Afghanistan, where stratcom supports the kinetics.

Posted: 31 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"'You've all heard of strategic communications,' said the high-ranking U.S. official, holding an off-the-record briefing for journalists in Kabul last month. 'It used to be called «psyops», and before that, «propaganda». Well, the United States is about to unroll a major stratcom initiative. We cannot let men on motorcycles and flatbed trucks win the information war.' Welcome to the Battle for Afghan Hearts and Minds, where — using the language of strategic communications, or 'stratcom' — combat becomes 'kinetics,' an accidental shooting becomes an 'escalation of force' and assassination squads are known as 'counterinsurgency operations.' ... The message, the official at the Kabul briefing said, was 'complex yet simple: The United States is here to help you. We are not occupiers. And the Taliban are not great leaders of the faithful.'" Jean MacKenzie,, 28 May 2009.
     "After spending seven months in combat and working with Kandahar nationals to gather and disseminate information that could potentially bring down the Taliban, Corp. Paul Benincasa is happy to be home. 'No amount of training prepares you for what combat really feels like,' said the 25-year-old Queen's Own Rifles of Canada reservist who lives in Whitchurch-Stouffville. As a Tactical Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) member, Corp. Benincasa was trained in various languages and communications skills, as well as persuasion tactics and resistance interrogation. 'We would try and influence change and try to persuade the locals to not join the Taliban,' Corp. Benincasa said, noting it wasn't easy and a lot of trust had to be forged between the nationals and military." Georgina (ON) Advocate, 29 May 2009.

AP opens television news bureau in Kabul.

Posted: 31 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"US news agency Associated Press is to open a new purpose-built TV news bureau in Kabul in time for the Afghan elections in August. AP's new facility, which will run alongside the international news agency's existing newsgathering operation in the city, is to provide its clients with a one-stop shop for broadcast support services. ... 'Kabul is the next logical step in the global expansion of GMS, as the focus of coverage moves away from Iraq,' said the director of AP GMS [Global Media Services], Alla Salehian. ... AP GMS's international clients include the BBC and al-Jazeera." The Guardian, 28 May 2009.

The fascination of "incomprehensible foreign channels."

Posted: 31 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"By the time you read this I'll be back, but right now I'm in Crete, staying in a place whose satellite TV system offers about 10bn channels, approximately 100% of which aren't in English. OK, so you can pick up the BBC World TV news channel, but no one's ever willingly watched that for longer than nine minutes. ... Part of the fun of having so many incomprehensible foreign channels is flicking through them and trying to guess what country they're from. If you're as ignorant as me, this is usually completely impossible. Lots of them look like news broadcasts from the Star Wars universe (specifically, the Clone Wars era). The basic visual grammar of news is always the same - host, desk, spinny CGI graphics and so on - but they're often accompanied by national dress codes and entire alphabets I've never seen before. I swear one channel featured a newsreader with a designer lampshade on his head and a headline ticker comprising nothing but triangles and spirals scrolling right to left across the screen. " Charlie Brooker, The Guardian, 30 May 2009.
     "About a year ago, I wrote about our decision to end our subscription to cable after 20 years and rely on off-air DTV and online sources for our viewing. ... We subscribed to video podcasts and watched them full-screen on the TV, from Deutsche Welle to TVO to WineLibraryTV to TED to The Cook and The Chef on Australia's ABC. We watched tons of streaming video full-screen, ranging from Frontline and NOVA at, to live CBC News from Toronto, Montreal, and PEI, BBC World News, Radio-Canada's 24-hour news network RDI, to live coverage of the Mumbai attacks on Indian TV." Todd Mundt blog via All Tech Considered blog, National Public Radio, 29 May 2009.

Al Jazeera misled by UN agency, with dire results?

Posted: 31 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Shortly after the Sri Lankan army’s official victory declaration, the local head of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Amin Awad, told the Arabic TV station Al Jazeera there were virtually no civilians left in the conflict zone, the article notes. But the very next day, some 20,000 refugees came out of the conflict zone, having suffered a sustained bombardment. 'It gave the government a blank cheque to carpet bomb the whole area,' a UN worker told the Le Monde." Le Monde, translated, via RationalMan, Daily Kos, 30 May 2009.
     "As per this self-claimed 'veteran defence news reporter'’s 'statistics', during the last 20 days of the Wanni Humanitarian Mission, 20,000 civilians were killed as a result of SL Army’s heavy weapons. Al Jazeera then joined the club and soon reported the death rate of the civilians per day during the last few days was 1000 then." C.E. Katuwawalage and Asha Nanayakkara, Sinhalaya News Agency, 30 May 2009.
     "One of the biggest fights that Sri Lanka will have to face is on the media front. One can already see how the Western media, and powerful, sections of it are lining up against Sri Lanka. Whether it is the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera (they are not listed here in order of importance), and so many other news channels and major publications that have abandoned the basic principles and ethics of journalism and media practice to carry on with Sri Lanka bashing to serve the same establishment interests in their respective countries and the interests of the prop-LTTE Tamil expatriate community in these lands." Lucien Rajakarunanayake, Daily News (Colombo), via Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence, 30 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

But not seen on any Detroit cable channel...

Posted: 31 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"As a reporter for the Al Jazeera English-language program Fault Lines notes in a report sent our way by Rich Feldman, here in Detroit, 'amid the ruins of industrial capitalism' there are 'glimpses of a more sustainable life.' The piece does a good job of making its point: In a place where resilience has been instilled in those who’ve withstood the city’s 60 years of decline, decades of abandonment offer opportunity in the form of vacant land that is giving rise to a fledgling urban agricultural movement. You can find Part 1 of the two-part report here." Curt Guyette, Newsblawg, Detroit Metro Times, 29 May 2009.
     "For a couple of seasons, Al Jazeera English's Richard Gizbert has been hosting (besides his terrific Listening Post) a world music show called 'The Playlist.' Here is a good introduction to the series since it's a clip reel of best-of moments." Aaron Barnhart, TV Barn blog, Kansas City Star, 28 May 2009.

Al Jazeera English "World News" nightly via Link TV (updated).

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Link TV's senior director of Middle Eastern Programming, Jamal Dajani, announced today that the channel will present a new global news hour including 'World News' from Al Jazeera English, anchored from Washington, D.C., followed by Link TV's Peabody Award-winning original news program 'Mosaic: World News from the Middle East.' The nightly news hour will be broadcast on weeknights from 10:00pm-11:00pm ET/7:00pm-8:00pm PT. ... Dajani states, 'At a time when international news coverage has been receding rapidly in most U.S. news outlets due to closures of foreign news bureaus, Al Jazeera English has been filling the void with professional, and comprehensive reporting from around the globe.'" Link TV press release, 28 May 2009.
     Update: "The move not only gives Al-Jazeera English a foot in the door to the 31 million U.S. homes that Link TV reaches, but it is symbolic of a growing thaw in the post-9/11 feelings toward the Arab and Muslim worlds since President Obama's election, observers say." San Francisco Chronicle, 30 May 2009.
     "Jay Leno moves to his nightly 10 p.m. time-slot this fall, sending networks scrambling for ideas on how, or whether, to counter the subversion. Link TV (CNN for the broad-minded) has the answer: Beginning June 1, Al Jazeera English will make its debut on mainstream American TV nightly at 10 p.m. (channel 375 on Direct TV and channel 9410 on Dish Network). The 10 p.m. time-slot is traditionally reserved for mayhem and gore shows, so Middle East-centered news should feel at home." Pierre Tristam,, 29 May 2009.

Windows Live Messenger sanctions: Treasury undermining State? (updated)

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Microsoft has opted to turn off its Windows Live Messenger service in Syria and four other countries that are 'subject to United States sanctions.' Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea are all affected by the surprising move, with a company spokesperson clarifying to the media that: 'Microsoft has discontinued providing Instant Messenger services in certain countries subject to United States sanctions. Details of these sanctions are available from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control.'", 25 May 2009.
     "Iranian youth have been ingenious in learning how to maneuver around Iranian governmental censorship on blogs and Facebook. Syrians have already found a way around the blocked site- found that Syrians are presently using the blocked service by changing the ‘country/region’ under the Home Location tab on their account. With the plethora of instant messaging services such as Yahoo! Messenger and Google’s Gchat, I don’t suspect Windows Live Messenger will be missed much. The US prides itself on promoting free speech around the world. The State Department has gone so far as to fund media sites such as VOA and Radio Farda to open lines of communication with Iran. So why impose such broad sanctions which would limit the communication of Iranian youth who are most likely using the messaging technology? Perhaps the State and Treasury Department should start messaging each other so that they can stop undermining each other’s policies." niacINsight, 27 May 2009.
     Update: "Cuba criticized Microsoft on Friday for blocking its Messenger instant messaging service on the island and in other countries under U.S. sanctions, calling it yet another example of Washington's 'harsh' treatment of Havana. ... Messenger has been used on the island for a decade without Microsoft interference." AP, 29 May 2009.

BBC Trust upholds complaint about Radio 4 Tibet interview.

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC should have informed listeners that an academic interviewed about Tibet on Radio 4's Today programme was speaking from a pro-Chinese government viewpoint, the BBC Trust has ruled. ... The complainant said Professor Barry Sautman of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was allowed to express his views in support of the Chinese government's policy on Tibet 'virtually unchallenged'. ... The BBC Trust committee ruled that Sautman, who has published books on the subject of Tibet under Chinese rule and has contributed to other news outlets such as al-Jazeera and Voice of America, was a credible choice of interviewee. ... However, the committee said the programme breached the rules on impartiality by not making it clear that Sautman was associated with a particular viewpoint rather than giving an impartial view as an academic." The Guardian, 29 May 2009.

Xbox360 console now functions as an international broadcast receiver.

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC TV will not function in the same way that Sky TV has just announced to provide Live TV to UK Xbox360 consoles, but BBC World Wide will be selling UK TV shows to purchase with MS Points on the Xbox & Zune Marketplace and it will only be made available in America. Popular shows for sale include, Top Gear, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Little Britain, Robin Hood, Primeval and many more. Shows will come in standard definition or for double MS Points, hi-definition to make viewing even more pleasurable. Confirmed pricing details have not yet been announced, but are expected to fall in line with content already available from other broadcasters. The lineup of BBC World Wide shows joins the TV show downloads in the US already from the likes of ABC, CBS and Fox." Jason Andrews, Xboxic, 29 May 2009.
     "We never did see the much talked-about PSP phone, but we now have just about the next best thing, the newly-launched Sony Ericsson Aino ... Ok, it's not a PSP phone in the gaming sense, but it does interact with your PlayStation 3 and PC wirelessly, the latter with Media Go and Media Home for synchronising music, photos, videos and podcasts from your PC, the former using Remote Play. Intially developed for the PSP (hence the 'PSP phone' comparisons), Remote Play allows you to control and access media content on the PS3 from your phone over a network. Which means you can interact with your console no matter what part of the world you happen to find yourself in. Throw in PlayTV and you can watch, pause and record live TV too, a great comfort if you find yourself in a tiny hotel room overseas, with nothing more than BBC World on the box." David Walker, T3, 29 May 2009.

New BBC FM relay on Tobago.

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"People in Tobago can now listen to BBC World Service in FM quality by tuning in to BBC 98.7 FM, with the launch of a dedicated FM transmitter on the island. Audiences will now have access to a wide range of BBC programming, including content tailored specifically for the Caribbean region. The new service joins three other 24-hour BBC FM stations in the Caribbean – BBC 89.1 FM Antigua, BBC 104 FM Jamaica and the BBC 98.7 FM service which has been available on the neighbouring island of Trinidad since late 2007." BBC World Service press release, 29 May 2009.

The old VOA Bethany station, minus transmitters, but with a gift shop.

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Renovating West Chester Twp.’s [southwestern Ohio] 1940s-era former Bethany Station could bring an estimated 30,000 visitors at its peak and $1.7 million annually to the area once construction is complete later this year, officials told trustees last week. The $12 million to $14 million project looks to turn the former Voice of America Bethany Station — a landmark that spread messages of democracy throughout the world for more than five decades via shortwave radio — into The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting. ... Once complete, visitors will be able to walk through the history of broadcasting, including the role which the Bethany Station played in World War II and the events leading to the Cold War; a grand concourse that features the story of 'America’s Voice'; a restored 1940s-era control room; the role Cincinnati played in early broadcasting; gift shop, eatery and more." Middletown (OH) Journal, 29 May 2009. See also Dave Greber, Middletown Journal blog, 29 May 2009, with slide presentation by the museum board. Now if they could just operate a little ten-watt shortwave broadcast transmitter from the site.
     "Despite the potential, (West Chester County) Trustee Lee Wong says museum visitor projections appear 'grossly exaggerated.''I love this idea, I do. I'd love to build a Taj Mahal, too, but it's a waste of taxpayer money,' he said. 'They say they are going to get 30,000 attendees per year. Well, I have a better chance of winning the lottery.' ... The business plan acknowledges the museum faces a challenge reaching out beyond the niche group currently interested in the VOA story and broadcasting history. The goal, the group said, is to use interactive tools to interest new, younger audiences and change exhibits to expand its appeal." Cincinnati Enquirer, 29 May 2009.

Via Radio Farda, US official denies US involvement in Iran mosque bombing.

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A local official and an influential prayer leader in Iran's capital, Tehran, have each accused the United States of involvement in a deadly mosque bombing in southeast Iran. ... On May 29, U.S. Deputy State Department spokesman John O'Sullivan told Radio Farda that the United States had nothing to do with the bombing." RFE/RL, 30 May 2009. RFE/RL's executive editor is another John O'Sullivan.

VOA adds satellites for Iran, citing increased jamming.

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America has added new satellite frequencies to ensure millions of Iranians are able to watch and listen to programs on VOA's Persian News Network (PNN) in the run-up to Iran's June 12 presidential elections. The addition of new satellite paths (on Arabsat Badr-4 and Eutelsat HotBird) comes after viewers flooded PNN with reports of signal interference. VOA officials subsequently confirmed that Iranian authorities have greatly increased jamming in parts of Tehran, the capital, and some other locations." VOA press release, 28 May 2009.
     "It's election season and that can mean only one thing in Iran: jokes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of them are poking fun at Ahmadinejad. ... RFE/RL's Radio Farda has received masses of text messages from Iranians. Here are a few examples: 'You don't change the driver of a car that is falling into a ravine. From The Election Campaign Headquarters of Dr. Mahmud Ahmadinejad.'" Golnaz Esfandiari, Iran Election Diary, RFE/RL, 27 May 2009.

Roxana Saberi's other exclusive interview (updated).

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Roxana Saberi's first interview in Persian since being released from Iran’s Evin Prison will be broadcast 29 May on VOA Persian New Network's "News and Views." See previous post about her English-language interview 28 May on NPR. An interview with Saberi will also be broadcast on ABC World News on 29 May.
     Update: "Saberi's 20-minute interview, conducted by well-known PNN anchor Setareh Derakhshesh, aired on the network's flagship news program, News and Views, seen in Iran at 9 p.m." Voice of America press release, 29 May 2009. See also VOA News, 29 May 2009. Transcript: VOA News, 29 May 2009.

Danger Will Robinson! White House creates the Global Engagement Directive (updated: it's "Directorate")

Posted: 30 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Among the other shifts at the [National Security Council], a new entity, dubbed the Global Engagement Directive, will aim to coordinate public diplomacy, foreign assistance and international communications at a single White House desk." Wall Street Journal, 27 May 2009.
     I don't know if US international broadcasting will be among the activities "coordinated" by this new office, but "international communications" suggests this might be the case. It dovetails with the rumors that the Obama Administration has not nominated new members for the Broadcasting Board of Governors because it plans to eliminate the BBG.
     The best thing the BBG can do now is to place large pieces of furniture in front of the door. When staff of the Global Engagement Directive come to visit, be very quiet until they leave.
     Otherwise, eventually, someone in a goatskin tent in the desert will be listening to the news on VOA. He will say to his companion: "It sounds like someone has coordinated this newscast. Please retune the radio set to the BBC."

     Update: "I particularly like the choice of 'global engagement' as the blanket term, thus avoiding the logjam between advocates of 'public diplomacy' and of 'strategic communications.'" Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 29 May 2009. Commenters to Marc's post point out that the actual name of the new entity is Global Engagement Directorate.
     "Creating a new Global Engagement Directorate to drive comprehensive engagement policies that leverage diplomacy, communications, international development and assistance, and domestic engagement and outreach in pursuit of a host of national security objectives, including those related to homeland security." President Obama, White House, 26 May 2009.
     "But the WH announcement re the 'Global Engagement Directive' makes no mention of 'public diplomacy.'" John Brown to Marc, op cit. See also John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, 27 May 2009, and links thereto.

Via Facebook, US official provides India with advice about Pakistan. And other public diplomacy news.

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"India must be wary of those Pakistanis trying to enter the county for nefarious reasons, a senior U.S. diplomat said during a first ever Webchat on the popular social networking site — Facebook. 'India must be wary of those Pakistanis seeking to enter India for nefarious reasons, but the signal India sent — openness to a better relationship with peace-loving Pakistanis — was a powerful psychological message,' said Gregg Sullivan, director of press and public diplomacy for the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asia." PTI, 29 May 2009.
     "Yes, it's the latest State Department public diplomacy initiative, taking advantage of the insanely high popularity of the U.S. president among the foreigners ... the first-ever presidential postcards. ... They feature: a portrait of Obama with his signature at the bottom; Obama and the first lady at the swearing-in; the first couple at an inaugural ball; Obama signing a bill with Vice President Biden 'looking on'; a collage of the Obamas with their children; and another collage of Obama 'golfing and playing basketball.' There are caption translations available in French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and other languages." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 29 May 2009.
     Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-CA) "made an inaugural donation of films to the Rosa Parks Library and Information Resource Center in Soweto, a township of Johannesburg, South Africa. The presentation is a culmination of her bill, H.R. 2553, the Public Diplomacy Resource Centers Act of 2007, promoting wider screenings of U.S. films at State Department libraries around the world." Operation HOPE press release, 29 May 2009.
     "On May 22, 2009, Senator Dick Lugar welcomed the Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Judith McHale as the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. 'Ms. McHale brings serious business and media experience to this position that I trust will serve her well as she manages the world of traditional and new media and engages with the world to tell America’s story to the world and to listen to what they have to say,' Lugar said. 'This position has historically remained vacant for more than one-third of the time, with nominees staying, on average, barely over a year. I am hopeful that Ms. McHale will buck this trend.' The Senate also unanimously passed Lugar’s public diplomacy resolution, S. Res. 49, which calls for the Secretary of State to initiate a reexamination of the public diplomacy platform strategy of the United States with a goal of reestablishing publicly accessible American Centers, and to consider placing United States public diplomacy facilities at locations conducive to maximizing their use, consistent with the authority given to the Secretary in the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act." Senator Lugar website.

Propaganda fidei, brought to you by Enel.

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Director of Vatican Radio, Fr Federico Lombardi, and the Secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City State, Bishop Renato Boccardo, teamed up with the president of Italy’s electricity company Enel today for a press conference launching the first advertisements on Vatican Radio. The speakers stressed that the project is still in an experimental phase and that care will be taken to place the ads at appropriate times in between regular programming. The first ads by Enel will be aired in five languages on the radio’s 105 live channel between July and September of this year." Vatican Radio, 26 May 2009, with link to audio report. The "105 live channel" is the Vatican Radio "domestic" service, reaching Rome on 105 MHz FM, elsewhere via internet. So, apparently, the ads will not be heard on the shortwave services, for now at least. See also AP, 26 May 2009 and Religion News Service, 27 May 2009

Catholic Radio Veritas Asia broadcasts to Protestent Karens.

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"For the Kayin, or Karen, ethnic people in Myanmar, a cheap US$10 radio is their 'hi-tech' link to communications and entertainment. Here you'll find many Kayin with 'Made in China' radios tuned to Radio Veritas Asia's (RVA) Kayin service. The RVA, based in Quezon City north of Manila and sponsored by the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, has provided a Kayin-language service for over 25 years. Its Catholic programs have become a source of spiritual strength and information to thousands of Kayin Christians, most of whom are Protestant." Union of Catholic Asian News, 27 May 2009. The Protestant point of view is transmitted by the Far East Broadcasting Company, also from the Philippines, and also on shortwave. FEBC Karen (Pa'o) is at 1100-1115 UTC on 15330 kHz. FEBC Karen (Pwo Western) is at 0115-0130 (Friday through Sunday) on 15465. Radio Veritas Karen is at 0000-0030 on 11935 and 1200-1230 on 15225. (Burma is UTC + 6 1/2.) So at least they are not competing at the same times.

Swat Valley: 10-watt FM stations versus international broadcasters.

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The scenic Swat valley [of the North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan] is thundering with both aerial bombardments and fiery Taliban FM radio sermons. ... While the government has asked the local people to help the military in identifying Taliban hideouts, the Taliban have been broadcasting warnings against supporting the military. Through their pirate FM transmitters, the Taliban have demanded that local parliamentarians, security forces and other government officials resign from their positions as a mark of protest against the military operations; otherwise they should be prepared for a jihad directed against them. The Taliban radio broadcasters, popularly known as 'FM Mullahs,' continuously transmit anti-American and anti-government sermons, calling democracy 'un-Islamic' and those practicing it 'infidels.' ... A 10 watt FM channel costing only $200 is good enough to be clearly heard across the village. Launching an FM channel takes little technical skill. Semi-literate Taliban need only a transmitter, amplifier and a car or bike battery to send their propaganda into each home of a village. All this equipment is readily available in the local market. FM radio sets are also very cheap compared to shortwave and medium-wave brand radios. Poor people in FATA and the Frontier Province prefer to buy a cheap FM transistor radio at a cost of only a dollar as opposed to a shortwave receiver, which can cost 10 to 100 times as much. And now people often don’t need to buy an FM radio as most cell phones have a built-in FM radio. These local FM broadcasts are regularly tuned in by public transport vehicles. The local Pashtun population prefers to listen to and rely on the news contained in the local broadcast as compared to broadcasts beamed from thousands of miles away. They want local information in local dialects." Mukhtar A. Khan, The Jamestown Foundation, 26 May 2009.

Former captive listener visits RFI.

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Chinese dissident Jiang Weiping "came to Paris to see the studios that had broadcast his story, during RFI's Chinese news broadcast at the end of 2006. He told RFI that it had lifted his spirits, 'to realise that there were people in the world who didn't know me, but who wanted to help me and who were concerned about what happened to me.' ... RFI was 'very important for me when I was in prison. It's very important for others still in prison. It's indispens[a]ble.' Jiang told RFI that he was able to listen to a transistor with earphones during his work hours in prison, when he was alone." Radio France International, 28 May 2009.

RFE/RL president on human rights and on RFE/RL's lifespan (updated).

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Washington is in the throes of an increasingly self-indulgent debate about whether the promotion of human rights and democracy should play a central role in U.S. foreign policy. In a number of areas in the world, authoritarian leaders are gaining self-confidence; this is no time for us to lose ours. ... Obviously, we in the West are no more virtuous than anybody in any other country. But our system of democracy is." Jeffrey Gedmin, op-ed, New York Times, 22 May 2009.
     Gedmin, interviewed while visiting Belarus: "Our goal is to bring independent, precise and unbiased information and news to the countries which are going through a transition period and do not have an established system of free mass media, or to the authoritarian countries where such mass media are lacking. It’s up to you to judge to which category Belarus should belong. However the European Union, the US and human rights organisations believe that Belarus does not have enough independent press and has no pluralism. That’s why we exist. ... A service stops broadcasting when there is no need for us. When there would be pluralism in Belarus, who would listen to a radio with headquarters in Prague?" Charter 97, 22 May 2009.
     Update: "Let's encircle Russia with states that provide a powerful model for democratization. It has been 20 years since George H.W. Bush gave his 'Europe, Whole and Free' speech in Mainz, Germany, and the project is only half complete." Jeffrey Gedmin, Wall Street Journal, 29 May 2009.

Russia Today's remodeled website includes new blogs.

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Russia Today, a 24/7 news network and website inspired by Al-Jazeera that was launched in 2005 to tell Russia's story to the world in the English language, has recently remodeled its main web page. In addition to the complete change of website layout, RT added several bloggers to its stable of writers, including an American from Virginia named Doug Wead. This is an interesting development, because Mr. Wead brings a 'compassionate conservative' Republican voice to an otherwise apolitical or left-leaning collection of bloggers." Charles Ganske, Russia Blog, 27 May 2009.
     As for the remodeled Russia Today website, it has an annoying horizontal bar that wanders up and down over the home page. The most useful thing a television station's website can provide is a program schedule. Russia Today has one, but it's difficult to find. You might be tempted to click on Programs to find the program schedule. Actually, you need to click on the very small On Air link at the bottom of the page. Viewing the schedule will require a version of Flash Player newer than mine.

On 15 June, corporate dress codes all over Africa will be ignored.

Posted: 29 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC Africa is calling on all business people in Africa to get into the spirit of soccer by wearing a football shirt to work on June 15, 2009. 'With the start of the Confederations Cup on June 14 and less than a year to go to the kick-off of the 2010 World Cup, it's time for the continent to show its colours and show support for the beautiful game of soccer' says Gary Alfonso, the network's chief operating officer. ... As a ‘big business' network, it sees itself as a catalyst for hope and prosperity on the African continent and soccer will be one of the big catalysts in the next 12 months.", 28 May 2009.

The television news flea market.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The online news marketplace Beamups launches a UK version today, hoping to exploit the dire of state of the news industry by allowing producers to sell on unused and archive content. The site launched a beta for the Middle East in April and set up deals with broadcasters including the BBC, al Jazeera, ABC and Rtvi. For them, it’s an opportunity to make extra money from unused footage, while buyers get one source of global, professional material." paidContent:UK, 28 May 2009.

A Schlachtplatte of news from Deutsche Welle.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
One of the discussions at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, 3 June, will be "Chinese Wall Against Human Rights: Does the Internet Open Doors?" DW press release, 22 May 2009.
     "The German-Egyptian television talk show 'Youth Across Borders' ... [a] co-production from Deutsche Welle and the Egyptian broadcaster ERTU is produced alternately in Berlin and Cairo. It will be recorded in Bonn for the first time in coordination with the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum." DW press release, 25 May 2009.
     "Deutsche Welle’s podcast channel has been given a new interface on iTunes, the world’s largest directory of podcasts. This new channel will be cleaner with improved navigation, making it easier than ever to access its audio and video podcasts." DW press release, 19 May 2009.
     "The furore started with two apparently harmless messages typed into the maximum 140-character slot of the US-based Twitter Web site. Except that the tweets of Julia Kloeckner of Angela Merkel's CDU party and Ulrich Kelber of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) came 15 minutes before the results of Germany's presidential elections were made official. ... To test the impact of Twittergate, this reporter sent out a tweet testing the global temperature. Six hours later there was still not a single reply to my question whether anyone had anything to say about Horst Koehler's re-election being announced a quarter of an hour early." Tanya Wood, DW News, 28 May 2009.

"Twitter is a liberating technology."

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Twitter is a liberating technology, not a technology that 'will keep reporters off the streets and in front of their screens', as journalism professor Edward Wasserman writes. And if he thinks that mobile phone technology is just for 'the young, the hip, the technically sophisticated, the well-off', he obviously hasn’t travelled to South Asia or Africa or even to most neighbourhoods in the US. He obviously doesn’t understand the prevalence of pay-as-you-go phones, not only for communications, but also for micropayments and information services in the developing world. This isn’t just about kilobits and data, it’s also about SMS and the inventiveness of the human mind that takes a simple tool and carves out a revolution. When I worked on the World Have Your Say programme at the BBC World Service, we were overwhelmed with text messages from people in who Africa wanted to take part in the discussion." Kevin Anderson, Corante, 27 May 2009.

Mergers ahead for pan-Arab channels?

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ongoing economic meltdown will force widespread consolidation in the Middle East free-to-air television market, a leading industry analyst has told Gabriel Chahine, partner with media analyst Booz & Co. confided that a number of major players were holding serious talks about possible mergers although he refused to divulge names. ... Chahine’s statements come in the wake of a report published by Booz & Co., which claimed MBC Network enjoys approximately 43% of the pan-Arab viewership, with Saudi TV and LBC-Rotana TV following behind with 11% respectively. Al Jazeera snared 5% of regional viewing figures while Dubai Media Inc. has 3% and Abu Dhabi TV only 2%. The other FTA channels compete for the remaining 25% share of the market." Digital Production Middle East, 26 May 2009.
     At Cairo conference: "Mazen Hayek, Group Director of Marketing, PR and Commercial at MBC Group ... [said] that TV is often looked at as the region's most preferred and practiced 'National Sport', due to the fact that TV is watched on average for 4 hours a day, with approximately 2 TV sets per household, and a satellite penetration of over 95%." MBC Group press release, 28 May 2009.

Blog was perhaps too "chirpy" for Saudi authorities.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Susie’s Big Adventure in Saudi Arabia has turned a little dark: the US expat’s chirpy blog on life in the kingdom with a Saudi husband has been blocked by the country’s censors. The 57 year-old grandmother, who prefers not to give her full name, said Wednesday she has no idea why the Saudi authorities have put a block on her blog (, which recounts her experiences of moving to Saudi Arabia two years ago with her Saudi husband of 30 years." Arab Times (Kuwait), 27 May 2009.

France 24 revamps schedule (updated: but try to figure out what that schedule is).

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"More live programs, more sport, more business news and culture: France 24’s new schedules were unveiled yesterday with a priority given to the morning and evening slots." Rapid TV News, 18 May 2009. "FRANCE 24 will be enhancing the level of convergence between TV and the Internet, in particular with our new program The Observers, which will feature brand new content supplied by our network of 2,000 web ‘observers’ around the globe." France 24 press release, 19 May 2009.
     Update: "A year and a half after the launch of the website and six months since our first radio show on Radio France Internationale, The Observers is now available in TV form too. Broadcast on FRANCE 24 in both French and English, the programme features the fantastic work that our Observers have shared with us since the beginning of the site. We hope you like it!" France 24 The Observers, 27 May 2009. If it's "now available in TV form," this post left out the most important information: at what time. Finally, one of the commenters asked. France 24's answer: "The show is broadcast on FRANCE 24 on Saturdays at around 8:15am Paris time (GMT+2) and then at various times throughout the week. But if you're online it's easier to watch here on the site." In other words, why bother watching it on France 24 the television channel, when you can watch it on demand on France 24 the website. By the way, 8:15am Paris time is 0615 UTC. As for the other "various times throughout the week," I could not find a program schedule anywhere on the France 24 website. There is a banner that says "France 24 New Schedule, but it, ridiculement, does not have France 24's new schedule. It does have something called "main new features," but that's not a schedule. Even a channel with a rolling, all-news format has something of a schedule, and that should be easily locatable on the website if the channel is to achieve minimal adequacy as an international broadcaster.

