BBG condemns latest Iranian satellite jamming, urges satellite companies to "stand united."

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors condemns the latest efforts of the Iranian Government and its associates to interfere and censor the free flow of objective news and information to the Iranian people. By monitoring satellite signals, BBG's technical experts have determined that on December 27, the Government of Iran engaged in the intentional jamming of satellite transmissions of the Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Radio Farda. ... The latest actions of the Iranian government in jamming commercial satellites appear calculated to intimidate the commercial satellite providers that are targets of the jamming into complicity with the actions of the Government of Iran and deprive the Iranian people access to free press and information. 'Private industry is an essential partner in freedom of the press. We urge our satellite partners to stand united in the face of these authoritarian acts or risk even greater human rights losses,' BBG Governor D. Jeffrey Hirschberg said after the Iranian Government's latest efforts to jam U.S. International Broadcasting signals." BBG press release, 29 December 2009.
     "[E]ngineers who regularly monitor satellite communications say Iran apparently is the source of the signal interference, which has blanketed a satellite system known as Hot Bird. A BBG statement said its experts have determined that Iranian government jamming has been in effect at least since December 27." VOA News, 30 December 2009. See also Digital Journal, 31 December 2009.
     Kai Ludwig sends (from his sources) a screenshot of the slide the BBC now airs instead of BBC Persian on Hotbird 6. Kai adds: "Apparently Iran now also attacks the IBB's small 'Iran mux' with VOA TV Persian and Radio Farda, taken out of their main Hotbird mux in June (so the strongly worded BBG statement actually aims not only at external satellite operators but at their very own IBB, too)."
     "The Arabic-language satellite channel Al Jazeera, which is owned by the Qatari government, is the most influential channel in the Arab world — with an average of 45 million daily viewers. Al Jazeera continues to operate from Iran because of its favorable coverage of re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Qatari government is Iran’s only ally in the Gulf." Mohammad al-Kassim, Worldfocus, 31 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBC Persian all over the news.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Kasra Naji of the BBC’s Persian Service, who’s monitoring events from London, says these demonstrations were of a different order than previous ones. 'This time there was quite a lot of violence from security forces, and demonstrators paid in kind ... they reacted badly and violently too,' said Naji." PRI The World, 29 December 2009.
     "The security forces clearly have to tread a fine line between not appearing weak but also not provoking opposition protesters, says Siavash Ardalan of BBC Persian TV." B92 (Belgrade), 27 December 2009. "As government security forces work to break up protesters, the BBC’s Persian TV correspondent, Siavash Ardalan, reports that police must perform a delicate balancing act between 'not appearing weak but also not provoking opposition protesters.'" Christian Science Monitor, 27 December 2009.
     "Ahmadi-Moqaddam said that those who attacked the security forces, destroyed public property or chanted 'racy' slogans were considered to be 'mohareb [one who wages war against God]', reports the BBC Persian service." WashingtonTV, 30 December 2009.
     "Haji Farid, a lawmaker from the Kapisa province, said 'Every time an American soldier gets killed, they bomb an entire village,' the BBC Persian reported." Press TV, 29 December 2009.
     "The indiscriminate targeting of civilians prompted Kunar parliamentary representatives to storm out of an important debate on appointments to Karzai's new cabinet in a show of protests. Shuja Al-Malik, one of the parliamentarians representing Kunar, confirmed that 'all the children were 12 to 18-year-olds belonging to an elementary religious school,' the BBC Persian reported. Press TV, 29 December 2009.

BBC Hindi veteran joins Indian conglomerate Sahara.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sahara India Pariwar has appointed Sanjeev Srivastava as CEO and editor-in-chief, heading all media related activities of the Group. Srivastava, currently India editor at BBC, will take up this new role starting January. He comes with over 25 years of experience in journalism with various media organisations including the Times of India and Indian Express. Working for 16 years with the BBC, he most recently led the entire BBC Hindi output generated from India across all platforms of delivery, including FM, short wave and online." Indiantelevision.com, 29 December 2009.

World War II shortwave listeners notified POW families.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Joan Stocker's "latest passion is a collection of letters, telegrams, papers and scrapbooks donated to the center by the family of Lee McKee, a Joplin [Missouri] restaurant owner who passed away recently. ... McKee served as a gunner on a bomber in the European Theater in World War II [and was a prisoner of war] ... . 'When McKee’s plane was shot down and they reported him missing in action, there was a broadcast over the short-wave radio that people heard that had his name and that he had been taken as prisoner of war,' Stocker said. 'That was the first word that they knew he was still alive. That was the first word that they knew he was still alive. People heard this announcement on their short-wave radios all over the United States. It was a propaganda broadcast from Germany. People took the time to write to Joplin. A lot of them didn’t even have an address for McKee’s family and they just wrote that they heard on their short wave radio his name and city and number and he was listed as a prisoner of war and people from all over the country that heard the broadcast did that. I thought that was really marvelous that people cared enough that they would write the family.'" Jeff Pinnell and John Hacker, Carthage (MO) Press, 29 December 2009.

Voice of Russia: Official station of the asteroid that might hit Earth in 2029.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The threat of an asteroid crashing into Earth has captivated the imaginations of movie audiences for years. Now, however, Russia is working to develop a very real plan to counter such a threat. The Russian space agency says it is working to prevent a large asteroid from colliding with Earth. Voice of Russia radio reported the agency's head, Anatoly Perminov, made the announcement Wednesday." MacKenzie Babb, VOA News, 30 December 2009. This story was cited and attributed to Voice of Russia (successor to Radio Moscow) by many news organizations. The earliest cite I can find is RIA Niovosti, 30 December 2009, referring to an interview with Anatoly Perminov, head of Russia's news agency. At the English site of VOR, I can find only a brief news item, 30 December 2009. This seems to be the interview at VOR Russian, 30 December 2009, with audio.

On Russia Today, Rep. Rohrabacher "unequivocal" about Obama Afghanistan policy.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Congressman representing Seal Beach and many other California beach communities chose Russian television as a forum to present his condemnation of the Obama Administration’s Afghanistan surge strategy. Although his opposition to the strategy is not new, [Dana] Rohrabacher provided unequivocal opinions yesterday on the English language program on RT, (for Russia Today). According to Wikipedia, 'RT, previously known as Russia Today, is a globally broadcast English-language channel from Russia, and the first all-digital Russian TV network, sponsored by the state owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti.'" Dolores Barr, OC180NEWS.com, 29 December 2009.

Hijo de Radio Moscú: Russia Today (RT) launches Spanish channel (updated).

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Round-the-clock TV news network Russia Today (RT) launched its Spanish channel on Monday, to add to its English and Arabic channels. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Mexican Energy Minister Georgina Kessel, Venezuelan human rights activist Eva Golinger and flamenco bailaora Mercedes Ruiz have already given exclusive interviews in Spanish to the new channel. The channel has around 200 Spanish-speaking staff, including 35 journalists from Argentina, Spain, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, the United States, and Bolivia." RIA Novosti, 28 December 2009. See also actualidad.rt.com, "al Ritmo de los Tiempos." The schedule at the live stream page indicates that RT Spanish is 24 hours, with many repeats.
     Update: "The channel broadcasts from Moscow via satellites IS9, Hispasat 1D and the satellite television system Digital+. Millions of viewers across Europe, North and South America have access to its open signal. RT’s Spanish programming takes into account the time difference for its broadcasting across various time zones and all news bulletins are run at morning or evening prime-time in Madrid, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. ... At present about 200 employees work in Spanish RT, including 35 journalists from Spain, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia and the USA. Among them there are well-known correspondents and presenters who worked for the largest European and Latin-American Channels such as TVE in Spain, TVN and Canal 13 in Chile, TV Azteca in Mexico, CNN Espanol and Telemundo." RT press release, 30 December 2009.

New year, new design.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
I hope you find this redesigned website easy to read and to navigate. The new header "reporting on international broadcasting" replaces "discussing international broadcasting and public diplomacy." This site does more reporting than discussing, and it's more about international broadcasting than about public diplomacy. (For the latter, see the PD blogroll along the right column of this page.)
     This new version of the website was developed (painstakingly) by Bennett Z. Kobb. (See his site kobb.us.) Benn used the open source content management system Textpattern.

Interviewed by VOA on Sunday, arrested on Monday, and other Iran media notes.

Posted: 30 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Sunday evening, [veteran democratic activist Heshmat] Tabarzadi was interviewed on Voice of America Persian. He said he had never seen such vast protests, and he cautioned the demonstrators against resorting to violence. The regime's response came early on Monday, when the Iranian intelligence service knocked on Mr. Tabarzadi's door. When he asked to see their warrant, they barged into his home with force. According to a prominent activist who spoke with Mr. Tebarzadi's family, the agents seized his papers, articles, books and computer, arresting him in front of his wife and son. Multiple calls to his home went unanswered, and no one knows where Mr. Tabarzadi is being held." Wall Street Journal, 30 December 2009.
     "As the Iranian opposition continue their protests against the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there are signs of growing unease at the heart of government in Tehran. Jamming of a satellite carrying the BBC’s Persian television service began about ten days ago, and the US government’s international broadcasts to Iran are now also being subjected to deliberate interference." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands, 30 December 2009.
     "The sister of 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has been arrested by Iranian authorities, among 10 new arrests reported by the opposition on December 29. Nushin Ebadi was detained at her home on December 28. Shirin Ebadi told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that authorities from the Ministry of Information had threatened her sister and told her that she herself must give up her human rights work." RFE/RL, 30 December 2009.
     "When the Iranian regime eventually crumbles, as all tyrannies must, the events that brought it down will be remembered as the first YouTube revolution. Once uploaded on to the internet, the snatched, grainy video footage, the camera angle lurching up and down and from side to side, has an instant impact, both domestically and internationally. ... News is pouring out despite the best efforts of the Iranian censors. The monitoring centre is believed to engage in a process called Deep Packet Inspection, which deconstructs every packet of digitised data, examines it for keywords such as 'democracy' and 'freedom' and then reconstructs it within seconds. This enables the Government to monitor protesters’ activities, block communications and gather information. But in this continuing cat-and-mouse game the opposition is winning. Many are using proxy servers to connect to the internet and either e-mail or upload their films." Adam LeBor, The Times, 29 December 2009.
     "[B]ereft of correspondents on the ground in Tehran, BBC World, al-Jazeera English and CNN disappointed with their coverage. Press TV, the Iranian government’s English-language proposition for round-the-clock news coverage, was screening a documentary on Ashura in Africa. The Persian-language channels were broadcasting wall-to-wall, black-clad mourners beating their breasts within the walls of government-sanctioned mourning centers. The Arabic channels were even more disappointing: though they have active bureaus in Tehran and correspondents on the ground, they were too busy commemorating the first anniversary since the Israeli invasion of Gaza last year yesterday to look at their neighbour across the Persian Gulf. So it was back to news sites and Facebook, by far the best tailor-made news source at hand. A bewildering torrent of information streamed down my Facebook homepage, announcing moment-by-moment updates from demonstrators in Tehran and other cities." Iason Athanasiadis, Global Post, 28 December 2009.
     "[D]on't tell me that Twitter and other online networks have improved the situation in Iran. It's deluded to think that 'hashtags', 'Tweets' and 'Twibbons' have threatened the regime for a second. If all the internet could muster in a decade was smug armchair activists and pontificating techies, we may as well all log off in the New Year." Will Heaven, The Telegraph, 29 December 2009.
     "[C]lassically dictatorial regimes have tried to cut off their people from communication with each other and the rest of the world. [Now] the existence of the Internet and Facebook, of Twitter and YouTube, [of] cell phones and Blackberries has enabled people in Iran to communicate with one another. The government has tried to block that, [and the passage of the VOICE Act] is our way of putting some American money into technological support so that the people of Iran, seeking their freedom, against this dictatorial regime, can essentially evade the attempts by that regime to block their ability to speak to one another." Senator Joseph Lieberman, interviewed by Hossein Aryan, RFE/RL, 30 December 2009.
     "This administration is certainly not ready to engage with the people of Iran and nurture and support their quest for freedom. As Heritage’s expert on public diplomacy Helle Dale pointed out during protests after the national elections President Obama 'carefully positioned himself on the fence between the alleged winner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the candidate supported by Iran’s hundreds of thousands of protesters, Hossein Mousavi, the message from the U.S. government has been muted.' Even if the White House was prepared to act it has done nothing to build the tools to do so. The administration has made virtually no progress in updating the government’s public diplomacy tools and the White House has show no interest in democracy promotion programs for Iran." Jamaes Carafano, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation, 28 December 2009.

RFE/RL mourns death of Radio Farda colleague.

Posted: 30 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL's Persian-language Service, Radio Farda, is mourning the loss of Mahin Gorji who passed away on December 26. RFE/RL's Golnaz Esfandiari remembers a much-loved colleague: Our friend and colleague, Radio Farda broadcaster Mahin Gorji, passed away on Saturday, December 26. She was 41 years old. Mahin had been in a coma since a September 29 automobile accident [in Prague] in which two other Radio Farda journalists, Rosa Ajiri and Amir Zamanifar, were killed. Her death is a great loss to everyone who had the honor and the pleasure of knowing her personally, and to the thousands of Radio Farda listeners who have been sending messages of condolence over the past few days." Golnaz Esfandiari, Off Mic blog, RFE/RL, 29 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Sentencing of Chinese dissident accompanied by media blackout.

Posted: 30 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Human-rights groups and governments have condemned the 11-year sentence of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo despite Beijing claiming criticisms are interference in its internal affairs. ... But Chinese media reported very little of the sentencing by a Beijing court of the academic, literary critic and political activist Liu, 53, who had been calling for an end to one-party rule in China. ... Just after Liu's arrest, a report by Washington-based Radio Free Asia said China's powerful Central Propaganda Department had verbally ordered a crackdown on Chinese media workers who had signed Charter 08. Also, media outlets were banned from interviewing anyone who had signed it. ... The blogging Web site bullog.cn, used often by Charter 08 activists, has recently been shut down, some media report." UPI, 28 December 2009. See also RFA, 25 December 2009.

RFE/RL publishes communism versus democracy essay.

Posted: 30 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Excerpts from runner-up in a contest of student essays sponsored by the Vaclav Havel Library to mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution: "Communism: unfree speech. Communism: National Security Force. Communism: Radio Free Europe. Communism: Nationalization. Communism: Vaclav Havel. Communism: Karl Marx. ... Democracy: equality. Democracy: weapons of mass destruction. Democracy: terrorism. Democracy: September 11, 2001 – New York. Democracy: war in Iraq. Democracy: free elections." Commentary, Veronika Tykacova, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 28 December 2009.

Stories of BBC and VOA.

Posted: 30 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
In Funtua, Nigeria, hometown of would-be airplane bomber Umar Abdulmutallab: "[A] group of elderly men were listening to the local Hausa language services of the BBC and Voice of America radio stations, eager to hear the latest developments." Reuters, 27 December 2009.
     "In college, [Mumbai's Taj Hotel manager Karambir Kang] got up every morning and listened to the radio. BBC and Voice of America were his favourite. Then he’d narrate the day’s world events to his father." Forbes India via Moneycontrol, 29 December 2009.
     "Kalyani Kaul, a prominent barrister of Indian-origin who has handled high-profile cases in the UK, has been appointed a Recorder by Queen Elizabeth and will soon preside over hearings in county courts. ... Kalyani, is the daughter of well-known British journalists Mahendra Kaul and Rajni Kaul, both of whom worked for long years with the Voice of America (VoA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)." The Economic Times, 29 December 2009.

Alhurra presenter's polyandry suggestion brings blasphemy complaint (updated).

Posted: 30 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A 790-word opinion article by a female Saudi writer, Nadine Al Bdair, might start a fierce legal and social confrontation between traditionalists and reformists. In her weekly article published on December 11 in the Egyptian newspaper Al Masri Al Youm, Nadine cynically urged religious scholars to issue a verdict allowing women to marry four men simultaneously to equate them with men in the Sharia, a move that was considered by many Muslims as blasphemous and a blunt call to wreck the foundations of the religion. ... Nadine, a Dubai-based Saudi journalist, who started her career as an opinion writer in a number of Saudi and Gulf newspapers, has lived in Dubai, Cairo and Washington. She also works as a presenter of a TV show at the Virginia-based Al Hurra TV Arabic Channel. Nadine's weekly programme, Mosawat, that translates into equality, focuses on issues related to women's rights in the Arab world. Lawyer Khalid Fouad Hafez, who is also the secretary general of the People Democratic Party in Egypt, filed a complaint against Nadine and Magdi Al Galad, editor-in-chief of Al Masri Al Youm, for his role in publishing the opinion article in the newspaper. In a telephone interview, Hafez told Gulf News the literal meaning of the article is blasphemous and includes a call for an immoral act, which, he stressed, is a violation of the Egyptian criminal code. ... Staff members at Al Hurra TV in Dubai and in Washington, who were reached for a comment on the case refused to give an official statement. A senior official from Al Hurra told Gulf News on condition of anonymity that the Nadine issue this time is related to her activities outside Al Hurra and the station has nothing to do with it. 'We will review the level Al Hurra would support [Nadine] once the legal action starts against her,' he said." Duraid Al Baik, Gulf News (Dubai), 23 December 2009.
     Update: "Saudi journalist, Nadine Al Bdair, and Editor-in-Chief, Magdy Al Galad, will be summoned for questioning in Egypt on Tuesday, Gulf News has learned, after General Public Prosecutor, Abdul Majeed Mahmoud, ordered the prosecutor of south Cairo to investigate blasphemy charges against the two. ... Prosecution lawyer Khalid Fouad Hafez told Gulf News that he had been waiting for two weeks for the Public Prosecutor to hear the case. Since the case was filed, Nadine has been out of the public eye, but a source from Al Hurra TV, her former employer, says she might be in Beirut." Duraid Al Baik, Gulf News, 29 December 2009.

Palestinian commentator faults Al Jazeera for reporting on the Gaza missiles fired at Israel.

Posted: 29 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"When Al Jazeera describes such rockets in every report as relentless, that is the kind of reporting that has brought death to thousands of Palestinians while it has achieved nothing on the political arena." Sameh Habeeb, The Palestine Telegraph, 28 December 2009.
     "I don't know what kind of contacts the failed airplane bomber did or didn't have with Al-Qaeda Central or Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and neither does anybody else who has commented since it happened. ... One of the real stories here, which has gone largely unremarked in the coverage I've seen, is that the Arab media generally couldn't care less. Today's news and opinion is dominated by Gaza -- an issue which commands far more popular outrage, anger, and politically mobilized attention than does anything to do with al-Qaeda. ... It's the same on the major pan-Arab TV stations. On the al-Jazeera webpage, the story doesn't even appear on the Arab news page, while a bland story about the airplane incident is only the sixth story on the international page (the same place it held in the broadcast news roundup; yesterday it was the third story in the news roundup, with the killing of 6 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza the lead). It does not crack the top 6 stories on the al-Arabiya website today." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 27 December 2009.

Christmas channel Holly will "kiss goodbye" Worldspace operations in India.

Posted: 29 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Holly, that runs back to back Christmas programming every year from 10 to 31 December, is traditionally produced in the US and distributed to all the countries Worldspace operates in. After the bankruptcy hassles hit the organisation late last year, Holly could not go on air in December2008. Following several subscriber requests, however, the India team put together Holly this year, and the channel - number 700 on the Worldspace dial, has been on air for over two weeks now. While the beleagured pay radio satellite operator is likely to issue a public statement in a day or two, Holly will essentially help it kiss goodbye to its nearly 450,000 subscribers in the country, most of whom are part of the Airtel DTH DTH service." Radioandmusic.com, 28 December 2009.
     "As predicted by Rapid TV News some weeks ago, struggling pay-radio operator Worldspace is to close its Indian service. Worldspace will switch off its India broadcasting channels on Dec 31st. The news, while not unexpected, means that Worldspace will say goodbye to the best part of450,000 local subscribers, mostly part of the local Airtel DTH pay-television service. However, according to one company staffer, Worldspace’s India coffers are 'empty'. ... Staff at Worldspace are furious at the decision, and will not be compensated. One insider told Rapid: 'The situation here in WS India is terrible and one would imagine that an American Company would have good business practices when dealing with employees or going about a liquidation process.'" Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 27 December 2009.
     "'It is a pity to lose this good service. Indian FM channels are nothing compared to the quality WorldSpace offered. We sold our TV as we found WorldSpace more enlightening. Don’t we have a single entrepreneur who can spot opportunity in this venture and ensure that the satellite radio makes a great comeback into our lives?' commented [a] WorldSpace fan, Ravi Krishnamurthy. With subscribers themselves suggesting a way out, the question remains if any corporate entities in India will spot the potential." Amritha Pillay, moneylife.in, 28 December 2009.
     "Some now suggest that Liberty Media will redirect the Worldspace assets towards Western Europe, which boasts over 300 million vehicles on the road. This seems to be the most likely scenario for the future of Liberty Satellite Radio, based on the information available at this time. A very speculative scenario which I can envision, is that Liberty could use the assets of Worldspace to target South America, specifically Brazil. Western Europe poses some issues in my mind — including the need for multi-lingual content. The fact is that Worldspace failed to grab a significant foothold in Europe and there are other European Satellite Radio providers in a much better position, such as Ondas Media. ... From a content perspective, Sirius XM Radio already offers Spanish language programming, and the addition of only Portuguese language broadcasting would need to be added. There is a complete lack of competition in South America in the Satellite Radio space, which could mean exponential growth for any company seeking to establish itself there — especially in Brazil, where the economy is expected to grow as it continues to become a financial superpower." Brandon Matthews, Satwaves, 26 December 2009. "Very speculative scenario" indeed, when you consider that Worldspace never launched its Ameristar satellite and was never a player in the Americas. See previous post about same subject.

China Network Television brings CCTV content to the world via internet.

Posted: 29 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"China Network Television, the national network television broadcasting organization of China with ties to CCTV, has been formally launched under the domain name of CNTV.cn. Focusing on audio-visual interaction, CNTV is a global-focused, multi-language, and multi-terminal public service platform that combines the features of an old-school television network. It integrates network TV, IPTV, mobile phone TV, and mobile media to create channels in various languages. By deployment of mirror sites across the world, this platform will cover Internet users in nearly 100 countries and regions in North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa." China Tech News, 30 December 2009.
     "Mainstream media must actively expand themselves to new media area to improve their capacity of communication, said Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, at the opening ceremony. ... The online station is wholly owned by China Central Television." Xinhua, 28 December 2009.
     "A lot of the competition for China Network Television (CNTV) has been swept away in recent months -- the government has shut many websites that provide video downloading services as part of a crackdown on 'unhealthy' content." Variety, 28 December 2009.
     "'CCTV program services outside the country have encountered many limitations due to business reasons,' Wu Chunyong, the chief editor of SARFT.cn, said yesterday. They had to depend on satellite and cable in other countries but the Internet TV station cuts down costs substantially because it only needs some servers," he said."
China Daily, 29 December 2009.
     The "limitations" that CCTV has experienced outside of China are minor compared to what non-Chinese media face when they try to reach China. They are blocked and jammed in every possible manner, in keeping with the Chinese dictum of "we broadcast, you receive." As for CNTV.cn, it works well on my PC. I don't, however, see the "multi-language" aspect of it, unless perhaps there is content in various dialects of Chinese. I can't find any link to English.

Radio Australia drops sports bulletins following harassment dispute.

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ABC's international broadcaster, Radio Australia, is terminating its sports bulletins following a sexual harassment dispute involving the department's manager and its only dedicated sports reporter. The head of Radio Australia, Hanh Tran, has announced plans to cull the sports department's bulletins, prompting concern from sports representatives in the Asia-Pacific region. ... When quizzed on Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program about plans to axe the five-minute sports bulletins, totalling 40 minutes per day, Mr Tran admitted to pushing the idea without consulting the organisation's audience or partner stations in the Pacific and Asia." Steve Holland, The Age, 27 December 2009. Presumably relays of sports coverage from parent ABC continue. Radio Australia will want to restore its own sports programming as soon as possible. BBC World Service has demonstrated the importance of sports coverage in attracting an audience.

Mobile phones help bring down North Korean "information wall" (updated)

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The information wall North Korea has set up along its borders to keep its people isolated from the rest of the world for half a century is finally coming down, with the help of mobile phones. Defectors from North Korea and ethnic Koreans in China, who have extensive contacts in North Korea via cell phones, are bringing outside news into the North and obtaining information on what's happening inside the hermit kingdom. ... Civil groups – which also include Open Radio for North Korea, a radio station specializing in North Korean news – are collecting information from defectors and ethnic Koreans in the Chinese region bordering the North. They keep contact via cell phones." Lee Jong-Heon, UPI, 24 December 2009. Works only so far as the cell relays in China can reach into North Korea. There is no connection to North Korea's new and restricted domestic mobile phone network.
     Update: "Affordable electronics are also cracking open the government's decades-old seal on incoming information. Imported radios — and televisions in border areas — are enabling a substantial proportion of the North Korean populations to tune in to Chinese and South Korean stations, as well as to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, according to an unpublished survey of newly arrived defectors in South Korea. It found that two-thirds of them listened regularly to foreign broadcasts." Blaine Harden, Washington Post, 27 December 2009. But don't project that two-thirds to all North Koreans, as defectors are not representative of the NK population.

Getting a "firmer grip" on the $1 billion spent on information operations.

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Paid-for news articles, billboards, radio and television programs, and even polls and focus groups have been sponsored by the U.S. Central Command, which has raised its spending for information operations programs from $40 million in 2008 to $110 million in 2009 to a requested $244 million in 2010. But when Congress asked this year what the Defense Department across the services and commands proposed spending for strategic communications -- or information operations as it is often called -- in the fiscal 2010 budget, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates found that no one could say because there was no central coordination. The first answer came back at $1 billion, but that was later changed to $626 million. As a result, Gates has multiple studies underway to get a firmer grip over the individual military services' plans for strategic communications next year, according to Pentagon officials." Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 27 December 2009.

James Zogby on another year, another $112 million for Alhurra.

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The US government-funded TV network Al Hurra was intended to be an important component of American efforts to win hearts and minds in the Arab world. It was a bad idea when it was launched in 2004. It has failed, and yet it won’t die. This month the US Congress approved another $112 million to fund al Hurra in 2010, making the 'bad idea’s' cost to date for American taxpayers more than $650 million. ...
     "[T]here was no US version of the BBC, a respected international brand with a seasoned staff of professionals. The BBC would have an easier time launching an Arabic channel and having it accepted as a serious news operation: that is what it is known for and what it does well. The US, on the other hand, has no such organisation and would therefore be creating one 'out of whole cloth'. And it would no doubt be seen as a propaganda effort – since that, quite simply, was what it was intended to be. ...
     "At one point I was called by staffers from the Senate committee that was holding hearings on launching and funding this 'bad idea'. I said I would be delighted to give my views. A few days later I was contacted again to provide a preview of my take on this venture. I stated my case (the same arguments I have presented here) and suggested that instead of wasting $100 million a year, it might be better to create a fund to encourage public/private co-production arrangements between Arab and US networks and other opportunities for Arab network journalists to work with American counterparts; this would cost less and be of greater benefit. But the committee had already made up its mind to go forward with Al Hurra, and I was not asked to give evidence." John Zogby, The National (Abu Dhabi), 26 December 2009.
     Arabic is an obvious target language for US international broadcasting. And television is the obvious medium to reach that audience. It would be great if CNN had extended its Arabic-language website into television, but they must have looked at the numbers and determined that it couldn't be profitable.
     And, so, the US Arabic channel must be US government funded. It wasn't created "out of whole cloth." The VOA Arabic Service, though never nearly as popular as BBC Arabic, was substantial and contributed some of its talent to Alhurra and to Radio Sawa.
     Was Alhurra intended "quite simply" to be a propaganda effort? Early Alhurra management did the channel no favors by talking about objective news in one breath, and about promoting freedom and democracy in the next. But all BBG entities must abide by sound journalistic guidelines which cannot casually be dismissed and, without which, they would have no audience.
     So far, Alhurra audience numbers have not been bad. (See previous post.) The big question is how well Alhurra will be able to compete with the new BBC Arabic television channel, now that the latter is becoming established.

Study compares effects of international news channels.

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
A "new academic study published in Media, War and Conflict which draws on a six country study of viewers of CNN International, BBC World and Al-Jazeera English to see whether broadcasters foster cross-cultural understanding or a clash of civilisations. ... The authors’ survey found that the more months a viewer had been watching Al-Jazeera English the less dogmatic they were in their thinking. For instance, viewers who were dependent on BBC World and especially on CNN International were more supportive of US foreign policy generally." Phillip Knightley, Khaleej Times, 27 December 2009. See paper abstract at Sagepublications.com.

Can Turkey's Arabic-language television succeed?

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Over the next few weeks, the Turkish government has plans to launch its own Arabic-language satellite TV station in an effort to connect with the Arab world. The decision was facilitated by a recent piece of legislation allowing Turkey to broadcast in languages other than Turkish, which was prohibited until now. ...
'Noteworthy,' said [USC professor Philip] Seib, 'is that the Arab world is being courted by two non-Arab Muslim states - Turkey and Iran - and this contest for influence will be fascinating to watch.' Considering Turkey's broadcasts last month of the inflammatory anti-Israel series Ayrilik, the question becomes, does contending for a place among Arab TV networks and competing for ratings in the Arab world mean more anti-Israel programming?" Stefani Garden, Jerusalem Post, 24 December 2009.
     Turkey prohibited non-Turkish domestic television, largely to keep Kurdish off the air. Turkey has had international radio in non-Turkish languages for decades. Also for decades, Turkey and Iran have had international radio broadcasts in Arabic. Iran's Al-Alam and the new Turkish effort extend that outreach to television. So far, Al Alam has not attracted much of an audience. With its ability to provide entertainment programs attractive to the region, Turkey's TRT might have more success. On the other hand, TRT might make more money selling its programs to Arab television stations than transmitting them directly to the Arab market. See previous post about same subject.

Fox is "suspiciously more informed" about bid to release abducted Israeli soldier.

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Over the last few days [Israel] has been gripped by the slow drip of information coming out regarding a deal for the release of Gilad Schalit [Israeli soldier held by Hamas since 2006]. It has become increasingly clear that one news source in particular is suspiciously more informed than all the others. As highlighted earlier this week by The Jerusalem Post, Fox News, owned by America's Fox News Group, and created by Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has been constantly leading both the international and local media on all matters Gilad Schalit. ... Is the [Israeli] government leaking information to Fox News to bypass the censor?" Stefani Garden, Jerusalem Post, 24 December 2009. Alhurra also had an early scoop involving the possible release of Gilad Schalit. See previous post.

Mexico's Televisa news channel will compete with CNN en español and Telesur.

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mexican broadcaster Televisa plans to launch a 24-hour cable news channel next year, Chief Executive Emilio Azcarraga posted on Twitter. This would be Televisa's second attempt to run a 24-hour news channel after shutting its Noticias ECO initiative in 2001 because of low profitability. ECO aired Spanish-language news round the clock for 13 years and its satellite footprint covered the Americas, Europe and northern Africa." Reuters, 21 December 2009.
     "El canal de Televisa entrará a competir en un mercado que se disputan el estadounidense CNN en español, Telesur que emite desde Venezuela y el colombiano NTN24, cuya señal satelital se difunde en todo el continente y para el público latino de Estados Unidos." AFP, 23 December 2009.

The boy who received a telephone pole as a birthday present.

Posted: 28 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
John Warner, VP of engineering for AM for Clear Channel Radio: "We lived on a farm when I grew up, and I became interested in antennas so that I could pick up different kinds of radio signals. I used to listen to all the European broadcasters via shortwave, and I experimented with long-wire and curtain array antennas. My father encouraged my interest in radio, and for one of my birthdays he gave me a telephone pole, which he then helped me to put in the ground to use as a tower that I could use to make experiments." Interviewed by Michael LeClair, Radio World, 25 December 2009.

