Congressional bill against "terror TV" generates opposition among Arab information ministers.

Posted: 31 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The fight between some Arab broadcasters and lawmakers in the US who want to ban those 'hostile to the United States' could not be happening at a worse time. Yesterday, Arab ministers of information gathered to 'slam', in the words of the AFP, the US Congress for the bill [H.R. 2278] the House of Representatives passed in December that imposes sanctions on broadcasters deemed a threat to the country. After a six-hour meeting in Cairo, the ministers issued a communique that said the bill was 'considered an interference in the internal affairs of Arab states who regulate their media affairs according to national legislation.'" Keach Hagey, mixedmedia blog, The National, 25 January 2010.
     "The enthusiasm that brought together Arab Information Ministers, the Arab League and official and parliamentary media committees in several Arab states to stand up against a bill proposed by US Congress targeting a group of Arab satellite TV stations was truly striking. The bill that angered the Arabs and is now waiting for the signature of President Obama calls for taking punitive measures against satellite television stations that nourish anti-US sentiment including a host of 'resistance' television stations whether in Lebanon, Palestine or Iraq." Diana Mukkaled, Ashar Alawsat, 29 January 2010. According to Thomas, the bill is still in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so not yet ready for President Obama's signature.
     The American Embassy in Beirut "Public Affairs Officer, Ryan Gliha, told representatives of local news portals on 1/22/10, that ... The Obama administration 'doesn't have an official position on it because it is still an idea,' the diplomat stressed. The response did not satisfy some who were present. Then Mr. Gilha added 'This is not a question of freedom of speech. It is about al-Manar which is owned by Hizbullah… The US government believes there is no difference between a terrorist organization and a media outlet run by it.'" Franklin Lamb, Middle East Online, 29 January 2010.
     "The American move also indicates that US media such as Al Hurra have failed to sell the American point of view to Arab viewers. And so the answer is to muzzle the Arab channels." Faisal Al Qasim, Gulf News (Dubai), 27 January 2010. See previous post about H.R. 2278 and previous post about the Arab information ministers' conference.

Regional radio cooperation: Waves for the Mediterranean (updated).

Posted: 31 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A new radio cooperation programme, The waves for the Mediterranean, is being launched in Tunis on 19 January, with co-financing from the EU-funded Anna Lindh Foundation for dialogue between cultures. ... The programme, which will be unrolled over 20 months, brings together six partners: Tunisian Radio as project leader, Radio France (France Bleu Frequenza Mora), ENRS (Algeria), SNRT (Morocco), ESAV (Superior School of Visual Arts in Marrakech - Morocco) and the network of Mediterranean broadcasters COPEAM." Global Arab Network, 15 January 2010.
     Update: "Waves of the Mediterranean will produce a daily news radio variety magazine for the next 20 months. 'This is an addition to two radio series to be co-produced by the members of the Radio Commission in COPEAM … calling for promoting dialogue in the region,' said Julie Royer, vice-president of the Radio Commission. ... Local journalists had varied reactions to the new project. Jamel Hani said the project was a solid step toward cementing Mediterranean ties, but he still had misgivings. 'I'm not enthusiastic about the idea,' he told Magharebia on January 20th. 'How can the Europeans call for dialogue while they are driving our sons towards the borders? How can this dialogue be kicked off when there are disputes over minarets, the veil and the increasing debate about identity and nationality?'" Jamel Arfaoui, Magharebia, 26 January 2010. "Magharebia is a Web site sponsored by the US Department of Defence. It is designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about the Maghreb region."

Last week for BBC's Creole broadcasts, and other Haiti media updates.

Posted: 31 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"I’ve been in Miami for almost a week now working with my BBC World Service colleagues, on getting out daily broadcasts of Connexion Haiti. ... This is the first time ever that the BBC is broadcasting in Creole, Haiti’s national language and it’s been crucial for us to respond to this terrible disaster in a Haitian voice. Tomorrow, when Connexion Haiti goes into its final week, I will leave for Port-au-Prince with the producer Nick Miles, and will report back." Lisa Robinson, humanitarian programme manager at BBC World Service Trust, 28 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "It's nice to see the 'Commando Solo' story getting wide news coverage. [See previous post.] That's the U.S. government's plane that's acting as a radio station over Haiti 10 hours a day. ... Voice of America news and information in Creole is transmitted by the plane. ... The story reminds me of my time at VOA, writing and announcing the English news as part of a daily program broadcast in Creole and English to Haiti. After dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier was overthrown in 1986, VOA scrambled to increase the hours of programming transmitted to the island nation. At the time, the Russians were transmitting several hours each day of propaganda there, and the U.S. was trying to keep pace. ... We changed the frequencies we broadcast on each day to try to outwit the Russians, who were jamming our broadcasts." Leslie Stimson, Radio World, 28 January 2010. The Soviet Union was jamming VOA broadcasts to the Caribbean? More likely, Radio Moscow, with its many, many transmitters, was all over the dial and causing incidental or semi-incidental interference to VOA. Radio Moscow never had, I think, a Creole Service, but another Soviet external broadcaster, Radio Peace and Progress, did, as did (and does) Radio Havana.
     "Members of Fort Bragg's 4th Psychological Operations Group's 3rd and 9th Battalions loaded at Pope AFB for the trip to Haiti Wednesday." WTVD-TV (Raleigh-Durhamn, NC), 27 January 2010, with video. "Psychological operations soldiers are the Army's specialists in mass communications. Those soldiers get out military messages with everything from loudspeakers to leaflets to radio broadcasts. They took their loudspeaker trucks with them on Wednesday on the airplanes. In combat, they might be telling the enemy to throw down weapons. In Afghanistan, they might be asking people to turn in bad guys. In Haiti, they will be instructing people to drink safe water and how to get food and medical aid." Henry Cuningham, Fayetteville (NC) Observer, 28 January 2010.
     "Arbitron has partnered with radio manufacturer Etón Corp. to send radios to Haitian earthquake victims. The companies are donating 1,000 emergency radios. Etón’s solar-powered, crank-operated devices generally feature AM/FM, NOAA weatherband reception and a built-in LED light, among other features." Radio World, 28 January 2010. The NOAA weather band transmissions would not be audible in Haiti, and I don't think Haiti has a similar service.
     "It isn’t surprising that the idea that the U.S. military caused the tragic January 12 earthquake in Haiti is making the rounds. But the way that it is making the rounds is interesting. ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez went on television to repeat the report. Chavez’s analysis was picked up by RT (formerly Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language television channel) on January 20. The RT report does not mention that Russia's Northern Fleet was supposedly the original source of the Chavez sensation. RT has been pushing various anti-American themes in its Haiti coverage, including the notion that Washington is using the crisis to 'occupy' the country. ... In fairness, the RT story does admit that the use of 'tectonic weapons' is a favorite theme of conspiracy theorists." Robert Coalson, Transmission blog, RFE/RL, 25 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "Normally, [Brooklyn's] Radio Soleil broadcasts news of interest to the Haitian-American community with a strong emphasis on music and other cultural programming, primarily in Creole French. But these are not normal times. Moments after the earthquake struck in Haiti on January 12, Radio Soleil became a community center as well as a vital communications link to the homeland through its hookup with Signal FM, the Haitian mega-station that was miraculously undamaged by the quake." Adam Phillips, VOA News, 26 January 2010.

Venezuela orders RCTV off of cable systems (updated).

Posted: 31 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela ordered cable networks on Saturday to stop broadcasting an opposition station that President Hugo Chavez pushed off free-access television in 2007 in a case that sparked international criticism. ... Public Works Minister Diosdado Cabello said cable networks' programing could only include stations that obey Venezuelan broadcast law. The government notified the opposition station, RCTV, on Friday that its programing violated the law. ... Chavez in 2007 denied RCTV a renewal of its broadcast license, accusing the station of participating in the coup that briefly toppled him. ... RCTV in turn created a cable-based 'international' station based in Miami to avoid content restrictions. But the government determined that station was still subject to broadcast restrictions because most of its content was produced in Venezuela." Reuters, 23 January 2010.
     "[T]he rules approved by the agency last month only apply to cable stations that produce content within Venezuela. More than 160 other cable channels, including the Caracas-based and state-run Telesur network, CNN, Discovery, Fox, HBO, MTV, Sony, TNT, Univision and ESPN, are exempt from the new regulations... ." AP, 21 January 2010.
     Update: "One student was killed and nine police officers injured on Monday in the Venezuelan city of Merida in violence linked to protests over the suspension of a TV station opposed to President Hugo Chavez. ... Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami said late on Monday that 15-year-old Josino Jose Carrillo, a pro-Chavez high school student, was killed while participating in a demonstration in the Andean city of Merida. ... 'Any time the government shuts down an independent network, that is an area of concern,' U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. Venezuela said Crowley 'lied' when he said the stations had been closed, and that the suspension could be reversed if they comply with a new law requiring them to broadcast some of Chavez's speeches, among other things." Reuters, 25 January 2010.
     "Any time a government shuts down an independent network, it is an area of concern of the United States. The U.S. values a free and vibrant press within our own society and promotes that ideal abroad as well. Venezuela should too, for as a member of the United Nations it has agreed to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines freedom of expression." Editorial "reflecting the views of the US government," Voice of America, 28 January 2010.
     "The Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected on Tuesday the 'unwise' statements of a French official about the closure of the private TV network RCTV Internacional and asked it to rectify; otherwise it could be necessary to 'review' bilateral relations. ... On Monday, the spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Valero, expressed on behalf of his government, the 'concern' about the 'decision' of the Venezuelan authorities to suspend the broadcast of several TV cable stations, and asked Venezuela to 'reverse quickly' its decision to guarantee 'pluralism of information,' AFP reported.", 27 January 2010.
     "Internet analysts say Twitter, which blossomed before the protests but has exploded since they began, could change the face of politics in Venezuela, where hotly contested elections are approaching in September." Fox News, 29 January 2010. "Por primera vez en Venezuela, las redes sociales como Twitter y Facebook están jugando un papel central en la comunicación y coordinación de los opositores." El Nuevo Herald, 28 January 2010.
     "The U.S. is losing the battle against massive disinformation spawned by Chávez. If the Obama Administration wishes to preserve the security of the hemisphere, it must move to more proactive rebuttals with skilled public affairs efforts. Take the U.S. embassy's Web site in Caracas,, which fails to post any information that challenges the outlandish assertions made by Chávez regarding U.S. policy in places like Colombia. In brief, the Obama Administration needs to develop an informational campaign to counter Chavista disinformaion." James Jay Carafano,, 25 January 2010.