General Giap defeated the French, listens to RFI.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"In 1954, General Vo Nguyen Giap masterminded a harrowing epic 57-day siege which brought about the crushing defeat of the French empire in Indochina. ... Now 97, physically frail but still mentally sharp, Giap lives with his wife in an old French colonial house in Hanoi, where he leads a modest existence. He rises at around 5am when he starts his day with breathing exercises before turning into RFI - Radio France International, before listening to the news on Vietnamese stations." Tom Fawthrop, The First Post (London), 27 May 2009.

Gabon criticizes RFI re President Bongo's illness (updated).

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Gabon suspended two newspapers and lashed out at French media Saturday over their coverage of the hospitalisation of President Omar Bongo Ondimba, Africa's longest serving ruler. ... The National Communication Council accused French satellite broadcasters France 24, LCI, i-tele and Radio France Internationale (RFI) of reporting 'non-official and alarmist' information on Bongo's hospitalisation in Spain. In a statement, the council also warned RFI and Canal Overseas to respect agreements with the government calling for 'respect of public order, the security of the country, national unity, good morals and the dignity of citizens.' ... RFI declined to comment." AFP, 23 May 2009. See also RFI, 21 May 2009.
     Update: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the government of Gabon's crackdown on independent media coverage of President Omar Bongo's hospitalization and potential succession issues. ... On Monday, authorities in the capital, Libreville, stopped journalists Arnaud Zajtman and Marlène Rabaud of international broadcaster France 24 at the airport, according to news reports." CPJ, 27 May 2009. See also Reporters sans frontières, 27 May 2009.
     "Arnaud Zajtman (pictured above) and Marlene Rabaud, both France 24 journalists, are back in France, fit and well, after being detained for two days at the airport by authorities in Gabon. ... The journalists were carrying the appropriate visas but were not allowed to go through customs. Held in an international zone at the airport, they were never allowed to enter the country." France 24, 27 May 2009.

Comparing the coverage of journalists detained by them and journalists detained by us.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Reuters cameraman Ibrahim Jassam has been held since September. The U.S. military rejected a court order to release him, saying he is a 'high security threat.' No evidence has been presented. ... The Obama administration harshly criticized Iran for its imprisonment of Roxana Saberi, the U.S.-Iranian journalist who was convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison before being freed two weeks ago." Liz Sly, Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2009. See also Dean Graber, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, 27 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Empathy via the electronic media.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Can we train ourselves to 'see things as others do?' Here the internet and the blogosphere are potentially transformative tools: you don't have to rely on the New York Times or the Washington Post or your own local newspaper... . I can sit here in my office and read the English edition of Ha’aretz, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, and the online edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun. Or I can read the Guardian, Asia Times, or the Jerusalem Post, and then go to the online and BBC News websites too. ... Americans would be well served to spend part of each week perusing, a website that collects and translates media reports from around the world and a variety of political perspectives. When you travel, don’t just watch CNN -- check out the BBC or Al Jazeera, too." Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy blog, 27 May 2009. Actually, when you travel abroad, do watch CNN, because it will probably be CNN International, very different from and much better than CNN domestic.

Matt Armstrong reads the new GAO report on public diplomacy so we don't have to.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The report is interesting and worth reading." Matt Armstrong,, 27 May 2009. No, it's not.
     "The Government Accountability Office spends 43 pages 'analyzing' why the United States gets lousy global PR despite having spent billions on its image. Hint to the GAO: It's not the advertising. It's the policy." Jay Hancock's Blog, Baltimore Sun, 28 May 2009.

McHale promises a "top-to-bottom review of US public diplomacy."

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. State Department's new public diplomacy chief says she's confident America's image abroad can be rebuilt after sagging badly during the Bush administration. Former media executive Judith McHale spoke in an interview with VOA on her first full day as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. McHale is not predicting a miraculous rebound in America's standing abroad, which opinion polls suggest hit historic lows under the past administration, whose foreign policy was perceived as unilateralist and overly militarized. ... She promised a top-to-bottom review of U.S. public diplomacy efforts but said she enters the post with no preconceived notions about structural changes, though there are abundant study-commission reform recommendations." David Gollust, VOA News, 27 May 2009.
     Resigns from Polo Ralph Lauren board to take new post. Press release, 27 May 2009. Resigns from DigitalGlobe board to take new post. techrockies, 27 May 2009.

Advice for Obama Cairo speech: "mea culpa is not ambitious enough."

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"When President Obama delivers his much-anticipated address in Cairo next week, he should counter the deadly and pervasive narrative that 'the West is at war with Islam' and replace it with a more accurate storyline that offers Muslims both responsibility and pride. The Bush administration's attempts to engender this alternative narrative fell flat - in large measure because, as the American presence in Iraq wore on, Muslims were in no mood to listen to President Bush. Obama is a different matter. With his Muslim family members and his personification of the American dream, he is uniquely placed to recast the way American power and influence are viewed. Although he will need to acknowledge what most Muslims believe as US mistakes, an endearing and short-lived mea culpa is not ambitious enough for the task at hand. Instead, the president should shape a new narrative - one that reminds the world of American ideals and challenges Muslim communities to confront conflicts in their midst." Juan C. Zarate and (former public diplomacy under secretary) James K. Glassman, Boston Globe, 27 May 2009.

Israel "coalescing" its international outreach, may expand foreign-language broadcasting.

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Israeli "government officials who deal with representing the country in international media have expressed optimism that the means of getting that message out are becoming more robust and better coordinated. Many of these officials have been worried about the confusing multiplicity of government agencies and offices that manage public diplomacy. Yet the confusing milieu of official hasbara is slowly coalescing into two distinct roles conducted by two bodies: The Prime Minister's Office 'coordinates the message,' and the new Information and Diaspora Ministry 'develops the means to express that message.' ... This includes creating and expanding the country's woefully inadequate radio and television broadcasts in foreign languages. 'There's no meaningful Israeli media outlet that speaks Arabic. The IBA Arabic channel isn't received anywhere, and the radio station doesn't go very far, because it lacks transmitters,' said the Prime Minister's Office official. For this reason, [Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli] Edelstein was given charge of the lackluster Israel Broadcasting Authority. Within a month of taking on the new position, he has already received at least five written proposals - and many more verbal ones - for establishing a glittering, CNN-style international television network. 'Everyone thinks we need an Israeli «Al-Jazeera» a broadcast network to the world, and especially to the Middle East. But it hasn't happened yet. Could Edelstein's ministry be the catalyst for this?' wondered a senior official in the Foreign Ministry. Right now, with the IBA mired in financial troubles and on the verge of being closed down, the answer seems to be 'no.'" Haviv Rettig Gur and Amir Mizroch, Jerusalem Post, 26 May 2009.
     "The Israeli government is the first to use Web 2.0 for public diplomacy for the Israeli government. The country has started its own official blog, MySpace page, YouTube channel, Facebook page and a political blog. The Foreign ministry also held a microblogging press conference via Twitter about its war with Hamas, with consul David Saranga answering live questions from a worldwide public, using common text-messaging abbreviations." Ashok Kumar Balagangadharan, (Navi Mumbai), 25 May 2009.
     "Dozens of Bnei Anousim, whose Jewish forefathers were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition period more than 500 years ago, gathered in the Spanish city of Barcelona this weekend, to be trained in making Israel’s case to the media. ... This marks the first time in the history of the State of Israel that Bnei Anousim are actively volunteering to be part of Israel's hasbara, or public diplomacy effort." Arutz Sheva, 26 May 2009.
     "How does one get Al Jazeera to air a pro-Israeli documentary? Answering this question is part of what compelled Avi Naiman, a retired professor from New Jersey, to spend his life savings on launching an Israel-advocacy film production firm. A few months ago the Qatari news giant asked to review one of his works about Arab Israelis under Hezbollah fire." Ha'aretz, 28 May 2009.

Canada: We're the other guys (updated).

Posted: 28 May 2009   Print   Send a link
In Branding Canada: Projecting Canada’s Soft Power Through Public Diplomacy, "University of Ottawa professor, Evan H. Potter, shows how the combined efforts of the federal and provincial governments have helped to create one of the most respected global nation brands. Canada’s unique combination of hard and soft power has created a form of smart power that consistently places Canada at the top of global ranking of nation brands. Potter analyses how the federal government has used the instruments of public diplomacy - cultural programs, international education, international broadcasting, trade, and investment promotion - to exercise Canada’s soft power internationally." Nation Branding Blog, 4 April 2009. See also McGill-Queen's University Press.
     I look forward to reading the book. In the meantime, two competing hypotheses of public diplomacy have emerged. Is it Canada's use of "cultural programs, international education, international broadcasting, trade, and investment promotion" that have resulted in its positive ratings in international opinion polls? David M. Edelstein and Ronald R. Krebs, cited in a previous post, wrote: "The United States' poor image abroad has not been the result of a marketing failure, and, thus, better public diplomacy will not lead to victory in the 'Battle of Ideas.' Anti-Americanism thrives, not because others misunderstand the United States, but because they perceive its aims and tactics all too well. The Bush administration's greatest perceived foreign-policy failures -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, unimpeded global warming -- could not have been overcome with better public diplomacy." Is Canada's successful brand more a result of it not participating in the Iraq coalition, not administering Guantánamo, and not denying global warming? Is Canada popular because it is the North American country that is not the United States?
     Update: "The book rightly argues that the concept of public diplomacy is not new, but it is the changing nature of communication that has made it so much more influential. He says that modern technologies and the connectivity of the entire world means that a country needs to take control of a message, otherwise somebody else will." Mark Iype, Embassy, 27 May 2009.

RFI strike continues (continued).

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The strike at Radio France Internationale (RFI) is set to continue until Sunday and may be prolonged. Unions and management are at stalemate over a plan for 206 layoffs from the company’s roughly 1,000 staff. ... RFI management ... has declared its intention to press on with the same redundancy plans, arguing that RFI’s 'deficit culture' makes them necessary in order to balance the budget in future." RFI, 21 May 2009.
     Update: "Entamée le 12 mai, la grève à Radio France internationale (RFI) ne semble prête à cesser. ... 'Il faut réfléchir à une nouvelle stratégie. Il y a des secteurs dans lesquels on estime ne plus devoir investir mais nous voulons développer le persan, le chinois, par exemple, développer Internet.'" Le Monde, 26 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

As Tiananmen anniversary approaches, China decides it's a good time for system maintenance.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"As the 20th anniversary of June 4th incident is approaching, university aggregated forums (貼巴) at Baidu (a major search engine and portal site in China), have been suspended. Users cannot create new posts and cannot post comments since May 23th. According to the official notice of Baidu, the reason for the suspension is related to 'national regulations' and 'forum's term of agreement'." Global Voices Advocacy, 27 May 2009.

NPR seeks international audiences on 28 May.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"NPR (National Public Radio, USA) will make available to foreign stations a special one hour program specifically created for international listeners on Thursday, May 28, 2000-2059 CET. ... As in the past monthly shows, 'Talk of the World' from NPR News will offer listeners outside the USA the opportunity to call in and voice their questions and opinions regarding the topics that affect people around the globe. This month’s conversation will discuss the wireless technology. Tell us how you use your cell phone where you live? The program will air live at 2000 CET – 2059 CET." [Same 1800-1859 UTC, or 1400-1459 North American Eastern Time.] Note to the European Broadcasting Union from NPR, 27 May 2009. See also NPR Talk of the World web page.
     "NPR News will have an exclusive, in-depth interview with Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, her first since being released from Iran’s Evin Prison earlier this month. NPR host Melissa Block’s interview with Saberi will air on Thursday, May 28 on the afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered." National Public Radio press release, 27 May 2009.

From now on, keep Your Story to Yourself.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service's Your Story, the citizen journalism project running since June 2008, will no longer receive funding, it has been announced. ... Individuals were encouraged to pursue report ideas and were provided with recording equipment, training and advice. The results were then published online, and/or broadcast on the World Service.", 26 May 2009.

New BBCWS director will visit Sierra Leone and Nigeria (updated).

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"From Monday 25 May, the Director of BBC World Service, Peter Horrocks, will be in Sierra Leone and Nigeria to meet with audiences and listen to their comments about BBC's programmes. During the six-day tour, he will meet with political and spiritual leaders, journalists, business partners and the BBC audiences from the two West African countries. ... BBC World Service is a leading broadcaster in Sierra Leone and a primary source of news and information. More than half of the population of Freetown tune in to the BBC every week. Nigeria has BBC World Service's largest radio audience, with 24.4 million people listening to BBC programmes in Hausa and English every week." BBC World Service press release, 22 May 2009.
     Update: BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks, in Sierra Leone, "said that this is his first visit to Africa and he wishes to take home lessons about BBC in Africa, access to information through partner stations and relevant issues affecting women and all aspects of life which are of great interest to the BBC. The Director noted that though radio is the most popular medium in Africa mobile phone communication has become even more popular and down loading on podcast is also another new development in the media landscape." Awoko (Freetown), 26 May 2009.

African Future TV Conference will confer on the future of African TV.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Planning for the Africa Future TV Conference, the pre-eminent gathering of thought leaders in the traditional and internet broadcast media is on track. The event, which is hosted by - Africa’s leading ICT news and information web site - is scheduled for 3-4 August 2009 at the Sandton Sun, Johannesburg. ... A myriad of industry-leading organizations have already come on board with as sponsors or partners for the event, including Broadcasting Center Europe, MTV Networks, Ericsson, ABN Holdings Ltd, Multichoice, CNBC Africa, A24 Media, Southern Africa Direct and Neulion to name but a few.", 27 May 2009.

Name the VOA fish.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America Park added four new fish to the lake last week and they're giving Tri-State residents the opportunity to name them. ... The winners will receive a free pass to fish in the lake." WLWT-TV (Cincinnati), 26 May 2009. At the former VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station.

US is accused of undermining Kazakhstan by supporting free media.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The book entitled Godfather-in-Law, published this month in Germany in Russian and German and written by Rakhat Aliyev, President Nursultan Nazarbayev`s former son-in-law and the ex-Deputy Chairman of country’s security committee, has been banned in Kazakhstan. ... The book is full of allegations and documentation about the Kazakhstan's President since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. One of the documents from Aliyev's book purportedly shows a letter from the KNB [National Security Committee] to Nazarbaev, detailing what it says are US efforts to undermine the country by supporting free media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kazakh Service." Axis, 24 May 2009. "On May 25, the Prosecutor-General's Office said it is legal to read the book, but illegal to bring it into Kazakhstan or to distribute it." RFE/RL, 27 May 2009.

North Korean nuclear test leaves us no choice but to reduce the broadcasting budget.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"If we decide to talk [to North Korea] again, American diplomacy should expand beyond nuclear talks to begin preparing for the outcome it wants: a democratic, unified and eventually nonnuclear Korea. As Korea expert Andrei Lankov has suggested, America's new approach could include the opening of cultural, educational and economic exchanges with the North. Western experts should be encouraged to teach at North Korean universities; North Koreans should be allowed to study in the West; and the United States, Japan and South Korea should undertake cooperative economic projects in the North. The United States should also open more radio and television broadcasts from South Korea and the West" Dan Blumenthal and Robert Kagan, Washington Post, 26 May 2009.
     The United States can open more radio and television broadcasts from the United States, but it's up to South Korea and to the "West" if they want to increase their output to North Korea. On South Korea's part, they did consent to relays of VOA Korean on the Seoul medium wave transmitters of US religious broadcaster Far East Broadcasting Company. As for the "West," it would be very interesting if BBC were to start a Korean service.
     The United States already broadcasts ten hours per day to North Korea, five hours each from VOA and RFA. All the prime evening and morning hours are covered. Expanding into times when fewer North Koreans are available to listen to radio would yield diminishing returns. Getting television into North Korea would be difficult, and probably best accomplished by smuggling DVDs and VCDs across the border with China. But, first, there is the problem of getting them into China.
     An excellent way to improve US broadcasting to North Korea would be to merge VOA and RFA. That would bring together their strengths and eliminate duplication. Because of the reduced administrative costs, i.e. the elimination of one administration, the budget for broadcasts to North Korea would have to be reduced. To politico-bureaucratic Washington, any budget reduction is an appalling prospect.

For shortwave reception, goatskin is much preferable to aluminum siding.

Posted: 27 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the stillness of the desert young Salmou Bamaar and his friends would gather round a crackly short-wave radio and listen to music from around the world. It was the early 1970's and life in the small Western Saharan town of Auserd was lived in much the same way as it had been for generations. Living in goatskin tents, subsisting from camels, sheep and goats the radio was one of the few hints off what lay beyond the distant horizon. The first time Bamaar heard Jimmi Hendrix he was deeply affected. 'I wanted to be in that band.'" Stefan Simanowitz, The Independent, 26 May 2009.

Office that funds Kol Israel Farsi broadcast will be shut down.

Posted: 26 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Israeli media are reporting that a small and unconventional Iran office in the Israeli Ministry of Defense will be shut down. ... The unit (technically known as the Lebanon coordinator unit, perhaps because of Iran's role in Lebanon) had in later years just four people and ran on a budget of just over a million dollars per year, according to Haaretz. ... They kept track of and sometimes provided assistance to Iranian dissidents who came out of Iran on their way to the West, stayed in touch with Iranian exiles in Europe and the United States (some who they had known in the shah's day), and funded a Farsi-language Israel Radio program broadcast on shortwave into Iran." Laura Rozen, The Cable, Foreign Policy, 25 May 2009. The Farsi transmission is the sole remaining Kol Israel shortwave broadcast. Will it continue given this news?

Kidnapped France 24 stringer phones AFP.

Posted: 26 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"After months of receiving no word on the condition of a kidnapped Alberta journalist, it appears she is now pleading for help. Alberta journalist Amanda Lindhout and her Australian photographer Nigel Brennan allegedly spoke by phone Sunday to a French news agency. The agency said Lindhout was sobbing and appeared to be reading or reciting a statement. ... The 27-year-old, had been working for French TV station France 24, and had previously reported from Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout Africa.", 25 May 2009. See also Canadian Press, 25 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

A week of programs about Poland on CNN International.

Posted: 26 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"It has been nearly 20 years since Poland's Solidarity movement defeated the Communist Party in an historic election that prompted the fall of communism across central and eastern Europe. CNN International marks this significant anniversary with 'The New Poland,' a week of programming examining the transformation of Poland from 1989 to where it sits today on the world stage." CNN, 26 May 2009.

She will be selling something for CNBC in China.

Posted: 26 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC ... announced the appointment of Jane Wang to its Asia Pacific team, as the Vice President of Advertising Sales, China. ... Wang will be based in Shanghai effective immediately. In this capacity, Wang will oversee CNBC's advertising sales and marketing operation for China. She will work with our partners, the Shanghai Media Group, on marketing CNBC related programmes on China Business News as well as promoting CNBC Global to China based clients." Press release, via, 25 May 2009. Interesting, I think. I wish I knew more about CNBC's activities in China.
     "Chloe Cho, the lone Korean news anchor at CNBC ... works for CNBC Asia Pacific in Singapore. ... Joining CNBC in October 2008, Cho became sole hostess of the morning live program 'CNBC's Cash Flow.'" The Chosun Ilbo, 27 May 2009.

How North Korea explained what the rest of the world condemned.

Posted: 26 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control and the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology. ... The test will contribute to defending the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism and ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the region around it with the might of Songun." Korean Central News Agency, 25 May 2009.

"One TV channel and three radio stations, that’s all the BBC needs."

Posted: 26 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"What the BBC should do is what commercial producers don’t do, can’t do, can’t do equally well or won’t do properly, and only that. ... It is essential to have truly independent news-gathering of the sort the BBC can and mostly does provide – something hugely expensive to do and so tempting to abuse that the protection of the fee-paying public must be a public good. ... Another public good is the World Service, which is so good that BBC supremos are constantly tempted to cut it. ... Last year [Antony Jay] he wrote a pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies, suggesting the BBC should reduce itself to one national television channel and one speech radio channel. ... I don’t think such a scheme is unreasonable, though I’d hang on to Radio 3 and the World Service as well." Minette Marrin, The Sunday Times, 24 May 2009. A couple of years ago, I was wrote an essay with largely the same recommendations: one BBC television channel, BBC Radios 3 and 4, and World Service. I never submitted it, because, not being a UK citizen, I was afraid to be an interloper.
     "The rapid global expansion in recent years of BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, represents an insurance policy of sorts. It already takes advertising on BBC World News, its international website, and senior sources at the Trust concede that charging overseas users for access is not inconceivable. In the future, it could bankroll a BBC that receives a less generous licence fee." James Robinson, UTV (Belfast), 25 May 2009.

BBC America reinstates morning news.

Posted: 26 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC America incurred the wrath of Washington high-ups and opinion formers when it dropped its morning news bulletins borrowed from BBC World News and replaced them with ... Cash In The Attic. Alas the joys of discovering some tat, sorry, priceless antique, in an upstairs cupboard proved lost on the morning Stateside audience. Cue rapid reverse ferret and the return of the morning news." Media Monkey's Diary, 25 May 2009.
     "Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding BBC World News. Over the past few weeks, we've noted the response from our dedicated viewers to the removal of the morning news block. We understand that many of you wish to start your day with the BBC's newscast and we appreciate your loyalty. We're happy to report that after careful review, we've reached a solution that will enable us to reinstate a morning feed - though in a slightly different time slot which is more viable from a business perspective. Beginning Monday, May 18th BBC World News will air weekday mornings from 5 to 8 am." Via Andy O'Brien, DX Listening Digest, 10 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Quotable interviews on Al Jazeera, CNN International.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
On Al Jazeera English, Sir David Frost interviews Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon. "We have proven in the past that the settlements will not be an obstacle to peace." Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 May 2009. See previous post.
     "Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says Italy is willing to be a go-between in international efforts to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme. 'We spoke to the United States, with (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton. We tried to make ourselves helpful,' he said in an interview with CNN International, referring to a trip Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was to have made to Tehran last week." Reuters, 25 May 2009.

Death of Libyan dissident Fathi al-Jahmi, interviewed by Alhurra in 2004.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Libyan political prisoner Fathi al-Jahmi died 20 May after being transferred to a hospital in Amman, Jordan. "Internal security forces arrested al-Jahmi, an engineer and former provincial governor, on October 19, 2002, after he criticized the government and the Libyan leader, Mu`ammar al-Qaddafi, for free elections in Libya, a free press, and the release of political prisoners. A court sentenced him to five years in prison. On March 10, 2004, an appeals court gave al-Jahmi a suspended sentence of one year and ordered his release on March 12. That same day, al-Jahmi gave an interview to the US-funded al-Hurra television, in which he repeated his call for Libya's democratization. He gave another interview to the station four days later, in which he called al-Qadhafi a dictator... . Two weeks later, on March 26, 2004, security agents arrested al-Jahmi a second time, and held him at a special facility on the coast near Tripoli." International Freedom of Expression eXchange, 21 May 2009.

Doha Debates end fifth season.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Motion ‘This House believes that Muslim women should be free to marry anyone they choose’, was passed resoundingly by 62% to 38% at the final episode of the fifth series of the Doha Debates last night." Gulf Times (Doha), 26 May 2009.
     "From an in-house debate, not even planned for TV viewing, to a major global hit on the BBC, the Doha Debates have experienced tremendous growth." Gulf Times, 23 May 2009.

International channels mark Africa Day.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Knowledge commemorates Africa Day by screening Sahara With Michael Palin at 6am. ... MTV BASE rocks Africa Day celebrations with MTV BASE Countdown Africa at 8pm and MTV BASE Meets Morgan Tsvangirai at 10pm. ... CNBC Africa takes a look at Africa as a whole, analysing financial markets and technological innovations, while news on Africa can be seen on CNN in World Report throughout the day. ... Nat Geo Wild also has programmes to look out for, including Cheetahs: Against all Odds at 7am and a variety of other programming featuring animals from all over the continent." The Herald (Harare), 23 May 2009.

Lankan media: BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera are the big three.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Watch BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera - always on display is the LTTE coverage hardly ever from government sources; if so slanted to sympathize, with the LTTE. Is this balanced presentation or a tilt towards the favorite son?" Gomin Dayasri, The Island (Colombo), 24 May 2009.
     "Meanwhile the three doctors named Shanmugaraja, Satyamurthi and Varadarajah who were responsible for giving daily updates to all the international news networks including BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera, indicating that the armed forces were using aerial bombardment and heavy shelling into the No-Fire Zone that were injuring civilians including women and small children have now been detained by the Sri Lankan authorities." The Nation (Colombo), 24 May 2009.
     "The continuous coverage of the conflict and now the pitiable and pathetic state of civilians in IDP camps by three international TV channels — BBC, CNN and al Jazeera — would have swayed even those not acting in concert with the pro Western countries." Gamini Weerakoon, The Sunday Leader (Ratmalana), 24 May 2009.

Press TV's take on the release of Roxana Saberi.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Roxana Saberi arrived in the US days after leaving Iran, thanking every one except President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was the primary instrument in her release from prison. 'As per the President's request, please see to it that the legal proceedings are not diverted from the path of justice,' the letter from Iran's presidential office to Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi read. 'Personally see to it that the defendants are able to assert their legal rights in defending themselves.' ... Upon arrival at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Friday, Saberi said, 'I'd like to thank human rights organizations and my fellow journalists and those who kept my story alive and pushed for my release,' praising President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by name. Iran said it is pursuing the case of a suspect who supplied Saberi with confidential documents about the American invasion of Iraq. Among those arguing for her continued detention until the very end was Iranian Information Minister Mohsen Eje'i." Press TV, 23 May 2009.

Iran bans Facebook; various explanations.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"US social networking site Facebook on Saturday said it had received reports its wesbite had been blocked in Iran, lamenting the apparent government bar as 'a shame.' ... One Iranian news agency reported earlier that the government had blocked access to Facebook ahead of June presidential polls, allegedly to prevent supporters of the leading opposition candidate from using the site for his campaign." AFP, 23 May 2009.
      "On its surface, then, the blocking of Facebook looks like a government-inspired move to limit campaign-boosting activities among Ahmadinejad's challengers, since the incumbent has crucial support within effective dissemination tools like the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the state broadcaster." Golnaz Esfandiari , Transmission blog, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 23 May 2009.
     "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday he did not call for a ban on Facebook during the country's presidential election." CNN, 25 May 2009.
     "With the Internet playing a crucial role in the country's political battle ahead of elections, Mehdi Karroubi, two-time Majlis speaker, said Monday that websites should be tolerated at 'such sensitive political period.' 'It (Facebook) was filtered by the authorities because of moral issues. But filtering Facebook just days before the election was wrong,' Karroubi told a news conference, Reuters reported." Press TV, 25 May 2009.

In Fiji, fear among bloggers and among readers of blogs.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Fijians are scared to be seen looking at the internet in case they are thought to be reading anti-government blog sites, says a blogger in the Pacific nation. Yet internet blogs have become a popular source of information in Fiji after the interim government imposed media censorship laws on the country's mainstream media outlets. The blogger - who insists on anonymity - told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that it is not just bloggers themselves who are careful about being identified by the government, but blog readers as well. He says feedback from readers indicates that many people in Fiji are worried about simply being observed at a computer accessing the internet." Australia Network News, 24 May 2009.

BBC medium wave digital tests: problems after dark.

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's year-long test of digital medium-wave radio proved a hit during daylight hours but was a serious turn-off for its band of volunteer listeners after sunset. Digital medium wave, or digital radio mondiale (DRM) can offer a more robust signal than digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio and can be broadcast for much longer distances. It was thought that DRM could be used to fill some of the gaps in the existing UK DAB transmitter network. The trial, held in the south-west of England with a frequency used by BBC Radio Devon and codenamed Project Mayflower, revealed that the area covered by the DRM signal was much bigger than the one covered by analogue AM. Reception during daylight hours was good and most panellists rated the audio quality as comparable to FM, but not as good as DAB. However, at night there were serious problems with reception, with the signal breaking down entirely in some cases. The BBC said the problem could be solved, but would require it to replan its transmission network or build more powerful transmitters. Tom Everest, the senior distribution manager at BBC Distribution, said "DRM still has potential: indeed, considerable potential where it remains of great interest to our colleagues at the BBC World Service and others, and it might have an application at home as well." The Guardian, 22 May 2009. See also Tom Everest via James Cridland, BBC radiolabs blog, 21 May 2009. And the BBC digital medium wave trial report, with links to more detailed reports.
     The ability of MW DRM to travel farther than DAB does not surprise me. DAB in the UK uses frequencies between 218 and 230 MHz, where the transmission range is much less (though propagation is much more predictable) than on medium wave (530 to 1600 kHz, or 0.5 to 1.6 MHz). I am, however, surprised that "the area covered by the DRM signal was much bigger than the one covered by analogue AM" on the same medium wave frequencies. My experience with DRM on shortwave is that the DRM signal will drop out below a certain signal level, whereas the corresponding analogue signal is still audible.
     "Anyone who thinks digital modulation is viable on frequencies where propagation is via skywave is a damn fool. Period. End of discussion." Harry Helms, ABDX, via DX Listening Digest, 19 April 2009.

"China is Unhappy."

Posted: 25 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"This year's publishing sensation is China is Unhappy, a collection of angry essays railing at foreign bullies and domestic fascination with western ways. Grievances range from protests during the Olympic torch relay to high-consuming nations' calls for China to cut pollution; one author suggests China might have to break with the west one day. Despite sniffy, sometimes despairing reviews from liberals, it topped the bestseller lists. Its lengthy list of gripes includes western media bias, but its ­publicity-savvy authors are happy to take their chances; they chose to meet the Guardian in a Starbucks in central Beijing." Tani Branigan and Dan Chung, The Guardian, 21 May 2009.

Listening to RFE, or VOA, depending on reception conditions that night.