FM for ethnic broadcasting in Burma, except that FM is not available. Hence, shortwave.

Posted: 27 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Burmese ethnic journalists met in Chiang Mai on Tuesday to discuss how best to cover the 2010 election and agreed that FM radio offers the best medium to reach a wide ethnic audience. ... One outcome of the meeting was agreement to create proposals to create one or more FM radio stations and to seek donors to fund the proposals. FM radio would be an effective tool to educate people about the 2008 Constitution and election, he said. However, it is not easy to create an FM broadcast station, according to members of the Kaowao Newsgroup based in Thailand. ... Ethnic groups make up about 40 percent of Burma's population. No FM radio stations are run by in-country ethnic groups. Ethnic languages usually have about 15 minutes a week in broadcasts by the Democratic Voice of Burma and Radio Free Asia. ... Meanwhile, Burma National News (BNI), an umbrella organization of ethnic media groups, said that it is developing plans to set up a shortwave radio broadcast in ethnic languages. At least 10 languages would be broadcast in 15-minute daily programs, according to Khin Maung Shwe, the BNI secretary of development. Meanwhile, BNI said it plans to ask ABC, based in Australia, or Burmese broadcasting media to air their programs." Lawi Weng, The Irrawaddy, 23 December 2009.
     So here is the thing about FM in international broadcasting. People almost always prefer to listen to clear FM than to scratchy, fady, interference-prone shortwave (even though shortwave need not be as bad as all those adjectives indicate). International broadcasters should use FM for international radio wherever FM is available.
     But in countries that have the most need for international broadcasting, FM is generally not available to international broadcasters. Hence the need of Burma National News to use shortwave. And the need for all serious international broadcasters to maintain their shortwave capabilities, even though we are supposed to deride shortwave and to hasten its demise.

Worldspace going "belly up" in India is big news in India.

Posted: 26 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Company officials could not be reached. Customer support officials said, 'we will go off air on December 31. As regards the fate of dues to you, we will send detailed email messages on how you should seek a refund. The company is in bad financial shape and has gone belly-up.'" Times of India, 26 December 2009.
     "WorldSpace is unique in many ways. In a country notorious for its unwillingness to pay for entertainment, the service has some 4.5 lakh [450,000] paying subscribers. These consumers paid on an average around Rs 1,800 for a year’s subscription for music they could never hope to hear on a local radio station. WorldSpace operated 36 channels with a wide range of genres, including regional language music. Channels such as Maestro (western classical), Riff (jazz) and Orbit (classic rock) were hugely popular. There is no other similar service in India." Economic Times, 26 December 2009.
     "'I just wanted to hold my head and start crying for the sake of classical music. They did not even inform us,' said Vitthal Nadkarni, a senior journalist, who was caught unawares about the notice even as classic music from WorldSpace continued to play in his father’s room. 'I was completely surprised that they could do such a thing. The issue is not the subscription paid. It was doing so well, it was part of our life. It was money well spent anyway,' said Anand Desai, another WorldSpace subscriber from India. 'I thought it was a very good service. The music was available whenever you wanted. It is a pity. We tend to use the classical channel more, but they offered a lot of variety. It is indeed a sorry thing. I think more than the money (lost), the quality would be missed,' added Vimla Nadkarni, another ardent fan of classical music offered by WorldSpace." moneylife.in, 25 December 2009.
     "The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has prepared a draft Cabinet note for the satellite radio policy, but now a policy is unlikely because WorldSpace radio has decided to shut its India operation." DNA, 26 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

VOA as "only source of news" for Burundian refugees.

Posted: 26 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Burundians at the Rubelizi Refugee Camp in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, 20 October 2009: "Late that night we heard three loud explosions coming from the middle of the camp. Nobody knew where the bombs came from. About half an hour later, someone fired a shot in our direction. ... Shortly after the sun came up, people started tuning into the Voice of America broadcast in Kirundi, our only source of news. I was standing with one of my brother's friends near a small group of men huddled around the radio." Mukiza Noel, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 22 December 2009.

Former BBG chairmen in the news.

Posted: 26 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"In April, Obama gave his big nonproliferation speech in Prague. Now, almost nine months later, Czechs are wondering, where is their U.S. ambassador? Obama has yet to nominate former cable executive and Broadcasting Board of Governors member Marc Nathanson as expected for the Prague envoy job — or anyone else." Laura Rozen, Politico, 21 December 2009. Was BBG chairman 1995-2002.
     "The George W. Bush Institute -- the 'action-oriented think tank' that is part of Bush's Presidential Center -- will co-produce a public television show hosted by its executive director, Ambassador James Glassman, in a rare convergence of public broadcasting and a partisan research organization." Danny Shea, Huffington Post, 22 December 2009. Was BBG chairman in 2007.

Palestinian children lack home-grown television.

Posted: 26 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Television penetration in Palestine is nearly 100 percent. ... [A]lthough Palestinian families spend many hours a day glued to their TV sets, original Palestinian children’s programming is almost non-existent. Instead, hours of dubbed Japanese and other types of cartoons fill the airwaves, especially in key children’s viewing hours. ... Programmes broadcast in classical Arabic are just as difficult for pre-school Palestinian children to understand as, for example, a children’s programme spoken in Shakespearean English is to children in the United Kingdom. Spacetoons and MBC 3, which are 24-hour children’s stations, are broadcast throughout the Arab world and feature highly violent imported cartoons or entertainment programmes in classical Arabic. Al Jazeera Children, while much more cognisant of its programming content, is rather serious and it too uses classical Arabic in order to appeal to the entire Arab world." Daoud Kuttab, Global Arab Network, 24 December 2009.

Al Jazeera English and the New World Information Order.

Posted: 26 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"If you are old enough to remember the 1970s, you are probably familiar with the New World Information and Communication Order debate, in which Third World countries were pitted against western nations and their media organisations in a dispute over media representations of the developing world and the imbalances in global communication. Those issues resurfaced in remarks by Tony Burman, the former editor-in-chief of CBC News and now managing director of Al Jazeera English. He said: 'Canadians are going to see a lot of coverage of Latin America, of Asia, of Africa and parts of Europe that they’ve never ever seen before.' And I have no doubt that a multicultural Canadian audience will find that interesting." Muhammad Ayish, The National (Abu Dahbi), 23 December 2009.
     Flint, Michigan "is in the international spotlight today as Mayor Dayne Walling and Genesee County Treasurer Daniel T. Kildee offer competing ideas for what to do about the large amount of vacant land and abandoned homes in the city. This report by Al Jazeera's Cath Turner focuses on the efforts of the county Land Bank to reuse some abandoned residential property as community gardens and small parks." Ron Fonger, Flint Journal, 23 December 2009.
     "Of the 779 known detainees who have been held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — terrorism suspects, sympathizers of Al Qaeda, people deemed enemy combatants by the United States military — only one was a journalist. The journalist, Sami al-Hajj, was working for Al Jazeera as a cameraman when he was stopped by Pakistani forces on the border with Afghanistan in late 2001. The United States military accused Mr. Hajj of, among other things, falsifying documents and delivering money to Chechen rebels, although he was never charged with a crime during his years in custody. Now, more than a year after his release, Mr. Hajj, a 40-year-old native of Sudan, is back at work at the Arabic satellite news network, leading a new desk devoted to human rights and public liberties. The captive has become the correspondent." Brian Stelter, New York Times, 22 December 2009.

China-Taiwan trade deals could affect Sound of Hope transmission.

Posted: 26 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"As the Chinese regime negotiates free-trade deals with Taiwan, it is also extending its long arm to restrict freedom of the press on the neighboring island. Sound of Hope (SOH), an independent radio network headquartered in the United States, has been warned by its carrier in Taiwan that its contract could be terminated. SOH contracted with Taiwan’s Central Broadcasting System (CBS) in 2004. ... Madam Ke of SOH said, 'According to a source, since the second half of 2008, the Beijing regime has been using various means to pressure CBS to cut off the shortwave broadcasts by SOH.' ... SOH’s branch in Indonesia, Batam-based Era Baru Radio Network, encountered similar interference from Beijing. Era Baru started its Chinese and Indonesian language broadcasts in March 2005. Its signal also covers neighboring countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia." Epoch Times via Before It's News, 24 December 2009. Sound of Hope is affiliated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Radio France International and Voice of Russia via telephone.

Posted: 26 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Since 14 December RFI has been available in ten languages by telephone in France. You can now hear our news bulletins in English by dialling 3233 then dialling 734. Alternatively, you can dial 3223 and say "RFI", but you have to pronounce it the French way. If you want to practicce your in French, Arabic (with RFI's Arabic partner Monte Carlo Doualiya), Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Mandarin, Farsi, Portuguese or Khmer, you can also listen to programmes in those languages." Radio France International, 20 December 2009.
     "Radio company Voice of Russia holds on developing its cell phone broadcasting. The station reports that Voice of Russia starts cell phone format expansion in Azerbaijan. The Mobile Voice of Russia project makes it possible to listen to VOR broadcasting in any part of Azerbaijan and the world with good-quality mobile re-translators. The smart phone owners should first visit VOR’s website at http://rus.ruvr.ru/mobile.html download the special software which is needed to listen to the VOR’s mobile broadcasting." ABC.az, 24 December 2009.

New White House cybersecurity coordinator has shortwave roots.

Posted: 25 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Tuesday, December 22, President Barack Obama named Howard A. Schmidt, W7HAS, as the new White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. ... Schmidt told the ARRL that he credits Amateur Radio with getting him involved with technology: 'In high school, one of my friends was a ham and he got me interested in shortwave radio, which in turn got me into building shortwave radios and equipment, many from Heathkit. ... I love technology, and it was Amateur Radio that caused me to build my first computer -- a Sinclair ZX-80 to use for EME calculations.'" American Radio Relay League, 23 December 2009.

We will somehow have to enter 2010 without our Passports.

Posted: 25 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Passport to World Band Radio' has been a favorite among shortwave listeners for 25 years. Published annually, 'Passport' has long provided in-depth information on shortwave broadcast schedules and stations, widely respected product reviews, and a variety of human-interest stories. 'Passport' is typically published toward the end of the calendar year, and has become a favorite holiday gift to listeners around the world. Earlier this year, 'Passport’s' publisher, International Broadcasting Services (IBS), announced that the 2009 edition may have been the last issue, citing a number of logistical and economic factors. Very recently, IBS confirmed there would be no 2010 issue, via its Web site, passband.com. Given the many impassioned comments about the end of 'Passport' on the site, it’s obvious this great resource will be missed." Lee Badman, Syracuse Post-Standard, 20 December 2009. PWBR is till updating shortwave receiver news at www.passband.com. See also comments at the site about the discontinuation of the book. See previous post.

Fire at Radio Netherlands Madagascar relay.

Posted: 25 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Fire has broken out at a Radio Netherlands Worldwide broadcasting installation in Madagascar. Firefighters from the Madagascan capital Antananarivo managed to bring the blaze under control within hours. The fire destroyed the high voltage circuit breaker equipment, so broadcasts from Madagascar will be suspended for at least three days and possibly up to a week. This means that large parts of Africa and Southeast Asia will be unable to receive RNW short-wave broadcasts for the time being. Satellite and internet broadcasts will go ahead as normal." Radio Netherlands, 25 December 2009. For various transmitter substitutions, see Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 25 December 2009. The shortwave transmitting station at Flevo, the Netherlands, recently closed, so that is no longer available as a substitute.

Ukrainian politician wants to "privatize" Radio Liberty, whatever that means.

Posted: 24 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Parliamentary Deputy Hanna Herman, the deputy head of the Party of the Regions parliamentary faction, dreams of privatizing Radio Liberty. Herman said this at a meeting with journalists in Donetsk on Dec. 22. 'My dream was to privatize Radio Liberty, but I am afraid that I will not succeed in doing that,' Herman said. ... She also said that she had not yet decided whether to create her own media organization or seeking employment in one of the existing mass media organizations. ... Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is an international broadcast organization that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. RFE/RL is funded by the United States' Congress." Kyiv Post, 23 December 2009.
     What is she talking about? Does she want to privatize RFE/RL rebroadcasting facilities in Ukraine? Or -- implausibly -- RFE/RL back in Prague?
     RFE/RL did try to privatize -- by making them self-funding -- its Polish and Czech services back in the 1990s. These efforts did not succeed. It's not easy to make money from serious, news-oriented, spoken-word radio. It was worth a try.

     Update: Kai Ludwig in Germany informs us: "Hanna Herman was head of the Kiev office of RFE/RL until she had been hired as spokesperson of Yanukovych in spring 2004. For reference: RFE/RL via infoukes.com, 7 May 2004.

Worldspace will close operations in India on 31 December.

Posted: 24 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"On December 31, 2009, the WorldSpace satellite radio broadcast service will be terminated for all customers serviced from India, according to an announcement posted on the company website. This action is an outgrowth of the financial difficulties facing WorldSpace India’s parent company, WorldSpace, Inc., which has been under bankruptcy protection since October 2008, the announcement says. ... 'The potential buyer of much of WorldSpace’s global assets has decided not to buy the WorldSpace assets relating to and supporting WorldSpace’s subscription business in India. As a consequence, WorldSpace, Inc. must discontinue its subscriber business in India.'" Radioandmusic.com, 24 December 2009. The announcement is now the first thing visible at www.worldspace.com. But will any channels to continue to transmit from its Asiastar satellite? If so, they should continue to be audible in India? See previous post about same subject.

RFI reporter released on bail after 124 days in Iran's Evin prison.

Posted: 24 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran has freed the local correspondent for Radio France International (RFI) on bail, her family said as cited by opposition website Rahesabz.net on Wednesday. Fariba Pajooh 'was released after posting a bail of 500 million rials (50,000 dollars) and after enduring 124 days in Evin prison,' an unnamed family member was quoted as saying. Rahesabz.net also quoted Pajooh's lawyer, Mina Jafari, as saying she was charged with 'propagating against the regime,' in the brief report. On November 10, RFI called for her immediate release in a statement expressing 'its deep concern at the continued detention of its correspondent in Iran.'" AFP, 23 December 2009.

Suicide bomber attacks Peshawar Press Club, where VOA stringer is president.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Today, a suicide bomber attacked the Peshawar Press Club, where long-time OEN writer Muhammad Khurshid is not only a member and regular attendee, but also a presidential candidate. I interviewed him by gmail chat for over an hour. According to Khurshid, no journalists were killed, though some were injured. Several security guards and an accountant were killed. Khurshid was unharmed. ... The president of the press club, Shamim Shahid, is the Peshawar correspondent for Voice of America (VOA). Of note, VOA which is funded by the U.S. Congress, is the official external broadcasting service of the United States federal government. There are also journalists with BBC, AP, AFP, Skynews and other Western media." Rob Kall, OpEdNews.com, 22 December 2009.

"Radio Free Liberty" in the news.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Conditions in Pakistan have been ripening, like the mango fruit eaten there, for another military coup d’etat. The economy has slumped, corruption is rampant, and terrorism is endemic. People are losing faith in the officials they brought to power,' US Congress funded Radio Free Liberty (RFE) said in a political commentary on Pakistan on Monday." PakTribune, 23 December 2009.
     "During a political commentary on Pakistan, the US Congress funded Radio Free Liberty (RFE), while expressing concern over the troubled nations present state, expressed fears of amilitary coup." Asian News International, 23 December 2009. See also the commentary, Jamsheed K. Choksy, RFE/RL, 22 December 2009. ("The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.')
     "According to Radio Free Liberty, NATO has 38,000 troops there and will likely deploy another 5,000." Tracy Emblem, East County Magazine (San Diego County), 23 December 2009.
     With the name Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, "Radio Free Liberty" is an inevitable corruption.

Vietnam's government is no fan of Facebook.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Facebook, which had struggled to find a toehold in Vietnam, took off in 2009, and now claims 3 million members. The service received a boost in July, when Yahoo shut down the Vietnamese branch of its social networking site Yahoo360. Then, in early November, Facebook users began having trouble accessing the site. The government had ordered it blocked, employees at internet service providers said. ... The government has a history of spotty, slapdash attempts to block websites with potentially objectionable content. Websites like those of the Voice of America and Human Rights Watch are often blocked by some internet providers, but accessible on others. The clumsy techniques the government used to block Facebook are easy to circumvent. By late November, Vietnamese Facebook members were using simple workarounds to access the site." Deutsche Presse Agentur, 21 December 2009.

RFA: Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore now blocked in China.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The website of Singapore's leading Chinese newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao, is no longer accessible from China, the Radio Free Asia website reported. A Chinese netizen from the northeastern Jilin province was quoted by Radio Free Asia as saying that the zaobao.com website returned a 'This website is not accessible' message when he clicked on the site. 'I used to be able to get on the site but it can no longer be read,' he told Radio Fee Asia." AsiaOne, 21 December 2009. See also RFA, 15 December 2009.
     "On the morning of December 19, managements of tens of Medias from all over the country gathered at Dameisha Shenzhen and held a forum on how to exert the advantages of traditional media, network media and emerging media, making good job in reporting for the Universiade. ... China Radio International advised that the propagandizing should focus on the oversea market and Universiade knowledge competition should be held." Shenzhen Post, 21 December 2009.

South Korea's English-language Arirang TV expands and regionalizes.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Arirang TV, an English-language TV network based in Seoul, said Tuesday it plans to increase real-time news and in-depth programming next year to give viewers a more accurate view of Korea, according to Yonhap News. Operated by the Korea International Broadcasting Foundation (KIBF), Arirang TV will add three daily news programs including an 8 p.m. show next year. It will also air 'Now in North Korea' once a week, the network's officials said. The show, which focuses on South Korea's isolated communist neighbor, currently airs once a month. The broadcaster also has several new programs lined up next year, including 'G-Korea,' which will look into the country's efforts to build up an environmentally-friendly industry, and 'Tasty Trail' and 'Korea Confidential,' both featuring Korean food. 'Swap World' will carry programs from broadcasters in Russia, Hungary, India, Brazil and China, while "Chay An," a TV drama produced by Vietnam's VTV, will also be aired on Arirang TV." Korea Herald, 22 December 2009.
     "'We have decided to specialize our channel (depending on region) -- the channel aired in Korea through cable, satellite and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) will carry various programs that highlight multicultural families; while the channel that is aired overseas will feature programs that focus on introducing and featuring Korea,' said Lee Sung-wan, the vice president of Arirang TV, during a press conference at the Press Center, central Seoul, Tuesday morning." Korea Times, 22 December 2009.

Alhurra, Radio Sawa, BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera attend RIA Novosti conference in Jordan.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"More than 50 leading Arab media outlets are covering an international conference called 'Middle East 2020: Is a Comprehensive Settlement Possible?' in Jordan. The conference, organized by Russian News & Information Agency RIA Novosti and the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy within the framework of the Valdai International Discussion Club, is discussing the Middle East settlement, global energy security, the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, and a range of other international issues. ... Among the media focusing on the Jordan talks are the television channels Jordanian TV, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Rusiya Al-Yaum, and KSA, as well as Dubai TV, Palestine TV, Lebanese LBC and ANB, plus the U.S. Arab-language Alhurra TV, and many other state and private TV channels. Journalists from Jordanian, Egyptian and Iranian news agencies, Petra, Mena and Irna, respectively, as well as representatives of Iraqi media, the Arab Sawa radio station, the BBC Arabic service, and the Egyptian Al Ahram media holding are also present at the talks." RIA Novosti, 21 December 2009.

"Daddy's Girls" and other Russian television programs to the USA.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"CTC Media, Inc., Russia's leading independent media company, today announced the launch of international broadcasting under the CTC brand in North America through the DISH Network Corporation, one of the country's largest pay-TV providers with 13.6 million subscribers. The international version of CTC will be a 24-hour family entertainment channel with a programming grid consisting of CTC (80%), Domashny and DTV content. Viewers will have the opportunity to watch formats that have proven popular with Russian audiences, such as 'Margosha', 'Daddy's Girls', 'Ranetki', 'Cadets', 'I Want to Believe!', 'Say What's Wrong', and many more. CTC Media's programming is well known for its high quality, topicality and family focus. ... CTC Media content will be distributed by Ethnic Channels Group, Inc. (USA). CTC Media will also provide Ethnic Channels Group with non-exclusive rights for its content distribution via cable, satellite, video-on-demand (VOD), and a number of other broadcasting systems." CTC Media press release, 21 December 2009.

Al Jazeera English access to India moves forward.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Indian television homes may soon be able to watch the Qatar-based news channel, Al Jazeera International, with the Union Home Ministry clearing its application for permission to downlink and distribute in the country. Sources in the Information & Broadcasting Ministry said the final round of paperwork was being wrapped up. The issue has been hanging fire since the middle of 2006 when Al Jazeera International sought to begin its India operations, along with the worldwide launch of the channel, on November 15, 2006." The Hindu, 22 December 2009. "Al Jazeera International" was the planned but never implemented name for Al Jazeera English. In the Indian bureaucracy, "final round of paperwork" should not be construed as meaning "soon."

The federal agencies that fell off the turnip wagon, and other Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A con artist convinced the CIA and other US agencies in 2003 that he could decode secret messages sent by Al-Qaeda through Al-Jazeera broadcasts, Playboy magazine reported. Duped by claims that 'bar codes' on Al-Jazeera television contained targeting information for Al-Qaeda attacks, former president George W. Bush's administration raised the terror alert and cancelled several transatlantic flights in December 2003, the report said, citing former CIA officials." AFP, 22 December 2009.
     Al Jazeera has been carrying ads for the Orbo perpetual energy device. First comment, Gadget Lab, Wired, 17 December 2009.
     "In a major step to strengthen Al Jazeera Network's position in Saudi Arabia's advertising market — the largest in the Arab world — Qatar Media Services (Q.Media) has opened three offices in Saudi Arabia. Q.Media, the sole media representative of Al Jazeera Network, had earlier chosen Al Wataniya Advertising as its sole advertising agent in 12 Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia." Gulf News (Dubai), 16 December 2009.
     "Media firm, QMS Asia Pacific (QMS) aims to achieve a 35 per cent growth year on year in advertising sales from the region, capitalising on its exclusive representation of the Al-Jazeera English channel, its managing director and chief executive officer, Hedi Smirani said on Wednesday." Bernama, 16 December 2009.

Azerbaijan still disproportionately in the media news.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on December 17, members discussed the media situation in Azerbaijan, including the recent arrest of two young bloggers and pressure on independent media. Tunne Kelam, a member from the Republic of Estonia, introduced an amendment to a resolution on Azerbaijan demanding that the Government of Azerbaijan restore FM broadcasts of RFE/RL, VOA and BBC. The resolution was adopted." Journalists in Trouble, RFE/RL, 21 December 2009.
     "Preliminary proceedings began on December 22 for two Azerbaijani bloggers and youth activists who were convicted last month on hooliganism charges. The appeal proceedings will take place against a backdrop of increasingly vocal international criticism against Azerbaijan’s media policy." Jessica Powley Hayden, Eurasianet.org, 22 December 2009.
     "Azerbaijan's community in the United Arab Emirates has sent a letter of protest to Euronews. The letter reads: 'After viewing the video report "Winds of change in Nagorno-Karabakh," the Azerbaijan community would like to express our protest and disagreement with the false content that was presented by your journalists.'" Today.az, 23 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "'Euronews' TV station included Azerbaijan in Asia in its weather forecast programme, while Armenia and Georgia are in Europe." Panorama.am (Yerevan), 23 December 2009.

BBC criticized for commissioned artwork that includes audio from 43 World Service languages.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Canadian artist who landed a $2.7-million commission for an outdoor installation at the BBC's redeveloped London headquarters is defending his creation in the face of renewed criticism over the cost and design of the planned artwork. Montreal-born artist Mark Pimlott was awarded the main public art commission for the piazza outside Broadcasting House, the billion-dollar makeover and expansion of the BBC's downtown London base of operations. Titled 'World,' Pimlott's proposal includes a subtly rounded surface imitating the curvature of the Earth. Etched with sweeping, meridian-like white lines and points representing cities around the world, the space will also feature 'discreet,' localized audio streams in 43 languages from the dozens of countries where the BBC World Service produces broadcasts." Canwest News Service, 22 December 2009. BBC World Service will move from Bush House to Broadcasting House.

Have any of these school friends from Singapore taken to drinking scotch?

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News has launched a new series of vignettes called The Yearbook and has whisky brand Chivas Regal as the title sponsor. The Yearbook series follows the stories of six real life school friends from Singapore, whose lives have taken different and interesting routes since they left school. Each one-minute vignette takes up the story of a different individual, while showing how the friends have maintained their relationships together since they graduated. Apart from sponsoring the event, Chivas Regal will also be taking a supporting advertising campaign online on bbc.com from January 2010." Indiantelevision.com, 22 December 2009.

Complaints about BBC on harvested organs, Iranian missiles.

Posted: 23 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"[A]s of Tuesday evening (Iran-time), for a second straight day, the British taxpayer-funded BBC Persian language service is continuing to highlight the lie that Israel is harvesting the organs of Palestinians on its home page here, and in a story here. You do not see such garbage on Radio Farda, which is the U.S. government’s equivalent of BBC Persian. BBC Persian is under the direct supervision of the British foreign office. Why British politicians and commentators (including those from the Conservative Party) put up with it, is beyond me. Isn’t the Iranian regime serving up enough anti-Semitic hate to their own public without the BBC joining in?" Tom Gross, Full Comment, National Post (Toronto), 22 December 2009. BBC Persian is funded by but not "under the direct supervision of the British foreign office." I don't have Persian, so I can't assess the linked BBC stories.
     "A missile test-fired by Iran recently was reported on the BBC World Service as being 'capable of striking Israel'. The choice of words was not unusual. On previous occasions when Iran test-fired a long-range rocket, the BBC and other Western media said the device was 'capable of striking Israel'. The well-worn phrase is so reliably heard in these bulletins that its use betrays a coded script." Finian Cunningham, Gulf Daily News (Manama), 23 December 2009.

Death of Bob Phillis, DG of BBC World Service in the 1990s.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sir Bob Phillis, the former chief executive of Guardian Media Group and deputy director general of the BBC, died today aged 64. ... Phillis joined GMG from the BBC, where he had spent four years as John Birt's deputy, running the commercial arm BBC Enterprises, which became BBC Worldwide. ... He also ran the BBC World Service for a year, taking it off the Rupert Murdoch-owned Star satellite platform to stop it becoming subject to editorial control by the Chinese authorities." Chris Tryhorn, The Guardian, 22 December 2009. See also obituary, The Guardian, 22 December 2009.

"Afghan Star" still seeking the best and bravest talent.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Once a beacon of hope for direct democracy in Afghanistan, the hugely popular TV casting show 'Afghan Star' has been suffering from the worsening security in the country. Daoud Sediqi, the former host of 'Afghan Star' and once labeled Afghanistan's most famous person, has left his home country to live in the United States, where he is working for Voice of America. At a recent event in Berlin, Sediqi was full of praise for Afghanistan and the 'brave people' still there, but it was clear that he had fled the country because of the country's worsening security. ... Created by Sediqi and a young crew at Tolo TV, the show featured a group of male and female singers competing to become the next superstar of Afghanistan, where music and singing was outlawed only nine years ago." Stefan Nicola, UPI, 21 December 2009.

Pakistan's northwest frontier: You can report for VOA as long as you don't say you report for VOA.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"For as long as anyone cares to remember, journalism has been a dangerous profession in Pakistan. Although of late much of the attention has focused on the risks to foreign journalists, the situation for local reporters is equally, if not more, parlous. First consider that virtually all the on-the-ground news you read from Pakistan, especially from conflict zones, has been gathered by a local reporter under considerable personal risk. That is certainly the case for journalists working in the northwest frontier where the Taliban are most active. 'I [do some] work for Voice of America,' one veteran reporter, who requested anonymity, told me in the safety of a hotel room in Islamabad. 'Even now, I do not tell [the Taliban he interviews] that. It would mean certain death.'" Mustafa Qadri, Comment is Free blog, The Guardian, 19 December 2009.

BBC radio to India: Will low-end mobile phones replace the shortwave proposition?

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"You have to be careful about the diversity of the audience in India. It’s all very well to talk about the iPhone and expensive things, but it’s a very small sub set of the addressable audience. The question is what happens to the lower-end phones which will be used by the masses for a long time. As a hypothetical example, there are a lot of lovers of the BBC World Service (in India) which is a short-wave radio proposition. And yet, now FM is driving how people listen to radio. Short-wave is becoming more difficult to get. Perhaps the World Service should be on low-end mobile phones." Chris Dobson, BBC Worldwide’s executive vice-president for global advertising, interviewed by Gouri Shah, livemint.com, 21 December 2009. Why is shortwave "becoming more difficult to get"? More interference from modern-day appliances? Less availability of shortwave radios? Anyway, it's interesting that BBC World Service (and other international broadcasters') news can be disseminated in India by mobile networks but not by domestic private FM radio stations in India, which are still prohibited from broadcasting any news.

India's border radio targets Pakistan and China.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The days of sputtering warmongering radio broadcasts might be over, but the game of 'patriotism', propaganda and counter-propaganda continues in India’s border areas. It retains its air of intrigue; the only difference is that today, the 'propaganda' comes better camouflaged. Nearly all of it is, quite predictably, directed at Pakistan and China. The jousting is the most lively in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Arunachal Pradesh, where over the last few years AIR has been strengthening its programming and infrastructure. ... New transmitters are being set up, programmes in regional dialects are being created and, as a letter from AIR [All India Radio] states, 'programmes to counter day-to-day propaganda of PAK Radio' are being introduced. ... The small dusty town of Kargil, a 10-hour drive from Srinagar, is another front in this battle. The town has changed in the 10 years that have passed since the war that made it famous. Everyone here now has cable television, nobody listens to the radio." Akshai Jain, livemint.com (New Delhi), 22 December 2009.

Some of the murkier news about VOA.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Robert Spencer posted at Jihad Watch yesterday about how VOA got snowed by Hamas-linked CAIR into doing public relations on their behalf. ... Possibly more ironic than calling the ADAMS Center 'a safe haven for young people to learn Islam’s lessons about peace' is the fact that VOA does a better job reporting the truth about nefarious U.S. organizations with radical agendas to its Persian audience than it does its American counterpart. Young Muslims who wish to be free and steer clear of radicalization would actually be better served by VOA in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in the United States. This is truly a sad state of affairs." JE Tabler, David Horowitz's Newsreal, 21 December 2009. "American counterpart"? Apparently the writer thinks VOA is a domestic as well as international broadcaster. This is truly a sad state of affairs.
     "David Headley, the Chicago, Illinois, man appearing in court Wednesday [9 December] in connection with terror attacks in India, was born Daood Gilani, the son of a prominent Pakistani broadcaster, according to his half-brother. ... Headley's father, Syed Saleem Gilani, was working for the U.S.-government-funded Voice of America when Headley was born in 1960 in Washington, his half-brother Danyal Gilani said in a statement." CNN, 9 December 2009. "Syed Saleem Gilani was a Pakistani journalist and was fairly well-known in India in his time as a broadcaster for Voice of America. In the Indira Gandhi era, the US government-run radio service was considered by India’s Left-of-Centre politicians as a front for the CIA." K.P. Nayar, The Telegraph, 21 December 2009. And many other items about this in the South Asian press.

