Richard Sambrook leaving, Peter Horrocks is successor as director of BBC Global News.

Posted: 30 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Richard Sambrook has just tweeted (at about 1100 UTC): "It's official: I'm leaving the BBC after 30 years." He is Director of BBC Global News, which presides over BBC World Service and BBC World News.
     Update at 1120 UTC: "Peter Horrocks will succeed Richard in February as Director Global News. We are combining the post of Director Global News and Peter’s present position Director World Service. Peter will be responsible for all the BBC’s international news services - the World Service operations across thirty-two language services, World News television in English, and the international news interactive offering on" Announcement to BBC staff by BBC deputy DG Mark Byford. See full text of the announcement.
     "It has been a joy to work with hugely talented teams and individuals across the BBC and in particular in the last few years in the World Service and Global News. Their commitment to strong impartial, independent News, which I've been proud to support, develop and defend, remains as important today as it has ever been. And with audiences for the BBC' international news as high as they have ever been (238 million each week), it's a good time to step off. ... Next year I will spend some time as a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University before taking up a new role, outside journalism and broadcasting, in the spring. More of that in due course." Richard Sambrook, his SacredFacts blog, 30 November 2009, 1115 UTC.
     "Horrocks, the former head of the BBC's multimedia newsroom who took over at the World Service in April, said the fusing of his job with the global news role would 'necessarily mean some organisational changes which we will decide in the new year'. ... [E]arlier this year the BBC shelved plans for new TV services targeted at south-east Asia and parts of Africa because of the tough financial climate. 'To have impact in journalism you have to be in television,' said Sambrook in April. '[But] we have to be realistic. We are unlikely to get a significant increase in funding.'" John Plunkett, The Guardian, 30 November 2009.

Management change at BBC Arabic.

Posted: 30 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Given the growing importance of future media for BBC World Service – of which BBC Arabic is part – Head of BBC Arabic, Hosam El Sokkari, is to spearhead work for BBC Arabic on the editorial development of user-generated content and social media initiatives. This will be a full-time project and means his current managerial and editorial responsibilities will be managed by the newly appointed Head of Middle East Region, Liliane Landor. In his role as Head of BBC Arabic, Hosam will continue to represent and support BBC Arabic international relations activities. As Head of Middle East Region, BBC World Service, Liliane Landor is now editorially and managerially responsible for broadcasts and future media in Arabic. ... Director of BBC World Service, Peter Horrocks, says: 'User-generated content and social media present a rapidly evolving area. Hosam, who has been at the forefront of the development of multimedia content for international audiences in the BBC, is ideally suited to this important aspect of our future.'" BBC World Service press release, 27 November 2009. See previous post about BBC Arabic news editor who went to Al Jazeera English.

Unser Sandmännchen: East German international broadcasting success story.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sandman, the lovable puppet figure who first flickered across East German television screens in November 1959, has now turned 50. No matter what his guise, Sandman has always enjoyed a vast following on German tv, with more than 1.5 million children - ages ranging from two to eight, tuning in every night from 6.50 to 7pm to watch his latest exploits before going to bed. ... During the Cold War years, children on both sides of the Berlin Wall had a bonus of two Sandman programmes - one in the East, the other in the West, both conceived with a few weeks of each other. But it was always the eastern Sandman which enjoyed most popularity. Kiddies had little difficulty identifying with Sandman (East), whereas his western counterpart was thought by some to have a slight whiff of authority about him, and a nonchalant attitude towards violence. After German unification in 1990, rumours spread that the 'East's' Sandman, a brainchild of skilled puppet maker Gerhard Behrendt who died aged 76 in 2006, was about to be axed. ... Instead, the axe fell on the western Sandman in 1991." Clive Freeman, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 29 November 2009. See also

Russia Today: official channel of the global warming doubters.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"It only took CNN six days to notice the growing international scandal known as Climategate, and when it finally reported on the matter, it predictably did so by downplaying the significance. Maybe even more embarrassing for the supposedly 'Most Trusted Name In News,' Russia Today did a far better job of detailing what happened at Britain's Climate Research Unit and how the global warming debate is impacted by it." Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, 26 November 2009, with links to CNN abd RT video.
     "Here, here and here are a few more spots from RT, Russia Today. They are actually pretty good and somewhat cautious. The points are well made. More honest and open than I would have expected. It almost seems that they are playing both sides and watching the fun." Kirtland Griffin
,, 26 November 2009.
     "Remember the good old days when people used to make jokes comparing the New York Times to Pravda, and it was considered an insult to the New York Times? Now, the publishers of The Pentagon Papers have suddenly decided that the 'public’s right to know' does not extend to things that damage the editorial page’s political stance, while Russian TV hosts important public debates. ... In this upside down world, the only good public debate on Climategate broadcast anywhere other than Fox News, is on something called Russia Today. Alice, please check in, Wonderland is calling." David Forsmark, Newsreal blog, 28 November 2009.

BBC partner FM station in India no longer carries BBC programs.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio One 94.3 FM, one of the most entertaining radio stations in the Indian region has announced recently that it will now stop playing the entertainment content from BBC World [Service]. Radio One 94.3 FM is a joint venture between Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd and BBC Worldwide to promote BBC World Service’s entertainment content. BBC World Service is a content company and is different company from BBC Worldwide which has invested in Radio One. ... 'We are delighted that we were able to support and pre-popularize BBC World Service entertainment content in its attempt to seek monetization in the metro markets. The time has come where they have found a paying customer and so we are discontinuing the free to air BBC entertainment capsules as agreed earlier' said, Vineet Singh Hukmani, Managing Director, Radio One 94.3 FM. He further adds, 'We continue to be a joint venture company with BBC Worldwide and will help the BBC brand in any manner whereever they may need support in India. We look forward to the day when news opens up on private FM and Radio One and BBC Worldwide will play a crucial role together in the news space.'" Rishali Yadav, MediaMughals, 27 November 2009.
     So apparently BBC World Service has found an Indian FM station, or perhaps a satellite provider, to purchase and carry its programs. They would have to be soft infotainment type programs, because India does not allow Indian private FM stations to broadcast news, either their own or from foreign sources. For BBC World Service news, Indians must listen by shortwave or via the internet. It would be interesting to know what proportion of Indians uses each means to do this.
     With no BBC content on Radio One 94.3, the BBC Worldwide partnership seems now purely to earn income for the BBC, rather than to further the BBC's presence in India. Unless the partnership is kept in place in case Indian regulations change, and BBC is allowed to rebroadcast its news on Indian FM stations.

Guyana revamping shortwave to cover its interior.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Guyana's "National Communications Network (NCN) is revamping its shortwave transmission system that will see the return of radio signals to interior locations and nearby countries. NCN Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Sattaur told Stabroek News that the process is being facilitated by the relocation of the company’s radio transmitter... [T]he relocation process should be officially completed before the end of the year. He said the company will use the relocation opportunity to revamp and modernise shortwave radio, making it more powerful on the air. It has also moved to procure new equipment for this purpose. The new move means that people in interior locations would again hear radio and at different periods of the night countries close by would also be able to listen to NCN. The shortwave system was down for some time and so service to those locations were suspended." Stabroek News (Georgetown), 21 November 2009. Shortwave DXers in North America will also hear, some nights, the resumed shortwave service.

A very old shortwave joke.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The joke goes that in the 1960s an African leader visited the Queen in London. He was witty and wise, and his English was perfect. However, he started each sentence with a series of whistles and clicks. When asked where he had learnt English, he said, 'Click, click ,whistle, whistle, click The BBC World Service'. For anyone under the age of 20, I’ll explain that the BBC World Service used short-wave radio and that the quality of the sound was, invariably, poor with numerous ticks, clicks and whistles as you tuned into the programme. It is, perhaps, insightful that I need to explain the source of this joke. Most people now know only FM radio, a part digital signal, that is now even losing market share to DAB and Internet radio, digital signals. Digital signals do not have the same attenuation as analogue signals and so do not have the clicks and whistles of analogue radio." Test Chimp, Unthinkable, 27 November 2009. Instead, digital signals drop out completely if conditions are not perfect. And analog FM is so infrequently afflicted by "clicks and whistles" that many radio listeners see no reason to buy a DAB receiver. Analog shortwave is not so bad either, with proper frequency management and a good receiver.
     CBC television anchor Peter Mansbridge "said much of his journalism training was self-taught. 'I had to teach myself how to write and how to interview. I listened to the shortwave radio and to other broadcasters from different parts of the world [and] I learned about different interviewing styles.'" Natalie Sequeira, The Varsity (Toronto), 26 November 2009. See previous post about Mansbridge.

Canada's approval of Al Jazeera English, and reaction thereto (updated).

Posted: 29 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the three years since its launch, the English-language spinoff of Mideast news network Al Jazeera has been airing on cable and satellite in more than 100 countries, including the United States and Israel. Now it's coming to Canada. Yesterday, the CRTC gave the green light to the Qatar-based network Al Jazeera English, noting it 'will expand the diversity of editorial points of view in the Canadian broadcasting system.'" Globe and Mail, 27 November 2009.
     "The CRTC slapped no conditions on the approval for Al-Jazeera English, in contrast to 2003 when it green-lit the Arabic-language al-Jazeera service for Canadian carriage, but ordered cablers and other content carriers to edit out violence or potential hate messages. No Canadian content carrier has yet taken up the expense, or bother, of editing the Arabic Al-Jazeera service as a condition of carriage." Hollywood Reporter, 26 November 2009.
     "Having watched AJE a few times, I can attest that its left-wing, mildly anti-American tone isn't that much different from a lot of the fare that you'd hear on, say, CBC Radio's The Current. (No surprise, in fact, that AJE has become a home for several ex-CBCers, including former TV host Avi Lewis and his one-time boss, Tony Burman.) Even the Canadian Jewish Congress and similarly minded groups were hard-pressed to find examples suggesting AJE had a human-rights-challenged editorial agenda. The future addition of AJE to Canadians' satellite and cable menu is a welcome development. But I'd prefer to see the CRTC truly open the information floodgates. AJA should be permitted in Canada, full stop -- and relieved of the electronic leash collared on it five years ago. If some of the material shocks Canadian viewers, all the better: It'll open our eyes by exposing us to a tiny thimbleful of the propaganda that many Muslim cultures are soaked in 24/7." Jonathan Kay, National Post, 27 November 2009. Basic facts about Al Jazeera. National Post, 26 November 2009.
     "The Canadian Association of Journalists welcomes the CRTC's announcement today that Al Jazeera English can broadcast in this country. 'We're pleased that the CRTC has chosen to strengthen the diversity of news choices available to Canadians, enabling them to become better informed about the world,' said CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch. 'Allowing Al Jazeera English to broadcast on our airwaves is a big step toward serving our diverse population with news from parts of the world that just don't get covered in Canada today.'" CAJ press release, 26 November 2009.
     "Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) welcomes the news today that the CRTC has approved without any restrictions the addition of Al Jazeera English Television to the lists of eligible satellite services for distribution on a digital basis in Canada. ... 'We hail this decision as an indication that Canada welcomes access to a diversity of opinions and sources of news.'" CJFE press release, 26 November 2009.
     "'We are obviously very pleased with the recent decision by the CRTC,' announced Tom Woodley, President of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME.) 'We are also pleased with the role that CJPME was able to play in terms of encouraging this approval: we helped introduce Tony Burman to Canadians through two public events, and we also encouraged many of our adherents to submit official letters of support to the CRTC.' CJPME believes that AJE will bring much-needed variety and perspective to the Canadian news market, as AJE is known to provide far more extensive coverage from the Developing World than other international news stations.'" Exchange (Waterloo ON), 26 November 2009.
     "Both [the Canadian Jewish Congress] and B'nai Brith [Canada] have said they would remain vigilant about the content of Al-Jazeera's English service." Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 26 November 2009.
     "Khaled Mouammar, national president of the Canadian Arab Federation, called the arrival of Al Jazeera English 'long overdue.' 'This will allow Canadian viewers to have alternative sources of news, especially from Al Jazeera, which has very capable reporters in many countries,' he said." Toronto Sun, 26 November 2009.
     "Tony Burman, the former head of CBC News who is Al-Jazeera English's managing director, said he believes Canadians will welcome the international news service. 'We're now seen in more than 180 million households in more than 100 countries. The political baggage that is associated with Al-Jazeera is really limited to the United States and thankfully no longer in Canada. I think the brand of Al-Jazeera is respected around the world,' he told CBC News on Thursday. 'It's is not obsessed at all with the Middle Eastern stories, as important as they may be. You'll see Africa, you'll see North America, you'll see Asia. You'll see countries and, dare I say, even continents that are often not even mentioned in North American media today. I think Canada, as one of the most multicultural countries in the world, I think will appreciate that.'" CBC News, 26 November 2009.
     Update: "At the very least, it will serve as a nice counterpoint to the Fox news feed from the U.S. Balance, you can't beat it." Montreal Gazette, 28 November 2009.
     "Canadian viewers can benefit from Al Jazeera's different take on conflict, stories on poverty and other issues. Al Jazeera's coverage provides a unique take, more context and deeper analyses, that is important for North American and Canadian audiences. While most of the major North American news networks have embeded with invading forces in recent conflicts, AJE is famous for its fearless, unembedded reporting behind civilian lines and covering the true costs of war for ordinary people. There is an enormous difference between AJE and other global news services on their coverage of war and peace-building and therefor there is a value of having such a news outlet in Canada, particularly with the recent allegations of Canadian troops handing over Afghan detainees to torture. ... Canadians can tell cable and satellite companies to carry AJE by visiting" Walied Khogali, coordinator of Canadians for Al Jazeera, and Anita Krajnc,,, 27 November 2009.
     "Canadian companies are interested in the channel. 'We’d negotiate, and if the deal works for us, then we’d look at adding it to our services for sure,' said Mark Langton, a spokesman for Bell Canada, the country’s largest telecommunications company. He said the channel would be logically introduced alongside other news services included among its more than 500 channels. Rogers Communications, Bell’s largest competitor, said it was assessing the channel." Blake Lambert, The National (Abu Dhabi), 29 November 2009. See previous post about same subject, with link to the CRTC announcement.

Marketing awards for BBC Worldwide, CNN International.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide Channels Asia has scooped nine awards at the PROMAX|BDA ASIA 2009 Asia Awards held in Singapore on Tuesday. This is the largest haul of awards since the channels – BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC Entertainment – launched in Asia in 2007. BBC Worldwide Channels Asia picked up three gold awards for creative work relating to the Amaze Your Mind brand campaign for BBC Knowledge... ." BBC Worldwide press release, 26 November 2009.
     "CNN International was the only media owner to collect Gold in the first annual Internationalist Awards for Innovative Digital Marketing Solutions with the ‘My South Africa’ global advertising campaign for South African Tourism. In a competition where the total number of entries represented 24 countries, ‘My South Africa’ was one of only two Global campaigns to win a Gold award." Press release via News on News, 27 November 2009.

CEOs asked to send their "very best young people," and 2,700 quid.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Inaugural One Young World Summit will take place in London in February 2010, and will be guided by, among others, no fewer than three Nobel Peace Prize winners. The event will provide an arena for businesses to engage with the next generation of leaders - working with them to meet their vision of the future and becoming their best ally for the future. CEOs of major companies are being asked to send the very best young people from their organizations (or NGOs they support), as delegates. Each delegate place costs £2,700 ( €3000) which is all-inclusive (return travel, accommodation, catering, visas, insurance, etc). Counsellors guiding the discussions include [the no fewer than three Nobel Peace Prize winners and] Richard Sambrook (Director; BBC World Service and BBC Global News). ... BBC Global News will broadcast live from the Summit on ‘World Have Your Say’ (broadcast in 32 languages, reaching worldwide audiences of over 100 million). The BBC will also be following delegates on their journey from application to attending the summit itself and an additional 40 international news agencies will be sending journalists to the summit." UTalkMarketing, 25 November 2009. Oh, to be a young people again. Of course, I was never "very best" or even just "best." Occasionally I made it to fully adequate. And, on the subject, isn't the "very best" journalism value free?"

In Paris, re Tibet, French broadcasters taken in for breakfast.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese Tibetologists Delegation held a Chinese and foreign media breakfast meeting on Nov 25 in [Paris], capital of France, with France Television Group, France radio stations, Toute lactualite avec Liberation, CCTV, Xinhua news agency, China Radio International, People’s Daily and Phoenix TV in attendance. Chinese Tibetologists introduced the development of Tibet based upon their own experiences and answered questions raised by journalists." China Tibet Online, 27 November 2009.

Worldspace satellite radio finds subscribers via satellite television.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Thanks to DTH provider Bharti Airtel, satellite radio broadcaster WorldSpace’s subscriber base has tripled in the last few months to around 4.5 lakh [450,000]. AirTel Digital TV — the direct-to-home service arm of Bharti Airtel — offers WorldSpace channels to its subscribers. 'When other DTH service providers chose to offer AIR (All India Radio) FM channels, we went in for WorldSpace. This is our key differentiator,' says Mr Sugato Banerji, Chief Marketing Officer of AirTel DTH. Currently, AirTel offers 10 WorldSpace channels — Farishta (old Bollywood songs); Moksha (wellness and lifestyle); Gandharv (Hindustan classical); Spin (international pop); Upcountry (Western country music); Shruti (Carnatic music); Spandana (Telugu); Sonar (Bengali); Umang (Gujarati); and Falak (Urdu). ... Though these channels are chargeable at Rs 10 a month (for all the 10 channels), 'they are bundled into our Rs 200-package and above,' says Mr Banerji. The annual bill works out to Rs 120, compared with Rs 2,000 that WorldSpace charges for 40 channels. Once AirTel gets more transponder capacity, it 'will consider carrying all the channels'. According to him, even with these limited channels, AirTel actually added more subscribers for WorldSpace than the broadcaster managed to garner since its launch in India, directly." The Hindu, 26 November 2009.

Decision about BBC on FM in Pakistan moved to "higher level."

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Rebroadcast of BBC programmes on local FM radio stations was ... submitted to the [Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra)], which thereof decided that this was an important policy decision. Therefore, the Pemra should seek advice from the federal government at higher level.", 26 November 2009. This would be on a network of private FM stations in Pakistan. VOA Urdu (Radio Aap ki Dunyaa) is already on Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) FM stations. The relay of VOA's Pashto-language Deewa Radio via PBC's medium wave transmitter near Peshawar was short-lived, off the air since October, with any resumption yet to be determined.
     "The head of the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat Valley has claimed he has escaped from a dragnet set up by government forces and slipped into Afghanistan. ... 'I have reached Afghanistan safely,' he told BBC Urdu. 'We are soon going to launch fully fledged punitive raids against the army in Swat.' The notorious cleric, known for his fiery exhortations delivered by FM radio, has been on the run since government forces ousted Taliban fighters from the valley, less than 100 miles from Islamabad, earlier this year." Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, 18 November 2009.

Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women reported by international broadcasts, "even by" RFE/RL.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"To mark the 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Ban Ki -Moon unveiled a newly created network of men to execute his plan. ... And in Jordan, the UN says 43 per cent of women are victims of abuse. Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh met some of them." Al Jazeera English via The Trentonian (NJ), 26 November 2009, with link to video.
     "Happy International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women! Sorry to spoil your Thanksgiving preparations, but November 25 is indeed the day. You'll find hardly a word in the U.S. press about this worldwide observance that gets play elsewhere, even by U.S. government outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Nevertheless, it's the 10th anniversary of this campaign." Ward Harkavy, Village Voice, 25 November 2009. Refers to Breffni O'Rourke, RFE/RL, 25 November 2009. Also reported by Margaret Besheer, VOA News, 24 November 2009.

Radio Farda breaks story of Nobel peace medal reportedly seized by Iranian authorities.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran has confiscated the Nobel peace medal and diploma of Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer who is one of the hardline regime’s most outspoken critics. ... She revealed the loss of her Nobel medal in an interview on Radio Farda, a US-backed Persian language station. She said that the regime had frozen her bank accounts and pension, as well as those of her husband, who is still in Tehran." Martin Fletcher, The Times, 27 November 2009. Refers to story by RFE/RL, 20 November 2009.
     "Controversy is growing over the reported seizure by Iranian authorities of human rights activist Shirin Ebadi's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. Ebadi disclosed the seizure of her Nobel medal and the freezing of her bank accounts by the Iranian government during an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda. The Nobel Committee and the Norwegian government are backing Ebadi and criticizing the seizures. But Iran's Foreign Ministry today is denying that Ebadi's Nobel award was taken." Ron Synovitz, RFE/RL, 27 November 2009.

This week's VOA jazz.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Inspired by the jazz program on Voice of America, trumpeter Valery Ponomarev grew up in the Soviet Union with dreams of playing with Art Blakey's famous Jazz Messengers. Ponomarev defected to the States in the 1970s, and eventually fulfilled his ambitions, spending several years with the legendary drummer." Sriram Gopal, dcist, 25 November 2009.

Canadian stringer for France 24 freed after captivity in Somalia (updated).

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday, a day after being released in Somalia following 15 months of captivity. ... Lindhout said Wednesday that she was kept in 'extremely oppressive' conditions that included torture and beatings. A freelance television and print reporter from Sylvan Lake, Alta., Lindhout was usually based in Baghdad. ... On Aug. 20, 2008, Lindhout arrived in Mogadishu to work for French TV channel France 24." CBC News, 26 November 2009. The France 24 website has two stories from news agencies about Lindhout's release, but neither mentions that she was working for France 24.
     Update: "One journalist generous in her help of others is Nairobi-based Voice of America reporter Alisha Ryu. She has taken many risks and has the scar on her neck from a Baghdad bombing as proof. She is in and out of Somalia and knows the terrain intimately. 'I think she [Lindhout] probably should have reached out to people who had been there. The situation in Somalia changes almost on a daily situation,' says Ryu." Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star, 28 November 2009.
     Lindhout "worked for Press TV in Baghdad, where she was once briefly detained in the violent Sadr City neighborhood -- an incident that left her with a scar." AFP, 26 November 2009.

Worst "Idea of the Day."

Posted: 28 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Idea of the Day: Provide Better Coordination for U.S. Public Diplomacy Work.' Our ability to communicate U.S. objectives to countries around the world is supported by our public diplomacy efforts. These programs include communications initiatives such as the Voice of America, exchange efforts such as the Fulbright fellowships, and direct work by the State Department’s public diplomacy officers. The U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication guides public diplomacy in the State Department. The State Department must have a clear plan for meeting the U.S. government’s overall strategic communication objectives ... The Government Accountability Office noted earlier this year that it has repeatedly recommended that State develop an agency-wide plan 'to integrate its diverse public diplomacy activities and direct them towards common objectives,' but the department has thus far not followed this recommendation." Center for American Progess, 24 November 2009, with link to a longer paper on the subject.
     Washington's think tank fellows are always yearning for organization charts that even they can understand. But they don't understand how successful international broadcasting works. Audiences listen to VOA for news that is more reliable than what they receive from their state controlled domestic media. If that news is coordinated, integrated, and directed "towards common objectives," it will lose its credibility and lose its audience. Doing such a thing to the news does not seem very "progressive."

Are German WWII broadcasts in Arabic still having an effect? (updated)

Posted: 27 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Between 1939 and 1945, shortwave radio transmitters near Berlin broadcast Nazi propaganda in many languages around the world, including Arabic throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and Persian programs in Iran. English-language transcripts of the Arabic broadcasts shed light on a particularly dark chapter in the globalization of pernicious ideas. The transcripts' significance, however, is not purely historical. Since September 11, 2001, scholars have debated the lineages, similarities, and differences between Nazi anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism of Islamic extremists and present anti-Semitism of Islamic extremists. These radio broadcasts suggest that Nazi Arabic-language propaganda helped introduce radical anti-Semitism into the Middle East, where it found common ground with anti-Jewish currents in Islam." Jeffery Herf, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 November 2009.
     University of Maryland Professor Jeffrey Herf's latest book is Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, Yale University Press, 2009.
     Attention graduate students of mass communication and history. Here is a good topic for a seminar paper. Professor Herf draws a line between Nazi broadcasts to the Arab world and present "anti-Semitism of Islamic extremists." How Many Arabs in the pre-war-to-WWII era has shortwave radios? If only elites had access to shortwave radios, then some sort of two-step flow was involved. Imams addressing their congregations would be a plausible second step in that flow. But is that what happened?
     Update: Agostino Pendola writes: "In reference to your comment on how many Arabs had SW radio in the early '40s, I quote a passage from 1941 New Statement, as reported in George Orwell's War Broadcast Introduction by W.J. West- (Penguin, London, 1985). 'The listening public in India must not be judged with the number of Indians with radio sets since considerable groups of Indians listen-in to every private set and coffee shop set'. Probably the same thing could be said for Arabs. Even in Italy at the times people used to listen to radio in groups." After I wrote my comment above, I realized that I should have mentioned group listening. But I also realized that on of my good readers would make that point for me.

Senator Feingold would zero out Radio/TV Martí as part of his "Spotlight on Spending."

Posted: 27 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, announced the launch of his 'Spotlight on Spending' series to highlight actions Congress can take to reduce the deficit. ... The first featured provision is the elimination of the Radio and TV Martí program: ... Deficit Reduction: $300 million over ten years 'This relic of the Cold War attempts to broadcast radio and TV signals into Cuba that virtually no one tunes in to,' Feingold said. "Government studies show that Radio and TV Martí are riddled with problems, and fall short of journalistic standards. As we progress toward a more modern and constructive relationship with Cuba, Radio and TV Martí no longer have any real diplomatic or fiscal purpose. I plan to bring up this issue when the Senate takes up President Obama’s recently announced nominees to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.' ... The political environment has changed significantly since the inception of Radio and TV Martí, and President Obama's commitment to international diplomacy and dialogue offers a more effective way to engage with the people of Cuba. The Obama administration has already loosened restrictions on Cuban Americans' visits to Cuba, and the White House and Congress are considering easing travel restrictions and other ways to normalize relations." Senator Feingold website, 23 November 2009. Easing travel restriction might help "engage with the people of Cuba," but for providing uncensored news to Cuba, there is still no substitute for international broadcasting. See my comments in previous post.
     "Anti-Castro Florida Republicans in Congress zealously guard the appropriations. But Mr. Feingold’s press release noted that Radio and TV Marti reportedly have small audiences at best, partly because of Cuban government jamming efforts." Jackie Calmes, The Caucus blog, New York Times, 23 November 2009.
     "Radio Marti began its broadcasts on May 20, 1985, in a flagrant violation of all international regulations regarding radio-electric transmissions. Meanwhile, TV Marti began transmitting on March 27, 1990, during the administration of George Bush Sr." ACN Cuban News Agency, 25 November 2009.

Alhurra's Hajj coverage: "one of the first times a woman has reported live from the pilgrimage."

Posted: 27 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Engy Anwar will take her Al Youm co-hosting duties to Saudi Arabia as she anchors Al Youm live from the Hajj. This is one of the first times a woman has reported live from the pilgrimage to Mecca. Al Youm viewers will have live updates throughout the program from the scene during this important event. ... Al Youm's coverage will include a profile of an American family as they prepare for the Hajj, preparations undertaken by the Saudi government, the story of an Afghani couple’s pilgrimage after nearly dying at the hands of the Taliban and an interview with a tour guide as he prepares to lead 2000 people to Mecca as they take this personal journey." Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. press release via Broadcasting Board of Governors, 20 November 2009.
     "Brian Conniff, president of the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN), recently reaffirmed his belief in the potential of the young Alhurra satellite station, which was launched by MBN in February 2004, 'at a difficult time in the middle of the Iraqi war and when anti-American sentiment was running high,' he said. ... Supporting his statement, research by AC Nielsen suggests that Alhurra is attracting 27.7 million viewers weekly. Conniff moved on to explain that being funded by the U.S. does not mean the channel is being told what to say or do by the government, and doesn’t entail bias in favor of America: '… Even in the early years we broadcast criticism of America… we broadcast a lot of information about the Abu Ghraib prison and how people were held accountable. Once the full story is covered, it shows America, warts and all,' he said, implying that viewers should watch the channel and draw their own conclusions, instead of following critics blindly. In 2009, and within its efforts 'to provide objective, accurate and relevant news and information to the people of the Middle East about the region, the world and the U.S.', Alhurra launched a new program entitled Al Youm, in line with its mission and vision. ... Al Youm’s viewers are rooting for the show, and along with praising its uniqueness and originality, they have come to express their approval of the program through Al Youm’s Facebook group, showing that Al Youm has lifted Alhurra’s standing in the eyes of the public in an impressively short time." Press release apparently by Euro RSCG Corporate Communications ME via ME NewsWire, 23 November 2009.