Posted: 24 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Prof. Mirela Murgescu, recalling the Romanian revolution of 1989: "At night, my family and I, like many others, would secretly listen to Radio Free Europe or to Voice of America depending on which could be heard better in spite of communist electronic interferences. It was the only way to find out what was happening in Europe. It was from the radio that we heard about the events in Timisoara, of the protests and the clashes which started on 16 December." Osservatorio Balcani, 22 May 2009. This account contradicts the oft-repeated but nonsensical description of the roles of RFE and VOA during the Cold War, i.e. that only RFE reported news about the target country, while the United States reported about the United States. If the two stations had combined their transmission capabilities, reception in Romania would have been better.

Alhurra: patronizing propaganda attempting to pacify?

Posted: 24 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Neil MacFarquhar, author of The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East, "suggests the U.S. government's decision to counter Al-Jazeera with its own creation was misguided. Washington's Arabic-language news station, dubbed Al-Hurra or 'The Free One,' is headquartered not in the Middle East but in a suburb of the District of Columbia. It is primarily staffed with Lebanese reporters who speak an Arabic dialect that is difficult for viewers in neighboring Arab countries to understand. By contrast, Al-Jazeera broadcasters use a formal Arabic that is readily understood in all 22 Arabic-speaking states. Most Arabs have come to consider Al-Hurra little more than a patronizing propaganda tool of Washington." Gregory Black, San Jose Mercury News, 21 March 2009. US policy makers, MacFarquhar "suggests, should put less stress on American interests and more on the injustices suffered by people who live without the protection of due process and the rule of law. He finds a glimmer of hope in a popular (though banned) Saudi novel in which a girl looks to the struggle of Martin Luther King Jr. for inspiration." Wendell Steavenson, Washington Post, 24 May 2009.
     "Three months after the [Abu Ghraib] photo scandal, amid growing Arab and world outrage that showed no signs of calming, President Bush appeared on the U.S. government-run Arabic-language Al-Hurra TV. Many Arab commentators and columnists were expecting an apology and some high level officials to be held accountable. Neither happened. Bush said, 'I view those practices as abhorrent.' But he added that Iraqis 'must understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know.' The president's interview with his own station was seen in the Arab world as an attempt to pacify the situation instead of dealing appropriately with the problem." Octavia Nasr, CNN, 21 May 2009.

A creationist theory of public diplomacy.

Posted: 24 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"When the world was no longer bipolar, a new form of diplomacy, called 'public diplomacy,' was introduced. Invented by the Americans, this form of diplomacy implies that the weight and support of the public should be integrated with foreign policy. Diplomacy is no longer shaped behind closed doors or around tables where the diplomats of two countries bargain. The peoples of these countries are added to the formula." Mümtaz’er Türköne, Today's Zaman, 22 May 2009. Public diplomacy has been practised for centuries, though it was called international propaganda until recent decades.

Glassman: Guantánamo was no public diplomacy piece of cake.

Posted: 24 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"But are there methods, using the tools of public diplomacy, to address the misperception of Gitmo without releasing the majority of the remaining detainees into America’s cities and towns? I believe so, and in my final months at the State Department, I was addressing that issue, as were foreign-service officers in places like Kuwait. It was no piece of cake—in part, because there was resistance at the State and Defense departments to dealing, in a public-diplomacy sense, with Gitmo at all. Better to bury your head in the sand." James K. Glassman, The American, 22 May 2009.

McHale confirmed as public diplomacy undersecretary.

Posted: 24 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Judith A. McHale nomination to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy is confirmed by the Senate. US Senate, 21 May 2009.
     "The Obama administration’s new field manual for public diplomacy should have a dress code section that reads: 'No coats or ties allowed'. Better yet, President Obama should consider closing down the US State Department and replacing it with a new Ministry of the Arts. Quincy Jones is ready and willing. Then there is always the route that investment banker Peter G Peterson put forth – privatise public diplomacy." John Compton, letter to The National, 23 May 2009.

The distribution of China's international broadcasting.

Posted: 23 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"China has a long history of international broadcasting through Radio Beijing. Its lead agency in the 21st century is Chinese Central Television, whose channel 9 – launched in September 2000 – broadcasts in English and is intended for foreign audiences. The channel is carried internationally on a variety of platforms: Rupert Murdoch’s Sky satellite to the UK and Fox services in the USA, and Vanuatu in the mid-Pacific. China has paid particular attention to distribution, seeking out contracts for local rebroadcast of their media feeds. CCTV 9 has displaced CNN as the prime foreign feed in several African markets, including Kenya, and Radio Beijing is rapidly accumulating local affiliates to rebroadcast Radio Beijing on the FM wave band as Africa moves finally away from shortwave." Nicholas Cull, USC US-China Institute, 20 May 2009.
     "Radio Beijing" was renamed China Radio International in 1993. It has FM transmitters in Kenya and airtime on public broadcaster KBS. In 2008, CRI acquired FM relays in Liberia (see previous post) but, curiously, is not publicizing them on the CRI website. CRI has mentioned the possibility of FM outlets in Tanzania and Uganda, but these have not materialized.
     Africa may be moving away from shortwave as television and FM radio dominate domestic broadcasting. But CRI, CCTV, BBC, VOA, etc. are not guaranteed access on domestic television and FM channels in Africa, with Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe as notable examples. Thus, shortwave, satellite, the internet, or some combination thereof will be needed to get international broadcasts into much of Africa.
     A 2007 survey in Kenya showed CRI to have a larger audience than VOA radio. This was partly due to CRI's Swahili-language program placement on KBS radio. I think "contamination" from the viewing of CCTV-9 programs on KBS-TV also was a factor.
     Throughout Africa, CCTV-9 will probably not cut very deeply into CNN International's audience, especially given CNN's recent upgrading of its African newsgathering. Nevertheless, CCTV-9 should be measured in all future African audience surveys (along with CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC World, France 24, Africa 24, SABC International, EuroNews, CNBC Africa, etc.
See previous posts about the same subject on 17 May and 9 May 2009.

South Korea's international television rivalry.

Posted: 23 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Since its founding in 1996, Arirang Television has established itself as the country's premier international broadcasting service, providing news, entertainment, educational and documentary programs to 188 countries in seven languages, including English, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic. However, Arirang is now finding it difficult to keep up with an oversized competitor in KBS, the country's biggest national network that is pushing its own aspirations for an international presence through KBS World. ... KBS World, which provides local KBS programs with English subtitles and dubbing, was originally targeted for South Korean expatriates and 'gyopos,' or foreign nationals with Korean ethnic descent. This differed from Arirang's objectives of becoming Korea's global public relations (PR) agent, promoting positive images of the country's life, culture and economy in different corners of the planet. However, KBS World has since expanded its coverage to nearly 20 countries since its 2003 debut and has been pushing around Arirang in major pay-T.V. markets in Asia and North America." Kim Tong-hyung, The Korea Times, 20 May 2009.
     This long article is an interesting case study in international broadcasting. (Leave it to someone named "Kim" to write it.) If Arirang does position itself as the international PR channel, then KBS World will not be redundant if it devotes itself to news and entertainment. KBS World will also be more successful in attracting cable outlets and audiences, because a PR channel is like a 24-hour commercial. See, for example, this comment in response to Kim's piece...
     "I watch Arirang TV in US from time-to-time (channel 36.2 in San Francisco, which is shared by KBS World and Arirang). I have just two words to describe Arirang TV: boring and artificial. Many folks in San Francisco Bay Area, particularly Asians, love Korean dramas and music. Although these are shown occasionally, much of it consists of tourism PR shows." nutmac, ibid.

France 24 and DW on emerging platform.

Posted: 23 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"On the television and video end of the media content spectrum, Mobiclip has developed technology that allows clients to use a CMS to upload and stream live TV and radio, as well as on-demand videos, directly to a number of mobile platforms. 'Mobiclip is already available for Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux and Nintendo consoles. Android is being developed,' assures Mobiclip's vice-president of marketing Denis Pagnac. Two of Mobiclip's current apps stream uninterrupted, high-quality live FRANCE 24 television programming or Deutsche Welle radio direct to an iPhone or iPod touch, effectively bridging the last remaining gaps between traditional and emerging media platforms." CNN, 22 May 2009.

"Europe's favourite TV show."

Posted: 23 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Over 122 million television viewers tuned in for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, confirming its status as Europe’s favourite TV show. ... Audience share for the Final (16 May 2009) was double Saturday night prime time average (2008) in a number of the 45 countries which transmitted the show to Europe and beyond. Average audience share across all countries was 43,1%, compared to normal Saturday night average of 18,4%. An increase in market share over 2008 figures was significant in a range of countries such as France, Estonia and The Netherlands." European Broadcasting Union press release, 22 May 2009.

DW BOB's recipients in the news.

Posted: 23 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"While many are still warning that the Internet will do away with reading, unknown writers in Argentina who have joined the global trend of blogging are winning prizes around the world and watching their online writings turn into books, plays and television screenplays. The first was Hernán Casciari, an Argentine journalist and writer who lives in Barcelona, Spain. After publishing novels, short stories and essays that barely sold, he created a blog about a fictional family, the Bertotti's, which won the 2005 Best of the Blogs - better known as the BOBs - International Weblog Awards granted by Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The prize catapulted Casciari overnight to fame." Australia.TO, 21 May 2009.
     "Maria Amelia Lopez, known around the world as 'the blogging granny,' died in the northern Spanish town of Muxia, municipal officials told Efe Thursday. She was 97. The elderly woman had become famous for her blog 'At age 95,' which she started on the day she turned that age, on Dec. 22, 2006. The blog quickly became one of the most popular on the Web and it was even recognized in 2007 with a prize for best Spanish-language blog from German international television network Deutsche Welle." Latin American Herald Tribune, 21 May 2009.

Deutsche Welle impersonated in satire about Obama speech.

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"I stumbled upon a conservative post referencing an alleged newspaper article claiming Obama was going to apologize for the 'war crime' of bombing Dresden. Thinking no newspaper could possibly be that stupid I followed the link and came to another blog post. It was yet another conservative blogger referencing a very important article in the Deutsche Welle, a German paper. ... The twist is of course that there is no such article, he merely links to the newspaper[']s home page and was actually trying to be satirical. The only way I can know this is that he tagged the article with satire, a fact that the conservative blogosphere seems to have missed." natched, Daily Kos, 21 May 2009. A search on on obama dresden finds that many bloggers were taken in by the satire. By the way, DW is often described as a German newspaper, but it is actually Germany's public international broadcaster, with radio, television, and a widely cited website.

Zattoo, Hulu, iPlayer test their legal limits.

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Two of Hollywood's most powerful studios are suing European web video startup Zattoo, amid claims that it is illegally profiting from broadcasting their movies online. Lawyers for Universal and Warner Bros claim that the Swiss website - which rebroadcasts a number of television stations live online - is adding advertising to films that are shown on German TV via its peer-to-peer online service. ... [Zattoo] currently shows channels from broadcasters including the BBC, Eurosport, MTV Germany and Al Jazeera and boasts more than 4m users worldwide. ... Whatever the outcome of the case, it has potential ramifications for the online TV industry worldwide. While services like the BBC's iPlayer and US television site Hulu are trying to make more broadcast content available online, some producers are pushing back against the prospect of other companies commercialising their content. Project Kangaroo, an advertising-supported equivalent to iPlayer, was shut down by British regulators amid fears that it would distort the market - potentially opening the way for Hulu to move in and launch an international version." Bobbie Johnson, Technology Blog, The Guardian, 20 May 2009.

Using Twitter in Afghanistan, except that no one in Afghanistan uses Twitter (updated).

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Where ISAF [NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan] is lacking is on social messaging. Twitter is one part of that, but no one in Afghanistan uses it. They have cell phones, friends, and probably a nearby radio. Radio messaging works well for those who hear it, but not everyone can—I would guess under 50% have regular access to radio programming. To reach the rest, ISAF needs to go viral, but also go low-tech. I’m not certain how that could eventually take shape, but its nascent presence on Twitter is a very welcome baby-step in the right direction. They are getting it, however painfully slowly." Joshua Foust,, 20 May 2009.
     Update: "Christian Payne, who writes and video blogs at Documentally, ... said that [he] wanted journalists to think about what Twitter and microblogging could do for countries like Zimbabwe where there was no free press. Twitters doesn't work in Zimbabwe, but he said, 'If this changes, we will see something incredible.'" Kevin Anderson, PDA Blog, The Guardian, 21 May 2009.
     "Chris Cramer ... spent 26 years at the BBC, heading the world's largest news-gathering organisation, before becoming president at CNN International. Cramer, who is in Wellington as a keynote speaker for a reporting wars conference tomorrow, is now global editor for multi-media at Reuters. ... Over the years Cramer has been among the first to embrace digital broadcasting and admits he is on micro- blogging site Twitter, though is easily bored by it. 'Yeah, I'm a poor twit,' he jokes. 'Is Twitter going to change the world, I doubt it.'" Kelly Burns, Dominion Post (Wellington), 21 May 2009.

More BBC programs on the Sikkim FM dial.

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Misty Sikkim will add two more shows from the BBC stable to its programming line up - BBC Take One and BBC Fun 'n' Games from 21 May. BBC Take One, which will be aired every Thursday at 12.45 pm, gives an honest and informed opinion on new Bollywood and Hollywood films released in the week, with previews and box-office reports. The sports magazine BBC Fun 'n' Games, which will be aired every Saturday at 6.45 pm, is a weekly roundup of the recent sporting action from around the world, ranging from cricket to Formula 1.", 19 May 2009. With news prohibited on non-AIR FM stations in India, BBC fare on these stations is of the "softer" variety.

Class action suit continues against bankruptcy-auctioned Worldspace.

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Documents recently filed at the Delaware Bankruptcy Court confirm that a consolidated Class Action lawsuit will continue against WorldSpace, certain of the company’s directors, and others concerned with WorldSpace’s Initial Public Offering. The allegation is that the company, in its IPO prospectus, deliberately overstated subscriber numbers." Rapid TV News, 20 May 2009. See previous post about Worldspace.

In Burma, a shortwave radio now costs 4,000 kyat (updated).

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The price of shortwave radios has been increasing recently in Sittwe [western Burma] markets after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested on 14 May, 2009, said a town elder. 'I went to a store at Sittwe market two days ago to buy a Chinese-made shortwave radio but the prices had increased at least 20 percent as many radio buyers crowded the market,' said the elder. ... A store owner from Sittwe said, 'Most radio buyers are from rural areas of Arakan and they bought radios through some traders who regularly come to Sittwe for business purposes. It is the radio era of Burma.' ... There are four foreign-based radio programs that are popular in Burma - the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and Democratic Voice of Burma. Homes are noisy with the radios every morning and evening with residents listening to the latest news of Burma." Narinjara News, 19 May 2009.
     Update: "The Burmese population is very much interested in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial and in the junta’s plans, so the shortwave broadcasts by BBC, VOA and RFA are quite popular. Electronic shops in Rangoon are reporting brisk radio sales." Index on Censorship, 18 May 2009.
     A lawyer for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she "lives a very isolated life with two women in her home, is able to hear what's going on in the world through radio, Voice of America, other international broadcasts." National Public Radio, 21 May 2009.
     "Journalists operating inside Burma are filing a steady stream of exclusive video and audio reports for Voice of America's (VOA) Burmese Service on the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. ... Stories have included interviews with supporters of Suu Kyi, and video showing tight security at the site of the trial. ... Although the Burmese government has banned the press for all but one of the five days since the trial began, VOA has used a variety of means, such as satellite uplinks, internet circuitry and cellphones, to circumvent the government's efforts." VOA press release, 22 May 2009.

Even Bip would have listened to Fip.

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Last week I managed to completely forget about the Championship playoffs, as well as the final episode of Damages – all because I'd become hooked on the French radio station Fip. ... Fip plays an eclectic mix of genres – French chanson, jazz, world music, film soundtracks, alt.rock and the occasional blast of classical music – which the DJs link together, mix-tape style. It's not too challenging or avant garde, but it's not obvious, either. ... From holiday experience, I know all European public radio stations aren't as great as Fip. But maybe there are some other hidden non-English-language radio treats out there – any recommendations?" Johnny Dee, TV & Radio Blog, The Guardian, 18 May 2009.

Not much to see on Venezuela's new satellite.

Posted: 22 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Satellite aficionados in the Americas are reporting little activity from Venesat-1 since it was launched by the Chinese in October 2008. "Somewhat incomprehensibly, the only regularly schedule broadcast from the satellite: a Brazilian network on a backup transponder with no audio. Any broadcasts from Venezuelan networks are usually short, with pixilated images and of very low quality." Adolfo Fabregat, American Thinker, 20 May 2009. See also Lyngsat page for Venesat-1.

Hillary Clinton on Al Jazeera.

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was interviewed by Al Jazeera. State Department transcript, 19 May 2009, with link to YouTube video. See also Al Jazeera English, 20 May 2009.
     "'We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth - any kind of settlement activity,' declared Clinton in some of the Obama administration's clearest comments to date on what it expects from Israel. She was speaking to Al-Jazeera in an interview, of which the State Department released a transcript on Wednesday." Jerusalem Post, 20 May.

BBG shows audience increases for its budget increases.

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
The Broadcasting Board of Governors annual report for 2008 is now available at the BBG website. Among other things, it shows the unduplicated weekly BBG audience increasing from 100 million in 2002, to 155 million in 2007, to 175 million in 2008. The budget has increased from a little over $400 million in 2001 to about $700 million in 2008. Compare to the BBC World Service annual review, which appears to have a more specific legal value-for-money remit.

Could be a money-saver: President as public diplomacy.

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
In the 2009 edition of the annual survey of public opinion in six Arab countries conducted by Shilbey Telhami and Zogby International: "Positive views of the U.S. increased from 15% to 18% (i.e. no real difference), but at least "very unfavorable" dropped from 64% to 46%. Only 3% express 'a lot of confidence' in the U.S., and 66% none. But at the same time 45% expressed positive views of Barack Obama-- and 60% expressed positive views if the Egyptian sample is excluded -- and only 24% expressed negative views (15% excluding Egypt). That's a pretty stunning gap between views of the President and views of the U.S. as a whole --- and a strong boost for the case for Presidential-led public diplomacy." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 19 May 2009.
     The same survey shows, by way of a sliced-up horizontal bar, big audiences watching Al Jazeera, but just narrow slivers watching Alhurra, "most often." See visual. But international stations are watched, or listened to, supplementally to domestic broadcasting, not "most often." See previous post.

Al Jazeera as "voice of the voiceless."

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Top Al Jazeera Network official Wadah Khanfar has said his channel represents the 'voice of the voiceless' and would continue to be so, notwithstanding the global economic turmoil that has affected virtually every business sector. ... The Al Jazeera Network director general insisted that revenues of most channels in the world have suffered a drop and his network is no exception." Gulf Times (Doha), 20 May 2009.
     "A small community in Alaska this week went to court in California to fight for the right to bring proceedings over the world’s oil and energy corporations. The homes and traditional hunting and fishing way of life of the villagers of Kivalina is disappearing, washed away by rising sea levels and the melting ice cap. ... With four similar actions, it will be highlighted in a series that starts today made by al-Jazeera, the broadcaster... ." The Times, 19 May 2009.
     "The key here is wiki-transparency, which is what needs to happen with that next round of Abu Ghraib photos and whatever is left in the Bush administration torture well, (which is probably a lot). In the old days the established media could always be controlled, with flattering phone calls from the President to Henry Luce or the publishers of the New York Times and the Washington Post arguing, you know, 'national security'. But those days are over. In the wild, wool[l]ly world of the internet the public -- wiki world -- now decides what it wants to see and know, not a handful of clubby publishers. On the matter of Abu Ghraib and torture this is undeniably a very good thing. With FoxNews-like outlets such as Al Jazeera pumping out anything that infuriates (i.e. builds) its audience there is no real hope of controlling or mediating the message of this stuff." Brian Lambert, Mpls St Paul Magazine, 18 May 2009.
     "Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) has rejected an Al-Jazeera report on the number of people who are suffering food shortages because of the failure of the meher rains.", 18 May 2009.

Link TV is an American link to Middle East television.

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Some Americans are getting an unusual glimpse of news broadcasts from the Middle East by tuning in to a U.S. satellite network called Link TV. The non-profit network based in San Francisco offers a window on the region through its news program Mosaic. The show, seen by several million American viewers on satellite television and the Internet, is a compilation of news broadcasts from the Middle East and the Muslim world. Mosaic transmits news from Arabic-language broadcasters such as Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi television, with English translation." Mike O'Sullivan, Voice of America News, 19 May 2009.

From VOA shortwave station to doggy park.

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The downward economy and a slumping housing market could delay a 10-year, $20 million plan to improve the Voice of America Park. Real estate transfer fee collections are expected to come in at about $300,000 this year - about half of what Butler County MetroParks anticipated. ... The improvements, which also include an amphitheater, pedestrian trails and an upgraded doggy park with swimming pool, are all part of a plan designed to make the park a regional destination, and inject millions into the local economy. Meanwhile, plans to turn the VOA Bethany Station into a museum are moving forward, according to an updated plan presented to trustees Tuesday night. The plan, which would cost $12 million to $14 million, would be paid for with a mix of public and private funds. Exact funding sources have not yet been identified, but officials say they are confident the museum would have regional appeal." Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 May 2009. At the site of the former VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station, closed in 1994. See previous post about same subject.

Callers to VOA's Deewa Radio comment on US aid.

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pakistanis calling in to the Voice of America's (VOA) Deewa Radio today from camps in the country's war-torn northwest praised the United States for providing aid and urged transparency in its distribution. Callers to Deewa's news and current affairs show said they were grateful for the U.S. decision, announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday, to give Pakistan $110 million in assistance, including food, tents, water and radios. They said the aid must be channeled to the most deserving people in an open manner. ... Deewa, which broadcasts in the Pashto language, can be heard on shortwave, FM and the Internet ( throughout the affected region. With 20 stringers in the Pashto-speaking part of Pakistan and 15 staff members here, Deewa broadcasts six hours daily of original programs that feature news, current affairs and call-in shows." VOA press release, 20 May 2009.

The RAND Corp's non-analysis of RFE/RL.

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The idea of RFE/RL, [RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin] said, is 'to promote political evolution, not regime change.' The long-term goal is to 'go out of business' as more and more countries evolve toward democracy and a free media. But in the meantime, Gedmin argued for increased funding and for rewriting his organization’s congressional charter to allow for public-private partnerships as one way of raising funds. Current annual funding for RFE/RL is around $82 million, down from a high of $252 million during the Cold War. In the context of hard versus soft power, Gedmin noted that RFE/RL’s 'budget is about the cost of four Apache helicopters.' RAND Review, Spril 2009."
     At the top of the linked web page is the RAND Corporation's tagline: "Objective Analysis. Effective Solutions." One would think, then, that this article might contain at least a tiny bit of analysis. What it contains, instead, is RFE/RL corporate boilerplate.
     It mentions that RFE/RL's "long-term goal is to 'go out of business'" A little bit of analysis would reveal that RFE/RL actually has a knack for staying in business, by duplicating services that VOA formerly had to itself. First it was the Balkans, then Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. Gedmin has expressed his interest in broadcasting to Africa (see previous post). And now there is talk of RFE/RL broadcasting to Pakistan's northwest frontier region, something that VOA's Deewa Radio is already doing. If that happens, USIB will reach new depths in organizational inefficiency.
     Here's an Effective Solution: RFE/RL is a very good international broadcasting service, with unmatched ability to report on its target countries. VOA is also a very good international broadcasting service. Together, they could be excellent. Excellence is what is needed to compete with the BBC world services and with the increasingly competent domestic media of the target countries.

Has RFE/RL Russian "abandoned its uniqueness"?

Posted: 21 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"After the move of RFE/RL headquarters to Prague, language service directors and rank and file journalists quickly lost almost all of their previous independence and authority. With each passing year, they became more and more silent. Visits to Prague by BBG members started to resemble meetings of the Soviet Central Committee. Uncomfortable looking Board members sitting on a podium in a long row in the former communist Parliament building gave inconsequential answers to a small number of questions allowed from the audience of employees fearful of losing their jobs and having to go back to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and other countries governed by authoritarian regimes. Even more disturbing for supporters of media freedom, however, were frequent firings of famous journalists, writers and artists who were some of the intellectual giants of international broadcasting. One of those fired was Mario Corti, the former head of RFE/RL’s Russian Service, a distinguished Italian journalist, writer, and analyst of Russian politics, society, and culture, admired among his colleagues for his intellect and the courage to stand up to the RFE/RL management and the BBG." Ted Lipien, Free Media Online, 19 May 2009.
     Mario Corti: "One of the reasons given for my removal was that I 'resisted changes'. After my removal, the RFE/RL management put their own people in management positions in the Russian Service to carry out their plans. They shut down many cultural programs, including the brilliant and popular broadcasts by Sergei Iourienen. They also shut down serious analytical programs, 'Commentators at a Roundtable,' as well as Paramonov’s show (which they later reinstated), shut down Savitsky’s popular program on jazz (recently reinstated). They changed the format of other shows, expanded the number of talk shows, and so on. In a nutshell, the station has abandoned its uniqueness, its identity, its face. Although not nearly as drastic as the BBG’s new format formula for Russia, a similar process was going on and is still going on in Great Britain at BBC’s Russian Service, which has resulted in vehement protests from a lot of respected people, including famous British academics." Interviewed presumably by Ted Lipien, ibid.
     There are no doubt interesting arguments on both sides of this debate between former RFE/RL employees and the BBG. The BBG, for its part, was alarmed about declining audiences in Russia and wanted to do something.
     Ted's post includes his oft-repeated claim. "BBG decision to terminate all Voice of America radio broadcasts to Russia, just 12 days before the Russian incursion into Georgia last summer, resulted in an unprecedented 98 percent drop in VOA’s audience reach in Russia, from 7.3% in 2007 to 0.2% in 2009 (est.)." (The 0.2% is Ted's own estimate.) There was a big drop in the VOA Russian audience between 2007 and 2009, but it is attributable mostly to the loss of VOA's television placement, a result of Russian political pressure rather than BBG action. Resuming VOA shortwave radio broadcasts would not bring back VOA's 2007 audience, because Russians are no longer in the habit of listening to shortwave.
     The Russian media market is competitive, with lots of entertainment, and news that is well produced, if not always balanced in its coverage of senior Russian leadership. No longer welcome on Russian domestic FM and television channels, US international broadcasting must find other ways to attract an audience in this country. We are well past the time when USIB can succeed in this endeavor by way of two stations that compete with each other.

"The Administration should lay the groundwork for exploitation of social networking." LOL.

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Administration should: [Heritage trademark bullet point] Restructure the government's means for conducting strategic communications; [Heritage trademark bullet point] Create human capital programs to prepare national security professionals and decision makers with new skills, knowledge, and attributes; and [Heritage trademark bullet point] Direct national security agencies to establish research and development programs focused on threats and competitive advantages of social networking tools." James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation, 18 May 2009.

Australia contemplates cultural diplomacy.

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Is culture a dirty word in federal cabinet? Many arts academics and practitioners fear so and see Australia as struggling with a stereotyped ocker image abroad, to its cultural, artistic and economic detriment. Could the creation of an Australian arts advocacy body for the dissemination of Australian culture internationally give our image and culture a broader, more sophisticated focus? Models being considered include France's Alliance Francaise, Germany's Goethe-Institut, China's Confucious Council and the British Council." Steve Dow, WA Today, 17 May 2009.

The Sri Lanka conflict and the lack of US reporters.

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Despite a government ban on journalists working in the conflict zone, some international broadcast outlets have been trying to cover the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka: Al Jazeera English, BBC World Service radio, and BBC World News come immediately to mind. But try to find this enormous catastrophe on American TV – good luck. In both cases, a lack of correspondents on the ground produced media ignorance. ... 'The Internet' in general is not a solution, because the online proliferation of information about foreign affairs is more often than not simply ill-informed commentary. Nor is it 'citizen journalism,' which is about as appealing an idea as 'citizen dentistry.' ... For TV news, the BBC still has a large number of reporters in the field, as does Al Jazeera English, and the result is quality on the screen. They both cover more world news from the ground than any of the major US news TV outlets. The BBC news runs on many PBS stations in the US, and though Al Jazeera English has faced difficulties getting American cable companies to carry it, the tide now seems to be turning." Andrew Stroehlein, Christian Science Monitor, 18 May 2009. VOA's Steve Herman was in Sri Lanka. See, for example, VOA News, 19 May 2009.

Reports from the 8th Arab Media Forum.

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A very heated discussion erupted between the news heads of Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera channels who argued over Israel's war on Gaza and their respective linguistic differences over coverage of that conflict. 'Martyr is a religious term, I cannot issue a judgment on the dead person because I am not God,' said Al Arabiya's Nabil Khatib during the Gaza session, to the dismay of Ahmad Al Sheikh of Al Jazeera who said his station's hyped coverage aimed to halt conflicts and victims' suffering. Khatib said he must consider his audience despite the old adage that what bleeds leads, and that a lot of news reaching newsrooms during conflicts was misleading." Magda Abu-Fadil, Huffington Post, 16 May 2009.
     "Western-style notions of complete media independence and absolute freedom seem at face value to be on a collision course with the traditional Arab values of consensus, responsibility, partnership, social cohesion and cultural integration." Muhammad Ayish, The National, 18 May 2009. See previous post about the Forum.

With talent on loan from Allah.

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Maybe the United States could use a period of lowered volume on the Rush-and-Hannity noise-makers. But those noise-makers are exactly what the Middle East needs on its airwaves, from Morocco to Pakistan--brash, noisy, iconoclastic even vulgar voices (didn't Octavio Paz say that vulgarity is the poetry of the people?) that shake up the establishment hour after hour, that go after those reigning monarchies and theocracies and autocracies that have locked the Middle East into a permanent state of arrested development for decades. It needs the big fat angry and daily dishing of discontent. Al Jazeera does some of that. Unsurprisingly it's the most popular satellite television station in the Middle East. But Al Jazeera isn't enough. The Middle East needs to discover talk radio. Not preacher radio, which is where the limit of talk is drawn in the region, but Rush radio, obnoxious radio, shake-up radio." Pierre Tristam,, 18 May 2009.

CNN International's captive audience during overzealous quarantine actions.

