The international politics of television weather maps.

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"As Day.Az earlier reported, Deutsche Welle news agency Web site’s Weather Forecast and Discover Europe sections included Azerbaijan’s map where Nagorno-Karabakh was marked in a format similar to state borders or as being not integral part of Azerbaijan. ... After Azerbaijani citizens applied to agency’s administration with a request to remove the errors, DW web designer ‘filled” the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan with blue (ie, the same color as the rest of the territory of Azerbaijan), but did not remove the bold marks which do not differ from the format of state borders. ... All errors on Azerbaijan’s map were corrected recently." Today.Az, 30 July 2009.

Why international broadcasting has an audience in Ethiopia.

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"For those who don’t know the Ethiopian situation, we would like to inform them that even those who have access to the limited electronic and print media are so fed up with the government’s endless lies and false propaganda that they only pay attention to those foreign-owned and operated media such as the BBC, VOA, Deutsche Welle, al-jezeera and the Eritrean TV." Seid Hassan, Ethiopian Reviews, 30 July 2009.

How CNN, Telesur, Al Jazeera shape Latin American perceptions.

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pedro Briegwer, Editor of Vision 7 International, for Channel 7 in Argentina, said perceptions of the Middle East in his country had been shaped by the terrorist blasts that had rocked Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994. It had also, until recently, been shaped by United States media coverage of Middle East events. Indeed, European and United States media, specifically CNN, which had one reporter who translated events there into Spanish, hugely influenced most of Latin America. He said the emerging Latin American network Telesur was beginning to play an important role in the region. That network had been on the ground during the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, as well as in Gaza earlier in the year. The coverage had been one-sided however, because it had not shown any images of what was happening in Israel. Al Jazeera was also becoming a player in the regional media, even though it was so far available only in English." ReliefWeb, 28 July 2009.

VOA reports on increased subscribers to North Korea's new mobile phone service.

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The number of people using a mobile phone service provided by Egypt-based mobile operator Orascom Telecom in North Korea is increasing, according to a report on Wednesday. Since the company began the service on Dec. 15 last year, 48,000 North Koreans subscribed to the service as of late June, the Voice of America reported. The Egyptian group is the first foreign firm to be granted a license to provide mobile service in North Korea. The operator plans to expand its service area from Pyongyang to other areas this year, the report said." The Korea Times, 29 July 2009. I couldn't find this in a search of VOA English content, so it must have been a VOA Korean Service report. Again, interesting VOA coverage, given that VOA is "a window on American society, American thinking, American culture, American politics," or so goes the description that members of the House Europe subcommittee swallowed whole on 23 July. See previous post.

Radio Sweden decision to drop Belarusian becomes political soccer ball.

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
“'While the Swedish government stands for democracy in Belarus, the Swedish Radio seems to go against the government. From September 1, SR International broadcasting its democratic programmes to people of Europe stops broadcasting in Belarusian. Does the SR administration think broadcasting in Russian can perform its function for those whose native language in Belarusian? Many Belarusians don’t associate the Russian language, which was dominating in Belarus in the Soviet time, with democracy,' Swedish [Liberal People's Party activist] Birgitta Ohlsson thinks." Charter 97, 31 July 2009.

Former VOA director in the news.

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Sanford Ungar, now president of Goucher College, is visited by NBC journalists looking into the alleged connection of one of his college's faculty to the Rwandan genocide. "Ungar, a white-haired ex-journalist with a leonine voice--he had once been the host of NPR's 'All Things Considered'--considered himself well-prepared to assess the seriousness of NBC's accusations. His resume prior to taking the top post at Goucher included a stint as director of Voice of America. He had visited Rwanda several times, and, in the 1980s, he'd written a 500-page book about Africa. ... Journalistically, Ungar ... didn't know what to make of the NBC producers' approach, particularly the suggestion that they were working in concert with a foreign prosecutor." Andrew Rice, The New Republic, 12 August 2009 issue.

Through VOA television, Tibetan learns about Dalai Lama's Middle Way.

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Through television broadcasts of Voice of America that he watched in secret with his family, Tsewang [Dhondup] heard the Dalai Lama's teachings on non-violence. This is the reason there were so few Chinese casualties during the demonstrations that swept across the Tibetan plateau in 2008, he says. ... It was through Voice of America that Tsewang learned about the Dalai Lama's Middle Way approach that aims for 'genuine autonomy' rather than independence. 'To be honest, what I want is independence,' he says. 'But I think it's important for Tibetans to follow whatever His Holiness the Dalai Lama says.'" Rebecca Novick, Huffington Post, 30 July 2009. Interesting VOA coverage, given that VOA is "a window on American society, American thinking, American culture, American politics," or so goes the description that members of the House Europe subcommittee swallowed whole on 23 July. See previous post.

Iraq's military PR "band of brothers."

Posted: 31 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"As the Republic of Iraq's special forces community continues to grow in numbers and capability, the Iraqi special operations forces' 1st Brigade media department documents every step of the way, metaphorically writing pages in Iraq's military history books one photo and video at a time. Since the standing up of this media cell in late 2007, this band of brothers has been heavily trained in both combat camera and public affairs operations. There are 4,000 to 5,000 Soldiers in the brigade, seven of which bring these assets to the table. One of the department's primary missions is to reach out to the Iraqi populace through external media outlets and, with their leadership's support, they have been able to reach out to numerous local stations such as al-Baghdadia, Al Arabiya and al-Hurra." NVIDS News, 28 July 2009.

Was 250-kilowatt transmitters. Is now Vienna tortes.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Servatii Pastry Shop, a Cincinnati neighborhood pastry store for decades, opens its first location in Butler County Thursday at the Voice of America Centre, off Cox Road." Cincinnati Enquirer, 28 July 2009.
     "Open houses are scheduled at Miami University’s Voice of America Learning Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8." Oxford (OH) Press, 28 July 2009. Both at the site of the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station, which closed in 1994.

BBC and CNN allowed to resume reporting from Zimbabwe.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC and CNN will be able to report freely from Zimbabwe for the first time in eight years after restrictions were lifted by the country's government. Zimbabwe's minister of media, information and publicity, Webster Shamu, claimed that the BBC had never banned from 'carrying out lawful activities inside the country, but added that the BBC and his government had now 'acknowledged the need to put behind us the mutually ruinous relationship of the past'. The thawing in relations with the BBC and CNN comes after Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party lost its majority in parliament for the first time in 28 years in last year's elections." The Guardian, 29 July 2009. And several other reports on same subject.
     "So I for one will be watching and listening to the BBC’s coverage of Zimbabwe with considerable interest – and not a little cynicism. I hope my cynicism will prove misplaced and that we shall see all the media outlets inside the country being given the same freedom – if indeed it is genuine ‘freedom’ - as the BBC and CNN. Until AIPPA is repealed and the airwaves are freed up so that SW Radio Africa and The Zimbabwean are free to do their jobs inside the country, I remain cynical." Pauline Henson, SW Radio Africa, 30 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "BBC World News will be hosting a new series - Africa Business Report - from the end of August 2009. The programme, sponsored by Skye Bank, plans to focus on business in Africa, examining the people, businesses and products as well as the issues, challenges and opportunities for companies trading there.", 28 July 2009.

Taliban's idea of PR: no filming of executions.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Taliban is mounting a public-relations campaign to try to win the hearts and minds of Afghans with their own version of a field manual that urges efforts to limit civilian casualties. The little book with a blue cover, Rules for Mujahedeen, directs Taliban militants on how to behave while on deployment and how to deal with enemy combatants, treat prisoners of war and interact with civilians. The manual, which has been given extensive coverage on Al Jazeera's Arabic service, appears aimed at renewing popular support among Afghans in the face of a U.S.-led offensive against the militants. ... The manual directs that executions are not to be filmed, and enemy corpses should not be desecrated." Washington Times, 30 July 2009.

From different parallels, arguments for limits to freedom.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is taking steps to tighten restrictions on the media despite mounting opposition by private media to a series of proposed reforms that would expose them to criminal prosecution. Chavez supporters argue that the measures limiting broadcasting rights for radio and television will lead to a significant 'democratization' of the media, which has been controlled by a handful of owners." AFP, 29 July 2009.
     "The problem is freedom with no moral orientation — freedom as inimical to moral order." Robert R. Reilly, "Ideas Matter: Restoring the Content of Public Diplomacy," Heritage Foundation, 27 July 2009.

BBC Russian's launches audio archive.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The website of the BBC Russian service – – launched an archive of significant historical radio programmes from the past 45 years today. Among the voices featured in the audio archive are Alexander Kerensky, Prime Minister during the 1917 Russian Revolution; Nobel Laureates for Literature Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky; one of Russia's great poets Anna Akhmatova; and Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva." BBC World Service press release, 27 July 2009.

Its director's visit to the USA and other news about Al Jazeera.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The director of the Arab satellite television network al-Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, is in Washington this week for the first time, part of a brief tour of the U.S. that will also take him to New York. ... Khanfar's visit signals a significant departure from the President George W. Bush years, which saw the administration frequently and harshly criticising the Qatari-based network for its coverage of the two ongoing U.S. wars in the Middle East and for broadcasting recordings made by militants." Jared Levy, InterPress Service, 29 July 2009.
     "Christopher Caldwell’s 'Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West' is a hot book presented under a cool, scholarly title. ... The problem, in Mr. Caldwell’s view, is less about sheer numbers than cultural divergence. What’s happening in Europe is not the creation of an American-style melting pot, he writes, because Muslims are not melting in. They are instead forming what he calls 'a parallel society.' Newcomers to England now listen to Al Jazeera, not the BBC." Dwight Garner, New York Times, 29 July 2009.
     "With the rising numbers of guests coming from Arabic countries in the past two years, InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong will be imparting an authentic Arabic touch in its reception of these guests staying at the 5-star hotel. ... Apart from having a choice of up to six Arabian-language newspapers, Arabic guests of the hotel can also watch in-room television programmes from Middle-eastern networks including Al Jazeera, an Arabic satellite news channel TV, and Abu Dhabi TV." Hotels Magazine, 29 July 2009.
     Israeli deputy foreign minister Daniel Ayalon is interview on Al-Jazeera English. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 July 2009, with link to video. See previous post about Al Jazeera.

CNN International's Amanpour wants "Amanpour" to "stir the global conscience."

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN’s renowned chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour will launch a new global interview program on Monday, September 21. ‘Amanpour’ will air live from New York weekdays on CNN International at 3 p.m. (ET) – peak of European primetime – and Sundays on CNN/U.S. at 2 p.m. (ET). 'I want this show to stir the global conscience. I have witnessed so much that it’s time to start making real sense of it all,' Amanpour said. 'I learned to seek facts and to tell the truth no matter how difficult or unpopular, and to not accept a false moral equivalence when none exists. I want to provide a forum for others to do the same.'" CNN Worldwide press release, 29 July 2009. Like Amanpour, I have witnessed so much, but I'd rather make a great confused muck of it all.
     "CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour gives viewers a look inside the battle for the hearts and minds of youth in the Muslim world in ‘Amanpour Reports: Generation Islam', a new documentary that premieres on CNN International on Friday, August 14 at 10pm and replays on Saturday, August 15 at 3am Hong Kong Time. This special report airs just a month before Amanpour launches her highly-anticipated weekday program, ‘Amanpour.'" CNN press release, 29 July 2009.
     "Amanpour was particularly impressed with Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones' satirical documentary series Behind the Veil, which aired last month and was modelled after some of Amanpour's own news programs. ... "What they were doing really was committing intelligent and valuable satire on a really important issue. They went out and made a mockery of the notion that all Iranians are ignorant, that all Iranians are terrorists, that all Iranians are evil. And it was really good, for that reason. Because, through their own brand of intelligent humour, they pulled back the veil.'" Canwest News Service, 29 July 2009.
     "CNN has developed a new application designed for its content to be accessed by users. These handsets will allow users to stay ahead of CNN’s top stories and world headlines anytime of the day. Users also have the option to add to their phone book for an instant one-click submission of videos and images to CNN’s user-generated news website. ... This landmark agreement between CNN International’s parent company, Turner Broadcasting System Inc, and Sony Ericcson is a non-exclusive cooperation covering the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Russia, excluding Japan." Asia Pacific Broadcasting, 29 July 2009.

Iran arrests VJs, blocks Polish television, Chomsky on RFE/RL, and other Iranian media news.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"An underground network providing foreign media outlets with photos and footage of the post-election unrest has been identified and arrested in Iran. Security forces said Wednesday that the network was comprised of pro-reform extremists who had contributed to the western media campaign against the newly-elected Ahmadinejad government. At least two members of the group have confessed to providing media sources in the West with visual imagery depicting the post-election street violence, all in a bid to provoke anti-government sentiments and stage a regime change in Iran." Press TV, 29 July 2009.
     "The mother of Neda Agha Soltan, the 27-year-old Iranian protester whose death on 20 June was captured on mobile phone video, has spoken at length to the BBC World Service." BBC News, 30 July 2009. "RFE/RL's Radio Farda broadcaster Roya Karimi talked with Neda's mother." RFE/RL, 30 July 2009.
     "Digital Planet explores how social networking sites have become essential tools in the search for uncensored information from Iran. The BBC is one of several news organisations who’s journalists have been prevented from reporting directly from Iran, but information on activities such as anti government protests is being posted by those involved, on sites such as Twitter and Facebook." BBC World Service, 28 July 2009.
     "'Using YouTube’s metrics by itself is not sufficient to explain the significance of [President Obama's] Nowruz video or any other such communication to Iranians,' [Mehdi Semati, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Eastern Illinois University] said. 'The president’s message was picked up by BBC Persian satellite TV and others and viewed widely in Iran.'" Ben Smith, Politico, 27 July 2009.
     "The suppression of dissent in Iran has extended to the point that confrontation with the ruling elites is almost unavoidable, an Iranian journalist claims. ... An Iranian journalist, using a nom de plume, writes for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that violence among demonstrators and government-backed paramilitary forces is almost a daily occurrence, with slogans of 'God is great' echoing through the streets. The journalist notes that the Islamic republic 'appears to be breaking' as cracks in the solidarity of the clerical elite emerge between those siding with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and those supporting opposition leaders." UPI Asia, 27 July 2009. "The text-messaging system is still disconnected in Tehran and the Internet is extremely limited." Ahmad, RFE/RL, 26 July 2009.
     "U.S. linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Farda on July 24 about the postelection unrest in Iran. ... 'Putting aside the details of the election, about which we don't know much, the whole structure of the regime is oppressive and authoritarian, and undermines basic civil and other human rights. Protest against it is not only honorable but courageous, because it faces extreme violence.'" RFE/RL, 25 July 2009.
     "Silesia Television broadcasting throughout southern Poland has been interrupted by Iranian authorities blocking the signals from Hot Bird satellites. The Silesian television station (TVS) reports that Iranian authorities seek to block out transmission on the controversial elections in the country on BBC Persian, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Iranian channel. 'The first problems we had came up four months ago and, initially, we thought they were weather-related problems. But, the interference kept repeating. The worst was last Monday when satellite transmission was interrupted between 15:30 to 22:00,' stated Marta Piotrowska from TVS." Polskie Radio, 30 July 2009.
     "In an apparent bow to the Obama administration’s policy of engaging the Iran regardless of its brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, the Voice of America refused to air an interview with an opposition leader who returned to Iran in early July to take part in anti-regime demonstrations. ... Roozbeh Farahanipour, 37, ... Farahanipour returned to Iran in early July to coordinate protests across Iran to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 1999 uprising. ... Voice of America’s Persian Service called Farahanipour’s satellite phone several times while he was in Iran to set up an interview, but editors told the reporter the next day they could not air it. 'They put my security at risk for half a day before actually doing the interview,' Farahanipour told Newsmax recently. 'Then editors said they couldn’t air the interview because I had entered Iran clandestinely.'" Kenneth R. Timmerman,, 27 July 2009. Note that no one else is, so far, reporting this.

FCC again proposes broadband via shortwave noise.

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"It's once more into the breach for the Federal Communications Commission's efforts to authorize Broadband Over Power Line technology. On Friday, the agency issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, asking for feedback on the power levels Access BPL systems should operate at so that they don't interfere with other services. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) stopped this process dead in its tracks last year, having raised concerns about the transparency of the proceeding and BPL's potential for messing with ham radio signals and other bands. But the Commission is sticking to its guns, arguing that the technical standards it has already set may still be sufficient—at least, with a modification or two. BPL's critics 'do not provide convincing information' that the FCC should change course, the NOPR says. Access BPL boosters say that transmitting broadband along electric power lines represents a potential 'third pipe' alternative to cable and DSL. But the market for it has been slow to develop, and the ARRL took the FCC to court over its BPL plans in 2007, warning that the service could muck up neighboring transmissions (the League has a video demonstrating interference with a licensed ham radio signal from a demonstration roadside line along which BPL was active)." Ars Technica, 19 July 2009. See also ARRL, 22 July 2009. Because BPL transmits data on shortwave frequencies through unshielded electric power lines, it can emit noise that would interfere with shortwave broadcasting, amateur radio, and other users of shortwave.

ABC MD calls for end to censorship in Fiji, says ABC has no "neo-colonialist agenda."

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The managing director of the ABC Mark Scott has used a speech in Vanuatu today to call for the end of media censorship in Fiji. ... 'The experience around the world is that a free and independent media is a cornerstone in a society which demonstrates good governance in the interests of all its people.' Mr Scott said the ABC’s presence in the region was governed by the same principles as the public broadcaster’s TV, radio and online services in Australia. He said Radio Australia and Australia Network complied by the same principles as the ABC in Australia and all came under the same Charter and the same ABC Act and both upheld 'the same editorial expectations for accuracy, fairness and objectivity'. 'They also share the largest editorial group covering the the Pacific - 60 journalists led by Sean Dorney in our Pacific coverage serving the region exclusively through the ABC Asia Pacific News Centre on Radio Australia, on Australia Network television and online.'" The Australian, 28 July 2009. Radio Australia's FM transmitter in Fiji was taken off the air in April 2009. See previous post.
     "The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Managing Director, Mark Scott, has outlined the importance the media plays in the Pacific region at the Pacific Islands News Association's conference being held in Vanuatu. ... Mr Scott has also told the summitt the ABC has no neo-colonialist agenda. He says the ABC's international division, which includes Australia Network television and Radio Australia has never been more focused on partnerships with the nations of the Pacific." Australia Network News, 28 July 2009.
     "Action Asia magazine and Blu Inc Media (HK) Ltd are proud to announce the launch of a new TV commercial for Action Asia. The 20-second commercial trumpets the magazine’s core content, showing off the great natural draws of Asia – its beaches, reefs, mountains and trails – and adventurous ways to experience them. The ad will air on AXN in three batches over the period June-October 2009, and on Australia Network from June to November 2009, then again from February until June 2010.", 27 July 2009.

Radio Free Asia gets "last interview" with Uighur economist.

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"I was looking for any moderate, rational and well-informed Chinese citizen to report their views on why Uighur and Han Chinese were tearing each other apart. I was unanimously directed to an ethnic Uighur economist in Beijing, Ilham Tohti. ... I caught a plane from Beijing to Urumqi on the Monday night and never got through to Tohti. But Radio Free Asia's Uighur service did get through, on Tuesday July 7. This is his last interview: 'They are calling me now, and I have to go. I may be out of touch for some time. I wasn't involved in anything, but I am not safe. The police are calling me.'" John Garnaut, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 2009.

The news about the murder of the Radio Free Asia GC is no news.

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Robert Wone "was murdered about three years ago while visiting friends in a tony section of Dupont Circle, in Washington, D.C. At the time, he was the newly installed general counsel at Radio Free Asia. Wone, who seemed a soft-spoken and well-liked type, left behind a wife. He was 32." Law Blog, Wall Street Journal, 27 July 2009.
     "A D.C. police detective found Wone's BlackBerry at the scene and saw two draft/unsent e-mail messages on it. Not only was the BlackBerry not tested for fingerprints, nor the messages transcribed, but the Secret Service, which managed the data forensics, failed to 'image' the device before it was recycled back into service at Wone's place of employment, Radio Free Asia. This critical piece of evidence is now considered lost." Craig Brownstein and David Greer, Washington Post, 27 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

SW Radio Africa's Gerry Jackson tells West to cherish and hold on to freedoms.

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"At a time when Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, has restricted - often with brutal and deadly violence - most forms of independent media and many civil liberties within the country, Gerry [Jackson] and her small team operate a short-wave radio station broadcasting from London into Zimbabwe. Using SMS and the short-wave frequency, SW Radio is able to provide some 30,000 Zimbabweans with access to uncensored, independent news headlines three times a week. Only funding limitations stop them doing more. In closing what was one of the stand-out presentations of the day, Gerry warned that people in the West seem to take their freedoms and democracy for granted. She urged that we 'cherish them and do everything you can to hold on to them because they are often very easily lost.'" Inside blog, The Guardian, 27 July 2009. See also Activate 09 blog(undated), The Guardian.
     "The MDC has issued a statement to say that Finance Minister Tendai Biti received a serious death threat through a bullet sealed in an envelope that was delivered to his Highlands, Harare, home. ... In November of the same year a package arrived at the Harare home of Zimbabwe Standard reporter, Ray Choto. It contained a teddy bear, two live bullets, and an anonymous note threatening him and his family. Choto subsequently left Zimbabwe after he and his editor, Mark Chavhunduka, were arrested and tortured by the military. He now lives in Washington DC where he works for the Voice of America’s Studio 7, one of several foreign based radio stations now broadcasting to Zimbabwe." Zimbabwe Times, 28 July 2009.
     "Zimbabwe has told the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) and Cable News Network (CNN) to resume operations in Zimbabwe after a meeting held between top Information ministry officials and editors of the international news channels." Zim Net Radio, 27 July 2009. See previous post.

United States turns off its ticker in Havana.

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The US has turned off a Times Square-style news ticker - a source of irritation for the Castro government - at its diplomatic mission in Havana that since 2006 streamed propaganda and news into the night, western diplomatic sources said. The measure is the latest in a series of initiatives by the Obama administration as it seeks to engage Cuba and to end 50 years of enmity viewed in Latin America and the Caribbean as a relic of the cold war. ... The crimson ticker - five feet high and running through 25 windows of the Swiss embassy building that hosts the US mission on Havana's sea-side drive - began to stream messages on January 16 three and a half years ago, to mark Martin Luther King Jr's birthday at the height of tension with the Bush administration. 'I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up,' was the ticker's first message. Then president Fidel Castro dug up the mission's parking lot a few feet from the front door in response, to replace it with 138 flag polls reaching 100ft in the air to conceal the ticker." Marc Frank in Havana, Financial Times, 27 July 2009. See also The Guardian, 27 July 2009, with photo.
     "Officials confirmed that last month they dismantled the 5-foot-tall sign, which for the last three years displayed messages critical of Cuban authorities. In return, the Cuban government has taken down some nearby billboards condemning the United States. 'These dueling billboards, if you will, were not serving the interests of promoting a more productive relationship,' Ian Kelly, a State Department spokesman, told reporters." Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2009.

"Captain Euro is tripe" and other grumbling about EU "propaganda."

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The European Union spends millions every year on publicity material about itself that can only be described as propaganda, a Swedish think-tank has said. In a report being released on Monday, Timbro, a free-market think-tank, argues that the EU should draw a clearer distinction between public service information and propaganda. 'The EU's propaganda apparatus has until now gone uncriticised, despite the fact that it acts in a way that would not be tolerated in any member state.' ... The report's authors stress that they think it's essentially positive that the EU wants to inform the public about its work, but add that 'the money we give to the EU should not be spent on persuading people in an intrusive manner of the Union's virtues.'" The Local (Stockholm), 27 July 2009.
     Timbro "points out that popular broadcaster Euronews benefits from EU assistance to the tune of €10.8 million a year, raising questions over its objectivity.", 29 July 2009. BBC World Service is funded by the UK Foreign Office, and it is generally considered a standard of objectivity. It does take decades to demonstrate independence and thus establish credibility.
     "I give you just one example of the hundreds of millions of euros of taxpayers' money spent every year on pro-EU propaganda. This fellow on the left is Captain Euro ('born Adam Andros, the only son of a famous European Ambassador'), meant to be a superhero. He was invented by a firm of 'corporate vision strategists' on the orders of the European Commission. ... Captain Euro is tripe. ... And you might have seen Euronews on television. What you didn't see was any declaration that this year alone, the EU bureaucrats will give it €10.8m (£9.2m)." Mary Ellen Synon, Euroseptic blog, Daily Mail, 27 July 2009.
     During my web search yesterday, I came across "Eurojar is an abbreviation of Europa Jaratouna (Europe our neighbor). This website is part of a multimedia communication project which has been carried out following a call for proposals launched by the European Commission in the region concerned by the 'European Neighborhood Policy'. This region involves the South and East Mediterranean countries among many others. ... The goal of the project is to 'maximize the visibility of the European Neighborhood Policy' in the 8 concerned Arab countries: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. ... This project is entirely funded by the European Commission." So it competes, to some extent, with, "a Web site sponsored by the US Department of Defence. It is designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about the Maghreb region." The "Defence" spelling is in keeping with the use of British English throughout the site. is parallel to, "a Web site sponsored by the US Department of Defence in support of UN Resolution 1244." has content in, and thus competes to some extent with RFE/RL and/or VOA in, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, Greek, Turkish, and English.

RFI Serbo-Croatio-Bosnian off the air?

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"[Radio France International] in Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian to be cancelled THIS MONDAY! [20 July] Today on RFI South Slavic program I heard an announcement that as of Monday, July 20, 2009 South Slavic programs will be cancelled!!! So, after 23 years of service, ex-YU branch of RFI will be closed. I'm very surprised why they announced that only 2 days before the deadline." Dragan Lekic, Serbia, DX Listening Digest, 22 July 2009, posted to the DXLD Yahoo! group on 18 July. I haven't confirmed this yet, but the link to the Serbo-Croatian service on the RFI home page doesn't work at of 0843 UTC today.

Serbia via satellite.

Posted: 29 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Serbian government will rent a satellite as of January 1, 2010, in order to be able to broadcast programs of Radio and Television of Serbia RTS in the territory of the USA, Australia, and Europe, maintaining that it is in the state interest to air RTS programs in all countries where Serbs live, Minister for the Diaspora Srdjan Sreckovic said in a statement." EMPortal, 27 July 2009. Will this involve the radio or television of Radio and Television Serbia? Diaspora communities are now in the habit of obtaining the needed non-mainstream satellite dish and watching television from the homeland. This story might also be tied in with uncertainties about the future of shortwave broadcasts from Serbia, and the tradition role of International Radio Serbia in transmitting to the diaspora. See previous posts on 29 June (especially International Radio Serbia, 24 June 2009) and on 18 July 2009.

Indian government wants international channel modeled after BBC, or Al Jazeera, or CCTV...

Posted: 28 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The government wants to 'voice the Indian position and viewpoint on sensitive issues in as many countries as possible and at the earliest possible', according to the information & broadcasting ministry's outcome budget document (2009-10). To that end, it is planning to launch a television channel modelled on the United Kingdom's BBC and Qatar's Al Jazeera. The proposal is at the formulation stage, but this isn't the first time that such plans have been floated. The objective is to air India's position globally, like CCTV does for China, the document pointed out. 'It will involve introduction of international news and programming through the DD News channel, with simulcasting on DD India, which has a footprint in many countries.' An estimated Rs100 crore [1,000,000,000 rupees, about US$21 million] is likely to be spent on setting up the channel; public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has been directed to prepare a plan." DNA (Mumbai), 27 July 2009. I tried to track down the ministry's budget document, without success. In preparing its plan, Prasar Bharati will have to decide if its model will be BBC, Al Jazeera, or CCTV. It will also have to decide if the channel will "voice the Indian position and viewpoint," or if it will broadcast news. The new channel cannot do the latter credibly if it is also doing the former.

The complementary deficiencies of VOA and RFE/RL.

Posted: 28 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
On 23 July, the House of Representatives Europe subcommittee held the hearing, “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America: Soft Power and the Free Flow of Information." (See previous post.) The witnesses were Voice of America director Dan Austin and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty director Jeffrey Gedmin. The subcommittee chairman Robert Wexler asked why both stations exist...
     Wexler: "Yesterday, Mr. Austin, I was somewhat fascinated when we had an opportunity to speak, and you, just in an organization sense, shared with me why it is we have a Radio Free Europe and a Voice of America. Could you just share with the committee and with the audience why we have both, and the two roles that you play in a complementary fashion?
     Austin: I’d be happy to Mr. Chairman, and Jeff please weigh in as well. We very much see our roles as complementary to each other. As you mentioned earlier, sir, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty functions very much as a surrogate media. And that is to say they function as media would function if media were allowed to be free in the countries where they operate. The Voice of America functions more as an international newsgathering organization. We report on local events, but we put them in context of the region and the world and we also explain to that world about our country, our policies, our people, and our culture. So we have different but very complementary roles. If you line up our content on any given day, you will see that. And we both support and reinforce, I think, each other's mission."
     Wexler: Dr. Gedmin?
     Gedmin: It’s hard to be more succinct or eloquent than that, but I’ll just reinforce it. We listen to our audiences very carefully. And we, Dan and I, and our colleagues here, regularly … they need surrogate broadcasting, they need information that is about them. That is, reliable and accurate and fair-minded, and that is principally what we do as a so-called surrogate broadcaster. I mentioned in Ukraine, quality maternal care, or how do you cope with problems of pollution, it may be a corruption issue, it may be social affairs, domestic development. A wide variety of things that they would have if they had their own free independent media. And we like to say that we are the oxygen of civil society. We support and we promote all those good democratic values that hopefully will mature into institutions and the real habits and values and behaviors of democracies.
     But we too, Mr. Chairman, hear constantly about Dan’s work and Voice of America. CNN is not enough. They want quality, rich, broad programming that offers a US perspective, and illuminates … gives a window on American society, American thinking, American culture, American politics, is a serious, credible, truthful way. I do believe that they are distinct, but I’m a strong believer that they are complementary, mutually reinforcing, and both very much needed." [End of excerpt.]
     Is Mr. Austin implying that RFE/RL does not put its news "in context of the region and the world"? And is Dr. Gedmin is implying that VOA does not do news about "them," i.e., the audience's own country?
     Audience research (and I have seen a lot of it) indicates that where audiences for international broadcasting are large, the audience is interested primarily in news about their own country, but also to a large extent in news about the rest of the world, and to a more limited extent in news about the broadcaster's country. The station that provides news in the desired ratio, with the most resources and most credibility, wins.
     BBC World Service is famous for the news that it provides about its target countries, but also for its global news coverage. Somehow they manage to pack both into the convenience of one station.
     US international broadcasting, for its budget of 668 million dollars, has an all-media weekly audience of 175 million. The BBC world services, for their budget of 416 million dollars, have an all-media weekly audience of 233 million.

More about CCTV Arabic and the "scarcity of attention."

Posted: 27 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Arabic language television channels, particularly on satellite, are as plentiful as they are diverse. MENA region viewers have choices from over 400 satellite channels; from CNN Arabic [sic: CNN Arabic is still website only] and Al-Jazeera on the news side to soap-operas and entertainment shows from Arabic producers to movie and sports channels. ... International broadcasters – government sponsored and otherwise – know that audience development in new regional targets takes years of grinding out news and programs. Politicians funding these efforts have notoriously short attention spans, lengthened only by the number of times they become interview subjects. The shift of attention by Western international broadcasters from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to the Middle East, Africa and Asia is comparatively recent. Also recent is the interest by China in getting their message to viewers – following Russia, Iran and even Venezuela – comes from the hope that viewers will see all information equalized by the miracle of television. The Chinese government is not inclined to dabble in Arabic politics overtly through the new satellite channel. The primary interest is overcoming what it sees as 'biased coverage' of China. And MENA region viewers will, if they find CCTV’s Arabic channel, have another point of view to add to the rest. As Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Dean Joseph Nye wrote in Soft Power (2004), 'Plenty of information leads to a scarcity of attention.'" Michael Hedges,, 27 July 2009.
     "The Middle East has become a popular market for outside television enterprises. Apart from the big pan-Arabic networks – Qatar-based al-Jazeera and Dubai-based al-Arabiya – the BBC launched an Arabic television channel in March 2008 and the U.S.-government sponsored al-Hurra satellite network began operating in 2004.
Iran also runs an Arabic-language satellite network in the Arab world, Al-Alam; Russia has an Arabic version of the pro-Kremlin Russia Today channel, and TV networks in France and Germany also offer Arabic services.", 27 July 2009.
     "Meanwhile, the Chinese broadcasting company China Central TV on Saturday night launched an Arabic language channel for the Middle East and Africa as part of the government’s plans to improve its relations with the Arab and Muslim World. The channel is China Central’s fourth foreign language channel after English, French and Spanish. 'It really goes a long way to show that China is trying to break down the language barrier,' Ali said. Among the competitors of the new Chinese programming will be Al-Hurra, an Arabic language channel established in the United States in 2004 with backing from the U.S. government as part of a public diplomacy campaign." The Media Line, 26 July 2009. If Alhurra is merely "part of a public diplomacy campaign," then it would be in the same category as CCTV Arabic. See previous post about CCTV Arabic and CCTV Arabic website.
     Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom Fu Ying: "'No country in this world is perfect, and China also has its own problems at the current stage of development, thus through public diplomacy, we should make the outside world not only learn our achievements, but also our active attitude in facing and resolving our problems,' said Fu. She also said the public diplomacy needs 'quick and early response' so that China's voice can be heard by the international community at the first moment and the world know about the truth timely.'" Xinhua, 26 July 2009.

Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 27 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
American Jeff Ballou, deputy news editor of Al Jazeera English "knows it will be an uphill battle for the network to gain wider distribution, but public opinion of the network will only broaden after more people see it for themselves. 'The stories we've been telling in every region in the world have collectively gotten everybody's attention,' he said. 'It was never meant to be a fly-by-night operation, but if they thought that, they have been proven wrong.'" Pittsburgh Post-Gazeete, 27 July 2009.
     "The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate has condemned threats against the director of Aljazeera Satellite Channel office in Yemen Murad Hashim by an unknown person through a phone number.", 27 July 2009. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 27 July 2009.
     Reporters sans frontières "condemns Yemen’s harassment and denigration of the Qatar-based satellite TV station Al Jazeera, branded by the authorities as the 'enemy of a united Yemen' because of its coverage of unrest in the south of the country." RSF, 28 July 2009. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 27 July 2009.
     "For all the transformation of the Arab media landscape over the last decade, al-Jazeera remains the most widely viewed and most influential Arabic news station. Americans should not view al-Jazeera simply as a hostile presence in the Arab political arena or or the source of its image problems. Nor should they view it only as a possible vehicle for public diplomacy and spreading American messages, though they should certainly take every opportunity to be on its programs and engage. They should also listen to it, to the raucous talk show arguments and the dominant narrative frames and the voices of the Arab public which it presents. Those arguments won't end, and that's a good thing --- and better to be in that argument rather than pretending it doesn't exist." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 27 July 2009.

Obama administration and Senate initiatives to overcome Iranian net censorship: same or separate?

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Obama administration is poised to dramatically increase funding aimed at helping Iranian activists circumvent government controls on the Internet, according to Congressional aides, marking a new wave of US support for Web-based dissent at a time when the Iranian regime has clamped down on street protests. The funding, which is set to double from $15 million in 2009 to $30 million next year for Iran and other countries that block free speech on the Internet, puts the US government in an unlikely alliance with counterculture computer activists - some of them in the Boston area - who have launched spirited volunteer efforts to help Iranian reformers. ... The funding could also become controversial, since the Internet tools developed to protect the identities of democracy organizers in Iran can also be used to hide networks of Internet criminals and terrorists. Another concern is that the US funding will spur repressive regimes to step up their own efforts to censor and spy on the Internet, sparking an arms race of sorts in cyberspace." Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, 26 July 2009. The recent Senate bill known as the VOICE Act would also help Iranians circumvent Iranian internet censorship. Is this the same as the administration initiative, or will they be overlapping programs?
     "The Washington Times reported in April that Nokia Siemens Networks had sold Iran's telecom company a 'monitoring center.' The product's promotional material says the center can sort and catalogue phone calls, e-mails and other Web communications. The portion of the business that deals with the monitoring center was sold at the end of March to a private German holding company, but the bad publicity has caused potential problems for Siemens business in the U.S. ... 'There is a growing amount of money available for Web circumvention and activism,' Andrew Lewman, the executive director of the Tor project, told The Times. 'So when there is money, people will come, and you are seeing a lot of companies retooling themselves to become circumvention providers.'" Eli Lake, Washington Times, 26 July 2009. See mention of Nokia at bottom of previous post.
     "Tehran which threatened to review ties with those interfering in its internal affairs criticized US and British media outlets such as Voice of America (VOA) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for 'dramatizing' the recent post-election turmoil in the country by providing extensive coverage of the developments -- based on 'unreliable' sources such as Twitters and posts on Facebook -- and fueling the post-election violence." Press TV, 25 July 2009.
     "The program, to be administered by the U.S. Department of State, aims at developing additional proxy server capability and anti-censorship software to overrun Iranian government’s efforts to block Radio Farda and Persian News Network websites." Al Arabiya, 25 July 2009. See previous post.

New book looks at "a century's worth of American propaganda."

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"In Why America Fights, Susan A. Brewer, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, provides a comprehensive history of a century's worth of American propaganda, which she defines as 'the deliberate manipulation of fact, ideas, and lies.' This is a pernicious process, achieving short-term political goals at the expense of long-term credibility. Brewer correctly notes that "in the end, war aims must be achieved in the real world, not in the dramatic version presented by propaganda... . Why America Fights ... is valuable because it illustrates the breadth of deception and the cumulative damage a century of propaganda has done to America. It makes clear how integral propaganda and news manipulation are in the foreign policy process." Philip Seib, Dallas Morning News, 26 July 2009. I taught for a year at UWSP (1984-85). Nice school, nice campus, nice city. Anyway, there will always be public relations, and national governments will always perform their version of it, known domestically as public affairs and internationally as public diplomacy. In public affairs/public diplomacy, governments can handpick the facts they wish to disseminate, but they shouldn't lie. The press can be grateful to PA/PD for providing news leads, but it has the duty to treat this PA/PD skeptically and at least somewhat adversarially. This is why international broadcasting, which is primarily in the news business, cannot be part of public diplomacy.

Honduras "media wars."

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"At the time when Zelaya was staging his symbolic come-back on the border, state TV stations were showing a meeting of an electoral committee and a demonstration by Hondurans waving blue and white flags and holding placards (some in English) praising Micheletti and denouncing Zelaya. Television spots accusing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a socialist and ally of Zelaya, of orchestrating the coup are also frequent. Venezuelan TV channel Telesur has been blocked in Honduras, leaving many with cable to rely on CNN en Espanol as their main source of television news from outside Honduras." Claudia Parsons, Global News Blog, Reuters, 25 July 2009.
     "Venezuela’s Telesur carried live coverage of Zelaya’s July 24 return (and CNN in turn carried that network’s feed)." Carin Zissis, Americas Society, 25 July 2009.

RT (née Russia Today) floats Obama as good cop, Biden as bad cop hypothesis.

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Moscow says it’s hard to figure out who is in charge of US foreign policy – President Obama or his advisors – following critical comments against Russia by Vice President Joe Biden. The Kremlin said it is puzzled by Biden’s strong criticism so shortly after the two countries agreed to reset relations in March and signed crucial agreements during Barack Obama’s visit to Russia two weeks ago." RT, 25 July 2009.
     The change from "Russia Today" to "RT" (which I somehow missed along the way) was an interesting branding exercise. Is there something off-putting about "Russia"? In the case of other broadcasters whose brands evolved to letters, the spelled out words were around long enough for folks to know where the letters came from. Examples: BBC for British Broadcasting Corporation. CNN for Cable News Network. CBS for Columbia Broadcasting System. But RT? What's that?

BBC and CNN can report again from Zimbabwe, but what "professional standards" must they "uphold"?

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Government and editors of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Cable News Network (CNN) have resolved the sticking points around the organisations’ coverage of Zimbabwe, paving way for the bro[a]dcasters to resume operations in the country. ... According to the letter, the Government and the BBC agreed that the latter would employ locals at its proposed Harare Bureau. Although the office has to be set up, in terms of the law, the policy requirement for the organisation to employ locals will not prevent the network from sending crews to the country if need be. It was also agreed that the BBC and CNN would respect local legislation and uphold professional standards." The Sunday Mail (Harare), 26 July 2009.

Al Jazeera versus Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera versus CNN International.

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"While Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya are almost completely at odds in their approaches to news coverage - with each targeting and attracting a different Arab audience - I personally think that they actually complement one another; what one station chooses to underline or ignore for instance, the other chooses to highlight. When it comes to following Arab news, in other words, the complete picture can only be acquired through following these two stations together." Jihad El Khazen, Dar Al Hayat, 24 July 2009.
     "Seasoned TV newsman Anand Naidoo is relishing his job as US political correspondent and anchor for the international channel Al Jazeera. ... Following an extensive career in South Africa, working not only with the national broadcaster but also at M-Net and 702 Talk Radio, Naidoo was snapped up by CNN in 1997. ... He said he left CNN because he felt the need for a change. 'What Al Jazeera was doing appealed to me personally. Al Jazeera English and CNN International are very similar in many respects, but there are some important differences. The first is that Al Jazeera is the first international network that is not based in a Western country. The other important distinction is that the executive managers and editors of Al Jazeera decided right from the word go that the network would devote most of its resources and money to covering the developing world. We felt, as journalists, that this was a part of the planet that was grossly under-covered by the international media.'" The Times (Johannesburg), 25 July 2009.

Memories of reception on a Hallicrafters shortwave radio.

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
On an old flea-market Hallicrafters shortwave radio: "In the mornings you could hear Australia and Japan — or perhaps the BBC, broadcasting chiming soukous guitar music on its African Service. If you rose early enough, you could hear Radio Tahiti — a truly exotic catch — or a station in Nairobi, broadcasting in English but conjuring up images of the African veldt. After sundown, however, was when the shortwave came alive. Mad-dog announcers went wild over South American soccer games; you could almost feel the spray of their saliva as they screamed out the action. West German radio read the news in English as precise as a Mercedes door fitting; to Radio Havana Cuba — territorio libre de America! — it was clear that ours was a second language. Radio Tirana in Albania clung coldly to the hardcore Communist Party line; a station in Beijing offered the otherworldly sounds of traditional Chinese opera, its syllables and cadences juggled with dazzling quickness by acrobatic artists." And the "numbers stations." Ben Windham, retired [it figures] editorial editor of The Tuscaloosa News, 26 July 2009.

New Israeli Facebook application bobbles in the social media ocean.

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A group of 23 students from Jerusalem's Hebrew University came up with a small application which uses the Facebook 'status line' to inform hundreds of thousands of users at any given moment about positive facts about Israel. ... Israpedia, the Facebook application, automatically replaces run-of-the-mill musings or common tidbits with what the group's staff considers interesting though little known facts about Israel, like the fact that it is the second biggest book publisher per capita in the world, or that it has over 200 wineries producing red, white and bubbly. So far, around 3,000 users downloaded the application, according to the idea's designers." Ha'aretz, 24 July 2009. One might already have positive feelings about Israel to want to download an application that provides positive facts about Israel.
     Amateur radio carries on in Israel, despite the allure of the internet and mobile devices to younger people. Ha'aretz, 22 July 2009.

Remembering the American National Exhibition in Moscow, fifty years ago.

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"On display at the American National Exhibition in Moscow in July, 1959, were graphic symbols of the yawning gulf between the capitalist United States and the communist Soviet Union: time-saving household appliances, the very latest in modern technology. The show provided a rare window on the world for Russians and 3.2 million of them flocked there during the six-week run." Araminta Wordsworth, National Post, 24 July 2009.
     "The accomplishment could not be more relevant 50 years later, with the United States once again floundering in its leadership of a worldwide campaign against a new totalitarianism. As a model of successful 'public diplomacy,' also known as propaganda, the 1959 Moscow exhibition will likely remain unequalled until such time as NASCAR runs its first race in Tehran. 'The exhibition ended a long period of almost total cultural estrangement between the United States and the Soviet Union, and ended it with a smile,' Stanley Abercrombie wrote in his biography of George Nelson, the legendary 'designer's designer' who led the team of geniuses who programmed the fair. Recently declassified National Security Council documents describe it rather differently as 'the most productive single psychological effort' of the Cold War, a description amply reinforced by the memories of Muscovites who attended. It had the effect of a 'poisoned blanket' that helped to destroy the credibility of communist ideology among the capital's cultural elite, according to Vladimir Paperny, an émigré who was among the 2.7 million Russians who crammed the 10-acre site in Sokolniki Park to get their first view of what they thought was the real America." John Barner, Globe and Mail, 25 July 2009.
     "As Jack Masey, USIA Chief of Design of the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, pointed out about the exhibition, what really worked best in the case of our Cold War 'enemy' was that Russians were able to connect with real-life Americans -- the young US exhibition guides (fluent Russian speakers) with whom Russians talked about a wide variety of subjects, some of which had little to do to do with the exhibition itself." John Brown, Huffington Post, 23 July 2009.
     Could the United States fill an exhibition hall with US manufactured goods these days? A modern day exhibition would have to show how Americans now make their livings: tanning parlors, dog grooming parlors, tattoo parlors, etc. China, on the other hand, could do an exhibition of its manufactured goods. And it does, continuously, all over the United States. They're called Walmarts.

VOA Swahili via Kenyan subscription SMS service.

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Daily news from Voice of America's (VOA) Swahili Service is available, starting this week, by text message for users of Safaricom's 'Get It 411' program in Kenya. ... The Nairobi-based Safaricom already allows subscribers to their Safaricom Live service to download VOA-TV's English language video and audio to their mobile phones. That program has proved to be popular, particularly with programs about President Obama, whose father was Kenyan. The new SMS program, 'Get It 411,' is a subscription service that provides breaking news alerts on a regular basis." VOA press release, 22 July 2009.

International news without newspapers?

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Blacking out the newspapers this week did make me realize how much I'd miss some of the superb individual voices they publish. ... But did I feel like an uninformed citizen these last few days? Absolutely not. If I wanted international coverage, I could click over to, CNN International, or any number of other sites." Seth Stevenson, Slate, 23 July 2009. Interestingly, for international news on a web page, you do not want to log into or CNN International's Instead, you want (the international version; do Brits have convenient access to this?) or Another good portal to world news is And, of course, there are the major newspaper sites, e.g. and So there is no dearth of international news in the English-speaking, internet-connected world. It is the task of international broadcasting to bring all this news to speakers of other languages, by whatever media suit each target country.

Melbourne International Film Festival offerings pique Indonesia, China (updated).

Posted: 26 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Indonesia dismissed as fiction the recently premiered Australian film describing the murder of five foreign journalists by the Indonesian Army during the 1975 annexation of East Timor (now Timor Leste), saying the so-called 'Balibo Five' case was closed. ... Directed by Robert Connolly, Balibo premiered on Friday at the Melbourne International Film Festival. ... A documentary film on the plight of a Chinese Uighur leader, alleged to have incited the worst race riots in China recently, will also be screened at the festival to the ire of Beijing, currently in a row with Canberra over a spy case involving Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. The Chinese government failed to block the screening of the documentary, but Chinese filmmakers canceled their participation in the festival to protest the documentary’s screening. The Indonesian government was recently concerned by Al-Jazeera English’s planned screening of an Australian documentary on Papuan separatists. The documentary, called Pride of Warriors, was pulled off the air before its scheduled screening. The ministry has denied allegations it had pressured Al-Jazeera to cancel the screening, saying it had not made contact with the TV station." Jakarta Post, 25 July 2009. See previous post about Pride of Warriors.
     Update: "Chinese hackers have attacked the website of Australia's biggest film festival over a documentary about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. Content on the Melbourne International Film Festival site was briefly replaced with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans on Saturday, reports said." BBC News, 26 July 2009.

Uncensored Telesur would be more "wide-angled" than Cuban television.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The multi-national Latin American television network 'TeleSUR' (the New Television Station of the South) has been on the air for several years now. Its prestige swelled after the recent events in Honduras: Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner made reference to it in her July 4th speech at the OAS. ... It is clear to me that TeleSUR - like any other communications medium - obeys the interests of the entities that control it; one would have to be naïve to think that any medium is 'impartial' or 'commitment free.' But it’s also clear that, in comparison to Cuban television programs, it would constitute a valuable source of information and understanding for Cubans, who have become accustomed to vulgar, insipid or simply stupid programming. The current frenzy to obtain decoders for viewing digital TV broadcast from the United States is the consequence of the poor senseless national television programs. ... The purpose of TeleSUR is in fact to serve as an alternative to the corporate choir of the globalized mainstream. So why are 'ordinary Cubans' excluded from this possibility? ... From what I’ve seen, despite its intermittent one-sidedness, many TeleSUR programs (the ones that make it to our eyes and ears because they’re selected as the 'best' by those officials in charge of censorship) take a more wide-angled look than Cuban TV. ... It’s possible to have TeleSUR as an additional channel for Cuban TV. Those who should have the right to choose what is the best or worst of TeleSUR are the Cuban viewers (especially since we are the owners of 20 percent of the station), and we should execute that entitlement exclusively through our TV remote control buttons." Dimitri Prieto in Cuba,, 22 July 2009.

On Alhurra, Iraqi FM criticizes alleged US meeting with Iraqi insurgents.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"In an interview with the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra network, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he received confirmation of a meeting involving U.S., insurgent and Turkish representatives in Istanbul in March. Zebari said it was 'shocking' and 'amazing' that U.S. and Turkish officials met 'the supporters of the former regime, groups that adopt violence and terrorism as a way to change the situation, and the networks that believe in killing, bombing and targeting innocents.' He said of the meetings: 'They should not take place because they do not serve stability.'" AP, 24 July 2009. The Alhurra interview was also reported by Reuters, 24 July 2009
     "'We, the Iraqi government, were amazed that representatives from the American and Turkish sides met with representatives from those groups,' Foreign Minister Hoshyer Zebari told the official Arabic-language US television station Al-Hurra on Friday, July 24.", 24 July 2009. If Alhurra were "official," would it be reporting criticism of a US foreign policy initiative?
     "State Department officials, meanwhile, said they were unaware of the alleged meeting." AFP, 24 July 2009.
     "The two meetings were exposed to the public when an insurgent representative appeared on the Al Jazeera satellite television news channel in Qatar and discussed the talks, and also announced the existence of a protocol agreement signed with the American and Turkish governments." Ned Parker in Baghdad, Babylon & Beyond blog, Los Angeles Times, 24 July 2009.

Al Jazeera nominated for International Emmy and for National Review Brickbat.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English is again set to race for the International Emmy Award for News and Current Affairs 2009 for the second consecutive year. The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the prestigious award in New York, recently. Al Jazeera is the only Asia-based network in contention for the award. The channel was nominated in both the News and Current Affairs categories for its coverage of the Russia-Georgia War and documentary on Palestinian schools under Israeli occupation." The Peninsula (Doha), 25 July 2009.
     Death of "Rebecca Lipkin, 48, a globe-trotting producer and writer for ABC News, who later helped set up the English news operations of the al-Jazeera network in London... In 2005, Ms. Lipkin joined al-Jazeera in London as director of programs and helped establish the network's English-language programming in London. She was credited with bringing former ABC newsman Dave Marash to al-Jazeera as a news anchor in 2006. Marash left the network last year, saying it had an anti-American bias." Washington Post, 24 July 2009.
     "When Marash explained why he quit to Columbia Journalism Review in April of 2008, it was clearer that he felt that when he had some measure of editorial control (and I’d assume some measure of prestige) at the anchor desk in Washington, it was all good. But when they demoted him to correspondent and then completely ignored his advice on covering America, making crude propaganda about American homelessness, he felt it wasn’t reporting, just accusing. But you’ll also notice he was still waxing oddly about how there was otherwise a 'very, very high standard' at al-Jazeera English." Tim Graham, media blog, National Review Online, 24 July 2009.

Smuggling South Korean popular culture into North Korea.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"So popular is the stream of smuggled soap operas, movies and pop music from the South that Pyongyang has dispatched teams of thought-control agents, known as '109 squads', to confiscate tapes and arrest smugglers, according to a paper by the South Korean think-tank the Korea Institute for National Unification. 'Even in Pyongyang, many people [are] known to watch South Korean movies and videos,' says the report. High officials in the reclusive Stalinist state, including senior bureaucrats and security agents, are risking imprisonment, hard labour or worse to indulge their love of the so-called 'Korean wave', claims the report's co-author Lee Keum-soon. ... The report says the North's citizens are smuggling in cheap Chinese video-recorders and swapping well-worn tapes of ... movies. Public screenings are popular in some areas and illegal recorders and tapes are openly on sale, provoking the clampdown around border areas." David McNeill, The Independent, 25 July 2009.

Will "China Craze" bring an audience to CCTV's new Arabic channel?

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Chinese state television launched an Arabic-language channel beamed to the Middle East and Africa on Saturday as part of efforts to expand the communist government's media influence abroad. The 24-hour channel will air in 22 Arabic-speaking countries, reaching a total population of nearly 300 million people, China Central Television said in a statement. ... The media drive echoes efforts by Russia and Qatar to influence international news coverage through their state-funded Russia Today and Al-Jazeera channels. Those attempts to challenge the BBC and CNN have scored some success. CCTV announced plans last month for a Russian channel." AP, 25 July 2009. I don't think I would have put Al Jazeera and Russia Today (RT) in the same breath like that. Al Jazeera has scored huge success. RT, though charming at times, not so much.
     "Ying Chan, the director of Hong Kong University's journalism and media studies centre, told Al Jazeera that China saw the channel as a way to counter 'unfair' portray[a]ls of China in the international media. 'There's no question that the Middle East is a very strategic area and China wants its voice heard there,' she said. 'They want to announce their policies more to the world, and they also felt that the international media, led by the Western media, has not been fair to China.'", 25 July 2009.
     "CCTV already has four international channels that broadcast in English, French and Spanish, as well as Chinese." BBC News, 25 July 2009.
     "CCTV Arabic will produce programs which fall into 4 categories that include news, feature stories, entertainment and education. The channel will present a variety of programs including ones called Dialogue, Talking About China and Documentaries. Programs will be rebroadcast six times every day while news will be regularly updated. The channel will gradually increase the number of programs as the channel develops." CCTV, 24 July 2009.
     "The new Arabic Channel will reach the Middle East and North Africa via signals on Arabsat and Nilesat. It will also reach the Asia-Pacific region by Chinasat 6B. Nearly 300-million people in 22 Arab countries will be able to watch programs from China's Arabic Channel with their satellite dish. ... China and Arab countries all have long histories and splendid civilizations and their friendship dates back to ancient times. As their financial cooperation increases, the 'China Craze' in many Arab countries is also increasing." CCTV press release, 24 July 2009.
     So, foreign television channels broadcasting full or part time in Arabic: Alhurra, BBC Arabic, DW-TV, France 24, Russia Today (Russia Al Youm), EuroNews, Al Alam (Iran), Sat-7 (religious). Am I forgetting any? Update: Shawn Powers adds the Arabic television service of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. It's 20 hours a week, and visible in "neighboring countries." If Israel were to start a 24-hour Arabic channel (I think it has been discussed), could it obtain a slot on Arabsat and Nilesat?

China: Defense Ministry latest of "bunch of government departments" with English websites.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"China's Defense Ministry will launch its first official Web site next month in what state media said Thursday was an effort by the secretive military to be more transparent. China has long been tightlipped about its military strength and capacity, drawing criticism from other countries wary of the Asian giant's growing power and skyrocketing military spending, although Beijing says it is purely for defense. The Web site - in English and Chinese - will run on a trial basis starting Aug. 1, which marks the anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, the world's largest with 2.3 million members, the official China Daily said. Its editors say they hope to make it as informative as the U.S. Defense Department's Web site, the newspaper reported." AP, 23 July 2009.
     "By now, a both on central and regional level have set up English websites, including the Central People's Government, the National Audit Office, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the State Food and Drug Administration." Xinhua, 23 July 2009.

Via IPTV, Chinese channels to Europe.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"KyLinTV, a Chinese programming IPTV service that is based in New York, has entered the global ring after announcing it will move to Europe, which is the company’s next location outside of North America. The move comes as a result of a new partnership with Phoenix TV that will offer its 60 Chinese channels and over 30,000 hours of video on demand services to European consumers." IPTVwatch, 21 July 2009.

Internet freedom in Vietnam will be subject of House briefing.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) will hold a briefing with leading experts on the state of Internet freedom in Vietnam on Tuesday, July 28th from 2:00pm to 3:30pm in the Gold Room, 2168 Rayburn House Office Building. ... The Government of Vietnam has taken numerous actions to restrict internet freedom, including censoring private blogs and imprisoning Vietnamese journalists who use the Internet to criticize the Communist government." Rep. Sanchez press release, 25 July 2009, and links. One of the experts is Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Bich, chairman of the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans and former director of the Radio Free Asia Vietnamese Service.

Now we need a Victims of Government Duplication to Overcome Iranian Censorship Act.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The US Senate has approved funds for measures to help Iran's opposition defeat curbs on news and Internet social networking sites it has used to organize since a disputed presidential vote. ... Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Democratic Senators Ted Kaufman and Robert Casey were the lead authors of the Victims of Iranian Censorship (VOICE) Act. ... The measure calls for providing 30 million dollars for expanding Radio Free Europe-backed Farsi-language radio broadcasts into Iran, to be used to try to counter Iranian government efforts to jam radio, satellite, and Internet-based transmissions. The funding would also go to try to overrun the Iranian government's efforts to block access to websites or text messages over cell phone networks. Another 20 million dollars would go to create a special fund to develop ways for Iranians to get access to and share information, and counter Tehran's 'efforts to block, censor, or monitor the Internet in Iran.'" AFP, 25 July 2009. See also joint press release via Senator Ted Kaufman website, 24 July 2009. And Senator Kaufman's remarks via his website, 24 July 2009. And full text of the act.
     The AFP piece does not mention that money will also go to VOA's Persian News Network which, at least before the unrest, because its television broadcasts, had a larger audience than Radio Farda.
     Remember, from you college literature class, dramatic irony? Where key information "is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play." The VOICE Act is full of it. The reader of the act will wonder why Congress would give money to 1) "develop additional transmission capability for Radio Farda and the Persian News Network," 2) "develop additional proxy server capability and anti-censorship software to counter efforts to block Radio Farda and Persian News Network Web sites," 3) "expand program coverage and analysis by Radio Farda and the Persian News Network," and 4) "hire, on a permanent or short-term basis, additional staff for Radio Farda and the Persian News Network." (The underlines are mine.)
     Furthermore, the act says "develop additional Internet-based, Farsi-language television programming, including a Farsi-language, Internet-based news channel." Knowing the United States Congress, that internet-based Farsi channel will be yet a third entity, so that future appropriations will have to go to three bureaucracies to perform the same function. On the brighter side, the new Farsi internet channel will provide job opportunities for a suite full of senior managers, some of whom will be culled from Washington think tanks that advocate limited government.
     Eliminate the obvious redundancies, and the savings could be used for the measures to overcome Iranian censorship. The savings could also go towards additional shortwave transmitter time. Although the use of shortwave has declined in Iran, shortwave remains the medium most resistant to interdiction. To overcome jamming, use as many frequencies as possible, from as many sites as possible. The amendment calls for "additional shortwave and medium wave transmissions," which is good if the transmitters can be found. The BBG has already shut down many of its shortwave transmitters and sites, so time will have to be leased on other facilities. Iranian audiences should be reminded that the shortwave option still exists, and they should be provided with schedule information. Text and e-mail via shortwave should also be explored.

     RFE/RL interviews son of imprisoned Iranian journalist Issa Saharkhiz. In a phone call from prison, Issa Saharhiz said "'Don’t expect to see me anytime soon. I will stay here for a long time.' He also said that all the tracking was done through Nokia and, if possible, lawyers should file a complaint against the Nokia company and take it to an international court and argue that Nokia should pay for all the damages and things that have happened in Iran." RFE/RL, 25 July 2009. Good report by RFE/RL. To what extent is the detection attributable to Nokia or to the Iranian mobile phone service provider, or both?

VOA director and RFE/RL president appear before House subcommittee.

Posted: 25 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Voice of America director Danforth Austin and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Jeffrey Gedmin appeared at a hearing of the House of Representative Europe subcommittee, 23 July, entitled “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America: Soft Power and the Free Flow of Information." Video of the hearing is available at this House Committee on Foreign Affairs web page, with a transcript following in "six to eight weeks."
     "By giving audiences 'accurate, objective and comprehensive' news, VOA achieves a credibility with its audience that 'lets them cut through the din of shrill propaganda and the fog of misinformation and disinformation that make up so much of the world’s media these days.' VOA’s broadcasts are 'critical to the long-range strategic interests of the United States,'" VOA director Danforth Austin told the subcommittee. VOA press release, 23 July 2009.
     "Russia presents a challenge for VOA – and all international broadcasting. Tight government control over television and many print media and radio outlets, which led to the loss of most VOA in-country radio and television affiliates, combined with a decline in shortwave radio audiences, prompted VOA to redefine traditional content delivery. VOA is now a multi-media web-based program produced for a country where Internet usage is growing rapidly. Nationwide, 15 percent of the adult population uses the medium weekly with the percentage in large cities like Moscow much higher." From Danford Austin testimony, VOA, 23 July 2009.
     "'For more than half a century, RFE/RL has remained committed to honest, truthful reporting in the name of pluralism, tolerance, and respect for diversity,' he said. 'And as technology has moved forward, RFE/RL has not stood still,' [RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin told the subcommittee]. 'Today, we have state-of-the-art websites and video content. We use text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter to interact with our audiences -- and to allow them to interact with each other.'" RFE/RL press release, 23 July 2009.
     "Mr. Chairman, I mentioned at the outset that we don't do propaganda. Let me add in this instance that we don't do anti-Russian programming either. Russia is an important nation with a remarkable history and culture. The colleagues of our Russian service are patriots. They may differ on a range of issues, but they all agree on one thing: that their country deserves decent, accountable government, free media and institutions that promote and protect pluralism and tolerance." From Jeffrey Gedmin testimony, via ibid (which also has a link to subcommittee chairman Robert Wexler's opening remarks).
     "Republican Representative Ed Royce said U.S. government-funded broadcasters, which include Deewa Radio under the VOA, must play a greater role in responding to an information challenge posed by militant radio broadcasters in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 'They say to control information is to control the battlefield,' he said. 'In Afghanistan that is going to be increasingly true because of the amount of influence that the Gulf states are putting in terms of resources into the hands of radical Islam in that area. Fortunately, 70 percent of the Afghans now listen to [U.S-funded] Radio Free Afghanistan, but all through the region people are [still] listening to sharia radio, it is a war of ideas and you gentlemen are going to have to be part of the solution to this.'" Dan Robinson, VOA News, 23 July 2009.

BBC, RFI may soon be off the Budapest FM dial.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The writing was on the wall last week for the BBC World Service and Radio France Inter [sic] services broadcast alternately on the 92.1 FM frequency in Budapest. The new owner of the company which runs the service, Aerial Kft, wants to replace the foreign language news broadcasts with 24-hour classical music. ... The British Ambassador to Hungary, Greg Dorey, told The Budapest Times what lies behind the likely demise of the part-time English-language service. 'When the BBC Hungarian Service was closed in 2005/06, a decision was taken to continue to broadcast in English in Budapest for the remainder of the licence period, which ends in 2009. The BBC and RFI each held 50 per cent of the equity share capital in Aeriel Kft, the company that held the licence to broadcast in Budapest on 92.1 FM. The BBC World Service did not wish to continue to broadcast in English and have sold Aerial to Target, the company who now hold the licence,' Mr Dorey explained. 'Sad as it is, end of an era, this is a purely commercial decision for the BBC to take,' he said." The Budapest Times, 23 July 2009. Shortwave would handily deliver BBC World Service English into Hungary, but BBC would prefer people listen via the internet. There is an experimental BBCWS DRM digital shortwave transmission to Europe: reception offers higher fidelity than analog, but it's also fussier, and DRM receivers are, for now, virtually nonexistent. As for the French, it's Radio France International on 92.1 MHz in Budapest, not France Inter, a domestic station often, at least by foreigners, confused with RFI.

CNN International's interesting business on the side.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
News article refers to "CNN International’s", 23 July 2009. Sure enough, the fine print of the site states that is is copyright by Turner Entertainment Networks International Limited on behalf of South Africa Tourism. Is this a quid pro quo for advertising on CNN International? Or is maintaining websites a Turner business in its own right?
     "CNN has announced that it will air ‘Witness to War’ on CNN International... . A team of six CNN correspondents provide an unique, first-hand account of the horrors of conflict – from civil war, to the war on terror and the recent offensive in the Swat valley – in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan." Media News International, 22 July 2009.

Arabic speaking public diplomacy expert to ... Equatorial Guinea.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Alberto M. Fernandez, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Department of State. Alberto M. Fernandez has served as US Charge d’Affaires to the Republic of Sudan from June 2007 to May 2009. He has served as Director for Near East Public Diplomacy from 2005-2007, Director for Iraq Public Diplomacy from 2004-2005. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Fernandez has also held senior public diplomacy positions at the US embassies in Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria and Guatemala." White House press release, 22 July 2009. Search on Fernandez on this website for the back story. I assume he also speaks Spanish, which will be helpful in the former Spanish colony.