CNN reports on RFE role in the Velvet Revolution.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"As part of its week-long coverage of the twentieth anniversary of the 'Velvet Revolution', CNN International (CNNi) correspondent Phil Black interviewed several RFE personalities, including President Jeffrey Gedmin, former Czechoslovak Service Director Pavel Pechacek, Radio Azadi Director Akbar Ayazi and Central News senior correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari. The piece can be viewed on CNNi's website. The segment reviews the role RFE played in providing live, uncensored coverage of the tumultuous events in Prague of November 1989 and looks at the work RFE/RL is doing today to bring free media to places like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan." RFE/RL press release, 23 November 2009, with link to CNN video.
     Another look at the falsely reported death of Martin Šmid in Prague, 1989, in The Independent, 22 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

UK opinion leaders place BBC World Service as one of top thought leaders.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
The 2009 Thought Leadership Index, a poll of 1,000 opinion leaders in the UK, puts BBC World Service in third place (tied with the Prince's Trust) among non-profit thought leaders. First is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and second is Help for Heroes, serving wounded veterans. Sunday Telegraph, 21 November 2009. See also TLG Communications Ltd, 24 November 2009, with link to summary of results.
     "A poll of 1,000 opinion leaders found radio had more influence than any other media on corporate reputation. Television came second and print third, while online languished in fourth place. ... The research suggests radio owes its primacy to the BBC ­Radio 4 Today programme, which was seen as having far more impact on a company’s reputation than any other media title." TLG Communications Ltd, 26 November 2009.

Canadian regulator approves Al Jazeera English for digital distribution, and other Al Jaz news.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
The Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission (CRTC) "approves a request to add Al Jazeera English (AJE) to the lists of eligible satellite services for distribution on a digital basis and amends the lists of eligible satellite services accordingly. ... The Commission received a large number of comments addressing the request to add AJE to the digital lists. Over 2600 parties filed comments in support of the request, approximately 40 parties filed comments in opposition, and 7 offered general comments. ... The Commission notes that, while some parties raised concerns about the possible broadcast of abusive comment on the service, these allegations were not substantiated by evidence such as transcripts or tapes, as mentioned in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2009-254. Accordingly, there is nothing on the record of the current proceeding to lead the Commission to conclude that there is a serious risk that abusive comment will be broadcast on AJE. The Commission notes, however, that it has the power to remove AJE or any other non-Canadian service from the digital lists if, after an appropriate process, it is found to have broadcast abusive comment." CRTC, 26 November 2009. See also Toronto Star, 16 November 2009.
     "An official in the Saudi Defense and Aviation Ministry has said that Al-Jazeera TV reports about massive movement of Saudi forces towards Yemen were false, unethical, and meant to serve forces hostile to Saudi Arabia and Yemen." Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia) via MEMRI Blog, 25 November 2009.
     "Alaa Mubarak [son of President Mubarak] ... criticized Al Jazeera news channel, saying the Qatari network intentionally played a part in escalating the [soccer related] conflict between Egypt and Algeria." Los Angeles Times, 25 November 2009.
     "Al Jazeera Sports has bought the rights to Arab Radio and Television’s (ART) sports content, including next year’s FIFA World Cup, in a deal estimated to be worth more than US$1 billion." The National, 24 November 2009.
     "We’ve been developing our mobile TV service for the past two to three years. We believe the future of news lies in mobile and that cellular networks will provide the access point to this big cloud of content, which users will be able to access on-demand." Yacine Messaoui, Al Jazeera manager of technology and future media department, interviewed by Digital Production Middle East, 22 November 2009.
     "British TV personality David Frost is being honoured at the 37th Annual International Emmy Awards for a wide-ranging career that has taken him from pioneering political satire on television to conducting serious interviews with former President Richard Nixon and other newsmakers. ... He currently is hosting the weekly programme Frost Over the World on Al Jazeera English." UK Press Association, 22 November 2009.

French court dismisses suit by NTDTV against Eutelsat.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Nov. 17 the Paris Commerce Court dismissed the case against France-based satellite company Eutelsat filed by their client, New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), an independent Chinese-language television network which broadcasts over mainland China. NTDTV paralegal Joseph Breham said there were no legal grounds for the judge's decision. NTDTV had contended that it was removed from Eutelsat’s satellite because of pressure from Chinese authorities who objected to some of its coverage. The court reached the decision on the grounds that there is no direct contractual relationship between NTDTV and Eutelsat. NTDTV says they will appeal the decision." Renjing & Zhou Yifei, The Epoch Times, 19 November 2009.
     Sound of Hope "was founded in 2003 by a group of Chinese human rights activists, most of them practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline. Its base is in San Francisco, with offices in New York and around the world. It broadcasts into China eight hours a day [on shortwave], getting by on a skeleton staff and shoestring budget. ... Media with the backing of Western governments like the BBC, Voice of America, and Radio Free Asia have all been broadcasting shortwave into China for years, but SOH says it can bring something new to the table. 'Westerners see China a certain way; they have their own thoughts about the CCP leadership and so forth. We’re a bit clearer, go a bit deeper, and we achieve a bit more.'" Matthew Robertson, The Epoch Times, 18 November 2009. NTDTV, SOH, and The Epoch Times are associated with the Falun Gong movement.

Livestation 3.0 includes premium version of Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Livestation, which streams live news from a range of international sources via browser and desktop player solutions, on Monday announced the launch of version 3.0 of its desktop software. New features, according to the company, include: ... Subscription-based premium channels: ... the channels are delivered in three different quality levels--'low or "Internet cafe" mode, medium for everyday watching, and high for standard-definition and plasma viewing'--and will shortly also offer adaptive bitrate support. The first company to offer a premium channel on Livestation is Al Jazeera English." Interactive TV Today, 24 November 2009. See also AJE appears still to be available free in lower resolution.

VOA, BBC, DW via redesigned website in Bangladesh.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bangladesh's first online newspaper, now offers audio-visual content, more features and introduces, for the first time, opinion and comment from all points of the compass. ..., partnered with Thomson Reuters, also broadcasts BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle news.", 24 November 2009. At the top of the home page are the BBC, DW, and (old) VOA logos, with links to audio streams.

"60 Minutes" in Australia owned by Ten, segments on Nine, might be on Seven.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Nine "is yet to put in a bid for the rights to CBS's 60 Minutes content, a program the current affairs show picks the eyes out of to boost its own local story line-up. In 2006, Ten picked up the rights to all CBS news and factual content, stripping Nine of its 40-year relationship with the US broadcaster that produces not only 60 Minutes but 48 Hours and Dr Phil. But Nine, which has been paying Ten a fee to use 25 stories a year from 60 Minutes, may be outbid by Seven. Sources say Seven has already put in an offer for exclusive use of the material and if Nine doesn't move fast, Seven's rival Sunday Night show will be even better placed next year." Amanda Meade, The Australia, 23 November 2009. The three main private commercial television networks in Australia are Seven Network, Nine Network, and Network Ten.

Australia Network available in Australia, via Playstation.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a sign of the times, ABC TV [of Australia] programs are coming to a Playstation near you. From today, the online service ABC iView will be available for Playstation3. The collaboration between ABC TV and Sony means that people in the 670,000 homes across the country who have a PS3 will be able to access ABC iView optimised for their TV screen via the Playstation Network. Watching iView through the PS3 will be unmetered by those Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) who currently offer unmetered access for ABC iView. ... In addition, programs can also by sorted by TV channel - ABC1, ABC2, iView Exclusives, Australia Network and ABC Shop Downloads." eBroadcast Australia, 24 November 2009.

Further controls over broadcasting in Fiji.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"One of Fiji's largest commercial broadcasters says the interim government's decision to revoke all of the country's broadcasting licenses does not threaten freedom of expression. Communications Fiji, which claims 60 per cent of the radio market, says it is unconcerned as the airwaves are due for a shake-up. ... The decision has been described as 'heavy handed' by Radio Australia's Manager of Rebroadcasts. ... Radio Australia is already banned and off-air in Fiji through its terrestrial radio network and FM stations." Radio Australia News, 24 November 2009. Radio Australia's terrestrial network on shortwave can easily be heard in Fiji. It is the FM access within Fiji that is denied. Also, the story does not explain why Communications Fiji, which is apparently about to lose its license, is unconcerned. See also Radio Australia Pacific Beat, 23 November 2009.

New Burmese FM stations try to distract audiences from foreign shortwave services (updated).

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In an era when much of the rest of the world finds it entertainment on the Internet, inexpensive handheld radios are still the technology of choice for most Burmese looking to take their minds off of their mundane lives. And increasingly, they’re finding the distraction they seek on local FM stations licensed by Burma’s ruling military regime. Although most programming on these stations is not overtly political—unlike the heavy-handed propaganda of the state-run media—it often serves to counter the influence of Burmese-language shortwave radio stations based abroad, which are generally highly critical of the junta. Especially since the monk-led Saffron Revolution of September 2007 and last May’s Cyclone Nargis, shortwave radio stations have become an important source of reliable, uncensored information in Burma. But at the same time that stations such as the Democratic Voice of Burma and the Burmese-language services of the BBC, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America have become fixtures in the lives of ordinary Burmese, local radio stations, usually run by municipal governments, have also become more popular." Kyi Wai, The Irrawaddy, 21 November 2009. BBC, VOA, and RFA Burmese broadcasts were popular long before the Saffron Revolution.
     Update: "One more new FM radio station will be set up soon in Shan State East’s Tachilek, opposite Thailand’s Maesai, according sources from the Thai-Burma border." Shan Herald (Chiang Mai), 25 November 2009.

Russia Today audience in Washington DC larger than international rivals, so say Nielsens.

Posted: 26 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"According to the survey by Nielsen Media Research, Washington, D.C. DMA [designated market area] TV audience prefers watching news on Russia Today TV (RT) in prime time, rather than news on Al Jazeera English, Deutsche Welle, France 24, Euronews and CCTV-9. Nielsen reported that RT's daily audience is over 6.5 times bigger than that of Al Jazeera English, the second most popular source of TV news among foreign broadcasters in the US after BBC. RT's monthly audience is 5 times bigger than that of Deutsche Welle. RT is a relative newcomer to a well-saturated TV news market, and its budget is a fraction of that of any of its competitors among international TV news broadcasters. ... RT is available to almost five million viewers in the Washington Area on the following platforms: MHZ Networks 5: Comcast Cable, Cox Cable, RCN Cable, Dish Network and Verizon FIOS TV." RusInfoService press release, 24 November 2009. Notice that the press release does not reveal the actual audience size, just how much larger the RT audience is over its international rivals.

The TV ad for Kosovo. Visit Kosovo? Buy Kosovo? No, just Kosovo.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Everyone could have come up with something better for the ad, which is being aired on world networks such as CNN, BBC World, and Bloomberg. Locals would rather see something 'that identifies Kosovo'. They are not sure what they mean by that, but they are sure that the ad lacks something. 'It lacks identity'." Krenar Gashi,, 23 November 2009. See the video at YouTube, 26 October 2009. Note that the video does not (directly) beckon the audience to visit Kosovo, or to invest in Kosovo, or to buy Kosovan products. It just establishes Kosovo as a country. See previous post about same subject.

VOA via Malta DAB.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Over 40 additional channels will be available to Maltese listeners on digital radio next year, Digi B Network Ltd's managing director Sergio D'Amico told The Sunday Times. An opera channel is currently running test transmissions, and a classic rock channel broadcasting from Malta, France International, and Deutsche Welle will also be introduced on the local network in the coming weeks. A festive channel broadcasting round-the-clock Christmas music will be launched in the next few days. Malta has seen the fastest DAB growth in the world with over 8,000 radios sold since October 2008. ... Other local stations on the network include Radio 101, One Radio, RTK, Calypso, Campus FM, Radju Marija, and 897 Bay. The international line-up features Voice of America, BBC World Service, Groove, Smooth, Top Hits and Big Country." Times of Malta, 22 November 2009.
     So what VOA English network occupies a channel 24 hours on Maltese DAB? VOA News Now has not been 24 hours for several years. Now it includes several hours of African-targeted programming and a few hours of VOA Music Mix. As for VOA Music Mix, it's actually VOA's only remaining 24-hour English-language service. Finding Music Mix at the recently redesigned VOA website is difficult (it's here), and I can't find any program schedule or information or how to listen via local affiliates. (There is a Listen Live! audio stream).

CNN's international strategy, given moribund domestic ratings.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN's executives respond that low ratings for Anderson Cooper 360 and Campbell Brown are beside the point. Advertising on prime-time shows, they say, accounts for only 10% of the company's total revenue. A widely distributed international network and a top news Web site now help drive profits. Fox News may rule the U.S., but CNN, its executives say, has conquered the world. 'The U.S. network is an important part of what we do, and it's a very high-profile part of what we do,' says Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide and the architect of the company's global approach. 'But we have experienced growth around the world and also digitally.' The global strategy, which depends on maintaining an impartial news voice, is also why controversial anchor Lou Dobbs was recently pushed out the door by CNN U.S. President Jon Klein — and why Mr. Klein will most likely not take prime-time programming in a new direction." Matthew Flamm, Crain's New York Business, 22 November 2009.

With a snipe at VOA, WIN TV begins its broadcasts to Iran.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"As Iran continues to experience a wide-ranging media filtering campaign, Washington International Network TV, a news-based satellite television channel, has launched as a way to provide unfiltered news to Iran and Iranians around the world. Funded by The Council for a Democratic Iran (CDI), an organization dedicated to promoting democracy, freedom and human rights in Iran, WIN TV is not the first Iranian news network to broadcast to Iran, but it is unique in both its mission and approach to Iran-related issues. 'Unlike government affiliated TV stations, such as Voice Of America, WIN TV has no obligation to statesmen and governmental officials and benefits from immense independence and a unfaltering dedication to pure journalism,' Behrooz Behboodi, President of CDI and founder of WIN TV, said. 'We want to convey the message of democracy to Iran and build a bridge between Iranians inside Iran and Iranians in the Diaspora on our airwaves.'" WIN TV press release, 23 November 2009. See also
     Is it providing "unfiltered news" or "promoting democracy, freedom and human rights in Iran." "Immense independence" and "pure journalism," or "conveying the message of democracy to Iran"? WIN TV is off and running ... in two different directions. The result is that it may go nowhere.

Interview with BBC Persian was evidence against former Iranian VP sentenced to prison.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iranian former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who has been sentenced to six years in prison in connection with protests over June's presidential election, has been released on bail, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday. Abtahi, who was a close aide of reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, was granted bail pending appeal of the jail term handed down by the court of first instance, the ISNA news agency reported. ... The report said the court had used as evidence posts on his web log, an interview with the BBC's Persian service and participation in a protest rally on June 15, when hundreds of thousands marched across Tehran." Hiedeh Farmani, AFP, 23 November 2009.

BBC News website has new look for international users.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"More videos, pictures and headlines – the international edition of the BBC News website revamped its front page today. The broadcaster is promoting its business and technology sections by adding pictures, as well as it putting more emphasis on video content. You can also find more headlines within the sections in the which balances the website. ... The first reaction of the international BBC users seems positive. 'I have noticed it and, appears to be in a more clearer format... And, more understandable,' said user Dennis Junior. The international front page of the BBC only includes British news if it is of world-wide interest. After taking away the possibility to choose between international or UK news frontpage last June, the BBC faced opposition to this move by British ex-pats. They found that British news was scattered across numerous pages." Mercedes Bunz, PDA blog, The Guardian, 24 November 2009. See also Steve Herrmann, The Editors blog, BBC News, 24 November 2009. This is the website that those of us outside the UK see when we type The same site inside the UK is ad- free, given that people in the UK pay the BBC license fee.

BBC online news will remain free, says BBC Trust chairman.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has today said it has 'no intention' of charging for online news, in a declaration that is unlikely to please James Murdoch and his father Rupert as they prepare to start charging for News Corporation content on the internet. Sir Michael Lyons, the BBC Trust chairman, said the corporation has 'no intention of diluting BBC commitment to universal access to free news online' as he outlined the areas director general Mark Thompson's ongoing strategic review will cover. The BBC's internet news operations came under fire in August at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival from James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation in Europe and Asia, who accused the corporation of 'throttling' the market and preventing its competitors from launching or expanding their own services online. ... However, Lyons also questioned the future of content created for online that is not directly related to specific BBC programmes, asking, 'where should the boundary be drawn' between this and 'the online expression or extension of BBC programming'?" Tara Conlan, The Guardian, 24 November 2009.
     This is mainly a BBC domestic rather than international story. It does, however, have implications for international broadcasting. If private newspapers begin to charge fees for access, internet users may gravitate towards the free content of publicly-funded entities, including international broadcasting websites -- some of which are evolving, or have already evolved, from shortwave broadcasting to internet media. Furthermore, the vast BBC internet offerings are paid for by the BBC license fee. Will users abroad, who don't pay the fee, someday have to pay for this BBC content? Or will advertisements, shown only to non-UK users of BBC internet sites, provide sufficient compensation?

BBC Worldwide to become more worldwide.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Trust has today set out a series of changes to the future remit for BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm. ... [T]he Trust notes the Executive's recommendation that Worldwide should become a more internationally facing business, and recognises the important contribution that BBC Worldwide can make to delivery of the BBC's fifth public purpose - bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK, but considers that such activity must contribute to the BBC's fulfilment of its public purposes as well as the scale of the dividend passed back to the BBC. As a specific point, the Trust would not expect to consider a commercial deal of the scale and nature of the Lonely Planet acquisition in future." BBC Trust press release, 24 November 2009. BBC Worldwide is not to be confused with BBC World Service. Worldwide has both domestic and international commercial activities and is responsible for (among other things) developing and distributing BBC's profit-aspiring channels abroad, e.g. BBC Prime -- oops, almost forgot, it's now called BBC Entertainment.

BBCWS Trust trains Palestinian journalists in marketing and research.

Posted: 25 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Around eighty Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are taking part in a series of marketing and editorial workshops organized for two weeks by the BBC World Service Trust through its 'Support to the Palestinian Media Sector’ project, funded by the European Union and the Dutch Government, BBC Trust said. In a press release issued today, BBC Trust said that the first workshops, led by expert Graeme Moreland, started on November 16, 2009. They addressed audience research and marketing. During these workshops, managers, marketing officers and programme directors learnt how to measure performance against competitors, how to develop programming and make stations more relevant and appealing to audiences and how to help convince clients to invest in advertising." WAFA Palestine News Agency, 22 November 2009. I can't find the press release, but I think it would be from BBC World Service Trust, not BBC Trust, which is the board of directors of all the BBC.
     BBC World Service Trust is ten year old, as reported in this undated item at the BBCWS Trust website.

Two international radio listeners plead guilty, and other shortwave in the news.

Posted: 24 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"A former State Department official and his wife have pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from their roles in a 30-year conspiracy to provide classified U.S. national defense information to the Republic of Cuba. ... During the time frame in which Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers were serving as clandestine agents for Cuba, the CuIS [Cuban Intelligence Service] often communicated with its clandestine agents in the United States by broadcasting encrypted radio messages from Cuba on shortwave radio frequencies. Clandestine agents in the United States monitoring the frequency on shortwave radio could decode the messages using a decryption program provided by CuIS. Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers communicated with CuIS by this method. The shortwave radio they used to receive clandestine communications was purchased with money provided by CuIS. The shortwave radio was later recovered by the FBI." FBI/Department of Justice press release, 20 November 2009.
     "How did bandleaders in New York keep up with what was going on in Cuba? RS: I remember Tito Rodriguez had a Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder hooked up to a shortwave radio, and he picked up on everything being played in Havana that night. So the next night, by the time the band played, he'd know everything that was hot coming out of Cuba [laughs]." Saxophonist-arranger Ray Santos interviewed by Marc Myers, All About Jazz, 22 November 2009.
     When the BBC Film An Anarchist's Story: The Life of Ethel Macdonald was released in 2006 it came as a bolt from the blue, bringing to light two events, both greatly hidden from history. The first was the experience of the Spanish Revolution of 1936, the second the involvement of a hitherto obscure political activist in that revolution. In a reversal of the usual pattern, journalist Chris Dolan's book has now appeared based upon the research he and others undertook for the screenplay. ... It was from Barcelona that Ethel sent her reports on the Spanish political situation to not only the revolutionary press but the Bellshill Speaker and the Evening Times. And it was from a Barcelona studio that she spoke to the world via short wave Barcelona Radio, station of the CNT. Dolan refers to Ethel's international audience, which stretched to the United States, and offers extracts from her speeches. Her frustration with the lack of action on the part of the international working class in solidarity with their Spanish brothers and sisters comes across strongly. The high profile which her broadcasts attracted brought Ethel not only to the attention of the listening world but political enemies in Spain itself." Review by Declan McCormick, Infoshop News, 18 November 2009.
     "Thanks to the latest Hollywood film Pirate Radio, Steve Young, who used to work the Kelowna airwaves back on CKOV 630 AM in the 1970s, is reliving one of the most fascinating times of his life. ... 'In 1965, I went to England to retrace my roots but had no concept of getting a job on a pirate station,' Young says. 'But a friend of mine from Calgary came to England and looked me up; he was going to get a job on one of the pirate stations. Weeks later he phoned me and told me about Radio Caroline. He gave me the name of production director Tom Lodge, and a week later I was hired.' Young was living his dream on the ship, as this thrilling vocation was something he always aspired to – even as a young child. 'I used to listen to all these shortwave stations from faraway places as a kid and tried to get a sense of the world beyond what we had on the prairies. I’d say to myself, "This is so exciting, this is what it’s all about." I’d lie there with my head back… it took you away from your existing life and took you to all these great places,' he says." Mark Stone, (BC), 20 November 2009.
     " subtitles itself 'The Web Resource for Radio Hobbyists.' It is a service of Universal Radio Inc., a radio reseller in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Consider yourself forewarned but the site is quite nonpromotional. Reflecting the minimalist aspect of shortwave and DXing, the main page is lacking in contemporary design panache. However subpages can offer many pictures of receivers/radios, old and new." Radio World, 19 November 2009.
     American Radio Relay League "Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, once termed the battle of Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) in Manassas, Virginia as the 'Third Battle of Bull Run.' While the war against harmful interference to Amateur Radio via BPL is not yet over, the battle in Manassas might soon be coming to an end. In a Special Meeting on Monday, November 16 of the Manassas City Council, the Council voted 'To allow the [City of Manassas] Utility Commission to make a recommendation to the [Manassas] City Manager as part of the FY 2011 Budget regarding the decision to continue offering Internet service; additionally, staff was instructed to discontinue all marketing and advertising of Internet service.' This motion passed 4-2. ... According to ARRL Lab Manager and BPL expert Ed Hare, W1RFI, the only way that BPL can avoid causing harmful interference to licensed radio services 'is to have sufficient filtering of the BPL signal on locally used spectrum. State-of-the-art BPL equipment can achieve 35 dB of filtering easily. This level of suppression of BPL noise has been shown to be a good general solution to avoid widespread interference problems. In residential areas, it is common to find people using Amateur Radio, Citizens Band and international shortwave broadcast spectrum.'" ARRL, 19 November 2009.

Would you pay $10 a month for DW-TV? (updated)

Posted: 23 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bright House Networks is making 10 foreign-language pay channels from International Media Distribution available to digital cable subscribers in the Orlando, Fla., area. Comcast-owned IMD said Bright House on Thursday (Nov. 19) is adding: TV5 Monde (French) for $9.99 per month; Deutsche Welle (German and English), $9.99; RAI Italia (Italian), $9.99; Channel One Russia, $14.99; Antenna Satellite ($14.99); Saigon Broadcasting Television Network (Vietnamese-American), $14.99; The Filipino Channel, $11.99; TVK (Korean-American), $12.99; TV Japan (Japanese), $24.99, and ART (Arabic), $12.99." Multichannel News, 18 November 2009.
     Update: Shaw Cable in western Canada offers 18 channels of multicultural programming, "in languages such as Punjabi, German, Spanish and Japanese. Shaw offers the current multicultural programming: Asian Television Network, B4U, Alpha Punjabi, Fairchild, Odyssey, TV Japan, The Filipino Channel, All TV, ATN Cricket Plus, Deutsche Welle, Raitalia, Sony Entertainment Television, Phoenix (Vancouver only), NDTV (Vancouver only), Talentvision, TV Polonia, CBN and TLN en Espanol. TV Polonia offers Canadians programming from Poland, including local broadcasting from Warsaw and two Polish radio stations available for $24.95 per month. CBN focuses on programming from the Caribbean, and includes programs from Africa. The network also features a large amount of cricket for sports enthusiasts. It is available as a Pick and Pay Channel for $14.95 per month. TLN en Espanol offers programming in 100 per cent Spanish and is available for $7.95 per month." Digital Home, 18 November 2009.

Will Sirius Satellite Radio "export" via Worldspace?

Posted: 23 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin made an appearance on Fox News (on the Neil Cavuto show) and chatted about the undoubted progress Sirius is now making following on from its near-death brush with bankruptcy. ... 'Good content costs a lot of money. After paying [on-air talent], and interest, and all our other expenses we will be generating free cashflow next year,' he said. 'Free cashflow creates wealth, and enables us to make acquisitions, buy back stock, and pay down debt.' Cavuto, unfortunately, didn't ask him what shape those acquisitions might take. We can speculate, or to use the non-journalism phrase, guess! And our non-scientific speculation revolves around the role John Malone's Liberty Global has taken in Sirius (a potential ownership stake of 40%) and Liberty's role in international pay-radio operator Worldspace. Worldspace operates the Afristar (a beam of which covers Europe) and AsiaStar satellites. Liberty Global is now holding all of Worldspace's debt obligations, and is likely in January to be confirmed as the official buyer of Worldspace. The question is whether Sirius would want to buy a revitalised Worldspace international operation, and ‘export' its services outside the USA. It already has a joint-venture operation in Canada." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 18 November 2009.
     "We need a 24/7 television channel - at least one - dedicated to classical music. Worldspace Radio has done a singular service to Indian classical music with its full-time channel Radio Gandharva. The economics have to be worked out." Musician Salil Bhatt interviewed by Screen (India), 20 November 2009.

RFI on FM in southern Sudan, and other French international broadcasting news.

Posted: 23 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio France Internationale (RFI) began transmitting in south Sudan on FM, on 90.4. Broadcasting began with programmes in English and in French and broadcasts in Arabic are due to begin at the end of the week. The move follows a broadcasting agreement with between the French Government owned radio and the Government of Southern Sudan. RFI’s Khartoum correspondent, Stephane Aubouard, is based in Juba for the launch where he’s leading training workshops for journalists from south Sudan for the next two weeks." Sudan Tribune, 21 November 2009.
     "The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) has published a new French-language biography of veteran journalist and prominent pro-democracy activist Win Tin. The book, titled 'Une vie de dissident,' was written by Radio France International correspondent Sophia Malibeaux and is based on a series of interviews with Win Tin in Rangoon." The Irrawaddy, 17 November 2009.
     "Christine Ockrent from France's 24 network showed up [at the Monaco Media Forum] to moderate a conversation between Arianna Huffington and Axel Springer chief Mathias Dopfner. But her grilling on the importance of real NEWS -- fact-based, expensive, professional -- made it clear she had little patience for Huffington Post's mix of gathered, reported and contributed content. Then, as the news of Lou Dobbs' resignation from CNN was mentioned, she responded, 'Thank God.' Strange presuming that everyone in the room felt as she did. So much for objectivity." Steve Rosenbuam, Huffington Post, 17 November 2009. It's France 24, not "France's 24 network," further indicating that the channel, always identified audibly as "France vingt-quatre," has a branding problem. Christine Ockrent is director general of France 24.

Czech MP concerned about human rights suit stemming from RFE/RL dismissal.

Posted: 22 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"A Czech MP has warned that an anti-discrimination claim against the Czech Republic in the European Court of Human Rights launched by a Croatian journalist is damaging the country’s reputation. Snjezana Pelivan took her case to the Strasbourg court after she was sacked by the Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) – which is financed by the US Congress - five years ago claiming that the Czech Republic failed to protect her rights. Now Czech MP Vaclav Exner has written to Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer about the case. ... Exner warned the case 'applies potentially to over three hundred RFE/RL Prague employees who are not Czech or American citizens' and that what he says is a discriminatory employment 'policy of the Company' did not exist when RFE/RL was located in Munich, Germany, prior to its relocation to Prague, and is not used presently in any of RFE/RL 19 foreign bureaus." Croatian Times, 20 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL (and VOA) on the unpronounceable name of the new EU president.