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
American journalist and Chilean wife are quarantined for a week in China because of a two-hour layover in Cancun. "The hotel is closed except for people in quarantine, and the first day we are the only foreigners. Because government attendants still think we're on our honeymoon, we get the nicest room: a suite with a king-size bed, a couch and a large balcony with a view of the ocean, vast open spaces and farmland in the distance. ... The TV gets 25 Chinese channels, plus CNN International and one Chinese government station in English. A public service announcement about not stealing cable signals in Japan runs again and again. We watch a lot of badminton, 'Sister Act' dubbed into Mandarin and music videos from a Chinese act resembling the Backstreet Boys. We quickly tire of Larry King reruns, and switch to the other English-language channel, which constantly repeats a round-table discussion about trash collection in Beijing." Will Weissert, AP, 19 May 2009.

New sales director hire "underscores CNN's increased commitment to Africa."

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International has promoted Reme Al-Saiegh to the position of Sales Director for Africa and the Middle East region, based out of CNN's international headquarters in London. As part of her new role, she is responsible for overseeing CNN's sales teams across Africa, the Middle East and the UK as well as a network of representatives throughout the region. ... Reme's promotion underscores CNN's increased commitment to Africa as the network broadens its Africa-themed content with programmes that go beyond the headlines to bring global audiences the best of the continent." CNN International press release, 19 May 2009.

Soon on Press TV: more pictures, less analysis.

Posted: 20 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Press TV is planning to expand its range of activities, offering more diverse programs and special coverage news sections. The Deputy Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Mohammad Sarafraz announced that the 24-hour English news channel will provide viewers with more newscasts while cutting down on its news analysis programs. 'Our experience tells us that pictorial reflection of news and the use of images are more effective than discussion and analysis,' Sarafraz told Mehr News Agency." Press TV, 18 May 2009.

If there are wars, let them be South Caucasus Eurovision pop song wars.

Posted: 19 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"As voting for the Eurovision Song Contest gets underway in Moscow, bartlemot tweets that the telephone number to vote for the Armenian entry in Azerbaijan was censored. In a second tweet, the same user says that instead of displaying a telephone number in the lower section of the screen it was instead left blank. Armenia also staged its own action with Twitter reporting that its host purposely showed a photograph of a statue in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh three times intended to agitate viewers in Azerbaijan. Eurovision is notorious for its political undertones, but with the two countries deadlocked in efforts to resolve the long-standing conflict over Nagorno Karabakh since the May 1994 ceasefire, some feared the worse when both countries today showed up trending on Twitter." Onnik Krikorian, Global Voices, 16 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

RFI unions call for "indefinite" strike starting 12 May (updated again).

Posted: 19 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Four of Radio France International’s five trade unions are calling on all employees to walk-off the job next Tuesday, demanding the scrapping of a management plan which would see the international radio network lose nearly a quarter of its workforce. The 'plan to save employment', announced by the new management at RFI in January, proposes laying off 206 out of just under 1,000 employees, in an effort to 'modernise' the station. ... Six of RFI's foreign-language services, German, Polish, Romanian, Albanian, Laotian and Serbo-Croatian, will be shut down by the plan. Four others, Persian, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese will have their broadcasts moved entirely online, a move unions object to, citing internet censorship in the destination countries. RFI currently broadcasts in 20 languages, with only one, Turkish, exclusively on the web. ... Tuesday’s strike is planned to be indefinite." RFI, 7 May 2009. See also AFP, 7 May 2009.
     The RFI website is showing this announcement: "Due to a strike movement, RFI's broadcasts and some site updates will be disrupted."
     "Malgré moins de 10 % de grévistes recensés par la direction, la quasi-totalité des antennes en français et en langues étrangères sont bloquées, et aucun journal ni magazine n'a été diffusé sur l'antenne 'monde'." Le Monde, 15 May 2009.
     The strike will continue through the weekend. RFI Riposte, 15 May 2009.
     Update: RFI labor unions vote to continue the strike. RFI Riposte, 18 May 2009.

Financial executives use international television, especially CNN.

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Results released today by the Global Capital Markets Survey (GCMS) show that in difficult economic times senior bankers, chief financial officers and treasurers at the world’s largest organisations are tuning in to international television for their fix of up-to-the-minute news and information. GCMS represents two distinct types of respondents: those working in the world's largest organizations - the capital borrowers; and those working for banks and financial institutions - the capital lenders. The survey reports CNN International takes the top spot, ahead of news channels BBC World, CNBC and Bloomberg as the leading news brand for the global financial community, across all regions (Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and North America). According to Global Capital Markets, 85% of those surveyed watched international television four weeks preceding the survey and 69% had tuned in to international television in the seven days leading up to the survey." Probable CNN press release via Zawya, 14 May 2009.
     From the survey of 1126 senior financial executives in 33 countries, past week audiences are 55% CNN, 38% CNBC, 34% Bloomberg TV, 32% BBC World. Past-week use of websites: 38%, 23%, 23%, 22%, 20%, 13%, 12%, 12% Global Capital Markets Survey 2009.

Uncertain future for International Radio Serbia.

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Your encouraging messages greatly help the efforts of employees in our media house, despite unenviable financial situation, to preserve one of the oldest short wave stations in the world, help us, because you rightfully expect better and more interesting program. 'The interruption in your program, even for just a few days, for any reason, would be a source of concern and sorrow for us, because you become part of our life and our family,' says Al Aid Bin Amar from Algeria. Our colleague Christian Miling from Germany writes with dismay how he read the information on our web page that, because of the difficult financial situation, the survival of International Radio Serbia is endangered." Listener's Mailbox, International Radio Serbia, 17 May 2009.
     "The Trade Union of Radio Yugoslavia (International Radio Serbia) hereby wants to inform the public of the very difficult situation which employees in this media house have faced 73 years after its foundation. The reason for such a situation is not only the undefined status of our house, but also the irregular financing of its activities, which includes the issue of employees’ salaries. Although there is a 2009 budget rebalance ahead, Radio Yugoslavia has not received any official information from the Ministry of Culture on the amount of this year’s budget installment intended for the activities of our house. ... The Trade Union hereby appeals to its colleagues in Serbia and abroad and to listeners to support the efforts of Radio Yugoslavia to preserve one of the oldest radio stations in the world." Via Radio Srbjia website.

An end to Vietnam's neighborhood loudspeakers?

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"As signs of the Vietnam War fade away in this rapidly modernizing country, one relic is hard to miss: a nationwide network of loudspeakers from which the communist government blasts propaganda at dawn and dusk, 30 minutes at a stretch, whether the public likes it or not. Now a Web-savvy Hanoi politician wants to silence the head-rattling messages and put them on the Internet, where people can read them at their leisure. During the Vietnam War, the loudspeakers aired crucial warnings about bombing raids. Today, they broadcast an odd mix of local news, bureaucratic trivia, communist ideology and patriotic songs." AP, 17 May 2009. See also AP video.

BBC World Service Trust trains Gaza and West Bank radio broadcasters (updated).

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service Trust announced, today, that it has successfully concluded a specialised radio training in five radio stations in Gaza, as part of the ‘Support to the Palestinian Media Sector’ project, which is funded by the European Union and the Dutch Government. ... Also, in the West Bank, the BBC World Service Trust concluded a course of radio training targeting managers, producers, presenters and reporters working for [six radio stations]." WAFA Palestine News Agency, 14 May 2009.
     Update: New United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) "project will promote the use of radio and comedy as tools for collective recovery and for building individual and community resilience. Radio has a broad audience within Palestinian communities, especially in refugee camps. As such, it is perceived as an effective and relevant medium for reaching the widest possible sections of society. BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) trainers will work with local radio stations on the production of a stream of satirical programmes informed by collected testimonies from the various Palestinian communities and refugee camps." ReliefWeb, 17 May 2009.

Congressmen would label as terrorists satellite platforms used by Alhurra.

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Legislation "authored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., seeks to punish satellite companies that carry channels that are mouthpieces for known terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas -- stations they say incite their audiences to commit acts of terrorism against the United States. ... The legislation, if passed, will label as terrorists those satellite providers that 'knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as specially designated global terrorists' under U.S. law. The administration will have to administer an annual report that includes research on the content of such broadcasts. ... Of chief concern to lawmakers are satellite carriers ArabSat and NileSat, which transmit stations like al-Aqsa, al-Manar TV and al-Rafidayn TV -- an anti-Iraqi government channel -- across the Arab world. Bilirakis said that while the legislation does not include provisions on how, specifically, satellite providers will be punished, he said he hopes it will eventually lead to sanctions -- including sanctions on the countries that are state sponsors of such networks." Fox News, 14 May 2009. Arabsat and Nilesat also transmit US-government-funded Alhurra to Arab homes.

NASB asks for DRM receivers.

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"At its 2009 annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee on May 8, the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB) adopted a resolution encouraging radio receiver manufacturers 'to develop and produce as a high priority simple to operate, inexpensive DRM receivers.' The NASB asserted that 'there is an urgent need for the availability in the marketplace of simple to operate, inexpensive DRM HF/MW capable receivers.'" Via Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium, 14 May 2009. NASB is an organization of privately owned shortwave broadcast stations in the United States, none of which is yet transmitting (from US sites) using DRM. The only DRM receiver soon to be on the market is the Uniwave Di-Wave.

Twitter for news, rumor, stupidity. "It’s a great leveler."

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Twitter works great for geeky stuff. Fast moving news like an iPhone launch. And, in some cases, news. Take earthquakes. Twitterers — and their local equivalents — beat traditional news to the Sichuan (and the less famous Grimsby) earthquakes last year. But these may be exceptions. When stories get more complex, social media doesn’t always work. The current swine flu scare, for example, is highlighting how rumor and, frankly, stupidity can drown out wisdom and good sense. As well as traditional reporting media. ... Twitter is a wonderful way to share information. It is immediate and undiscriminating. Anyone can contribute, and a BBC tweet looks exactly the same as a tweet from that guy who lives next door who always has a toothpick in his mouth. It’s a great leveler." Jeremy Wagstaff, The Jakarta Post, 18 May 2009.

"Engaging the World" via YouTube.

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Things are different at the State Department these days. At the Bureau for International Information Programs (called the IIP - they are the part of State whose job is international public diplomacy) the mission has changed. Their tag line used to be, 'Telling America's Story'... now, it's 'Engaging the World'. Tag lines may seem irrelevant, but the shift here is real: State realizes that just telling the rest of the world how America works isn't enough in an age where information is available from almost infinite sources. 'Engaging the World' means starting a conversation, and listening. ... The power of platforms like YouTube to communicate with people in distant land directly has a strong effect on our vision of who they are, and who we are. It has a humanizing effect. If you know what someone looks like and how they feel about the world around them, it's hard to put them in a box or consider them foreign." Steve, Citizentube, 15 May 2009.

Lively debate about foreign-owned Arabic television channels (updated).

Posted: 18 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The proliferation of foreign-owned Arabic television channels threw open a heated debate today at the Arab Media Forum 2009, in a session titled ‘The Arabic Versions of Foreign TV Channels.' ... Moderated by Diana Moukalled, Production and Programming Manager, Future TV, the roundtable drew the perspectives of Aydar Aganin, Director, Rusya al-Yaum News Channel; Hussein Jradi, Media Personality, Al Hurra Channel; Nahida Nakad, Deputy Editor, France 24 Channel; Khalid al Dakhil, Saudi writer and Associate Professor of Political Sociology, King Saud University; H.E. Mohammed Al Sanousi, Former Minister of Information, Kuwait, andHossam Al Sokkari, Chairman, BBC Arabic. ... Hussein Jradi shed light on the challenges that faced Al Hurra TV, with Arab thinkers and regional media figures criticising the channel even before going on air. He deplored that the series of attacks continued to date to the extent that they have difficulty getting guests to participate in their shows, and added that it is not up to Western-owned Arabic TV channels to change the opinions of the world about the region. 'The audience deserves to judge for themselves,' he emphasized." Arab Media Forum, 12 May 2009.
     "During the debate, moderator Diana Mokalled said of Arabic versions of International TV stations being the mouthpiece of their governments, rationalising the reasons to attack the Arab World in the process." Emirates Business 24/7, 13 May 2009.
     "'Arab viewers require BBC Arabia to deal with issues such as democracy and encourage dialogue but you are cautious and hardly touch upon issues affecting the core of the Arab world,' said Diana." Khaleej Times, 13 May 2009.
     "Allegations of 'foreign political agendas' and propaganda dominated the debate, voiced by members of the audience which consisted of media personalities from the Arab World and beyond. Representatives of the channels however put up a staunch defence. The representative from the American-run Al Hurra said the channel was not a mouthpiece for the US 'but not a charity organisation either', while the representative from the BBC pointed out that the group has had an Arabic radio service since 1938." Gulf News, 12 May 2009.
     "Fahad al Shimemeri, the general director of the Saudi-based Al Majd Network, said 'programmes that advocate sorcery, black magic [and] un-Islamic practices' were being pumped into millions of homes in the GCC. Speaking on the sidelines of the eighth annual Arab Media Forum, he said the rapid growth in unregulated channels and fatwa programmes posed a direct threat to true versions of Islam. Among the 500 satellite channels available, the 80 religious stations are outnumbered only by those providing light entertainment, of which there are 109, according to the Dubai Press Club." The National, 11 May 2009.
     Update: Broadcasting Board of Governors member Joaquin Blaya: "The main function of the board that I sit on is to act as a firewall between the government and our journalists. The board consists of four Democrats, four Republicans and the Secretary of State. This board is the collective CEO of al Hurra and ensures that our journalists can go out and report whatever they like with balance and objectivity." Digital Production Middle East, 18 May 2009.

Ixnay on the "oreignfay olicypay upportsay."

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Today, the President is forwarding the budget request for Fiscal Year 2010 to the Congress including a request for $745.5 million dollars for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an increase of 3.9% from FY 2009 levels. The request reflects the continued critical role of BBG broadcasts in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. The FY 2010 budget supports expanded local and regional coverage on the Voice of America's (VOA) Radio Deewa programs to Afghanistan and Pakistan and the establishment of a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Russian language Internet Web site for Central Asia. The request also supports the continued expansion of digital audio and video capability and programming for VOA, RFE/RL, and Radio Free Asia (RFA), and establishment of a television and radio equipment replacement program for the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN)." BBG press release, 11 May 2009, with link to detailed document.
     Successful International broadcasting has an audience because it provides an alternative to the state controlled media in the audiences' countries. Successful international broadcasters are therefore obsessed with credibility. They demonstrate their credibility by making assurances of their independence, even from the governments which may happen to fund them.
     To that end, I would change this sentence in the BBG press release: "The request reflects the continued critical role of BBG broadcasts in support of U.S. foreign policy goals." Substitute: "The request reflects the continued critical role of BBG broadcasts in providing accurate news and information to areas of foreign policy concern to the United States and to countries where domestic media are tightly controlled."
     The priorities of US international broadcasting should not necessarily coincide with the priorities of US foreign policy. Burma and Zimbabwe, for example, are not in the same US foreign policy tier as China and Iran, but, given the moribund state of Burmese and Zimbabwean domestic media, the two countries are prime targets for international radio. Laos would be a higher priority for US international broadcasting than US foreign policy, because of the highly controlled media in that country, VOA's nearby medium wave relay, and the absence of a BBC Lao Service.

Former VOA journalist as "artiste" and Indian MP.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"In prestigious Jadavpur constituency, singer-songwriter Kabir Suman registered a dramatic victory, trouncing sitting CPI(M) MP Sujan Chakraborty by 56,706 votes. Sixty-year-old Suman is considered the architect of a new age in Bengali music. He shot to fame in the 1990s with his first album 'Tomake Chai' (I Want You) which became immensely popular among the youth with social issue-based lyrics. His work has been a major influence on the contemporary singers and on the development of band music in Bengal. Suman, who was born a Brahmin and converted to Islam to marry Bangladeshi singer Sabina Yasmin, had also worked as a broadcast journalist with Voice of America's Bengali service. Suman was earlier seen as an artiste with ultra-Leftist leanings, but become associated with Trinamool Congress during party chief Mamata Banerjee's movement against farmland acquisition for industry in the state." Press Trust of India, 17 May 2009.

BBC Bulgarian carries on as

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bulgaria is the only EU member from Eastern Europe which is absent from a video of the European Commission entitled '1989-2009: 20 Years of Liberty'. Bulgaria's absence from the EC video dedicated to the anniversary since the end of communism in Europe has been pointed in an article of, the London-based website of Bulgarian journalists from the former BBC World Service Bulgarian.", 16 May 2009.
     Bulgarian "politicians have increasing influence on the media. This was the conclusion of the held in Aachen discussion from 'Reports without borders', informed Deutsche Welle. ... In addition the Bulgarian media are dependent on the funding from the state which thus can exercise considerable influence.", 15 May 2009.

Chinese international media may expand, but foreigners will still change the channel.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"If there were ever a time for the Chinese press to make inroads into global journalism, it's now, as the death knell sounds for traditional media around the world and a state-financed newcomer has little competition. The big state media companies have already begun looking for international media assets, and CCTV's English channel has developed an audience in Africa and Asia. Observers suggest Chinese media could follow the same path as Al Jazeera, which was met with skepticism just over a decade ago but is now a global news player. So, will media consumers one day find boxes of Global Times on New York street corners? Will viewers in the United Kingdom flip between BBC, Al Jazeera and China TV? Most importantly, will the PR campaign influence the way we think about China? In a word, no. ... CCTV, Xinhua, China Daily and others will receive a cool reception abroad if they continue to fawn over their owners and present only the rosiest picture of China's state of affairs. In journalism there's an old saying, 'Bad news is good news.' If all the Chinese news is good news, expect foreign audiences to change the channel." Mitch Moxley, Foreign Policy, May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Hudson Institute holds panel on public diplomacy, but they discuss international broadcasting instead.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Public Diplomacy: Reaching Difficult Audiences' ... Although technological developments such as the Internet and Twitter have made it easier to communicate information, political, cultural, and other barriers often make it difficult to reach audiences. To discuss this, Hudson Institute held an informative discussion among representatives of diverse international media agencies who shared insights about the techniques they employ to communicate important information and ideas throughout the world." Panelists: Deirdre Kline, Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Imad Musa, Senior Producer, Al-Jazeera; Nargiz Asadova, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief, RIA Novosti; Joan Mower, Voice of America. Hudson Institute, 14 May 2009, with links to audio and video.

Questions about the adequacy of public diplomacy under Hillary Clinton.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"One area on which [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton is putting her own stamp is public diplomacy, the art of presenting truthful information about America to audiences around the world. In earlier years the United States Information Agency was America's principal vehicle for this. When the Cold War ended, Congress elected to run it down and merge its remnants with the State Department. Clinton says USIA was 'unfortunately marginalized' but does not see it emerging again as an independent agency. She is encouraging the use of new technology, such as blogs and social networking online, but faces criticism that traditional communications instruments like radio are being short-changed. She is promoting cultural exchanges, replicating such Cold War measures as the dispatch of jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie to Iron Curtain countries. Her nomination of Judith McHale, a media and communications executive, to be under secretary for public diplomacy, has drawn some criticism from public diplomacy practitioners. It is not at all clear that the personnel, resources, or techniques requisite for the task at hand are adequate." Former associate director of USIA and director of VOA John Hughes, Deseret News, 19 May 2009. Hughes is a USIA revivalist. See previous post.

France 24 CEO: internet "marvelous" except for "things that belong in the gutter."

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Christine Ockrent, CEO of France 24: "Having worked in the media for so many years I am absolutely convinced that the game today is a huge global competition for impact and values and approach to news worldwide. And that is absolutely fascinating. And it has to do with technology, which is the huge transformer of our trade. This is one of the reasons it is so important to have good quality media, because the internet, while a marvellous thing, is also a home for all things that belong in the gutter. ... I would love to see [France 24] being better distributed, especially in Asia and India." The National (Abu Dhabi), 14 May 2009.

Report: US pressuring Qatar re Al Jazeera content.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Friday, DEBKAfile's Washington, Gulf and military sources reported exclusively that the Obama administration, using backdoor intelligence channels, had secretly warned Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani that he risks losing the three big American bases located in the emirate if he persists in promoting Iran's radicalizing influence over Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians. ... It alarmed Emir al Thani enough for him to [take] steps, one of which was to direct the news editors of al Jazeera TV station, which he owns, to tone down the anti-American line of its English and Arabic language broadcasts." DEBKAfile, 16 May 2009. Cited by Press TV, 16 May 2009, which describes Debkafile as "believed to be affiliated with Israeli intelligence."

Private public diplomacy: GE will help pay for US pavilion at Shanghai Expo (updated).

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"General Electric has given US efforts to raise the 60 million dollars needed to ensure a national pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo a massive boost, organisers said Monday. Fundraising problems have meant the United States is one of only three countries -- along with Andorra and Colombia -- that have diplomatic relations with China but have not confirmed participation at next year's World's Fair. GE and USA Pavilion committee officials declined to say how much the company would contribute, but USA Pavilion spokeswoman Page Wang said it was the largest donation yet. ... The event is expected to draw 70 million visitors -- 95 percent of them Chinese -- and despite the financial crisis, most major countries have seized it as one of the biggest public diplomacy opportunities in decades. But US law prohibits using taxpayer dollars to pay for such events and private fundraising got off to a shaky start last year." AFP, 11 May 2009. What the pavilion might look like.
     Update: Jack "Masey, 84, spent nearly 30 years creating exhibitions and pavilions for the government. His efforts at public diplomacy, which culminated with world’s fair pavilions in 1967 in Montreal and 1970 in Osaka, Japan, are the subject of his new book, 'Cold War Confrontations' (written with Conway Lloyd Morgan, Lars Müller Publishers)." New York Times, 15 May 2009.

More BBC World Service offshoring, this time to Dakar.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service is to close 15 posts in London as part of a shift of its French-language production operation to Africa in a further bid to cut costs. In one of the first moves by the new director of the World Service, Peter Horrocks, a 'significant' part of BBC Afrique – the specialist French-language service for Africa – will move to Dakar in Senegal. About 18 posts will be created to staff a new office equipped with modern studios and transmission facilities. Horrocks told World Service staff yesterday in an email seen by that the change would allow the BBC Afrique service to increase its output from four to five hours a day and to 'hit vital peak audience times throughout francophone Africa and to modernise and restructure our programme schedule'. The shift is part of an ongoing cost-cutting effort in the World Service and risks provoking further industrial action from broadcasting unions." The Guardian, 15 May 2009.

Eurovision contestant versus political commentator.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"When Ukrainian pop diva, Ani Lorak, arrived at the BBC's Moscow Bureau for an interview with the BBC World Service, she caused quite a stir amongst those in her vicinity. ... Her impromptu performance did little for the political commentator who later declared that Eurovision contestants were often 'uneducated, primitive'. But Ani Lorak ... argues that Eurovision's main triumph is that its brings genuine enjoyment into people's lives. ... It is a view that may be lost on the more serious members of the BBC's Russian service, who clearly feel something unsuitable has been brought in their door." Paul Henley, BBC News, 14 May 2009.
     "Norway won the 54th Eurovision Song Contest early Sunday in Moscow, when singer Alexander Rybak beat 24 other contestants with his song Fairytale." Reuters, 16 May 2009. See video at NRK. See all entries at

Finland: radio in foreign languages and "Plain Finnish."

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Despite the absence of a dedicated expat’s radio station, foreigners living in Finland shouldn’t despair as many Finnish radio stations offer broadcasting in English. YLE Mondo, a 24-hour radio channel available throughout Finland, is the foremost foreign-language broadcaster. It offers programmes in Danish, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Most of its programming comes from international radio services, including the BBC and National Public Radio. Finland’s national broadcaster is also active in English on its other outlets. YLE broadcasts News in English daily on Radio 1 and News from Finland on Mondo is repeated on YLE Puhe, which also offers News in Plain Finnish – a broadcast with simplified language in slow speed." Helsinki Times, 14 May 2009.

More Willis Conover jazz memories.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"It should be noted that Conover’s jazz programs included different types of jazz. He was known to play not only songs that he liked, but also songs that he didn’t like. It was also known however, that he would play more of the musicians that he preferred, such as Duke Ellington." Rick Gee, The Weekly Challenger, 14 May 2009. And Conover never hid his disdain for rock and roll.
     In the 1950s, Coventy, England, jazz promoter Ivor Lee consulted the "comprehensive broadcast listings" in the Melody Maker magazine. "The best radio programme was RTF [France] 1860Metres long wave' Ivor reveals, “one hour of Gospel and Sunday afternoon 4-15 till 5-00 Jazz, Sweets, Bird, Dizzy, Miles and anybody else you cared to name. I would dash home from school in the dinner hour to hear Jack Dieval with Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid a super catchy riff. But the very best was The Voice of America broadcasting on the 31 and 41 metre band from Tunis. Four hours of jazz a night, year in, year out introduced by Willis Conover." BBC Coventry, 7 July 2006. "Tunis" was probably the VOA relay at Tangier, Morocco. And did VOA really broadcast four hours of jazz per night? That was back before my shortwave listening days. See previous post about Conover.

Nonredacted documents show the FCC was no friend of shortwave.

Posted: 17 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Nonredacted documents related to the FCC's Broadband Over Power Line decision indicate that the agency did some pretty creative editing to come to its conclusions." Ars Technica, 14 May 2009, with link to ARRL article and many comments. The BPL system, known as power line communications (PLC) in Europe, radiates noise from unshielded electric wires on HF (shortwave) frequencies. See previous posts on 2 May and 30 March 2009.
     "'By crafting a minimal regulatory framework for BPL, we are advancing Congress's goal of creating a pro-competitive, deregulatory framework, and the commission's goal of deploying broadband to every American,' according to a joint statement from FCC Chairman Michael Powell and FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. 'Because BPL is a nascent technology and the broadband market has no dominant incumbent service provider, only minimal regulations are appropriate.'" PHONE+, 1 December 2004.
     On a different subject, but, unfortunately, related, somehow: "On the positive side of the ledger is The Shortwave Death System, a North Texas outfit that knows that without mood, without color, sonic art is just plain uninteresting, no matter how intellectual you think you are. SDS’s mood du jour is spookiness. Some of the songs sound like broadcasts from the Great Beyond. Most of the tunes on the MySpace page are perforated by static, wavy, and couched in echo. In one track, a melancholy sitar phrase runs on a loop, as if a listener had dozed off –– or, without warning, entered the Great Beyond –– as a Bollywood record spun on a phonograph nearby and begun to skip. In another, a B-movie laser gun cuts across a quiet siren and ghost voices. In yet another, a metallic, oscillating figure repeats itself before dissolving into a symphony of sandpaperists. Killer stuff." Anthony Mariani, Fort Worth Weekely, 15 May 2009.

America calling Venezuela.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Obama administration ... wants to boost broadcasts to Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez has cracked down on independent media." AP, 12 May 2009. VOA already broadcasts to Latin America in Spanish. The traditional America way of government funded international broadcasting is to create a separate station, duplicating journalistic efforts, and competing for talent, budget, and transmission resources. However, the BBG FY 2010 budget request specifies a "30-minute, 5 day a week, VOA Spanish television program to Venezuela."
     "President Hugo Chavez has threatened to take Venezuela's last major opposition-run television station off the air. ... Nicolas Maduro, the president of the Mr Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela, accused the 24-hour news channel Globovision of 'media terrorism', describing the station and its director, Alberto Ravell, as 'violators of the constitution and of the rights of Venezuelans' as well as being 'anti-democratic, failed and fascist'. The allegations are denied by the station. Mr Ravell said that the government investigation was 'laughable' and meant to intimidate the media." The Telegraph, 12 May 2009.
     "The President of Telesur, Andres Izarra, said that, in addition, new spaces have been opened to expand the use of the radioelectric spectrum. As a prove, he mentioned the diverse communitarian outlets that are operating along the country, as well as new television channels, like the one of the National Assembly. Izarra also said that the signal of two State radio stations, YVKE Mundial and Radio Nacional de Venezuela (RNV), were recovered." Web Newswire, 15 May 2009.
     "A US advocacy group and a Venezuelan exile said Tuesday they have filed suit seeking five billion dollars in damages from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and state oil companies for alleged human rights abuses. The suit, which was first filed in April by Washington-based Freedom Watch and exiled Venezuelan journalist Ricardo Guaripa, accuses Chavez of alleged acts in support of terrorism, torture and human rights violations. Freedom Watch president Larry Klayman said he increased the amount sought to five billion dollars on Monday and added Venezuelan-owned Citgo to the suit on grounds that it provides the funds that support the alleged terrorism. ... Guaripa worked for US-funded Radio Marti in Caracas until the end of 2004 when he went into exile, alleging he had been the target of death threats and intimidation by the Chavez government." AFP, 12 May 2009.

Twitter Free Europe/Twitter Liberty.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"We recently started 'tweeting' here on the English-language website of RFE/RL. We have Twitter accounts for our newsfeed (@RFE_RLNews), our Watchdog blog (@Rights Watchdog), the Power Vertical blog (@PowerVertical), and of course, the Transmission blog (@TransmissionRFE). ... A lot of folks question the validity of this whole Twitter phenomenon. Is anyone really listening? Is the whole Twitter house built on a foundation of sand? One of the most popular Twitterers here in Prague is following almost 57,000 people, with 53,000 followers of his own! 'You follow me and I’ll follow you, even if I’m not really listening to you and I suspect you’re not listening to me,' says the elephant in the room." Grant Podelco, RFE/RL Transmission blog, 13 May 2009.
     "Indeed, with many political opponents of the Aliyev regime now forced online, Radio Free Europe’s Azeri service has even started quoting their blog posts on its web site. It has also introduced podcasting – streamed audio on demand over the Internet – in lieu of the radio broadcasts the station once transmitted by more traditional means. Yet, even if the media is perhaps too obsessed with Twitter to the detriment of other online tools, governments in the region are also starting to sit up and take notice." Onnik Krikorian, Newropeans Magazine, 14 May 2009.

New hires affect CNBC international operations.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC Asia president Jeremy Pink has been named the new CNBC SVP, effective June 8. ... Pink joined CNBC as VP of news and programming in Europe in 2000, and has served as president of CNBC Asia, in Singapore, for the past three years." CNBC president Mark Hoffman: "CNBC has an extraordinarily strong veteran team in place in Asia that will allow us to manage seamlessly during this transitional period. Given that we want to build on the tremendous momentum we are experiencing in Asia, we have already initiated a search to replace Jeremy to ensure that CNBC continues to be the fastest growing source and most respected voice in business in Asia.", 13 May 2009.
     "CNBC Africa announced today ... the appointment of Pule Molebeledi as CNBC Africa's new head of sales. ... Molebeledi:" "There is no better time to go and explore the broader African market and I believe there is no better medium than CNBC Africa.", 14 May 2009.