Australia Network cites "highest ever audience figures."

Posted: 30 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Australia Network, the Australian government-funded international channel operated by the ABC, is boasting of its 'highest ever audience figures' in Asia-Pacific during 2009. For the 12 months to the end of September 2009, viewership grew 16% across the region according to the latest Synovate PAX survey. Over 1.2 million viewers watch Australia Network per month and over 475,000 every week. Including TAM India’s people meter service, the monthly viewing base 'now exceeds 2 million' and the weekly viewing base 'close to one million', a statement from the channel said. ... Australia Network is soon to become a prize fought over by the ABC and the Australian version of Sky News (shareholders BSkyB, Seven Media Group and PBL Media). With the new contract to operate the network due this year, the performance of Australia Network during the next few months is likely to take on more importance." Rose Major, Rapid TV News, 25 January 2010. See previous post about Australia Network.

Controversy over Russia Today's juxtaposition of Obama and Ahmadinejad spreads to the United States (updated).

Posted: 30 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Russia Today (RT), the Kremlin's English-language television news channel, is reporting that a series of provocative advertisements for the channel was rejected by major airports in the United States. One of the ads features images of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and U.S. President Barack Obama superimposed over one another next to the question 'Who poses the greater nuclear threat?' The ads promote the station's new 'Question more' slogan. ... Over at 'The Guardian,' Luke Harding puts the RT initiative into context, noting that 'next year the Russian government will spend $1.4 billion (866 million pounds) on international propaganda – more than on fighting unemployment.'" Robert Coalson, The Power Vertical blog, RFE/RL, 12 January 2010.
     Update: "According to Russia Today, U.S. airports also rejected a version with the presidents' eyes and mouths blacked out and including the text, 'To see the uncensored version, go to' An even more censored ad displayed in New York, Newark, Baltimore and Washington scraps the image of the presidents and the image of the presidents and simply reads, 'Our ad. Politically correct. For original version please visit,' under the Russia Today logo." Matthew Stabley, NBC Washington, 26 January 2010. See the ads at
     "Despite the economic downturn, this year Moscow will spend £866 million on international propaganda, more than it spends on tackling unemployment. Yet, RT has still not built up much of an audience. It has had trouble convincing others of its objectivity and has been denounced as a cheerleader for the Kremlin." Michael Binyon and Patrick Foster, The Times, 28 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Russia Today (RT) Spanish via Hispasat 1D.

Posted: 30 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"RRsat Global Communications Network informed that it has launched a new platform for the distribution of Spanish and Portuguese language content into European markets over the Hispasat 1D satellite. ... The Spanish-language version of Moscow-based news channel Russia Today (RT) is RRsat’s first consumer for distribution through this platform." Press release via PR Newswire, 27 January 2010.

CNBC CEO thinks about subscription model for India.

Posted: 30 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Mark Hoffman, president and CEO, CNBC was in Mumbai to celebrate the network’s ten year success story in India. Hoffman is delighted at CNBC TV18’s home run over the past decade ... Q: [W]ould there be a temptation to charge for content on the Internet? ... Hoffman: Well, we have one subscription product on the web right now at a nominal sum of $10 per month, where CNBC US, CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia can be streamed. Our internet business is ad-supported. ... Q: What about India...would you be tempted to go pay for digital? Hoffman: (thinks) I don’t know, I think I need to study the market a little more before I can give you the right answer." Campaign India, 25 January 2010. TV18 is CNBC's partner in India.
     "CNBC, a subsidiary of NBC Universal, plans to open a regional bureau in Bahrain, as it seeks to capture a greater share of the market for financial news in the Gulf region, Zawya Dow Jones has reported. The new bureau will produce regular English-language business programming on the region, where CNBC has a local franchise Arabic service." AMEInfo, 30 January 2010.

"Internet ... needs to be defended as a matter of U.S. foreign policy."

Posted: 30 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"In a speech on Internet freedom on January 21, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that 'countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century.' The immediate reason for Clinton’s remarks was the quarrel between Beijing and Google, the U.S. company which operates one of the largest Internet search engines. ... The dispute sounds a bit like any trade issue: a case of the United States defending an American company’s interests in a foreign land. But in fact, Clinton’s criticism of China breaks new ground. It is the first time the Obama administration has brought this much firepower to defending the freedom of the Internet or criticized Beijing so bluntly over its suppression of Internet-based dissent. And this suggests Washington views the Internet as such an effective democracy-building tool that it needs to be defended as a matter of U.S. foreign policy." Charles Recknagel, RFE/RL, 22 January 22 2010.
     "Far better that the United States raise issues of Internet freedom, discrimination against U.S. companies and cyberwar stemming from China directly and openly with the Communist leadership than allow Beijing to poison and abuse the Internet without paying a price." Editorial, Washington Post, 25 January 2010.
     A China Radio International "program gives a good idea of the assertive new line China is taking in the Google dispute, and how the government is hoping to define the issue in the minds of Chinese people. ... The argument, essentially, is as follows: 1. all countries, including the U.S., restrict the Internet, 2. China’s restrictions reflect China’s values and protect its national integrity, 3. the U.S. is a big hypocrite and using the concept of Internet freedom to humiliate and undermine China." Patrick Chovanec, Seeking Alpha, 25 January 2010, with links to CRI audio.
     "It will be naive to think that the Great Firewall of China will crumble like the Berlin Wall any time soon. And whether eventually to pull out from China or not, Google is in for a rough time ahead in China. But by announcing it will no longer censor its Chinese search engine, Google has taken a brave step onto the right side of history." Xiaoxiong Yi, Zanesville (OH) Times Recorder, 27 January 2010.

Jimmy Carter, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty.

Posted: 30 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"If anything, [President Jimmy] Carter could be too aggressive with Moscow, and it may have undermined his efforts to reach a deal on atomic-weapons reductions. His first proposal for deep cuts in both powers' nuclear arsenals would have asymmetrically limited Soviet land-based missiles, without corresponding U.S. cuts. Not only that, he unveiled the proposal in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly and then announced increased funding for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty shortly before Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was to present the U.S. arms-reduction proposals at a conference to be held in Moscow in spring 1977." Betty Glad, Foreign Policy, 21 January 2010. I remember a press release from the Carter presidential campaign expressing support for RFE and RL.

BBC World News undergoes a "refresh" with new regional programs.

Posted: 29 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News is launching six news programmes tailored to regional audiences, alongside a new weekend programme line-up, as part of a new look and schedule for the channel, set to air from 1 February. ... GMT with George Alagiah (Monday to Friday 1730 - 1830 IST) utilises George's experience as one of the BBC's most successful foreign correspondents to communicate why the top stories matter to Asia Pacific viewers. ... Impact Asia with Mishal Husain (Monday to Thursday 1830 - 2000 IST) brings audiences a mixture of breaking news, debate and analysis using the BBC's unmatched range of correspondents based in Asia Pacific regions and across the world. ... The Hub with Nik Gowing (Monday to Friday 2130 - 2300 IST) serves as a news 'nerve centre' for South Asia, providing both the headlines, and detailed analysis of the global news agenda. ... World News Today with Zeinab Badawi (Monday to Friday 0030 - 0200 IST) is designed to cater for European evening viewers looking for greater depth to their daily coverage. Focusing on news in Europe, as well as the Middle East and Africa, Zeinab will provide a context and understanding to the day's events. ... Business Edition with Tanya Beckett (Monday to Friday 0330 - 0400 IST) examines the inner workings of business, translating complex financial stories to give viewers a clearer understanding of the rapidly changing global economy, and how it will impact on their lives. ... The programmes will be supported by new on-air graphic packages and will broadcast from BBC World News' redesigned studio based in London. ... As part of the refresh, Asia Today (Monday to Friday 1715 IST from 8 February), will broadcast from the Singapore news studio." Press release via India PRwire, 27 January 2010.

BBC has a Dutch service, sort of, and other news of the BBC world services.