Murrow Professor of PD wants US international broadcasting the way it used to be.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Feature story on Ambassador William A. Rugh, visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Public Diplomacy, The Fletcher School, Tuft University: "By endowing eight presidentially-appointed individuals with tremendous authority, broadcasting’s public diplomacy functions are often neglected in favor of profit margins and the whims of individual Board members. BBG members are essentially 'political footballs' in Amb. Rugh’s view: appointments are granted because of political loyalty, not good judgment on broadcasting.
     "'It was a big mistake on the radio side to cancel VOA’s Arabic Service and replace it with Radio Sawa, based on a concept promoted by the commercial media world and focused exclusively on a youth audience, says Amb. Rugh.
     "Radio Sawa employs pop music to gain market share but is light on what Amb. Rugh calls 'freight' and fails to appeal to decision makers. 'Youth are important but the movers and shakers are adults. We’re out of the game in radio,' declares Amb. Rugh.
     "While Radio Sawa enjoys at least a minimal audience, Amb. Rugh sees the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Network (MEBN) television initiative, al-Hurra, as an utter failure. 'The content is so poor and irrelevant to the audience that no one watches it. The numbers are almost invisible.'"
     "Profit margins"? One could wish. Anyway, the Board exists in part to insulate US international broadcasting from "public diplomacy functions," which are great when conducted by the appropriate offices of the State Department, but credibility killers and audience repellers for international broadcasting. (See previous post.)
     As for "freight" to the "movers and shakers," in the twenty-first century (and a few years before that) the Arab audience for news has moved to television. Thus Alhurra and its news-oriented programming. The Edward R. Murrow Professor of Public Diplomacy's conclusions about Alhurra are not warranted by the data, although the BBG was not forthcoming with that data until it recently made public its 2009 Performance and Accountability Report. See also "US international broadcasting: too bizarre to be explained by political science," via previous post.

Troubles in Somalia include reported arrest of VOA stringer in Puntland.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mortar shells destroyed the Radio Voice of Democracy building this morning in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing Amal Abukar, 22, the wife of the director of the station, Abdirahman Yasin. Abukar died instantly after three mortar shells landed on the station’s building in northern Mogadishu at 10:30 a.m., local journalists told CPJ. Yasin and a producer, Adam Hussein, were injured in the attack. ... In the northeast semi-autonomous region of Puntland, the Puntland Intelligence Service arrested Voice of America correspondent Mohamed Yasin and took him to the capital city, Garowe, according to local journalists. Roughly 30 security agents visited Yasin’s home in Galkayo Sunday evening, local journalists said. He is now being held at the Puntland Intelligence Service offices, they told CPJ. The reason for the arrest is still unknown although local journalists said they suspect it may be due to Yasin’s report on displaced Somali citizens who complained of mistreatment in Puntland." Committee to Protect Journalists, 21 December 2009.
     "The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is concerned about increasing attacks against journalists in Puntland following arrest of Voice of America-Somali section reporter, Mohamed Yasin Isak who was taken from his house in Galkayo by the Puntland Intelligent Service (PIS) on Sunday midnight 21 December 2009, around 3:00 AM." NUSOJ, 22 December 2009.

Annual review of "incidents perpetrated against RFE/RL journalists."

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A review of incidents perpetrated against RFE/RL journalists in 2009 reveals more harassment but fewer high-profile cases involving individuals than the previous year. ... At year’s end, we report 16 incidents involving detentions, threats or physical assaults against our journalists in connection with their professional activities. We counted nine cases in 2008. In addition, RFE/RL language services remained subject to broader institutional efforts aimed at undermining their capacity to reach their audience and deliver timely, uncensored news. ... Against a backdrop of persistent brutality directed against journalists, RFE/RL’s Russian service recorded incidents of harassment during the year but no violent attacks. However, the service’s ability to reach its audience continued to be thwarted in 2009 by the dwindling number of affiliates in the Federation carrying RFE/RL broadcasts, down to single digits from almost 30 five years ago." Journalists in Trouble section, RFE/RL, 21 December 2009.

International radio and Romania's 1989 revolution.

Posted: 22 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
17 December 1989: "As I was unpacking, I pulled out my valuable portable Sanyo radio-cassette player from the bag, and plugged it in. Five to 10. OK, there was something to look forward to after all. Still time for the headlines recap on Voice of America (VOA), on medium wave [presumably 792 kHz via Rhodes, since shut down]. As I was fiddling with the dial, I caught a couple of words in Romanian. 'The group of protesters in Maria Square,' the announcer was saying amid strong static, 'were dispersed by riot police, apparently after gunfire was heard.' Maria Square. Did not ring a bell. Another square somewhere in the world. Like that summer’s Tiananmen Square revolt, which I had been learning about every night from Radio Free Europe (RFE) and VOA. ... I stayed up all night, glued to my small radio set, trying to learn more. RFE’s Romanian Service, and Voice of America were the only source of information I had. State radio and television were broadcasting the usual nauseating programs about Ceausescu and his wife.
     [20 December:] "State media were reporting that Ceausescu had returned from his short visit to Iran and was to address the nation later that afternoon. Waiting for him to speak, we tuned in to Radio Free Europe. What I felt next I still find hard to describe, 20 years later. RFE broadcast a short recording smuggled out of Timisoara. People screaming, men and women. A woman, shouting, 'Romanians, like ourselves! Shame on you!' Then a man, saying, 'Shoot, you bastards, shoot!' Then, a second of silence. Just a second. Then gunfire. Then, more gunfire. Then silence. [Link to audio]
     [21 December:] "[I]t was unclear what was happening in Bucharest and Timisoara, as the power went out at exactly the times Radio Free Europe was on. There were no available batteries.
     [22 December:] "I was woken abruptly by a murmur, more like a muffled roar. Was it coming from my radio, left on as I had fallen asleep? I looked at my watch: 7:30, I had missed the 6:30 VOA broadcast! I jumped out of bed, and looked outside the window, then opened the balcony door, and the roar grew." Eugen Tomiuc, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 20 December 2009. More RFE/RL coverage of the Romanian revolution in this previous post.
"State Secretary Bogdan Mazuru described the way in which he had learnt about the beginning of the Romania Revolution, on Radio Free Europe, and said that, unlike at present, 'in Romania before 1989 there were no events going on at the level of society.'" Ministrul Afacerilor Externe via ISRIA, 21 December 2009.
     "Despite official attempts to keep the massacre in Timisoara secret, the news spread. I was at the time a young engineer in Cernavoda, site of Romania’s sole nuclear power plant, and heard the news on Radio Free Europe. People were shouting at the soldiers: 'We are Romanians, like you!' then there was a brief silence, and then gunfire. More gunfire. Silence again. For their part, state radio and television were still broadcasting their usual nauseating propaganda about Ceausescu and his wife, Elena." Marian Chiriac, BalkanInsight.com, 21 December 2009.
     "I was a student in Freiburg, Germany then. I spent those days dialling numbers of friends and relatives, without any success. My ears glued to the radio – RFE of course, where information was coming through filtered, scarce and exaggerated, mostly from and through Yugoslavia." Harald Schenker, BalkanInsight.com, 21 December 2009.
     See also BBC World Service "1989 - Europe's Revolution and Legacy" page.

Zimbabwe official: Where was VOA during UDI and "that thing called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia"?

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The normally unflappable Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity, Cde George Charamba was recently in a bit of a ‘state’ emphatically berating the Botswana government for hosting the relay facilities of ‘pirate’ radio stations which he claims broadcast ‘hate messages’ and ‘anti-Zimbabwe propaganda’ into the country. Botswana has indeed admitted playing happy hosts to relay transmitters for the Voice of America’s Studio 7 while yet another ‘pirate’ radio station, the London-based SW Radio Africa, whose editorial policy Zanu PF reckons is similarly inclined, allegedly beams signals into Zimbabwe via Madagascar. ... And in response to suggestions the ‘pirate’ broadcasts would continue until Zimbabwe ‘liberalised (its) media space’ Secretary Charamba retorted; 'This country (Zimbabwe) has had a State broadcasting monopoly since day one of radio services. Why is it that VOA never beamed messages into the country during UDI [white minority unilateral declaration of independence from Britain, 1965]? Why didn't they do this all throughout Rhodesia if they cared so much about the people of Zimbabwe? How about during that thing called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, why did they not broadcast?" Gilbert Nyambabvu, New Zimbabwe, 19 December 2009. VOA was broadcasting extensively to Africa throughout that period, especially in English, mostly via Liberia rather than Botswana. There was no program specifically for Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, and no Shona or Ndebele back than. See previous post about same subject.

Turkey Twitter (updated).

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The military denied late Tuesday news reports that it was using Twitter to inform the public. 'The official Internet site of the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, is www.tsk.tr,' said a written statement posted on the Web site for the General Staff. It underlined that the military had no connection to other Web sites other than the www.tsk.tr, warning the public not to trust broadcasts aired on other Web sites. Other Web sites had announced Tuesday that the General Staff was informing the public through Twitter and argued the General Staff is also going for the Twitter fashion. The Turkish Foreign Ministry recently launched a public diplomacy initiative to utilize digital technology for better interaction between the public and decision-makers. The new system, coordinated by Deputy Undersecretary Namik Tan, will help Turkey explain its rising foreign policy through modern social networking systems such as Facebook and Twitter." Hürriyet Daily News, 16 December 2009. Here, "public diplomacy" seems aimed mainly at domestic audiences.
     "After introducing Turkey's policy of zero problems with neighboring countries in recent years, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is preparing to launch a major initiative to effectively use public diplomacy in the international arena in line with Turkey's foreign policy goals. Employed by leading world powers such as the US, Britain, Germany, France and China as an influential foreign policy tool to expand their international clout, public diplomacy means a diplomacy focusing more on communication-based activities towards foreign publics to gain their support for a particular foreign policy goal. Unlike classical diplomacy, which is limited to formal contacts between diplomats, public diplomacy helps a state tell about its policies to foreign audiences through mass media, the Internet, non-governmental organizations and opinion leaders to engage, persuade and attract their cooperation." Turkiye via TurkishPress.com, 15 December 2009.
     Update: "To bolster its foreign policy initiatives through engaging the people of neighboring countries, the Turkish government has started to organize trips of media representatives from abroad. Recently, Bulgarian, Moldovan, Azerbaijani and Syrian journalists visited Turkey to meet with local media representatives, government officials, representatives from political parties, civil society organizations and companies. ... [Directorate General of Press and Information director general Salih] Melek also said these trips help promote Turkey in other countries. 'We broadcast in 11 languages and are working on launching broadcasts in Arabic and French very soon. Foreigners will now be able to follow Turkey through these channels,' Melek added." Today's Zaman, 20 December 2009. Apparently referring to TRT international television broadcasts, specifically TRT-TURK. TRT Voice of Turkey radio is already in 32 languages, including Arabic and French.

A long and confused disquisition about "psychological warfare."

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"[T]hose who believe that there is freedom of press are either naïve, irrational or both. Typical examples of this are the BBC and the VOA. The VOA is administered under nine members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), eight of whom are handpicked by the President of the United States. One of the members of the BBG is the US Secretary of State, and the VOA's budget comes through and from the State Department. Every day programs of the media outlet are outlined and supervised by the State Department. So how can we say that this is a 'neutral' and 'independent' media organization? Similarly, the BBC's Director General and other Board members are selected by the Queen and approved by the government. The British government annually provides the BBC with a budget of 493 million dollars. It is stated in the BBC's charter that its programs must go in line with the policies of the British government. So who could believe this media organization if it were to claim of being an independent institution." Ali Abdu, Eritrean minister of information, interviewed by Shabait.com (Asmara), 18 December 2009.
     This is part of a detailed discussion of "psychological warfare" (used here as a generic term for several types of international communication) that gets several details wrong. Responding to just the brief excerpt above: 1) Eight members of the BBG are nominated by the president, but the board must have four Republicans and four Democrats, and they are all subject to Senate confirmation. 2) VOA's budget is separate from that of State, and State does not outline or supervise VOA content. 3) The BBC director general is not appointed by the Queen (except, perhaps, ceremoniously), nor even by the Prime Minister. He/she is selected by the BBC Trust, whose members are appointed as described here. 4) BBC programs are not required "to go in line with the policies of the British government." See, for example, the BBC World Service operating agreement.

Funds save Worldspace from de-orbiting fate, but troubles in India?

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The lawyers advising the unsecured creditors to Worldspace’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy have considered plans for de-orbiting the two Worldspace satellites. A Liberty Media subsidiary is now effectively in control of Worldspace, and Liberty CEO Greg Maffei last week confirmed that Liberty is working with Sirius satellite radio to expand its pay-radio service internationally. ... [A lawyer's] telephone conversation took place that covered 'funding issues, need to de-orbit satellites…' ... It could well be that the de-orbiting options were reviewed in case Liberty did not come through with fresh funding (which subsequently did happen)." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 13 December 2009.
     "Signals indicate that the troubled digital satellite radio broadcasting company WorldSpace Inc may fold up its India operations too. ... With over 4.5 lakh [450,000] subscribers (more than 50 per cent of this is through AirTel DTH), India accounts for over 95 per cent of the broadcaster's world-wide subscriber base." R. Ravikumar, The Hindu Business Line, 17 December 2009.
     Update: "Rapid TV News has additionally received many, many e-mails from employees and in particular ex-employees of Worldspace grumbling about working practices at the India operation, and complaining about alleged non-payment or slow payment of salaries." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 20 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Two takes on US broadcasting to Central Asia.

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Azerbaijan is not an American friend. If it were one, it would not have banned a radio station that is funded by the U.S. Congress from broadcasting its programs through public airwaves. Until last year, the Azeri branch of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe was the most important source of free and fair reporting in the country." Aslan Amani, letter to Washington Times, 21 December 2009.
     "Since it’s the 'season of honest admissions' it’s time the West, it’s think tanks, lobbyists, leading newspapers and channels such as Fox News and CNN to stop their poisonous propaganda of blaming the Inter-Services Intelligence for recruiting, training and arming radical militant Islamist groups, and own up to the fact that the U.S. government played a central role in creating the 'vicious movement' that created Osama bin Laden, Taliban and fundamentalist terrorists. ... Propagandists also overlook the fact that the mujahidin were warmly embraced and supported by the US and Afghan fundamentalists were being feted as freedom-fighters in the White House and Downing Street. US-run Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe beamed Islamic fundamentalist tirades across Central Asia." Nosheen Saeed, Pakistan Observer, 19 December 2009. "Islamic fundamentalist tirades" is no doubt a stretch. Nevertheless, RFE/RL had a Radio Free Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s which, if compared with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan of today, could be the topic of an interesting dissertation.

Florida newspaper calls Radio Martí "clunker of the highest order."

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sen. LeMieux, of course, would have us believe the programs are critical to spreading the message of democracy. But what clearer example of this Radio-TV Marti's ineffectiveness do we need to see than that the rising star of Cuba's free-thinkers movement is an Internet blogger? Instead of keeping pace with 21st century technology, and the tools that have made widespread activism possible even in places like Iran, Sen. LeMieux and others insist on wasting more time, effort and money on an anachronistic, Cold War holdover strategy.
Talk about cash for clunkers. Radio Marti is a clunker of the highest order." Editorial, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, 19 December 2009.
     "Raul Castro gave the strongest signal yet his government's would-be honeymoon with the Obama administration is over, delivering a harshly worded speech Sunday charging that the White House endorses efforts to topple the island's communist system. ... Castro said this year's U.S. federal budget allocated 'almost $55 million to support a supposed democracy, the defense of human rights and aggression by radio and television against Cuba' — a reference to Radio and TV Marti, which broadcast from U.S. territory to Cuba to provide an alternative to state-run media." Will Weissert, AP, 20 December 2009.
     "Raymundo Navarro, director of foreign relations of the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC) ... enumerated six Cuban demands: the U.S. must lift the blockade, free the Cuban Five, eliminate Radio and TV Martí, stop financing internal subversion, return Guantánamo to Cuban control and repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act." Workers World, 19 December 2009.
     See previous posts on 16 December, 27 November, and (with comments about the need for broadcasts to Cuba) 15 November 2009.

Muslim televangelist will launch his version of "The Apprentice."

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Amr Khaled's unique brand of Muslim preaching has made him one of the most popular preachers in the world. ... Now, following on from his hugely successful TV shows - which are watched by millions across the world - Mr Khaled plans to launch his own version of the reality television show The Apprentice. 'The aim of it is not to make money, but to make the youth ready to support the society,' he told the BBC. ... Unlike traditional preachers, he wears a casual suit and uses the Egyptian vernacular in his programmes. Formally trained imams tend to use classical Arabic. Mr Khaled, who even has his own YouTube channel, has spearheaded a growth in this style of evangelism." Magdi Abdelhadi, BBC News, 17 December 2009. Having a YouTube channel is no longer such a big deal, given the number of such channels that now exist. The BBC report does not mention on what satellite channel Mr. Khaled's program can be seen. It is Iqraa-TV, which promotes itself as a "Muslim family's safe haven." According to Lyngsat, the channel is on Arabsat 2B, Nilesat 101, and several other satellites.

BBC and ABC Disney channels find new ways into Hong Kong, South Korea.

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Subscribers of Hong Kong’s pay-TV operators, Hong Kong Cable, will have access to BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment and CBeebies. The three channels will join BBC Knowledge that launched on the platform less than two months ago and BBC World News." Indiantelevision.com, 18 December 2009.
     "Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) has signed an agreement with Disney-ABC International Television to add the Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney to its IPTV service 'bbtv'." ipTVnews, 17 December 2009.
     "Full-length Disney feature films are now available to Korean web surfers, thanks to a download deal covering library titles as well as the Mouse House's current movie slate. Disney-ABC International Television (DAIT) Asia Pacific, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (WDSHE) and Korean web content provider Nowcom signed the deal, under which the latter's customers can rent or buy titles over Korea's ultra-fast 100Mbps-plus broadband network." C21Media.net, 21 December 2009.

New jamming of BBC Persian TV on Hotbird 6.

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Persian television is continuing to broadcast into Iran despite attempts to jam the station's signal. The persistent interference began soon after BBC Persian began extended coverage of the death of leading reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri. ... The jamming began on Sunday 20 December and affected the Hotbird 6 satellite which carries the BBC's international television and radio services in various languages as well as services from other broadcasters. BBC Persian television is also carried on other satellite networks including Telstar and Eutelsat W2M. The BBC is looking at ways to increase the options for its Farsi-speaking audiences in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which may include broadcasting on other satellites." BBC World Service press release, 21 December 2009.

The new BBG can expect occasional poor reception.

Posted: 21 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"With the present [Broadcasting Board of Governors], through attrition, down to four members (plus the ex officio Secretary of State), many employees at VOA were hoping the Obama Administration would dissolve the BBG. They are annoyed at the BBG because it has eliminated several VOA language services, mostly to East European countries, and has cut back on shortwave radio in favor of television and the internet. The new members of the Board will not only have unhappiness from the ranks to look forward to. As part of their firewall function, they will also have to fend off, and thus incur the animosity of, members of Congress and administration officials, who might want the elements of US international broadcasting to emphasize this, or to downplay that, or not to interview some insalubrious character. Furthermore, assorted dictators will be irked by the news coverage of the BBG’s entities. All told, given the likelihood of antipathy from above, below, and abroad, membership in the BBG is not for those who crave affection." Kim Andrew Elliott, USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 18 December 2009.

Festival of Nine Carols to the world -- less and less by shortwave.

Posted: 20 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with William Edwards, author of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (Rizzoli, 2004): "Q: How did it spread around the world? Edwards: I think you have to start with the BBC World Service, which was broadcasting the service on short-wave starting in the 1930s, and I’ve always loved the idea of people, particularly in the beginning of the war, and we think of December 7, 1941 as when the United States got into the war, but it’s also when the British were first attacked in the Far East. In fact, the fall of Singapore was, to Churchill, one of the great shames of the British efforts in the war. He was outraged that Singapore had fallen. But during December of 1941 Singapore was under siege, and nobody knew what the Japanese could do. The British also, of course, controlled Hong Kong and obviously were closely tied to Australia, and there were a lot of British people there, and nobody knew how big this was going to be, whether ultimately the Japanese were going to take all of the Pacific, and they did of course conquer Singapore, and it must have been a great comfort to turn on the radio and hear this sound of home in December of ’41 and throughout the war." Kim Lawton, Religion & Ethics, PBS, 18 December 2009.
     The festival of Nine Carols and Lessons can be heard live 24 December at 1500 to 1630 UTC on BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4. See BBC Programme Information for 24 December 2009. For an especially ethereal experience, try to listen via shortwave. BBCWS shortwave to North America is long gone, but some frequencies beamed elsewhere might be audible. See this schedule (pdf).
     Meanwhile, today, the EBU Euroradio day of Christmas music from several European countries and Canada is on CBC Radio 2 and on European public radio networks. On-demand streams might be available from BBC Radio 3.

At New Delhi conference, Voice of Russia and All India Radio exchange boilerplate.

Posted: 20 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Organised jointly by the Voice of Russia Broadcasting Company and the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC), [a] conference was dedicated to Indo-Russian cooperation and 'Year of Russia in India.' The two-day long conference also witnessed the opening of 'Year of India in Russia'. India and Russia deliberated on cooperation in the field of broadcasting in fourth All India Conference of Listeners' Clubs of Voice of Russia, which concluded here recently. ... Acknowledging the immense potential of bilateral cooperation, Prasar Bharati Deputy Director-General (External Services Division), AIR, H K Pani elaborated the broadcasting service being rendered by AIR in Russian language." Sahara Samay (Lucknow), 19 December 2009.
     "The Voice of Russia remains very popular in India. Russia’s ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin on Tuesday addressed members of the Voice of Russia Listeners’ Clubs at their fourth all-Indian conference held at the Russian Scientific and Cultural Center in Delhi. 'When I first came here in the early 1970s, I was amazed at how popular Radio Moscow was', the ambassador said." Voice of Russia, 15 December 2009.

Russia Today ad blitz in Britain juxtaposes Obama and Ahmadinejad.

Posted: 20 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"They are appearing in newspapers and on posters alongside major roads in Britain. There is Barack Obama's head, on it superimposed the image of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's leader. The slogan reads: 'Who poses the greatest nuclear threat?' For many people the answer is clear – after all, Obama hasn't so far called for Israel to 'vanish from the page of time'. But for the Kremlin the Obama image is the latest step in an ambitious attempt to create a new post-Soviet global propaganda empire. Two decades after the demise of Pravda, the Kremlin's 24-hour English language TV channel, Russia Today (RT), is launching its first major advertising blitz across the UK. Dubbed North Korean TV by its detractors, the channel, available on satellite and cable TV, gives an unashamedly pro-Vladimir Putin view of the world, and says it seeks to correct the 'biased' western view offered by the BBC and CNN." Luke Harding, The Guardian, 18 December 2009.
     "We live in age of conspiracies, or rather, we are more aware of conspiracy theories than we used to be. Theories involving the hidden hand reproduce on the Internet and instantly jump borders. Giving the stories plausible heft are the exotic sites and TV stations now beaming everywhere, their studios, anchors and Web sites looking as professional and reliable as those of CNN, ABC News or the BBC. Channels such as Russia Today, Iran's Press TV and Al Jazeera pass on theories involving the supposed "real stories" behind world affairs to millions." David Aaronovitch, Wall Street Journal, 19 December 2009. Press TV and Russia Today are definitely purveyors of conspiracy theories (although RT recently reported but did not buy into a purported video of a triangular-shaped UFO over Moscow.) Al Jazeera's reporting, particularly about Israel, is controversial, but to classify it as conspiracy theories would require a proper content analysis.

From Australia and Canada, recent examples of un-international broadcasting.

Posted: 20 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
A recent tweet by Australian Broadcasting Corporation managing director Mark Scott: "Climate debate on Lateline between Monbiot and Plimer - now up on iView." So I followed the link, clicked on Lateline, then clicked on "Watch Program," only to see a box labeled "Warning" -- peculiar choice of word -- "Due to copyright reasons this video program is available for download by people located in Australia only. If you are not located in Australia, you are not authorised to view this video."
     Meanwhile, my web search for media news revealed that Radio Canada International is conducting its Roots National Challenge:
"Radio Canada International is looking for original productions, in all styles, that present a story about your roots or lack of. Avant-garde, sit-com, short docs, all styles are welcome in video, animated shorts, photo essays, anything that shows the story in a visual form!" Looking further into the contest, I noticed that the rules include this about eligibility: "Contestants must be 18 years or over at the time of entering the contest, be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident." An example of why Glenn Hauser has dubbed the station Radio Canada Internal.

Via VOA, Zambian politician criticizes China, and other VOA in the news.

Posted: 20 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Zambia's "Patriotic Front president Michael Sata seems to have made his anti-China stance the focal point of his party manifesto. He is a perpetual cynic who says there is not the slightest chance of success of any Chinese investments in Zambia. ... On Wednesday, he was on a Voice of America programme where he yet again heaped invectives on China and described as cosmetic, the Asian country's investments in Zambia." Editorial, The Times of Zambia, 18 December 2009. See VOA video via Lusaka Times, 17 December 2009.
     "China’s countless appellants continuously attempt to approach high-level officials with a variety of grievances—constituting one of the regime’s biggest headaches. ... In 2008, the Chinese regime received 10,619,000 letters and visits from petitioners across the country, according to the Hong Kong newspaper, Ta Kung Pao. The Beijing Voice of America (VOA) office also receives a lot of letters and faxes with appeals from petitioners." Qi Yongmin, Voice of America, via Epoch Times, 17 December 2009.
     Criticizing the recent detention of a VOA reporter in Cabinda (see previous post), Human Rights Watch notes that the "local correspondents of Voice of America and the Catholic church-owned Rádio Ecclésia are the only independent journalists based in Cabinda." HRW, 17 December 2009.
     "A recent video from the Voice of America draws attention to the expanding role of digital materials at the Library of Congress." Library of Congress News & Events, 17 December 2009, with link to video conveniently domestically disseminated by the LOC.
     Lillard Hill, "an early North Texas news broadcaster, left private industry in 1954 to work for the State Department’s Voice of America radio division. Shortly afterward, he became the agency’s bureau chief in New Delhi. He had an incredible voice, said Amrita Shlachter, a Fort Worth friend who is a native of India. 'Most American broadcasters seemed to talk very slow English to the point where it was almost insulting,' Shlachter said. 'We knew how to speak English. There was nothing patronizing about him.' Mr. Hill died Dec. 8 at his Fort Worth home. He was 87." Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 16 December 2009.
     "Prominent members of Congress recognized the 60th anniversary of the Voice of America’s (VOA) Ukrainian Service by placing statements of support in the Congressional Record." VOA press release, 14 December 2009. "U.S. and Ukrainian officials praised the Voice of America's (VOA) Ukrainian Service on its 60th anniversary, with a key member of Congress saying, 'Today, its mission remains as critical as ever.'" VOA press release, 11 December 2009.

Come to Washington and see the White House, Capitol, Washington Monument, and State Department Annex 5.

Posted: 19 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Hillary Clinton, dedicating State Department Annex 5, housing the State Department's public diplomacy offices: "We’re housing you here in this state of the art building. You should know there’s a lot of envy on the other side of the street – (laughter) – where there are still some difficulties with information platforms and light and lots of things that actually add to the work environment. But we need to have a constant flow of information among us, because the world of public diplomacy is changing so rapidly because of digital media. You need the tools to communicate constantly in an increasingly interconnected world with 24/7 news feeds, constantly updated blogs, and of course, viral video. So this building, as you have discovered, is equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment, faster internet connections, production software and hardware, digital video conference capabilities." State Department, 16 December 2009.
     "The US State Department unveiled a new look website on Thursday as it embraces social networking and other Web 2.0 tools in an exercise it called '21st Century statecraft.' 'Smart power meets smart design,' Katie Dowd, the State Department's 'New Media Director,' said in a post outlining the changes to State.gov on the State Department blog 'DipNote,' which is also undergoing a facelift." AFP, 18 December 2009. Not public diplomacy, because the site is directed mainly to US users. For PD, see America.gov.

A Zimbabwean critique of Chinese media.

Posted: 19 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Zimbabwe's "Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu thanked China for building capacity in the local media through personnel training and the provision of equipment, adding that Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from the Chinese in media reform and new media. It would be interesting to know what he had in mind. China has a record of jamming transmissions that it finds unpalatable and passing on this technology to its friends. It also twists the arms of news networks to drop any news service they may be carrying in return for more general broadcasting access. Rupert Murdoch surrendered on that score when he dropped the BBC after threats from Beijing to his Star Network. Xinhua's coverage of world events is less than scintillating. It picks up stories from state news agencies and retails them as 'news'. ... Admittedly China Radio International has picked up in recent years and is even occasionally interesting. But it has a long way to go in providing anything nearly critical of Beijing." Editorial, Zimbabwe Independent, 17 December 2009.
     "There is intense jockeying by individuals and groups in Zimbabwe waiting to apply for radio and television licenses, once/if the inclusive government finally frees the airwaves. SW Radio Africa understands that there has been a lot of interest from a cross section of Zimbabweans vying to operate independent radio and TV licenses. The State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation operates the country’s only TV and four radio stations." Tichaona Sibanda, SW Radio Africa, 16 December 2009.

CNN International via Livestation premium (pay) service.

Posted: 19 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Livestation has announced that CNN International is now available in Europe, Middle East and Africa as part of their premium service. Livestation offers access to international news and special interest channels. CNN International is the latest channel to join the platform and is one of the first channels to be offered on a monthly subscription basis." Broadband TV News, 18 November 2009. But not in North America? See previous post about same subject.

New Arabic-language Christian channel.

Posted: 19 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Memri Blog reports [citing IslamOnline.net] that a new Christian channel, Al-Tariq, will begin broadcasting via a US satellite in January 2010. The channel, aimed at Christian converts in the Middle East and the US, will 'be funded by Egyptian businessmen and Coptic organizations outside Egypt.'" Layalina Review, 4-17 December 2009. Thus joins SAT-7 for Christian broadcasting to the region.

Year-end appreciation to CNN staff mentions "re-imagined CNN International."

Posted: 19 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton sent a year-end note to the CNN staff this morning thanking them for all their contributions. ... 'We presented consumers with three compelling, new CNN experiences: the re-branded HLN, which caught fire and is the year's fastest-growing brand in cable news; the re-designed CNN.com, now with enhanced video and deeper news and brand offerings; and the re-imagined CNN International, featuring more analysis, connectivity, perspective and an entirely new prime time line-up. I liken each of these efforts to changing the tires on a moving car. But you did it. Congratulations.'" Chris Ariens, Media Bistro, 17 December 2009.

Turner Broadcasting expands holdings in India.

Posted: 19 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Further expanding its reach in India, Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting is shelling out $126.5 million for a 92% stake in NDTV Imagine, a popular Hindi general entertainment channel, and some smaller assets. Turner already owns several networks in India, including versions of CNN and Cartoon Network. It also owns Pogo, a children's channel." Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times, 17 December 2009. See also Indiantelevision.com, 17 December 2009.

Ozomatli: unlikely but busy US cultural diplomats.

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Since 2007, [Los Angeles based ensemble] Ozomatli, known for its left-leaning political activism as well as its omnivorous aesthetic tastes and full-throttle live performances, has been jetting to such countries as Myanmar, Vietnam, Jordan and Nepal to play free public concerts, host workshops, jam with local musicians and convey goodwill in places where Westerners are rarely seen and not always welcome. Although the band had built a substantial foreign fan base through touring through the years, its all-expenses-paid, U.S.-taxpayer-backed gigs have affected Ozomatli on many levels. ... Ozomatli's U.S. government sponsors enlisted the group to perform as part of a long-standing cultural diplomacy program that was developed during the Cold War to win hearts and minds abroad for the American way of life. During that period, a number of mainly African American jazzmen, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, were recruited by Uncle Sam to be the artistic face of America, touring many communist and developing countries. Although such programs had receded over the decades, they were jump-started in the post-Sept. 11 years by Karen Hughes, who was then U.S. undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, partly in an effort to counter growing anti-U.S. sentiment. The band came to the Bush administration's attention after a U.S. cultural attaché posted in Nepal heard a story about them on National Public Radio. 'It took two years for her to convince Washington that it wouldn't be too much of a risk to program these guys, sort of knowing what their politics were,' the band's manager, Amy Blackman, said. The concern was mutual. Among themselves, the band's members worried about being inadvertently turned into ideological frontmen for the Iraq war or other U.S. foreign policy ventures they didn't support. 'There was a huge internal debate at first,' Bella said." Reed Johnson, Los Angles Times, 18 December 2009.
     "As more and more Soviet citizens traveled to the West and made the inevitable comparisons with their own country, the Soviet media had to become more honest with their readers and viewers at home. Cultural exchange encouraged pressure for reform. It prepared the way for Gorbachev’s reforms and the end of Cold War. And it cost the United States next to nothing compared with our expenditures for defense and intelligence over the same period of time." Yale Richmond. MountainRunner.us, 15 December 2009.

