security Council, somewhere in its staff structure, be the entity to coordinate information operations?

Two more questions for Hillary Clinton.

Posted: 15 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
For her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, which has already taken place. "What is the difference between, on the one hand, explaining, defending, and promoting the foreign policies of the United States to audiences both foreign and domestic - and, on the other hand, engaging in propaganda?" Peter Feaver, Foreign Policy Shadow Government blog, 11 January 2009. Let me take a crack at writing a talking point: Some might call our public diplomacy "propaganda." However, I can assure you that while it does explain, defend, and promote U.S. foreign policy, it will do so with respect to truth, facts, and without distortion. In addition to our public diplomacy, there is also U.S. international broadcasting, which explains and reports, but does not promote U.S. policies. U.S. international broadcasting is required to maintain standards of objectivity and balance, so it can't be dismissed as propaganda.
     "During the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations there were clear signs of American solidarity with democratic dissidents in Cuba, both on and off the island. Will the Obama administration maintain its support for these groups and people? Broadcasts by Radio Martí, for example, are trustworthy sources of information for the Cuban people. Will President Obama support these broadcasts?" Walter Russell Mead, New York Times, 12 January 2009. See previous post about Radio/TV Martí, and previous post with another question for Senator Clinton.

VOA Learning Center (connected to VOA only historically) begins classes.

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"More than two dozen government officials, donors and Miami University representatives celebrated the first day of class Monday, Jan. 12, at the new Voice of America Learning Center. ... For this winter semester, 267 students have enrolled for undergraduate classes and 92 for graduate programs." Lebanon (OH) Western Star, 13 January 2009. Located on the "campus" of the former VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station. See also Miami University VOALC page.

Bakongo music ripples through nervous system of VOA blogger.

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"African Music Treasures is a blog that features rarities from the Voice of America (VOA) African music collection. A few months ago one of its authors, Matthew LaVoie, explained described his fascination with the band Konono No 1 in a post about Bakongo music: 'One afternoon a friend -and fellow music enthusiast- came in to browse through whatever new releases had arrived that day, and as he made his way through our large collection of African music, he pulled out a CD called ‘Musiques Urbaines à Kinshasa'. […] I listened to it for the next four hours straight, turning up the volume every twenty minutes. By closing time it felt like ‘Le Tout Puissant Konono # 1' had replaced my brain; the bass-Likembe runs rippled through my nervous system, every cymbal crash soothed the muscles in my neck, and the rhythmic accents of the whistle made my ears prick up like a hunting dog's.'" Kongo Times!, 14 January 2009. African Music Treasures is one of several blogs originating at VOA, not all of which you can find at When I have time, I'll make a list, with links.

Cancel TV and Radio Martí, they write (updated, corrected, and updated again).

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"For years now, the U.S. has tried to beam television programs into Cuba. The Cubans have by and large managed to block them out so the U.S. is now having the signals broadcast from a plane. This is most expensive and has had questionable success. In any event, the programs are broadcast during the dawn hours, so it is doubtful that many people would be watching even if they could receive the signals. The whole exercise simply makes us look foolish. TV Marti should be cancelled, and in fact so should Radio Marti; rather, we should go back to programs on the VOA. These were widely listened to in Cuba and had great credibility, something Radio Marti has never had." Wayne S. Smith, Counterpunch, 8 January 2009.
     TV Marti during the "dawn hours"? In keeping with the typically poor job that U.S. international broadcasting websites do in providing schedule information about USIB radio and television, to find the TV Martí transmission schedule, go to and click not on TV Martí but on Radio Martí Frecuencia (as if there were only one frecuencia). There, TV Martí is shown to transmit (presumably via the airplane) on channel 13 at 18:00-22:00 Eastern Time. That schedule also shows TV Martí 24-hours via satellite.
     VOA Spanish remains audible (and unjammed) in Cuba via shortwave. The VOA Spanish "Ventana al Caribe" program reports about Cuban events.
     Shortwave, because of its natural resistance to jamming, remains the best bet for getting uncensored news into Cuba. However, satellite television (to illegal satellite dishes) and the internet are becoming more viable for this purpose.

      "I question your statement that VOA Spanish 'remains unjammed'. It was certainly jammed when the program was called Ventana a Cuba, and the jamming tended to spill over into the rest of the schedule." Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 10 January 2009.
     "UTC Mon Jan 12 at 0008 found VOA with innocuous pop music program 'De Capital a Capital' on 5890, 5940 and 9885, all from Greenville. ... Jamming could be heard underneath 5890 and 5940, was at roughly equal level to VOA on 9885; and at 0022 recheck, jamming was way on top of VOA 9885. Have also noticed jamming against nothing on 9885 at many other times of day. According to, Ventana al Caribe is at 0000 UT Tue, Thu, Fri and Sat, but that is not necessarily up-to-date, and does not make clear what is on SW and what is only on satellite. VaC is the program which might include info about Cuba since the cancellation of the previous Ventana a Cuba show, which got the DentroCubans started jamming VOA; but changing the name has not mollified them." Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 12 January 2009.
     Correction: Another example of Glenn knowing more about the radio station in the building where I work than I do. Yes, VOA Spanish is jammed by Cuba. Listen to this audio example from the IBB RMS in San Jose, 9 January 2009, 0040 UTC, 5890 kHz.
     Update: "In its current modus operandi, Radio Marti detracts from the credibility of the United States, and contributes little to the opening of political or informational space within Cuban society. Its bias, stridency, and unwillingness to accommodate broadly diverse viewpoints detract from the kind of tone that American policy toward Cuba should attempt to set. If, for political reasons, the administration is unwilling to abolish Radio Marti, then at least it should merge it with the VOA, place it directly under the VOA’s management and direction, and insulate it institutionally from the pressures of the hard-line elements of Miami’s Cuban-American community so as to improve its objectivity and quality." From "9 Ways for US to Talk to Cuba and for Cuba to Talk to US," Center for Democracy in the Americas, 12 January 2009.

Azerbaijani police preempt protest of foreign radio ban (updated).

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Azerbaijani police have detained a group of young opposition members who had planned a protest over the government decision to stop international radio stations from broadcasting on local frequencies. Police, in Baku, intercepted activists from the opposition Musavat Party and blocked them from approaching the headquarters of Azerbaijan's National Television and Radio Council, the agency that issued the ban. The council barred local stations in Azerbaijan from broadcasting programs by Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the BBC and Russia's Evropa Plus, effective New Year's Day." VOA News, 9 January 2009. See also Trend News Agency, 9 January 2009 and Today.Az, 9 January 2009.
     Update: "'Azerbaijan's record on media freedom was poor before this,' said Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). 'Now, Azerbaijanis without access to cable or the Internet, which means most of the listening audience, are cut off from objective, impartial sources of information. ... I regret that when President Aliyev eventually meets President Obama, they will have to spend time discussing why [Azerbaijan] has shut down U.S.-funded radio stations instead of exploring ways to deepen the relationship between our countries.'" Washington Times, 13 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

France 24, RFI expand availability via Orange.

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Didier Lombard, Chairman and CEO of France Telecom-Orange and Alain de Pouzilhac, Chairman and CEO of Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France today signed, in the presence of Christine Ockrent, Deputy CEO of Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France, and Xavier Couture, Director of Content of Orange, a strategic global partnership for news over the web, mobiles and TV. This agreement aims to extend FRANCE 24's and Radio France International's (RFI) international broadcasting as well as jointly develop innovative projects. ... FRANCE 24's broadcasting on Orange networks will shortly increase from six to 13 countries and from seven to 36 channels (IPTV, web, mobile and satellite). RFI's live and podcast feeds will increase from the 12 currently available on LiveRadio to nearly 80 within the next few weeks. RFI's broadcasting will also be extended over the Internet and mobiles." Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France and France Telecom-Orange press release, 14 January 2009.
     "Free continue d’enrichir son offre de télévision et propose dès aujourd’hui en avant-première la chaîne d’information internationale France 24 et ses 2 déclinaisons linguistiques: anglais et arabe." Iliad press release, 14 January 2009. Free is a tri-media broadband platform in France.

The BBC Russian controversy will not go away.

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Until the early 1990s, anyone applying for a job in the BBC Russian Service had to undergo a security clearance. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Service had to make a choice. Should it open its doors to former Soviet journalists who had perhaps been forced to cooperate with a system they secretly despised? It was decided to stop security clearances and, in the name of greater professionalism, to only recruit Russians who were experienced journalists with an excellent knowledge of English. Since Russia was thought to be on the path to democracy, an overly strict security policy was seen as bad taste and outdated. For a while it was possible to imagine that no harm had been done. During the past few years, however, the pro-Kremlin bias shown by the Russian Service has been only too blatant." Robert Chandler and Martin Dewhirst, The Moscow Times, 14 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBC Persian TV launches, "no tribune for or against anyone."

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's newest satellite TV channel has gone on air, a Farsi language service for viewers mainly in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. BBC Persian TV will broadcast for eight hours a day, seven days a week, in peak viewing time in those countries. ... Although the government has banned Farsi-language operations, it does allow the BBC to base an English-language correspondent in the country. But the authorities have warned citizens not to get involved with the new TV channel, and the BBC has advised viewers not to risk getting themselves into trouble in order to take part in phone-ins and other interactive broadcasts." BBC News, 14 January 2009.
     "Representatives from the BBC say they have no intention of attacking the Iranian government purely for the sake of it. But, the fact that the station is being financed by the UK Foreign Office is likely to raise suspicions not just among officials, but among ordinary Iranians too. The BBC has said that its standards of objectivity and impartiality will be rigorously maintained, but some media analysts have seen the setting up of the new station as part of the UK government's attempt to retain some influence in the region. ... For its part, the Iranian government will be hoping that BBC Persian TV will make little impact with a public that until now has switched to satellite TV mainly for an uncensored diet of Hollywood films, Western music and fashion that it can not otherwise access." BBC News, 14 January 2009.
     "Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Iranian minister of intelligence, had raised tensions when he said: 'Some espionage services might use journalistic channels for their activities, which will increase ahead of election [for president in June].' But Behrouz Afagh, head of BBC World Service's Asia and Pacific region, which includes Iran, told the FT the channel would be 'no tribune for or against anyone' and that Iranian officials were welcome to express their views. He admitted, however, that it would be "difficult" to cover Iranian news from London." Financial Times, 14 January 2009.
     "Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseini Ejehi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Iran would take steps over the issue. 'We don't consider this channel to be appropriate for our security. We will take the necessary measures in this regard,' Ejehi said. Ejehi didn't specify measures Iran will allegedly take against the British channel." AP, 14 January 2009.
     "The BBC, arguably the world's most influential and respected broadcaster, will profoundly influence debate among the 100 million Farsi speakers in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. ... The Persian service, for which an extra £15 million has been found, has been launched at an opportune moment. The incoming Obama administration has said that it wants to begin a dialogue with Iran. Fresh confrontations still loom, however, over Iran's nuclear ambitions, its support for terrorist groups and opposition to any Middle East peace initiative. Iran is a vibrant, argumentative and divided society that faces elections in May. The battle between pragmatists and hardliners will be intense. The BBC can and will influence that debate." Leader, The Times, 14 January 2009.
     "Thirty years after the Iranian revolution, the estimated 20 million Iranians with access to satellite television will be able to witness the inauguration of a new US President - live on the BBC. They will see the historic event on BBC Persian TV, just a few days after the publicly-funded channel is launched at 1330 GMT Wednesday, aimed at 100 million Farsi speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and central Asia. ... For the BBC ... the establishment of its second foreign TV news service, following the launch of an Arabic channel a year ago, the Farsi broadcasts are designed to fill an information gap between the strictly-controlled Iranian media on the one hand and the US-funded Voice of America on the other." DPA, 14 January 2008. VOA Persian TV, which has existed for years, and has been attracting larger audiences than BBC Persian radio, thereby prompting the creation of BBC Persian TV, will, of course, cover the Obama Inauguration.
     "Currently, the BBC’s Persian radio service boasts 10 million listeners. Interestingly, only one-fifth of these are in Iran itself, the majority of listeners being Dari speakers in Afghanistan." Index on Censorship Free Speech blog, 14 January 2009. This is likely because BBC has FM and/or medium wave relays in Afghanistan, but no such relays in Iran. Goes to show that reception of your station in the target country is facilitated by having a military presence in the target country. See previous post about same subject.

Cambodian media regulation may extend to the internet.

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Ministry of Information is drafting a law that would extend existing libel, defamation and ethics rules currently governing print media to other media platforms, including the internet. Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the law would be used to formalise content management rules so that they could be easily applied by future information ministers. He said the law would not be used to curtail freedom of the press. ... Mom Sonando, director of Sambok Khmum Radio (Beehive Radio), a private commercial radio station, said he supported the drafting of the law. 'I support the creation of a proper law to manage the media so that we will all know what we should do and what we should not do,' he said. He said he hoped the law would stipulate that all radio stations are entitled to the same broadcasting rights, which he said is not the case now. For instance, he said his station does not have live broadcasting rights for Radio Free Asia and Voice of America programming, putting it at a disadvantage compared to stations that do." The Phnom Penh Post, 14 January 2009. Most Cambodians listen to VOA and RFA via Beehive, which relays the stations after a half-hour or hour delay.

Growing North Korean audiences for foreign media.

Posted: 14 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"North Koreans manage to gain limited access to foreign media broadcasts in spite of increasing government crackdowns in the isolated Stalinist state. A growing number are viewing or listening to media from rival South Korea. ... 'Because the receivers are fixed to a given frequency, control over radios that might be used to tune into foreign stations is strict. But there are North Korean intellectuals who listen to foreign broadcasts.'" Radio Free Asia, 8 January 2009. This RFA news story mentions foreign television, radio, and DVDs, but not not name any foreign stations other than some in South Korea. It also does not discuss cross-border television viewing from China, where Korean-language programs (including some originating in South Korea) are broadcast on stations in the Korean-speaking sections of China. Reception from China might be easier than from South Korea, because the North Korean and Chinese television transmission systems are more compatible.

Chinese intellectuals call for boycott of CCTV "propaganda."

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Chinese intellectuals have signed an open letter calling for a boycott of state television news programmes. The letter says China's Central Television (CCTV) has turned its news and historical drama series into propaganda to brainwash its audience." BBC News, 12 January 2009.
     "The scholars also criticized the CCTV’s censorship and biased reports. They pointed out that the CCTV has been reporting only news that flatter authorities, while remaining silent on disasters and social conflicts. When reporting international news, on the other hand, CCTV reports always suffer from a decidedly negative bias, the scholars said." Epoch Times, 13 January 2009.
     "In a lengthy response faxed to The Associated Press, Wang Jianhong, deputy director of the CCTV general editing department, defended the broadcaster's record, saying that CCTV had done 'timely and sufficient reports' including last year's Sichuan earthquake, the Tibetan riots and the ongoing tainted milk scandal. ... 'China has more than 1.2 billion TV viewers,' he said. 'Even if 22 people boycott, I personally don't think it'll have any effect or harm the reputation of CCTV.'" AP, 13 January 2009.
     "China's Communist Party has significantly tightened propaganda controls by shutting down the country's most vibrant and influential intellectual discussion platform. The move to shut down the website Bullog follows a prominent warning by the country's propaganda chief, Li Changchun, last week that the party would tighten internet controls over 'vulgar' content." Sydney Morning Herald, 12 January 2009. See also Radio Free Asia, 12 January 2009.

BBC trains Nepalese journalists.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service and BBC Nepali Service are holding an editorial training workshop for editors and journalists of its partner FM radio stations in the country. The five-day training began on Monday where participants from 34 partner FMs, who relay the BBC Nepali Service broadcast through their stations in various parts of the country, are taking part. ... The number of partner FMs in Nepal is second largest in the entire Asia Pacific, second only to Indonesia.", 13 January 2009.

English "explosion" in Afghanistan.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"An explosion in English language studies, fuelled by the growing dominance of American culture and the financial realities of globalisation, is unprecedented in a country which is thousands of miles away from the nearest English-speaking nation. ... English is also reaching people through the media. Bilingual websites, mobile phones with text messaging, English satellite television and movies, radio stations with English language news - including the BBC World Service on FM frequencies - and several local English-language newspapers are having an impact on the Afghan way of life." BBC News, 12 January 2009.

Why the BOBs are the better blog award.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Most major blog awards, on the other hand, issue blanket awards based simply on blog niche -- Best Liberal Blog, Best Pet Blog -- and are determined by a popular vote. But if an award is simply a popularity contest -- with the winner typically being the one who can drive the most readers to the polls -- can it adequately identify exemplary online content? ... Not all blog awards are put up to a popular vote, however. Gabriel Gonzalez has worked for Deutsche Welle, Germany's international public broadcaster, since 1991. In 2004 he helped launch the BOBs (Best of the Blogs), a blog award that at the time spanned across seven languages -- now that number is up to 11. 'What does this mean?' he wrote in an email. 'We only accept blogs in languages we can read and understand. We have native speakers [at Deutsche Welle] for all 11 languages that check all the entries to the BOBs. They are experts for their blogospheres and they also search for the best possible jury member for that language.'" Simon Owens, PBS MediaShift, 12 January 2009.

International channels will cover the Inauguration.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Live coverage of the inauguration itself begins on BBC America and BBC World News at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, January 20. Veteran BBC newsman Huw Edwards will anchor the program live from Capitol Hill with BBC World News America anchor Matt Frei. They will be joined by leading BBC News correspondents Katty Kay, Rajesh Mirchandani, Jon Sopel and Clive Myrie, who will report from key points around Washington DC. Contributors will include historian Robert Dallek and Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, who taught both Barack and Michelle Obama. In addition to the U.S. the newscast will air on BBC services across the UK and around the world to over 280 million television households on BBC World News." Media Bistro, 12 January 2009.
     "CNN International will simulcast domestic programming from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CNN en Español plans to offer extensive live coverage of Inauguration Day, with senior anchor Patricia Janiot and correspondents Juan Carlos Lopez and Ione Molinares, reporting live from Washington." CNN press release, 12 January 2009.
     Will VOA add shortwave frequencies for inauguration coverage?