Posted: 29 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"With 240 channels distributed, of which 120 are in the basic tier, the Belgian operator Numericable claims to have the most complete offer in the country. This week, the cabler will add 18 new channels to its line-up. ... New in the basic offer are four English language channels, BBC HD, BBC Entertainment (subtitled in Dutch), BBC World and Russia Today." Broadband TV News, 28 January 2010.
     "Burma's state-run media slammed the BBC Burmese Service on Saturday for reporting alleged cases of mutiny in Pegu Division, saying that the ruling regime would 'never accept any scheme to break up the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces].' In commentaries run in both Burmese and English, state-run newspapers accused the BBC of fabricating a series of reports of unrest within the ranks of the military that have been broadcast by the BBC's shortwave radio service over the past month. ... Journalists in Rangoon said that the government media published the response to the BBC reports because the reports have been spreading among Burmese troops across the country. 'True or not, the BBC reports have begun to spread within the Tatmadaw and across the country,' said an editor with a Rangoon-based journal who spoke on condition of anonymity." Wai Moe, The Irrawaddy, 23 January 2010.
     "A special broadcast on [BBC Arabic TV's] show Nuqtat Hewar (Talking Point) that summarized Obama's first year in office from three locations – Jerusalem, London, and Washington – created a rare dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians on live feed that was simultaneously broadcast on Arab television channels, the Internet, and other radio and television slots that carry the corporation's programming. Not surprisingly, the discussion often took on heated tones." Roee Nahmias, Ynetnews, 26 January 2010.
     "BBC Arabic has entered a partnership with AudioNow that will see its broadcasts available live across the United States via any mobile or fixed-line phone. ... The service itself is free to callers in the United States, although listeners may be charged by their individual mobile or fixed-line service providers for their calls, depending on their contract agreements or payment plans." BBC World Service press release, 22 January 2010.
     "Hum Desi the first South Asian HD Radio Station to hit Los Angeles, was launched in August 2009 by Worldband Media and is managed by entrepreneurs and business executives from both the ethnic and mainstream media, broadcasting and technology sectors. ... 'Programming includes music (Bollywood, Ghazals, Bhangra, Chutney etc.), interviews, news including BBC World Service... '" A. Matthews, India Journal (Santa Fe Springs, CA), 22 January 2010.
     "As London prepares to stage an international conference that will play a crucial role in shaping Afghanistan’s future, Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth is hitting the internet to answer the public’s questions. ... This direct engagement with members of the British public follows the Defence Secretary’s answering of a series of questions submitted by Afghan radio listeners. His words will be translated into Pashto and Dari, and broadcast on the BBC World Service in the region. 'I found the opportunity, provided by BBC World Service, to answer questions posed directly by Afghan people really valuable and worthwhile. I’m very much looking forward to having that same sort of engagement with members of the British public.'" Press release via The Gov Monitor, 22 January 2010.
     "On Monday, February 1, WETS-FM (89.5 MHz) [Johnson City, TN] will undergo a significant transformation. The non-commercial public station licensed to East Tennessee State University will change its weekday programming to news and information. ... The station will ... add the BBC World Service from 9-10 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m." ETSU media relations, 25 January 2010.
     "I am totally addicted to listening to BBC World Have Your Say. To a degree this is a guilty pleasure, since some of the episodes definitely ask reality show questions. Right now I’m auditing a discussion titled 'Should Fat People Pay More?' when they buy airline tickets and other items—with a weight sensitivity activist saying no and a hard nosed New York kind of guy saying yes. But what I totally love about the show is that it really is the English speaking world having its say." Matthew Lasar, Radio Survivor, 28 January 2010.
     "Tokyo Sexwale has been plotting a major comeback on the political scene ever since he fell victim to former president Thabo Mbeki's shrewd political chess game which elbowed him and other aspirant leaders out more than 10 years ago. ... He tested the waters by announcing his candidacy for the ANC presidency in grand style on the BBC World Service." Caiphus Kgosana and Christelle Terreblanche, Independent Online (Cape Town), 24 January 2010.

Iran's Al Alam is taken off Arabsat again; interference mentioned.

Posted: 28 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Satellite operator Arabsat has taken Al-Alam off air again, citing the Iranian news network's coverage policies of the developments in the region. In November, Saudi-run Arabsat along with Egypt-based Nilesat cut Al-Alam broadcasts without prior notification, claiming it has abandoned impartiality in covering US-Saudi raids on civilians in northern Yemen. However, they scrapped the ban and beamed Al-Alam into the air again. The move drew a barrage of criticisms over the satellite operators' gag on freedom of speech. Al-Alam officials deny charges and say they are seeking to reflect the realities in the world." Al Alam, 27 January 2010.
     "According to a statement released by Arabsat Operation Center (AOC), the satellite is dealing with an 'interfering' carrier on 11996 MHz frequency, which is targeting the Al-Alam network as well as a number of news channels. Since yesterday, instructions have been given to AOC to 'dual illuminate these channels on another Arabsat bouquet,"' read the statement." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 27 January 2010. "However, reports say the decision came after a meeting of Arab media ministers in Egypt.' Press TV, 27 January 2010.
     "Iran's Arabic-language television network Al Alam said on Wednesday it has again been taken off air by a Saudi-based satellite operator amid simmering tensions between Shi'ite Iran and U.S.-allied Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia." Reuters, 27 January 2010.
     "Iran’s media mouthpiece, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), claimed the move followed pressure from the Saudi Arabian government in response to al Alam’s coverage of the ongoing conflict in northern Yemen between government forces and Al Qaeda-backed rebels. It also cited an interview aired on al Alam with an unnamed Saudi Arabian 'opposition leader', as reason for Arabsat's decision to remove the channel." Aaron Greenwood, Digital Production Middle East, 28 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Another example of un-international broadcasting, this time involving YouTube.

Posted: 28 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
Attempt by Ken G. in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada, to view a YouTube video from Jimmy Kimmell Live from the ABC (of USA) network resulted in this message: "This video contains video from Jimmy Kimmell Live, who has decided to block it in your country." twitpic, 14 January 2010. So VOA could, if it chooses to do so, or if it is directed to do so, use this same capability to observe the domestic dissemination prohibition of the Smith-Mundt Act, by preventing the viewing of its YouTube videos by users in the United States. Update: Sergei S. writes: "The usual anti-US viewers offender, CNN International, has been doing the same thing to its vids on YouTube. Since was launched in the end of 2006, its videos were inaccessible from the US territory." Another reader writes: "The BBC prevents me as an American from viewing the latest Dr. Who trailers on the BBC website."

iPhone app lets user control the media bias.

Posted: 28 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
New iPhone app Broadersheet "allows me to personalise the news I wish to receive ... [including] international mainstream news sources such as ABC News, Al Jazeera and the BBC to more specific news sources such as The Economist, Forbes and the FT." Jamie Riddell, The Next Web, 22 January 2010.
     "Everyone talks about how some newspapers are politically biased. Imagine if that bias was open and transparent. Imagine if you could simply tap, and see coverage from many sources for any article. Broadersheet puts you in control of media bias. Below, the Independent bring their no-nonsense reporting to an unsettling environmental story. It's effortless to switch to the same story reported by the BBC. They provide a subtly different angle and a sensitive image to pull at the heart strings."

India and Bangladesh still have plans for shortwave.

Posted: 28 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"At present, [All India Radio] employs transmission in MW, SW and FM band in analogue mode only. Only one Low Power DAB transmitter at Delhi has been set up for experimental purposes. Keeping in view the worldwide trends of transition in digital mode, AIR plans to introduce Digital Radio Mondale (DRM) transmission below 30 MHz.- MF and HF band - by upgrading its existing DRM compatible transmitters. All new transmitters including the replacement of old transmitters would be done by DRM compatible transmitters. ... However, all digital transmission as and when introduced, will be in simulcast mode for about 10 years. This would be necessary as receivers in the beginning may prove costly. Once the receivers become affordable by the masses, the simulcast mode would be phased out." Bhushan Nagpal,, 22 January 2010. All India Radio already has some DRM shortwave transmissions for international and domestic broadcasting. Part of the plan is to use DRM to distribute the AIR news network to all parts of India, including those out of reach of FM transmitters, in the near-FM quality of DRM shortwave. Getting receivers to the market that are affordable, work well, are easy to tune, and have reasonable battery consumption, will be a challenge.
     In Bangladesh, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council has approved the "development and fortification of Bangladesh Betar Kabirpur 250-kilowatt short wave centre under the information ministry (Tk 60 crore)." The Daily Star (Dhaka), 22 January 2010.

Looking to save crowns, Radio Prague considers the future of its shortwave transmissions.

Posted: 27 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The topic for this week’s Talking Point is one that is close to home for the staff of Radio Prague and for a large number of its listeners. It is the future of shortwave. Shortwave is our main broadcast medium with feedback from listeners suggesting that this is the way we reach around half of you. But shortwave transmission has also been one of the station’s main costs, representing 13 million crowns out of a budget of just under 65 million crowns last year. And with demands from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for severe cutbacks, the whole future of shortwave broadcasting by Radio Prague has been under threat." Chris Johnstone, Radio Prague, 19 January 2010.
     "Even for non-techies, a simple AM/FM/Shortwave pocket radio will alert to any possible travel problems whether it’s adverse weather, work stoppages, airline/train delays, traffic jams or terrorism. Invaluable English language news and travel information can generally be pulled in via shortwave even in the remotest outposts … so don’t leave home without one!" Roger Holliday and Claudia Fischer, Toledo Free Press, 22 January 2010. English broadcasts are becoming harder to find on shortwave, but in "the remotest outposts," shortwave is still probably a better bet than the internet.
     Mark Pougatch, sports broadcaster, asked, among other things, his greatest travel luxury? "A shortwave radio to get the BBC World Service." Sophie Lam, The Independent, 23 January 2010.
     In 1982, Gerald Cheek, "now 68, was interned by the Argentines for seven weeks in a camp at Fox Bay on West Falkland, where he managed to keep up with events by listening to the BBC World Service on a radio receiver that had been smuggled past his guards." Rob Watts, Upstream, 21 January 2010.

Haiti, VOA, and the role of shortwave during crises.