Posted: 22 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"EU's first full-time president, Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy, doesn't exactly quicken the blood of the Brussels press pack. But there is one thing at least about van Rompuy that people find worthy of debate: how to pronounce his name. A sample of news broadcasts runs the gamut from 'Rom-poy through 'Rom-Pay' to this correspondent's personal favorite, 'Rompy.' ... Voice of America's pronunciation guide suggested something that sounded like 'Roop-eye.' But that got the thumbs-down from one Dutch speaker, Geert de Proost, the representative of the Flemish government in the United Kingdom. 'No, that's not correct,' de Proost said. 'It's "van Rompuy" -- it's "-uuye."... "Y" has to be read as an "I" in Dutch. So that makes the sound "Romp-uuye."' One final call, to van Rompuy's office. Sadly, we didn't get to hear the pronunciation from the horse's mouth. Or from his spokesman, the splendidly named Dirk de Backer. But his spokesman's secretary, Marie Claes, obliged. [audio] Sadly, those Dutch sounds don't transliterate easily into English." Kathleen Moore, RFE/RL, 20 November 2009.

Rep. Royce's comments to "closed-door hearing" about broadcasting to North Korea broadcast by RFA.

Posted: 22 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is facing new calls to step up pressure on North Korea, ending the isolation of its people. Citing recent comments from North Korean defectors that Pyongyang particularly fears international radio broadcasts, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce told a closed-door hearing Wednesday that the White House still has time to make a difference. ... 'North Korea is being forced open, slowly but surely,' Royce said, calling for a concerted international communications strategy to help North Koreans bring about change in their own society. 'Radios, cell phones, and computers are getting into North Korea, undermining its propaganda at home, including through communications with the refugees,' Royce told a briefing on North Korean human rights called by the congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. He cited a North Korean defector who told Radio Free Asia’s Korean service that 'the North Korean government’s biggest concern is international radio broadcasts,' including broadcasts by congressionally funded RFA. North Korean media remain among the most tightly controlled in the world, and unauthorized access to nongovernment media can result in criminal charges and severe punishment."
Song-Wu Park, Radio Free Asia, 18 November 2009.
     My comments in the previous post also apply here. US international broadcasting should preserve its credibility by leaving the promotion of regime change to the several exile stations transmitting into North Korea.
     VOA and RFA Korean broadcasts are already a combined ten hours per day. Any expansion would be into hours when North Koreans are less likely to huddle around their radios for news from outside. More shortwave and, if available, medium wave frequencies would help, though.

     Floor statement recognizing the 60th anniversary of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Rep. Ed Royce website, 3 November 2009.

Highlighting is for hair, not for journalism.

Posted: 22 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"[D]espite the party’s co-opting of urban elites, there remains, in influential intellectual circles, discussion of the need for greater liberalization, highlighted last year by an online petition called Charter 08 that called for building the rule of law in China. An effective American China policy, then, should balance greater acceptance of Beijing’s rising power with a demonstration that, despite China’s rising influence, the US is not going to back off core beliefs, such as human rights advocacy. Washington also must recognize that trade and investment alone will not open up Chinese politics; the US could focus on areas where Beijing, though increasingly sure of itself, remains weak - such as providing technology for Chinese bloggers to get around Internet filters, or highlighting the vast problems of rural Chinese society (both Voice of America and Radio Free Asia have extensive Chinese broadcasts which penetrate rural China)." Joshua Kurlantzick, Boston Globe, 22 November 2009.
     VOA and RFA also penetrate urban China. Their shortwave signals may be more difficult to receive than in rural China because of the electrical noise of cities causing radio interference. These days, in China, the internet is surely more popular than shortwave radio. But with the former thoroughly blocked, shortwave may be a more successful way to get information from abroad.
     "Highlighting" is not something a credible news organization should do. US international broadcasting does cover domestic Chinese affairs, and that would include rural China, and that would include the "vast problems of rural Chinese society." But lest the station be perceived as a "gotcha" broadcaster focusing on the problems of the target country, balance is achieved by covering the rest of the world, and the United States, including the inevitable problems in those places. This would work as an international broadcasting strategy, because Chinese audiences, while perhaps interested mainly in China, are also interested in the rest of the world.
     This is why I advocate the consolidation of US international broadcasting. Radio Free Asia covers China well, but it lacks balance, at least geographically. VOA covers world and US news, as well as domestic news about China. VOA thus has more balance, but it does not have the resources that RFA has to cover China. Merging the two would combine the strengths of both stations, improve balance, and, by eliminating duplication, save the US taxpayers' money.

Much larger than expected response to BBCWS Trust English-by-mobile project.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"More than 300,000 people in Bangladesh, one of Asia’s poorest but fastest-growing economies, have rushed to sign up to learn English over their mobile phones, threatening to swamp the service even before its official launch on Friday. 'We were not expecting that kind of response; 25,000 people would have been a good response on the first day,' said Sara Chamberlain, the manager of the discount service. 'Instead, we got hundreds of thousands of people.' The project, which costs users less than the price of a cup of tea for each three-minute lesson, is being run by the BBC World Service Trust, the international charity arm of the broadcaster." Maija Palmer and Amy Kazmin, Financial Times, 13 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "Having worked for more than 30 years in the BBC World Service English-teaching output (latterly as head) I was always astonished how little interest the British press and public took in the passionate desire of non-native English speakers to learn their language. But the would-be English speakers could see how English was becoming the Latin of our days. Though 300,000 is certainly a lot of Bangladeshis it pales in comparison with the 100m Chinese in the 1970s and 1980s who were said (by the Chinese authorities) to be watching the BBC/German TV/China Central TV co-production, Follow Me." Barbara Goldsmid, letter to Financial Times, 21 November 2009.

Garth Ancier departing as president of BBC Worldwide America.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide America President Garth Ancier is stepping down and becoming an advisor to the company, the network says. Ancier, the former president of entertainment for NBC and co-chairman of The WB, had been president of BBC Worldwide America since 2007. The company says he will remain in his current role until March, 2010, before taking on a non-executive advisory role. BBC Worldwide America includes the BBC America cable channel, a home entertainment division, a production arm as well as sales & distribution and digital. Under his leadership, Ancier saw BBC America grow its distribution to 65 million homes, doubled its primetime ratings with imports such as Top Gear, Primeval and Torchwood and increased profits by 78% by bringing ad sales in-house. He is also responsible for the creation of BBC World News America, the Washington Based nightly newscast created specifically for the U.S. audience." Alex Weprin, Broadcasting & Cable, 19 November 2009.
     "There is no word on his replacement, with a search in its initial stages, but the ranks of BBC Worldwide America include former BBC Fiction controller Jane Tranter, who was one of the most prominent TV executives in Europe before coming to run BBC Worldwide America's production arm under Ancier a year ago. ... During his career, he rarely has stayed in one place for long. Ancier served as the first president of programming at Fox, then took on the same responsibilities at another fledging network, the WB. His resume also includes stints at NBC -- where he had a rocky tenure as entertainment president -- Turner Broadcasting and a second tour at the WB." Nellie Andreeva, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 November 2009.

"Executive shakeup" at Al Jazeera English includes hiring of BBC Arabic news editor.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera's English-language news channel has embarked on an overhaul of operations including an executive shakeup. Tony Burman, the al-Jazeera English managing director, has written to staff outlining an initiative called AJE: The Next Frontier and announcing the appointment of Salah Negm as director of news. Negm is currently news editor at the BBC's Arabic television service in London and a veteran of al-Jazeera's Arabic network. The present al-Jazeera English director of news, former ITN man Al Anstey, will become director of media development on the new project. ... The shakeup has unsettled staff at the Qatar-run broadcaster following a number of high-profile departures over the past year and increased fears that the network is aiming for integration between the hitherto separate Arabic and English-language bureaux. Sources warned that the latest moves have all the hallmarks of previous al-Jazeera appointments that have effectively sidelined executives who then went on to leave the company." Chris Tryhorn, The Guardian, 20 November 2009.
     "One of the great strengths of al-Jazeera English is how throughly they treat international policy questions. There’s a way of doing a story about leaks as pure pageantry, and they avoided that pretty much altogether. I also like the idea of opening up the segment at the end to viewer comments a great deal." Spencer Ackerman, Attackerman blog, 20 November 2009.
     "YouTube today announced a new Shows section of its site for UK users, bringing together in one place full length programming and clips from Channel 4, BBC Worldwide, ITN, Fremantle and others. At launch, the Shows section includes almost 5,000 videos, of which almost 4,000 are full-length programmes, from over 60 partners, totaling over 3,000 hours. ... Among the titles included are: ... The Listening Post, The Fabulous Picture Show (both Al Jazeera)... . All programmes will be available free-of-charge. Where the content owner has enabled this, the programmes will be supported by advertising." Broadband TV News, 19 November 2009.
     "[O]n a recent program that focused on how miserably divided Palestinian society is, Al Jazeera broadcast a scathing parody of the Palestinian national anthem, 'Mawtini,' meaning 'My Homeland.' ... Palestinians are outraged, and several mainstream Palestinian newspapers have run editorials demanding an apology." Christian Science Monitor, 18 November 2009.

Obama's visit to China raises issue of internet freedom.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"China on Tuesday defended its control of information on the Internet that it deems sensitive or harmful, one day after U.S. President Barack Obama told students in Shanghai that information should be free. ... 'For the Chinese government, we hope online communications can move smoothly, but at the same time we need to ensure that online communications do not affect our national security,' Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei told reporters at a question-and-answer session in Beijing. ... Obama did not mention China's Internet policies, but his statements went beyond the views usually expressed by Chinese government officials or local media." Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service, via PCWorld, 17 November 2009.
     "Chinese Internet users gave mixed reactions to calls from visiting U.S. President Barack Obama for freedom of information online during a town-hall meeting with some of China's top university students." Radio Free Asia, 17 November 2009.
     "'I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship,' Obama said at the town hall event in Shanghai, where he answered questions from university students as well as some submitted over the Internet. 'I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have freedom of -- or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength and I think should be encouraged.' Obama's answer was carried on the front page of NetEase for 27 minutes, before being deleted by censors, according to the China Digital Times, which monitors the Chinese Internet." Reuters, 16 November 2009.
     "For two years Congress has appropriated funds to support groups that are developing ways to circumvent the Chinese firewall and those erected in Iran, Burma, Cuba and other repressive countries. ... A bipartisan coalition ... has been trying to channel the necessary funding. A total of $20 million has been included in the past two State Department budgets, and $30 million more is pending in the Senate's version of the 2010 budget. But State hasn't passed the money on to the firewall-busters." Editorial, Washington Post, 21 November 2009.
     "An anti-censorship group holding an event Sunday at the United Nations-sponsored Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, was disrupted by UN officials who demanded removal of a poster that mentioned Internet firewalls in China." Rabia Garib, IDG News Service, 15 November 2009.

New State video contest to "amplify U.S. public diplomacy." Even in the USA.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. Department of State Launches Second Annual ExchangesConnect Video Contest to Amplify U.S. Public Diplomacy: 'Change Your Climate, Change Our World. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today launched the [contest] with a video message on the ExchangesConnect social network at ... People all over the world, ages 14 and older, are invited to submit their 2-minute videos... . Two international and two American winners (one in each of the two age categories: 14-17 and 18 and older) will receive one of four Grand Prizes: an all-expense-paid two-week international exchange program." State Department press release, 18 November 2009. "Change your climate"? Aren't we supposed to be inhibiting climate change? American winners in a public diplomacy exercise? Wouldn't that annoy the late Senators Smith and Mundt? And "ExchangesConnect" would be difficult enough to say as two properly separated words, let alone smooshed together. (Don't mind me. Just being irascible on a Saturday morning.)
     Looks like I'm not the only one who is irascible: "Young people the world over are thus invited to show what they are 'doing to improve the planet' — very little of which or perhaps none at all will have the remotest relationship to the climate of the Earth." Helle Dale, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation 20 November 2009.

Alhurra report on Israeli prisoner swap cited by news agencies.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Israel and Hamas reacted cautiously on Wednesday to reports a deal to exchange hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip might be concluded by the end of this month. ... The U.S.-funded Arabic television channel Al-Hurra quoted unidentified sources as saying a German and Egyptian-mediated agreement to exchange captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for Palestinians held in Israeli jails would be clinched by Eid." Reuters, 18 November 2009.
     "Earlier Wednesday, the American Arabic-language news network Alhurra reported that a deal for the release of the Israeli soldier was in the 'last agreement' stages. According to the report, which cites 'credible sources', Shalit is slated to be released on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, which falls next Friday. The soldier will be released in exchange for "hundreds of prisoners", the network said. AP, 18 November 2009.
     "Earlier Wednesday, the US-based Arabic news network Al-Hurra had reported that a deal for Schalit's release would be underway by next week. Without citing sources, the report said that Schalit would be freed in exchange for 'hundreds of prisoners.' The report added that the soldier would return to Israel via Egypt." Jerusalem Post, 18 November 2009.
     "Also on Wednesday, Arabic-language news network Alhurra, based in the U.S., also reported that a deal for Shalit's release would get underway by next week. According to the uncorroborated report, Shalit will be released in exchange for 'hundreds of prisoners.'" Ha'aretz, 18 November 2009.
     "The Al Hurra news network claimed that Shalit will be freed before a Muslim holiday that begins next Friday, but previous rumors of the soldier’s imminent release have proven false.", 18 November 2009.
     "Following various reports of progress in efforts to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu warned Friday against believing 'disinformation.' 'We're reading a lot of things in the media, some are true, but others are disinformation,' he said in an interview with Kol Hai Radio." Jerusalem Post, 20 November 2009.
     "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said presidential and legislative elections scheduled for January will be postponed, confirming that he has accepted advice not to hold the vote. Abbas, speaking to BBC Arabic, said the Palestinian leadership would take measures to avoid a constitutional vacuum -- although he did not spell these out -- when the term of the current legislature and his term as president expire on Jan. 25." Reuters, 20 November 2009. "Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Saturday denied Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's claims that the Islamist group had held secret talks with Israel. The PA president had told BBC-Arabic on Thursday that secret negotiations had been held in Geneva." Jerusalem Post, 21 November 2009.

Pictures add to radio, even if the content is sorrowful.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
In 1976, Sarem, now of the VOA Khmer Service, "returned to Cambodia, to find her husband and her daughters. She never found them, and instead, was detained in a work camp. Later, she found out that her husband and her two daughters died during the Khmer Rouge period. Her story, in the Khmer language, is in an audio slideshow on the VOA Khmer website. We play it, with Sarem at my side. Smiling, she points at her wedding photograph on the slideshow. She points at her husband. Her daughters. Her friends. As a piece of audio, I’ve no doubt that it’s a great, moving listen: but by adding the photographs, it’s an incredibly moving experience. I bite my lip, and ask goofy questions, so I can avoid thinking about what I’m seeing, reckoning that bursting into tears is probably the wrong thing to do." Radio futurologist James Cridland on his recent visit to Washington, James Cridland's blog, 20 November 2009. See also VOA Khmer website.

National Iranian American Council versus VOA Persian.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"A series of internal emails and documents from the National Iranian American Council, headed by Iranian national Trita Parsi, released as part of the discovery process in a lawsuit initiated by NIAC, reveal a major effort by the group to 'clean house' at VOA's Persian-language service of Voice of America. Emails show NIAC using its muscle on Capitol Hill, aggressively lobbying individual members of Congress, to impose greater oversight over the radio station including 'an independent review of the organization' to address what NIAC considered 'poor journalism' and declining credibility. But the group's emails show that NIAC was far less concerned about VOA's impact on Iran than about its impact on NIAC. The leadership at NIAC perceived VOA's reporting as a threat to its own credibility, and they were determined to prevent their critics from having a voice on the station." Michael Goldfarb, The Blog, Weekly Standard, 19 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "The Iranian parliament is considering a new media outlet in response to U.S. efforts toward Iran. Iran's new media apparatus may be placed in the hands of the hardline Revolutionary Guard, strengthening that already powerful body. ... The original bill allocated $20 million for that purpose, but legislators decided to raise the amount to $50 million after hearing the U.S. Congress voted to set aside $50 million for broadcasting to Iran. Many Western media analysts complain Iran's overseas broadcasting operations are biased. The British government media watchdog OFCOM is currently investigating Press TV, which is based in London, over complaints of 'breaching accuracy and impartiality guidelines.' Press TV frequently criticizes the U.S. and British governments in its new bulletins and its criticism of Israel is invariably scathing. It also often totally ignores student protests and opposition demonstrations in Iran. Topics of discussion on Press TV are also frequently absurd. A Press TV announcer recently suggested the United States could be in the throes of a secessionist movement, claiming that Texas and Vermont want to secede from the Union." Edward Yeranian, VOA News, 16 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Former Radio Pakistan official critical of VOA relays in Pakistan.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"At a recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting the Director General, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) Murtaza Solangi said that Voice of America programmes are broadcast by his organisation under an agreement. He said that PBC Peshawar broadcasts VOA programmes for four hours a day while 11 FM channels air its programmes for one hour daily. Solangi who is said to be a friend of President Asif Ali Zardari had never been an employee of PBC nor hails from any ministry. He is however a former employee of Voice of America and now part of Pakistan government and chief executive of a sensitive organisation like PBC. A board of directors nominated by the government of Pakistan runs the organisation he heads. It is strange that the PBC board had resolved to hand over its airwaves over the sensitive tribal belt and other areas of NWFP to the Americans. In addition to using PBC transmitters, the American are also broadcasting for the area through satellite whose signals are far better and clear than PBC. Under the deal, VOA will use PBC equipment and transmitters in Peshawar, Islamabad, and Lahore to distribute VOA material in Pashto and Urdu on medium and FM waves. The federal cabinet has ratified the agreement between PBC and the VOA. Which will force millions of people in all parts of Pakistan to listen to the VOA’s popular news and information programmes as signals of other PBC stations are not stronger enough in many areas. ... The irony is that Pakistan, which disputes unverified US claims that terrorist camps exist deep inside Pakistan in Quetta and Muridke, will now be allowing a US government financed propaganda arm to say as much using transmitters owned by the Government of Pakistan and directed at Pakistani citizens. Two US propaganda radio channels, Deewa Radio in Pashto and Urdu-language program Radio Aap Ki Dunyaa will now reach more parts of Pakistan with stronger signals." Mahmood Hussain, former controller, news and public affairs, of Radio Pakistan, Pakistan Observer, 19 November 2009. See previous posts on 19 November, 12 November, and 1 November 2009.

VOA reporter in Somalia injured by gunfire after police threat.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA) reporter Mohammed Yasin Isak was shot in the shoulder Tuesday evening at around 8 p.m. while returning to his office in Galkayo, in the Mudug region of Somalia. Isak was reportedly driving to his office when he was stopped at a Puntland police checkpoint along the main road in Galkayo. He told NUSOJ that after being stopped, he was told to drive on – only to have another police officer begin firing at his car. One of the bullets pierced the window, hitting Isak in the left shoulder. He was taken to a private hospital in the city, and his condition is reportedly stable." International Press Institute, 18 November 2009.
     "In a subsequent interview with VOA Somali Service, Ishaq said he believed the shooting was related to a threat he received the day before from a local police chief, who came uninvited to a meeting of local journalists. The topic of discussion among the journalists was the increasingly tense relationship between the media and the Puntland administration. Ishaq said the police chief, Muse Ahmed Abdirahman, looked at him and said loudly, 'Mr. Ishaq, you will need to be responsible for the stories you report on VOA and you will pay the price for it.' Two other journalists at the meeting confirmed Ishaq's statement. The police chief has denied making the threat." Alisha Ryu, VOA News, 19 November 2009.

HRW calls for release of RFE/RL commentator in Uzbekistan.

Posted: 21 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Uzbek authorities should immediately release the human rights defender and farmers' rights activist Ganikhon Mamatkhanov, who is facing trial on politically motivated charges, Human Rights Watch said today. Mamatkhanov has regularly provided commentary on the human rights situation in Ferghana, in eastern Uzbekistan, to Radio Ozodlik, the Uzbek branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)." HRW News, 16 November 2009.

More 1989 and international radio.

Posted: 20 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Not without all those millions of Russians and Poles and Hungarians who tuned in to Voice of America, not necessarily to hear the news — the BBC was more reliable for that — but to hear John Coltrane and The Beatles. Yes, 'Trane helped bring down the Wall! Or rather, not 'Trane, but what he did inside peoples' heads." Jesse Larner, The Huffington Post, 17 November 2009.
     "Nestor Pradesh, formerly head of Radio Free Europe's Romanian Broadcasting Department, published in the US his book The Entangled Revolution, stressing that the particularity of the Revolution in Romania has been its violence.", 16 November 2009. Ross Johnson informs us that the author is "Nestor Ratesh, who is alive and well in Bucharest." Information about his book at the Praeger website.

International broadcasting to Czechoslovakia, 1989.

Posted: 20 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
In Czechoslovakia: "I listened to Voice of America on the radio with my father every morning and evening -- quietly, so the neighbors couldn't hear us and report us." Tomas Etzler, CNN, November 18, 2009.
     "We had information from Voice of America and Radio Free Europe and we talked about it. ... When we heard on Radio Free Europe or Voice of America that somebody had died at the demonstration, we started trying to get some information and connecting with other people we knew at different schools and learned that on Sunday people would go back to where the student supposedly died. ... My parents had no idea for I think four or five days, but then I called home because I knew my father was listening to Radio Free Europe and Voice of America religiously, so it was only a question of time before my parents would find out." Former member of the Czech Parliament Jan Bubeník, interviewed by Jo Glanville, Index on Censorhip, 17 November 2009.
     "On Friday, November 17, math student Martin Smid joined many of his friends and went to the march [in Prague], but he left the place before the police assault. A day later, he learnt that he was dead. On November 18, a woman whom Smid had never met told a group of dissidents including Petr Uhl, head of a clandestine press agency, that her friend -- a certain Martin Smid -- was killed during the police crackdown. 'We were convinced that it's true,' said Uhl, a former political prisoner, who in good faith sent the information to foreign broadcasters Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America, which millions of Czechoslovaks listened to illegally. ... On the same day, the communist television forced Smid to deny the rumour for the camera, but things were already moving too fast." AFP, 17 November 2009.
     "RFE/RL practiced sound, professional journalism. It did its best to get the story right, rather than first. It nonetheless inadvertently broadcast a false report. As the dominant broadcaster in Czechoslovakia at the time, it is understandable that reporting errors would be attributed to RFE, when other broadcasters also made mistakes. ... But there was a context. RFE broadcasts to Czechoslovakia had comprehensively covered the increasing ferment and wave of demonstrations in that country prior to and after November 17. Pavel Pechacek (thanks to inadvertence in granting him a visa by an evidently disintegrating secret police apparatus) was able to provide measured, professional reporting from Wenceslas Square during the first days of massive demonstrations when Czechoslovak television and radio were still censored.' A. Ross Johnson, former director of Radio Free Europe, Off Mic blog, RFE/RL, 16 November 2009. During the late Cold War period, VOA had the largest audience of international broadcasters to Czechoslovakia, owing in part to its medium wave transmitter near Munich.
     "Like today, RFE had very strict editorial guidelines at the time, and we stuck to them. I told my editors very clearly: inform, inform, inform. Do not let your emotions take over, stick to the facts, the people will decide themselves what to do. The most controversial case is of course the report about the alleged death of Martin Šmid. This report had a tremendous effect on the people and the dynamics of the protests, but it turned out to be false. But people like Timothy Garton Ash are wrong when he says that it was RFE who spread what turned out to be false news about the student’s death. I remember holding the news item back while other outlets such as Reuters and Voice of America were already reporting it. ... We tried to confirm the news and called hospitals and the police in Prague, but nobody wanted to really speak about it. Later in the day I decided that we would also report on it. Then, of course, a few hours later we realized that this was wrong. Martin Šmid was alive and well." Pavel Pechacek, former director of RFE/RL Czechoslovakian Service, interviewed by RFE/RL, 18 November 2009.
     "Among the audio attractions at Be Free! [exhibition in Prague] is a tape of Radio Free Europe journalist Pavel Pechácek broadcasting news of events during the early days of the Velvet Revolution directly from Prague’s Wenceslas Square. Prokop Tomek describes some of the show’s other valuable recordings. 'In the 1950s section we have some recordings from the early days of Radio Free Europe. But what I think is extremely interesting are recordings of phone calls to RFE, or actually to the agency Free Press Agency, which collected information from Czechoslovakia in the 1980s for RFE.'" Ian Willoughby, Radio Prague, 20 November 2009.
     "'The U.S. indeed did not try to provoke any revolutions,' says [Vaclav] Havel. 'They supported human rights activists and expressed solidarity with them. When American officials came here, they met with dissidents.' Havel calls the November 17, 1989 student demonstration that was forcibly put down by police, 'the snowball that triggered an avalanche.'" RFE/RL press release, 17 November 2009, with link to RFE/RL interview.
     "...they set up a special phone 'just in case the whole thing went lopsided and the secret police stormed the place.' The idea, they say, was to 'lock Vaclav Havel in a room and he could make a last call to Radio Free Europe or the BBC'." BBC News, 17 November 2009.
     "In this special edition of Discovery - part of the BBC World Service’s season of programmes marking the fall of the Berlin Wall - Tim Whewell separates the facts that have grown up around [the Czechoslovakian-manufactured explosive] Semtex, from the myths and hyperbole." BBC World Service, 19 November 2009.

This is the Voice of America. The following broadcast is in Housing. (Updated.)

Posted: 20 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"I have been a journalist for about 20 years, the greater part of which I spent working here in Nigeria as a journalist with The News Magazine, where I was the General Editor till I left for the United States. I worked with the Voice of America for eight years as the Director of the Housing Service in Washington DC and I came back in February to work with the Minister of Information and Communication as the Senior Special Assistant. While I was there, we started the re-branding campaign. The vision is really clear and the argument can be sustained that this country deserves better and that we are being trashed because we have not done enough to celebrate our strength." Sunday Dare, interviewed by Mary Ekah, ThisDay (Nigeria), 17 November 2009. VOA Housing Service? Unlike RFE/RL in its old Munich location, VOA does not provide housing for its employees. Finally I figured it out: that should be VOA Hausa Service.
     Update: George Woodard writes: "I have visited [VOA/IBB overseas relay sites] and many embassies that provided USIA/VoA assistance. All American employees were provided quite comfortable, sometimes even luxurious, housing." George is correct. I should have specified that VOA does not provide housing for its Washington employees.

