Newspaper reporting on GAO report on TV Martí observes TV Martí's report on the GAO report (updated).

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The St. Petersburg Times was invited to sit in and observe the nightly 6 o'clock newscast. Despite professional editing and studio quality, the newscast at times sank into the kind of political propaganda cited by [a recent Government Accountability Office] report. The lead item, a story from Geneva about annual human rights hearings, included unsubstantiated allegations by a Miami exile group about torture in Cuban jails, citing up to 100 deaths. The report was not balanced with independent sources. Another item, about Fidel Castro's birthplace being turned into a museum, included an exile critic who commented that the ailing former president had 'not had the decency to die.' The news that evening also included an item about the GAO report; the item failed to mention the tiny audience figures, stating instead that the signal continues to suffer from jamming by Cuba." David Adams, St. Petersburg Times, 16 February 2009.
     Update: "The Marti stations were created at a very different time — both in foreign relations and technology. Now many Havana residents are able to watch Miami's Spanish-language TV stations, and Cubans have access to much more media, from DVDs to flash drives. While the Cuban state still controls the news, the experiment of Marti has strayed far from its own path. What was meant as a promotion of democracy appears to have devolved into an expensive vehicle for anti-Castro propaganda. It's time to pull the plug." Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, 27 February 2009. See also previous posts on 12 February and 6 February 2009, and Kim's comments on 6 February.

VOA reporter leaves State Department official tongue-tied.

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Briefing with Karen Stewart, acting assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor, on the release of the 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. "QUESTION: (Inaudible) with the Voice of America. Is North Korea again one of the worst violators of human rights in 2008? And how does the State Department plan to address the human rights issue? Will you be prioritizing the denuclearization process over human rights dialogue? STEWART: Well, we don’t – I’m not -- you know, I don’t compare one country to the other, so I’m not doing rankings, or worst in that sense. But North Korea certainly falls in that category that I discussed in the general trends of a country where you have a very authoritarian leadership, and human rights, I have to say, are really, when you look at the whole situation and read the report for North Korea, abysmal, in that case. Human rights, we have always said and we – will be a part of our overall normalization dialogue when, you know, we’re at negotiations, relations with North Korea, not – so again, I’m not prioritizing it. It’s a part – you have a broad relationship you have to work on when we get to the point of being able to have something like, move towards more talks with North Korea, and it’s a part of that. QUESTION: May I follow up to that? Are you going to actually follow through and appoint a full-time envoy for human rights to North Korea as was congressionally mandated? STEWART: You know, the – what’s – we will certainly – I – let’s start over. Yes, congressionally mandated and following the law, we will in time, at the appropriate time, but appointments are very early on, still in process." State Department, 25 February 2009. A Radio Martí reporter also asked a question during the press conference. See previous post about same subject.

Death of Margaret Jaffie, retired VOA tour guide.

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Margaret E. Jaffie, 88, a retired public affairs officer for the Voice of America who conducted thousands of public tours of the international broadcasting operation during a 20-year tenure, died Feb. 12... . Leading five or more tour groups a day through VOA's headquarters at 330 Independence Ave. SW, Mrs. Jaffie explained the broadcast network's mission and operations, answered countless questions and, in her words, 'told America's story to the world.' Those to whom she gave tours ... included, on one occasion during the Cold War, two heavyset men with Russian accents who said they were from New York. They actually were journalists from Pravda, the official Soviet newspaper. 'They wrote that they visited the Voice of America and met a feisty old lady, wearing tennis shoes, who was spreading propaganda,' Mrs. Jaffie recalled in a 2002 VOA interview. Her tennis shoes were a way to cope with the long, uncarpeted corridors of the VOA building." Washington Post, 26 February 2009.

Sporting events and nation branding.

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"[Unlike] Australia, China did not use the Olympics to proactively promote inbound tourism, but rather focused on sanitizing the event and using it as a platform to demonstrate her logistical and organizational prowess. ... If there is one lesson from previous hosts, that sets a memorable event apart from an average one, it is [Simon] Anholt's conclusion of branding sporting events: 'The event gives the country permission to make one single, clear, striking point about itself; and if the only point it manages is its ability to run an event competently, or that it has money to burn on new facilities and lavish opening ceremonies, then by the time the next host takes over - or even sooner - the world will have forgotten that the event ever took place.'" Nikolaus Eberl,, 24 February 2009.

Worldfocus television program has a radio program.

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
With Martin Savidge, also host of the television newscast. The 24 February edition is about Venezuela. Worldfocus, 24 February 2009.
     I stumbled across it during a web search. It's strange in several ways: 1) The Worldfocus web page indicates the program is called "Tune In." But that name is not heard in the audio. 2) The audio player gives no indication how long the program will be. 3) There is no mention of the radio program on the Worldfocus home page, nor apparently any way to navigate to the program. 4) It has narrow-bandwidth sound, like a bad telephone, and the levels are very uneven.
     The Worldfocus radio program is associated with BlogTalkRadio. The BlogTalkRadio Worldfocus page does reveal that the program is 30 minutes in length, and weekly. There is no mention of "Tune In" as its name.

Putin (briefly) visits RIA-Novosti and Russia Today.

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on Tuesday. ... RIA Novosti Editor-in-Chief Svetlana Mironyuk gave Putin a guided tour of the agency's two-floor multimedia newsroom, the only one of its kind in Russia, which was inaugurated in January 2008. ... The concept behind the newsroom is to help the department's 300 journalists and editors improve their efficiency through prompt exchange of information, better planning and tight coordination. ... RIA Novosti's main website and foreign-language news portals have more than 5.5 million visitors per month. Putin also visited the offices of the English-language newspaper The Moscow News and Russia's first 24-hour English-language news channel, Russia Today, located in the same building." RIA Novosti, 24 February 2009.
     "Reaction among the staff to Putin's entrance ranged from big smiles to rabbit-in-the-headlights paralysis. No one dared to step forward and press the flesh with him, perhaps sensing that the brief description given by [RIA Novosti's editor-in-chief Svetlana] Mironyuk of the newspaper's work was all he had time for." The Moscow News, 26 November 2009.
     "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has visited [Russia Today]. ... It is the first time Putin has visited the television station, which he inspired three years ago." Russia Today, 24 February 2009, with video.
     "Vice President Joe Biden gave a hint to the Obama administration's attitude toward relations with Russia in a Feb. 7 foreign policy speech in Munich, Germany. ... Senior Russian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, reacted positively to the vice president's speech. But in an interview with the Russia Today television program, Ivanov was more cautious." VOA News, 24 February 2009.

The pedogogical Deutsche Welle.

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"IGNOU [Indira Gadhi National Open University] and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle have come together to offer a short-term course on online journalism from next month, targeting 25 short-listed journalists for the programme from among aspirants. ... The Deutshe Welle Akademie has trained over 19,000 broadcasting professionals world over during the last 40 years. It also instructs about 1,000 media professionals from all continents annually." Indopia, 25 February 2009.

Realistic about the internet's "transformational potential."

Posted: 28 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"China is looking to Russia, which may have invented an entirely new model of controlling the Internet without recourse to censorship. Having established full control of traditional media, the Kremlin is now moving full-speed into the virtual world. The authorities' strategy is not new: establish tight control over the leading publishing platforms and fill them with propaganda and spin to shape online public opinion. ... We should be more realistic about the true extent of the Internet's transformational potential." Rebecca MacKinnon and Evgeny Morozov, The Moscow Times, 27 February 2009.

Jordanian internet users use internet for news.

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Almost half of Jordanian Internet users rely on news websites, a trend web journalists believe will pave the way for the medium to play a greater role in how the Kingdom gets its news. According to the 2009 Jordan Media Survey, 16.6 per cent of Jordanians, constituting 45.9 per cent of all web users in the country, said they had visited a news website within the last 30 days. Al Jazeera was the most popular destination for Internet browsers, some 66.5 per cent, followed by Al Arabiyya at 35.1 per cent and CNN at 18.8 per cent, according to the study." Jordan Times, 26 February 2009.

Casa África es realmente Casa España.

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"A delegation from Casa África, headed by its director general, Ambassador Ricardo Martínez, visited Namibia this week. The purpose of the visit was to present the institution to the Namibian authorities and the public and to gain a direct knowledge of their interests in order to take them into account in the planning of future activities. ... Casa África is a new instrument of public diplomacy that aims to become a central reference between Spain, Europe and Africa, which considers the African continent a place of great challenges and enormous opportunities." Namibia Economist, 27 February 2009.

Worldspace auction day (updated).

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pay-radio broadcaster Worldspace has its Chapter 11 auction sale scheduled for today, Feb 23. The event takes place at 10am local time in the offices of Shearman & Sterling LLP, in New York. ... Last Friday, Feb 20, saw a flurry of Court Motions filed in the case. Most were routine, but one from New Satellite Radio SrL, already a creditor of Worldspace and in essence representing Worldspace’s partners in their European operations, which argued (not for the first time) that Worldspace was selling assets it was not entitled to sell." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 22 February 2009.
     Update: "On Feb 25 the sale process for Worldspace’s assets was originally due to have been taking place at a Delaware bankruptcy court. A last-minute postponement pushes the Hearing Date back to March 6. Meanwhile, Worldspace filed a massive 192-page document that said – in effect – that its former European partner New Satellite Radio SrL, had made 'unfounded and unconvincing' assertions that Worldspace was selling assets it was not entitled to sell." Rapid TV News, 26 February 2009. See also Rapid TV News, 24 February 2009.
     In the competition of Indian DTH television providers: "Bharti Airtel also believes that it has a tactical advantage as it is the only DTH provider offering World Space Radio. But given the recent negative bankruptcy news about World Space, this tactical claim seems quite presumptuous.", 25 February 2009.
     "Known for being extremely selective, [Oscar winner AR] Rahman only endorses Airtel, WorldSpace and Nokia’s music handsets." The Economic Times, 24 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

International broadcasting in the State human rights reports.

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The government appeared to have lifted most of its restrictions on access to the Voice of America Web site, although it continued to block Radio Free Asia (RFA) most of the time. Nevertheless, local press occasionally wrote stories based on RFA broadcasts." 2008 Human Rights Reports: Vietnam, State Department, 25 February 2009. "The sustained jamming of Voice of America's Amharic and Afan Oromo Services, which started in December 2007, largely ended in March." 2008 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, State Department, 25 February 2009. Some of the other State Department country reports on human rights practices mention access to international broadcasting, including jamming, blocking websites, and denying FM rebroadcasting.

France 24 claims iPhone first (updated again).

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"News network France 24 has launched a free app enabling iPhone and iPod Touch users to watch the network’s French, English and Arabic channels live or via VOD. The Paris-based broadcaster claims to be the first to launch a free live TV iPhone app." paidContent:UK, 11 February 2009.
     Update: "Two weeks after the launch of its France 24 Live application for the iPhone, French broadcaster France 24 said the app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times around the world. Of all the free news applications available on iTunes, FRANCE 24 LIVE ranks among the top 10 worldwide.", 25 February 2009.
     "French news service France 24 has discovered the true meaning of mobile TV: jackets with integrated TV screens. Big-screen beauties were spotted wondering the halls of Mobile World Congress in Spain today, each wearing padded jackets with rear-mounted TV screens built in. ... The hi-tech clothing was actually designed to promote the launch of its TV streaming application for the iPhone." Register Hardware, 17 February 2009, and see comment if you want to buy one.

Al Jazeera English continues its North American placement campaign.

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera English, the Qatar-based 24-hour international news and current events television channel, plans to apply for a broadcasting licence in Canada within the next few weeks and hopes to be on the air by the fall. But if Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canada-Israel Committee prevail, the licence won’t be granted unless the station complies with guidelines set down several years ago by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission." The Canadian Jewish News, 26 February 2009.
     "On my frequent trips abroad, I have had a chance to view Al Jazeera. Its international channel is excellent, especially their documentaries, which cover isues from all over the world. The service is all in English with no commercials. Bring it on!" Ted Hassall, Niagara Falls, letter to The Toronto Star, 26 February 2009.
     "The director of global distribution for AJE, Phil Lawrie, believes the major barrier is commercial because there is saturation news coverage in Australia and the US. 'It's not the problem Ted Turner found when he launched CNN back in 1980,' he says. Burman says there is some lingering political baggage "that comes from the post-9/11 era", but that evaporates as soon as the channel is operating." The Australian, 23 February 2009.
     Front page of Al-Jazeera English webpage: -Fighting in Mogadishu. -Swat Taliban extends ceasefire. -Wall Street slump sparks Asia fall. -Several smaller stories, such as Us to give $900 million in aid to Gaza, N. Korea to launch satellite, etc. Front page of CNN webpage: -Obama speech will be sober, hopeful. -Advertisements, advertisements, advertisements. -9 year old bride walks down aisle in Texas. -Possible octuplet dad wants DNA test. ...For those of you that actually care about world news, the real news, not the crap CNN and other MMMNAs spoon-feed people, take a chance on Al-Jazeera." Dusty W., gather, 24 February 2009. One click away from the CNN home page is, a formidable compilation of international news. See previous post about same subject.
     AJE MD "Tony Burman said that [Gaza] ‘coverage was really very comprehensive’ and that the reaction to the channel’s output ‘was a reminder that there is a hunger in the world, to get a sense of what is going on’. The Al Jazeera site had, at times, seen a 600 per cent increase in traffic during Gaza coverage, he said. Because Israeli, as well as other international media couldn’t access the area either during parts of the conflict, Al Jazeera was watched by a bigger Israeli audience too, he said." Judith Townend, blog, 26 February 2009.
     "The world news TV market is a stubbornly slow-growth market here in the U.S. It's not just AJE struggling for carriage; BBC World and France 24 would like to be carried coast to coast, but they just can't get corporate cable operators interested. And let's face it: Money is tight in that business right now. So I would encourage [Tony Burman] -- and will when I talk to him in an interview -- to bring this matter up with the emir and see if he can't shake loose a few mil to get AJE in some big-city markets, even if only on digital cable." Aaron Narnhart, Kansas City Star TV Barn, 24 February 2009.
     "When I left Denver, in late 2004, to move to Washington DC to work for Al Jazeera English a lot of people told me it could turn out to be career suicide. It's been just the opposite for me. The channel has developed into one of the premier English language news channels in the world. The channel is received in over 120 million homes around the world. It's too bad most people in the U.S. still do not have that ability. People in places like Denver, Colorado should not be obligated to watch Al Jazeera English, but Coloradoans should at least have the freedom to watch Al Jazeera English on their television. Every time I go to the U.S., I flip through the channels and I am amazed at all the junk on cable TV." Gabriel Elizondo, via Denver Westword blog, 25 February 2009.

Twitter assists CNN with coverage of Amsterdam air crash.

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The social networking site Twitter again stole a march on traditional media when it was the first outlet to publish dramatic pictures of the Turkish Airlines crash. Moments after the plane crashed at Amsterdam's Schipol airport on Wednesday morning the news was appearing on Twitter, CNN International correspondent Errol Barnett said. ... Barnett said that when CNN saw the image it moved quickly to confirm with Dutch officials that a crash had happened. 'Within minutes we were reporting on the story.'" CNN, 26 February 2009.
     BBC World News America executive producer Rome Hartman: "Now, I'm as tech-savvy as the next guy, and I completely get the way in which social networks like Twitter are changing the way information is shared around the world (remember how that great photo of the plane in the Hudson rocketed around the globe via Twitter?). It's just that I'm not sure I really care to know in real time what the anchor of Meet the Press is having for breakfast, or just what the House chamber podium looks like from the seat of the junior Senator from Arkansas. And I'm sure that no one, not even my wife and kids (perhaps especially my wife and kids), are desperate to know what I'm doing all day long, in bursts 140 characters long." Hartman's blog via WebNewser, 25 February 2009.

Still trying to get BBC (in English) back on Sofia's FM dial (updated).

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"As The Sofia Echo reported in its January 23 edition, BBC World Service listeners have launched a campaign to reinstate the broadcasts on its FM frequency. ... Long-time BBC listener Carol Howard, a Sofia resident for 10 years, is one of many who would like to see the BBC broadcast reinstated. 'It’s really poor public relations for the Bulgarian Government to play games with one of the world’s most respected news organisations.' ... Howard also attacks the assumption that satellite transmissions can compensate for radio broadcasts. 'Many people in Sofia do not have a computer attached to their hip. And most people in Sofia are on cable TV/internet connections, so the live satellite connection does not work, anyways.' For Howard, the broadcasts provided indispensable access to British culture. 'English traditions such as Saturday afternoon football are still popular around the world. I was in Ghana recently and every taxi in Accra on a Saturday afternoon was tuned in to Sportsworld on the BBC World Service. Yet that privilege is no longer available here, because the Bulgarian Government will not give the BBC a licence.'" Gebriel Hershman, Sofia Echo, 13 February 2009. As mentioned in a previous post, BBC dropped its Bulgarian service at the end of 2005, so the issue is whether Bulgarian authorities should grant a Sofia FM channel for BBC World Service in English.
     Update: "The Sofia Echo has received more than 20 e-mails demanding the return of the BBC World Service to Bulgaria’s FM radio frequency, an appeal first reported in the newspaper’s January 23 issue with a follow-up in the February 13 issue. Campaigners have also set up a Facebook page 'I want my BBC back'. Judging by the number and content of our e-mails, most readers feel that the broadcasts were indispensable." The Sofia Echo, 27 February 2009. That conclusion from twenty e-mails?

As planned, BBC South Asian staff went on 24-hour strike.

Posted: 27 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC's Hindi, Urdu and Nepali service journalists went on a strike today to protest plans that will allegedly result in 34 job losses and outsourcing of editorial content to the Indian sub-continent, even as a motion has been tabled in the House of Commons in their support. Journalists from Hindi, Urdu and Nepali sections walked out from their newsrooms at 00.01 hours (GMT) today and are scheduled to continue the strike until 23.59 hours. Meanwhile, the motion, tabled by senior Labour leader John McDonnell, expressed 'grave concern' at the BBC World Service's decision to allegedly 'impose its plans to offshore 100 per cent of Hindi output and 50 per cent of Nepali and Urdu output, which will result in many job losses'. The motion, supported by several MPs, said the BBC's plans 'worsened pay and conditions for staff who are moved overseas and could have serious consequences for editorial independence'." Press Trust of India, 26 February 2009. See also Early Day Motion 976.
     One [union] member commented: 'If the BBC’s succeeds in imposing change, the tendency will be for the output to become more and more India-centric, in the case of the India service, as they try to compete with local FM broadcasters. This moves away from the World Service’s USP: impartial news with a global perspective. Why should the British taxpayer end up paying for a local Indian radio station?'" Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union, 26 February 2009.
     "Mike Gardner, BBC's Head of Media and Public Relations, said : 'We believe the proposals to increase our presence in the heart of some of the most exciting media markets in the world will create new opportunities for staff and greatly improve our service to our audiences in the region.' ... Gardner said the one-day strike did not lead to any disruption to the editorial output of the Hindi, Urdu and Nepali services on Thursday." Financial Express, 27 February 2009.
     "The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its strong support to striking journalists at the BBC World Service who are protesting at the Corporation's plans to outsource its South Asian programmes to companies in India and Pakistan. ... 'The IFJ fully supports these journalists who are not only defending their jobs but the integrity, quality and independence of the BBC World Service,' said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. 'At a time when media face unprecedented crisis, pushing staff to give up full time jobs and being offered a choice between unemployment or lower terms jobs in unstable locations is nothing short of a scandal.'" IFJ, 26 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Peter Horrocks will be new director of BBC World Service.

Posted: 26 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Current Head of the BBC's Multi Media Newsroom Peter Horrocks has been appointed as Director of BBC World Service, it was announced today, Thursday 26 February 2009. As Director of BBC World Service, Peter Horrocks will be responsible for the overall editorial leadership and management of the world's leading international multimedia broadcaster. He will take up the post in mid-April. ... Peter Horrocks has been Head of the BBC's Multi Media Newsroom since September 2005. He had previously been the BBC's Head of Current Affairs." BBC World Service press release, 26 February 2009. See previous posts about Mr. Horrocks on 8 November and 24 April 2008. Nigel Chapman departs as BBCWS director on 27 February. Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC Global News and boss of the BBCWS directors, will be interim BBCWS director until Mr. Horrocks takes over in mid-April.

Public diplomacy's new regime.

Posted: 24 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Obama team in the first month has made it clear that they believe they know how to do public diplomacy better than the Bush team did. ... However, in her recent NPR interview, UN Ambassador Rice put her finger on a very important point about public diplomacy that is all-too-often ignored by the Pew poll watchers: public diplomacy is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. Being the world's BFF is all well and good, but if it does not yield greater global cooperation on the global challenges that matter, then it is not worth much." Peter Feaver, Foreign Policy Shadow Government blog, 23 February 2009.
     "Furthering public diplomacy and meeting ordinary people was a 'key part of Clinton's [East Asian] tour, explained Professor Pang Zhongying, of Renmin University of China. Pang, who described Clinton's approach as post-modern, added: 'Diplomacy has extended far beyond state level. Today, statesmen need to go public.' ... After getting her audience's full attention with Chinese proverbs and a warning for China not to repeat the mistakes made by the US industrialization, she left the podium to shake hands with the students from Tsinghua University, some of whom clutched her autobiography Living History in the hope to have it signed. 'She's very attractive. Her eyes were deep and sincere as they looked straight at me,' said Yao Yao, a journalism researcher." China Daily, 23 February 2009.
     At the Media as a Global Diplomat conference on 3 February: "Beating back evangelists of Web 2.0, Ted Koppel said, '[The phrase] "democratization of information" makes me cringe because the idea that everybody gets a say, gets an input, is exactly what our founding fathers wanted to avoid when they set up a representative government.' In my opinion, Koppel was mistakenly conflating direct democracy as a form of government with the increased civic participation enabled by the web. [Previous undersecretary for public diplomacy James K.] Glassman made a compelling case that the Internet is, in fact, an 'American medium,' which gives the U.S. a competitive advantage over it foes, and suggested that America should try to project itself as an 'agora' (or "marketplace of ideas") to the world." Mark Hannah, PBS MediaShift, 23 February 2009.

RFA on North Koreans listening to RFA.

Posted: 24 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia vice president Dan Southerland interviews Russian historian Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea and RFA commentator: "Q: It seems to me there is still a role for radio. Defectors I have spoken with recently say that people in the elite are listening to Radio Free Asia. A: Radio is widely used, and it is very important that short-wave radios with free [instead of fixed] tuning are being smuggled. Radios are used largely by the elite—not by people who want fresh entertainment, but by people who want information about what’s going on outside of the country. So most listeners are intellectuals or officials or people who are serious about getting out of the country. Five or six stations broadcast into North Korea right now, and these stations are mostly listened to by these people. They are clearly a minority, but politically they are very significant … A person who has been making a bit of money by selling pancakes on the market may buy a DVD player and watch romances. But radio is for, say, a secret police captain who knows that the system is in trouble and wants to figure out what’s going on and how to save his skin. Radio broadcasting provides him with the intelligence he needs to do this. Q: We had some independent research last year showing that some of these border traders, some of these smugglers and so forth—they call themselves 'businesspeople' — are also listening to radio. It’s quite a significant percentage in a rather limited survey. A: If you look at people who are in China, you will see that radio listeners are overrepresented among this group when compared to the general population. Because if you go to China, you have to listen. Most of these people want to know the current trends." Radio Free Asia, 23 February 2009.

Cambodian general takes issue with RFA report.

Posted: 24 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces general stationed at Preah Vihear temple said Monday that a radio report broadcast Sunday asserting that Thai soldiers had placed barbed wire in Cambodian territory was false. Radio Free Asia reported Sunday that Thai soldiers had stretched about 40 metres of barbed wire on the Cambodian side of the border in Preah Vihear province." The Phnom Penh Post, 24 February 2009.

Are 2,500 channels enough to keep you occupied?

Posted: 24 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
", the UK's leading video-on-demand provider (FilmOn's words!), has expanded its repertoire this week, and announced a new service dedicated to TV – Created by by's founder and CEO, Alki David, the new portal offers 2,500 channels of live video streams and is said to bring 'virtual cable TV' to the masses.", 23 February 2009. A visit to does reveal links to television channels all over the world, and some of the streams actually work.

Kidnapped France 24 stringer is still missing.

Posted: 24 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Six months after Alberta journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in Somalia, there is no news of her fate, an international advocacy group for journalists says. ... 'The fact that she was a freelancer is making things more complicated, maybe because the kidnappers understand they – the hostages – don't have big media behind them so there is no big money.' ... 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. She was in the Eastern African nation doing a story on refugees." CBC News, 23 February 2009.
     "A Vancouver journalist, who was abducted last year in northern Pakistan, says in a videotape she's being held by the Taliban. Beverly Giesbrecht was reportedly working on a documentary for the Al Jazeera network in November when she was taken at gunpoint along with her translator and guide in the Bannu district near the Afghan border. She adopted the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar when she converted to Islam in 2002.", 24 February 2009.

BBC Persian's "faithful reporting" of the 1978 Iran revoluation.

Posted: 23 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
In November 1978: "America and Britain, the two most influential Western powers in Iran had been watching the events with growing concern, especially since the start and spread of the strikes. The shah did not trust Britain and believed that it was working against him. He pointed to the faithful reporting of the events by the BBC Persian service as evidence, but given his deeply ingrained general distrust of Britain he is unlikely to have thought otherwise in any case." Homa Katouzian,, 22 February 2009.

Belarus foreign minister says foreign television is available there.

Posted: 23 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"We are responding now to the needs of the time and are introducing a consistent program of change to create a more democratic society. This means growing pluralism in the media. Major opposition newspapers have received access to state distribution, which makes them available to a majority of Belarussian readers. People here can easily watch foreign TV channels. Even basic packages of cable networks operating in virtually every city in Belarus offer a wide choice, including such popular news channels as Euronews, BBC and CNN." Sergei Martynov, International Herald Tribune, 23 February 2009.