Posted: 27 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
Mike Barraclough spotted the colloquy below about the role of shortwave in broadcasting to Haiti. I cited this item previously, but did not mention the shortwave parts...
     "While television and new technologies like Internet and cell phones are the focus of strategy at the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees the U.S. government’s international broadcasting assets, shortwave radio remains by far the most effective means of reaching audiences around the world, particularly in the developing countries. It is far from an outdated technology, as is sometimes alleged. A highly relevant case in point is earthquake-stricken Haiti, the poorest and most underdeveloped country in the Americas." Helle Dale, The Foundry Blog, Heritage Foundation, 20 January 2010.
     "Very few Haitians, less than 1%, use shortwave, and only 8% use AM, per the BBG’s June 2009 national survey in Haiti. Haiti’s an FM market." Bruce Sherman, Broadcasting Board of Governors staff, comment to ibid.
     VOA Creole has always used shortwave for its broadcasts to Haiti. Rebroadcasts on FM and AM stations in Haiti are a more recent addition to the media mix. When the local affiliates were disrupted by the earthquake, VOA stepped up its shortwave broadcasting into Haiti, using the limited number of IBB and borrowed shortwave transmitters still available in the Western Hemisphere. Keeping up with the expanded shortwave schedule has not been easy: see previous post.
     A June 2009 audience survey in Haiti found that, among the VOA Creole audiences, 81% listened via FM affiliates, 8% via affiliates on the AM band, and almost no one listening via shortwave. This shows, not surprisingly, that audiences, if they have the choice of FM, AM, and shortwave, prefer to listen via FM.
     But what happens when, due to an emergency, local rebroadcasting outlets become unavailable? What, specifically, happened in Haiti? The June 2009 survey indicates that only about one percent of Haitians have access to a radio with a shortwave band, versus 96% with FM bands, and 63% with AM bands. (The cheapest radios nowadays have only an FM band. Also, many mobile phones have an FM band.)
     Throughout the world, how many people will keep on hand a shortwave radio for possible crises when local broadcasting, internet access, and mobile networks go down? How many international broadcasters will keep shortwave transmitters in operation for such emergencies.
     It is possible as these calamitous events happen in the future, HF communications transmitters will have to be pressed into service for ad hoc shortwave broadcasting efforts. The receivers will be in the hands of government agencies, emergency service organizations, radio amateurs, and hobbyist shortwave listeners. This is hardly a mass audience, so the information will have to be passed on to the general public through word of mouth, any functioning local networks, and other means.
     In the twenty-first century, with the dominance of local broadcasting and the internet, people are better informed that ever -- during normal times. But, during crises, with the corresponding decline in shortwave, people may be less well informed than they were in the 1960s and 1970s.

Secretary Clinton criticizes media coverage of US Haiti effort. Al Jazeera responds.

Posted: 27 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she resents criticism of the U.S. effort to help stricken Haiti and pledged to redouble efforts to help survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake. ... Asked whom Clinton was referring to, Crowley mentioned criticism from Italy and France, plus news reporting from Haiti by the Al-Jazeera news network and CNN that he said was unfair. Al-Jazeera English issued a statement calling its work 'balanced, fair and detailed,' and said it reflected a range of views on quake relief efforts." AP, 27 January 2010.
     "'We sent cables to all posts. We asked our entire teams to be prepared to respond to any misleading media report,' Mrs. Clinton said. 'We are not going to leave unanswered charges against the United States of America and the kind of work that we do every single day.'" Washington Times, 27 January 2010. From Secretary Clinton's town hall meeting, 26 January 2010.
     Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, at State daily press briefing, 26 January 2010: "When you’re talking about international reporting, we have had – I’ve had direct conversations with our friends at Al Jazeera, for example. And we have spent some time critiquing what we felt was unfair, unbalanced coverage of operations in Haiti. So we will have those conversations where we think that coverage is unfair. Occasionally, we’ve had those conversations with CNN. ... QUESTION: Specifically, what was your problem with the coverage – that these outlets were reporting the criticism from foreign officials or that they were editorializing? MR. CROWLEY: No, we – in one particular case, we thought that the reporting on the ground in Haiti was inflammatory. QUESTION: How so? MR. CROWLEY: It suggested there was a militarization of the effort. It compared military activities at the airport to a little Green Zone, as I will recall, in one particular instance. We thought that was inappropriate. ... QUESTION: Would you say who that was with? MR. CROWLEY: It was a conversation I had with officials at Al Jazeera, English channel." State Department transcript, 26 January 2010.
     "Al-Jazeera English countered that the report reflected "concerns of the Brazilian and French governments, aid agencies on the ground and many Haitians we spoke to" and said the US State Department was allowed to respond. 'We will continue to provide as accurate an account as possible of the relief effort, and reflect all opinions on its progress and effect,' a spokesperson for the network said." AFP, 26 January 2010. "The TV station also said it had 'broadcast regular interviews with the senior US commanders on the ground, and accompanied the US military as they delivered aid'., 27 January 2010.
     "Watch the U.S. media and its coverage of the crisis in Haiti, and you get the impression that Washington is a benevolent power doing its utmost to help with emergency relief in the Caribbean island nation. But tune into al-Jazeera English or South American news network Telesur and you come away with a very different view. I was particularly struck by one hard hitting al-Jazeera report posted on You Tube which serves as a fitting antidote to the usual mainstream fare. The report is highly critical of the U.S., which according to the reporter has focused most of its energy on fostering stability and putting boots on the ground as opposed to rebuilding Haitian society." Nikolas Kozloff, CounterPunch, 22 January 2010.
     "Large networks such as Al Jazeera rushed to send their crews to Port-au-Prince, and the vast majority of news satellite networks operating in the region have been competing to update their viewers about the devastation and human agony in this tiny Caribbean country, but à la Middle East had to be about more than just Haiti." Jamal Dajani, LinkTV, 22 January 2010.

Commando Solo transmits VOA and PSAs to Haiti.

Posted: 27 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Sixty miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, an Air Force C-130 makes slow and lazy ovals over the Golfe de la Gonzave, a 264-foot weighted wire dangling from its belly like a plumb line. This is Commando Solo, a radio station in the sky. The long wire, kept vertical by a 500-pound lead weight, is helping transmit an AM radio signal to the people of Haiti. Four other antenna on the wings and fuselage are sending FM signals. The U.S. government is using Commando Solo to deliver news and information to the survivors of the January 12 earthquake. During much of the day, the plane relays live broadcasts of Voice of America news call-in shows in Creole, the native tongue of Haiti. During lulls in the VOA programming, it sends pre-recorded public service announcements, including advice on sanitation, what to do when encountering a dead body, and a warning from the Haitian government not to attempt dangerous and illegal ocean crossings to Florida in small boats." Mike Ahlers, CNN, 26 January 2010.
     "These specially modified aircraft, which are operated by Air Force Special Operations Command’s 193rd Special Operations Wing, can broadcast their own signal over AM and FM radio, UHF and VHF television bands. (They can also also 'drown out' existing signals­, something they did during operations in Bosnia and Iraq.)" Nathan Hodge, Wired Danger Room, 26 January 2010.
     "A U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft departed here recently and delivered 50,000 hand-held radios to Joint Task Force Haiti for distribution to Haitian survivor's of the devastating 7.0 earthquake over a week ago. During a recent interview with Voice of America, Brig. Gen. Hector E. Pagan, Commander, Special Operations Command South, described the multipurpose radios as being both solar-powered and hand-cranked with the ability to charge cell phones through use of a USB port and a built in flashlight. ... Currently, JTF-Haiti is broadcasting news, public health and safety messages and other information regarding relief efforts via Commando Solo; a military aircraft equipped with FM and AM broadcasting capability. Information based messages are broadcasting in the following frequencies: 92.4 FM, 104.1 FM, 1030 AM." U.S. Special Operations Command South, 25 January 2010.
     "The Voice of America's (VOA) Creole-speaking staff is providing vital information to Haiti, aimed at helping people find 'immediate shelter, medical assistance and aid,' Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., said in a statement. ... Kaufman, a former member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency that oversees VOA, noted that shortly after the Jan. 12 earthquake, VOA began Creole broadcasts on multiple frequencies in Haiti from Commando Solo, a C-130 aircraft operated by the 193rd Special Operations Wing." VOA press release. 26 January 2010. More about VOA and Haiti at the VOA Public Relations blog (which has no link from

SMS "most robust," radio "most efficient," and other Haiti media news.