Finally: President Obama names his nominees for Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Posted: 20 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
President Obama has announced his intention to nominate a chairman and seven members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, replacing the four remaining Governors. Walter Isaacson, designated nominee for chairman, "is President of the Aspen Institute and serves as chair of the board of Teach for America. He is the former Chairman and CEO of CNN and former editor of Time Magazine."
     As other Democratic members of the BBG: "Michael Lynton is the Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. He is the former CEO of AOL Europe and Chairman and CEO of Pearson plc's Penguin Group." "Susan McCue is President of Message Global, a strategic advocacy firm she founded in 2008 for social action campaigns. She was the founding President and CEO of The ONE Campaign to combat extreme global poverty, and before that was Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from 1999 to 2006." "Michael P. Meehan currently serves as President of Blue Line Strategic Communications, Inc. and as Senior Vice President at Virilion, a digital media company. For over two decades, Meehan served in senior roles for U.S. Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Maria Cantwell and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, two presidential campaigns, two U.S. House offices and congressional campaigns in 25 states." The White House, 18 November 2009.
     Nominated as Republican members of the BBG: "Victor H. Ashe recently served as United States Ambassador to Poland from June 2004 to October 2009. He also previously served as a Tennessee State Representative and was the longest serving Mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee." "Dennis Mulhaupt is founder and managing director of Commonwealth Partners, Inc., providing advisory services to philanthropic institutions and families. He previously served as Executive Vice President at KCET in Los Angeles, a west-coast flagship public broadcasting and media company." "Dana Perino is the Chief Issues Counselor for the United States at Burson-Marsteller and is a Fox News Contributor. She is the former White House Press Secretary to President George W. Bush - the first Republican woman to hold that position." "S. Enders Wimbush is the Senior Vice President for International Programs and Policy at the Hudson Institute. He previously worked in the private sector with Booz Allen Hamilton and Science Applications International Corporation, and served as director of Radio Liberty in Munich." The White House, 18 November 2009.
     For the most part, these future senior managers of US international broadcasting have no experience in international broadcasting. We assume they are quick studies. If they understand that the audience for international broadcasting is seeking credible news, and if they, as the firewall, protect the independence of that news, US international broadcasting can succeed. If they think that US international broadcasting is a conveyance for messages supporting US foreign policies, and assume that an audience will listen to, let alone be swayed by, such messages, US international broadcasting will fail.
     The years that the nominees' term will end are listed at The White House, 19 November 2009. The BBG members' terms are staggered so that no one president names all the members at one time. It didn't work this time, due to delays, for various reasons, in replacing the present members of the Board.
     "[S]he’s been quite a vocal critic of the current White House. But he nominated her anyway. President Barack Obama nominated his predecessor’s press secretary, Dana Perino, to the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. We asked Perino about it, and she told us that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell put her name forward for the position. 'I was honored that Senator McConnell recommended me, and humbled when I found out it was accepted. I look forward to meeting the senators and to hopefully earning their support for confirmation.'" Tabassum Zakaria, Front Row Washington blog, Reuters, 19 November 2009. See also The Hill, 18 November 2009, and (another) The Hill, 18 November 2009.

If no BBC news on Egyptian radio, then, at least, sports.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Arabic announces an agreement that will see its Arabic Sports Bulletin programme broadcast twice daily on Egypt Radio's Youth and Sports channel. The deal, which is the first of its kind for BBC Arabic in the country, will place the channel's content on ... FM throughout the country. ... Head of Egypt Radio, Intisar Shalabi, says: 'The BBC's sports programming is among the world's best, with coverage of all the major events and competitions around the globe. As an Arabic-language broadcaster, BBC Arabic also has a perspective on the world of sport that is perfectly pitched for our listeners. These daily sports bulletins should prove very popular.'" BBC World Service press release, 19 November 2009. See previous post about sports in international broadcasting.

Arabs need to improve their soundbites.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Arab world's handling of international television networks over the past decade has been poor. ... For example, television thrives on debate that is terse, clear and straight to the point, but some people from the region adore long-winded and convoluted arguments, elaborate details and linguistic redundancies, all of which contradict the basic premise of television as a time-sensitive medium. ... Perhaps the thorniest problem, however, arises from the region's failure to understand how international broadcasters operate. Too often, we accuse them of inhibiting our political and cultural perspectives. The truth is that what we mistake for censorship – since much of what is said doesn't make it to the air due to meandering cultural conversation styles – is simply the application of high professional standards. So accommodating the Middle East in the agendas of international television broadcasters such as CNN and the BBC does present some challenges. But it is also a unique opportunity to voice the region's political concerns, promote its economic achievements and express its cultural identities. It is through these international platforms, where the 'powers that be' are listening and watching, that the region's voices are most likely to be heard." Muhammad Ayish, Global Arab Network, 18 November 2009.

VOA stepping up Latin American effort and use of Radio/TV Martí Miami facilities.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Facing a group of presidents loudly critical of Washington, the U.S. government's Voice of America broadcast is expanding its audience in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, VOA officials say. VOA's Spanish-language division also will step up its use of Radio/TV Martí's production facilities in Miami because of budget pressures on both broadcasters, the officials added. The VOA effort to grow its Latin American audience comes as the Obama administration tries to counter the attacks on U.S. policies by several presidents in the region: Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. 'Our focus is on the Andean region because of the upheavals that are going on there,'' said Spanish division director Alberto Mascaro. 'Our second priority is Central America, especially Nicaragua and Honduras.' ... VOA's most recent surveys in the five Andean countries plus Cuba showed a total audience of 1.9 million adults -- 1.4 million on radio, 500,000 on television and 200,000 on the Internet, Mower said. ... Mascaro's hiring by VOA and the plans to use the Martí production facilities have fueled speculation that the Miami stations will eventually be folded into VOA, perhaps with the Spanish division moving from Washington to Miami. Mascaro [said he] could not comment on the speculation, and noted that no staff moves to Miami are included in VOA's proposed 2010 budget." Juan O. Tamayo, Miami Herald, 17 November 2009.

New BBG accountability report claims audience of 171 million for all of US international broadcasting.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"US international broadcasting attracted wide audiences worldwide in 2009, particularly in key countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, despite declines in press freedom and the targeting of journalists in some countries, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) announced today. More than 171 million people worldwide turn to US international broadcasts across media platforms every week for reliable news and information, according to the BBG’s independent research. This figure is statistically unchanged from the BBG’s global audience estimate of 175 million reported in June 2008 and represents an increase of more than 70 percent over the 100 million listeners and viewers in 2002. Countries with the highest percentage of audience reach include Iraq (72 percent), Rwanda (72 percent), Kosovo (64 percent), Afghanistan (56 percent) and Haiti (50 percent). Audiences increased to a record 43 percent in Armenia and to 16 percent in Zimbabwe." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 November 2009. The BBG 2009 Performance and Accountability Report, and reports for previous years, are available at the BBG website.

Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd should sit for interviews with Al Jazeera, they say.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Much has been said by the Obama Administration about reaching out to the Arab world and much was made of the President's sit-down interview with al-Arabiya Television, but speaking to al-Arabiya is nothing new for an American President, and their reach is far less. President Bush, who sat with al-Arabiya several times for interviews, never sat down with al-Jazeera despite my urging. It was and still is my belief that there is no better way to bring the American message of democracy and hope to 200 million Arab households than to speak directly and unfiltered to the network they are watching. President Obama should follow the lead of all four of the Bush administrations' U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations and speak directly to these millions of Arab households by sitting down for an on-the-record interview with al-Jazeera Television. Although the most popular Arab network has had its share of bias problems, President Obama is missing an important and easy opportunity to change the hearts and minds of the majority of the Arab world." Richard Grenell, spokesman for U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations in the Bush Administration, CBS News, 14 November 2009.
     Richard Grenell interviewed by Al Jazeera: "Al Jazeera: In a recent CBS article, you advised Barack Obama, the US president, to speak to the Arab world through Al Jazeera. What message at this point - following the Cairo speech on June 4 - does Obama need to make to a part of the world where US policies are viewed with suspicion at best, rejection and defiance at worst? ... Grenell: Like it or not, the most popular network in the Arab World is Al Jazeera and we have a golden opportunity to speak directly to 200 million Arab households through Al Jazeera. I don't think that this conversation should be just one interview by the Obama administration or by President Obama; I think it needs to be the beginning of a constant flow of information both ways so that the 200 million Arab households who watch Al Jazeera on a regular basis can hear a variety of US policy goals. ... Al Jazeera: Since Bush chose not to speak to Al Jazeera, do you believe Obama is more prone to take take your advice? Grenell: I want to make one thing clear: President Bush spoke to other Arab television stations and Arab journalists regularly. There was just a concern about speaking with Al Jazeera - I didn't always understand it but it existed. ... Obama is in a unique position just because he is the president of the United States and a lot of people are going to listen to what the president of the United States has to say and if he does it via Al Jazeera he is going to reach an audience he is currently not reaching. Obama has shown to be incredibly thin-skinned when it comes to media criticism though." Interviewed by Firas Al-Atraqchi,, 16 November 2009.
     "Hamish Macdonald, an Australian reporter and news presenter for Al Jazeera English (AJE), said yesterday he hoped the launch of the news service to 739,000 homes through Austar pay-TV would help change the Rudd government's attitude towards appearing on the Doha-based network. 'As an Australian it has been really disappointing that our government has not embraced AJE and its really strong audience in Southeast Asia and other regions to try to have its voice heard outside Australia,' he said at AJE's London studio. 'We keep hearing that the government wants its messages to reach people and opinion makers in the region and in the Muslim world, but for some reason they don't take advantage of the platform that we keep offering them. We are the channel that the Indonesian President has permanently on in the corner of his office. Adding Austar means we are now going into 180 million homes around the world and we can get leaders from everywhere, but we haven't been able to get John Howard or Alexander Downer or Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard to come on.'" # Peter Wilson, The Australian, 16 November 2009.

Hypothesis about an Al Jazeera effect in Southeast Asia.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"[In the 1960s/1970s] I lived in Southeast Asia. Most Muslims were comfortably moderate, even laissez faire about their religious practice. While some prayed the required five times a day, others did not pray at all. Some observed dietary restrictions, but many dined and drank with non-Muslim friends. They labeled themselves by country and only parenthetically as Muslims. All that has changed. The Muslims of Southeast Asia now watch al-Jazeera TV news and read the latest blogs about Iraq and Afghanistan. They know, at the same time as people in Texas and Idaho do, of the killings at Fort Hood and precisely what is befalling Muslims in Gaza. World events have increasingly caused them to close ranks with their co-religionists as they seek to identify themselves with Islam's fundamentalist roots." Lewis M. Simons, USA Today, 16 November 2009.

Al Jazeera English MD on Qatar versus Canada control of broadcast news.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Canadian who heads the English division of Al Jazeera broadcast news told a London [Ontario] audience yesterday he has found 'no hint of interference' from the government that funds the Mideast-based network. By contrast, Tony Burman, managing director of the network largely funded by the Emirate of Qatar, said when he was editor-in-chief at CBC News he was fully aware of what the Canadian government wanted from its public broadcaster. 'There is a solid firewall,' between the Qatar government and Al Jazeera English, he said. And the operation is also separate from Al Jazeera's main Arabic service. Burman, head of the English network for 18 months, told about 500 listeners at the University of Western Ontario he expects Al Jazeera English will be available in Canadian homes as soon as January." Chip Martin, London Free Press, 19 November 2009.

BBC World News America EP on business models versus journalistic instincts.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
A "significant way in which audience-chasing is trumping editorial judgement is ideological: some news organizations have decided that the best way to build ratings is by playing to one end or the other of the opinion spectrum. 'If we consistently reinforce our viewers’ political opinions,' the theory goes, 'they’ll become much more loyal to us, and a more reliable audience base.' This happens to be true, but it’s a business model rather than a journalistic instinct. ... I honestly believe that this trend is the road to ruin for news organizations. ... Luckily, I work for an organization, the BBC, that believes both in engaging its audience and sticking to the principle of sound editorial and journalistic judgment. I’m sure we do just as much audience research as anyone else, and we want to draw as large a rating as possible. We’re just not willing to throw our profession and its standards out the window in pursuit." Rome Hartman, executive producer of BBC World News America, Multichannel News, 16 November 2009.

BBC Worldwide appoints new media agency for "Doctor Who," etc.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has appointed ZenithOptimedia as its sole global media agency to handle media planning and buying for the UK and international markets. The client spends approximately $50 million annually on measured media worldwide, according to sources. In the U.S., the U.K.-based media company spent $6 million on ads in 2007 and $3 million last year. ... Optimedia will handle the U.S. portion of the account. Antony Young, the shop's US CEO, said in a statement that the BBC's assets have 'built some tremendous momentum recently in the U.S. and we look forward to helping them take things to the next level.' In the U.S., Optimedia will focus on strategies and campaigns for the cable channel BBC America, and global brands including BBC Earth, Top Gear, Doctor Who as well as the newscast BBC World News America.", 17 November 2009.
     "BBC Worldwide said Helen Jurado has been promoted to vice president, Sales & Distribution, Latin America, oveseeing multi-platform sales efforts of 50,000-plus hours of programming, as well as digital media and home entertainment in the region. ... Jurado will also continue to spearhead BBC Showcase Latin America, held in Rio de Janeiro. The annual event, has become a mainstay for as many as 100 buyers across the region, and has been key in the growing market penetration." Multichannel News, 16 November 2009.

BBC World Service better than police radio for getting to sleep.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
British broadcaster Alan Whicker interviewed: "Q: Sleep well? Whicker: Not particularly - I'm lucky if I get six or seven hours' sleep. I listen to the BBC World Service at night, which usually gets me off. In London, before I discovered the World Service, I used to tune into the police radio network - but their chases through London streets were too good to sleep through." Daily Mail, 17 November 2009. World Service is carried overnights by BBC Radio 4 in the UK and is thus a frequent companion for British insomniacs. BBC World Service is similarly placed in the all-night hours on US stations...
     The new "all-news" format of public radio station WMFE-FM in Orlando includes BBC World Service from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am. Florida Today, 19 November 2009.

BBC World Service news is number one among BBC radio downloads.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Site usage data for BBC radio indicate number of internet users for BBC domestic radio channels, but not World Service. The data for individual programs, however, include World Service and show that Global News on BBCWS has the largest number of downloads of any BBC radio program. Also high on the list are BBCWS programs Business Daily, World Business News, and Analysis. BBC Radio website.

Death of shortwave hobby author Harry Helms.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Known for his witticism and geniality, Helms was known for his many books -- such as Shortwave Listening Guidebook: The Complete Guide to Hearing the World, All About Ham Radio, How to Tune the Secret Short Wave Spectrum and Handbook of Radio Communications Servicing and Maintenance -- and his monthly column 'You Should Know: Interesting Thoughts and Ideas for Enjoying the Hobby' in Popular Communications." American Radio Relay League, 18 November 2009. Harry's Shortwave Listening Guidebook is still available and still recommended.

International channels to the UAE on the very small screen.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
The United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
"last month granted the exclusive five-year [mobile TV] licence to a group including Etisalat, du, Tecom Investments, MBC, Dubai Media and Abu Dhabi Media Company, which also publishes The National. Although television content can already be delivered over mobile internet networks, the license is the first issued in the Middle East for the DVB-H transmission standard, a specialised mobile TV technology developed by Nokia. DVB-H sends content in the same way as traditional terrestrial television channels, letting them be broadcast for a lower cost and at higher quality. ... The group will provide a base of 13 channels including BBC World, Al Arabiya, Abu Dhabi TV, Show Sports and Dubai Sports." David George-Cosh, The National (Abu Dhabi), 16 November 2009.

Mongolians will be able to watch "DW TV's best broadcasts."

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Officials of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television (MNPRT) has met with a delegation of the Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster headed by Erik Bettermann, the DW TV's Director-General. The sides shared views on some issues, and established a cooperation deal. ... In accordance with the deal, the two broadcasters will exchange programs, prepare joint programs, specialists and officials of the MNPRT will be involved in related trainings in Germany, the Mongolian Radio will air programs on German language and translate the DW TV's best broadcasts into Mongolian." Montsame, 18 November 2009.

Controversy about foreign media in Pakistan.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"We have every right to raise questions about ‘suspicious’ journalists and question their activities, Shireen Mazari, editor of a Lahore-based English daily [The Nation], said on Tuesday. According to a private TV channel, she was referring to a report, published by her newspaper, which questioned the credibility of Wall Street Journal correspondent Matthew Rosenberg and accused him of being a ‘spy’. Defending her newspaper’s stance, Mazari said those who broke the country’s laws and had frequently travelled to hostile lands such as India in the past, were liable to scrutiny by the Pakistani media. ... She also asked why the media was not up in arms when a Pakistani Voice of America journalist was detained by the US for three months, or when The New York Times labelled Ansar Abbasi, a Pakistani journalist, 'a Taliban'." Daily Times (Lahore), 18 November 2009. See also Washington Post, 19 November 2009.

"PSYOP is slow, indirect, and subtle" (updated).

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"I have one of these invisible jobs: Psychological Operations. We abbreviate our job title to PSYOP. Even in the Army very few pe ople understand the role PSYOP plays. Typically, the response is something like, 'Oh, so you screw with peoples’ heads, right?' As if they think I'm an illusionist, trained to fool them into believing whatever I wish. The truth is less glamorous. PSYOP is not loud or overpowering. We aren't hypnotists. PSYOP is slow, indirect, and subtle. We drop ideas into the minds of a few and watch the ripples. We care for ideas, fertilize them, pull weeds from around them, and give them shelter from rough weather. A young idea is fragile, and we do not always win." Pfc. Nathanael Garden, (34th Infantry Division), 12 November 2009.
     "U.S. Army Africa is America's premier Army organization dedicated to achieving positive change in Africa.", with 2,230 followers.
     Update: "The 173 Soldiers who joined the Army Special Operations Community were left with two messages before joining their gaining units: they have an important job ahead of them, and the noncommissioned officers in their ranks will be entrusted with greater responsibility than at any time in their careers. The preponderance of the graduates for both the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Qualifications Courses will be assigned to the Army’s only active duty units for their respective [branches] – the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) and the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), both based at Fort Bragg. Speaking at the CAQC graduation Nov. 13, Col. Michael Warmack, commander of the 95th CAB, told graduates that the world is becoming less stable, and they have a large role in helping to calm that instability. ... 'Nowhere else in the military does a junior officer or NCO take on the tasks and responsibilities of developing persuasive programs to support the goals of an ambassador, ground component commander and almost being completely autonomous six thousand miles away from home.'", 16 November 2009.

Zimbabwe official: Africa has "much to learn" from Latin American Telesur agreement.

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The recently concluded 'Agreement for the Application of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America and the People's Trade Agreements' involving Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela has a significant provision on media which reminds us of what Nkrumah had in mind for Africa. The three-way Latin American agreement on media and communication reads as follows: 'The governments (of Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela shall reinforce co-operation in the field of communication, by taking any action necessary to strengthen their infrastructure capacities in respect of transmission, distribution, telecommunications, ... and in respect of their informative, cultural and educational content production capacities. In this regard, the governments shall continue to support the space devoted to integrationist communication created by Telesur (a regional satellite TV network), by increasing its distribution in our countries, as well as its content production capacities.' In other words, one of the areas of media co-operation has already been realised: a regional satellite TV network replacing and challenging CNN in order to foster Latin American integration and unity against US information imperialism. Africa has much to learn from this Latin American venture but US agencies, collaborators and allies will discourage any policies remotely resembling what Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela have just agreed on." Speech by Zimbabwe media, information and publicity minister Webster Shamu via The Herald (Harare), 17 November 2009.

Will SABC International become the "offical propaganda channel"?

Posted: 19 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"SABC International will be used to push [South African] foreign policy, if Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda has his way. A proposed Bill says the SABC cannot set up the international channel without the approval of the Communications Minister - after consulting his International Relations and Co-operation counterpart. This, says a Sunday Tribune report, is contained in the Public Service Broadcasting Bill which the Minister released for comments two weeks ago. While SABC International news channel reports primarily on Southern Africa and the continent - with an obvious bias to the coverage of South Africa - Nyanda wants it to be the official propaganda channel, notes the report." Legalbrief Africa, 16 November 2009.
     "The Coalition respectfully submits that it would be entirely unconstitutional for any of the SABC’s programming or services to be subject to National Executive policy and for its editorial policies, which directly influence its broadcasting content, to be approved by anyone, save for the Constitutionally-mandated regulator of broadcasting services, namely ICASA." Civil Society Coalition: Save Our SABC – Reclaiming Our Public Broadcaster on South Africa's Public Service Broadcasting Bill 2009 via (Word document). See previous post about same subject.

The darker side of shortwave.

Posted: 18 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The extreme right used to have a strong presence on short wave. I used to occasionally listen to Ernst Zundel and other holocaust deniers. There were those who believed it to be unconstitutional to pay income taxes. Some ideas were entertaining, and there were occasional facts thrown in. It made me feel like a fly on the wall among people I might never have a chance to meet. I even used to pick up broadcasts from Aum Shinkyo, the Japanese cult that gassed people on the Tokyo subways back in 1995." Rudi Stettner, RantRave, 15 November 2009.
     Broadcasters with non-mainstream (and beyond) views are still leasing time on private shortwave stations in the United States. These shortwave station, de jure, are intended for audiences outside the United States. De facto, Americans are the primary audience. Shortwave reaches a large enough footprint to attract enough listeners who share certain peculiar interests. A website would have a similar large footprint, but the broadcasters, advocating religious or political viewpoints, or selling precious metals or health aids, depend or charisma, which is more readily conveyed by radio than on a web page.

Volleys on the subject of BBC World Service funding.

Posted: 18 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Incidentally, can someone now explain why it is that the BBC World Service continues to be funded out of the Foreign Office Budget – isn't £3.5bn enough?" Baroness Buscombe's Society of Editors Lecture, via, 15 November 2009. Her ladyship is referring to revenues from the BBC license fee for television sets. And I can explain: The thinking is that the license fee should go towards programming that payers of that fee can view or listen to themselves. BBC World Service content is directed towards people who do not pay the license fee, hence funding by the FCO. Poland (see previous post) is now having a similar discussion.
     "Was it just me or was that swipe at the cost to the taxpayer of running the BBC World Service a little bit off message?" Jane Martinson, Organ Grinder blog, The Guardian, 17 November 2009.
     "Journalists at the BBC are to hold a referendum on the salary of Mark Thompson, the Corporation's Director General. Members of the National Union of Journalists at the BBC World Service and the current affairs department will be asked to back calls for Mr Thompson to reduce his salary to around £200,000." The Telegraph, 14 November 2009.

New Iranian news agency, in Farsi, English and Arabic, in the works.

Posted: 17 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sometime early next year, a new voice is expected to join Iran's state-sanctioned media blitz: a full-service news agency with video, photos and print. ... A brief announcement last month on plans for the news operation, called Atlas, gave no hint of who will be in charge. But there's growing speculation among analysts that it could mark a breakout moment for the Revolutionary Guard after years of apparent behind-the-scenes influence over some of Iran's main news outlets. ... No specific launch date has been announced for Atlas, which officials have said will carry news in Farsi, English and Arabic. Some reports have speculated its debut could come in March, which marks the Iranian new year." Brian Murphy, AP, 16 November 2009.
     "In response to a US Congressional bill that would allocate millions of dollars for anti-Iran broadcasts, the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) has passed a counter-resolution to foil what it calls 'US plots'. 'The Intelligence Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Interior Ministry have decided to set up a three-member committee to curb the rising tide of US interference in the country's affairs,' said MP Fatemeh Alia, a senior member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee. ... She was mainly referring to the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act (VOICE), which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama earlier in the month. ... According to the website of Senator Lieberman, the bill authorizes $50 million for the expansion of Persian-language broadcasting into Iran by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and the Voice of America's Persian News Network. It will also allocate another $25 million for internet-based activities, the website said." Press TV, 15 November 2009.
     "The sentiment bubbled just below the surface of a televised debate organised by the Qatar Foundation to address whether Iran should be trusted not to build a nuclear weapon. ... The emotionally charged debate, which is to be broadcast seven times this weekend on BBC World, exposed a wellspring of anxiety and anger about Iran's nuclear programme among those in the Middle East who might be caught in the crossfire of any war. Ultimately the proposition — 'This house trusts Iran not to build a nuclear bomb' — narrowly failed, 48 per cent to 52 per cent, with a slim majority of the audience saying Iran should not be trusted." Gulf News (Dubai), 15 November 2009.

Report: Arab satellite channels cost $6 billion a year versus $700 million in revenues.

Posted: 16 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Despite losing billions of dollars every year, many Arab satellite television channels continue to operate because their purpose is to push political agendas, a recent report says. There are 510 Arab satellite channels operating at a cost of nearly US$6 billion (Dh22bn) a year, according to the report from the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. The combined annual revenue of those channels is less than $700 million, the report said." Hassan Hassan, The National (Abu Dhabi), 14 November 2009.
     I haven't yet read (or found) the report, but I wonder if any of the pan-Arab are showing a profit, or at least have potential for profit. (Al Jazeera seems to be trying with its recent purchase of the ART sports channels.) Pan-Arab television is international broadcasting, and the great majority of international broadcasting is subsidized rather than profitable. Furthermore, pan-Arab television parallels shortwave radio broadcasting in that most stations on the shortwave bands have not had audiences large enough to justify the expense.

Words of support for the exile radio stations broadcasting to North Korea (updated).

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "congratulates Kim Seong-Min, founder and director of the Seoul-based Free North Korea Radio, on winning the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy’s Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award. The foundation announced today that he is to be this year’s laureate. 'We urge the international community to be much more supportive of the North Korean exile journalists who use radio stations to defy the relentless censorship imposed by Kim Jong-il,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'Stations such as Free North Korea Radio, Radio Free Chosun, Open Radio North Korea and North Korea Reform Radio are the best way to open a breach in Pyongyang’s mind-destroying propaganda,' the press freedom organisation continued. 'We also urge the South Korean authorities to support their efforts to be heard by more North Koreans.'" RSF, 6 November 2009. South Korea's KBS radio networks, followed by VOA and RFA, have larger audiences in North Korea.
     "Dr. Robert King ... the Obama administration’s prospective Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights Issues ... told the [Senate Foreign Relations] Committee, which is chaired by Senator John Kerry, that broadcasting into North Korea, done by the likes of Open Radio for North Korea, Radio Free Chosun and Free North Korea Broadcasting, is critical for 'breaking down the isolation of the North Korean people and making available independent sources of information inside the country.' King knows well the value of such broadcasts, as he started out in the human rights field with Radio Free Europe when it was still at the forefront of pro-democracy activities behind the Iron Curtain." The Daily NK, 7 November 2009.
     "Now that the Obama administration is talking directly to the rulers of North Korea, it would be fitting if it also had a message for the people these leaders oppress. ... When he's in Seoul this month, Mr. Obama could meet with refugees and hear their horror stories of life in their homeland. Even better, he could visit the offices of Radio Free Asia, Voice of America or Free North Korea Radio (run by refugees) and broadcast a message of support to the North Korean people themselves." Melanie Kirkpatrick, Wall Street Journal, 5 November 2009.
     Update: "According to the VOA, Paris-based Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF) will provide US$380,000 to the three radio stations -- Open Radio for North Korea, Free North Korea Radio and Radio Free Chosun -- which produce and transmit shortwave programs from the South into North Korea." Yonhap, 14 November 2009.

CNN, "inspiration" for Al Jazeera, now broadcasting from its Abu Dhabi hub.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The reasons that the new Abu Dhabi media zone, twofour54, would want CNN as a founding partner are obvious. Started by Ted Turner nearly 30 years ago as the first global 24-hour news network, CNN today reaches more than 93 million US households in its domestic incarnation and more than 200 million homes internationally. Its success in covering the first Gulf War, when it was the only broadcaster to have reporters inside Iraq during the first hours of bombing, earned the cable broadcaster higher ratings than the free-to-air networks in the US. It was so dominant in international markets that it is widely credited as inspiration for the founding of the broadcaster Al Jazeera in Qatar. The CNN brand has great power in the region, to the point that Dubai Media City puts its letters boldly on the top of one of its buildings, commonly called 'the CNN building', despite the fact that the broadcaster has a modest staff there that primarily works on the CNN Arabic-language website." Keach Hagey, The National (Abu Dhabi), 12 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera "hesitant" to announce it has 141 million Arab viewers, and other station news.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The viewership of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Channel has touched 141 million in the Arab world, says its Managing Director Wadah Khanfar. The channel was launched about 13 years ago. ... 'The findings of a viewership survey carried out by a specialized company were beyond our expectations. For us it was a huge number and we were hesitant to announce it,' said Khanfar, in an interview with Al Sharq daily. He admitted that the network was not spared by the global financial crisis that hit almost every private and public corporations across the world. 'Al Jazeera responded to the crisis by regulating its administrative and operational expenses. According to the annual financial statement, the channel succeeded in cutting 20 percent of its costs. Unlike many leading channels across the world such as the BBC which laid off 1,500 of its staff, Al Jazeera has not sacked any of its staff on the back of the global crisis,' said Khanfar. ... Asked if the Al Jazeera International [English] had a different editorial policy from that of the Arabic channel, Khanfar said, 'The basic policy is the same but a direct translation of the Arabic contents would not make sense since the viewers are different. We have plans to improve the English channel with more live coverage and by adding more bureaus.'" The Peninsula (Doha), 14 November 2009. Being in the business, I would like to know something about the methodology used to derive this 141 million.
     "The independent Palestinian news agency Ramatan is claiming that Hamas and the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV are trying to take it over and bring it down.
The agency's administration has decided to shut down its offices and to stop its activity until further notice." Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Palestinian Authority, via MEMRI blog, 13 November 2009.
     "Al Jazeera English (AJE) is to launch on the Austar pay-TV platform in Australia on November 15, expanding the channel's reach to more than 180 million households worldwide. The global news service is joining the 40-plus channels already available in the Austar Starter Package, which has a subscriber base of 750,000 throughout the region.", 13 November 2009.
     Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "first confessed his part in the September 11 attacks to the al-Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda in April 2002 in an interview in Karachi, Pakistan alongside Ramzi bin al-Shibh who will now stand trial with him in New York." The Telegraph, 13 November 2009. "Fortunately for the prosecution, Mohammed actually admitted to al-Jazeera television that he was the prime architect of the suicide attacks on the US before he was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 and subsequently confessed surign a hearing at Guantanamo Bay. So it is hard to imagine him walking free." Alex Spillius, The Telegraph, 13 November 2009.
     "Qatar’s Al Jazeera Channel has bought six sports channels from the Jeddah-based Arab Radio and Television (ART) network in a deal worth more than a billion dollars, Gulf Times has learned. The deal, which is soon expected to be announced formally, will see Al Jazeera become the leading sports broadcaster from the Middle East with exclusive regional rights to several top class sporting events." Gulf Times (Doha), 13 November 2009.