Al Jazeera is still on the front burner (updated).

Posted: 23 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"I want my Al-Jazeera. That's the message from the execs at the Arab TV net's English-language channel, who have launched website The site, which targets North American auds, is aimed at dispelling myths about the channel. Some of the accusations countered on the site include the claims that Al-Jazeera English, which launched in November 2006, is anti-American, anti-Semitic and supports terrorism. The move is part of an attempt to finally get comprehensive cable carriage in the U.S." Variety, 19 February 2009.
     "The web site launch will be followed next week by a significant advertising initiative targeting national publications and web sites. The new campaign will be similar to a recent effort that featured ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Foreign Policy and on their web sites and was tied to the network's Gaza coverage. ... And with Western news organizations facing painful budget cuts to their foreign bureaus, the need for news from abroad has only served to further the network’s cause. Including the original Arabic language service, Al Jazeera operates 69 bureaus internationally. That’s more than the BBC or CNN." Broadcasting & Cable, 18 February 2009.
     "The Doha-based TV network is also launching a Canadian version of the site, a move that coincides with its seeking permission from Canada's Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to broadcast its channel on cable and satellite." Brand Republic, 18 February 2009.
     Al Jazeera English DG Tony "Burman told The Standard in an e-mail that he believes the main reason the station has not yet won over Americans is that carriers don't see it as a money maker. 'However, we all recognize that the world is getting smaller, and Americans realize that it is essential to know what is happening in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia and in Latin America, not just the news that is deemed relevant in Atlanta, London or other Western cities.'" The Industry Standard, 19 February 2009.
     "If Al Jazeera English is successful in its latest bid to expand into these markets - it already broadcasts in a few American cities, and a recent attempt in Canada by the original Arabic channel only foundered after regulators told local distributors they would be held liable for controversial coverage - it will undoubtedly unsettle the rather complacent manner in which the big North American broadcasters have become accustomed to covering their daily beat. At the very least, its genuinely cosmopolitan outlook will put to shame the parochialism that informs so many American news programmes." Editorial, Stabroek News (Georgetown), 20 February 2009.
     "If the emir has a few million to spare, he should really think about paying to get AJE placed on cable systems in the U.S. Ten years ago, my readers were bellyaching for the Fox News Channel. But all the complaining in the world wouldn't have done much good had Rupert Murdoch not decided to pay the piper." Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star TV Barn, 19 February 2009.
     From interview with British journalist Robert Fisk: "Al Jazeera came out as the heroes of journalism because they had their international service, their English service and also their Arabic service fully operational from offices inside Gaza. Individual Palestinians working for Western news organizations showed that they could be competent journalists, and the Western journalists who sat outside Gaza looked as pathetic as their reporting on the Middle East is becoming." Hour (Montreal), 19 February 2009.
     "Al Jazeera English releases a new programme, A Crime of War? as part of its weekly programme Focus on Gaza. ... The programme will focus on the story of an alleged war crime that occurred during the war on Gaza in the small village of Khuza’a, approximately 500 metres from the Israeli border." The Peninsula (Doha), 20 February 2009.
     "To be fair, the Saudi-controlled, Dubai-based satellite news channel Al-Arabiya makes a stab at modifying Al-Jazeera's radicalism." Editorial, Jerusalem Post, 19 February 2009.
     "In the six-odd hours of watching Al Jazeera English, this viewer might have squirmed or rolled his eyes several times but did not see anything that verged on incitement. That assessment is shared by Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington, D.C. 'There is no incendiary material that we could find,' he said. His group has found plenty of programming on the Arabic channel to criticize, such as an instalment this week, which featured a Kuwaiti professor advocating a biological attack on the White House and sneaking anthrax through Mexico, or the sheikh who late last month told viewers that Adolf Hitler 'put Jews in their place'– even though they 'exaggerated the issue.' Mr. Stalinsky believes Al Jazeera English is an elaborate Western front operation. 'One of the main goals of Qatar is to use English as a PR vehicle for Al Jazeera Arabic, so that the Westerners think that the English channel is not so bad, so the Arabic can't be bad, either.'" National Post, 20 February 2009.
     Update: "Al Jazeera English, with its unique perspective from the developing world, delivers the goods. During the fighting in Gaza, for example, AJE was the only international English service that covered both Gaza and Israel. It routinely airs Israeli views. For these reasons, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission should approve AJE's current bid to air programs here, as its parent Arabic service does in the U.S." Editorial, Toronto Star, 23 February 2009.
     "Gone are the days when Arab audiences got their information from Western media outlets such as the Voice of America, Radio Monte Carlo, CNN or the BBC. We now have a media that can shape Arab public opinion from Mauritania to Iraq, for the first time in modern Arab history." Faisal Al Qasim, Gulf News (Abu Dhabi), 22 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Australia touts large audiences in Pacific nations.

Posted: 23 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The first pan-Pacific quant[it]ative research commissioned by the ABC has revealed strong figures for the ABC’s international radio and online broadcasting arm – Radio Australia. 'The survey results indicate that Radio Australia is gaining support in the Pacific, and positioned as the market leader for international broadcasters. These figures show how we have re-invented ourselves by broadcasting in target centres through our 24 hour FM transmission, as opposed to 5 years ago, where we only broadcast into the Pacific via shortwave transmission,' remarked Radio Australia’s CEO Hanh Tran." Weekly audiences in cities served by FM relays: PNG 27.3%; Fiji 22.8%; Vanuatu 58.2%; Solomon Islands 56.9%; Samoa 22.7%. Radio Australia press release, 20 February 2009.

Will China understand the concept of actions versus words? (updated)

Posted: 23 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"CCTV will start Russian and Arabic channels this year to supplement English, Spanish and French programming. Xinhua will add to its more than 100 foreign bureaus, and China will get its second official English-language daily, Agence France-Presse reported Jan. 14. 'Enhancing our communication capacity domestically and internationally is of direct consequence to our nation's international influence and international position,' said Li Changchun, a member of the Communist Party's top ruling body, in a December speech. Cheng Li, research director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington, is skeptical about the project's success. 'This is part of China's efforts to change its image, but in my view it's really more in terms of format rather than substance,' he says. 'The real substance is, you change China's own human rights record at a faster pace.'" Bloomberg News, 17 February 2009.
     Update: "Dong Manyuan, a senior researcher at [the Chinese] Foreign Ministry think tank, the China Institute of International Studies, says Chinese soft power is more appealing than its Western rivals because it exudes peace and harmony. 'Characteristics of Chinese soft power include respect for heterogeneity of world cultures, openness and tolerance, friendliness and inclusiveness, politeness and benevolence,' he says." The Australian, 23 February 2009.
     "Its target: To build its state press into a mega 'media aircraft carrier' – chuan mei hang kong mu – that will win over an international audience. ... The key plank of this Chinese push for a larger voice on the world stage is likely to be an Asia-based television station that will beam round-the-clock global news to the world – as told from a non-Western perspective. A Chinese CNN, if you like – or perhaps more accurately, Al-Jazeera with Chinese characteristics." Straits Times via The Malaysian Insider, 22 February 2009.

With a vengeance, indeed.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "has taken to digital diplomacy with a vengeance, contributing to DipNote, the slick State Department blog, and soliciting questions from the public online, a feature called 'Ask the Secretary.' She also has her aides firing off updates -- more than 1,000 so far -- on the @dipnote feed on micro-blogging service Twitter and posting photos on the State Department Flickr page at In addition to longstanding websites and, there is an official State Department YouTube channel at and a State Department Facebook page which instead of friends has 'fans.'"

VOA series on Iran's environment.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran's environmental challenges are spotlighted in a five-part series on Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN), which examines air and water pollution, deforestation and decreasing biodiversity across the country. ... Besides focusing on the scope of Iran's environmental problems and associated health concerns, the series provides examples of how citizen coalitions can play a role in pushing for environmental changes." VOA press release, 19 February 2009.

First RFA, now VOA gets Bao Dong scoop.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bao Tong, the highest-ranking Chinese government official charged in relation to the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, told the Voice of America (VOA) the Chinese Communist Party's actions cost it the respect of the world. ... Bao's exclusive interview with VOA's Mandarin Service Correspondent Zhang Nan took place inside the Beijing home where Bao has been under virtual house arrest since he was released from seven years in prison. VOA Mandarin is airing the extensive interview in segments on its daily television program Issues and Opinions." VOA press release, 19 February 2009. See previous post about Radio Free Asia's Bao Dong coverage.

RFE/RL correspondent investigates intrigue in the publication of Doctor Zhivago.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Did the CIA fund a Russian-language publication of Boris Pasternak's 'Doctor Zhivago' in order to help the dissident author win the Nobel Prize? Ivan Tolstoi, a literary historian and correspondent with RFE/RL's Russian Service, has spent the better part of two decades trying to find out. Tolstoi's research has resulted in a book, 'The Laundered Novel: Doctor Zhivago, Between the KGB and the CIA,' which was recently published in Russia. In this first-person account, Tolstoi describes his pursuit of the truth behind 'Zhivago's' first appearance in Russian." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 20 February 2009.

RFA reports on Uyghurs held at Guantanamo.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The lead lawyer for 17 ethnic Uyghurs held for years at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is vowing to fight a new legal order keeping the men in U.S. military custody and is calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to free them quickly. 'We are bloodied but unbowed. We will fight this,' Sabin Willet, who represents the 17 Uyghurs—Muslims from China's northwestern Xinjiang region told Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a telephone interview on his way back from visiting the men at Guantanamo Bay." RFA, 20 February 2009.

News about Azerbaijan's foreign radio ban plods along.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The US is ready to keep negotiating with Azerbaijani colleagues to resume broadcasting of foreign radio channels in Azerbaijan, in particular the Voice of America and Liberty channels. 'Representatives from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) met with Government of Azerbaijan officials Feb. 9-10 to discuss an intergovernmental agreement that would allow the return of Voice of America and Radio Liberty broadcasts to the FM, AM and television frequencies where they were aired prior to the new year. Over the course of two days, the BBG presented a draft agreement which would provide the opportunity for Azerbaijani broadcasters to reach US audiences via FM, AM or television broadcasts. At this time, we are awaiting a response from the Government of Azerbaijan, and we are prepared to meet again at any time to conclude discussions.'" ABC.AZ, 21 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "Azerbaijan's most popular Russian-language news source,, has been shut down. The reason for the closure is unclear, but the Azerbaijani government has recently boosted its control over independent media." RFE/RL News, 20 February 2009.

Foreign/exile media and Burma's 2010 election (updated).

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Many observers say that foreign-based Burmese language short wave radio stations and satellite TV will play a key role in the upcoming election, in contrast to the 1990 election. This is because DVB was only born in 1992 and RFA in 1997 while the BBC and VOA only began to play an active role after DVB and RFA were set up. But no one knows yet how much the regime will allows the foreign media to cover the run-up to the election. As we all know, the junta did not allow foreign journalists to cover the Nargis aftermath last year or the Saffron Revolution in 2007. However, all media in exile, especially DVB's satellite TV broadcast, are constantly providing up to date information. So this might continue as we approach the pre-election era." Htet Aung Kyaw, Democratic Voice of Burma, 20 February 2009.
     Update: "Htet Aung Kaw noted that due to this tight control of content in his country's media, people have begun to 'lose interest on the government-owned media' and instead, turn to Korean teledramas and movies. When they do buy newspapers, 'they skip the front pages and go straight to the back pages to read the obituaries section'." Mindanao Examiner, 21 February 2009.
     "Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirajuda, on a visit to Australia, criticised the rights situation and the lack of democracy in Burma. His comments, reported on Radio Australia, come a week ahead of a summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), of which Burma is a member." BBC News, 20 February 2009. See previous post about Burma.

How international radio informed the early Mugabe.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Andrew Mutandwa, former press secretary to Robert Mugabe (who has just turned 85): "My days started quite early. I was listening to international broadcasts - Voice of America, Radio Moscow, BBC World service - to find things that were relevant to Zimbabwe. In the early years, Mr Mugabe showed quite a lot of interest. He felt that he had been out of the loop and he wanted to catch up with what was happening in the world. By the mid 1980s, I started sensing he was losing interest in what the world said or what was going on in the world. He had already decided what his own kind of world was going to be like." BBC News, 21 February 2009.

Recurring theme: shortwave (or shortwave-like sounds) as music.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Kurzwellen described ways for musicians to react while manning the controls of short-wave radios" Providence Phoenix, 18 February 2009.
     Scottish undergound group Yahweh "drape their frail tunes in layers of vinyl ‘surface noise’, distant, analogue farts and hums, distressed, itchy Can-esque guitarlines, down-a-well banjo and broken shortwave radio chatter." The List, 19 February 2009.
     The Handsome Family: "Curious studio trickery abounds: the weirdly shuffling 'Love is Like' has a hint of Animal Collective's out of box thinking about it, the wonky organs and glockenspiel sound as if they are crackling out of a short-wave radio set." Altsounds, 19 February 2009.
     John Duncan's "new composition, titled 'The Hidden,' ... features 'digital audio debris, generated audio noise, field recordings, and shortwave radio static.'" Gapers Block, 19 February 2009.

Semi-portable shortwave listening during World War II.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Antique radios made of wood and wire transported radio buffs back to the days of yesteryear at the Old Radio Flea Market Sunday at the Westford [MA] Regency. ... 'I think we are involved with the hobby because of nostalgia,' said Bob Gaiardelli, a vendor from Harwich, Mass. ... His favorite old radio is the Zenith TransOceanic, a portable radio that covers all the bands from broadcast to shortwave. The first 1942 model, the Clipper, was a favorite of WWII soldiers overseas." Westford Eagle, 20 February 2009.
     "Model 7G605's history is intimately connected with World War II. It began manufacturing around October, 1941 and went on sale to the public in January, 1942. That was just in time to supply a few lucky World War II soldiers with a rugged portable that they and their buddies could use anywhere in the world. TransOceanic ads from these years feature testimonials from grateful owners, describing how their faithful sets survived dunking, falling from jeeps, extreme climactic conditions and other misadventures in faraway lands, all the the while providing welcome news and entertainment from home. The last Clipper was built in April, 1942, when the US government shut down all domestic radio manufacturing to provide for military needs." Phil's Old Radios website.
     "One soldier even brought his to France during the D-Day invasion, where it continued to play despite the addition of makeshift replacement parts!" joer, Everything2, 8 September 2004 (and see his sources).

DW moves to FM, internet, mobile in Bangladesh.

Posted: 22 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Germany's Deutsche Welle will soon switch to FM in its pursuit of a bigger Bangladesh market share as short wave broadcast increasingly becomes a thing of the past. 'The number of short wave listener is falling," Grahame Lucas, who leads the South Asia team at Deutsche Welle Radio, told Friday. ... 'We can say we could stop thinking of our transition from shortwave to FM within two to three years.' Lucas referred to the emergence of 'the internet and new technology and mobile telephony' as he spelled out his new plans for a market getting more and more competitive by the day. Lucas foresees the transition in next five to 10 years, with internet becoming the key platform for radio and television content.", 21 February 2009.

Hillary Clinton: "people still really want to like America."

Posted: 21 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Andrea said something about public diplomacy. We haven't done a very good job. And we have such a great story to tell about who we are as Americans and what we believe in and our desire to help other people be empowered. Some of you walked through that neighborhood with me, I mean the United States aid programs, paid for by American taxpayers, are hooking people up to clean water, for example. And it's the kind of incremental change that if properly explained and highlighted, can give meaning to what America is to people who may have no opinion or a slightly negative opinion. We are in a struggle over ideas. And one of the points that the civil society people were making to me last night is that Indonesia is going to turn into a real battleground for the future of democracy and Islam and women's rights. And we need to be there. We need to be supporting the forces within Indonesia who care deeply about all of those values. And I think our failure to engage on that level going back years, partly because we didn't realize it was going on right underneath our noses, and then when we did, we didn't exactly connect with the right messages for people in a way that they accepted. So we've got a lot of work to do. I mean, I have no illusions about how high a hill we have to climb here to inspire confidence and respect in people's minds again. But I have found that in not only my personal encounters, but in every public research survey I've ever read that anybody's ever done, that people still really want to like America and they want to know what we're doing and what we stand for." Press conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Seoul, State Department, 19 February 2009.

A fascinating discussion about public diplomacy is trying to escape from this report.

Posted: 21 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Over the weekend of January 30 through February 1, the Howard Gilman Foundation, Meridian International Center, and The Public Diplomacy Council brought together seventy people - public and private sector stakeholders frustrated with this demise and determined to restore public diplomacy as a viable tool of foreign policy - to discuss the structure of America’s global engagement at the White Oak Conference Center in Florida." Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner, 20 February 2009. What a discussion they must have had. Note that the list of participants is a pdf document that weighs 84 kB, but the report is only 26 kB. The report is brief, noncommital, inoffensive, and doesn't say much.
     "I did my own informal analysis of 18 reports covering topics of public diplomacy and strategic communication (including the White Oak set) that have been published over the last four years." Steven R. Corman, COMOPS Journal, 20 February 2009.

Does "Al Amrikiya" have a nice ring to it in Arabic?

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Sawa and Alhurra were seen, in contradictory terms, as the inheritors of the Voice of America’s mission of independent journalism but also forceful champions for American policies in the Arab world. This identity crisis has never fully been resolved. Whether due to poor production values, management problems or a crowded television market, Alhurra has largely failed in its mission. Washington debates competing reports of its slim market share, but the broader truth is that Alhurra has had little discernible impact on Arab political discourse. When Barack Obama sought to reach Arab audiences, he – like Bush officials before him – wisely turned to Al Arabiya. ... The troubled satellite television station Alhurra should not be shut down, given the vast resources already spent on its launch, but it could be radically overhauled: new management, a new focus on American society and politics, and a new name – why not Al Amrikiya?" From long essay, "The Conversation," by Marc Lynch, The National (Abu Dhabi), 20 February 2009.
     President Obama's selection of of Al Arabiya was wise on a number of fronts. It was good public diplomacy, because Al Arabiya has a large audience, and because it is not a US government-funded station, questions from whose correspondents may have been treated with suspicion. As it turned out, Al Arabiya's questions were not especially hard-hitting. As Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star pointed out, the interviewer "did not even raise the subject of Hamas with President Obama!"
     The selection of Al Arabiya was also wise (though perhaps not intentionally so) for the sake of US international broadcasting. Alhurra is now involved in the long process of building its credibility. If President Obama requested, or ordered, an interview on Alhurra, the audience would likely have concluded that the president is just using Alhurra as his own personal intercom to the Arab world.

New organs from USC.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"In February 2009, the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars at the University of Southern California launched the inaugural issue of PD the world’s first magazine focused exclusively on Public Diplomacy issues." USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 19 Februarty 2009.
     "As part of his course entitled 'International Broadcasting: Influence and Power in the Age of Information,' CPD Research Associate Shawn Powers has launched the Global Media Monitor blog to monitor how different international broadcasters are covering and framing global events. Media outlets monitored by him and his students include Russia Today, Telesur, Press TV, Al-Jazeera English, Al-Manar, NHK World and more." USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 12 February 2009.

Comparing the ratings of US IB and PD sites (updated).

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Imagine what fun a detractor of Radio Sawa could have by noting that the Arabic radio service of the U.S. government ranks number 27,863. Radio Sawa ranks about the same as the highly touted English-language news website of al Jazeera, at 25,727. ... Ranked higher yet is the news site of the Voice of America, 1,598, better than al Jazeera English, but not as well as al Jazeera’s Arabic-language website,, ranked at 723. ... America’s website for its Arabic-language broadcasting channel, Al Hurra, which also has English-language translation, is ranked down at 146,501, with more than 1.5 million page views in January 2009- well ahead of Al-Arabiya’s website’s ranking of 531,656. ... The U.S. State Department’s public diplomacy website,, ... ranked ... at number 219,981." Alvin Snyder, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 10 February 2009.
     Update: "The Voice of America has one of the most popular Internet news websites in the world, and in the United States as well, based on website page turns and user reach. According to, which ranks websites according to their daily traffic volume, the VOA is ranked as the 53rd most popular website in the 'news category' of almost 9,000 news websites on the day we looked, February 17, 2009." Alvin Snyder, USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 18 February 2009, plus my comment.

Just like the old Happy Station show, but different station, different country, different continent, different host.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"After an almost 15 year absence on the shortwave dial The Happy Station Show returns this March. The Happy Station is one the longest running shows ever on shortwave. In March of 1927 when Philips Radio started broadcasts over station PCJJ as a way to reach the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). ... The Happy Station Show was canceled [by Radio Netherlands] in 1995. ... The new Happy Station host will be Keith Perron a Canadian broadcaster who has been based in Asia for almost 10 years. ... [It] will be based in Taipei, Taiwan and will be distributed using many different channels and all aspects of technology, new and old to bring the show to the audience. The first will be shortwave on the frequency of 9955 kHz via WRMI (Radio Miami International) for listeners in North and South America." Press release via Shortwave Central, 17 February 2009. Interestingly not reported at the Radio Netherlands Media Network Weblog.

Globecast will start free DTH platform for Africa.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Hot on the heels of the failure of Gateway’s DTH bouquet, GlobeCast is attempting something a little different in the shape of a wholesale service. 'The new platform is the first (free) Ku-band DTH platform with coverage over sub-Saharan Africa, providing broadcasters with the opportunity to reach households across the continent,' says GlobeCast. GlobeCast is starting modestly and has one dedicated transponder on a satellite that facilitates uplink from Europe and is compliant to distribute services to IPTV or terrestrial network head-ends. The new platform, which is an alternative to the pay TV bouquets in sub-Saharan Africa, responds to a strong demand for free-to-air Ku-band coverage of this crucial region. Several African broadcasters are already in contact with GlobeCast to secure positions in this coveted space and extend their audience to 56 African countries, says the operator." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 19 February 2009. The main existing DTH pay TV system for sub-Saharan Africa is Multichoice DStv.

CNN International wins award -- for its advertisements.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International was the only media owner to collect Gold in the prestigious Internationalist Awards for Innovation in Media with its 'My South Africa' global advertising campaign for South African Tourism. ... 'My South Africa' encourages CNN viewers worldwide to harness their creativity and upload compelling photographs, moving images and stories that encapsulate their experiences of South Africa, via the 'My South Africa' website, for the chance to win a trip to South Africa. CNN Ad Sales' dedicated in-house creative production unit, Turner Commercial Productions (TCP) produced a series of 'call-to-action' television spots, the first featuring South Africa Ambassador and acclaimed music artist Yvonne Chaka Chaka, to drive viewers to the website." CNN press release via, 19 February 2009.

David Letterman, international broadcaster.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The fledgling Dutch talk TV channel Het Gesprek has received a fresh financial input from TV producer Harry de Winter, founder of production company IDTV. ... Late last year, the channel announced a programming deal with BBC Worldwide in a move to improve its content; it now broadcasts selected news programming from BBC World News with Dutch subtitles. The channel also broadcasts the daily David Letterman Show from CBS." Broadband TV News, 20 February 2009.

BBC South Asian staff votes for strike action over relocation issue (updated).

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Staff on the south Asian section of the BBC World Service have today voted overwhelmingly for strike action over plans for redundancies and relocating jobs and programme-making overseas. The BBC World Service had said it wanted to cut 34 posts from its London-based south Asian operation as it restructures its Hindi, Nepali and Urdu operations, relocating production and jobs to existing centres in Islamabad, Delhi and Kathmandu. ... In the ballot of 40 National Union of Journalists BBC World Service members, 87% voted for strike action on a 73% turn-out. ... 'This is a magnificent result which shows the determination and solidarity of this group of members,' said the NUJ national broadcasting organiser, Paul McLaughlin. 'From day one, they have understood that these proposals aren't just about jobs but safeguarding the editorial integrity of the World Service. ... In a statement, the World Service said it was 'disappointed' staff had voted to strike. 'We believe the proposals will create new opportunities for staff and greatly improve our service to our audiences in the region,' the World Service said." The Guardian, 13 February 2009.
     Update: "National Union of Journalists members at the BBC World Service's South Asia division are planning to hold a 24-hour strike next Thursday in protest against 'offshoring" plans.' ... NUJ national broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin said: 'The World Service is based on fearlessness and impartiality. This has been possible because they have remained independent from outside interference. If their editorial is moved overseas then they lose that independence. Our objective is to settle this dispute. Striking is always a last resort.'" Press Gazette, 20 February 2009.

"Slight confusion of intentions" with the new NHK World? (updated again)

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"NHK last week began its new worldwide 24-hour all-English TV service. The expanded broadcasting will now extend into some 70 countries via satellite, cable and the Internet. ... As a counterpoint to 'strange Japan,' news, documentaries and features have the potential to present diverse aspects of Japan with care and critical understanding. In addition to the noncommercial shows, however, the new service will also include television programs made by commercial TV stations, including commercials. The running of commercial content alongside NHK documentaries and features seems a slight confusion of intentions. In this YouTube age, though, where each clip of video silliness takes on its own cyber-life, any insistently promotional or simplistically superficial programs run the risk of backfiring. Let's hope the directors create and select programs seriously and thoughtfully." Editorial, The Japan Times, 8 February 2009.
     Japan International Broadcasting Inc., private sector partner of NHK World "has said it will not act as a propaganda arm and will not sell the good things, but real images and report fairly and accurately. The broadcaster will try to match Al Jazeera which is a respected news channel that gives the Arab view on various events in the world, especially in the Middle East. Jeffrey Kingston of Temple University in Tokyo does not see JIB filling a niche in the way Al Jazeera does, providing an alternative non-Western view with special appeal to and emphasis on the Muslim world. ... 'NHK is run more like a bureaucracy than a media business. Its habits, inclinations and practices are not business savvy and it tends to shy away from hard-hitting news stories,' notes Kingston." IPS Asia-Pacific, 18 February 2009.
     Update: NHK's "political reports [are] always painstakingly objective to the point of being dreary at times." Kwan Weng Kin, The Malaysian Insider, 20 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Some sort of new Persian-language-group television.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran and Tajikistan are discussing the creation of a Tajik-Afghan-Iranian TV network with Iran providing the equipment, Afghanistan providing the air time, and Tajikistan providing the studios. Tajik State Committee of TV and Radio Director Asadullo Rahmonov told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that the director of Iranian International Broadcasting arrived in Dushanbe on February 17 to discuss ways to strengthen the two countries' partnership, which was established in 2007." RFE/RL News, 18 February 2009. It is not clear from this story what this network would be. If Afghanistan "is providing the air time," then it would be a station inside Afghanistan.