Toward a more incomprehensible US public diplomacy.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Much of American public diplomacy remains rooted in the Cold War-era assumption that the world yearns for information from the United States. That may have been true when the alternative to such worthy institutions as the Voice of America was Radio Moscow, but no longer. In the Arab world, for instance, news channels such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have great credibility; Arab viewers can see the world through Arab eyes rather than relying on Western providers such as the BBC and CNN, or on the principal U.S. government effort in this field, Al Hurra television. This Arabic-language news channel is largely ignored or ridiculed in the Middle East, all for upwards of half a billion U.S. taxpayer dollars. The U.S. broadcasting effort would have more viewers and greater effect if instead it just provided the nightly American network newscasts dubbed into Arabic." Philip Seib, The Huffington Post, 22 July 2009. Survey data I've seen indicates that Arabs are interested mostly in news about the Arab world. Hence, Alhurra's present regional focus. Can Alhurra hold its own amid heady competition -- Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic -- providing the same regional focus? Alhurra does not have to be number one, but it does need a respectable showing. Or USIB could, as Professor Seib suggests, just dub a US network newscast in Arabic and make the best of the niche audience that would result. Either way, it's best to keep US international broadcasting (which focuses on the information the audience wants to receive) separate from US public diplomacy (which focuses on the information the US Government wants the audience to receive). (See previous post also dismissive of Alhurra.)
     "American broadcasting abroad is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, part-time volunteers, mainly prominent businessmen and media figures. (Author Ilan) Berman quotes one board member, in 2002, saying: 'We've got to think of ourselves as separate from public diplomacy.' Why would an entity set up for the purpose of public diplomacy want to distance itself from that mission? What mission would it undertake instead? Why has this contradiction not been addressed by either the Bush or Obama administrations?" Clifford D. May, ScrippsNews, 22 July 2009. The mission it undertakes instead is to attract an audience by providing the credible news that the audience wants. And how would transmitting straight news benefit the United States? Well, it's advanced international broadcasting theory. Only the audience would understand. See previous post.

Press TV's aim: "slander the west and blame it for every conceivable sin" (updated again).

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Press TV is to Iranian politics as MSNBC has become to the Democrat party: it is a propaganda enterprise. The difference is that MSNBC (frequently cited on Press TV) has to allow that there are Republicans (albeit quiescent ones) in the mix, whereas Press TV does not have to acknowledge any individuals or groups who stray from the party line. It is the news of the rulers and only the news of the rulers. The aim of the network is to slander the west and blame it for every conceivable sin. ... But credit where credit is due, the Iranians have raised the propaganda game to new heights. Press TV has divided its programming week into twenty main shows, each with a twist which guarantees the West will come under attack. For example, ... 'American Dream,' features a 'political roundtable offering a warts and all picture of life in the US, from the ghettos to the gated communities.'" Susan Easton,, 20 July 2009.
     "Press TV invited me to appear on a panel discussion about reporting in the Middle East a few days after in launched two summers ago. When the host, Shahab Mossovat, asked me what I felt was the biggest challenge faced by reporters in the region, I answered with what I think is the obvious response: the lack of freedom, particularly in places like Iran, where Canadian reporter Zahra Kazemi was imprisoned, raped, and murdered, and where Canadian reporter Maziar Bahari remains in custody after a televised confession was extracted from him. The host, to his credit, let me bang on for longer than I expected, before interrupting to describe my comments as 'offensive' to Iran and predictably demanding: 'What about Israel?' I haven’t been invited back on Press TV and was not paid for my appearance." Michael Petrou, The World Desk, Macleans, 21 July 2009.
     Update: "Some Iranian ex-pats living in London aren’t too happy with their fellow Brits who work for Iran’s propaganda arm either. They are distributing the following leaflet to Press TV employees later this afternoon. A copy of the leaflet was sent to me by British-Iranian blogger and pro-democracy activist Potkin Azarmehr. ... 'Have you no conscience? How much is enough? You can not be the voice of liberation for others when your platform belongs to a repressive regime that kills tortures and imprisons its own people.'" Michael Petrou, The World Desk, Macleans, 22 July 2009.
     "During Iran's recent post election disturbances Press TV's crews were out in force yet again. All aspects of the story were covered from every angle. In fact most of the footage used by the VOA, CNN, BBC, Fox and other Western mouthpieces came from Press TV. ... Press TV whose news footage had been used liberally by foreign news media in their reports of the disturbances in Tehran, was actually accused of being a mouthpiece news organization and state controlled. Not to be outdone in the Western game of prejudiced deceit, Voice of America even claimed that Press TV's London office had been shut down with its entire staff sacked because of their 'coverage of the disturbances.' Wait a minute, why would a bunch of mouthpieces be fired from their jobs?" Kian Mokhtari, Press TV, 23 July 2009. I can't find this story in a search of VOA English content. In fact, I can't find it anywhere.

Worldspace must contend with new Indian satellite radio regulations.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace’s India operation must find a 26% investor if it is to gain approval from the Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India (TRAI). India’s Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Mr C.M. Jatua has confirmed that the ministry has framed a draft policy governing satellite radio broadcasting in the country. The draft policy envisages two levels of licenses/approvals. One will authorize companies to provide satellite radio services in India and to set up the necessary network and infrastructure, including terrestrial repeaters as necessary; while the second will be a separate license for programmers developing radio channels to be carried on such a service." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 22 July 2009.
     "World Space, was launched in India in 2000, but high subscription cost kept many away from the satellite-based digital radio service. So in mid-2006, WorldSpace India slashed its prices, roped in music maestro A. R. Rahman to peddle its wares and launched an award-winning brand communication to woo customers. But even then their performance has been dismal. While their current subscriber numbers are still unknown, WorldSpace India had only managed to garner a few hundred thousand listeners till the end of 2008. With the spectra of its global bankruptcy in late 2008, and regulatory hurdles in India, this one will take a long time to play catch up." Sheetal Patel,, 21 July 2009.

Foreign channels await permission to downlink to India.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
In India: "A total of 20 foreign channels are awaiting downlinking permission. These include three from the Discovery Channel group (Discovery HD, Discovery Science, and Discovery Turbo); two each from Fox TV (Fox Life and Fox News) and Taj TV (Ten Golf and Ten Sports Two) which owns Ten Sports; Al Jazeera International; ESPN News; two from NDTV India (Grenada TV and Trace TV); the Maharishi Channel uplinked from the Netherlands; Raj TV Asia; Baby First channel; FETV; Hope TV; Property TV; TBN Channel; Tele Viva; and Career TV. ... India in toto receives 480 television channels including 233 news and current affairs and 247 non-news channels from within the country and overseas.", 21 July 2009. "Al Jazeera International" is Al Jazeera English.

Deutsche Welle on Indian television, but maybe no longer on Tacoma radio.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, recently signed an agreement with IT@School-ViCTERS, India’s first dedicated educational channel setup on EDUSAT. The agreement will offer schools and students across India the opportunity to access more than 200 hours of Deutsche Welle’s educational television programming including the most popular educational program in Germany, 'Mouse TV', as well as other documentaries and videos covering science, medicine, waste management, workplace safety, water, world cultures and the animal kingdom." DW press release, 21 July 2009. In English?
     "Seattle news/talk station KUOW is reevaluating its plans for an FM signal it’s been leasing in Tacoma, Wash., after a feasibility study revealed that prospective donors weren’t inclined to back a capital campaign to buy the station. KUOW began broadcasting its alternative news stream three years ago on KXOT, the 91.7 FM frequency held by Boulder-based Public Radio Capital. Under its five-year operating agreement, the Seattle outlet has until next July to exercise its option to buy the channel. ... With KUOW and KXOT to choose from, Tacoma listeners can hear 'any good program' that’s produced for public radio, Roth said, including programs from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Deutsche Welle, and a mix of Public Radio Exchange’s independently produced fare. But KUOW hasn’t had enough money to promote the service, and has been disappointed by the audience response to it." Current, 6 July 2009.

Middle management is actually a form of fungus.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's world affairs editor is the latest high profile name at the BBC to question the number of BBC managers. Griff Rhys Jones said earlier this week that the BBC has too many middle managers and too little emphasis on creative talent. Simpson, writing in Ariel, the BBC's in house publication, said: 'Many of us aren't at all happy with all the extra management over the years, either. Like most of us, I've got managers I wouldn't recognise if I passed them in the corridor.'" The Telegraph, 22 July 2009.

VOA museum fundraising is not setting off fireworks.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Members of the executive board of The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting said recently they’d be thankful for any funding from West Chester Twp. trustees — even if it’s less than half of what they initially requested. During its presentation to trustees in late May, executive board member Bill Zerkle asked the township to donate $25,000 to hire a professional consultant and grant writer to kick-start a capital campaign for $12 million to $14 million in renovations to the former 1940s-era Bethany Station. On May 26, trustees refused to provide the annual gift. Instead, the board considered providing a lesser amount — $10,000 — diverted from the township’s portion of the cost of fireworks for the Union Centre Boulevard Bash." Hamilton (OH) Journal-News, 12 July 2009.
     "An Evening of Improv and light jazz is on tap July 24 at Miami University’s VOA Learning Center in West Chester Township." Cincinnati Enquirer, 17 July 2009. Adjacent to the VOA museum. Jazz is apropos for a facility named for VOA, although Willis Conover probably would not have approved of "light jazz."

Music on shortwave; shortwave as music.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mac Tontoh, one of the great pioneers of the fusion of African and western music, was born in Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti region of Ghana. From an early age he tuned into jazz broadcasts on VOA and the BBC World Service.", 22 July 2009.
     "On Radioland (Die Schachtel, 2008), Stephan Mathieu uses shortwave radio signals to create a near-symphonic elegy" San Francisco Bay Guardian, 15 July 2009.

VOA director and RFE/RL president at House hearing today.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
House Subcommittee on Europe hearing: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America: Soft Power and the Free Flow of Information, with witnesses Jeffrey Gedmin, president of RFE/RL, and Danforth Austin, director of VOA; 23 July 2009, 10:30 am (1430 UTC), Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172. US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs web page, with live webcast available.

Two more social networking sites go offline in China.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Two more Web sites dedicated to social networking went offline in China on Tuesday amid tightening controls that have blocked Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites that offered many Chinese a rare taste of free expression. ... Digu and Zuosa, two Chinese Web sites that offer micro-blogging services similar to Twitter, were both shut down for maintenance Tuesday, according to notices posted on their homepages. A Digu spokeswoman who would only give her surname, Zhang, said the site was offline so it could be moved to a new server. She said it would be down for at least a week. 'It's a sensitive period, so we are not in a rush to re-open it,' Zhang said, adding that some Digu users had recently tried to post politically sensitive material to the site and that the company was having to censor such content. ... The technology channels of China's leading Web portals, Sina and Netease, could not be opened for several hours after both sites posted news about a Namibian probe into corruption allegations against Nuctech, a Beijing company that makes scanning equipment. The articles were deleted and the channels were online again by late Tuesday." AP, 21 July 2009.

BBC Arabic history confiscated by Israeli customs.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Two days ago Mariam Kassis, a resident of the village of Mi'ilya - near Ma'alot in the north of the country - returned from a visit to Amman. When she sent her bags through the x-ray machine at the border crossing between Israel and Jordan, the Israeli customs inspectors spent time checking a dozen volumes that she bought for her father in the Jordanian capital, all from the series 'Qawlun ala Qawl' ('Saying on a Saying'), written by Arab radio personality Hasan Karmi. The series of books written by Karmi are in effect transcripts of selected conversations from an international radio program that he presented on the BBC Arabic service in the 1950s. ... A customs official declared the books a 'confiscated asset.'" Ha'aretz, 22 July 2009.

Web 2.0 lessons from Iran.

Posted: 23 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The American government should pay close attention to the Iranian experience. Web 2.0 technologies have a potentially important role to play in a range of endeavors related to U.S. national security, from public diplomacy to communicating with citizens during catastrophic disasters. Government must become practiced in effectively employing these technologies, battling malicious actors online, and ensuring the resiliency of the global open network of free debate made possible by social-networking tools." James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation, 20 July 2009.
     Recommended reading. This essay brings together a large number of good secondary sources.
     Dr. Carafano writes: "No party can count on a decisive and unassailable advantage in cyberspace." I think the host governments do have a decisive advantage in that they control the landlines through which almost all internet traffic is conveyed. They can also block URLs and messages with certain keywords.
     Proxy sites are the most often mentioned workaround with net censorship occurs. Based on my primary sources -- surveys of media users -- I am not as upbeat as Dr. Carafano and others observers about the effectiveness of proxy sites. Few internet users take advantage of them. They don't know where to find them, or how to use them. Host governments, some of which have entire bureaucracies devoted to the task, can block proxy sites as soon as the URLs are determined.
     Dr. Carafano endorses "the establishment of an Agency for Strategic Communications." For all the talk about Web 2.0, people in crises, and in closed societies, seek credible news. The United States provides credible news through its international broadcasting efforts. The Agency for Strategic Communication proposal would "coordinate" international broadcasting with US public diplomacy. The audience would notice almost immediately that the news is "coordinated." That would be the end of credibility and of the effectiveness of US international broadcasting.

     "Iran will put into effect a recently passed law which aims at reducing cybercrimes and providing surfers with more security in cyberspace. ... According to article XXIV of the legislation, Internet Service Providers (ISP) are required to store all the data sent or received by each of their clients. ISPs may delete the data no sooner than 3 months after the expiry of each client's contract. However, article XXXVI and XXXVII forbid surveillance of private data unless a court order has been issued or in cases detected as a threat to the country's national security." Press TV, 20 July 2009.
     "I actually don’t encounter censorship regularly in my daily life because the sites I frequent are not blocked as they do not deal with any issues that are domestic, but whenever I come across any blocked content I just use alkasir (circumvention software created by Yemeni developer Walid Al Saqaf) to access it." Esra’a Al Shafei, Bahraini internet activist, interviewed by gulli:news, via Iran Press Watch, 21 July 2009.
     Social networking and online forums, "it seems, are more powerful than the U.S. government throwing money at another doomed enterprise like the Al-Hurra network. As Iran’s recent election protests showed, pro-reform movements don’t need direct U.S. funding." Nathan Hodge, Wired Danger Room, 21 July 2009. Until the BBG provides a complete accounting of its recent Middle East audience research, people are going to believe commentators who dismiss Alhurra as "doomed." The data, for example, can be used to compare the number of Ahurra viewers, and of Radio Sawa listeners, to the number of followers of even the most wildly successful tweeters. (If "tweeter" is a word; I can't keep track of the damn Twitter nomenclature any more.

Psyop change of command.

Posted: 22 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Col. Carl E. Phillips on Thursday will take command of the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg. He will replace Col. Curtis D. Boyd in a ceremony at 9 a.m. on Meadows' Parade Field at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters. Phillips, a native of New Jersey, is former commander of the group's 9th Battalion. He recently graduated from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He received his commission as an infantry officer through ROTC at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Boyd, the commander since July 2007, will become chief of staff at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg." Fayetteville (NC) Observer, 22 July 2009.
     Ideas as Weapons is the title of a new book, a collection of essays edited by two Marine Corps officers, G.J. David Jr. and T.R. McKeldin (the publisher is Potomac Books). Subtitled 'Influence and Perception in Modern Warfare,' the volume is dedicated to exploring the aspect of war most neglected by the Second Generation American military, ideas. The U.S. armed forces have never grasped the centrality of John Boyd’s dictum that for winning wars, people are most important, ideas come second and hardware is only third. Mostly, the U.S. military reduces ideas to 'Information Operations,' or IO, in which some junior officers and NCOs churn out leaflets, films etc. of indifferent quality. The idea, central to Fourth Generation war, that Information Operations are what you do, not what you say, is missed entirely. The results of typical IO range from minimal to hilarious." William S. Lind, The American Conservative, 21 July 2009.
     "In Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War (Indiana, £16.99), Jonathan Pieslak argues that music has played an increasing role in psy ops ever since the 1989 US invasion of Panama, when Manuel Noriega, an opera connoisseur, was driven from the Vatican Embassy, where he had taken refuge, under a deafening barrage of Led Zeppelin and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (‘nowhere to run to baby, nowhere to hide’). Just before the siege of Fallujah in 2004, Pieslak writes, hard rock ‘was played so relentlessly. . . that the Marines renamed the city “LalaFallujah”’; Iraqi mullahs attempted to resist the sonic blitz by blasting Koranic chants on their own loudspeakers. What made it possible for the 361st Psy Ops company to bombard Fallujah with AC/DC’s ‘Shoot to Thrill’ was the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), designed by the American Technology Company and sold to the US army and marines, the coast guard and a number of US police departments. Attached to an MP3 player, the LRAD can project a ‘strip of sound’ that can be heard – and can’t be ignored – for 500 to 1,000 metres." Adam Shatz, London Review of Books, 23 July 2009.

GAO: Pentagon did not violate domestic propaganda rules.

Posted: 22 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Pentagon did not violate a federal prohibition on propaganda by using retired military officers to tout the Bush administration's war policies in the media, [GAO] congressional investigators said Tuesday. ... The finding is the latest installment in a dispute that began in April 2008 when The New York Times reported that Pentagon officials met and spoke frequently with dozens of retired officers to discuss the wars and other national security topics. Many of the retired officers then repeated administration talking points during appearances on television news programs." AP, 21 June 2009.
     "Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) initially asked the GAO in May 2008 to investigate the Defense Department's actions, following a series of articles in which The New York Times revealed a network of military analysts the Pentagon had nurtured, most of whom gave the Bush administration positive reviews in the run-up to the two wars. Phone calls and e-mails to Feingold's office went unreturned Tuesday." The Hill, 21 July 2009.
     "While DOD understandably values its ties with retired military officers, we believe that, before undertaking anything along the lines of the now-terminated program at issue in this decision, DOD should consider whether it needs to have additional policies and procedures in place to protect the integrity of, and public confidence in, its public affairs efforts and to ensure the transparency of its public relations activities.GAO, 21 July 2009.

And during your conversation between sessions, stick your finger on the other person's lapel.

Posted: 22 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Fifty years since the famous 'Kitchen Debate' between then Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, U.S. public diplomacy has significantly changed to include new media tactics such as Facebook and Twitter. A conference hosted by The George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications, 'Face-off to Facebook: From the Nixon-Khrushchev Kitchen Debate to Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century,' will mark the 50th anniversary of the debate and examine new opportunities for U.S. global outreach in a Web 2.0 world. ... The afternoon session will focus on the emergence of new media and social networking in public diplomacy." The George Washington University press release, 20 July 2009.
     "The American official who put Nixon and Khrushchev together is retired ambassador Gilbert A. Robinson, then the youthful coordinator of the exhibition. Robinson has numerous anecdotes, including what Nixon and Khrushchev talked about on the side, away from the media -- how the historic debate was an unplanned accident, how it came about, how Soviet officials didn't want to talk to the State Department and what simple American products impressed the Russians most 50 years ago. Robinson went on to become deputy head of the U.S. Information Service and the first head of public diplomacy in the State Department under George Schulz." John Adams Associates, 21 July 2009. From Robinson's bio: "From 1983-1985, Ambassador Robinson served as Special Advisor for Public Diplomacy to Secretary of State George Shultz." So if USIA was an "independent" agency, i.e. not under State, why did State need a "Special Advisor for Public Diplomacy"? What was the relationship between USIA's public diplomacy and State's public diplomacy?

Maybe the Canadian Government's thank you note is in the spam folder.

Posted: 22 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"In March this year, the Internet research group Citizen Lab based at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto and SecDev Group, a research organization based in Ottawa, made public the existence of Ghost-Net, a cyber spy network using servers based in China to hack into and control computers in foreign embassies, International organizations, news media and even the office of the Dalai Lama. Despite the overwhelming evidence the research group presented, there has been no action on the part of the Canadian government, according to Ron Deibert, director of Citizen Lab. 'We received no support from the Canadian government -- not even a note of thanks,' Deibert said. ... Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski, a principal of The SecDev Group, have the following proposal for the Canadian government: 1. Canada should leverage its position among the G-8 to convene a meeting of major powers to formulate a Treaty of Cyberspace recognizing that this domain is now of equal importance to that of land, air, space and sea. The preamble of this treaty should make it clear that cyberspace is a valuable global commons that should be protected and preserved for citizens of the world. [etc.]" Computerworld, 20 July 2009.

Links from the Arab blogosphere to international broadcasting.

Posted: 22 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Looking at the sites that have broad reach across the Arabic blogosphere, the importance of ‘Web 2.0’ sites is striking. Of the ten sites with the most links from bloggers in our map (Figure 8), half are the same Web 2.0, user generated content sites popular in the United States and globally. YouTube (#1) is linked to by more than twice as many bloggers as the second most popular site, English language Wikipedia. English Wikipedia (#2) and Arabic Wikipedia (#6) each receive links from bloggers across the map (Figure 10). After Web 2.0, the second most important category of Web site is broadcast media. Al Jazeera (#3), BBC (#4), and Al Arabiya (#7) all reach broadly across the entire Arabic blogosphere, though BBC’s links are slightly weighted to the Levant/English Bridge cluster, Al Jazeera to Egypt, and Al Arabiya to Saudi Arabia. Perhaps it is worth noting that the US-sponsored Arabic media outlets are far less successful among Arabic bloggers than regional efforts and the BBC, with Radio Sawa ranked at #507 and Al Hurra at #2,871. ... Some additional sites are pan-Arabic in their reach, such as the news sites (#21) and (#23) and the Islam-oriented site (#15)." "Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent," Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, June 2009, via Docuticker, 20 July 2009. The Radio Sawa and Alhurra websites are more for the purpose of supporting their respective stations, which have fairly large audiences in the region, than they are news sites. The relatively large number of links to CNN Arabic is significant, especially as 1) there is no corresponding CNN Arabic television channel and 2) no tax money is used to support the site.

Kenyan is CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year.

Posted: 21 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"John-Allan Namu, from Kenya, scooped the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the year 2009 award in Durban at the weekend in an event that was transmitted live to the continent. ... The winner will enjoy a year as the King of African journalism including a fellowship to CNN. 'The reporter went beyond the surface, stripped the stereotype and combined sound, images and research to bring new insight and meaning to the story. It's an excellent example of the kind of journalism that the continent badly needs,' said chairperson of the judging panel, Azubuike Ishiekwene, executive director, Punch Nigeria Limited. The evening also recognised Nicaise Kibel'bel Oka of Les Coulisses, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as this year's recipient of the Free Press Africa Award, who represents the journalists in the Eastern DRC, and accepts the award on their behalf, including three who lost their lives in recent years, Pascal Kabungulu, Serge Maheshe and Didace Namujimbo.", 20 July 2009. See also CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Awards 2009 web page.

French government considers renewal of its Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East relay on Cyprus.

Posted: 21 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"It seems high costs despite zero inflation is not just the concern of Cypriot bread and milk buyers but also the French government as they reconsider the presence of their radio relay station in Protaras, which reportedly brings €3m into the state coffers. Larnaca Press News Agency quoted DISY deputy for Famagusta Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis saying that the French government were now debating whether to continue the operation of Somera radio station at Cavo Greco in the Protaras area due to rising costs and reduced budgets. The 10-year agreement between the Cyprus Republic and French company Somera ends in 2010. The question now is whether to renew it. Somera Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East is a subsidiary of Radio France Internationale (RFI), a French state-owned public service radio which broadcasts in many languages. The radio relay station has been operating on the island since 1970. According to Hadjiyiannis, 12 Cypriots work at the site, while the state benefits to the tune of €3m from leasing the place, along with other indirect benefits such as local employment and costs of the station's operation. There are doubts as to whether the agreement will be renewed due to the French Foreign Ministry apparently cutting funding for the station as well as concerns of rising operational costs, he said.", 19 July 2009, citing as sources "Cyprus Mail Provided by an company," although I can't find anything about this at those entities, nor can I find a Larnaca Press News Agency. The story refers to the Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East medium wave relay on 1233 kHz medium wave (1200 kW -- no wonder cost is a factor). This RMC-MO outlet has traditionally been popular in the Arab world, but with FM taking over the MW audience, the RMC-MO Cyprus relay is no longer so influential.

BBC's Last Night of the Proms will be transmitted via DRM digital shortwave.

Posted: 21 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service brings you nine weekends of high quality performances from the UK's greatest classical music festival. The First Night of the Proms: 18 - 19 July ... Last Night of the Proms: 12-13 September. 12 September: live on digital shortwave (DRM)." BBCWS website, 18 July 2009.
     "The DRM Consortium Steering Board, which represents almost 100 members, affiliates and supporters, has welcomed the publication of the British Government’s strategic vision encompassed in the Digital Britain Report but has asked DRM to be made part of the digital radio framework for the UK." Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Consortium, 6 July 2009. The radio chapter of Digital Britain: The Final Report mentions DRM only three times, two of those in footnotes.
     "Belgium-based TDPradio has expanded the reach of its dance music programming across Asia. The station, which aims to be a global broadcaster, has been broadcasting across Europe and the northeastern United States on shortwave since 2003. In July, TDPradio added transmissions to Asia from the CVC Network Ltd. shortwave site on the Cox Peninsula in Australia's Northern Territory. To help ensure high-quality audio via shortwave, TDPradio is using Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) technology for its broadcasts. 'This station has something for all dance music lovers and it showcases how great music sounds when broadcasting using DRM,' stated TDPradio Program Manager Daniël Versmissen. The Asia broadcasts air 07:00–08:00 UTC on 17755 kHz across Asia." Radio World, 6 July 2009. TDPradio has no DJs or announcements. Just dance music, all at the same determined tempo, with rare lyrics. In stereo, it does give DRM shortwave a workout. I listen occasionally at 2300-2400 UTC via the Radio Canada International transmitter in Sackville, New Brunswick. Most evenings, the audio pops in and (to the dismay of all the dancers) out.
     I recently tried out the Uniwave Di-Wave DRM receiver for two evenings. Each evening it used up a set of four C-cell batteries, but it did receive DRM as well as my RFSpace SDR-IQ software defined receiver, which must be used with a PC and, for DRM reception, a second sound card. On the third evening, with its third set of batteries, the Uniwave refused to turn on. And so ended my trial of the Uniwave Di-Wave DRM receiver. It was a prototype, and sometimes the bugs are not yet worked out.

For six minutes, China's jamming will be either more or less effective.

Posted: 21 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"For up to six minutes this Wednesday, people in China's Yangte River Valley will get a glimpse of the longest total solar eclipse in 500 years. ... Interestingly, the website says the solar eclipse can be heard through the radio as the natural phenomenon will interfere slightly with radio waves. People may feel changes in shortwave radio signals during the eclipse, possibly exciting news for radio fans and the visually impaired." China Radio International, 21 June 2009.

The Apollo 11 moon landing via shortwave.

Posted: 21 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A college student, June and her brother Erick Erickson, now of Mukilteo, had returned to Cameroon, Africa, to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of their missionary parents. There wasn't a TV to watch, but the family and their friends had a National Geographic map of the moon's surface, a telescope and a shortwave radio on hand." Everett (WA) Herald, 18 July 2009.
     "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was in the Army at the start of the Apollo program, stationed behind [sic] the Iron Curtain. 'A few of us took a short-wave radio up on a hill and tuned in to the BBC to hear the description of the launch,' he recalled." Gainesville (FL) Sun, 20 July 2009.
     "'I was 21 and in Peace Corps training on the island of Ponape, Micronesia,' recalled Marlene Newman of Port Townsend. 'I remember all the volunteers and trainers gathered around a shortwave radio that evening, looking up at the moon and listening to the lunar landing.'" Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, WA), 19 July 2009.
     "'I was in Iceland as a member of a nine-week group study exchange sponsored by Rotary District 660,' recalled [Leroy] Bayliss. 'The other members of our team were M.L. Searcey and Rodney Arthur. The year before, a group of Rotarians from Iceland had visited Defiance.' Before the flight to the moon, the three Apollo 11 astronauts had trained in Iceland. 'The Icelanders considered them to be national heroes,' said Bayliss. 'The night of the first moon walk we were in the home of one of our hosts listening to the Voice of America broadcasts, while our hosts listened to Icelandic national radio. Suddenly, one the men from Iceland asked, "Has your astronaut stepped on the moon?" We answered, "Not yet." He then said, "Ours just did!" Evidently, the Icelandic radio reported it before we heard it ourselves.'" Defiance (OH) Crescent-News, 19 July 2009.
     "I remember gazing up in the skies in Bangalore, trying to imagine what it was like to be the man on the moon. Most of India was pretty isolated in those days. We didn't have a television. We sat outside on the terrace and listened to BBC on a shortwave radio. We didn't have anything to look at. We had to use our imagination." Fred de Sam Lazaro, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 19 July 2009.
     "Canada's first Astronaut, Marc Garneau was in a sailboat in the English channel listening on a short-wave radio when mission control spoke with U-S Astronaut Neil Armstrong, as he became the first human to step foot on the moon." CFFR radio (660 AM Calgary), 20 July 2009.
     "These days [Buzz] Aldrin travels the world, Lois often at his side. He has parlayed his fame, training and experience into business ventures. His interview with The Daily News, for example, was in a Radio Shack in Webster where he was promoting a short-wave radio that includes aviation channels so someone can listen to conversations between pilots and airport towers." The Daily News (Galveston TX), 19 July 2009. Refers to the Buzz Aldrin edition of the Grundig brand G6 radio.
     Former Greater Shepparton [Victoria, Australia] City councillor Bruce Wilson: "'I remember watching it on television on the old black and white in the loungeroom. I had two children and I was sitting in the front room with my family amazed, out of this world. I had a particular interest in communications, even though it was a snowy picture it was 250 thousand miles away.' Years later, Bruce Wilson went to the Carnarvon Space Tracking Station which was used by Radio Australia in the wake of Cyclone Tracy. 'It had been abandoned by the Americans after the Apollo program but was revived to provide a radio signal in the north after the cyclone wiped out Darwin. After Cyclone Tracy when we lost our Radio Australia site we decided to use the space tracking station the Yanks had used. Everything was still there, it was just amazing.'" Shepparton News, 20 July 2009. Shepparton is still the main shortwave site used by Radio Australia.
     "Throughout the Apollo coverage, Europe, Latin America and Japan received three network feeds from the international pool coordinator, ABC International, through the satellites over the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans." Broadcasting magazine, 28 July 1969, via Broadcasting & Cable, 17 July 2009. That's the US network ABC. See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL sees that Weekly Standard editor gets his fill.

Posted: 21 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"On a recent visit to Prague (under the auspices of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), I discovered a bastion of fried goodness, where breaded and battered food is still warmly embraced. This naturally horrified the Americans whom I encountered. As one expat complained, 'The Czechs have a terrible palate; it's not very broad.' I couldn't disagree more. At a café inside Radio Free Europe's headquarters, I noticed a wide variety of entrees, including fried cod, fried chicken schnitzel, fried mushrooms, and fried cheese. What more could you want? ... (Radio Free Europe's president, Jeffrey Gedmin, says such creature comforts are a small price to pay to keep his workers happy.)" Victorino Matus, assistant managing editor, The Weekly Standard, 18 July 2009. I had a few meals at the old RFE/RL employee dining room in Munich. The food was good, and there was table service, i.e. a waitress rather than cafeteria line. See previous post about the VOA cafeteria.
     University of Tennessee interim president Jan Simek "lived the first two years of his life in Germany... . His parents met in Germany, where they both worked for Radio Free Europe." Knoxville News Sentinel, 19 July 2009.

Heritage blog criticizes VOA's "internet-only approach" (updated with responses).

Posted: 21 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
The Voice of America's "internet-only approach in Russia, and the inability to provide sufficient security for this service, allowed Kremlin-controlled media to undermine Obama’s attempt to connect with the Russian public. Unless the Obama Administration takes the necessary steps to ensure the vitality of VOA and similar programs, our nation’s outreach to foreign publics will continue to be rebuffed by unreceptive governments." Jonathan Liedl, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation, 17 July 2009.
     This item is based on points made by Ted Lipien (see previous post). It makes no mention of RFE/RL's shortwave broadcasts in Russian, which did cover Obama's visit to and speeches in Moscow. (See, for example, RFE/RL, 7 July 2009.) Does Heritage want two US radio stations broadcasting the same news to the same country in the same language? Heritage states that it believes in limited government, but it apparently does not believe in limited bureaucracy.
     Look, the recent denial-of-service attack did not prompt many people to retrieve their shortwave radios. In Russia, the internet is now much more popular than shortwave, and so far Russian authorities have not blocked foreign websites. For the time being, then, an internet-only strategy, with adequate marketing, makes sense. Two shortwave services to post-shortwave Russia makes no sense.

     Update: Jonathan Liedl responds: "Irregardless of RFE/RL's efforts in Russia, the fact remains that VOA was completely ineffective in fulfilling its mission, as mandated by US law, and as supported by the dollars of US tax payers. The point is, if VOA only offers a single-medium approach to Russia, yet fails to safeguard this line of communication, then it is yet another inefficient government entity, something Heritage stands against. I am not asserting that we need more programs/bureaucracy, but only that we make those existing more efficient."
     Ted Lipien responds: "Kim Andrew Elliot[t] does not fully understand and consistently misinterprets my arguments in favor of producing live VOA radio and television broadcasts to Russia." Via John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, 20 July 2009.
     Not a response, but an item on the subject that I did not get around to posting last month: "Democratic states are much more vulnerable than authoritarian ones. That is why Putin's machine of lies not only deceives America, but creates an inadequate and adorned image of Russia, provoking America to make wrong decisions about this country. One example is provided by the decision to close Russian Service of the Voice of America in 2007. Maybe Americans consider Russian Service to be a mere relic of the Cold War, unnecessary in free Russia, but in fact it has been one of the last sources of independent information for Russians. It has irritated Russian authorities. Putin has managed to close it with the Americans' hands. But the Russian propagandist TV channel, 'Russia Today,' is very active in America. Nobody is going to close it or transfer to Internet!" Former KGB agent Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy, interviewed by Jamie Glazov, Front Page Magazine, 19 June 2009. There was never any decision to close VOA Russian, but to move it from radio to television and the internet. Russia closed down foreign television rebroadcasting, so that left the internet. These days, the internet is a much more popular medium in Russia than is shortwave. But anyone in Russia with access to the internet has access to many websites and other sources of information. For this reason, individual websites such as VOA's can have have very small audiences. To succeed, websites must have compelling content and must be accompanied by a vigorous marketing campaign. The VOA and RFE/RL Russian websites have good content. Together, they could afford the necessary marketing and could be competitive in the Russian market. Separate, they are just two websites competing with each other.