Floyce doesn't know that Americans are not supposed to be interested in international affairs.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The local Charter Communications [cable system] was recently sold to Midcontinent Communicators in Sioux Falls, and my favorite news channel was lost in the process. CNN International is not the same as the CNN that Bemidjians can still find easily on Midcontinent’s lineup. CNN International presents the news from the point of view of Europe, Asia and other places on the planet. ... Even the weather reports revealed a world beyond our borders." Floyce Alexander, letter to the Bemidji (MN) Pioneer, 14 May 2009.

Former VOA listeners who now watch CNN.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"India today not only desires a strong US naval presence in the Indian Ocean (as a 'counterweight' to China) but aspires to be the US Navy's preferred partner. If Indians don't care to listen to Voice of America, it is merely because they have chosen to watch CNN." M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times Online, 15 May 2009.
     "I know many Americans who voted for Al Gore for the President of the USA. Personally, since Jimmy Carter’s contest with Ron Re[a]gan, I stayed awake and listened to the American election returns. With Jimmy Carter, I relied on the Voice of America (VOA). Today, thanks to Cable News Network (CNN) I have watch[ed] American election returns live." Myinaga Ikpah, Daily Sun (Lagos), 14 May 2009.

Canadian regulator calls for comments about Al Jazeera English (updated).

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The public has roughly one month to tell the federal broadcast regulator what it thinks about a proposal to allow Al-Jazeera English to broadcast in Canada. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is considering an application to grant the all-news channel space on the digital airwaves." Canadian Press, 7 May 2009. See also CRTC, 7 May 2009.
     Update: "Enough is enough, we need Al- Jazeera English (AJE) in Canada. 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. Although it is available in more than 100 countries and broadcasts to more than 130 million households, shamefully it is not available in Canada." Hussein Hamdani, The Hamilton Spectator, 14 May 2009.

How public relations agencies should pitch to Al Jazeera.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"For agencies, it is important to note coverage is influenced by, rather than solely limited to, the Islamic community. ‘The reality is it covers a wide range of mainstream issues from an Isl­amic perspective,’ says Mark Fuller, consultant at Linstock Communications. ‘It deals with hard news on a global scale.’ Accordingly, agencies need to pitch stories that combine a global audience with a unique angle that can grab the interest of the Islamic community. ‘In my experience this means putting local iss­ues in an international context,’ advises Fuller. ‘Islam stretches across national boundaries, so an audience in one country will be interested in stories that acknowledge overseas links.’ Specialist coverage takes the form of shows such as Sir David Frost’s Frost Over the World and Rageh Omaar’s Witness. The focus on the developing world, says Rayner, means there is little of the ‘diet of crime and celebrity that has crept into other TV news’." Ben Rayner, news editor, Al Jazeera English: "We are aimed at anyone who wants a different take on world news and a questioning attitude to power. We are unlike other news channels, such as CNN, which is aimed at business people watching in hotels. Our rivals are websites as well as CNN and BBC World these days." Laura Davies, PRWeek, 13 May 2009. Public diplomacy agencies can heed the same advice.
     "Check out this highly informative segment from Al Jazeera English that gets into the vageries of electoral politics in the world's largest democracy." UN Dispatch, 14 May 2009.

Al Jazeera visits Hardin, Montana.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Basking in the media spotlight, the Two Rivers Detention Facility hosted a news crew from Al-Jazeera English news network on Wednesday. The Billings Gazette reported in late April that the Hardin jail wanted to house Guantanamo Bay terror suspects. Since then, Two Rivers Detention Facility has been featured by more than a dozen news agencies in print and on TV and radio. ... As they wandered the prison's chilly halls, Smith briefed Rob Reynolds, chief Washington correspondent with Al-Jazeera English news network, on the history of the facility and its premier security features. They stopped to rehearse a close-up sequence unlocking a cell door and letting it fall shut with a hollow metallic bang. 'Great!' exclaimed Al-Jazeera News cameraman Gordon Durnin of Ontario." Billings Gazette, 14 May 2009.

France 24 apologizes to Poland.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"TV Channel France 24 made a letter apology to Polish Ambassador in Paris for using words 'Polish concentration camp' – reports Polish Press Agency. ... Polish embassy made a quick protest. France 24 answer was also quick. 'We did not mean polish concentration camp, we meant a Nazi concentration camp that was placed in Poland. We also recognize the big difference between those to terms. We would also like to express our deepest apologies for the mistake'.", 14 May 2009. "The misnaming of Nazi death camps in Poland as 'Polish' has been a constant feature of reports in many news media over the years." Polskie Radio, 13 May 2009.

RFI banned in northeastern DR Congo (updated).

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The DR Congo has banned French international radio broadcaster - Radio France International (RFI) from operating. The ban follows alleged continuous broadcast of 'provocative statements' against the government, Congolese officials say. It affects mainly the [northeastern province] Ituri. The Congolese Intelligence Service carried out the operation following public complaint by the Congolese Minister for Communication who is also the government spokesman, Lambert Mende Omalanga. The minister threatened to shut down RFI in the entire DRC if the French broadcaster continued to air what he called 'provocative statements'." AfricaNews, 7 May 2009.
     Reporters sans frontières "wrote yesterday to communication and media minister Lambert Mendé condemning the government’s decision to suspend local retransmission of the French public radio station Radio France Internationale (RFI) in the northeastern city of Bunia, and voicing concern at the possibility that the measure could be extended to the rest of the country." RSF, 7 May 2009. "We ask the Congolese authorities to lift the suspension immediately and restore RFI programmes on air in the region." International Federation of Journalists, 8 May 2009. RFI is off of FM in that part of DRC, but still audible on shortwave.
     Update: "The authorities haven't suspended all of RFI’s relays across the DRC, but on Friday, Ambroise Pierre at Reporters Without Borders said that Congolese people in the Ituli province still couldn’t listen to the station as the authorities made it impossible for the local radio to broadcast the International station. He was able to confirm however that RFI is still on air in Kinshasa and Katanga province. ... A spokesperson for RFI expressed regret for its FM listeners in the Ituli province, and reiterated that RFI strives to cover the news in a balanced way." RFI, 15 May 2009, with link to audio of interview.

Russia Today editor claims "independent editorial policy."

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russia Today: "Q: How much independence does RT have from the Russian government which supports it financially? Have you ever been asked, requested or ordered to change your editorial policy? Simonyan: Our channel's budget comes from state resources and commercial bank loans. It is true. On the other hand, there are hardly any other channels that are completely independent in terms of money ... BBC, Deutsche Welle, France 24, etc all of them were established by the government. RT is an authoritative news channel, with an independent editorial policy. We have never been asked to change our editorial policy or even to correlate it with the government's current viewpoint. Many people have a stereotyped and biased attitude towards Russia in general and the Russian media in particular. We face this kind of bias occasionally, mostly from people who have never seen any of our output. Usually all it takes to overcome this prejudice is for people to watch RT and make their own judgment." Asia Times Online, 15 May 2009.

Radio Prague's Afro-Asian service in the last years of the Cold War.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the last years of the Cold War, Radio Prague’s English department was many times bigger than it is today and divided into several sections, devoted to different parts of the world. One of the most important was the Afro-Asian service. Africa was an important Cold War battleground and Radio Prague’s Afro-Asian service was not just telling the people of Africa about Czechoslovakia. It also covered events within Africa itself, following closely the Soviet political line. At one time the department was receiving tens of thousands of listeners’ letters every year. ... It is worth pointing out that at the time Prague had big ambitions when it came to international broadcasting. Throughout the 1980s a vast new radio complex was under construction that aimed to rival Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Munich. It was never completed, and for many years stood derelict. It has now been rebuilt as an office block." David Vaughan, Radio Prague, 14 May 2009, with link to audio of the report. Recommended listening.

Tea Party at old VOA shortwave site.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Chris Littleton ... is spearheading the local effort to become the first of what’s expected to be many off-shoots of the non-partisan Cincinnati Tea Party in communities throughout southwest Ohio. The event, which will feature Cincinnati Tea Party founder Mike Wilson, is set for 7:30 p.m., May 29, at the Miami University satellite campus at Voice of America Park." Dayton Daily News, 13 May 2009. It's ironic that this event, calling for reduced federal spending, is being held at the old VOA Bethany transmitting site, closed in 1995 as part of an effort to reduce costs.
     "The $20 million improvement project at Voice of America Park could be delayed a year or more, Butler County MetroParks officials said during their regular meeting Tuesday, May 12." Middletown (OH) Journal, 12 May 2009.

Alhurra: we (unlike Al Jazeera) are "totally free."

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Although the field has become more crowded recently with the expansion of BBC Arabic and the Arabic-language version of France 24, [BBG member Joaquin] Blaya said Alhurra still had more viewers in the region than the [other] western stations. [Fran Mires, the executive producer of Alhurra news program Al Youm] said Alhurra could offer something that the region’s more dominant news channels could not. 'Al Jazeera does some great stuff, but it has limitations,' she said. 'It is not a totally free medium. We are a totally free medium, absolutely. There isn’t anything in my three hours that we cannot do.' As an example, the anchors in Jerusalem and Beirut appeared on the screen at the same time, despite Lebanon’s rules against communicating with Israel, she said. Although the anchors will not break any rules by communicating directly, they can participate in a larger discussion together through anchors in Dubai and Cairo. ... 'That’s what our competitors don’t do.'" Keach Hagey, The National (Abu Dhabi), 14 May 2009.
     "What viewers are subjected to during Alhurra's version of primetime are three hours of mindless chatter interspersed with shallow assessments of selected current events and random feature stories (some of which are marginally entertaining). There is no depth in the news coverage, nor in the rest of the programming. Rather, there is a failed attempt at fast-paced US-style news that comes off as chaotic and incoherent." Kalash, Kabobfest, 6 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Burke awards for RFE/RL Afghanistan reporters.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Afghanistan-based correspondents of RFE/RL's Afghan Service, known locally as Radio Azadi, have won the 2009 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award. Mohammed Ibrahim Haroon, co-founder of Radio Azadi's Kabul Bureau, Abdul Hamid Pazhman and Hassiba Shahid received the award on behalf of their colleagues today during the Broadcasting Board of Governors' (BBG) annual meeting at RFE/RL's broadcast center in Prague. ... The David Burke Award is named after the first Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent federal agency and RFE/RL's supervisory body. The award recognizes courage, integrity and originality in reporting by journalists within the BBG's broadcast entities. A formal awards ceremony will take place later this year in Washington to recognize David Burke Award winners at the Voice of America (VOA), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN)." RFE/RL, 12 May 2009.

RFE/RL formally opens its new headqarters.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) formally opened its new headquarters in the Czech capital today with a ceremony that included the President of Estonia, the Mayor of Prague, and distinguished Czech, European and US government officials. 'Without serious journalism, without a free press in print, broadcast, or web form, no society can long remain free or just,' said Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who worked for RFE/RL for nearly a decade when it was based in Munich. ... The new broadcast center accommodates RFE/RL's 500 Prague-based employees and is located in Hagibor, ten minutes from the city center. The five-story, 236,000 sq/ft building features the latest broadcast infrastructure and multimedia technology and adheres to the highest standards in energy-efficiency and security." RFE/RL press release, 12 May 2009.
     President Ilves at the opening ceremony: "Today in autocratic, unfree societies we see vast sums spent on state television to do the same: highly professional and glitzy spectaculars broadcast 24/7. As for journalism, yes there is news reporting, but it is biased and better classified as sycophantic infomercials for the government, resembling more and more the entertainment broadcast on those same channels. Competing with that on its own terms will lead to failure. RFE-RL, or any similar news organisation like the BBC will fail if it tries to out circus the circuses of well-financed media in authoritarian states." President of the Republic of Estonia website, 12 May 2009.
     "RFE/RL, founded by the United States during the Cold War in the 1950s, moved to Prague from Munich, Germany in 1995, settling down in the former Czechoslovak parliament building at the top of the central Wenceslas Square. After 9/11, Czech authorities decided to move the radio station out of the centre to a brand new headquarters that the radio itself describes as one of the best-protected buildings in Europe." AFP, 13 May 2009.

New call for release of Uzbek reporter for RFE/RL, VOA.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"An Uzbek journalist who dared to cover some of his country's worst environmental disasters was arrested last year on trumped-up drug charges and is now serving 10 years in jail. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Freedom House and 30 other IFEX members have sent a joint letter to the Uzbek authorities to demand that Salijon Abdurahmanov is freed and that journalists are never imprisoned for their work. ... Abdurahmanov worked as a local correspondent based in Karakalpakstan for the international broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and the independent news website Uznews." International Freedom of Expression eXchange, 13 May 2009.

War of words: VOA Russian supporters versus RFE/RL Russian.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency responsible for managing U.S. international broadcasts made a number of misleading statements in its Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request to the U.S. Congress. The BBG repeatedly states that the Voice of America (VOA) Russian service responded with 'comprehensive coverage' to the Russian military incursion into Georgia in August 2009. In fact, just 12 days before the Russian-Georgian conflict erupted, the BBG terminated all VOA Russian radio programs. ... While advocating Internet-only strategy for Voice of America in Russia — rather than far more prudent and far more effective multiple platform program delivery — the BBG admits in another part of its budget request that the Internet is vulnerable to blockage and censorship by unfriendly governments." Ted Lipien, Free Media Online Blog, 11 May 2009.
     "The BBG shifted some of VOA’s resources, including radio frequencies, to a different radio broadcaster — Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). RFE/RL – known simply as 'Svoboda,' or 'freedom,' in Russian, was a vital source of information for human rights activists inside the USSR during much of the Cold War. However, the two broadcast entities do not share the same mission or approach to broadcasting, so an expansion of Radio Free Europe cannot be seen as a substitute for what VOA has done in the past. To begin with, RFE/RL focuses exclusively on news involving the country and region that is broadcasting to, whereas the VOA adds world news and reports on American policies and society. ... Historically, the Voice of America had a larger audience in Russia than RFE/RL has at present. According to InterMedia, VOA’s Russian language service had a cumulative annual audience for 2007 of 6,504,030 people (broadcasting for three hours of radio daily and one hour of TV) while RFE/RL had 3,613,350 people (broadcasting eighteen hours daily on radio)." Mitchell Polman, Understanding Government, 7 May 2009.
     Yes, "Understanding Government" includes the understanding that government agencies compete with and duplicate one another. VOA's large numbers back in 2007 are attributable to its access to Russian television stations, since eliminated by Russian government pressure. Russia has become a more difficult target for international broadcasting, both because of Russian government restrictions and a more competitive domestic media environment. US international broadcasting to Russia cannot be effective by way of two entities that compete with each other. A consolidated effort would provide the mix of Russian and international news that Russian audiences want, while employing the combination of media best able to deliver the content into the country.

Radio/TV Martí: budget reduction, reformatting, less commentary.

Posted: 15 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"President Barack Obama may be trying to reach out to Cuban leaders, but his 2010 budget suggests he isn't looking to cut the U.S. government's controversial broadcasts to the island anytime soon. The president's budget proposal calls for about $32.5 million for the broadcasts, down only slightly from last year's budget of $34.8 million, though it does request some retooling: shorter, more frequent TV news segments and an all-news radio format. That cuts down on the amount of commentary, which critics have said often fails to provide balanced perspectives and has been mismanaged." Laura Wides-Munoz, AP, 12 May 2009.
     "Radio and TV Martí will lay off 20 percent of their workforce in a shake-up aimed at retooling the struggling anti-Castro stations in the face of a steep federal budget cut. ... The layoffs and format changes will not take effect until October, but some of the Martí correspondents said they have already decided to quit. 'I understand that the radio side is going to an all-news format. I don't think that works, because it's very difficult to sustain,' said radio show host Ernesto Betancourt, who was the station's first director when it went on the air in the 1980s. 'It's not feasible. People in Cuba are marginalized and need explanation and commentary on the news.' Betancourt said he decided to resign because he felt obligated to discuss President Barack Obama's Cuba policies, which he disagrees with." Frances Robles, Miami Herald, 12 May 2009.
     "While the cut is not unexpected in a time of severe federal budget trimming, it also represents a strategic downgrading of the Cuba program, compared with other parts of the world. The overall global broadcasting budget proposal was $745.5 million, up about 4 percent from 2009. The proposal adds money for Voice of America's broadcasts to Afghanistan and Pakistan, establishes a Russian language Internet site for Central Asia and pays for a television and radio equipment replacement program for Middle East broadcasts. The changes leave both supporters and critics of the Marti stations scratching their heads. Advocates of the stations wonder how the government expects them to fill the programming slots once the commentary is removed. Some exceptions to the all-news format will be allowed, said [BBG spokesperson Letitia] King. 'We won't be dispensing with sports. They will continue to broadcast Major League Baseball for example.' The budget must still be approved by Congress later this summer, where it will face a challenge from some members who want TV Marti scrapped altogether." David Adams, St. Petersburg Times, 14 May 2009.
     The elimination of commentary would be a good thing. Soundbites from persons with differing views would be a good replacement. If Cuban officials won't consent to interviews by Radio and TV Martí (although, if smart, they would), plenty of their statements can be purloined from Cuban radio and television.
     Efficiencies can be achieved by making use of VOA Spanish material, and by putting TV Martí audio tracks on Radio Martí at certain hours. Hour-long TV Martí programs, or minute-long news breaks, on channels available on DirecTV Latin America, as already tried via WPMF-TV in Miami, might be more effective than 24-hour transmissions from aircraft flying over the Florida Keys.

Iranian Parliament study contrasts "subversion" of BBC and VOA (updated).

Posted: 14 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Despite repeated raids and drastic penalties, millions of people in Iran watch satellite TV and listen to the radio programs of exiles. The research arm of the Iranian Parliament [the Majlis] has completed a 38-page study that deals with foreign broadcasters like the BBC and Voice of America, which [accuses] them of subversion. ... In the Majlis study, one gleans that BBC Persian is thought to be more dangerous than the VOA. The reason is that the BBC has a more gentle approach and gives the impression of being more objective. Rather than trying to promote a single position, the BBC does so indirectly by using analysis to make certain points. Furthermore, the BBC concerns itself with social themes that are of less interest to the VOA. ... VOA pursues a more direct strategy and tries to address a discontented audience." Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, Die Welt, via, 9 May 2009.
     Update: "So far some 190 foreign reporters have applied for covering the news of Iran's upcoming presidential elections, slated for June 12. ... The dailies 'Times', 'Sunday Telegraph', 'The Guardian' and TV networks 'Voice of America' and 'Sky News' are among the applicants for covering news on presidential elections." Islamic Republic News Agency, 12 May 2009.
     "In 1978, Khomeini, in Iraq since 1965, was permitted to reside at Neauphle-le-Château in France. ... Journalists descended in droves on Neauphle-le-Château; Khomeini gave 132 interviews in 112 days, receiving easy questions as their media organs became his sounding board. [Shah adviser Houchang] Nahavandi affirms that, within Iran 'the Voice of America, the Voice of Israel and, especially, the BBC virtually became the voice of the revolution, moving from criticism, to overt incitement of revolt, and from biased reporting, to outright disinformation.'" James Perloff, The New American, 12 May 2009.

No prisoner of its name: China Radio International is China Video Domestic.

Posted: 14 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Youku, China's leading Internet video site, unveiled its mobile strategy for China's 3G network rollout, and announced the public beta launch of a new mobile video platform. The mobile portal, , will be online on May 17th for the World Telecommunication Day 2009. To pursue the opportunities opened up by China's new 3G networks, Youku ... has established ... strategic cooperation with China Radio International and China National Radio, both mobile video content licensees." press release, 13 May 2009.

Worldspace in Indian cars by 2010? (updated)

Posted: 14 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"WorldSpace, US-based satellite radio company, is targeting middle of 2010 for launching car radio in India. Although the company had earlier planned to roll out car radio sets in the country by 2004, absence of a government policy on satellite radio has delayed the launch." DNA, 11 May 2009.
     "The radio to be offered is an independent device and not in-built. 'Initially it won't be an in-built car radio and in the Indian context, it may be advisable to have a plug-play receiver rather than an in-built radio. We are yet to finalise on the pricing.'", 11 May 2009.
     "The decision to introduce this service is pretty good but it is coming pretty late. Indian market is now flooded with free FM channels that are accessible from cheap car stereos. WorldSpace is going to find it tough competing with free alternative offerings." TechWhack, 11 May 2009.
     The new Indian regulations won't allow news on satellite radio, other than from AIR, so Worldspace won't be a fertile field for international public broadcasters.
     Update: "There’s another problem. There is ready praise for WorldSpace’s audio quality over India, and its music choice. Three or 4 years ago this mattered – and might still matter. But in the past few years the number of FM stations has mushroomed, especially in the main conurbations and amongst some of the nation’s Middle Class." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 12 May 2009. See previous post about Worldspace.

BBC News will cut 90 jobs by April 2010 (updated).

Posted: 14 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC News announced yesterday it will axe nearly 90 jobs in the next year. ... The cuts will be complete by the start of April 2010. The BBC plans to plough over £70million into areas such as foreign coverage and on-demand news." The Mirror, 7 May 2009. The cuts will include 3.5 positions at World Service and one on the Africa desk of the BBC World online team.
     Update: "BBC News is to axe the role of Paris correspondent and make cuts to its Brussels and Moscow bureaux as part of the latest round of cuts to its foreign newsgathering operation. ... Business will be one of the areas hardest hit, with up to 16 jobs tabled to go, including ... up to 10 posts on BBC World News's World Business Report." The Guardian, 13 May 2009.

Rights organizations call for restoration of BBC to Rwanda's FM dial (updated again).

Posted: 14 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "has written to Rwandan information minister Louise Mushikiwabo expressing deep concern about the “temporary suspension” of BBC broadcasts in the local language Kinyarwanda because of comments about the 1994 genocide which Rwandan citizens made in one of these broadcasts. 'We are aware that the genocide continues to be a highly sensitive subject in your country and that Rwanda is engaged in a delicate process of national reconciliation, but we nonetheless think that this suspension is arbitrary and constitutes a serious press freedom violation,' Reporters Without Borders said in its 28 April letter." RSF, 30 April 2009.
     "'This suspension of the BBC reflects the Rwandan government's growing crackdown on free speech,' said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 'If Rwanda is truly committed to the fundamental right of free expression, it should allow differing viewpoints on genocide issues and related government policies.' The BBC's suspension is part of a broader pattern of increasing government interference in the Rwandan media, including threats to suspend major media outlets such as the BBC and Voice of America and the banning of independent Rwandan journalists from government news conferences." HRW, 27 April 2009.
     "What the BBC and others call opinion, the Rwandan government calls an intentional dissemination of 'genocide ideology', the country’s kryptonite, into a delicate and still-healing population. The editor of the show, Ali Mugenzi, a Rwandan Hutu who himself fled the genocidal government in 1993, had been criticised sharply in Rwanda for his work for years." Josh Kron, The East African (Nairobi), 11 May 2009.
     Update: "Rwandan authorities have agreed to discuss the suspension of the BBC Kinyarwanda programming with the broadcasters authorities if it accepts proposed changes to its editorial line. ... 'The BBC requested to come for discussions on the matter but this does not suggest that will be arguing over meanings of words in Kinyarwanda and English,' [Information Minister Louise] Mushikiwabo told local reporters. However, the BBC executives said that though they do not speak Kinyarwanda, they do not believe the Gahuzamiryango programme in question did contain any elements of hate or denying the genocide. ... A government ban also remains standing against officials giving any interviews to the Kinyarwanda programme, as well as a similar one on Voice of America." afrol News, 12 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Sony Award for BBCWS; Panasonic Award winners at VOA.

Posted: 14 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service has won gold at the Sony Radio Academy Awards for its news and current affairs programme 'The World Today'. The judges said the World Today's entry bubbled over with stories of real life from around the globe." BBC World Service, 12 May 2009.
     "Winners of Indonesia's 2009 Panasonic Awards, given annually to the country's most popular television performers and shows, entertained more than 300 people at the Voice of America (VOA) during a lively performance. ... VOA's Indonesia broadcasters organized late last week a two-hour program, Jumpa Bintang TV dan Film (Meet the TV and Film Stars), a mix of performances, interviews and a game show. ... VOA will produce a one-hour TV special on the Jumpa Bintang TV dan Film show and the Panasonic winners' visit to the United States." VOA press release, 11 May 2009.

Social networking, public diplomacy, and international broadcasting.

Posted: 14 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Elliot Schrage, VP of Global Communications, Marketing, and Public Policy, Facebook, on "New Media Tools and Public Diplomacy": "We have not yet designed the Internet equivalent, or the social networking equivalent, of Voice of America [the official radio and television broadcasting service of the U.S. government]. Voice of America was, for its time, an incredibly powerful tool. Incredibly powerful. But we have not yet come up with the tools and techniques for the social networking era that engage people in a way that the Voice of America really couldn't, because it was constrained by being a one-way media." Interviewed by
Lee Hudson Teslik, Council on Foreign Relations, 11 May 2009.
     1) The VOA website,, is the internet equivalent of the Voice of America. 2) I would have hoped that CFR could provide a more nuanced description of VOA than the credibility-busting "official radio and television broadcasting service of the U.S. government." 3) Note how Shrage refers to VOA in the past tense, as if we were no longer on the air. 4) Then he says VOA was a "one-way media." Back in the pre-internet years, VOA received tens of thousands of letters from listeners every year. The best VOA programs incorporated that mail in their content. VOA was socially networking with its audience decades before the term "social networking" was coined. 5) Most people listened to -- and still listen to/watch/read -- VOA for the news. "Engage" is not really what we do with the news. We'll find out to what extent Facebook and Twitter will be used to receive news. (The VOA News Twitter page has 929 "followers.") 6) In his answer to the same question, Shrage talks about "public diplomacy messages." I think he is muddling the distinct roles of international broadcasting and public diplomacy.
     "Many international broadcasters, programs and hosts have [Facebook] profiles and in some cases fan pages. ... Radio Sweden and Radio France Internationale have particularly good Facebook pages. ... I’m relatively new to Twitter (does that make me a Twit or a Twiterer?) I still haven’t made up my mind whether I like it or not. However it’s easy to subscribe to different Twitter feeds from major news sources such as the BBC World Service, CBC, DW and many others. My feeling is it's something you have to fine tune." Fred Waterer, Ontario DX Association Listening In, May 2009, via DX Listening Digest, 12 May 2009.

Afghanistan is a media mess, too.

Posted: 13 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Lt. Col. Shawn Stroud, who until May 2009 served as director of strategic communication at U.S. Army Combined Arms Center ... says U.S. field commanders need the tools to combat counterproductive messaging quickly, like speaking directly to the news media or even filming operations and posting their own combat footage online before the Taliban can. 'It's almost like we've surrendered the information battlefield and said, "Well, we don't play by the same rules as them because we have to tell the truth,"' Stroud says. 'The key is, we've got to be first with the truth. So we've got to build systems that do that.' The Pentagon is considering even broader changes for the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater. Rear Admiral Gregory J. Smith, director of communications for U.S. Central Command, which has operational authority over the Afghan war, tells possible new approaches include funding an expansion of radio transmission towers and news stations to allow local broadcasters to connect with indigenous publics, or protecting cell phone towers 'so more people can have access to cell phones to communicate amongst themselves through text messaging or just voice communications.' The bottom line, Smith says, is to foster debate among Afghans, not preach American values." Greg Bruno, Council on Foreign relations, 11 May 2009. Within Afghanistan, can the Pentagon's information operations, the State Department's public diplomacy efforts, and US international broadcasting avoid stepping on one another's toes? USIB, adhering to its credible news mission, is "not like the others," and would go its independent way. It would be information operations and public diplomacy whose messages in Afghanistan could clash and should be coordinated. See previous post.

New Egyptian news channel: how much "association with the state"?

Posted: 13 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Egypt’s state-owned broadcaster plans to launch another news channel by early 2010 in an attempt to compete with such international rivals as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, but critics say Egypt needs more media freedom not another government mouthpiece. ... 'The problem of information minister Anas el Fiqi is that he doesn’t want to admit that the credibility of the media is retreating due to its association with the state,' Ahmed al Sawy, a columnist, wrote in the independent al Masry al Youm. 'Disengagement from the state is the beginning of the solution as the prevailing policies in Egyptian TV erode the credibility of whoever joins it, and transforms them into government media operatives controlled by the ruling party, which is not the way to compete,' he said." The National, 11 May 2009.

Roxanna Saberi joins the club of formerly detained journalists.

Posted: 13 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Parnaz Azima, who in 2007 spent eight months under house arrest in Iran, on the release of Iranian-American journalist Roxanna Saberi: "Iran’s leaders realized that the case was escalating tensions with the U.S. at the very moment that President Obama was showing a willingness to engage with Tehran and begin a process of rapprochement. Radio Farda listeners in Iran are echoing this, saying that Ms. Saberi’s release is an attempt to reduce strain with Washington. Iran has a history of trying to use Iranian-Americans like me and Ms. Saberi to put pressure on the United States. In almost every case, however, the strategy backfires. It’s a wonder they keep trying it." Room for Debate blog, New York Times, 11 May 2009.
     "In his first broadcast interview since his daughter gained her freedom from Evin Prison in Tehran yesterday, Reza Saberi, father of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, told NPR News that her nearly immediate release was a surprise. ... Q: How much impact do you think the international media attention? Reza Saberi: I believe it had its own effect too. However, these people they don’t admit that there was any. There not influenced by the foreign media. So, they won’t. So, I don’t know the real answer to that, how effective it was. But we think that it was." National Public Radio press release, 12 May 2009.
     "Saberi's release is good news, as her conviction occurred as part of extremely dubious charges and unreliable judicial procedures in Iran. ... But imprisoning journalists -- without charges or trials of any kind -- was and continues to be a staple of America's 'war on terror,' and that has provoked virtually no objections from America's journalists who, notably, instead seized on Saberi's plight in Iran to demonstrate their claimed commitment to defending persecuted journalists. Beginning in 2001, the U.S. held Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj for six years in Guantanamo with no trial of any kind, and spent most of that time interrogating him not about Terrorism, but about Al Jazeera." Glenn Greenwald,, 11 May 2009.