Strategic communications is too important to bother with mere audience needs.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
A Heritage Foundation essay proposes questions that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should ask Senator Hillary Clinton at her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, and even provides answers for Senator Clinton, e.g.: "The current state of American public diplomacy and strategic communication is unacceptable. ... In order for these shortcomings to be remedied, the U.S. should establish the U.S. Agency for Strategic Communications. As described in the Strategic Communications Act (S. 3546), proposed by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), the U.S. Agency for Strategic Communications would comprehensively transform, rather than merely restructure, the nation's strategic communications framework. The bill's principal priority would be to centralize the government's strategic communications--including information, educational, and cultural activities--in a new agency. Under the guidance of the director of strategic communications, who would report directly to the President, the agency would craft and implement an interagency strategic communications strategy, oversee U.S. broadcasting (such as Radio Free Europe), and administer grants to nonprofit organizations engaged in useful information operation activities." Steven Groves, Heritage Foundation, 12 January 2009.
     The model for international broadcasting as part of "strategic communications" is, of course, Radio Moscow. During the Cold War, Radio Moscow's content was certainly coordinated, by a central office, with the strategic needs of the USSR. It reported news that conformed with that strategy, ignored news that did not support the strategy, and took care to "craft and implement" scripts to support Soviet policy goals.
     Despite being the granddaddy of international broadcasting -- more languages, more transmitters, more broadcast hours, more kilowatts, more budget than any other station -- Radio Moscow never gathered more than 10 percent of the audience size of BBC or VOA. It was not providing the credible news that international radio audiences wanted.
See previous post about S.3546.
     "Strategic communications, as described in a Defense Department document in August, involves 'integrating actions, words, and images.' Associated with combat, it should 'ideally operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries,' the document states. In Iraq, that means putting up posters, distributing leaflets, and creating radio and television spots that support the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In North Africa, it means the Africa Command-sponsored Web site, which is accessible in Arabic, French and English." Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 12 January 2009.

Convoluted entities are the future of public diplomacy (updated).

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"We need a nimble new tech-savvy, nonprofit organization that more readily can combine public- and private-sector expertise and resources in areas such as new media and state-of-the-art communications. This organization needs to be outside the State Department in order to attract nongovernment actors who could help repair America's damaged reputation but who may not want to be officially associated with U.S. foreign policy. That is why a broad range of organizations ... have called for an entrepreneurial and independent new nonprofit organization to complement and supplement U.S. government public diplomacy efforts. ... This entity also will implement new technologies and media products that support U.S. public diplomacy and act as a convener of practitioners from the U.S. government, scholars and talented visitors from the private and nonprofit sectors to address public diplomacy and communications challenges." Keith Reinhard and Parag Khanna, Athens (GA) Banner-Herald, 8 January 2009. The entity is "outside the State Department" but will "support U.S. public diplomacy." The entity must therefore always be on message. Audiences abroad may be confused as to which entity speaks for the U.S. government, and which entity can claim to be independent of it. If these identity issues can be sorted out, private-sector international outreach is definitely a good thing.
     Update: "USIA did rely on private-sector participation in some programs, such as speakers on various topics of interest to foreign audiences, cultural specialists and various exchange programs - all with great effect, because while these participants were sponsored by the U.S. government, they expressed their own views based on their particular expertise, and therefore enjoyed great credibility." Howard Leeb, letter to Athens Banner-Herald, 11 January 2009.

VOA's new tri-lingual talk show for Zimbabwe.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America's (VOA) Studio 7 today launched LiveTalk, a 30-minute weekly call-in radio show for Zimbabwe, offering people a forum to discuss the political, economic and social challenges facing the nation. ... Callers to LiveTalk, which airs Friday at 8:00 p.m. Zimbabwe time [1800 UTC], are able to speak English, Shona or Ndebele, the three languages in which Studio 7 broadcasts." VOA press release, 9 January 2009.

Gaza cyber update for 12 January 2009.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The cyberwar between hackers supporting the Palestinian cause and their Israel sympathizing counter-parts continues. After compromising thousands of Israeli websites, the Jihad attackers have moved on to targeting high profile sites that belong to the U.S. military or NATO." Softpedia, 10 January 2009.
     "Last week, in discussing Israel’s Roof Knocking operations, I lamented ‘the lack of an Ushahidi-like service’ to enable grassroots coverage from residents of the afflicted areas. Fortunately, Al Jazeera Labs has taken up the challenge with its custom deployment of Ushahidi’s open source software - War On Gaza." Imran Ali, Mobile Messaging 2.0, 10 January 2009.
     "The media aren’t being admitted into the Gaza Strip, but satellites are far above the battle...and taking pictures. At Unosat, you can track the damage inflicted on Gaza between December 31 and January 6, and no doubt more updates will soon be available." Crawford Kilian,, 10 January 2009.
     "Israel made no secret of its intent to use social media as weapons in the electronic war waged alongside the conflict on the ground. Simultaneously with the launch of the ground offensive, its Consulate General in New York held a press conference on Twitter and the IDF launched a YouTube channel to provide footage from aerial and ground attacks. On the Palestinian side, bloggers like journalist and mother Laila El-Haddad (@Gazamom on Twitter) and mostly anonymous Twitter users (@gazanews, @tweetsfromgaza) are playing David to Israel’s media Goliath, trying to influence the international community with dramatic reports from besieged Gaza and pleas for a ceasefire to be effected." Asteris Masouras, New Europe, 12 January 2009.
     "The Battle of the Blogosphere - in which pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian scribblers fire salvos at each other in a bitter war of words - is increasingly helping to shape people's view of the conflict. ... This month, both sides have posted hoax stories and misleading videos in order to demonise their opponents." Brendan O'Neill, The First Post, 12 January 2009.
     "Ashyaneh, a group of Iranian hackers brought down the Israeli secret service's web site on Wednesday for more than two hours. The group has hacked over 50 Israeli web sites since Wednesday." Press TV, 9 January 2009.

Gaza media update for 12 January 2009.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Julia Pitner ... is the head of Internews Network projects in the West Bank and Gaza. Since 2006, she has worked for the California-based nonprofit, which helps independent radio and television stations in the region establish themselves in communities. ... Pitner’s main focus from her office in Ramallah recently has been to make sure humanitarian information is broadcast from two radio station based in Hebron, also in the West Bank. The Palestinians in Gaza may need information about safe havens, road closures, food distribution and also just news about the conflict." Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, 11 January 2009.
     "'Collective punishment, genocide, Holocaust,' these same spokesmen cry out, with photos of dismembered bodies in the wake of Air Force attacks posted in the backdrop. These are charged words, yet it is precisely what speakers are trying to achieve: They wish to show the world that Israel has replaced Nazi Germany. Those are not slips of the tongue, but rather, a deliberate argument that is repeated time and again." Roee Nahmias,, 11 January 2009.
     "As Israel's operation against the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza continues, expressions of anti-Semitism and offensive Holocaust imagery have 'reached a fever pitch' in the Arab press, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)." ADL press release, 8 January 2009.
     "The Organization of Asia Pacific News Agencies (OANA) has condemned the killing of Palestinian cameraman Fadal Shana who worked for Reuters news agency, as a result of an indiscriminate attack by Israeli forces in Gaza. 'Israeli forces have targeted vehicles and journalists who were clearly identified as such, with "Press" or "TV" markings. Fadal Shana was killed while filming Israeli tanks in central Gaza,' said OANA President Dr. Ahmad Mukhlis Yusuf in a statement posted in OANA website (, Sunday." Antara (Indonesia) News Agency, 11 January 2009.
     Comparison of Israel's control over reporting from Gaza with previous wars. "The Crimean War was the start of what Phillip Knightley, in his classic book on war reporting, The First Casualty, called the 'golden age', when correspondents had free access to the battlefield. That all ended with World War I." Paul Reynolds, BBC News, 12 January 2009.
     "The latest escalation is the first real test of guidelines on the BBC's reporting of the Middle East brought in after criticism of pro-Palestinian bias levelled at the corporation in 2005. In the past two weeks, the signs of caution have been more in evidence than before. With some honourable exceptions ..., the questioning of Israeli spokespeople has been weak." John Kampfner, The Guardian, 12 January 2009.
     Prime Minister Olmert: "Anyone watching global media might, heaven forbid, think for a moment that this military effort in recent weeks broke out for no reason. No one mentions or remembers the ease in which rockets hit innocents, children and their parents in Israel, and disrupted lives. It's as if all this didn't happen.", 12 January 2009.
     "Israel's odds for pulling off its Gaza incursion are debatable, but its chances against the world press are decidedly dismal. ... Perhaps Israel should be flattered by such coverage. To borrow a phrase from President Bush, when it comes to Palestine, many outsiders practice the soft bigotry of low expectations: Few demand or expect Palestine to behave responsibly." Sam Dealey, U.S. News & World Report, 6 January 2009.
     More Gaza-related items can be found at John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera covers Gaza.

Posted: 13 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Last week I had the privilege of presenting Israel's position on the Riz Khan Show on Al Jazeera, the English version of the Arabic-language news network. ... Besides the very challenging aspect of appearing on Al Jazeera for 23 minutes, I learned a lot from the experience which can be applied to public diplomacy and international hasbara efforts. 1) Invest money in English-language news programs. ... 2) Get the best talent to represent you. ... 3) Go where the audience is [YouTube]." Michell Barak, Jerusalem Post, 10 January 2009.
     "My war hero is Ayman Mohyeldin, the young correspondent for Al Jazeera English and the only foreign correspondent broadcasting during these awful days in a Gaza Strip closed off to the media. Al Jazeera English is not what you might think. It offers balanced, professional reporting from correspondents both in Sderot and Gaza. And Mohyeldin is the cherry on top of this journalistic cream. I wouldn't have needed him or his broadcasts if not for the Israeli stations' blackout of the fighting. Since discovering this wunderkind from America (his mother is from the West Bank city of Tul Karm and his father from Egypt), I have stopped frantically changing TV stations." Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, 11 January 2009.
     "Today, it is the al Jazeera English channel that has without a doubt made its name in the past two weeks. What the American invasion of Afghanistan did for al Jazeera Arabic, the Israeli invasion of Gaza is doing for its English language twin. ... Accentuating its 'different' approach, al Jazeera English refrains from calling even the civilian victims of the Gaza attacks 'martyrs' even though the Arabic channel uses the term loosely on various occasions in order to appeal to Arabic viewers." Sultan Al Qassemi, The National (Abu Dhabi), 11 January 2009.
     "For the English-speaking audience, the only window to Gaza is Al Jazeera English, whose reporters have been doing a great job under immense pressure. It has even won over sceptical viewers with its compelling coverage of the hell on earth that Gaza has become for its residents." Omar Shariff, Gulf News (Abu Dhabi), 11 January 2009.
     "While getting to the story has not been an insurmountable problem for Al Jazeera English's journalists - they are, in effect, surrounded by it - getting their reports to the English-speaking public has been a bit trickier. The network is largely unavailable in the United States, only carried by cable providers in Burlington, Vermont; Toledo, Ohio; and Washington, D.C. ... That contrasts with the situation in the rest of the world. Al Jazeera's English-language service can be viewed in every major European market, and is available to 130 million homes in over 100 countries via cable and satellite. ... Recognizing that its material from Gaza will have influence in the United States only if it is highly accessible online, Al Jazeera has aggressively experimented with using the Internet to distribute its reports." International Herald Tribune, 11 January 2009.
     "Want a totally different take on the Gaza situation than you get from the big American networks? Al Jazeera English is now streaming live 24/7 through a free media player downloadable from Livestation. So are BBC radio, France 24 and other allegedly untrustworthy sources." Aaron Barnhart, TV Barn, 12 January 2009.
     "My family and I have been surprised by the electric power for the first time after 15 days of utter darkness! ... Also, we can watch some TV channels as others are jammed. Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia are among the jammed ones." Said Abdelwahed, Moments of Gaza, 10 January 2009. "Jamming," as in a signal on the same frequency to obliterate the video? Or do Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have terrestrial relays in Gaza that were knocked out by the fighting, either deliberately or collaterally?

US network ABC will rely more on BBC for Iraq coverage.

Posted: 12 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"ABC News is reducing its full-time presence in Iraq, and will rely more on the BBC for day-to-day reports from inside the country. The network will continue to have a Baghdad bureau, though there will be no full-time correspondent and fewer employees than there have been since the war began in 2003. ... The deal includes some financial support for the BBC's coverage, but it wasn't clear how much. The BBC announced the change to its employees Wednesday afternoon. ABC News has had a long-term content sharing plan with the BBC, the only U.S. network to do so. The partnership has grown from 1994, when it began having BBC correspondents file stories for the network. The partnership goes both ways, with the BBC providing reports from the Congo last year while ABC helped the BBC with coverage of the presidential election." Reuters, 8 January 2009. See also Broadcasting & Cable, 11 January 2009.

Ericsson will help BBC World Service Trust teach English in Bangladesh.

Posted: 12 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service Trust has selected Ericsson as its strategic mobile partner to help develop its mobile learning strategy in Bangladesh. The BBC World Service Trust, the BBC's international development organization, uses the creative power of media to reduce poverty and promote human rights. Ericsson will work on a project to develop English-language learning tools for mobile phones in Bangladesh. ... The mobile strategy will complement an online learning site and potential television programs in Bangladesh. The BBC World Service Trust recognizes that the mobile channel can play a key role in supporting its learning objectives in Bangladesh, thanks to its ability to reach a wide audience. More than 50 million mobile subscriptions have been sold in Bangladesh." Ericsson press release, 12 January 2009.

Sound of Hope reports larger online audience.

Posted: 12 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sound of Hope (SOH) is a New York based radio station broadcasting in Chinese language targeting listeners in mainland China, Taiwan and neighboring countries. ... The number of people visiting SOH online, which is estimated to be four million in 2008, was 67 percent higher than five years ago, when SOH started broadcasting, despite the fact that Chinese communist regime interferes with the signal and the website in China. 'Our station created a big impact in 2008 while a lot of other media were trying to survive,' said Zeng Yong, the radio station’s Chief Operating Officer." Epoch Times, 11 January 2009. Sound of Hope and Epoch Times are Falun Gong affiliated media.

Macedonia promotes itself with a video.

Posted: 12 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Over 160,000 people have seen Milco Mancevski video 'Macedonia Timeless' on line since its promotion two weeks ago, the Senka Film Production said Thursday in a press release. The spot's promotional web-site is being visited by over 3,000 people form more than 90 countries on daily basis. ... Six international TV networks, including CNN and Euronews, have been broadcasting the video." EMportal, 12 January 2009.

Israeli leaflets over Gaza.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Israel has dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip warning residents that it is to escalate its military action. There is speculation the leaflets may mean Israel will adopt new tactics in its battle with Palestinian militants. ... In Gaza, leaflets and phone messages in Arabic urged residents to keep away from sites linked to Hamas, saying that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were not targeting Gazans but 'Hamas and the terrorists only'. One phone message said 'the third stage' of the operation would start soon. ... Are you in Gaza? Did you see these leaflets dropped in your area?" BBC News, 11 January 2009.
     "Israel has dropped leaflets onto Gaza warning its 1.5 million residents that it could soon step up its war on Hamas, with attacks on smuggling tunnels and weapons depots." Deutsche Welle, 11 January 2009.
     "The warning of a 'new phase' of the assault, which has killed more than 800 Palestinians, came in leaflets dropped over Gaza City and Rafah and in recorded messages on automated calls to Palestinians' cell phones. 'The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will escalate the operation in the Gaza Strip,' the messages said in Arabic. 'The IDF is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only. Stay safe by following our orders.' The leaflets urged Gaza residents not to help Hamas and to stay away from its members." Los Angeles Times, 11 January 2009.
     "Weary Palestinians watched from apartment windows as thousands of leaflets fluttered from aircraft with a blunt warning: Israeli forces will step up operations against Islamic militants who have unleashed a daily barrage of rocket fire on southern Israel. 'The IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only,' the leaflets said in Arabic. 'Stay safe by following our orders.' The leaflets urged Gaza residents not to help Hamas and to stay away from its members. There was no immediate sign of an escalation, though earlier in the day witnesses said Israeli troops moved to within one mile of Gaza City before pulling back slightly." AP, 11 January 2009.
     "The tens of thousands of leaflets, dropped on parts of Gaza City, the northern Gazan town of Beit Lahiya and the south of the territory, warned residents: 'The Israeli Defence Force will soon escalate its operations against tunnels, weapons warehouses, terrorist infrastructure and terrorists all over the Gaza Strip. To keep yourself and your families safe, you are ordered not to be close to terrorists, weapons warehouses and the places where the terrorists operate.'" Independent (Dublin), 11 January 2009.
     "Israeli warplanes dropped thousands of leaflets on the Gaza Strip, informing residents that the offensive was far from over. 'In the near future, the [Israeli Defense Force] will continue to attack tunnels, arms caches and terror activities with greater intensity all across the strip,' the flyers said in Arabic. The ominous flyers instructed residents to stay away from targets during this 'new phase in the war on terror.'" New York Daily News, 11 January 2009.
     "The Israeli military dropped leaflets on southern Gaza, around the town of Rafah, warning residents to stay away from militants, weapons storage facilities and tunnels as it was about to escalate its bombing throughout the coastal territory. 'In the coming period, the Israeli army will continue to attack tunnels, weapons caches, and terrorists with escalating force all over the Gaza Strip,' the leaflets read." Canwest News Services, 10 January 2009.
     "Israel has been criticised for dropping leaflets in the Gaza Strip telling civilians to leave their homes. Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the popular pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, told an audience at the Royal Society of Arts the leaflets did not offer advice on where to go", 9 January 2009.
     Gaza civilians "are warned by leaflets, loudspeakers and telephone calls to evacuate battle areas. But troops are instructed to protect themselves first and civilians second." New York Times, 10 January 2009. will fill gaps in foreign news coverage.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"As budget cuts force many U.S. newspapers to retrench on their foreign coverage, veteran journalist Charles Sennott saw virtually no chance of getting another assignment abroad. So Sennott left The Boston Globe to start his own news organization, It launches Monday with 65 journalists, including veterans of major news organizations such as CNN, The Washington Post, Time magazine and The Associated Press. The free Web site, supported by ads, will offer regular dispatches for an American audience to supplement coverage from the AP, Reuters and other news organizations still covering the world. GlobalPost also will sell stories to papers to run in print or online. ... John Daniszewski, the AP's managing editor for international news, said GlobalPost won't have the budget or the staff that the AP has 'to cover any event on the planet of significance in a very short amount of time.' 'We welcome them,' he said of GlobalPost. 'It's good there are more voices covering and interpreting international news.'" AP, 9 January 2009. See also The home page is rather flashy -- form overwhelms function. Nice to be able to select news by Countries, though. Compare to Yahoo! world news.

Shortwave during apartheid.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"In years gone by the date January 8 was a source of much inspiration. Across the country, groups would huddle around short-wave radios at 9pm, fiddle with their dials and the positions of their instruments until they found Radio Freedom. They would wait for the voice of OR Tambo to come crackling through. There would be a hush as the legendary ANC leader delivered his annual address to the nation, exhorting the masses to continue the good fight." The Times (Johannesburg), 10 January 2009. Listen to Radio Freedom audio excerpts.

Balloons over North Korea now include cash.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"South Korean activists said Thursday they would attach North Korean money to the anti-Pyongyang leaflets they float across the border next month. ... The North began arresting people caught with the leaflets or dollars bills in November last year, said Park Sang-Hak, who heads the Fighters for Free North Korea, a group representing defectors. A 5,000 won note is enough to buy five kilograms (11 pounds) of rice in the food-starved country, he said, adding he would acquire North Korean bills through China." The China Post (Taipei), 9 January 2009.