US drone aircraft become international broadcasters.

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. defense officials have acknowledged that insurgents in Iraq had been able to intercept live video feeds from U.S. drone aircraft using widely available software. The Wall Street Journal first published the news Thursday. A U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reacted to the report saying it was an old problem that has been fixed. ... Senior defense and intelligence officials say insurgents were able to take advantage of an unprotected communications link in the systems of the remotely-piloted aircraft. The insurgents used software that is available online and costs about $26. While U.S. defense officials say the issue has been fixed, the Journal quoted senior intelligence officials as saying it was not yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved." VOA News, 17 December 2009.
     "'Insurgent hack U.S. drone,' is the holy-cow headline over the Wall Street Journal's online story of earlier this week. ... 'Hack' is a really strong word to use in this scenario. How do you 'hack' a signal that's floating out in the atmosphere, unencrypted? ... {I]f you're using over-the-counter software to pull down unencrypted satellite video that's floating out there in the atmosphere, are you hacking something? Is listening to a police scanner 'hacking?' Is shortwave radio listening (a Back In The Day sort of hobby) 'hacking?' ... In the end, the lesson from the drone story probably isn't that insurgents are highly skilled computer hackers. It's that, in an era when these tools are cheaply available and easy to use, the military shouldn't have been so careless." Randy Lilleston, All Tech Considered blog, National Public Radio, 18 December 2009.

Call-in with US ambassador to Kabul, and other RFE/RL items.

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan hosted a call-in program with the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, in which listeners were invited to ask him about U.S.-Afghan relations." RFE/RL, 17 December 2009.
     RFE/RL reports on President Obama's speech to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. RFE/RL, 18 December 2009. So does VOA News, 18 December 2009. And so does America.gov, 18 December 2009.
     RFE/RL's Eugen Tomiuc interviews Michael Meyer, "who was Newsweek's bureau chief for Germany, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans at the time, was the last American journalist to travel to Romania and interview Ceausescu before his fall, and one of the first to arrive in Bucharest after Ceausescu's demise." RFE/RL, 16 December 2009.
     "Three young Afghans have been learning the ins and outs of the news business over the past few weeks at RFE/RL's Afghan Service, Radio Azadi, in Prague. ... The 40-day training focuses on the technical aspects of journalism -- like story structure and effective broadcasting techniques -- as well as how to maintain objectivity and balance in reporting. The idea is that the participants will return to Afghanistan to teach their colleagues what they learned at RFE/RL." Alex Mayer and Zach Peterson, Off Mic blog, RFE/RL, 18 December 2009.
     "On International Human Rights Day, Aleh Hruzdzilovich, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Belarusian Service (Radio Svaboda), has received the award for 'Best Journalist' from a Belarusian civic organization." RFE/RL press release, 11 December 2009.
     "Dec. 18, 1959: 'The U.S. Army charged today that the Czechoslovak vice consul at Salzburg, Austria, provided a Communist agent with the poison found in salt shakers at the cafeteria of Radio Free Europe in Munich.'" Prescott (AZ) Daily Courier, 17 December 2009.
     Robert L, Hutchings, a former deputy director of RFE/RL Inc., "has been appointed dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin." UT Austin press release, 16 December 2009. For more RFE/RL in the news, see RFE/RL's RFE/RL In The News.

Controversial Ugandan proposed law brings controversy to BBC World Service.

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The journalists' union has attacked the BBC over the World Service online talkboard discussion that asked if homosexuals should be executed, saying the post was 'overly sensationalist' and could encourage hatred of gay people. After an emergency meeting of the World Service news and current affairs chapel of the National Union of Journalists late yesterday, the union issued a statement expressing concern about yesterday's talkboard post. The post, which asked website users 'Should homosexuals face execution?', was designed to generate debate ahead of interactive programme Africa Have Your Say, which aired yesterday at 4pm and looked at proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda." Stephen Brook, The Guardian, 17 December 2009.
     "The original headline on our website was, in hindsight, too stark. We apologise for any offence it caused. But it's important that this does not detract from what is a crucial debate for Africans and the international community." Peter Horrocks, director of BBC World Service, The Editors blog, BBC, 17 December 2009. See also BBCWS Africa Have Your Say, 15 December 2009.
     "'We should be condemning it [the proposed law], and the BBC should be condemning it, just as we do sexual violence in the Congo or genocide in Rwanda or Darfur,' said Eric Joyce of the ruling Labour party. 'Instead, it seems to have thought it appropriate to come up with something that suggests it's a subject for discussion,' he told the House of Commons." AFP, 18 December 2009.

Bumping NZ's PM, and other BBC world services in the news.

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
New Zealand "Prime Minister John Key has been bumped at the last minute from a worldwide televised climate change debate - in favour of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The BBC World news debate today - dubbed The Greatest Debate on Earth - has been billed as the media highlight of the Copenhagen climate talks and the Prime Minister had announced he would be in it. ... Asked why the BBC changed its mind, [Key spokesman Kevin] Taylor said: 'I have got an idea but I'm not going to do their explaining for them.'" New Zealand Herald, 17 December 2009. BBC "says while it wanted the widest representation of world views, it was never the case that two leaders from Australiasia would appear on the show. The BBC says when it first approached Mr Key, he was unavailable. Later they were told the New Zealand Prime Minister was free. But by then they had already lined up Kevin Rudd." Australia Network News, 18 December 2009.
     "With global warming being the hot topic of discussion at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, BBC World News is airing a series, Hot Cities, that features cities adversely affected by climate change." Screen (New Delhi), 18 December 2009.
     "A senior Bank of England official said that if some banks migrated overseas in response to tougher UK regulation 'it might be a price worth paying' to protect the reform of the financial system in the wake of last year's crisis. The comments, made by Andy Haldane, the central bank's head of financial stability, in a BBC World Service interview to be broadcast today, are certain to exacerbate tensions between the authorities and the financial sector." Chris Giles, Financial Times, 18 December 2009. This BBCWS interview was cited by many other news organizations.
     "In an innovative move for the Russian online and mobile news scene, the BBC Russian website, bbcrussian.com, has launched video news bulletins. A new way to reach Russian-speaking audiences, the video bulletins are delivered in a format that works well on mobile phones and are available via the bbcrussian.com mobile site, m.bbcrussian.com." BBC World Service press release, 14 December 2009.
     Report (in English) by Oleg Boldyrev, video producer for BBC Russian.com, about the paucity of recycling efforts in Russia, shows the BBC Moscow bureau and its attempt to recycle. BBC News, 17 December 2009.
     "[T]his week, BBC World News is running a powerful series of radio interviews with Americans and those in nations with government-supplied health insurance. The contrast is also sadly powerful." Caitlin Kelly, True/Slant, 15 December 2009. See also BBC News, 13 December, 16 December, and 18 December 2009.
     "Researchers at the University of the West of England, UK, have exposed ongoing and systematic bias in the BBC’s news reporting on Venezuela. Dr Lee Salter and Dr Dave Weltman analysed ten years of BBC reports on Venezuela since the first election of Hugo Chavez to the presidency in an ongoing research project, and their findings so far show that the BBC’s reporting falls short of its legal commitment to impartiality, truth and accuracy. The researchers looked at 304 BBC reports published between 1998 and 2008 and found that only 3 of those articles mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the Chavez administration." Lee Salter, Venezuelanalysis.com, 14 December 2009.
     "The BBC Worldwide chief executive, John Smith, has become the first executive at the corporation to support Rupert Murdoch's plan to charge for online content. Smith, who runs the BBC's commercial division – which publishes magazines such as Top Gear and the Radio Times and handles overseas licensing for BBC hits such as Strictly Come Dancing, known abroad as Dancing with the Stars – supported Murdoch's strategy to charge for content on the internet. The depth and breadth of the BBC's free online offering is often cited as a major barrier to commercial operators charging for online news." Stephen Brook, The Guardian, 18 December 2009.

"Love Patrol" on television across the Pacific (updated).

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The SPC [Secretariat of the Pacific Community] says that Wan Smolbag’s Love Patrol second series will go out on TV stations across the Pacific, launched in Fiji December 1, World AIDS day. New Zealand’s Maori TV and Australia’s ABC International have both asked for broadcasting rights. It goes to preview in Auckland this week. The theme of presenting ideas and information about HIV and sexually transmitted diseases in a dramatic setting continues in the new series which introduces drug runners and ‘attractive trainees in the police station’ with one character coming out as HIV positive." Pacific Scoop, 16 October 2009.
     Update: "The second series of Love Patrol produced by Vanuatu's Wan Smolbag was launched in Honiara yesterday. ... Funding assistance came from AusAid, NZAID, Global Fund and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). Wan Smolbag's Lawrence Lulu] said the first series was famous in the region and was amongst the popular new programs in Papua New Guinea and Fiji. It was also bought by [New Zealand's] Maori TV and on ABC International. However, it was free for Pacific TV stations." Solomon Star, 15 December 2009.

Anti-terrorist satellite legislation could affect Alhurra.

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"According to a bill approved by the House of Representatives last week, it will be possible to blame owners of communications satellites, not just TV networks, for spreading world terror and acting against the United States. In the text accompanying the bill, Hezbollah's Al-Manar satellite station is referred to, as is Hamas' Al-Aqsa as well as Al-Zawraa and Al-Rafidain, two stations that broadcast for Iraqis. The bill, which still needs the approval of the Senate, says it will be possible to prosecute satellite owners, and that the president will have to present an annual report on anti-American incitement in the Middle East. ... The bill is likely to sting other satellite stations such as Al Jazeera and Egyptian satellite stations that broadcast talk shows in which anti-American positions are de rigueur. The big question is the extent anti-American discourse will -be allowed, especially in view of Obama's desire to expand the dialogue with Islamic countries including Iran." Zvi Bar'el, Ha'aretz, 15 December 2009. Al-Manar is on Arabsat and Nilesat, and Al-Aqsa is on Arabsat. Those two satellites are the main conveyances of Alhurra. Any prosecution of Arabsat and Nilesat under this act could have ramifications for Alhurra.
     The House bill, sponsored by Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida), Joseph Crowley (D-New York) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), passed 395-3. Jerusalem Post, 10 December 2009. To see who voted no or present, see GOP.gov. See also Rep. Gus Bilirakus website, and video from ibid.
     "The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said the bill 'represented a sharp additional decline on the U.S. promises to improve its poor record in civil and political freedoms locally and internationally.' ... 'How are they going to determine who is an enemy of the U.S.,' said Hassan al-Naggar, a local media analyst. 'Will this mean that Al Jazeera is an enemy, since the Americans did bomb it before? It just doesn’t make sense in terms of their ideology of freedom and such.'" Joseph Mayton, Bikya Masr (Egypt), 18 December 2009.

Leaflets and loudspeakers: new unmanned vehicles for psyop.

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Schiebel recently conducted, in cooperation with Boeing, a demonstration for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, integrating the CAMCOPTER S-100 and ground unmanned systems for psychological operation missions in-theatre. ... The CAMCOPTER S-100 was equipped with an American Technologies Corporation loudspeaker capable of addressing crowds at a distance of up to 2 km, a leaflet drop capability, as well as an IAI POP300 EO/IR camera payload. The John Deere R-Gator Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) was also equipped with a loudspeaker augmented with the Trident, Inc. data link, demonstrating the potential for teaming UGVs with an UAS. The psychological operation mission at a mock-up city training facility at Ft. Bragg, simulating in-theatre conditions, was aimed at minimizing civilian unrest and preventing civilian casualties while apprehending a suspected terrorist cell. The S-100 was utilized to survey the area and provide real-time aerial intelligence, as well as to address the public and drop information leaflets." Defense Professionals, 16 December 2009.
     "There is no indication yet when the system is likely to be put into service in the U.S. armed forces or elsewhere for civilian uses." UPI, 16 December 2009.

Will Mouse make Fox welcome in the Middle East?

Posted: 18 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Blockbuster movies and television series from the Disney media empire will soon be screened free-to-air in the Middle East, after a new deal announced in Dubai today. Disney, which owns the ABC television channel, Pixar animation studio and a host of successful film production houses, will partner with two regional free-to-air channels, Fox Movies and Fox Series. The two free-to-air channels launched in the past year as joint ventures between Fox and the Saudi-owned Rotana Group. Rotana is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the billionaire investor who is a major shareholder of both Disney and News Corporation, the parent company of Fox. News Corporation is expected to announce a significant investment in Rotana in January, acquiring 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the company." Tom Gara, The National (Abu Dhabi), 15 December 2009.
     "News Corp. is run by Australian Rupert Murdoch, who has allowed his Fox News to run amok on cable TV with the likes of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, a pair of conservatives who use the word 'Muslim' as an epithet. Saudi Arabia has spent considerable energy since 9/11 attempting to correct the stereotypes and outright lies about Islam, but whatever campaigns Saudis lead takes a backseat to the Fox propaganda machine. ... The company continues to spew its anti-Muslim rhetoric almost daily. It’s only a matter of time before their garbage is routinely aired in Arab markets." Sabria S. Jawhar, Saudi Gazette, 15 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Freelancers.

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Can you make a living by making videos as a solo-journalist? How do you survive? Is it enough? ... News channels like Al Jazeera, CNN and BBC are always looking for contributors from around the world and they pay fairly well too. There are also other television channels from different countries that are willing to buy stories from specific parts of the world. For example, I also contribute to several European channels that focus on Asian content." Zan Azlee, The Malaysian Insider, 15 December 2009.
     "For freelancer Ben Bland, who was recently refused a working visa in Singapore, lack of news organisation support is the biggest concern for stringers and independent journalists abroad. ... Al Jazeera or BBC provide lots of training and support for permanent staff, he says. But as a freelancer, 'you don't get any of that,' he adds." Judith Townend, journalism.co.uk, 17 December 2009.

Reaction to Zanu PF's beef with broadcasts directed to Zimbabwe.

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"On accusations that Botswana is using the American radio station, Voice of America, to spread hate propaganda against the Zimbabwean government, [Botswana's minister of foreign affairs Phandu] Skelemani said that the Botswana government has absolutely no control over the content of the American broadcasts. 'The VOA station in Botswana is just a relay station, which has absolutely no control on editorial content. Everything is done in Washington. In any event, the Zimbabwean government did not have any problem when the VOA station assisted them to overpower Ian Smith. It is only now when they are faced with criticism for their undemocratic practices that they start to complain,' concluded Skelemani." start to complain,' concluded Skelemani." Ngonidzashe Dzimiri, Sunday Standard (Gabarone), 13 December 2009. VOA's Botswana relay did not exist during Ian Smith's rule. The VOA relay in Liberia, trashed during that country's civil war, was the prime hauler.
     "It is MISA [Media Institute of Southern Africa] Zimbabwe’s well considered view that broadcasts by shortwave radio stations is an internationally accepted global phenomenon in terms of the International Telecommunications Union Treaty and is in tandem with the realization of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Shortwave radio frequencies have been critical in allowing access to information for disadvantaged and repressed peoples across the world. They also played a critical role in the heroic struggles of the people of southern Africa against colonialism." Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 16 December 2009. See also misa.org.
     "Zimbabwe’a biggest mobile phone operator Econet Wireless is braced for political brickbats from Zanu PF over mass text messages sent through its network last week claiming President Robert Mugabe would be challenged at the party’s congress." New Zimbabwe, 16 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Azerbaijan's interminable dispute with Euronews.

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Azerbaijani Trend News Agency addressed a protest letter to the management of Euronews TV with regards to the televised report 'Change of Winds in Nagorno-Karabakh' that was recently broadcasted by Euronews." Trend News Agency, 15 December 2009.
     "A wave of actions of protest in connection with a footage broadcasted by TV channel Euronews from Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Garabagh region occupied by Armenia is growing. The Azerbaijan Press Council joined the protests as well." ABC.az, 15 December 2009. See also News.az, 15 December 2009.
     "Public Union 'Azerbaijani Community of Azerbaijan Republic’s Nagorno Karabakh region' made a statement on the report broadcasted on Euronews TV channel... ." Azeri Press Agency, 16 December 2009.
     "'We do not focus on the historical aspect of the problem; this is a task of historians. Our main task in the problem of Nagorno Karabakh are people who suffered in the result of the conflict', editor-in-chief of the Euronews TV channel Peter Barabas told Armenian reporters who tried to prove that Nagorno Karabakh is an 'ancient Armenian land'." News.az, 14 December 2009.
     "None of the TV or radio channels in Azerbaijan is free of praising the 'national leader' Heydar Aliyev and his son Ilham day and night! To be more convincing, the National TV sand Radio Council of Azerbaijan recently prohibited such world famous media outlets as BBC, Radio Liberty and Voice of America from broadcasting in Azerbaijan thereby depriving them of their audience in the country." News.am (Yerevan), 16 December 2009.
     "The European Parliament has adopted a resolution critical of what it calls the deterioration of media freedom in Azerbaijan. ... The resolution also urged authorities to renew FM radio licenses of a number of international broadcasters such as RFE/RL and the BBC World Service." RFE/RL, 17 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

For Arab sport fans who are extremely or merely very fanatic.

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"All fans of Arabic sports can celebrate Eurosport Group's newly-launched Arabic version. The service is an on-line and mobile channel, updated with the latest Arabic sporting news. The new channel 'broadcasts' in the Arabic and French languages and it offers high quality editorial coverage for 19 Northen Africa and the Middle East countries. The broadcaster has reached an agreement with Middle East telecommunications operator du. ... With this new version Eurosport now broadcasts in ten different languages. According to a recent report on these two areas more than 80% of the sports fans on the internet in the MENA region are very or extremely fanatic." Iñaki Ferreras, Rapid TV News, 15 December 2009. See also eurosport.com.

Will Sky News election coverage demonstrate its worthiness to take over Australia Network?

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"With an enthralling federal election seemingly in the offing next year, as well as state polls in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, Sky News Australia is preparing to beef up its already substantial political programming. As soon as a federal vote is called, Sky News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said he planned to transform sister public affairs channel A-PAC into a '24-hour all-election channel' delivering announcements, press conferences and speeches 'raw and unfiltered'. ... For Mr Frangopoulos, the increased commitment to public affairs broadcasting has the additional purpose of bolstering the network's credentials for its other big project for 2010: Lobbying for an open tender to be held for the $20 million contract to run Australia Network, the diplomatic broadcasting service controlled by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Currently held by the ABC, the Australia Network contract expires in 2011, and Mr Frangopoulos has made a concerted push for Sky News to be allowed to bid for it. (Sky News and A-PAC are owned and operated by Australian News Channel, which is jointly owned by Rupert Murdoch's British pay-TV group BSkyB, PBL Media and the Seven Network.) 'The ABC is mounting a campaign that the contract should just be rolled over. We firmly believe it should go to tender to deliver the best outcome for DFAT and for all Australians,' Mr Frangopoulos said. 'It should be a global channel and the ABC falls way short of that.'" Sally Jackson, The Australian 14 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

"The cheapest way to learn English in Bangladesh."

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Every morning, Ahmed Shariar Sarwar makes it his daily ritual to call number 3000 on his mobile phone to get lessons in English -- his passport to a better life in impoverished Bangladesh. The mobile tutorial lasts only three minutes, but Rahman, 21, who is studying the textile trade says it is already helping him learn the language, which is key to getting a lucrative job in foreign firms based in Dhaka. He is among hundreds of thousands of young men who have turned to the novel English teaching service since it was launched last month by a charity arm of the BBC. The aim is to teach the language to six million people by 2011. 'It's simple and good. It costs three taka (four US cents) per lesson -- the cheapest way to learn English in Bangladesh,' Rahman said. 'There are a lot of English courses available here, but most rip you off and the quality isn't so good.' It is also easily accessible via all six of Bangladesh's mobile phone operators whose networks cover almost the entire population. ... 'We are simply overwhelmed," said Sara Chamberlain, head of the programme at the BBC World Service Trust, an international development agency which uses the media to reduce poverty, promote human rights and improve lives. 'We had expected no more than 25,000 calls on the first day... but we were swamped with 84,000 and it's growing,' she said." Shafiq Alam, AFP, 13 December 2009.
     "BBC Janala ( http://www.bbcjanala.com/ ) is packed with tools to encourage Bangladeshi people to learn English in a fun and engaging way. It includes quizzes, video and audio recordings, and blogs. Importantly, for users with slow or limited Internet connections, the site has a bandwidth switch, which reduces the page weight so that users are able to access the content quickly." Amaxus press release, 16 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Those who can't report, analyze.

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The globalisation of news may mean that a crisis manager in a capital will know about a disaster in a foreign country while the embassy is sleeping. The diplomat's job is increasingly not to compete with CNN or Sky or BBC World, but to add value with analysis, with physical presence among the victims of a disaster and by making contact with the local authorities in the case, for instance, of a kidnapping." Ivor Roberts, The World Today, January 2010 issue.

World Radio TV Handbook is back for its 64th edition.

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The 2010 edition of the World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) was published on 4 December 2009. Does this venerable publication - now in its 64th edition - live up to its claim to be the World’s most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to broadcasting? WRTH serves two markets, whose interests overlap – the professional broadcasters and the individual listeners interested in discovering what’s on the air beyond their countries’ borders. For the past quarter of century, many of the latter have purchased Passport to World Band Radio (PWBR), which concentrated on shortwave broadcasts. But with the collapse of the shortwave market in North America and Europe, the publisher decided not to publish a 2010 edition. ... The receiver review section used to be one of the major selling points of both WRTH and PWBR, but with the decline of shortwave there are now very few new products to review. This is also reflected in the lack of advertisements for receivers." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands, 17 December 2009. I look up information in the WRTH at least once a day. Don't overlook the section in the back of the book devoted to international radio broadcasting.

Thank Thanko for this new USB shortwave radio.

Posted: 17 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"I don’t know how they do it, but somehow, Thanko manages to keep coming up with gadgets that are silly and borderline useless for most people and yet are potentially just perfect for just enough people that I don’t quite feel comfortable making fun of them. And even then, this USB radio is a more useful than most, considering that it receives AM, FM, and shortwave. There’s an external antenna jack, and the actual tuning is done via software. You can record anything you’re listening to directly to MP3, and you can even schedule different recordings on different frequencies... . Evan Ackerman, Oh Gizmo!, 15 December 2009. It costs 3890 yen, or about 44 US dollars, at Thanko. Tunes 3 to 20 MHz shortwave, thus missing the 21 MHz broadcast band, on which stations will be audible if the sunspots ever come back. This device could be useful for people with PCs but without a broadband internet connection, or with a blocked internet connection, or when the internet goes down. A standalone shortwave radio remains the best bet, such as those available from Universal Radio, Grove Enterprises, or C. Crane, including those manufactured by Sangean and Etón.

RFI scoop: interview with would-be assassin of Guinea's military ruler.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The man who attempted to assassinate Guinea's military ruler, Moussa Dadis Camara, has told RFI that he did it because he felt he was being betrayed. In an exclusive interview, Lieutenant Aboubacar 'Toumba' Sidiki Diakité also claimed the 28 September massacre was 'planned'. Diakité was Camara’s aide de camp when he shot him in the head on 3 December. Camara was flown to hospital in Morocco where he remains in hospital while Diakité went on the run. 'I opened fire on him [Camara] because after a while there was complete betrayal – betrayal against me and a complete betrayal against democracy,' Diakaté told RFI’s Olivier Roget in a telephone interview from his hideout." Radio France International, 16 December 2009. RFI's interview widely sited by other news agencies, including AP, 16 December 2009.

RFI sells local FM outlet but maintains a presence in Sofia.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"At a closed session on December 15, the Bulgarian Council for Electronic Media (CEM) decided that the local branch of Radio France Internationale (RF) would from now on be called Radio Focus. The changes follow the sale of the Bulgarian RFI operation to Vuzrazhdane Varna 2009 Ltd, announced in early December. ... 'After the finalisation of the transaction, the new owners will sign an agreement with RFI-Paris to ensure the continuation of the partnership between the radio station and French national radio.' ... The Sofia-based RFI operation had been sold because the company had failed to obtain terrestrial frequencies for any of the four major university towns in the country." Sofia Echo, 16 December 2009.
     "Journalists of Radio France Internationale (RFI) Sofia protest against a decision of the Council on Electronic Media (CEM), which they consider legally unfounded. On Wednesday, the station came up with a declaration in connection with a CEM decision to change the individual licence of the Sofmedia Broadcasting company for radio broadcasting in Sofia Region. The agreement on the sale of RFI Bulgaria to the Varna-based Vazrajdane-Sofmedia Broadcasting was signed in late November." BTA Bulgarian News Agency, 16 December 2009. RFI in Sofia on 103.6 MHz FM is all in French. Will Radio Focus be a combination of Bulgarian and French?

Farewell Zhivkov: CNN on the fall of communism in Bulgaria.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Cable news network CNN International [showed] a documentary on the fall of communism in Bulgaria, part of its Autumn of Change series dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the unraveling of the communist bloc. CNN anchor and reporter Ralitsa Vassileva, a reporter for Bulgarian National Radio and Bulgarian National Television when communism fell and during the first years of Bulgaria's post-communist transition, tells the story of Bulgaria's first steps towards democracy." The Sofia Echo, 11 December 2009. See the video at CNN, 12 December 2009.

In communist Romania, the Securitate had a separate office just to monitor exile broadcasters.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"In 1983, while at university, I was invited to be interviewed at a travel agency, on the pretext of a translation job. It soon transpired that the man who interviewed me was a Securitate captain. He offered me privileges: a passport to travel abroad and the cancer drugs my sick father needed. In exchange I would have to spy on people I knew. I said no. It has taken me until now to see the file the secret police kept on me as a result of that refusal. ... It ends in December 1985, six months after I was allowed to leave Romania to join my mother and just as I had started working at the BBC's Romanian Service in London. Another arm of the Securitate continued to monitor me, as it did all exiles working for foreign broadcasters, until the last days of 1989." Oana Lungescu, The Independent, 11 December 2009.
     "From the mid-1970s to his overthrow and summary trial and execution by firing squad on Christmas Day 1989, Romanian Communist Party leader Nicolae Ceausescu, and his court, waged a vengeful war against Radio Free Europe. His side fought with intimidation, threats and physical attacks; Romanian broadcasters at RFE counter attacked with 'truth' in their programs. Some examples of this war include: ●Book bombs hidden in the memoirs of former Soviet leader Khrushchev were sent to 3 prominent émigrés associated with RFE. One injured a freelancer and a policeman in Paris. Another injured an émigré in Cologne. ●Five Romanian diplomats were expelled from Germany in 1984, for plotting to bomb Radio Free Europe. ●Colonel 'Z' was a Romanian intelligence agent was sent to Paris to kill Virgil Tanase, a prominent RFE/RL freelancer in 1982, but instead he confessed to French authorities and became a double agent for French Intelligence." Richard Cummings, Historytimes.com, 14 December 2009.

Some funding restored for political lightning rod TV Martí.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Senate appropriators who voted to strip funding for TV Martí, a U.S. network aimed at Cuba, are exasperated that the omnibus spending bill would keep the perpetually jammed service on the air. On Friday, opponents slammed the $5.5 million for TV Martí included in the spending-bill package passed by the House. ... Sen. Byron L. Dorgan , D-N.D., who offered the amendment to strip funding for the network, said his proposal was 'emasculated' in the spending package passed by the House, which includes a version of State Department measure. ... The final funding total is far lower than the $32.5 million the House would have provided in its original State Department spending bill, which it passed in July. Congressional foes of Castro defended the appropriation and TV Martí. 'These programs are essential to spreading the message of democracy,' Sen. George LeMieux , R-Fla., said in an e-mail Friday. 'TV and Radio Martí provide the Cuban people with information they are not able to get from their oppressive government’s propaganda-controlled networks.'" CQ Politics, 11 December 2009.
     "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is pushing for a more urgent U.S. response to the case involving an American citizen arrested in Cuba, and has sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling it an 'outrage that the Cuban regime has refused cooperation.' ... And on Saturday, Sen. George LeMieux said it made the case for continued funding of TV and Radio Marti, the pro-democracy efforts beamed to Cuba." Alex Leary, The Buzz blog, St. Petersburg Times, 15 December 2009.
     "Before there was Sarah Palin, there was Paula Hawkins, who went from local Republican volunteer and Republican national committeewoman from Florida to becoming the first woman to win a full term in the Senate without following a husband or father who had been in elective office. When she died on December 4 at age 82 from complications following a stroke and a fall, this remarkable, very combative politician was remembered warmly by conservatives. ... The feisty Floridian carried the political ball to launch Radio Marti, which would broadcast messages of freedom to Castro’s Cuba 14 hours a day." John Gizzi, Human Events, 15 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

VOA reporter detained in Cabinda, and other VOA in the news.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Angolan police arrested two journalists on Sunday for taking a picture at a soccer stadium in the country's northern province of Cabinda where some of the games for the Africa Cup of Nations will take place next year. Voice of America reporter Jose Manuel told Reuters he and Benoit Faucon, a reporter from Dow Jones newswires in London, were released without being given an explanation for the five-hour detention by police in Cabinda." Reuters, 15 December 2009.
     Alide Forstmanis, chair of Tribute to Liberty, a new organization based in Toronto that seeks to have a memorial built in Ottawa to the Victims of Communist Crimes: "Both my parents are Latvian, but I was lucky to grow up in Sweden. ... I remember my parents listening to 'Voice of America' and the other news sources that were being jammed by the Soviets – so our relatives in Latvia wouldn’t hear them." FrontPageMagazine.com, 15 December 2009.
     "I'd say [George] Stephanopoulos is in very good shape to become the World News anchor one day, and that might have been the case even if he hadn't gone to GMA. Some people are never going to fully accept him because of his Clinton White House role... . John Chancellor ran the Voice of America for LBJ before become the NBC anchor, but that was a different era." Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, 14 December 2009.
     Inducted to the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame: "Wanda Ramey Queirolo, a Terre Haute native who became one of the country's first female local news anchors. After graduating from Indiana State Teachers College in 1945, Ramey moved to Oakland, Calif., where she was hired as a radio interviewer. ... She later worked for National Educational Television, the precursor to PBS, and Voice of America. She died in August 2009." Corydon (IN) Democrat, 16 December 2009.

History of USIA, 1945-1989, now in paperback.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Now available in paperback: Nicholas J. Cull, The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945–1989. "Published at a time when the U.S. government’s public diplomacy is in crisis, this book provides an exhaustive account of how it used to be done. The United States Information Agency was created in 1953 to 'tell America’s story to the world' and, by engaging with the world through international information, broadcasting, culture and exchange programs, became an essential element of American foreign policy during the Cold War. Based on newly declassified archives and more than 100 interviews with veterans of public diplomacy, from the Truman administration to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nicholas J. Cull relates both the achievements and the endemic flaws of American public diplomacy in this period. Major topics include the process by which the Truman and Eisenhower administrations built a massive overseas propaganda operation; the struggle of the Voice of America radio to base its output on journalistic truth; the challenge of presenting Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, and Watergate to the world; and the climactic confrontation with the Soviet Union in the 1980s." Blurb, Cambridge University Press website.

Former USIA officer was brief, blunt, and flippant.