Just like Press TV, but in Arabic rather than English, and broadcasting movies rather than news.

Posted: 13 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Following the success of Iran's 24-hour English news channel, Press TV, the country now plans to launch an Arabic-language movie channel. The Deputy Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Mohammad Sarafraz said the preliminary budget had been provided for the new channel and it would be launched before the year's end. 'The round-the-clock channel will broadcast films, TV series and film critique panels,' Sarafraz told Mehr News Agency." Press TV, 10 May 2009. Iran already has an Arabic-language news channel, Al-Alam.

Al Jazeera English: pay SMS versus free tweets? (updated)

Posted: 13 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network has announced a partnership with Strike Media launching its news service to mobile phone users across [South Africa]. Al Jazeera Mobile delivers global news headlines and updates to South African subscribers via SMS messages. As an alternative to conventional international news channels, with a news focus on key stories from the Southern hemisphere, Al Jazeera Mobile is well positioned to enter the dynamic South African market. ... The total number of mobile subscribers in South Africa is set to increase from 49 million in 2008 to 55.3 million in 2010, making the country a priority market for Al Jazeera Mobile. Mobile users are now able to choose from Al Jazeera Mobile’s Politics, Sports, Economics and Breaking News services for key updates straight to their mobile phones or PDA’s.", 11 May 2009.
     "Seems like it will be a pay service.. which is kinda weird as you can get a twitter update for free (and works out just fine and dandy if you use jabber on desktop + phone with twitterspy jabber interface)." kycor, comment to ibid.
     Update: Also mobile SMS alerts voa Africell in Sri Lanka. And summary of other Al Jazeera outlets in Africa. AMEInfo, 12 May 2009.

Complaints about Al Jazeera's Sri Lanka coverage.

Posted: 12 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Muslim religious leaders yesterday criticized the controversial Arabic News Channel, Al-Jazeera stating that the channel was sending shock waves of falsehood on air about the situation of Tamil civilians and how they are treated and cared for by the Government of Sri Lanka and its Security Forces. The leader of Muslim Thelological Council, All Ceylon Ulema Party, Mowlavi Mubarak Abdul Majid ... Mawlavi Majid said, it is disheartening and disgusting that a Channel such as Al-Jazeera, which saw its origin as an alternative for BBC and CNN news networks against the broadcast of false propaganda on the Afghan and Iraq wars, has gone on to spread such falsehood at a time the Government of Sri Lanka is doing its best to look after the welfare and the safety of civilians in the conflict zone as well as those civilians in IDP camps." Daily News (Colombo), 12 May 2009. See also Al Jazeera, 11 May 2009.

BBC Tamil adds morning transmission, for 10 days.

Posted: 12 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"To meet the increased flow of news about the situation in Sri Lanka and the general election in India, the BBC's Tamil service, BBC Tamilosai, has launched a 10-day special morning news programme. The special 15-minute programme will be broadcast from 07.00 Sri Lankan and Indian Standard Times every day until Wednesday 20 May. The programme is broadcast on 19 (15285 kHz) and 16 (17515 kHz) meters on shortwave and is also available via the website as a special audio folder for diaspora listeners." The special transmission is "outside our normal daily half-hour broadcasts at 15.45 GMT (21.15 Sri Lankan and Indian Standard Times)." BBC World Service press release, 11 May 2009.

Pan-African news channel Africa 24 officially launches on 12 May (updated).

Posted: 12 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Une nouvelle chaîne d'information panafricaine, Africa 24, émettant 24 heures sur 24 dans un premier temps en français et dont l'objectif est une diffusion internationale, sera lancée officiellement le 12 mai à Paris, ont annoncé ses fondateurs. ... Africa 24 est une chaîne de télévision à destination des Africains et de la diaspora. Elle émet déjà en français depuis février vers l'Afrique. Elle prévoit une diffusion en anglais fin 2010 et en arabe en 2011. ... 'Nos rivaux sont CNN, France 24, la BBC: ce sont eux qui présentent l'Afrique au monde, alors que l'Afrique peut se présenter par elle-même.'" AFP, 7 May 2009.
     Update: "Africa 24 is an international news channel, owned by Afrimedia, which 'aims to present the true dynamic and evolving face of the African continent.' With bureaus in a number of African countries, and with 45 employees from 18 countries, programming is compiled and played out from a studio in Paris. The French-language channel wants to compete with CNN, France 24 and the BBC. English language programming is planned for 2010, with Arabic to be added in 2011. The channel has been available since last February on IPTV, cable and satellite in Europe, the Middle East and US. From today, Africa 24 is also available on the Canal Satellite Overseas DTH platform across the African continent." Broadband TV News, 12 May 2009. See also

Radio Free Chosun sends drama to North Korea.

Posted: 12 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Lee Kwang Baik, president of Radio Free Chosun. "Q: There are four civilian radio broadcasters for North Korea and also two foreign radio broadcasts like RFA and VOA targeting North Korea. What is the difference between you and them? Lee: There are three different points. First, RFC has a distinct purpose: 'North Korea should develop its economy through democratization and reform and opening,' and we are striving to help North Korean people achieve it. Second, RFC is a broadcaster in which everyone, wherever they come from, can join our activities. Presently, North Koreans, South Koreans and Chinese cooperate on our goals. Third, RFC transfers overseas information by way of drama, so that North Korean people can understand easily and get it vividly." Lee Sang Yong, The Daily NK, 11 May 2009.

Australia Network promotes itself in Malaysia, specifically on the route B103 Titiwangsa-Bukit Bintang-KLCC-Titiwangsa line (updated).

Posted: 11 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Australia Network, Australia's international television and online services, has chosen Malaysia as key to its expansion plans in Southeast Asia. Its Director of Sales and Marketing in Southeast Asia Nigel Cummings said today that Southeast Asia was an important region and growing its brand regionally and acquiring great content was vital to Australia Network being accepted as the preferred channel for discerning 'internationalists'. ... In showcasing its brand to Malaysian viewers, Cummings said Australian Network was wrapping a Rapid-KL bus with eye-catching visuals featuring an iconic Australian image and highlights of its programme content. 'The bus will ply the route B103 Titiwangsa-Bukit Bintang-KLCC-Titiwangsa and will be in full public view from now until end of this month,' he added." Bernama, 7 May 2009.
     Update: See mockup of the bus ad. Sun2Surf, 11 May 2009.

France 24 Arabic expands from France 4 to France 10 (updated again).

Posted: 11 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"France's international all-news television network France 24 said Friday it will be ramping up its Arabic-language programming from next week. The launch of the expanded Arabic-language service will take place on Monday evening with a special programme broadcast from Cairo on France's role in the Arab world. France 24 mainly broadcasts in English and in French, with four hours of programmes in Arabic. As of Monday, however, viewers in North Africa and the Middle East will be able to watch France 24 in Arabic for 10 hours a day from 2 pm Paris time (1200 GMT)." AFP, 25 April 2009.
     "The Ambassador of France in Lebanon HE Andre Parant hosted a cocktail reception at the Residence des Pins on Wednesday evening. The event was occasioned by the announcement that Radio France 24 has begun to broadcast 10 hours of Arabic-language programming a day. As you might expect, several hundred people turned out to join the ambassador and his guests - France 24 president Alain de Pouzilhac, France 24 director-general Christine Ockrent and France 24 Arabic service director Nahida Nakad - for the event." The Daily Star (Beirut), 4 May 2009.
     "Christine Ockrent, the chief executive of France 24, says CNBC’s ability to reach more viewers with its Arabic offering than with its English – in part because the Arabic is available on free-to-air satellite – inspired the French channel’s investment in Arabic. ... She believes the French, or continental European, perspective on these issues holds a special interest for the Arab world, which is much more closely linked geographically, politically and culturally to Europe than it is to the US, where media has traditionally dominated the international cable news landscape. ... If the expanded Arabic channel proves a success, it plans to broadcast in Arabic 24 hours a day next year, she says." The National (Abu Dhabi), 6 May 2009.
     "According to Ockrent, surveys reveal that English-language channels that switch to Arabic versions see their Arab audience rating overtaking that of the English version, which means that adopting an Arabic version is a good strategy. A survey conducted by TNS/Sofres is to be released by the end of May, and is expected to reveal the current positioning of the French channel across the Arab world, in the GCC, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. Ockrent indicated that France 24, yet not rated among the top news channels in the Levant and the GCC, holds the second place ranking in North Africa after Al Jazeera. France 24 has 25 correspondents in the region, of whom some are journalists working with Radio MonteCarlo, sister radio station, and mainly based in Egypt, Lebanon and Dubai." Emirates Business 24/7, 7 May 2009.
     Update: "Accompanying this launch will be an advertising campaign on the Al Jazeera channel, with the slogan 'You don't need more news, you need a new perspective'. In the same way as during the launch campaign in 2006, FRANCE 24 has decided to have two promotional films made by the Vingt-neuf agency and produced by Wanda Productions, which express the special nature of the channel's international news perspective." France 24 press release, 10 May 2009.

Still Al Jazeera, after 13 years.

Posted: 11 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Jamil Azar, Al Jazeera senior anchor: "Q: You also devised the slogan, 'The opinion and the other opinion.' Are you still keeping to that principle? Azar: There has been no change to our principles but experience made us even more daring in tackling some very difficult areas, such as censorship by regimes. We are still al Jazeera, even after 13 years on air. We are banned by several countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia. Our offices have been closed in other countries for a time. ... We do not target any country, we present the news where we find it. We report the facts, but that makes the governments who don’t like their problems being discussed attack us." Andy Carling, New Europe, 11 May 2009.

International channels as little rectangles on your computer display.

Posted: 10 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"If you're not satisfied with the TV available through your cable or satellite provider--or if you're looking for alternative channels around the world--give the free RevoluTV a try. This free program lets you tune into TV channels around the world for news, entertainment, sports and more. ... Install it, then choose from any of the many built-in channels from countries ranging from Argentina to France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. Then tune in to foreign news, entertainment and sports in the small video viewer." PC World via Washington Post, 10 May 2009.

Ramallah television station looks for additional US funding.

Posted: 10 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Wattan TV "is a commercial, secular station broadcasting from Ramallah, West Bank. In the Arab world, that by itself is quite unusual." Station director Muamar Orabi "is in the United States this month, on an Eisenhower Fellowship, looking for funding and advice. The U.S. Agency for International Development recognizes the value of having an independent station serving the West Bank and Gaza and gave him $500,000 to upgrade his facilities, but it's not enough, he laments. As it turns out, Wattan is now the most popular station in the West Bank and Gaza because it defies the Arab political orthodoxy that says every consideration of life is less important than the struggle against Israel." Joel Brinkley, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 May 2009.

Deutsche Welle radio dramas for young Africans.

Posted: 10 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle (DW) the International Broadcaster from Germany is producing for the first time radio dramas for African youth at the Kelele Studios in Mombasa. Learning by Ear is the title of this ambitious pan African project produced by DW in five languages in various African countries. At the Kelele Studios DW is producing the Kiswahili Verson of the radio dramas which connect useful information on issues like Malaria, Media, Economics and Family Planning in a modern and young language. The scripts are written by African authors and recorded with dedicated Kenyan actors.", 8 May 2009.

"Faithful old radio is our friend."

Posted: 10 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio fills every niche: there's an Asian network, a dedicated live sports station, and any number of music options devoted to jungle or ska, as well as our beloved Radio Three. In a global, mobile age, radio is the most mobile of media – and it's also brilliantly suited to our recessionary times. The rise in listening figures probably has something to do with increasing numbers of people stuck at home with no money. Radio feeds the idle mind and stops it fretting, and all you need is a £7.30 transistor (even a digital set will set you back only £35). It is adaptable. You can listen in the bath, on the M62, up a tree, via your TV, mobile, laptop or MP3. It's local. There are 40 BBC stations and many more commercial stations reaching out to communities with gossip, information and opportunities to let off steam about local issues of real concern. It's political. The World Service had huge audiences in Burma during the riots last year as a reliable source of what was going on. And it's a life-saver – Ingrid Betancourt survived being held prisoner in the depths of the Colombian jumble because of the weekly messages she heard from her family on the tiny shortwave transistor she was given by her kidnappers. In short, faithful old radio is our friend. Long may it prosper." Kate Chisholm, The Telegraph, 7 May 2009.
     "I would paraphrase the title as 'Internet Radio - my comforting friend'. I have long despaired of Radio 4, which seems much of the time to have become 'Women's FM'. Thankfully, the Internet gives me access to American Public Radio (NPR) [sic], where political discussion is more substance, less froth, and most importantly, where SCIENCE is given respect. Try finding anything that doesn't insult your intelligence on Science on Radio 4. There's NOTHING, and not even a measly hour weekly on the ever-needed & ever-changing computer world. On NPR however, the situation is quite different. 'Talk Of The Nation - Science Friday' and 'The Computer Guys' are but two shining examples." Kerry Marshall, comment to ibid.
     "I must just enter my customary wail about the shocking and surely maleficent left-liberal bias of the BBC World Service, at least as received in Europe. Britain surely has the only Foreign Office in the world to fund a propaganda station against many of its own policies." Peterlookingfor, comment to ibid.

As shortwave broadcasting declines, "shortwave" thrives as the name of things that have little to do with shortwave.

Posted: 10 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"To [London's] SE1 last night, as the ribbon on the brand-new Bermondsey Square development was cut. The old medieval square, formerly a clunic abbey, has been overhauled entirely and now boasts your standard modern mix of cutting-edge restaurants, luxury flats, bars, a pricey hotel and, ticking the 'authenticity' box, an age-old antiques market. However, it does have one unique attraction: Shortwave Cinema, a 50-seater uniplex which the owners wryly claim is the first cinema to be built in 21st century Britain." Londonist, 8 May 2009. See also Shortwave cinema/bar/café website.

English radio comes to South Korea.

Posted: 10 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"TBS eFM, the country's first public English-language radio station [is] available in the capital, Incheon and surrounding areas. ... Since its launch, two more English-only stations have been established in Busan (Busan e-FM) and Gwangju (GFN), in March and April. And three more are to open this year in Ulsan, Daejeon and Daegu, meaning people in the country's seven major cities will have access to English-only radio. Chronic complaints from foreign nationals over a lack of local information are a key reason for their establishment. ... Some foreign listeners say the radio is geared toward Korean students who are using the channel to study English. 'The program contents are overwhelmingly geared toward a Korean audience, not the expat community,' said Sean Hayes, an American lawyer working in Seoul." The Korea Times, 8 May 2009. The possibility of relays of foreign English-language stations, such as BBC World Service in Taipei, is not mentioned in this article. See also the tbs eFM website, which has a live audio stream.

VOA and Tiananmen, 20 years ago.

Posted: 10 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"This year marks the 20th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring. ... From the May 9, 1989 New York Times: 'The real news does not travel fast in this Communist country, at least through official channels. So when the streets here swell with protesters, people all over China tune in the Voice of America. During the turmoil of recent weeks, people in offices, factories and schools throughout China have clustered by the radio to listen to the latest episodes in the saga of student protest. At Beijing University, students huddle around posters that report the latest Voice bulletins, and the other day, hundreds of students crowded around a dormitory window listening to a dispatch. The United States Government radio network hardly competes with China’s Central People’s Broadcasting station, which probably has the largest number of listeners in the world. But during times of unrest, China’s news organizations tend to be silent about what many Chinese people are most interested in, sending waves of would-be listeners to the American competition.' ... If you have access to additional sources of original reporting, video, accounts or photos from the spring of 1989, please send them to us... " China Digital Times, 9 May 2009.

The only negative impact of China's propaganda would be an increase in the US public diplomacy budget.

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Cyberspies' breaking into US government computers kicked off alarm bells in Washington last week at a hearing by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission entitled 'China’s Propaganda and Influence Operations, Its Intelligence Activities that Target the United States, and the Resulting Impacts on U.S. National Security.'" Dr. Nicholas Cull, Professor of Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California: “China is doing nothing wrong in its public diplomacy drive. It is wise from China’s point of view. The wrong would be for the west to ignore it. The appropriate response of the west should be to meet the overtures for exchanges in the spirit in which they are intended and to accept opportunities to know china better and facilitate China knows more the west. I believe that the United States needs to expand its public diplomacy because that is the only way to effectively conduct foreign policy in the twenty first century." Thomas Wilkins, ChinaStakes, 9 May 2009. In any century, most foreign policy will be conducted by non-public diplomats in non-public settings. The hearing also discussed the expansion of China's international broadcasting as part of its public diplomacy. This will likely not succeed because China's international broadcasting is part of China's public diplomacy. In the surveys I've seen, China Radio International and CCTV-9, though modernized, have generally attracted only very small numbers because they are not providing the comprehensive and credible news that international audiences are seeking. See also U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 30 April 2009, with links to papers.

Latest twist in the Wone murder (updated).

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office admitted Friday that evidence has been mishandled in the case of the murder of Robert Wone, a lawyer found stabbed to death in a Dupont Circle row house in August 2006. A BlackBerry belonging to the victim was not copied as planned, leaving prosecutors without two crucial email messages allegedly sent by the victim on the night he died." WTTG-TV, 24 April 2009. See also The Blog of Legal Times, 24 April 2009. Wone was general counsel of Radio Free Asia at the time of his death. See previous post.
     Update: "Just what happened to the BlackBerry belonging to Robert Wone, the attorney who was fatally stabbed in Aug. 2006? The mystery continues. ... According to prosecutors, Wone’s widow returned the BlackBerry to her husband’s employer, Radio Free Asia, where Wone was general counsel. Kirschner said in court last week the government has been unsuccessful in tracking down the BlackBerry and has been unable to acquire the data from it." The Blog of LegalTimes, 7 May 2009.

Getting an invite to Hillary Clinton's RFE/RL visit.

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"I called John O'Sullivan. A respected former journalist and chief adviser to Margaret Thatcher, he is now managing director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He is also an old friend from the fight against communism and a member of Global Panel America's board. 'John,' I said with urgency in my voice, 'I need a favor. The Prague Society has not made it onto the secretary's schedule. I know she is visiting RFE/RL. I need an exception to get me in at this late date to cover her visit.' An hour later, it was done. ... The secretary's speech at Radio Free Europe was her only offline visit. She is the head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but it was still tough to fit in a secretary of her stature, especially when 27 heads of state, along with foreign ministers and a slew of other officials, were asking for her time. Never mind the president himself. RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin and his staff fought diligently to get her in the door. I had arrived at 8:20 a.m., just before the lockdown. Bill, the head of RFE security, met me and I asked if we could have a smoker's moment outside. He was delighted and later led me to the staff dining hall." Marc S. Ellenbogen, UPI, 7 May 2009. The Secretary of State as "head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors"? Does this columnist have any idea what that would imply? The Secretary of State has one ex officio seat on the BBG, with the under secretary for public diplomacy actually attending the meetings. And John O'Sullivan's title at RFE/RL is executive editor. See previous post about Clinton at RFE/RL.

Russia muzzles the media.

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The power of the state exerts its most important influence through control of television. This dominance allows the government to shape the news and the perceptions of those who consume it. Most Russians rely on television as their prime source of information, and they don't hear the criticisms of Kremlin opponents because networks, with Kremlin prodding, have placed these opponents on their blacklist. At a time when critical analysis of government policies is sorely needed, it is worrisome that media oriented toward entertainment and propaganda has gained such a foothold. True, the Internet has become an increasingly important alternative outlet for informing and engaging Russian audiences, but as Internet penetration has increased, so have the authorities' measures to interfere with users' rights. ... The authorities have also sought to muzzle foreign media outlets, including the programming of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the BBC and Voice of America. The Kremlin has undertaken a systematic intimidation campaign in which RFE/RL's Russian partners have been subjected to harassment. In a span of eight years, a total of 26 RFE/RL affiliates have been knocked off the air. Today, only seven remain." Christopher Walker of Freedom House, Moscow Times, 7 May 2009.

CNN International reports on H1N1.

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International managing editor Deborah Rayner adds: 'From the outset, we've stressed the need for credible information without sensationalism. The media can allay fears as well as incite them. The flipside is that any new incident can be reported immediately because of the instant nature of communication.' Mexico is the largest bureau for CNN Español but Rayner says that coverage mustn't outweigh the business and political aspects to the story. 'We don't want to spook the markets,' she says." Broadcast, 6 May 2009.
     "CNN International journalist and presenter, Richard Quest, is to be moderator at the Global Media Face-Off (GMFO) at Africa’s top travel trade show, INDABA, to be held in Durban from 9 - 12 May 2009. ... 'Having Richard Quest on board is a great coup and re-affirms the significance and caliber of INDABA. Quest has a distinctive and hard-hitting style that we are confident will bring insightfulness to the media debate around our destination; our readiness for 2010 and our reaction to the global credit crunch,' says Didi Moyle, acting CEO South African Tourism.", 6 May 2009.

Death of WWII shortwave monitor Juanita LeBlanc.

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Juanita Jane Sutterfield Le Blanc Born July 7, 1919 ... In 1941 received career appointment to Federal Communications Commission, Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service Washington, DC. Promoted and transferred by FCC-FVIS to Portland, OR, to be in charge of opening the first United States substation to monitor shortwave activities of Asia and South Pacific. The station located in East Portland was the first to monitor the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Other notable events in WWII were reported by the station." The Columbian (Vancouver WA), 7 May 2009.

CRI opens Confucius Classroom in Sydney.

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"China Radio International (CRI) and the Australian Chinese Education Center (ACEC) jointly launched the On-air Confucius Classroom in Sydney on Thursday afternoon with the hopes of attracting more and more Australians to learn Chinese language and culture. At the launching ceremony, CRI President Wang Gengnian told the participants that the launch of the On-air Confucius Classroom Sydney, together with ACEC, was of great importance as it would provide a new platform for China-Australia cultural exchanges and help boost Chinese language education in Sydney and across the country. ... CRI first launched the On-air Confucius Institute in December, 2007 and now there are 11 On-air Confucius Classrooms under the institute overseas, including the newly established Confucius Classroom Sydney, the first such on-air classroom in southern hemisphere." CRI, 7 May 2009.

EuroNews European election channel on YouTube: "Please Eurosceptics, come to us."

Posted: 09 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Online broadcaster YouTube and TV channel Euronews ... launched a new broadcasting service to 'connect voters and candidates' ahead of next month's European elections. ... The project, which becomes active for the public later this week, primarily relies on user-generated content, inviting citizens to submit questions to candidate MEPs by uploading videos to a dedicated channel on YouTube, a popular online video community owned by US giant Google. Euronews will broadcast a selection of the questions – and MEPs, think-tank representatives and other Brussels commentators' answers to them – at the end of its half-hourly news bulletins, which reach 256 million households in 144 countries. ... 'Questions for Europe' looks to draw inspiration from the communications success of Barack Obama's US presidential campaign, said Bill Echikson, senior manager for communications at Google. ... Some observers present at yesterday's launch suggested that the channel could become a Eurosceptic hub, as most public contributions to such initiatives tended to be anti-EU. 'We're not afraid of it becoming a Eurosceptic channel. We know that it will be mainly Eurosceptic, and we're waiting for that. We need all points of view for it to be credible,' insisted Euronews' [MD Michael] Peters. 'Please Eurosceptics, come to us,' he urged.", 6 May 2009. See also EuroNews Questions for Europe web page.

She will sell CBeebies to the USA.

Posted: 08 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide has hired Kristina Song, formerly of Time Warner Cable, as senior VP of network sales and distribution strategy ahead of the launch of BBC America HD and kids' channel CBeebies. She will oversee all affiliate sales and marketing activities for distribution of BBC America, BBC World News and other BBC channels in the U.S. in conjunction with Discovery Communications. ... 'Kristina is joining us at an exciting time as we develop the BBC's portfolio of channels in the U.S. and prepare to launch BBC America HD and CBeebies, the BBC's brilliant pre-school channel.'" Multichannel News, 6 May 2009.

BBC World Service increases its domestic dissemination.

Posted: 08 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"While the BBC's World Service has soared to a record domestic audience, the latest listening figures show its local radio stations and flagship station in the capital, BBC London 94.9, have not fared as well. The World Service, which is available via digital audio broadcasting (DAB), digital TV and online, had a weekly reach of 1.47 million people in the first three months of this year, up 9.3% on the same period in 2008, according to official Rajar figures published today." The Guardian, 7 May 2009. See also BBC press release, 7 May 2009.

VOA Hindi, Craotian, and Greek would be eliminated in 2010 federal budget.

Posted: 08 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The 2010 Budget proposal would eliminate VOA Hindi, Croatian, and Greek language broadcasts and close a finance office located in Paris. While the overall funding level for VOA is increasing from 2009, the administration says, funding related to these language services within VOA will be reduced from about $3 million to $1 million." Federal Eye, Washington Post, 7 May 2009. Would RFE/RL Croatian continue? Update: I've been reminded that RFE/RL dropped Croatian "years ago." Its Serbian and Montenegrin services continue.
     "Cutting some VOA languages and closing a VOA finance ofice in Paris is a worthy start but not nearly as effective as ceasing the entire VOA operations and merging the many similar organiz[a]tions into a one more effective entity. VOA, Radio Marti, Radio Farda, Radio Free Europe, VOA-TV, and others have served a useful need but now are only competing organizations whose effecti[ve]ness has diminished. Much more effective would be an NPR like operation world-wide for Americans living overseas, much like BBC world service. And, let the rest of the world listen in if they want to know what America thinks. NPR and PRi could then and should be broadcast via the Internet, Satellite TV, local AM and FM facilities, and short-wave to all of the world. Portions of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and others could and should also be included. But we do not need the bloated bureaucracy of the VOA or any of its bedfellows to continue." ghp60 comment to ibid. See previous post about same subject.

Report: expanded jamming of Radio Martí (updated).

Posted: 07 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Listeners of Radio Martí in the Mariel municipality of Havana say the government is interfering with the signal 24 hours a day for the first time. Various listeners throughout the area said the signal had been received with no or little interference until the end of last year. A man named Rafael, a constant listener to the U.S. government station, said, 'They only lessen the interference when there’s a major league baseball game is being broadcast. If it’s broadcasting news or hot commentary it’s impossible to receive the signal. It’s as if the radio is going to break because of the vibrations.'" Miami Herald, 4 May 2009. It was my understanding that the jamming was already 24 hours. This article does not specify if the stepped up jamming is on medium wave or shortwave.
     Update: "Cuba again denounced yesterday before the United Nations the US illegal radio and TV broadcasts against the island, 'a radio-electronic aggression that openly violates International Law regulations.' Cuban ambassador Abelardo Moreno, said in the general debate of the UN Information Committee that illegal radio and TV broadcasts against Cuba do not emit information, on the contrary, they forge and distort it. ... The experienced Cuban diplomat said each week stations in US territory transmit over 1,955 hours of radio and TV broadcasts over 31 different frequencies of medium, short waves, FM and TV. ... He said that from the 25 stations transmitting subversive programs against Cuba, 20 send their signals directly against that nation, among them the Voice of America and the wrongly named Radio and TV Marti, property of the US government.", 6 May 2009.

From VOA's dissident AV collection.

Posted: 07 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A senior Tibetan monk, Labrang Jigme, has been released from custody after six months of detention without charges following the involvement of two Chinese lawyers with his case. ... Jigme's account of his torture while in detention, which nearly led to his death, was broadcast on Voice of America after they obtained a copy of the video... ." International Campaign for Tibet, 6 May 2009.
     "A dissident Iranian cleric who was arrested with hundreds of his followers in 2006 was tortured in prison Tuesday after issuing a statement urging the United Nations to oversee a referendum in Iran, his supporters tell Newsmax. Jailed cleric Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Borujerdi contends the referendum is needed to allow 'young and old generations to choose their government independently.' ... Until recently, Borujerdi has been able to make brief telephone calls to members of his family. Some of these exchanges have been taped and sent via the Internet to the Persian language service of Voice of America and Radio Israel. In one recent call, Borujerdi asked his family to tell his followers that they should boycott the presidential election, because the regime is selecting all the candidates." Kenneth R. Timmerman,, 6 May 2009.

New on VOA PNN: Roya Khat.

Posted: 07 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) today introduced a new interactive television program which aims to promote engagement and interaction between Iranians and Americans. Roya Khat (Straight Talk), which airs Monday through Friday at 1730 UTC (10:00 p.m. local Iranian time), will look at a topic of great interest to a youthful audience for an entire week, examining it in-depth, from different angles. Accomplished guests may discuss science, technology, social issues, the environment, politics, economics, art or culture. News on the United States and information about the lives of Americans will also be featured. For its debut week, Roya Khat focuses on press freedom, highlighting World Press Freedom Day." VOA press release, 4 May 2009.

"Are you paying for TV no one is watching?"

Posted: 07 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Arabs are watching news and entertainment programmes from Arabic satellite channels like Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, MBC, and LBC. But they are not watching the news stations Western governments are funding to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year: BBC Arabic, the American Al Hurra, France 24 Arabic, and Deutsche Welle Arabia. ... They either need to undergo dramatic reform, or the governments promoting them should stop wasting taxpayers' money. ... Why would one expect Arab viewers to tune in to Al Hurra when, for example, it never broadcasts speeches by Hassan Nasrallah? After all, the Hezbollah leader's public appearances are shown live on all other Arabic news channels. The result is that Al Hurra's current viewership represents less than 3% of the potential market and drops below 2% in times of crisis. ... Much like Al Hurra, BBC Arabic has failed to establish itself with Arab viewers. International news channels such as Al Arabiya gained fame thanks to exclusive coverage of the Iraq conflict in 2003 and Jazeera was made notorious during its exclusive coverage from Kabul in 2001. But BBC Arabic missed the opportunity of the Gaza conflict of end of 2008 early 2009 to distinguish itself." Nadim Hasbani, Huffington Post, 5 May 2009.
     International broadcasters have rarely been able to match the audience size of domestic stations, even in countries with deficient or controlled media. The international stations do provide a supplement, e.g. as a fact checker, to domestic media. The audiences for international broadcasting, if relatively small, are elite and influential.
     Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are essentially domestic channels in the Arab world. It would be unrealistic to expect Alhurra or BBC Arabic to match or overtake their audience sizes. But if Alhurra and BBC Arabic TV can reach at least ten percent, weekly, of better educated Arabs, they will have an impact in the region.
     The audience numbers for Alhurra mentioned by Mr. Hasbani seem to come from a 2008 survey (see previous post) and measure the percent who watch Alhurra "most often." Well, "most often" is an unreasonable measure for an international station. That same survey shows that nine percent of the general population watches Alhurra at least five days a week. That greatly exceeds my yardstick of ten percent of the better educated viewing at least once a week.
     As for BBC Arabic TV, it has been on the air for little over a year, and has been 24 hours only since January. It is probably just beginning to establish itself among Arab audiences. And the entire BBC news organization has no doubt had discussions about how not to be caught without on-the-ground coverage in future conflicts.
     Now that BBC Arabic TV is over a year old, we should be seeing some audience numbers. And a new round of audience figures for Alhurra is due. The taxpayers of the UK and the United States, armed with realistic expectations, deserve to see these results. Furthermore, hard data from surveys would reduce the flow of incompletely informed opinion pieces about international broadcasting.