Iran's Al-Alam television, taken off Arabsat and Nilesat, moves to a new bird.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran's Arabic language satellite television channel, al-Alam, has been taken off air by two Arab-controlled satellite companies. The operators of Nilesat and Arabsat cited a breach of contract according to Egypt's MENA news agency, but al-Alam said they had not been given a reason." BBC News, 4 November 2009.
     "Al Alam has followed the Yemeni government's war with Shi'ite rebels in north Yemen, reporting regularly on statements by the rebels who have accused Saudi Arabia of backing the government in Sanaa." Reuters, 4 November 2009.
     "In a shock move against the Tehran-based network on Tuesday, Arabsat and Nilesat stopped Al-Alam's broadcast without any specific reasons. The move has prompted angers across the world. Several Palestinian distinguished figures, political activists and some satellite networks have so far condemned the provocative act." Al-Alam, 5 November 2009.
     "The hostility can go both ways. Al-Arabiya, which is Saudi-owned and is the most-watched pan-Arab satellite news channels alongside rival Al-Jazeera, had its Tehran offices closed down by Iranian officials in June after the channel covered the anti-government protests that broke out following the disputed presidential elections." Ali Jaafar, Variety, 13 November 2009.
     "The Tehran-based television news channel is now putting its programs on air on Atlantic Bird 4: frequency 11355 MHz, vertical polarization. Atlantic Bird 4 (formerly Hot Bird 4) provides high-power Ku-band coverage of regions, including Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia." Press TV, 12 November 2009.
     "The Arabic-language news channel Al-Alam was taken off air last week by Arabsat and Egyptian-run Nilesat for hosting 'several opposition figures,' who had 'mounted accusations and lies' against leaders in the Persian Gulf region. In a letter to Iran's broadcasting authorities, Arabsat named a London-based opposition figure, Mohammad Al-Massari, as one of the figures hosted by Al-Alam that had spoken 'against the Saudi government and its leaders based on hatred of its leaders.'" Iran Daily via Zawya, 14 November 2009.

Let Ministry of Foreign Affairs pay for Polish Radio External Service?

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Poland’s Constitutional Court has ruled that old age pensioners and the unemployed are exempt from paying the TV and radio licence fee. Add the revenue loss that would mean to the rapidly dwindling amount of people paying the licence fee, and Poland’s public radio station, established in 1925, is facing a deep financial crisis. 'The decision of the [Constitutional] Court [means] we lose more than 70 million zloty (17 million euro) of our revenue,' says Jaroslaw Hasinski, Acting President of Polskie Radio. ... 'We can not afford to maintain our choirs and orchestras,' said President Hasinski. 'We will ask the Ministry of Culture to fund those.' President Hasinski also proposed changes in the way that Polish Radio's External Service, which broadcasts worldwide on shortwave, satellite, rebroadcasts and the internet, will be financed. 'The maintenance of the External Service would fall on the shoulders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,' he said." Polskie Radio, 14 November 2009. It's not unusual for ministries of foreign affairs to pay for international broadcasting. In this way, revenues from television and (where they still exist) radio license fees don't go towards broadcasts that are not typically watched or heard by payers of those fees. The trick is to maintain the autonomy of the international broadcasts if they are funded by foreign ministry. This is often accomplished by keeping the international broadcasts under the umbrella of the domestic public broadcaster.

Radio Slovakia International remembers 1989.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In November 1989 I was 13, living in communist Romania. We had an old radio and at night my parents where secretly listening to Radio Free Europe. This is how we learned that on Friday November 17, 1989 riot police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague. ... If you want to learn more about how Slovak look back at the Velvet Revolution then tune to our special edition of Slovakia Today broadcast on Tuesday, November 17th, 1989." Anca Dragu, Radio Slovakia International.

Bulgaria marks 80th birthday of murdered international broadcaster Georgi Markov.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bulgaria will mark with an event at the National Theater the 80th anniversary since the birth of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian émigré broadcaster and a dissident writer, who was poisoned in London in 1978. ... During 1969 Georgi Markov left for Bologna, Italy where his brother lived. His initial idea was to wait until his reputation in Bulgaria improved, but he gradually changed his mind and decided to stay in the West, especially after September 1971 when the Bulgarian government refused to extend his passport. Markov moved to London where he learned English and started working for the Bulgarian section of the BBC World Service (1972). ... Later he also worked with Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe. During 1972 Markov’s membership in the Union of Bulgarian Writers was suspended and he was sentenced in absentia to six years and six months in prison for his defection. ... Markov was murdered with a ricin-coated pellet, fired from an adapted pen; an umbrella was dropped nearby to distract him." (Sofia), 13 November 2009. See previous post about Markov.

In Florida newspapers, dubiousness about Radio and TV Martí.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The dirty little secret of 'la lucha,' the struggle against Castro, is what a federal cash cow it has been for some exiles. Non-Cuban Americans will be surprised when they read of the millions of their tax dollars wasted on boondoggles such as Radio and TV Marti. As for the three hyphenated-named congresspersons from Miami who are largely responsible for this largesse, Bardach singles out Castro's nephew by marriage, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, for opprobrium." From review of Ann Louise Bardach, Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana, and Washington, by Ariel Gonzalez, Miami Herald, 14 November 2009.
     "Unfortunately, U.S.-Cuba policy seems wedded to 20th century technology — meaning Washington is still putting a lot of emphasis on speading the message of change through Radio and TV Marti broadcasts. The growing popularity of Cuban bloggers shows that maybe a more effective catalyst for change in the 21st century is to help Cubans tell the story themselves via the Web." Editorial, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 14 November 2009.
     The fiscal efficiency of US broadcasts to Cuba can be debated. But, given Cuba's continued control of domestic media and limitations on press freedom, Cuba remains a logical target for US international broadcasting. As for helping Cuban bloggers "tell the story themselves," fine, but there are limitations to this. Bloggers, for the most part, are not journalists. Furthermore, the internet, involving landlines within Cuba, can be blocked, whereas international radio and even satellite television, dropping into Cuba wirelessly, are more difficult to interdict.

USIB transmitters being moved from place to place.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
My friend Kai Ludwig in Germany, an astute observer of international radio transmission facilities, has gleaned the following from the Broadcasting Board of Governors Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request (pdf)...
     "The four Brown Boveri transmitters from Delano [California, closed by BBG], installed in 1986, have been moved to Tinang [Philippines] where two such transmitters are already operational. Here the ex-Delano rigs replace old transmitters from 1969. No word about what will happen to the remaining equipment at Delano, but considering its age I suspect that the scrap yard is the most likely destination.
     "Equipment from Briech [Morocco, closed by BBG] is considered for reuse elsewhere. Modulators from Briech are already in use at Udon Thani [Thailand] (same Marconi-designed and Cincinnati-made transmitters there).
     "The modification of an ex-Belize mediumwave transmitter for tropical [shortwave] bands operation from Marathon [Florida, for Radio Martí] is still in the pipeline.
     "At present it is under consideration to lease airtime also on a second FEBC [medium wave] transmitter in South Korea [for VOA Korean to North Korea], which must refer to 1566 kHz / 250 kW. The document confirms the mediumwave relays of RFA from Mongolia and says that expanding them is under consideration at present.
     "VOA English is supposed to be cut back further from 14 to 9 hours a day. Studio equipment at Springfield VA (Alhurra and Radio Sawa) will be replaced completely, some modernization is planned for Washington (VOA) facilities as well. One RFA studio will be turned into a TV studio."

VOA's South Asia correspondent on the dimming diya of press freedom in India.

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"Foreign correspondents here have noticed other more subtle indications of the Indian government increasing scrutiny of news correspondents. Some who have delved into sensitive human rights issues (such as casteism) have had fresh visas denied. Some correspondents have been told that renewals for Press Information Bureau identification cards would be smoother if they would dispatch more flattering stories. There are rumblings of a crackdown against shuttling freelancers who report on poverty, communal and sectarian violence and the widespread Maoist insurgency. I’m told India feels such coverage harms its quests to acquire a permanent seat at the UN Security Council or win a future bid to host the Olympics. But should that be achieved by taking censorship cues from China rather than upholding—Indira Gandhi’s Emergency aside—decades of being one of the brightest lights of press freedom globally? This week the diya dimmed, at least for foreign correspondents in India." Steven L. Herman, VOA South Asian bureau chief, Outlook (New Delhi), 14 November 2009. See previous post about Steve Herman.

More mentions of music in VOA's history.

Posted: 15 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Jazz pianist Art "Tatum was unforthcoming on the rare occasions when he talked to journalists. In his most extended interview, a conversation with Willis Conover of the Voice of America, he is well-spoken but frustratingly noncommittal. The only surprise comes when he confesses that 'I don't feel that I have all of the technical facilities that I would like to have.'" Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal, 14 November 2009. A segment of that interview is available at the NPR website (undated) I believe the entire interview is somewhere at the Library of Congress.
     "Kim: As you well know, one of the biggest cracks of all was caused by longtime VOA 'Jazz USA' host Willis Conover, who was greeted as a conquering hero in Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall finally came down. All of the artists and musicians were important, but no one was more important than Conover." Note from Guy W. Farmer.
     Turkish-born multi-instrumentalist Omar Farouk Tekbilek: "I was very lucky to grow up in Adana. It used to be on the Turkish border and was very mixed culturally, and in the arts too. Back then there was a NATO base nearby, and I listened to jazz and Latin music programs on the Voice of America radio station. My dad used to listen to Arabic music on Radio Cairo, so I got a very varied musical baggage." Barry Davis, Jeruslam Post, 12 November 2009.

President of VOA museum board resigns.

Posted: 14 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Citing a possible conflict of interest, West Chester Twp. [Ohio] resident Bill Zerkle resigned last week as president of the Board of the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting. ... In his letter to the Museum Board dated Tuesday, Nov. 3, Zerkle said he has been behind the rehabilitation efforts for the past decade. 'However, I have become quite concerned that my strongly-held position regarding West Chester cityhood will prove detrimental to museum development,' Zerkle wrote to the board. ... The $12 million to $14 million renovation project seeks to turn the former Voice of America Bethany Station — a landmark that spread messages of democracy throughout the world for more than five decades via shortwave radio — into The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting." Hamilton (OH) Journal-News, 11 November 2009.

Hillary Clinton's "exclusive" interview with VOA re Burma.

Posted: 14 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ... in an exclusive interview with the Voice of America (VOA), said last week's discussions between top U.S. diplomats and Burmese officials were far-ranging and frank." VOA Press Release, 13 November 2009. See also the VOA story by David Gollust, VOA News, 13 November 2009. Did David have any qualms about interviewing an official who might be construed as his boss? After all, Secretary Clinton has on ex officio seat on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the topmost authority of US international broadcasting. Actually, Clinton has only one of nine votes on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (when it's at full complement), and the Board appoints David's boss (the VOA director), whose designees actually manage the news operation. So Secretary Clinton is really one-ninth the boss of David's boss, which, in most states, means they are eligible to marry.

McCain's "genocide" statement on VOA Georgian picked up by Armenian press.

Posted: 14 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a recent interview with the Georgian service of Voice of America (VOA), Senator John McCain (R-Az.) said he believed there is ample evidence proving that 'genocide had been committed against the Armenian people.' A transcript of the audio recording of the interview was obtained by the Armenian Weekly on Nov. 10. 'I believe that genocide was committed against the Armenian people, and I think there is ample documentation of that,' McCain said." The Armenian Weekly, 10 November 2009. See also Asbarez, 10 November 2009. And The Armenian Reporter, 13 November 2009, with link to VOA Armenian report.
     "In a letter sent today, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) thanked Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for affirming the historical truth regarding the Armenian Genocide and for his support of a new chapter in Armenia-Turkey relations. During Senator McCain's interview with Voice of America's Georgian service, Senator McCain acknowledged the Armenian Genocide and also expressed his support for the Armenia-Turkish rapprochement." Public Radio of Armenia, 13 November 2009.
See also Public Radio of Armenia, 12 November 2009. And Pan Aremenian Network, 13 November 2009. The McCain statement was not reported by VOA in English, nor by RFE/RL, nor by any Turkish media that I could find.

Subject of US broadcasts to Iran raises hackles here and there.

Posted: 14 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Representative Kirk spoke last week before the US Institute of Peace, and issued his allegation against NIAC saying: 'Regime-sympathizers like the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) came to Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to cut off U.S. funding for democracy programs in Iran. Democracy funding 'taints' Iranian dissidents, they claimed, and only invites harsher crackdowns on the Iranian people.' He provided no explanation backing up his statement, nor did he acknowledge that the foremost leaders of Iran’s pro-democracy movement have denounced the very same Congressional 'regime change fund' that Kirk has championed. NIAC communicated with Representative Kirk’s office immediately after his statement, requesting a retraction. His office refused to respond. ... Instead of misrepresenting and passing blame on those who actually stand with the Iranian people, Representative Kirk should issue an apology and start to listen to the people of Iran. Similarly, NIAC has not opposed funding for Voice of America or Radio Farda. NIAC has however called for stricter quality control over their newscasts since the quality of these public funded channels had plummeted during the Bush administration." National Iranian American Council, 10 November 2009.
     "We need an injection of creativity and originality in our international broadcasting programs. While Radio Farda continues the mission of Radio Free Europe, we should work to establish new public/private partnerships to fund independent Iranian filmmakers and producers —a new way to foster more original content. VOA Persian and Radio 9 Farda should set up a 'Green Hour' for their broadcasts and expand their interaction with Iranian dissidents." Rep. Mark Kirk speech to United States Institute of Peace, 4 November 2009. Turning over an "hour" to an opposition movement, no matter how commendable -- and how commendable is it? -- would be a credibility buster.
     Tehran's Interim Friday Prayers Leader, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati: "'What do you think it means when the US Congress allocates more than USD 55 million to destabilize the Iranian government. It shows that they have no good intentions towards Iran, and constantly want to engage in enmity,' he said. The Iranian cleric was referring to Victims of Iranian Censorship Act (VOICE), which Obama signed into law earlier this year. ... According to the website of Senator Lieberman, the bill authorizes USD 50 million for the expansion of Persian-language broadcasting in Iran by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and the Voice of America's Persian News Network. It will also allocate another USD 25 million in internet-based activities, the website said." Press TV, 13 November 2009.

Will Obama ask Hu about jamming and other Chinese media controls?

Posted: 14 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "calls on US President Barack Obama to put 10 questions about freedom of expression to his counterpart, Hu Jintao, during his visit to China. ... Why are the websites of the US companies Twitter and Facebook blocked by the Chinese authorities? Why do the Chinese authorities jam the programmes that are broadcast in Mandarin, Tibetan and Uyghur by the US-funded stations Radio Free Asia and Voice of America? ... Why are international news agencies, including US news agencies, unable to sell their services directly to Chinese news media? Why does the Propaganda Department routinely censor international news reports, including some aspects of the growing dispute with Iran over its nuclear programme?" RSF, 12 November 2009.
     "A top Chinese leader has urged China's media to expand its footprint overseas, and to make breaking important international news and giving its reports a strong Chinese viewpoint the major goals. 'China's media must seek to cooperate with its overseas counterparts in terms of news transmission, human resources, information technology and business matters,' Chinese media quoted Li Changchun as saying at a news award presentation ceremony on Sunday. 'All this so that we can make use of their platforms to broadcast our own news information to the world,' Li, who is seen as the country's propaganda and ideology chief, added in his speech marking China's Journalist's Day. ... The government has earmarked 45 billion yuan (RM22.24 billion) to fund the expansion of groups including the official Xinhua News Agency, CCTV and China Radio International, according to Hong Kong media reports." The Straits Times via The Malaysian Insider, 10 November 2009.
     Questions to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at press conference in Cairo: "China Radio International: You have had an intense and highly efficient visit to Egypt. You said that this trip was aimed at promoting dialogue among civilizations and developing friendship and cooperation. Now that you are about to conclude your trip, how do you feel about this visit and do you think you have achieved your goals? ... Al Jazeera: China often claims itself a reliable friend of Africa, but Western countries are accusing China of practicing neo-colonialism aimed at African oil and market on the ground that China is trying to expand its influence by getting actively involved in African affairs. We have also found that China's investment in and imports from Africa concentrate on oil and raw materials, but China exports manufactured goods to Africa. What's your comment on these criticisms?" Xinhua, 10 November 2009.

RFI calls for release of its stringer imprisoned in Iran.

Posted: 14 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The management at Radio France Internationale has called for the immediate release of Fariba Pajooh who is being held in Evin prison in Teheran accused of propaganda against the Iranian Republiic. Pajooh was arrested at her home in the capital on 22 August and her computer was confiscated by the authorities. ... 'So far, her lawyer has not been able to meet her or study her file,' say RFI's management. 'Her family visited her last Sunday and found that she is very weak both physically and mentally.'" RFI, 13 November 2009. Fariba Pajooh is a freelance reporter for RFI and other news organizations.

France 24 iPhone app has had 600,000 downloads.

Posted: 14 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"France 24 has been named winner of the 'Most Innovative Technology' category at the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) Media Excellence Awards thanks to the «FRANCE 24 LIVE» application, specially developed for the iPhone®. For Stanislas Leridon, Internet and New Media Director of FRANCE 24, 'this prize reflects the tremendous success of the application which has been downloaded more than 600,000 times across the world. It confirms our ambition to go even further in the quest for tools that allow total convergence between the television, the Internet and mobile phones'. France 24 was the first international news channel to broadcast live and in three languages for free on the iPhone®." World Television & Business News, 13 November 2009. See previous post about the AIB Awards.

Australia is also confused about the difference between international broadcasting and public diplomacy (updated).

Posted: 13 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"[I]n arguing for the ABC to be charged with expanding Australia's public diplomacy program, [ABC managing director Mark] Scott rebuffed the very essence of public diplomacy, extolling Radio Australia's past when it 'stubbornly insisted that the service could not exist as a mouthpiece of government ... [and] that tradition endures'. But for public diplomacy a broadcaster cannot be 'independent' and ignore the demands of government who are responsible for setting Australia's foreign policy and the objectives of a 'country's economic and political interests'. ... For a 2007 Senate inquiry into Australia's public diplomacy program, the Institute of Public Affairs completed a content analysis of the Australia Network's broadcasting of supportive, neutral or negative content against the Australian values of a liberal democracy, human rights and free markets. Of the current affairs programs broadcast, the ABC sent out positive messages on the importance of liberal democracy, and either supported or was value-neutral on human rights. But there wasn't a single positive message in favour of free markets. Instead the ABC promoted a value-neutral or hostile free markets message. ... Instead of granting the ABC Australia's public diplomacy responsibilities, Australia should have an open tender process, and include in the selection criteria the obligation to prove a strong track record of promoting Australian values." Tim Wilson, The Australian, 10 November 2009.
     First, Australia must decide if it wants its international television channel to be a news station or a public diplomacy station. Which is the same thing as deciding whether it wants its international television channel to have an audience or not. This is because a channel devoted to public diplomacy won't have an audience, or at least not much of an audience. The audience for international broadcasting views or listens to get news that is more comprehensive, reliable, and credible than they news they get from their domestic media.
     If Australia wants to do public diplomacy via television, it should purchase 60-second spots on television stations that have large audiences because they do news rather than public diplomacy. These would include international channels such as CNN International and BBC World, and the more popular domestic channels in countries important to Australian foreign policy.

     Update: "The ABC has been in the business of 'soft diplomacy' for 70 years through Radio Australia and has been operating an international television network for nearly all this decade. Our international broadcasting responsibilities are in the ABC Charter. Like the BBC and a number of other global public broadcasters, through our international operations we put the nation on show. It is part of our core business. What we offer is not state broadcasting or government propaganda: the ABC’s international broadcasting operates to the same standards for independence as the ABC’s domestic service." Mark Scott, letter to Crikey (Melbourne), 12 November 2009. See also ABC press release, 5 November 2009 and text of Mark Scott's speech. See previous post about same subject.

State Department regrets and deplores travails of bloggers in Azerbaijan and Cuba.

Posted: 13 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"An Azerbaijan court on Wednesday jailed two bloggers who posted a satirical Internet video of a donkey giving a press conference, in a ruling rights groups say is aimed at silencing independent media. Adnan Hajizade, 26, and Emin Milli, 30, were found guilty of hooliganism over a scuffle at a restaurant in Baku, their lawyer, Isakhan Ashurov, told AFP. Hajizade was jailed for two years and Milli two-and-a-half years. ... Hajizade, co-founder of the OL (To Be) youth movement, and Milli, co-founder of online television channel AN Network, are both Western-educated children of opposition activists at the centre of a growing circle of young people using the Internet to criticise Azerbaijan's authorities. ... Azerbaijan last year banned foreign broadcasts, effectively ending local-language broadcasts by the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Liberty." AFP, 11 November 2009. "The United States 'regrets' the jailing of two Azerbaijan bloggers who were critical of their country in online postings, the State Department said Wednesday." AFP, 11 November 2009. See also Freedom House, 12 November 2009.
     "In one video -- the one many observers believe caused their arrest -- members of OL make fun of the government for its 'waste' of oil money. After local media reported that Azerbaijan had imported two donkeys from abroad with a price tag of $41,000 each, an activist dressed as a donkey holds a press conference saying that Azerbaijan is a country where it's easy for a donkey to succeed. In the South Caucasus, the word 'donkey' is a deeply insulting epithet, implying a lack of intelligence." Brian Whitmore and Anna Zamejc, RFE/RL, 11 November 2009, with video (demonstrating RFE/RL's increased use of video).
     "The U.S. State Department has told Cuba it deplores last week's 'assault' on blogger Yoani Sánchez, one of the toughest of several expressions of support for the Havana writer. Sánchez and fellow blogger Orlando Luis Pardo said they were beaten Friday by presumed state security agents to keep them away from a 'march against violence.' ... [D]uring an interview with Radio Martí, Florida Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart branded the violence against Sánchez and Pardo as 'repugnant' and said it was 'Cuba's answer' to gestures by President Barack Obama to establish a new relationship." Miami Herald, 11 November 2009.

Arabic website for Doha Debates.

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"Qatar University (QU) will today host the launch of the Arabic version of the Doha Debates website. ... The launch of the new website will allow, for the first time, millions of citizens of Arab countries to access in their own language the issues and arguments that have captivated world-wide viewers of the Doha Debates that are televised on BBC World News." Gulf Times (Doha), 12 November 2009. See also

Seventy years of BBC Turkish.

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"The BBC's news service in Turkish, BBC Turkçe, marks 70 years of broadcasting on Friday 20 November with a special event looking at the future of news. A multimedia co-production with the BBC's partner in Turkey, NTV, Future Of News is a televised debate co-presented by the BBC's David Eades and NTV's Banu Güven. ... Today, BBC Turkçe has evolved into a multimedia operation, offering news, information and analysis on radio, online, mobile phones – and television, with Dünya Gündemi, the news and current-affairs programme broadcast by NTV." BBC World Service press release, 12 November 2009.

BBC English lessons "for less than the price of a cup of tea."

Posted: 13 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bangladeshis seeking to learn English and better their job prospects abroad need not look further than their mobile phone, which will feature brief lessons conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The audio and SMS-based learning program is called 'Janala,' Bengali for window, and was launched by the BBC and six mobile phone operators on Thursday. A three-minute audio program costs three taka (4 U.S. cents) and is less than the price of a cup of tea. Lessons are also supported by a learning website, 'This is the first service of this kind anywhere in the world,' Alan Freedman, the country director of BBC World Service Trust, told a news conference." Reuters, 12 November 2009.
     "BBC Janala will work alongside the newly launched programme BBC Buzz, providing weekly lessons on mobiles related to Rinku's World, an animation series on the show building learners confidence and tackling common mistakes in English." The Daily Star (Dhaka), 13 November 2009.
     "Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a staff correspondent for the Guardian and a contributor photographer for Getty images, is one of the most widely respected correspondents writing on Iraq and Afghanistan, and has collected a string of prestigious awards in a short career. The 34-year-old, who mastered English from listening to the BBC World Service, started writing for the Guardian in 2004... ." The Guardian, 12 November 2009.
     "The BBC World Service Trust, a subsidiary of BBC News, has held several health-education projects encouraging better awareness of health issues in Cambodia through various media since 2003. Two programmes that attract Cambodian youth listeners are Really and Hip Hop Girls, but they both were canned after the [UK] Department for International Development and Global Fund discontinued programming due to funding shortages." The Phnom Penh Post, 11 November 2009.

Symantec security center watches BBC World News for celebrity deaths, etc.

Posted: 13 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
At Symantec's European Security Operations Center: "A handful of well-presented employees – all dressed in modern casuals and a world away from freaks in slogan t-shirts and other hacker stereotypes – sit in front of two or three LCD displays each, occasionally looking at eight wall-mounted flat screen monitors that display information about the current global cyber threat situation. ... A separate screen shows the BBC World News on TV. Martin Dipper emphasised that this is not intended for staff diversion. Dipper, who is the General Manager of the London SOC, soberly explained that centre needs early information about events that may influence IT security. This includes events like the death of a celebrity." Uli Ries, The H Security, 10 November 2009.

"Everybody took a turn" to power the radio, and other shortwave stories.

Posted: 13 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"For two years, Johan Thieme eluded the Nazis in occupied Holland, paddling his wooden kayak along rivers and canals and sleeping in barns and sheds. ... Thieme snuck home whenever he could and found the family had rigged a bicycle wheel and pedals to generate electricity to power the shortwave radio to pick up BBC broadcasts. 'Everybody took a turn.' The family heard about the Allies' D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. 'We thought the war would be over in a couple of weeks.' But it was almost a year before the Nazis surrendered in Holland and Canadian troop carriers rolled into Voorburg after a terrible winter of vicious fighting." The Packet & Times (Orillia ON), 12 November 2009.
     "Breakfast, lunch and dinner could only be served after the BBC world news at 8am, 1pm and 8pm were over. My father had two shortwave radios, one upstairs and one downstairs to listen to world news." Zainah Anwar, interviewed by Deborah Loh, The Nut Graph (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia), 12 November 2009.
     "In the mid-1960s [pirate radio stations] installed radio towers on boats and anchored them in international waters off the coast of Britain. Broadcasting in the shortwave band, they ran their stations as ad-supported, commercial enterprises and eventually garnered tens of millions of listeners." From review of the film Pirate Radio by Christopher Null,, 12 November 2009. For the most part, the UK pirates were not on shortwave, but on good old medium wave, or what we Americans call the AM band.
     "'Funds have been set aside to make ZNBC [Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation] short-wave reception better, especially during night time and the installation of FM transmitters for rural districts would start to improve radio reception in Zambia.'" Times of Zambia, 13 November 2009. Zambia is among the countries still using shortwave for domestic broadcasting, to reach remote rural areas. If Zambia installs enough FM transmitters in rural districts, it may no longer need shortwave.

Ireland and its conspicuous absence on shortwave.

Posted: 12 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
During debate in the Dáil Éireann (Irish House of Representatives), 11 November 1953, James Everett "wanted to know why the Minister [for Posts and Telegraphs] had said nothing about the short-wave station. ... On the short-wave station, [Robert Briscoe] said he understood that the reason why it was not in operation was that a wavelength could not be obtained. Mr Childers [the Minister] rose to explain that the wavebands were so crowded that they were not worth using." Irish Times, 11 November 2009. In 1953, there would have been plenty of vacant shortwave frequencies. Ireland had a low-powered shortwave broadcasting service during the 1940s, but after that Ireland was virtually the only European country without some sort of shortwave broadcasting service. (Ireland's RTÉ leased time on shortwave transmitters outside of Ireland from 1995 to 2004.)