Venezuelan deals with CCTV, CRI; no specifics.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela and China Wednesday signed 12 cooperation agreements and doubled their joint investment fund to 12 billion dollars, as Vice President Xi Jinping's wound up his visit before heading to Brazil. ... [They include] a deal between state-run Venezuelan and Chinese televisions networks Telesur and CCTV." AFP, 19 February 2009.
     "En un acto celebrado en la capital venezolana el mandatario Hugo Chávez y el funcionario asiático firmaron dos memorandos en materia de comunicaciones entre el Ministerio de Comunicación e Información y la Radio Internacional de China. También figura otro acuerdo entre TeleSUR y el canal estatal del país asiático, CCTV." Telesur, 19 February 2009.
     "Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur Thursday showed footage of the release of six FARC hostages that took place the first week of February. The documentary also showed an interview with FARC commander Iván Márquez." Colombia Reports, 19 February 2009.

BBCWS content on MSN Latin American websites (updated).

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service ... has announced a new regional content deal with MSN, which in 2009 will see BBC Spanish and Portuguese (Brasil) text, video and audio content on ten MSN sites across Latin America. The deal will extend the reach of BBC content across MSN's Spanish sites in Latin America, as well as MSN/Prodigy Mexico, MSN Latino in the USA and MSN Brasil (in Portuguese). MSN will host BBC news content across its sites, which includes audio, video clips and text news. ... All videos will carry BBC and BBCMundo branding." BBC World Service press release, 10 February 2009.
     Update: " launched in 1999 and is one of the BBC World Service's 32 services tailored for various regions and languages. The Spanish-language site offers news programs, breaking news coverage, interactive debates, video on demand and audio news bulletins, registering approximately 5 million unique visitors each month. Of the total visitors, said Villalobos, about 30% come from Mexico, but already up to 15% of total traffic originates within the United States. ... The MSN partnership is not new to BBC. BBC text content has been available since 2004 on MSN/Prodigy Mexico, MSN Brasil and other MSN Latin American sites." Multichannel News, 18 February 2009.

Old news: Iran blocks RFI, DW websites.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iranian authorities have blocked access to the Farsi websites of international media Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Deutsche Welle (DW) in its latest efforts to control the media, state daily Etemad Melli reported. The Farsi service of the BBC, Voice of America (VOA) and U.S.-funded Radio Farda have already been blocked." Variety, 18 February 2009. Unsure why this is still being reported. See previous post from 28 January.

Former head of IBB, RFE/RL in new journalism dean at University of Maryland.

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Kevin Klose is named the new dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at then University of Maryland. Baltimore Sun, 18 February 2009. The University of Maryland press release, 18 February 2009, does not mention his background in US international broadcasting. But this from Klose's NPR biography: "Klose served successively as director of U.S. international broadcasting [International Broadcasting Bureau], overseeing the United States Government's global radio and television news services (1997-98); and president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), broadcasting to Central Europe and the former Soviet Union (1994-97). Klose first joined RFE/RL in 1992 as director of Radio Liberty, broadcasting to the former Soviet Union in its national languages. As RFE/RL president, Klose radically downsized RFE/RL and moved it from Munich, Germany, to Prague, the Czech Republic. He also helped devise and implement a strategy to coordinate all U.S.-funded international broadcasting (Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Marti, Worldnet Television) to save money, refocus the mission, and modernize operations in the post-Cold War."

RFE/RL's first broadcast from new Prague headquarters (updated).

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) began a new chapter in its long and distinguished history today when Radio Free Iraq broadcast its first program from RFE/RL's recently completed Prague headquarters. ... The broadcast was the first step in relocating all of RFE/RL's more than 500 Prague-based employees to the facility in Hagibor, ten minutes from the city center. The five-story, 236,000 sq/ft broadcast center features multimedia recording studios, interlinking offices, and a modern newsroom. It is also energy-efficient and one of the most secure buildings in Europe." RFE/RL press release, 3 February 2009.
     "The Czech and U.S. governments agreed to move the station several miles (kilometers) from downtown Prague after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks raised fears that it was vulnerable at its previous location." AP, 4 February 2009.
     Update: "A U.S.-funded radio network long seen as vulnerable to a terrorist attack has begun moving into a new high-security compound. Earlier this month Radio Free Europe began broadcasting its Radio Free Iraq service from inside the new facility. Ironically it was Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi dictator, who first threatened attacks on the RFE headquarters here shortly after the station launched its Iraq service in 1998. The station began the transition with the Iraq service purely for logistical reasons, according to RFE spokesman Julian Knapp. Over the next three months more than 28 language services, broadcasting into 20 countries, will move to the new location, four metro stops from the city center. ... 'We're invested in Prague,' he said. 'We like Prague. We plan to be around for a while.'" GlobalPost, 18 February 2009.

Former VOA broadcaster considered contender for president of Afghanistan (updated).

Posted: 20 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, "widely perceived to have failed his country during seven years in office, is almost certain to be rejected by his countrymen at the ballot box. And he faces intense competition from an all-star list of candidates — all of them members of the dominant Pashtun ethnic group, all foreign-educated, and most with an American passport, a privilege they will have to forfeit if they are to run. ... How 'America' will vote is not yet clear, although all signs seem to be pointing to Ali Ahmad Jalali. The former interior minister is popular among all ages and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and is the potential candidate most often mentioned as a likely winner. With more than 20 years in Washington working for the Voice of America, Jalali has had ample time to make contacts among the power elite. After leaving his ministerial post in Kabul, he took up a position at the U.S. Naval Defense University." GlobalPost, 4 February 2009. The interior minister of a landlocked country went on to the U.S. Naval Defense University?
     Update: One possible future president of Afghanistan "is former Interior Minister Ali Ahmed Jalali, 68, who worked for the Voice of America radio station for 20 years and has strong ties to Washington's conservative community. Since he resigned as interior minister after quarrelling with Karzai, Jalali has distinguished himself as a reformer in the fight against corruption -- but he claims the president has blocked his efforts." Spiegel Online, 18 February 2009.

VOA Burmese adds television (updated).

Posted: 19 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA) launches its first satellite TV program for Burma this weekend, bringing fresh news and information to people living in one of the world's most restrictive media environments. ... Called Burmese Weekly TV Magazine, the program's first edition includes international, national news and features, including a special report on the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group from Western Burma. ... The TV program, airing Sunday mornings in Burma and repeated during the week, expands VOA's Burmese Service radio programming, which now broadcasts 3.5 hours daily on shortwave. Research indicates about 12 percent of the urban households in Burma have satellite dishes, allowing them to see the new satellite TV program without interference." VOA press release, 12 February 2009.
     Update: "The Burmese junta believes information technology, particularly satellite TV, is a decadent threat that undermines nationalism and has warned the people to avoid satellite TV programs. On Tuesday, the junta-controlled newspapers, The New Light of Myanmar, Myanma Alin and The Mirror, published a commentary blasting satellite TV. ... Most teashops in urban areas have satellite TV receivers and people who cannot afford to buy a receiver watch satellite TV programs at teashops. Journalists in Rangoon say teashops with satellite TV get more customers." Irrawaddy, 18 February 2009.

International broadcasting can be strategic communication. Or it can have an audience.

Posted: 19 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"While there is a general consensus that the integration of the U.S.Information Agency into the Department of State in 1999 and the establishment of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (which supervises America's international broadcasts) have diminished the efficacy of American public diplomacy, it is also true that the best public diplomacy effort cannot succeed if American policy is anathema to foreign publics. ... For American public diplomacy to be successful, a director of public diplomacy - his title should be director of global communication - should be established in the White House. Like the director of national intelligence who coordinates the work of several intelligence agencies, the global communications director would have the same responsibility regarding the public diplomacy and strategic communication activities of different agencies – foremost of the State Department's information, educational and cultural (e.g. Fulbright) programs, but also of the Broadcasting Board's international radio transmissions (e.g. the Voice of America). There are several other agencies engaged in public diplomacy and strategic communication activities, principally the Defense Department, that, according to recent articles, appears to have more public diplomacy money at its disposal than the State Department." Walter R. Roberts, guest contributor to WhirledView blog, 14 February 2009.
     The "general concensus" about the BBG is generally among the public diplomacy establishment, old USIA types who have never gotten over the exit of VOA from the public diplomacy fold when USIA was dissolved. VOA was the largest component of USIA, the jewel of the crown, the tail that wagged the dog.
     They want international broadcasting to be brought back under a White House-based director of global communication, and to be part of U.S. "strategic communication."
     The audience for international broadcasting has its own strategic objective. It is to obtain the news that is more objective, reliable, and balanced than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media. The audience will detect and reject content from entities that labor under the illusion that news can be part of some "strategic communication" plan.
     We all have our objections to BBG decisions, but US international broadcasting cannot be autonomous if it is not under an independent, bipartisan board. Under the BBG, VOA is no longer contorted by a tug-of-war between newsroom journalists and USIA policy advocates. US international broadcasting has its largest audience ever, even in the Middle East.

Wanted: a public diplomacy director who blows a lot of smoke.

Posted: 19 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Almost 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy turned to America's most respected journalist to tell the nation's story to the world. Edward R. Murrow was the father of television journalism. ... Who better to serve as head of the United States Information Service [sic], in charge of communicating the values of American democracy to the world? As historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. observed, 'Under Ed Murrow, the Voice of America became the voice, not of American self-righteousness, but of American democracy.' ... At the end of the day, the public diplomacy czar is an advocate, but one who is always truthful. The experience of the Voice of America over the past six decades shows that policy advocacy and journalistic integrity are compatible. A journalist working for the government does not have to check his or her values at the door." Lawrence Pintak and William A. Rugh, The Daily Star (Beirut), 17 February 2009.
     VOA's experience shows that policy advocacy and journalistic integrity are not compatible. During the Cold War decades, VOA had a larger budget and transmitted in more languages than BBC World Service, but World Service had a larger audience and more influence.
     I was in charge of audience research for VOA during the closing years of that period. Frustrated by the BBC's success over VOA in country after country, I inserted a question in surveys asking why. The answer was always that listeners thought BBC was more credible.
     BBC World Service has maintained, occasionally militantly, its separation from British government policy. Under USIA, VOA was subject to pendulum swings of leadership favoring policy advocacy or favoring independent journalism.
     The peculiar notion that it is possible to mix news and public diplomacy is the main reason the United States may never succeed at either.

More speculation about the new PD undersecretary (updated).

Posted: 19 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Right now, it’s looking very much like Judith McHale, former president of the Discovery Channel, will be the next undersecretary for public diplomacy. What’s also interesting is who won’t be: Douglas Wilson, a former principal deputy secretary of defense for public affairs and senior official with the old U.S. Information Agency." Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent, 13 February 2009. "McHale doesn’t have a diplomatic background. But neither did Jim Glassman, the recently departed undersecretary whom public-diplo watchers considered the office’s first success story." Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent, 13 February 2009.
     Updated: "A friend of The Cable who used to work in the public diplomacy realm writes to point out, 'A couple of things folks aren’t reporting about the possible appointment of Judith McHale that you might want to look into. It’s my understanding that her father was a USIA officer. She was the head of Discovery International not Discovery Channel (a friend of mine use to work there and pointed out the difference). In other words, she spent a good deal of her childhood overseas with her family and watched firsthand how Public Diplomacy could and probably in some cases did not work. She went on to run a large international corporation. Sounds exactly like the person we would want to take on the PD challenge.'" Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy The Cable blog, 16 February 2009.
     "I've been as pleased by the rumors that Denis McDonough will take on the strategic communications portfolio at the NSC as I was disturbed by the McHale selection. McDonough isn't just close the President, he really understands the value and logic of global engagement -- not just public diplomacy or strategic communications, as traditionally defined." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 17 February 2009.
     "White House officials did not return inquiries for comment about public diplomacy and the new undersecretary, but most public diplomacy experts inside and outside the government believe the position is McHale’s to lose. While her background as a television executive does not suggest a national security focus, neither did Glassman’s background as a libertarian magazine publisher and financial analyst." Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent, 17 February 2009.
     "Although it's important to focus on the lack of an appointment and on the structural issues of getting public diplomacy working again, we must not lose sight of the heart of the public diplomacy mission. ... Public diplomacy in its most successful form is authentic communication of our culture with other cultures. This will require an unprecedented level of nuance and open-mindedness to be successful in the post-Bush era, and it gets to the heart of the battle over what public diplomacy is: Is it messaging or dialogue? A conversation or propaganda?" Joshua S. Fouts, Policy Innovations, 18 February 2009.
     From essay "Ten Reasons Why We Don't Need an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs": "1. Nobody with a normal jaw can pronounce this title, a mouthful of a name that is an offense to the English language. 2. Most foreigners, even among America’s closest allies, have no idea what an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs actually does, although they suspect it is somehow connected with propaganda. ... To handle USG information, educational and cultural programs meant to engage, inform, and influence key international audiences, create a small, flexible government agency, giving it a name that clearly describes what it does. And call the head of this new entity 'Director.' Everybody knows what a director is. It’s a person who actually makes a difference, unlike -- at least up to now -- the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the Department of State in Washington, DC." John Brown's Notes and Essays, 19 February 2009. More of a problem for me is that the State Department has no bureau or division of public diplomacy. It's just an unnamed bunch of offices under the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Given that the activities of public diplomacy are so closely linked to the State Department and the U.S. embassies, perhaps the solution is an entity like USAID, "an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State." The head of USAID is called Administrator. That's not as crisp as Director, but better than Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Other agencies are headed by an Administrator, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency. But the Peace Corps has a Director.

BBC still talking to the Azeris about FM relays.

Posted: 19 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC is attempting to have talks with the Azerbaijan Government about the situation and the status of its contract with the Government, only signed last October, to build three additional FM relays to improve the audibility of its services in Agsu, Dashkasan and Lerik, BBC World Service told APA." Azeri-Press Agency, 16 February 2009. Azeribaijan now bans all foreign radio on its FM band. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera's new-media department: news as conversation.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Using ... latest trends to broaden and engage the audience of Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English news channels and websites is the mandate of the broadcaster’s new media department, which was established in 2006 under the leadership of Mohamed Nanabhay. ... The department tends to see news as more of a conversation than a speech, and pushes the larger organisation to make its content free as much as possible. One of its first projects was to upload full-length Al Jazeera Arabic-language programmes to YouTube – itself an innovation back when other broadcasters such as the BBC put only promos on the free video service – and then record a YouTube appeal by the show’s presenter for viewers to send in their thoughts. They received 150 videos on the first try, and aired some of the responses during the next broadcasts of the show." The National, 17 February 2009.
     "Al Jazeera Labs, the home of the multimedia team's experiments in beta, has allowed users to see ... developments in progress before they are turned into 'actual products', Al Jazeera head of new media, Mohamed Nanabhay, tells ...'We're in perpetual beta. We've had a lot of positive feedback, talking about how it is a very positive development. While it's quite rough, it's in a very useable form.'", 16 February 2009.

Former CNN International president heads Reuters multimedia enhancement.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"As competitors like Bloomberg and Associated Press have become more aggressive on the digital and video front, Thomson Reuters is trying to step up by introducing a new management structure for its multimedia offerings. The company said Chris Cramer, who was named head of multimedia back in October, will serve as the unit’s global editor. Cramer’s new responsibilities entail the creation of five editorial groups, including TV, photos, financial video, online and agency. By coordinating those different parts together, Thomson Reuters hopes to build on its appeal, even while it strenuously tries to cut costs. ... Cramer was a president and managing director of CNN International before he retired from the Turner network in 2007.", 17 February 2009.

Still trying to save (revive) BBC Russian feature programs (updated).

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The [BBC] Russian Service has to deal with many questions. Some are technical: how best to deliver a signal; how best to balance resources between radio and the Internet. Here the only prudent course is to explore as many options as possible. Some are political: how best to deal with demands made by the Russian authorities. Most serious of all is the question of the Russian Service's purpose. This, at least, is easy to answer. The only possible purpose of any of the foreign-language services is to disseminate views that cannot easily be heard in the target country. ... The need for an independent-minded BBC Russian Service may soon be greater than ever. At the end of this month Nigel Chapman will be stepping down as Head of the World Service. We very much hope that he will not wish to be remembered as the man who closed down the Russian Service's most valuable programmes just when there is a greater need for them than at any time in the last twenty years." Robert Chandler, openDemocracy/Russia, 10 February 2009, and reader comments.
     Update: "The disappearance of features and the shrinking of the BBC’s Russian broadcasts will add nothing to restoring the normal perception of Britain. We are talking not of propaganda, but of dialogue and reflection." Natalia Vlasova and Andrey Alakhverdov of the Independent Radio Foundation, Russia, letter to The Times, 16 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

A jamming primer.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"In occupied Europe during WW2 the Nazis attempted to jam broadcasts to the continent from the BBC and other allied stations. Post-war and into the Cold War Soviet jamming of some Western broadcasters led to a 'power race' in which broadcasters and jammers alike repeatedly increased their transmission power, utilised highly directional antennas and added extra frequencies to the already heavily overcrowded shortwave bands, to such an extent that many broadcasters not directly targeted by the jammers (including pro-Soviet stations) suffered from the rising levels of noise and interference." Chris Cork, The News (Karachi), 17 February 2009. This overview of radio and even internet jamming was prompted by reports that Pakistanis may attempt to jam unlicensed Taliban FM stations in the Swat Valley. It does not mention that shortwave is the only segment of the radio spectrum that offers physical resistance to jamming because of the tendency of signals on those frequencies to travel more effectively over long rather than short distances. See also Asian News International, 27 January 2009.

DRM meeting in India.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale] consortium is holding a workshop for All India Radio engineers at the annual BES Expo international conference and exhibition on 23 February 2009 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India. Engineers from 35-40 AIR stations (which plan to convert to DRM) as well as other delegates will take part in the workshop. ... There will be a chance to listen to the recently launched DW / BBC channel for Europe, that will be transmitted to India. Deutsche Welle will offer this additional DRM transmission from Trincomalee (Sri Lanka) to India (New Delhi) from 22 to 26 February at 0500-0759 UTC on 12055 kHz.", 17 February 2009. See also DRM Consortium website. India has begun using DRM digital shortwave for domestic radio to remote areas.

Vatican Radio has many more radio listeners than web users.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, speaking to the Spanish bishops' conference: "When I reflect on the service of Vatican Radio and try to be aware of the quantitative valuations of the audience, I see that in general, though the audience of the broadcasting stations that re-transmit to us is not very high, it is generally quite superior to the Web's number of visitors. For example, the Czech Program has a much-visited Web page in relation to the Czech-speaking world, with close 300,000 visits in one year, around 1,000 a day. But the radiophonic program is re-transmitted by a Catholic broadcasting station that has between 50,000 and 90,000 listeners a day. This means that we must be prudent and realistic when evaluating the actual weight of the various media." Zenit, 17 February 2009.

Late head of RFE Polish is figure in new documentary.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"'The Epidemic of Love' is a new documentary directed by Maciej Piwowarczuk which portrays the love stories that took place during the Warsaw Rising. The main characters of the documentary are seven couples - Warsaw Rising survivors and their families who tell their love stories. They include ... Roza Nowotna, a nurse from a field hospital and Jan Nowak Jezioranski, the famous 'Courier from Warsaw' and the former head of the Polish Section of Radio Free Europe." Polskie Radio, 13 February 2009, with link to audio report.

Confucius Classroom versus Confucius Institute confuse us.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Confucius Classroom was launched here [presumably Dhaka] Saturday with the joint effort of China Radio International (CRI) and Bangladesh's Shanto Mariam Foundation. ... China Radio International Vice President Wang Yunpeng said there are 10 Confucius Classrooms in countries like Kenya, Japan and Russia. He said the launching of Confucius Classroom in Bangladesh marks the promotion of Chinese language in the country comes to a new stage. CRI Bengali Department Director Yu Guangyue said the difference with Confucius Institute is that Confucius Classroom is teaching Chinese with local language. The students also can learn Chinese through radio program." Xinhua, 15 February 2009.

DW claims audience of 86 million, seeks information seekers.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle’s radio, television and online services are used by at least 86 million adults around the world every week. Director General Erik Bettermann presented these figures to the Frankfurt Press Club. The projections are based on representative studies from more than 60 countries. Radio programming from Deutsche Welle is especially successful in Africa. 'In Ethiopia for example, we reach more than 10 percent of adults and 43 percent tune in to the Kiswahili program in Tanzania,' says Bettermann. ... These results support Deutsche Welle’s orientation to its target audience of so-called 'information seekers'. That was also shown in the results of a survey of DW-WORLD.DE users in 2007: 'We are primarily reaching people with a higher level of education who are looking specifically for reliable information and news,' said Bettermann." DW press release, 13 February 2009.

DW-TV Asia+, with "hot favorites," launching 2 March.

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, is expanding its television services in Asia, including Pakistan, beginning March 2. ... DW-TV Asia+ will showcase current hot favorites like Euromaxx, a daily lifestyle magazine showing the sparkling facets of European living and glamour that keeps viewers in touch with the latest auto news from Germany and the rest of Europe. ... Speaking about the new launch, Angelika Newel, head of program distribution, Deutsche Welle, says, 'our major objective for introducing new channel is to create awareness among viewers to enjoy increased English programming that covers international, European and German issues. The schedule for DW-TV Asia+ will provide 18 hours of English content - making it more relevant for the Asian market. It will also serve as an alternative source of information for our target audience, for example information seekers with a cosmopolitan background.'" Associated Press of Pakistan, 15 March 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Canadian cable deal for Al Jazeera English? (updated: "Americans, God love them, are one of the most uninformed people on the planet.")

Posted: 18 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tony Burman, the Canadian managing director of Al-Jazeera English, ... said Tuesday his network could be broadcasting in Canada later this year. A sponsoring cable carrier will soon apply to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for the right to broadcast Al-Jazeera English, Burman said. ... 'I think now, particularly because of the phenomenal numbers of Americans who watched Al-Jazeera's coverage of Gaza on the Internet, the market argument for broadcasting Al-Jazeera in the U.S. and Canada is really quite persuasive.' Burman and others have suggested Gaza could do for Al-Jazeera what the 1991 Gulf War did for CNN: give it a critical audience boost." Vancouver Sun, 11 February 2009.
     Update: "The network hopes to begin broadcasting in Canada and have a bureau in an as-yet-unspecified Canadian city by the fall. However, applications to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission take time and the process includes a 30-day period for public feedback." Globe and Mail, 17 February 2009.
     "This is the first time the channel, which launched in November 2006 as the first English-language news channel based in the Middle East, has sought permission to broadcast in Canada. Ethnic Channels Group, a multi-ethnic broadcaster with 12 channels in Canada, will present the application to the CRTC as sponsor of Al-Jazeera English." The Canadian Press, 17 February 2009.
     "'Nothing is more difficult than convincing people about a channel that they have never seen,' he said. 'Al Jazeera English is widely watched in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. There's no debate about whether or not it's a credible, important, international channel. But here in North America, because so few people have watched it, we seem to be moving back 20 years, into a kind of cloud cuckoo land, about what it might have and what it might not have.... I think our sense of the public response is, thanks to the website, thanks to live streaming and thanks to interest in our Gaza coverage, that a lot of people have woken up to the fact that this is a significant channel that should be in Canadian homes.'" Toronto Star, 18 February 2009.
     "After only two years on the air, the channel has become an award-winning leader in the coverage of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. AJE adheres to a strict Code of Ethics and its quality standards are overseen in Europe by Ofcom, the UK broadcast regulator." Al Jazeera press release, 17 February 2009.
     "Al Jazeera is starting a public relations campaign to dispel what it calls myths and misperceptions that have prevented it from reaching more U.S. and Canadian viewers, the international television news network said on Tuesday. Al Jazeera's English-language service is starting a website called, offering news the Qatar-based network produces and a list of 'Hits and Myths' knocking down statements about the network that it says are untrue. ... Along with the website, Al Jazeera said it would buy print and online advertisements in newspapers such as the Globe & Mail in Toronto, The New York Times, and the Huffington Post." Reuters, 17 February 2009.
     AJE MD Tony Burman on "Al Jazeera as a difference maker in the Arab world": "I think it's had extraordinary impact in the Arab world. Al Jazeera was created in 1996. It was created to take on the kind of restrictive media environments that particularly Arab dictators were creating. And it was at loggerheads with virtually every Arab government. Al Jazeera has been thrown out of a multitude of Arab countries at one time or another. Until 9-11, it was the poster child of Western and American governments for the kind of fearless desire among Arabs to create an environment that was conducive to democracy and freedom of expression." On media ownership: "If the people of any country rely solely on private companies to provide essential information, the lifeblood of democracy, then you're really risking it. I think countries like the U.S. have done that to their peril. Americans, God love them, are one of the most uninformed people on the planet." Charles Campbell, The, 16 February 2009.

Public diplomacy channels "can never be credible substitutes for constructive political engagements."