"Five technologies Iran is using to censor the Web."

Posted: 20 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"One month after a disputed presidential election sparked widespread unrest in Iran, the country's government has initiated a cyber-crackdown that is challenging hackers across the globe to find new ways to help keep Iranian dissidents connected to the Web. ... With that in mind, this article will look at five of the most commonly-used technologies the Iranian government has been using to stifle dissent, as outlined in [NedaNet project coordinator Morgan] Sennhauser's paper. IP Blocking ... Traffic Classification (QoS) ... Shallow Packet Inspection ... Packet Fingerprinting ... Deep Packet Inspection/Packet Content Filtering." Brad Reed, Computerworld, 20 July 2009.

The Great Firewall of China as Panopticon.

Posted: 20 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"I am experiencing the 'Great Firewall of China' firsthand in China these days, an experience people from around the world would probably share, if you had a plan to travel to China this fall, when the People's Republic of China is to celebrate its 60th anniversary. The 'Great Firewall of China' is, in reality, a 'Panopticon,' a concept originated with the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham as a 'prison design that would allow an observer to monitor all the prisoners at all times, without any prisoner being aware of whether he was being monitored or not.'" Xiaoxiong Yi, Marietta (OH) Times, 18 July 2009.

Jakarta hotel bombings: Twitter provides first accurate news, followed by unfounded rumors.

Posted: 20 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mr Daniel Tumiwa beat most major news outlets, twittering about the bombings. 'Bom @ marriot and ritz Carlton kuningan jakarta,' the 38-year-old digital media head posted from his Blackberry, shortly after the second bomb went off at the hotel he was staying at - the Ritz Carlton. ... One of the first to tweet about the bomb blasts, Mr Tumiwa was sought out by news outlets like Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN. 'I just wanted to warn people from coming to the area' he told Today. ... But Netizens also had to take updates with a pinch of salt - rumours on supposedly related explosions in other parts of the city and more scheduled bomb blasts also made up the chatter on Facebook and Twitter." Hedirman Supian, (Singapore), 18 July 2009.

"Undersecretary Building U.S. Public Diplomacy Team." That's undersecretary of *Defense.*

Posted: 19 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy is creating a small team that will coordinate and improve how the Pentagon and other federal entities explain Washington's national security policies, sources tell Defense News. ... Its focus will not be solely on how U.S. policies are received overseas. Sources say the team also will be tasked with reaching out to key members of Congress on specific issues. The team will lead internal Pentagon coordination of public diplomacy and strategic communications efforts, and it will collaborate with similar offices across Washington's national security apparatus, sources said. ... At home, the team will work closely with the Pentagon's legislation affairs shop "on issues where we need to improve key relationships on the Hill," [Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jonathan] Withington said. Its work on how U.S. policies are perceived abroad, he said, will be conducted in close coordination with the policy shop's regional offices for international security affairs; Asian and Pacific Affairs; and homeland defense and America's security affairs, as well as with other federal agencies." John T. Bennet, DefenseNews, 16 July 2009.
     "The hospital ship [USNS Comfort] has been on a tour of Central and South America for the past four months and has treated thousands of patients in seven countries. ... Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently called the Comfort's 2007 mission to this region 'one of the most successful acts of American public diplomacy so far in this new century.'" Fred W. Baker III, Spero News, 16 July 2009. See also USNS Comfort page at

How expensive is Iran's satellite jamming?

Posted: 19 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"To constantly be filtering the internet and jamming satellite broadcasts from abroad is very expensive. For example, European diplomats have told me that to jam satellite television broadcasts such as Voice of America and BBC Persian is exorbitantly expensive, it costs the government thousands of dollars per minute. Think about those costs over a four-week period. We’re talking about tens of millions of dollars that the government is spending on tools to repress the population. This may be sustainable for the next weeks and months, but it’s not a long-term option for the regime. I don’t see time being on the side of the hardliners in Iran, especially if there continues to be a decline in oil prices, which is really the regime’s lifeblood." Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 16 July 2009. From the format of this piece, it looks like Mr. Sadjadpour, a Carnegie associate, might be interviewing himself. As for jamming, calculating its cost is difficult. Keep in mind that the incoming station has to produce programming, at considerable expense, whereas the jamming transmitters involve only noise. Terrestrial jamming, i.e. interfering with the reception of nearby satellite dishes, involves a large number of transmitters, although I don't know how many watts are required for each. Cell phone networks also involve a large number of transmitters, and many not-wealthy nations maintain them. To jam, or desensitize, the satellites themselves would require a ground station for each satellite used to broadcast into Iran, numbering probably less than a dozen.

Press TV: Al Arabiya may face Saudi legal action for "irrelegious report."

Posted: 19 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Saudi TV station Al-Arabia, mired in controversy for broadcasting an irreligious report, is likely to face prosecution within the coming weeks. The Jeddah court decided to take legal action against Al-Arabia after it sparked an outcry in the Muslim world for insulting the core Islamic values in a recently-aired report. ... Based in Dubai, Al Arabiya is Saudi-owned, like most of the media in the Arab world, and is considered the second most popular television network among Arabs, next only to Al Jazeera." Press TV, 17 July 2009. No specifics about the report, and I could not find any news about this elsewhere, not even (or perhaps not surprisingly) at the Al Arabiya website.

Was Taliban video of captured US soldier broadcast on Al Jazeera?

Posted: 19 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A U.S. soldier thought to be held by the Taliban in Afghanistan appeared in a video tape aired on Arabic broadcaster Al Jazeera on Sunday. The soldier, who has been missing in southeastern Paktika province since late June, appeared with his head shaven speaking to camera in the clip shown by the Qatar-based television channel. Reuters, 19 July 2009.
     "An American soldier, who went missing on June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan and was later confirmed captured, has appeared on a video posted on a website by the Taliban, the Associated Press news agency says.", 19 July 2009. So the Al Jazeera story says the video appeared on a website, not on Al Jazeera. The soldier is not there among Al Jazeera videos (at least not in English). Most other news organizations are not attributing the video to Al Jazeera.
     "A U.S. military spokeswoman in Afghanistan, Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, said the Taliban was using their captive for propaganda. 'I'm glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video,' she said. 'They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.'" AP, 19 July 2009.
     "At least two Afghan villages have been blanketed with leaflets warning that if an American soldier kidnapped by the Taliban two weeks ago isn't freed, 'you will be targeted.' Villagers near the border of two volatile provinces, Ghazni and Paktika, tell CBS News' Sami Yousafzai that aircraft dropped the leaflets during the past several days. Military spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias confirmed that the leaflets were produced at Bagram Air Base, the primary U.S. installation in Afghanistan, and distributed in the region. She told CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark, however, that they were distributed by hand, not aircraft. The papers show on one side an image of a soldier with his head bowed so that his face is not visible (above). A message in the local Pashtun language over the image says, 'If you do not free the American soldier, then…' On the other side, an image shows Western troops breaking into a house. The rest of the message is printed across the photo: '…you will be targeted'." CBS News, 16 July 2009, with video showing leaflet.

New, less expensive DTH packages bring international channels to Africa.

Posted: 19 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"MultiChoice Africa has launched a Sh800 a month pay TV package with 25 local and international channels. Dubbed DStv Access, the offer includes Standard Group’s KTN, National Geographic Wild, Channel O, BBC world, CNBC Africa, Islam Channel, Al Jazeera, and SuperSport Blitz." The Standard (Nairobi), 15 July 2009.
     "DStv is touting its latest offering as Africa’s most accessible bouquet. And on that prospective, existing subscribers can take Africa’s premier pay-TV service’s word for it. DStv Access will cost a credit-crunch busting $10 as monthly subscription which is about Ushs21,000 at the current dollar rate. For that amount, subscribers will get 25 video channels of quality entertainment complete with DStv’s hallmarks of a digital picture quality and crisp audio. ... DStv Access subscribers will have an extensive choice of television programming comprising general entertainment (E! Entertainment, BET); movies (Magic World); documentaries (NatGeo Wild); news (AlJazeera, BBC World & CNBC Africa)... However, even with the new pocket friendly bouquet, hardware prices for decoders and satellite dishes are still out of many people’s reach at Shs599,000 and Shs299,000 for stand alone decoders." The Observer (Kampala), 15 July 2009.
     "Multichoice Malawi has launched a new digital satellite television bouquet called DStv Access which its marketing manager Titania Katenga-Kaunda says was in response to the needs of the broader television viewing market. ... In the new product, the subscription fee has been pegged at US$10 per month and Katenga-Kaunda says this demonstrates the company's commitment to create a vibrant and exciting pay television industry in Malawi and Africa as a whole. With DStv Access package, subscribers will have a choice of family entertainment combined with general entertainment, movies, documentaries, news, music, religion and sport as it will include BBC World, Aljazeera, National Geographic Wild, Fashion Tv, Magic World and CNBC Africa.", 17 July 2009. See also

Difficulties for RFI and France 24 reporters in Republic of Congo.

Posted: 19 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the harassment of international journalists covering this week's disputed presidential elections in Republic of Congo. On Wednesday, police smashed the camera of videographer Marlène Rabaud of France 24 while she was filming the dispersal of an opposition demonstration in the capital, Brazzaville, according to local journalists and news reports. ... Security agents harassed another journalist, Catherine Ninin of Radio France Internationale, according to local journalists. On Sunday around 1 a.m., a few hours before polls opened, a dozen security agents led by Col. Thomas Bakala Mayinda of the Congolese intelligence agency Territorial Surveillance Directorate (known by its French acronym DST) entered Ninin's hotel and demanded to see the journalist, supposedly to conduct an interview. The reception staff of the Saphir Hotel denied them access. Ninin told CPJ in an e-mail that she received a threatening phone call from a presidential aide an hour later, while two more groups of security agents besieged the hotel throughout the night." CPJ, 17 July 2009.
     "During a press conference a day before the vote, officials warned Ninin about RFI and France 24’s coverage, according to several journalists there. An editorial in the pro-government Le Patriote newspaper denounced her coverage, calling [it] 'unbalanced', showing her bias by predicting a low voter turnout." RFI, 18 July 2009.
     "The Congolese government spokesman denied allegations by a New York-based media rights group that foreign journalists had been 'harassed' while covering last week's presidential election in the Republic of Congo." AFP, 19 July 2009.
     The country here is the Republic of Congo, capital Brazzaville, not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo, capital Kinshasa. The two countries have similar names, similar locations, and present similar challenges for journalists.

That was quick: Palestinian Authority unsuspends Al Jazeera.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Palestinian Authority (PA) has revoked its decision to suspend Al Jazeera network's operations in the occupied West Bank, days after sanctioning it for 'false reporting'. Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister in the occupied West Bank government, said in a statement on Saturday: 'I have decided to revoke the suspension of the work of the bureau of Al Jazeera.' Fayyad added the PA would pursue legal action against the broadcaster 'for its continuous incitement against the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian National Authority'.", 18 July 2009. The lifting of the suspension happened so quickly after the suspension that today's web search yields plenty of stories reporting both. See previous post about same subject.

Shortwave guide Passport to World Band Radio 2010 issue "in limbo."

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"As with any good recipe, a range of ingredients has to come together if a reference book is to succeed. Solid content is, of course, essential. But in recent months other considerations have had an increased bearing on the future of Passport to World Band Radio®. So it is that the 26th Edition of Passport to World Band Radio® is being held in limbo. ... Passport to World Band Radio® goes back a quarter century and has had something like a million readers worldwide. But the future has its own rhythm that confounds prognostication. There may yet be more chapters to this story. Stay tuned." Lawrence Magne, publisher, PWBR,, 17 July 2009. Although this "World’s #1 Selling Shortwave Guide!" provides much information about shortwave broadcast schedules and programming, PWBR's main attraction is its reviews of shortwave receivers. These days, fewer shortwave radios are available on the market. Another factor is consumer confusion about whether "world band" is the same as shortwave. (It is.) PWBR is useful and fun to read, and I hope it carries on somehow.
     "You knew that VHS tape was dead when Disney started giving away a free player with a set of videos. Confirmation that shortwave wireless is finished in the Western World comes when one of the two remaining shortwave annuals announces the 26th edition is uncertain." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog, 17 July 2009. The other annual is the World Radio TV Handbook, not strictly a "shortwave," book in that its largest section deals with domestic radio broadcasting by whatever waveband. The WRTH also has a smaller section (in the back, easy to overlook) about international radio broadcasting. This is a vital reference to our profession, but expanded coverage of the television and internet operations of international broadcasters is needed.

International Radio Serbia will keep its 12 language services, but will it keep shortwave?

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The International Radio Serbia (Radio Yugoslavia ) has receive a draft Contract from the Ministry of Culture, according to which the French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Greek and Arab services should be disbanded, while the remaining programs would be broadcasted in the English, Chinese, Russian, Albanian, Spanish and Serbian languages. 'The short wave broadcasts should not be canceled, and if the country wishes to make some savings, it should decrease the number of various advisors, for example”, {Editor-in-Chief of Radio Belgrade Dusan] Radulovic says... He added that regardless of the existence of new technologies, such as the Internet, the function of a radio like ours is still very much needed. 'There is no need to play avant-garde where it is not necessary. Let other around the world be the first to cancel all their short-wave services, and then we can think about it', stated the Editor-in-Chief of the Radio Belgrade. With regards to the request from the Ministry of Culture to provide the information about the number of listeners of Radio Yugoslavia, he described it as meaningless." International Radio Serbia, 13 July 2009.
     "Now, when the strategic battle is underway for Kosovo and our position in the world, the closing down of office for the Arabic language would inflict the great political damage because a large number of Arab countries has not recognized Kosovo, said [director or IRS Milena] Jokic." International Radio Serbia, 14 July 2009.
     "The Serbian Ministry of Culture and Radio Yugoslavia (International Radio Serbia) concluded the contract on the basis of which the only shortwave radio station will be able to broadcast programs via satellite and the Internet and inform the world public in 11 foreign languages and the Diaspora in the Serbian language." International Radio Serbia, 18 July 2009. Apparentlty meaning that all twelve language services will continue. But will shortwave continue?

Romanian president visits RFE/RL, recalls "radio revolution."

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"President Traian Basescu ... is to visit the new headquarters of Radio Free Europe, set up by the United States in 1950 and representing the sole connection with the world beyond the Iron Curtain. Over 1950-1995 the radio was headquartered in Germany and in 1995 it moved to Prague, with a much lower number of journalists.", 16 July 2009. "Sole"? RFE was probably the most popular Romanian service, but the VOA, BBC, and DW Romanian services were also important players.
     "In a meeting with RFE/RL journalists, Basescu said, 'You were the best supporters of the Romanian revolution.' 'Radio Free Europe led the "radio revolution" - we heard about all the important events from you. RFE was the gold standard for Romanian journalists in the first years after the collapse of communism.' During a tour of RFE/RL's Afghan Service, Basescu told Radio Azadi journalists that, 'What you are doing in Afghanistan today, RFE did for Romanians from 1950 to 1989.' Last August, after nearly 60 years of operations, RFE/RL's Romanian-language service ceased broadcasting to Romania. However, Romanian-language broadcasts to Moldova and the Transdniester region continue." RFE/RL press release, 16 July 2009.

Newest war of words: Twitter versus Facebook.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"There is a new culture clash on the internet. It is called status updates vs. tweets. Since twitter programs started to export tweets to facebook, it is haunted. Two different logics of private news seem to collide. Tweets crash upon facebooks status messages, infect them with strange signs and pile up messily on an otherwise neat activity stream. ... By the way, it will be really interesting how journalism will deal with this. With twitter and facebook, personal news are read on the same platforms as traditional news. Journalism just learnt that readers can help with reporting (#iranelection) or research (MPs’ expenses). Now we are already moving fast forward to the next challenge: Readers can be distributers, too. Anyway, one thing is certain: The Twitter vs. facebook war is just the beginning." Mercedes Bunz, Carta, 16 July 2009.

BBCWS gathers Apollo 11 memories; VOA offers mp3 of 1969 documentary.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Barry Kolb of New Jersey, responding to the BBC's request for memories of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing: "I was working with an NGO as a volunteer teacher at the high school in Tay Ninh [South] Vietnam. The landing occurred at about 2am in Tay Ninh so I was alone in my rented room with my small shortwave radio. The radio was tuned to the World Service, my link to the rest of the world, and I was just staring at it not wanting to miss a word and hoping that I wouldn’t lose the signal at the critical moment. On Monday the day was full of questions about Apollo from my students. As their lone American teacher they seemed to think that I must know everything about Apollo 11." "Outlook," BBC World Service, 15 July 2009.
     "Forty years ago, VOA marked the historic moon landing with the radio documentary 'Eagle on the Moon'. The narrator was Harry Monroe with contributions from announcer Frank Oliver and VOA Correspondent Rhett Turner at the launch site in Florida. The program was written and produced by Michael Hanu." VOA Apollo 11 web page. Thanks to Jukka Kinkamo, who noticed the link to part 2 of "Eagle on the Moon" does not work. By trial and error, Jukka found this correct link. [It's fixed now at the VOA site.] Anyway, good for VOA for saving and retrieving this program.
     "Soviet Cosmonauts Recall Failed Bid To Beat U.S. To Moon." RFE/RL, 18 July 2009.

NHK World cites not-awful ratings in HK, DC, UK.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"NHK has given details of audiences to its revamped NHK World TV channel. Addressing the Japanese public broadcaster’s monthly press conference, executive vice president Yoshinori Imai said that in Hong Kong, 17.9% of people are watching NHK World at least once a month. In the UK the figure was 6.1%, while in Washington 4.5% tuned in. NHK World is the fifth most popular international channel in Hong Kong and is the third most popular in Washington after BBC World News and CNN [sic]." Broadband TV News, 15 July 2009. See also NHK President's press conference, July 2009. Base not specified. Unsure if these are ratings or shares or what.

Wall Street Journal is new particular target of Chinese criticism of foreign media.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"While CNN was last year's main target, The Wall Street Journal might replace it. Veteran Chinese journalist Ding Gang's screed entitled 'I will no longer read The Wall Street Journal' was published by the Global Times last week, a sister paper of the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China. Ding accused the paper of having 'a biased and ignorant view of China,' claiming it 'openly stood on the side of terrorists.' This will doubtless come as a shock to the Journal, well-known for the conservative views of its editorial page and whose own New York offices were damaged in the 9/11 attacks." Bill Schiller, The Toronto Star,
17 July 2009
     "A senior official says he has confidence in the development of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Vice Chairman of National People's Congress Standing Committee Ismail Tiliwaldi was speaking with reporters from Al-Jazeera and other overseas media on Wednesday. He answered their questions about the July 5th riot and the development of Xinjiang. Ismail Tiliwaldi said the facts prove that the July 5th riot was incited from overseas." CCTV, 17 July 2009, with video.
     "Chinese authorities learned a lot in 2008 about how to manage media during a crisis. In the Xinjiang riots, they put it to use." Radio Free Asia, 16 July 2009.

Abducted, later murdered, on way to France 24 interview.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Human rights activist "Natalia Estemirova had scheduled an interview with FRANCE 24 at 8am on the day [15 July] of her abduction at the headquarters of the NGO Memorial in Grozny. She never made it to the interview. ... Estemirova was investigating the kidnappings and execution of relatives of Chechen separatists - crimes imputed to employees of Chechen President Ranzam Kadyrov. Her investigations into this murky area of life in Chechnya was to be the subject of her interview with FRANCE 24." France 24, 17 July 2009. "Prize-winning Natalya Estemirova, 50, who worked for leading Russian rights group Memorial, which has exposed a string of abuses in the conflict-torn North Caucasus region, was found murdered after being abducted in Chechnya." AFP, 16 July 2009.
     "Human rights groups are ignoring the essence of their democratic credentials, known in legal circles as a fair trial, by prematurely accusing the Kremlin and Kadyrov of the murder of a popular activist." Robert Bridge, RT (Russia Today), 17 July 2009. See also RT, 18 July 2009. And commentary, RFE/RL, 16 July 2009.

Al Jazeera journalist held at Guantánamo plans "legal action" against Bush.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Sami al-Haj, an "al-Jazeera journalist who was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay plans to launch a joint legal action with other detainees against former US president George Bush and other administration officials, for the illegal detention and torture he and others suffered at the hands of US authorities. The case will be initiated by the Guantánamo Justice Centre, a new organisation open to former prisoners at the US base, which will set up its international headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, later this month." The Guardian, 17 July 2009. See also The Guardian, 17 July 2009. Unclear if this will be a criminal or civil complaint. The headline says "sue." But, in the story: "The legal action may be modelled on an action against General Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in the UK in 1998 at the request of a Spanish prosecutor for the alleged murders of Spanish citizens in Chile under his dictatorship." That action was criminal, for murder, torture, etc.

Radio Sawa reporter roughed up in Iraq.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Reporter Haydar Al-Qotbi of US-funded Radio Sawa was attacked by Sahwa militiamen on 10 July near Kashafa stadium in the Baghdad district of Kasra, where he had gone to cover an accident. When the militiamen stopped his car, he showed them his press ID and one of them insulted him for working for a US news media. He was then dragged from the car and badly beaten by six men." Reporters sans frontières, 15 July 2009.

Acting Architect of the Capitol has VOA experience.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"One White House nomination is still forthcoming for a job that has relevance to the design world, even if most Americans don’t know of its existence: the Architect of the Capitol (AOC). ... Since February 2007, architect Stephen Ayers, AIA, has helmed the office on a temporary basis. But even with new leadership in Washington, there’s no rush to make him or anybody else the permanent head, lawmakers say. Typically, the President nominates a candidate from a list provided by Capitol Hill. That person then requires Senate confirmation. ... Ayers, 46, a former Air Force lieutenant captain, helped the military rebuild Voice of America radio stations in Greece, Albania, and Germany early in his career." Architectural Record, 15 July 2009. I'm not aware of any VOA facilities in Albania, other than leasing transmitter time there. And was there military involvement in the building, or re-building, of USIB transmitting stations? Some facts may be garbled in this story.

Another VOA alumnus in politics.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) MEP Libor Roucek was elected one of the 14 vice presidents at the constituent session of the newly elected European Parliament (EP). ... Libor Roucek was born in Kladno, central Bohemia, on September 4, 1954. In 1977 he emigrated to Austria. He graduated from the Vienna University where he studied international relations. He worked at the Austrian Socialist Party (SPOe) headquarters, taught at the Sydney university and was a reporter of the Voice of America radio station." ČTK, 14 July 2009.

Ethiopian court dismisses charges against VOA stringer.

Posted: 18 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A judge in Addis Ababa today dismissed the charges against Voice of America reporter Meleskachew Amha and order the refund of his 15,000-birr. Eskinder reported on today's hearings. Meleskachew detained on May 27 by federal police for alleged possession of illegal broadcasting equipment. He was held in detention at the Customs Authority compound for 12 days before posting bail and had been on trial for several weeks." Jimma Times, 16 July 2009.

The indicted Congressman and the CEO of the bankrupt satellite radio company.

Posted: 17 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The federal corruption trial of former Rep. William Jefferson included testimony today from former Worldspace CEO Noah Samara talking about his dealings with the New Orleans Democrat. In its 16-count indictment of Jefferson, the Justice Department alleges that WorldSpace Inc., which provides satellite radio services to audiences outside the United States, signed a contract with Andrea Jefferson, the congressman's wife, on behalf of her ANJ Group in 2002 for help getting satellite transmission services in three African nations. ... On the witness stand today, Samara said his friendship with Jefferson began over their common political interests. He said that in 2001 Jefferson asked to borrow money from him. Although he said he had concerns about the legality, Samara said he loaned Jefferson $50,000 that was to be paid back in three years." Jonathan Tilove, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 14 July 2009.
     "William Jefferson, then a New Orleans congressman, and Noah Samara, the Ethiopian-born CEO of WorldSpace, which brought satellite radio to parts of Asia and Africa, were close. They shared political views, books on Africa and frequent dinners. ... But after being nominated for the award, Samara testified at Jefferson's federal corruption trial Tuesday, Jefferson put the touch on him for a $50,000 loan, which he has yet to repay." Jonathan Tilove and Bruce Alpert, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 15 July 2009.
     "Noah Samara knew nothing about the oil business. But the Washington, D.C., satellite radio company executive testified Tuesday that it didn’t stop then-U.S. Rep. William Jefferson from getting Samara into a deal to mine oil fields in Equatorial Guinea." Gerard Shields,, 15 July 2009.
     Meanwhile, of substantial importance to the post-bankruptcy Worldspace: "India will soon have a satellite radio policy. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has framed the draft satellite radio policy guidelines... .", 14 July 2009.
     And remains active.

"Senior editorial writer for foreign affairs" at the Washington Times finds "astonishing" the concept of transmitting news to the world.

Posted: 17 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
From review of Ilan Berman, Retaking the Offensive Against Radical Islam: "The Broadcast[ing] Board of Governors, which currently oversees VOA and other communication efforts, sees itself as 'separate from public diplomacy,' an astonishing perspective since if this government-funded organization is not advancing America's message to the world, what is it doing?" Jamezs S. Robbins, senior editorial writer for foreign affairs, Washington Times, 17 July 2009. It is broadcasting the balanced, comprehensive, credible news that international audiences seek as the antidote to the state controlled media in their own countries. Such news helps overcome the misinformation and disinformation of dictators, terrorists, exploiters, poachers, spammers, chicken thieves, and the like. Furthermore, if USIB merely broadcast "America's message to the world," nobody would listen.
     "My father Frank Barber was a journalist for 51 years. He left school at 15 with no qualifications other than a fierce desire for self-improvement. He started at the Leeds Weekly Citizen as a copy boy. From there he worked his way up from the Yorkshire Evening News, to the News Chronicle in London, the Sunday Times and the BBC World Service, as a sub editor, foreign correspondent and commentator. ... Now before this speech descends into sentimental nostalgia, I should stress there was little room for theorising about journalism in the Barber household. Anyone asking the question 'Why does journalism matter?' would have been looked upon with astonishment, if not contempt. The case for journalism and the printed word was instinctive, not calculated." Lionel Barber, Press Gazette, 16 July 2009.

How to get information into Iran? O3b, electronic attacks, and (of course) increased spending.

Posted: 17 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A recent op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle urges the Silicon Valley to help the Iranians. The author, Cyrus Farivar, suggests providing censorship-free Internet access by means of terrestrial or airborne base stations deployed near Iran's borders. Farivar is on the right track – Silicon Valley can and should help. But this particular approach might not work. The reason is that the adjacent countries are either war zones or run by governments that might not be keen on hosting such facilities. ... What way might work? The Silicon Valley, Western NGOs and the general public could lease bandwidth from Google-backed O3b Networks, a satellite Internet company, give it to users in Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia, and pay for it themselves via crowd funding. The rationale for doing so regionally rather than focusing on a single country is twofold: It would create disincentives for any single government to tamper, since that might upset its neighbors. Likewise, some of the countries are inextricably linked to a larger foreign policy puzzle, which also could discourage interference. O3b's service, slated to start next year, will cover the Earth's surface up to 45 degrees north of the Equator. That includes all of South and Central Asia, except the northern parts of Kazakhstan." Sasha Meyer, The Oil and the Glory blog, 9 July 2009. The ability to "tamper," i.e. jam, is the key. Iran is sending up signals to desensitize the receivers on geostationary broadcast satellites. This might be a bit more difficult against O3b's sixteen low earth orbiting satellites. But if users on the ground can connect to the O3b satellites, so can the Iranian jammers. On the other hand, if Iran obliterates a network whose mission is to provide connectivity to the Other 3 billion people of the developing world, it would not be helpful to Iran's public diplomacy, such as it is. See also O3b website and Christian Science Monitor, 24 September 2008.
     "The U.S. can help Iranians combat Ahmadinejad's censorship regime in three distinct ways: We can help them go around it, smuggle data through it, or else knock it down. Smuggling satellite telephones into Iran would be the most direct way to implement the first approach. ... We should ... supplement this approach by seeking ways to communicate across existing networks while circumventing the censors. ... The third and most dramatic approach would be to launch electronic attacks on the censorship system in order to disrupt and disable it." Jeremy Rabkin and Ariel Rabkin, Wall Street Journal, 17 July 2009. Once again, if a handset in Iran can reach these satellites, so can Iran's jammers. The writers do not mention shortwave, for radio or e-mail. Because of the tendency of shortwave to transmit more effectively over long rather than short distances, shortwave is the only communications technology with physical resistance to interdiction. But shortwave is "old media," and we are therefore not supposed to like it.
     Reader "back from Iran 2 days ago from a three week trip": "People had also received notices from the police that they only had few days to take off their satellites. In Iran everyone had a satellite at their house and was hooked to BBC Persian or Voice of America to get the news. ... A rumour was going around that cellphones can turn into a listening device even if they are turned off. Public figures were continuously trying to scare people into submission by saying that students who attended the rallies will not be able to continue their education in the country and contacting any foreign media is considered treason." The Daily Dish blog, The Atlantic, 15 July 2009.
     "Together with the BBC and Voice of America, Radio Farda provided the real-time, accurate information that the Iranian regime did its utmost to suppress. When a state is built on lies, it can’t abide the truth. That’s why when it is doing its work in undemocratic places, RFE/RL is invariably hated by the governments. RFE/RL’s mission is surrogate broadcasting. In other words, it provides a platform for indigenous reporting, debate, commentary, and entertainment. (The Voice of America, in contrast, provides news coverage from an American perspective.)" Rich Lowry, National Review Online, 17 July 2009. Another nonsensical description of US international broadcasting. Both stations broadcast news -- to a large extent the same news -- to Iran and other countries. Mr. Lowry joins the chorus of conservatives who favor increased spending on US international broadcasting. However, if there were any fiscal conservatives east of the Appalachians, they would recognize an opportunity to reduce government spending, while improving performance.
     "Until there are international observers on the ground in Tehran to certify the election results within the parameters of international law, we are sadly going to continue to see Facebook and Twitter images showing a continuation of the Middle Eastern version of Tiananmen Square for the foreseeable near future." Darah Rateb,, 15 July 2009.
     Musician Don Was: "I was driving around, listening to Democracy Now on the local lefty station. Amy Goodman was talking about how the movement in Iran is not about overthrowing the government — it's a civil rights movement and a youth movement. Being a musician, my first thought was that these kids need a marching song! ... Three hours later, we had a finished record. The next night, we posted the video on my site at and on YouTube. Eight hours later, it was on CNN; a few hours after that, the BBC Persian language television and Voice of America started broadcasting it into Iran. We've had over a million hits for the video online." Detroit Metro Times, 15 July 2009.
     "The execution of 13 men in Iran on July 14 highlights a central theme of the regime's response to the protests that followed the disputed result of the June 12 election. Those executed were not street protesters, but instead were accused by authorities in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan of being members of Jundallah — a Sunni Muslim terrorist group, which may have links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. ... In 2007, ABC News alleged that Jundullah had secretly received advice and encouragement from U.S. intelligence officials on their efforts to destabilize the Iranian regime. That same year, the U.S. government–funded Voice of America radio network broadcast an interview with Jundallah's leader Abdul Malik Rigi, identifying him as 'the leader of a popular Iranian resistance movement' — rather than as a militant extremist. The U.S. government denies sponsoring terrorism in Iran, and was reported in May to be considering adding Jundullah to its list of international terrorist organizations." Andrew Lee Butters, Time, 15 July 2009.
     "Iran's large Azerbaijani minority feels disappointed and ignored by the pro-democracy movement, which has been widely praised internationally for opposing the Iranian government's attempt to rig the June 12 election. ... This bias extends to the Persian media, and the alternative media, which has been celebrated internationally for escaping the heavy hand of Iranian censors. ADAPP's press releases have been ignored by the Voice of America's Persian service, which is normally receptive to criticism of the Iranian government, as well as the BBC and Radio Farda. Major online media outlets, like the Huffington Post, have also been silent about the plight of Iran's minorities." The Advocacy Project, 7 July 2009.

Russia Today (RT) to India and Hong Kong, with GlobeCast's help.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"GlobeCast and Russia Today have concluded a deal to distribute the channel in Asia to a variety of distribution networks and platforms, beginning with India. Millions of homes and thousands of hotel rooms throughout India will now receive this top channel. To bring the channel into India, GlobeCast oversaw all regulatory requirements for Russia Today’s launch, including securing of the downlink license and landing rights. GlobeCast’s expertise and strong presence in India enabled it to secure the license within a shorter timeframe, in a challenging broadcast climate. Russia Today is now available on cable and DTH platforms in India including WWIL, Dish Hits, InCable, 7Star, Big TV and SunDirect platforms – representing a potential viewership of 7 million homes. GlobeCast is also bringing the channel to over 15,000 rooms in more than 100 high-end hotel networks in India. A total of 300 hotels will eventually receive this content according to the deal. ... In a separate deal, GlobeCast has reached an agreement with Hong Kong’s Cable TV, expanding Russia Today’s reach to viewers in the city-state." GlobeCast press release, 16 July 2009.