Posted: 27 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"In a tiny general store in the northern suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets, Jacques Pierre jams the choke of his Honda generator and cranks it into life. Half a dozen Haitians wait in line to pay 40 gourdes (75 cents) to recharge their cell phones for a quarter of an hour. ... Just two days after the quake, a team from Thomson Reuters Foundation’s AlertNet humanitarian news service touched down in a twin-prop plane at Port-au-Prince’s international airport to set up the first-ever Emergency Information Service (EIS), offering Haitians free, practical SMS messages to help them minimise the disaster’s impact. Despite countless logistical setbacks, EIS got off the ground in about 48 hours, and since its launch thousands have used the service to report missing persons, shelter problems and food issues. ... Haiti’s cell phone networks have been quick to recover, even as other infrastructure remains crippled. ... SMS networks proved most robust, which explains why Philippe Richardson, the coordinator of Port-au-Prince’s emergency service, made SMS his chief point of contact with the capital’s residents. ... But while the number of EIS subscribers grows by the day, radio is still the most efficient way to reach a mass audience. ... Internews, a media development organisation, has been broadcasting a daily Creole-language programme called 'Nouvelles-Utiles' (News You Can Use) on 12 radio stations since Jan. 21. The BBC World Service has just begun producing a daily 20-minute show out of Miami called 'Connexion Haitienne'." Tim Large, Thompson Reuters AlertNet, 24 January 2010. But no mention of VOA Creole, the only significant secular international radio service in Creole before the earthquake, and still the largest.
     "Radio Signal FM, based in the Pétion-Ville, an affluent suburb in the hills outside of Port-au-Prince, was the only station in the city whose studios, equipment and antennas escaped damage from the quake, according to press reports and the station Web site. It stayed on the air, calling out the names of missing people. According to Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), Caraïbes FM and the RFI Haïti FM station also remained on air throughout the quake and the immediate aftermath." T. Carter Ross, Radio World, 25 January 2010.
     "One of the heaviest blows was dealt to Radio Magik 9, among the 40 radios which usually flourish in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and whose headquarters were flattened in the quake. ... 'We have seen lots of solidarity from the gas stations which have been giving us fuel for our generator, as well as from the local restaurants which have been bringing us hot meals,' Soukar said. Other stations are now only able to broadcast for a few hours from temporary studios set up under tents, many sending out messages from people looking for their loved ones or appeals for help." AFP, 24 January 2010.
     "It was only about four days from the first ideas being jotted down on a piece of paper to the programme, Connexion Haiti, going on air. ... When we arrived at the BBC offices here in Miami last Thursday we already knew we had two Haitian Americans living in Miami who would present the programme. We also had a means of transmitting the programme via six FM frequencies across Haiti. The frequencies are normally used by Radio France International for their broadcasts and they kindly stepped in to help the our programme gone on air. Connexion Haiti now also goes out on short wave and can he heard via the BBC Caribbean service website." Dave Lee, Over to You blog, BBC World Service, 25 January 2010.
     Debbie Ransome: Connexion Haiti "is not a news programme, even though a lot of journalists will be working on it, this is a lifeline programme. So one thing we are looking at, is people on the ground saying: ‘you can go to X and so and so is available’. ... The news reporting, the BBC will do anyway." Over to You, BBC World Service, 24 January 2010, as heard by Morand Fachot. But presumably no BBC news in Creole.
     "'People want a sense of the humanity,' said Tony Maddox, the managing director for CNN International, as long as it does not become something resembling 'here’s my adventure in Haiti.' All this coverage is not cheap. But portable equipment that allows for filing and broadcasting via the Internet 'makes it less expensive than it was even five years ago,' said Jon Banner, the executive producer of ABC’s 'World News With Diane Sawyer.' 'It allows us to travel lighter and to be more mobile.'" Brian Stelter, New York Times, 24 January 2010.

'"Office for Arab Satellite Television" could enforce content regulations on channels using Arabsat, Nilesat.

Posted: 27 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"When Arab information ministers meet in Cairo on 24 January they are to discuss a joint proposal by the Egyptian and Saudi governments for the creation of a regional office to supervise Arab satellite TV stations. The proposal is partly a response to bill adopted last month by the US House of Representatives [see previous post] that could result in satellite operators themselves being branded as 'terrorist entities' if they contract their services to TV stations classified as 'terrorist' by the US Congress. It is also an outcome of discussions begun by the Arab League in 2008. 'This proposal is disturbing, to say the least,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'The danger is that this super-police could be used to censor all TV stations that criticise the region’s governments. It could eventually be turned into a formidable weapon against freedom of information.' This 'Office for Arab Satellite Television' would be in charge of enforcing guidelines aimed at ensuring that Arab TV stations respect the ethical standards and moral values of Arab society as well as ensuring that they no longer serve as fronts or outlets for 'terrorist' organisations." Reporters sans frontières, 23 January 2010.
     "On the pro side are political and economic heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia while on the opposing camp is Lebanon's Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar, which would likely be scrutinized by the new organization, as would Qatar-based Al-Jazeera. Al-Aqsa, a Hamas station broadcast from the Gaza Strip and viewed as a terrorist organization by the US, also might be targeted." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 25 January 2010.
     "The two leading regional satellite operations are Arabsat, created by the Arab League and based in Riyadh, and Nilesat, based in Cairo and controlled by the Egyptian government. The two groups carry a broad range of hundreds of free-to-air and pay-TV channels in Arabic and other languages, from regional and global channels." AFP, 24 January 2010.
     Would Alhurra, BBC Arabic, and other channels on the Arab satellites from non-Arab nations be subject to this enforcement?

No longer the go-to channel for shoe throwings, and other Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 26 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir joined the ranks of former US president George Bush to become a victim of a shoe thrown at him as he was delivering a speech in Khartoum on Monday. ... The pan-Arab Al-Jazeera TV based in Qatar which afforded extensive coverage to Bush shoe story in Iraq at the time, was hours late in reporting what happened to Bashir despite having its reporter present at the hall." Sudan Tribune, 25 January 2010.
     "WMUR apparently closed its TV studio to the Middle Eastern news channel Al Jazeera with no explanation last week. Sarah Alansary, producer of Al Jazeera's Inside Story program, said her station may stop inviting New Hampshire guests if WMUR no longer allows it to film there. 'We don't have any other studios there that I know of,' said Alansary, speaking from Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar. Several messages left at WMUR were not returned Friday. ... Al Jazeera had used WMUR's Manchester studio several times before when it had a New Hampshire guest, Alansary said." Shira Schoenberg, Concord (NH) Monitor, 24 January 2010. WMUR, channel 9, is an ABC affiliate in Manchester.
     "Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education Science and Community Development (QF), Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) launched 'Taalam.TV' - the first Arabic Video On Demand (VOD) educational portal for schools and educators." AMEinfo, 23 January 2010.
     "Al Jazeera Network today announced that it is releasing a collection of documentary DVD series’ on a range of social and political issues in the Arab world." Press release, via Kipp Report, 21 January 2010.
     "Al Jazeera’s lack of a clear plan for the Africa Cup of Nations could hurt its ability to fully profit from the FIFA World Cup, since there were several reports of increased piracy in the days of confusion leading up to Al Jazeera’s decision to carry the games free-to-air. Al Jazeera increased its subscription price in Egypt from 120 Egyptian pounds (Dh81) to 400 pounds before the African tournament, increasing the incentive for football fans to procure illegal connections or shared-cable access." The National (Abu Dhabi), 20 January 2010.

State Department's Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy includes "creation of public, private and university radio stations."

Posted: 26 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
From State Department's "Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy": "●Expanded Media Outreach: We will respond more quickly to misinformation, serve as a source of credible information for journalists, conduct polls on key issues, and expand training of Afghan and Pakistani journalists in the United States. We will actively build our partnerships with all parts of Afghan and Pakistani society, including youth, civil society and nongovernmental organizations, and political actors and institutions at all levels. ●Building Communications Capacity: Our support will help the Afghan and Pakistani Governments communicate effectively with their people, and help people better communicate with one another. We will also leverage new technologies to support people with SMS services, mobile banking, telemedicine, and mobile micro-finance. And we will help build media infrastructure (radio, television, and cell towers) to carry communications into underserved areas dominated by extremist voices. ... ●Taking Back the Airwaves: We are empowering indigenous voices to drown out extremist propaganda. We will expand local radio coverage and support creation of public, private and university radio stations. Using local partners, we will support distribution of content on all media, and use cell technology to help people build communities and get critical information." Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, State Department, 21 January 2010.

"We Hate You (But Please Give Us More Baywatch)."

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"In the wake of 9/11, Karl Rove came to Los Angeles to ask the studios to enlist in the war on terror. It made a good photo op, but behind the scenes there was anxiety about artistic freedom, and about Hollywood being annexed by a Washington propaganda effort. The Lear Center - going a bit against the grain - produced a museum exhibit and book about a time when Hollywood fought fascism but got in trouble for it: the years when 'Confessions of a Nazi Spy' and other Warner Bros. movies got Hollywood into hot water with a pre-Pearl Harbor Congress and Roosevelt Administration determined to stay neutral. We also produced an unsentimental panel for the Writers Guild about the global hearts and minds we were trying to win, 'We Hate You (But Please Give Us More Baywatch),' whose transcript became part of the public diplomacy curriculum for training U.S. foreign service officers." Marty Kaplan,, 18 January 2010.

Debatable distinctions of the roles of Amerika, VOA, and Radio Liberty in the Cold War Soviet Union.

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Because of its unique reciprocal distribution arrangement, Amerika, a striking USIA-produced Russian-language magazine, obviated tight Soviet censorship on print publications and provided its public with their only unfiltered view of the West. Certainly, broadcasting by the Voice of America and Radio Liberty played a huge role in changing hearts and minds and affecting perceptions about the West. Further, while Amerika stuck to what it did best—highlighting everyday life on the other side of the Iron Curtain—broadcasting presented U.S. foreign policy. However, given Russian reverence for the written word, Amerika arguably affected the public more powerfully than radio ever could." Elise Crane,, 18 January 2010. Broadcasting did present U.S. foreign policy, VOA in theory more than RL, but they both did. Mostly they presented, and were listened to for, news and current affairs. Magazines are less time-sensitive and thus are not ideal conveyances of news.

Pentagon's psyop is not domestic, except when it is.

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Department of Defense has issued a new publication [link to pdf] to update and clarify its doctrine on 'psychological operations.' ... Among other things, the DoD doctrine states, there is a 'requirement that US PSYOP forces will not target US citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances.' Yet in a near contradiction, the doctrine also states that 'When authorized, PSYOP forces may be used domestically to assist lead federal agencies during disaster relief and crisis management by informing the domestic population.' Perhaps the PSYOP forces are supposed to inform the domestic population without 'targeting' them." Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News, 21 January 2010. Search the document on broadcast for many mentions of broadcasting assets.

Chinese channels, etc, to Malaysia via IPTV.