Posted: 17 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"In this part of the world, we see the Obama era as an opportunity to induce new transitions in US public diplomacy in Muslim societies. The new administration has already generated rising expectations about mending fences with Muslim countries. We have come to learn from recent history that more balanced and fair US foreign policies are the prime forces that can decide the outcome of the raging hearts and minds battle. The conduct of public diplomacy, whether through visits, exchanges or media broadcasting services like Radio Sawa and Al Hurra Television or through Second Life and other virtual spaces, is likely to play a supportive role for sound policy orientations that resonate with the region’s concerns and ambitions. These channels by themselves can never be credible substitutes for constructive political engagements that genuinely bear on the living experiences of people on both sides of the divide. It is in this context that US public diplomacy in the Obama era faces its most critical challenge." Muhammad Ayish, The National, 16 February 2009.

Qatar has all the toys.

Posted: 17 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Qtel today unveiled new enhancements to their Mozaic Mobile TV service, bringing an amazing choice of channels from two packages, along with simple subscription. Users will be able to subscribe easily by sending an SMS for the package of their choice. International and Arabic packages will be available, giving access to up to 23 channels, including news, sports, cultural, entertainment and children’s television, streamed direct to mobile phones. ... The full range of International and Arabic channels includes news (Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English, CNN International, CNBC Europe and CNBC Arabiya and BBC World), Islamic (Iqra), sports (ESPN Europe, ART Sports Channels, and AlKaas), entertainment (AsianNet, B4U Music, Al Safwa, Arabic Series Channel and Rotana Moussica) and children’s television (Cartoon Networks, Boomerang, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel)." Al Bawaba, 15 February 2009.
     On Sony Ericsson Xperia X1: "A new CNN panel keeps you constantly updated with the latest news, sport, or weather and a host of CNN content including access to CNN's popular citizen journalism tool, 'i-Report'. Browse information by category, personalise your experience or plug in your location and get instant updates for wherever you are in the world. ... 'This type of media rich, hand held experience is where the future lies in news consumption. CNN leads the way in innovative delivery of news and partnering with brands like Sony Ericsson only helps to improve the experience for our audience.' comments Mark Haviland, Marketing Director, CNN International." Sony Ericsson press release, 16 February 2009.

Would David Frost interview Osama bin Laden?

Posted: 17 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Would Sir David Frost "the current host of Frost Over The World, shown on Al Jazeera English, interview [Osama] bin Laden? He has told ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] TV's Foreign Correspondent host Mark Corcoran that he would be conflicted about a bin Laden interview. 'On Al Jazeera English could I do it, would I be free to do it, would there be any editorial problem with Al Jazeera?' Sir David said. 'No. They would not have any objection to it at all. The only person who might have an objection to it is me. Is your duty as a citizen in a situation like that greater than your responsibility as a journalist ie. shouldn't you, if you're in the room with this threat to the world, shouldn't your first duty be to try and perform a citizen's arrest or whatever ... or shoot him?'" ABC News, 15 February 2009.

Public diplomacy gets two of four chapters in new book.

Posted: 17 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The CIA's former point man on Islam," Emile Nakahleh, is author of a new book, A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America's Relations With the Muslim World (Princeton University Press). (Chapter 3) Public Diplomacy: Issues and Attitudes and (Chapter 4) Public Diplomacy: A Blueprint. Of the four chapters in the 160-page book: Chapter 3 is "Public Diplomacy: Issues and Attitudes," and Chapter 4 is "Public Diplomacy: A Blueprint." Political Cortex, 12 February 2009.

Wife of French foreign minister to be DG of France 24 (updated).

Posted: 16 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The wife of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, journalist Christine Ockrent, is to become general director of the state-owned TV all-news station France 24, the online edition of the weekly Le Point reported on Friday. Ockrent, who will turn 65 in April, will not answer to her husband's ministry, but will be directly under the office of Prime Minister Francois Fillon, the weekly reported." DPA, 13 February 2009. See also Le Point, 12 February 2009. Ockrent's links to the French government are too close to allow France 24 to achieve the credibility necessary for success in international broadcasting. See previous post about French international broadcasting.
     Update: "Fully state-funded and mostly broadcasting outside France, France 24 has not come under the auspices of the Foreign Affairs Ministry for a few months. That Ministry is headed by Christine Ockrent’s husband Bernard Kouchner. The channel is now included in the Prime Minister’s affairs. This point makes the difference in the point of view of French government to sweep aside any objection about an eventual conflict of interest." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 15 February 2009.

Russia Today: virulent, worshipful, comical? (updated)

Posted: 16 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"In 2005, the government established Russia Today, a worldwide news channel that broadcasts in English, Arabic, and Spanish. With its often virulent anti-Americanism, worshipful portrayal of Russian leaders, and comical production values, the station, which has over 90 million viewers, can be relied upon to repeat Kremlin talking points. But while the station has pretensions to be a respected news outlet, it often can't help but revive the pettiness that was a distinctive feature of Soviet-era propaganda." James Kirchick, The New Republic, 18 February 2009 issue. While Russia Today poses no competitive threat the BBC World News, CNN International, or Al Jazeera English, it is much better than "Soviet-era propaganda." Not quite objective or balanced in its coverage, Russia Today will nevertheless delve into domestic problems that the old Radio Moscow would have never touched. Russia Today's production values are several notches above "comical," and some of its presenters are charming. The estimate of 90 million viewers is almost certainly too high.
     "In the case of PR, the heads of the various state news outlets — Russia Today, RIA Novosti, Rossisskaya Gazeta — and all are vying to become the leading source of Russian propaganda. Why? 'Because in Russia,' our source says, 'the main game is not who will do the service, but who will take the money for the service.' If your PR efforts are noticed, you get recognition and your agency gets bigger piece of the federal budget (which often doubles as pocket money)." Andrew Biliter, Russia! blog, 13 February 2009.
     Russia Today report on the collision of an Iridium and non-operational Cosmos satellite, via The Inquisitr, 12 February 2009. Kai Ludwig in Germany writes: "It must be pointed out that there is no Cosmos (Kosmos in the Russian original) series of satellites. Instead this is an unspecific name, and a Cosmos-something can be just anything from a small satellite to a heavy space station module. In this case it was a Strela-2M satellite."
     Update: "The Kremlin, chafing under Western admonitions to improve its record on democracy and human rights, decided to turn the tables, investing heavily in policy forums, media projects, and PR events designed to acquaint the West with Russia on its own terms. Such projects include a monthly supplement, 'Russia Beyond the Headlines,' enclosed in the U.S. 'Washington Post' daily. There is also Russia Today, the 24-hour English-language news channel with a pronounced pro-Kremlin slant, and the Valdai discussion group, which invites prominent Western journalists to participate in an intimate forum with top Russian officials." Nikola Krastev, RFE/RL, 15 February 2009.

RFE/RL's Plouffe scoop.

Posted: 16 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"No one expects Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to break a story these days, let alone the one about David Plouffe, President Obama's election campaign manager, being paid $50,000 by a non-governmental organization linked to Azerbaijan's unsavory regime for a speech he made there Feb. 9. But break it they did, and the Washinton Post, The New York Times and Politico followed up with a race to gather dirt on Plouffe. In my opinion, the man did nothing wrong." Dmitry Sidorov, Forbes, 16 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Murder charge against founder of American Muslim channel.

Posted: 16 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The founder of an American Muslim television channel, launched to counter the negative stereotypes of Muslims after 9/11, was arrested in New York late Thursday for beheading his estranged wife. Muzzammil Hassan, 44, was charged with second-degree murder hours after he went to the police and told them his wife's dead body was at the Bridges TV office in Buffalo, New York... ... 'There should be a Muslim media so that Muslim children growing up in America grow up with the self confidence and high self esteem about their identity both as Americans and as Muslims,' Hassan told Voice of America when he launched the channel. Nobody at Bridges TV answered calls from and and the station's website said it was 'closed for maintenance.'" Al Arabiya, 15 February 2009. See also Buffalo News, 14 February 2009 and

CNBC Africa to Africa via satellite platform.

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"This month sees another exciting development for DStv audiences across the continent as the operator expands its channel line-up with the addition of leading business news channel CNBC AFRICA. The continent's first 24 hour international business channel, CNBC AFRICA will now be available to DStv Premium, Compact and Family subscribers in Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire, Congo, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda, following on from its earlier launch across Southern Africa.", 14 February 2009.
     "MultiChoice Ghana has invested in 9 more Ghanaian High Schools as part of the company's Corporate Social Investment (CSI) Initiative by donating DStv hardware, TV's and VCR recorders to schools. ... Comprising seven premium channels, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, History Channel, SABC Africa, BBC World, Animal Planet and Mindset Learn, the Bouquet combines the sound and imagery of television to support teaching and learning.", 14 February 2009.

Vatican Radio startup in 1931 had help from US companies.

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"While building a nation out of hilly fields and gardens may have seemed daunting, the Vatican did receive some technical and material help from Italy and even the United States. The U.S. Western Electric Company and Bell Telephone Laboratories built and supplied the shortwave radio receiver that was used by the newly founded Vatican Radio. The receiver still works and is turned on so visitors to the exhibition can hear, amid a lot of static, Vatican Radio programming. Pope Pius had invited the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, to build the radio broadcasting station, which was inaugurated Feb. 12, 1931. The exhibit shows a medium wave antenna, a carbon microphone and other instruments Marconi designed for Vatican Radio." Catholic News Service, 13 February 2009.

The Doha Debates are coming to Washington.

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The next session of Doha Debates, Qatar’s world-famous forum for free speech, will be held at Georgetown University campus in Washington DC next month. The session will debate the Obama administration’s policies in the Middle East. ... The Doha Debates have established a reputation as the premier forum for discussing the hottest, political issues in the Arab and Islamic worlds. They are the top-rated weekend programme on BBC World News, broadcasting to viewers in more than 200 countries." The Peninsula (Doha), 14 February 2009. On 25 March 2009, according to the Doha Debates home page.

Gaza social media and shortwave post mortems.

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Both sides deployed dangerous new media weapons during this latest round of fighting in Gaza. Armed with Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts, and Lavazza espresso, warriors fearlessly and tirelessly scoured the cyber battlefield searching for enemy (blog) outposts. Outfitted with high-tech ammunition like HD videocameras, firewire 800s, and white phosphorescent keyboards, they attacked one-sided videos, slanted essays, and enemy propaganda with propaganda of their own. Instead of grad rockets, they launched grad school wits. Instead of anti-tank missiles, they battled with anti-spamming technology. In 22 days of combat in Gaza, these were the young fighters tasked with winning the merciless war of public opinion for their side." Jaron Gilinsky, PBS Mediashift, 13 February 2009.
     In my February 2009 column for the North American Shortwave Association, I wrote that Gaza was the the "first major post-shortwave war." Glenn Hauser writes: "It`s not post-SW after all, as you may have seen after writing that --- with the 5815, 5835 and 6220 [kHz] relays of Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds TV sound, from somewhere." See Glenn's DX Listening Digest, 9 February, 7 February, and 3 February 2009. Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds are Hamas affiliated channels, whose television transmissions were reportedly disrupted by Israeli bombing. -- "VTC is providing ad hoc capacity on its Global Short Wave Network for broadcasters requiring extra transmissions into the Gaza Strip during the current hostilities in the region." VT Communications newsletter via NASB newsletter via DX Listening Digest, 1 February 2009.

Book reading at RFA.

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Yiyun Li reads from her new novel, The Vagrants, at Radio Free Asia, ground floor conference center, 2025 M St. NW in an event co-sponsored by the Asia Society. Call 202-414-2805 for more details. Tickets are $10 for the general public." Washington Post, 15 February 2009. Five dollars for Asia Society members and RFA staff. RSVP by 17 February at RFA home page.

First Wall Street, then Main Street, now Voice of America Drive.

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"With three stores closed, pizza lovers will have to travel out of the county to get all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta and salad. Cici's Pizza in Hamilton, West Chester Twp. and Fairfield — franchises owned by Jeffrey Morin — have all closed in recent weeks. ... 'Cici's Pizza is growing, but the economy has been hard unfortunately on some franchisees,' ... The West Chester Twp. store, located on Voice of America Drive, opened in 2005." Hamilton (OH) Journal News, 12 February 2009. Near the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting site. Meanwhile, on that site...
     "As Miami University is looking back on 200 years of education, local leaders of the Miami University Voice of America Learning Center are looking forward. 'Two hundred years ago, Oxford was the frontier for Ohio and Miami,' said Rod Nimtz, director of the VOA Learning Center in West Chester Twp. 'Now, as Miami enters into its third century of service, the VOA Learning Center is the new frontier.' ... It brings together elements of Miami's main campus and the Middletown and Hamilton regional campuses, while also providing a professional master's of business program, undergraduate courses and degrees, master's in education programs, a Corporate & Community Institute that provides customized training for business, industry and government agencies and Alumni Career Services. ... The VOA [Learning Center] will have various events leading up to its April 17 building dedication." The Oxford (OH) Press, 17 February 2009.

Remembering a Pakistani journalist, and his dealings with VOA.

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pakistani Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani hosted the memorial reference on Friday for veteran Pakistani journalist Khalid Hasan – who passed away last week ... . Akmal Aleemi, former senior Voice of America producer and a close friend of Mr Hasan, recollected the journalist’s life, diplomatic assignments in Europe and his years in Washington when he worked as correspondent for Daily Times." Daily Times (Lahore), 14 February 2009. See previous post about Mr. Hasan and VOA.

I will go out on a limb and guess that Head of News is an important job at BBC World News (updated).

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"A New Zealand journalist who started his career in Timaru has been appointed BBC World News' head of news. The global television channel has an estimated 76 million viewers. Andrew Roy, 49, was appointed to the job after more than 20 years with the Beeb, during which he has run bureaus in Europe and North America. Before his appointment he held the deputy's job." New Zealand Herald, 13 February 2008. See previous post.
     "BBC World News has appointed BrandNew to create a website for World Challenge, its global competition recognising small businesses and projects that have improved their communities." The Drum, 12 February 2009. Can anyone find a website for BrandNew, a company that apparently creates websites? Update: David Murphy in Dresden found the URL: He found it in the full version of the article, which I did not have access to, not being logged in to The Drum site. David points out that the full version of the article can be accessed, depending on how you search for it.

BBC World Service takes itself off Sri Lanka's SLBC (updated again).

Posted: 15 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service is to stop providing radio news to Sri Lanka's state broadcaster because of what it calls 'deliberate interference'. A statement said FM broadcasts to the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation would be suspended from Tuesday. The BBC said many of its news reports in Sinhala, Tamil and English had been blocked or only partially broadcast. The SLBC chairman admitted censoring BBC programming, saying he had a duty to do so at a time of war. The BBC says it will maintain its services in Sinhala, Tamil and English on short wave radio and online. BBC news reports in English are to continue on the Sri Lankan commercial radio broadcaster, MBC." BBC News, 9 February 2009. See also BBC World Service press release, 9 February 2009.
     "Hudson Samarasinghe, chairman of the state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, said he had received no formal notice of the suspension, which the BBC said would remain until its programmes were aired without what it called interference. But he said SLBC had the right to do as it wished after paying for programming from outside sources. 'This is the voice of the nation,' Samarasinghe told Reuters. 'I don't have the freedom to air the voice of Prabhakaran who wants to divide the country.' He was referring to BBC broadcasts in November that included Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran's annual address, which state media are prohibited from broadcasting." Reuters, 10 February 2009. Widely reported by other news organizations.
     "We are dismayed to learn that the BBC World Service felt obliged today to stop supplying news programmes in English, Sinhala and Tamil to Sri Lankan state broadcaster SLBC for local FM retransmission because the SLBC, for which you are responsible, was constantly and illegally censoring them despite being bound by a commercial contract allowing millions of Sri Lankans to listen to the BBC’s programmes in the three languages every day." Letter to Sri Lanka media and information minister, Reporters sans frontières, 10 February 2009.
     "Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that neither party had taken this issue up with him. 'None of the parties have officially informed me of this issue,' he said.", 11 February 2009.
     Update: "BBC continues daily with 3 1/2 hours of English language broadcast making use of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, the state owned radio of Sri Lanka." Asian Tribune, 14 February 2009.
     "Indeed the media are not just restricted, they have also been explicitly threatened. International news networks, including Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN have all been put on notice by the Sri Lankan government. The country's defence minister, Gotobaya Rajapaksa, warned the networks that they would be removed if their reporting gave the Tamil rebels what he referred to as 'a second breath of life'.", 13 February 2009.

Media in, about, and to Iran.

Posted: 14 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Satellite dishes, though illegal in Iran, are plentiful in urban, and to some extent in rural areas as well. Iranians receive, for a nominal one-time fee, over 40 Persian-language satellite television networks from outside Iran (including the dreadful 'oppositional' channels). They also receive hundreds of foreign-language satellite channels (including BBC, CNN International, Voice of America, the Bloomberg channels, and the recently launched Persian-language BBC TV). Iran was among the first countries to go online in the Middle East, and internet in Iran has become a major force socially, politically, and culturally." Mehdi Semati, Peyvand, 13 February 2009.
     "Iran is celebrating 30 years of its Islamic Revolution. Al-Jazeera English, the Middle East's favourite television network, has been running a great series based on first person accounts and interviews to mark the occasion." Al-Ahram Weekly, 12 February 2009.
     "Over the past two weeks, Radio Farda aired a series of special programs in Iran exploring the legacy of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The coverage culminated in a live, three-hour broadcast on February 10- that brought together political activists, scholars, and citizens to discuss the meaning of the revolution and the future of Iran. ... February 10 -- Radio Farda took phone calls from listeners on the anniversary of the revolution. One caller from Tehran said Iranians have lost their individual freedoms since the creation of the Islamic Republic. Another listener in Tehran said the regime has been making unrealistic assurances to the people for three decades: 'They've been promising us the moon,' he said." RFE/RL website, 11 February 2009.
     "The Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) received a World Bronze Medal in the 2009 New York Festivals Television Programming and Promotions Awards competition for design work on a special program about the 2008 U.S. presidential election." VOA press release, 13 February 2009.

VOA unfortunately described, again.

Posted: 14 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"According to the Voice of America, the official external broadcasting service of the US government, Russian officials say that debris from the collision pose no threat to the International Space Station or its three crewmembers, who are orbiting about 270 miles below the crash." Eoin O'Carroll, Christian Science Monitor Bright Green Blog, 12 February 2009.
     "US funded" or "US government funded" would be a more informative description. Similar to: "According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, funded by the US Congress, the US paid US$2 million a year to use Manas [Kyrgyzstan] for the first five years of the base's operation." John C K Daly, International Relations and Security Network, 13 February 2009.

Azerbaijan international radio quid pro quo in the works? (updated)

Posted: 14 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. has offered Azerbaijani radio stations the right to broadcast in the English language in the U.S. should Radio Liberty and Voice of America (VOA) resume broadcasting on national frequencies. 'The U.S. Broadcasting Council officials made a preliminary proposal to resume broadcasting Radio Liberty and VOA in Azerbaijan,' U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ann Derse told journalists on Feb. 11. 'Our officials have been discussing the issue since Feb. 10.' ... The proposal envisages resuming broadcasting based on an intergovernmental agreement. Azerbaijani radio stations will have the right to air their programs in the English language in U.S." Trend News Agency, 11 February 2009. See my speculation on 22 January.
     "Azerbaijani Parliamentary Vice Speaker Bahar Muradova said prohibiting foreign radio stations from broadcasting on national frequencies was the correct decision. 'The decision to ban foreign radio stations from broadcasting on national frequencies should not be discussed. Azerbaijan has not stopped broadcasting foreign radio stations, period.'" Trend News Agency, 10 February 2009.
     "Representatives of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet this week to discuss returning Radio Liberty and Voice of America (VOA) to the Azerbaijani airwaves, head of the Public Relations Department at the U.S. Embassy Terry Davidson told Trend News on Feb. 9. ... 'We welcome the BBG's willingness to determine a legal framework within which Radio Liberty and VOA can broadcast their programs in the manner prior to the NRTC's decision,' Davidson said." Trend News Agency, 9 February 2009.
     "Today, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is giving a paid speech to a pro-government NGO in Azerbaijan, according to media reports (RFE/RL, Ken Silverstein, and Ben Smith). The journalist in Baku who broke the story of Plouffe's visit, of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, told a contact that she and other journalists tried to attend Plouffe's speech Monday at Baku's Gerb (Western) University but were not allowed in. Plouffe was also scheduled to have a meeting with the president of Azerbaijan. The visit comes 'on the eve of a referendum abolishing term limits which will leave the president in power for as long as he wants,' a former U.S. oil executive who worked in Azerbaijan writes The Cable. 'This visit will be represented inside Azerbaijan as a sign of President Obama's personal support for Ilham Aliyev. ...The runup to this referendum has seen the government shut down Radio Liberty, VOA and BBC and also harassing/arresting/beating anyone who tries to campaign against it.'" Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy The Cable blog, 9 February 2009.
     Update: "The US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) held 'fruitful' talks in Baku over broadcasts of Voice of America and the BBC programmes in Azerbaijan, US ambassador to Azerbaijan Anne Derse said in Baku today. She added that, as proposed by Azerbaijan, the BBG had advanced its proposals. In particular, the preliminary version of a draft of an intergovernmental agreement was presented. The "issues" of resuming foreign radio broadcasts in their previous form were reflected in the draft. At the same time, the draft gives Azerbaijani broadcasters the chance to broadcast their programmes in Azeri and English on the USA's FM frequencies as well as short-wave and medium-wave. 'This would have allowed the American audience to get acquainted with information about Azerbaijan and its culture,' the ambassador said. She expressed the hope that the talks would end successfully. Turan news agency, 9 February 2009, in Russian, via BBC Monitoring, via DX Listening Digest 9-015 (forthcoming).
     "Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan Terry Davidson ... said members of the U.S. Broadcasting Council and Azerbaijani government had discussed restart of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA) radio and VOA television programs. 'U.S. Broadcasting Council offered to continue radio broadcasts on local frequencies. It was also offered to release news in the United States in Azeri or English. We want official Baku’s answer to allow broadcasting of foreign radios,' he said." Azeri-Press agency, 13 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Advice for diplomacy's "poorer cousin."

Posted: 14 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"So-called (and ill-named) 'public diplomacy' has always been the poorer cousin of the self-regarding hard-core 'real' diplomats who do the important stuff like negotiate treaties and start wars. For some reason, diplomats and governments have believed that somehow the message about the role of governments can be separated in the public's mind from what they actually do. ... I do not mean by this that foreign ministers or ambassadors should start blogging, but rather that if they are to shape public opinion in other countries or even globally, they will need to take a much more sophisticated approach than paying for quasi-corporate PR. The Internet brings with it the likelihood of an immediate chorus of voices to reject overly extravagant claims or political hypocrisies. This means that governments will increasingly be judged by their actions and not by how they themselves describe them. ... We the public must now beware of governments that, just like commercial corporations, infiltrate their messages into otherwise innocent soap operas, chat rooms or movie scripts." Carne Ross, Europe's World, Spring 2009. He doesn't propose an improved term for "public diplomacy."

Taliban phones VOA after Kabul attacks (updated).

Posted: 14 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Eight Taliban militants have attacked three government buildings in Kabul, in a brazen daytime assault that killed at least 26 people and wounded dozens of others. ... Shortly after the attacks began, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujaheed called VOA and other news outlets, saying suicide bombers were targeting the justice ministry buildings, trying to kill the justice minister." VOA News, 11 February 2009.
     Update: "I could not believe my eyes. We had arrived to interview Mullah Zaif, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan who is now under virtual house-arrest on the outskirts of Kabul, when he walked into the room, sat down on the couch and pulled out an iPhone. A former member of the Taliban! An iPhone! How times have changed. ... 'I'm addicted,' he said, 'the internet is great on this, very fast.' ... The Taliban and other groups opposed to US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have been incredibly quick to latch on to new technology and methods of communication. It has enabled them to wage their war in a sophisticated fashion, using not just guns and bombs, but messages and propaganda too." Hamish Macdonald,, 13 February 2009.

Seeking news about the inauguration of Zimbabwe's new PM.

Posted: 14 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Monday night, two days before the inauguration [of Morgan Tsvangirai as Zimbabwe's prime minister], I tuned into Short Wave Radio Africa for news. These Zimbabweans, banned from operating in Zimbabwe and prohibited from coming back into the country, broadcast from London every evening for two hours. They have become the only source of information for most Zimbabweans - especially those without access to computers and telephones. At 7pm Zimbabwe time their signature tune came through, then the voice of presenter Violet Gonda and that was all we could hear. Their news bulletin, Newsreel, that follows station opening was being jammed. Sounding like a child hammering down a number of electric organ keys at the same time, it was physically impossible to hear the news." Helen in Zimbabwe, Channel 4 News, 13 February 2009.
      "End jamming of foreign radio stations, including the BBC, VOA, and the exiled stations Short-Wave Radio Africa, which broadcasts from London, and Voice of Peace, in Capetown." Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 February 2009. Voice of Peace? That's new to me, and a web search was not fruitful. Perhaps they meant Voice of the People, which uses a transmitter in Madagascar. See previous post for example of Zimbabwe's jamming.

NTDTV and its reception in China.

Posted: 14 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) may not be well known in the United States and Europe, but as a satellite TV programming service in China it has certainly made a big splash, although it has been off the air completely since mid-2008. NTDTV describes itself as the only independent Chinese-language satellite television service to broadcast into China over the past five years. One look at NTDTV's website - and you can see immediately why it’s not very popular with the Chinese government. On February 12, for example, this headline appeared: 'Falungong practitioner Zhu Luoxin persecuted in China.' No satellite TV network willing to make such a proclamation is likely to receive a very warm reception in Beijing." Article covers NTDTV's dispute with Eutelsat, allegations of Falun Gong jamming of Chinese satellites, and China's "jamproof" satellite. Peter J Brown, Asia Times, 14 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

China plans major global media expansion (updated again).