International broadcasting and 1989 (plus or minus).

Posted: 12 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In 1988, many RFE broadcasters were able for the first time to visit and work in the countries to which they had been broadcasting for years. Levente Kasa was posted as a Hungarian Service correspondent in Budapest. Toomas Hendrick Ilves, then the head of RFE’s Estonian Service and the current president of Estonia, was able to interview dissidents on the ground in Tallinn. ... Thanks in part to RFE, the communist regimes were unable to keep the various protests isolated from one another or to marginalize opposition figures by restricting circulation of their ideas." Former Radio Free Europe director A. Ross Johnson, commentary, RFE/RL, 9 November 2009.
     "But all of a sudden it was clear that it was not the enemy behind the wall--and that we were trapped. Was it German television beamed into the western part of our country? Jammed radio Luxembourg and Radio Free Europe? BBC? These introduced wonderful things: athletes and astronauts. JFK. Kojak. But it was the arts that made the biggest cracks in the wall: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Merce Cunningham, hand-copied Catcher in the Rye, Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsburg in person (and deported), Italian and French movies (Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot!), Leonard Bernstein. But mainly the Beatles and rock, and blue jeans, and long hair." Peter Sis, Forbes, 11 November 2009.
     Former Czechoslovakian dissident Jan Urban: "There were three categories of media. The first, official media, did not help at all. On the contrary it was a tool of the counter-revolution. It was the media of the regime. We had four or five different newspapers but if you laid them all on a table, they would all cover the same topics. Sometimes they would even use the same headlines. All of them would go through censorship before being printed. The second [category] was the unofficial independent media which had extremely low circulation. According to secret police estimates, around 5,000 copies circulated but only about 1,000 people were able to read it each month. The third and most powerful media that we used was foreign radio stations. Our collaboration with the Voice of America Radio, Federal Radio Liberty [sic], and the BBC was the most effective way of communicating our ideas and information to our citizens." Prague Wanderer, 24 October 2009.
     "[T]oday it seems uncertain as to who had more influence on the elimination of one of greatest impediments to human rights the world has ever witnessed. Was it Ronald Reagan or the Beatles? My experience has me believe it was neither, for I was blessed to know Franc Smiercheck who, during the time of his exile from homeland Czechoslovakia, was the Czech voice on Radio Free Europe. When I visited with him in his adopted home of Munich we talked well into the nights over joyous bouts of beer and laughter punctuated by his tears of happiness, witnessing the fruits of the love of his life’s labor. Franc and many others like him were the unsung heroes whose efforts greatly contributed to the removal of 'that wall,' the metaphoric resurrection of freedom from the oppression of communist dictators." Barry Finch, Ridgefield (CT) Press, 11 November 2009.
     Czech Defence Minister Martin Bartak awarded the Gold Linden, for "contribution to the protection of human rights [to] Ivan Medek, years-long correspondent of the Voice of America." ČTK, 10 November 2009,
     "In the days before, Radio Free Europe had kept us informed of events in first Timisoara then Bucharest. On that day, we trembled when the same radio station broadcast despairing voices shouting, 'Go on, shoot us – we don't care any more!' And then we heard gunfire." Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 10 November 2009.
     "euronews talks to pre-perestrika USSR media veteran Vyacheslav Mostovoy about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today he is Vice-President of TV-Centre, one of the Russian Federation channels. In 1989 he was the Soviet TV & Radio bureau chief in the GDR and West-Berlin, and would later be awarded Russia’s Order of Honour for his services." Euronews, 9 November 2009.

Pakistani lawmakers want to limit Indian channels on cable television.

Posted: 12 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Pakistan's "Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Tuesday called for steps to check the Indian channels on local cables. The meeting, chaired by Haji Ghulam Ali, expressed concern over free broadcast of Indian television channels which, they opined, was against our cultural values. Tariq Azeem said in Pakistan we had an invasion of Indian channels while in India Pakistani TV channels were banned. ... Director General Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) Murtaza Solangi told the meeting that Voice of America programmes were broadcast by the PBC under an agreement. He said that Radio Peshawar broadcasts VOA programmes for four hours a day while 11 FM channels air its programmes for one hour daily." The News (Karachi), 11 November 2009.
     "Dr. Brian Q. Silver,the former Director, Voice of America (V.O.A.) Urdu Service and instrumentalist believes that cultural exchange among countries may prove instrumental in overcoming misconceptions among nations and thus bring people closer. 'Music is a common denominator which can bring people together by bridging the social, cultural and political divides and dispelling all apprehensions and misunderstandings to achieve peaceful coexistence in the world of today', said US based journalist, professor and ethnomusicologist Dr Brian in an interview with APP here. ... To a question he said that V.O.A. has been instrumental in depicting the diversity of American culture by incorporating the cultural values into the US fabric and representing immigrant community, especially Pakistani Diaspora on V.O.A." Associated Press of Pakistan, 12 November 2009.

Imagining USIB without the BBG. As in more like Voice of Russia than the BBC.

Posted: 12 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"[T]he eight-person Broadcasting Board of Governors ... oversees the five media entities — Voice of America foremost among them — tasked with broadcasting American culture and journalism around the globe. In theory, the board is supposed to serve as a 'firewall' between the broadcasters’ mission of journalistic objectivity and the political whims of legislators, who would often rather see taxpayer dollars go towards burnishing America’s image abroad. By statute, the president and minority party nominate four governors each to keep a bipartisan mix. But right now, the BBG is only half full. The four currently serving members were all appointed in 2002, and have overstayed their terms by three years—if anyone left, the board would no longer have a quorum to conduct business. ... Under President Bush, then-minority leader Harry Reid nominated his chief of staff, Susan McCue—but she was held up by Mitch McConnell, who reportedly wanted another favorite of his for another board. McConnell then nominated the neoconservative writer Clifford May, and perhaps in retaliation, his confirmation was stalled as well. ... Since it doesn’t look like this deadlock is ending anytime soon, the most rational course of action may be to abolish the board, nominate a strong CEO, and have seven fewer confirmation hearings to worry about. Will that happen? Almost certainly not. Give a senator a football, and he’s not giving it away for nothing." Lydia DePillis, The New Republic, 10 November 2009.
     Sorry, readers, for being a broken record: International broadcasting has an audience because it provides news that is more comprehensive and reliable than the state-controlled news in the audience's own country. Credibility is the therefore key commodity of international broadcasting. Credibility is achieved through journalistic independence. There is no way for publicly-funded broadcasting to achieve that independence other than a bipartisan board, with fixed and staggered terms, appointing the top executives. A CEO overseeing all of USIB is needed, but without a board to appoint that person, the CEO would be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Less independence, less credibility, less audience.
     The Board will be effective if decision makers respect the spirit of the firewall concept. Appointing people to the Board merely because they are political allies violates that spirit. The best choices for the BBG would be journalists who have witnessed the important role of international broadcasting in countries where information is denied, and who have the courage to resist kibitzing by administration officials members and members of Congress.
     The TNR piece includes this:
"'I really wonder what the utility of this board is,' says Nancy Snow, an associate professor of public diplomacy at Syracuse University. 'A lot of people who are on this board, what are they doing?'" Well, the BBG appointed directors of VOA and presidents of RFE/RL and RFA. It has determined which language services will be dropped, added, reduced, or expanded. It has set priorities for the investments in the various media of international broadcasting, including radio, television, the internet, and mobile devices. And, on occasion, the Board has had to activate its firewall shield. (I thought experts were quoted because they provide answers rather than ask questions.)

"The Arab world is about to get a little funnier."

Posted: 11 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"MTV Networks Intl. and Abu Dhabi’s Twofour54 have inked a pact to launch Comedy Central Studios Arabia. The new company, which will be based in Abu Dhabi, will develop and produce comedy content in Arabic for broadcast and distribution across the Middle East and North Africa. While existing Comedy Central formats are likely to be adapted for the Arab market, the focus will also be on developing new Arabic comedy talent across multi-platforms, including standup, as well as short- and long-form programming. 'I found early on that Arabs are funny and inherently amusing,' said Twofour54 chief exec Tony Orsten." Ali Jaafar, Variety, 10 November 2009.

Is Alhurra immune from writs against foreign media in Iraq?

Posted: 11 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and several of his ministers have launched at least four legal actions against foreign press outlets over the past year. The Guardian, the New York Times and the wire service AP have all been served with writs, while Al-Jazeera has been forced out of Iraq, allegedly because of an anti-government bias. Local outlets are also being targeted, with representatives from the staunchly anti-government Al-Sharqiya channel now banned from all government events and buildings and the Al-Baghdadia channel, made famous by the shoe-throwing antics of its former reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi, also under threat of a boycott." Martin Chulov, The Guardian, 10 November 2009. US-government-funded Alhurra presumably remains on the air in Iraq, where (unlike its other Arab target countries) it has a network of terrestrial television transmitters. This could put Alhurra in a unique position to provide uncensored news to Iraq.

Al Jazeera video of Taliban fighters with US weapons widely reported and variously explained.

Posted: 11 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Television footage broadcast Tuesday showed insurgents handling what appears to be U.S. ammunition in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan that American forces left last month following a deadly firefight that killed eight troops. The U.S. military said the forces that left the area said they removed and accounted for their equipment. The Al-Jazeera video showed insurgents handling weapons, including anti-personnel mines with U.S. markings on them, but it was unclear when the video had been filmed. The television station reported that insurgents said they seized the weapons from two U.S. remote outposts in Nuristan province. The ammunition could be used against U.S. and Afghan forces, although the amount shown was not extensive. However, the footage will no doubt be used by insurgent propagandists to promote their 'victory' over the Americans and encourage their supporters." AP, 10 November 2009. See also transcript of Al Jazeera report [originally in Arabic?. MEMRI, 10 November 2009.
     "Nathan Gallahan, a spokesman for NATO and the US-led military joint command centre, said that the military had no way to verify the authenticity of the report. He said the TV report was 'inconclusive' and the militants could have got the ammunition from other locations." DPA, 10 November 2009.
     "But General Mohammad Qassim Jangulbagh, Nuristan's provincial police chief, disagreed, saying: 'The Americans left ammunition at the base.' Farooq Khan, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police in Nuristan, concurred, saying US forces left arms and ammunition when they moved from the area, which he said was now in fighters' hands.", 11 November 2009.
     In other news about Al Jazeera: "The Canadian Expat Association [voted] Michael J. Fox to be this year's most influential Canadian expatriate, for the bravery of his personal fight against Parkinson's Disease... . Fox was in great company, for the four runners-up included: ... Tony Burman for expanding perspectives of global public affairs as Managing Director of Al Jazeera English, the world's first English-language news channel headquartered in the Middle East." Canadian Expat Association press release, 11 November 2009.

"Malaise" at France 24. RFI is not very happy, either.

Posted: 11 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
France 24's labor union complains that "working conditions have significantly deteriorated in the past six months. A psychological dimension has now been added to an already extremely difficult situation." AFP, 6 November 2009.
     Meanwhile, "Le vice-président de la Commission des affaires culturelles et de l’éducation et rapporteur Médias, Christian Kert" has called for a mediator to deal with labor issues at Radio France International. RFI Riposte, 8 November 2009.
     If you have French, see also Assemblée nationale section on 2010 budget for Audiovisuel extérieur de la France.

"Afghans have taken to local media like fire to dry grass."

Posted: 11 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Salam Watandar' programs go out by satellite from Kabul to dozens of stations that have sprouted since the fall of the Taliban eight years ago. Those independently owned outlets, in turn, add their own programs to fill out their schedules. Music -- extremely popular after years in which the repressive fundamentalist regime banned it -- fills much of the day, along with storytelling and poetry, a proud tradition in the region since the time of Rumi in the 13th century. 'Afghans have taken to local media like fire to dry grass,' said Kathleen Reen, a onetime journalist and vice president for Asia at Internews, an NGO that receives support from the U.S. State Department and numerous foundations. 'Afghanistan has such a rich, vibrant, independently minded media that has spread across the country and continues to grow.'" James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 6 November 2009.

BBG remains in limbo.

Posted: 10 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"What about institutional means of transmitting U.S. policy to foreign publics - as well as foreign leaders? The administration is still working on that. The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review process has just begun. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and other U.S. international broadcasting services, remains in limbo. The terms of all nine board members have expired, and the White House has made no nominations to fill the posts." Helle Dale, Washington Times, 10 November 2009.

Campaign to bring the RFE Romanian archives to Romania.

Posted: 10 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe, Here is a campaign meant to generate support and raise funding for a 'Radio Free Europe Center of Research and Documentation' to be established in Bucharest. The campaign project was initiated by the 'Romanian Institute for Recent History' (IRIR) in cooperation with the former members of the RFE (Romanian Desk) team. ... The history of Romania in the second half of the last century and the tribulations of the Romanian society under the communist rule cannot be studied and understood without Radio Free Europe. RFE’s broadcasting archives (program scripts and tapes) are at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California, thousands of miles away. Because of this, the archives are in fact out of reach for the people in Romania. The purpose of an 'RFE Center of Research and Documentation' would be to acquire and house a complete copy of the Hoover archives, and to make it freely available to the public here, in Romania, so that the accessible Romanian media content of 40 years roughly (1951-1990) would not consist only of the domestic communist propaganda material." Institutul Român de Istorie Recenta website.

To mark 20 years since fall of Berlin Wall, leaflets lofted over North Korea.

Posted: 10 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"South Korean activists launched leaflets attacking North Korea’s leader across the world’s last Cold War frontier, marking Monday’s 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. ... About a dozen Christian activists at Imjingak 40km northwest of Seoul floated a large balloon carrying about 2,500 leaflets over the frontier." AFP, 10 November 2009.
     "No matter how hard the North Korean regime attempts to stop the free flow of information into and out of the country, recent North Korean refugees testify that more people inside the country are listening to foreign radio broadcasts and accessing non-North Korean media. Much of this is possible now because of dedicated grassroots NGOs and civil society organizations based in South Korea, particularly those formed and run by North Korean defectors. They make available information inside North Korea through various means, including shortwave radio broadcasts, CDs and USBs, and magazines written by and for North Koreans. Through their personal experiences, they have come to believe in the power of accurate information to transform their former homeland." Democracy Newsletter, National Endowment for Democracy, October 2009.

Blogs blocked in Fiji.

Posted: 10 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Some anti-government blogs in Fiji are reporting that their readers are finding it impossible to read them. Several of the websites are reportedly blocked in such a way that people using Fiji-based internet service providers cannot access them. Radio Australia has been contacted by internet users in Fiji who report their attempts to read those blogs result in their computer constantly trying to connect and finally giving an error message.' Radio Australia, 9 Novemver 2009.

Nostalgia, digitally: iPhone app goes shortwave analog retro.

Posted: 10 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"WorldVoice Radio by RnSK Softronics is an ambitious project. The $3 [iPhone] app aims to give you the power of your own podcasting recording studio and unique Internet radio station in the WorldVoice Radio network. You can also browse and listen to other WorldVoice stations around the world. ... The WorldVoice Radio interface harkens back to the days when shortwave radio was the only way to be heard across the globe. You'll hear the tuning sounds of an analog radio as you select different radio stations and watch a map of the world scroll and zoom to zero in on the location of the station you choose. You can select stations at random with a quick shake, or you can browse the directory and search for stations by keyword. You can even leave comments for a station or visit their Website. Since the WorldVoice Radio network is relatively new, you won't find a huge selection of stations and most of the recordings are simply tests. Should the app gain traction--and users--that's sure to change." James Savage. Macworld, 9 November 2009. So sort of a cross between the shortwave broadcasting concept and the amateur radio concept.
     "The WorldVoice Radio brings the ‘retro’ concept of the handheld shortwave into the 21st Century. Scan the 'Netwaves' old-stye via buttons, or use the built-in directory to find and search all of the stations 'On the Air' with speed and ease." WorldVoice Radio website. See previous post about same subject.

How VOA inspired Roman Polanski.

Posted: 10 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The future director also threw himself into the musical scene inspired by Voice of America radio broadcasts. 'Unless he had already been successfully indoctrinated, any normal young Pole developed a craze for jazz during the Stalinist period,' he recalls. 'It was not only a window onto a completely different world but a form of protest, for American jazz was officially decried as a product of "rotting imperialism".'" William Brand, review of Roman by Polanski, Krakow Post, 9 November 2009.
     University of the Pacific jazz "facilitator" Natalya Bayrak "recalled the stifling Soviet era, when jazz-loving Russians had to listen furtively to the Voice of America and other pirate radio signals." The Record (Stockton, CA), 10 November 2009.
     "But sometimes even potential allies in the struggle against totalitarian rule were not sure what to make of young musicians who were listening to Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America as much to hear snatches of the latest pop sounds as to get an uncensored version of the news." Larry Rohter, New York Times, 8 November 2009. For rock music, Radio Luxembourg was another important station in eastern Europe.
     "I did not cry although I wanted to. I know it probably means nothing to many of you out there but it was a memorable night for me. Sunday night, I saw the Buzzcocks; alive and well, in the flesh, in Kuala Lumpur. It was worth the 30 years of waiting. It was in 1979 when I first heard of the Manchester band... . And whatever new singles they released, the late John Peel would play them on his BBC show which I could access on my old shortwave radio; despite the horrible crackling sound." Wan Hamidi, The Malaysian Insider, 10 November 2009.

Sometimes it's better not to ask.

Posted: 09 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Nearly a quarter of people across 27 countries worldwide believe free market capitalism is fatally flawed, according to a poll published on Monday to mark 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. ... The survey, carried out by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service, found an average of just 11 percent of the more than 29,000 people surveyed between June 19 and October 13 believed capitalism worked well and did not think greater regulation was needed." Reuters, 8 November 2009.
     "In only two countries do more than one in five feel that capitalism works well as it stands, according to the poll – the United States (25%) and Pakistan (21%)." BBC World Service press release, 9 November 2009.
     "Opinion about the disintegration of the Soviet Union is sharply divided. Europeans overwhelmingly say it was a good thing: 79% in Germany, 76% in Britain and 74% in France feel that way. But outside the developed West it is a different picture. Almost seven in 10 Egyptians say the end of the Soviet Union was a bad thing and views are sharply divided in India, Kenya and Indonesia." BBC News, 9 November 2009.

Report: Pakistani journalists who work for international media prone to threats from separatists.

Posted: 09 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"A fact-finding report jointly compiled by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists about Balochistan reveals that journalists and media workers in Pakistan’s largest province work in an extremely difficult and tense environment. ... 'Stop this biased reporting or get ready for serious repercussions,' was the threat given to a local journalist who works for an international radio. ... A few local journalists and photographers are affiliated with international media organisations, such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press. These journalists are also more prone to threats from separatists who demand media space to air their views in international media outlets, especially radio, or order restrictions on reports that highlight their outlawed activities." The News (Karachi), 9 November 2009.

Al Jazeera admixture includes appearance on AJE as issue in Congressional race (updated).

Posted: 09 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The decades-old conflict between Palestinians and Israel is the focus of a new verbal battle between U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, and Republican challenger David Castillo. ... Castillo also criticized Baird’s appearance on Arab television network Al Jazeera where he outlined the resolution and explained his opposition to it. 'It was unconscionable, come on,' Castillo said, 'They’re the ones that run the tapes of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda for goodness sakes.' Baird defended his appearance, though he had not watched the broadcast as of Friday. He said he provided an honest account of the resolution during an interview that lasted only a few minutes." Eric Schwartz, The Chronicle (Centralia, WA), 6 November 2009. See also YouTube video of Rep. Baird interviewed by Al Jazeera. And The Columbian (Vancouver), 7 November 2009.
     "A former prisoner, who was kept behind bars at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay for six years, has vowed to lodge a criminal case against former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf for arresting him illegally. Sami El-Haj, who is a journalist by profession and works for leading Arab television channel Al-Jazeera, said he is 'gathering evidence against Musharraf and will file a case against him in a British court'. 'I want him [Musharraf] to be in jail,' The Daily Times quoted Haj, as saying." Asian News International, 7 November 2009.
     "A videotape of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden released on Friday is the Pashto-language version of a tape released several months ago, said IntelCenter, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring firm. The tape, titled 'To Our People in Pakistan,' was broadly released in Arabic and Urdu on July 12, IntelCenter said. Excerpts had been aired by the Al Jazeera television network on June 3, it added." Reuters, 6 November 2009.
     "A decision allowing 'al-Jazeera' news network to re-open its forcibly closed offices in Morocco, despite its negative coverage of the country, or better, choosing to sanction journalist with nominal fines instead of gross amounts, is the sort of pronouncements that will make Morocco and its institutions shine and prosper." Hassan Masiky,, 6 November 2009.
     "A deal worth $2.75 billion (Dh10.1bn) has been signed between Al Jazeera Sport and Arab Radio and Television (ART) to purchase six sports channels from ART." Emirates Business 24/7, 5 November 2009.
     Update: The article on the Web site of Al Jazeera leads with the news that President Obama called on people to avoid jumping to conclusions about any political motivation behind the [Fort Hood] attack. ... An article from Al Arabiya, the television station which won President Obama’s first interview as president, has a similar focus on the ambiguity behind the motivation of the shooter." New York Times, 9 November 2009.

Radio Australia adds Burmese, "first new language service ... in more than 15 years."

Posted: 09 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Australia, the ABC's international radio broadcaster, has begun broadcasting to Burma. The Burmese language service began Monday morning, with two news broadcasts. Radio Australia's Chief Executive, Hanh Tran, said Burma's elections next year and increased international attention on the military-led country prompted the decision to start the new radio service. 'This is the first new language service for Radio Australia in more than 15 years,' he said. ... The broadcasts will be transmitted to Burma seven days a week on shortwave frequencies 12010 and 17665. The Burmese service will begin as a 15-minute news broadcast on shortwave, satellite and online at 5:30 am local time, and repeated three times across peak morning listening times. More broadcasts will be added in the evening as the service grows." Australia Network News, 9 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Murdoch: ABC international expansion proposal is "such rubbish" (updated).

Posted: 09 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch ... blasted the ABC's plans, announced this week, to launch an international television service to promote Australian values overseas, saying he did not know if [Prime Minister] Rudd was behind it 'but it certainly fits his ambition'. 'I never read such rubbish. Why should the taxpayer be paying for that, hundreds of millions of dollars -- and who is interested? I don't think it is necessary. I think it is delusional -- put it that way -- that there would be much interest or as much interest to be spending taxpayers' money.' But he added that if ABC head Mark Scott -- who Mr Murdoch says he has never met -- 'follows this line about pushing Australia around the world, Rudd will sign any chequebook'." The Australian, 7 November 2009.
     "Mr Murdoch thinks it is folly, like Australia pushing to try to pass climate change before anyone else. That in itself, he said, was 'a bit delusional, like Mark Scott's thinking: that we can set an agenda for the world. It would nice if we could, but we are kidding ourselves -- deluding ourselves if we really believe it. And if we start putting up the cost of living in this country, when no one else is doing it, we put ourselves at a real disadvantage.'" Geoff Elliott, The Australian, 7 November 2009.
     "Amid many blunders and much wasted money, News Corp managed to connect China to the world through the internet and to transform its staid television into a popular entertainment medium. But was Beijing simply using Murdoch to help the country modernise and to rehabilitate its image in the wake of Tiananmen Square? Did the panda outwit the fox?" From blurb for Bruce Dover, Rupert's Adventures in China: How Murdoch Lost a Fortune and Found a Wife, available from the ABC Shop.
     "'Friends of the ABC strongly supports additional government funding being provided for the ABC to expand its international broadcasting services,' said Glenys Stradijot, a spokesperson for Friends of the ABC (Vic) on ABC plans for its international broadcast services announced today. ... FABC, however, has serious concerns about plans to merge Radio Australia and Australia Network (the ABC's international TV service). 'Radio Australia and Australia Network should not be merged unless the ABC is fully funded to provide overseas services without advertising or the risk of government interference.' ... 'Radio Australia has a long and esteemed history. As an integral part of the ABC, it is widely perceived to be independent from commercial influence and not a propaganda arm of the government.' ... 'Australia Network relies on revenue from commercial advertising and funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The ABC is forced to win favour with DFAT to operate Australia Network.'" Glenys Stradijot,, 5 November 2009.
     Update: "Mr Murdoch gave expansive and remarkably candid interviews with The Australian and Melbourne's Herald Sun. The 78-year-old also sat down for a 40-minute interview with Sky News, partly owned by News Corporation. If Mr Murdoch is worried about the various challenges facing his newspapers he is not showing it. ... Mr Murdoch says Mr Scott's push to launch an international TV service to rival CNN and BBC World is folly. 'Spending $800 million putting Australian culture and didgeridoos around the world is huge over-reach,' he told Sky News. Left unsaid was the fact Sky is bidding against the ABC for the contract to broadcast the Australia Network across the Asia-Pacific. Mr Murdoch also took a swipe at US President Barack Obama, saying he was 'going badly'." Michael Rowland, ABC News, 9 November 2009.
     "Scott is no doubt making a play to have the ABC reappointed as the content provider for Australia Network (the contract expires in 2011), as The Age's Ari Sharp has pointed out. But this leads to a central internal conflict in the argument. On the one hand, the ABC is 'scrupulously independent' and editorially pure, Scott argues. 'When the ABC walks in the door, there are no other agendas or business relationships operating as a sub-text. We have no other commercial interests or ambitions but this work we are doing on behalf of the Australian people, our 100 per cent owners.' On the other, the ABC is putting itself at the service of the Australian government, to do its foreign policy bidding. It may well be that this is not an incompatible position in practice, but in principle it seems enormously problematic." Karl Quinn, Brisbane Times, 6 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     ABC issues guidelines to staff about social networks. They "set out four directives. The first was not to mix the professional and the personal in ways likely to bring the company into disrepute. Staff were also told not to let social media undermine their effectiveness at work, not to imply ABC endorsement of personal views and not to disclose any confidential information obtained through their job." Australian Associated Press, 5 November 2009.

"World’s most ambitious radio phone-in" on BBCWS is four years old.

Posted: 08 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The phone lines to Africa are cracking up, the guest in Washington hasn’t turned up yet, and there’s a long line of callers waiting in cities all over the world, from Kabul to Kampala. Just another routine day at World Have Your Say, the world’s most ambitious radio phone-in. Actually, they prefer to call it a global discussion, and to the average phone-in listener, more accustomed to contributions from the odd Pat of Peckham, or Steve from Stourbridge, the scale of the World Have Your Say operation is mind-boggling. Yet this isn’t some one-off Eurovision-type link-up, it’s a five-day-a-week show going out at 6pm on the BBC World Service. This week, the programme is celebrating its fourth birthday and despite in its early days having been dismissed by one US radio station as 'BBC Lite', the show has since acquired a reputation of serving up a brew too strong for some to take. Indeed, having started life as something of a laboratory experiment in radio interactivity, it has broken free and developed not just a mind, but a voice of its own." Christopher Middleton, The Telegraph, 6 November 2009. It seems to me that "World Have Your Say" has been around for more than four years, at least as a weekly rather than weekday program.
     "A listener on a recent edition of Over to You claimed that the BBC World Service had 'lost its soul'. This remark seems to have struck a chord as it's been picked up and debated by many of those who've contacted us since. This week, Jonathan Snowden, listening in the UK offers his analysis of why that might be so. He suggests the villain of the piece is the automated system which plays out the programmes! Having this technology, although obviously a cost-effective resource 'requires an announcer to record live at only one point in the day so that the same announcement can be replayed as if new throughout the rest of the day' which, says Jonathan, 'kills much of the live spontaneity that characterised the World Service for so many decades'." Penny Vine, BBCWS Over To You blog, 6 November 2009. Agreed. In the 1970s and 1980s, which may have been the heyday of the BBCWS 24-hour English service, I was particularly reassured by the live "booth announcer," who would provide transition from one program to the next, and provide the GMT time.

Equatorial Guinea restricts and uses the media.