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Redtone International BHD is set to launch Malaysia’s first Chinese-centric Internet-based TV early next week with 27 channels, in-line with its bid to generate more revenue from services other than discounted voice. The service, dubbed DETV, is marketing itself as 'a smart and revolutionary way' of watching one’s favourite Chinese entertainment programmes from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, without having to first download the content, legally or otherwise. 'All you need is a broadband connection with 1 Mbps and a TV set.' ... DETV’s current portfolio of 27 channels include China’s CCTV4, CCTV9, CCTV Entertainment, CCTV Traditional Operas Channel as well as provincial channels such as Beijing BTV, Zhejiang International Channel and Fujian Straits TV. Others include the China Movie Channel, TVS (Southern Television), Chongqing TV International Channel, China Yellow River TV, JSBC International Channel, Taiwan’s DiMoTV, Taiwan MAC TV, Da Ai Channel, Sun TV, Hakka TV, Golden Eagle and Dragon TV. It also carries Channel NewsAsia, AlJazeera English, AlJazeera Arabic, Bloomberg TV, Arirang TV... ." Cindy Yeap, TheEdgeMalaysia, 21 January 2010.

Rumor about CRI host is unsubstantiated but entertaining.

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The idea that singing sensation Susan Boyle will join China Radio International (CRI) as a host has been dismissed as a rumor, the Legal Mirror report-ed Wednesday. The gossip, which said that Susan Boyle would join CRI and host an English language program, has been widely spread on several residents' online forums in Shijingshan district in Beijing, where CRI is located. Web users showed great interest and excitement at the big 'news.' ... Li Peichun, director of the CRI English center, told the Legal Mirror that there really is a Susan joining CRI. That Susan was not Susan Boyle, but Susan Osman who used to work for the BBC." Global Times via People's Daily Online, 21 January 2010.

Going to China to read the news "as clearly as possible."

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"As China's position in the world economy changes and the rate of opening-up continues to increase, many foreign media professionals are attracted by job opportunities in China's media industry. Edwin Maher, a veteran news anchor and weather presenter with Australia's national broadcaster ABC, was the first foreign news presenter to work for China Central Television International (CCTV9) in 2004. Maher has since been awarded China's National Friendship Award, an honor for foreigners who have made significant contributions to the development of Chinese society. A controversial article by the LA Times in 2007 labeled Maher a 'sellout' and 'government mouthpiece,' to his defence, Maher stated in an interview with CCTV9 at the time that as a news anchor, the bottom line of his job is to read the news reports he is given as clearly as possible and that that applies equally whether he works for ABC in Australia, or CCTV in China." Global Times via People's Daily Online, 20 January 2010.
     "China Radio International (CRI) and Shanto-Mariam Foundation (SMF), Bangladesh launched courses on Chinese and Bangla languages at its Uttara campus in the capital [Dhaka]." The New Nation (Dhaka), 19 January 2010.

RT (Russia Today) opens its Washington studio, from which six hours daily will originate.

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"RT [Russia Today] news TV channel has finished construction of a state-of-the-art TV newsroom and studio facility in Washington, D.C. for its English-language TV news channel. The network’s second largest TV studio and production facility will contribute 6 hours of its original news content a day into RT’s TV newsfeed that is being distributed worldwide via satellites from its headquarters in Moscow, Russia. ... Centrally-located in downtown Washington, D.C., this 12,000 square foot, all-digital TV newsroom will produce newscasts, from [4 to 10] PM EST, including the new prime-time news talk show, the Alyona Show, which is anchored by an American host and airs every weekday from [6 to 7] PM EST. ... In addition to its newsroom hub in Washington, D.C., in the U.S. the network is operating correspondent bureaus in New York, Miami and is opening one in Los Angeles. The array of personalities already featured on the programming from its studios in Washington D.C. included Dr. Henry Kissinger, congressman Ron Paul, and political rapper Immortal Technique." RT press release, 20 January 2010.

TRT Turkey adds an Arabic channel, plans Persian, English, and maybe Russian.

Posted: 25 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The long-awaited 12th channel of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), to broadcast in Arabic, will enter into operation next month. The channel’s staff is diverse, bringing together individuals from various Arab nations along with Arabic-speaking Turkish TV professionals. The channel will also feature some foreign experience, with several news presenters brought in from Al Jazeera TV. ... The new TRT project, TRT Türkiye (Turkey, written in Arabic script), is to include news and documentaries covering politics, economics and cultural topics. The channel’s target audience includes Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, and viewers in other nations as far as Pakistan. ... [Its launch] is planned for Feb. 21. Following the channel’s launch, TRT also has plans for Farsi and English-language channels, with the possibility of a Russian-language channel. ... TRT Türkiye’s broadcasting standards will be comparable to stations like the BBC." Esin Kaya, Today's Zaman, 20 January 2010.

New ABC (of Australia) 24-hour news network has implications for Australia Network.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The ABC has returned fire on the commercial networks by announcing the launch of the country's first free 24-hour television news network, pitting it directly against Rupert Murdoch's Sky News. ... Sky News, CNN and the BBC's 24-hour BBC World are available only to pay TV subscribers." Sydney Morning Herald, 22 January 2010.
     "The channel will be part of a multi-platform ABC News service, ensuring that audiences are able to keep up to date with news developments in different formats and across an array of devices, such as PC and mobile. And the channel will also feed into Australia Network, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ diplomatic broadcast service that the ABC wants to follow the BBC World News model. The ABC has run that network until now, but Sky News Australia also seems likely to bid for the next contract." Rose Major, Rapid TV News, 21 January 2010.
     "The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has announced it will launch a 24-hour television news channel which will be available in 44 countries in Asia and the Pacific on Australia Network." Australia Network News, 21 January 2010. See also ABC press release, 21 January 2010.
     "Some media analysts have said the launch of the new channel is a veiled attempt to head off a push by Sky News to take over the Australia Network. [ABC MD Mark] Scott says the Australia Network has a core news service, but has general entertainment, sports and lifestyle programming and documentaries. 'Is it an advantage that if there's a major breaking story we can go to a 24-hour news channel? Of course,' Mr Scott said. 'If there's a big international or Australian story that's breaking, at the flick of a switch we'll be able to take the ABC news channel and deliver it into 44 countries in the region. But it's not the reason why we're doing it. We're doing it because we have in our charter an obligation to inform the Australian people and to use innovative broadcasting techniques to do so.'" ABC News, 22 January 2010. See also "PM", ABC, 21 January 2010.
     "The next battle will be the $94 million contract to run the Australia Network - the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's diplomatic broadcast service. The ABC argues that a public broadcaster is best placed to 'encourage awareness of Australia and an international understanding of Australian attitudes on world affairs'. Sky boss Angelos Frangopoulos has countered by stating that Sky - also owned by PBL Media and the Seven Network - would 'commit to the biggest international broadcasting network undertaking by any Australian media organisation'." James Chessell, The Australian, 21 January 2010.
     "The editor of media website Mumbrella, Tim Burrowes, says the channel will be good for the quality of Australian journalism. ... However while acknowledging the ABC's push for innovation, Mr Burrowes also highlighted the political nature of the launch, which is being seen as an attempt to head off a push by Sky News to take over the Australia Network. 'There is a political element, the fact that of course the Australia Network probably has a year or so until the discussions become serious about the renewal [of the service], which ABC international provides at the moment,' he said. 'Clearly this is partly about strengthening the hold on that, that the people behind Sky News can't sweep in and try and grab that contract in a year's time.'" Tim Leslie, ABC News, 21 January 2010.
     "Meanwhile, here’s the snappy promotional video." Margaret Simons, Crikey, 21 January 2010, with link to video.

Euronews will soon add Turkish, and later this year Persian.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Following in the footsteps of the BBC's Persian-language service, another Europe-based news channel is now planning to start broadcasting news in Persian to reach out to Iranian and Afghan viewers. The president of the popular European multilingual news channel Euronews told The Times that his station is hoping to launch its Persian-language news channel later this year. ... The announcement came recently after Euronews won a tender organized by the European Commission for a 24-hour Persian-language news channel. ... Euronews already broadcasts in Arabic and Russian. As part of its plans reach out toward the East, it's also launching a Turkish-language news channel, which is scheduled to go on air at the end of the month." Alexandra Sandels, Babylon & Beyond blog, Los Angeles Times, 19 January 2010. The Euronews Turkish website is already active.
     "'This way we will be broadcasting in all the major languages of the Europe, Middle East and Africa zone,' Euronews president Philippe Cayla told AFP." AFP, 18 January 2010.
     "It is wrong for the newly opened Euronews Persian service to try and interfere with Iran's internal affairs, the Iranian Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying on IRINN's official Web site. 'If the Persian-speaking channels are doing their jobs maintaining the dignity of the journalism profession, we positively view such initiatives. But if they mislead people by making wrong reports, we cannot agree with this decision,' [said an] Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman." Trend News Agency (Baku), 21 January 2010.
     "The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine will send an explanation about Ukrainian legislation to the leadership of the Euronews Russian TV channel with a request that it not violate Ukrainian election legislation on the day before the second round of the presidential election, when election campaigning is prohibited. ... 'On Saturday, January 16, in fact on a day of "silence" before the first round of the election, materials were broadcast on the Russian version of the Euronews TV channel that could be described as the announcement of an opinion regarding the results of the election.'" Interfax-Ukraine, 21 January 2010.

The other shoe drops: Euronews reports from Azerbaijan.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Azerbaijani president gave an interview to Euronews correspondent Laura Davidescu on 19 January. ... At the end of November Euronews broadcast a one-sided report on the conflict, Winds of Change in Nagorno-Karabakh, which prompted an official note of protest from Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry.", 20 January 2010.
     "According to Davidescu, Euronews is preparing reports covering situation in the conflict zones. They will make report about the situation in other side of the conflict, Azerbaijani side this time to save the balance." Azeri-Press Agency, 21 January 2010.
     "Dav[i]descu said she is astonished at the causes and results of the Armenian occupation which she saw with her own eyes.", 21 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

CNBC begins South Korean partnership and prepares for Davos.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"CNBC ... in Asia Pacific and SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) officially launched SBS-CNBC during a ceremony held at the [Seoul] Ritz Carlton Hotel on Tuesday, January 19, 2010. ... SBS-CNBC will focus on Korea’s daily business news, complemented with international coverage from CNBC bureaus around the world." CNBC press release via Media Research Asia, 20 January 2010.
     At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland (27-31 January), CNBC "will also see its local language affiliates reporting live, including TVN CNBC Biznes (Poland); CNBC TV18 (India); CNBC-e (Turkey); CNBC Arabiya and CNBC Africa." Press release via News on News, 19 January 2010.