International channel choices in Sri Lanka.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
New IPTV service of Sri Lanka's SLT includes "Rupavahini, Channel Eye, ITN, Max, HBO, HBO Signature, HBO Hits, HBO family, CNN, BBC World, NDTV 24X7, Al Jazeera, Ujala, Peace TV, Spacetoons, Colors, DD Sports, VH1,n MTV, Nickelodean, STC, B4U Music, NDTV Good Times, Ceebies BBC, Zee Music and a few other Hindi channels." Lanka Times, 11 January 2009.

Another captive who listened to shortwave.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Sunday Telegraph journalist Colin Freeman writes about being held for 40 days by kidnappers in Somalia: "The sole distraction was the radio the kidnappers occasionally allowed us to listen to, on which we could pick up a faint shortwave signal from the BBC World Service. One broadcast we heard was by Alan Johnston, the BBC's former Gaza correspondent who was kidnapped and held for four months last year. He was comparing experiences with fellow hostage victim Ingrid Betancourt, herself held for six years by guerrillas in Colombia. During one poignant moment, Johnston asked Betancourt: "If any current kidnap victims are listening in, what would be your message to them?" "Don't blame yourself," she said. And make sure your kidnappers give you plenty of cigarettes, [fellow captive] José and I wanted to add. ... Christmas Day arrived, a kidnapper handing us three cigarettes by way of a present. But José and I made no effort to celebrate, thinking of the empty seats at our families' Christmas dinners. Even the BBC World Service took the day off: unable to find its signal, all I could get was O Come All Ye Faithful sung Indian-style on a Delhi-based radio station." The Telegraph, 10 January 2009. See previous post about Johnston and Betancourt.

U.S. international broadcasting bashed again.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Sinan Ilhan, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) coordinator for multi-language broadcasts: "Q: Will TRT Şeş [new Kurdish channel] be the state's tool for propaganda or brainwashing? Ilhan: Our station is like TRT 1 in format, mainly broadcasting entertainment and family-centered programs. Is it reasonable to spread propaganda through such a station? Today, official ideological views cannot be imposed on people. No one pays heed to Soviet-style or US-style brainwashing. The US targets Arabs with its al-Hurra TV station. No one watches it because you only see programs talking about how the US has been doing good things in the region. The station runs such programming 24 hours a day. And it fails to attract an audience. You cannot attract anyone with such ideological discourse." Today's Zaman, 11 January 2009. This comes just after the dissing of VOA by the director and Persian Service executive editor of BBC World Service.
     Kurdistan President Massoud "Barzani is asked about comments he made in November on the Al Hurra satellite television channel that the Iraqi government ignores the Kurdish role whenever possible in every area and that the government wants to return to a one-party system and a totalitarian authority." Los Angeles Times, 11 January 2009.
     "In a Saturday interview with the Alhurra television station, Ryan Crocker asserted that the US considers the MKO [Mujahedeen Khalq Organization] a terrorist entity and understands the Iraqi government's decision to remove the group from its territory." Press TV, 10 January 2009. See previous post about Alhurra and another mentioning Alhurra.

CNN stands by Gaza video bloggers claim is fake.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Yesterday CNN released footage of what they claimed was a freelance journalist in Gaza who came home to find his baby brother dead from a missile blast near his home. But people started getting suspicious of the clip when it was revealed that the 'doctors' in the video were well-known terrorist apologists." Jossip, 9 January 2009. See also Little Green Footballs, 8 January 2009.
     "There's no truth to accusations by bloggers that a Palestinian camera crew staged a video showing the death of the videographer's brother after an Israeli rocket attack, said the team's employer. 'It's absolute nonsense,' Paul Martin, co-owner of World News and Features, said of accusations leveled by bloggers at videographer Ashraf Mashharawi. ... The video footage appeared on CNN television networks and on for 24 hours before CNN removed the material in the belief that it had no further right to use it. CNN, standing by the video, has since reposted it. Some bloggers had cited its removal as evidence that CNN did not stand by its reporting." CNN, 9 January 2009.
     "It's part of the warbloggers' crusade to convince each other that it's untrustworthy journalists who are concocting tales of suffering and violence in Gaza." Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America, 10 January 2009.

Gaza cyber update for 10 January 2009.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Hamas' Media Warfare Division, a branch of the Al-Qufs Brigade, claimed in a statement that is was able to hack and take over several Israeli websites, posting pictures of Palestinian leaders and resistance videos there to replace the Israeli narrative. But Israel's Ynet news website, one of the sites hit by the pro-Palestinian hackers, was dismissive about the Palestinian cyber-war efforts. 'Website defacement of this nature requires only basic programming know-how and usually boils down to changing the main page—a file easy to reconstruct.'" Saseen Kawzally, Menassat, 8 January 2009.
     "Online vandals protesting Israel's military action in Gaza have defaced thousands of websites, including high-profile sites belonging to the US Army, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a Washington-based group that oversees homeland security." The Register, 10 January 2009.
     "If you're one of millions of Americans who use social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter or participate in virtual worlds like 'Second Life,' don't be surprised if you get sucked into a war thousands of miles away in Gaza. Support groups have sprouted up on Facebook, drawing in thousands of members on both sides of the conflict." Fox News, 9 January 2009.
     "Israeli cyberactivists are inviting pro-Israeli surfers to install a tool that attacks websites associated with Hamas. This 'Patriot' tool effectively turns the computers of sympathisers of the Israeli cause into zombies - albeit willing, complicit ones - in the control of Israeli hackers." The Register, 9 January 2009.
     "Several French online media organizations have decided to stop letting their readers comment on articles dealing with the Israeli offensive against Hamas in Gaza. These news sites include '', '' and ''. A spokesman for Libération said: 'Many of the reactions were outbursts of hatred, endless insults. We do not want the comments section to become a forum for racists and anti-Semites.' ... Most major international sites, including CNN, the BBC and Al Jazeera (as well as FRANCE 24), however, have decided to continue publishing reader comments - but they do check the contents before the comments go online. On most subjects, the BBC has usually allowed most user-comments to pass freely, but they have found that is not the case where reactions to the Israel – Gaza conflict are concerned. In the 'Have your say' section of the BBC website, a moderator explains: 'We’ve got two debates on the blog at the moment (on Gaza and on homosexuality) that are leading us to delete well over half of the comments you’re posting. So, to save your time and ours a little reminder of our blog rules...'" France 24, 10 January 2009.

Gaza media update for 10 January 2009.

Posted: 11 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Most of the world's attention is riveted by the war in Gaza, the raw sights and sounds of which are brought home most vividly by the coverage provided by Al Jazeera's English and Arabic channels. Here in the US however, the Gaza story is seldom the lead on the major evening news programmes. The mainstream media is too squeamish to show the reality of war - the blood, the pain, the screaming children. And US cable networks and satellite systems seem afraid to allow Al Jazeera English into their lineup of channels, quailing at the prospect of a political backlash from far right-wing, self-appointed media 'watchdogs' who caricature Al Jazeera as 'terror TV'." Rob Reynolds,, 10 January 2009.
     "Compare Al-Jazeera English and Al-Jazeera in Arabic; you'll see a vast difference in the slant on reporting of the Israeli incursions in Gaza." Johan Jaafaar, New Straits Times, 10 January 2009.
     "The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Israeli military's bombing today of a Gaza City building that houses the offices of a number of international news organizations." CPJ, 9 January 2009.
     "The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the world of journalism to raise its voice in protest over Israeli government pressure on media trying to cover the Gaza conflict. ... According to media reports, journalists for most television networks are broadcasting from a hill outside Sderot, and relying on Gazan journalists to serve as their eyes and ears. Meanwhile, Israel's sophisticated communications operation provides beleagured media staff with contacts, fact books full of charts and statistics, tours of the south of Israel and interviews with the Israeli victims of rocket attacks from Gaza." IFJ, 9 January 2009. "The Al-Johara Tower, an eight-storey building in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, was hit twice by Israeli aircraft, even though the building was clearly marked as housing media staff." IFJ, 10 January 2009.
     "The Press TV Gaza bureau has been destroyed by IDF troops... No fatalities have been recorded, also attacked is the Arab station Al-Arrabya all located on the western strip of Gaza. There are more Press TV journalists in Gaza covering the events than any other international media station. Press TV has been one of the few international news networks able to broadcast live feeds of the Israeli attacks in Gaza." London Daily News, 9 January 2009.
     "Arab countries are broadcasting graphic images of the violence in Gaza on their state-sponsored television stations in order to mask their own failure to do anything tangible to stop the Israeli military operation. The end result, however, is the demonizing of an already hated enemy without advancing solutions." Jalal Ghazi, New American Media, 9 January 2009.
     "The Lebanese broadcast media are unapologetic for their flagrant political factionalism. ... These differences have now been brushed over with new strokes of solidarity prompted by the ongoing coverage of Israel's war on Gaza." Daily Star (Beirut), 10 January 2009.
     "Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead on December 27, Palestinians have been receiving phone calls from the Israeli army almost daily, warning them against dealing with Hamas, and asking them to provide information about people involved in the movement. Gazans are also saying that many of the phone calls are an attempt to make them believe that the Israeli army would completely destroy Hamas in their assault on Gaza" Menassat, 8 January 2009. Another Gaza resident received "a phone call from an Israeli official who warned her in Arabic: 'You will see more. This is not enough. This is because of Hamas.'" The Province, 9 January 2009.
     Video clip "shows Hamas urging its citizens, including children, to go to a house to act as 'human shields,' after Israeli security forces, in an effort to limit civilian casualties, called the owner to inform him that the house was to be bombed." Mitchell Bard, Huffington Post, 9 January 2009.
     "Israel begins each war with a host of English-speaking spokespersons (many born in the West) available at any time for every media outlet (it's no accident, for example, that Israel has an 'Arab' Consul General in Atlanta - that's where CNN is). The work of their propaganda operation, which spreads multiple spokespersons in venues across the United States with consistent talking points, guarantees success." James Zogby, Huffington Post, 9 January 2009.
     "Throughout the two-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip most journalists have been kept out by the Israeli government on the pretext of security. ... That meant, at least in the early days of the bombardment, that reporters who would have been in Gaza were instead reporting from Israeli towns and cities under fire from Hamas, and Israeli officials found it easier to get themselves in front of a television camera. An Israeli official told me they were delighted at a BBC TV correspondent broadcasting from Ashkelon in a flak jacket, reinforcing the impression that the Israeli city is a war zone when there is more chance of being hit by a car than a rocket. ... Palestinian TV producer Rushdi Abu Alouf has become the unlikely star of the BBC's Gaza coverage after Israel banned foreign correspondents entering the territory, preventing Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen from taking the helm. Although unknown to most British viewers, Abu Alouf has worked for the BBC for more than five years and is a familiar voice on the BBC Arabic service." Chris McGreal, The Guardian, 10 January 2009.
     "Quantitatively, Israel is at an information-dissemination disadvantage by virtue of its small size and that of the sum of its supporters worldwide. This is not new, nor is it the main problem. Public diplomacy on the part of people unwilling to lie in order to convey a message simply has to be heavier on the brains than on the brawn. It's a challenge, to be sure, but one that is as accepted as it is assumed." Ruthie Blum Leibowitz, Jerusalem Post, 8 January 2009.
     "Israel understands how western media works, how best to utilise its blind spots and prejudices. Israel clearly has the vision, the networking capacity and the resources to use world media to full effect. If I were the marketing manager of an ailing global product, I'd be taking notes. And we can only wonder what such talents could achieve if only the end goal were really peace, not war." Rachel Shabi, The Guardian Comment is Free, 10 January 2009.
     More Gaza-related items can be found at John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review. See previous post about same subject.

Sometimes the best public diplomacy is unsaid.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"To my eye, at least, American public diplomacy has been virtually invisible in [the Gaza] crisis. I suppose that Alhurra [sic], the hugely expensive but little-watched American Arabic-language TV station, is still broadcasting (just as trees continue to fall in empty forests). 'DipNote', the State Department's blog, has barely registered: it posed an open question about how to 'resume a path toward Israeli-Palestinian peace' on December 29 and on January 7 posted the text of Secretary of State Rice's statement on a ceasefire (ditto for the Twitter feed). There's no evidence of senior officials speaking to the Arab media (I don't recall seeing any on al-Jazeera, and couldn't find any transcripts on al-Arabiya, the usual preference for such appearances, though I could easily have missed something)." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 9 January 2009.
     Marc does not say whether U.S. public diplomacy should take a strong stand in support of Israel, or whether it should promote an immediate ceasefire. For the same reasons, U.S. public diplomacy is not effusive on this matter.
     Sometimes the best public diplomacy is sparse public diplomacy. Quantity of public diplomacy does not constitute quality.
     The Bush administration has positioned itself thus: it supports Israel's right to defend itself against missiles, but does not want to be portrayed as the authorizer, benefactor, and cheerleader of Israel's military campaign into Gaza. Nor does the administration want to join the global chorus of those who are condemning Israel, or calling for a ceasefire before Israel's objectives are met. In such a situation, the best thing to do, the only thing to do, is to keep one's own counsel.
     Now a blogger for Foreign Policy, Marc is writing less like the accomplished scholar that he is, and more like a blogger. The "[sic]" following "Alhurra" I suppose means he does not think Alhurra is "the free one." This is an interesting hypothesis that deserves substantive data that could be tracked down by Marc the scholar.
     As for Alhurra being "little watched," the research document released by the BBG on 11 December 2008 shows some viewing rates that are impressive by international broadcasting standards, including 31% in Lebanon and Morocco, 18% in Morocco, and 17% in the UAE. These won't be as large as the audiences for Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya, but they are respectable for a non-Arab station.
     It would be interesting to compare Alhurra's audiences with whose of the other major non-Arab Arabic-language channel, BBC Arabic TV, now that the latter is established. Another project for Marc the scholar.

Look! Up in the sky! It's an Air Force counter-blogger!

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a twelve-point plan, put together by the emerging technology division of the Air Force's public affairs arm, airmen are given guidance on how to handle 'trolls,' 'ragers' -- and even well-informed online writers, too. It's all part of an Air Force push to 'counter the people out there in the blogosphere who have negative opinions about the U.S. government and the Air Force'." Noah Shachtman, Wired Danger Room, 6 January 2009.

The internet and terrorist propaganda.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Perhaps the most effective way in which terrorists use the Internet is the spread of propaganda. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda cell in Iraq has proven particularly adept in its use of the web, garnering attention by posting footage of roadside bombings... In Iraq, experts say terrorist propaganda videos are viewed by a large portion of society, not just those who sympathize with terrorists and insurgents. ... Evan Kohlmann, an expert in terrorists' use of the Internet, points out that propaganda films are not exclusively made in the Middle East; groups from Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Chechnya have also produced videos. Nor are videos the only form of propaganda. Some jihadi websites have even offered video games in which users as young as seven can pretend to be holy warriors killing U.S. soldiers." Eben Kaplan, Council on Foreign relations, 9 January 2009. See also CFR Daily Analysis, 9 January 2009.

CNN International's role in the financial crisis.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"No story has had as much relevance to the man on the street than the financial crisis of the past 12 months. Pundits have been spouting globalization rhetoric for many years but the worldwide knock-on effect of the current economic woes is palpable. With the shockwaves being felt far and wide, there’s never been a time when CNN International’s role as global news-breaker, analyst and story-teller has been more important to audiences around the world." Rani R Raadis, senior vice president advertising sales, CNN International, Daily News Egypt, 9 January 2009.

Reported ransom demand for reported Al Jazeera reporter.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"There are reports that the kidnappers of a Canadian freelance journalist taken in Pakistan have made ransom demands. The English-language Pakistani News International, citing unnamed sources, reported that the kidnappers want the equivalent of about $150,000 and the release of their colleagues from the Bagram jail in Afghanistan, in exchange for the release of Beverly Giesbrecht. ... Giesbrecht left Vancouver for London on April 7 and arrived in Lahore, Pakistan, in August. She was reportedly on a freelance assignment for Al Jazeera when she was seized. However, a spokesman with Al Jazeera refused to either confirm or deny that she was working for the news network." Canadian Press, 9 January 2009. We hope she is soon free, whomever she works for.

BBC Arabic TV interview spurs controversy.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC was yesterday accused of allowing 'outrageous' radical Islamic views to be aired on its Arabic television channel. Jewish groups condemned a broadcast in which a British Muslim academic appeared to justify the targeting of Israeli children. Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, the founder of the Muslim Association of Britain, told a discussion program that, while he condemned the killing of civilians, he believed all Israeli children were 'future soldiers'. ... Barry Rubin, Director of Global Research in International Affairs, an Israeli-based research centre, said ... 'Even under the broadest definition of free speech I would say this was inciteful. It's hate speech. There is no balance in BBC programming. This is not the proud, great BBC.'" The Telegraph, 9 January 2009. No response yet from BBC, but a letter to The Telegraph is probably forthcoming.

BBC versus RFE/RL Russian in selecting interviewees.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC Global News Division (Letters, December 27), denies that the BBC Russian Service shows pro-Kremlin bias. Most Russian experts in this country – who, unlike Mr Sambrook, can actually understand the programmes – have little doubt about this bias. With regard to Alexander Litvinenko’s tragic murder ... [h]aving been a close friend of Mr Litvinenko, I telephoned the editor-in-chief of the Russian Service several times, asking to be interviewed for news programmes. The editor-in-chief repeatedly refused. Radio Liberty, on the other hand, interviewed me about the Litvinenko case more than 10 times, always in a substantial way, always broadcasting it and never reducing it." Oleg Gordievsky, letter to The Telegraph, 8 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "I liked the label of 'foreign policy-bully' Radio Free Europe gave to Russia and I think it really suits the country for the way it behaved during the past." Giovanni Angioni, BabelTallinn, 10 January 2009.

From the State Department: reproductions on display, and another video contest.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mrs. Laura Bush today announced the launch of the international tour of 'Picturing America,' sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Thus far, over 35 U.S. embassies around the world have requested the exhibition, which offers international audiences the opportunity to experience history’s common thread of humanity and to better understand America through the eyes of great American artists. Composed of 40 high-quality reproductions of significant American art — including paintings, fine crafts, sculpture, photography and architecture — Picturing America showcases America’s artistic heritage with masterpieces spanning several centuries." State Department media note, 7 January 2009.
     "The US Department of State’s online video contest 'My Culture + Your Culture = ? – Share your Story' is inviting people all over the world, ages 14 and older, to submit videos to address the theme of cultural sharing." Malta Independent, 9 January 2009.