Posted: 13 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"China's central government is hatching plans for its media organizations to become global superpowers to fit the country's growing status. According to reports, the Finance Ministry has set aside 45 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) to develop its three main media outlets China Central Television, Xinhua News Agency and The People's Daily newspaper. ... Xinhua plans to increase its overseas bureaus from approximately 100 to more than 180 and is understood to be planning a 24-hour TV news channel to broadcast Asian affairs to a global audience. The model is said to be close to Al-Jazeera and will have greater reporting freedom than Phoenix, which is a Mandarin-language net broadcast from Hong Kong and is the only foreign-run Chinese-language channel with landing rights in China. CCTV, which has four international nets broadcasting in Mandarin Chinese, English, French and Spanish, will add Arabic and Russian-language services this year. CCTV's Communist Party chief Zhang Haige said that it will hire 100 staff members for the new channels." Variety Asia, 13 January 2009.
     "Before we start considering an international Xinhua TV channel, what happened to CCTV 9? Isn't CCTV 9 supposed to present China's view to the world? Is there a point in lauching a second one without fixing the first?" Cam MacMurchy, zhongnanhai blog, 12 January 2009. See also Reuters, 13 January 2009
     "It's another clear sign of China's rising power: while Western media face cutbacks and even closures, Chinese media seem to only grow stronger – with their international reach extending further. The apparent jewel in the crown of the Chinese plan is the creation of the Al Jazeera-like news channel, run by government-controlled Xinhua, which would eventually compete with the BBC and CNN. ... Could China's Al Jazeera-style channel be granted greater freedom, to compete with credibility? Mused [Rebecca MacKinnon, a media analyst and professor at the University of Hong Kong]: 'That would be interesting ... if they end up having a Chinese produced channel that doesn't censor as much as other channels do in China. Are they expecting the new channel wouldn't be seen domestically? In the age of the Internet, I think that would be naive.'" Toronto Star, 14 January 2009.
"Just one problem: China doesn't have a free press. China's $6.6 billion propaganda blitz comes at the very time many American news organizations face closure, sale, or bankruptcy amid an advertising slump. Layoffs of experienced reporters are the norm industry-wide--including at Forbes, which last week announced it would combine its print and online staffs." Robyn Meredith, Forbes, 14 January 2009.
     Update: "I predict (and hope) this effort will fail, no matter how many yuan the Chinese throw at it. For China faces the same problem as Russia: it's an authoritarian state that represses its own people and (to a lesser extent) threatens its neighbors. ... China and Russia are not the only two grave abusers of human rights which have sought to win over international audiences with English-language cable networks. For over two years, the Iranian government has beamed PressTV across the world. A few months ago, I was tricked into appearing on the channel after one of its producers said she was booking me for a Danish television show. ... Of course, there's no scientific way to gauge whether or not these efforts will work, but I'd like to think that most Americans (if not most Europeans) will not be won over by the crude propaganda of countries that kill journalists and threaten to (or actually) launch unprovoked attacks against their neighbors. Never mind the cheesy production values and propagandistic mien of these stations. As long as countries like China, Russia and Iran continue their internally repressive and externally aggressive behavior, I don't see how spending massive gobs of money on TV will improve their reputations." James Kirchick, The New Republic, 12 February 2009. Of course there are scientific ways to gauge if these efforts will work. They can't work if they do not have an audience, and audiences can be measured. If any change of opinion actually accrues is more difficult to measure, because people who would seek out these channels may already already be predisposed towards these countries.

A "policy agenda" for all international broadcasting?

Posted: 13 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"While international broadcasting services such as Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, Radio Moscow International and Radio/TV Marti (targeting Cuba) had their clear-cut propaganda agendas, others were subtler -- the BBC included. The policy agenda of international radio and television broadcasting has not changed since the first shortwave broadcast radio signal was sent overseas from the Netherlands in 1928. It has consistently been to influence the recipient audience in the political, economic, cultural or geo-strategic interests of the originating country." Ayman El-Amir, Al-Ahram Weekly, via Al Arabiya, 13 February 2009. The "policy agenda" provides an oversimplified and conspiratorial picture of international broadcasting. Most Western international broadcasters, most of the time, have adhered to the audience demand for news and information that is more reliable than what they receive from their state-controlled domestic media.

"A growing club of 'anti-hegemonic news channels.'"

Posted: 13 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Besides western broadcasters such as the BBC, Euronews and Deutsche Welle, which are increasing their broadcasts to Arab states, Iran and Latin America, there is now a growing club of 'anti-hegemonic news channels' - stations that see the western claim for impartiality as a sham. They include Al Jazeera in both Arabic and English, Russia Today (developing Arabic and Spanish Services), Press TV (the English language media arm of Iran's government) and Telesur, launched by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as a pan-continental antidote to the 'imperialist' messages of the US and other western media. In differing ways, these broadcasters see impartial western reporting as a sham. Where Telesur sees information imperialism, Al Jazeera, more mildly, reproaches the BBC, CNN and others for concentrating on the rich world and proposes itself as "the voice of the voiceless" (in an essay, 'Counter Hegemonic News', veteran BBC journalist James Painter found some evidence that Al Jazeera reported more and more fully from developing countries). Russia Today furiously criticised western media for distorting the Russia-Georgia conflict in August, arguing that there was no coverage of Georgian attacks on South Ossetia before the Russian intervention." John Lloyd, Financial Times, 13 February 2009.

Worldfocus and its "low-cost" coverage of world affairs (updated).

Posted: 13 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The creators of’s four-month-old 'Worldfocus' see it as a model for low-cost news programming on public television. But its first-year budget of $8 million is causing dissent at the company, the parent of WNET/Channel 13 and WLIW/Channel 21 in New York, and is being blamed for deep layoffs at the stations. ... 'Worldfocus' has been a point of internal contention since its premiere in October. Mr. Shapiro conceived the program after a disagreement with the BBC, the British broadcaster, over its newscast, which WLIW had distributed nationally for a decade. When the two sides couldn’t reach a new distribution deal, WNET and WLIW decided to produce 'Worldfocus,' and the BBC lined up a new distributor. ... The show includes interviews by the anchor, Martin Savidge, formerly of CNN and NBC News, and reports from worldwide news partners, including A24, from Africa, and Al Jazeera. Video is sent via Internet, not satellite, to save money, and the entire show is assembled in a computer so that studio cost is minimal, producers said. ... The audience for 'Worldfocus' has been growing but remains small. In January it had about 252,000 nightly viewers on average in the nation’s 30 largest markets, according to The program can also be seen at" New York Times, 3 February 2009.
     Update: "The PBS [sic] show Worldfocus recently received a $1 million dollar grant to produce 'reports examining how other countries have dealt with the challenges facing the United States, like healthcare and Social Security' (New York Times, 2/3/09) from a foundation with a track record of misinformation and fearmongering on these very issues. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation and its founder, Pete Peterson, have long played a critical role (Extra!, 3-4/97) in promoting the myths that Social Security is on the verge of bankruptcy (Extra!, 7-8/95, 1-2/05) and that universal healthcare is unaffordable. ... The head of the Peterson Foundation, David Walker, earnestly claimed (New York Times, 2/3/09) that Worldfocus would maintain 'total control over the content.' But if the source of funding had no impact on content, there would be no point to public broadcasting; it was the very real concern that commercial sponsorship influences programming that led to the creation of public broadcasting in the first place." Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, 10 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Euronews overtakes CNNI among upmarket Europeans.

Posted: 13 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Following EMS-C-EMS study covering winter 2008, European channel Euronews announced that for the 'first time, it has a higher daily audience than CNN International'. Euronews’ daily reach is now 4.5% compared to 4.4% measured six months ago. The channel is thus 'confirming its leading position among the international news channels in 17 EU countries and in Norway, Switzerland and Russia. Euronews ranks number 1 in weekly reach,' said the channel. Released on Monday, EMS-C-EMS study measures the media consumption of 46 million upmarket viewers in Western and Eastern Europe. ... A result that widens the gap between Euronews and CNN International. The US channel lost more than 400,000 weekly viewers over the period." Rapid TV News, 10 February 2009.

Documentary about RFE and RL will show on

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The history of RFE/RL's Munich era is the subject of an excellent documentary by Christian Bauer, which is being shown on Arte ('To Moscow With Love'). The move to Prague, however, seemed to be the beginning of the end for the radio. Created in 1949 as an instrument to fight the Cold War, it has now already outlived its era by twenty years. The Eastern European programs were ended one-by-one: the Hungarian program in 1993, in 1997 the Polish, in 2002 the Czech, in 2004 the programs for Bulgaria and the Baltic region, and last year the Romanian program. In Munich the station had a yearly budget of $250 million. Today, only $80 million remain. Is RFE/RL a run-out model whose fate has been sealed by the changeover from George W. Bush to Barack Obama? ... The 'Voice of America' reports the American point of view, and the BBC is a neutral 'window on the world', says (RFE/RL president Jeffrey) Gedmin, 'but we are a mirror of societies'." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 4 February 2009, translated and reprinted in RFE/RL press release, 9 February 2009. See also website. See previous post about the documentary and previous post about Gedmin's descriptions of VOA and BBC.

Now the Cuban dissidents like Radio/TV Martí.

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Cuban dissidents on Tuesday urged the United States to continue beaming Radio and TV Marti to the communist-run island, despite recent U.S. criticism that the broadcasts reach few Cubans and have questionable journalistic standards. They said the two outlets, which are directed by the Miami-based Office of Cuba Broadcasting agency and aimed at supporting opposition to the Cuban government, provided a useful voice in a country where the media is state-run. 'It has to be assured that these important transmissions to Cuba continue,' leading dissident Marta Beatriz Roque said in a press conference in the Cuban capital. 'It is also indispensable that they be effective in eluding or counteracting interference by the (Cuban) regime,' she said." Reuters, 10 February 2009. See previous post about same subject, and compare to post on 23 January.

Obama to Iran via IRNA or USIB?

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) has asked to interview Obama as a way to reach out to the Iranian people. Should Obama choose to address the Iranian people, he must decide: Will he address the Iranian people through state media and thereby signal that the path to Iranian hearts and minds goes through the regime, or will he reach out directly using Radio Farda or Voice of America-Persian service? If the former, he will, in effect, throw the media services so important during the Cold War under the bus." Michael Rubin, National Review Online The Corner blog, 11 February 2009.

Praise for VOA from Burundi's president.

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza today praised the Voice of America's (VOA) programs, saying the U.S. international broadcaster can play an important role in ensuring the 2010 presidential elections are fair and transparent. 'We know that the Voice of America programs can help Burundians understand better the (election) process, voice their opinions and make sure the voting is transparent,' Nkurunziza said in an interview with VOA in Bujumbura, the capital. Nkurunziza said he would like to see VOA's Kirundi programs expanded. Nkurunziza, who was elected in 2005, singled out for praise VOA's Ejo Bite? (What About the Future?) program, a weekly show aimed at young Burundians, including those who lived in refugee camps in Tanzania or who have returned to Burundi. The program is funded through a grant from the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration." VOA press release, 11 February 2009. See previous post about Burundi.

VOA memories.

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
From story about Pakistan-born Rafat Ansari, a physicist at Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center: "On the night when men first landed on the moon, the elder Ansari gathered his family around a transistor radio tuned to the Voice of America and explained what was happening." Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10 February 2009.
     "One of the newest members of [Worcester MA's] Iraqi community is Mr. Alwan, the former U.N. clerk, who arrived with his wife and two children a few weeks ago. The 42-year-old grew up listening to Voice of America radio broadcasts. He speaks fluent English with an American accent and has a bachelor’s degree." Worcester Telegram, 11 February 2009.
     "As a child, growing up under Mao Zedong’s Communist control, Eric Ruicheng Pei learned English, in part, by listening to Voice of America, an international radio and television broadcasting service. ... Last year, Pei received a call asking if he’d like to act as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, teaching Chinese language for a year at Flathead Valley Community College in an American town called Kalispell." Flathead Beacon (Montana), 5 February 2009.

Rough-legged hawks at former VOA shortwave site.

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Folks looking to live a bit on the wild side need look no further than Butler County MetroParks' Voice of America Park. The park is home to a lively collection of wildlife not found in other grassland regions in the county, said Jeff Brown, a local birder and member of the Conservation Partners for the VOA Grasslands. Recently, about three rare rough-legged hawks have been spotted in the area." Middletwon (OH) Journal, 12 February 2009. This is the former VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.

Journalists going into government include VOA directors.

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The practice of bringing reporters into government is of such long standing that it is hard to believe that Republicans seriously think it is now a matter of legitimate controversy. ... Journalists like Roger Tubby and Hodding Carter III served as State Department spokesmen. John Chancellor, J. Peter Strauss, Eugene Pell and Sanford Ungar, among other print and broadcast reporters and editors, ran the Voice of America at different times." Alfred Friendly Jr., letter to The New York Times, 10 February 2009.

Encouraging conversation, or leading the conversation?

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Jeremy Curtin, coordinator of the State's Bureau of International Information Programs (which runs, among other new media public diplomacy efforts), adds a caveat to [former undersecretary for public diplomacy James K.] Glassman's notion of encouraging conversation. The State Department has a vested interest, Curtin said, in 'trying to help lead the conversation in ways that are constructive,' emphasizing that part of the department's mission is to advocate U.S. policies." Amy Harder, National Journal, 11 February 2009. See also sidebar. Another example of the contrast between international broadcasting and public diplomacy. To retain its credibility, international broadcasting would encourage conversation without leading it. Public diplomacy, on the other hand, would want to "lead the conversation," otherwise, it might as well be international broadcasting.

"A lowering of our government's voice."

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"During these hard economic times, with thousands and thousands of Americans out of work, more taxpayer dollars going to PD 'new initiatives' is by no means an automatic solution to America's overseas 'image' problems. Nor are idiotic bureaucratic turf-wars among government agencies (e.g., the State Department and the Department of Defense), based essentially on 'who's going to to get the money to do PD,' of any real value to the Republic. ... But what we don't need, above all, are Bush-like loudspeakers, on the internet or elsewhere, cheerleading the global masses into going gah-gah over the 'land of the free and the home of the brave' or leading the charge in a so-called endless 'war on terror' against the 'islamofascists.' The world will welcome such a lowering of our government's voice." John Brown, John Brown's Notes and Essays, 9 February 2009.

Public diplomacy should "differentiate between the United States and the American people." What?

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The problem with many public diplomacy initiatives is that they seek exclusively to eliminate anti-Americanism. They should also aim to make people around the world differentiate between the United States government’s policies and the American people. Foreign policy decisions made by a president will always anger somebody around the world. Public Diplomacy efforts should educate people around the world and teach them to differentiate between the United States and the American people; foreign policy decisions usually divide the American people, obviously they will continue to be perceived differently in different parts of the world." Joel Hainsfurther, The Diplomatic Courier, via International Relations and Security Network, 11 February 2009.
     I think what he is trying to say is that publics abroad should know that the American people do not always agree with U.S. foreign policies, and that debate about those policies takes place within the United States just as it does in other countries. The United States can thus win some sympathy abroad based on the views of its citizens, if not its government.
     It might be awkward for US public diplomacy to publicize opposition to US policies. On the other hand, US international broadcasting, which reports both on government and opposition, routinely conveys this information to other countries, including coverage of debates on US policies.

Wrinkle in the Worldspace bankruptcy auction (updated).

Posted: 12 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Delaware Bankruptcy Court has delayed the auction of Worldspace’s assets. The auction is delayed until at least Feb 19, and probably later. One fresh legal point emerged Feb 3 when it emerged that Worldspace has bought an insurance policy that gives them up to $15m-worth of cover for a Class Action lawsuit that is running against the company, as well as company founder Noah Samara." Rapid TV News, 4 February 2009.
     "Pay-radio broadcaster Worldspace has asked the Delaware Bankruptcy Court to set Feb 20 as its new auction date. This means that the formal ‘sale hearing’ where the assets of the company would be determined could now take place a few days later on Feb 25. Worldspace is also asking the Court to extend its ‘Debtor in Possession’ authorisation which permits Worldspace to stay in control under the original Chapter 11 provisions." Rapid TV News, 5 February 2009.
     "Petry Holding, Inc. today announced that Alexander Brown has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. ... Mr. Brown joins Petry Media from WorldSpace Inc. a premier provider of satellite radio outside the U.S. where he was Co-Chief Operating Officer. ... Blair Television and Petry Television, known as Petry Media, are the primary operating entities of Petry Holding, Inc. They are television station representative companies that provide a full range of advertising sales and support services including research, programming, creative services, and information services to their more than 250 client television stations." Petry Holding press release, 5 February 2009.
     Update: "Worldspace has issued a Form 8-K filing to the US Securities & Exchange Commission, updating interested parties as to its current financial state. Worldspace is formally a Debtor in Possession (DiP) and in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. ... The complete document ... explains the broadcaster’s current expenditure and debt obligations, all of which terminate in a few days with the planned auction of the company’s assets on Feb 23." Rapid TV News, 12 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

The "new global channel" proposed at Davos, and its detractor.

Posted: 11 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
A proposal from this year's World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, "is to create 'a new global network' with 'the capacity to connect the world, bridging cultures and peoples, and telling us who we are and what we mean to each other.' ... It says that 'a genuine, global voice' is needed that shares a “fundamental commitment” to being an international media voice, and makes mention of 'the media voices we think of as international' coming from London (the BBC), Qatar (Al-Jazeera) or Atlanta (CNN). BBC is known for its anti-American programming, Al-Jazeera for its pro-terrorist slant, and CNN for its left-wing and pro-Democratic bias. ... There are 22 members of the Council on the Future of Media. ... There doesn’t appear to be one identifiable conservative member on the list." Cliff Kincaid, Family Security Matters, 11 February 2009.
     "Why is something new required in a world seemingly awash with information? In a world where there are calls for global governance as a response to a global financial crisis, where scientific research, capital flows and production chains are globalized, the media and the communities in which we imagine ourselves remain fiercely localized. Even the media voices we think of as international come from London, Qatar or Atlanta. Via the World Economic Forum committed to improving the state of the world, the agenda that will deliver those improvements needs a genuine, global voice that shares that fundamental commitment. The Forum was created to bring a space for international debate and cooperation where global stakeholders could talk about global issues. In a world facing global problems but with little to match in global governance, its foundation was an act of imagination. Communicating a global agenda, and motivating and mobilizing people to support it, requires an initiative of global imagination, and why shouldn’t such an initiative come from the World Economic Forum and its Members?" From the World Economic Forum's The Global Agenda 2009. "Motivating and mobilizing people" means this would definitely not be a news channel. Sixty-second advertisements might be more appropriate for this vaguely-defined effort than a full-time channel.

Al Jazeera has almost as many journalists in Washington as CBS.

Posted: 11 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Washington press corps at the dawn of the Obama administration is far more specialized and less interested in reaching average Americans than it was just a few years ago. The capital also has many more foreign reporters covering the U.S. from an outsider's perspective — to the point where the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera have nearly the same number of accredited journalists as CBS News, a report issued Tuesday said. ... An influx of media members from Asia, the Middle East and Africa has been pronounced in recent years. Now, TV networks like al-Arabiya not only give viewers an alternative view of what's going on in Iraq, they give a different view of what's happening in Washington, the report said." AP, 10 February 2009. See also Project for Excellence in Journalism, 11 February 2009.

When an IP address gets in the way of international television.

Posted: 11 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"When I got to The Prisoner page on its site I saw only an unfriendly message, shouting at me in uppercase that: THE VIDEO YOU ARE TRYING TO WATCH CANNOT BE VIEWED FROM YOUR CURRENT COUNTRY OR LOCATION. ... I'm being blocked because my IP address, the unique identifier for my computer on the internet, reveals that I'm a customer of Virgin Media and located in the United Kingdom and whatever deal AMC has made with the owners of The Prisoner only covers the US. It would be easy to get around this, of course, either by altering the settings on my computer or using one of the third-party services that makes it look like I'm connecting from within the US. ... When will the content companies realise that I am not an IP number, I am a free man - and a potential customer, no matter where I am in the world." Bill Thompson, BBC News, 9 February 2009.

Arab satellite television and the "tide of viewer expectations."

Posted: 11 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The coming year should provide a clearer picture of whether the Arab satellite revolution is sustainable or whether governments can put a harness back on the medium. If history is a guide, authorities will try to single out broadcasters for censorship and harassment, impose restrictive new laws, and thwart meaningful efforts to privatize radio and television. But authorities may find themselves going against the tide of viewer expectations. One-sided, one-dimensional content is not likely to satisfy Arab viewers any longer. Proponents of free airwaves can take advantage of the public's higher expectations to fight restrictive legislation as it arises in individual nations. Investors can push for higher quality and greater diversity in satellite stations. And, as part of their engagement on political reform, the United States, the European Union, and others can seek true privatization of broadcast outlets, not simply cosmetic reforms that put regime cronies in control of the airwaves." Joel Campagna, Committee to Protect Journalists, February 2009.

Taking the "aggressive" out of Russian and Georgian television.

Posted: 11 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The stories of Russia's NTV and Georgia's Rustavi 2 illustrate creeping government control over television. Neither station responded to CPJ's requests for comment for this report. Once aggressive and influential broadcasters, the stations were effectively taken over by the state through government-controlled interests or administration allies. 'The NTV takeover was sophisticated, and it happened in the very beginning of Putin's tenure when people hadn't yet realized his true stripes as a political leader,' said Robert Coalson, an analyst with the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 'It was indicative of the way politicians of his type act--they go after the media first, then they control the narrative.'" Nina Ognianova, Committee to Protect Journalists, February 2009.

Audit court is critical of French international broadcasting reorganization.

Posted: 11 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Stratégie instable', 'réformes incomplètes', 'pilotage défaillant', 'absence de visions', 'cohérence à définir' : dans son rapport annuel transmis le 4 février à la commission des finances de l'Assemblée nationale, la Cour des comptes est sévère avec la holding de l'Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (AEF) qui, dans le cadre de la nouvelle loi sur l'audiovisuel public votée au Parlement, regroupe désormais Radio France Internationale (RFI), TV5 Monde et France 24." Le Monde, 9 February 2009. See also referenced Cour des comptes report (pdf). France's Cour des Comptes is, according to Wikipedia, "a quasi-judicial body of the French government charged with conducting legislative audits of most public institutions."
     "Quebec’s Minister of Culture Christine St-Pierre announced Quebec was going to raise its contribution to TV5Monde by 40%. The amount poured into the French-language international channel by Quebec will reach €2.9 million, after the $1.5 million ( €900,000) is added." Rapid TV News, 3 February 2009.

RFI correspondent's non-interview with FARC hostages.

Posted: 11 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"In an article published in its print edition on Tuesday (February 3rd), France’s major newspaper 'Le Monde' referred to the case of the 'Radio France International' (RFI) Colombia correspondent Hollman Morris, who interviewed the three policemen and the soldier shortly before they were released by Farc on Sunday. 'Le Monde' writes: 'RFI announces it has not published any interviews with the hostages (…), nor has any interview been either proposed by or assigned to its correspondent'. [Colombian] Minister of Defense Juan Manual Santos had accused Mr. Morris of having interviewed the hostages 'under pressure' with the intention of misusing the material." (Bogotá), 9 February 2009.
     Morris: "I did two reports for Radio France International in which, in spite of having spoken to the young men who were freed, I did not at any point use their words for my reports. Why not? For the simple reason that I decided against it. Those young men were under pressure from the guerrilla, and I wasn’t interested in that material." CounterPunch, 9 February 2009.

BBC Radio 4 business program will get international exposure.

Posted: 10 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Bottom Line, BBC Radio 4's regular insight into the world of business, presented by Evan Davis, is set to reach brand new global audiences for six weeks from mid-February. For the first time, The Bottom Line will welcome television cameras into the recording studio to film the programme for broadcast on the BBC News channel and to international audiences on BBC World News. The programme in a reversioned form will also go out on BBC World Service radio." BBC press release, 10 February 2009.

New commercial director will "support the editorial standards" of BBC World News.

Posted: 10 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Colin Lawrence is to take on the post of Commercial Director at BBC World News, with responsibility for all of the channel's commercial activities. The newly-created role will see Lawrence taking charge of the delivery of revenue targets across the organisation, on all of its platforms, as well as ensuring that its activities support the editorial standards of the BBC. He will also join the BBC World News board of directors. ... Richard Sambrook, Director, BBC Global News, says, 'This is a new position that will bring a clear focus to commercial delivery as we move towards profit.' ... Colin Lawrence adds: "We're reaching an exciting point in both the development of BBC World News and the business of news delivery itself. Media convergence and the shifting balance of power around the world make this a fascinating time to be taking on this task.'" Apparent BBC press release via, 9 February 2009.

How mispronunciations can poke holes in credibility.

Posted: 10 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"I remember, as a fresh recruit at the BBC, a presentation from a charismatic and inspiring producer within the BBC World Service told us that we of the BBC World Service had listeners worldwide, who believed in us and trusted us to get it right. If we misnamed even a town, what we had done to the BBC was to destroy its credibility with every BBC listener within a radius of hundreds of miles. To whit, Thika in Nyanza Province. Notice the impact." Jenny Luesby, Business Daily (Nairobi), 10 February 2009.

BBC Arabic's "methodical multimedia strategy."

Posted: 10 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"It was a testament to BBC Arabic’s methodical multimedia strategy that, when its listeners, viewers and readers did choose to voice their opinions about the broadcaster’s decision not to air a charity appeal for Gaza, it was able to use every form of mobile, online and traditional media at its disposal to make its audiences feel heard. In the end, BBC Arabic used its newly expanded television schedule and multimedia channels to host a live debate about the decision. 'It was an issue that was highly debatable,' said Hosam el Sokkari, the head of BBC Arabic. 'So we offered our audiences the opportunity to debate it.'" The National, 9 February 2009.