More science in public diplomacy may not be scientific public diplomacy.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Foreign publics admire American science and technology far more than they admire America. Indeed, an analysis of Pew polling data from 43 countries shows that favorable views of American science and technology exceed overall views of the United States by an average of 23 points. This presents the United States with a public diplomacy opportunity: to remind foreign people of what they like about the United States and to highlight constructive partnerships between Americans and foreign scientists, engineers, doctors, and technology business leaders." Vaughan Turekian and Kristin M. Lord, Foreign Policy, May 2009.
     I recently looked at the program interests of international radio listeners in eleven countries of Asia and Africa. Science/technology was listed as an important topic only by about twenty percent in the combined samples. This means that science content should be presented in small doses. Or, if science is the subject of a long-form program, make it interesting, with an engaging host, so that the non-scientific types will be encouraged not to tune out.
     This is an example of what might happen if US international broadcasting is "coordinated" with US public diplomacy, as part of "strategic communications," as has been advocated lately by several experts. If USIB, as part of a central plan, is compelled to increase science programming beyond market demand, its audience will dissolve.
     To take advantage of this public diplomacy "opportunity," it may not be necessary for the taxpayers to take out their wallets. The Discovery Channel has wide international distribution, and respectable audience sizes. And this is at no cost to the taxpayers.
     Would Judith McHale, the new under secretary for public diplomacy, be willing to cede science content to a private entity? Not just any entity, but the one of which she used to be CEO? Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

Running water for your village? That would be the other corps.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"We will need a new 'information corps' along the lines of the diplomatic corps or the Peace Corps -- information specialists who can deliver messages and engage publics from Embassies to American Centers to a foreign press center, that should be re-energized in the U.S. The new Undersecretary of Diplomacy has a big job in front of her, and an abundance of options. Now the hard work begins." Tara Sonenshine and Sheldon Himelfarb, Huffington Post, 5 May 2009. And when the Peace Corps volunteers are finished with the hard work, the Information Corps can come in to deliver messages and engage publics.

Lugar resolution calls for reexamination of US "public diplomacy platform strategy."

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Senator Richard "Lugar´s S. Res. 49, a resolution to express the sense of the Senate regarding the importance of public diplomacy, ... passed the [Senate Foreign Relations] Committee. It calls for the Secretary of State to initiate a reexamination of the public diplomacy platform strategy of the United States with a goal of reestablishing publicly accessible American Centers, and consider placing United States public diplomacy facilities at locations conducive to maximizing their use, consistent with the authority given to the Secretary in the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act." American Chronicle, 5 May 2009. See also Senator Richard Lugar web page with links to committee minority staff report about US public diplomacy and to the text of S. Res. 49. One whereas in S. Res. 49 notes a BBC World Service poll in 21 countries that "found that while 40 percent of the respondents had a positive view of the United States, 43 percent had a negative view of the United States."

In the war of words, Kerry prefers deeds to words.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John F. Kerry and ranking Republican Dick Lugar today introduced a bill that would triple nonmilitary assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion annually for the next five years in a bid to help stabilize the democratically-elected government of president Asif Ali Zardari, who is besieged with a festering insurgency and a domestic financial crisis." From summary of bill: "A premise underlying the Kerry-Lugar approach is a simple thought-exercise. Following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the United States devoted nearly $1 billion to relief efforts and reaped a greater reward in popular support than any amount of public diplomacy could generate. ... For a brief period, America was challenging the terrorists in a true battle of hearts and minds -- and winning. Senators Kerry and Lugar believe that through this legislation, we can recreate these conditions: We can materially and powerfully demonstrate the true friendship of the American people for the Pakistani people, without waiting for a natural (or man-made) disaster." From Kerry floor speech: "In the wake of natural disaster, we weren't the only ones to recognize the need for public diplomacy based in deeds rather than words: the front-group for the terrorist organization Lashkar-e Taeba set up a string of professional relief camps throughout the region. But our effort was far more effective -- and the permanent gift of the US Army's last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or MASH, helped seal the deal. For a brief period, America was going toe-to-toe with extremists in a true battle of hearts and minds -- and actually winning." Boston Globe, 4 May 2009.

Adventist World Radio's "Wavescan" moves to Miami.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Wavescan," the longstanding Adventist World Radio program for radio enthusiasts, is moving its production from Singapore to private shortwave station WRMI in Miami. See AWR and WRMI press releases.
     Related: "The Adventist World Radio Board of Directors has voted to relocate AWR’s Asia/Pacific region office from Singapore to Batam Island, Indonesia. The move is scheduled to take place by the end of May this year. 'Just by relocating, AWR expects to save well over $100,000 per year. The money we save will go toward airtime for our broadcasts, and should cover the costs of broadcasting several languages,' says AWR president Ben Schoun." AWR press release, 13 April 2009.

Belarus: Russian TV out, Chinese TV in.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"According to the patriarch of Belarusian TV journalism, the two nation-wide TV channels which are under the total control of the state and smaller television studios are working as network operators: more and more often they broadcast informational products of others. It’s mostly censored Russian product, but the regime promises that a Chinese TV channel is to appear in Belarus soon. Though Belarus does not have a high-quality TV production, the authorities block access to foreign TV. Leanid Mindlin reminds that not long ago several Russian TV channels were removed from the network of cable TV operators. However, according to the journalist Iryna Khalip, Belarusians have a way to find a window to the world. They are in numerous online mass media." Charter 97, 6 May 2009.

Should the United States allow Chinese media?

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese central government blocks Voice of America and Radio Free Asia and severely restricts CNN and other privately owned networks, of course. Yet at the same time, CCTV is allowed to distribute widely its English and Chinese programming on cable in the U.S. So should we allow any Chinese media--TV programming, books, newspapers or magazines--here? The buzz word is 'reciprocity,' and we should be demanding it." Gordon G. Chang, Forbes, 6 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

IFJ: Qatar not the best place for World Free Press Day.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
The International Federation of Journalists "has criticised the United Nations for holding its annual World Free Press Day in Qatar, accusing the Gulf state of suppressing its domestic media. Qatar has garnered praise for hosting the Doha Debates, an outspoken programme on the Muslim world aired by the BBC, and the gas-rich nation also launched the controversial Al-Jazeera satellite channel. However, Qatar’s domestic press continues to be restricted by an archaic media law and pervasive government control, media watchdogs say." Financial Times, 5 May 2009.

Al Jazeera English via South Africa's News24.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"News24, South Africa's leading digital news destination, has entered into a content syndication arrangement with Al Jazeera English, the 24-hour news and current affairs TV channel headquartered in Qatar. As part of the deal, News24 will publish daily video news bulletins from broadcast centres in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington uploaded onto the News24 website throughout the day." News24 press release, 5 May 2009.

Al Jazeera video of US soldiers' bible class causes holy row (updated).

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. military denied on Monday it has allowed soldiers to try to convert Afghans to Christianity, after a television network showed pictures of soldiers with bibles translated into local languages. ... Qatar-based Al Jazeera television showed footage filmed last year of a church service at Bagram, the main U.S. base north of the Afghan capital Kabul, and a bible study class where soldiers had a stack of bibles in the local languages, Pashtu and Dari." Reuters, 4 May 2009.
     "A spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan has slammed an Al Jazeera story about a soldier in Afghanistan who received copies of the Bible in Pashto and Dari. ... 'This is very irresponsible on their part to try to contort something out of video of a service and a Bible study class on a U.S. base for U.S. soldiers a year ago,' said Col. Gregory Julian, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Julian warned that the story 'could incite violence that could cost someone their life.' Al Jazeera English was unable to reach military officials for comment until after the story aired, a network spokesperson said Monday. 'As with all of our reporting, AJE made every attempt to show all sides of the story and this piece was no exception,' the spokesman said. 'We believe that this was an important story to tell to the world and are confident that the footage aired on AJE speaks for itself.'" Stars and Stripes, 5 May 2009.
     "US soldiers have been encouraged to spread the message of their Christian faith among Afghanistan's predominantly Muslim population, video footage obtained by Al Jazeera appears to show." Al Jazeera English, 4 May 2009, with link to video.
     "A former Afghan prime minister has called for an inquiry after Al Jazeera broadcast footage showing Christian US soldiers appearing to be preparing to try and convert Muslims in Afghanistan." Al Jazeera English, 4 May 2009.
     "The US military has confiscated Bibles that Christian US soldiers in Afghanistan had apparently intended to give to local Muslims, a military spokesman has said." Al Jazeera English, 5 May 2009.
     "The US's highest ranking military officer has said it is not the US military's position to promote any specific religion, after Al Jazeera revealed footage of troops apparently preparing to convert Afghans to their Christian faith." Al Jazeera English, 5 May 2009.
     "Siamak Heravi, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, downplayed the significance of the report. ... 'We read this report. First of all, we strongly deny it. No power that is based in Afghanistan would be allowed to [do this],' Heravi said. 'We are discussing this issue. But according to preliminary reports we got from U.S. authorities, this report is false and hypocritical and baseless.'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 5 May 2009.
     Update: The Pentagon 'charged that Al Jazeera had 'grossly misrepresent[ed] the truth.' Col. Greg Julian, told Al Jazeera: 'Most of this is taken out of context ... this is irresponsible and inappropriate journalism.' Now, Al Jazeera and the man who filmed the controversial material are striking back. The network has just released unedited and unaltered footage (see below) of US soldiers in 'bible study' in Afghanistan. Jazeera describes it as 'Extended footage shot by Brian Hughes, a US documentary maker and former member of the US military who spent several days in Bagram near Kabul.'" Jeremy Scahill, Huffington Post, 5 May 2009.
     "Any contention by the military that his words are purposefully taken out of context to alter the tone or meaning of his sermon is absolutely false." Brian Hughes, The World and the Warriors, 4 May 2009. See also Al Jazeera video, 5 May 2009.

Demise of newspapers as threat to democracy.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Unfortunately, as newspapers die, cut back or transform into empty vessels like USA Today, future Watergates are far more likely to go unnoticed. This is great news for Machiavellian leaders who are clever and devious enough to hide their crimes from public view. And, if past and present provide any guide, there will be a lot of them. Seen in this light, the demise of the newspaper industry represents a threat to democracy itself. Who will do the tedious but necessary footwork to qualify as a proper watchdog over democratic freedoms that can be easily lost if not assiduously guarded? Who will make the news about more than our immediate fears and amusements?" Kent Ewing, Asia Times Online, 5 May 2009.

Arabic channels to North America via IPTV.

Posted: 06 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Talfazat announces today the launch of its set-top-box service providing the Arabic community with content delivered in high digital quality direct to the television set via the Internet. ... Building from the international success of Talfazat's online platform, the set-top-box service streams content both live and on-demand. The service is available to subscribers in North America and features 26 channels in the U.S. and 35 channels in Canada including Al Jazeera, MBC, Future TV, Al Arabiya, and Abu Dhabi Sports Channel as well as other popular live and on-demand television channels from leading Arabic content providers. As the first to market, and only North American platform streaming live Arabic channels over the Internet direct to the television set, Talfazat TV showcases a variety of the best and most up to date Arabic Series, entertainment, religious programming, talk shows, music, movies, comedies and more." Talfazat press release, 4 May 2009. See photo of set-top box at Digital Home Canada, 4 May 2009. See also

In Guyana, listening to internet radio stations because they only have 8 to 10 minutes of ads per break.

Posted: 05 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Yes, we live in Guyana, in the Caribbean and local and Caribbean music must be played (which I do not like), but people like me must not lose sleep in the nights to listen to the American Music link with the Voice of America if I want to listen to some adult alternative, pop, rock, soul, or some other genre of American music. I tune in to Canadian and American radio stations on the internet — quality radio worth listening to. A long set of songs is played, which is followed by eight or ten minutes of advertisements, and the cycle continues throughout the day, with a little news and weather every now and again. Gosh, if only our 98.1 FM station could be like that. Instead we have shows named after alcoholic beverages being deejayed by loud-mouthed persons encouraging you to drink this stout and that beer. What utter nonsense." Leon Jameson Suseran, letter to Stabroek News (Georgetown), 5 May 2009. The reference to VOA suggests that VOA music programs on shortwave are heard only late a night.

In Burma, receiving outside news is costly "in more ways than one."

Posted: 05 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Burmese have taken to relying on outside news sources just so they could keep up with what is happening in their country, even though doing so can be costly, and in more ways than one. Among their favorites are radio broadcasts by the BBC, Voice of America, and Radio Free Asia, all of which have Burmese-language programs. Since 2005, the Democratic Voice of Burma, based in Norway, has also been beaming television signals via satellite into Myanmar. Over the weekend, the intrepid BBC made sure that the world would not forget Nargis and the ruling junta; it ran a series of reports on Myanmar, including a most daring documentary on how Burmese folk endure hunger, land mines, and military reprisal in villages sympathetic to the Karen guerrillas. Owning a satellite dish, however, would mean forking over serious money as subscription—as much as one million kyats (Myanmar’s currency), or the equivalent of $1,000, in a country where the annual per capita income is said to be $280. One Rangoon-based journalist in an interview in Bangkok said: 'The regime does not ban them . . . just made it impossible for the people to afford.'" Tita C. Valderama, The Manila Times, 6 May 2009. Many Burmese ignore the required fees and use gray-market dishes.

China defends its idea of press freedom.

Posted: 05 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Ma Zhaoxu, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that the Chinese government protected freedom of speech according to law, and had brought the public and media's supervision into full play. ... 'We urge the U.S to respect the facts and China's jurisdiction, view China's press freedom correctly, and stop intervening in China's press freedom,' Ma stressed. Ma's remarks came in the wake of Obama's statement marking World Press Freedom Day on May 1. Obama said in the statement that journalists were being harassed or jailed in countries including China, Cuba, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe." Xinhua, 4 May 2009. See also President Obama's statement, White House, 1 May 2009.

Royce: South Korea, Japan "objectionable" re broadcasts to North Korea.

Posted: 05 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"South Korea has provided little assistance to the growing number of private defector-run radios being run out of Seoul. These independent broadcasters, many operating with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy, must transmit their material from land far away from North Korea, as does U.S.-backed Radio Free Asia. Also objectionable, the government of Japan prohibits independent medium-wave transmissions from its territory to the Korean Peninsula, despite requests from the U.S. government. It is baffling to me that our ally Japan will not permit its territory to be used for radio broadcasts aimed at getting as much information into North Korea as possible, given its concern about abductees. Tokyo has no excuse." Rep. Ed Royce (R-California), speech to Heritage Foundation, 5 May 2009. Rep. Royce does not mention VOA Korean, which has the largest audience in North Korea of any external (other than South Korean) broadcaster, probably more so now that it (and not RFA) has access to a medium wave relay in South Korea.

International channels come to Topeka.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Yet another perfectly good use of the digital spectrum comes to Kansas today, when Topeka's public broadcaster becomes the 20th affiliate of MHz Worldview, a public service network specializing in international educational and arts programming. It looks to be a competitor to Link TV, which is a great service out of San Francisco but has had trouble getting carried on anything other than DirecTV and Dish (which were required to set aside bandwidth for services like Link). ... On a typical day, you'll see news from the English-language channel France 24 (which is also available online at Livestation), 'Euronews' and various Asian-themed programs." Aaron Barnhart, TV Barn blog, Kansas City Star, 4 May 2009.

From ABC to AJE, he says his journalism is still "unflinching."

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A former director of news at the [Australian] ABC, head of the National Nine News and editor-in-chief of Ninemsn, [Max] Uechtritz moved to Doha in January to become director of programming for the Al Jazeera English service. ... 'We see ourselves as translators,' Uechtritz says. 'We give a voice to the voiceless, increase knowledge and by so doing, decrease ignorance which many see as the root of all evil. Our programming objectives are to tell the stories the others don't, either because they're not there, or because they don't see things through our eyes. We want to examine the clash between the powerful and the people, and to bridge the cultural divide. I have been struck by the similarity between our mission at AJE and my time at the ABC in Sydney. We want to practice fair, unflinching journalism, to hold authorities to account and give voice to those who would otherwise be silenced.'" The Australian, 4 May 2009. See previous post about Uetricht.

New Viacom manager in China hopes to move beyond SpongeBob.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"MTV Networks International, a division of Viacom Inc. has appointed Mei Yan to the position of Managing Director, MTV Networks China and Chief Representative of Viacom Asia Inc in China. ... Mei Yan assumes this position immediately and will be responsible for overseeing operations of MTV Networks’ business in China including the 24-hour MTV China in Guangdong, Nickelodeon and all of its brand extensions, MTV and Nickelodeon branded co-productions in the mainland, digital media and consumer products. Ms. Mei will also be responsible for Viacom Asia Inc.’s new business development and governmental relations. ... 'MTV Network’s pioneering inroads in China combined with the brand strength of MTV, SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer and Nickelodeon make this position uniquely challenging and exciting at the same time,' said Ms. Mei. 'I’m looking forward to exploring new business opportunities and further tapping into the multiplatform potential these brands present in China. Viacom and MTV Networks have generated unrivalled success and momentum in the mainland, and I’m determined to keep this impressive trajectory moving forward.'", 4 May 2009.
     "After many years of fervent lobbying and deal-making in China, American media companies have little to show for their efforts there and are increasingly shifting their attention instead to India. Media executives still believe that Chinese audiences are receptive to Western culture — 'SpongeBob SquarePants' is a big hit in China — but many companies have been pulling back out of frustration over censorship, piracy, strict restrictions on foreign investment and the glacial pace of its bureaucracy. In recent weeks, America Online shut its operations in China, for the second time. Warner Brothers, the movie studio that shares a corporate parent with AOL in Time Warner, had plans as recently as 2006 to open more than 200 retail stores throughout China, with a local partner. Today there are no such plans." Tim Arango, New York Times, 4 May 2009.

Pushing China's labor movement via RFA.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Han Dongfang, from Beijing, now in Hong Kong: "I am not allowed back to mainland China, but we are pushing the labour movement forward there with the strategies and ideas we put out every month in our China Labour Bulletin and on Radio Free Asia. ... One of our jobs at China Labour Bulletin is to hire lawyers to act for workers in China. I run between the office and Radio Free Asia, where I host a short-wave phone-in three times a week. Today someone called to say he had worked in a jewellery factory for 10 years, cutting stones without proper protection, and had contracted [the lung disease] silicosis. Instead of compensating him the factory fired him." The Sunday Times, 3 May 2009.

Global financial crisis affects press freedom, says Freedom House.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A report by the U.S.-based watchdog Freedom House says the global financial crisis is having a negative impact on freedom of the press. The 2009 Freedom of the Press Index, released ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, indicates that while press freedom in open societies is being affected mostly in terms of decreased funding, in countries with oppressive governments, the crisis is providing new tools for further strengthening the leadership's grip on the media. According to the index, which rates 195 countries worldwide, the biggest drop in press freedom was witnessed in Central and Eastern Europe, in addition to most of the former Soviet Union." Nikola Krastev, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 2 May 2009. See also Freedom House, 1 May 2009.
     "Israeli restrictions on journalists during its Gaza offensive have seen the state downgraded in a survey of press freedom, removing the Middle East’s lone example of a 'free' media environment. A study made public by Freedom House on Friday saw Israel move from the 'free' category to 'partly free' after officials curtailed reporters and sought to influence coverage of the three-week invasion of the Gaza Strip, which ended on Jan 18. The global report describes the region as having 'the world’s lowest level of press freedom' with only Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt ranking as 'partly free' and all other countries as 'not free'." The National (Abu Dhabi), 3 May 2009.

Psiphon works around net censorship, even on mobiles.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Canada's "Psiphon Inc. ... launched a service on Friday that allows people in China and other nations with government censorship of the Internet to get around the firewalls. The service, called Psiphon, is not the first to try to crash through Internet censorship in countries such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but it is the first to require no downloads by the user. More significantly, it's the first to work on mobile browsers, such as those on cellphones. ... One of [Psiphon's] early sponsors is the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent broadcaster that distributes programming globally in 60 languages to more than 175 million people around the world." Vito Pilieci, Ottawa Citizen, 2 May 2009.
     "More than 20 countries now use increasingly sophisticated blocking and filtering systems for Internet content, according to Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based group that encourages freedom of the press. ... In response, a disparate alliance of political and religious activists, civil libertarians, Internet entrepreneurs, diplomats and even military officers and intelligence agents are now challenging growing Internet censorship. The creators of the software seized upon by Iranians are members of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, based largely in the United States and closely affiliated with Falun Gong. The consortium is one of many small groups developing systems to make it possible for anyone to reach the open Internet. It is the modern equivalent of efforts by organizations like the Voice of America to reach the citizens of closed countries." John Markoff, New York Times, 30 April 2009.

Ten best countries in which not to waste time blogging.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"With a military government that severely restricts Internet access and imprisons people for years for posting critical material, Burma is the worst place in the world to be a blogger, the Committee to Protect Journalists says in a new report. CPJ’s '10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger' also identifies a number of countries in the Middle East and Asia where Internet penetration has blossomed and government repression has grown in response." Other countries are Iran, Syria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Tunisia, China, Turkmenistan, and Egypt. Committee to Protect Journalists, 30 April 2009. I would think North Korea would be a rather difficult place to be a blogger. Perhaps it is left off the list because blogging is just plain out of the question in North Korea.

Kazakhstan bill would tighten controls on websites.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The lower house of the Kazakh parliament has approved a controversial bill that defines the Internet as 'mass media' and thus gives officials more authority to crack down on websites and other content providers, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The move threatens to further narrow Kazakhs' already limited access to nonstate sources of news and information." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 29 April 2009.

VOA's precarious Uzbek service.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America Uzbek Service has been facing many problems for several years: it was closed by the US government, but later it was launched again. However, it may be closed down again any time because of financial problems. The US embassy in Tashkent organised a live link-up with the Voice of America Uzbek Service’s host Odil Ruzaliyev for Uzbek journalists on Thursday. Ruzaliyev told Uzbek journalists that his radio’s reach was limited in Uzbekistan. He noted that only half of the radio’s 30-minute programme was devoted to Uzbek affairs while only satellite aerials could receive the signal. Ruzaliyev said that his radio’s website was blocked in Uzbekistan even though its news reports were impartial. The Voice of America Uzbek Service may be closed down any time. It was already shut in 2004 but it was reopened in 2005 after the Andijan events.", 1 May 2009.

FM mullahs versus international radio in Pakistan's northwest border region.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"If we acknowledge the power television has as a mass medium, why do we continue to underestimate the role that illegal FM radio stations are playing in the Frontier province and Fata, especially in the context of militancy? ... Since 2005, illegal radio broadcasts and ‘FM mullahs’ — such as Maulana Fazlullah, Mangal Bagh and Mufti Munir Shakir — who rule the airwaves have been fuelling the spread of militancy. At last count, there were 150 illegal radio stations in Swat alone and over 50 across the tribal areas. ... Owing to their resilience, the US announcement about jamming illegal stations is a welcome intervention. If the Pakistan government has any intention of quelling militancy, they should do what it takes to purge the airwaves of inflammatory, extremist rhetoric. That means getting FM mullahs off the air, and then taking the extra step of enabling viable alternatives. The fact is, the people of the tribal and settled areas comprise a captive radio audience. Many communities shun television as un-Islamic and it doesn’t help that cable infrastructure has yet to extend into the northern areas. In terms of radio, too, the residents of Fata have few options. They can either tune into Radio Pakistan or Radio Azadi, the Afghan service of Radio Free Europe: the former has spotty transmission and is viewed with suspicion for promoting the national viewpoint with little sensitivity for local issues. Meanwhile, the latter’s broadcasts focus on Afghan concerns. For news, listeners have to rely on the BBC or VOA, neither of which is able to fulfill the hunger for hyper-local information." Huma Yusuf, Dawn (Karachi), 4 May 2009.
     Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani "wants equipment to knock out FM transmissions from the extremists, yet he forgets that during the 1971 war, the government of Pakistan was blocking the BBC World Service. Blocking FM transmissions is a high school science project at best." Shakir Husain, The News (Karachi), 4 May 2009. See previous posts on 20 April and 16 March 2009.

Radio: light for hostages in the dark.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Terry "Waite was held for the best part of five years in Beirut, the first four in solitary confinement. He stayed sane by reading and taking what he calls 'an interior journey'. After that, he was allowed access to a short-wave radio, and on it, as he has said before, he heard the BBC World Service magazine programme Outlook. ... When they were released, in 1991, all the British and American hostages thanked the World Service for 'keeping us alive' throughout their captivity. Others have praised it similarly. [Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Alan Johnston, the Sunday Telegraph’s Colin Freeman.] Bush House may be the best known and most widely respected broadcaster of international output, but it is, of course, not the only one. Roger Cooper, a Briton held in Iran for more than five years, was finally able to listen to Voice of America, as well as the World Service." Paul Donovan, The Sunday Times, 3 May 2009.

Satellite radio via satellite television in India?

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Should radio be a part of the direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting bouquet? The question has the country's media industry sharply divided. ... Dish TV, the first DTH operator, has said that DTH operators should not be allowed to provide radio channels as it may be a violation of the licensing conditions and uplinking/ downlinking guidelines. ... The Zee Turner Alliance, too, has opposed the idea. ... Other DTH service providers, including TataSky, Reliance Big TV, and Sun Direct, have however, stand in favour. TataSky has stated that it is a common practice in many other countries to offer radio on DTH and even on cable." DNA, 4 May 2009. The article muddles the distinction between satellite radio services, e.g. Worldspace, and radio via DTH (direct-to-home) satellite television services. The latter are received via dishes, whereas the former require smaller antennas and are more portable. International television channels are available in Indian DTH services. Would international radio also be allowed? See also MediaNama, 4 May 2009.

BBC India election train has seven bogeys (three for sleeping).

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Their temporary home for the journey is equipped with wireless internet, printers, modems and the latest gadgets. Apart from the BBC and `India ka vote challayega, duniya ka note challayega’ the sevenbogey train is fully air conditioned and has three sleeping bogeys and one that functions as a `editorial war room’. Apart from the railway staff and technical team there are half a dozen caterers. The BBC Hindi journalists and their contacts are helping out with translations." Express Buzz (Chennai), 3 May 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBCWS freelancer dies in Bolivian crash.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A journalist from Nottingham was killed in Bolivia after the taxi she was travelling in collided with two crashed lorries, an inquest heard. Louise Stoppleman de Almudevar, known as 'Lola', was travelling in a remote area of the country to report on civil unrest when the accident happened. ... The 29-year-old ... worked for the BBC in the West Midlands for four years and was working as a freelance for the BBC World Service at the time of her death." Nottingham Evening Post, 1 May 2009.

Iran's public diplomacy responding to US "retreat."

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Convinced that the Obama administration is preparing to retreat from the Middle East, Iran's Khomeinist regime is intensifying its goal of regional domination. ... The Khomeinist public diplomacy network includes a half-dozen satellite television and radio networks in several languages, more than 100 newspapers and magazines, a dozen publishing houses, and thousands of Web sites and blogs controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps." Amir Taheri, Wall Street Journal, 4 May 2009.

Hillary Clinton can see public diplomacy offices from her window.

Posted: 04 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at State Department town hall meeting on Foreign Affairs Day: "I’ve encouraged our Foreign Service and Civil Service professionals to think of new ways to connect with people, with NGOs, with businesses. We’ve done that, but now we have new tools that we have to employ – the social networking tools, the media. We have to get smarter with public diplomacy. And public diplomacy is not just lecturing at other people and telling them how great we are and what we hope they will believe about us. It is actually having a real dialogue and listening as much as talking. So we are committed to using these new tools in public diplomacy. ... QUESTION: ... We have, since the demise of USIA in 1960 – in 1999, we have had a very erratic leadership in the field of public diplomacy. I fear that many of us here in this room perhaps do not fully appreciate the value of public diplomacy. We had a lot of very competent people in that field whom I have known over the years, and I think we have to go back to emphasize that. I don’t think we’ll ever see, at least in our term, a recreation of USIA or something like that. But I think that field has to be emphasized, because as you said, we have to get the word out to everybody not just what we are, but what we can do out in the hinterlands as well as in the capitals. Thank you, Madame Secretary. SECRETARY CLINTON: ... I could not agree more with you that USIA and other related public education mechanisms were very unfortunately marginalized. They are moving across the street. We’re getting them closer. We’re getting them close enough that I can see them from my window, and we intend to do a lot of work on this. I have done a number of Voice of America interviews. I answered questions that were sent in from Afghanistan and elsewhere. I’m going to do a lot of that as well. And the President is more than willing to participate. So we’re going to give it a new approach and see if we can’t make a difference." State Department, 1 May 2009.
     "Establishing direct strategic presidential communication with the populations of other countries -- especially other countries ruled by hostile governments -- is a top foreign policy priority for the new administration. ... But there is an increasing tendency in all countries for diplomatic expertise to be devalued, or at least bypassed, in the rush for 'unfiltered' communication and governmental blogging." Jim Hoagland, Washington Post, 3 May 2009.

Fiji police website links to Radio Australia (updated).

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Police in Fiji appear to be defying censorship orders by the interim regime, which two weeks ago ordered the closure of Radio Australia's transmitters in Suva and Nadi. The police's website is pointing visitors to the Radio Australia site to get up-to-date coverage of events." Radio New Zealand Internation, 28 April 2009. Sure enough, there is a link to Radio Australia on the home page of See previous post about Radio Australia in Fiji.
     Update: "The Cable Network News (CNN) International television channel available in Fiji via Fiji TV's Sky Pacific carried a four-hour comprehensive coverage of the achievements, successes and failures of Mr Obama and his administration." Fiji Times, 2 May 2009.