How to succeed in international television.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Because of its growing number of viewers in Iraq, Alhurra can now lay claim to its legitimate connection with the mythical 'Arab Street' ... . IPSOS-Mena’s most recent TV ratings, taken in Iraq between March and May, 2008, show Alhurra with a daily reach of 17.68% of adults 15 years of age and above, who watch Alhurra for at least 5 minutes daily, while Al Jazeera has 14.67% of adult daily viewership. Alhurra is seen daily by some 2 million, 652 thousand adults in Iraq. ... Several factors contribute to Alhurra’s success in gaining substantial TV viewing in Iraq. Together, a model emerges for what the U.S. government channel can accomplish elsewhere in the Middle East to boost its Arab audience base. ... In addition to the availability of Alhurra Iraq via Arabsat and Nilesat, where satellite dishes and additional electronics are required to access signals, Alhurra has increased the number of its terrestrial transmitters to 5 metropolitan areas within Iraq, so that its programs can now be received by standard TV antennas atop TV sets or on rooftops." Alvin Snyder, USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 7 January 2009. The terrestrial transmitters are the key. Such terrestrial relays are unlikely in most other Arab countries. So the model may have to be revised: invade and occupy the target country, put your content on terrestrial transmitters, keep Al Jazeera off same.

On 31 December, the BBG cuts off VOA Ukrainian radio. On 1 January, Russia cuts off gas to Ukraine. Coincidence? Some think not.

Posted: 10 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"In yet another show of incredibly poor judgement combined with bad timing and ulterior bureaucratic motives resulting in a major waste of U.S. tax dollars, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a bipartisan body responsible for U.S. international broadcasts, had silenced Voice of America (VOA) radio programs to Ukraine one day before Russia halted natural gas deliveries to Europe. ... [Former BBG chairman James] Glassman formed an alliance with the BBG’s liberal Democratic members, including Edward E. Kaufman and D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, who were equally eager to dismantle Voice of America radio programs to Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine in order to bolster privatized broadcasting by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which is based in Prague and Moscow." Ted Lipien,, 7 January 2009.
     A September 2008 survey in Ukraine shows weekly audience rates of 12.4% for VOA Ukrainian TV, 5.8% for RFE/RL Ukrainian radio, and 2.6% for VOA Ukrainian radio. The BBG eliminated duplication in U.S. international broadcasting to a declining Ukrainian radio audience. How is that a "major waste of U.S. tax dollars"? Maintaining two international broadcasting efforts to the same country, in the same language, is, by my lights, a major waste of U.S. tax dollars.
     I know, the theory is that one station transmits news about the target country, and the other station transmits news about the United States and the world. The reality, however, is that if there is any important news about Ukraine, both RFE/RL and VOA will report it. And if there is any U.S government statement about Ukrainian affairs, both RFE/RL and VOA will report it.
     In this and a previous essay, Ted refers to RFE/RL and Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc as "privatized." This, apparently, is because RFE/RL and MBN are government-funded corporations, as opposed to VOA, which is a government-funded government agency.
     Real privatized international broadcasting is, well, private, and self funded through advertising or pay-TV subscriptions. Examples are CNN International and CNBC Asia.
     True privatization is my favorite model for international broadcasting because 1) it costs the taxpayers nothing and 2) the absence of purse strings reduces the possibility of government getting involved in the content.
     Unfortunately, international broadcasting in most of the languages of U.S. international broadcasting has little or no commercial potential, so government funding is necessary. And, thus, my second favorite model for international broadcasting is the statutory autonomous corporation, government funded, but governed by a bi- or multi-partisan board that hires and fires the senior management.
See previous post about same subject.

VOA Urdu shortwave is restored.

Posted: 09 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
VOA Urdu (Radio Aap kee Dunyaa) has been given back the shortwave transmissions that were dropped on 31 December. They are 0100-0200 UTC on 9520 and 9820 kHz, and 1400-1500 UTC on 7440 and 9390 kHz, according to this schedule. These are in addition to medium wave 972 and 1539 kHz (via relays outside of Pakistan) at 1400-0200 UTC. See previous post about same subject.

Malaysian, Dubai TV hosts' international TV picks.

Posted: 09 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Making her debut as a talk show host in Point of View today, ntv7 journalist Florence Looi believes Malaysian viewers are more than ready for such lively debates on the small screen, and is raring to go. ... 'We strive to keep a balance between the no-holds-barred style of BBC’s Hardtalk and the low-key style of most current affairs programmes.' ... Looi counts Hardtalk as her favourite talk show, admiring host Tim Sebastian’s hard-hitting style. She is also a fan of Larry King of CNN and Bernard Lo of Bloomberg Television Asia. 'Al-Jazeera talk shows Witness and Listening Post are great too,' she added." New Straits Times, 8 January 2009.
     "Aida Al Busaidy, one of the talk show hosts of the programme, Her Say, on Dubai Channel One TV, feels the media in Dubai is still not up to par to compete internationally. ... She feels that Al Jazeera, (both Arabic and English) is 'quite amazing.'" Gulf News (Abu Dhabi), 9 January 2009.

Say what you will about Russia Today, they do good hockey interviews.

Posted: 09 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin recently sat down with Russia Today for an interview that covers a lot of ground." Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo! Puck Daddy, 8 January 2009.
     "If you didn't see Greg Wyshynski's post yesterday on Ovechkin and his interview with Russia Today, stop, go here and watch the video. Great stuff." Tarik El-Bashir, Washington Post, 9 January 2009.
     "For a while now, it's been rather apparent that Russian hockey players tend to open up a bit more with the Russian press than with their North American counterparts. Case in point, this interview that Ovechkin did with Russia Today, the English language satellite television channel. Granted, you need to keep in mind that Russia Today is owned by the state operated news agency, RIA-Novost, but for soft interviews like this one you could probably discount that." Eric McErlain, AOL Sports Fanhouse, 8 January 2009.

BBC fights Iranian propaganda with anti-VOA propaganda.

Posted: 09 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tehran views the impending BBC Persian TV with hostility, but the World Service argues that it is simply modernising, evolving from its 68- year-old radio service that will, in the words of Nigel Chapman, who heads the World Service, 'give people in Iran access to a wide range of views'. That simple statement ignores any political ramifications. For a start, the BBC is launching without permission. A spokesman at the Iranian Embassy in London summed up the mood bluntly: 'We believe this service to be illegal.' The channel will be beamed into the country via two satellites (two are considered necessary in case the BBC is forced off air from one of them). ... With 40 per cent of Iran's 70 million people estimated to have access to a satellite connection, it will certainly be possible to watch BBC Persian. Mr Chapman says: 'We will be able to provide coverage of events that have never been seen before in Iran -- like the inauguration of Barack Obama. Voice of America does not do set pieces like that, and Iranian television won't touch it either, at least not until much later on in the day.'" The Times (of London), 9 January 2009.
     BBC Persian executive editor Steve Williams told UK trade magazine Broadcast that Iranians "have seen the Voice of America [in Persian] which is blatantly neo-con. The general tone is incredibly critical and slanted against the government. They will see that we're not an overtly regime-change channel so I think they will relax a bit – probably not before the [June] election, but we'll see where we are beyond that." Broadcast, 8 January 2009.
     "BBC execs hope the new channel will be more successful than its BBC Arabic channel, launched last March. It has found it difficult to dislodge market leaders Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, and MBC’s Al-Arabiya, Saudi-owned but based in Dubai. BBC Persian TV hopes to exploit a potentially big gap in the market. Iranian auds have a limited choice of tightly controlled state channels, the U.S.-funded Voice of America and a clutch of U.S.-based satcasters that beam a mix of musicvids and anti-regime rhetoric. 'We didn’t have the same range of opportunity with Arab TV,' Chapman said. 'There’s a bigger playing field for the Persian channel. There’s no Al-Jazeera or Al-Arabiya available in Persian.' ... The Persian-speaking market has become increasingly attractive to TV execs, thanks to its large, well-educated, youthful market. News Corp.’s Asian entertainment unit Star is set to launch a Farsi-language general entertainment TV channel early this year. Targeting a Middle East audience, the company will set up a sales and marketing office in Dubai Media City, the base of its Middle East operations." Variety International, 8 January 2009.
     "Speaking of Iran's reaction to the channel BBC World Service director Nigel Chapman said he was optimistic there would eventually be co-operation between the two." Brand Republic, 9 January 2009.
     "Behrouz Afagh, head of the BBC World Service's Asia and Pacific region, said the new service 'is contemporary in its style, and independent and penetrating in its journalism'. He added that it would give 'an opportunity for Persian speakers worldwide to debate common issues, bring to the foreground diverging viewpoints, and promote greater understanding through dialogue.'" AFP, 8 January 2009.
     Just for the record, yes, VOA, including VOA Persian, will cover the Obama inauguration. Nigel Chapman, outgoing (perhaps not quickly enough) director of BBC World Service has a history of making audacious statements about U.S. international broadcasting. See previous posts on 21 December 2007 and 25 April 2008. Expect responses from VOA in the British press. See previous post about same subject.

Gaza media update for 8 January 2009.

Posted: 09 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Israel's onslaught on Gaza has taken over the screens of the two main Arab news channels, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, but each with its own perspective on objectivity and the airing of disturbing footage. ... To some, [Al Jazeera Arabic] may seem pro-Palestinian in its coverage by describing the dead as 'martyrs'. ... On the other hand, the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya has struck a markedly different tone in its continuous 'Gaza Invasion' coverage. The Saudi-owned station refrains from using the term 'martyrs' in news bulletins, referring to Palestinian fatalities as 'killed' or 'victims', although its correspondents do tend to use the term 'martyrs.' ... Al-Jazeera English, the news channel which launched in 2006, does not follow the policy of its Arabic-language sister, refraining from terms like 'martyrs'." AFP, 8 January 2009.
     National Public Radio interviews "Ayman Mohyeldin, a television reporter for Al-Jazeera English, has been in Gaza since the Israeli air strikes began." NPR, 8 January 2009.
     "Every day the carnage unfolds on CNN-International (different from CNN-US --the United States is the only country in the world with domestically customized international news coverage)." Anna Baltzer,, 7 January 2009.
     "On television, the war being viewed by Israelis is a sterile affair, at least compared with the daily images of graphic bloodshed broadcast by Arab satellite news channels. Much like their American counterparts, Israeli channels shy away from showing excessive gore. ... Instead, Israeli coverage focuses on soldiers and their families -- an emotional issue in a tiny country with mandatory military service and thousands of reservists in combat." Los Angeles Times, 8 January 2009.
     "As part of their military campaign in Gaza, Israeli forces seem to be targeting Hamas-affiliated media outlets, a practice that is of concern to CPJ. The Hamas-run broadcaster Al-Aqsa television was bombed on December 28, and then on January 5, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) appear to have hit the newsweekly Al-Risala as well its commercial printer. Fortunately, no one was killed in any of these attacks." Joel Simon, Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 7 January 2009.
     "A couple of days ago, CNN's anchor Campbell Brown complained that her network was trying to report as accurately as possible on the fighting in Gaza but can't because CNN has no reporters on the ground who can bring you first-hand information about what is taking place. The reason, she explained, 'we have no reporters on the ground in Gaza is because Israel will not allow foreign journalists into Gaza.' She went on to say, 'Much of the information coming out of Gaza is impossible to verify and many of the images you see on television are provided by Hamas.' This is total nonsense! There are more than a dozen television stations that still operate out of Gaza. For the past several years, Arab satellite networks have dispatched news reports out of Gaza almost on a daily basis. Leading Arab satellite networks all have offices and reporters in Gaza, such as, Al Jazeera (Arabic and English), Al Arabiya TV, Dubai TV, Nile TV, Abu Dhabi TV, to name a few." Jamal Dajani, Huffington Post, 8 January 2009.
     "While the Western media reported from outside Gaza, Arab television crews have been inside and many of the correspondents are themselves Gazans." The Telegraph, 7 January 2009.
     "Martin Savidge speaks with two Worldfocus producers about their background and knowledge of international media. Mohammad al-Kassim is a Palestinian-American raised in Jerusalem and Yuval Lion is an Israeli citizen who has family remaining in Israel." Worldfocus, 6 January 2009.
     "An Israeli spokesman said media coverage of the Gaza operation has been 'relatively fair.' In a briefing for reporters from the Jewish press, Israeli Embassy director of public affairs Rafael Harpaz added that 'what we would like to see more of is the suffering of the Israeli people' in the coverage." Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 7 January 2009.
     "Even as Israel's armor and foot soldiers push into the Gaza Strip in an effort to stop militants from launching rockets into Israel, the war is also being waged with psychological operations designed to sap morale on both sides. Over at Islamic Jihad's Voice of Jerusalem radio station in Gaza City, broadcaster Kamal Abu Nasser said that at least once an hour, the Israeli military breaks into his signal and broadcasts messages blaming Hamas for everyone's problems. Hamas, for its part, said it has broadcast messages on Israeli military walkie talkies threatening to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers. The army said it had no information on such transmissions." AP, 7 January 2009.
     "The Israeli effort tends to operate on two levels - it deploys arguments to justify its strategy and tactics but it also gets into detail on individual cases, such as the attack on the school in Gaza on Wednesday. Hamas often relies on generalised statements. It routinely denies claims against it, such as hiding weapons in mosques or using schools or even ambulances as cover. It sometimes acts as if there was a greater truth to be put over, which goes beyond the detail of some contested incident." Paul Reynolds, BBC News, 8 January 2009.
     "I frequently get asked by Israelis, 'why aren't we winning the PR war? Why don't people understand that this is what we have to do?' Many are convinced that there is something wrong with Israeli hasbara (public advocacy), that the spokespeople aren't effective enough, or that the Palestinians have a huge and demonically efficient propaganda machine. When I hear this I have to explain that Israeli hasbara is so sophisticated that there is still no adequate word for it in English; that some of Israel's spokespeople could talk the hind legs off a donkey and then persuade the donkey to dance the hora, and that the Palestinians barely even know what a spokesman is, let alone be able to provide one who is available when he needs to be and knows anything about what is actually going on." Gideon Lichfield, Ha'aretz, 8 January 2009.
     "The Israel Project, a 'non profit, non partisan organisation impacting world opinion to help achieve security and peace for Israel' sends daily emails and provides booklets absolutely packed with the mobile phone numbers for almost every municipal, police, and hospital official within range of Hamas rockets, even the mobile numbers of countless ordinary residents. These are all legitimate practices, and most governments would do the same. And having easy access to government and military spokesmen and women is always to be welcomed. But so long as foreign journalists aren't allowed into Gaza - and therefore have to remain within the sphere of Israel's careful news management system - journalists working in the field need to be careful about maintaining their independence of judgement." Tony Connelly, RTÉ News, 7 January 2009.
     "ABC, CBS and NBC haven't sent their top news anchors to the Middle East to cover Israel's conflict with Hamas, even though each network did so in 2006 when Israel fought a war with Hezbollah. The networks said their decisions had nothing to do with economics, even though it comes at a difficult time when the news divisions are making retrenchments in overseas coverage. Rather, they said it had more to do with a busy news period and restrictions placed on coverage of the fighting." AP, 8 January 2009.
     "The [Hamas] strategy is as simple as it is cynical: Provoke Israel by playing Russian roulette with its children, firing rockets at kindergartens, playgrounds and hospitals; hide behind its own civilians when firing at Israeli civilians; refuse to build bunkers for its own civilians; have TV cameras ready to transmit every image of dead Palestinians, especially children; exaggerate the number of civilians killed... . Hamas itself has a name for this. They call it 'the CNN strategy' (this is not to criticize CNN or any other objective news source for doing its job; it is to criticize Hamas for exploiting the freedom of press which it forbids in Gaza). The CNN strategy is working because decent people all over the world are naturally sickened by images of dead and injured children." Alan M. Dershowitz, National Post, 7 January 2009.
     "BBC video journalist, Andrew Herbert, was the first international journalist to enter Gaza since the Israeli offensive began. He was given permission to film with the Givati infantry unit of the Israeli army as they pushed into the heart of the Gaza strip." BBC News, 7 January 2009.
     "The BBC has received more than 1,000 complaints about its coverage of the Gaza conflict – but they are evenly split between accusations of bias towards either the Israelis or the Palestinians." Broadcast, 7 January 2009.
     "Disruptions continue in the functioning of Hamas's propaganda apparatus. The Palestine-info website, its main portal, could not be accessed on January 6. The Hamas newspapers, Felesteen and Al-Risala , have stopped publication. Al-Aqsa TV 's website operates only partially. On the other hand, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website could be accessed as of January 6 after several days of inactivity. According to its homepage, it was attacked by 'Zionist hackers' as part of Israel's 'propaganda war.' Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV, which broadcasts anti-Israeli and anti-Western propaganda and incitement, announced it would begin transmitting via the European Eurobird satellite. The corporation running the satellite company has its main offices in Paris. Al-Jazeera TV continues providing strategic support for Hamas's faltering propaganda apparatus. It broadcasts Al-Aqsa TV videos and provides a platform for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida. It continues extensively broadcasting pictures of the bodies of women and children, reports only on civilian casualties (ignoring those of terrorist operatives), and broadcasts emotional protest demonstrations from the Muslim world. It also broadcasts Hamas's lies regarding the 'blow' the 'resistance' (i.e., the terrorist organizations) has dealt to the IDF, which it claims 'slaughters civilians' and does not achieve anything by its military action." Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center, 6 January 2009. See also op. cit., 7 January 2009.
     "Everyone from the kid with a mobile phone taking a picture, to the university student blogger can make his or her assertion. However, this new and all-inclusive front of the Arab-Israeli conflict means that the discourse is also being overrun with credibility issues and superficiality. The substance of the debate has degenerated into a competition of who can produce more, at a faster pace, with more flash and imagery than the other side. ... Another tactic being used in the debate is 'Google Bombing', or the organized attempt to skew Google search returns by inundating the blogosphere to links of a particular site or message." Jared Cohen, Huffington Post, 9 January 2009.
     "Extremists have launched a cyber attack against an online Basingstoke radio station – replacing website pages with terrorist propaganda. Hampshire Constabulary is investigating the targeting of Radio Basingstoke’s site after web pages were defaced with sinister images and messages by someone claiming to be a 'Soldier of Allah' and 'M03sl3mH4ck3rs'." Basingstroke Gazette, 8 January 2009.
     "Cyberwar is not just a distant concept anymore. Every recent armed or political conflict has been accompanied or followed by Internet-based attacks spreading propaganda or targeting vital infrastructure. The Israel – Hamas conflict in Gaza makes no exception to this rule, and has attracted what looks like a massive wave of hacking incidents affecting both sides." Softpedia, 7 January 2009.
     "Throughout the day we got numerous emails that contain a link to the 'spoofed' CNN web site hosting malware file Adobe_Player10.exe. ... The web site that opens, spoofs CNN news article on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict." Infosec World, 8 January 2009.
     More Gaza-related items can be found at John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review. See previous post about same subject.

Azerbaijan foreign radio ban still in the news (updated).