Posted: 16 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Robert Schadler said he would be brief and blunt, as he addressed the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday in a forum that marked the 10th anniversary of the demise of the U.S. Information Agency. He was brief, but blunt was an understatement. Mr. Schadler, a former USIA officer now with the American Foreign Policy Council, called the closure of the agency dedicated to 'telling America's story' for 46 years an 'inexplicable self-inflicted wound' that damaged U.S. public diplomacy." James Morrison, Washington Times, 10 December 2009.
     "I was brief and blunt, which is perhaps why a few misinterpretations crept into the account. I should first say that I was being entirely sarcastic when I suggested that 'enhanced interrogation' was in any way related to public diplomacy. ... I made several points, which I will restate. First, U.S. public diplomacy has been dysfunctional since the shuttering of the U.S. Information Agency a decade ago. [Three points omitted.] Fifth, public diplomacy is not fully housed in the State Department, with broadcasting off by itself and the Department of Defense trying to fill part of the vacuum in places like Iraq." Robert A. Schadler, letter to the Washington Times, 15 December 2009.
     Another USIA alumnus who resents the separation of international broadcasting from the public diplomacy empire. As a 25-year VOA employee (actually now an employee of VOA's parent entity IBB), I miss USIA about as much as a Lithuanian misses the Soviet Union.
     Meanwhile, the blithe dismissal of present-day US public diplomacy as "dysfunctional" ignores many of its achievements. Examples include 1) the America.gov website and other activities of the Bureau of International Information Programs, 2) the Arabic-speaking staff responding to misinformation and disinformation in the blogosphere, and 3) Secretary Clinton and other officials interviewed on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

     Video and audio of the Heritage Foundation event, "The Abolition of USIA and Its Effects on U.S. Public Diplomacy," on 9 December, are available here.

Spitting into the ocean 2.0.

Posted: 15 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"While it is essential that government have a coordinated message, the 'grassroots' nature of social media makes it both difficult and somewhat undesirable to control them. The appeal of social media is precisely its feeling of intimacy and informality, and the government runs the risk of diminishing, even destroying, this appeal of social media through regulation. The content on social-networking sites should be both interesting and pertinent to individuals -- people, not formal information, are the essence of social interaction. On the other hand, lack of regulation incurs serious risk for agencies involved in sensitive areas, such as defense and diplomacy. For regulation within the government to be effective, the government must establish policy guidelines (possibly similar to those applied by The Heritage Foundation to its blogs -- all Heritage blogs must be approved by the foundation's department directors and blog editors) without destroying the intimate feel of social networking." Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation, 8 December 2009.
     This is a good overview of the present and potential use of social and other new media for public diplomacy. Mercifully, the essay for the most part leaves US international broadcasting out of it. The journalistic function of international broadcasting has its own, separate uses for the new media.
     The problem with using social media for public diplomacy is the vast oversupply of content. The State Department has a Facebook page? Great -- so does the 14-year-old kid down the street. There might be more people producing verbiage via the social media than are actually reading the stuff.
     With all the available content, State Department social media efforts may be difficult to encounter through random visits to Facebook, Twitter, etc. One must make the effort to become a fan, or a follower, and if one has done that, isn't the State Department largely preaching to the choir?
     While social media are
au courant, one should not forget good old-fashioned websites as a means for countries to reach out to the world. An excellent example is finland.fi. (For others, see previous post.) To publicize these websites, nations will have to turn to the unsocial media, e.g. advertisements on television and newspapers.
     "The United States government has long disseminated information to people living under repressive regimes — think of Radio Free Europe. But lately, Washington is trying a different tactic. The content of the information isn’t the important thing; the emphasis is on supporting the technical infrastructure to enable people connect through online social networks like Facebook and Twitter." Noah Schactman, Wired Danger Room, 11 December 2009. It's good to support technical infrastructures. But content of information remains a very important thing. The more I read from the social media, the more I appreciate the value of traditional journalism.

Heritage memo on the need for more research needs more research.

Posted: 15 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Astonishingly, the U.S. government has very little capacity for audience research, a glaring omission given that, for the past 10 years, the State Department has housed the International Information Programs bureau, i.e., the cultural outreach program left over from the deconstruction of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in 1999. Previous to its termination, USIA did have some capacity for audience research through the International Broadcasting Bureau, which oversaw Voice of America as well as the government's group of international surrogate radios such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Marti, Radio Free Asia, etc. That internal audience research capacity was lost following USIA's merger with the State Department. ... The Administration should make it a priority to create the much-needed listening and analytical capability by establishing a public-private partnership. ... Such a 'Corporation for Foreign Opinion Analysis' (CFOA) would engage in long-term cultural research aimed at understanding foreign audiences, their 'national narratives,' their cultures, and their ebb and flow of public opinion. Audience research and analysis would be conducted by a core of experts, who would also be able to contract with specialist firms to perform opinion polling and organize focus groups." Helle C. Dale and Edwin J. Feulner, Heritage Foundation, 10 December 2009.
     US international broadcasting audience research is alive, well, and has a fat budget. The Broadcasting Board of Governors spends about ten million dollars per year on research, not including salaries. Studies are conducted by InterMedia, a nonprofit corporation. IBB, RFE/RL, and RFA each have their research offices. Almost every BBG language service gets a survey every year, along with a battery of qualitative studies. The research effort is so flush with cash that it even retains me as an employee. (It's my day job.)
     The State Department has its Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which conducts opinion research overseas. I don't know if it carries out studies specific to public diplomacy operations, but it probably could.
     There is some exchange of results between the BBG and State research offices, but because they involve two very different activities, any combination of effort would not be especially productive.
     In fact, one of the many benefits of VOA's independence from USIA is that it is no longer beholden to the USIA Office of Research, which varied over the years in its commitment to VOA. The IBB in-house research effort is keyed to the questions VOA needs answered. Moving research to a "Corporation for Foreign Opinion Analysis" outhouse would forfeit that advantage.

VOA Pashto not jammed, not blocked, but not on the air via Pakistan.

Posted: 15 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has blocked Voice of America’s (VoA) 4-hour Pashto language programme after the latter allegedly deviated from an agreement. However, the US state-owned radio service continues to avail Radio Pakistan’s hour-long airtime for its Urdu transmission daily. 'Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation has blocked four hours of Pashto transmission of VoA, while the Urdu service is still continuing,' an official said yesterday. According to the deal, VoA would have to use PBC equipment and transmitters in Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore to air its transmission in Pashto and Urdu on Medium and FM waves." Gulf Times (Doha), 12 December 2009. The headline of this story is "PBC jams American Pashto broadcasts." But VOA's Deewa Radio Pashto broadcasts are not jammed, or even blocked by way of interdicting a signal. It is, rather, that the agreement for VOA to use the Peshawar medium wave transmitter has been disallowed, for now, by Pakistani authorities.
     "The Voice of America (VOA) is broadcasting its one-hour Urdu service from its original station in USA without any proper editing or monitoring, it is reliably learnt on Monday. 'Although announcement "You are listening Radio Ki Duniya ‘Intikhab’" is aired prior to programme, yet actually it is transmitted as it is broadcast from its original station without any editing,' sources within Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) informed TheNation. ... When contacted, PBC spokesman said VOA programmes are strictly checked, monitored and edited to safeguard the national interests of Pakistan. He said PBC has entire recordings of VOA programmes and monitoring reports are prepared for critical analysis on daily basis to ensure that nothing is against the national interests. Any violation of the agreement would result in the unilateral cancellation of the pact by involving the breaking clause of the accord, he added. He said PBC has a history of cooperation with BBC, China Radio International, VOA and Duetsche Welle, and is pursuing important agreements with Turkish Radio. It is a misperception that the VOA broadcasts from FM network will be used to unleash US Propaganda, he added." Javaid-ur-rahman, The Nation (Lahore), 15 December 2009. See previous posts on 5 December, 28 November, and 21 November 2009.
     VOA Pashto to the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier region is called Deewa Radio. VOA Pashto and Dari to Afghanistan are Radio Ashna. RFE/RL in same to Afghanistan is referred to in English as Radio Free Afghanistan, but locally as Radio Azadi. VOA Urdu is Radio Aap ki Dunyaa. My brain cannot store all these brands, so I use a cheat sheet.

Founder of Free North Korea Radio awarded for "persistent efforts."

Posted: 15 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, TFD [Taiwan Foundation for Democracy] chairman Wang Jin-pyng and President Ma Ying-jeou presented an award to Kim Seong-Min, founder and director of the Free North Korea Radio (FNKR), for his courageous and persistent efforts. ... The FNKR, the first anti-North Korea radio station run by defectors, started from 30 minutes of broadcast on shortwave signals a day to 6 hours today, and will continue to grow. Kim was grateful for the help from the United States and France that enabled him to launch the radio station. Yet dangers came after the success. Kim and his colleagues were under numerous threats from the north, Russia and China, demanding them to shut down the radio station.. ." The China Post (Taipei), 12 December 2009.
     Visit to Australia by North Korean artists blocked by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which said in a statement: "The artists concerned are from a studio that operates under the guidance of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Il. The studio reportedly produces almost all of the official artworks in North Korea, including works that clearly constitute propaganda." The Age, 11 December 2009. See also Queensland Art Gallery website.

Zimbabwe media update: "People will always gravitate to those they trust."

Posted: 15 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
From resolution of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) from its 5th Ordinary National People’s Congress, 09-13 December 2009: "1. Condemns, in the strongest terms, the continuing violation of Zimbabwe’s airwaves by the Voice of America Studio 7, Voice of the People, Short Wave Radio Africa and a myriad of Internet based platforms in blatant breach of the GPA. 2. Condemns, unequivocally, the ECONET Wireless Network, for launching an electronic warfare attack against Zanu PF during this Congress by broadcasting falsehoods and hate messages designed to cause alarm and despondency in violation of Zimbabwe’s laws and the letter and spirit of the GPA. ... 3. Directs the Party to institute measures and programmes to enhance its ICT and media capabilities in order to counteract this threat to national cohesion." The Zimbabwe Guardian, 14 December 2009.
     "You have also to witness the very long queues of people paying their DStv [satellite television] subscriptions at MultiChoice Zimbabwe PaSangano offices in Avondale, Harare. What does all this tell us? It tells us a number of things: That life with ZBC is extremely boring. That in this day and age, you can have all your horrible laws and appalling broadcasting regulations, but you can never kill consumers’ appetite for variety. And that in a world of a thousand voices, people will always gravitate to those they trust. Creating brand values of credibility, choice, trustworthiness, usefulness and relevance — this is the way to go and not crying for funds all the time. Money -- to do what? We can take a leaf out of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on this issue of a trusted and tried brand. The BBC is in a peculiar position in that it was established by the State, but is not State-controlled." Bornwell Chakaodza, Financial Gazette (Harare), 11 December 2009.
     "The [Botswana] Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Phandu Skelemani has refuted media reports that Botswana is hostile towards Zimbabwe especially the ZANU-PF government. ... He indicated that Studio 7, known as the Voice of America has been in existence in Botswana for years and the government of Zimbabwe supported it then." BOPA Daily News, 14 December 2009.
     "There is nothing 'pirate' about [SW Radio Africa] or any of the others. They are licensed under the laws of the countries hosting them. The employees have been driven to work abroad because of their treatment here." Zimbabwe Independent, 10 December 2009. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think SW Radio Africa requires a UK license to make programs in that country. The transmitters it leases, in various countries, do require licenses, which are held by the transmission company or companies. See previous post about same subject.

Euronews editor says intent to report "other side" of Karabakh dispute is not due to protests.

Posted: 15 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Some 50 protesters gathered outside Euronews head office in Lyon ... to protest at a one-sided Euronews report on the Karabakh conflict. The protesters chanted 'Respect the truth', 'Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory' and 'Journalism requires professionalism'. Four of the protest organizers ... were received by [Euronews chief editor Peter] Barabas for about an hour... . Barabas told the protesters that he had not expected the report to cause such a storm of protest. He said the Euronews editorial office had received hundreds of letters about the report." News.az, 11 December 2009. See also Azeri Press Agency, 12 December 2009 and APA, 11 December 2009.
     "Armenians living in France put pressure on the Azerbaijani young people to prevent them from holding protest action outside the Euronews office against the biased televised report on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Lyons, France, 'Ireli' Public Union Chairman Ceyhun Osmanli said." Today.az, 11 December 2009.
     "'We have recently done a report on the Armenians who suffered during the conflict, and it is now our obvious intent to focus on the other side as well, that is the Azeris whose lives were also uprooted during all these years of confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This idea has nothing to do with a number of protests we have received from individuals and organizations from Azerbaijan following the broadcast of our report on the Armenian side in Nagorno Karabakh. Both our reports are based solely on our editorial values and guidelines,' [Euronews chief editor Peter Barabas] said." Azeri Press Agency, 11 December 2009.
     "The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has not yet received any requests from the Euronews television channel on its desire to prepare a story about the Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Elkhan Polukhov said." Today.az, 11 December 2009.
     "Azerbaijani Embassy in Ukraine will initiate a meeting with the management of 'Inter' TV channel to solve the problem with broadcasting biased materials on Nagorno-Karabakh, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Ukraine Talat Aliyev told Trend News on Dec. 12. 'We want to tell them how roughly they have broken all laws and regulations of staying in another country.'" Trend News Agency, 12 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Africa Channel on cable in southern California.

Posted: 14 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Time Warner Cable is adding the Africa Channel to its lineup in Orange County and Southern California. ... The Africa Channel is part of a new TV network with featured shows on, obviously, Africa. According to a Christian Science Monitor article, the channel is independent and privately funded. 'NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, who comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, wrote the startup’s first check. Now it relies on funding from groups such as Williams Holdings, LLC, a privately held investment firm,' says the report. ... The channel offers news, sports, and lifestyle shows about Africa. More details at its site: theafricachannel.com." Tamara Chuang, The Gadgetress, Orange County Register, 14 December 2009.

Al-Aqsa children's production continues to produce controversy.

Posted: 14 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"This week, the Middle East Media Research Institute, a pro-Israel NGO based in Washington, D.C., released a video dispatch about children’s programming by Hamas-controlled Al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip. Since 2007, Tomorrow’s Pioneers has taught young Palestinians about Zionist aggression in Jerusalem and the alleged sins of the West. The show originally starred Farfour, a fun-loving Mickey Mouse-look-alike. ... Pioneers mixes lessons about drinking milk with Islamic supremacy. It’s directed by Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, who also runs Al-Aqsa TV. The show was created by Hazim Al-Sha’arawi, the station’s deputy director. The show is hosted by 12-year-old Saraa Barhoum, the niece of a Hamas spokesman. She said in a 2007 interview that if she doesn’t end up being a doctor when she grows up, she would settle for being a martyr." Ben Oiven, Blogwatch, Worldfocus, 11 December 2009.

Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam resumes on Arabsat.

Posted: 14 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Saudi-based Arabsat satellite provider announced on Thursday it has resumed broadcasting Al-Alam programs, withdrawing from what the international community condemned as a 'political' decision when it dropped the Tehran-based network. In a shock move and under the Saudi regime's pressures, the Arabsat satellite provider along with Cairo-based Nilesat took Al-Alam off air without prior notice last month." Al-Alam, 13 December 2009. So, apparently, not back on Nilesat. See previous post about same subject.

Secretary Clinton and General McChrystal request, get interviews on Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 14 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera's Riz Khan asks Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, how successful the US strategy has been in winning over the Afghan people." Al Jazeera English video, 11 December 2009. Transcript of the interview. State Department, 10 December 2009.
     "And today, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added to the signs the Obama administration is pivoting from the engagement to the pressure track on Iran... ." Laura Rozen blog, Politico, 11 December 2009.
     "The day after his first round of testimony to Congress, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was on a press tour. First stop was National Public Radio, with its internationally inflected American elite audience. Second stop was the obligatory sitdown with the dean of the world press corps, Christianne Amanpour at CNN. Interview number three took place [at] the American broadcast center of Al Jazeera English, the three-year old cousin of the Qatar-based Arabic language news channel. This was an important day for 'English,' as its employees call it, perhaps the most self-validating since the beginning of the Obama administration. The Defense Department asked Jazeera for its time, not the other way around. ... Khan's questions are tough and probing. He refers to an Al Jazeera English investigation of the readiness of Afghan troops and plays a clip from an Afghan soldier who admits as much. ... Within three hours of McChystal's interview, Khan's producer got a call from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's office. Could Khan come over and interview her? Marc Ambinder, Politics, The Atlantic, 10 December 2009. Al Jazeera is international broadcasting. Secretary Clinton and General McChrystal inserting themselves onto Al Jazeera is public diplomacy.

If Ofcom won't save shortwave, will the UFOs?

Posted: 13 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the last twelve months Ofcom have received 143 individual PLT [Power Line Technology] interference complaints about inability to receive radio transmissions in the High Frequency (HF) band (3 to 30MHz). Of these, 121 have been investigated and referred to the apparatus supplier who has resolved 104. The solutions employed include replacing the apparatus, hard wiring and conventional wireless alternatives. ... On the available evidence, we do not believe an outright ban of all powerline equipment is justified." UK government response to the Save Shortwave 2 e-petition, via Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 10 December 2009.
     "Evidence is overwhelming that intelligently controlled vehicles are visiting the Earth, which would lead to a cosmic Watergate if disclosed by the government, a nuclear physicist said Saturday in Murfreesboro. Physicist Stanton T. Friedman said he has not seen an unidentified flying object but he hasn’t seen Tokyo either, even though he knows the city exists. ... The meeting was broadcast worldwide on short wave." The Murfreesboro Post, 8 December 2009.
     "Hal Turner operated on the fringes of radio – on shortwave and Internet streaming – but he drew national attention when he was indicted on charges he threatened to murder three federal judges in Chicago. Now his trial in a New York federal court has ended in a mistrial." Radio Business Report, 9 December 2009.
     "On album, STS9 (aka Sound Tribe Sector Nine) generally let the music do the talking. ... Their latest space oddity began while recording tracks for what would become their new release, 'Ad Explorata,' in their hometown of Santa Cruz, Calif. earlier this year. The band started to pick up strange signals and voices on their shortwave radio. They distinctly heard the sound of a woman's voice, reading off numbers. If it sounds creepy already, just wait. The band did some research and concluded that they had stumbled upon a 'numbers station' -- cryptic messages thought to be used by governments to send codes to spies and other agents. They knew it would make for some choice samples for the album but they couldn't just leave it at that." Benjy Eisen, Spinner, 10 December 2009.
     The Week In Metal column, by "BBG," has been renamed Short Wave Warfare. Brooklyn Vegan, 9 December 2009. For reasons that are not apparent.
     "Ghana has a very young private radio industry. Long before earning the term 'industry', it was pretty much GBC's efforts on shortwave (GBC National Studios and GBC 2) that we were all tuned to. Then GBC received FM equipment from Germany... ." Obed Boafo, ModernGhana.com, 7 December 2009.
     "Today we’ll look at practical high tech gifts that are unlikely to end up in the basement. ... A shortwave radio lets you tune in commercial stations from around the world. Name a country and you’ll usually find a station that booms in even on an inexpensive portable shortwave receiver. While many stations also offer a feed directly over the Internet — no tuning needed, no static heard — there’s something exciting about discovering news programs, dramas and music for yourself. Tuning the shortwave bands is a little like fishing; you never know what you’ll catch. Many of these stations broadcast in English. And, for those who would like to brush up on their French, German or Spanish, plenty of stations offer that opportunity." Bill Husted, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12 December 2009. Most broadcast stations on shortwave have always been government- or nonprofit-funded rather than commercial. "Name a country" and you will likely have named a country that is no longer using shortwave, at least to broadcast to North America.
     "As darkness fell and the outside temperature dipped toward the freezing mark, I put another log into the wood stove in our yurt in Jacques Cartier park, north of Quebec City. ... On our second night, we cooked sausages and boiled potatoes and listened to local and short-wave radio. I had trouble getting the hockey game in Montreal to come in clearly, but no trouble getting Radio China International from Beijing." David Johnston, Montreal Gazette, 12 December 2009. Probably hearing China Radio International as relayed via the Radio Canada International transmitter site in Sackville, New Brunswick. Or perhaps via Cuba.

Radio Veritas Asia: praise for priests who are still alive to hear it.

Posted: 13 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Why should we wait to praise a person until he or she is dead?' asks Lisa Shieh, who produces radio spots highlighting good deeds performed by priests. Shieh, program supervisor in Taipei for the Chinese Section of Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), says the current Year for Priests motivated the series. Each one-minute spot tells of an inspiring act done by a priest. The goal, according to Shieh, is to affirm and support priests during their special year. Listeners of RVA, the shortwave radio station of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, have been asked to send in stories. The station has so far received more than 40 stories, including a dozen sent from mainland China in written form as well as in audio clips." Union of Catholic Asian News, 8 December 2009.

TV2MORO offers Arabic channels 2DAY, other languages 2MORO?

Posted: 13 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"TV2MORO, a new entrant into the IPTV market in North America, launched its subscription TV service to customers throughout the United States and Canada. Based in Pasadena, California, TV2MORO will serve ethnic communities across North America with in-language programming from a variety of regions globally. ... TV2MORO has launched two top-tier Arabic television subscription packages servicing Arab Americans and Arab Canadians coast to coast: The Arabic Choice package and The Arabic Premium Package. The channels offered are Al Hayat 1, Al Hayat 2, Al Hayat Series, Dream 1 and Dream 2, Al Mehwar, Orbit Al Yawm, Orbit Series, Orbit Cinema 1, Orbit Cinema 2, Orbit Series, Orbit Series +4, Orbit Al Safwa, OTV (Lebanon), MTV (Lebanon), Dubai, Dubai Sports, Sama Dubai, Ashorooq, Al Jazeera English, France 24 Arabic, Fashion TV Arabia, Melody Arabia, Jaras TV, and Arab Woman TV." TV2MORO press release, 8 December 2009. But not Al Jazeera Arabic, or Al Arabiya, or BBC Arabic?
     "In the short term, TV2MORO will further expand international programming from around the world, and continue to offer competitive channel packages from all the corners of the world." TV2MORO website.

Rupert Murdoch plans for the Middle East?

Posted: 13 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"There is speculation that the Middle East holds the kind of promise that has drawn News Corp ... into other emerging markets, from China and India to Brazil. This region’s population of 300 million Arabic speakers, 65 percent of whom are under 30, represents a tantalizing market largely untapped by international media companies of News Corp’s scale. This market has become especially attractive recently as the Middle East’s double digit advertising spending growth so far this year is on track to vastly outspend the battered US’s forecast of 3 percent." Also mentions Worldspace and competitors. Steve Garcia, King of All Trades, 10 December 2009.

Diplomat: Venezuela trying to bring Telesur to Canada.

Posted: 13 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
At Cuban embassy in Ottawa, Venezuela's new Chargé d'Affaires Juan Carlos Coronado Bogarin "mentioned his government is trying to bring TeleSUR -- the Caracas-based television network that promotes Latin American integration' -- to Canadian audiences. From TeleSUR, he said, Canadians could get a 'real picture of what's going on in South America, as opposed to the one-sided news you get from CNN.' Perhaps TeleSUR should get some tips from their partner station Al-Jazeera, which gained broadcasting rights just weeks ago after a prolonged battle with the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission." Jeff Davis, Embassy Magazine (Ottawa), 9 December 2009.

Death of James F. Brown, RFE/RL director 1978-1984 (updated).

Posted: 13 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"James F. Brown, who as the director of Radio Free Europe in the early 1980s played a seminal behind-the-scenes role in the rise of the Solidarity movement, which eventually toppled the Communist Party in Poland, died in Oxford, England, on Nov. 16. He was 81 and lived in Oxford. ... Although he was a British citizen, Mr. Brown was named director of Radio Free Europe, a network financed by the American government, in 1978, bringing a deep knowledge of Eastern European history to the job. He was director until 1984, when he resigned because of disagreements with the Reagan administration. ... Radio Free Europe, Mr. Brown wrote in an unpublished memoir, 'broke the Communist information monopoly and gave East Europeans the chance to think and judge for themselves.' ... He resigned from the network in 1984 because he felt that the Reagan administration’s insistence on avid anti-Communist programming was counterproductive." Dennis Hevesi, New York Times, 7 December 2009.
     Ronald Reagan's policies towards the Soviet Union "were as divisive in RFE as they were within the Western alliance. Many changes were made in the Board and other appointments. For Brown the breaking point came when a man he regarded as unqualified (and who was quickly sacked by a later director) was appointed director of the Czechoslovak service." Richard Davy, The Independent, 30 November 2009.
     Update: The life of Jim Brown was discussed on "Last Word," BBC Radio 4, 11 December 2009.

Cross-border television series aimed at cross-border youth.

Posted: 13 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Thanks to the inclusion of young volunteers and migrants in the cast and crew, a Lao television mini-drama series about the lives and struggles of young migrants who freely cross the border turned out to be just the right vehicle for getting their attention to migration and its risks. Dubbed ‘Keun Ni Yang Mi Saeng Deuan’ (loosely translated as ‘The Moonlight Is Never Forgotten’), the series was produced by the Lao Youth Union in Savannakhet province to raise awareness of some of the major issues confronting youth migrant, such as trafficking and HIV/AIDS. The mini-drama series, produced in both Lao and Vietnamese languages, was targeted at Lao and Vietnamese youth who move freely along the Lao- Vietnam border." Joel Chong, Inter Press Service, 9 December 2009.

Shimon Peres channel now among the 20 hours of video uploaded to YouTube each minute.

Posted: 12 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Israeli President Shimon Peres now has a YouTube channel. "Directed at citizens of the world, it will invite them to take part in the president's work for peace and to express their opinions on anything related to the advancement of peace in the Middle East and the world at large. ... Surfers will not be restricted to asking questions that pertain to Israel and the region. Peres will be just as happy to answer questions about issues on the global agenda. The site will also serve as a platform for Israel's public diplomacy." Jerusalem Post, 6 December 2009. See the channel at www.youtube.com/user/Peres.

Synergie, mutualisation, coopération, égalité, fraternite: RFI and France 24 websites have become sibling lookalikes.

Posted: 12 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
The banner pages of the france24.com and rfi.fr are now similar. "Cette collaboration entre les deux médias dessine-t-elle le contour de ce que pourrait être l’Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (AEF)? Tous restent prudents sur le sujet. D’autant que TV5 Monde (également membre de l’AEF) n’a été associée à cette refonte que… pour la météo!" Stéphane Dreyfus, la Croix, 11 December 2009.

Radio France International begins phase-out of five languages.

Posted: 12 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Summarizing: RFI over the air radio broadcasts in Albanian, German, Laotian and Polish will end on 19 December. Programmes in German, Laotian and Polish will still be available on the Internet 'until we end our programmes in these languages at a date yet to be decided', RFI said in a communique released on Thursday. Albanian programmes over the air and the internet will end on 19 December. Turkish programmes, available on the Internet only over the last two years, will cease completely on 31 December. RFI keeps its FM relays in Berlin, Vientiane, Tirana et Korca (Albania) to relay its broadcasts in French, RFI indicates. Programmes in Serbo-Croatian will still be broadcast via Beta-RFI, a company jointly held (49%) by RFI. The closure of these services will result in the loss of some 40 jobs, most of them in Paris. AFP, 11 December 2009. See also rfienaction.com.
     Kai Ludwig in Germany comments: "Now, with the closure apparently being sealed, it remains to be seen what will happen with RFI's FM frequencies in Albania and Germany. In Berlin the inclusion of broadcasts in German is a so-called 'decisive consideration' for RFI being selected for 106.0 MHz, thus RFI forfeits the licence by closing down the German service. So a continued FM presence in Berlin appears to be pretty unlikely."

People bumping into each other because they are watching the UN spokesperson's daily briefing on their mobiles.

Posted: 12 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Livestation is a downloadable application that tidily bundles global television news channels, and is one of a number startup services offering live video streaming of news content. Others include Veetle, another website and application that was created by Stanford Uni graduates and facilitates high quality user-generated video feeds, and a wide range of illegal TV streaming services that are knocking around. Livestation’s primary content consists of excellent quality feeds from 23 partner news channels, who include Al Jazeera, BBC World News, and Bloomberg. ... Livestation CEO Matteo Berlucchi ... says that the agreements with partner channels will change if Livestation reaches 'critical mass' and the number of users spirals upwards. At this point, stations will be charged to be included on the service. ... It seems that mobile is where the mass appeal of Livestation lies – junkies and industry bods can consume at their desks, but the mass consumption of news will be on the go." Jennifer Allan, Bad Idea, 10 December 2009. Website is, predictably, www.livestation.com.
     "Livestation has announced the addition of UN TV, the official TV channel of the United Nations, which is now available worldwide on the online streaming video service. UN TV broadcasts key open meetings live from their headquarters, as well as the daily briefings of the Secretary General’s spokesperson and other major news conferences. UN TV also airs United Nations television productions, such as 21st Century, a monthly documentary-style news magazine that puts a spotlight on issues of human interest, and UN in Action, a series of short television features on the work of the United Nations and its agencies." Broadband TV News, 8 December 2009. See also United Nations Multimedia.

DW-TV (in German) enters Russia via IPTV service.

Posted: 12 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Russian fixed-line operator North-West Telecom (NW Telecom) is in the process of expanding the coverage of its Avangard TV IPTV service which is already available to residents of four regions in northwest Russia. The operator also added more TV channels to its programmes grid, updated its VoD film collection as well as upgraded the interface of its digital TV service. Some of the Avangard TV channels added in H2 include KHL (Continental Hockey League), Deutsche Welle, and Russian news channel Vesti 24." DMeurope, 8 December 2009.
     "Deutsche Welle is a German TV channel for the entire family, which is broadcasted in German and covers various aspects of European life. It is interesting first of all to the German-speaking audience and to those who learn German. (Emphasizing the 'niche' channels, OJSC N.W.Telecom offers this channel in the expanded package, Bolshaya Premiera (Grand First Night)." North-West Telecom press relese, 4 December 2009.

BBC Vietnamese, Burmese, Chinese, Indonesian, Urdu, French, and English broadcasters, all in the same boat (updated).

Posted: 11 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"To explore the effects of the changing climate on life in the Mekong Delta, BBC World Service has launched a special project, Climate Change And Vietnam. During a three-day boat-trip along the Mekong river, BBC World Service's multi-language, multimedia team will report to the BBC's global audience of 233 million on the efforts already being undertaken to adapt to the changing environment and the potential impact across the region and wider world. The BBC boat set sail today (Monday 7 December) from Ho Chi Minh City with BBC World Service English, BBC Afrique, BBC Burmese, BBC Chinese, BBC Indonesia, BBC Urdu and BBC Vietnamese journalists on board, to examine issues which affect Vietnam, the wider region and the rest of the world." BBC World Service press release, 7 December 2009.
     Update: "To mark the Copenhagen summit, our sister organization Radio Free Asia has a great video series with their correspondents traveling down the Mekong River." Luke Allnutt, Transmission blog, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 8 December 2009. If RFE/RL calls RFA "sister," I wonder what RFE/RL calls VOA? On second thought, never mind...

Death of Peter Vail, RFE/RL Russian broadcaster.

Posted: 11 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Peter Vail, a longtime pillar of RFE/RL's Russian Service, died late on December 7 in Prague following a long illness. He was 60 years old. A distinguished author and journalist, Vail worked for more than 20 years in RFE/RL's Russian Service. ... Russian Service broadcaster Ivan Tolstoi said Vail became one of RFE/RL's signature voices. 'Peter produced not only information programs over the years, such as 'Liberty Live,' but he started with a program titled "Over The Barriers," he had his "USA Today" program, he had his own series called "Heroes Of Our Time," and he participated many, many times in programs run by his colleagues, always with pithy, lapidary, incredibly accurate, witty, pungent remarks.'" Off Mic blog, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 8 December 2009.

Trial related to murder of Kyrgyz journalist who worked for RFE/RL, VOA (updated).

Posted: 11 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A former policeman will be tried next week for involvement in the killing of independent Kyrgyz journalist Alisher Saipov, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports. ... Saipov, 26, was an ethnic Uzbek journalist who often wrote critical articles about Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his government. Saipov, who also worked as a correspondent for RFE/RL and Voice of America, was shot dead as he left his office in central Osh in 2007." RFE/RL, 6 December 2009.
     Update: "The Kyrgyz Supreme Court has ruled that the case of slain journalist Alisher Saipov should be sent back to an Osh city court for further investigation, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports. [Saipov's] father, Avaz Saipov, initiated the Supreme Court appeal, hoping that his son's murder would be reinvestigated by a different court. But the Supreme Court's ruling means the same court will be conducting the fresh investigation." RFE/RL, 9 December 2009. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 9 December 2009. And Journalists in Danger, RFE/RL, 11 December 2009.