CNN International takes its brand equity to the bank.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Rani R Raad, CNN International senior VP in charge of advertising sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa: "'The global recession has undeniably been tough for CNN as it has for everybody. However, one of the positives for CNN in an economic downturn is that our brand equity continues to be very strong. Our audience has been shown to have a strong emotional connection with our brand,' Raad says. ... Asked to paint a picture of CNN's operations in Africa, Europe and Middle East, compared to the US, in terms of marketing and advertising forces, Raad has this say: 'CNN advertising marketplace in Europe, Middle East and Africa versus CNN's US marketplace is completely different because we have quite a different audience. Our audience in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are affluent opinion leaders. They are geographically and platform agnostic and our international product and operations mirror this. You won't see our US advertising clients on our international feed because there is so little overlap in our content (our international feed shows just 5% US programming). The clients who advertise on our international channel are exporting their business internationally, rather than domestically.'" Issa Sikiti da Silva,, 16 July 2009. Compare CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera, which are global, multimedia brands, with US government funded international broadcasting, which is a dog's breakfast of brands: VOA, IBB, RFE, RL, RFA, MBN, Radio Sawa, Alhurra, Radio Farda, Radio Marti, TV Marti, OCB, Deewa Radio, Ashna Radio, Aap Ki Duunya, etc. Most of the USIB brands are not known globally, they are sometimes confused with one another, and they compete among themselves. Not much brand equity here.
     "Eurosport and CNN international cable TV channels will promote the Romanian tourism for foreigners, the Romanian Tourism Ministry reports in a press release. ... The channels to promote Romania as a travel destination are Eurosport, the European sports cable channel with the highest ratings, and CNN, an international news cable channel with a very large audience, according to data in a recent European Media and Marketing Survey (EMS).", 16 July 2009. See previous post about CNN.

Newspapers misreport Honduras poll results, but VOA gets it right.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Sunday, I wrote a piece here criticizing the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Reuters for inaccurately reporting a poll result to claim that a plurality of Hondurans supported the coup against President Zelaya. ... Voice of America, July 9: 'Según la más reciente encuesta de Gallup un 46% de la población desaprueba el golpe de Estado contra el presidente Manuel Zelaya mientras que el 41% lo justifica.' (Rough translation: According to the latest Gallup poll, 46% of the population disapproved of the coup d'etat against President Manuel Zelaya, while 41% justified it.) (The Voice of America report is particularly relevant because it interviewed Carlos Denton, president of CID-Gallup Centroamérica, giving this report added credibility, obviously; note that it preceded the WSJ and CSM reports, showing that different information was available at the time of those reports.)" Robert Naiman, Daily Kos, 15 July 2009.
     "’s weekly radio show on explored the coup in Honduras and how Latin America’s media industry — from state-run stations to independent websites — has become a political battleground." Worldfocus, 14 July 2009 with link to audio.

Telesur reports on Honduras, and other Venezuela media news.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"During the crisis in Honduras, a Central American nation of 7 million people, Caracas-based Telesur has unequivocally favored Chavez ally Zelaya and his supporters, although it has also covered rallies by Hondurans who back his ouster.
The channel has come into its own by providing a podium for Zelaya loyalists and allies when the coup leaders censored the national press, and it has given established competitors like CNN a run for their money with up-to-the-minute reports. ... Most of the channel's $45 million annual budget is financed by Chavez's government, partly to weaken Latin America's private media, which Chavez has not forgiven for helping a brief 2002 coup that ousted him for two days." Frank Jack Daniel, Reuters, 14 July 2009.
     "Telesur continental director, Andres Izarra has hit out against Reporters Without Frontiers (RWF) dismissing their communique denouncing intimidation on the part of Honduran security forces against the 11 Venezuelan journalists working in Honduras. Singling out RWF and the Inter American Press Association (SIP), Izarra says he does not 'need any instrument of imperialism to defend' his organization.", 16 July 2009. Refers to Reporters sans frontières, 15 July 2009.
     "Media warfare continues unabated in Venezuela. Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (CEV) vice president, Monsignor Baltazar Porras says any government measure against the media will not stop people knowing what the reality of the country is. The statement was made during an interview with Union Radio when he was quizzed about Infrastructure Minister Diosdado Cabello's crusade to end 'media landed-estates.' Porras challenges that there is no crime for a radio circuit to have any number of stations provided it is within the law and the same should apply to the overwhelming presence of the government in the radio-electric spectrum. Speaking about Merida State where he is Archbishop, Porras says far more people listen in to Colombian radio stations to find out exactly what is happening in Venezuela, a situation which he adds is neither healthy and good for Venezuela.", 16 July 2009.

Palestinian Authority suspends Al Jazeera in the West Bank.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Farouk Kaddoumi, a Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official, has told Al Jazeera he stands by documents that he says show that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Yasser Arafat, his predecessor. ... The Palestinian Authority (PA) has suspended Al Jazeera's news operation in the West Bank and threatened to take it to court over its reporting of Kaddoumi's allegations. The information ministry accused the network of 'devoting significant segments of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA)'. The accusations were rejected by Al Jazeera. In a statement, Al Jazeera said it was 'stunned' that it had been sanctioned for the story, which had also been aired by several other media.", 16 July 2009.
     "The station's employees in Ramallah were seen piling files into black garbage bags and carrying them out with cameras, computers and other equipment before Palestinian security officials arrived to close the office. The closure affected both the English and Arabic services of the channel." AP, 15 July 2009.
     "There has long been tension between the Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, because of accusations that it has favored Hamas in its reporting. Al Jazeera denies any such bias for Hamas, which took over control of Gaza two years ago after a brief war with Fatah, the Palestinian faction that Mr. Abbas leads." New York Times, 15 July 2009.
     "The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Palestinian Authority's decision today to suspend the operations of Al-Jazeera in the West Bank after the satellite channel aired a controversial interview on Tuesday." CPJ, 15 July 2009.
     Walid Omary, Al Jazeera Jerusalem bureau chief: "We will continue covering Palestinian affairs — it will be very difficult for them to stop us. We still have our bureaus in Jerusalem and Gaza.” Index on Censorship, 17 July 2009. So the Palestinian Authority has ejected Al Jazeera, but Israel has not.
     "The CRTC [Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission] has no choice but to give Canadians the freedom to see Al Jazeera English. Otherwise, it would place Canada in the company of those autocrats who have tried to silence Al Jazeera." Haroon Siddiqui, Toronto Star, 16 July 2009.

Why he works at Press TV (updated).

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the post-election aftermath, the likes of the BBC directed their ire at President Ahmadinejad and his government. But ever since the activities of British journalists in Tehran were restricted and the UK-Iran diplomatic spat erupted the media has switched its attention to Iranian interests in the UK such as my workplace Press TV. A sneering and condescending report by Newsnight last week accused us of being an Iranian regime mouthpiece. This has been followed up by articles in Murdoch-owned titles vilifying British journalists who work at Press TV. Since those reports were broadcast and published my colleagues have received hate mail and nuisance phone calls - I myself have received one death threat. Nevertheless, and although I risk further vilification for saying it, let me be clear: I stand by Iran and I stand by Press TV. In a nutshell, I work at Press TV because it broadcasts the truth about what is happening in the world, and fills a void that the mainstream media has left wide open. Press TV is willing to give a platform to legitimate actors who the western media will not touch, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and anti-occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan." Roshan Muhammed Salih, Press TV, 13 July 2009.
     "For Press TV to claim impartiality and independence on one hand, yet toe the Iranian government party line and employ biased presenters and reporters on the other, gives the lie to any of their supporters' statements that they are in any way reputable or to be taken seriously." Seth Freedman, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 13 July 2009.
     Update: "Journalistic hypocrisy and cant aside, it is difficult to understand the basic philosophical objection to appearing on Press TV. Is it because the channel is state-funded? Then why the obsession with Press TV? The BBC is state-funded, as is France 24, Russia Today and al-Jazeera. Is it perhaps because of the particular state involved? Iran is accused of human rights abuses and support for terrorism. Yet Saudi Arabia has a far worse record on both these issues – and that has not stopped Barack Obama or Gordon Brown from appearing, without any controversy, on the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel. Or is this all about biased broadcasting? The TV regulator Ofcom has yet to issue a verdict on Press TV but, in 2004, it denounced the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News for failing to “respect the truth” and basing its opinions on 'false evidence'." Mehdi Hasan, New Statesman, 16 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Global designs for Malaysia's news agency.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Former Bernama general manager Ahmad Mustapha Md Hassan sees vast opportunities for the national news agency to expand globally in the future. Ahmad Mustapha, who started Bernama's commercial ventures when he helmed the news agency in the 1980's, said it should consider going into new media business such as Internet tv and blogs. 'Bernama should also have reporters all around the world and operate on a global scale like Al-Jazeera, CNN and other world-renowned news and television agencies.'", 16 July 2009.

VOA interview cited in Phnom Penh eviction controversy.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Residents from Group 78 who face imminent eviction from their homes in central Phnom Penh told the Post Tuesday that Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun lied on a local radio station when he said government officials were not coercing residents into accepting compensation. 'They forced and threatened us to take their compensation, but when [Mann Chhoeun] talked to the radio, he said that we volunteered,' Lim Sambo, a Group 78 representative, said about the deputy governor's statements on Voice of America radio." The Phnom Penh Post, 15 July 2009.
     "An award-winning British TV producer is helping Cambodians stay abreast of developments at the Khmer Rouge tribunal by airing a weekly programme featuring highlights and analysis." The Phnom Penh Post, 15 July 2009.

China media news: from disappeared scholar to dancing competition.

Posted: 16 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The censors in Beijing still have the upper hand, despite their Green Dam retreat. The Chinese government is clever about continuing to expand breathing space for anything that does not threaten its very survival. ... As a result, the regime will continue to control what Chinese citizens are allowed or not allowed to know so long as people are not caring or daring enough to object." Xiaoxiong Yi, Zanesville (OH) Times Recorder, 15 July 2009.
     "A 39-year-old Uighar scholar named Ilham Tohti vanished from his home last week after officials accused his website, Uighar Online, of serving as a platform to stir up civil unrest. Now, reports are emerging that Chinese intellectuals are rallying around his cause, even while officials refuse to acknowledge whether or not they are actually holding him. Mr. Tohti has certainly been critical of Beijing in the past; he defiantly told Radio Free Asia in March that unemployment among Uighars is among the highest in the world, and that he will continue saying so 'no matter what.' But inciting riots? It's hardly a scientific survey, but here are some screen grabs of the offending website's homepage, with some crude Google-supplied translations." Katie Paul, Wealth of Nations blog, Newsweek, 14 July 2009.
     "China Radio International(CRI) launched a new service for mobile devices on Thursday in Beijing. The CRImobile, a multimedia English website, was designed particularly for a wide range of mobile devices including Motorola’s [s]martphones and Apple's iPhone. ... The CRI Director-General Wang Gengnian said they would strengthen interaction with the users, improve the service and try to be more entertainment-oriented, and more language services were expected to be added to the CRImobile soon." Xinhua, 16 July 2009.
     "Regarded as one of the most renowned anchorman in China, Zhao Zhongxiang is always under the spotlight - even after his retirement. Shanghai-based Dragon TV has called upon his services to host its Dancing Competition program. The program, hosted by 67-year-old Zhao, started on June 2, and features many celebrity personalities from different TV stations, resembling the BBC World Dancing with the Stars show. ... The audience rating of the Taiwanese dance show hosted by Zhao has already hit record high among Taiwan’s prime-time programs, proving Zhao’s popularity still remains strong." China View, 14 July 2009.

From South Korea to North Korea, via "Taiwan, Thailand or Uzbekistan."

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Non-governmental short-wave radio aimed at North Korea, the most effective tool for transmitting information on the outside world to the North Korean people, has been on air since 2005. Defectors in South Korean society and experts on North Korea believe that radio broadcasts can help North Korean people to change their awareness in a North Korean society where inflows of information from the outside world are heavily censored. However, according to the broadcasting company presidents, while their services for the North Korean people are acknowledged and encouraged by foreign donors, in South Korea they face widespread indifference. Therefore, financial problems are their biggest headache. ... Furthermore, the radio broadcasts are sent via foreign transmitters because, in June, 2000, the Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong Il governments agreed to suspend denouncement broadcasts towards each other in their Summit and Defense Minister’s meetings. Although President Lee Myung Bak has declared that he intends to change the policy, his administration has yet to bring about any difference. Accordingly, the radio programs are sent to North Korea through Taiwan, Thailand or Uzbekistan, on commission and at considerable cost." Daily NK, 13 July 2009.
     "Surveys commissioned by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and National Endowment for Democracy suggest a rapidly growing number of North Koreans are listening to other sources of information besides the regime's propaganda. Much of this information is transmitted by word of mouth, radio and television broadcasting. Even Pyongyang now has the Internet." Suzanne Scholte, Wall Street Journal, 14 July 2009. Maybe a few high level officials have access to the global public internet. More, though still a limited number, can use North Korea's strictly internal Kwangmyong "intranet." Radios with shortwave bands, or even medium wave radios that are tunable, are still not widely available.

In response to your many requests for a program about that famous July 1969 Azerbaijani plenary.

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Russian state broadcast company (RSBC) «Voice of Russia» jointly with Union of radio creation of Azerbaijan starts realization of radio project, dedicated to 40th anniversary of appointment of Heydar Aliyev the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Azerbaijani communist Party. ... On the air of Voice of Russia the series of the exclusive radio reports will go out with the use of unknown until now to wide public of archives former in 1969 the secretary of CC of Communist Party of the Soviet Union of I.V.Capitonov, with participation of which that famous July plenary session of CC Azerbaijani Communist Party took place.", 14 July 2009.

New BBC World Service annual report: audience wants "access at a time and place that suits them."

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The launch of BBC Persian television and other major multimedia developments helped BBC World Service extend its reach to record numbers while maintaining the highest standards of journalism, according to the BBC World Service Annual Review for 2008/09, published today. ... In his foreword, BBC Global News Director Richard Sambrook [wrote]: 'People come to BBC World Service for journalism that is challenging and asks difficult questions, yet respects different points of view and actively encourages debate. Increasingly, they want access at a time and place that suits them. Major progress was made towards achieving that goal in 2008/9.'" BBC World Service press release, 14 July 2009. The Annual Review can be accessed at:
     In the US, listening to BBCWS during evening prime time (when) in the back yard (where) was for decades possible with a shortwave radio. Since 2001, BBCWS has no longer beamed shortwave to North America. Listening at that when and where is just now again becoming possible with the advent of wifi internet radios, assuming one has a wireless broadband network.

"London Calling" is so 20th century: new head of BBC Hindi is based in New Delhi.

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service has announced the appointment of Amit Baruah, a leading Indian print journalist, as the Head of BBC Hindi. Amit will be based in New Delhi and will be responsible for BBC Hindi service's multimedia output. He will also be BBC World Service's lead Editor for India. Amit Baruah, who has been working as the Foreign Editor of India's national daily, Hindustan Times, brings to the BBC 23 years' experience in international reporting." BBC World Service press release, 14 July 2009.

Full funding for more fully redundant broadcasts to Tibet.

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a strong assertion of support for Tibet, the US Congress has advanced legislation that provides millions of dollars for Tibet programs. The funding is provided in the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010. The House of Representatives passed it version of the bill on July 9 by a vote on 318-106; the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version on the same day. ... The bills also ... provide full funding for Tibetan broadcasting by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America." TibetCustom, 13 July 2009. This "full funding" is for both RFA Tibetan and VOA Tibetan, whose efforts are largely redundant. Merge RFA and VOA, and full funding would actually involve a budget reduction, while improving performance.

China Radio International listeners' "shock and fury," and other Xinjiang media news.

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"CRI (China Radio International) audiences from around the world made phone calls, sent emails and posted comments on the IT website, condemning the riot in China's northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The CRI had covered the violent attacks last Sunday, which killed 184 people, injured over 1,000 others and destroyed many shops and houses. 'I'm overtaken with shock and fury, and I simply can't believe the mobs could be so cruel,' said Moroccan Abdel Hamid Kharifi. ... The chairperson of the CRI Audience Club in Pakistan, identified only as Laghari, said, 'the riot in Xinjiang was obviously carefully planned and prepared, and all our club members condemn the violent attacks.'" China Radio International, 14 July 2009.
     "The Chinese government has the ability to restore social stability in its northwest Xinjiang region soon, the overseas listeners of China Radio International (CRI) said. Egypt's Samar el-Sayed strongly condemned the 'inhuman thugs' who started the riot on July 5 in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region." Xinhua, 14 July 2009. Also reported by China Daily, 14 July 2009.
     "Police shot and killed two ethnic Uyghurs and wounded another in a Chinese region that has seen violent ethnic strife in recent weeks, state media reported Monday.Police patrol Urumqi, China, on Saturday, July 11. The police were trying to stop the three people from attacking a fourth person with clubs and knives in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China Radio International reported, citing the local government. All four people involved in the incident were ethnic Uyghurs, a minority Muslim group distinct from China's majority Han population, CRI said." CNN, 13 July 2009.
     "Police in Xinjiang detained reporter Heidi Siu, a reporter for Radio Free Asia's Cantonese language service, for two days before deporting her to Hong Kong on Sunday, according to Dan Southerland, a RFA senior editor. Siu, a Canadian citizen whose Chinese name is Siu Chun Yee, was detained on July 10 while she was taking pictures of police moving to arrest Uighurs, according to Southerland." Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 July 2009. See also RFA, 13 July 2009.
     "Western media ruined their public image after the Lhasa incident. As a result, on the initial days of the Xinjiang riots, they have balanced their coverage with a better selection of reported facts. ... In general, western media captured the Uighurs as victims, especially in reports of AFP, BBC and the Voice of America (VOA). They underreported the severity of the riots and the attacks on innocent people, but exaggerated that Uighurs were protesting because they have been treated unequally by the Chinese government and the Han Chinese for an extended period." Editorial, Sing Tao Daily (San Francisco), via New America Media, 14 July 2009.
     "China's Health Ministry has banned using electric-shock therapy to treat teenagers who are addicted to the Internet, national media reported on Tuesday." RIA Novosti, 14 July 2009.

Xinhua TV: "objectively and impartially from a Chinese angle" (updated).

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"China's state news agency Xinhua has launched a trial run of an international English-language TV news service, part of an increasingly sophisticated propaganda drive to boost the country's image abroad and lift its global media presence. China joins the ever-growing list of countries eager to emulate news services such as the U.S.' CNN, and Blighty's BBC World News. Recent entrants include France 24, Al-Jazeera Intl. and Russia Today. The Xinhua news agency says its reporters at home and in 110 countries will produce domestic and international news to be distributed around the world. ... Xinhua will 'interpret global events objectively and impartially from a Chinese angle and bring novel perspectives to foreign audiences,' agency prexy Li Congjun told an inauguration ceremony, and will become 'an important TV news supplier for the world's users.' The service will be launched formally on Dec. 31. and will be transmitted through satellite to Chinese users, and over the Internet to users in other countries. Currently, China has 24-hour news channels on China Central Television in Mandarin, English, French and Spanish that can be picked up overseas. It is expected to add Arabic- and Russian-language services." Clifford Coonan, Variety, 10 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: "China is still refusing to allow the ABC's widely praised Asia-Pacific focused Australia Network TV channel to be received there." The Australian, 14 July 2009.

CNN International and global travel industry re-stimulating each other's economies.

Posted: 15 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International’s Tourism Advertising Solutions & Knowledge (TASK) Group and leading global travel industry web portal eTurboNews (eTN) today announced an exclusive content-sharing partnership, giving eTN’s 235,000 subscribers in 215 countries worldwide access to the TASK Group’s Compass monthly articles. The articles offer eTN’s members the latest insights on tourism branding strategy. ... Rani R Raad, Senior Vice President, CNN International commented, 'Now more than ever, there’s a critical need for the re-stimulation of tourism economies around the world.'" CNN/eTN press release, 14 July 2009.
     "After traveling for a month and a half around China I've finally settled into my dorm at the Beijing Language and Culture University for a six week intensive mandarin studies session. ... Politics always remains a hot issue in China, as many minority ethnic conflicts still exist. With CNN international as the one English Channel we receive, reports of the Xinjiang riots on the west side of China are on all day." Mia Brown, The Retriever (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) 13 July 2009.
     "Web2.0. and live blogging will be introduced for this year’s CNN MultiChoice Journalist of the Year Awards. This year will mark the first time that live blogging has taken place from the event, providing continual updates to registered users throughout the three-day programme. The site will go live from Wednesday 15 July 2009. This year the competition received entries from 836 journalists from 38 countries throughout the continent, including French and Portuguese speaking Africa.", 14 July 2009.
     "CNN International and the BBC, among others, continue to blanket their networks with 'green' propaganda in a disinformation blitz that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud." Cal Thomas, Modesto Bee, 13 July 2009.

Al Jazeera via The Peninsula and, maybe, soon, finally, in India.

Posted: 14 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Peninsula [newspaper/website of Doha] has signed an agreement with Al Jazeera Network that will make the TV station’s news video content available on the newspaper’s online edition which will be re-launched with new look and added features next week. ... With the agreement, live streaming of Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English language news channels plus the three minute Al Jazeera bulletin Video on Demand (VOD) service will be accessible to visitors on The Peninsula website." The Peninsula, 14 July 2009.
     "Al Jazeera English Channel hopes to get landing rights in India soon so as to make the channel available to millions of viewers across the country through cable networks. The channel has a bureau in India and applied for landing rights so as to be able to broadcast locally. 'We hope to soon get landing rights in India,' said Phil Lawrie, Director, Global Distribution, Al Jazeera Network. ... 'We are moving nearer to the front of the queue.'" The Peninsula, 14 July 2009.

Yemeni parliamentarian wants Al Jazeera out of Sana'a.

Posted: 14 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A member of Yemeni Parliament, Ali Jusaed Al-Lahbi, from Ibb, for the ruling General People Congress party, asked Yemeni authorities to close Al-Jazeera's office in Sana'a. He attributed that Al-Jazeera is running anti-unity stories which threaten Yemeni stability and security especially by covering events in southern provinces non-aligned. He added that Al-Jazeera doesn't follow the Yemeni law of press and publications. ... Meanwhile, correspondents of Al-Jazeera channel in Sana'a office, Murad Hashim, and Ahmad al-Shalafi received threatens warning them to stop covering events in southern Yemen." Yemen Post, 13 July 2009.

Al Jazeera's David Frost defends Al Jazeera.

Posted: 14 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Al Jazeera broadcaster David Frost: "'Al Jazeera English came along and it immediately, people see it, they realize that it's independent, that it's international, that it's for the south as well as the north. And you can see it's not about Osama bin Laden any more than any other network is.' Frost was one of the well-known personalities who gave the channel instant credibility, and said that he has complete editorial independence. 'They assured me from the beginning that there was total editorial freedom, and there has been complete, total, no interference, whatsoever.'" CNN, 12 July 2008, with video of interview.
     Al Jazeera distribution in the United States, supporters, detractors: The National, 13 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

"Tension" between Al Jazeera and Israeli UN delegation.

Posted: 14 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ongoing tension between the Israeli delegation to the United Nations and the Al Jazeera bureau at the international organization headquarters has reached new heights recently. The Arab network's chief UN correspondent, Khaled Dawoud, has accused the Israeli delegation of discriminatory policies and harassment. The Israeli diplomats, for their part, have accused Dawoud of disruptive behavior and of exploiting press conferences and events with Israeli officials as a podium to bash Israel." Ha'aretz, 13 July 2009.

New program to counter Al Jazeera on cable systems that don't carry Al Jazeera.

Posted: 14 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Israel News Network (INN),, said it has retained TransMedia Group to publicize INN's debut next month as a weekly half hour news program Sunday mornings on Comcast. The program will begin airing in South Florida at 7 AM, Sunday, Aug. 30 and then expand to other markets and gradually to a longer format of news and feature stories on Israel and the Middle East in response to the expansion of Al Jazeera English in the U.S. 'Our publicity will underscore INN's plan to bring more perspective, balance and accuracy to the way Al Jazeera English covers Israel,' said TransMedia Group's CEO Tom Madden, a former Vice President and Assistant to the President of NBC." TransMedia Group press release, 13 July 2009. Al Jazeera is not on Comcast cable systems, except those in the Washington DC area that carry the MHz Networks channels.
     "Little information is available about INN, but the show is 'supported by' Freedom Watch, a conservative nonprofit organization founded by Miami- and Boca Raton-based lawyer Larry Klayman, who, in his efforts to fight corruption and 'preserve freedom,' has sued the Clintons, Dick Cheney, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Freedom Watch's missions include abolishing the United Nations ('a bastion for terrorist nations'); stopping the 'Obama-Clinton crowd' from 'turning the United States into a Euro-style socialist state'; and forcing the government to open its files about extraterrestrials." Deirdra Funcheon, News Times (Broward FL), 13 July 2009. So apparently not supported by Israel itself. For English television news from the Israel Broadcasting Authority, see this IBA web page. Radio is at and

Telesur reporters detained in Tegucigalpa, then leave Honduras.

Posted: 13 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A group of Venezuelan journalists with the regional television network Telesur and the state-owned station Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) left Honduras on Sunday after being detained and harassed in the capital, Tegucigalpa. ... On Saturday evening, six reporters from Telesur and VTV were detained by Honduran police in the parking lot of their hotel and taken to a police station in Tegucigalpa, the local and international press reported. All were released early on Sunday after Venezuelan diplomats intervened, but were told not to leave the hotel, the press said. Fearing for their safety, the group of reporters left Honduras later that day. Also on Sunday, another group of VTV journalists left Honduras. The Venezuelan news agency Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias said that the reporters had been expelled, The Associated Press reported. Honduran authorities denied the expulsion of foreign reporters, and said that the government is not censoring news coverage. In a public statement, Telesur, a state-owned broadcaster created by the Chavez government, said the journalists' passports were confiscated and they were threatened." Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 July 2009.
     "Jose Insulza, general secretary of the Organisation of American States said the whole thing was 'very dangerous' as 'the international community is [only] being informed by CNN and Telesur.' The Latin American Federation of Journalists (Felap) also condemned the arrests, saying they violated the region's right to information.", 12 July 2009.

Report: VOA will arrange teleconference on Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Members of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) are receiving death threats following the release of their final report last week. Local sources and the U.S.-based Liberia Human Rights Campaign (LHRC) say that most TRC members are now in hiding and refuse to even answer their phone for fear of being traced and located. ... The LHRC has arranged with the Voice of America for a teleconference to be aired internationally, where Liberians can gather to air a public response to the report." Diamond Intelligence Briefs, 9 July 2009. See also VOA News, 8 July 2009.

Obama's 2.0 visit to Ghana.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. embassies in Africa are inviting residents to ambassadors' residences and movie theaters on Saturday to watch President Barack Obama's speech in Ghana. The White House said Friday that some embassies would have screenings and discussions during the speech in Accra. The U.S. Mission to the African Union has invited representatives to watch Obama's speech to the parliament. In Kenya, U.S. State Department officials plan to stream Voice of America's coverage of the speech over cellular phones. And Sierra Leone plans to broadcast the speech at more than 500 cinemas." AP, 10 July 2009.
     "I admit it, I get edgy every time I see an email from a network or cable news division that boasts of President Barack Obama granting 'exclusive' access to an anchor, correspondent or the news division itself. It signals that the Obama administration is up to one its oldest and most masterful games of selectively granting access to try and get flattering coverage. ... And now, comes this email from CNN with the headline: 'Anderson Cooper 360 with Exclusive Access to President Obama [in Ghana]'." David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun, 10 July 2009.
     "Pres. Obama is using new media to reach out to people across Africa, to ask for their input and to hear their concerns and questions. Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as online media with continental reach, like, are being used to interact with and voice concerns to the president of the United States, in what could be called the first continent-wide online town-hall meeting in Africa. Macon Phillips, Obama’s director of new media operations, told the Voice of America that 'I think that it’s less about trying to market the President in a positive way, but it’s more about having a conversation and real engagement with people that hasn’t happened before'. Phillips also explained that in Africa, the focus of new media outreach involves mobile phones, due to their widespread usage and the relatively cheap cost of text messaging." J.E. Robertson, Café Sentido, 11 July 2009.
     "Dr. Amos Anyimadu has suggested that President Obama impart a few lessons to our very own President Mills. 'It’s been said that Barack Obama is the world’s first web 2.0 president. We have to be very circumspect in what we can realistically get from the visit. One of the small things that I think we can get is agitating the president’s (Mills’) interest in new media and its application to Ghana,' he stressed." Joy News (Accra), 10 July 2009.
     "Sometimes — and this is a difficult sentence for a newspaper to print — it’s easier to learn from a video. That notion led a handful of Google and YouTube veterans to start, and jump into the bustling and fast-growing crowd of Web sites offering how-to content. ... Howcast executives see opportunities beyond corporate America. They’re hoping to get more work from the federal government. So far, they’ve worked mostly with the State Department in its 'Public Diplomacy 2.0' initiative to use new media to communicate, says James K. Glassman, a former under secretary of state for public diplomacy. 'What we saw in Iran is that the private sector played a very important role in disseminating information there,' Mr. Glassman says. 'Companies like Twitter and Facebook facilitated a lot of the activity in Iran.'" Julie Creswell, Gadsden (AL) Times, 12 July 2009.

DW-TV, other international channels to Bay Area via digital cable.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The recent digital transition is paying off for [Marin, California] Comcast television customers in the form of 80 new channels, the media giant announced Friday. The new networks - which include up to 51 high-definition networks, 13 Spanish language channels, 14 international premium networks and two standard-definition channels - will appear on Aug. 11 for Comcast customers throughout Marin, the company said. In a statement, Steve White, senior vice president of Comcast's California region, said Comcast's customers have been clamoring for high-definition channels and multicultural programming. ... Those who do not have a high-definition TV will receive new channels such as the Hallmark Movie Channel, Retirement Living TV, Antenna One, Band Internacional, C1R, Deutsche Welle, GMA Life, MYX, PFC 100% Futebol, Setanta Sports, STAR India GOLD, STAR India NEWS and Vijay, as well as 13 Spanish-language channels, AYM Sports, Bandamax and De Película. The new channels will eventually be available to all of Comcast's 1.7 million Bay Area customers." Marin Independent Journal, 10 July 2009.

Polish documentaries on BBC World News.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News is showing two documentaries this month made by Polish film-makers. Poland's Turbulent Priest is a profile of Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, who revealed the collaboration of Polish priests with the communist authorities. ... The other Polish documentary, The Freedom Factory focuses on an anarchist squat in the ruins of a disused factory outside Warsaw, in which punk rockers, whimsical middle class rebels, a missionary and a killer on the run are seeking a new moral code of communal rules." Polskie Radio, 11 July 2009.

Followed by a comedy about an American who tries to hear BBC World Service on his shortwave radio (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
On "Taking the Flak," BBC Two, 8 July: "A small African war suddenly becomes the centre of global attention when a team of BBC journalists arrives in Karibu, ready to cover the conflict. Local 'stringer' Harry is hanging on to the bottom of the journalist ladder and thinks the story will be his big break. But he finds himself 'bigfooted' when BBC News heavyweights, including senior foreign correspondent David Bradburn, flanked by his production team, and Margaret Hollis from the World Service, arrive in town." The British Comedy Guide.
     Update: "As well as being unfunny in a kind of sky-darkening way, it’s eerily unlikeable. The Africans are all portrayed as hotheaded dimwits with silly names who could no more run their own country than they could resist the offer of a bribe. Then there’s the characterisation of the journalists. This is matchstick stuff with a strict limit of one matchstick per person. Thus we have the Foreign Correspondent (boorish), the Stringer (odious non-entity), the BBC World Service Producer (frustrated spinster fatty), the Aid Worker (brain-dead Sloane) and so on. What makes the whole thing even worse is that Taking the Flak isn’t just junk, it’s expensive junk. It was shot on location in Kenya and Tanzania and doubtless swallowed up a sizeable chunk of the BBC drama budget. And what’s more it lasts for another six weeks." Review by John Preston, The Telegraph, 10 July 2009.

DVB journalists get video out of, and back into, Burma.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"In 1992, a group of Burmese nationals created a broadcasting service based in Oslo they called the Democratic Voice of Burma. On shortwave radio, and later on satellite television, the DVB sought to challenge the misinformation and propaganda of the state by beaming independent news into Burma. But it was during the protests that the service came into its own. As the demonstrations evolved, DVB correspondents like Joshua captured the events unfolding on the streets on camcorders hidden inside duffle bags. They could only operate for a few minutes at a time. The soldiers sent to crush the protests were searching for anyone with a camera as the state sought to block the leaks in its information blockade. A Japanese reporter was shot dead as he tried to photograph the arrest and beatings of a group of monks. Yet every day, the DVB video journalists managed to get their footage out of Burma. Rebroadcast by the BBC, CNN and major news channels across the world, their pictures ensured international attention and pressure remained focused on the junta." Adrian Blomfield, The Telegraph, 11 July 2009.

France 24 bureau chief detained in Indonesia.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Security officers of an Indonesian logging company detained three members of a French TV news crew on 10 July 2009 in Jambi province, Sumatra. The journalists were identified as Ciryl Payen, Southeast Asia bureau chief of the TV station France 24; Gilaume Martin, also a French national; and Dewi Arilaha, an Indonesian national. ... The three journalists were then brought to the local police office. The police, however, can not think of an appropriate charge to file against them." Alliance of Independent Journalists, 10 July 2009.