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The National Independence Party of Azerbaijan condemns the decision by the National Television and Radio Council about closure of foreign radio stations." Today.Az, 6 January 2009.
     "The Democratic Party of Azerbaijan ... assessed this step as a restriction of access to alternative information. The party considers that such a fact may lead to the crisis of information in 2009." Today.Az, 6 January 2009.
     "Azerbaijan National Broadcasting Council has not received respond from foreign radio stations on its proposals. The Council informed that it has not received any requests from foreign radio stations on broadcasting in cable networks.", 5 January 2009.
     "An oil-rich dictator assiduously cultivated by Prince Andrew with Foreign Office support has rewarded Britain by pulling the plug on BBC broadcasts to his authoritarian state." Daily Mail, 5 January 2009.
     "RFE/RL argues that the change had more to do with its critical stance than with legal reform, and says that shrinking access to news and pressure on the media is becoming commonplace throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union." International Herald Tribune, 6 January 2009.
     "Media-watchers in Central Asia say 2008 was a period of stagnation, with many of the remaining independent press, broadcast and internet outlets under mounting pressure from national governments." Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 5 Januaty 2009.
     Update: “'Radio Liberty, Voice of America and BBC should request the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council (NTRBC) to receive permission for airing at the short waves', Aflatun Sharifov, Director General of the Broadcasting and Satellite Production Association of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies, told APA. Sharifov said after that NTRBC would permit them, the State Radiofrequency Office would provide those radio stations with concrete waves." Azeri Press Agency, 7 January 2009. We're losing something in the translation, but I think this is a suggestion that RFE/RL, VOA, and BBC hire time on shortwave transmitters inside Azerbaijan, which, unlike FM and medium wave, are apparently not subject to the froegn radio ban. The problem is that Azerbaijanis, like people in other countries, have been spoiled by FM, and most probably would not revert to shortwave listening. Furthermore, shortwave propagates better over long distances, so relays in other countries might provide better service than transmitters inside Azerbaijan. See previous post about same subject.

Zimbabwe: does the administration fee have an administration fee?

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Zimbabwean government has announced restrictive licensing fees for foreign journalists working in the country, demanding they pay an annual fee of $4,000 to practice journalism. In addition foreign media groups must pay $10,000 for the application and $20,000 for accreditation, payable only in foreign currency, the government-controlled Media and Information Commission said Wednesday. An administration fee of $2,000 is necessary for the permit. ... Most Western media organizations including CNN are banned from Zimbabwe. Those that do still operate there including Reuters, The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Al Jazeera would have to pay the fee if they wanted to report from the country." CNN, 8 January 2009.

TF1 asked €90 million, gets €2 million for its share of France 24.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"France's leading private broadcaster TF1 confirmed on Wednesday a draft deal to sell its 50 percent stake in rolling news channel France 24, launched in December 2006 with the aim of becoming the 'French CNN.' TF1 said in a statement it is in talks to sell the stake to Audiovisuel Exterier de la France, a state media holding company, for 2 million euros, confirming a sum named by the holding company's head Alain de Pouzilhac in a press interview. De Pouzilhac ... told the Liberation newspaper in December that TF1 had originally hoped to get 90 million euros for its half of the channel, which broadcasts news around the clock, mainly in French and English." Reuters, 7 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Another recommendation for Livestation.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Want to see first-hand reporting from Gaza? Al-Jazeera’s team was there before journalists were banned. Want to watch English-language TV news from Pakistan, India, Iran, Russia, Korea? Want to watch Hezbollah TV without your provider going to prison? ... A new application called LiveStation allows you to watch thousands of different channels on your PC for free, in very high quality." Eric Garris, blog, 7 January 2009.

CNN International sponsors golf tournament on Al Jazeera's home turf.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"For a third consecutive year, CNN International - the world's news leader - will showcase Qatar to a world-wide audience in its role as Global Media Sponsor for the Commercialbank Qatar Masters [golf tournament], presented by Dolphin Energy. ... 'For a global brand such as CNN International to commit to supporting events like ours we know we have to deliver a tournament beyond reproach. The very fact that our relationship continues to blossom is good news not just for the golf tournament but also for Qatar as a whole.'" AME Info, 8 January 2009.

Kuwait decides negative news from Kuwaiti newspapers is better than negative news from Al Jazeera.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"With a staple diet of five Arabic newspapers for more than 40 years, readers in Kuwait always knew what to expect. But since a new law ushered in another 10, with more on the way, Kuwaitis are now picking from the Gulf’s most politically diverse press with a wall full of news in every corner shop. ... Ali al Kandari, an assistant professor in the department of mass communications at the Gulf University for Science and Technology, said the government had [to] let Kuwaitis take control of their own press. 'Al Jazeera started to report Kuwait in negative terms, so they thought letting other nations talk about our business might not be good.'" James Calderwood, The National (Abu Dhabi), 8 January 2009.

Hungary will compare RFE recordings from 1989.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Budapest-based Open Society Archives (OSA) and MTI [Hungarian news agency] will jointly publish a vast array of transcripts and recordings to mark the 20th anniversary of the change of political system in 1989. ... From MTI's archives, OSA will upload transcripts of the agency's radio monitoring service, including reports and commentaries by the BBC and Radio Free Europe from 1989. MTI plans to publish the same content on its website from February. The idea is to show two opposing sources in a parallel. For instance, the recordings and transcripts of Radio Free Europe and Hungarian state Kossuth Radio's broadcasts will be compared to MTI's records of Radio Free Europe broadcasts." MTI, 8 January 2009.

Shortwave versus rumor in the USSR.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Soviet residents of the 1970s "began to oppose state socialism because they were aware that their living standard was lower than that of advanced countries. They had two main ways of learning about living conditions in developed countries. First, propaganda was effective. Many Soviet citizens turned on their short-wave radios every evening to listen to news they were unable to access through the domestic media. However, many believed that foreign radio networks, like their local counterparts, were distorting facts as part of psychological warfare. What was more influential still was rumor. Stories provided by people who had been abroad, experiences of contacts with foreigners and impressions gained from watching foreign films and reading foreign magazines proved what living standards in advanced countries were like." Andrei Lankov, Chosun Ilbo, 8 January 2009.

BBC Persian TV starts 14 January.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service announces today (8 January 2009) that its Persian language television channel will launch on Wednesday 14 January. BBC Persian TV will form part of the BBC's multimedia news and information service for Persian-speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and around the globe. BBC Persian is designed to reach audiences on radio, television, the internet, mobile phones and handheld computers in whatever way best suits the audience." BBC World Service press release, 8 January 2009.
     "It is aiming to fill a huge gap in the market between the strictly controlled Iranian media on the one hand and the US-funded Voice of America and exile channels beaming light entertainment and anti-regime propaganda on the other. But the authorities in Tehran appear deeply alarmed about the impact of what they call this 'suspicious and illegal channel working against the interests of the Islamic republic'." Ian Black, The Guardian, 8 January 2009. VOA will want to respond about the "anti-regime propaganda."
     "BBC Persian, which will go on air next week, will be used by British intelligence for "espionage and psychological warfare", according to Iranian officials. The channel, which has a £15 million budget and 140 staff, will broadcast news and features in Persian into Iran to anyone with a satellite dish. Although they are officially banned in Iran, most middle class homes have satellite dishes and the regime has generally given up enforcing its draconian rule. But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime described the new channel as 'suspicious and illegal' and 'working against the interests of the Islamic republic'. Viewers were warned to avoid the 'lie-spreading' network. ... The BBC has a long-running Persian radio service and a Persian website, but the satellite channel will reach a far wider audience." The Telegraph, 8 January 2009. Television might "reach a far wider audience," but it is easier to block than shortwave radio.
     "The BBC has said that viewers of its new Persian language television channel in Iran will have to decide for themselves whether it is safe enough for them to interact with it when it launches next week. BBC Persian, which will be run by the BBC World Service, is officially illegal in Iran and authorities in Iran have denied the free-to-air satellite channel clearance to have a presence in the country." The Guardian, 8 January 2009.
     Outgoing BBC World Service director Nigel Chapman: "'No one's ever successfully managed to block access to 20 million people. There's been attempts in the past and the authorities occasionally have crackdowns on the possession of a dish but the facts are that if you go to Tehran and you go to other cities in Iran they're everywhere.' Chapman said the channel would report a broad range of views from Iran - including that of government officials and dissident groups. 'In the end it's up to them [the government] but the door is genuinely open to them,' Chapman said. 'It's not in our interests for our journalism to be partial and selective. The audience is not stupid.' He added: 'If the president of Iran would like to do an interview with this channel we would be more than very pleased. I think it would be quite a scoop for the channel. But I think on balance it would be quite unlikely.'" Press Gazette, 8 January 2009.
     "£15m a year to give Iran a BBC channel it doesn't even want." Daily Mail, 8 January 2009.

Venezuelan broadcast satellite starts service on 10 January.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela will make its first radio and television transmission through the Simon Bolivar satellite on January 10, announced the minister of science and technology, Nuris Orihuela. The official pointed out that that day transmission by radio and television will be done by the first Venezuelan satellite, its control of VENESAT-1 Simon Bolivar, launched from China last October." Prensa Latina, 6 January 2009. "The satellite Simon Bolivar will grant reliable services from Mexico's southern area to the middle of Argentina and Chile, covering Central America and the Caribbean." Prensa Latina, 6 January 2009.

Latin Americans follow the Gaza fighting.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Here's what surprised me the most during a weeklong vacation in Argentina and Uruguay: People seem to be following the Middle Eastern conflict in Gaza much more closely -- and passionately -- than in the United States. ... On television, the Israeli attack on the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza after the group's constant rocket attacks is the focus of debates, with most voices criticizing Israel. Hamas, which the United States and the European Union officially consider a sponsor of terrorism , is often not identified as such in the South American media. ... The region's involvement in Middle Eastern politics has intensified since 2006, when Chávez first hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad has since returned to Venezuela, and has also visited Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia, in addition to receiving other Latin American presidents in Tehran. Ahmadinejad signed several economic and political agreements, including plans to finance new pro-government television and radio stations in Bolivia and other Latin American countries. ... Emilio Cardenas, a former Argentine ambassador to the United Nations, says Iran and Venezuela are benefiting from stirring up anti-Israeli sentiment in the region. When the Venezuelan government-financed regional Telesur television station feeds free footage of Palestinian children hit by Israeli bombs to Argentine and other Latin American television stations, the not-so-subliminal message is that Washington is backing an atrocity, Cardenas said." Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald, 8 January 2009.
     "Opposition to Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip is heating up throughout Latin America. ... Televised images of the carnage have been shown throughout Latin America, especially on Telesur, the regionwide television network financed by the Venezuelan government." McClatchy Newspapers, 7 January 2009.

Gaza media update for 7 January 2009.

Posted: 08 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera has introduced and Interactive Map that will provide Internet users a valuable online resource that will be updated from time to time as incidents occur in and around Gaza. The map is also used for citizen reporting. Livestation, a free high-quality online platform accessible to people around the world enables viewers to join the interactive chatroom on Livestation to discuss the war. Using Twitter, the global online social messaging utility, Al Jazeera is providing live reporting of the developments in Gaza." The Peninsula (Doha), 6 January 2009. See also AME Info, 6 January 2009.
     "If the Israeli consulate were truly interested in having a thoughtful, democratized Web-based conversation with the global public, you’d think they’d have at least held their press conference as a Web chat—or a similar forum that, while affording widespread participation, also affords the sharing of nuanced information and the provision of necessary context. A forum, in short, that allows for answers to people’s questions that are as long as they need to be. But hosting a Web chat wouldn’t provide the PR coup that 'the world’s first Twittered press conference!' did. Media critics looking for their requisite new angle wouldn’t have found one in a tired old Web-chatted conference. Twitter, on the other hand, is so now—a topic mainstream journalists are eager to write about, a topic many audiences are eager to read about. So what the Twittered conference lacked in substance, it made up for in publicity for the Israeli perspective in the Gaza conflict." Megan Garber, Columbia Journalism Review, 5 January 2009.
     "Israel posted video of its attacks on militants firing rockets over the past five days on a new YouTube channel to try to show the world the threat against it. YouTube temporarily yanked the clips on Tuesday after viewers, apparently supporters of Hamas, flagged it as objectionable and asked that it be taken down. The video-sharing Web site restored the video a few hours later, labeling it inappropriate for minors. Supporters of Gaza’s Hamas rulers, meanwhile, have posted images of the devastating Israeli offensive on both YouTube and Facebook and on blogs, uploading images of the carnage and suffering in the tiny seaside territory." AP, 5 January 2009.
     "Israeli site Ynetnews, the English version of the major daily Yedioth Ahronoth, was hacked this morning by Pro-Palestinian cyberactivists. Is the Gaza conflict to be the centre of a hackers' war?" France 24 The Observers, 2 January 2009.
     "More than 10,000 websites have been defaced or compromised by hackers in an effort to show their pro-Palestinian support during the ongoing Gaza Strip conflict. Though the campaign to attack websites with anti-Israeli and anti-American messages was first reported last week, the number of infected sites has significantly increased since the weekend, including some high-profile Israel-based sites, reports. Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at the University of Alabama, told the news provider a hacker named ColdZ3ro runs an Arabic language hacking school and has claimed responsibility for thousands of website defacements, which suggests this may only be the beginning." MX Logic, 6 January 2009. See also SC Magazine, 5 January 2009.
     "For the past year, two men — one Israeli, one Palestinian — have been blogging about their lives on opposite sides of the Israeli-Gaza border. Israeli Eric Yellin calls himself Hope Man. The Palestinian, who does not give his real name because of safety concerns, goes by Peace Man." National Public Radio, 6 January 2009.
     "BBC’s coverage of Gaza is a national disgrace. Given that such propaganda will invariably incite people to hatred, hysteria and even violence, the case for Parliament debating the BBC’s performance is overwhelming." Melanie Phillips, The Spectator, 6 January 2009.
     "A spokesman for the BBC said: “Clearly this is a conflict that some people hold passionate views about, which they are willing to express in strong terms. However, we are satisfied that the BBC’s coverage of the on-going events in Gaza and Israel is balanced, fair, accurate and impartial. In our reports, we have tried to explain how the current situation started and has since developed.'" Birmingham Post, 7 January 2009.
     "In this war, the Israeli narrative is dominant in the international media. The impressive Israeli PR apparatus was well-prepared before the air assault began, with many media experts recruited, and they have devised a range of new 'weapons'. Probably the most visible has been the number of Arabic-speaking Israeli spokespeople appearing on Arabic satellite channels to put the Israeli point of view. ... The problem with the rhetoric used by Hamas and its allies is that it endorses the negative image created by the Israelis." Abeer Najjar, The National (Abu Dhabi), 7 January 2009.
     "Israel’s diplomats know that if journalists are given a choice between covering death and covering context, death wins. So in a war that they consider necessary but poorly understood, they have decided to keep the news media far away from the death." Ethan Bronner, New York Times, 6 January 2009.
     "Khezir Shahin reporter of the Al-alam international News Network was taken in custody by the Israeli forces on Gaza Strip on Monday, the network reported Tuesday." Press TV, 6 January 2009.
     Mark Phillips "is a seasoned, London-based reporter. But he is also—thanks to the thinly spread news-gathering operations at CBS News—the lead reporter on most of the network’s stories in Israel. It’s a beat that spans more than 2,200 miles. On that chilly night a few days after Christmas, Mr. Phillips was standing on the roof of a commercial office building in central Tel Aviv that houses a number of media companies, including CBS’s Tel Aviv bureau, its largest outpost in the Middle East. Recently, on the eve of the outbreak of war in Gaza, the bureau got a lot smaller. In mid-December, CBS News executives broke some bad news to the employees at the bureau. Like seemingly everyone else in the media world, CBS News was undergoing some end-of-the-year cost cutting. Tel Aviv bureau chief Gaby Silon, cameraman Chris Albert—plus one editor-technician and one researcher-producer based in the West Bank—would be keeping their jobs. Everyone else was being let go." Felix Gillette, The New York Observer, 6 January 2009.
     "Following Al Jazeera on Twitter, one encounters the claim they are 'the only international broadcasting organization with correspondents based in Gaza.'" Jason Lee Miller, WebProNews, 6 January 2009.
     "Like all of the networks, Al Jazeera gives constant hard-hitting interviews with politicians and analysts from Israel, the West Bank, and the rest of the Arab world. But while others can only balance pundits with more pundits, Al Jazeera has been taking the viewer to the scene to weigh the words of politicians against the reality on the ground. ... Meanwhile, the world's only live coverage of the tragedy is kept away from American eyes. While Al Jazeera English competes with CNN and BBC as one of the largest networks in the world, no major American cable provider has been willing to carry the channel since it launched in 2006. Some say cable providers are squeamish about working with a channel popularly perceived in the United States as giving airtime to terrorists. But Al Jazeera is finding its way around the problem. Today, Americans hungry for inside coverage of Gaza can download Livestation, a free program that will let viewers watch Al Jazeera English among other international networks." Shane Bauer, New American Media, 6 January 2009.
     "'The very powerful images of what's happening to civilians in Gaza must be having a greater impact than seeing Israeli spokesmen talking about the war on terror.'" Prof. Charles Tripp quoted by AFP, 7 January 2009.
     More Gaza-related items can be found at John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review. See previous post about same subject.

VOA correspondent among five detained in Gabon.

Posted: 07 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Five anti-corruption campaigners in Gabon were arrested just before New Year and are being detained in harsh conditions on unknown charges, non-governmental organisations in France said on Tuesday. ... Nine French NGOs said the five Gabonese campaigners were arrested on Dec. 30 and 31 and have been held since then without access to their lawyers and without being told what are the charges against them. ... Gabon's Interior Minister Andre Obame declined to answer reporters' questions on Monday about the reason for the arrests. Some weeks ago Obame appeared on state TV in Gabon and accused one of the detainees, Marc Ona, head of the local branch of Publish What You Pay and correspondent for U.S. state-backed radio Voice of America, of being politically motivated." Reuters, 6 January 2009.

Russia is less hospitable to foreign stations on its FM dial.

Posted: 07 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Zima’s TV-1 is one of dozens of broadcasters that have fallen afoul of authorities in Russia and Central Asia recently and that happen to air RFE/RL programming. Three years ago, the broadcaster’s offerings could be found on 30 stations in Russia. The number of regional partners is down to two, according to Maria Klein, director of the RFE/RL Russian Service. The crackdown has been focused on regions outside Moscow. ... 'The Soviet authorities used to jam Radio Liberty and the Voice of America. Now, they actually revert to jamming, but using different, quite legal tools. They are creating a certain information climate in the provinces, while all independent information has been channeled to the Internet,' said Aleksei Simonov, president of Russia's Glasnost Defense Foundation, a free press advocacy group. ... Yelena Glushkova, chief correspondent of the RFE/RL Russian Service’s Moscow bureau, said local radio stations are dropping the station’s programs under pressure from the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications and Mass Communications, or Rossvyazkomnadzor. In fall 2005, Rossvyazkomnadzor ordered all RFE/RL partners to 'bring broadcasting activity into line with license terms.' Most partners' licenses did not allow them to transmit RFE/RL programs." Aleksandr Kolesnichenko, Transitions Online, 6 January 2009.