Concerns about South African broadcasting bill include freedom of SABC international services.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The SOS: Supporting Public Broadcasting Coalition, representing unions, media NGOs, independent producers and academics, has completed a substantive final draft of its submission on the Public Service Broadcasting Bill. ... The Coalition believes that there are a number of Constitutional problems with the Bill – both procedurally and substantively. ... In terms of substantive Constitutional issues the Coalition notes that the Bill undermines the SABC’s freedom of expression rights (e.g. by specifying that the SABC’s international services must be subject to the 'Republic’s foreign policy' and that the Minster should approve the SABC’s editorial policies)." SOS press release via, 18 January 2010.

Doha Debates expands international television distribution.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Doha Debates has signed deals with television channels in the United States, Egypt and Europe to expand its reach to audiences across the world. The debates are currently telecast by BBC World News. The new agreements will carry the programmes — now in their sixth series — to viewers of public television in New York (Wnet, channel 13 as well as MHz Worldview — an independent, non-commercial channel serving over half the top-20 US television markets)." The Peninsula (Doha), 18 January 2010.

Tributes to RFE/RL broadcasters Roman Kupchinsky and Jan Nowak-Jeziorański.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Roman Kupchinsky, who founded and headed Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe’s Ukrainian bureau in Kyiv and became an international expert on corruption and energy issues in the former Soviet Union, died on Jan. 19 after battling cancer. He was 65. ... He headed RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Bureau from 1990 – 2002. He also edited RFE/RL’s Organized Crime and Corruption Watch and served as a senior analyst for the organization from 2002-2008." Kyiv Post, 20 January 2010.
     "Former Radio Liberty Director S. Enders Wimbush recalls that when Kupchinsky applied for the job of director of the Ukrainian Service in 1989, he listed his special qualifications as, first, a 'graduate of the Army Special Forces School' and, secondly, 'wife is a child psychologist.' 'We considered that the perfect resume,' quipped Wimbush, and Kupchinsky was hired." OffMic blog, RFE/RL, 22 January 2010.
     "Observances commemorating the fifth anniversary of the death of Jan Nowak-Jeziorański begin today. The journalist, writer, politician, and a long-time head of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe died on 20 January 2005." Polskie Radio, 18 January 2010. Audio report from English Service of Polish Radio, 20 January 2010.

The beginnings of VOA Armenian.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"By 1950, the Cold War was in full tilt, but while American policy planners were aware that Russian was the lingua franca of the USSR, they knew equally well that a majority of the population in the 14 other republics harbored a deep nationalist resentment against their rulers in Moscow, of which the ubiquity of Russian in the media and schools was a constant reminder. Consequently, in that same year of 1950 the State Department decided to also initiate broadcasts in languages indigenous to the Caucasus and Central Asia, whereby the Soviet distorted depictions of American society and culture could be countered more meaningfully and with greater impact by broadcasting to minority peoples in their own centuries-old languages. Moscow, sensing its vulnerability, raised an uproar, interpreting the planned VOA broadcasts as signaling a foreign policy aimed at the eventual dismemberment of the Soviet Union. Washington ignored the Soviet protestations and proceeded with plans to organize the broadcasts. In 1950, VOA was situated in New York City, broadcasting in several languages, foremost in English, German, French and Italian. I had been working in the cultural branch of VOA when one day a senior official of the State Department approached me and said that because he knew me to be ethnically Armenian and since I had all the necessary security clearances, would I consider recruiting personnel to prepare VOA broadcasts in Armenian to the USSR. Astonished and elated, I immediately accepted." Edward Alexander,, 18 January 2010. Mr. Alexander was responding to Walter Roberts' excellent essay on the early days of VOA. See previous post. Mr. Alexander also writes: "On March 27, 2004, VOA broadcasts in Armenian were terminated." Actually, VOA Armenian hangs on, with a very small staff. (RFE/RL has a much larger Armenian service.) With that caveat, his article is recommended reading.

The 1960 VOA essay that still generates other essays on art and ideology.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Nancy Jachec ... in 1998 claimed that because ‘Modernist Painting’ was written for the Voice of America (VOA), [art critic Clement] Greenberg ‘would have been particularly attentive to its political slant.’ By Jachec’s account, Greenberg had irrevocably retreated from socialism during 1947. Following Jachec, to whom he acknowledged a debt, Francis Frascina noted that the title had derived from a request by Lamar Dodd, coordinator of the VOA forum series ‘The Visual Arts in Mid-Century America’. After linking the agendas of the VOA’s umbrella organization, the United States Information Agency (USIA), with the CIA he then determined, with potent implications, that Greenberg’s revisions to articles for Art and Culture were ‘evidence of attempts to make them consistent with the views and terminology evident in "Modernist Painting"’. These changes included replacing the term ‘modern’ with ‘modernist’. ... Both Jachec and Frascina were seemingly informed by O’Brian’s comment that the VOA was used as a ‘propaganda instrument of American foreign policy’. This may be so, but does this necessarily mean that Greenberg was a compliant party to the VOA’s agenda?" Sheila Christofides, Forth Magazine (Dublin), 16 January 2010. Greenberg's "Modernist Painting," an important essay of art criticism, "appeared first in 1960 as a pamphlet in a series published by the Voice of America. It had been broadcast over that agency's radio in the spring of the same year." Terry Fenton,, with full text of the essay. The Wikipedia entry about Greenberg states that "[i]n December 1950, he joined the CIA-fronted American Committee for Cultural Freedom."

"Amerikaku" is not from the Voice of Amerikaku.

Posted: 24 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Indonesian students increasingly travel to the United States to expand their educational horizons, often as part of exchange programs or to attain a college degree, and four are now being trailed on their voyage by camera crews, courtesy of the US Embassy. Running as a six-part series exclusively on O Channel, 'Amerikaku' ('My America') documents the story of the four high school students, selected from among thousands of applicants, who are studying in the United States as part of the US State Department’s Youth Exchange and Study program. ... There’s not much Hollywood magic about the show, but the interest in 'Amerikaku' lies in the comparing the tales of students all coming from different backgrounds and being sent to live with different families in four different US cities." Armando Siahaan, Jakarta Globe, 17 January 2010. See also US Embassy Jakarta, 7 January 2010. O-Channel is on UHF channel 33 in Jakarta, and appears to broadcast, at least partially, in English. VOA Indonesia programming is also placed on Indonesian television channels.

VOA Persian News Network iPhone/Android app now available for download.

Posted: 23 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
Alex Belida, acting director of VOA Persian News Network, informs us Apple has approved VOA's new "iPhone 'app' and our developers overnight put it into the iPhone App store as well as two other sites that make apps available for use in so-called 'jailbroken' iPhones and for Android phones. Even before we could go on air this morning to announce it was available (we told them on New Year's Eve it would be coming soon), people INSIDE Iran had found the app and even written and posted reviews (which will help us make fixes and add further enhancements in the next phase. What's more, people even tested the 'report' function, sending us still photos and a short video from inside Iran."  "Jailbroken" means users can "run unofficial code on their devices bypassing Apple's official distribution mechanism, the App Store."
     VOA PNN, by [Intridea] Inc, is the "official iPhone application for Voice of America's Persian News Network (VOA PNN), a leading international provider of news and information to Iran via satellite television, radio, and the Internet. With the VOA PNN iPhone application, not only can you read the latest news but you can share stories that you like on Twitter, Facebook, or by e-mail.", 15 January 2010.
     "You can also be your own journalist by submitting news through the VOA PNN application. With the application you can send photos or videos (iPhone 3GS) as well as a detailed of your story. Also, keep up to date with VOA PNN’s Twitter feed directly from your iPhone." iPhrontAppStore. See previous post about same subject.

Via international channels, conspiracy theories about the cause of the Haitian earthquake.

Posted: 23 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"An unconfirmed report by the Russian Northern Fleets says the Haiti earthquake was caused by a flawed US Navy 'earthquake weapons' test before the weapons could be utilized against Iran. United States Navy test of one of its 'earthquake weapons' which was to be used against Iran, went 'horribly wrong' and caused the catastrophic quake in the Caribbean, the website of Venezuela's ViVe TV recently reported, citing the Russian report. ... The tests are believed to be part of the United States' High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), which has been associated with many conspiracy theories. Other than being blamed for earthquakes, HAARP has also been associated with weather anomalies that cause floods, droughts and hurricanes." Press TV, 23 January 2010. "High frequency" as in shortwave. See HAARP website.
     "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ... is blaming the US for causing the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti as part of testing a 'tectonic weapon' that can cause eco-type disasters, according to Russia Today. The Latin American leader added that the US should 'stop playing God.'" Digital Journal, 21 January 2010, with link to YouTube of RT video report. I've looked for a similar report at Telesur, but haven't found it. It might be there, but I haven't located it.

The publicized and unpublicized schedules of VOA Creole.