VOA stringer's home in Pakistan bombed in "senseless attack" (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Taliban militants in northwest Pakistan have bombed the home of a journalist who files reports for Voice of America's Pashto language service. ... No one was reported hurt in the blast. ... [Rahman Bunairee] suggested the Taliban action may have been retaliation for one of his recent reports which said that militants are still patrolling streets in several villages in Buner despite claims by the government that the Taliban largely have been eliminated from the area." VOA News, 9 July 2009. The militants are retaliating for a VOA report disputing government claims that they have been eliminated? See also CPJ, 10 July 2009, though it doesn't clarify this story.
     "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the Voice of America (VOA) condemn the senseless attack on the home of VOA's Deewa Radio journalist Rahman Bunairee in Bunir, Pakistan on July 8." BBG press release, 9 July 2009.
     Update: "The house of Rahman Bunairee, associated with Deewa Radio of the Voice of America (VoA) and AVT Khyber, was blown up by suspected militants in Polan village of Gadezai tehsil in Buner. It is situated 15 kms west of Pir Baba, in the foothills of the Elam Mountain. Bunairee said some 60 persons came to his home and politely told his family members to vacate the house as they were going to blow up the structure.
Claiming to be Taliban, they said that Bunairee had spoken against the militants on Deewa Radio and criticized the security forces for not launching action in Polan. The Karachi-based journalist informed The News that he had asked his family to shift to Karachi. He said neither the NWFP nor the federal government had contacted him to express sympathy or give him solace." The News (Karachi), 12 July 2009. This still does not make complete sense to me.

Iran media update for 12 July 2009.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"As the Iranian government cracks down on communication modes following its disputed presidential election, Christian satellite channels have been among its victims. Terry Ascott, CEO of SAT-7 International, said many satellite channels, including the Christian channel, have been affected by the government crackdown. What is 'strange,' he noted, is that the government has found a way to block channels beaming into Iran without jamming satellites that would affect the entire Middle East. 'Somehow they have developed a new technology to simply and simultaneously block access to multiple channels in the major cities – which is the first time we have seen such a thing,' Ascott told The Christian Post on Friday." The Christian Post, 11 July 2009. Iran's terrestrial jamming (see previous post) of incoming satellite broadcasts would cause interference only in Iran. We have also seen reports of stations likely to be targeted by Iranian placed on separate transponders, thus sparing channels directed elsewhere from Iranian satellite uplink jamming.
     Pictures of Iranian authorities confscating satellite dishes. BBC Persian, 9 July 2009.
     "The Iranian government has complained that in the aftermath of the election, several Farsi-language satellite broadcasting stations have been exhorting people to protest, including the U.S.-funded Voice of America Persian News Network and a similar operation run by the British Broadcasting Corp. 'The enemies of the Iranian nation are angry with the post-election calm in Iran and try to damage it through their TV channels,' said Morteza Tamadon, governor of the Tehran province and a strong supporter of Ahmadinejad." Washington Post, 10 July 2009.
     "Canada has summoned Iran's charge d'affaires in Ottawa in protest at the 'continuing detention' of Canadian-Iranian journalist, Maziar Bahari. ... Bahari, who worked for Newsweek and had connections also with the BBC and Britain's Channel 4 news, was arrested in Tehran during the unrest that followed the announcement of the result of the 10th presidential election. 'Most of the work I did for BBC and Channel 4 had to do with highlighting problems in various areas… the journalist work I did revolved around daily news and issues such as the parliamentary and presidential elections,' Bahari told reporters in a recent press conference." Press TV, 10 July 2009.
     "Considering the facts and figures, even if we accept that the majority of Iranians did indeed vote for Ahmadinejad as the Guardians Council vetting body claims, and that the election was mathematically and statistically clean, we can still say Ahmadinejad's victory was the result of a big, preplanned scam. In the run-up to the election, Ahmadinejad claimed on several occasions, especially in TV debates with rival candidates, that the economic situation in the country has improved in recent years despite the global financial meltdown. ... Specifically, this fraud is the result of the monopoly exerted by the Islamic republic leader over state radio and television, which supported and favored Ahmadinejad and exaggerated his 'achievements.' It extended to banning dozens of newspapers and arresting several journalists to block the free flow of information." Mohammad Reza Kazemi, broadcaster with Radio Farda, Commentary, RFE/RL, 11 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Press TV's Ferrari is repossessed (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Presenter Nick Ferrari has quit his show on 24-hour news channel Press TV, which is funded by the Iranian regime, following the response of the country's authorities to protests over its election. English-language channel Press TV, which launched in Europe and the US in 2007 as 'an antidote to Fox [News]', has stated that it aims to break the 'stranglehold' western news outlets have over world media and would offer an unbiased point of view. However, yesterday Ferrari quit his Press TV show following what he claims, according to today's Times, was a shift in what had been 'reasonably fair' coverage after the election on 12 June." Mark Sweeny, The Guardian, 1 July 2009.
     "However British journalists which include the newly appointed Daily Telegraph London editor Andrew Gilligan, the sister of former Prime Minister wife Cherie Booth and the outspoken MP George Galloway are all remaining." London Daily News, 1 July 2009.
     "Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, is investigating a complaint that Press TV has breached its duty to be accurate and impartial, and many Iranians living in Britain are appalled that it can operate so freely." Martin Fletcher, The Times, 1 July 2009.
     "I thought my old friend Yvonne Ridley was just taking the money from the clerical fascists as a presenter at Iranian state channel Press TV. I didn't realise she had been spouting the Iranian regime's line on the election. But here's her reply to my post to her Facebook page asking her when she was going to resign: 'What I find particularly upsetting is the inference that the working class and poor living in rural areas don't really count -- that their votes are inferior to the elite classes in north Tehran... maybe it's 'cos I'm a working class lass from Tyneside.' ... Anyway, at least Yvonne believes this nonsense. Andrew Gilligan has no such excuse. He's on holiday at the moment and says he is 'thinking about' his position. I suggest both Yvonne and Andrew look to the fate of Maziar Bahari, the Canadian-Iranian journalist and filmmaker who was arrested after giving footage of violence against protestors to Channel 4." Martin Bright,, 4 July 2009.
     "Newsweek's Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari has admitted to giving 'false and biased' reports about the recent post-election events in Iran. Bahari, who also had connections with the BBC and Britain's Channel 4 news, was arrested in Tehran during the unrest that followed the announcement of the result of the 10th presidential election. In a Tuesday press conference that was held while he was still in custody, Bahari explained the nature of some of his activities in Iran over the past years and the role that Western media had played in the events, which unfolded in the country." Press TV, 1 July 2009.
     "Press TV, the Iranian English-language service which broadcasts internationally from London ... did report Bahari’s confession without a scintilla of scepticism, thus: 'Bahari explained the nature of some of his activities in Iran over the past years and the role that the western media had played in the events which unfolded . . . Bahari specifically highlighted the role of the BBC, CNN [and] Euronews.' This account could almost have been designed as a self-advertisement for Press TV; it was launched two years ago by the Iranian government to counter what Ahmadinejad described on its first day of broadcasting as 'a media global war' against Iran. In recent weeks it has been self-promoting even more directly in the UK: London buses have been covered with advertisements for Press TV under the slogan '24/7. News. Truth.'" Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times, 5 July 2009.
     "Press TV's coverage of Iran election under fire from British media." Video report on Press TV, 5 July 2009.
     Update: "So what’s he doing — [Andrew] Gilligan — working for PressTv, the international propaganda channel run by the Iranian government? Taking money from police state goons to present a talk show on a channel which has no regard whatsoever for the truth? ... He sighs a lot. I hope he is sighing because he knows he’s done a bad thing rather than because he’s been found out. He explains that at first he thought that PressTV was an agreeable symptom of social change and greater openness in Iran, though he adds, ‘I may have been wrong about that.’" Ron Liddle,, 8 July 2009.

Why Newt Gingrich probably won't be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The former speaker of the US House of Representatives has said that the US should 'sabotage' Iran's oil and gas infrastructure as part of its efforts to bring down the government. In an interview with Al Jazeera's Avi Lewis for the Fault Lines programme, Republican Newt Gingrich said targeting Iran's refinery would spark an economic crisis that would destabilise the government in Tehran.", 10 July 2009. See also video.
     "Whether through the Voice of America, the Voice of Israel, Radio Free Europe, or Radio Free Iran, foreign agents can pump in truthful and relevant information about the regime and enable coordinated, countrywide unrest that could potentially topple the regime in a matter of days or weeks." Caroline Glick, Real Clear Politics, 11 July 2009.

Al Jazeera English documentary about Papuans either postponed or canceled (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"News TV-channel Al Jazeera English will broadcast an Australian documentary highlighting the plight of Papuans that will likely upset the Indonesian government. It will be premiered on July 2. Directed by Australian filmmaker Jono van Hest, the documentary, titled Pride of Warriors, is inspired by the story of 43 West Papuans fleeing to Australia in 2006. The case sparked tensions between Canberra and Jakarta." Jakarta Post, 1 July 2009.
     "In what seems to be a last minute decision, television news network Al-Jazeera English decided not to premiere on Thursday a highly-sensitive documentary highlighting the plight of Papuans. It also removed the film’s synopsis from the list of feature films it will broadcast, which is published on its website. It remains unclear, however, whether the Qatar-based TV-channel had postponed or completely called off the screening of the controversial documentary that will likely disturb the government in Jakarta. The Jakarta Post tried to reach Al-Jazeera officials for confirmation Thursday but to no avail. The film’s screening is extremely sensitive as Indonesia will hold its second presidential election on July 8." Jakarta Post, 2 July 2009.
     Update: "What van Hest has done is amplify these stories of nonviolent resistance and brought them to a public who can take action in solidarity with the Papuans. That is what the Indonesian government is truly afraid of. By refusing to screen his film Al Jazeera has come down on the side of a withering of democracy. When it is eventually premiered, Pride of Warriors promises to blend the best of art, politics and investigative journalism." Jason MacLeod, Scoop, 10 July 2009.
     See also reader reaction, Jakarta Post, 10 July 2009.

Apparently online access was not allowed at this discussion of online freedom.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"This month's 5Across video roundtable focused on free speech online in various countries, from Iran to China to Kenya -- and even a mention of the U.S. government's attempts at curtailing speech online over the years. The discussion gave context to Iranian Internet use, its demographics and the way people there get information via satellite TV from Persian-language foreign news sources such as BBC Persian and Voice of America. Plus, we talked about how China uses psychology in making its millions of Internet users believe they are all being monitored." PBS Mediashift, 9 July 2009. And for an interesting effect, push the ► button on all seven videos at the same time.

Xinjiang media update for 11 July 2009.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Authorities in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have blocked access to certain key government Web sites around the region, which has been rocked in recent days by ethnic violence. The Web sites of the regional government and all regional state-run media were inaccessible from outside Xinjiang on Wednesday. Municipal Web sites and official radio, television stations, and newspapers in Urumqi, Kashgar, Ili, and Hotan cities were also offline. Shache and Aksu city governments and media were also unavailable." Radio Free Asia via TMCnews, 9 July 2009.
     "Amid disturbing images of protesters killing each other – with more than 150 killed – China Central Television made sure to highlight those scenes in which the Han were victims of attacks by Uighurs. Official images also showed crowds of local Han welcoming truckloads of security forces and denouncing 'foreign' influence. And to make sure millions of overseas Han hear of such attacks, the government allowed foreign media into Urumqi, the capital of China's far western Xinjiang region and the traditional homeland of the Uighurs. Messages of outrage from the overseas groups were then reported in the heavily controlled press." Christian Science Monitor, 9 July 2009.
     "Rebiya Kadeer, leader of the separatist World Uyghur Congress, has attempted to gain public sympathy for the Uygur ethnic group in Xinjiang -- using wrong news photos. Kadeer, whom police say is the mastermind of the deadliest riot to strike China in decades, displayed a news photo in an interview with the Al Jazeera news outlet Tuesday that she asserts was taken in Xinjiang. In actuality, the photo depicted a protest in Shishou, Hubei province, on June 26." China Daily, 10 July 2009.
     "An official of the World Uighur Congress has admitted that their exiled leader used an incorrect photograph to illustrate riots in China's western Xinjiang region, during an interview with Al Jazeera. Alim Seytoff of the Uighur American Associaition said he and other Uighur leaders regretted the error.", 10 July 2009.
     "The National Endowment for Democracy, an independent organisation funded by Congress, supports the Uyghur Human Rights Project, which documents and disseminates information about Chinese abuses. Radio Free Asia broadcasts in Uighur one hour a day. These programmes should be expanded and new initiatives undertaken." Ellen Bork,, 11 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Honduras media update (some items from the bargain bin).

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Coup leaders who overthrew Honduran President Manuel Zelaya are defying international pressure to reinstate him. ... Press freedom groups say that's because the Honduran media has openly sided with de-facto President Roberto Micheletti's government." National Public Radio, 9 July 2009.
     "It is a proven fact that when Zelaya announced he would be returning on July 5th, he had decided to fulfil his promise to share the brutal repression of the coup with his people. ... I know for a fact that in mid-flight, when they were nearing Tegucigalpa, he was informed from the ground about Telesur broadcasting the moment when the enormous mass of people awaiting him outside of the airport was being attacked by soldiers with tear gas and automatic rifles fire. His immediate reaction was to request that they took up altitude in order to denounce the events on Telesur and to demand of the commanding officers of those troops that they ceased the repression." Fidel Casto,, 10 ZJuly 2009.
     "I just got off Skype video with Chris Burgard - documentarian of Border and currently PJTV’s Man in Honduras. ... According to Chris, the campesino-on- the-ground refers to CNN Español as the Chavez News Network. I am not surprised, having read this post from La Gringa’s Blogcito: 'As crazy as this may sound, CNN is using feeds from Hugo Chávez’s Telesur network. Telesur have stooped to using a Zelaya impostor in a supposed phone-in interview with the Telesur reporter.' Meanwhile, Burgard is hearing one of CNN’s major commentators from Honduras is the daughter of two leading Nicaraugan Sandinistas." Roger L. Simon, Pajamas Media, 9 July 2009.
     "(Does anyone else find it hilarious that Voice of America is becoming a legitimate source for coverage of a Central American coup?)" truthdig, 10 July 2009.
     "’s weekly radio show on Tuesday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. EDT will explore the coup in Honduras and how Latin America’s media industry — from state-run stations to independent websites — has become a political battleground. Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge will host a panel of guests." Worldfocus, 9 July 2009.
     Honduran political cartoonist Allan McDonald: "This battle against censorship and against dictatorship and disinformation is freed by Google. It is here the people get informed. Other media without censorship were cell phone messages. Here in Honduras, everyone has one, but not everyone has access to the Internet." Worldfocus, 10 July 2009.
     "The June 28th coup d'etat in Honduras that toppled leftist president Mel Zelaya invokes nostalgia for the bad old days of the 'gorillas' -- generals and strongmen who overthrew each other with reckless abandon and the tacit complicity of Washington during the last half of the past century. Perched on a hillside in the Mexican outback, we would tune in to these 'golpes de estado,' as they are termed in Latin America, on our Zenith Transoceanic short wave. First, a harried announcer would report rumors of troop movement and the imposition of a 'toque de queda' (curfew.) Hours of dead air (and probably dead announcers) would follow and then the martial music would strike up, endless tape loops of military marches and national anthems. Within a few days, the stations would be back up as if nothing had happened. Only the names of the generals who ruled the roost had changed." John Ross, San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Venezuela: new rules on cable TV; radio station licenses revoked.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"An overwhelming offensive against the media in Venezuela this week has reached a crescendo, with the possibility that hundreds of radio and television stations will soon be shut down. Recent measures include the regulation of cable television and the closing of some private radio stations. Several other laws were changed to crack down on media outlets. ... In statements to state television, Minister of Infrastructure Diosdado Cabello also warned that any technical interference aimed at state-owned television stations -- including Telesur and Venezolana de Televisión -- such as sound interference or blurred images, will be interpreted as an aggression that will result in fines against cable providers." Casto Ocando, Miami Herald, 10 July 2009.
     Venezuelan Public Works and Housing Minister Diosdado Cabello proposed reforms to the Telecommunications Law that would limit the concentration of private radio and television ownership and bring more cable providers under the jurisdiction of the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) and the Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television.
     "'You can be certain that we will democratize the radio-electric spectrum and bring an end to large media estates in radio and television,' said [Venezuelan public works and housing minister Diosdado] Cabello, comparing Venezuela's media magnates to Venezuela's elite class of large landowners." venezuelanalysis, 10 July 2009.
     "The minister wanted to know why signals sent out by VTV and Telesur some times failed but this never seemed to happen to Globovisión – the privately owned 24-hour all-news channel whose openly critical attitude towards Chávez has made it a particular target of government hostility." Latin American Herald Tribune, 10 July 2009.
     "Evelyn Gonzalez, who leads the Venezuelan business chamber comprised of cable television companies, attributed the signal troubles to technical glitches but said 'this can't be attributed to it being sabotage or anything like that.'" AP, 10 July 2009.
     "The new regulations will bring under government oversight private Venezuelan channels that only broadcast through private cable providers. The new law is sure to hit the RCTV network, which locked horns with Mr. Chavez and saw its broadcasting license expire without renewal in 2007. Since then, RCTV has survived through cable broadcasts. Now RCTV, like other cable channels with 70% or more locally produced programming, will likely be required to carry Mr. Chavez's nationwide TV appearances, just like other channels and radio stations." Darcy Crowe, Wall Street Journal, 9 July 2009.
     See also summary of related stories at El Universal, 10 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

More House and GAO scrutiny for TV Martí (updated again).

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. lawmakers have heard testimony about continuing weaknesses in U.S.-government funded television broadcasting to Cuba. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) updated members of Congress on steps taken by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and its Office of Cuba Broadcasting on recommendations to deal with management, morale and other problems. ... Jess Ford of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), said that despite using multiple methods, the station's audience remains small based on four telephone surveys conducted since 2003. 'The four telephone surveys have reported less than one percent of the respondents had watched TV Marti over the past week. Most notably, the most recent surveys in 2006 and 2008 showed no increase in reported TV Marti viewership after the launch of the Aero Marti and Direct Broadcasting,' he said." VOA News, 18 June 2009. "Direct Broadcasting" refers to TV Martí programming via Miami's TV Azteca on the DirecTV Latin America broadcast satellite. See Mr. Ford's testimony, GAO, 18 June 2009. See also House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 17 June 2009, which promises transcript within six to eight weeks. An audience of less than one percent is not uncommon in international broadcasting. The quality rather than the quantity of the audience often justifies the existence of an international broadcasting service.
     "It is at least ironic that, while TV Marti is supposedly about freedom of information for the Cuban people, the U.S. government has not been forthcoming in releasing information to the U.S. public about its operation of the station." Professor John Spicer Nichols, testimony before Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, via Penn State University, 17 June 2009.
     "You know, just I think two days ago we were at another hearing together where you had said that Radio or TV Marti -- that less than 1 percent of the people in -- or Cubans see it. And I suggested then that how could you do -- how would you even contemplate that someone -- a Cuban would answer the phone and say, 'Yes, I watch TV Marti,' when they're in Cuba living under a brutal dictatorship?" Rep. Connie Mack, June 19, 2009 hearing of the U.S. Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, via Paul Helmke, Huffington Post, 7 July 2009.
     "Nowadays the leader of the Hispanic Caucus seems to be Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a former member of the House. ... He is the foremost defender of Radio and TV Martí." Franklin W Knight, Jamaica Observer, 8 July 2009.
     Update: "The Senate Appropriations Committee ... struck $15 million for the U.S. television service it beams into Cuba, known as TV Marti, after Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan said the signal was jammed by the Communist government so no one there could see it. Differences between the House and Senate bills will have to be resolved before it can become law." Washington Post, 9 July 2009. "'This program has not worked for the last twenty years, and resulted in an enormous waste in taxpayer dollars,' said Dorgan. 'This funding will be better used to promote democratic and economic freedom in Cuba through some other means.'" Senator Dorgan press release, 10 July 2009.

CFO of CNBC becomes CEO of CNBC Asia, suggesting that CNBC Asia needs help with its F.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, announced the appointment of Satpal Brainch as President and Managing Director, CNBC Asia Pacific. Brainch, who has been CNBC’s Chief Financial Officer, continues to report to Mark Hoffman and will be based at CNBC Asia headquarters in Singapore effective July 6, 2009." Hoffman: "I am confident that Sat’s skills and experience, along with his intimate knowledge of the key attributes of the CNBC brand and the intricacies of all of our products and services around the world is the right combination of talents to continue the tremendous progress we’ve seen at CNBC in Asia." Press release via, 3 July 2009. See previous post about CNBC in Taiwan.

CNBC Africa picks up award at yet another London gala.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC Africa's presenter/producer Sue Beukes, cameraman Thabo Mathebula and editor Amanda Diergaardt walked away with the Best Television Feature 2009 award for the programme ‘Doing Business in Africa' at the Africa Business Reporting Awards. Diageo [awards sponsor] announced the winners at a gala ceremony held on Thursday, 2 July 2009, in London. ... ‘Doing Business in Africa' aims to unearth the secrets and important dealmaker points, when it comes to doing business in Africa covering a different African country every episode every third Monday of the month at 8:30pm." Apparent press release via, 6 July 2009. See also Africa Business Reporting Awards website.

Arab television: acquiring versus producing own content.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Fadi Ismail, General Manager of O3 Productions, subsidiary of MBC Group: "Q: How are documentaries making commercial sense in this region? Ismail: There is no commercial viability. The documentary channels model is based on selling content through subscription to viewers. This model is lacking in the Arab World because there is no such thing as cable TV. ... Government or NGO funding could make it successful. ... Q: In drama, you have introduced the Turkish series to the Arab World, gaining unprecedented ratings. Did the Turkish series kill the Arab drama? Ismail: Turkish drama is characterised for various similarities with the Arab society. Acquiring it was cheaper than producing local drama and the quality is at the same level and even better than that of the Arabic drama. ... No, it did not kill the Arabic drama." Dima Hamadeh, Emirates Business 24/7, 2 July 2009.

Bloomberg Television is now global rather than country specific.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Financial news channel Bloomberg Television has appointed Cologne-based consultancy firm Global Media Consult (GMC) to support it in the fields of distribution and marketing. GMC will represent the channel as its central contact partner for platform operators via cable, satellite and IPTV in Western Europe. Over previous months the GMC team, led by managing director Christian Knaebel, supported Bloomberg TV to streamline its distribution strategy and the channel’s new focus as a global English language service. The broadcaster ceased its country specific variations in March and has since then offered a uniform English-language service to international markets." Rapid TV News, 8 July 2009. See also GMC press release, 9 July 2009.

"Apps a nail in coffin of broadcast mobile TV."

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World and Al Jazeera English have recently launched apps for consumers to watch real-time news on their iPhones, through a London-based company, Livestation. ... It's an important distinction, says Andrew Bud, Chairman of the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF), a London-based trade association for the mobile media industry. He talks about mobile TV -- which is broadcast -- as opposed to mobile video, which you load onto your device. 'Mobile TV is all about real-time, linear transmission ... where the timing of the programing was set by the broadcaster and the consumer would dip in and dip out,' he said. 'Mobile video is much more about video-on-demand. It gives the consumer much more freedom. It's also a little less stressful on the mobile networks.'" Andrea Casalini, Chief Executive of Italian firm Buongiorno: "'There can be big business in new formats -- in making shorter programs, shot for cellphone screens, and also in using interactivity.'" Tarmo Virki, Reuters, 9 July 2009. Don't the BBC World and AJE Livestation apps involve "dip in and dip out"? And each offering one channel only? Anyway, this is recommended reading, especially for brains more contemporary than mine. My mobile device is so old it has a rotary dial. Actually, I remember visiting my aunt in Nappanee, whose phone didn't even have a rotary dial. You would pick up the handset and tell the nice lady (it was always a lady) whom you wanted to call. Now that was interactivity.
     "Broadcasters haven't settled on a business model for their own mobile digital TV offering, but they think it would be more similar to the traditional TV market, where users would get a set number of free channels, and the service would be ad-supported." Tricia Duryee,, via Washington Post, 9 July 2009.

A brief history of Radio Ceylon.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Ceylon, unlike the government-backed AIR [All India Radio], began modestly, by getting hold of good radio transmitters for free from British troops stationed in Sri Lanka after World War 2. Radio Ceylon used these equipments to set up Radio Ceylon's overseas service, viz English service and Hindi service. Therefore, we can say that in mid 1948, both AIR and Radio Ceylon were pretty much evenly perched with a job cut out for both of them to popularise the medium after being Independent. But AIR faltered big time. Its then minister of information and broadcasting, BV Keskar, a patron of classical and folk music, chose to ban Indian film music from airing on AIR, despite the 1950s being a golden period for Indian film music. ... When the protests of the Indian film industry became loud, Radio Ceylon proactively jumped in to capitalise on this opportunity. People in India, who had access to Shortwave radios, caught the transmission of Radio Ceylon from across the border, which played the best of English, Hindi and Tamil music. It was a glorious period for Radio Ceylon. Its popularity and reach could be judged from the statement made by Nirupama Rao, who has just been named as India's foreign secretary, when she said that she heard The Beatles for the first time only on Radio Ceylon. Also, the Shortwave Central blog mentions about Sir Edmund Hillary recalling that the first broadcast that he heard on the Himalayas after peaking Mount Everest was of Radio Ceylon, as it was the only English radio station that could be heard at that altitude." Ashish Saksena, Mid-Day (Mumbai), 8 July 2009.
     "When I was still a little boy, Elvis died. Back in those days before Breaking News — when we heard our Western pop music via AIR’s 10 p.m. slot twice a week, and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation when our dinky radio could pick it up — most of it was many years behind what the West was listening to. Ditto with the cassette tapes we could buy. (We did get more up-to-date music, via the BBC and the Voice of America, but with helluva lot more crackle.)" Peter Griffin, (Mumbai), 10 July 2009.

BBC Hindi shifts its base to India.

Posted: 11 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service has finally completed the restructuring process that it had begun over a year back to shift the base of its Hindi Services to India. ... BBC has roped in Hindustan Times’ Foreign Editor, Amit Baruah, , to head the Hindi Services. ... 'The intention is to be closer to the market, the action and the audience.'", 10 July 2009. It is also claimed that the intention is to save money, by shifting from UK to Indian payscales. One of the ironies of the move is that the BBC Hindi staff will be writing and producing news inside, but that it cannot be transmitted by FM radio stations inside India. It will have to be sent out of India, presumably to a master control in London, then transmitted back into India via shortwave. See previous post about same subject.

Xinjiang media update for 9 July 2009.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"At a news conference on 6 July, Xinjiang's police chief Liu Yaohua singled out the Internet, describing it as the main medium that foreigners use to communicate with Uighurs in China, reports VOA. The government has removed all Internet references to the protest, and blocked social networking sites and disabled the Twitter messaging system, reports RSF. The authorities claim the interruption was done legally, and is necessary to maintain social stability. Interestingly, the mainstream Chinese media has 'embraced images' of the clashes, which are working to stoke the Han majority's outrage against the Uighur protesters, says CPJ." International Freedom of Expression eXchange, 8 July 2009.
     "Radio Free Asia has reported that Ilham Tohti, an outspoken Uighur economist who lives in Beijing and who was publicly named as a possible instigator on July 5, has gone missing. 'Police have been watching my home for two days now,' said Mr Tohti, an economics professor at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, on Tuesday., 'They are calling me now, and I have to go. I may be out of touch for some time,' he told RFA's Uighur service. 'I wasn't involved in anything, but I am not safe. The police are calling me,' Tohti said, and then hung up. Subsequent phone calls rang unanswered." The Telegraph, 9 July 2009.
     "Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan ... posted: 'No internet from phone and my laptop is down. Will be even harder to twitter now.'" And other accounts from reporters in Xinjiang. Madeline Earp, Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 8 July 2009.
     "Policy makers in free societies need to recognize China's simultaneous efforts to control and exploit new information technologies as a serious threat to freedom and human rights. Effective policy responses will require political leadership and adequate resources for deploying a range of both offensive and defensive capabilities to combat censorship. A good start would include expanding existing alternative Chinese-language media such as Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and the BBC. It would also include investing in new initiatives that challenge China's control of online space and discourse by both increasing Chinese citizens' access to the uncensored Web and expanding the number and presence of alternate Chinese vernacular voices." Kellie Currie, Wall Street Journal Asia, 7 July 2009. Guessing that Ms. Currie leans conservative, given her association with the the WSJ op-ed page and the Project 2049 Institute. One of the amusing things about conservatives is that, when it comes to government in general, they want it smaller. But when it comes to specific agencies, they want them larger. In contrast to Ms. Currie's "good start," an excellent start would be to merge the RFA and VOA broadcasting efforts to East Asia in general and to Xinjiang specifically. This is because it is difficult to get reliable news out of Xinjiang and to transmit it back into Xinjiang. Doing so is not facilitated by having two entities competing for scarce resources and duplicating one another's efforts. Furthermore, a merger would eliminate the need for the budget increase so many (ahem) conservatives advocate.
     "A Shandong lawyer in his 50s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin-language call-in program 'Voices of the People,' said the clashes stem from larger problems between Han Chinese and Uyghur communities." Radio Free Asia, 8 July 2009. Here's an example of very good original reporting in English, and RFA doesn't even officially have an English service. If all the good reporting in English from RFA, and from RFE/RL (which also, officially, does not have an English service), and from VOA could be smooshed together, the resulting English-language news website could be a contender. It probably won't happen, because such a smoosh could realistically be accompanied by a budget cut, and the conservatives would probably object to that.

Iran media update for 9 July 2009.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Despite Iranians’ use of social media, Sam Sadaei, a blogger for Huffington Post, said satellite television channels like the Voice of America (VOA) and the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), are the 'only source where Iranian people can get fair and balanced news.'" Media News International, 9 July 2009. This story summarizes comments at “The Role of New Media in Iranian Elections,” a panel organized by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA). See CIMA website, with link to video of the event.
     "Analysts of political events in Iran argued that the protests did not constitute a revolution. Granted, those events may not have evolved into a political revolution – nevertheless they did represent a mediated revolution in virtual and cyber communications." Ibrahim al-Marashi, Liberate the Mind, 9 July 2009.
     "While Iran accuses Britain of broadcasting propaganda, it’s running its own spin on the uprising. Press TV is Iran’s official English-language news service with several correspondents in London. Here the rebels aren’t protestors, they’re terrorists. [News clip from Press TV.] But clumsy propaganda is proving no match for the sophistication of the web. Nico Pitney is senior editor of the Huffington Post, an online news site produced in the US. A network of citizen journalists has enabled him to do quick turnaround coverage of Iran, all from a laptop in his Washington home." Eric Campbell, "Froeigb Correspondent," Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
7 July 2009
     "The updates shot quickly onto the Tehran Bureau Web site as postelection chaos gripped Iran: angry street protests, random police beatings, a defiant warning from the ayatollah of more violence to come. In a matter of weeks, Kelly Golnoush Niknejad's news outlet became a must-read for many who closely followed the disputed re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet Niknejad is not operating from a clandestine office in the Iranian capital, but from a laptop in the quaint living room of Niknejad's parents' suburban Boston home. ... Away from the violence and government restrictions of Iran, Niknejad said she was able to take pieces of unfolding events in Iran and repackage them into quality stories. Correspondents and contacts inside Iran have been able to give her firsthand accounts to counter official state media reports." AP, 6 July 2009.
     "The Revolutionary Guards have built a giant tower one mile behind the Ex Hilton Hotel (now called Esteghlal), the highest construction by far in the entire area, dominating Tehran. The exclusive photograph at right shows what the Milad tower is being used for: satellite jamming devices that have proven to be successful in recent weeks at jamming communications from Europe and the Middle East. The jammers bear nameplates from Saberin Company, aka Ofogh Tose-eh Saberin Engineering, an IRGC 'special forces batallion' that is part of the IRGC Protection and Intelligence Department (counter-intelligence). Sabarin imports and assembles telecom and surveillance gear from foreign suppliers. If any of our readers recognize the foreign supplier of this equipment, let us know!" Foundation for Democracy in Iran, 9 July 2009. See also, 3 July 2009, with machine translation into English. I can't verify, yet, that these are jamming transmitters. They seem the right size for the Ku-band frequencies, though I would have guessed something looking like a dish pointed sideways. Maybe the enclosure is to discourage vandalism. They are aimed appropriately, ie into the receive dishes on rooftops. On the other hand, to my inexpert eye, they could be air quality monitors.
     "Despite warnings from Iranian authorities, including the governor of Tehran, hundreds of people have taken to the streets of the capital to mark the anniversary of the 1999 student uprising and to protest against the results of the June presidential vote. ... The demonstration was the first major public gathering in Tehran in the last 11 days." RFE/RL, 9 July 2009, with link to video.

"Restructuring" of Al Jazeera board of directors.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani endorsed Cabinet decision No. 23 of 2009 restructuring the Al Jazeera Satellite Channel Board of Directors on Sunday." The Peninsula, 7 July 2009. The word "restructuring" suggests this might be significant.
     "Four passengers aboard a Greek-registered ship that was impounded by Israeli sailors last week remained in detention here yesterday. Still in custody were Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire and another Irish citizen, identified as Derek Graham, along with a Dane and a Yemeni cameraman for the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera." Toronto Star, 7 July 2009.