Jazz ambassadors' pix in the Russell Building.

Posted: 07 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Jam Session: America's Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World, a groundbreaking photographic exhibition organized and circulated by Meridian International Center in Washington, DC, will be on display in the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building between Tuesday, January 6 and Friday, January 23, 2009. Jam Session chronicles one of America's most successful cultural diplomacy programs. Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and others served as cultural diplomats between the 1950s and the 1970s, transcending national boundaries, and making friends for our country. ... Meridian International Center ... is a non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to public diplomacy. Meridian promotes international understanding through the exchange of people, ideas and the arts through a combination of professional exchanges, international conferences, cultural diplomacy and education programs." Meridian press release, 6 January 2009. "Meridian is actively seeking additional host venues for a three-year domestic tour that will offer a meaningful insight into this remarkable cultural diplomacy program." Meridian website.

First delete c:*.*

Posted: 07 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
On 22 January: "The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is proud to host Ernest J. Wilson III, Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication, for a presentation on 'Rebooting America's Image in the World.' Dean Wilson recently returned from Washington, D.C. where he served on the Presidential Transition Team for President-Elect Barack Obama. As part of the presidential transition, Dean Wilson led a team reviewing America's international broadcasting services, including the Voice of America and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and advised the transition team working with the U.S. Department of State on public diplomacy issues. Dean Wilson will discuss his experiences serving on the Presidential Transition Team and will offer his assessment of the limits and potential for public diplomacy under the new administration as it seeks to re-cast America's image abroad."
USC CPD. So there are separate transition teams for international broadcasting and for public diplomacy. This is more encouraging than the impression I had from previous writings. The only presidential involvement in U.S. international broadcasting should be the nomination of members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Content issues should be behind the BBG firewall. It is the job of public diplomacy to "re-cast America's image abroad," while international broadcasting reports the news with as much credibility as it can muster.

Bloomberg international hire.

Posted: 07 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Former CNBC Europe network director Lindsey Oliver is joining Bloomberg as commercial director, Europe, Middle East and Africa. She will be responsible for distribution and marketing for the financial network’s five European language channels. Oliver was commercial director at Al Jazeera international in 2007, launching the English-language channel in 80 million households." Broadband TV News, 7 January 2009.

BBC World News to consider if George W. Bush is "worst president."

Posted: 07 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"From January, BBC World News will broadcast Intelligence Squared, a series of topical debates, taking place in London and New York, which are set to stimulate and challenge the channel's audience across the world. ... The first debate’s motion is 'George W. Bush is the worst American president of the last fifty years'. It will be broadcast on BBC World News from 10 January and speakers include Karl Rove, former-Deputy Chief of Staff to George W. Bush; William Kristol, Editor of The Weekly Standard; Jacob Weisberg, author of The Bush Tragedy; and British journalist, Simon Jenkins." BBC World News press release, 11 December 2008.

DW-TV Asia+ hires agency (updated).

Posted: 07 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle has appointed Singaporean start-up, Green Worldwide, for its communication needs as the German international broadcaster launches a new feed in Asia. ... The German broadcasters will look to launch DW-TV Asia+ on March 2, 2009 to offer a mix of European lifestyle, culture and the arts as well as in-depth reports from business and politics. 'Green will be tasked to spearhead our communication needs, lead in strategic thinking for our launch and appoint media buying agencies for our advertising campaigns,' said Petra Schneider, director of sales and service, Deutsche Welle." Haymarket Media, 6 January 2009.
     Update: "DW-TV ASIA+ will be carried on the AsiaSat 3S satellite and is expected to be carried by several pay-TV platforms in the region. But the company was not able to announce individual territory deals. Compared with existing DW-TV ASIA service, new net will increase its daily English language programming to 18 hours with a schedule dominated by lifestyle, infotainment, health and wellness." Variety Asia, 7 January 2009. "'Viewers in Asia have a high demand for more intimate knowledge and insights into Europe and European culture, making it an important media market for Deutsche Welle.'" DW press release via, 7 January 2009.

The case for bringing back Worldnet (updated).

Posted: 06 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Our former Worldnet TV service at the U.S. Information Agency would have been a perfect fit for President Obama, who plans to speak to Muslim audiences in the first 100 days of his administration from a venue somewhere in the Middle East. ... Sadly, when the U.S. Information Agency was disbanded in the late 1990s, international TV dialogues brought over to the State Department 'lost their traction', a Department official lamented to me. 'Except for posts in Africa and some in South Asia and Latin America, satellite TV conversations from the Worldnet system collapsed at U.S. embassies,' he said. 'Compared to the promises of the Internet, television was no longer viewed as the tool of choice for programming to large audiences. But we should have grown television as we grew the web.'" Alvin Snyder, USC Center of Public Diplomacy blog, 16 December 2008. In the meantime, we can be confident that anything that future President Obama says with the slightest relevance to the Middle East will be broadcast by Alhurra and Radio Sawa.
     Update: "As for Worldnet’s 'interactive TV capacity,' that also still exists through the American Embassy TV Network, 'the Department of State’s global television network and a direct U.S. television resource for international broadcasters.' Al Snyder’s source says that State Department’s television dialogues have 'lost their traction' since the days of Worldnet and the U.S. Information Agency. If that is the case, regaining the traction does not necessarily require a new, or revived, bureaucracy. It would be gentler on the taxpayers to do a better job by doing a better job." Kim Andrew Elliott, USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 6 January 2009.

RFE/RL provides Serbian-Albanian dialogue.

Posted: 06 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"At a time of total breakdown in communication between Belgrade and Prishtina, which began after the proclamation on 17 February 2008 of Kosovo’s independence, the radio and internet pages of Radio Free Europe have become the only place for a Serbian-Albanian dialogue. RFE’s Most (Bridge) has initiated a series of dialogues - on the subject of how to unfreeze Serbia-Kosovo relations - between prominent individuals from Kosovo and Serbia." Omer Karabeg, Bosnian Institute, 5 January 2009.

A BBC for the French.

Posted: 06 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The French have always been jealous of the BBC, having failed to create a flagship, world-respected media entity of their own. In theory they’re in a great position to do so, being a powerful and influential nation and one which can provide a much-needed antidote to the Anglo-centric dominant international media organisations hailing from the United States and the UK." Blatherskite, 5 January 2009.

Watching satellite television in Jordan.

Posted: 06 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Satellite TV in Jordan, I discovered on my recent trip there, is a chaotic pleasure. When my American friends talk about watching it, taxiing home after a long day, there’s a little dread mixed with the hope of going into the kind of coma that only television can put one. ... The sun never sets on the reach of the BBC, which has turned British colonial know-how into total situation awareness for all. See proof that CNN isn’t dumb (it just thinks we are) by watching its international edition. You’ll quickly notice how our domestic version pales in comparison even to the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda machine, Russia Today. The up-and-coming crown jewel is none other than Al Jazeera, an island of common sense from the Persian Gulf, which makes up for what it lacks in slick graphics and endless pundits with skilled journalists and commentary by real movers and shakers from all over, whether they be government officials or Taliban warlords." Nathan Schneider, The Smart Set (Drexel University), 5 January 2009.

Egypt's Nile TV seeks expansion in Africa.

Posted: 06 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Egyptian Ambassador to Namibia, Hadi El-Tonsi: "We are ... trying to bring our Egyptian channels in English to broadcast from here whether directly or through regional companies or cable services. It is important to have direct information between us and not through third agencies that have different ways of seeing issues. Channel Nile TV International broadcasting in English and French is available to African countries who want to receive it and it has programmes about African issues." New Era (Windhoek), 6 January 2009.

Gaza media update for 5 January 2009.

Posted: 05 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Major US television channels also adopted the equal time approach, despite the reality that Palestinian casualties exceeded Israeli ones by a hundred fold. However, such comparisons were rare because the scripts read by American correspondents often excluded the overall Palestinian death count. By stripping the context, American viewers may have easily assumed a level playing field, rather than a case of disproportionate force." Habib Battah, 5 January 2009.
     "BBC World interviewed a Gazan, Hatem Shurrab of Islamic Relief, who during the night apparently moved his family into the basement to escape the bombardment. Sympathetic interviewers asked him to describe how terrifying he had found the sound of the explosions. He obligingly described how terrifying this was and how his child had been crying all night. ... But there was of course absolutely no mention of, let alone an interview with any of, the thousands of Israeli families in southern Israel who for the past seven years have been forced to live in bomb shelters for month after month with no respite, with their children now suffering psychological damage from the unending terror from Palestinian missile attacks directed specifically at them." Melanie Phillips, The Spectator, 4 January 2009.
     "Many supporters of Israel have grown frustrated with hostile feedback posted to Web articles and on blogs since the start of Operation Cast Lead nine days ago. A group of Israeli students has decided to fight back. is manned by social media experts and Israel activists around the clock, with the main "situation room" based at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and sponsored by the Stand With Us education organization." Jerusalem Post, 4 January 2009.
     "When they shoot from the F16 aeroplanes, it sends waves of aftershock which blow out the windows. It interferes with radio and TV reception too. The only TV channel we can still receive is al-Jazeera English. Not the Arabic, not the BBC." Gaza resident Tamer, BBC News, 5 January 2009.
     "It should also be noted that Al Jazeera English, a station whose management is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, has been displaying a large graphic titled 'War on Gaza' during their coverage of the crisis." Family Security Matters, 5 January 2009.
     "At 2:06 pm on Saturday 1/3 EST, I was watching CNN, the US feed, which had temporarily switched to the London desk of CNN International. CNN International began an interview with PLO spokesman Saeb Erakat, the first time I have seen a Palestinian commenter on US television during the past week with the exception of the PA envoy to the UN. CNN US suddenly interrupted the Erekat interview and switched to Ben Wiedeman in Jerusalem to explain the task Israel had before it. It has been 20 minutes and they have never returned to finish the Erekat interview. Have any of the major magazine shows had any Palestinians at all on this week as commenters? 2:31 PM CNN US did a telephone interview with Mustafa Barghouti, who complained that CNN's coverage was all from the Israeli side." Juan Cole, San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, 4 January 2009.
     "A group of Jordanian journalists have started a campaign urging the Arabic media to refrain from interviewing Israeli officials in order to avoid 'justifying' ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip. In a statement published on the Amman-based Khaberny news website, media activists said Israelis 'exploit' the Arab media to 'promote the Zionist perspective of the aggression and massacres' occurring in the besieged coastal enclave. ... Al Jazeera staff, however, stress that they themselves are supporters of the Palestinian cause and continue to interview Israeli officials. 'You cannot present your own story of the struggle without showing the other side,' Al Jazeera correspondent in Amman Yasser Abu Hilala told The Jordan Times, adding that by including the Israeli perspective, Arab outlets are able to 'prove to the West that our cause is just'. ... BBC Radio Amman correspondent Saad Hattar said a professional journalist, however, should not ignore any side of a conflict, adding that reporters should 'grill' Israeli officials who hold 'destructive' ideas. 'Talk to them, grill them and try to convince them that what they are doing is wrong.'" Jordan Times, 5 January 2009.
     "While CNN and BBC are broadcasting every bit of Palestinian propaganda it can get its hands on, Fox News is sticking more to the Israeli-American view, reporting the facts, not the propaganda." J.R. Dieckmann, RenewAmerica, 4 January 2009.
     "The Israel Defense Forces this week extended its airstrikes on Gaza to the Web, posting video footage of its air assault against Hamas militants on YouTube and using Twitter to spread its message." CNET News, 3 January 2009.
     "Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN and other major international and national networks are focusing on the suffering of Gazans, and they neglect to cover the suffering of Israelis due to Hamas’ rocket attacks." Michael van der Galien, PoliGazette, 4 January 2009.
     "A Yemeni Islamist slammed the Satellite Channel of al-Arabiya as a 'Zionist trumpet' as he praised al-Jazeera as the 'nation's faith affiliate' over the war on Gaza covering. The Member of Parliament and mosque speaker, Mohammed Al Hazmi said that al-Arabiya channel is 'not less dangerous than Israel' on the nation warning men and women from watching it. 'What this channel, which is falsely called al-Arabiya, is doing is not less dangerous than what Israel does. ... It says that that Hamas is responsible for this war because it refuses the truce. ... I would like to very much thank al-Jazeera channel which expresses the nation's trends, goes with its options, and raises its vital issues.'" Yemen Observer, 5 January 2009.
     "Once again Arab television blanketed the airwaves with coverage of the conflict in Gaza. And once again Arab media gave a rather distinct view of the conflict, which differed starkly from the view presented to the West. Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel, broadcast interviews with victims of violence at a hospital in Gaza, asking survivors what they felt about the invasion." Raed Rafei, Los Angeles Times Babylon & Beyond blog, 4 January 2009.
     "Israeli Defense Forces took over Hamas' Al-Aqsa television station over the weekend -- the latest blow in a increasingly-sophisticated information war over Gaza. The channel became infamous in 2007 for broadcasting a children's show featuring 'Farfour,' an anti-semitic Mickey Mouse look-a-like. But the Israeli military considered al-Aqsa to be a serious enough propaganda threat that the station's main studios were hit on the second day of the latest air campaign against Hamas." Wired Danger Room, 5 January 2009.
     "I have lost confidence in the BBC World Service in their ability to present news in an unbiased manner. And I will be making a formal complaint to the Chairman of the BBC Trust. Yes. Perhaps I am one of the few remaining MPs who has consistently defended the BBC for their standards of journalism and impartiality. And when occasionally I have been angered by the output of their domestic services, I have consoled myself with the high quality of BBC World Service reportage. No longer. Being abroad for me always involves my taking a short wave radio in my back-pack. India, where I am now, remains on the ever reducing list of areas where the BBC is available on the radio. And I have been listening for several hours each day. I have been horrified and angered by the coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict. While paying scant regard to the provocation of 10,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza over the last seven years, the BBC has chosen to broadcast 'human interest' stories reminiscent of salacious photos in the cheaper red top newspapers." Michael Fabricant MP,, 5 January 2009.
     "The IDF dropped thousands of propaganda leaflets from the air to Gaza’s inhabitants. 'The Hamas leadership is leading you to ruin. Take responsibility for your future,' they read. In addition, the radio broadcasts of the Gaza Strip were jammed, and a statement in Arabic was read: 'We are not fighting against you, but against Hamas. Help us. Stay away from the battle areas.' Israeli officials went into chat rooms on the Internet and told Gaza residents, 'Help us. Give us information. Hamas will not know about it.'" David Bedein, The Bulletin (Philadelphia), 5 January 2009.
     "Television and Second Life are enlisted by Israel and Palestinian supporters during the renewed fighting in Gaza." Reuters video via Yahoo!News, 4 January 2009.
     From Jukka Kinkamo in Finland: "Al-Jazeera has their own dedicated website which is constantly updated by SMS, email and tweeters: The service is rather powerful indeed, provided the original sources are reliable enough. And, this is very interesting: The technology and pieces of software behind the service are discussed in more detail in Danger Room Blog."

The United States Good Listeners Agency.

Posted: 05 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Among five "myths" of public diplomacy: "Myth 2: Everyone needs to get on the same page. A communications strategy is important. But reciprocity is at the heart of truly successful public diplomacy. We must listen as much as we transmit messages. A brass plaque reading 'Telling America's Story' adorned the building housing the US Information Agency until its oft-lamented demise in 1999. Perhaps it should have read, 'Telling America's Story Is Done Best by Good Listeners.'" Sherry L. Mueller, Christian Science Monitor, 5 January 2009. Actually, that was the basic idea of the name of USIA being changed to International Communication Agency during the Carter administration. During that time, the "Telling America's Story" plaque was removed from the front entrance. The Reagan administration restored the name U.S. Information Agency, and the plaque.

BBC's Farsi television reckons with an unfriendly Iran.

Posted: 05 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Something is clearly going on between the Iranian authorities and the BBC. Relations are not good. In the next week or two the BBC will begin to broadcast a Farsi television service from London funded by a £15m grant from the Foreign Office. The BBC World Service has had a Farsi radio service for 68 years. Many in the Iranian administration do not welcome the BBC's new television channel, which will doubtless attract an audience of millions of Iranians when it begins to broadcast eight hours a day." Stephen Glover, The Independent, 5 January 2009.

Azerbaijan since the ban of foreign radio on FM.

Posted: 05 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Kai Ludwig in Germany notes that the RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service, known as Radio Azadliq, is only using one shortwave frequency, 9485 kHz, at 1600-1700 UTC, according to the RFE/RL transmission schedule. Kai adds: "This single shortwave transmission had been reintroduced at the beginning of the B08 season [25 October 2008], I suspect as a precaution because the end of the rebroadcasts in Azerbaijan was already looming. I would have expected the amount of shortwave airtime to skyrocket now as well, but as of yesterday still only this lone hour is in use. Were they simply not able to add more until now because everybody is still on vacation?" -- VOA Azerbaijani has three shortwave frequencies, 9625, 9805, and 12025 kHz, at 1830-1900 UTC.
     "Work schedule of Liberty, Voice of America and BBC radio stations’ Azerbaijan bureaus was not changed after decision of National Television and Radio Council on conclusion of broadcasting international radios in national frequencies passed on December 30, Azerbaijani bureaus of above-mentioned radios told APA." Azeri-Press Agency, 5 January 2009.
     "Azadlyg political bloc has released a statement, sharply condemning the decision by the Azerbaijani National Television and Radio Council (NTRC) resulting in discontinuation of the air wave broadcasts by the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Voice of America (VOA) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). ... It should be reminded that Azadlyg bloc comprises the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, Liberal Party of Azerbaijan and Civil Development Party." Today.Az, 5 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

VOA drops Ukrainian radio, Urdu shortwave.

Posted: 05 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
After a reprieve for VOA Ukrainian radio in August 2008, its radio transmissions ended on 31 December. The service continues with television and an internet presence. See also VOA Ukrainian announcement about closure of radio. On this page, files containing WED are audio of VOA Ukrainian's last day. These will soon be unavailable, as the archive of VOA Ukrainian 2008 radio broadcasts is no longer available.
     VOA Urdu shortwave frequencies were dropped on 31 December, though still listed in this VOA schedule. VOA Urdu (Radio Aap ki Dunyaa) continues on medium wave (972 and 1539 kHz) and on television. -- "Effective 31st December 2008 VOA Urdu service has dropped all SW services to South Asia at 0100-0200 (9520 9820 kHz) and 1400-1500 (7440 9390 kHz) hrs. Only MW 972 and 1539 kHz are available at 1400-0200 hrs. There are many listeners in India and Bangladesh who are listening to this Urdu service on SW and many more especially after the closure of VOA Hindi service." DXAsia, 31 December 2008.