RFA president: Article 19 applies to Asia, too.

Posted: 11 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"As the world marks the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, the principle of Article 19 - the right to 'seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers' - still eludes billions in Asia. Throughout the continent, governments severely restrict free speech and expression - muzzling reporters, jamming international broadcasting signals, and using every means within their power to thwart public debate. After two decades of global progress, press freedom in this and many parts of the world has worsened, according to Freedom House's most recent index. This silencing has its price. Last year, before Cyclone Nargis devastated Burma, the official state press waited a full 24 hours after international broadcasting services had already broken news of its imminent landfall to warn the Burmese people. Nargis left an estimated 140,000 dead and millions in dire need of humanitarian aid. The survivors had to rely mainly on outside broadcasters such as Radio Free Asia, The Voice of America, and the BBC to find medical care, food, and clean drinking water." Radio Free Asia president Libby Liu, Huffington Post, 9 December 2009.
     The 1975 Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the Helsinki Accords, had specific language about radio jamming, and put the Soviet Union on the defensive regarding its jamming activities. A similar accord in Asia might have impact on China's intensive jamming of international broadcasts and blocking of websites.

Welcome to VOA. Smile for the camera.

Posted: 11 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"There are no welcome mats at this or any other gate to the White House. You feel under suspicion until you are cleared in -- when you go from indignity to thrilling proximity to power. There are no waiting rooms or seats at the gates. There is no one posted at the gates to welcome visitors. ... Worse, because entry is badly organized, and often excessively restrictive, neither visitors nor guards respect the system -- a clue as to how the Bonnie and Clyde of social-climbing, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, got in to President Obama's first state dinner without an invitation, and even spoke to the President. ... At Voice of America headquarters, you have to produce a driver's license and have your picture taken each time you enter the building. Taking pictures of all visitors is something even the White House does not require. So which national secrets is Voice of America hiding that the White House is not?" Llewellyn King, Hearst Newspapers, 8 December 2009. Those who come to VOA to take the tour have a less arduous entry process.

Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF's feud with foreign "pirate" radio stations continues on, and on...

Posted: 11 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"[I]t would seem that the people in the city take for granted the insularity of the rural masses to the relentless propaganda with which they are saturated daily. Yet the fact that these people live way beyond the range of the diffusion of radio and television makes them all the more vulnerable to the malicious propaganda as they have no way of responding with the Internet out of the reach of most of them. A former employee of a foreign organisation who once toured many areas along the border and even closer to some urban centres further inside doing humanitarian work said: "People in those areas where local radio and TV reception is poor will tell you every line of what [VOA] Studio 7 said yesterday, for instance." Stephen Mpofu, The Herald (Harare), 8 December 2009.
     "It is not surprising that Zanu-PF negotiators have flagged the issue of pirate radio stations beaming into Zimbabwe as an outstanding issue. They are buying time. What is surprising is that even brilliant lawyers from the MDC formations continue to waste time negotiating about Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa, which are lawfully broadcasting from Washington DC and London respectively. The MDC parties do not even own these stations; neither can they cause them to be banned because MDC did not set them up. For all practical purposes, Studio 7 and SW Radio are not pirate stations in the legal sense of the word. The term 'pirate radio' usually refers to illegal or unregulated radio transmissions. Its etymology can be traced to the unlicensed nature of the transmission, but historically, there has been notable use of sea vessels fitting the most common perception of ‘pirate’ as broadcasting bases. ... What is illegal under the World Telecommunications Union rules is for any country to jam frequencies which other stations are transmitting on. Zimbabwe has been violating this instrument since Studio 7 started transmitting from VOA in 2003." Takarinda Gomo, The Zimbabwe Times, 8 December 2009.
     "Foreign broadcasters such as the Voice of America's Studio Seven and London-based SW Radio Africa, among others - "pirate radio stations" in the Mugabe lexicon - also are a long-running irritant for Mugabe that he has irresponsibly added to the unity talks. Foreign broadcasters are forced to operate outside of Zimbabwe because there are no free media there. Independent radio is banned in a monopoly of government-sponsored news, information and opinion provided by the ZBC.
If the Mugabe regime really wants foreign-based stations to stop broadcasting into Zimbabwe, let it release its grip on the media there, liberalize the press and broadcasting environment, and domestic radio stations will flourish." Editorial, Voice of America, 6 December 2009. Reprinted by The Zimbabwean, 9 December 2009.
     "The Government of Botswana has noted the re-appearance of allegations in a section of the Zimbabwe media that it is hosting hostile pirate radio stations. In this respect, Botswana wishes to once more state in no uncertain terms that she does not harbour any such radio stations in her territory. With specific reference to allegations about Studio 7, it should be noted that it is a Voice of America (VOA) Programme produced in Washington D.C. and is only relayed from VOA facilities in Botswana, a fact which has, moreover, been acknowledged by the Government of Zimbabwe in the past. It can thus not be properly characterised as a radio station. ... VOA relay station, located near Selebi-Phikwe, has been in open operation for three decades. Its frequencies are filed with the International Telecommunications Union. The VOA relay transmitter was not constructed to relay to Zimbabwe alone, but to the region as a whole, including of course Botswana.The Government of Botswana is unaware of any broadcasts being relayed by VOA from the facility could be considered as hostile to Zimbabwe." Government of Botswana News, 10 December 2009.
     "Botswana must not be eclipsed in the mentality of a few Zimbabweans who believe that holding a different opinion from them is a sign of gullibility to the whims of the West. Voice of America, Short Wave Radio [SW Radio Africa], Voice of the People exist because of the failure of ZANU PF to govern properly in Zimbabwe." Communities Point via Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 9 December 2009.
     "Botswana’s new ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Gladys Kokorwe has pledged to look into Botswana’s hosting of a pirate radio station that has been broadcasting hate language into Zimbabwe in contravention of the Sadc-guaranteed Global Political Agreement. ... 'I have read about those allegations. I know about the Voice of America. I will try to dig deep and see what is happening, see how we can resolve it . . . we are neighbours,' she said." The Herald (Harare), 11 December 2009.
     "If, in 1979, [Ian] Smith had insisted on closure of Radio Maputo and Radio Lusaka as well as non-appointment of Eddison Zvogbo and others into cabinet as a precondition for concluding the Lancaster House talks, would the talks have ended? Where does ZANU get such preposterous ideas from, that MDC can close Voice of America and the Internet?" Moses Chamboko, Zimbabwe Telegraph, 11 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Azerbaijan's feud with Euronews and Inter continues on, and on...

Posted: 10 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Presidential Administration sector head Fuad Akhundov said media outlets should be responsible for their activities and avoid negligently interpreting the concept of freedom of speech. He referred to recent reports about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which appeared in various foreign media outlets. Recently, Euronews and the Ukrainian Inter television channel broadcast what official Baku has deemed an anti-Azerbaijani portrayal of the Karabakh war. 'It is often possible to read comments in the Russian press that delaying the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is profitable for Russia. Such implications one cannot see in the U.S. or French media,' Akhundov said at the European and Asian Media Forum in Moscow today. ... The European and Asian Media Forum organized by RIA Novosti and is being held in Moscow, and brought together leaders of well-known CIS and Baltic media outlets, and politicians and public figures. About 150 leaders of the most authoritative print and electronic editions of the post-Soviet space are participating in the forum." Today.az, 9 December 2009.
     "[A] protest action against [Euronews report] 'Winds of change' is to be held by our youth in front of the Euronews headquarters in Lyon, France, at 11:00 on December 11th, 2009. Address: 60, chemin des Mouilles, BP 161-69131 Lyon, Ecully Cedex, France." IRELI Public Union via News.az, 9 December 2009.
     Elchin Shikhlinski, chairman of the Journalists’ Union of Azerbaijan: "Unfortunately, I want to say that this report appeared on this channel because, unlike Azerbaijan, the Armenian side works more effectively in presenting its version of the Karabakh conflict. It means that we should blame ourselves, not Euronews." News.az, 9 December 2009.
     "Since the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh is still an urgent topic, the channel is ready to provide comprehensive media coverage, involving all conflicting sides, [Ukraine's] Inter TV channel said, expressing its official position on reportage regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. After Euronews television channel, the Ukrainian Inter TV channel has prepared and presented to the audience an anti-Azerbaijani film about Nagorno-Karabakh. ... The channel would be grateful if the conflicting sides help us, the statement says." Trend News Agency, 8 December 2009.
     "'The Azerbaijani authorities are afraid that foreign mass media will expose their hypocritical policy and, at the same time, satisfy the ordinary Azerbaijani citizens’ desire to be accurately informed the situation in the NKR,' [Nagorno-Karabakh political analyst Artak] Nersisyan said. ... 'If this policy continues, Azerbaijan’s population will soon have to watch only local TV channels, with their programs full of lie about centuries-old history of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh being a historical part of Azerbaijan, and so on.'" News.am (Yerevan), 9 December 2009.
     "In a December 4 interview with Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency, euronews Editor-in-Chief Peter Barabas asserted that the documentary was not intended to look into the political side of the conflict. ... 'We are very keen to go and to do the story on the other side, with the people of Azerbaijan, the people who live in the conflict zone, and would like to do the story on the Azerbaijani refugees, who left the region because of the conflict,' Barabas said. Euronews’ word choice could well propel the dispute. In Baku’s eyes, 'the people of Azerbaijan' include residents of Karabakh." Mina Miradova, Eurasianet.org, 8 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Big BBC Mulaqat is part of new "programming concoction" on Big FM network in India.

Posted: 10 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Big FM, the radio initiative from Reliance Media World Ltd, has entered into an alliance with the BBC World Service, wherein the FM player will take BBC’s entertainment updates across 32 of the network’s stations, which includes cities like Agra, Ajmer, Aligarh... . Big FM listeners can now enjoy the BBC World Service programme’s like ‘Big BBC Minute’, hourly entertainment minutes, weekly entertainment film preview show, and ‘Big BBC Mulaqat’, a celebrity talk show, on weekends. The coming together of Big FM and BBC World Service promises to offer creative, exclusive and unparalleled entertainment to Big FM listeners. ... Neil Curry, Head of Business Development (Asia Pacific), BBC World Service, said, '... This takes our position in the market to a new level as BBC World Service programming will be accessible in several Indian states and cities for the first time ever.' ... Tarun Katial, CEO, Big FM, said, 'This alliance will further strengthen our programming concoction offering to listeners.'" Apparent press release via exchange4media.com, 9 December 2009.
     "Tarun Katial, CEO, Big FM, said, 'Bollywood and BBC are bedrocks for entertainment content in India and this partnership will help us ahead in our offerings to listeners ensuring deeper connect and strengthening our reach.'" Media Mughals, 9 December 2009.
     "Shares of Reliance Media World have advanced by 3.5% to Rs279 after the company announced that BIG 92.7 FM and BBC World Service have entered in to an alliance." IndiaInfoline, 9 December 2009.
     This would be the other shoe dropping after the announcement that BBC programming would no longer be heard on India's Radio One 94.3 FM, still a BBC Worldwide partner. See previous post.

An issue that is less controversial on radio...

Posted: 10 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Until recently you would never have seen women presenting television programmes dressed from head to toe in the niqab or burqa. But on the Saudi religious channel Awtan TV it has now become the norm. Female broadcasters at the station are draped in the all-enveloping dresses, which are usually black and also cover their faces. ... 'The face is not the only way to build a relationship,' explains [anchor Ola al-] Barqi, speaking to BBC Arabic. 'We're always receiving calls from viewers in various countries encouraging us to keep doing what we do.'" Amani Fikri, BBC News, 9 December 2009.

The media and the most recent demonstrations in Iran.

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Early this morning I spoke to a 21-year-old Tehran University student, Ashraf. Ashraf confirmed the reports that the government has shut down the mobile phone network and blocked access to political sites and satellite television. Satellite TV was already illegal in Iran, but in another daily act of defiance most rooftops have makeshift dishes propped up by bricks. Police occasionally raid homes and apartment blocks, confiscate the dishes and fine the owners, who then go out and put up a new one and keep watching. Ashraf says the government has now found ways of blocking the satellite signals. He says now all the channels, including BBC Persia, the US-sponsored Voice of America, and others including Arabic movie channels, just don't work any more. So the only option is to watch state-controlled media." Alec Robinson, Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 8 December 2009. Perhaps referring to groundwave satellite jamming in cities. Another option, other than resignation to state-controlled media, is difficult-to-jam shortwave. But are radios with shortwave bands available in Iranian shops?
     Iranian "State-run television on Monday evening [7 December] accused foreign media, in particular Al-Arabiya television, a Saudi-owned, Dubai-based network, of fomenting unrest in Iran by exaggerating opposition protests. Voice of America Persian TV and BBC Persian TV, which were called 'the main sedition stage managers of December 7th', were also condemned in the broadcast." Maryam Sinaiee, The National (Abu Dhabi), 8 December 2009.
     "Veteran twitterer Omid Habibinia is still going strong, and also live-blogging for France 24." The Daily Dish blog, The Atlantic, 7 December 2009.
     "Twitter and opposition Web sites featured video clips of rallies in Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Tabriz and other cities." New York Times, 7 December 2009.
     Amateur video from Iran sent to BBC News, 7 December 2009.
     Bahman Kalbasi of the BBC's Persian Service speaks to NPR's Robert Siegel. Via KUOR Pasadena, 7 December 2009.
     "The BBC Persian service quoted a witness who said 29 women were arrested, some of whom were later released. But at least 21 remained in jail, the BBC said." Nazila Fathi, NYT News, vis Times of India, 8 December 2009.
     "Iranian authorities have shut down the reformist newspaper 'Hayat-e No' (New Life), RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports." RFE/RL, 8 December 2009.
     "Despite Iran's extensive media bans and blockage, [Christian broadcaster] SAT-7 PARS has overcome communication barriers. [Communications manager David] Harder says it's difficult and expensive to block satellite television, and so far, SAT-7 broadcasts have been able to reach audiences." Mission Network News, 9 December 2009.

Resuming activities in Iraq, and other Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a program referred to as 'Open Window' on the Iraqi government website at the National Center for Information, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki made a number of points: ... [including:] Al-Jazeera satellite TV, which was expelled from Iraq five years ago, may resume its activities provided is carries out its responsibilities in a professional manner (not promising). However, he stated his support for the freedom of press according to principles practiced in democratic countries." Dawlat Al-Qanon network via MEMRI Blog, 8 December 2009.
     Video of Al-Jazeera [Arabic, with English subtitles] discussion of the Fort Hood shootings. MEMRI Blog, 7 December 2009.
     "One of the prominent faces of the anti-minarets campaign will appear on a prime-time debate on TV network al-Jazeera tonight. Swiss People’s Party MP Oskar Freysinger will debate a Hamas sympathizer on a programme with an estimated audience of 80 million viewers. It’s being reported that many in the halls of parliament are worried about Freysinger appearing as the face of Switzerland to the muslim world." World Radio Switzerland, 8 December 2009.
     "Khartoum-based government’s totalitarianism is also seen in their fear of media. The Qatar based Al-Jazeera TV website is reported as saying that its TV crew was prevented from covering [a] demonstration and their tapes were confiscated." Zechariah Manyok Biar, Sudan Tribune, 8 December 2009.
     "We’re one day from taking Fallujah in April 2004 when Al Jazeera begins hijacking CBS’s satellite feed from a Fallujah hospital, then adding their own spin – and the resulting media furor causes the Bush Administration to end the action. The result: terrorists from across the globe come to Fallujah to establish a base, and we have to re-enter a few months later to wipe them out." Review of film The Last 600 Meters, Ben Shapiro, Big Hollywood, 7 December 2009.

Venerable newsreader moves from BBC to China Radio International (updated).

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Susan Osman, 51, a familiar face on the BBC News Channel and BBC World, has become so frustrated at attitudes to women in British broadcasting that she has accepted a job in China, where people 'revere experience'. ... Discussing her decision to leave Britain for Beijing, where she will host a breakfast show on China Radio International, Miss Osman said: 'In recent months, I've gone for five auditions and interviews for radio and television presenting jobs at the BBC and in the independent sector. Each time I got told how marvellous I was and that they'd call me back, and in some cases we even discussed schedules. Mysteriously, each time I never heard anything, which was not only rude but has left me wondering if it's because of my age.'" Anita Singh, The Telegraph, 3 December 2009.
     "British women in their 40s encounter ageism in broadcasting, but their longevity is an asset in Asia. 'In China they revere experience,' Osman said. 'The older you are the better. I got the impression that my future boss actually wanted me to be older when I finally told him my age during the interview.'" Global Times, 4 December 2009. Watching television newscasts from China, one quickly gets the impression that young female presenters are the norm.
     Update: "In the nation's media industry, there are not enough competent personnel with the required skills; not enough Chinese media hands capable of independently providing a kaleidoscopic view of China to the West. Therefore, 'foreign experts' like Osman are needed. Experienced, English-speaking and English-writing news workers willing to serve in China are welcomed with open arms. No wonder Osman, with 28 years in British broadcasting, had a smooth passage to her job in China. ... [But] Ageism can be seen in every facet of our life. Turn on the TV and out there are a clutch of glamorous, young presenters; board a flight and there are 'pretty air hostesses' smiling down at you; in markets, organizations, hotels, and even academic institutions, the smart young thing is the in thing." Chen Chenchen, Global Times (Beijing), 8 December 2009.

Fiber connection enables Russia Today to report from Washington, other cities.

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Synterra Media, part of Synterra ZAO, one of Russia's largest independent telecommunications providers, has selected Genesis Networks to provide fulltime fiber connectivity from Washington DC to Moscow in support of RT a.k.a. Russia Today Television, one of the leading news channels in Russia. This expansion will allow RT to have dedicated 24-hour news bureau service from the United States, relying on the high reliability and global connectivity provided by Genesis Networks. ... With this unique ability for speedy access to a quality connection from virtually every major news center around the world, RT is now well positioned to deliver breaking news from almost anywhere back to their central studios in Moscow" Satnews.com, 8 December 2009.

So, apparently, BBC World News America is the BBC channel that reports about Asia.

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News America triumphed at the Emmy Awards for Business and Financial Reporting today. The programme won for Return to White Horse Village in the category of 'Outstanding Interpretation or Analysis of a Business News Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast'. In the report, the BBC's Carrie Gracie returned to a Chinese farming village to witness first-hand how its landscape and people have been transformed by urbanisation. ... BBC World News America received two other nominations for Tokyo in the Downturn and China Rising." BBC Worldwide press release, 8 December 2009.

Tailoring international broadcasting to local tastes until it becomes domestic broadcasting?

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide Channels has today announced the promotion of John Taite to the role of VP Programming, EMEA, as well as the creation of three new Heads of Scheduling roles in the region, as it looks to strengthen its programming output across its portfolio of localised channels. ... In addition to Taite's promotion, BBC Worldwide Channels is also expanding its EMEA programming team with the creation of three new Heads of Scheduling roles for Poland, Africa and the Nordic region. The appointments, which will be made in the coming months, underline BBC Worldwide’s ongoing commitment to serving its audiences with programming tailored to local tastes." BBC Worldwide press release, 7 December 2009.
     "BBC Worldwide Channels Asia today announced the appointment of Otto Leong, Director, Distribution and Business Development, as part of the pan-regional team responsible for the distribution of BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News in Taiwan and China. Based in Hong Kong, Otto will also be responsible for driving revenue growth and developing strategic distribution initiatives for the two North Asian territories." BBC Worldwide press release, 7 December 2009.

Deutsche Welle launches television talk show from Beijing.

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle will start a new chapter on reporting from the Far East with its television talk show Asia Talk, starting December 3, 2009. DW-TW will produce the 30-minute show in a studio in Beijing. As his first guest, host Frank Sieren will welcome the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to discuss the relationship between Europe and Asia, as well as the relationship between Germany and China specifically. Sieren is a journalist and author of multiple bestsellers has been living in Beijing for more than 15 years now and reports on Asia for a prominent German newspaper. ... There have been eight episodes planned. ... ... Asia Talk will be broadcast every week in English and German on DW-TV and DW-TV ASIA+, Deutsche Welle’s two dedicated channels for the region. ... Asiatalk will be produced in a studio in the Dashanzi art district of Beijing. The filming location is a reflection of the show itself as the studio is located in a Bauhaus-style factory from the 1950s." DW press release, 2 December 2009. The video on demand, in German, is available here. I haven't found the English version and don't know if it is available as a separate program, or subtitled, or dubbed.

Someone want to nominate The Weekly Standard blog for The BOBs?

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"For a primer on why the European Union is likely doomed to shrivel on its own very sorry vine, you will not do better than this amazing piece of weekend analysis from Deutsche Welle. After a delay of five years owing to the objections of some member states to forging a partnership with the assassins of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (among other violations), Brussels is finally 'poised' on behalf of the entire Union (objections now overruled and overcome) to sign a 'European Neighborhood Policy' agreement with Syria, whose 'status as a transit land for Islamist militants and foreign fighters entering Iraq and Lebanon makes it an important partner for the West.' I don’t know German, but surely 'important partner for the West' is just an inadvertently ludicrous mistranslation by the Einsteins of Deutsche Welle of some other formulation; surely they can’t have meant to christen the despotic state that gives Hamas, Hizballah, al Qaeda, and all the tentacles thereof free reign to carry out activities properly understood as anti-Western across the Iraqi border, in Lebanon, in Israel—and on just about every territory of their own pathetic Union — 'an important partner,' can they? Or can they?" Rachel Abrams, The Blog, The Weekly Standard, 7 December 2009.

The BOBs are back.

Posted: 09 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle has officially kicked-off the sixth annual international weblog awards – The BOBs. Internet users can now nominate their picks for outstanding blogs in 11 different languages, making this the most international of all weblog awards. To participate, just go to www.thebobs.com. Nominations will be taken until February 14, 2010. There are two new additions to The BOBs this year: a special category for weblogs and podcasts dealing with climate change and a new award for blogs in Bengali." DW press release, 7 December 2009.

Azerbaijan will not let Euronews hear the end of it.

Posted: 08 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A late November Euronews report on the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh is prompting Azerbaijan’s broadcasting regulator to threaten to ban 'anti-Azerbaijan' cable television stations. The Azerbaijani government claims that Euronews reporter Michael Raikhman’s documentary was biased in favor of Armenia. " Eurasianet.org, 7 December 2009.
     "The Azerbaijani living and studying in Europe will picket outside the main office of the Euronews in Lyon on December 11, chairman of the Ireli Publi Union Ceyhun Osmanli told APA." Azeri Press Agency, 7 December 2009.
     "Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov told reporters ... 'I think somebody in Euronews made it deliberately. Continuous broadcasting of the biased report for several days does only [show] incompetence of the journalists, there is a also a policy involved in this respect.'" Today.az, 7 December 2009. See also APA, 7 December 2009.
     "'The material shown on Euronews is nothing but an open encouragement of embezzlement of someone’s property. The TV channel showed in open that Armenians are exploiting our gold mines and did not say a word about who they belong to. This is just disgraceful', Azerbaijan’s Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Huseyngulu Baghirov said." News.az, 7 December 2009.
     "The embassy [of Azerbiajan in Kiev] delivered a diplomatic note to the FM after the screening of an anti-Azerbaijani film on the Inter television channel Dec. 7, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Ukraine Talat Aliyev told Trend News yesterday. After Euronews, Inter prepared and presented an anti-Azerbaijani film about Karabakh." Trend News Agency, 8 December 2009.
     "Inter TV producer Nazim Bedirov invited complainants to make an official approach to the company. 'We are an information company and actually we have observed neutrality as journalism primarily envisages parity in presenting information. If you think that some issues were distorted and misinterpreted, you can mention this and make your suggestions in a written appeal. It will be a great pleasure to receive your invitation to make a report about Azerbaijan,' Bedirov said. He said that Inter had not featured the Azerbaijani side in the film as it is difficult to get to Karabakh from Azerbaijan." News.az, 7 December 2009.
     “'The reports must feature positions of both sides. We must get both Euronews and Inter to deny the biased information. Azerbaijani ambassador to Ukraine should also clarify this issue,' [member of Azerbaijani parliament Fazail] Agamali said. 'The Azerbaijani media should also make efforts to ensure accurate information about Azerbaijan in Russian and English language web sites,' Agamali said." Today.az, 7 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

CNBC Asia's Martin Soong is "best news anchor," again.

Posted: 08 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC received three nominations and took home the award for Best News Anchor at the 14th Asian Television Awards held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore last night: Martin Soong won the Best News Anchor award for Squawk Box (Asia) – the only 5 time winner in its history. ... With over 20 years of industry experience, Martin Soong is one of Asia's best-known business television journalists. He was one of the pioneers that launched Asia Business News in 1993 (prior to the channel’s merger with CNBC in 1997). During his long and distinguished tenure with the network, Martin has anchored almost all of CNBC’s flagship business shows. He is currently the co-anchor on CNBC's trademark morning program Squawk Box (Asia), which focuses on what viewers need to know after the markets close in the U.S. and before the markets open in Asia. This is the third consecutive year that Soong has received the Best News Anchor Award at the Asian Television Awards. He also received the award in 1998 and 1996." News on News, 7 December 2009.
     "Taiwan's Hakka Television Station stood out at the 14th Asia[n] Television Awards (ATA) ceremony in Singapore Thursday by winning the Best Drama Series and Best Single Drama categories. Entering the competition for the first time to compete with programs of many world-renowned television networks such as Discovery and National Geographic Channel Asia, Hakka TV earned nominations in four categories and won awards for Best Drama Series and Best Single Drama, respectively. The Best Drama Series award was given to Hakka TV's '1895 in Formosa,' which depicts an epic love story about the Hakka people's fight against Japanese occupation that year and recounts the Hakka militia's resistance against Japanese troops. ... Other winners at the awards ceremony included Anjali Rao, host of CNN International's 'Talk Asia.' Rao was named the Best Current Affairs Presenter for her interview with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou." Central News Agency (Taipei), 4 December 2009. See also Asian Television Awards website.

Nepali radio in southern Australia.

Posted: 08 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Nepalese Cultural Society has launched the first Nepali radio programme in Adelaide, first of its kind in southern Australia. The weekly one-hour programme 'Voice of Shangri-La' went on air from Sunday night from Radio Adelaide's 101.5 FM Band, Australia's first community and multicultural radio, established in 1970. ... The radio show goes online to listen live at www.radio.adelaide.edu.au. The programme starts every Sunday 9.30 PM local time. ... The show came in backdrop of growing Nepalese and Nepali-speaking Bhutanese population in Adelaide. About three thousand Nepali speaking people are estimated living in the state of 1.5 million population, seven times bigger than Nepal in area. Presenters of the show include Nepalese and Bhutanese youths." nepalnews.com, 7 December 2009. Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) also has a Nepali program.

Radio Veritas Asia is part of Catholic outreach to the Karen of Burma.

Posted: 08 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Jerome Chit Oo, 21, faces a typical dilemma. He cannot speak Karen (or Kayin), the language of his parents, having spent most of his life in [Yangon, aka Rangoon]. He tries to fit in with his Burman peers yet craves to communicate with his fellow Karen when he visits his parents' village. The Catholic Church has opened a door for him and his friends. Yangon archdiocese has approved monthly Karen-language Masses, weekend language classes and other activities such as celebrating the culturally important Karen New Year. ... Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), the shortwave radio station of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, also runs a Karen service program." Union of Catholic Asian News, 7 December 2009. Radio Veritas Asia is based in the Philippines.

On VOA, family appeals for information about American missing in Iran.

Posted: 07 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"It has now been 1,001 days since Robert Levinson mysteriously and suddenly disappeared during a short trip to Kish Island off the coast of Iran. His wife, son, and sister-in-law have spent the past two days in Washington, D.C. pressing anyone and everyone for information connected to the case. Christine Levinson was interviewed on live satellite television at the Voice of America. Bijan Farhoodi, the host of the 'News And Views' program on VOA's Persian News Network, asked questions in Farsi. A translator relayed the inquiry through an earpiece, and Mrs. Levinson's answer in English was instantly translated into Farsi for the program's audience on television, radio, and the internet. Mrs. Levinson took advantage of the audience in Iran to announce she has established a $5,000 reward, '...for anyone who can give us information that would give us "proof of life" for Bob.' She paused during the interview and added, 'I desperately want him to come home.'" John Henrehan, WTTG-TV (Washington DC), 4 December 2009.

Botswana will "ignore" Zimbabwe complaints about VOA relays.

Posted: 07 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Coordinator of the Botswana Government Communications and Information Services (BGCIS) Dr Jeff Ramsey said on Friday that his country would ignore Mugabe regime complaints over the hosting of so-called pirate radio stations like VOA’s Studio 7. ... Dr Ramsey said there was nothing illegal in Botswana hosting the broadcasts. He said that VOA does its broadcasting from Washington in the United States and Botswana is only hosting its relay station in Selebi-Phikwe. Additionally there are many European, American, French, and Chinese Short Wave and Medium Wave radio stations with relays in Africa. For instance, South Africa is hosting a relay for BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), he said. The VOA has had a relay station in Botswana since the early 1970s but Zimbabwe started complaining about it in 2003." Never Kadungure, Nehanda Radio, 5 December 2009. The VOA relay in Botswana actually dates to the early 1980s. See also Mmegi Online, 4 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

BBC Arabic has new look: clean, crisp, dynamic, clean (did we mention clean?), clear, white, red, gold...

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Arabic network has reinforced its look and content across platforms – on TV, radio and online – with clean, crisp, dynamic visual and audio branding, stronger interactivity and dynamic news presentation. Its re-designed news studios and new graphics underpin its pan-BBC identity while also keeping a very distinct Arab flavour. The emphasis of the redesign is on clean and clear on-screen graphics. The BBC Arabic television news and current affairs programmes now have a new look and colour scheme - white, red and gold. The globe features strongly in the design, representing the truly international scope of the BBC's newsgathering operation. On TV and radio, BBC Arabic has introduced the theme music used by the rest of BBC television (composer, David Lowe), thus emphasising the channel's BBC identity. ... While the redesign brings the television channel's brand into line with its online offer on bbcarabic.com, the BBC Arabic network has also introduced major changes to its programme content, enriching the news bulletins with daily press reviews from Arab and international media and more in-depth analysis. The daily news programme, Hasad Al Youm Al Ikhbari, has been enhanced with a stronger interactive element, encouraging viewers to contribute with their questions and opinions on topical issues." BBC World Service press release, 12 December 2009. Have a look at bbcarabic.com, and click on النشرة الإخبارية اليومية along the left border to see the television newscast.

Expelled for interview, and other BBC Persian in the news.

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"As they gear up for a major anti-government protest Monday, Iranian students are besieged by a clampdown in the universities, with a wave of arrests and expulsions. ... A herasat official uses a cell phone to photograph male students with long hair or those wearing colorful T-shirts, said Kouhyar Goudarzi. ... Goudarzi, a 23-year-old aerospace student, said he was expelled because he spoke to the BBC's Persian TV service about a campus demonstration in October." Scheherezade Faramarzi, AP, 5 December 2009.
     "Ahmad Zeidabadi, another well-known journalist who regularly contributed to BBC Persian - a particular bete noire of the regime - was sentenced to six years in prison, five years of exile and lifetime exclusion from political activity." The Guardian, 3 December 2009.
     "The family of a young woman shot dead at a protest following Iran's disputed presidential election has accused the security forces of killing her. ... 'I openly declare that no one, apart from the government, killed Neda. Her killer can only be from the government,' Ali Agha Soltan told the BBC's Persian service by telephone from Iran." BBC News, 4 December 2009.
     "A group of pro-regime students in Iran have reenacted the death of Neda Agha Soltan, who was killed in Iran's postelection violence, and accused the doctor who allegedly tried to save her life of involvement in her murder. ... The students also chanted, 'Death to the BBC, which tells lies.'" Luke Allnutt, Transmission blog, RFE/RL, 3 December 2009. See previous post about BBC Persian.