Posted: 08 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In fact, there exists no single independent media in Equatorial Guinea as all have been forced to close down. The only private media are in the hands of [President Teodoro] Obiang family members. The opposition still is not even allowed to drift even a short wave radio station, CPDS [Convergence for Social Democracy] complains. Also funding is not equal, the opposition maintains. CPDS is reacting to the costly campaigns already being aired by President Obiang in local media and internationally, including TV spots in 'Africa 24'." afrol News, 6 November 2009. I've seen the image ads for Equatorial Guinea on CNN International.

CNN International is "champion" for 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Posted: 08 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"With the 2010 Fifa World Cup we have the opportunity for our country’s greatest advertising campaign of all that we have to offer as a nation, and as a tourism destination. ... One such network which the 2010 LOC [Local Organizing Committee] has found to be a champion for 2010 is CNN International which has been working with South Africa Tourism and the 2010 LOC for over 2 years on the bigger 2010 story, demonstrating clear commitment to the Games far beyond and long before the phenomenal spectacle of football matches being played across our nation. CNN’s week-long '2010: Ready to Play' feature, which runs 4 times a year with new, rich stories on and off the stadium fields, reflects the degree of journalistic investment that CNN is willing to make in telling the pre-Games story of the 2010 Games from all angles." Sindiswa Nhlumayo, DDG, South Africa Department of Tourism, South Africa 2010, 6 November 2009.
     "Uganda has been selected to host the prestigious CNN MultiChoice African Journalism awards 2010." The Monitor (Kampala), 6 November 2009.

VOA correspondent Steve Herman in the news.

Posted: 08 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Foreign correspondents in India are upset over India's refusal to allow them to cover Dalai Lama's visit to the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. ... Steven Herman, South Asia Bureau Chief of Voice of America News says it will achieve just the opposite. 'This controversy has generated more interest in the visit. If they have been trying to keep the coverage low, now they have given the event more publicity,' he said. Herman said he had put in his application for the special permission with the state of Arunachal Pradesh, which was then sent to the Ministry of External Affairs. After numerous phone calls, he learned that he will not be granted the permission to cover the visit. 'It's forcing us to cover the visit on second hand material,' Herman said." All Headline News, 6 November 2009.
     "Voice of America (VOA) correspondent Steve Herman was recognized by the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) for his coverage of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Herman’s reporting was called 'highly commended' in the radio category of 'clearest coverage of a single news event.'" VOA press release, 6 November 2009.
     "Here in Kabul the noise level on the radio bands is extremely high and I have to listen very carefully in my headphones to make out those stations coming back to my 'CQ' calls." Steve Herman, writing about his amateur radio activities in an undated VOA blog entry. Such noise levels also affect shortwave broadcast reception. Caused by the proliferation of electrical and electronic devices that emit radio interference, this is an increasing problem throughout the world.

France 24 brings West Virginia's anti-Obama sentiment to the world.

Posted: 07 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"A French international news channel correspondent for France 24 visited West Virginia and reported anti-Obama sentiments run high in the Mountain State. Correspondent Guillaume Meyer visited Parkersburg to speak to local residents about President Obama. Vietnam veteran Ron Lott openly discussed his suspicion of the President. 'He’s a Kenyan born nationalist, and I believe that any man that wants to hold the highest office in this country who can’t produce a birth certificate is a fake,' Lott said in the story. Meyer reported that Lott and some of his friends think Obama is a Muslim and a Socialist." West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 5 November 2009.
     "Aiming to rapidly extend its distribution to the rest of the world, FRANCE 24 is putting Asia-Pacific at the forefront of its global roll-out strategy. ... Because of the free-to-air satellite broadcast of its English-language service on the ASIASAT 2 (now ASIASAT 5) platform since early 2009, FRANCE 24 has been able to conclude its first distribution agreements with major cable and IPTV platform operators, and is available in more than 50,000 international hotel rooms throughout Asia-Pacific. In order to strongly support its distribution effort on the ground, FRANCE 24 also mandated TV5 MONDE ASIA (via its Hong-Kong-based office) to prospect, promote and distribute FRANCE 24 on the residential and out-of-home markets in the key countries of the region." Satnews Daily, 4 November 2009.

International channels via satellite to Nigeria, at relatively low cost.

Posted: 07 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"New DSTV access, with over 25 channels at the monthly subscription of N1, 500, with the access, subscribers will pay $10 as monthly subscription emerges. MultiChoice Africa, operator of Africa’s pay TV platform DStv, announced the launch of the continent’s most accessible pay television package, DStv Access recently. Priced at only $10 per month, Dstv is therefore for family entertainment at the lowest cost in the market. ... Among other channels, DStv Access features BBC World, Aljazeera, National Geographic Wild, Fashion TV, Magic World and CNBC Africa as well as Metro TV and GTV. The bouquet will also have two Ugandan free-to-air channels; UBC TV and NTV Uganda and Kenya’s KBC and Citizen TV. It will also include specialist foreign language channels namely RAI (Italian) CCTV E&F (Chinese) RTPi (Portuguese) and TV5 Monde Afrique (French). It will also have DStv’s acclaimed DMX audio bouquet." This Day (Nigeria), 5 November 2009. I think the DMX audio bouquet includes VOA.

Deutsche Welle remembers East German barriers with computer animation.

Posted: 07 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"For the first time, a realistic computer animation reveals the vast security system of Germany's inner border and the Berlin Wall, both of which are recreated virtually in graphic detail. The HDTV computer animation maps out portions of the former borders in Berlin and between West and East Germany in an effort to show what a divided Germany was really like. ... Text and video: DW-TV. Deutsche Welle 2009." Via Radio Netherlands website. See also Part 1, about reunification. From Radio Netherlands Fall of Communism special section. See also Deutsche Welle German Reunification special section.

Assorted stories of RFE/RL's past and present.

Posted: 07 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Before his recent interview with RFE/RL, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shared a story about Radio Free Europe's (RFE) role in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. In early 1991, Biden, then-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed Polish President Lech Walesa to Washington, D.C. As the visit began, Biden learned exactly how crucial RFE had been to Eastern Europe's democratic movement. Walesa, a trade unionist, had just been elected the first president of Poland in December, and was in Washington for his first visit as head of a newly free European republic. As Biden tells it, 'I was on the phone and not prepared for him (Walesa) to come in the room. He walked over to me, put his hands on my shoulder and said, "Thank you, thank you."' To which Biden replied, 'No, no - thank you, thank Solidarity.' 'No,' Walesa said, 'Thank Radio Free Europe and the Holy Father.'" Zach Peterson, Off Mic blog, RFE/RL, 30 October 2009.
     "We should also use this historic moment to reflect on the role that the United States and its democratic allies played in the 'long twilight struggle' of the Cold War. Of course, the United States made some serious mistakes during those 40-plus years, most notably in irresponsible talk of 'liberation' during the struggle’s early period. In fact, though, while we did not use the 'l' word in our formal diplomatic vocabulary after the failed Hungarian Revolution, we never abandoned the ultimate objective of freedom for the satellites. We showed what was for Americans an unusual patience in keeping the faith through many years. We made small but important gestures, like refusing to recognize the Soviet incorporation of the Baltic states. We maintained funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the face of strong Soviet protests." Arch Puddington, Congress Blog, The Hill, 6 November 2009. Mr. Puddington was New York bureau chief of RFE/RL from 1985 to 1993, and is author of a book about RFE/RL.
     "Czechoslovaks received little reliable information from stolid state media, but many listened to Radio Free Europe and the BBC World Service, and Prague residents could see hundreds of East Germans camped out at the city’s West German embassy waiting to travel there. So when students organised a march to commemorate the death in November 1939 of Jan Opletal, a young man killed by the Nazi occupiers against whom he was protesting, they were steeled by a new-found optimism and determination. ... Word spread through the student community that the police had beaten to death a young demonstrator called Martin Smid. Radio Free Europe broadcast the rumour as news, and outrage emboldened a city that could otherwise have been cowed by fear. The next day, tens of thousands of people gathered on Wenceslas Square to condemn the police violence, and their numbers would not drop until they had toppled a regime which, before Bloody Friday, they had petitioned only for dialogue." Daniel McLaughlin, The Irish Times, 4 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "RFE itself was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Icons of freedom such as Vaclav Havel, a dissident who became president of a free Czechoslovakia in 1989, and Lech Walesa, the leader of Poland's Solidarity trade union movement, both say they depended on RFE for intellectual nourishment and moral solidarity under communism. Such accurate, trustworthy information is the oxygen of civil society, anywhere you go. ... Free media works. The more honest information and responsible discussion we can encourage and provide to the citizens of unfree societies, the better." RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin, USA Today, 5 November 2009.
     "John W. Limbert, a career Foreign Service Officer, was one of the American hostages [held in Iran, 1979-1981]. He was held in solitary confinement for about nine months. At one point, Limbert’s captors confronted him with a letter purportedly written in December 1979, by the executive vice president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which was critical of the Carter administration’s reaction to the embassy takeover. The fraudulent letter was written on paper similar to Radio Free Europe stationary from the 1950s: the stationary header used 'Radio Free Europe Division of the Free Europe Committee, Inc.' In 1976, Radio Free Europe and its sister broadcast station Radio Liberty had been consolidated into RFE/RL, Inc, and that was the correct corporate name." Richard Cummings,, undated(!).
     "Kyrgyz journalist Kubanych Djoldoshev suffered multiple injuries after being assaulted by unknown attackers at about 2 a.m. on November 1 in the southern city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. ... Djoldoshev has been working for the Kyrgyz branch of the RFE/RL prior to his current assignment with a newspaper." OhmyNews, 3 November 2009.
     "Afghan President Hamid Karzai ... exclusive interview with RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan’s Breshna Nazari in Kabul." RFE/RL, 1 November 2009.
     "Serbia has been in a state of denial about the 1990s wars for more than a decade. When Plavsic returned home this week, the media generally downplayed the story in order not to damage Serbia's political interests. But they did more than that - they failed to remind audiences that Plavsic was convicted of crimes against humanity and that she had just completed serving a prison sentence for that conviction." Nenad Pejic, RFE/RL associate director of broadcasting, RFE/RL, 31 October 2009. "The views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL."

Iran blames latest unrest on international broadcasts.

Posted: 07 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Even while Iran's security and plainclothes Basij forces dispersed opposition rallies on Wednesday with tear gas and batons, Iran's state-run media were complaining that foreign coverage of the 30th anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover was not, to use an American phrase, fair and balanced. The Islamic Republic News Agency, as part of its coverage of the protests in Tehran, wrote that global news television stations such as al-Jazeera, CNN and France 24 were 'seeking to create widespread unrest ... by broadcasting phony stories and images.'" Time, 5 November 2009. See also Alexandra Sandels, Babylon & Beyond blog, Los Angeles Times, 6 November 2009.
     "In a pre-sermon speech, Alaedin Boroujerdi, head of parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee, said the protesters were aping slogans on Voice of America." Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daragahi, Babylon & Beyond blog, Los Angeles Times, 6 November 2009.
     "New communication technologies and outlets such as VOA-Persian News Network, Radio Farda and BBC-Persian Service have helped a sizeable number of Iranians to overcome the regime’s monopoly of domestic media." Nazenin Ansari and Jonathan Paris, New York Times, 5 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Secretary Clinton is interviewed by Alhurra.

Posted: 07 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the Arab world, they are saying that the U.S. Administration started by criticizing Israel and asking it to – for a settlement freeze, and ended by praising Prime Minister Netanyahu after he denied the American calls. What can you answer?" State Department transcript, 3 November 2009.
     "National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair released the figure under a 2007 law that requires the secretive intelligence community to disclose the budget for the country's 16 spy agencies, said Radio Sawa today. ... The spy agencies spent $47.5 billion in 2008, a $4 billion increase over the 2007 budget." Mathaba, 31 October 2009.

"Foreign bureaucracies should not manufacture messages of democracy."

Posted: 07 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The administration aims to replace the advocacy of American values with a new focus on empowering local voices. Those policies, taking shape at the US Department of State under a new Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Judith A. McHale, represent a promising departure from the failed 'spoon-fed democracy' approach that Admiral Mike Mullen rightly criticised recently. If the US government learns anything from the failure of the US-funded al-Hurrah television station, it should be that foreign bureaucracies should not manufacture messages of democracy and tolerance to be broadcast at the Arab world. Such impulses need to come from within. They should be organic and authentic and free of government fingerprints. The Obama administration could start by condemning censorship and persecution of writers, and encouraging investments in education, literacy, libraries and broader Internet access." By Cynthia P. Schneider and Nadia Oweidat, Global Arab Network, 4 November 2009.
     The administration can condemn censorship and encourage internet access until it is blue in the face, but regimes such as those in Iran, Burma, and Zimbabwe won't comply until those regimes are replaced. International broadcasting must therefore step in to provide news and information to places where that information is denied. A lack of government fingerprints is good, whenever possible, but with limited commercial potential for international broadcasting in languages such as Persian, Pashto, Burmese, and even Arabic, government funding must be provided, coupled with the necessary guarantees of autonomy.
     As for the "failure" of "al-Hurrah" (Alhurra), see previous post.

"Leveraging" US international broadcasting is a good way of eliminating its audience.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In practical terms, regaining the trust of young Iranian democrats will require: publicly pressing the Iranian regime to respect human rights; integrating discussion of the regime's treatment of its opposition in all formal negotiations; reviving U.S. government funding to support the Internet, free media, people-to-people exchanges, and training on civic engagement; and leveraging the popular Voice of America and Radio Farda broadcasts to directly express American solidarity with the Iranian people." Akbar Atri and Mariam Memarsadeghi, Wall Street Journal, 4 November 2009. While we're at it, let's "leverage" the Wall Street Journal news coverage to express solidarity with American corporations. Despite the proclivities of the WSJ, I don't think the newspaper's journalists would stand for such a thing. Neither would the journalists of US international broadcasting, which is not merely an adjustable wrench for US foreign policy.
     "President Obama on Friday signed a $680 billion defense authorization bill into law. The military budget included a bill, allocating up to $50 million for the expansion of Persian-language broadcasting in Iran by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and the Voice of America's Persian News Network — the networks are accused of interference in Iran's internal affairs by spreading propaganda against the government. This is while in his message, President Obama said, 'We do not interfere in Iran's internal affairs.'" Anoush Maleki , op-ed, Press TV, 5 November 2009. Press TV leveraged to express solidarity with the Iranian regime.

Conversation between BBC and Fox International at CASBAA.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The CASBAA Convention 2009 kicked off full-fledged on November 4, 2009 at the hotel Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong. The opening address of the event was made by Marcel Fenez, Chairman, Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA), which was followed by discussions in the course of the day on various aspects of the broadcasting industry. ... The day also included a BBC Hardtalk conversation between Hernan Lopez, COO, Fox Int’l Channels, and BBC World News presenter Stephen Sackur.", 5 November 2009. That could be an interesting converstation, but it's not yet available at the BBC Hardtalk web page.

Voice of Russia wholeheartedly congratulated for glorious 80th anniversary!

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Dear participants and guests of the First International festival of Russian Language Radio Stations! On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I wholeheartedly congratulate you on a glorious anniversary – the 80th jubilee of the Voice of Russia. The legendary international broadcasting, the high standards of which received well-deserved recognition around the world, is still memorable for us, many diplomats. We can rightfully pride ourselves on being a country that pioneered broadcasting abroad. October 29, 1929, saw the first German broadcast of Radio Moscow International, which several decades later began to be called the Voice of Russia. The BBC went on air only three and the Voice of America seven years later. Today the Voice of Russia, which broadcasts to 160 countries in 38 languages, is one of the top five most listened to international radio stations, whose audience consists of more than 100 million people. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has long been closely working with the radio company. In the conditions when information wars have become one of the tools for achieving foreign policy objectives, the Voice of Russia plays an important role in creating a truthful image of our country abroad and conveying to millions of people objective and reliable information about present-day Russia." Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, 2 November 2009. Credibility is the most important ingredient of successful international radio. Accordingly, references to "working closely" with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and to "achieving foreign policy objectives" are perhaps not what VOR needed to hear. See previous post about same subject.
     "Vladimir Putin sent a message of greetings to participants and guests of the 1st International Festival of Russian-language Radio Stations. The message reads, in part: 'The festival, hosted by Voice of Russia radio broadcasting station, is the first event to gather Russian-language mass media and radio stations from Russia and the rest of the world. The event provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss Russian-language broadcasting and its promotion round the world.'" Government of the Russian Federation announcement, 2 November 2009.
     "Symbolically, the festival coincides with the Voice of Russia celebrating 80 years of broadcasting to foreign audiences. Today the Voice of Russia is one of the world’s largest radio stations and ranks among the top five most popular international broadcasters. It is hard to overestimate the importance of its work for shaping and promoting an objective image of Russia globally, for providing topical information to Russian compatriots and for strengthening their links with the historical Homeland. Taking this opportunity, I congratulate the whole VOR team on this significant event." Russian minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, 2 November 2009.
     "A delegation from Radio the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) was among 136 others attending the first international festival for radio outfits broadcasting opened in Moscow on November 2. ... VOV Vice General Director Dao Duy Hua discussed measures to boost cooperation between VOV and VOR." Voice of Vietnam, 3 November 2009.

Azerbaijan blocks international broadcasters but calls on its domestic stations to emulate them.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Azerbaijan’s government earlier in 2009 took action to restrain the reach of foreign broadcasters, in particular radio outlets like the British Broadcasting Corp. and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Now, a key member of President Ilham Aliyev’s administration is calling on state-run outlets to improve the quality of their broadcasts. However, as they contemplate ways to attract eyeballs back to state broadcasts, Azerbaijani officials are facing a paradox: authoritarian political environments tend not to be incubators of mass media innovation. In an Oct. 2 article published in the state newspaper Azerbaijan, presidential Chief-of-Staff Ramiz Mehtiyev harshly criticized national TV channels for broadcasting 'vapid and low-grade programs' that focus more on entertainment than news. Thanks to journalists’ 'low level of . . . professionalism' and 'low-quality programs' Azerbaijanis 'simply don’t watch national TV channels,' he wrote. ... Despite the government’s efforts to curtail broadcasting by foreign outlets into Azerbaijan, Mehtiyev named the BBC and CNN as examples for Azerbaijan’s own stations to emulate." Hürriyet Daily News (Istanbul), 5 November 2009.

International broadcasters win AIBs at London gala.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Among winners of Association for International Broadcasting International Media Excellence Awards: "Clearest coverage of a single news event – television: BBC Persian TV (UK) for The elections that shook Iran. Clearest coverage of a single news event – radio: RFE/RL (Czech Republic) for Special coverage of the Azeri referendum." Broadband TV News, 4 November 2009. See also AIB website and RFE/RL press release, 6 November 2009.
     "CBS and BBCA America were the leaders on the broadcast and cable side when it came to Emmy nominations for business and financial reporting Emmys. ... For its part, BBC World News America earned three nominations: Tokyo in the Downturn in the category for outstanding coverage of a current business news story in a regularly scheduled newscast; and China Rising and Return to White Horse Village, both in outstanding interpretation or analysis of a business news story in a regularly scheduled newscast." Multichannel News, 5 November 2009.

China Radio International official calls for media to report "objectively."

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Media in China and Japan should accept their social responsibility and strengthen mutual communication to help build warm bilateral ties, experts said at a parallel session of the Fifth Beijing-Tokyo Forum in Dalian yesterday. According to a recent poll, 'more than 90 percent' of Chinese and Japanese acquire information about each other's countries through print, online and digital media. 'Media alone doesn't influence public opinion, but media does bear a heavy responsibility when it comes to communication between two countries. Many mutual misunderstandings could occur if media fails to report the facts objectively,' said Ma Weigong, deputy editor-in-chief of China Radio International." People's Daily Online, 3 November 2009.
     "Chinese police have reportedly arrested two Uighur journalists who published online about Uighur issues in Xinjiang, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Chinese authorities blamed local and international Uighur Web sites for fueling July's ethnic violence, according to international news reports. Security officials arrested Web site manager Hailaite Niyazi in his home in the regional capital, Urumqi, on October 1, according to The Associated Press and Radio France Internationale today." CPJ, 30 October 2009.

Commentator calls for more international broadcasts in Afan Oromo.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"One year has passed since the Tigre Ethnic Apartheid Regime of Meles Zenawi, which represents less than 6% (estimated 4 million of the 85 million) of Ethiopian populations, has shutdown Afan Oromo Television Programs, Afan Oromo Radio stations and all Afan Oromo news papers, Ethiopia’s single widely spoken language, to silence 40 milllion Oromo people of Ethiopia. ... For over a year now, the only sources of news for 40 million Oromo’s in Ethiopia is the Afan Oromo service of the Voice of America (VOA) radio station broadcasted from Washington D.C. The VOA radio is broadcasting half an hour daily program five days a week. ... We ... appeal to the United States government and the Voice of America Radio to increase the Afan Oromo program to at least one hour a day, and allow its fine journalists in the program cover the famine situation. We also extend our plea to the government of the United Kingdom and to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to start Afan Oromo Radio and Television program to reach 40 million Oromo people in the Horn of Africa. It is to be noted that BBC is broadcasting in Somali language to reach estimated ten million Somalis in Somalia." David Merga, Jimma Times, 1 November 2009.

France 24, BBC World Service cover the troubles in Guinea.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
Guinea's "president, Captain Moussa "Dadis" Camarra, who seized power after a coup last December ... appears to be an isolated figure, cancelling his weekly television appearances and refusing requests for media interviews. This may in part be due to a recent intimate profile by the French television channel France 24, in which Dadis was filmed in his pyjamas in the presidential bed. He shows the reporter his preferred bedtime reading, a book entitled The Power of Positive Thinking. French media have since been ejected from the country." Ed Butler, The Guardian, 2 November 2009. "Ed Butler is producer of the BBC World Service Assignment programme Guinea on the Brink? It [was] be broadcast on 5 November."
     "Meanwhile, two correspondents from Radio France International (RFI) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) who endured persistent harassment and threats from the military in the wake of the country's political crisis, have relocated to neighbouring Dakar, capital of Senegal, together with their families. One soldier reportedly told the journalists: 'We have been monitoring your reports on this morning's events. You are dead meat, you and your families.'" Media Foundation for West Africa, 5 November 2009.

"Television is fast approaching global ubiquity," and implications thereof.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"In our collective enthusiasm for whiz-bang new social-networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, the implications of this next television age -- from lower birthrates among poor women to decreased corruption to higher school enrollment rates -- have largely gone overlooked despite their much more sweeping impact. And it's not earnest educational programming that's reshaping the world on all those TV sets. The programs that so many dismiss as junk -- from song-and-dance shows to Desperate Housewives -- are being eagerly consumed by poor people everywhere who are just now getting access to television for the first time. That's a powerful force for spreading glitz and drama -- but also social change. ... [W]ith the growing reach of BBC World News and CNN in the Middle East, and the growing reach of Al Jazeera in the West, there is at least a greater potential to understand how the other side thinks." Charles Kenny, Foreign Policy, November/December 2009. Recommended reading.
     "For all the power of the internet, television remains a medium that spreads further and faster. In 2007 about 3 billion people had access to a television and more than 30m new TV sets are being turned on in Africa and Asia each year. Demand is so great that in rural Peru soap operas arrived before a national electricity grid: people powered their new television sets with car batteries. In India 50% of households watch television compared with 7% who surf the net." John Harlow, Sunday Times, 1 November 2009.

San Francisco FM outlet for Al Jazeera and BBC is off the air.

Posted: 06 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pirate Cat Radio, a volunteer-run, community broadcasting organization operating out of the Pirate Cat Café in San Francisco’s Mission district, has ceased its terrestrial broadcast on 87.9FM in response to the latest demands of the Federal Communications Commission. ... They are one of the best sources of news and regularly broadcast Al Jazeera and BBC bulletins." Press release via Mission Mission, 2 November 2009. They were also not licensed to broadcast and were fined $10,000.

Lamenting the third generation of internet censorship.

Posted: 05 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"'We are now onto third-generation controls,' [Jillian York, project coordinator for the OpenNet Initiative] said of Internet censorship. 'The first generation was simple filtering, IP blocking in China, for example.' The second generation was surveillance, which ranged from placing spies or closed-circuit cameras in Internet cafés to installing tracking software on computers themselves. 'The third generation controls combine all the above. We see it in China, Syria, and Burma. It’s a very broad approach,' York laments. ... This censorship creep is an established phenomenon in Asia and the Middle East. But now it is spreading to Africa, where Internet use is still relatively low. Sub-Saharan African governments that have hobbled their own broadcast and print media have watched the celebrity-censors of other continents like China, Cuba and Iran and have drawn the inevitable conclusion: Online journalism is the future, so control it now." Robert Mahoney, CPJ Blog, Committee to Protect Journalists, 2 November 2009.

Wi-fi radios: international, but not yet mobile.

Posted: 05 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Most people in the UK can ... get global standard digital radio streamed over the internet. At the moment, most listen using their PCs, but standalone Wi-Fi radios are getting cheaper and easier to 'tune'. A Wi-Fi radio can be plugged in anywhere there's a Wi-Fi signal. It offers access to many thousands of stations from all over the world – including the BBC's national and local stations – and lets listeners create their own 'stations' using services such as Spotify, and (if available) Pandora. Internet radio's sound quality can be much higher than DAB or even DAB+. Indeed, someone with an 8Mbps internet connection could listen to about 100 DAB-quality radio stations at once. The problem, of course, is getting the internet to a car driver, a commuter, or someone just walking down the street. However, that should be practicable using either WiMax (a souped-up long range Wi-Fi) or the next generation of mobile broadband, known as LTE (Long Term Evolution)." Jack Schofield, Organ Grinder blog, The Guardian, 2 November 2009.

Diplomacy or credibility? ABC director will have to decide in his plans for Australian international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 05 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"THE ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] chief, Mark Scott, will tonight launch his multimillion-dollar plans for global domination, arguing for a huge expansion in the broadcaster's overseas services in an effort to rival the BBC, CNN and the emerging Chinese media offensive. ... 'We have an important role to play and we have to use all the tools at our disposal to continue to do so - one of these tools is soft diplomacy - using the media to put our nation's culture, values and policies on show,' Mr Scott will say. Under his plan, the ABC would: --Merge the international television service Australia Network and radio service Radio Australia into a single brand. --Expand its broadcasts to reach 53 countries in Africa, 22 in the Middle East and up to 21 in Latin America. --Create an additional five news bureaus in the Asia-Pacific region, bringing the total to 14, more than the BBC or CNN." Ari Sharp, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 2009.
     "Without directly mentioning the challenge from pay television for government money, Scott argues that only the ABC can deliver the benefits. 'When you look at the expansion of international broadcasting as an arm of soft diplomacy, Governments are using their public broadcasters to do this work. You shouldn’t outsource your diplomatic efforts.' He argues that the ABC is better placed for the task because it is free of any commercial agenda 'that could conflict with its public duty role.'" Margaret Simons, The Content Makers, 4 November 2009, with link to full text of the speech.
     Does the ABC do news or Australian propaganda? Mr. Scott makes frequent mention of both "credibility" and "diplomacy," in his speech, resulting in a muddle that is not especially helpful to ABC (including Radio Australia and Australia Network) journalists. If he puts it this way, then a "commercial agenda" might actually provide Australia with a more reliable international news service.
     Update: "The owner of Sky News Australia has accused the ABC of trying to block competition for the Federal Government's TV contracts with its multi-million-dollar push for international expansion. ... The Australian News Channel, which owns Sky News, says the Foreign Affairs Department's contract for the Australia Network will be locked up if the service is combined with the ABC-owned Radio Australia. 'Mr Scott is trying to absorb Australia Network into the ABC to permanently block any alternative service model,' the company's chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said in a statement. 'In doing so, he is suggesting the ABC can be both a policy arm of government and stay true to its charter to be independent of government. He can't have it both ways. If Mr Scott is intent on merging Australia Network and Radio Australia, he raises the question as to whether the provision of Radio Australia should also be subject to open tender.'" ABC News, 5 November 2009.
     "Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin said yesterday he was sceptical about the plan, and Australians believed the public broadcaster should focus on improving domestic services. ... While the government yesterday refused to rule out backing the Scott plan, Senator Minchin told The Australian it would be risky for the ABC to take on any role that might be seen as linked to the 'party-political foreign policy' aims of the government. 'Most Australians would regard the foreign aid budget being one based on helping the poor and underprivileged around the world -- not necessarily broadcasting Australian propaganda,' said Senator Minchin, who said he had not yet read Mr Scott's speech in full. 'While I believe in a well-funded ABC, I think any additional funds that it might be able to attract should go into improving its services to Australians, not to broadcasting to people in other countries.' ... [H]e said any link between the ABC and government agendas could open the broadcaster to questions about its independence. He also said if the government believed it should expand its overseas broadcasting effort, it should call tenders, not pass the job directly to the ABC." Matthew Franklin, The Australian, 6 November 2009.