Are the days of Alhurra numbered?

Posted: 10 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The days of Alhurra, the United States-based and government-funded Arabic satellite TV channel, might be numbered. The first major sign of terminal decline came when US President Barak Obama chose the rival Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya to give his first interview to the Arab world. ... So who really runs the network? Public diplomacy, which includes broadcasting in foreign languages, fell under the supervision of the US Information Agency (USIA) until its dissolution in 1999, when the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) replaced it in overseeing a number of Voice of America (VOA) services in several languages, including Arabic. VOA used federal employees. Thus, the process of recruitment, employment, promotion and termination was up to federal standards. For Alhurra, the BBG created the Middle East Television Network (MTN), which became a recipient of a federal grant from Congress. Free from the scrutiny of the federal government, Alhurra recruited staff randomly as contractors, not federal employees. Terms of employment, promotion and termination to this day remain vague – hardly a blueprint for a competent working environment. Months later, Radio Sawa, which had replaced the VOA Arabic Service, lost its federal status and joined Alhurra. MTN was changed into the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN) and today runs both entities." Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Now Lebanon, 8 February 2009. I don't understand why the "scrutiny of the federal government" is a good thing for a news organization that depends on credibility to attract an audience. In this previous post, I wrote about the advantages of an independent statutory corporation for government-funded international broadcasting.

Toward the forced marriage of news and propaganda.

Posted: 10 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Independent observers have concluded that al-Hurra has failed. A study by the University of Southern California in 2008, for example, found al-Hurra’s journalism was weak, lacked relevance to the audience, and was perceived to be biased propaganda. In the past, U.S. Government broadcasting faced the fundamental question of how to balance policy advocacy with good journalism. Effective public diplomacy should always be truthful to be credible, as Edward R. Murrow famously argued, but as a government-sponsored instrument it also has an obligation to help disseminate and explain U.S. policies. The VOA managed successfully to combine those two goals." William A. Rugh, Arab Media & Society, Winter 2009.
     Ambassador Rugh cites, in his list of Alhurra's failures, that it is perceived to be "biased propaganda." In the very next sentences, he calls for US international broadcasting to combine advocacy with reportage. He has found the problem, and the problem is the model of international broadcasting that he advocates.
     Some US public diplomacy experts do not understand how international broadcasting works. The audience for international broadcasting does understand how international broadcasting works. They are seeking the antidote to the propaganda they get from their state controlled domestic media. The audience offers this proposition to international broadcasters: give us independent, objective, balanced, credible news, and we will listen to your station or watch your channel. Try to mix news with propaganda, as our own media do, and we will tune elsewhere.

VOA as described by the president of RFE/RL.

Posted: 10 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"We’d like to take up what we consider the tired old shibboleth of what VOA is supposed to be about. You may have heard it in one form or another. It goes something like this: one international broadcaster claims to focus on local news inside a particular country or group of countries. Another international broadcaster, it is argued, reports on the whole world. VOA, meanwhile, is alleged to report mainly on America and U.S. policy and not much else. What bothers us about this portrait is that it is utterly false and misleading. VOA broadcasts on local news in countries around the world --- and it reports on global developments. Yes, it reports on America and U.S. policy (like other international news organizations) but that represents just a portion of what VOA offers to its audiences." Alex Belida, VOA News Blog, 5 February 2009.
     Hmm, I thought, what set Alex off to lob such a mortar shell of a blog post? My first suspect was Jeffrey Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc, who has a history of pigeonholing VOA in such fashion. I knew that Gedmin recently spoke to a meeting at the American Enterprise Institute. I never got around to reading the speech, in part because I suspected he might have said this about VOA again, and I am already suffering sufficiently from dyspepsia.
     And, so, reluctantly, I looked up Gedmin's speech. Yep...
"I think it’s terribly important that BBC does what it does and in my view BBC Persian for its Iranian audience offers a vital window on the world. I think it’s important that Voice of America does what it does. If BBC provides a window on the world, Voice of America provides an American perspective – a U.S. perspective that apparently Iranians want and need. And then there’s what we do – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and our Persian-language station called Radio Farda – we’re not a window but we’re a kind of mirror and we try our best to focus on domestic news and developments that Iranians wouldn’t need if they had a fully fair, free and independent media."
     Of course, VOA is more than an "American perspective." VOA also provides world news and target-country news, to Iran, and to all of the nations to which it broadcasts. VOA would not have an audience otherwise.
     Gedmin also insults BBC World Service by categorizing it as a "window on the world." BBC is also an essential source of news about its target countries, including Iran. BBC World Service is (though it never uses the term) the most important "surrogate" broadcaster in that in provides more news, to more people, about those people's own countries, that those people's domestic media are not reporting, than any other station.
     In 32 years of international broadcasting audience research, I have never seen a survey in which audiences did not want a mix of news about their own country, about the world, and about the broadcaster's country. Market based international broadcasting provides all the news from the convenience of one station. Only in a centrally planned morass would people have to tune to three different stations to get a complete newscast.
     BBC has the advantage in that it is the only mentioned station with the stated mission of providing that complete news service. VOA succeeds by ignoring the way it is constantly described and providing as comprehensive a news service as possible.
     Gedmin also does his own station, RFE/RL, no favors by saying "we try our best to focus on domestic news and developments." In other words, he proclaims the fact that RFE/RL is deficient in world news and does not provide the complete news service that its audiences want.
     Even if accurately described, US international broadcasting is, unfortunately, still dysfunctional. Its entities have overlapping content, and they compete among themselves for budget, frequencies, transmitters, talent, scoops, and audience. This is one of the main reasons British international broadcasting has a larger audience than US international broadcasting, even though the former has a smaller budget than the latter.

Public diplomacy and "the policy, stupid."

Posted: 09 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Before he departed Washington, former PD Chief James Glassman wisely acknowledged that 'there’s no doubt (foreign) views of the U.S. were influenced by the policies the U.S. adopted.' To paraphrase James Carville, it’s the policy, stupid. Our PR is only as good (or as bad) as the policies it attempts to explain and defend. No amount of clever advertising-type spin could have turned the decision to invade Iraq into a propaganda victory. In other words, public diplomacy isn’t advertising or public relations; it’s diplomacy." Guy W. Farmer, Nevada Appeal, 8 February 2009. Public diplomacy may have an advisory function, but it will never have veto power over policy. There will be times when the United States must carry out actions that will be unpopular abroad. Public diplomacy is public relations. As such, public diplomacy must explain these policies and actions as best as it can, not expecting any miraculous recovery of America's popularity as a result, but at least ensuring that disinformation from other sources does not make the situation worse.

Human Rights Watch calls on UN official to retract remark made on VOA.

Posted: 09 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Human Rights Watch ... called on the top UN official in Somalia to immediately retract a statement comparing Somali journalists reporting the incident to those who incited the Rwandan genocide. ... The top UN official in Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, reacted angrily to allegations that the AU troops had fired on civilians during the February 2 incident. In a February 3 interview with the Voice of America radio service, Ould-Abdallah said: 'What happened is to divert attention from what is going on here, and as usual to use the media to repeat Radio Mille Colline, to repeat the genocide in Rwanda.' The remark essentially compared Somali journalists who reported on the incident to the infamous Radio Mille Collines, which was used to incite participation in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. He also suggested a one-month moratorium on any kind of reporting on the conflict in Somalia. Human Rights Watch said Ould-Abdallah's statement was especially disturbing because many Somali journalists have risked their lives and livelihoods to report on the crisis in their country. The day after the UN official's remarks, unknown gunmen shot and killed the director of Somalia's independent Horn Afrik radio network, Said Tahlil Ahmed, while he was on his way to a news conference in Mogadishu." HRW, 5 February 2009. See also VOA News, 3 February 2009. See previous post about Somalia.

Al Arabiya claims eight times the advertising revenue of Al Jazeera.

Posted: 09 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mr Obama’s decision to grant the interview to Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned free-to-air station based in Dubai, was both a powerful political overture by the White House and a coup for the news station, which was launched in 2003 to challenge Al Jazeera’s dominance of the Arabic-language news market. ... Over the years, [Abdul Rahman al Rashed, general manager of Al Arabiya] said he had seen the station’s commitment to using a neutral observer’s language and refusal to show gory images filtering into the rest of the region’s media. He pointed to the station’s refusal to describe suicide bombers in Iraq as people dying for a cause, saying that the line taken by Al Arabiya was now being adopted by other regional media. ... In general ... Al Arabiya’s editorial approach, combined with its emphasis on business coverage, has helped the station commercially. Today, it claims it is taking in eight times the advertising revenue of Al Jazeera, although this is still not enough to make it break even." The National (Abu Dhabia), 8 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBC Persian TV versus "older émigré broadcasters."

Posted: 09 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Many journalists inside Iran hope that the new channel will adhere to BBC standards and provide a fair and accurate picture of events in the country. Iranian media experts often criticise other Persian television channels, particularly the United States-backed Voice of America, VOA, for taking an overtly political position. 'Compared with the politicised, weak VOA TV, which does not even transmit good-quality images, and the other terrible Persian networks, [BBC Persian] is a magnificent piece of work,' said Mahmoud Farjami, an Iranian journalist. ... Mehrnaz Shahkar, a sociology student in Tehran, has been watching Persian TV since its launch. Shahkar, like many Iranians, is technically breaking the law by using a satellite dish to access foreign channels. 'The good thing about BBC Persian TV is that its presenters and young employees have experienced life in Iran after the revolution,' said Shahkar, contrasting them with the older generation of émigré broadcasters. 'That gives us hope that we won't see unrealistic programmes and reports that don't relate to Iranian people's lives, as we see on other Persian channels.'" Amir Mansouri, Mianeh, via Payvand, 7 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Exiled media serve Zimbabwe and other countries.

Posted: 09 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Charged, jammed, arrested, jailed, bombed were words frequently used by John Masuku, Director of Voice of the People, Zimbabwe, talking about his plight and his radio station in Harare. ... Short-wave radio has become the most effective instrument to disseminate alternative information on Zimbabwe. For instance, Short Wave Radio Africa broadcasts daily from its London-based studio, with uncensored information and reports by Zimbawean journalists back home." The Nation (Bangkok), 9 February 2009. This article also mentions Free North Korea Radio, and others represented at a meeting of exiled media in Buadapest, about which no details are provided.

The end of the world news in the UK? (updated)

Posted: 09 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"International news coverage is in danger of disappearing completely from British television screens in the next four years unless urgent action is taken, according to an Oxfam published today. The Great Global Switch-Off research by Oxfam, journalism thinktank Polis and the International Broadcasting Trust has claimed that a lack of strategy and clear leadership has led to confusion and complacency in foreign news. ... The study proposes a 10-point plan to address this, including making the BBC World News channel available to British audiences, and expanding the BBC iPlayer to include more international programming." Press Gazette, 19 January 2009.
     "While Channel 4 and BBC One and Two were found to be sustaining their levels of international coverage, the report claimed factual programming was dominated by European and American subjects. Latin America and non-Anglophile countries were currently not being covered by British public service broadcasters, it said." The Telegraph, 18 January 2009.
     "A sizable chunk of the BBC’s foreign reporting goes unseen in this country. That is because it is on the BBC World News channel. World News is normally unavailable in this country as a stand-alone channel though it does share some programming overnight with the domestic BBC News channel and the half-hour BBC4 News is a joint production. Most Britons only see the channel when they go abroad in their hotel rooms. ... At a time when British audiences can see CNN International, Al Jazeera and other international channels, it no longer seems to make sense to deny this BBC service to British viewers." From The Great Global Switch-Off report, available at the POLIS website.
     Update: "Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has criticised the BBC's coverage of international news in the UK and has argued for closer links between the corporation's domestic and world news channels. ... He suggested that a solution would be for closer co-operation between the corporation's international channel BBC World News and the domestic rolling news channel BBC News, creating 'a very decent wall-to-wall international 24-hour station for people living in Britain'. Snow said: 'It may have passed them [the BBC] by, but Britain is becoming an increasingly multicultural, internationally looking country that is actually interested in the world.'" Press Gazette, 9 February 2009.

Psyop is a growth industry.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The fastest-growing part of the military media is 'psychological operations,' where spending has doubled since 2003. Psychological operations aim at foreign audiences, and spin is welcome. The only caveats are that messages must be truthful and must never try to influence an American audience. In Afghanistan, for example, a video of a soldier joining the national army shown on Afghan television is not attributed to the U.S. And in Iraq, American teams built and equipped media outlets and trained Iraqis to staff them without making public the connection to the military." Report also discusses the Pentagon's Joint Hometown News Service. Chris Tomlinson, AP, 5 February 2009.

Like Eurovision, except it's Asiavision.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Asiavision, the regional news exchange network, plans to recruit more members from among the Asia’s major broadcast stations as audience interest on Asia continues to grow. Celebrating its 25th year with an expanded membership of 19 from the original five, Asiavision sees its role in the region as more significant than ever. 'With the spread of 24-hour news channels, the demand for good sources of news about Asia is growing,' said Alan Williams, Asiavision’s managing editor. Asiavision is a regional news network established in 1984 under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) to deliver rele¬vant news from Asia to Asians. This vision digressed from the practice then of getting Asian news from western news organisations, such as wire services and news agencies." Asia-Pacific Broadcasting, 6 February 2009.

In Tunis, HFCC coordinates shortwave broadcast frequencies.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Tunisian capital, Tunis, hosted February 2, 2009, the winter session of the High Frequenc[y] Coordination Conference (HFCC), with the participation of 130 experts, representing 30 countries and 50 broadcasting organizations. ... In his opening statement, the Tunisian Minister expressed the need to coordinate high frequency broadcasts especially that the latter represents one of the handiest means to bring the news across borders with no major cost. 'Although shortwave radio broadcasting needs no advance authorization; he said; international coordination is required because it allows each station to broadcast with no interference from other stations.'" TunisiaMag, 5 February 2009. See also

CCTV and DW-TV in Portland (updated again).

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Verizon FiOS TV in Portland, Oregon, adds "CCTV-9, Deutsche Welle, Zee TV, ProSiebenSat.1welt, Jus Punjabi, SET Asia, Starz Indie and Starz Retro, leading channels for multicultural audiences as well as Asian, Indian, German and European audiences." Verizon press release, 28 January 2009. CCTV-9 is China's international English-language channel. Same channels added to FiOS in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Verizon press release, 3 February 2009 Update: Also in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Texas, and Tampa according to various Verizon press releases. This gives CCTV and DW-TV wide coverage in the United states, though FiOS not yet as popular as cable or satellite for multichannel television.

A very narrow niche for Alhurra.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Alhurra is not just another professional media outlet, intended to compete head-to-head with all the others while purveying essentially the same fare. By its very nature, it should be a niche station, offering a distinctly American take that underlines American culture, values and objectives. An ongoing project at Hudson Institute seeking to understand competitive dynamics in the Islamic world reveals clearly that Alhurra does not occupy this niche. Instead, Alhurra presents a bland package of news and programming with no added value to that offered in the Arab mainstream channels. The Arab viewer simply has no compelling reason to switch the dial to Alhurra, for example to find a forum for innovative hard-hitting opinions and discussions on history, culture, politics, economics, women, labor, religion, science, or the arts. Few listeners rate Alhurra high on professionalism. It is often described as short on qualified correspondents. Most striking, viewers complain that the U.S. view is not well presented on Alhurra and that it is relegated to statements and appearances of American officials. Alhurra tries to act as referee among competing positions. This is ironic, as there is no illusion anywhere in the Middle East that the U.S.-funded Alhurra is neutral. The net result of its efforts to be a neutral referee, against a backdrop of virulent anti-U.S. attacks on other media, is to promote the impression that the U.S. cannot defend its positions and must therefore concede that the anti-U.S. position is at best of equal weight." S. Enders Wimbush, Weekly Standard, 6 February 2009.
     If, on Alhurra, the US view would no longer be "relegated to statements and appearances of American officials," that means that Alhurra's broadcasters would be presenting those views themselves. That would make Alhurra a full-bore, head-on propaganda station out of the Radio Moscow school of international broadcasting. And while it may present "hard-hitting opinions and discussions on history, culture, politics" etc., it won't, as such, be a "forum."
     Actually, my confederates in the region tell me that some people in the Middle East consider Alhurra neutral, in that it is not Sunni, not Shite, not Saudi, not Egyptian, not Hezbollah, not Hamas, and not Israeli.
     The new BBC Arabic television channel may take over the role of the neutral. It will certainly be better equipped to report on both global and Middle Eastern news than Alhurra. No element of US international broadcasting will be able to provide an international news service to compete with the "big three," BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera, as long as USIB consists of elements that divide resources and compete among themselves.
     So Alhurra may need to adopt a niche. It could be a "window on America," presenting an accurate, balanced, an entertaining portrayal of American life, culture, institutions, and politics. This will attract some Arab audiences, though not as large as for a channel offering solid news about the Middle East.
     Or Alhurra could be, as proposed by Mr. Wimbush, the pro-US channel. By pro-US, it will also be pro-Israel and anti many Arab leaders and movements. This will be a tough sell among Arab audiences. The audience will be very, very small. However, if that audience consists of journalists, government officials, and scholars, the channel might have a useful opinion-leader function.
     Any such plan for Alhurra should be subject to the scrutiny of fiscally responsible analysts -- not the fellows of think tanks that claim to be fiscally conservative. With such a small audience, the new Alhurra might be more efficiently conducted as a website. Or it might be cheaper to fly over and visit each member of the audience individually.
See previous post about same subject.

Fox roams the Middle East.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"20th Century Fox is making its first Arabic-language feature film after inking a deal with Moroccan helmer Hicham Ayouch to develop and finance 'Samba.' Project is about a Moroccan man, obsessed with a Brazilian telenovela star, who teaches a samba class to a host of doting young femmes all eager to win his heart. His life takes a turn for the worse when his mother hires a local conservative imam to cure her son's obsession. ... Prince Waleed, who owns Arab multimedia titan Rotana, has long been a substantial investor in News Corp. Fox is a division of News Corp. Fox and Rotana have a long-standing relationship. The two companies launched two Fox-branded English-language channels in the Middle East last summer and Rotana has also inked a deal to distribute Fox fare on DVD throughout the Middle East. ... News Corp.'s Asian entertainment unit Star, for example, is launching a Farsi-language general entertainment TV channel this year with a sales and marketing office based in Dubai. The channel will target Iranian auds in their own country and the wider region." Variety, 5 February 2009.

Post-mortem of Israel's Cast Lead public diplomacy effort.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"It seems that Israel's public diplomacy's planners saw their first and foremost mission to give the IDF the time it needed to complete its [Gaza] military mission before international pressure set in. ... The question now arises whether this was the correct decision given the massive negative fallout after the campaign. If the international media were given ongoing access to the battlefield during the fighting, the world might not have been so shocked when the curtain was finally lifted. Had foreign media been embedded with Israeli forces from the beginning, able to follow the dilemmas facing the soldiers in fighting an elusive enemy who used human shields of all ages and schools, hospitals and mosques for military purposes, perhaps the overall impression the world is now getting would have been different. Had the foreign media been allowed into the battle zone, perhaps the disastrous consequences, particularly in the Arab world, of Al-Jazeera's exclusive pictures would have been mitigated.' Hirsh Goodman, Jerusalem Post, 5 February 2009.

MPs ask Al Jazeera to ban cleric.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The television network al-Jazeera has been criticised by MPs for broadcasting the sermons of a Muslim cleric in which he celebrates the Holocaust and prays for the killing of all Jews. John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons Media Select Committee, urged al-Jazeera yesterday to apologise for broadcasting the messages of Yusuf al-Qaradawi and to ban the cleric, one of the network’s top hosts, from appearing on screen. ... But the network, which is gaining popularity in Britain through its English channel, refused to apologise for Sheikh al-Qaradawi’s statements, which were broadcast on al-Jazeera’s Arabic station, saying that it could not control the words and opinions expressed during 'live' broadcasts." The Times, February 2009.
     "Addressing a seminar on 'Media coverage of the Gaza war', Hamdi Qandil, of Dubai TV, said that the coverage of some Arab TVs of the Israel aggression on Gaza has created 'enough pressure on the Arab regimes and forced them to push for a ceasefire.' ... 'Aljazeera has changed the media landscape in the Arab world. There is no doubt about that. It has even forced politicians to consider it in their decision,' he added. However, he criticised the channel for what he said 'imposed Israeli faces on us by brining them to our homes.' 'I have reservations over Aljazeera practice of giving the Israeli officials access to the Arab audience. We did not see any value for what they say,' he said." Gulf Times (Doha), 7 February 2009.

The axis of unpopularity: Ahmadinejad, al-Assad, Hu, Medvedev, Chavez, Putin.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"A new Harris Interactive/France 24/International Herald Tribune survey conducted online by Harris Interactive® finds President Barack Obama is the most popular political or religious leader in much of western Europe and the United States. ... The leaders in the list of whom the fewest number of adults have a good opinion are Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran (6% on average), Bashar al-Assad of Syria (9%), Hu Jintao of China (9%), Dimitri Medvedev of Russia (11%), Hugo Chavez of Venezuela (17%) and the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (17%)." Harris Interactive press release, 6 February 2009. See also International Herald Tribune, 6 February 2009.

Good news, sort of: World Service poll finds US to be less unpopular.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The image of the United States around the world has improved in the past year while China and Russia's standing in other countries has slipped, according to an opinion poll published on Friday. However, the public's view of the United States remains mainly negative, despite the election of President Barack Obama, the global poll for the BBC World Service found." Reuters, 6 February 2009.
     "In last year's BBC poll across the same countries, people leaned toward saying China and Russia were having positive influences in the world. But views of China are now divided, with positive ratings having slipped six points to 39%, while 40% are now negative. Negative views of Russia have jumped eight points so that, now, substantially more have a negative (42%) than a positive view (30%) of Russia's influence." BBC World Service press release, 6 February 2009.
     "As in previous years, Germany fared best in the poll, published Friday, Feb. 6, with every country viewing it positively, and 61 percent of people rating it favorably, up from 55 percent a year ago." Deutsche Welle, 7 February 2009.

Still in the news: the accidental tweet of BBC World appointments.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Tweet, i.e. Twitter message, from head of BBC newsroom to director of BBC Global News prematurely tips this official announcement: "I’m pleased to tell you that Nathalie Malinarich is to be the executive editor of World Online and Andrew Roy the head of news for BBC World News. Nathalie has a strong record in World Service news and online, as Americas editor and front page editor. Andrew has widespread experience in newsgathering as former Bureau chief in DC and Brussels as well as his recent time at World News." blog, 5 February 2009.
     Update: "'@sambrook Andrew Roy TV. Nathalie Malinarich online. Do you know her? bright. Go ahead. We should now push on with global editorial co-ord...' We've all done it - slip an '@' in there instead of a 'd'. But in this case, the unsuccessful applicants hadn't yet been told, prompting him to tweet a follow-up apology.'" Jemima Kiss, The Guardian PDA blog, 6 February 2009. So people don't use e-mail any more?
     "Boss is Twitt for BBC job cock-up." The Sun, 6 February 2009.
     "Malinarich will lead the way as the online news service reports breaking news, with more 'live pages' – hosting short contributions from a number of different journalists as a story progresses – instead of the traditional authoritative set pieces. Both of the new appointments will report directly to Horrocks and come in line with efforts by the broadcaster to share more resources across platforms and cross promote complimentary services." Broadcast, 6 February 2009.

British Council closes in Tehran (updated).

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Britain on Thursday accused Iran of intimidating its staff after closing its main cultural centre in Tehran, in the latest flare-up of tension between the two countries. ... The British Council cultural centre said it had "no choice" but to act after Iranian authorities summoned most of its 16 local staff for 'interviews' in December and 'suggested to them that they should resign from their posts'." AFP, 5 February 2009.
     "Iran, particularly under the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been very suspicious of foreign cultural influences. There has been heavy criticism by the government and official media of the new Persian TV service launched by the BBC." BBC News, 5 February 2009.
     "Sharan Tabari, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Radio Farda correspondent in London, says the ending of cultural exchanges would be a great loss to the Iranian people." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 5 February 2009.
     Update: "To any closed society, there are two things that represent a more deadly threat than a foreign army on its borders: liberal Western values and a global language that gives access to the outside world. The British Council’s job is to promote both. Little wonder, therefore, that it has often been the target of governments determined to keep their populations cowed and in ignorance. Little wonder also that it has been accused of cultural imperialism, purveying propaganda or subverting the values of others." Michael Binyon, The Times, 6 February 2009.

Broadcasting to, and about, Iran.

Posted: 07 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) is marking the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Islamic Revolution with special programming that highlights the significance of the events of 1979. ... In the first of a series of special reports, PNN's flagship television news show News and Views detailed the rupture in U.S.-Iranian relations, President Barack Obama's options and the possibility of future U.S. dialogue with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Segments on a variety of programs will explore topics such as nuclear developments, Iranian youth, women's status and the economy." VOA press release, 5 February 2009.
     "It seems like everyone’s watching BBC Persian television these days, with the station’s programs quickly replacing the long-held 'most popular' standing of VOA Persian television among other satellite TV stations." News Goffer,, 5 February 2009.
     "Iranians and foreigners alike talk of a sense of apathy borne of the conviction that nothing significant will change. Turnout was a paltry 30% in last year's parliamentary elections. Some take refuge in a kind of internal exile. 'I don't bother to read newspapers or watch Iranian TV any more,' sighs a thirty-something teacher, displaying his pirated foreign DVDs. The new BBC Persian TV channel, broadcasting by satellite, is greeted as a lifeline to the wider world." The Guardian, 7 February 2009.
     "The officials have done their best to control all forms of indigenous and western culture deemed un-Islamic. But they have not been able fully to control the trend as cyberspace and satellite TV stations attract millions of Iranians." Baqer Moin, former head of BBC Persian service, Gulf News (Abu Dhabi), 6 February 2009.
     "Norma Percy has ways of making you talk. Persuasiveness served the American-born, London-based television producer well in the past, with such films as 'The Death of Yugoslavia' and 'Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace'. She has done it again in her newest venture, a three-part series on Iran’s tricky relationship with America and Europe. 'Iran and the West' will be broadcast in Britain by the BBC, starting on February 7th, although it is not clear yet whether it will also be shown on the corporation’s new Persian TV channel, which was launched last month. The series has been sold in 13 countries and will be aired in the coming weeks in America, Japan, Canada, Australia and much of western Europe." The Economist, 5 February 2009. See also BBC press release, 6 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

GAO report cites small audiences for Radio/TV Martí's $34 million budget.