House of Lords debate on BBC includes discussion of BBC World Service and BBC Worldwide.

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Members of the House of Lords debated the future of the BBC on 3 December." Parliament website, 4 December 2009.
     Lord Fowler: "The BBC has achieved a great deal. In the provision of news, for example, it provides more world news than any other media company in this country and, arguably, in the rest of the world. At a time when newspapers have been forced to close their foreign bureaux and rely on journalists being flown in as firemen to report particular crises, the licence fee has enabled the BBC to retain year round foreign coverage; while the World Service, funded differently, continues to provide excellent journalism. The country has been well served by the BBC and anyone who doubts that should cross the Atlantic and talk, as the Select Committee did, to some of the big media companies there. The reputation of the BBC is high and the British concept of public service broadcasting is much admired. The challenge now is to ensure that, at a time of unprecedented change in the media, the BBC retains its high position. ...
     "The future of the BBC also affects many other people who are not employed on the permanent payroll: directors, actors, writers, musicians and entertainers. If dramas, for example, can be sold overseas, that is good for the BBC and for the companies which have made them. That is the role of BBC Worldwide, one of the corporation's undoubtedly successful companies. It sells around the world, and its aim is to create value from BBC content. Its values are BBC values, and it provides very good value for licence-fee payers. It has an annual revenue of more than £1 billion and it makes profits for the BBC of more than £150 million. How far do we want this BBC company to go?" ...
     Baroness Howe of Idlicote: "I also want to commend the BBC World Service, as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, did, on its reach, with 238 million listeners for its weekly international news alone, and its reputation for objectivity and relevance. It is funded mostly via the FCO and includes some TV and online content. Since the launch of BBC Arabic Television two years ago, this has become the most widely respected, comprehensive news and information multimedia service in the area." Lords Hansard, 3 December 2009.

Shortwaveology is website of the week on VOA's Our World.

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
David Goren: "'I think one reason why I started Shortwaveology now is, even though the heyday of shortwave radio listening has passed, it's still happening, and it's sort of an interesting moment to look at the history of it, and to look at what remains and why.' Goren's site features a podcast, clips from some interesting stations, and selections from some of his own radio work on shortwave themes, from the presumed spy stations that broadcast nothing but numbers, to the electronic hash of data transmissions, to VOA's legendary jazz host, the late Willis Conover. ... Goren: 'It's not always dependable. It fades in and out. It varies based on the weather, on sunspots. But what I think that does is that adds a feeling of mystery.' Mysteries of shortwave radio explored at Shortwaveology.com." Art Chimes, Our World, Voice of America, 5 December 2009.

Would you like some metadata with your internet radio?

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Internet Media Device Alliance has announced the creation of guidelines for internet radio station metadata. ... IMDA Technical Committee Chairman Andy Giefer of Deutsche Welle said, '... I expect broadcasters with a keen interest in New Media technologies such as Deutsche Welle to benefit tremendously from a unified and extensible approach describing services like live audio streams, on-demand-content and programme schedules.'" IMDA press release, 3 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

UK Freeview user laments absence of European channels.

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
A recent rearrangement of the UK's Freeview channels "provided some new stations, including CNN and the Kremlin-friendly English-language channel Russia Today. Which reminded me all over again that when we had our first satellite dish installed, many years ago, we were able to receive – free – a selection of Continental channels. Now, unless you have an all-singing, all-dancing moveable dish, you don't have that choice any more, an absence lamented by many a returning ex-pat. I don't know: is it the fault of channels, such as France 24, TV5 and Deutsche Welle for not wanting the outlay of putting themselves on to Freeview, or the fault of Freeview for not inviting them? But there's a big cultural gap between CNN and Russia Today, where European stations ought to be. Television is the most wonderful window on to other people's worlds. More foreign stations would help us islanders look across the Channel." Mary Dejevsky, The Independent, 4 December 2009.

Abu who?

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Fatah's armed wing called for the boycott of the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya satellite networks for their failure to cover the detention of Al-Aqsa Brigades spokesman Khaled Al-Jabari, known as 'Abu Al-Walid.' The two news channels made no mention of the detention, reported by the brigades to media outlets on Thursday, sparking ire from the militant faction, which released a statement 'urging the news agencies to be accurate while reporting on the brigades.' ... Al-Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau chief declined to respond to the allegations. An Al-Arabiyya representative was not immediately available for comment." Ma'an News Agency, 4 December 2009. A news search on the spokesman, by his real name and by his alias, turns up nothing. The detention may have been by Hamas, per Xinhua,
4 December 2009
.

Azerbaijan might take Euronews off cable. Euronews might do a new report on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"If Euronews television news channel continues anti-Azerbaijani propaganda in a continuing manner, Azerbaijan National Television and Radio Council (NTRC) would bring up the issue of suspending this channel from local cable networks in accordance with existing legislation. ... Azerbaijan was angered by Euronews recent report which showed Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state, and the head of that separatist regime as 'President'." Azeri Press Agency, 5 December 2009. See also Trend News Agency, 5 December 2009.
     "'We have started discussions on making a similar report on the Azerbaijani side as we want to make a film about the Azerbaijani population residing in the conflict area. We especially want to make a film about Azerbaijani refugees who left the region due to the conflict,' Euronews editor-in-chief Peter Barabas has said, according to Trend. Barabas said that Euronews has made an officially approach to Azerbaijan, sending a letter to the Azerbaijani embassy in Brussels, but has yet to receive a response." News.az, 5 December 2009. Barabas: "We are very interested to do the same story from Azerbaijan, with the people who live next to the frontline and whose lives were uprooted by this conflict. We are ready to go as soon as the government grants us this access, but with the same condition we posed to the Armenian government: that the editorial angle and content of the report will be solely based on our editorial values and guidelines." Today.az, 5 December 2009.
     "Euronews TV's recent report on Karabakh is at best a piece of sloppy journalism, at worst a piece of deliberate propaganda." Akper Hasanov, News.az, 3 December 2009.
     "'We should look at the methods used by our enemies who have occupied 20% of our land, take them into account and do the same. Azerbaijan should intensify its efforts to advocate our principles, our ideas, our understanding of the situation and work with Euronews, CNN, the BBC and other TV channels on this issue. This requires money and contacts. If we treat this issue seriously, all doors will open for us,' [Political scientist Rashad] Rzakuliyev said." News.az, 3 December 2009.
     "Azerbaijan’s National Assembly of Youth Organization has issued a statement of protest against the report entitled 'Winds of change in Nagorno Karabakh' recently aired by Euronews." Today.az, 5 December 2009. "Azerbaijani students studying in France and other European countries plan to gather outside Euronews television news channel’s headquarters in Lyon to protest... ." APA, 5 December 2009. "Azerbaijan's 'Ireli' Public Union has sent a letter of protest to Euronews TV... ." Today.az, 4 December 2009. See previous post about same subject, and the Euronews report that caused the controversy.

Great news for fans of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Posted: 06 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Turkish Foreign Ministry has launched a comprehensive restructuring to make the public more aware of the country’s foreign policy developments, keeping pace with technological developments, Turkey’s growing clout in international politics and the reality that decisions made in foreign policy affect domestic affairs. ... To better explain Turkey’s foreign policy priorities to the international community and to win support from the public, the ministry has decided to establish a public diplomacy wing. ... The Foreign Ministry will also expand its presence on social-networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter, including the creation of a Facebook fan page for Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu." Today's Zaman, 4 December 2009.
     "Turkish Foreign Ministry is set to launch 'public diplomacy', using strategic communication tools including social networks such as Facebook and Twitter." TurkNet, 3 December 2009.

VOA encounters its history, sometimes like a hit on the head with an iron bar (updated).

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"After Germany lost the war, all government operations, like Post Office, schools, city halls, etc., ceased. That included the newspaper. And there was only one radio station to listen to: the Armed Forces Network (AFN) which, besides jazz and western tunes, played songs like 'Sentimental Journey.' ... Soon it was announced that the radio station would feature a fifteen-minute program every evening at six o’clock, called 'Voice of America.' It didn’t speak about gangsters, but described different cities, states, and local (American) customs. And it was told in German! Old and young people would sit around the radio every evening and listen to this program. America!" Margot E. Palmgren, Orange County Register, 30 November 2009.
     "A former high-ranking official of the Foreign Ministry has testified in court that Japan and the United State signed secret pacts regarding the reversion of Okinawa to Japan's sovereignty in 1972. ... The plaintiffs are demanding the documents on the pacts be disclosed. Two of the documents pertain to the agreement that Japan would foot the expenses of restoring the sites of former U.S. bases to their original condition before returning the land to the owners -- totaling 4 million dollars -- and 16 million dollars in costs for moving the Voice of America facility to another location, among other expenses. The United States was supposed to bear these costs. ... As to why Japan shouldered the expenses, he said, 'The U.S. fiscal situation had worsened (due to the Vietnam War). Debates emerged within the U.S. Congress over whether the United States should pay money to Japan, and it did not have to return Okinawa for a while.'" The Mainichi Daily News, 2 December 2009. See also editorial, The Japan Times, 4 December.
     "In that gloaming that was settling over the wounded landscape of Ayodhya 17 Decembers ago, the flames of Muslim houses burning lit up the night's arrival. ... By a bizarre coincidence, I happened to be the only hack who found himself inside the Babri Masjid during the demolition. The mob started by attacking journalists; the first casualty was Voice of America's Peter Heinlein who collapsed bleeding, hit on the head with an iron bar. I was on the terrace of Manas Bhawan, right opposite the mosque. Along with me were correspondents of Time magazine, Mark Tully of the BBC and others. Police officers had begun to round up the media, escorting them to safety behind bamboo barricades. Soon they came to Manas Bhawan looking for Tully. I was young and foolish and didn't want to escape to the safety of a ringside seat. Next to me was a young man wearing a saffron bandana. His eyes blazed, his voice was strident with slogans. I borrowed his saffron gamcha to tie around my head. I looked like a kar sevak. That day, a kar sevak was the safest thing to be." Ravi Shankar, DNA (Mumbai), 1 December 2009.
     Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors 2002-2007, and thus boss of the VOA director during that time, reviews Sarah Palin's Going Rogue: "My radio talk heroes simply aren't leveling with us when they insist that the payback passages are taken out of context by the liberal media - and that the book is filled with substantive political content. I know they genuinely love Mrs. Palin, but I also know they surely could not have read, really read, this book. Even if Mrs. Palin's personal story (and her instinctive frontier conservatism) are to be much admired, the writing in this book is truly pedestrian. Unfortunately, the book also helps reinforce the post-campaign image of Mrs. Palin that has been such a turnoff to those who (unlike me) are not in full lock step with the conservative movement." Kenneth Tomlinson, Washington Times, 29 November 2009.
     Update: "The Anchorage International Film Festival bills itself as 'North America's northernmost independent film festival.' But the movie kicking off this year's incarnation is the product of a studio effort with big bucks behind it. Those aren't Hollywood dollars, however -- they're rubles. 'Hipsters,' which will be screened as part of the gala opening celebration tonight at Bear Tooth Theatrepub, is a glitzy, energetic, big-cast be-bop musical performed in Russian. The film chronicles, in an almost comic-book format, the 1950s conflict between Russian government authorities bent on keeping all things Soviet, 'normal' Russians primarily interested in surviving for one more day, and teens craving American pop culture -- 'stilyagi' or 'hipsters.' ... Hipsters furtively seek out Voice of America on their radios and copy American records onto X-ray gels known as 'bones.'" Mike Dunham, Anchorage Daily News, 4 December 2009.
     Jim Hawkins' 1998 video tour of the VOA (actually International Broadcasting Bureau) Site A (now mothballed), near Greenville, North Carolina, is now available at YouTube as Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Greenville Site B is still in operation.

Pakistani officials meet with VOA delegation.

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira Thursday said the government would never allow restrictions on the media, rather it was committed to protecting media freedom in the country. Talking to a four-member delegation of Voice of America (VoA) headed by its Director, Danforth W.Austin, the Minister said the government had practically demonstrated its resolve to uphold the cause of free media. He said Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has a history of cooperation with world renowned broadcasters and called for further collaboration between PBC and VOA in technical, reporting and programming areas. The Minister while highlighting the role of media said, VoA and PBC need to focus on programmes to bring people of both the countries closer and work for the peace, stability and betterment of the region. Chairman, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Mushtaq Malik, Director General PBC, Murtaza Solangi and senoir officials of the Ministry were also present in the meeting." Associated Press of Pakistan, 3 December 2009. The meeting may have had to do with the relays of VOA broadcasts by PBC transmitters.

What?

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA), the propaganda arm of the State Department with round-the-clock illegal broadcasts into Iran, is designed to whip up a frenzy and topple the government. ... Senator Jesse Helms had the foresight to object to the violation of the Smith-Mundt Act when in 1994 the USIA launched its Internet service. The internet service allowed for text and audio feed of VOA. The USIA moved its services from a domestic to a foreign server. However, today, VOA continues to film domestic audiences on the White House lawn - presumably, to no one's objections, including the President's. I am at a loss how Iranians here can be active participants in your propaganda aimed at undermining the regime. Furthermore, how is possible and construed legal for such demonstrations, interviews to be put on youtube and placed online? Perhaps you believe the illegal activities of VOA on the White House lawn would be construed as 'engagement' given that the loud crowd was addressing those Iranians who could afford satellites." Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich (has a Master's in Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg for Communications [sic] and USC School of International Relations), Countercurrents.org, 3 December 2009. At USC, they must have taught her about Smith-Mundt, and that knowledge seems to have run amok.

NYT cites Radio Free Iraq re VP Biden call to Iraqi PM.

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Leaders in Iraq have different opinions about President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. But they agree on one point: that a troop increase in the other American war means that the United States mission in Iraq is clearly ending. Radio Free Iraq, a branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reported that American officials sought nonetheless to reassure their Iraqi counterparts: The station reported that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in a phone call that the sending of American reinforcements to Afghanistan would not make Iraq less stable. According to the White House, Mr. Biden stressed that the measures taken by the United States to enhance security in Afghanistan will not come at the expense of relations with Iraq." Nadi Taha, New York Times, 5 December 2009.
     On 15 October, BBG members testified before the Senate Subcommittee on International Operations: "RFE/RL and VOA are together the number one broadcasting entity in Afghanistan in audience reach. VOA plays to its strengths as a U.S.-based broadcaster focused on coverage of news and policy debates concerning Afghanistan taking place in Washington, news in Afghanistan with a strong U.S. angle and regional and international news. RFE/RL stresses its trademark local news coverage, capturing all aspects of the insurgency and micro-reporting on health, education, women’s issues, among other topics at the top of the Afghan people’s news and information agenda." Well, here, Radio Free Iraq, in reporting Vice President Biden's call to the Iraqi PM, took the "strong U.S. angle." Is this because there is no VOA Arabic service? More likely it's because of the desire of each entity's journalists to provide complete coverage.
     "Do you think Russia Today, PressTV, or CCTV would broadcast a story like this one from VOA: Studies Contend Bhopal Still Contaminated, 25 Years After World's Worst Industrial Disaster? I don’t think so." Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner.us, 2 December 2009, with comment. Russia Today, PressTV, and CCTV do report on domestic disasters, as long as no one from the respective central committees is blamed.

USIA revival meeting?

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
The Abolition of of USIA and Its Effects on U.S. Public Diplomacy at The Heritage Foundation, 9 December 2009. Joseph Duffey (former USIA director), William Kiehl, Stephen Johnson, and Robert Schadler will be speakers. Helle Dale will be host. Heritage website. Reviving USIA, or a USIA equivalent, won't win the proverbial hearts and minds. It will create a new, large senior level bureaucracy, which will win the hearts and minds of those who think they can wangle the resulting plum jobs.

Helle Dale wants public diplomacy to Afghanistan to be more "uniform."

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A glaring omission in President Obama’s speech Tuesday was any attempt to address the propaganda war that is currently being waged with increasing sophistication and success by the Taliban again the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Information operations are a critical aspect of warfare and will help determine the outcome in Afghanistan, being focused on the hearts and minds of the Afghan population. ... Regrettably, strategic information and public diplomacy campaigns to reach the Afghan people have taken a hit since the arrival of the Obama administration. One of the first troubling decisions of the new administration was to close the Office of Support for Public Diplomacy within the Department of Defense, reflecting an attitude of suspicion of psychological operations as undertaken in a military context. Yet, no one has more at stake than the military commanders on the ground in theaters like Afghanistan or Iraq, where the friendly or unfriendly attitude of the local population can mean life or death for the troops. ... Also earlier this year, in August, U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke established a new united [sic] within the State Department for countering militant propaganda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – in other words engaging in strategic communication, previously the purview of the Pentagon. ... As of yet, very little has come out regarding the State Department’s efforts or successes — if any. However, if the Taliban is still winning the information war, Mr. Holbrooke might consider handing the responsibility back to the Pentagon." Hell Dale, The Foundry blog, 3 December 2009. The Pentagon still has plenty of psyop and information operations in Afghanistan. The challenge is to coordinate Defense and State communications efforts. It would seem the former would want to concentrate on their areas of operations, while the latter would address the Afghanistan population as a whole. State would "take the lead," as we are frequently reminded by Pentagon officials.
     "No Drama Obama is -- in the case of Afghanistan -- no propaganda Obama. In comparison, of course, with the improperganda used by presidents in conflicts such as the war in Vietnam or the more recent misadventure in Iraq. No fabrications like the Gulf of Tonkin 'incident' or weapons of mass destructions are being used to 'justify' the planned escalation of the war in Afghanistan." John Brown, CommonDreams.org, 5 December 2009.
     President Obama has announced his intention to nominate Douglas B. Wilson as Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. "Douglas B. Wilson currently serves as Executive Vice President of the Howard Gilman Foundation, overseeing the development and implementation of the Foundation’s domestic and international policy programs, including the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative. Mr. Wilson also serves as ... Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at Harvard University." The White House, 2 December 2009.

At Asia Television Forum, "links" include Singapore's Xinya Media with Germany's Deutsche Welle.

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The three-day Asia Television Forum conference and trade show kicked off in Singapore with a flurry of deals that highlighted the relative rude health of the Asian TV sector and also underlined the growing importance of China to regional expansion. Much of the focus at the ATF so far is on boosting international partnerships, especially within Asia. ... Among the shingles signing deals with a strong Chinese flavor were Shanghai Media Group and a new group called Xinya Media, based in Singapore, and much of the focus is on repackaging Chinese content to sell abroad. ... [Xinya president Wee Ah Kee] said that while the initial priority was selling mainland Chinese content abroad, it was also interested bringing content into China. It also has links to Mandarin-speaking Taiwan, and Mandarin is also one of the official languages of Singapore. ... [Xinya] has links to national broadcasters including Germany’s Deutsche Welle and China’s CCTV international unit." Clifford Coonan, Variety, 2 December 2009.

"Made in China" spots on CNN were probably not focus-grouped by US former factory workers (updated).

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The government has started a global charm offensive aimed at getting more consumers to reach for 'Made in China' products. The groundbreaking ad campaign is seeking to boost the image of Chinese goods around the world.
The initiative is believed to be the government's first foray into branding, something experts are hailing as 'a public relations breakthrough'. The Ministry of Commerce said the initiative was designed to promote Chinese-made products 'in a fair and objective way'. The campaign started on Nov 23 with a 30-second spot on CNN International, CNN US and CNN Headline News, the ministry said in a statement. The ad, which carries the hook 'Made in China: Made with the world' shares the message 'co-operation and participation' and highlights the fact that Chinese companies work with overseas firms to produce quality products. In the ad, a series of goods with the 'Made in China' label are shown being made with the help of top foreign firms. ... The ad, which was created by DDB Guoan in Beijing, has been in development for months. The agency won the account last year." Jin Zhu and Ding Qingfen, China Daily, 1 December 2009.
     "Let's take a minute to keep the Chinese propaganda machine in check. Chinese labor is known for more than the toxic side effects of its products. The country's production industry is also notorious for its toxic work environment—fueled by underage employees—that underpays workers and tries to cover up factory injuries. So despite what this ad claims, when the tag says 'Made in China,' it still means 'made with exploited labor.'" Ben Buchwalter, Mother Jones, 1 December 2009. For video of the ad, see YouTube, 1 December 2009.
     Update: "More than three-quarters of the respondents in an online survey have responded positively to a 'Made in China' TV commercial that showed up on CNN news network last month. The online survey conducted by Sina.com.cn, the largest Chinese-language infotainment web portal, found that about 78 percent of the Chinese respondents said they believe the ad will help improve the image of 'Made in China' products and boost the country's economic development." China Radio International, 4 December 2009.

Sources say Guinea human rights activist arrested because of VOA interview (updated).

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Guinea junta forces have arrested leading human rights activist Mouctar Diallo, reportedly for giving an interview about a September 28 stadium massacre in which scores died, sources said on Monday. ... A military source contacted by AFP said Diallo was arrested because of an interview he gave to Voice of America (VOA) radio the day after the September 28 massacre." AFP, 30 November 2009. See also VOA News, 29 November 2009.
     Update: "Guinea's military government should immediately release or bring specific charges against the human rights defender Mouctar Diallo, Human Rights Watch said today. He has been held by the military since November 26, 2009, on what appear to be politically motivated charges." Human Rights Watch, 3 December 2009.

In Africa, has reliance on BBC and VOA changed "dramatically"?

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) recently sponsored a conversation with African Media in Post-Conflict Situations, to detail the efforts of reporters who face death daily in the pursuit of journalistic freedom. ... ICJF program director Jerelyn Eddings, said the program, started by three foreign correspondents, it was essential to work with journalists around the world by providing opportunities, including fellowships to promote 'journalism that holds officials accountable.' Eddings, who lived and worked in Africa for many years, said she remembered when the BBC or the Voice of America were the most reliable ways to get news from the area if you were on the continent. 'That has all changed dramatically,' she said. 'These days we can rely on journalists on the ground in these countries as our first point of contact for the news. Newspapers serve urban populations primarily, and they have opened up and have had an impact on government policies. But it is radio – independent, community and private radio – that has had the most important impact on people in these countries.'" Denise Rolark Barnes, The Washington Informer, 3 December 2009. In Africa, reliance on international broadcasts is less than in previous decades, but, given the several African countries that still do not enjoy free and diverse media (see, for example, Zimbabwe, below), the reduction in such reliance is not so dramatic.

Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF steps up rhetoric against Botswana, Madagascar re "pirate radio" relays.

Posted: 05 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Botswana has been hosting pirate radio stations beaming hate messages into Zimbabwe, a discovery that is likely to cause diplomatic tension between the two countries. Reports from Harare, Zimbabwe's capital say Zimbabwe's northeastern neighbour, by hosting these stations, is violating the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed on September 11 2008 by President Mugabe, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC-M leader Professor Arthur Mutambara. ... A report in the state-run Herald newspaper cites analysts condemning Botswana and Madagascar’s continued hosting of pirate radio stations saying this flew in the face of all Sadc principles. 'The Voice of America special broadcast, Studio 7, beams illegally into Zimbabwe through Botswana while Madagascar plays host to another pirate radio station, Voice of the People, in violation of the International Telecommunications Union protocols,' says a report in the daily." Floyd Nkomo, The Zimbabwe Guardian, 1 December 2009.
     "Botswana is not only the conduit of Western rhetoric on Zimbabwe but also hosts a subversive pirate radio station, Studio 7, a Voice of America special broadcast specifically targeted at fomenting division in Zimbabwe. ... Infact the Sadc mediated dialogue that gave birth to the GPA [Global Political Agreement] and the inclusive Government makes it clear that the pirate radio stations and external interference in Zimbabwe are anathema. The whole Sadc region and the African Union are united on this score. So by hosting a Studio 7 relay station, Botswana stands in contempt of not only the GPA and Zimbabwe but also Sadc and the African Union, both of whom are guarantors of the GPA and the inclusive Government in Zimbabwe. Moreso, Gaborone is breaking international law since the Studio 7 broadcasts on medium wave are in utter violation of International Telecommunications Union protocols." Editorial, The Herald (Harare), 5 December 2009. The reference to medium wave raises a subtle legal point. Whereas shortwave (at least above 5 MHz) is specifically authorized for international broadcasting, medium wave is not. However, medium wave has been used extensively for cross-border broadcasting since before World War II. For example, China uses MW for broadcasts in Russian, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, etc. Any prohibition of international broadcasting on MW has thus been rendered moot by dint of non-observance.
     "VOA’s Director of Africa Broadcasting, Gwen Dillard, told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that the complaints are completely inaccurate and without truth, saying she is ‘disappointed’ by the government’s position. Dillard explained VOA’s government-to-government broadcast agreement with Botswana, continuing that there is 'nothing illegal or pirate about our operations.' ... 'The government needs to open its tight regulations for independent and free media,' Dillard said. 'If the government liberalised the media space, there wouldn’t be any need for us.'" Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa, 2 December 2009.
     "I cannot believe that one can say that the U.S. is beaming into Zimbabwe through a U.S. bilateral agreement with Botswana. Zimbabwe is simply not Botswana and vice versa. This is exactly the reason why it is a pirate radio station. VOA simply does not have a license to broadcast in Zimbabwe." Peter Chimutsa, letter to The Zimbabwe Guardian, 3 December 2009. The bilateral agreement is the license.
     "Was ZANU-PF itself not beneficiary of cross boarder broadcasts when they were beaming their war rhetoric into Zimbabwe from Maputo? At that time, the Rhodesian government used to jam 'Voice of Zimbabwe' broadcasts from Mozambique. Today, with the help of the Chinese, Mugabe spends time and resources snooping around people’s Internet communications, intercepting faxes and emails, along with listening to private conversations carried out by citizens through cellphones. Now they have the gall to invite other nations to join them in denying Zimbabweans access to information." Tanonoka Joseph Whande, SW Radio Africa, 3 December 2009.
     "VOA Studio 7 broadcasts to Zimbabwe over a medium-wave or AM transmitter in Botswana whose signal Harare has jammed since mid-2006. The nightly program is also broadcast over three shortwave frequencies. ... Harare's démarche in Gaborone comes as negotiators for the unity government parties are reportedly agreed to accelerate lagging media reform. Media commentator Francis Mdlongwa, former editor of the Financial Gazette in Harare and now director of the Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership at Rhodes University, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the foreign stations issue is a red herring to draw attention from more pressing issues. Meanwhile, the British Broadcasting Corporation made its first live broadcast from Zimbabwe in a decade on Wednesday as BBC Radio 5 Live host Victoria Derbyshire went on air from the Meikles Hotel in Harare. BBC editor Lois Crompton told VOA that there were no government restrictions whatsoever on the content of the lengthy broadcast." Patience Rusere, VOA News, 2 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Australia celebrates 70th anniversary, "transformed into a truly independent public broadcaster" (updated).

Posted: 04 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ABC's international broadcaster Radio Australia celebrated 70 years on air at an event in Melbourne last night. Speaking at the birthday party, ABC managing director Mark Scott reflected on the role of the service, which broadcasts to Asia and the Pacific. He said Radio Australia suffered a near-death experience a little more than a decade ago, but is now more robust and valued than ever. Mr Scott said the service had transformed over the years in terms of technology and its content. 'Founded in a time of war, really to push a government line, it then transformed into a truly independent public broadcaster, broadcasting the best of Australia to the region, the best of Australia to the world, and having a profound impact in those countries who have received our services,' Mr Scott said. 'We used to broadcast in international languages, they were European languages. Now we broadcast in Asian languages and local languages for our region, most recently Burmese. Of course, shortwave was our key way of distributing our signal and still is. But now you can pick up Radio Australia, increasingly on FM, certainly online.'" Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 2 December 2009. I've listened to Radio Australia during 45 of those 70 years.
     Update: Audio about the Radio Australia 70th anniversay at RA Pacific Beat, 2 December 2009. Audio from RA Connect Asia, 2 December 2009.
     "Congratulations to Radio Australia on your 70th anniversary. I have sent you the copies of an old verification card and the program guide which RA sent to me in November 1961. At that time, I was a junior high school boy and I began receiving the shortwave broadcasting from overseas. I remember that I sent the reception report to a RA post-office box in Tokyo." Masao Hosoya, Tokyo, note to Radio Australia, part of Radio Australia Celebrating 70 Years web section.

Bad news about Radio France International in the news.

Posted: 04 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A business group from the Bulgarian coastal town of Varna is set to acquire RFI – Sofia broadcaster, part of the French National Radio with broadcasts abroad. 'Negotiations with Bulgarian businessmen from the town of Varna are underway. The sale deal is expected to guarantee the broadcaster's format,' Manuela Manliherova, public relations officer of the radio, announced. The buyer is Vazrazhdane Varna 2009 association, which is believed to give its name to the radio after sealing the sale deal. According to unconfirmed reports Vazrazhdane Varna 2009 has close links with the controversial Varna bishop Kiril, who made headlines last year over dubious land swaps. Representatives from Vazrazhdane Varna 2009 has neither denied, nor confirmed reports that the radio will focus on topics, dealing with orthodox religion." Novinite Sofia News Agency, 1 December 2009. "Guarantee the broadcaster's format" apparently referrs to keeping news and current affairs, not RFI.
     RFI will "disengage" it affiliates and subsidiary companies in Sofia, Lisbon, and Belgrade, keeping only it Romanian subsidiary, with affiliates in several Romanian cities. RFI en action, 3 December 2009.
     "Quelque 271 salariés de Radio France Internationale (RFI), dont la moitié de journalistes, sont candidats au départ dans le cadre du plan social qui ne prévoit, lui, que 206 suppressions d'emplois, indique jeudi l'intersyndicale, dénonçant une 'fuite des cerveaux' [brain drain]." AFP, 3 December 2009.
     About Christine Ockrent, DG of Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (parent entity of RFI and France 24), and her husband, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, see L'Express, 2 December 2009.

Rush Limbaugh might be "the other opinion" on Al Jazeera.

Posted: 04 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
Rush Limbaugh: "Folks, at the conclusion of yesterday's broadcast we always have a conversation with H.R., the trusted loyal aide-de-camp and chief-of-staff, and he advises me of all of the requests that he said 'no' to during the day, because that's his job. He says 'no.' And 'no' again. That's what he's paid to do. And get this: Al-Jazeera wants to talk to me to get my take on a year-end review of Obama's first year of his presidency. Al-Jazeera! And you told them 'no,' right? Ha! He hasn't told them no; he thought I might want to do that. Al-Jazeera? Heh-heh. Oh, yeah, it's not just Al-Jazeera -- there's a German network that wants me to do a year-end review of Obama. He did say 'no' to that. And twice from the BBC, we've only said 'no' once to them. Sometimes they hold out hope. But Al-Jazeera!" Rush Limbaugh Show website, 2 December 2009.

Regulator says Press TV ads can stay on London buses.

Posted: 04 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Press TV, the controversial 24-hour news channel funded by the Iranian government, has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority following complaints over an ad campaign claiming it broadcast '24/7 news truth'. The high-profile campaign on the side of London buses said: 'Press TV – giving a voice to the voiceless. 24/7 news truth. The world is changing. People are changing. Opinions are changing. The news is changing. Why do you still watch the same tired news channel? Get the full story at Press TV.' Four people complained to the advertising watchdog, saying the campaign was misleading because it did not make clear the channel was owned by the Iranian government. They also said the claims '24/7 news truth' and 'the full story' were misleading because they implied the channel offered unbiased reporting of news events, which they did not believe was the case. But the ASA rejected the complaints, saying it was 'not common practice' for news channels to state who they were owned or funded by. The ASA added that the '24/7 truth' line would be seen as the 'station's opinion of the information it provided rather than an objective term'." John Plunkett, The Guardian, 2 December 2009.
     "HonestReporting has consistently exposed Press TV, the Iranian government funded mouthpiece of the brutal regime. Numerous broadcasts promote an obsessively anti-Zionist agenda far beyond any pretence at impartiality, while Press TV's website continues to host Holocaust denial." HonestReporting, 25 November 2009.