"Ten more foreign channels are expected to join" free Indian DTH platform.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
India's "only free-to-air direct-to-home" satellite broadcasting service DD Direct Plus carries 46 TV channels, apart from 21 radio channels of All India Radio. The TV channels include 20 Doordarshan channels. The bouquet includes three foreign channels: Japan’s NHK TV, Korean Broadcasting Corporation and Deutsche Welle. Around ten more foreign channels are expected to join soon. Expressing confidence that the platform would be carrying around 100 channels, she said that this had become possible by lowering the annual carriage fee that broadcasters have to pay. The imposition of the carriage fee of Rs 10 million had resulted in almost all news and many general entertainment channels quitting the platform. At present, the only private Indian news channel on the platform is Total TV. The first DTH platform to be launched in the country, DD Direct had initially been launched by offering free carriage to different FTA channels. As a result, almost all the news channels had come on the platform. But many left when the carriage fee was fixed at Rs 10 million." PTI, 8 July 2009. Ten million Indian rupees is about US$200,000.

"Not your grandfather's short wave radio." And his grandson can't afford it.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Live radio from more than 150 countries and in 75 languages, and a huge variety of programming from each country. You can listen to 41 different stations broadcasting from Japan, 345 from Italy, 20 from Bosnia, 7 from Iran, and even 5 from the island of Fiji! ... The Tivoli Audio NetWorks Global Audio System is guaranteed to give radio new life. It's not just the great sound of the system, but the breadth of its range. This is not your grandfather's short wave radio with the weak transmissions and accompanying, deafening static." Obvious promotional blurb from Must Love Gadgets, InventorSpot, 7 July 2009.
     "It's not cheap at ... US$923.51, but for the money you get built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet for Web and network PC audio streaming, a USB port that lets you playback music directly from thumbdrives and MP3 players." Philip Wong, CNET Asia, 7 July 2009.
     "Tivoli Audio’s Tom DeVesto ... isn’t the first to make a Net radio system that’s independent of a computer. But he’s the most inventive. Not only did he build a device, he built a net portal around it that locates stations worldwide, and helps you select what you like." Stephen Williams, New York Times, 9 July 2009.
     As much as I would like to put one of these Tivolis "done up with the help of the furniture designer Giulio Cappellini and made with high-gloss lacquered finishes in shades of blue, green and brown" on my particle board end table, the price exceeds my present budget for designer electronics. And the Tivoli net portal is not unprecedented. Reciva, which works with various manufacturers, has been around for years, and seems to have more stations. (And, unlike the Tivoli portal, the Reciva site allows you to listen on your PC, without having to buy an internet radio.)
     Internet radios are great. I own one and use it often. There are several models, some less than $200. They work where and when broadband is available. On the other hand, shortwave radios are also great. They work when and where broadband is unavailable

VOA among websites affected by denial-of-service attack.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. and South Korean government Web sites have been disrupted in what officials are calling a widespread and coordinated cyber attack. U.S. officials said the attack targeted U.S. government Web sites including that of the White House, departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Treasury, and The Voice of America. The officials said the attacks began July 4. ... VOA Internet Office Director Michael Messinger said visits to the agency's Web site are down by about 40,000 a day. He said although difficult to pinpoint, the attack appears to have originated in South Korea. He said the attack has caused a 'significant disruption' to the VOA servers." VOA News, 8 July 2009.
     "Other U.S. government websites were also affected by the same cyber attack, but while many were back in normal operation on Wednesday, July 8, the VOA website was still not working through late Wednesday afternoon EST, exposing a major flaw in U.S. public diplomacy abroad. ... In response to restrictions imposed on the Voice of America in Russia by the BBG members and their executive staff, launched an independent Russian-language news aggregator website,, which provides news analysis from both U.S. government and non-government sources for Russian-speaking Internet users. was not affected by the latest cyber attack." Ted Lipien, Free Media Online blog, 8 July 2009.

Cancer cluster at Radio Australia?

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ABC is urging staff at its Melbourne studios to undergo checks after three employees were diagnosed with cancer. In an email sent to all staff at the broadcasters's Southbank studios, ABC state director Randal Mathieson said management was 'deeply concerned' for the health and wellbeing of its workforce. He said two employees at Radio Australia, on the building's top floor, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. A third staff member was diagnosed with cancer last year. ... 'I am aware that staff have raised the issue of possible emissions from the communications and broadcasting equipment located on the roof of the Southbank building,' he said." The Age, 8 July 2009.

Honduras: "If they cut broadband, we're dead."

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Using amateur videos and mobile phone pictures, young Hondurans opposed to the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya are uploading images to YouTube in what they have branded a 'tele-coup.' ... 'We call it "tele-coup" because on the national channels you can't see the reality of what's happening,' said engineering student Cesar Silva. 'Obviously if they cut Internet broadband we're dead,' Silva told AFP, adding that the supporters use several servers to try to avoid being cut off. ... Cable services do not broadcast Telesur -- transmitted from Venezuela and pro-Zelaya -- and CNN in Spanish was pulled off the air after Zelaya's ouster and continues to suffer sporadic cuts. ... In some middle-class districts, students take their computers onto the streets to show their neighbours the other side of the country's crisis." Henry Orrego, AFP, 7 July 2009.
     "Chavez controlled the media access to Zelaya on his weekend travels, with his state propaganda organ TeleSur monopolizing the televised news coverage." Opinion, Investor's Business Daily, 6 July 2009.
     "The Associated Press has reported that most TV stations have devoted coverage to protests favoring Micheletti, while ignoring those supporting Zelaya. Radio reports, the AP said, were more balanced but still delivered more information on the de facto government. 'The behavior of the Honduran media during the coup bears a resemblance to what happened in Venezuela [in 2002], ignoring facts or only broadcasting the views of the new officials,' said Arturo Wallace Salinas, who covers Central America for the BBC. When Venezuela's Hugo Chávez was briefly ousted that year, prominent broadcasters were widely accused of slanting coverage in favor of the coup leaders." Carlos Lauría, Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 8 July 2009. See also Washington Post, 9 July 2009.
     American student volunteering in Honduras at the time of the coup: "I am an avid watcher of CNN and reader of various U.S. publications, but current events and publications are not accessible to me in this area of Honduras. Internet access is spotty at best. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon when I was checking e-mail at an Internet cafe on an island off the coast, Utila, that I saw a note from my mom informing me that the president had been arrested." Meredith Baker, Houston Chronicle, 7 July 2009. A shortwave radio would fill the information gap for this type of traveler, except that VOA and BBC no longer broadcast English on shortwave to the Americas. Or, as the BBC World Service website states: "Sorry, we are unable to find any broadcasts to Tegucigalpa, Honduras." See previous post about same subject.

Clinton meets with head of Globovisión as Venezuela steps up media controls.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Fresh from a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the head of Venezuela's main opposition television network said he's returning home convinced Clinton supports Globovisión's efforts to speak out against Hugo Chávez's government. ... 'It was incredible that the same day she met with ousted Honduran President Zelaya, she also met with representatives from a television channel that is seen by Chávez as part of the opposition,' [Alberto Federico] Ravell said." Miami Herald, 8 July 2009.
     Venezuela's communications and information minister Blanca Eckhout "backed action by the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) against broadcasters who transmitted advertisements by Cedice and Asoesfuerzo – two groups which are campaigning against President Hugo Chávez’ controversial though still ill-defined concept of 'social property.' ... She congratulated Telesur, the regional Latin American station set up by Chávez to counter what he sees as the undue influence of 'capitalist' media in the region, for its coverage of the crisis in Honduras. It had 'broken the circle of the lie and shown the world the truth,' she said." Jeremy Morgan, Latin American Herald Tribune, 8 July 2009.
     "Retired Navy officer, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin has criticized the private media in Venezuela for giving full support to the coupsters in Honduras. Speaking as a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) coordinating committee, Rodriguez Chacin argues that if it wasn't for regional TV Telesur or Venezolana de Television (VTV), Venezuelans would not have had any access to truthful and opportune information of what was happening in Honduras." VHeadline News, 7 July 2009.
     "The head of Venezuela's telecommunications regulatory agency said Friday that 240 radio stations will have their licenses revoked for failing to update their registrations with the government. A total of 86 AM radio stations and 154 FM stations have failed to turn in required documents, which will lead to the 'recovery of all those concessions by the state,' said Diosdado Cabello, who heads the telecommunications agency. ... Chavez has clashed repeatedly with private media outlets he accuses of plotting against him. He has also expanded the government's involvement in the media during his presidency." AP, 3 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

After riots, China blocks Twitter nationally, all internet in Xinjiang (updated).

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"China appeared to block Twitter across the country and Internet access in a western province today after ethnic riots killed at least 140 people in the remote region. The moves were an apparent bid to stop the flow of information out of Xinjiang province and to prevent further rioting there. ... Video of the riots posted on YouTube showed buildings burning, police or paramilitary troops running and hundreds of people streaming down streets. YouTube has been blocked in China for months. China has long sought to restrict the expression of views that contradict official lines on and off the Internet. Chinese state media last month criticized Western cheering for Iranian activists who used Twitter to share information following contested elections. Twitter is increasingly popular in China, but its user base is confined mostly to well-off urbanites." Owen Fletcher and Dan Nystedt, Computerworld, 6 July 2009.
     Update: "Foreign journalists were not barred from the autonomous region as they were during ethnic riots in Tibet in March 2008, but Internet restrictions and interference in phone service hindered reporting. 'A Han Chinese man with a stick just tore open our car door to beat our producer. Averted just in time,' Al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan said on Twitter. She said Internet access for foreign reporters was confined to one room in her hotel; she was sending Twitter updates by text message to a friend in Beijing who posted them on the site." Committee to Protect Journalists, 7 July 2009.
     "The internet has been blocked completely in some parts of Xinjiang. For additional live tweeting from Xinjiang, you can follow Austin Ramzy reporting for and Malcolm Moore with the Daily Telegraph." Alanna Shaikh, UN Dispatch, 7 July 2009.

US jazz influence on Poland, decades ago.

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Continuing the celebrations of 90 years of Polish-U.S. diplomatic relations, an exhibit entitled 'Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World' opened in Warsaw on June 27. It will remain open at Hoover Square’s Centrum Artystsycznego Fabryka Trzciny until July 26. The displayed photos and documents chronicle the U.S. State Department’s Jazz Ambassadors program, which sent some of the greatest American jazz musicians around the world between 1950-1970, to create relationships and foster understanding through jazz." Polish News, 7 July 2009.
     "Of course, there was no Jazz music on the Polish radio, no Jazz records in the stores, no books and no sheet music for sale. However, there was the will, the enthusiasm and the Voice of America. Instead of listening to reports about the success of the Soviet Union and achieving heaven on earth, Jazz fans and aspiring Jazz musicians tuned their Soviet-made radios to DJ Willis Conover programs. For Polish Jazz devotees of the late 40s and early 50s Poland, Willis Conover was a musical messiah. Conover's programs allowed access to the desired alternative: the right stuff and the real thing. His contribution to Polish Jazz would never be forgotten." From "Polish Jazz - Freedom at Last,", with link to audio snippet. Actually, Willis did not begin broadcasting for VOA until 1955. He was heard on VOA until his death in 1996.

Online radio and its international "reception" problems.

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pandora was an amazing online radio, free and simple to use, but one day, they have decided that people outside the United States are not worthy listeners. is another cool free online radio, but soon it will charge people outside USA, UK, and Germany for its services. Spotify is a new online radio that offers a huge library of music content, of course, you have to be 'not' in this part of the world to be able to use it, even if you paid 99 Euros for the premium account." Bilal, ZeroPaid, 6 July 2009.

In Quebec, NRJ replaces Energie.

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Astral Media Radio, the largest radio broadcaster in the country [Canada], today announced the launch of the NRJ worldwide brand in Quebec. On August 24, the ten radio stations in Quebec that comprise the Energie network will become the NRJ network. Astral Media Radio has concluded an agreement with the NRJ Group, the largest radio broadcasting group in France and in 12 countries worldwide, to operate the NRJ brand in Quebec." Astral Media press release, 6 July 2009. NRJ is an important commercial international radio broadcaster, either setting up stations in countries other than France, or franchising the concept.

Michael Jackson memorial as international broadcasting event.

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Michael Jackson's memorial service has proved a media phenomenon, taking over television and computer screens across the globe." The Age (Melbourne), 8 July 2009.
     "Networks around the world cleared their schedules to air live coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial on Tuesday." Variety, 7 July 2009.
     "The BBC has been criticised over the extent of its coverage of Michael Jackson's funeral and memorial service in Los Angeles. ... One online complaint said: 'The coverage of Jackson's death has been far too extensive. The BBC has developed a cult of personality in line with the rest of the new media and have great pleasure in over reporting celebrities. Once it was the channel to watch for news, now it is not.'" The Telegraph, 8 July 2009.
     "11:58: BBC World News on Livestation actually has a news scroll going at the bottom of the picture. There are other things going on in the world right now?!? Who knew…"
Liz Gannes, NewTeeVee, 7 July 2009.
     "CNN International is on around-the-clock MJ watch, with Honduras coup news and the Iranian street protest crackdown allowed intermittent attention. Breaking News these days only emanates from gossip reporters prowling the gates of Neverland." Dan Siegel, 6 July 2009.
     "I can't remember the last time I saw so much media fluff, hype and hoopla. News organizations that have pulled out of Iraq arrived by the convoy to pay homage to the King of Pop." Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2009.

Most is best: RFA is Broadcaster of the Year.

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia was named Broadcaster of the Year by the 2009 New York Festivals for winning the largest number of awards among participating broadcasters. Four of Radio Free Asia’s nine language services won top honors for excellence in journalism in the international competition, which included three gold, one silver and three bronze medals." RFA, 7 July 2009.
     "The coveted title of NYF's 2009 Radio Programming & Promotion Broadcaster of the Year was awarded to Radio Free Asia, the forum that provides timely news to Asian countries where access to a free press is prohibited by the government." New York Festivals press release, 6 July 2009. See list of radio winners at New York Festivals website.

NHK is international, but is it impartial?

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sometimes compared with the British Broadcasting Corporation or America's Public Broadcasting System — and by its fiercest critics even to the state-run media in China and North Korea — [Japan's] NHK boasts two terrestrial television services, three satellite television services, three radio networks and the NHK World international broadcast service. ... Is NHK's reporting impartial? NHK says yes. However, large segments of people on both the right and left of the political spectrum disagree. NHK is regularly criticized for being either too close to the conservative elements of the government or in bed with liberals. ... NHK's news broadcasts include far fewer independent sources than the BBC for example, which often follows news of official announcements with reactions from credible people who offer opposing views, skepticism, historical background or constructive criticism of whatever official public announcement is being discussed." Eric Johnston, The Japan Times, 7 July 2009.

Radio in, and into, Russia.

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Since the emergence of radio in the 1910s, Russians haven’t just listened—they’ve listened passionately, forcefully, illegally. In the ’50s, they reassembled shortwave radios to tune into Western broadcasts. In the ’60s, they joined amateur radio clubs and spoke with their cohorts in the United States and Europe. They huddled by their radios for 40 years to hear Voice of America’s Russian programming, trying to make out scraps of dialogue and musical fragments over the screeching white noise of Soviet interference. Some of them even risked their livelihoods to tell journalists from VOA—and Radio Liberty, another American-government-run station—the truth about government oppression. ... Russians listened to VOA on shortwave radios, which proved to be the great—and perhaps fatal—paradox of Soviet radio history. The Soviet Union manufactured millions of shortwave radios (20 million by 1958), which became more affordable as more were produced. Officially, they were a symbol of technological innovation; unofficially, they made speaking the enemy’s language much easier, but not too easy. Soviet radios didn’t have the four shortest bands (the best for long-distance listening), and the government spent an extraordinary amount of funds and resources on jamming." Mark Krotov, Paste Magazine, 6 July 2009.
     This extensive essay is recommended reading. Mr. Krotov does not, however, get every detail correct. For example: "In 1971, it was revealed that the CIA had channeled undercover funds to VOA and RL." Unless he knows something I don't know, I always understood it was only RL and RFE that were covertly funded. Also, he describes VOA as mixing "pro-American commentary with entertainment," but never does he mention VOA's and RL's news output, especially about the Soviet Union, which was the probably the main reason Russians tuned in.

If I have this right, new Defense Department report says strategic communication can be transmitted from geostationary satellites to, say, Oklahoma.

Posted: 08 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A newly released report from the Department of Defense may be the first to specifically consider the role of science and technology (S&T) efforts supporting the broad range of Strategic Communication (SC) activities across the whole of government. The Strategic Communication Science and Technology Plan, April 2009, [pdf link] produced by the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) within the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Director, Defense Research Engineering (DDRE), responds to direction in the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, which calls for the Department to leverage these efforts to designate an 'S&T thrust area for strategic communication and focus on critical S&T opportunities.'" Matt Armstrong,, 6 July 2009.
     This must be an important report, because reading it gives me a headache. Anyway, at first glance, two passages caught my eye...
     "Understand the difference between public diplomacy and strategic communication. For the former, the audience is outside the geographic territory of the United States. For the latter, the audience is global. Science and Technology solutions do not generally discriminate based on geographic location, nor should they. The domains of strategic communication can not be limited to those with public affairs authority – everyone should be viewed as a strategic communicator."
     Brilliant. This report has found a way to work around the Smith-Mundt clause prohibiting the domestic dissemination of public diplomacy. Just call it "strategic communication."
     "Develop or purchase space-based radio transmitter capable of broadcasting FM and AM radio signals from a geostationary satellite positioned over a hostile country to ordinary radio receivers. We must be able to uplink a Voice of America or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty program to the transmitter; then the transmitter sends it back down to earth with sufficient signal strength that any commercially available radio receiver can receive it clearly. The technology should permit USG to broadcast into denied areas where we are unable to reach audiences with our current broadcast technology and overflight legal limitations."
     Hmmmm. FM and AM radio from 36000 km above earth? As, in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Deep Thought Computer answered, when asked to provide the answer to life, the universe, and everything: "Tricky...". I'm no engineer, but on the AM (medium wave) frequencies, I would think there might be ionospheric absorption issues. But most people listen to FM, anyway. At 88 to 108 MHz, it might be possible, although such a transmission could interfere with FM stations on the same frequency outside the hostile country, which could generate hostility in formerly non-hostile countries. The experts might consider stratospheric airships with directional antennas, though these would step on those pesky legal limitations against transmitting over other countries or even over international waters. There are proposed vehicles that can hover above the Kármán line, but I digress... .
     See also Sheldon Rampton's review of books about propaganda, PRWatch, 7 July 2009.

Yes, shortwave broadcasting has effects: it brought grass court tennis to Iowa.

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bordered by bean fields and wind turbines, you'll find farmer, and Iowa state lawmaker, Mark Kuen and his court of dreams. Six years ago, he turned the former cattle feed lot next to his home into a grass tennis court and the all-Iowa Lawn Tennis Club was born. It’s a dream that began when Representative Kuen was a young boy, listening to his grandfather's short wave radio." KMSP-TV (Minneapolis), 5 July 2009, with link to video report. The young Mark Kuen was listening to Wimbledon coverage on BBC World Service, perhaps even before it was called "World Service."

Al Jazeera English via iPhones.

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Following in the footsteps of fellow news broadcasters such as France24 and Sky News, Al Jazeera has now also jumped on the iPhone/iPod bandwagon. In a news statement, the broadcaster said it had released AJE Live, a software application which gives viewers access to the channel live on their Apple iPhones and iPods anywhere in the world. AJE Live provides 'unlimited viewing' of the Al Jazeera English channel on both Wi-Fi and 3G networks. The application, developed with Livestation, is available for an introductory one-off fee of $2.99 on all Apple App Stores." Broadband TV News, 6 July 2009.
     South Africa's "Channel Islam International (CII) listeners will have access to more in-depth news coverage following a deal struck with international television news channel Al Jazeera English. ... CII, a satellite radio station available on DStv ... will have exclusive rights and access to Al Jazeera’s global reporter network, enhancing its current affairs programming and breaking-news abilities. ... With this deal, CII will broadcast an hour-long Al Jazeera world report weekdays from 6pm to 7pm and other special reports during the day." The Times (Johanneburg), 4 July 2009. An example of how television news often works reasonably well on radio.

Web activism, not hacking: helps Iranians access internet.

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran's intelligence ministry's campaign of misinformation and the blocking of the free flow of #iranelection protest information is being countered by pro-democracy and freedom loving hackers. A group formed under say in their [website]: 'This is the resource page for NedaNet, a network of hackers formed to support the democratic revolution in Iran. Our mission is to help the Iranian people by setting up networks of proxy severs, anonymizers, and any other appropriate technologies that can enable them to communicate and organize — a network beyond the censorship or control of the Iranian regime.'" sa_id_farzaneh,, 5 July 2009.
     "Interesting, but none of what you mentioned.. establishing proxys, facebook profiles, twitter, or even taking websites down via Denial-Of-Service (no skill involved) etc. is 'hacking' or done done by 'hackers'. Deface Khamenei's website with green rev slogans, hack a IRGC Swiss bank account and transfer funds out, intercept emails by top ranking IRI lakey's, then that's hacking. What you've suggested is just grassroots web activism by everyday computer users." Ramtin, comment to ibid.

China's international broadcasting modernizes by duplicating itself.

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"China's state news agency has launched a trial run of an international English-language TV news service, part of an increasingly sophisticated propaganda drive to boost the country's image abroad and lift its global media presence. The Xinhua news agency said its reporters across China and in 110 countries worldwide would produce domestic and international news to be distributed around the world. The new service is a key part of China's efforts to promote its influence in the world in the way that the BBC, Al-Jazeera and Voice of America do already. China is reportedly spending 45 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) on expanding its three main media orgs, Xinhua, China Central Television (CCTV) and the People's Daily newspaper. China's rapid expansion has not been matched by similar levels of media freedom as the ruling Communist Party seeks to keep a grip on TV, blogs and newspapers, although some restrictions have been relaxed in recent years, such as reporting on disasters." Clifford Coonan, Variety, 1 July 2009. Will the Xinhua English-language channel and the already existing CCTV-9 English channel complement each other, with one more along the lines of public diplomacy, the other China's idea of news? Or will they compete flat out with one another, much like VOA and Radio Free Asia do in their broadcasts to East Asia? See previous post.
     "'Xi Yangyang and Hui Tailang', a popular Chinese made cartoon TV series, will land on international market on July 5, 2009, China Radio International reports. The over 500-episode hot cartoon, which has been dominating Chinese market over four years, will gain international attention by landing in 13 Asian countries and regions the coming Sunday. With the inspiration of images originated from Chinese culture, the cartoon tells the stories between a sheep family and a wolf family." China Radio International, 2 July 2009.

CRI changes its FM frequency in Phnom Penh, expanding its range.

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The six-month-old Cambodia-China Alliance radio station is to change its frequency from FM 96.5 to FM 105.75 next month in a move that will extend its reach, the head of National Radio of Cambodia told the Post last week. 'The reason for the change in radio frequency is that we wanted the Cambodia-China Alliance radio station to be able to expand their coverage ... so that many more provinces will be reached,' said Tong Yan, director general of National Radio. The Chinese-run station, which launched in July 2008 on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, plays music and reports on news, education and art in English, Mandarin, Khmer and Teochew, a Chinese dialect spoken by many Chinese in Cambodia. 'We have broadcasted our programmes for six months now, and we have gained popularity among both Chinese and Cambodians,' said An Xiaoyu, the director of China Radio International in Cambodia." The Phnom Penh Post, 6 July 2009.

"China Tibet" calling the world.

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The China Tibet Broadcast (CTB) has been made accessible to nearly 90 percent of Tibet's population of 2.87 million and has audiences in 50 countries and regions. ... CTB has four frequencies and a website. Programs in Tibetan, Han, English and Khampa languages are broadcast to the world via short-wave, medium-wave, frequency modulation, satellite and Internet. Over the past 50 years, CTB has created many name-brand programs with distinct Tibetan characteristics, such as Tibet News and Voice of China Tibet." China Tibet Online, 6 July 2009. The "to the world" part appears to be via the internet. The shortwave, I think, is used broadcasts to remote areas of Tibet itself, though it is often heard beyond Tibet.
     "The station provides on-line information about Tibet in Tibetan, Chinese, and English language, and on-line program listening service. Total population coverage of radio broadcasting in the TAR region reaches 88.81%. The program is sent to Asia, Africa, Europe, Atlantic, and about 50 countries around the world. The station has become an important channel for the domestic and foreign audience to understand the mysterious Tibet." CTB website. See previous post about Tibet.

Getting the news first versus getting the news right, exacerbated.

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"It's not necessarily a bad thing that traditional media tries to confirm stories the old-fashioned way. But the problem is the gap it leaves. A gap between these new upstart news services, which may or may not be right, but which are able, through the power of the Net, to pass word out to the world, entirely bypassing traditional media. Twitter, in that sense, is the last piece of an ongoing puzzle. ... Twitter lets you see everything in real time, and, when something big like this happens, everyone wants the information in real-time. Traditional media now has to figure out a way of giving it to them - without, preferably, ditching their values of getting the facts right first." Jeremy Wagstaff, Jakarta Post, 6 July 2009. An the old "two-source" might not work if the two sources are Tweets.

Telesur interviews Manuel Zelaya "from 35,000 feet."

Posted: 06 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
As ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya attempted to return to Tegulcigalpa, "aboard his plane was Venezuelan state television network Telesur, which broadcast live interviews with Zelaya from 35,000 feet. ... As his plane circled the airport, Zelaya narrated his approach live on Telesur. 'I am here with the two pilots. They are doing what is humanly possible to approach the landing strip. They do not want to land with obstacles in the way.'" Washington Post, 6 July 2009.
     "Live on the leftist television network Telesur, his commentary set the tone. 'The blood of Christ is coursing though my veins,' the former cattle rancher proclaimed. 'Soon I will be with you all to raise the crucifix.'" BBC News, 6 July 2009.
     "He spoke from the plane on Venezuela's Telesur television, rebroadcast on CNN in Spanish. 'I'm doing everything I can," Mr Zelaya said. "If I had a parachute I would immediately jump out of this plane.'" AFP, 7 July 2009 Notice at "Versión Ligera por exceso de tráfico."
     "Among those killed [at Tegucigalpa airport] was a young boy, according to an Al-Jazeera television cameraman on the scene." AFP, 6 July 2009. The Al Jazeera account was reported by many other news outlets. See also, 6 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBC resumes Romanian, but not for Romania.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service is now offering audiences in Moldova a Romanian-language news and current-affairs programme that will air weekly, on six frequencies across the country. This programme will broadcast every Friday at 20.00 local time on BBC World Service... . Each programme will feature a mix of current affairs and analysis of both local and international issues.The programme will be produced by the IMEDIA press group (IMEDIA is the brand of the Committee for the Freedom of the Press NGO based in Chisinau), in co-ordination with BBC World Service." BBC World Service press release, 3 July 2009. BBC dropped its Romanian for Romania in August 2008. See previous post.

BBC World News remembers US moon landings 40 years ago.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News is coming up with a special season of programming in July to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the extraordinary 1969 moon landings. The programmes will explore the history and geology of the moon, how those initial steps have impacted on our lives today, and the future of space tourism. The programme line-up will include a special edition of ‘The Sky at Night’, which features an exclusive interview with Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon. Sir Patrick Moore and guests take a nostalgic look at the achievements and impact of the Apollo missions and using a sample of genuine moon dust, discuss what has been learnt about our moon. It will broadcast on July 18... .", 4 July 2009.

Death of Fr. Pasquale Borgomeo, former director of Vatican Radio.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"He led Vatican Radio as Director General for over 20 years. He guided the Radio through the difficult post Cold War years and inspired it to face the technical revolution that continues to change the way we communicate today – always looking for new ways to expand and improve the way Vatican Radio confronts the challenge of spreading the message of the Church throughout the world." Vatican Radio, 3 July 2009, with link to audio report.

Because the *real* audience is on Capitol Hill.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Foreign audiences need interpretation of US government policies, and insight into the American way of life and love of freedom. In difficult earlier years, notably during the cold war, this function was performed by the US Information Agency (USIA) and government radio such as the VOA, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty, broadcasting to people behind the Iron Curtain and beyond. USIA was disbanded after the cold war, its remnants placed under the State Department, its transmitters given a new home under a civilian board of governors. After 9/11, though, the need to project accurate information about the US to Arab countries and others became urgent again. How best to reinvigorate public diplomacy became a critical discussion. On the campaign trail, Sen. John McCain vowed that if elected president he would reconstruct USIA. Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas earlier this year introduced a bill to do just that, but it has failed to gain traction." John Hughes, Christian Science Monitor, 2 July 2009.
     It is perhaps not surprising that a commentator who was both an associate director of USIA and a director of VOA (he lists the two jobs in that order) tries, every few months, to re-muddle the distinction between public diplomacy and international broadcasting. The International Broadcasting Act of 1994 and VOA's separation from USIA happened because of an obvious conflict: the entity whose job is to report the news was located under the entity whose job was to advocate US foreign policy. US international broadcasting according to the Brownback plan ("the National Center for Strategic Communications ... would manage U.S. international broadcasts directly") would transmit content pleasing to Washington decision makers rather than serving the informational needs of any (former) overseas audiences.

RFA's scoop on North Korean-Burmese ties.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The increasingly close ties between Burma and North Korea since the two sides quietly resumed diplomatic relations in 2007 could also cast a shadow over [Ban Ki-moon'] trip [to Burma] A 37-page document in Burmese obtained by Radio Free Asia detailed a visit by 17 Burmese officials, including General Thura Shwe Mann, the chief of staff of the army and Burma's third-ranked leader, to Beijing and Pyongyang last November." The Telegraph, 3 July 2009. See original report at RFA, 2 July 2009. RFA also cited by The Daily NK, 3 July 2009 and Wall Street Journal, 5 July 2009.

Despite a faint resemblance, this is the *other* Radio Sawa.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Sawa is making due contribution in entertaining, educating and informing youths, according to Maj. Mehreteab Kidane, Staff officer of agitation and information center in Sawa. He said that initially the radio's broadcast was only confined to musical and entertaining programs but at present 23% of its program is focusing on historical, cultural, educational, agitation and political programs." ReliefWeb, 3 July 2009. This is Radio Sawa, the domestic station in Eritrea, not the US-funded Arabic-language Radio Sawa.

On Philippines cable: foreign channels sent to the digital tier.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Always a trend setter, Mindanao’s pioneer cable television operator brings Cagayan de Oro city into a new era with the launching of its digital television platform, the first in the country outside Metro Manila on July 8, 2009. ... 'By July 10, we will transition some 15 of our foreign cable TV channels to the new digital standard. ... We will maintain our current analog packages simultaneous with our new digital tiers. But to make way for our new digital channels, all channels with foreign content will be exclusively available in our new Digital Packages.' ... The Digital Basic channel will cost only [950 pesos] for an additional 12 channels including Animax, Discovery Home & Health, STC, STAR Chinese Movies, Voice of America, Discovery Turbo, Crime & Investigation, Fashion TV (fTV), Discovery Science, VIVA Cinema, Sci Fi and AXN Beyond." Kagay-An, 3 July 2009. And so the foreign channels are subject to the mixed blessing of a better picture and few receivers. Voice of America television, sometimes known as VOA TV, is not on many cable systems, probably because it is more of a collection of feeds than an actual "channel."

Zelaya uses Telesur to signal return to Tegucigalpa.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Ousted Honduran president Manuel "Zelaya vowed to return to Honduras on Sunday and asked his supporters to back him peacefully as he tries to retake office. 'We are going to show up at the Honduras International Airport in [the Honduran capital of] Tegucigalpa with several presidents and members of international communities, and on Sunday we will be in Tegucigalpa,' Zelaya said in a taped statement posted on the websites of the Telesur and Cubadebate media outlets." CBC News, 5 July 2009. See also Telesur, 4 July 2009.
     "El Gobierno de facto de Honduras anunció que no dejará entrar a su territorio el avión donde viajará el presidente legítimo de Manuel Zelaya, que prevé regresar a la nación este domingo." Telesur, 5 July 2009.
     "The images transmitted by TeleSUR allow to state the presence of snipers bet in the tower of the airport of Tegucigalpa, where thousands of people are concentrated this Saturday pacifically by the return of president Manuel Zelaya.", 4 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Content analysis challenges view that BBC is anti-Israel (updated).

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"A study I wrote, published by Arab Media Watch on 10 June 2009, confirms that the BBC's coverage favours Israel. ... AMW monitored BBC Online news articles about violence between Israelis and Palestinians over four months (February-May 2009). ... While every BBC article included Israeli sources, 35% had no Palestinian sources. Some of those articles omitted Palestinian statements and viewpoints that were available in other respected news outlets, such as reactions to Israeli violence or explaining why Palestinian violence took place. Of the 65% of articles containing Palestinian sources, 82% devoted more words to Israeli sources. ... Having concluded my findings for the BBC, I decided to monitor al-Jazeera in the same way as a comparative exercise. I had expected the world-renowned Arab station to be an example for the BBC, but in fact, it fared little better. While every al-Jazeera article had Israeli sources, 11% had no Palestinian sources. Of the 89% that did, 69% devoted more words to Israeli sources." Sharif Nashashibi, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 26 June 2009.
     Update: "In an age of sound bites, do word counts mean anything? It's very rare that an Israeli spokesperson is afforded the luxury of explaining the origins of the conflict as far back as 1948, let alone 3,500 years of Jewish history in the region." Simon Plosker, Jerusalem Post, 4 July 2009.