Gaza media update for 4 January 2009.

Posted: 04 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Everybody is on the Gaza situation. Even MSNBC has interrupted its weekend of rerun filler to cover it. But if you'd like a decidedly non-American-centric take, Al Jazeera English appears to have reporters all over the place. And the Doha correspondent just had one of those exchanges with a spokesman for the Israeli PM that you just don't see on American TV. ... Those Israelis put their suits on with five-inch nails -- they're tough. Watch as the spokesflack gives as good as he gets. And they'll get right back on AJE and do it again in a couple of hours, if not sooner. And beam it into Israel, where AJE has (last I heard) replaced BBC World on the largest Israeli cable systems." Aaron Barnhart, TV Barn, 3 January 2009.
     "Boycott cable TV statiosn that REFUSE to broadcast al-Jazeera English. There are some Arab TV programs in the US, but they are useless compared to the power fo al-Jazeera Englsih, which is why al-Jazeera English has been banned from broadcast in this country. al-Jazeera English IS the media we NEED in this country and the mainstream media has excluded them. Protest THAT! Demand that Comcast Cable, for example, offer al-Jazeera English in their options packages." Ray Hanania,, 3 January 2009.
     "Protesters calling for Israel to stop its assault on Gaza lined the sidewalk in front of CNN’s headquarters Saturday. ... The protestors decided to gather in front of CNN to call attention to media coverage of the attacks, which are in their eighth day. 'The media in the U.S. has a tradition of not providing an unbiased message,' said Ziyaad Lunat , one of the protest organizers. 'They dehumanize the Palestinians.'" Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3 January 2009.
     "The newspapers here tend to echo the elite MSM in the West, and CNN International here is big on 'equal time', so the war in Gaza is showing all sorts of gory photos. One rarely hears anything negative in our local papers about any Arab or Muslim misdeed: lots stories lamenting the problems of Palestinian refugees from 1948, none about the equal number of Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms in Arab lands back then." Nancy Reyes (Philippines), Blogger News Network, 4 January 2009.
     "As in the past, U.S. media coverage and commentary has overwhelmingly backed the Israeli actions (as it did in the Lebanon war in 2006, which turned into a fiasco). CNN has provided some helpful balance, starting late Saturday, but on the Sunday morning talk shows Democratic leaders said little, or nothing, critical of Israel. Of course, most on-the-scene coverage of civilian casualties in Gaza has been hindered, to say the least, by Israel barring foregin journalists from entering." Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher, 4 January 2009.
     "Larry King on CNN first interviewed an Israeli spokesman, with a fluent English accent, all polished in appearance, and repeating the same 'message' that Western audiences are used to hearing. That is, Israel is a peace-loving, un-aggressive Western democracy that is only defending itself from filthy, ignorant, uncivilized, desert-dwelling, camel-riding, nomadic religious fanatics. For one thing, this looks a lot like re-enacting how Europeans colonized America, Australia and South Africa - they can relate to this image. And how does the Palestinian side react? The spokeswoman was articulate enough, but she was only heard by radio, despite the fact that humans are 90% visual sense animals. She was also too articulate, using big words that the audience didn't recognize as part of the 'story'. So, the American media can claim that this CNN story was unbiased, giving both parties a chance to speak, even though the Palestine side's message had zero audience impact." Neil Sutherland, Palestine Chronicle, 3 January 2009.
     "The Al-Aqsa TV channel, controlled by Hamas, reported resistance fighters disrupted communications between land units of the Israeli army. ... In turn, Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV channel reported about Israeli shelling of the Al-Aqsa radio station, also belonging to Hamas." Itar-Tass, 4 January 2009.
     "Leaflets signed by the commander of the Israeli military were dropped over northern Gaza on Saturday morning, warning residents to 'leave the area immediately' to ensure their safety." IBNLive, 3 January 2009.
     "'Since the definition of war has changed, the definition of public diplomacy has to change as well,' said David Saranga, the head of media relations for the Israeli consulate in New York, which conducted the Twitter news conference on Tuesday. Some, including the MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, mocked the idea of a government spokesman addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in tweets barely a sentence long. 'The Israeli government is trying to explain a conflict that people write books about, a conflict that newspaper writers struggle to explain in 2,000 words, in 140 characters at a time,' she marveled. ... Question from peoplesworld: 40 years of military confrontation hasn't brought security to Israel, why is this different? Answer from israelconsulate: We hav 2 prtct R ctzens 2, only way fwd through neogtiations, & left Gaza in 05. y Hamas launch missiles not peace?" New York Times, 3 January 2009.
     "The Israeli military created its own YouTube channel, where it has been publishing aerial videos of its bombings on the population of Gaza. The Foreign Press office of the Israeli Military heavily promoted one particular video which it said clearly showed the Israeli airforce targeting men loading homemade shells onto a truck. ... Despite the ban on media in the Gaza Strip, 55-year-old Gaza resident Ahmed Samur, managed to get a statement out of the besieged and imprisoned coastal strip that these so-called 'rockets' were actually oxygen canisters used in his welding business." International Middle East Media Center, 4 January 2009.
     "If you're interested in getting some information about what's going on in Israel and Gaza--you know, beyond the Israel-bashing, 'terrorists are victims' crap you get from the 'mainstream' media--the Israeli Defense Force has now entered the Web 2.0 age. The have a blog called IDF Spokesperson where you can catch some of the latest updates about the war against terrorism in the Middle East--specifically as it affects Israel. The IDF also has a YouTube channel where you can view footage of some of the IDF precision strikes against terrorist strongholds. Unlike the terrorists who intentionally target innocent civilians, the IDF does everything it can to minimize noncombatant casualties." Bob Ellis, Dakota Voice, 3 January 2009.
     "Facts appear to have been the first casualty in a public relations war that is being conducted as vigorously by Israeli defence officials as the fight against Hamas. This weekend Israel was celebrating the first week of a 'hasbara' campaign – the Hebrew word that has come to mean 'spin' and 'propaganda' – being waged on several fronts, including unprecedented use of the internet and other new media. ... The YouTube channel, established the day after the first air strikes, is currently the most popular on the site. The two dozen videos relating to the current operation have recorded hundreds of thousands of hits. ... According to the Israeli media, the army has been advising 50 influential bloggers in the United States alone." The National (Abu Dhabi), 4 January 2009.
     Jukka Kinkamo in Finland notes that the Israeli website DEBKAfile was down for a time. In an e-mail sent to its readers: "DEBKAfile's two sites in English and Hebrew have been under attack since 19:00 local time. We are doing our best to restore the service as soon as possible. Please check the site periodically." The site is restored when checked at 2300 UTC on 4 January. Jukka also observes that "on the radio front at the moment the Galei Zahal on 6973 kHz is audible (loud and clear) here." This is the only shortwave broadcasting still on the air from Israel, other than the Kol Israel Persian service.
     See previous post about same subject.

Another vote for keeping Jim Glassman as PD chief.

Posted: 04 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The under secretary of state for public diplomacy has been on the job for only six months, but he has already scored small successes in the U.S. effort to win over 'hearts and minds' in the Muslim world, a hard sell if ever there was one. Glassman has largely shelved the strategy of his predecessor, Karen Hughes, another onetime journalist, who waged this battle as an ad campaign, flooding the unreceptive market with positive 'messages' about the United States. Glassman is out to halt radicalism, and he is fighting the war of ideas in small and diverse ways: private-sector partnerships to teach English; conferences where liberals from around the world can swap ideas; social networks on the Internet that teach the virtues of democracy by rewarding the best Web video on the subject. Glassman has 'been very strong,' says a senior State Department official who didn't want to be quoted knocking Hughes. ... Because Glassman's approach is 'not yet institutionalized,' there's a danger a new appointee might reverse it, says another senior State Department official. That would be a shame, because Obama needs a light touch in public diplomacy." Adam B. Kushner, Newsweek, 3 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

And RFE/RL is looking forward to establishing a service for Alaska.

Posted: 04 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Russian economist Igor Panarin, for instance, has gotten a good deal of press attention (particularly in Russia, but abroad as well) for predicting that the financial crisis will lead to civil war in the United States and the partitioning of that country. He even suggested on Russia Today that Alaska will want to join the Russian Federation and that former Chukotka Oblast Governor and oligarch Roman Abramovich would make a good governor there. Watch out Sarah Palin, it appears that Vladimir Putin can see Alaska from his house too!" Robert Coalson, RFE/RL The Power Vertical, 3 January 2009.
     "Alex Jones, an Austin, Texas-based American talk radio show host and professional conspiracy theorist, has been a regular guest on Russia Today TV since the Georgia War in August 2008. ... Russia Today, an English language TV channel set up in 2005 as a Russian equivalent of the Qatar-based Arab television channel Al-Jazeera, often gives Mr. Jones a platform to expound his fringe views on a regular basis." Charles Ganske, Russia Blog, 3 January 2009.

RFA scoop on essays by Chinese dissident.

Posted: 04 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The most prominent dissident still living in China has attacked the Communist party’s economic reforms and compared Deng Xiaoping, its late leader, to Louis XIV. ... The essayist is Bao Tong, 76, who was the highest-ranking official imprisoned after the 1989 crackdown on China’s democracy movement. He served a seven-year sentence and now lives under house arrest in Beijing. ... The essays were broadcast on the Chinese-language service of Radio Free Asia, a US-funded station, and have been posted on the internet. The fact that Bao has apparently not been punished suggests to Chinese analysts that the reformist faction inside the party remains influential enough to protect him." The Sunday Times, 4 January 2008. See also RFA, 3 January 2009 and links on that page to other essays by Bao Tong.

New South Korean medium wave relay for VOA Korean.

Posted: 04 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
T. Yamashita in Japan, member of the Asian Broadcasting Institute, heard the VOA Korean Service relayed via HLKX, the Far Eastern Broadcasting Company station near Seoul on 1188 kHz medium wave, 1 January at 1330-1500 UTC. This via S. Hasegawa of the Nagoya DXers Circle, who was able to hear it well 3 January at 1400-1459 UTC, with slight interference from NHK station JOKP, Kitami, also on 1188 kHz, and from an unidentified Korean-language station, which might be a jammer.
DX Listening Digest, 3 January 2009. Thanks to Kai Ludwig for the news tip. Kai also points to a story in the website of South Korea's Christian Broadcasting System (CBS), in Korean, but if machine translated, indicates that some in South Korea are already challenging the legality of this relay of VOA by FEBC's station near Seoul. Christian Broadcasting System, 2 January 2009. VOA Korean broadcasts are targeted to North Korea. The 100 kW transmitter on 1188 kHz can certainly reach into nearby North Korea. It is also used for FEBC's own broadcasts in Mandarin.

New book is critical of 24-hour news channels.

Posted: 04 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"From CNN to Al Jazeera to Fox, Sky News and the BBC News Channel ... there's plenty of naffness, bias and cock-ups to complain about. ... Howard Rosenberg and Charles Feldman, ... No Time To Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle is an assault on the entire rolling news venture. Their main criticism, as the title suggests, is the sheer speed of modern news-gathering and the impetus to get the story to air quickly – without the time to check, or even think about the ramifications. ... But they are woefully wrong to suggest that baby, bathwater and all have little of value and threaten democracy." Review by Charlie Courtauld, editor of "Frost Over the World" on Al Jazeera English, The Independent, 4 January 2009.

Azerbaijan: demand for shortwave radios "has skyrocketed" since ban of foreign radio on FM (updated).

Posted: 04 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Everyone would listen to Azadliq [RFE/RL Azeri service] , from taxi drivers to housewives. This was enough to shut down the station. Where else you would hear alternative voices?' Mammad Suleymanov wrote in an opinion piece in 'Bizim Yol.' Alternative voices are still being heard through Radio Azadliq -- but fewer people are able to hear them. Azadliq is still able to broadcast on shortwave frequencies, and shopkeepers say the demand for radios that receive shortwave has skyrocketed in past days. Others tune in on Azadliq's website, where they can hear not only current broadcasts but also older ones from the archive." RFE/RL Watchdog, 2 January 2009.
     "The Azerbaijan National Television & Radio Council (NTRC) will hold intensive monitoring to prevent airing of movies in foreign languages, Gafar Jabiyev, a member of the Council, told TrendNews on Jan. 3. ... On Dec. 30 in 2008, the Council made a decision on broadcasting of all telecasts at the Azerbaijani TV channels only in the Azerbaijani language beginning from Jan. 1 in 2009." Trend News Agency, 3 January 2009.
     Update: "Sözün Düzü, for example, posts a video from YouTube where a group of Azeri youth celebrates the New Year in solidarity with the station's staff in the last minutes of Azadliq. One of the youth interviewed in the video says that he had come to share the grief of the radio station while another comments that 'they can close Azadliq, but Liberty will surely come to this country.' ... Meanwhile, various Facebook groups have been set up in support of Radio Liberty, VOA and the BBC in Azerbaijan. One such group, which at time of writing has 768 members, is Support Radio Liberty, VOA and BBC in Azerbaijan!!!" Ali S. Novruzov, Global Voices, 4 January 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Gaza media update.

Posted: 03 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Day after day, night after night, Aljazeera’s Arabic channel broadcasts the atrocious pictures: heaps of mutilated bodies, tearful relatives looking for their dear ones among the dozens of corpses spread out on the ground, a woman pulling her young daughter from under the rubble, doctors without medicines trying to save the lives of the wounded. (The English-language Aljazeera, unlike its Arab-language sister-station, has undergone an amazing about face, broadcasting only a sanitized picture and freely distributing Israeli government propaganda. It would be interesting to know what happened there.)" Uri Avnery, The Palestine Chronicle, 1 January 2009.
     "For users of, Al Jazeera English is offering updates via a dedicated Twitter AJGaza channel." Al Jazeera McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, 3 January 2009.
     "The Israeli propaganda effort is being directed to achieve two main aims. The first is to justify the air attacks. The second is to show that there is no humanitarian calamity in Gaza. Both these aims are intended to place Israel in a strong position internationally and to enable its diplomacy to act as an umbrella to fend off calls for a ceasefire while the military operation unfolds. Israel has pursued the first aim by being very active in getting its story across that Hamas is to blame. The sight of Hamas rockets streaking into Israel has been helpful in this respect. It has also allowed trucks in with food aid and has stressed that it will not let people starve, even if they go short. ... Israel has bolstered its approach by banning foreign correspondents from Gaza, despite a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court. The Arab television news channel Al Jazeera is operating there and its reports have been graphic and have affected opinion across the Arab world. The BBC also has its local bureau hard at work." Paul Reynolds, BBC News, 3 January 2009.
     "The al-Jazeera network ... a player that does not adhere to all the media rules, and uses the medium similarly to that knife in the boxing ring – in order to eliminate Israel. This is prominent on normal days, and is even more conspicuous at this time of confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians. The news stories aired by the network constitute blatant incitement with no regard for the truth. Al-Jazeera features no balance, as for every minute of airtime featuring an Israeli spokesperson presenting Israel’s positions, the network airs long hours of horrific sights from the Palestinian side, including close-ups of the dead and wounded, and of crying and suffering Palestinians. Meanwhile, reports of attacks on Israel are normally covered briefly and in a sterile manner, with no proportion to the descriptions of what is happening in Gaza. ... There is only one conclusion here: We must immediately shut down al-Jazeera’s Israel offices and prevent its employees from working for it. Once Israel does it, many other countries will follow suit, particularly in the Middle East, for their own reasons." Mordechai Kedar, ynetnews, 3 January 2009.
     "Israeli troops have detained two journalists from Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television in an area close to the Gaza border that has been decreed a closed military zone." AFP, 3 January 2009. "The Al Jazeera team were later forced to hand over two discs containing footage which had been filmed during the morning." The Peninsula, 3 January 2009.
     "The satellite TV network Al Jazeera contrasted footage of Obama wearing shorts and playing golf in Hawaii with scenes of the carnage in Gaza, by way of highlighting what it called 'the deafening silence from the Obama team.'" Chicago Tribune, 3 January 2009.
     "Several hundred people opposed to the fighting in Gaza yesterday rallied outside the Lucas County Courthouse [Toledo], flashing peace placards and shouting anti-war chants. ... Amjad Doumani, 50, one of the rally organizers, said his wife is from Gaza and his family feels fortunate to have been able to contact relatives there by phone. ... 'If the American people could see the footage that is being shown by other media, like [Arabic TV station] al-Jazeera, Americans would take a stand against these attacks. But Americans are not getting the whole story,' he said." Toledo Blade, 3 January 2009.
     "Cairo residents interviewed on Friday resented the criticism from other Arabs as unfair and unjustified, citing Egyptian aid to Palestinian victims. But they were also uneasy with Cairo’s open blame of Hamas and with its failure to criticize Israel more loudly. Nearly everyone interviewed said they watched Al Jazeera and praised it for its realistic, if bloody, coverage of Gaza, contrasting it with the tame images shown on national television." New York Times, 2 January 2009.
     At BBC headquarters in Wales, protesters, "a man and a woman, said that they wanted to demonstrate against the BBC's biased coverage... . 'We have super-glued our skin to the main doors of the BBC in protest at the irresponsible reporting of the Middle East issue by the public broadcaster.'" Mathaba News Network, 2 January 2009.
     "A Morocco-based Islamic group hacked into DomainTheNet’s registration system server today, hijacking several domain names, including (the English-language Web site of Yedioth Ahronoth) and Bank Discount, and sending users to pages featuring anti-Israeli messages. ... This latest attack follows the defacement of more than 300 Israeli Web sites with anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. messages in a 48-hour period last weekend. Today’s attack did not hack particular Web sites, and are believed to be retaliation for Operation Cast Lead in Gaza." The Jewish Journal, 2 January 2009.
     "The International Federation of Journalists condemned Israel for targeting and destroying the offices of Al Aksa TV in Gaza on Sunday. 'The IFJ and other press freedom advocates have consistently condemned attacks on unarmed media installations which are not being used for military purposes,' read a statement it released following the attack. One might be able to argue - though not very persuasively, given its locale and raison d'etre - that Al Aksa TV falls under the category of an 'unarmed media installation.' One might even attempt to prove that it is 'not being used for military purposes,' as well - though this is even less credible, given the inflammatory material it broadcasts regularly." Ruthie Blum Leibowitz, Jerusalem Post, 1 January 2009. See also IFJ, 28 December 2008.
     "An Iranian newspaper was closed by authorities after publishing a statement critical of the government's support for Hamas. The statement was made by a pro-reform student group to 'Kargozaran,' a paper affiliated with former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [read more in Persian]. During a discussion of the Gaza conflict, a Radio Farda listener in Tehran calls Hamas an obstacle to peace [listen in Persian]. Another listener from Southern Iran wonders why the government is sending support to the Palestinians when there are so many problems at home [listen in Persian]." RFE/RL, 1 January 2009.
     See previous post about same subject.