CNN opens Abu Dhabi hub with new daily news show (updated).

Posted: 05 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN Abu Dhabi, the latest newsgathering expansion from the global news brand, opens its doors today, it was announced by Tony Maddox, MD and EVP CNN International. ... CNN Abu Dhabi will coordinate newsgathering for the seven CNN operations in the region: Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Jerusalem, Kabul and Islamabad. ... For the first time in CNN's history, daily live news show 'PRISM,' presented by Stan Grant, will be broadcast from the Middle East. CNN Abu Dhabi will also be home to CNN's perennially popular feature shows, 'Inside the Middle East,' now in its sixth year, and 'Marketplace Middle East,' which launched two years ago. ... Since early 2008 CNN has opened seven new editorial operations across Africa, Asia, Latin America and now the Middle East, as well as placing additional correspondents in many existing operations." CNN, 3 November 2009.
     "CNN has another office in Dubai Media City, where it runs its Arabic website. Mr Maddox added that the company was 'paying our own way' in Abu Dhabi. CNN officials brushed off concerns about free speech in the region, saying the operate in many countries without freedom of the press. 'We will operate the way we operate in any of our operations,' said Tom Fenton, CNN managing editor for the Middle East. 'We will never bring our standards down.'" Keach Hagey, The National (Abu Dhabi), 3 November 2009.
     "His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Monday said CNN International’s choice of Abu Dhabi for opening a station was yet another proof of the UAE’s respectable position in the world’s political, economic and cultural map." Khaleej Times (Dubai), 3 November 2009. "Sheikh Mohammed reviewed with the delegation members issues related to regional and international media and economy, as well as the role of the visual media in brining nations closer and highlighting the truth with great objectivity." WAM Emirates News Agency, 2 November 2009.
     Update: Tom Fenton, CNN's managing editor for the Middle East, "is confident CNN International will stand up to competition from BBC World and Al Jazeera in the region. 'Competition is a good thing, and this is coming from someone who has been with CNN long enough to remember when we were the only kids on the block,' said Fenton. 'We welcome competition. We've always been better at breaking news. People tend to switch to CNN when they see a breaking story." However, he added, what they have been working to increase in recent years is more coverage behind the headlines, putting news in context with in-depth coverage." Jane Ferguson, Gulf News (Doha), 5 November 2009.

Well, it *is* overseas broadcasting.

Posted: 05 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"As far as institutional initiatives on public diplomacy that could facilitate the transmission of the U.S. governments message to foreign publics – as well as foreign leaders – the Obama administration is still working on them through the recently begun Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Even the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body that overseas [sic] Voice of America and the other U.S. international broadcasting services, is in a holding pattern with the terms of all nine board members expired and none yet nominated by the White House to fill the posts. The inaction is typical in many ways of the Obama administration’s failure to engage the world substantively – despite all the president’s appealing imagery, symbols and oratory." Helle Dale, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation, 4 November 2009. BTW, I am fully capable of committing similar typos.

Clinton's tongue slips on Al Jazeera; portion retaped.

Posted: 04 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"[I]n a new twist Tuesday, [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton made what appeared to be an inadvertent slip of the tongue in a television interview with the al-Jazeera network, referring to the goal of 'an Israeli capital in east Jerusalem.' It has not been U.S. policy to favor including east Jerusalem in an Israeli capital; the Palestinians claim it as their capital, and the issue is one of the most important and delicate points that would have to be settled in any final peace deal between the two parties. Two Clinton aides monitoring the interview alerted her to the mistake and that portion of the interview was retaped so she could correct herself." AP, 3 November 2009. See also, 4 November 2009.

Al Jazeera English now on radio in Qatar.

Posted: 04 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"As part of Al Jazeera’s vision to extend its reach, Al Jazeera English will begin Qatar radio service transmission on FM 101.7. The launch of the service coincides with Al Jazeera English’s third anniversary. Al Jazeera Network deputy director-general Khaled al-Mulla said that the transmission of Al Jazeera English Channel on local FM radio is due to the increasing demand from local, regional and global viewers. Earlier this year Al Jazeera Arabic Channel launched its FM radio service in Gaza following the channel’s transmission on local FM radio in Qatar." Gulf Times (Doha), 2 November 2009. Presumably the audio portion of the Al Jazeera English television channel. Much television news programming works surprisingly well as radio.

British Forces radio signs on in Afghanistan with "Wake Up Boo!".

Posted: 04 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
The move of British Forces Broadcasting Service "to Afghanistan has been a long time coming. BFBS originally built and shipped a radio studio to Afghanistan in 2007 but it took two years to finally get a site for the equipment and months more for engineers to restore it since it had been buffeted by the harsh desert conditions. But it finally opened a new chapter in radio history this morning when Mr Miller and his fellow DJ, Dave Simon, began broadcasting across airwaves dedicated to the troops in Helmand and to their families back home. The ironies the forces have to contend with during their tours of Afghanistan was more than evident in the tracks chosen when the broadcaster asked the forces community to vote for the song that should be the first broadcast. The Boo Radleys track [Wake Up Boo!] beat competition from such songs as The Sound of Music sung by Julie Andrews, which includes the famous line: 'The hills are alive.'" Terri Judd, The Independent, 26 October 2009.

South African draft legislation would affect Channel Africa (uploaded).

Posted: 04 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"A new draft Bill tabled by government this week seeks to scrap TV licences and introduce other changes to public broadcasting in South Africa. The draft legislation would see the cash-strapped SABC funded directly from money deducted from personal income tax. ... The new Bill, which affects the SABC board and introduces a performance management system, would also establish an international broadcasting services division and transfer Channel Africa to the new operating unit." Daily Dispatch (East London, South Africa), 2 November 2009. See also South Africa Department of Communication, 2 November 2009. Channel Africa is South Africa's international radio service, broadcasting in six languages, successor to Radio RSA of the apartheid era.
     Update: "The bill creates a new international division in the SABC to absorb Channel Africa and promote international broadcasting. But it does it in a way that undermines the SABC’s independence, by saying that this division will promote the country’s foreign policy. Note that it is not the national interest that the SABC would be obliged to promote, but the current government’s policies." Anton Harber, Business Day (Johannesburg), 3 November 2009. See also international provisions (pdf) of the Public Service Broadcasting Bill.

Not to mention all those bespoke ads on CNN International promoting tourism in this country or that.

Posted: 04 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International today announced the formation of a global strategic partnership between the CNN Tourism, Advertising Solutions and Knowledge (TASK) Group and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). ... The TASK Group, a fully complimentary, bespoke client service comprising a team of external experts in tourism and economic development, works closely with CNN to support clients to create impactful tourism communications solutions. Now in its third year of global operations, the TASK Group celebrates assisting more than 65 Ministries of Tourism and tourism industry leaders across the world with strategic advice to enhance their nation and brand building efforts and navigate crisis issues.", 2 November 2009.

CNBC Asia moving to SGX building in Singapore.

Posted: 04 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC ... and Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX) today jointly announced the launch of a strategic collaboration to relocate CNBC Asia Pacific’s primary studio facility to the SGX building. The new studio facility being built is scheduled to be operational in Q2 2010. Located on the 2nd floor area of the SGX Centre 1 building in Shenton Way, the heart of Singapore’s financial district, the new facility will house: a. CNBC’s primary multi-camera studio for the production of all of CNBC Asia Pacific’s live business day programming. b. CNBC’s main production control room with direct connections to CNBC’s bureaus around the region." Press release via Asia Media Journal, 2 November 2009.

Deutsche Welle is an innovator in search engine technology.

Posted: 03 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Search engine technology is in a state of flux as it digs ever deeper for new meaning. Europe is poised to reap the benefits of the new age of semantic search thanks to the work of European researchers. ... One partner of the project, Deutsche Welle, a German TV station, created a dossier-developing tool called Full Story. This remarkable program can help a video editor link to video, audio and text relevant to a particular topic." ICT Results, 2 November 2009.

Presumably nation branding masterclass will teach about need for masterbudget for ads on international channels.

Posted: 03 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Lord Tim Bell will share lessons he has learned from a career of advising governments and leaders on communications strategy and reputation management at the upcoming Nation Branding Masterclass taking place at the World Travel Market in London on November 12. ... This Nation Branding Masterclass is the fourth in a global series organized with the support of BBC World News. Previous events have taken place in India, Africa, and Asia and a final event is planned for the Middle East." C Squared Communications press release, 31 October 2009. See also, 2 November 2009. BBC World News would want to support this, as many of the its ads are nation branding exercises. See previous post about same subject.

New RFE/RL service to South Ossetia and Abkhazia begins, with target hinting of "technical means to hinder."

Posted: 03 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Liberty begins broadcast in Abkhazia and Tskinvali breakaway Regions today. The Georgian producers of the radio say that on November 2, the first one-hour long program will broadcast in the air of the Radio Liberty`s local branch Echo of the Caucasus. The audio of the program will be available on the radio web site, which will be opened today. A team of five reporters work for the Echo of the Caucasus in the Prague. The editors say that the parts of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Regions, including Gali district, will be able to listen to the programs of the Radio Liberty on the frequency of the Radio Green Wave. 'As for the threats of the Sokhumi puppet regime that they will suppress the broadcast, they should know that we do not need licence for broadcast. In addition, this is not the issue of political character, we`ll broadcast only news programs,' Davit Kakabadze, the Georgian producer of the radio Liberty has said." The Georgian Times, 2 November 2009.
     "The South Ossetian authorities will prevent the broadcasting of Radio Liberty in the republic's territory, the chairman of the state committee for information and mass communications of the republic of South Ossetia, Georgiy Kabisov, has told the Regnum news agency while commenting on reports that Radio Liberty's Georgian service planned to premier the [Russian-language] programme 'Caucasus Echo' ['Ekho Kavkaza'] in South Ossetia on 2 November. According to Kabisov, South Ossetian government bodies have not received any requests from the leadership of Radio Liberty asking for permission to broadcast in the republic's territory. 'Claims by the Georgian service of Radio Liberty that they supposedly, by virtue of some specific circumstances, don't need any permission in order to broadcast are legally groundless,' Kabisov said. 'There are generally accepted standards for the work of media outlets, and if Radio Liberty does not deem it necessary to adhere to them, then this should be regarded as an informational provocation.' 'If the leadership of the radio station nonetheless decides to broadcast without permission in South Ossetian territory, we will be forced to use our technical means to hinder that,' Kabisov said. Regnum news agency (Moscow), 2 November 2009, translated by BBC Monitoring. See previous post about same subject.

Report: Al Jazeera website blocked in Tunisia after election.

Posted: 03 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tunisia blocked access to the website of regional satellite news channel al-Jazeera after the results of the presidential election were announced, a rights group said Tuesday. ... Attempts to access al-Jazeera's website from Tunis returned a 'page not found' error message, which is typical of sites blocked in the country." DPA, 27 October 2009.
     "Blocking 'Al Jazeera Net' came a few days after blocking 'MyPortail' news site , due to that both sites published reviews of the French book, 'The Regent of Carthage', which monitored the dominance of the strong wife of President Ben Ali and her family on Tunisia in the last years." Press release, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, 27 October 2009.

In Jordan, television channels in hotel rooms keyed to guests' nationalities.

Posted: 03 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"When we registered in each of the three hotels in which we stayed, in Amman, Aqaba and at the Dead Sea, we checked out the channels available on television. In each case, the lower placed news channels (2 to 6) provided news coverage with most of the contrasting coverage that North American viewers might desire. From the United States came CNN and Fox News. From Europe, there was BBC World and an English-language French network. And, from the Middle East, there was Al Jazeera. Later, we came across an item in the Jordan Daily Times newspaper that highlighted a plan by one higher-end hotel chain to key their television channel choices to hotel registration data. That would permit, the story suggested, the placing of news channels of interest to, for example, Indonesians and Malaysians -- who visit Jordan in significant numbers." Lloyd Mackey,, 29 October 2009. The English-language French network is France 24, which identifies itself as "France vingt-quatre," which is perhaps why he didn't catch its name. But, then again, he is from Canada...

Brazil plans international television channel for emigrants.

Posted: 03 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tereza Cruvinel, the chairwoman of Brazilian state-owned communications company Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), announced Thursday, October 15, during an event at the Brazilian foreign office (Itamaraty), in Rio, the creation of an international channel by TV Brasil. The new channel will target Brazilian emigrants, who currently total approximately 3 million, according to the government. Africa should be the first continent to receive the broadcasts, in 2010. ... The Brazilian minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, believes that by means of a Brazilian public television abroad, the government may expand its dialogue with the its nationals living abroad, favoring the promotion of consular services and of campaigns, such as encouraging participation in elections and education, through distance learning courses, for instance. A resident of Orlando, in Florida, the Brazilian journalist Paulo Corrêa celebrates the initiative and calls for shows featuring Brazilian cuisine on TV, regional varieties and Brazilian culture in general. 'We cannot remain held hostage to Brazilian commercial television channels here," he claimed. 'We want our children to become familiar with more diversity from Brazil, with the Brazilian people, rather than only with the soap operas show,' he criticized." Brazzil Magazine, 16 October 2009.

"Technology team" will help SW Radio Africa (to Zimbabwe) "streamline."

Posted: 02 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Gerry Jackson, the director of SWRadio Africa ... will explain what SWRadio Africa do and why they do it, as well as detailing many of the realities which limit their ability to reach a wider audience. The technology team will then have two weeks (during which they can volunteer to use up to one full day) to come up with a range of solutions which will help to streamline SWRadio's technological capacity and ultimately increase its reach and output. So why Gerry, and why SWRadio Africa?" The Guardian, 30 October 2009. See also Gerry Jackson presentation at The Guardian Activate 09 website. SW Radio Africa is the subject of much publicity. However, a survey in Zimbabwe, June/July 2009 shows that VOA's Studio 7 dominates among international broadcasters with a weekly audience of 16%, followed by two percent for BBC, one percent for Voice of the People (shortwave via Madagascar), and rather less than one percent for SW Radio Africa. VOA's medium wave relay in Botswana is obviously helpful. SW Radio's "technology team" would have to find a similar facility.
     "The way the West has poured money for the MDC’s election campaigns in Zimbabwe in the last ten years was a form of rigging. Beaming anti-Zanu PF propaganda through short wave radio to rural voters who did not receive the signal of the country’s own national broadcaster, was a form of rigging." The Southern Times, 1 November 2009.

South African news channel plans African news channel.

Posted: 02 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
South African commercial broadcaster " has plans for a new continental news service for Africa, which will be named eNews Africa. The broadcaster is understood to be working on plans for its second television news channel, which will include specific news agencies from across the continent.'s plans for eNews Africa follow the success of the eNews Channel (channel 403 on DStv). Since its launch in June 2008, it has become the most popular news channel among viewers on the DStv platform. The eNews Africa channel will operate as a sister channel to the eNews Channel, with the same approach to news, but with slightly different programme construction, scheduling and presentation, in order to adjust to an African audience. ... While the SABC's interim board considers closing the SABC News International news channel, which can only be seen on the limited Vivid platform, is of the opinion that there are great opportunities for growth in Africa's news industry." News24 (Cape Town), 7 October 2009.

Burma's new radio format: pop music mixed with anti-foreign propaganda.

Posted: 02 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"State repression of the media and the 'atmosphere of fear' surrounding the Burmese people makes balanced reporting almost unworkable, [former journalist for Burma's Ministry of Information] Soe Win Than said as part of a debate on the future of Burma. ... 'They [the Burmese junta] discourage and threaten people not to listen to foreign radio stations,' he said. ... The junta's 'propaganda machine' is another force working against journalists, as state newspapers 'accuse the foreign press of being biased' and 'slandering them', said Than. 'They set up radio stations with rock and pop music interspersed with anti-foreign news propaganda,' he said. Than said he believes there will be 'more control and propaganda' in the run up to next year's mooted general election." Arj Singh,, 30 October 2009.

Will CITV, created to compete with CNN, actually compete with CCTV?

Posted: 02 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN is about to get a new competitor -- from China. China's state-run Xinhua News Agency has been putting together its own 24-hour satellite news channel for the past year and will begin broadcasting reports from a Chinese perspective next month to viewers around the world in conjunction with CCTV's existing English-language channel. A Xinhua official on Thursday said that China International TV (CITV) will launch on Nov. 7, Xinhua's 78th anniversary. A media official in Beijing said the news channel will be headquartered in the Chinese capital and begin with a branch office in Hong Kong, gradually expanding to more overseas offices. 'Just as Al Jazeera has an Arab point of view, CITV intends to report global news from a Chinese, rather than a Western, perspective,' the official added. CITV will start broadcasting in Chinese and offer English-language reports from January. Initially it will target viewers in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian nations, with the ultimate aim to broaden its viewership to the entire world." Chosun Ilbo (Seoul), 30 October 2009.
     "China International TV Corporation (CITVC) and KyLinTV jointly launched a series of events in New York to celebrate the fifth anniversary of CITCV's [sic] innovative Chinese culture broadcast package, Great Wall TV, in the United States. The Great Wall Package is comprised of 24 channels including the major domestic and international news channels CCTV-4 and CCTV-9. Also included in the package are the Chinese Movie Channel, CCTV-Opera, CCTV-Entertainment, Hunan TV, Beijing TV, Shanghai Dragon TV, Phoenix TV and other flagship provincial channels that keep the four million Chinese living in North America connected to their hometowns. KyLinTV is the largest provider of IPTV to Chinese homes in North America. ... Established in 1984, CITVC is an exclusive state-owned corporation invested by China Central Television (CCTV)." KyLinTV press release, 30 October 2009.
     So, if I have this correct, CITV is a Xinhua entity, while CITVC is a separate entity owned by CCTV, which will soon be subject to competition from Xinhua in the international television arena. In this way, China is emulating US international broadcasting.

"Local collaboration" hypothesis floated after NTDTV disruption in Taiwan (updated).

Posted: 02 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"A renowned Chinese journalist is calling for Taiwanese authorities to thoroughly investigate the disruption of New Tang Dynasty TV’s (NTDTV) signals in Taiwan, in particular, for any possible local collaboration to undermine its broadcasts. ... Mr. Wu Baozhang, former director of Radio France International’s Chinese program, told NTDTV how he suspects local people in Taiwan might be collaborating with the Chinese communist regime. ... NTDTV’s signal interruptions started on Sep. 17, and peaked on Oct. 1, during China’s National Day celebrations. The interruption especially targeted evening news programs and news commentary programs." Epoch Times, 18 October 2009. Assuming the interference affects NTDTV reception from a satellite (the article doesn't specify this), a jamming signal on the uplink would disrupt reception throughout the footprint, including mainland China and Taiwan. Interference specific to Taiwan would have to involve many ground-based jamming transmitters -- an unlikely scenario. NTDTV is affiliated with the Falun Gong movement.
     Update: "The American Institute in Taiwan—which is somewhat akin to a U.S. embassy—is especially concerned about the issue. On the 9th of October, AIT spokesman Thomas Hodges expressed hope that once the Taiwan’s regulatory National Communications Commission—or NCC—finishes its investigation, they will forward the results to the U.S. State Department." New Tang Dynasty Television, 30 October 2009.

Now even North Koreans must listen to other people's mobile conversations.

Posted: 01 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The number of mobile subscribers in North Korea is growing at a faster clip, reaching an estimated 100,000 as of the end of September, the Voice of America reported Saturday. The figures were taken from data released by EFG-Hermes, an Egyptian investment bank, the report said. According to the data, the number of North Korean mobile subscribers more than doubled from 48,000 at the end of June, it said. Naeem Holding, another Egyptian investment bank, predicted that the number of mobile subscribers will increase to 123,000 at the end of this year, followed by 310,000 at the end of 2010 and 568,000 in late 2011, the report said. Egypt-based mobile operator Orascom Telecom launched mobile services in North Korea in December of last year and has since reported brisk sales." Yonhap, 31 October 2009. Apparently no opportunities here for international broadcasting, as this seems to be a strictly internal system.

Press TV notes international broadcasting provisions in new US Defense authorization bill.

Posted: 01 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The United States has incorporated a bill into its annual military budget, which will allocate millions of dollars for Persian-language broadcasts. US President Barack Obama signed the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act (VOICE) into law earlier this week. The bill was introduced by Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Ted Kaufman, Lindsey Graham, and Robert Casey as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. According to the website of Senator Lieberman, the bill authorizes $50 million for the expansion of Persian-language broadcasting in Iran by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and the Voice of America's Persian News Network. It will also allocate another $25 million in internet-based activities, the website said. Analysts in Iran say the move comes in response to the arrest of members of a US-based terrorist group — the Kingdom Assembly of Iran. The detainees admitted to having masterminded and carried out terrorist acts inside Iran, including the deadly bombing of a mosque in the southern city of Shiraz in April 2008. The group runs a Persian TV channel in the US." Press TV, 1 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

A grumble about VOA via Radio Pakistan Peshawar.

Posted: 01 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"The other day, in the evening when I tuned to Radio Pakistan Peshawar I was surprised to find the Pashto service of the Voice of America being transmitted on the frequency of Radio Pakistan Peshawar (540 KHz MW). Later I came to know that the government had recently sold the 6-11 pm slot on Radio Pakistan Peshawar to the VOA. May I ask why this has been done, especially since Radio Pakistan is a national institution and its transmitter is the most powerful in the whole province? As we are well aware that Pakistan is passing through a crucial period and there was need to counter Taliban propaganda and sensitise the local population through all possible indigenous means. Radio is still a popular medium in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s Pashto-speaking areas due to a host of factors. In addition to Pashto, a programme in Dari (Afghan Persian) is also broadcast from Radio Pakistan Peshawar on a daily basis. The handing over of our airbases to the US is still an issue. Now Radio Pakistan has handed over one of its most powerful transmitters to the US for their propaganda broadcast." Aslam Javaid Khan, Lahore, letter to The News (Karachi), 1 November 2009.
     "Director General Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) Murtaza Solangi ... said under its changed policy Radio Pakistan is expanding its cooperation with other broadcasters of the world. 'In near future we are going to sign two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with Radio China International [sic, should be China Radio International]. Similarly the PBC has entered into a agreement with Voice of America (VoA).' He dispelled the impression created by section of press about the agreement by stating that we have only sold our airtime to the VoA and all programmes broadcast through PBC transmitters are under a strict regime of checks and balances." Associated Press of Pakistan, 1 November 2009.
     "To a question, [Secretary Information and Broadcasting Mansoor Suhail] said that Voice of America is not the only media organization with which Radio Pakistan had entered into an agreement but it was cooperating with Radios of several other friendly countries including China Radio International. He said that the agreement with VOA was one of the many ventures of the PBC with international media organizations by following the due process and rules. The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has sold our air time to the VOA and its programmes broadcast over the PBC network are operational under a strict regime of checks and balances, monitoring and editorial guidelines to safeguard our national interests, Mansoor Suhail said." Associated Press of Pakistan, 31 October 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     Aslam Javaid's letter (above) was also published by The Daily Mail (Islamabad), 2 November 2009, which also published this letter: "I am no supporter of US policies, especially those related to our region in general and Pakistan and Afghanistan in particular. But having said that, I feel there is a lot that our political leaders, especially those who are currently holding the rudders of our national ship, need to learn from the way the US secretary of state conducted herself during her exhaustive and action-packed visit to Pakistan." Manzoor Iqbal, Islamabad, ibid.

Americans can rest well knowing that Palau is our ally, and other shortwave stories.

Posted: 01 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"Wednesday evening's prime time radio and TV program 'The Mesa Redonda' (The Round Table) - broadcast live on Cubavisión, Cubavisión Internacional, Radio Rebelde and the international shortwave frequencies of Radio Havana Cuba - dealt with Cuba's overwhelming victory at the United Nations General Assembly today. The nightly radio and TV program aired the speech by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, delivered just before the vote was taken. The panelists on the Mesa this evening discussed the vote, in which 187 countries voted against Washington's blockade against the island and only three voted for it - the United States, Israel and Palau.", 28 October 2009.
     Begum Akhtar's "more contemporary challengers included Iqbal Bano and Farida Khanum, from across the border in Pakistan. It was not so easy to carry records of this or that musician across the border those days. So there is no certain way to figure out who was more popular. But the Khanum-Bano duo was routinely heard across India on the short-wave frequency of Radio Pakistan, which could not probably be said of the ghazal queen of India." Hard News (New Delhi), 30 October 2009.
     Erik Mathisen, founder of community radio station KTHM in Red Bluff, California: "'When I was 12, we got television at my house. When we got a TV set, the family radio came into my bedroom, and it was magic.' He recalls growing up in Corning and hearing broadcasts from such faraway places as Chicago and Minnesota. 'Then I discovered shortwave,' he said, hearing broadcasts from Moscow and London." Redding (CA) Record Searchlight, 30 October 2009.
     "VOLMET stations broadcast weather reports to aircrafts in flight. The name is a combination of two French words, vol, meaning 'aircraft,' and météo, meaning 'weather.' Three VOLMET stations that serve aircraft on trans-Atlantic routes are located in New York City, Gander, Newfoundland, and Shannon, Ireland. ... The New York City VOLMET station is WSY70. I hear it on 3.485 megahertz in the 90 meter short wave band. Its transmitter site is on the Atlantic Ocean, near Barnegat Light, New Jersey, about 90 miles south of New York City. Its control point is in New York, and its ID is 'this is New York radio.'" randallespinoza1978, lifeinajar, 29 October 2009.
     "[In] July 2002 ... North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, admitted that 'over-zealous' special forces had abducted a least a dozen Japanese citizens – men, women and children between the ages of 13 and 46. ... Officially, 17 Japanese have been identified as abductees, although private groups put the number in the scores. Five have returned but the Japanese government contends that Pyongyang holds the remaining 12. ... Meanwhile the Japanese government ... broadcasts a daily three-hour shortwave radio programme to North Korea with taped messages from relatives and news from the homeland. Shigeo Iizuke has taken advantage of this to try to reach his missing sister, who vanished more than 30 years ago." David Munk, The Guardian, 28 October 2009. Medium wave, which would easily reach North Korea from Japan, may be more useful, given the availability of receivers in North Korea.
     "A parade of 14,000 Italian athletes and sportsmen before Premier Mussolini was held today [28 October 1934] for the inauguration of the magnificent new boulevard to be known as Via Circus Maximus, celebrating the anniversary of the March on Rome and the beginning of the thirteenth year of the rule by Fascist dictatorship. Other features included the inauguration by [Guglielmo] Marconi of a new short-wave broadcasting service to the United States. At one point Il Duce interrupted the proceedings to stop the band and signal a troop of motorcyclists to open the exhausts of their motors with a resounding roar." New York Times, 28 October 2009.
     "Investors scattered across the United States, Canada, Europe and Latin America were shocked to learn in July that a supposedly safe currency investment program promoted by some Twin Cities money managers had gone awry. ... Mike Thompson said he came close to making a substantial investment in the currency program, which he had learned about through the Worldwide Christian Radio shortwave network [WWCR]. ... The FBI also wanted to know who owns and operates Universal Brokerage, a company associated with [Pat] Kiley, whose radio program, 'Follow the Money,' also was carried on WWCR as well as on stations nationwide." Dan Browning, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 28 October 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "Bush was elected by eight years of talk radio Clinton-bashing. Rush Limbaugh shared the same stations with Art Bell and Alex Jones. ... The apocalyptic hysteria was subsidized by apocalyptic marketing: ads reminded us to buy gold, wind-up shortwave radios, and a seven-year supply of freeze-dried food." Matt Osborne, Huffington Post, 27 October 2009.
     The Knights of Columbus "donated a new shortwave radio transmitter to the Vatican in 1966 and presently pay for the costs of a satellite uplink for major worldwide telecasts from the Vatican." Catholic News Agency, 28 October 2009.
     CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge "learned the 'art of the interview' by spending hours on short-wave radio listening to other broadcasters in North America and paying close attention to what he calls the best interviewers in the business, Barbara Frum, Peter Gzowski and Pamela Wallin." London (ON) Free Press, 31 October 2009. Shortwave perhaps because Mansbridge's early career was in remote northern Canada.