New Dubai co-anchor for Alhurra's Al Youm.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Engy Anwar, a 16-year television veteran, has been named co-anchor Al Youm from Dubai; it was announced today by Al Youm’s Executive Producer Fran Mires. Her first day on Al Youm will be today, July 5th. Al Youm (Arabic for 'Today') is Alhurra’s ground-breaking live television magazine show originating simultaneously from five countries in three continents including Cairo, Beirut, Dubai, Jerusalem and from Alhurra’s headquarters in Springfield, Va. ... Ms. Anwar started her career at the Arabic Radio and Television (ART) to work in their offices in Cairo and Rome as a presenter. By 1998, she moved to Egyptian Television where she presented the popular Good Morning Egypt and Good Evening Egypt among other programs, including Da’awa that focused on eliminating illiteracy in Egyptian society, the movie review program Aflmna El Helwa and the weekly program Akher Kalam which covered the latest social, economic, political and artistic events." Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc press release, 5 July 2009.

Al Jazeera DG sees "no dramatic change ... either forwards or backwards" in Arab media freedom (updated).

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Media freedom in the Arab world has not improved since Al Jazeera launched 13 years ago and some governments are even taking a more hardline stance against critical reporting than they used to, the Qatar-based network’s director general has said. Despite a flurry of new satellite channels hitting the airwaves since Al Jazeera launched in 1996, there has been little progress made in terms of legislation governing freedom of speech and local governments’ tolerance of criticism, Wadah Khanfar told Arabian Business in an interview. 'I do feel that there is no dramatic change taking place, either forwards or backwards,' he said. ... For the full interview see this Sunday's Arabian Business magazine.", 2 July 2009. See previous post about similar subject.
     Update: "Will it ever be profitable? The Al Jazeera Network, which includes subscription-based sports and documentary channels, might, he says. The news channels, probably not. 'As a TV station that is specialised in news, I don't think any channel in the region can become self-sufficient,' he says. ... Khanfar does not skip a beat before denying allegations that the network has become a Fox News for the Middle East. 'I don't think that Al Jazeera is not objective. I think Al Jazeera is very objective,' he says." Soren Billing,, 5 July 2009.
     "Government rules and regulations remain the greatest barrier to journalists in the Middle East covering stories as they would like, according to a new survey published on Sunday.", 5 July 2009.

Prosecution for Iranians who "cooperate" with foreign television channels?

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The head of Iran's judiciary called on Sunday for the prosecution of people working for increasingly influential anti-establishment satellite TV channels and websites, state television reported. 'The daily growth of anti-regime satellite channels and ... websites needs serious measures to confront this phenomenon,' it quoted a circular issued by Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi as saying. ... The circular, addressed to branches of the judiciary, called for judicial personnel to be assigned to deal with such violations. 'Those who cooperate with such websites and television channels will face prosecution,' Hashemi-Shahroudi said." Reuters, 5 July 2009.

China Radio International's full time relay in Honolulu.

Posted: 05 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Programming from China has replaced country music on KHCM-AM 880 in Honolulu in an agreement between station licensee Salem Media of Hawaii Inc. and R&C Productions Inc., both California based. Salem parent Salem Communications Corp. owns radio stations known for primarily Christian and conservative programming -- while China Radio International, source of all the programming on the station right now, is state-run, owned and operated by the Chinese government as are all media outlets there. R&C President Billy Chung said the programming does not promote communism or come from the communist perspective. ... The drastic format change was noted last week by Honolulu-based broadcast historian Brock Whaley for an online group of radio hobbyists known as dx-ers for their scanning of far-flung frequencies around the globe. Whaley believes the round-the-clock relay of the Beijing-based broadcast is 'historic.' 'It's not just that a foreign broadcast is being relayed (on the air) in the United States, but a foreign broadcast that is controlled by a communist regime and is subject to the censorship and propagandist take on the news,' he said. Meanwhile, 'no one in the world jams more foreign broadcasts than the People's Republic of China,' preventing citizens' reception of the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, the BBC and others." Erika Engle, Honolulu Star Bulletin, 5 July 2009. CRI does promote China, which is at least nominally communist. Mr. Whaley's description of CRI and Chinese jamming is accurate. Furthermore, China does not allow any rebroadcasting of Voice of America inside its borders. So China's idea of international broadcasting remains: we talk, you listen.

While CNN and BBC "seemed to be fumbling," Telesur provided "gritty footage" of Honduras coup aftermath.

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Whatever happens in Honduras, the crisis has been tremendously good to Telesur TV. The satellite and cable news channel launched as a sort of Latin American Al Jazeera in 2005. Funded in large part by the oil dollars of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, it intended to become a combative alternative to CNN or BBC en Español. Until Telesur’s emergence, Latin America lacked a homegrown continent-wide news channel. Critics laughed Telesur off as 'Chávez TV,' and said it wouldn’t have enough independence or objectivity to produce reputable TV news. But with the crisis in Honduras, Telesur has hit its stride. Objective, it’s not. It’s clearly resolutely on the side of deposed left-leaning President Manuel Zelaya, a Chávez ally, and against the de-facto, post-coup government of the center-right Roberto Micheletti. Just as Al Jazeera found its true calling as an Arab conscience reporting critically on the 2003 Iraq War, Telesur has found it as a gadfly to the Honduran coup leaders. Despite having its cameramen beat up, its signal blocked in Honduras, its staff arrested and harassed, it has provided the best up-to-date coverage of the crisis. So much so, that Twitter posts about the coup frequently referenced Telesur’s on-air broadcasts. In other words, Telesur has sometimes been even one step ahead of Twitterers. On Monday, the second day of Micheletti’s government, CNN International and the BBC still seemed to be fumbling for dramatic street footage. On Telesur’s live online feed, I watched unedited, gritty footage of screaming protesters running from riot police." Marcelo Ballve, NAM Round Table, New American Media, 1 July 2009.
     "Perhaps somewhat tellingly, the Honduran army cut off local broadcasts of the Telesur news network which is sponsored by leftist governments including Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina and Cuba. Adriana Sivori, Telesur's correspondent in Tegucigalpa, was in her hotel room speaking on the telephone to her network when ten soldiers arrived with rifles drawn. ... Since its launch, Telesur has given CNN en Español a run for its money and now has slick production values." Nicolas Kozloff, venezuelanalysis, 2 July 2009.
     "Access for Hondurans to information from the international press media on the coup d'etat in that country has been cut by the de facto government. In these moments it is impossible to see images from TELESUR or International Cubavisión, among others, and neither is there access to the news of Radio Havana Cuba, the Honduran popular leader Carlos H. Reyes denounced Wednesday." Prensa Latina, 1 July 2009. Why no Radio Havana Cuba? Unlike Telesur, dependent on cable access in Honduras, Radio Havana's signals drop in via shortwave. The present authorities in Tegucigalpa would be hard pressed to jam Radio Havana.
     "Whether news outlets in Honduras were operating freely or under censorship Wednesday in the wake of a military coup seemed to depend on their political inclinations." AP, 2 July 2009.
     "As soon as the state of emergency was declared, the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) blocked cable television transmissions, which affected international TV stations, such as CNN Español, Telesur and Cubavisión Internacional, says C-Libre." International Freedom of Expression eXchange, 1 July 2009.
     "The military’s already significant level of censorship of the international media and national media that oppose the coup has been compounded by the excesses of the media that back it." Reporters sans frontières, 1 July 2009.
     "Andrés Molina, a correspondent for Venezuela's Telesur network ... stressed that Telesur is often criticized for being a 'leftist station out of Caracas' but 'how then do you explain that they are taking CNN off the air too?'" Miami Herald, 1 July 2009.
     Telesur's "coverage has followed the events step by step, including a reconstruction of the kidnapping of President Zelaya from the presidential residence and the popular protests, as well as the repression by the Army forces. In comparison to this, CNN en Español resumed its live broadcasts from Tegucigalpa on Tuesday afternoon with a rally supporting the military’s repressive actions in the Central American nation and the de facto government led by Roberto Micheletti. The CNN correspondent to the Honduran capital insisted that the demonstrators want people to say that 'it was not a coup but a replacement of a president ordered by the State’s main bodies.'" ACN Cuban News Agency, 1 July 2009.
     "The more educated Hondurans are now seeking information from the internet and text messages, but most Hondurans are getting a daily dose of pro-coup propaganda and journalists who oppose the government are doing so at great risk to themselves and their families." Medea Benjamin, OpEdNews, 4 July 2009.
     "Since taking power Sunday after a coup against elected-president Manuel Zelaya, the new administration has shut down a major TV station, several radio stations and a newspaper. ... The battle lines over TV coverage here were strikingly similar to the south, in Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez, a staunch Zelaya ally. Chavez also accused commercial TV stations of being pawns of the rich and said they backed an attempted coup against him in 2002. In 2007, Chavez refused to renew the license of Radio Caracas Television Internacional, the nation’s most popular station, accusing it of irresponsible anti-government coverage. He has also helped form the cable group Telesur, which provides left-leaning coverage across the region." Ioan Grillo, GlobalPost, 3 July 2009.
     "Honduras's provisional government, while trying to persuade the international community that its overthrow of its president was democratic, is being criticized for taking control of a number of media outlets since the coup." Wall Street Journal, 3 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Kazakhstan internet law could block access to foreign websites.

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Kazakhstan's online community and human rights organisations are appealing to members of the country's upper house of parliament to reject a controversial new law on internet use. Opponents of the law say it will tighten state control of online media and restrict freedom of expression. A key provision of the proposed law on information and communications networks, which was passed by the lower house of parliament (Majilis) on April 29, would extend existing regulation of traditional media to encompass all online media - from blogs to online shops. If adopted in its current form, the law will also make it possible to prevent Kazakh users from accessing foreign-based websites - in the past access to news sites such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been blocked by the country's main internet providers. The law would increase the list of grounds for suspension or closure of media, and increase the powers of the Kazakh prosecutor general to suspend websites and other media." business news europe, 3 July 2009.

Azerbaijan broadcasting: so bad that an Iranian channel is "highly popular."

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sahar TV, Iran's state international broadcaster, is not licensed to broadcast in Azerbaijan. But its transmitters have nonetheless beamed uninterrupted -- and highly popular, programming in the local language to Azerbaijanis for years. As Baku has systematically banned all other foreign broadcasters -- including the BBC, Voice of America, and RFE/RL -- Sahar remains the sole alternative in an otherwise uniform media market. Now, however, Sahar has angered Azerbaijani officials by airing harshly critical coverage of a recent visit to Baku by Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. ... Media lawyer Alaskar Mammadli suggests the government has brought this problem on itself by clamping down on Azerbaijan's media environment to the degree that any alternative seems like a good one. Freeing up access to the airwaves to a broader range of voices within the country could do much to lessen the influence of a station like Sahar." Khadija Ismayilova, RFE/RL, 2 July 2009. Yes, there is nothing like pluralism in a country's domestic media to deflate interest in foreign broadcasts.

Jordan revokes Al Alam and Press TV press credentials.

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Jordanian authorities have revoked the press credentials of Iran's Arabic-language news network 'Al-Alam', offering only a vague explanation. Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communication Nabil Sharif said the news network had been ordered to stop reporting from Jordan because it was not 'officially registered with the concerned authorities'. Al-Alam, however, dismissed the claims, saying that it had applied for a license six months ago and that it had been working in the country with the full knowledge of Jordanian authorities. In a similar move, Jordan revoked the press credentials of Iran's English-language news network Press TV, claiming that its license 'had expired a month ago and they did not apply for renewal.'" Press TV, 2 July 2009.

Comparing Iran 2009 to Hungary 1956 (updated).

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Imagine the obloquy that would greet Obama if he were to champion the demonstrators and help to create a bloodbath, as Radio Free Europe did during the 1956 Hungarian revolution, when it encouraged Hungarians to revolt by assuring them that they had backing of the West, which they didn't." Jacob Heilbrunn, TPM Café, 19 June 2009.
     "The old Soviet theocracy (with communist ideology the 'supreme leader') used tanks to crush the Hungarian revolt in 1956. Statements by American politicians, and broadcasts by Radio Free Europe, misled the Hungarian freedom fighters into thinking that they could expect military support from the United States if they continued their defiance of the Communist regime. We were not about to confront the Soviet Union in Hungary, any more than we are about to send troops to Iran." Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Washington Post, 20 June 2009.
     "Presidents dealing with foreign uprisings are haunted by two historical precedents. The first is Hungary in 1956, in which Radio Free Europe encouraged an armed revolt against Soviet occupation -- a revolt that America had no capability or intention of materially supporting." Michael Gerson, Washington Post, 21 June 2009.
     "Two of the more shameful episodes in our history involved giving people fighting repressive regimes the false hope that the U.S. would assist them. In 1956, the U.S., principally through Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, gave encouragement to the Hungarians to rebel against their Soviet overlords." Robert Robb, The Arizona Republic, 21 June 2009.
     Update: "As a Foreign Service officer, I interviewed dozens of recent Hungarian refugees as the revolution was collapsing. Not a single one mentioned that RFE played any role in inciting them to revolt." William Lloyd Stearman, letter to Washington Post, 28 June 2009. See also A. Ross Johnson, Hoover Review, Fall 2007.
     More comparisons of Hungary 1956 and Iran 1989: OhMyGov!, 22 June 2009. -- Cox Newspapers, 23 June 2009. -- Editorial, Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2009. -- Huffington Post, 23 June 2009. -- The News Leader (Staunton VA), 24 June 2009.
     See previous posts on 13 November 2006, 31 October 2006, and 24 August 2008.

Iran media update for 4 July 2009.

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"We can expect a flurry of activity in the U.S. Congress to fund further expansion of VOA’s Persian News Network and RFE/RL Radio Farda. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joseph Lieberman are strong supporters of such expansion, and such action should receive bipartisan support. Is this 'interference' in Iran’s domestic affairs? Of course it is, but we should have no qualms about this type of intervention. It is very different from offering financial support to Iranian NGOs or even Iranian resistance movements. What broadcasting does is to impose more transparency on autocratic regimes who believe their populations should be spoon-fed propaganda." Geoffrey Kemp, National Interest, 30 June 2009.
     "Alex Vatanka, a senior Middle East analyst for the Britain-based Jane's Publishing Group, says that compounded official anger about Western broadcasts to Iran when it was already the target of broadcasts by Voice of America's own Persian News Network. 'They're clearly upset about the creation of the BBC Persian [TV] Service. And that TV station has been playing a very unique role in many ways. It's not to say that Voice of America Persian Service hasn't done it. But Voice of America Persian Service has been there for a long time. The [BBC] Persian Service Section is a newly launched, relatively newly launched service. From day one, the Iranian authorities have been complaining about the creation of this channel,' he said." Gary Thomas, VOA News, 2 July 2009.
     "There are new underground newspapers being passed among protesters and cropping up on the Internet. ... They appear to be getting round a tightening media clampdown at home by having news and information sent from Iran compiled and posted by journalists abroad." RFE/RL News, 1 July 2009.
     "Final dispatch" from anaymous Tehran correspondent: "And on the thirteenth day Michael Jackson died. Voice of America and BBC Persian are back up, if intermittently, and we crowd around like the rest of the world for the latest news. It is almost a relief. Being a full-time revolutionary is hard work, difficult to sustain. Seeing the non-stop coverage, the obvious distraction of his passing, we grimly joke that Michael was a martyr for the cause. At least he had the decency to delay his death until the worst violence had already passed.", 1 July 2009.
     "Any Iranian foolish to put her hopes in this most fickle of constituencies that is the Tweeter must have begun to doubt the wisdom of such an approach as short attention spans inevitably set in and, most devastatingly of all, the death of Michael Jackson stole the headlines." George Ciccariello-Maher, CounterPunch, 3 July 2009.
     "At first glance, the situations in Poland [1989] and Iran [2009] are radically different when it comes to how protesters get their messages out. The use of Facebook, Twitter, and countless other powerful Internet tools are prime examples. So are the government's efforts to block such technologies at key moments. Although the instruments are different, Solidarity and earlier Polish activists nonetheless know all about this contest. They used earlier tools such as clandestine printing presses to churn out leaflets, underground newspapers, and publications; the government tried to find them and shut them down. The Poles smuggled messages to Radio Free Europe, the BBC, and VOA, just as Iranians are trying to get their messages to satellite TV and radio stations, which Tehran tries to jam. Since the protesters are young and often a step ahead of the government in terms of how to operate whatever the technology of the moment is, it's close to impossible to shut everything off." Andrew Nagorski, Newsweek, 30 June 2009.
     "Recently, the Canadian envoy to Iran was called in and admonished by Iranian officials for contributing to the destabilitization of the regime because of support for social networking tools, like Twitter and Facebook. ... The Iranians' furor was ignited by the work of our company, Psiphon, which is based in Canada and has actively engaged in a campaign to help Iranians bypass their country's filters and exercise basic human rights of access to information and freedom of speech." Psiphone co-founders Ronald Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski, National Post, 30 June 2009.
     "Shortwave radio broadcasting to Iran is a must. The regime is confiscating satellite dishes and destroying them daily to prevent access to news from the outside. But people who own satellites constitute a minority. The great majority of Iranians listen to the radio in their cars, at work and at home. We need help to establish shortwave broadcasts to Iran." Arash Irandoost, Arutz Sheva (Israel), 1 July 2009. Kol Israel is already transmitting in Farsi to Iran, that station's last remaining shortwave broadcast. See previous post.
     "Here are six reasons why the situation in Iran cannot be reduced to simplistic headlines or Twitter feeds." Jalai Ghazi, New America Media, 2 July 2009.
     "A reporter for Newsweek magazine who was arrested in Tehran has confessed to doing the bidding of Western governments, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported Wednesday. Maziar Bahari, 42, made his alleged confession at a news conference Tuesday. Because international journalists have been limited in their ability to gather news in Iran, CNN has not been able to confirm the agency report. Fars reported that the Canadian-Iranian reporter who had worked for the BBC and England's Channel 4 network admitted having filed false reports for Newsweek during the elections -- a charge the magazine rejected." CNN, 1 July 2009.
     "Iran's police chief says a doctor who was present at the death of a young Iranian woman during opposition street protests in Tehran is under investigation by both Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and by the international policy agency Interpol. ... Contacted on July 2 by RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Interpol said it had not received any requests from Iranian authorities for information or assistance related to Hejazi or Neda's death." RFE/RL News, 3 July 2009.
     "Adnan Hassanpour, a Kurdish journalist whose death sentence was quashed in August 2008, was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison by the court in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj that retried his case, Reporters Without Borders has learned from his family. ... He wrote about the very sensitive Kurdish issue for the magazine Asou, which has been banned by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance since August 2005. He also worked for foreign media such as Voice of America and Radio Farda, which broadcasts in Farsi to Iran." Reporters sans frontières, 2 July 2009.

The far side of the digital divide is not necessarily Camelot.

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"The use of these Web 2.0 technologies - rich internet applications that encourage user collaboration, interaction and contribution - are being carried over to the Obama administration, in a number of areas. They are being used to elicit citizen responses in the administration's efforts to make the government more open and responsive and as part of White House and State Department public diplomacy programs. ... For the State's Alec Ross, the biggest obstacle to public diplomacy efforts is the digital divide - the sparse adoption of broadband internet connections in many parts of the developing world. 'Whenever you push a message through new media you are excluding an important segment of society,' he said. 'But the government can’t wait for ubiquitous access to broadband to take advantage of web technologies.' One way to bridge the digital divide is to provide rich media adaptable to smart phones, according to Ross. 'People will far likely be accessing the network through a smart phone than a laptop in the developing world,' he said. Ross also believes that US public diplomacy efforts could drive demand for internet access around the world. 'Obama putting an online video out there targeted to Persian speakers will make them want to go online,' he said." Peter A Buxbaum, ISN Security Watch, 1 July 2009. I think Persian speakers wanted to go online, and in fact many already were, before President Obama's video. But here's the thing about the digital divide: A scant three decades ago, people in many countries had radios with shortwave bands (shortwave was used for their domestic broadcasting). They could hear their moribund state-controlled domestic broadcasting service, or they could tune to BBC and VOA. That was it. Now, when these people cross the "digital divide," they will have access to tens of thousands of sources of news, entertainment, gossip, and disinformation. BBC, VOA,, and State Department Facebook and Twitter accounts will have to compete with all that.

A billion people bumping into another billion people because the first billion were watching their mobile TVs.

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"So mobile TV is losing its momentum - or is it?" Matteo Berlucchi - CEO of Livestation, "a company that just built an iPhone app to bring BBC World to consumers in 16 European countries. ... 'I think that is a significant game changing situation because instead of having to set up deals with hundreds of operators around the world, a news channel can go directly through six or seven devices and hit, virtually, a billion people around the world.' Big numbers, but then the mobile industry has seen projections of that sort before.", 2 July 2009.

And what the viewers select will appall managing editors worldwide.

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"1Cast, the revolutionary broadcast platform that delivers up-to-the-minute news video to subscribers' smartphones and the web, today announced that Al Jazeera English, the first English-speaking global news channel headquartered in the Middle East, is now available via the 1Cast service. ... 1Cast is a digital newsstand that gives viewers more control over the content they consume. Viewers simply select the topics they care about most, and 1Cast delivers up-to-the minute newscasts of video clips from leading news sources... ." 1Cast press release, 1 July 2009.
     "News Corp.'s Fox Business News and Al Jazeera English have inked deals with 1Cast, a video news aggregation site, to provide 'up-to-the-minute' news clips. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed. The companies did not disclose how much content FBN and Al Jazeera will contribute to 1Cast but a spokeswoman for the startup said 'it is a substantial amount for all of the networks.' Multichannel News via Broadcast Newsroom, 1 July 2009.

Al Jazeera English enters "the world's most important English-language cable market."

Posted: 04 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"On 1 July 2009, media relations between the Arab world and the United States will take a fascinating turn. For the first time, the Doha-based TV station Al Jazeera will bring its English-language news service to a large cable television audience in America, beginning in Washington, DC and then moving to other US cities. As the company’s director general, Wadah Khanfar, recently explained, the station is now expected to reach 2.3 million American viewers through MHZ Networks, a DC area cable TV provider, and has the potential to effect significant change in US-Arab relations. Though Al Jazeera International launched English-language programming in November 2006, it was not picked up by major US cable providers because of the widespread view that its coverage went against American objectives." Mohamed Elmenshawy, Global Arab Network, 1 July 2009. Al Jazeera English (it never identified itself as "Al Jazeera International" on the air) is available 24 hours as one of the ten digital subchannels of MHz Networks in the Washington area, serving "the Washington, DC area's 4.9 million residents" (see blurb) via terrestrial and cable signals. (We can now see it in our house using rabbit ears, a 14-year-old television, and digital converter box. Reception is usually successful, though DTV is an iffy proposition). MHz Networks' Worldview channel is nationally distributed to 23 million households. (See Worldview blurb.) Its schedule includes Al Jazeera English news Monday through Friday at 10 p.m., at least in the Washington area. The Worldview national schedule shows Russia Today at that time. Perhaps that schedule has not been updated, or perhaps MHz Networks is afraid to include that hour of AJE in national distribution for fear of losing some cable affiliates. See also MHz Networks press release, 1 July 2009.
     "Despite maintaining a base of operations in Washington, 24-hour carriage in the US market has proved elusive for AJE, which launched in 2006 and is available in more than 100 countries." Digital Production Middle East, 1 July 2009.
     "Al Jazeera English is available in 40 countries, including Israel, but it’s the first time Al Jazeera English (AJE) has entered such a large US market, generally acknowledged as the world's most important English-language cable market." Menassat, 2 July 2009. Our family is too cheap to subscribe to cable in the "world's most important English-language cable market," hence our rabbit ears.

Approval for Al Jazeera English access to Canadian cable "expected" (updated).

Posted: 03 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"One of the longest running and most contentious debates in Canadian broadcasting is coming to an end with the expected approval by federal regulators to allow Al Jazeera's English television network to be carried here. Sources close to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission indicate that Al Jazeera English, the international spinoff of the Qatar-based Arabic language news network Al Jazeera, will likely be cleared for Canada this summer, possibly within weeks. The move comes after a push to bring the English version of Al Jazeera to Canada, which saw the news network take the unusual step of sitting down with its opponents this spring to work through concerns about its programming." Globe and Mail, 29 June 2009.
     Update: "Canadian Jewish groups have indicated that they will not oppose the arrival in the country of the English version of Al-Jazeera. The move comes after an aggressive campaign to bring Al-Jazeera English to Canada, which saw the network take the unusual step of consulting both the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith Canada in February to work through concerns about its programming. ... Tony Burman, a former executive of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. who is now managing director of Al-Jazeera English based in Doha, Qatar, has proposed that his consultative committee meet every six months to discuss the network's on-air content to ensure that there are no major concerns." JTA, 30 June 2009.
     "A CRTC spokesperson said the commission does not categorize comments into for or against but glancing at the website where they are available it's evident the majority of them are in favour of bringing Al Jazeera English to Canada. ... The CRTC has not released a date for its decision but Burman said if all goes well, he expects Al Jazeera English to be available in Canada by the fall, when it would then set up a bureau here." Toronto Star, 2 July 2009.
     "With due respect to the sensitivities involved, there is no logical reason to deny the application. Any wrongdoings by Al-Jazeera in the past were limited to its Arab-speaking arm, which is independent of the English language division." Editorial written by Howard Elliott [no relation, though the same name as my father and brother], Hamilton (ON) Spectator, 3 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBG members: future, present, and past.

Posted: 03 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"There's some buzz that the White House is preparing a new slate of nominees to send to the Senate for openings on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the folks who guide Washington's overseas PR outlets, such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, the Martis and Radio Free Asia. ... We're thinking Obama's likely pick for BBG chairman, former Time magazine top editor and author Walter Isaacson, now head of the Aspen Institute, will have a bit of a challenge on his hands. For example, there's the BBG inspector general's recent blast at the more-important-than-ever Persian News Service, which noted 'confusion and sometimes . . . conflict' there because 'none of the executive producers speaks Persian,' though all the managing editors do." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 17 June 2009.
     "As part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, [Steven] Simmons, 62, an entrepreneur who over the years has acquired and expanded cable television systems, helps oversee the $717 million budget for five entities that broadcast in 60 different languages and reach more than 175 million people around the world each week. Simmons also runs the committee that oversees Voice of America. 'The objective is to provide fair and balanced news to people that do not have a free press in their society, and also to show what a free press is really like and offer programming about America, it's institutions, policies and people,' said Simmons. That has been especially important in Iran where, according to research Simmons cited, 1 in 4 adults watch the Persian News Network at least once a week. 'We have to emphasize we have absolutely not taken sides in the Iranian election,' Simmons said. 'We have not tried to stir things up in any way. Our journalists have been simply doing what good journalists do, which is report what is happening.'" Greenwich (CT) Time, 30 June 2009.
     "Simmons, who founded a telecommunications company and sits on a federal board that oversees the administration of the Voice of America, told several dozen Norwalk Republi-cans that he is 'thinking of running' against U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd next year and will decide 'within a month.'" The Hour (Norwalk CT), 15 June 2009.
     "Westwood One, Inc. announced today that Norm Pattiz will continue as Chairman of the Board of Directors for two more years. 'As the founder of Westwood One, I am delighted to be staying on as Chairman of the Board to work with Rod Sherwood and the management team as they drive the Company's business,' said Pattiz. ... Mr. Pattiz served on the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the United States of America from 2000 - 2006. The BBG oversees all U.S. non-military international broadcasting including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Worldnet Television, Radio and TV Marti and the Middle East Broadcasting Network." Westwood One press release, 16 June 2009.
     The Library of Broadcasting has announced its 2009 class of 'Giants of Broadcasting.' They [include] Norman J. Pattiz, ... founder and chairman of Westwood One, America’s largest radio network company, which owns, manages or distributes NBC Radio Network, CBS Radio Network, the Metro Networks, CNN Radio and is the nation’s largest producer of news, sports, talk and entertainment programming. ... As chairman of the [BBG] Middle East committee, Pattiz was responsible for conceiving and launching Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television." Radio World, 30 June 2009.

US international broadcasting: three brushes with history.

Posted: 03 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
Yuri Olkhovsky, 1930-2009: from "1964 to 1983, he worked part time as a broadcaster and writer for the Russian Service of Voice of America, and in 1983, he took a two-year leave from GWU to be deputy director of Radio Liberty in Munich. Radio Liberty was a government-funded station established during the Cold War to broadcast behind the Iron Curtain. When Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn was exiled to the West in 1974, he told reporters that he had been amazed at the amount of straight news on Voice of America. The broadcaster he often heard was Dr. Olkhovsky." Washington Post, 2 July 2009.
     "Baritone saxophonist Jack Nimitz died June 10, 2009 at his home in Studio City, California. ... The first time I heard him was on a Brunswick LP (circa 1953) by THE Orchestra, an outstanding ensemble led by drummer Joe Timer and fronted by disc jockey Willis Conover who would later earn fame as host of an enormously popular nightly jazz radio program heard around the world via shortwave on the Voice of America." Jack Bowers, All About History, 1 July 2009.
     Actor Ryan O'Neal: "In the late ‘50s, [his] family relocated to Germany, where Blackie O’Neal was working as a writer on Radio Free Europe broadcasts. Ryan graduated from Munich American High School in 1959. That same year, he made his TV debut as a stunt man in the German TV series, 'Tales of Vikings' (Syndicated, 1959-1960), which both his parents were working on at the time." bio, evergreen.

A very optimistic hypothesis about public diplomacy into Iran (updated).

Posted: 02 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Many argue that Israeli military action will cause Iranians to rally in support of the mullahs' regime and plunge the region into political chaos. To the contrary, a strike accompanied by effective public diplomacy could well turn Iran's diverse population against an oppressive regime. Most of the Arab world's leaders would welcome Israel solving the Iran nuclear problem, although they certainly won't say so publicly and will rhetorically embrace Iran if Israel strikes. But rhetoric from its Arab neighbors is the only quantum of solace Iran will get." John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, 12 June 2009.
     Update: "Those who oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons are left in the near term with only the option of targeted military force against its weapons facilities. Significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that such an attack is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people. This was always true, but it has become even more important to make this case emphatically, when the gulf between the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the citizens of Iran has never been clearer or wider." John R. Bolton, Washington Post, 2 July 2009.

CNBC gets new outlet in Taiwan.

Posted: 02 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC ... Asia Pacific added to its pan-Asian distribution by launching on TFN Media’s newly formed digital CATV service, 'New TV'. The channel will be available to subscribers from today, July 1, 2009. TFN Media is wholly owned by Taiwan Mobile Co., Taiwan’s leading mobile operator, carrying over 6.5 million mobile subscribers and 550,000 cable subscribers in the market. With the launch of 'New TV', TFN Media targets to hit 100,000 subscribers in 3 years time." Media Research Asia, 1 July 2009.

China backs off on filtering software (updated: maybe not).

Posted: 02 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"China has delayed indefinitely a much-criticised plan to force manufacturers to bundle Internet filtering software with personal computers sold in the country, in an abrupt retreat hours before the policy was due to start. ... The 'Green Dam' plan ... had been assailed by critics of censorship, industry groups and Washington officials as politically intrusive, technically ineffective and commercially unfair. ... At a time when China's ruling Communist Party appears increasingly sure of its powers to master the economy, society and the Internet, the retreat was a vivid reminder that this sprawling government can stumble on its own ambitions." Reuters, 30 June 2009.
     Update: "China's controversial plan to install Green Dam internet filtering software on all computers will go ahead despite being postponement, a government official told state media today. The official said it was only 'a matter of time' until the software was installed." The Guardian, 2 July 2009.

"Kremlin may tighten up internet use in Russia."

Posted: 01 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Russia is not China. And so far there has been no attempt by the Kremlin to crack down on the web, which is the last remaining source of free information for ordinary Russians in an otherwise controlled media landscape. The authorities keep an iron grip on television, ensure that most newspapers toe a pro-government line, and keep critics off the airwaves. Recently, however, there are signs that the Russian government is reconsidering its laissez-faire attitude towards the internet, especially in the wake of Iran's web-driven 'green revolution'. Several Russian bloggers who have posted critical articles have found themselves charged with extremism. One is in jail. ... The Kremlin also uses other darker strategies for getting its PR message out, employing dozens of young, patriotic bloggers to flood chatrooms with a pro-Kremlin message, and to attack its enemies." Luke Harding, The Guardian, 30 June 2009. International broadcasters are largely excluded from rebroadcasts on Russian television and radio stations (except for some medium wave channels in Moscow). This article does not mention any blocking of websites, so the internet remains the most viable medium to get information into the country. For now.

If you are of the Twitter persuasion,

Posted: 01 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
you can now "follow" posts to this website at As for the trademark Twitter question, "What are you doing?," I'll probably answer that only about once every Halley's Comet.
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