She likes "dizzying" BBCWS World Have Your Say.

Posted: 04 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"There's interactive radio and then there's World Have Your Say (World Service). This daily show, which describes itself as 'a conversation between all of us at BBC World Service news and all of you', bristles with interactive zeal. It's not just that it utilises phone calls, texts, tweets, Facebook, emails, blog posts; most programmes now dip into these. It's more the transparency and inclusiveness in the show's rhetoric and practice that sets it apart from radio that likes to think of itself as participatory but is really just an old-fashioned phone-in. ... Listening can be quite dizzying. Monday's discussion about the Swiss vote on banning minarets was thrillingly global and diverse, and was exemplary interactive radio, giving voice to every shade of opinion and in just about every format you could think of. Presenter Ros Atkins nudges discussion and arguments forward, but he emphatically remains a facilitator rather than dominating proceedings." Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian, 2 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

"Smallest team in BBC World Service" begins television co-production for Kyrgyzstan.

Posted: 04 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's multimedia offer for Kyrgyz-speaking audiences has been enriched with the launch of the BBC Kyrgyz television co-production with partner broadcaster, Kyrgyzstan State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company KNTR. From Wednesday 2 December, the weekly programme Sapar (Journey) airs on KNTR's Channel One, bringing 30 minutes of debate and discussion of various issues of the global and regional agenda. ... Head of BBC Central Asia and Caucasus Service, Hamid Ismailov, says: 'I am proud of the BBC Kyrgyz team – the smallest team in BBC World Service – as their commitment and their dedicated work, alongside the BBC's other teams as well as our Kyrgyz partners, have made Sapar happen.' ... Sapar is an addition to the BBC Kyrgyz radio programming available on the following frequencies: 103.7 FM in Bishkek; 102.2 FM in Batken and 106.3 FM in Kerben; and nationwide on Kyrgyz State Radio Channel 1. The radio and TV output is available on the news and information website, bbckyrgyz.com." Apparent press releaase via News on News, 1 December 2009.

Euronews report about Nagorno Karabakh irks Azerbaijanis.

Posted: 04 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan sent a letter of protest to the top management of Euronews concerning the report about Nagorno Karabakh, spokesman for the ministry Elkhan Polukhov told APA. ... Euronews showed Nagorno Karabakh as a separated part of Azerbaijan and leader of the separatist regime as the “president of Nagorno Karabakh Republic”. Opinion of Azerbaijani officials on the issue was not learned." Azeri-Press Agency, 1 December 2009.
     The press secretary of Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry "said Foreign Ministry has also instructed the Embassy of Azerbaijan in France to determine the causes of such unilateral reportage on Euronews TV." Trend News Agency, 1 December 2009.
     "The journalists rudely violated the concept of our profession by not mentioning Azerbaijan’s position. Speaking about the need of constant balance, they forgot about the simplest duty of a journalist – impartiality and objectivity." ANS TV (Azerbaijan), 1 December 2009.
     Azerbaijan politician Ilgar Mammadov: "The Euronews TV channel report on the Karabakh conflict is a clear example of bias fed by political and ideological sponsors of the journalist. We hear a lot in the media about Islamic fundamentalism, however what we saw today on Euronews is an outburst of Christian fundamentalism formatted as political propaganda. ... With that being said, even such a report admitted that according to international law Karabakh is the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan." News.Az, 1 December 2009.
     New Azerbaijan Party: The report "even named Nagorno-Karabakh as the 'heart' of Armenia, which does not have any overland link with the region." News.az, 2 December 2009.
     Elnur Aslanov, head of the political analysis and information department at Azerbaijan's presidential administration: "No more than a year ago I had to work hard to get an article about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict published on Radio Liberty’s website in response to a number of articles by Armenian representatives. Almost a week after the article was published, the website posted an article by the so-called 'representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh republic in the United States' without the cuts to which my article had been subjected. Radio Liberty was not interested in publishing a response from the Azerbaijani side. ... The dependence of the press on external interests and the total absence of objectivity is becoming a decisive factor in the information age. One example is a film on the Karabakh conflict shown by Euronews TV channel several days ago." News.az, 2 December 2009.
     In the opinion of political analyst Zardusht Alizadeh: "In order to have such journalists, the faculty of journalism in Azerbaijan should move to modern standards of education. There are almost no professional journalists, that would meet European standards, [in] Azerbaijan." News.az, 3 December 2009.
     See also ArmeniaNow, 2 December 2009 and the report that caused the controversy: Euronews, 28 November 2009.

Verizon FiOS adds Korean, Mandarin, and Greek for a total of 35 international channels.

Posted: 03 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Verizon is delivering more international content to its FiOS TV subscribers with the launch of three new channels from World TV that feature Korean, Mandarin and Greek programming. With the additions, FiOS TV subscribers now have access to 35 international channels covering 20 languages - a collection that cable can't match. ... Verizon FiOS TV's new international programming consists of: *YTN (channel 1761), the CNN news channel of Korea, which joins a new Korean package that also includes MBC (channel 1760) for $24.99 per month. *Phoenix North America (channel 1797), a Mandarin channel offering news and entertainment, including programs like 'Phoenix North America News' and 'Experience America'; the channel joins CCTV4 (channel 1795) and CTI (channel 1796) in a new Chinese Mandarin package for $15.99 per month. *Antenna (channel 1789), FiOS TV's first Greek channel, featuring comedies, dramas, news, current affairs programs, game shows, entertainment programming and more for $14.99 per month." Verizon press release, 1 December 2009.
     "After limited moves into international programming in the earliest years of their services, telco TV players have deepened their international content over the last year or so. Verizon entered into the partnership with GlobeCast WorldTV, a France Telecom unit, last year. Last spring, AT&T added several new channels to its own ethnic line-up. Cable TV companies such as Comcast have numerous international TV channels, too, with Comcast specifically offering at least 15 such channels individually and through special bundles. It hasn't yet been clear that international content is a significant field for meaningful competitive differentiation, but it is obviously one way to stengthen the appeal of a telco TV service among specific segments of the population." Dan O'Shea, FierceIPTV, 2 December 2009.

Developments in case related to murder of RFA GC Robert Wone (updated).

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The defense lawyers in the Robert Wone case are urging a D.C. Superior Court judge to dismiss obstruction and conspiracy charges, saying the government's evidence doesn’t support the allegations." The Blog of Legal Times, 6 November 2009.
     Lawyers for defendants in a case related to the murder of Radio Free Asia general counsel Robert Wone filed a motion to require prosecution to limit its case to conspiracy, evidence tampering and obstruction of justice. The Blog of Legal Times, 5 November 2009.
     Update: "Now a new fight has come up among the prosecutors and the defense lawyers: whether or not the presiding judge, Frederick Weisberg, should be allowed to stay on the case once the annual judicial calendars change at the start of the year. ... Lawyers for the three men charged in the Wone case—the defendants are Joseph Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky—say Weisberg should be allowed to continue to hear the case in the interest of judicial economy. ... Zaborsky, Ward and Price, a former Arent Fox partner in D.C., are charged with obstruction, conspiracy and evidence tampering. Wone, a former Covington & Burling associate who'd become general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was founded stabbed to death in Price and Zaborsky's home." Mike Scarcella, The Blog of Legal Times, 30 November 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English in Canada, and more Al Jaz in the news.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"In an interview with Hour’s Stefan Christoff last March, [AJE DG Tony] Burman said Al-Jazeera English may be a sister channel to Al-Jazeera Arabic, but it has its own destiny and global outlook. 'In Canada we have a wilfully under-resourced CBC that seems to sadly be turning away from covering the world. Meanwhile commercial broadcasters in Canada, according to their own analysis of the bottom line, don't have the resources or the interest in trying to explain the world to Canadians. So it is that international focus, that niche that Al-Jazeera English is attempting to fill.'" Meg Hewings, community.hour.ca, 30 November 2009.
     "Burman said Al-Jazeera English has held discussions with most of Canada's major television providers and that Canadians will likely have access to the channel sometime in either January or February of 2010. Al-Jazeera English has also pledged to open a Canadian bureau -- one of 70 news bureaus it operates around the globe -- which Burman said would make it the only international news channel covering Canadian stories for a global audience." Matt Hartley, Canwest News Service, 27 November 2009.
     "I don’t know if, as Al Jazeera claims, that the AJE [English] and AJA [Arabic] are really two different organizations. I mean, really. But according to the CRTC, AJE 'will expand the diversity of editorial points of view in the Canadian broadcasting system.' And we’re all for that. Of course, if you stop to think about it for a minute, that seems to imply that there is no one standard, grade-A version of the truth, and the only way we can snag that elusive commodity is to net it with a diversity of editorial points of view. If news organizations such as Al Jazeera (and to be fair, Fox News, the BBC, Global, NBC, CBC, etc.) were all as objective as they claim to be, wouldn’t they all be broadcasting the same, true stories? And how far will we go with this diversity of editorial opinion notion? If TTVN (Taliban TV Network) wanted access to the nation’s living rooms, how would the CRTC respond? Let me point out quickly that I’m pretty much in favour of the AJE application. I know its managing director Tony Burman pretty well. We used to work together at the CBC and spent many shifts trying to figure what to put on or what not to put on The Journal. There was nothing in his demeanour to indicate terrorist tendencies. Once in a while he got a little grumpy, but that might have been the takeout we were forced to consume." Paul Sullivan, Metro Canada, 2 December 2009.
     "Regarding the article Al Jazeera wins right to broadcast in Canada (November 29), Canadian Jewish organisations have little to fear from Al Jazeera English’s expansion into the Canadian TV market. They might be surprised to know that both of Al Jazeera’s channels – English and Arabic – are widely available for viewing in Israel. In fact, since the English-language channel was launched three years ago, Al Jazeera English, or AJE, is now locked in a tight three-way competition with BBC World and CNN International for audiences not only in Israel, but around the world. The United States remains the one English-speaking market most resistant to opening itself to AJE, and that’s almost exclusively due to domestic politics. It would perhaps be more advantageous for AJE’s eventual acceptance in the US if it changed its name to Al Jazeera International, or AJI. Having the word 'international' in its name would be very helpful. After all, it worked for CNN." Skeeter Sanders, USA, letter to The National (Abu Dhabi), 30 November 2009.
     "Commissioner Marc Patrone, the lone dissenting voice at CRTC, was not pleased with the decision and expressed doubt that AJE would be much different from its sister station, the Arabic-language Al Jazeera. 'My concern relates to the fact that the issue of ownership did not form any part of my colleagues’ deliberations,' Patrone stated. 'In weighing the merits of all foreign services, the regulator should be particularly sensitive to "state-owned" or "state-financed" services originating from nations with radically different attitudes towards freedom of speech and democracy in general.'" Atara Beck, Jewish Tribune, 2 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "'You need to tell us what it (Islam) is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques,' [Thomas] Friedman urges Arabs and Muslims worldwide. Perhaps if we ceased our efforts to block the popular and balanced coverage of Al Jazeera's English channel from being broadcast on our television screens, we would get a clearer picture of the Muslim word, Tom." Sharmine Narwani, Huffington Post, 30 November 2009. The irony is that while a Canadian regulatory agency took several month to decide if Al Jazeera English could be distributed in that country, there was never any regulation in the United States keeping AJE off US cable systems. And, in fact, a few US cable systems have offered AJE, but most have demurred, either for commercial reasons (more viewers for home shopping or professional wrestling channels) or in an exercise of excess caution. With digital technologies allowing more channels to be distributed, AJE should be part of the mix.
     "I still believe embedding is worthwhile. Without embedding one part of the story would not be told, it is as simple as that. Living up to Al Jazeera’s brand of 'Every angle, every side' would be impossible without showing the perspective of the troops, conquerors, defenders or occupiers, whatever one chooses to call them." Josh Rushing, The Asia Blog, Aljazeera.net, 30 November 2009.
     "Using present tactics, victory in Afghanistan can come only with huge increases in collateral damage – impossible for an occupying force in a post-colonial era where al-Jazeera reigns as the most-watched channel and CNN and BBC are ignored." M.D. Nalapat, UPI Asia.com, 30 November 2009.
     "Malaysia's long-awaited animated action-adventure television series, Saladin, was launched here on Wednesday for the Asia market. Co-produced by Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and Qatar-based Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC), the television series commenced production in Malaysia in 2008 using talents from Kuala Lumpur and the Middle East. ... Saladin is based on the actual 12th century statesman and warrior from Damascus, Syria, who travelled the world in search of adventure - this is where the series begins." Bernama, 2 December 2009.

Shortwave stories from Gadling, Gooner, and Radio Netherlands.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"As he rides across Africa on a motorcycle, Thomas Tomczyk will keep the world posted on his Facebook page, Youtube channel, blog, and website. ... For news he's got a Tecsun DR-920, a compact and inexpensive shortwave receiver." Sean McLachlan, Gadling, 30 November 2009.
     "[W]hen I started listening on shortwave radio in the early 80s... it was all-Liverpool all the time... and a lot of 'nil' associated with Arsenal." Darryl E Mellema, The Gooner, 1 December 2009.
     "I live in British Columbia Canada not far from the Rocky Mountains. I'm finding radio to be much better than TV. In my early teens I had a Zenith short wave until it went up in smoke." Alan, Canada, Feedback, Radio Netherlands, 30 November 2009.

International channels in Swedish timeshare.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Boxer, the digital terrestrial pay-TV platform for Sweden, will launch its sixth multiplex today (December 1), adding the new channels Showtime, Star, TV 7, BBC World News and Disney XD. The new channels are transmitted using MPEG-4 compression technology on the new Multiplex 6, which reaches about 60% of Swedish households, mainly in central Sweden. The transmitter network will be gradually expanded to reach the entire country. ... The new channels available are Showtime – Movie Channel (action, thrillers, science fiction and other related genres from the last decade) with programming from 18.00 – 06.00 hours; during the daytime Disney XD will broadcast from 06.00 to 18.00 hours; Star! (the latest in showbiz news, behind-the-scenes on the sets of movies and TV series, as well as fashion and award shows) available from midnight till 15.00 hours; TV7 (entertainment channel with romantic comedies, American drama, sitcoms, lifestyle shows and soap operas) available from 15.00 hours till midnight. BBC World News is available from 14.00 hours till 02.00 hours." Robert Briel, Broadband TV News, 30 November 2009.

Deutsche Welle will leave Astra satellite.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"The German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle is to leave the Astra satellite at 19.2 degrees East at the end of the year. The move involves Deutsche Welle TV, as well as the two radio channels currently broadcast over the satellite. From January 1, 2010, the TV channel and two radio stations DW01 and DW04 will only be available in Europe from the Eutelsat Hot Bird position at 13 degrees East." Robert Briel, Broadband TV News, 1 December 2009.

Will Liberty money and Sirius XM expertise in the pot keep Worldspace from going to pot?

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sirius XM Radio Inc could team up with Liberty Media Corp to take its satellite radio offerings global through a partnership with WorldSpace Inc , Chief Executive Mel Karmazin said on Monday. 'We understand that Liberty has expressed an interest in WorldSpace,' Karmazin said at the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York. But if a partnership with Liberty does come about, Sirius would not invest any money, he added. 'We would put our expertise and experience in the pot and Liberty would put their money in the pot,' Karmazin said." Reuters, 30 November 2009.
     "But there are some major problems to be overcome if Liberty's WorldSpace plan is to proceed. First up, ‘New WorldSpace' would have to work hard to re-build relationships and staff internationally. The reputation of ‘old' WorldSpace internationally stinks. Staff have quit, debts and other contractual obligations ignored and relations with major auto-makers severely damaged. Besides these problems, there is the clear progress being made over Europe by Ondas Media. Of course, if ‘New WorldSpace' is to limit its operations to India, Africa and the Far East then Ondas will be free to pursue its own ambitions." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 1 December 2009.
     "In order to get a better grasp of the picture, let’s take a look at the Worldspace infrastructure. The company has 2 satellites currently in the air, which are nearing the end of their operational life. The company’s stated mission is to provide a variety of high quality programming through a subscription based service that uses low cost portable satellite radios and is available in underserved markets that today lack programming choice. Worldspace is the first and only company with rights to the world’s globally allocated spectrum for digital satellite radio. Its broadcast footprint covers over 130 countries including India and China, all of Africa and the Middle East and most of Western Europe, an area that includes five billion people and more than 300 million automobiles. Its two fully operational satellites and ground infrastructure are based on proprietary and patented technology." Steve Garcia, InvestorsHub.com, 2 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Commonwealth Games 2010 via DRM MW and SW, with lack of receivers a bit of an impediment (updated).

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"All India Radio would be carrying forward its association with Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) by live broadcasting the 2010 Commonwealth games to be held in Delhi. ... Analog Devices India senior program manager Subrahmanyam believes it is the right time to launch DRM from the Commonwealth perspective. 'There is very limited internet connectivity in India, so getting scores or data about Commonwealth games on radio is a feasible option. Equipped with DRM, listeners can get instantaneous data on radio. This transmission can be available not only on MW and SW bands but can also be transmitted over longer distances. So AIR broadcast can be transmitted outside the country as well.' ... One of the major impediments for DRM plans in India is the absence of DRM devices in the country. ... Manufacturing the devices in India would reduce the device price as importing it increases it cost in Indian markets. The current DRM transmission for AIR broadcasts the same content owned by AIR for its AM transmission. This restricts the need for consumers in Indian markets to buy DRM digital radio when conventional AM radio is available at a much lower price." Anita Iyer, Radioandmusic.com, 26 November 2009. A bit of confusion: DRM "can also be transmitted over longer distances" because it uses medium wave and shortwave frequencies. And it's unlikely that there will be many DRM receivers in place by 2010, unless there is a spectacular manufacturing and marketing push.
     Update: "As per the ministry DRM can become a good contrivance to start new digital broadcasts for national and international audiences. Currently, AIR has a regular DRM service of 8 hours of daily DRM SW broadcast." Media Mughals, 30 November 2009. At the AIR website, I find these DRM shortwave schedules (all UTC): Vividh Bharati domestic service, 0900-1200 on 6100 kHz; to the UK and West Europe on 9950 kHz: English 1745-1945, Hindi 1945-2045, English 2045-2230.

Heritage electoral observer in Honduras unhappy with output of Radio Globo, Telesur.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"As I rode around town in my capacity as an electoral observer, I turned on a pro-Zelaya radio station, Radio Globo. It was broadcasting endless reports about repression, massive absenteeism, and government intimidation. At first I thought I should flee to the safety of my hotel, but instead I turned off the radio when I realized it had nothing to do with the reality around me. Across Honduras, people did what they normally do on election Sunday. ... For the time being, Mad Mel Zelaya will live on in the diplomatic space of the increasingly leftist-dominated OAS; in the double-standardism of a Brazil that warmly welcomes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refuses to send observers to, and repudiates a free and fair election in, Honduras; and in the propaganda machinery of the 'Bolivarian' ALBA alliance, with its media arms like Radio Globo and the Telesur network." Ray Walser, The Corner blog, National Review, 30 November 2009.
     "Zelaya pledged to fight until 'toppling the dictatorship,' in an interview last night with Telesur television network." Bloomberg, 30 November 2009.

BBC Persian and the logic of balanced broadcasting.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"[T]he UK has one organ that scares Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's regime greatly, and that is BBC's Persian language service.
     "BBC's Persian language radio service dates back to 1940, while its newly inaugurated TV service is now almost one year old. In this short space of time, the TV service has attracted large audiences in Iran, and the reason is simple: it is the most impartial Persian language broadcast available
     "This has not been an easy endeavour as it has meant being subject to heavy criticism from both sides. For example, many anti-regime elements, especially monarchists, have at times accused it of being pro-Khamenei, because of its refusal to toe their line of attacking the regime at every opportunity. The fact that the service also looks at the positive aspects of the regime, and portrays the views of both sides has given it much credibility, as well as audience. So when it does broadcast about developments in Iran, especially those that cast the regime in a negative light, many more people are willing to accept its findings, thanks to its credibility and reputation for airing both sides of the story.
     "And this is what angers Iran's supreme leader and his hardline allies. They would have loved this news service to have taken a jingoistic one-sided approach against the Iranian government. That way, it would have been much easier to portray it as a tool applied by the 'old colonialist' British government, in order to support regime change in Iran.
     "A one-sided news service would have been a turn-off for many ordinary Iranians too – after 30 years of hearing propaganda-style news in their country, many are tired of such one-sided coverage, regardless of whether the source is inside Iran or abroad." Meir Javedanfar, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 1 December 2009. Recommended reading, because it explains well how international broadcasting succeeds.

Euronews adds part-time services in Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbian.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"24-hour news channel ‘euronews' is adding Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbian and Ukrainian services, alongside the channel's existing eight 24/7 languages. Euronews says the launch of its Ukrainian-language 'News' programme block on Ukrainian National Television is now on air. In addition, a part-time Lithuanian service also began airing recently. Since 2004, euronews has teamed up with public channels to adapt and broadcast its flagship programmes in national languages. The channel now has four of these part-time services: Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Serbian and Romanian, in addition to its round-the-clock service in eight languages (Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). A Turkish service is scheduled to start in January 2010. As part of a cooperation agreement with China Central Television (CCTV), euronews is providing CCTV with magazine programmes for translation into Mandarin, and in particular 'Futuris', dedicated to showcasing European research programmes since 2007." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 30 November 2009.

BBCUkrainian.com is now BBC Мій світ.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Suddenly, BBCUkrainian.com has turned from a marginal appendix to radio into a multimedia site with original video output, proper interactive forums, blogs and lots of other functions we could only hope for in the past. And we got a new name too: BBCUkrainian.com is called BBC Мій світ (My World). ... Until now, our website was popular mostly among Ukrainians working abroad who did not have necessarily access to the mass media at home. We were their link to Ukraine. What we need now is to become a link for Ukrainians to the global news world. We can offer our content on different platforms, including mobile, at the time when mobile phone penetration in Ukraine is increasing and broadband is growing fast as well." Olexander Hryb, Over To You blog, BBC World Service, 30 November 2009.

OSCE official concerned about state control of television in former Soviet countries.

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Twenty years after Europe's Communist-era Iron Curtain began to crumble with the fall of the Berlin Wall, state interference or control of TV in many former Soviet countries continues to hamper democracy, a leading international security body has warned. Miklos Haraszti, a former Hungarian dissident and media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, says that government run or influenced TV in Russia, Belarus and the countries of central Asia could threaten international peace and security if abused. Most stations in these former Soviet states are either government controlled or owned by people with close links to those in power, Haraszti said." Nick Holdsworth, Variety, 29 November 2009.

Free via pay TV: Russia Today in Singapore (updated).

Posted: 02 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"A new 24-hour English-language news channel, Russia Today, will debut on StarHub TV Dec 1 - and is free to viewers. With the launch, StarHub will be the first pay TV operator in Singapore to offer viewers here round-the-clock news and infotainment programmes from a Russian perspective, said the telco in a statement on Thursday." Straits Times, 19 November 2009. Russia Today is nowadays going by the name RT, but would Singaporeans know what "RT" is?
     Update:"The 24-hour English-language channel Russia Today is launching on SingTel's mioTV platform on December 1. The channel will be offered free to all mioTV subscribers." WorldScreen.com, 30 November 2009.

Zimbabwe politicians cannot grasp that they don't control foreign broadcasts (updated).

Posted: 01 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Negotiators of [Zimbabwe's] three main political parties in the inclusive government have been meeting to try to break the stalemate that is threatening to completely collapse the already shaky Global Political Agreement. On Thursday the state controlled Herald newspaper quoted one of the negotiators, Professor Welshman Ncube from the MDC-M, saying the group had been discussing the same issues – 'the appointment of Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney General, sanctions and pirate radio stations.' The external radio stations, London based SW Radio Africa and Voice of America’s Studio 7, are forced to broadcast from exile because there is no free media in Zimbabwe and independent radio is not allowed. The only broadcaster is ZBC, which is 100% controlled by the State. Political analyst Professor John Makumbe said instead of talking about establishing democratic reforms, the politicians are as usual wasting time while the country is standing still. The MDC has also come under fire for agreeing to the ZANU PF demands to shut down private radio stations. Makumbe said: 'It is obvious that the MDC will never be able to stop the external radio stations - which are operated by Zimbabweans – from operating because they didn’t set them up in the first place. They are not financing them, they are not funding them and they are not programming them. They have no authority whatsoever over these radios.' ... Furthermore, the political analyst pointed out that the ZBC is still broadcasting in a partisan manner in favour of ZANU PF and denigrating the MDC and that there is still a lot of hate speech. Makumbe said the government is the one ‘imposing sanctions’ by forcing Zimbabwean radio stations to operate from outside." Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa, 26 November 2009.
     "Guys – please – get a grip. We’re not controlled, owned or are even members of the MDC. They can do nothing to have us closed down. Our broadcasts on shortwave and via the internet are completely legal and we want nothing more than a free, peaceful, democratic Zimbabwe. And yes we do believe that Zimbabweans have an absolute right to the information that has been denied them for so many years. ... Allow myriad broadcasters to apply for a license, register as many as you can. Those that are any good will survive, the bad ones will go the way of all bad media. Get some decent newspapers on the streets, allow as many community radio stations as you can cram onto a waveband." Gerry Jackson, founder of SW Radio Africa, 26 November 2009. See also VOA News, 27 November 2009.
     "Pretoria sources said the team to be sent to Harare by President Jacob Zuma includes trusted lieutenants who are 'as tough as nails'. ... The sources said ZANU-PF, supported by the MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, wanted talks to address the issue of so-called pirate radio stations broadcasting to the country from outside its borders, such as Washington-based Studio 7 from the Voice of America and London based Short-Wave Radio Africa, urging Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to halt their broadcasts. The MDC has stated that it is not in a position to control broadcasts from outside Zimbabwe. ... Zuma spokesman Vincent Magwenya told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the team will help the South African president fulfill his SADC mandate to help the Harare power-sharing partners achieve a lasting accord." Blessing Zulu, VOA News, 25 November 2009.
     "No one, it seems, has any confidence at all in Zimbabwe's ability to grow food on farms again this year. As people scramble desperately to plant on roadside squares, the madness goes on with renewed vigour on farms. This week we heard, not in the State media but on short wave radio, how farms in Chegutu are under attack by politicians." Cathy Buckle, Moneyweb, 28 November 2009.
     Update: Source close to talks with South African mediation team: "Zanu-PF said nothing had also been done on the front of the illegal broadcast of hate messages into Zimbabwe from outside the country. The Zanu-PF negotiators pointed out that MDC-T had opposed any initiatives to stop Madagascar and Botswana in particular from playing host to relay stations for Studio Seven and Voice of America while at the same time supplying them with false data to discredit President Mugabe and his party." The Herald (Harare), 1 December 2009. VOA has a medium wave and shortwave relay in Botswana, and Voice of the People uses the Radio Netherlands relay in Madagascar.

Saddam Hussein planned attack on RFE/RL in Prague (updated).

Posted: 01 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Saddam Hussein ordered his secret agents to attack the Prague headquarters of U.S. run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to end broadcasting to Iraq, a Czech intelligence service spokesman said Sunday. The attack was ordered by the then Iraqi leader in 2000 and Iraqi intelligence agents planned to use weapons including rocket propelled grenades, Kalashnikov rifles and submachine guns, spokesman Jan Subert told Czech TV Nova. ... It was not known when the attack was due to take place but Subert told the television station that Czech intelligence discovered the plot and the Iraqis submitted the weapons to Czech authorities in 2003. ... In 2003, the police and the army temporarily boosted security in and around the radio station's offices, located at the top of Wenceslas square in the historic center of Prague at an old communist parliament premises. The headquarters have since been moved to a new closely guarded building in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Prague." Reuters, 29 November 2009. See also TV Nova's tn.cz, 29 November 2009, with link to video. And ČTK, 29 November 2009.
     Update: "Security experts and the public alike were left reeling on Sunday after a Czech TV station revealed that Iraqi intelligence agents working for Saddam Hussein plotted an attack on the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe. Spokesman Jan Šubert of the Czech intelligence service told TV Nova that the agents planned a machine gun and rocket propelled grenade attack on the building in a plot ordered by Saddam Hussein. ... Mr. Šubert said on TV Nova that the public had a right to know about Saddam Hussein’s planned attack, which also led to the eventual construction of protective concrete walls that were put in place after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington and complicated traffic nearby Wenceslas Square. Mr Šubert added that it wasn’t safe to disclose this information until recently, after Radio Free Europe had moved to a new, closely guarded building in Hagibor, further from the city centre." Sarah Borufka, Radio Prague, 30 November 2009.
     "Information on a terrorist attack planned by the Iraqi secret services against the Prague seat of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in 1999 should not have been released, Jan Klas, member of the Czech lower house commission monitoring the BIS counter-intelligence, said today." ČTK, 30 November 2009.
     "RFE/RL began broadcasting to Iraq in October 1998. The fresh allegations are reminiscent of earlier Czech claims that Iraqi Embassy officials had met with Mohammad Atta, one of the plotters behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. Those claims sparked a media frenzy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, but ultimately proved to be untrue. The United States has yet to comment on the latest Czech claims. But the case has raised questions of why the Czechs waited until now to reveal the plot -- and why the United States did not list it among its grievances when preparing to invade Iraq in March 2003." RFE/RL, 30 November 2009. See also RFE/RL in the News, 1 December 2009.
     "Details of the abortive attack were disclosed days before the Czech parliament's lower house discusses the government's state budget draft for 2010, which aims to cut BIS [Security Information Service] funding by 55.7 million koruny (3.2 million dollars) or 4.4 per cent compared to 2009." DPA, 30 November 2009.
     "Current Iraqi Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Dhia Mahmoud Dabas, informed Czech intelligence about the planned attack against the Prague seat of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Nova television reported Tuesday. Dhia Mahmoud Dabas lived in exile in Vienna when Saddam Hussein ruled in Iraq. A former consul of the Iraqi embassy in Prague who fled to Vienna told him about the plans for a terrorist attack." CTK, 1 November 2009.

Al-Arabi, a.k.a. "Saddam Channel," appears, disappears, might return.

Posted: 30 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"It seems the late Iraqi dictator now has a TV channel supporting his actions. The channel, Al-Arabi (‘the Arab'), is backed by a group of banned Ba'th Party supporters (which Saddam once headed) and is broadcasting his speeches and life story. It is available from Nilesat and Arabsat. The channel's debut is exactly three years to the day when Saddam was executed. BBC Monitoring is reporting that the Al-Arabi TV channel is claiming that the station had been launched to thwart what he termed as attempts to tarnish the image of Ba'th Party leaders, including Saddam Hussein and others who were in prison with him. BBC Monitoring is quoting Al-Jazeera television. According to the report, the TV station was originally to be named Saddam Hussein but its name was changed due to political pressure." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 30 November 2009.
     "A mysterious TV channel praising Saddam Hussein dropped off satellite airwaves on Monday, just three days after it began broadcasting. The chairman of the so-called Saddam Channel told The Associated Press it will return by the weekend after a technology upgrade to make the broadcast stronger." AP, 30 November 2009.

New sponsor for Asia Business Report on BBC World News.

Posted: 30 Nov 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News today announces a new sponsorship deal for its flagship business programme for the Asia-Pacific region, Asia Business Report. IT specialist Datacraft is set to sponsor the programme for the next three months. Datacraft is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dimension Data plc, a US$4 billion leading global IT solutions and services provider. It operates in over 50 offices across 13 Asia Pacific countries. ... Asia Business Report is BBC World News’ live daily business programme, broadcast to audiences across Asia. It is the channel’s first show dedicated exclusively to business news in the region. Produced close to Singapore's financial district, the programme offers viewers the latest business, economic, share and market news from Asia, with a mixture of studio and filmed reports." BBC World News press release, 30 November 2009.