China's concept of international satellite television: we transmit, you receive.

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"When Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to open China up during his speech at the 30th anniversary of China's reform on December 18, you can be sure that there was no satellite TV dish visible behind the podium. ... 'His speech did not seem to hint that any goal of 'opening up' or 'enriching people's cultural life' depended on importing content from the West," said [market analyst Brendan] Murray. 'Topical news programming still cannot be legally imported. And SARFT [China's State Administration of Radio Film and Television] provisions regarding the import and broadcast of overseas programming still prohibit anything seen as opposing the basic principles of the Chinese constitution, or endangering the nation's 'social morality' or the national culture and tradition. There is no indication that SARFT will abdicate this role.' ... As for the already substantial outbound flow of TV content from China, it was given a significant boost in mid-April when California-based DirecTV Inc - the world's largest satellite TV provider serving more than 17 million US homes - announced that it is now offering CCTV-4 services to Chinese-speaking households throughout the US. DirecTV's already offers MandarinDirect III and Jadeworld satellite TV programming packages for Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking audiences." Peter J. Brown, Asia Times Online, 1 May 2009.
     This interesting and detailed article describes China Direct Broadcast Satellite Company, the first authorized DTH service in China. As this new service is implemented, it may reduce the incentive to purchase, and intensify the enforcement against, gray market satellite dishes.
     Mr Brown writes: "Satellite TV programming beamed into Chinese households from other countries in Asia via foreign satellites is abundant and varied. More often than not, this entails the use of so-called Free-To-Air (FTA) satellite TV reception equipment installed cheaply and easily in Chinese households." My information suggests most Chinese dish owners availing themselves of free-to-air reception, usually on C band, do so to receive television stations from other Chinese provinces. This expands the number of channels of entertainment. Reception of foreign stations is largely by way of pay TV packages, usually on Ku-band. These are used by many expats in China, who can afford the payments and have a need for the non-Chinese-language programming. One such popular package is Dream Satellite TV on the Philippines' Agila 2 satellite.

Will satellite radio fly outside the United States?

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
" Publications, the electronics industry market research and knowledge network, announces the availability of a report entitled 'The Worldwide Market For In-Car Audio, Infotainment & Driver Information/Telematics Systems.' As Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio eagerly await approval of their year-old merger attempt, media watchers wonder whether satellite radio anywhere else can copy the success achieved by those space-age broadcasters in the U.S. market. ... [T]hat model has not yet been replicated by the world's other satellite radio players - which include TU Media (serving South Korea), MBCO (Japan), Ondas Media (Europe), and the most ambitious of the lot, WorldSpace, which plans to serve Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. ... WorldSpace appears to be making the quickest progress - it has secured necessary terrestrial-repeater licenses for Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, and plans to roll out its first European broadcasts next year." press release, 2 May 2009. The Worldspace bankruptcy is not mentioned, at least not in this news release. See previous post about Worldspace.

Amnesty International calls for investigation of 1999 bombing of Belgrade broadcasting building.

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Ten years after NATO forces bombed the Serbian state television and radio (Radio Televisija Srbije - RTS), no one has been brought to justice for this serious violation of international humanitarian law committed by NATO during the air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). As reports of ongoing violations by NATO forces persist in Afghanistan, Amnesty International is calling on the alliance and its member states to ensure independent investigations, full accountability and redress for victims and their families." Amnesty International, 23 April 2009.
     "In the new issue of our CounterPunch newsletter Tiphaine Dickson lays out the outrageous saga of how the Western powers dealt with this atrocity, by sponsoring a kangaroo court in Belgrade which sentencedto a lengthy term one of the targets of the bomb! This was the director of RTS, Dragoljub Milanovic,. He drew nine and a half years in prison for reckless endangerment of his staff! ... In her riveting story she gives close attention to the murky role of CNN... ." Alexander CockBurn, CounterPunch, 1 May 2009.
     See also International Radio Serbia, 23 April and press review, 23 April 2009.
     See also my Communications World scripts for 24 April, 1 May, 8 May, 15 May, and 29 May 1999.

1989: international broadcasting helps mobilize the Trabants.

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
June 20, 1989: "The idea of holding a 'Pan-European Picnic' emerged from a dinner conversation between a Hungarian activist and Otto von Habsburg, the veteran former crown prince of Austro-Hungary and an MEP. The Hungarians had demobilised the so-called 'Sz-100 system', the Soviet-made electronic alarm system that had replaced the minefields along the Hungarian borders. Imre Pozsgay, minister of state, said the alarm system 'has morally, technologically and politically outlived itself'. ... Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty spread word of the picnic. It fell on fertile ground in East Germany. Nothing had been switched off on their border with the West: the Berlin Wall was undergoing its fourth upgrade. Sopron’s open gate was irresistible. They drove their spluttering Trabant two-strokes — they were the most prosperous people in the East — into Czechoslovakia and headed for Hungary. They were allowed to travel in eastern Europe, since, in theory at least, it was hermetically sealed from the West." Brian Moynahan, The Times, 3 May 2009. RFE/RL no doubt played a role in this, but it did not broadcast to East Germany. That was the purview of RIAS (Radio in the American Sector). Nineteen eighty-nine was a busy year for RFE/RL, RIAS, VOA, and BBC World Service.

VOA show host leads new theater company.

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Something new and exciting is happening in America, in the Washington Metro Area. A new drama company (Sierra Theatre Productions LLC), formed by a group of dedicated Sierra Leoneans has emerged in the USA, under the leadership of Sierra Leone’s finest dramatist and radio icon, currently hosting 'African Beat program' with VOA (Voice Of America) radio - Mr. David Vandy." The Patriotic Vanguard (Freetown), 30 April 2009.

USIA, VOA, and Nixon's 1953 visit to Ceylon.

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The United States Information Agency (the practical/propaganda arm of US foreign policy) was already heavily involved in Ceylon prior to the visit of the Vice President. In fact the activities of the USIA increased noticeably after the Rice - Rubber Agreement was inked to the extent that, according to declassified Confidential Security Information, it covertly supplied anti-communist material used by the Government party, the UNP, in the critical 1952 election. Additionally, the USIA, under the stewardship of Argus J. Tressider, assisted in the dissemination of material relating to Communist China’s anti-Buddhist attitudes. America’s powerful Voice of America antennae was located in Ceylon and, with the agreement of the government, proceeded to pump out pro American broadcasts to all of South Asia. In this sense, Ceylon was crucial to American efforts in projecting its national interest into the region and thus the country needed closer monitoring by a high level government official - Vice President Nixon." Elliott L. Watson, Foreign Policy Journal, 1 May 2009.

Resolved: Willis Conover Day on 25 April (updated again).

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
Representative John B. Larson (D-CT) introduces resolution "expressing support for designation of April 2009 as `Jazz Appreciation Month' and April 25, 2009, as `Willis Conover Day', and honoring the global impact of jazz music. ... Whereas, on April 25, 2009, the Big Band Jam will honor the Voice of America and Willis Conover and the joint contribution toward spreading the language of jazz and American cultural diplomacy around the world over a span of more than 35 years; ... " MC via John Brown's Notes and Essays, 15 April 2009.
     "The 2009 BIG BAND JAM! is running NOW from April 17-29, 2009. The biggest, baddest, broadest beat ever brought to Washington, D.C.! The BIG BAND JAM! of 2009 will be hosted at Blues Alley, Voice of America Stage, Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History." John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, 17 April 2009. Linked documents mention Willis Conover but not Voice of America, which I think has discontinued its own annual Conover tribute. I wish there were a surviving recording of my VOA "Communications World" program recorded just a day or two after Conover's death in 1996, in Conover's own studio, where ashes from his pipe and other clutter were still present.
     "'At the height of his career, [Conover] was producing 17 shows per week, including Music USA, Jazz; Music USA, Standards; Music with Friends, and Willis Conover's House of Sounds,' ... said John Stevenson, chief of VOA English." VOA press release, 23 April 2009. See also VOA News, 25 April 2009. And H. Res. 324 at
     "Russian-born pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin ... was born in 1944 in Moscow to Lithuanian-Jewish parents, who relocated to Lithuania when he was four. He made his concert debut as a jazz pianist in 1961. As a symbol of U.S. culture, jazz was officially repressed in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era. Ganelin was luckier than some: in Lithuania, he could tune in Willis Conover's famous Voice Of America radio broadcasts." Edmonton Journal, 23 April 2009.
     Update: "The White House has yet to award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Willis Conover. But there has been progress toward that goal. I was delighted to learn when I got off the road this week that Congress proclaimed April 25 Willis Conover Day. He was honored during celebrations on the National Mall. Finally, his nation has given official recognition to the Voice Of America broadcaster who sent jazz to the world and, without indulging in propaganda or politics, helped to end the Cold War." Doug Ramsey, All About Jazz, 1 May 2009.

Al Jazeera English finds an outlet in Washington DC.

Posted: 03 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English became the global news channel you couldn't see in the United States, outside of two tiny cable systems in Vermont and Ohio, and a few buildings in downtown Washington served by a private cable hookup. But that's about to change. Under an agreement with MHz Networks, a Falls Church-based educational broadcaster, AJE will become available today to households throughout the Washington area, and to cable and broadcast viewers in 20 other cities in a few months. ... MHz, a nonprofit organization, will add AJE to its lineup of 10 international channels carried on the digital tiers offered by Comcast (the area's largest cable provider, on Channel 271), Cox, RCN and Verizon Fios systems throughout the region. MHz will also offer it over the air July 1, after local stations have completed the transition to digital broadcasts." Washington Post, 29 April 2009. See also MHz Networks press release, 29 April 2009. MHz Networks will also add content from Israel Broadcasting Authority, press release, 22 April 2009, and a full-time feed of EuroNews, press release, 1 May 2009. See (listen) also to NPR, 2 May 2009.
     On the IFC Media Project "there are stories Sunday about why the channel Al Jazeera English is almost impossible to find on American cable systems and why the best view Americans can get about how the U. S. is viewed by foreigners can come from BBC America. The Al Jazeera piece is reported by a former producer for the channel, Robb Wood, which isn’t exactly ideal by journalistic standards. But Wood does a balanced job allowing the channel’s supporters and detractors to have their say on a channel that extensively covers international news at a time American networks are cutting back." Alan Pergament, The Buffalo News, 30 April 2009. "In a sobering interview, a Pentagon official, back from five years in the Middle East, finds American attitudes toward Al Jazeera English depressing and unsettling. He cites both the perception and reality of a nation 'building walls around itself' and refusing to acknowledge what the rest of the world is watching." Kevin McDonough, Times Herald-Record (Middletown NY), 3 May 2009. See previous post about IFC Media Project.
     "Josh Rushing, Al Jazeera English reporter ... [h]is career takes him all over the world and finds himself most information-starved when he's holed up in a hotel in the states -- where it's guaranteed that there will be no BBC World, CNN World, or Al Jazeera English on the tube. According to Josh, we've isolated ourselves in our own view of the world, not seeing how the rest of the world sees the world (in a news sense -- well, I guess in any sense)." Kelly Samardak,, 30 April 2009.

Dubai media forum will discuss Arabic-language foreign television.

Posted: 02 May 2009   Print   Send a link
At the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on 11-12 May, a "session titled 'The Arabic Versions of Foreign TV Channels: What Objectives and What Messages?' will analyze one of the most recent phenomena in the media landscape in the region. During the past few years, a number of foreign countries have launched Arabic language television channels. After the arrival of the American Al Hurra, BBC and the German DTC FILI, Russian and French channels also made their appearance, indicating the faith of these countries in the importance of the media in serving their interests. In this context, the session will try to debate the media messages of these organizations and their editorial policy." Arab Media Forum press release, 27 April 2009. I don't know what DTC FILI is. Perhaps a typo. DW-TV does have Arabic programming.

Al Arabiya via Livestation, depending on your region.

Posted: 02 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The 24-hour news channel Al Arabiya from Dubai has joined Livestation, a destination portal for live TV broadcasting over broadband. Al Arabiya offers a mix of breaking news, current, documentaries and sports updates. The channel has joined Livestation’s existing line-up of Arabic news channels which already included services offered by Al Jazeera, BBC, France 24, Russia Today (Rusya Al Yaum) and Euronews. According to Matteo Berlucchi, the CEO of Livestation, the addition of Al Arabiya as an official Livestation partner channel is part of an ongoing strategy to widen the choice of perspectives offered on the player." Broadband TV News, 27 April 2009. I wanted to try it, but when I tried to open my recently installed Livestation software, I received an "Entry Point Not Found" error message. Corrupted already. I will have to reinstall Livestation. But not this weekend. Too many other things to do. (Oh oh, this is beginning to sound like a tweet. Sorry.) I also tried to view Al Arabiya at but was told "This channel is not available in your region." Score one for shortwave, where out-of-target reception is often possible.

DW's "braided channel" via Dailymotion, if you can find it.

Posted: 02 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Dailymotion, one of the world’s largest independent video sharing sites, today announced a partnership with Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster. This agreement with Deutsche Welle follows Dailymotion’s strategy to deliver the highest quality online video experience, with premium-level programming and superior video streaming and viewing technology. Deutsche Welle will offer a branded channel on Dailymotion that includes clips from the business-oriented series 'Made in Germany', weekly lifestyle highlights from 'euromaxx', and weekly interviews from the 'Journal' news and information service. The new channel will allow Deutsche Welle to further expand its already extensive online video proposition and reach the 47.9 million engaged users that visit per month." DW press release, 23 April 2009. Until now, I wasn't one of the 47.9 million. At Dailymotion, I found Deutsche Welle content more difficult to find than by tuning across a shortwave dial. You can search on deutsche, which will locate DW videos, as well as old German World War II newsreels. Try also a search on euromaxx.

At least shortwave continues as music, or as names of musical groups.

Posted: 02 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Dave Halverson is a guitarist/composer based in Oakland, CA. He is also a founding member of the jazz/art rock band Trance Lucid. To date, he has released seven CDs of instrumental music—three as a solo artist, and four with Trance Lucid. ... The tone is often contemplative, with undertones of tension and darkness. Inspirations include random noises, found sound, visual art, science, technology, and shortwave radio experiments." All About Jazz, 27 April 2009.
     "When musicians with several years of projects under their belts—from a Taking Heads cover band to a femme-fronted string quartet tribute to the Beatles—intermingle, compare notes, and learn to play each other's music, a collective like the Shortwave Society is born. Implementing elements from both orchestral and electronic backgrounds, the Shortwave Society, based in Knoxville Tennessee, considers itself a postmodern sea of jazz, pop, classical and electronic music." Post and Courier (Charleston SC), 29 April 2009.
     If you've ever heard non-Western music on shortwave, via a signal that let's you know it's from far away, with fading or, best, transpolar flutter to give it a fascinating tremolo, you will know why many experimental musicians incorporate shortwave sounds into their compositions. The introduction of more and more devices causing local interference may obliterate this art form.

UK debate: shortwave versus power line broadband.

Posted: 02 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Good powerline products don't emit on frequencies used for communication and haven't since the technology shifted from to-the-home broadband products to in-the-home networking kit - many years ago, now. They are engineered to avoid these frequencies." Tony Smith editor, Register Hardware, 28 April 2009.
     "I extend an invitation to you to visit my home and hear the interference that a my neighbour's PLT [power line telecommunications] system radiates. ... It's true that the interference is reduced (but far from eliminated) on the amateur bands but listening to short wave broadcasts is impossible except for the very strongest stations. The mode of operation of these devices is such that when connected to domestic wiring the resulting system fails to meet the relevant Electromagnetic Compatibility regulations by a large margin. These things need to be banned immediately if short wave listening is to continue." Graham Diacon, ibid, and other comments. See previous post about similar product.

swissinfo claims more visitors in 2008.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"swissinfo, the multilingual news website of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, is gaining in popularity, particularly among Swiss abroad, an independent study has found. Mediapulse, a market data firm for electronic media outlets in Switzerland, said on Tuesday that had 55 per cent more unique visitors in 2008 than in 2007. ... swissinfo replaced Swiss Radio International, a shortwave international broadcast that was phased out ten years ago.", 28 April 2009. No details of the methodology, but appears to be some sort of visitor analytics.

International TV good for brands, says CNNI study.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"People who read international newspapers and magazines and watch international TV stations attach a greater importance to brands than other drivers of choice, according to a new study carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report, commissioned by CNN International, used EMS, and sales and advertising data for over 85 brands, supported by a consumer survey of 1,500 people in five European markets. It found a statistically significant, positive relationship between advertising expenditure and brand preferences. ... Didier Mormesse, senior vice president, Research, CNN International said: 'We undertook this project in the absence of an industry association for international media and we hope this will be the start of meaningful research for an industry that has been underserved to date in this regard.'" AdWorld, 1 May 2009.
     "Increased advertising in international media leads to stronger brand preference, more brand recommendations and crucially, higher product sales, findings of a new report claim. In what is being claimed as [t]he first Europe-wide study into the effectiveness of advertising via international media from CNN International and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the findings attempt to help marketers determine their campaign return on investment (ROI). ... 'The main takeaway is that International media changes attitudes and behaviour amongst an elusive but highly attractive consumer group,' said Didier Mormesse, SVP Research at CNN International." UTalkMarketing, 30 April 2009.

Soviet Armenia's version of Radio Luxembourg.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"For 49 years, sometimes with the support of an assistant radio announcer, Kereme Sayed introduced music and delivered the news in Kurdish on Radio Yerevan. Sayed has enjoyed the fame that no other Kurdish radio announcer has had. He is unique. We visited him at Radio Yerevan, where he has been working since the station was founded in 1955. Sayed, now 70 years old, still works there. ... During the years when the radio was used as the media outlet for the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, Kurdish listeners were not very concerned with news on the Cold War or intercontinental rocket launches. Names such as Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbachov were foreign to Kurds. They waited anxiously until the hour came when the radio would broadcast folk songs and news in Kurdish. Songs that aired on Radio Yerevan became legendary for the Kurdish audience. Take, for example, the song called 'De Miho,' which described the legendary love of Miho and Telli, the daughter of a Kurdish master. No one knew Fatma Isa who sang the song back then, but when her voice was transmitted to battery-operated transistor radios not just in Armenia but in Arbil, Sulaimaniya, Diyarbakir and other Kurdish-dominated regions, Muslims and Kurds rejoiced and shared the same sentiments." Today's Zaman, 26 April 2009. A fascinating story from an obscure corner of international radio history. My World Radio TV Handbooks from the Cold War period do not list any Kurdish language broadcasts on Radio Yerevan, either the international or domestic services. Kurdish is part of the modern International Service of the Public Radio of Armenia.

For news about North Korea, consult RFA, VOA, and, now, RFE/RL.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"North Korea has announced it has started to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods at its nuclear plant, hours after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on three North Korean companies. The move is the latest fallout from North Korea's April 5 rocket launch, widely seen as a disguised long-range missile test that violated UN resolutions." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 25 April 2009. This item is "compiled from news agency reports," but interesting that RFE/RL is reporting on a country far outside its coverage area.
     "A survey released Wednesday found that only 14 per cent of North Korean defectors hoped to live in China, owing to their precarious legal status there. An overwhelming 64 per cent hoped to move to South Korea while 19 per cent wanted to go to the United States, despite the relentless anti-US propaganda in North Korea. The survey, led by scholar Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, surveyed 1,300 North Koreans in China and 300 others in South Korea. Noland said the United States attracted younger, better educated North Koreans. 'It is a very surprising result that despite lifelong, unrelenting exposure to anti-US propaganda, young people want to come to Disneyland,' Noland said. He said the findings showed that foreign media such as US government-backed Radio Free Asia were gradually penetrating North Korea. But most North Koreans decided to flee due to word of mouth as they desperately seek a way out of extreme poverty and malnutrition, Noland said. 'What is remarkable when you talk about these people is the almost entire lack of knowledge about the outside world on which they made this fundamental decision to leave the country,' Noland said." AFP, 30 April 2009. I can't find mention of any specific questions about foreign radio listening in the materials available at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, 29 April 2009.

Reprisals against RFA listeners in Machu County? (updated)

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the physical safety of journalists and website editors who have been arrested in the past few months in Tibet and neighbouring Tibetan regions. ... The authorities have meanwhile stepped up controls in Machu county in Gansu province. According to a researcher at India’s Norbu Lingka Institute, Chinese officials threatened reprisals against residents who continue to listen to international radio stations or visit websites such as the Radio Free Asia one. The authorities have installed dozens of satellite dishes while confiscating those belonging to private individuals." Reporters sans frontières, 24 April 2009. Presumably the installed satellite dishes receive the Beijing-approved channels.
     Update: "The action meant that residents could only receive the state China Central TV (CCTV) signals and no longer have Internet access. ... The report said that since Mar 2009, Tibetans in Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region installed their own satellite receivers. But the authorities, alleging that Tibet independence movement installed them, confiscated all of them, replacing them with official ones. As a result, Tibetans are no longer able to access overseas broadcast service, such as VOA and RFA." Tibetan Review, 29 April 2009.
     "Chandra Reedy, professor of art history, was interviewed March 30 on China Radio International on the topic Tibetan art protection." UDaily (University of Delaware,), 24 April 2009.

Media and development in the real world.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Four out of five UN prizes for humanitarian reporting in Somalia have gone to IRIN's radio correspondents based in Mogadishu and three other cities. Their individual entries on child rights, FGM/C, health in IDP camps and vulnerable children, were all programmes broadcast on IRIN's shortwave radio service for Somalia. The names of the winners are not being publicly announced, however, because of the extremely difficult security circumstances currently facing Somali journalists operating in their own country. IRIN Somali radio broadcasts have been on air since April 2008 providing humanitarian news and information in the Somali language via shortwave and FM, and online via a podcast and streaming." AlertNet, 29 April 2009. IRIN is Integrated Regional Information Networks, part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
     "After more than three weeks of rough, open-air captivity in the desert-like conditions of Darfur, a kidnapped Canadian aid worker and her French colleague were released and are expected to be flown out of the region today. ... The kidnappers handed the two hostages over to a tribal leader and a government commissioner in Ed al Fursan, according to Radio Dabanga, an independent shortwave station staffed by expatriate Sudanese." Globe and Mail, 30 April 2009.
     "The Kenyah language, which is the spoken language of about 100,000 Orang Ulu in Sarawak, can become extinct if no efforts are made to preserve it. Baram member of parliament Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan ... commended RTM [Radio Television Malaysia] for initiating ... Kenyah radio broadcast as he saw it as the right move to ensure the survival of the language. [He] said the radio broadcast would enable the Kenyahs, especially those in the remote areas and not proficient in Bahasa Malaysia, to understand current national and global issues better. Meanwhile, deputy director-general of Broadcasting (Strategic Broadcasting), Datuk Norhayati Ismail, said RTM started the Kenyah broadcast on April 1 using the 7270KHz shortwave frequency and 98.0MHz on the FM frequency. She said by using the shortwave frequency, the broadcast could be heard almost throughout the country including areas across Sarawak's difficult topography which could not receive the FM frequency." Bernama, 27 April 2009.

BBCWS Trust issues new report for your closet shelf.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Media should be a stronger priority in development strategies, says an independent policy opinion survey from the BBC World Service Trust. The report, Governance And The Media – A Survey Of Policy Opinion, concludes that the role of media in the democratic and development processes of developing countries is poorly researched, insufficiently understood and inappropriately prioritised within the development system. ... As it states, 'the importance of supporting free and pluralistic media in relation to governance – and development outcomes – is thought to be increasingly recognised by a wide range of policy makers, academics and practitioners'." BBC World Service press release, 27 April 2009, with link to full report. Would the BBC enjoy several experts commenting on the BBC's relation with UK "governance" in the redevelopment of the UK economy?

Clicking on BBC Arabic via MSN Arabia.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Arabic today announces a new agreement with MSN Arabia, further expanding the presence of BBC Arabic across the Arab world. International news seekers can now access BBC Arabic content via the MSN Arabia home page. This will complement the direct access audiences have to BBC Arabic on TV, radio, online and on mobile phones. More than 10 million annual users of the MSN regional portal will be able to access fully-branded BBC Arabic content, updated 24/7, across genres including current affairs, business, sport, science and technology. ... Users of MSN Arabia can find BBC Arabic content by visiting the portal's home page at Each BBC story, published in full on the portal, includes a direct link to, where visitors can access further content and interact directly with BBC Arabic." BBC World Service press release, 28 April 2009. Interesting that "fully-branded" was specified in this news release.

"The marriage of mass media and social media."

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Interactivity isn’t just about the web. It’s still about letters and phone calls. It can be about text messages. When I worked for World Have Your Say on the BBC World Service, Americans called or sent emails. Listeners in the UK mostly called, and Africans sent text messages by the hundreds. The first and most important step isn’t about developing a technology strategy but about developing a philosophy of collaboration with your audience. Everything will flow from that philosophy because there are many non-technical ways to get your audience involved. One of the most powerful things on World Have Your Say was getting people around a microphone in Africa to talk to Americans who had called in. The marriage of mass media and social media can be an extremely powerful combination. Add to all of this no-cost of low-cost web services, and you can do many things on a daily deadline." Kevin Anderson, Corante, 26 April 2009.

Digital media hires: FT to BBC, BBC to CBC.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"The former editor James Montgomery is leaving the Financial Times after 12 years to become director of digital content for the BBC World News channel. In a new role for the corporation's international, advertising-supported news website, Montgomery will be charged with developing the editorial and commercial elements of the online news services for overseas users." The Guardian, 30 April 2009.
     "Former BBC News editor Rachel Nixon has been appointed director of digital media for CBC News, the CBC reported Tuesday. ... Nixon left her position as deputy world editor of in 2008 to become global news editor of, the Vancouver-based participatory news network." Mediacaster, 29 April 2009.

Radio Netherlands on an Indian cable system.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), the international radio station from the Netherlands, is expanding its presence in India. It has tied up with Incablenet, the MSO owned by the Hinduja Group, which allows 2 million listeners of Indian households to listen to the English programmes of RNW. ... Ravi Mansukhani, managing director, Incablenet, says, 'The radio industry is estimated to have grown at an CAGR of 19.7% over the year 2006-08 in India. Emergence of radio stations like RNW could also help the industry in attracting new listeners and driving up overall radio listener ship.'" Radio Netherlands Media Network, 27 April 2009. The source of this is not specified, but it reads like a press release. The programming of BBC and other international stations placed on Indian FM stations cannot include news. This is because non-AIR Indian FM stations are not allowed to broadcast news. Can Radio Netherlands include its newscasts in this cable relay?

The BBC Indian election train has left the station.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"It was no ordinary train that pulled out of Safdarjung station on Saturday afternoon. It was curiously coloured in grey and red with the legend, ‘Kya India Ka Vote Chaleyega Duniya Ka Note? (will Indians decide next trend in the world economy?)’ splashed across it. Also, it was on time, chugging out towards Ahmedabad at exactly 3pm. This, as the crowd of jostling passers-by and station staff was told, was BBC’s India election train." merinews, 28 April 2009.
     "Carrying a team of journalists working for its services in English, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil and Bengali besides Burmese, Swahili, Arabic and other foreign languages, the BBC will investigate stories and take a look at personalities behind the Lok Sabha polls. Its mission is to explore how the Indian economy can resuscitate the global economy during recession." The Hindu, 26 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "Last month New Delhi saw an offbeat book release. No political bigwigs, no frills, no babus to do the inaugural rounds etc and though the ‘Garden Restaurant’, tucked at one end of the sprawling Lodi Gardens, was overflowing with people, they were the author Sam Miller’s friends and colleagues and book lovers residing in the Capital. And if that wasn’t offbeat enough, there was more. The book — Delhi: Adventures In A MegaCity — was to be released by an ordinary and an apolitical person. ... Married to an Indian, Miller has been closely associated with New Delhi for the past so many years. He was BBC’s Delhi correspondent in the early 1990s and later managing director South Asia for the BBC World Service in London. He was posted back (to Delhi) in 2002 and has been living here since then with his wife and two teenaged children." The Tribune (Chandigarh), 26 April 2009.

BBC Swine Flu Service.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"A group of British tourists who on Monday flew into Manchester from the Mexican resort of Cancun, said they had not been informed about the virus and had not been subjected to any screening procedures upon arrival in the UK. ... Mark Bodley from Sheffield said he had only heard about the outbreak by listening to the BBC World Service." AFP, 28 April 2009.
     "RAF pilot Rob Mills and wife Nicola were originally due to return from Cancun on Sunday – but are catching an early flight in case the deadly virus spreads further. ... 'The first we heard about it was a couple of days after we arrived, on the BBC World Service.'" The Herald (Plymouth), 30 April 2009.
     "Mexicans interviewed on the ‘World Have Your Say’ segment on the BBC World Service were simply bored, deprived of local amusements and distractions." Counterpunch, 30 April 2009.
     "'I've been very impressed by the recognition from the beginning that we had a real responsibility here to keep things in perspective,' said Rome Hartman, executive producer of 'BBC World News America.' 'We got an e-mail last weekend saying let's make sure we're paying attention to this story and covering it as competitively as we can but also understand the responsibility not to be hyperbolic. I know every news organization has been having that conversation.'" AP, 30 April 2009.

BBC examines Obama's first 100 days. VOA, not to be outdone, examines his first 105 days.

Posted: 01 May 2009   Print   Send a link
"This week sees 100 days since Barack Obama became the President of the United States of America. The BBC's international television, radio and online multi-language services offers a week of reports and in-depth analysis examining this landmark date." BBC World Service press release, 28 April 2009.
     "The BBC World Service asked three cartoonists from Afghanistan, Iran and Venezuela to give their take on US President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office." BBC News, 29 April 2009.
     "BBC World Service has asked users of its language sites about how the first 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency has been viewed in their regions. Here is a selection of their views." BBC News, 29 April 2009. The view from Kokomo. BBC News, 30 April 2009.
     "Audiences around the world will interact with guests, including Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., and Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, during a May 5, 2009 special live, international television broadcast, Obama & the World: 100 Days. The Global Town Hall, co-hosted by the Voice of America ( and The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, will be held at the Newseum in downtown Washington from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT." VOA press release, 29 April 2009. Not mentioned in the press release is that Senator Kaufman was a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees VOA and other elements of US international broadcasting. See previous post.