Posted: 06 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Congressional investigators reported Wednesday that U.S. Radio and TV Martí broadcasts to communist Cuba, after nearly half a billion dollars spent, may have only a tiny audience and they suggested finding better ways to gauge their effectiveness. The Government Accountability Office concluded that best estimates indicate about 2 percent of the island's approximately 11 million people have seen or heard one or more broadcasts since 2003, when the U.S. began phone surveys in Cuba through a third-country contractor. The Miami-based Office of Cuba Broadcasting has a budget this year of $34 million, with about $500 million spent overall since Radio Martí first transmission in 1983. TV Martí began in 1990, and the effort now includes satellite and short-wave transmissions, the Internet, and AeroMartí flights out of Key West beaming TV signals to Cuba. For years, Cuba has jammed the transmissions, which the U.S. says provide Cubans an objective alternative to their country's government-controlled news and other programs. Cuba derides the programs as U.S. propaganda. The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees federal broadcasting including the Cuba program, agreed that better audience measurements were needed but said the GAO report 'does not fully reflect the difficulties in broadcasting to a closed society.'" AP, 4 February 2009.
     "'This report is emblematic of a larger pattern of a lack of transparency and questionable practices,' said [Rep. Bill] Delahunt [D-MA], Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight Subcommittee, 'since it follows other, similarly troubling accounts about US programs regarding Cuba. When you connect the dots, a disturbing picture emerges – one in which American taxpayer dollars are spent with little accountability, uncertain effectiveness, or a coherent strategy. Despite these warnings, it seems that nothing ever changes. Well, now it will.'" Rep. Bill Delahunt press release, 4 February 2009.
     "To assist decision makers and improve OCB's strategy, the Broadcasting Board of Governors should conduct an analysis of the relative success and return on investment of broadcasting to Cuba, showing the cost, nature of the audience, and challenges--such as jamming and competition--related to each of OCB's transmission methods. The analysis should also include comprehensive information regarding the media environment in Cuba to better understand the extent to which OCB broadcasts are attractive to Cubans." Government Accountability Office, 22 January 2009, with link to full report.
     "Last year, less than 1 percent of people surveyed said they had listened to Radio Martí in the past week, said the study by the Government Accountability Office, the investigating arm of Congress. But the same report said nearly half of new Cuban arrivals to the United States said they had listened to the broadcasts in the past six months. The telephone survey of at least 1,200 Cubans was conducted from March 2008 through January 2009." Miami Herald, 5 February 2009.
     "Many critics regard Radio and TV Marti as nothing more than political payola for the rabidly anti-Castro slice of south Florida's Cuban-American population, which has been a swing vote in several close elections. But the anti-Castro zealots are ebbing in influence and with a new administration in the White House, opponents of the U.S. hard line toward Cuba see hope for change." Andrew Zajac, Chicago Tribune's The Swamp, 5 February 2009. See also St. Petersburg Times, 5 February 2009;
     See Kim's comments. See previous post about same subject.

Former public diplomacy undersecretary on public diplomacy.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
James K. Glassman: "Let me tell you the most important thing [the Obama administration] should do. The administration needs to appoint a successor to me... who has an orientation toward national security, not an orientation toward public relations. That's an imperative. What I dread, what I'm really worried about, is appointing somebody who essentially sees his or her job as an image-maker. That would be a huge mistake. ... I would love to see [Obama] go on Voice of America, which broadcasts on television seven hours a day into Iran. If we're ever going to get anything done in official diplomacy in Iran, we need to do more connecting with the Iranian people -- who, by the way, like us." Interviewed by National Journal's Lost in Transition, 4 February 2009.

Director of VOA affiliate murdered in Mogadishu.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The director of a top Somali media network, Horn Afrik, has been shot and killed. Witnesses say Sa'id Tahil Ahmed was gunned down Wednesday while walking in Mogadishu's Bakara market. Journalists at the scene say Ahmed was one of several media representatives who had been called to a meeting with leaders of the insurgent group al-Shabab. One of the reporters tells VOA Somali service that gunmen suddenly opened fire on Ahmed, killing him on the spot. He says al-Shabab had been angered by Horn Afrik's extensive coverage of the new Somali government, led by moderate Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. ... Horn Afrik, a VOA affiliate, runs two radio stations and a television station. Like other media outlets in Somalia, the network has been attacked and shut down at various times by insurgents or government officials." VOA News, 4 February 2009.
     Reporters sans frontières "voiced outrage at the murder today of the director of HornAfrik radio, Said Tahlil, just 16 months after the radio’s former director, Ali Imam Sharmake, was killed by a booby trap car bomb. With 11 journalists killed there since 2007, Somalia is Africa’s deadliest countries for the profession."
     "HornAfrik takes pride on its journalistic independence. According to the BBC, its broadcasts have in the past 'angered both the government as well as the opposition.'" Press TV, 4 February 2009.
     "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the Voice of America (VOA) condemn the senseless murder of Said Tahlil Ahmed, Director of HornAfrik, a Somali media network. ... 'Targeting journalists such as Said Tahlil Ahmed has a disastrous impact on the institution of the press in Somalia,' said Blanquita Cullum of the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees the Voice of America. 'Free media is one of the building blocks for stability, something greatly needed in Somalia.'" BBG press release, 4 February 2009.

Israel restricts Al Jazeera newsgathering in Israel.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Israeli officials said they plan to make it harder for the Arabic television network al-Jazeera to operate in Israel and the West Bank. Media reports said Israel will not renew the work visas of some Israeli-based al-Jazeera employees, and that the network's reporters will have less access to news conferences and briefings. Israeli officials tied the move to the decision last month by Qatar, which owns al-Jazeera, to suspend relations with Israel to protest its offensive in the Gaza Strip." VOA News, 3 February 2009 with AFP.
     "Following the closure, the Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with the newly-formed national information directorate in the Prime Minister's Office, considered declaring the station a hostile entity and closing its offices in Israel. After submitting the idea to legal review, however, concerns emerged it would not be permitted by the High Court of Justice." Ha'aretz, 4 February 2009.
     "Harsh measures against journalists from the Al Jazeera TV news network announced by Israel yesterday are unacceptable, the Doha Centre for Media Freedom said. ... The Doha Centre said: 'After keeping the international media away from the tragic events in Gaza, Israel is now planning to punish foreign media on its territory according to the diplomatic choices of their countries of origin. This is an unacceptable amalgam of two unrelated issues.'" The Peninsula, 5 February 2009.

Russian media increasingly disappoint Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Russian media propaganda is starting to backfire in Ukraine. Ukrainians are becoming increasingly angry and disappointed in slanted news coverage by the Russian media and are turning to national sources for information. This is one of the new trends discussed by Ukrainian media representatives, scholars and international sponsor organizations during a round table in Washington on Jan. 29, organized by the National Endowment for Democracy. ... Myroslava Gongadze, a journalist from Voice of America (VOA), which broadcasts some programs in Ukrainian, said that most of the letters and commentary she receives come from eastern Ukraine, where the Russian language is dominant. She said many viewers are disappointed with the quality of Ukrainian news as well, but lack knowledge of English to take the next step and switch to English-language news. Gongadze added that as satellite TV becomes more affordable in Ukraine, more Ukrainians can satisfy their hunger for news with greater versatility." Kyiv Post, 4 February 2009. See also NED event on 29 January 2009.

Consultant says China's new channel will be located outside China.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"'The strength of our voice does not match our position in the world,' complains Yu Guoming, deputy dean of the journalism school at People's University in Beijing, who has acted as a consultant on the government's TV project. ... China's current efforts to make its case internationally, mainly through CCTV's English, Spanish, and French channels, have had 'quite bad results' admits Yu, partly because 'they ignore Western audience's requirement of balance.' That kind of propaganda, he insists, will have no place in the planned TV station's broadcasts. 'We will try to produce news the way that Western media do,' he says. 'Only by reporting objectively can we create a respected and influential TV channel.' ... To emphasize its aspirations for independence, China's news station will be based abroad, perhaps in Singapore or Thailand, Yu explains." Christian Science Monitor, 5 February 2009.
     "Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday night aired the full news footage of a protester throwing a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a speech in Britain, an unusual step given the state-controlled media's routine censorship of incidents embarrassing to China." Washington Post, 4 February 2009.
     "While it remains to be seen whether investment by China would erode journalistic standards in the West, it is foreseeable that, considering the attractive sums it is likely to offer, China’s stakes in overseas media will grow. Beijing could, for example, seek to invest in -- and influence -- Taiwanese media through Hong Kong companies. Concerns have already been raised that some companies investing in Taiwanese media are linked to China." Editorial, Taipei Times, 5 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Iranian actress blogging via DW website.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle has the pleasure of welcoming the award-winning Iranian actress Pegah Ahangarani as a guest blogger during this year’s Berlinale [Berlin International Film Festival]. From February 5-15, she will provide her insights and share her daily experiences and her personal photos from the renowned festival and publish them on her Deutsche Welle blog ( The goal of this joint project is to provide readers with an Iranian perspective of this German institution." DW press release, 3 February 2009.

FEBC multi-media to the Muslim communities.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Protestant evangelical Far East Broadcasting Company's "Project Isa is a long-term plan to minister to Muslim communities internationally through radio and other appropriate media. The project will involve conducting research on Muslim needs and media-consumption, designing and producing special radio programs, enhancing existing delivery channels, and developing new ways to reach listeners. This could include creating new AM and/or FM stations, more shortwave broadcasts, and increased Internet use for program streaming and listener follow-up." Mission Network News, 5 February 2009. See also FEBC website.

Shortwave stories.

Posted: 05 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Yes, Mr. David, there's a lot more to Switzerland than alpine goats and milk-maids,' said the postcard from Radio Switzerland. As a 13-year-old, I'd constructed a short-wave radio set and strung a wire across my bedroom ceiling. Headphones clamped to my skull and eyes popping out of their sockets, I had tuned in the world for the first time. 'Wow, they can speak English,' I whispered, jotting down the date, time and the station's address." Dave Silverbrand, Eureka (CA) Times-Standard, 5 February 2009.
     "I like listening to late night AM radio and shortwave when I am going to sleep. There is something about hearing distant radio signals that comforts me." Kevin 'Shinyribs' Russell, who sings and plays mandolin, guitars, and harmonica for The Gourds, interviewed by JamBase, 3 February 2009.
     "Robert Bayliss, facing 17 felonies including four attempted homicide charges, clomped around in too-big boots, wearing baggy too-long blue jeans and a Viola Volunteer Fire Department T-shirt, as he defended himself Wednesday in a near-empty Richland County Circuit Court on during the third day of his jury trial. ... Bayliss, 61, built the cabin on 18 acres he bought in 1974 and lived there alone, doing odd jobs, heating with wood and listening to short wave radio." LaCrosse (WI) Tribune, 5 February 2009.
     "Ted Randall, WB8PUM, was named the recipient of the Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award [from the American Radio Relay League]. Every week, Randall hosts the QSO Radio Show, featuring guests who have ties to the amateur community, such as country and western artist Ronnie Milsap, WB4KCG, Amateur Radio licensing instructor Gordon West, WB6NOA, and Monitoring Times publisher Bob Grove." ARRL, 4 February 2009. Broadcast on private shortwave stations WRMI in Florida and WBCQ in Maine.

Yes we can Twitter.

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Is social media diplomatic window dressing or can the U.S. Twitter its way into the hearts and minds of other countries? While the answer is somewhere in between, the U.S. cannot afford to wait while these channels are perfected in order to direct them in service of President Barack Obama’s priority of renewing America’s global leadership. Indeed, Mr. Obama can use the themes and technologies that helped him generate huge grass-roots support in his presidential campaign to build support for America on the world stage." Victoria Esser, Politico, 4 February 2009.

Seven-dollar shortwave radios to Vietnam.

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"At Trinity Lutheran Church, Freeland, Wash., there were last-minute dashes to the offering plate on the final day of the Sunday school year. This was their last chance to give their offerings, which would go toward buying shortwave radios headed to Vietnam through Sunshine Ministries. Lana Johnson, Sunday school superintendent, told the children that families in Vietnam would use these radios to hear Christian messages in their tribal languages broadcast from Far East Broadcasting Co. in Manila. ... The total offerings of the last half of the year amounted to $420, enough to buy 60 shortwave radios." The Lutheran, February 2009.

China's media expansion: "propaganda is dead as a tool of public diplomacy" (updated again).

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Can state-run broadcasters, whose traditional role is to be the 'throat and tongue' of the Communist Party, really turn into competitors for the likes of CNN and the BBC? Or could China's quest for international audiences lead to a loosening of the tight censorship rules that continue to straightjacket its reporting? There is, after all, something natural in the aspiration of a rising global power to match its newly acquired economic might with a corresponding increase in its 'soft' power, and its growing involvement in world affairs with a bigger voice in the international arena. Many governments do just that with state-sponsored broadcasting, like Voice of America or Germany's Deutsche Welle. So what's different with China? The difference lies in the strong control the Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party exert over news and information. ... English-language news from China is not about informing the foreign public; it is about channeling a specific view of China to the rest of the world. The Party's information management is based on the principle of neiwai butong, or 'domestic and overseas differ.' Beijing's 45 billion yuan investment will be geared mainly to sprucing up these outlets for foreign viewers, but the fundamental mission won't change." Nicholas Bequelin, senior researcher, Human Rights Watch, Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2009.
     "With China descending into increasing protest because of the economic meltdown, that raises questions among media analysts whether the new station will be allowed to compete with CNN, the BBC and Al-Jazeera and broadcast news on the basis of timeliness and accuracy, without the heavy hand of the censor. Al-Jazeera in particular has raised the standard of television journalism across much of the third world, with its aggressive reporting on situations the leaders of Muslim nations in particular would like to let alone, while being extremely critical of the west. Whether the new channel can report objectively on Taiwan, Japan, North Korea, Tibet, Xinjiang or other sensitive topics, on which the censors lay down the most stringent guidelines, remains to be seen. The answer will determine its success or failure." Mark O'Neill, Asia Sentinel, 2 February 2009.
     Update: "Propaganda Fails - the acknowledgement that the service's credibility depends on a level of editorial objectivity unknown elsewhere in Chinese media (including the current global radio and television services) is an implicit recognition that propaganda is dead as a tool of public diplomacy. This is not only a rejection of previous practice but of orthodox Communist communications doctrine." David Wolf, Silicon Hutong, 4 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

No Israeli version of Al Jazeera due to "lack of funds."

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Aware of the delegitimization of Israel that Al-Jazeera and other Arab television networks are helping to foster, the government contemplated setting up a 'Jewish Al-Jazeera,' Isaac Herzog said on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Treasury shot down the idea, citing a lack of funds, said the [Israeli] minister for welfare and social services, who is also responsible for Diaspora relations. ... Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz argued that success on the 'second battlefield' of media and public diplomacy required a far more serious and strategic approach than is the case at present. ... 'There is no Israeli satellite TV station, in English or Arabic. Our foreign language radio broadcasts are dying for lack of funds. And the prime minister sails blithely on with his single English spokesperson.'" Jerusalem Post, 4 January 2009.

Eurosport: a leader in international hotel broadcasting.

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Eurosport is one of a handful of brands - CNN, BBC World and Euronews being others - which have been able to attract the international businessman through a presence in hotels. 'Eurosport is part of the European playground and when you’re travelling and confronted with many channels, Eurosport is a simple rendezvous when you just have 15 or 30 minutes to spend quietly.'" Broadband TV News, 4 February 2009.

In Germany, where they celebrate by holding a panel discussion.

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Obama inauguration celebration at Berlin's Amerika Haus included panel discussions, one including Christopher Lanz, director of Deutsche Welle TV. He "talked about A24 Media, an on-line media delivery site, that he is involved with which provides a platform for journalists broadcasters and NGO's from across the African continent. The panel next shifted to the topic of identity, with Christoph Lanz discussing the current lack of clarity in German identity, and how Obama's election might in some ways lead German people to reassess the way they see themselves." Cultural Diplomacy News, 3 February 2009. See also offers advertisers targets within Canada.

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"SVP BBC North America media sales Mark Gall tells MiC, 'Canadian advertisers are able to advertise on a truly global news site - throughout Canada or geo-targeted by city and region - that is comparable in audience size to any news offering in the market.' ... Targeting the highly affluent 25-54 demo,'s monthly unique visitors average at 2.2 million in Canada (according to comScore data), and have a unique user (UU) reach in Canada at 8.1% of the total Internet UU audience, ranking second after in minutes per user (13.7 vs 15.5)." Media in Canada, 3 February 2009.

BBC Arabic TV Minutes to Saudi mobile phones.

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
", the leading Mobile Service Application provider in the Middle East, has recently forged a partnership with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to deliver streaming BBC news videos to subscribers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ... subscribers can now receive 1-minute BBC news bulletins of the day's top stories." AMEInfo, 7 February 2009.

For those of you following Azerbaijan's foreign radio ban. Hello? Anybody there? (updated)

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) ... decided that the foreign stations were closed on the basis of the Council of Europe's recommendations for Azerbaijan. 'The Azerbaijani National Television and Radio Council was established upon the recommendation of the Council of Europe,' [head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE Samad] Seyidov said. “Claims that the decision is illegal are unconvincing. Monitoring Committee representatives said their countries have also banned foreign radio broadcasts.'" Trend News Agency, 29 January 2009.
     "Azerbaijani FM Elmar Mamedyarov has sent a letter to the Helsinki commission of the US Congress regarding closure of foreign radio stations on the national frequencies. ... The letter says that the closure of the foreign stations on the FM frequencies is based on the law, adopted in 2002 'On Television and Radio broadcasting' and this law was analyzed by the CE specialists during adoption. 'Though this law came into effect just after its approval, the National Television and Radio Counil has not started its implementation right away due to the creation of conditions for the Azerbaijani population to use foreign radio stations', says the letter." Today.Az, 30 January 2009.
     Interview with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana: "You have called on the Azerbaijani government to review decision to halt transmission of Liberty, Voice of America and BBC radio stations on the local frequencies. Can the EU put pressure on the Azerbaijani government in this issue and which solution is more favourable in this case? Solana: We regretted the decision not to renew the broadcasting licences, because it deprives listeners of a valuable alternative source of news and information. We think there is still room to review this decision and that a solution can be found. I think this would be in everyone’s interest." Today.Az, 2 February 2009.
     See previous post about same subject. In that previous post, I asked if BBC's new shortwave frequencies for Azeri are in addition to already existing shortwave frequencies. Kai Ludwig answers: Yes. ... It is in addition to a transmission 1700-1730 UT on 6055, 7215 and 9750 kHz."
     "The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Eurovision TV are proud to announce that the third Eurovision Dance Contest (EDC) will take place in September this year at the Heydar Aliev Sports and Concert Complex (SCC) in Baku, Azerbaijan." Eurovision press release, 2 February 2009.
     Update: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev "touched on the discontinuation of broadcasts of foreign radio companies in Azerbaijan. 'The decision was made by the National Television and Radio Council, not by the parliament. The decision was passed basing on the 2002 law that bans broadcasts of foreign radio companies via national frequencies. So, this is not the ban. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, BBC and the Voice of America can continue their programs through shortwave. They can continue their programs through Internet, cable and satellite. There may be a misunderstanding in the international media that their broadcasting has been banned. We have not imposed a ban, we have merely complied the situation with our legislation. We studied the situation in Europe. The situation is similar there.'" Azeri-Press Agency, 2 February 2009.
     "Aiming to promote tourism potential of Azerbaijan Culture and Tourism Ministry is negotiating with some more foreign TV channels experienced in this field. ... Euronews and CNN are now demonstrating commercials promoting Azerbaijan’s tourism potential. The ministry plans to promote Azerbaijan’s tourism potential in Arab states through the commercials." Azeri-Press Agency, 3 February 2009.

New HCJB president will move away from "aging short-wave" (updated).

Posted: 04 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
New president of religious international broadcaster HCJB Wayne Pederson "says technology is going to allow the ministry to expand its ministry, but not through aging short-wave and similar technology. Pederson says, 'Internet, live streaming, podcasting, using mobile devices, sending Scripture messages out on SMS with text messaging.' He adds, 'We're looking at doing video for Facebook and YouTube and using some of the social networking that's available globally as a very cost-effective way at getting the message out.' While the technology is changing, HCJB's maintains a steady focus -- to share the Gospel with those who haven't heard. 'We are focusing on and finding access into areas of the world that were previously closed to the Gospel -- places in Eastern Europe and North Africa that we can't even talk about publicly.'" Mission Network News, 29 January 2009. See also undated HCJB press release.
     Update: "While HCJB Global is best known for its 'giant shortwave station' in Ecuador, the ministry model is changing with an emphasis on “planting” local radio stations and helping medical partners, handing the reins to talented nationals worldwide. ... He listed 10 priorities as HCJB Global moves forward: effective use of new technologies, program formats geared to those under 25, strong recruitment efforts to the next generation, agile decision-making, lean infrastructure, emphasizing the Voice and Hands of Jesus, human crisis response teams, reaching households and communities, strategic alliances with Christian organizations, and an innovate financial model." HCJB press release, 2 February 2009.
     "Crews removed the last of the tall antennas and towers at Radio Station HCJB’s international transmitter site in Ecuador since they would obstruct the flight path of the future international airport for the capital city of Quito. As earlier agreed upon by the Quito Airport Corporation (CORPAQ) and HCJB Global, the towers were removed prior to a Dec. 31, 2008, deadline. 'The last of these tall towers were taken down on Dec. 24 at 9:30 a.m.,' said Geoff Kooistra, operations and engineering director for the station. Christmas is noteworthy in the station’s history as its first program went on the air on Christmas Day, 1931. The first broadcasts from the international transmitter site in Pifo, just east of the capital, began in 1953. ... All shortwave broadcasts from Pifo are projected to end no later than April 1, 2010." HCJB press release, 16 January 2009.

US broadcast to Sudan encounters controversy.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Critics of US-funded Radio Afia "charge that the program -- meant to provide displaced people in Sudan with 'accurate and objective information about their country' -- is instead broadcasting in a language most of its target audience doesn't understand and has watered-down criticisms of Sudanese officials (whom the U.S. government holds responsible for genocide in Darfur). An outspoken Darfuri-American news reader who repeatedly challenged the program's non-Darfuri editors has also been fired. ... A U.S. government official, who requested anonymity because she is not authorized to speak on behalf of the program, said that [the news reader] was an activist on behalf of his suffering community. 'We can't allow ourselves to be hijacked by people regardless of how right they may be,' she said. 'That's not what news is.'" Sheri Fink, ProPublica, 2 February 2009. And by assigning a new name for a new broadcasting service, Radio Afia has not been able to benefit from the credibility accumulated by an already establshed US international broasdcasting service. Instead, it begins with the stature of a clandestine station. See previous post about same subject.

Lots of Iranians are tuning in BBC Persian TV, or so say bloggers.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Persian TV began broadcasting news and features in mid-January. Since then, to the chagrin of Iran’s political and ecclesiastical leadership, lots of people are tuning in. ... A survey of the Persian-language blogosphere shows that the BBC Persian channel is stoking a lock of chatter. A blogger posting on the Modakhele site commented that the BBC Persian service had aroused the ire of the Iranian leadership precisely because of its effectiveness in presenting a different point of view, other than the officially endorsed one. Another blogger, identified as Arash, predicted that BBC Persian would soon capture a commanding market share. 'The quality of BBC Persian TV’s programs was excellent and beyond my expectations. I am sure that soon it will gain a special standing in Iran.' the blogger wrote. 'It is run very professionally and proficiently... . It is much more proficient than the VOA.' ... At present, the leading foreign broadcaster in Farsi is Voice of America (VOA) TV. Iranian political experts say VOA TV’s flaws are giving BBC Persian a chance to fast inroads. VOA programming appears to be too ideological, and therefore does not speak to the sentiments of most Iranians, who are young and now politically apathetic after three decades of economic and political upheaval." Kambiz Arman (pseudonym),, 2 February 2009.
     "The BBC service provides about eight hours a day of news and cultural programs, prepared and broadcast by Iranian exiles in Britain. In Iran, the lifestyle police frequently raid homes in affluent neighborhoods, looking for illegal satellite TV equipment, videos and recorded music. But most Iranians avoid the police, and quietly enjoy their forbidden entertainment." Strategy Page, 2 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

African DTH player closes.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The shock liquidation of Pan-African satellite pay-television broadcaster GTV is a lesson on how difficult it is to start such a service and correctly balance the financing with subscriber scale, an analyst says. Last week, GTV announced it would no longer broadcast to its 100 000-odd subscribers. It closed its doors after a two-year campaign to wrestle as much of the African pay-TV market away from the domination of South African-owned MultiChoice." ITWeb, 3 February 2009. "Pay-TV service provider GTV collapsed under a financial overstretch arising from overspending, cheaply priced subscriptions and content promises it could not honour." Business Daily (Nairobi), 3 February 2009. See closure statement at

France 24 using AsiaSat 2 C-band.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Asia's satellite operator, Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat) and international news channel FRANCE 24 have signed a contract to distribute FRANCE 24's English-language 24-hour international news channel across the Asia-Pacific region through AsiaSat 2’s powerful C-band platform at SatLink Communications. ... 'We are very excited to launch in Asia on AsiaSat 2, which is very popular with cable operators, pay TV platforms and hotels throughout the region.'" broadcastbuyer, 3 February 2009.