DW adds to its mobile access.

Posted: 03 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Rubberduck Media Lab, a leading provider of mobile TV solutions, announces today a new collaboration with German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. ... Deutsche Welle broacast to an international audience with radio channels in 30 languages and TV for instance in German and English. Deutsche Welle's users has previously had access to live channels on web and mobile internet and will now also be provided with video clips on their mobile through the new agreement with Rubberduck Media Lab. Through mobile portal users gain access to a wide rage of programs in news, entertainment, culture, motor sports and more. The offering includes regular TV- and radio shows from Deutsche Welle's archives, but also programs that have been adapted to the mobile user behaviour, which means clips that are 2-5 minutes long. The service can be used regardless of operator, and viewers only pay for data costs." Rubberduck press release, 18 December 2008.
     "Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle is recruiting young journalists from around the world for its two-year master’s program in International Media Studies, which trains students in topics including media and development, journalism, communication science and media economics. ... The Master’s program is bilingual (German-English). Entering students are required to have a bachelor’s degree, more than one year of experience in media or a related field, and proof of their communication skills in both languages. The degree is a joint effort of the University of Bonn, the Bonn Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, and Deutsche Welle." International Journalists' Network, 1 January 2009.

Another aspect of the decline of shortwave.

Posted: 03 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Recent news from NASA that the ionosphere is now at lower elevation than in the past. I suppose this means that worldwide shortwave signals might not propagate as far." Tad Cook, K7RA, American Radio Relay League, 2 January 2009. "National Aeronautics and Space Administration instruments aboard an Air Force satellite launched in April [discovered] that the ionosphere was not where it had been expected to be. During the first months of the satellite's operations, the transition between the ionosphere and space was found to be at about 260 miles altitude during the nighttime, barely rising above 500 miles during the day. Those altitudes, said NASA, were extraordinarily low compared with the more typical values of 400 miles during the nighttime and 600 miles during the day." UPI, 17 December 2008.

More Gaza media notes.

Posted: 02 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Israeli Captain Avichai Adarai, who conducted an on-air interview with al-Jazeera just hours after the attack began ... chastised al-Jazeera, much as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni did in her appearance, for broadcasting images of the dead and dying people of the Gaza Strip. Captain Adarai demanded to know why al-Jazeera didn’t devote as much time to the suffering of Israelis during the war. But al-Jazeera’s ability to do that in Israel, where the government is carefully managing media coverage, is unclear at best.", 1 January 2009.
     "The media is reporting how the Arab world is outraged by Israeli actions, but this is also not a complete account of the facts. First, most of the Arab world does not get its news from the Western media, which at least claims a measure of objectivity; the leading source of news for most Arabs is Al-Jazeera. This network has no pretensions that it is balance and presents non-stop coverage from a Palestinian perspective with the aim of generating hostility toward Israel. Al-Jazeera has not been reporting on the incessant rocket fire on Israel or its impact on the population." Mitchell Bard, News Blaze, 1 January 2009.
     "After a week of Israeli strikes on Gaza, whose savage nature has been highlighted by the reporting of the Arab satellite TV stations like Qatar-based Al Jazeera, which show much more gory footage than western equivalents like the BBC, popular anger is sharpening against Egypt in particular." Christopher Walker, Yorkshire Post, 2 January 2009.
     "The images broadcast on the Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera since the start of Israel's operation are graphic and at times, seemingly uncensored. ... Analysts say that these and similar images broadcast around the world have played an important role in mobilizing the Arab street to protest by the tens of thousands, burn effigies and Israeli flags and demand action from their governments. ... Israeli officials, along with the Palestinian Authority, have long accused the station of being pro-Hamas. They say its treatment of Israel's current military operation is no different." Jerusalem Post, 31 December 2008.
     "Dr. Tal Samuel-Azran, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University's Communications Department ... tracked some 1,600 broadcasts on major American networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, and the use these agencies made of the footage being shown in the largest Arab network, Al-Jazeera. His findings: Al-Jazeera has not been able to 'inject' its perspective - including its more liberal use of bloody images and video footage - into American news broadcasts because it is perceived as too one-sided." Jerusalem Post, 31 December 2008.
     "The leader of Iran has used his very effective Press TV channel to convey Iran as the moderate voice of the Muslim world and to organise international opinion against Israel." Editorial, London Daily News, 2 January 2009.
     "A group of Palestinian activists have reportedly jammed Israel Army Radio signals in southern regions of the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestinians, who according to Israeli officials took control of the airwaves from the Gaza Strip, broadcasted statements in Arabic, Press TV's Beirut bureau reported. Jaffa-based Israel Army Radio, commonly known as Galatz among Israelis, is operated nationwide by Israel Defense Force and is mainly funded by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Palestinian resistance groups had earlier disrupted transmission signals of two other Israeli radio stations - South Radio and Radio Darom - and managed to air programs targeting audience in south Israel." Press TV, 31 December 2008.
     "Israel has been standing by its claims that the air strikes in Gaza have been surgical and that any claims to the contrary are an attempt by Hamas to manipulate the media." Belfast Telegraph, 2 January 2009.
     "Israel believes its has won broad international support in the media for its actions in Gaza thanks to its PR strategy, which through a new body has for months been concerned with formulating plans and role-playing to ensure that government officials deliver a clear, unified message to the world's press. The body, known as the National Information Directorate, was set up eight months ago following recommendations from an Israeli inquiry into the 2006 Lebanon war. Its role is to deal with hasbara - meaning, in Hebrew, 'explanation', and referring variously to information, spin, and propaganda. ... Last week the directorate started a YouTube channel showing Israeli bombings in the Gaza strip. 'New media is a new war zone within the media - we are planning to be relevant there.'" The Guardian, 2 January 2009.
     "In addition to the air raids on Hamas in Gaza, Israel has mounted a campaign to 'conquer' Arab satellite television channels as part of Operation Cast Lead. The initiative has been spearheaded by Arabic speakers in the Israel Defense Forces and the Foreign Ministry, joined in their efforts by senior government officials. ... Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai ... spoke to the Arab media, with both addressing Al-Jazeera viewers in spoken, informal Arabic, the type usually not heard on Arabic media channels. Other Israeli officials have spoken to the Arabic media in English, with a simultaneous translation into Arabic appearing on screen." Ha'aretz, 2 January 2009.
     "After some unpleasantness with Facebook, the Israeli government is now using Twitter in a bid to turn the tide in the propaganda war following its unpopular air strikes on the Gaza strip. The Consulate General of Israel in New York will hold a 'Citizen's Press Conference' with David Saranga, Consul of Media and Public Affairs, will be taking questions about the situation in Israel and Gaza via Twitter.", 1 January 2009.
     "Russian war correspondent Sergey Grankin has reported from Iraq, Kosovo and West Bank, but right now he can’t get into Gaza - and it’s not because he’s afraid to go there. ... Each day he goes to the border but is stopped by the Israeli army who say it’s for his own protection. ... Meanwhile, the Israeli army has created its own YouTube channel, with an entire department dedicated to blogging on the internet. At the end of the day who wins the war in Gaza will depend as much on what is said here - in cyberspace - as to what happens on the ground. ... It was the British army during the Falklands war that decided for the first time to isolate a war zone from the camera lenses." Russia Today, 1 January 2009.
     "The BBC World Service's 'World Have Your Say' will be hosting a Hamas representative live on air answering calls, e-mails and texts from listeners. Please do not allow Hamas propaganda to go unanswered." HonestReporting, 1 January 2009. Audio of that program on 1 January, and with an Israeli spokesperson on 31 December, available at World Have Your Say podcasts.
     See previous posts about same subject on 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2008.

Azerbaijan gets an earful about its decision to ban foreign radio (updated again).

Posted: 02 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"The European Commission warned Azerbaijan Wednesday that its planned ban of local-language broadcasts by the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Liberty could hit plans for deeper ties." AFP, 31 December 2008. "The European Union is criticizing Azerbaijan's ban on international radio broadcasts. ... EU official Benita Ferrero-Waldner says it will deprive listeners of 'valuable and independent sources of information.' She says the EU's commitment to increase economic and other ties with Azerbaijan hinges on respect for democracy and human rights." AP, 31 December 2008. "In early December the EU proposed a new "Eastern Partnership" aimed at boosting ties with its neighbours in the former-Soviet sphere, including Azerbaijan. However, 'respect for freedom of expression and of the media are essential elements' of the package." DPA, 31 December 2008.
     "'These media organizations play a crucial role in supporting democratic debate and the free exchange of ideas and information,' said State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid. 'This decision, if carried out, will represent a serious setback to freedom of speech, and retard democratic reform in Azerbaijan.'" AP, 30 December 2008. "We remain committed to working with the government of Azerbaijan to find the proper legal framework within which these radio and TV broadcasts can continue." State Department press statement, 30 December 2008.
     "'The people of Azerbaijan are the real losers,' said D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees VOA and RFE/RL. 'The decision appears to be part of a concerted official effort to limit access to unbiased information. We urge the Azerbaijani authorities to reverse this decision and to continue to work to resolve this situation, as they had indicated they would. Meanwhile, we will pursue all available alternatives for broadcasting the popular programs of RFE/RL and VOA to Azerbaijan.'" Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 30 December 2008.
     "Free media are essential to any society that values liberty. Radio Liberty, the Voice of America and the BBC should remain on the air to serve listeners in Azerbaijan with unfettered access to information and a variety of viewpoints. Depriving listeners of these services is a violation of the right to free expression that will constrain debate in Azerbaijan, undermining its commitment to democracy in the eyes of the world. The government of Azerbaijan should rescind its decision to block these broadcasts." Rep. Howard L. Berman, chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee, 30 December 2008.
     “We are baffled by this. What kind of impression does President Ilham Aliev expect to give by insisting on isolating his people from news and information behind an iron curtain? They will temporarily lose access to quality news outlets but they will know who to blame. In the end they will undoubtedly find ways to get round the constraints that the government has tried to impose, to the detriment of Azerbaijan’s image. It is a strategic error.” Reporters sans frontières, 30 December 2008.
     "'We are not closing down foreign radio stations but we want their activities to be regulated according to international practice,' Ali Hasanov, head of the political department of presidential administration, told reporters." Reuters, 30 December 2008. See also UPI, 30 December 2008. And VOA News, 30 December 2008.
     OSCE representative on media freedom Miklos Haraszti: "Opening borders to a free flow of information is one of the oldest Helsinki commitments regarding human rights, pledged by the participating States more than 30 years ago. Closing down FM news radio broadcasts that were among the few remaining sources of varied, public-service quality information is a serious step backwards for an OSCE democracy. ... Internet usage in Azerbaijan is low, the expansion of satellite radio is unrealistic and shortwave radio is unable to provide modern-day reception quality." ISRIA, 31 December 2008.
     "Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), very much regrets the decision by the Azerbaijani National TV and Radio Council not to renew the broadcasting licence of foreign radio stations." Girodivite, 31 December 2008. See also VOA News, 31 December 2008.
     "Nushirvan Magerramli, chairman of the country's State Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting insisted Tuesday the decision had nothing to do with politics. 'Nobody raised concerns when we stopped Russian, Turkish and French television and radio broadcasts in Azerbaijan.'" AFP, 31 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Azerbaijain is singled out for criticism in this instance, but it actually is joining a large club of nations that do not allow the rebroadcasting of foreign stations on their FM bands. The EU criticism is interesting, given that many European nations have not welcomed foreign (or at least non-EU) stations on their FM dials. In the 1980s, VOA Europe's business plan depended on such access, which largely was denied. VOA Europe was therefore not able to gather much of an audience, and went off the air in the 1990s.
     Update: "Azerbaijan has also tightened requirements for domestic TV and radio channels. All broadcasts must be in Azerbaijani, except for news broadcasts, which can be in Russian and English, but with Azerbaijani subtitles, according to Council chairman Nushirevan Magerramli. Magerramli said educational programs were also allowed to be broadcast in foreign languages, but with subtitles, and they must not be longer than 30 minutes." RIA Novosti, 1 January 2008.

"Innocuous" Radio Liberty versus "hard-hitting" VOA.

Posted: 01 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"As Radio Liberty’s Russian radio programs were becoming more innocuous in recent years due to pressures from the BBG to make them sound more acceptable to anti-Western Russians in the interest of pursuing the questionable marketing goal of 'marrying the mission to the market,' Voice of America journalists based in Washington have tried to offer more hard-hitting news and comments and thus serve the role of a surrogate radio broadcaster that RFE/RL is no longer able to play in Russia." Ted Lipien, Free Media Online Blog, 30 December 2008. This blog entry shows that the war of words continues continues apace into 2009. I am referring to the war of words between the supporters of VOA and the supporters of the "surrogate" Radio Free stations. Only when that war finally ends can U.S. international broadcasting hope to compete with BBC, Al Jazeera, and other international stations that are disappearing over the horizon.

"The Return of Cultural Diplomacy."

Posted: 01 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"During the cold war, Washington strove to share America's cultural heritage through scholarly and professional exchanges, artist and writer tours, libraries, translations and culturally oriented international broadcasting. Any new investment in American 'smart power' should include a substantial cultural component. But it won't be easy: ever since Sen. Jesse Helms attacked the National Endowment for the Arts in the 1980s for supporting works such as Robert Mapplethorpe's sadomasochistic photographs, American artists have expressed hostility toward their government, often through their art. Can the government be blamed for not wanting to export such work? Still, plenty of artists do not trade in politicized shock. The way to reconcile democracy and civilization is to exercise good taste in ways that are open and communicable to all. One example: a 2004 production of Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town' mounted by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, performed in colloquial Arabic by some of Egypt's leading actors—a highly regarded and universally accessible bicultural treatment of home, community and the swift passage of time that showed just as the Abu Ghraib prison-abuse scandal was breaking.' Martha Bayles, Newsweek, 31 December 2008.
     This is a thought provoking essay. Government deciding which U.S. cultural content is worthy for export is as problematic as government deciding which religious writings should be displayed in front of City Hall. Cultural diplomacy, therefore, would be a good project for "private public diplomacy," e.g. Business for Diplomatic Action.
     There are vaults containing a wealth of programming from U.S. public television and educational audio-visual producers. These include plays, concerts, histories, and performances of all sorts. Much of this can be translated into other languages and made available to television stations around the world at prices so attractive they cannot afford to say no.

RFI Russian will continue on shortwave, at least through 2011.

Posted: 01 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
Sergei S. in Moscow translates this announcement from the Radio France International Russian Service: "I'd like to tell you that RFI's Russian service had its own Christmas miracle. As reported by AFP, the petition to save our SW and MW radio service reached President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Fillon, Minister of Culture Albanel and all deputies of the National Council. After that out leadership immediately announced that their decision to shut down the Russian radio service was actually under 'consideration' and that in any case our SW and MW broadcasts will continue until the end of 2011. Now we'd like to ask all our listeners to be vigilant. If you don't hear us on our usual wavelengths at usual time, please inform us immediately. Also, our leadership invited us to return to our old format of two one-hour programs daily. Right now we have two 30-min. and one 60-min. broadcast. If only you knew how much we fought in the past that we might continue with two one-hour programs! Truly, a new broom sweeps very clean in order to prove that the old one didn't do the work well." RFI Russian, 24 December 2008.

Notes on the Gaza PR war (updated).

Posted: 01 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Once again, Israel has shown that it will 'never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity' to capture the high ground in the news wars that are the main battleground in the Middle East these days. Even when it has the facts on its side. Israel failed to launch a first strike with its weapons of public diplomacy. Israel needed a global truth squad campaign to show the world Hamas' evil intent. Bring in cameras from CNN, BBC, German, French, Japanese, Russian and Chinese TV -- and especially Al Jazeera. Show the world the terror Hamas inflicts by firing rockets upon Israeli civilians in towns, villages and farmlands near Gaza." Martin Schram, Scripps Howard, 30 December 2008.
     "In a region known for not paying attention to public opinion, or where public opinion is dictated by the regimes, an appeal to the masses has usually been viewed as an act of desperation, not policy. Hamas can rack up its first victory for its methods as several European countries are already talking about a 'humanitarian' cease-fire, and Egypt has been fixed in the public eye as a collaborator with Israel." Ha'aretz, 31 December 2008.
     "While the air strikes are done with medical precision, Israel is already losing the war in the Public Diplomacy Front. The world is waking up, angrier than ever before. The constant bombardment of Israeli towns and cities, ongoing for years, has not bothered the giant: nothing but flies that were to be ignored. When Israel is finally taking action, the giant has been disturbed from its rest, soon to start roaring with anger." Ari Bussel, Canada Free Press, 29 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Al Jazeera English-language coverage is fairly easy to find, direct from and through portals such as Less easy to find are Israeli broadcasts, which are available at Kol Israel International.
     Update: "The insistence on learning from mistakes made in the Second Lebanon War ... extended beyond having a press center ready to roll, and toward the message that was being put forward. 'I’m trying not to limit myself,' [Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Andy] David said. 'My message is to say that the aim is very simple: that what has happened in the last eight years [rocket fire in southern Israel] will not happen in the future. The aim is to change the reality.' He said that the purpose of the public diplomacy effort 'was not to convince everyone they like us, but that we have the right, the will and capability to do what we think necessary.'" Forward, 31 December 2008.
     "The YouTube cartoon shows rockets striking France’s Eiffel Tower, Britain’s Big Ben and the German Bundestag. Then comes the tagline: 'How do you like it? In Sderot, people have been living like this for eight years.' The video was posted by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, part of a battle for world opinion being waged in parallel with Israel’s military strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. ... Ofir Gendelman, director of Arab press and public affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said he is giving 15 interviews a day to Arab-language radio and television stations, as well as answering comments posted on the YouTube site. Going a technological step further, the ministry yesterday held a press conference on Twitter, an instant-messaging community site." Bloomberg, 1 January 2009. See also Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arabic YouTube channel.
     "On Tuesday morning I checked the English-language website of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see how Livni's PR epicenter was holding up. Lest Palestinian suffering interfere with Israel's own propaganda purposes, the number of dead tabulated on the main page was currently four Israelis." Belén Fernández, The Palestine Chronicle, 31 December 2008.

Cuba's pioneering bloggers.

Posted: 01 Jan 2009   Print   Send a link
"Some change is coming from the ground up, as a new generation of tech-savvy bloggers emerges. [Yoania Sanchcez's blog Generación Y] chronicles her everyday observations of Cuba, from the abundance of José Martí statues to bored youth and the workings of Cuba's black market. ... She heads to one of Havana's Internet cafés once a week, a practice that is extremely expensive. (One hour at an Internet café in Havana typically costs 160 pesos [US$6], about one-third an average monthly salary on the island.) But Sánchez works fast, quickly uploading her files from a flash memory drive and downloading readers' comments and e-mail." Committee to Protect Journalists, 31 December 2008. See also Global Voices, 1 January 2009.