Moroccan defendant in Quebec implicated in kidnapping of BBC's Alan Johnston.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"A Moroccan man accused of spreading al-Qaeda propaganda and plotting a bomb attack overseas from his apartment in Trois-Rivières was also tied to the 2007 kidnapping of a BBC journalist in Gaza, a court heard on Monday. As Said Namouh's trial on four terrorism-related charges opened in Quebec Superior Court, the Crown alleged for the first time that the accused had played a leading role in editing a video setting conditions for the release of the BBC's Alan Johnston." National Post, 2 February 2009.

After 60 years, Smith-Mundt still draws a crowd (updated).

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Over 190 people attended Matt Armstrong's symposium on the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, held on 13 January. MountainRunner, 13 January 2009. Also available, audio of keynote speeches and photos.
     Update: "It was an informed, in-depth debate, led by people with extensive State Department and military experience. But until Rep. [Paul] Hodes [D-NH] spoke -- during the last session of the day -- no one had mentioned that, until just nine months ago, there had been an active covert campaign to influence U.S. public opinion: the Pentagon's pundit program." Diane Farsetta,, 2 February 2009. See also MountainRunner posts on 20 January 2009, another on 20 January 2009, and 22 January 2009.

VOA correspondent drives his Chevy to the levee to cover Buddy Holly story.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of three rock and roll legends, Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson, the 'Big Bopper'. ... Greg Flakus, Bureau Chief for Voice of America in Houston drove over eight hours to put together a story, remembering the life of Holly. 'John Lennon said to one of the original members of the Crickets that if it hadn't been for Buddy Holly and the Crickets there wouldn't have been a Beatles,' said Flakus." KCBD-TV (Lubbock, Texas), 2 February 2009. See also Flakus report, VOA News, 3 February 2009.

Willis Conover remembered in Special English.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Willis Conover wanted to be able to play more of the jazz music that he loved on his radio show. He did not like the restrictions of commercial radio. When he heard that the Voice of America wanted to start a jazz music program, Conover knew that he had found a perfect job. He had full freedom to play all kinds of jazz music on his show which began in nineteen fifty-five." VOA Special English script, 31 January 2009, via, 1 February 2009. Even though his program was part of the standard-speed VOA Worldwide English service, Conover presented his program in a slow-speed version of Special English. This was probably for the benefit of his many listeners who had English as a second language. Conover's "House of Sounds" program on VOA Europe was in normal-speed English.

US channel focused on the Middle East plans program focused on the Middle East.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Alhurra, the US government-funded Arabic television channel, is planning to launch a news programme focused on events in the Middle East. The programme, which will be launched simultaneously from the channel’s bureaus in Dubai, Beirut, Morocco, Jerusalem and its US headquarters in Virginia, is expected to begin in the next two months, according to industry sources. It signals an expansion of programming at a time when the 24-hour news channel is facing questions about its fate under the new administration of the US President, Barack Obama. ... Several media watchers have interpreted Mr Obama’s decision to give his first interview as president to Al Arabiya, the Dubai-based news channel of the Saudi-backed satellite broadcaster, MBC, as a blow for the US government’s own Arabic-language channel." The National (Abu Dhabi), 31 January 2009. Alhurra doesn't already have such a program? See previous post.

Obama on Al Arabiya: perhaps the last entries.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"It’s interesting that he chose Al-Arabiya to deliver his message to the Middle East. The television station is Saudi-owned in Dubai. And, of course, recent comments by King Abdullah and in the commentary written by Prince Turki Al-Faisal in the Financial Times, that the US must alter its full and unconditional support of Israel to bring about a long-overdue peace, may have prompted Obama to choose Al-Arabiya to send a direct message to Saudis in particular. Obama could have chosen Al-Jazeera with its larger audience, but he risked alienating the conservative base that view Al-Jazeera as a mouthpiece for terrorists. And the US-owned Al-Hurra, long favored by the Bush administration to speak down to Arabs, would only be greeted with laughter since most of us have no confidence in the station’s credibility." Sabria S. Jawhar, Saudi Gazette, 31 January 2009.
     "I can’t help wondering if the real reason Barack Obama’s people chose Al Arabiya was the same reason that George Bush also favored Al Arabiya with an interview in 2004. The Americans knew that the Saudi-owned news channel was not likely to subject the president to a tough interrogation, as he would’ve certainly gotten on Al-Jazeera. One commentator argued that Al-Jazeera’s recent wall-to-wall coverage of Israel’s siege on Gaza made it a bad choice for Obama to proclaim a message of peace in the Middle East. I would argue the opposite: that the president would’ve gotten much more mileage from his message had he delivered it on Al-Jazeera. That network commands the respect of millions more viewers than the low-rated Al Arabiya precisely because of its relentless reporting on news events like Gaza. It is worth noting that even in the darkest hours of the Gaza bombardment, when casualties were piling up, Israeli officials willingly appeared again and again on Al-Jazeera, enduring the kind of aggressive Q-and-A that’s rarely seen in American TV journalism." Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star, 30 January 2009. See also Al Bawaba, 2 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Picture public diplomacy officers riding in tanks.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has formally adopted the concept that national security planning and budgeting cannot be done by the Pentagon alone, according to the Defense Department's newly released Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review Report. 'The Department supports institutionalizing whole-of-government approaches to addressing national security challenges,' the document says, adding, 'The desired end state is for U.S. Government national security partners to develop plans and conduct operations from a shared perspective.' ... One example of existing informal cooperation, according to the Pentagon, is taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. 'We are committed to using our operational and informational activities and strategic communication processes in support of the Department of State's broader public diplomacy efforts,' the document says. But it talks of expanding that partnership to 'better enable the U.S. Government to engage foreign audiences holistically and with unity of effort.'" Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 2 February 2009.

Hillary's public diplomacy.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Public diplomacy: Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department is expected to dust off the arsenal of 'soft' statecraft to burnish America’s image in the world. Sponsorship for cultural and educational exchanges, exhibitions and festivals, heritage and preservation could uncork funds for the visual arts. Questions abound: would Secretary Clinton recreate the United States Information Agency (which her husband’s administration merged into State)? Would public diplomacy initiatives range beyond hot zones like the Middle East? Does today’s art faithfully represent America’s positive ideals, as Abstract Expressionism was believed to have done during the Cold War?" András Szántó, The Art Newspaper, 30 January 2009. Would Secretary Clinton want to cede reponsibility for public diplomacy by re-creating the "independent" USIA, over which she would have limited (nominally, no) control?

Another public diplomacy discussion in Washington.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"An event on Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. (Tuesday evening Asia time) called Media as Global Diplomat, organized by the U.S. Institute of Peace and ITVS, will explore 'how the United States can best use media to reinvigorate its public diplomacy strategy and international influence in order to strengthen efforts to build a more peaceful world'. ... If you haven't spent a lot of time thinking about public diplomacy - take a look at ProPublica's investigative series into Alhurra TV - the BBG's effort to reach the Middle East through a USG-funded 'commercial' TV network. Alhurra and related radio project Radio Sawa might be the epitome of Bush-era thinking of how to mimic commercial mass media to project American messages and viewpoints to the world. Regardless of whether they were right for their time - and there are good arguments that they weren't - it's worthwhile asking how relevant such efforts will be in a time of abundant media - given hundreds of competing satellite broadcasters, and the paradigm changes to communications brought about by the networked public sphere. Join me and Rebecca MacKinnon to find out. Rebecca will be live-blogging the event on her blog, with some backup from me. I'll also repost that on burning bridge. I will be online to moderate and follow the live chat, bringing your views and questions from the live chatroom into the event." Ivan Sigal, Global Voices, 2 February 2009, with links to live webcast, live chat, Twitter, Facebook, Doggie Cam. (OK, just kidding about the Doggie Cam.) See also Media as Global Diplomat website. This will be today, 3 February, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, 1330 UTC. The event, at the Newseum in Washington, is sold out, so the webcast will be the way to see it. I won't be there. It makes me too uncomfortable to hear people subsume the journalistic profession of international broadcasting under the persuasive profession of public diplomacy. Also, I didn't know anything about it until I stumbled on this item in Global Voices.

Report: Free North Korea Radio to receive direct State funding.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Department of State will directly provide groups organized by North Korean defectors here with financial support for the first time, according to reports Sunday. Thus far, Washington has funded local groups working for improvement of North Korean human rights via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private organization supporting freedom around the world.
The move was construed as part of increased U.S. efforts to shed light on humanitarian issues in the Stalinist state. ... Among the beneficiaries, Free North Korea Radio and the Coalition for North Korean Women's Rights were granted $500,000 and $300,000, respectively. ... An official of the department was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity by Radio Free Asia (RFA) that a total of $3 million has been set aside for the program." The Korea Times, 1 February 2009. Wouldn't these defectors' organizations, especially Free North Korea Radio, prefer to receive their U.S. funds more obliquely by way of the NED?

Revamped NHK World is on the air.

Posted: 03 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"NHK World TV went on air Monday as the latest English-language international news network as Japan joined the race to boost clout overseas by reaching out to viewers. Broadcast 24 hours a day, the channel is accessible on five continents via satellite, cable, or on high-speed Internet connections at Japan becomes the latest nation to launch an international network. France 24 and Al-Jazeera have both launched English-language channels to challenge the supremacy of CNN and the BBC. ... NHK World TV, which is revamped from an earlier more modest NHK English service, carries half an hour of news every hour on weekdays -- 10 minutes at weekends -- with the rest devoted to features on culture, science and economics. Much of the coverage will focus on Japan but there will also be material on other parts of Asia." AFP, 2 February 2009.
     A live video stream is available at, but the schedule at that site does not seem to have been updated to reflect the new programming. At 0730 UTC, the live stream was interrupted with the announcement: "You cannot access this program. Please wait for the next program." So I went downstairs to watch NHK World via MHz Networks terrestrial digital channel here in the Washington area. It was a program about fashion that was not allowed on the internet stream.
     Overall, I am impressed by the new NHK World. It does focus on Japanese and Asian affairs. As such, NHK World does not really compete with the "big three": BBC World News, CNN International, and Al Jazeera English. These three are characterized by 1) global coverage, 2) extensive and exclusive video journalism, 3) at least a fair amount of credibility engendered by independence, 4) a formidable pool of English-speaking talent, and 5) a budget sufficient for the task. NHK World's regional focus might be most successful in Asian markets. In this case, its competition would be Channel News Asia and Australia Network.

     "The pubcaster also plans to expand its Internet offerings from English only to other languages, including Chinese, French, Spanish and Arabic. ... The channel is operated by Japan Intl. Broadcasting, which is 60% owned by NHK, with the remainder of the investment coin coming from a consortium of 15 private companies, including four commercial networks." Variety, 2 February 2009. There is already some content in those four languages, and thirteen others, at the NHK World website. So far, I have not seen any ads on the revamped NHK World. I assume this is how the 15 private partners will recoup their investment.
     "Time and concerted effort are necessary to build the credibility and legitimacy that will make people want to tune in." Leader, South China Morning Post, 3 February 2009.
     "Weston Konishi, adjunct fellow at the Mansfield Foundation in Washington D.C., subscribes to the criticism that foreign media sometimes do not accurately or fairly report on Japan, although this is not always the case. Often there is overemphasis on the exotic, and the weird, he said. ... The broadcaster will try to match Al Jazeera which is a respected news channel that gives the Arab view on various events in the world, especially in the Middle East. Jeffrey Kingston of Temple University in Tokyo does not see [NHK World] filling a niche in the way Al Jazeera does, providing an alternative non-Western view with special appeal to and emphasis on the Muslim world. 'It is entering an already competitive service niche with established heavyweights,' Kingston said. 'NHK will have to overcome its institutionalised bureaucratic style of journalism and often tentative reporting.' Whether all this will be commercially viable is the big question. 'NHK is run more like a bureaucracy than a media business. Its habits, inclinations and practices are not business savvy and it tends to shy away from hard-hitting news stories,' notes Kingston." Catherine Makino, Inter Press Service, 2 February 2009. The fashion show, mentioned above, might be construed by some as "weird." See previous post about same subject.

Blogs as blather.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Channel 4 (of the UK) newsreader Jon Snow "told a literary festival that he had been asked by his employers at ITN to write regular blogs, but claimed that, despite the company's enthusiasm, one in four of his postings was suppressed. 'In the last few weeks, the company I work for decided they needed to have a blog and wanted the person who presented the news to write it,' he said. 'But of my first 12 blogs, three were not allowed to go because they didn't like what I had to say.' His remarks prompted an exclamation of shock from his fellow panellist, writer Rosie Boycott, who asked: 'They're censoring you?' Snow replied: 'They want to use this friendly fellow who talks to his viewers. They want more and more and more. . . but what have you got to write about but your opinions?' Another panellist, Matt Frei, presenter of BBC World News America, then advised him that the best way to kill a blog was to write about 'completely mundane stuff, like what sort of toothpaste you use'. But Snow replied gloomily: 'That's what they want me to do.'" Daily Mail, 2 January 2009.

RFE/RL president speaks about US-Iranian relations.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"During a conference at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) examining the future of US-Iran relations, RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said that 'President Obama has a golden opportunity to pursue a bottom-to-top approach with Iran that focuses on building ties with ordinary Iranians.' Gedmin said international broadcasters such as the BBC, VOA, and RFE/RL are a key component of this strategy insofar as they connect ordinary Iranians with the outside world. 'RFE/RL's Persian Service, Radio Farda, gets hundreds of SMS messages each day from listeners in Iran who depend on us for unbiased news and information,' he said. 'Providing people with news outside the control of the regime promotes respectful dissent, fosters debate, and contributes to the growth of civil society.'" RFE/RL press release, 30 January 2009, with links to C-Span video and audio of the speech.

Persuading you to visit Iran, in 30 seconds.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
An official of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization "said 22 promotional films each lasting 30 seconds on different subjects, including deserts, handicrafts, Today's Iran, Iran history and culture will be broadcast on Aljazeera, Euronews and MBC satellite television networks. The headquarters will also show seven documentary films on tourism titled ’Iran Documentary’, ’Rainbow’, ’Iran Deserts’ and ’Desert Bicyclists’ for introducing Iran tourist attractions to the international community, he said." Cultural Heritage News Agency, 1 February 2009.

Comparing the international news channels.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Around the world, the capacity of satellite news to broadcast across borders has driven its proliferation: Sky News is watched by 145 million people in Europe and in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. There are now at least 80 news channels worldwide, and many have their own distinct influences. Al-Jazeera, criticised in the West for its coverage of terrorism, nevertheless brought non-state controlled TV news to millions of people throughout the Middle East. Another Arabic rolling news station, Al-Aribiya, secured Barack Obama's first formal interview as President. Others have their own agendas. France 24 was the brainchild of Jacques Chirac as part of his campaign to defend the French language and promote a Francophile view of the world. Russia Today is another state-backed channel seeking to present an 'unbiased portrait' of the country." John Ryley, head of Sky News, The Independent, 2 February 2009.
     "Broadcasters around the world are racing to increase programming geared to international audiences." Mentions the relaunched NHK World channel, the planned Chinese channels, Al Jazeera, and France 24. Chosun Ilbo, 30 January 2009.

Al Jazeera is the center of attention.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Following a lull in the Israeli fighting against the people of Gaza, I asked various people in the region about their preferences for news and media outlets on the conflict. Going by the 148 responses I received, Al Jazeera news network scores big, dwarfing all others." Tariq Al-Maeena, Arab News, 31 January 2009.
     Dr. Mordechai Kedar of the Arabic Department of Bar Ilan University: "On June 1 of last year, Israel decided to build hundreds of more apartments in Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev, in eastern Jerusalem. Al-Jazeear – the jihadist channel, the terrorist station; I say this openly, though the English-language Al-Jazeera is more normal – turned it into the top news item, giving the impression that we are throwing all the Arabs out and expanding Jerusalem into the West Bank." Arutz Sheva, 28 January 2009.
     "Denied conventional TV carriage, [Al Jazeera English] has instead opted for what new media head Mohamed Nanabhay calls 'distributed distribution' — syndicating online via YouTube, Real,, the LiveStation and Zattoo apps and a host of other outlets. He says these online video efforts, plus blow-by-blow reports posted to Twitter, produced a 'huge spike in traffic' during Israel’s month-long offensive in the Palestinian territory, when Al Jazeera was one of the few networks with cameras in the region.", 2 February 2009.
     "The three-week Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza has had far more impact than Washington seems to realize. Arab media were present in Gaza throughout the campaign of bombs, artillery shells and automatic weapons. Al Jazeera had several reporters in the 21-mile strip from the northern border with Israel to the southern border with Egypt. For Al Jazeera is a global Arabic network with 100 million viewers from Marrakesh to Muscat, and countless more Muslims from Iran to Pakistan to the Philippines, and an English language service that pulled out all the stops in an online dedicated media page on the 'microblogging' site Twitter. Gaza was to Al Jazeera what Gulf war 1991 was to CNN. This time CNN had no reporters in Gaza. ... The coverage had a devastating psychological impact on the vast majority of Arab masses. In fact, where there was apathy about Hamas vs. Israel before the latest war, the majority are now pro-Hamas. The extremist organization that refuses to recognize Israel is now weaker militarily, but stronger politically." Arnaud de Borchgrave, Washington Times, 2 February 2009.
     Aysha Khalin, Palestinian native living in San Francisco, "criticized the American media for focusing too much on the financial crisis and the presidential inauguration rather than Israeli bombings, Khalin said she uses her satellite dish to watch Arab networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. Still, she said, Americans fail to get such coverage. 'They don’t see how the people suffer,' Khalin said of Americans who are unable to watch the Arab networks. 'No one understands because no one sees it.'" Mission Loc@l, 31 January 2009.

If BBC won't broadcast the Gaza relief appeals, Al Jazeera English will.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English today announced that it contacted The Disasters Emergency Committee in the UK 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 announcements will begin running on Monday January 26.' AMEInfo, 31 January 2009.
     "Tony Burman, managing director of Al Jazeera English said they are committed to support the DEC’s humanitarian aid initiative for the victims in Gaza. 'As a news organisation whose mandate it is to give a voice to the voiceless wherever they may be we will use Al Jazeera English’s extensive reach to citizens in the UK and across the world to help ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza'." The Peninsula (Doha), 1 February 2009. Isn't the mandate of a news organization to report the news, as objectively and reliably as possible?

BBC Arabic listeners question BBC's decision re Gaza appeal.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Arabic Radio ... one of the oldest foreign-language services, has long been a reliable source of news even after the emergence of TV networks. Throughout its long history, it has served as a lighthouse that enlightens hundreds of thousands of listeners by broadcasting balanced political commentaries, cultural events, sports and the like. At the beginning of Israel’s recent war on Gaza, I watched the heartbreaking images of innocent Palestinians fleeing their homes in Gaza city aired by several news stations. BBC World was among the TV stations that, unlike CNN or FOX news, allowed much reporting and commentary time during the crisis. ... Just days after the Israeli aggression on Gaza, BBC was caught in the center of a political controversy not because it adopted a stunningly unusual political position, but simply because it refused to screen a charity appeal for Gaza in the aftermath of the three-week war, which resulted in a huge devastation to the infrastructure there. ... Some BBC critics accuse it of adopting a pro-Israel stance which has influenced its recent decision. But there is no evidence supporting this claim because BBC’s history reveals that its position as an unbiased news source is what made it universally respected. However, many questions remain unanswered and the justification issued by the BBC’s director general is not convincing particularly for those who have long been great admirers of the BBC." Abdullah Al-Asmary, Saudi Gazette, 2 February 2009.
     "For many of us in the Arab world who have grown up with a positive view of the BBC Arabic radio service as a balanced and human voice of the region, the decision not to air the Gaza charity appeal has been particularly unpalatable. For over seven decades, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, the BBC Arabic Service has been a favourite broadcaster for millions in the region who, disenchanted with their national broadcasting services, found the Arabic Service a promising source of information about their own communities." Muhammad Ayish , The National, 2 February 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Learning enough Arabic to listen to the BBC.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
At MIT "Arabic Bootcamp" each January, program, participants "learn nouns, verbs, and phrases that enable basic conversation in Arabic while performing physical drills such as push-ups, sit-ups, and sprints. ... With minimal training, 'you could go immediately to BBC Arabic, click on the button, and start listening and know maybe 15 percent of the words already." Boston Globe, 1 February 2009. Perhaps because BBC uses a standardized form of Arabic, it is favored by students of the language.

Another listener to the BBC Hostage Service.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
Scotsman James Grady, hostage on the Sirius Star, held by Somali pirates, "managed to listen to a portable radio he hid above a ceiling tile in the toilet, tuning into BBC World Service. He said: 'I unscrewed a ceiling panel to hide the radio and I listened to it every night when they thought I was asleep.' As the ordeal came to a close and half the ransom money had been delivered, James heard a radio report that some of the escaping pirates had been killed." Sunday Mail, 1 February 2009.

Africa: more and better domestic media, less foreign radio listening.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Leading politician and opposition MP Lidetu Ayalew ... said the scope and volume of the Ethiopian media was far from being diverse and adequate and not in line with the country's social cultural and historical dynamism. 'There is not even a single privately owned television station, nor a short wave radio.' ... Speaking on the overall quality of the Ethiopian media, Lidetu said poor standard had compelled viewers and listeners to resort to foreign media such as the Voice of America (VOA) and the German [Deutsche] Welle, not to mention the proliferating Satellite news and entertainment channels." TMCnews, 30 January 2009.
     From interview with journalist Frank Chikowore: "We now have what are called 'pirate' radio stations such as Studio 7 in the United States and Short Wave Radio based in London and Voice of the People in Cape Town, South Africa. All are based outside of Zimbabwe--as if we do not have enough land within the country. The only way the government can deal with pirate radio stations is by opening the airwaves. License private and community radio stations and then you get people within the country reporting what is happening on the ground. Other than having exiled Zimbabwean journalists who reside far away and cannot know the full story, it would be better if the government opened up the airwaves." Committee to Protect Journalists, 30 January 2009.

Portugal tries DRM shortwave.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
RTP Internacional (of Rádio e Televisão de Portugal) has, since 31 January, an experimental Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) shortwave transmission to Central Europe, Saturdays and Sundays at 0930 to 1100 on 9815 kHz. RDP Internacional website. Presumably the 0930-1100 is Portugal time, now UTC, but changing to UTC +1 on 29 March.

Multimedia director for Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Today, Alain de Pouzilhac and Christine Ockrent, respectively CEO and COO of Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France, the French TV & Radio World Service, appointed Stanislas Leridon as Multimedia Activities Director for Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France. Mr Leridon will be responsible for coordinating multimedia activities and development for Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France's subsidiaries RFI and FRANCE 24 as well as for creating synergies between these two subsidiaries and with TV5MONDE. He will also be in charge of new projects and partnerships in Internet and mobility." AEF press release, 29 January 2009. And I am trying mightily to memorize the name "Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France," along with its spelling and accent.

The international broadcasting of the Super Bowl.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The NFL said 15 countries — Canada (CTV), China (Shanghai Media Group), Belgium (Telenet), Brazil (ESPN International), Denmark (Viasat), France (France 2), Germany (ARD), Hungary (Sport 1), Italy (RAI), Japan (NHK, Nippon Television), Latin America (FOX), Mexico (Televisa, TV Azteca), Russia (NTV Plus), Spain (Canal Plus, Cadena Ser), and the United Kingdom (BSkyB, BBC TV) — will cover on site at Raymond James Stadium. Meanwhile, the English world feed will be translated into 33 languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Finish, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Montenegrin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Taiwanese Mandarin, Thai, Turkish. The American Sports Network in Asia will provide the world feed to Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan." AP, 30 January 2009.

At the center right of your internet television dial.

Posted: 02 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"The centre-right European People's Party on Friday (30 January) launched its own online tv channel as part of its political campaign for the June European elections. 'EU political parties can't buy airtime on big networks like BBC, CNN or Euronews, so we decided to create our own web tv channel instead,' EPP deputy secretary general Luc Vandeputte told EUobserver. The Belgian politician, in charge of the online campaign, explained that the service is provided by an external internet TV company and that it offered member parties from all 27 EU states the possibility to upload their videos and have their own channels in their respective languages.", 2 February 2009. Not a 24-hour channel, but several videos on demand at

RFI (again) joins (another) strike of French broadcasters.

Posted: 01 Feb 2009   Print   Send a link
"Gallic TV programming was disrupted and radio stations ditched news for music Thursday as some 1 million public sector employees went on a one-day strike to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's crisis recovery plan to save the tanking economy. ... Several radio stations played music rather than their usual content. At Radio France Intl., the Gallic equivalent to the BBC World Service, about 30% of employees did not go to work, protesting the pending layoffs of 206. The 30% figure was questioned by the local branch of the French Union of Journalists, which claimed 60% did not turn up for work." Variety, 29 January 2009.
     "French unions are protesting against the decision that heads of public broadcasters will from now on be nominated by the government. They want measures guaranteeing the 'political, strategic and editorial independence' of public broadcasters. Another issue is the planned job cuts at Radio France Internationale, the Gallic equivalent of the BBC World Service, where 206 positions are to go." The Guardian, 29 January 2009.
     "Radio France Internationale broadcast music on its French and English channels as a large number of employees joined the strike in protest at proposed job cuts. Trade unionists from RFI led the public broadcasting section of the Paris demonstration." RFI, 30 January 2009. See also flickr, 29 January 2009. See previous post about RFI language service closures effective 31 January.