Posted: 23 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
DX editor Glenn Hauser, monitoring extensively from Oklahoma, has found VOA Creole on/at publicized and unpublicized frequencies and times. His most recent observations are on this page, supplementing information about broadcasts to and in Haiti from his DX Listening Digest, 20 January 2010.
     "Voice of America [shortwave transmitting] Site B in Greenville [North Carolina] has been broadcasting information in French-Creole for more than a week now. They are certainly not using the latest technology. In fact, the majority of the radio equipment was first used nearly 50 years ago. But when communication breaks down after a natural disaster, what’s old is new again. Since January 12th this former Cold War radio station has been broadcasting Creole to the Haitian people. Macon Dail, chief engineer at VOA Site B, explained, 'With the shortwave spectrum the signals actually bounce off the ionosphere after it leaves the transmitter site and goes directly to the listener.' On a normal day, VOA Site B transmits around 2 hours of Creole to the Caribbean. Since the quake, that air time has increased to more than 15 hours. Dail said, 'If the infrastructure goes down, and nothing else can be heard, shortwave it always available to be picked up by anyone, anywhere in the world.'" Andrew Doud, WNCT-TV (Greenville NC), 22 January 2010, with video. The VOA (actually IBB) Greenville Site A, a few miles away, was put into caretaker status in 2005. I'm unsure of any capability to reopen it.
     "RCI [Radio Canada International] French made an on-air announcement on 'Tam-Tam Canada' Jan. 22 about the use of 15260 kHz beamed to Haiti 'specially today'. Heard this quite by accident while browsing through the RCI website to listen to the beginning of a special edition of the show, co-produced with a local Montreal Haitian radio station." Ricky Leong, reporting to the DX Listening Digest Yahoo! group, 23 January 2010.
     "Earthquake survivors in Haiti heard firsthand a worldwide chorus of support through Friday's telethon. Internews, a nonprofit media development organization, worked around the clock to establish the connection between the telethon and a nationwide radio station based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. With the help of Internews, MTV, Westwood One, the BBC and CNN, the Haitian people were able to hear the broadcast through a national radio broadcaster. Translating into Creole and anchoring the lead-in to the telethon was 23-year-old Gaelle Alexis, who was rescued by her husband after spending 10 hours under rubble. Outside, a crowd of Haitians gathered to hear the broadcast from a speaker mounted on a truck by Haitian technicians." Internews press release, 23 January 2010. So now we have to guess what radio station in Haiti carried the telethon.

Commando Solo aircraft broadcasts, and other Haiti media news.

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A U.S. Air Force plane serving as an airborne radio station is broadcasting messages to Haitians urging them not to attempt ocean voyages to the United States, saying they will be intercepted and turned back home if they do. The plane is broadcasting recorded messages from Raymond Joseph, Haiti's ambassador to the United States, and announcements of where earthquake victims can go for food and aid. ... The EC-130J Commando Solo, a large transport aircraft, is flying and broadcasting five hours a day over Haiti, authorities said. In addition to the message from Joseph, it is broadcasting news from Voice of America and instructions on hygiene procedures to prevent disease." CNN, 19 January 2010.
     "A U.S. Air Force C-130 is delivering 50,000 hand-held radios for distribution to Haitian earthquake survivors by the recent devastating earthquake. ... In close coordination with the government of Haiti, JTF-Haiti is currently broadcasting news, public health, safety and information regarding relief efforts via a military aircraft equipped with FM and AM broadcasting capability. Public safety messages are broadcasting in the following frequencies: 92.4 FM, 104.1 FM, 1030 AM." DOD news via Shortwave Central, 20 January 2010. This picture at indicates that the radios receive AM and FM only -- no shortwave.
     "With internet services and cell phone coverage still spotty in Haiti following last Tuesday's earthquake, radio has become the main medium for getting news. Radio Lumière, Haiti's largest Protestant radio station, has been able to again begin broadcasting, including Voice of America in Creole. 'Having Voice of American in Creole up again is a big improvement for many here who have been unable to get as much news as we are in the US,' said Paul Shingledecker, World Gospel Mission's regional director for the US and Caribbean." World Gospel Mission press release, 19 January 2010.
     "The aftershock also rattled the nerves of people at partner ministry Radio Lumière, which only suffered minor damage in the original quake, although three of the staff members were killed while they were away from the station. ... A call to Radio Lumière’s satellite service produced wider bandwidth for the station to stream audio on the Internet. ... An HCJB Global engineer and others working at Radio Lumière when the Jan. 12 quake struck decided to 'ride out the earthquake in the building,' according to David Russell who heads the HCJB Global Technology Center in Indiana." HCJB press release, 20 January 2010.
     "The effort to reach out to Haiti is an example of a desperate need for information being filled that is not related to the Middle East or the war on terror, which has been the focus of efforts of U.S. international broadcasting in recent years. To achieve this focus, the BBG has been cutting important services (like Ukrainian, Georgian and Russian) and broadcast hours in English to increase programming to the Middle East. Yet as the case of Haiti shows, surge capacity remains critical when catastrophic events elsewhere in the world demands it." Helle Dale, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation, 20 January 2010. Services in Ukrainian, Georgian, and Russian have not been "cut," but reconfigured, e.g. VOA Ukrainian radio has given way to television and internet. RFE/RL retains a strong radio presence in the three languages.
     "Signal FM, Caraïbes FM and the local branch of the French public station RFI were the only three stations that managed to keep going immediately after the earthquake." Reporters sans frontières, 20 January 2010.
     "It took us more than 20 minutes to verify that our 6 story headquarters were no longer there. ... At around 11 pm, I found a person in the lot with a small transistor radio. He was listening to Radio France International, which was reporting a massive earthquake in Haiti, epicenter in Port-au-Prince." Amelia Shaw, Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY), 14 January 2010.
     "EBU Radio has collaborated with the organisation's IT department to launch a Wiki to help broadcasters coordinate media aid to Haiti. The Wiki includes contact addresses of radio reporters from member organizations, in and around Port-au-Prince, which will enable journalists to pool resources and to provide mutual help and support." European Broadcasting Union, 21 January 2010. "The EBU’s Eurovision team is manning a major operation in Haiti to enable worldwide transmission of live and edited reports on the earthquake which has devastated the country." EBU, 19 January 2010. The domestic "Radio France puts back in use the UN radio in Port-au-Prince and gives assistance to Haitian radios." EBU, 18 January 2010. "'What Radio France did is extraordinary. When they arrived I nearly cried for joy. I was very moved because in such a deep crisis it is very important to be able to communicate as quickly as possible with the population,' said David Wimhurst, chief of information for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti." UN News Centre, 20 January 2010.
     "All of the Netherlands' popular radio and tv stations have become one for a day, in order to broadcast a 24-hour appeal for aid to the stricken people of Haiti. ... Taking its name from the joint bank account number of the country's aid agencies, Radio 555 programmes are hosted by popular deejays and sponsored by major companies. ... Radio 555 programmes also go out on the web, satellite and on Radio Netherlands' shortwave frequencies 5955 and 9895 kHz, and nationally on 1296 kHz." Radio Netherlands, 21 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

BBC World Service begins broadcasts in Creole -- from Miami.

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The BBC will start broadcasting radio programmes in Creole to earthquake-stricken Haiti on Saturday. ... Connexion Haiti will be a 20-minute daily show, broadcast from 0910 to 0930 local time (1410 to 1430 GMT) on FM in Haiti's six largest towns and cities. It will also be available on satellite and online, and via social media. ... This is the first time the BBC will have broadcast in Creole, Haiti's national language. ... The new BBC programme will be produced in Miami by a multilingual team assembled especially for this task. ... It will also be broadcast on shortwave to the country... ." Americo Martins, American executive editor, BBC World Service, BBC News, 22 January 2010. See also BBC World Service press release, 22 January 2010. Neither Andy Sennitt nor I can find out what the shortwave frequencies are. BBC has these frequencies for English to Haiti.
     "BBC Carribbean correspondent Nick Davies reached the stricken area hours after the earthquake hit by joining the Jamaica Police first response team as they flew into Haiti. ... [I]t took the BBC three days to drive a satellite dish 156 miles from Santo Domingo in neighbouring Dominican Republic to the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The BBC now has its own satellite uplink and 30 staff have taken over a hotel in the centre of Port-au-Prince." PressGazette, 22 January 2010.
     Debbie Ransome, head of the BBC Caribbean unit "tells Over To You how it has reacted to the events of the past ten days or so and how it has balanced the role of news gathering with a desire to ease the suffering." BBC World Service, 22 January 2010.

BBC Persian accused of anti-Israel bias.

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The director-general of the BBC has defended its coverage of the conflict in the Middle East after internationally renowned pianist Evgeny Kissin complained about its 'bias against Israel'. Mr Kissin, who was a child prodigy in his native Russia and is now widely recognised as one of the greatest living pianists, accused the BBC’s Persian Service of a 'blood libel, concerning Israel’s alleged harvesting of Palestinian organs and blood for future transplant'. Writing to director-general Mark Thompson in December, Mr Kissin said: 'I receive verified reports on an almost daily basis of the BBC’s slander and bias towards Israel, painfully reminiscent of the old Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda. It beggars belief that the British taxpayer should be funding an organisation aligning itself with Iran’s despotic leader in its antisemitic propaganda.' But Mr Thompson replied: 'The BBC World Service would like to make it clear that this report was not created by the BBC, but was a translation of a news story which appeared on Israeli television. The same news story was carried by several other media outlets including Al Jazeera and the Associated Press. I am also assured by the World Service that the Israeli government has not denied the story since it broke.'" Robyn Rosen, The Jewish Chronicle (London), 21 January 2010.

BBC Arabic and World Have Your Say cover first year of Obama presidency.

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"On the day of the first anniversary of Barack Obama's presidency, BBC Arabic is mounting major multimedia programming, assessing his first year in power and looking at promises kept and those not delivered, domestically and internationally." BBC World Service press release, 19 January 2010.
     "Today Live on the [BBC World Service] program 'World Have Your Say' Hip Hop Artist/Activist and the I.B.W. Ambassador to Hip Hop NYOIL faced off against conservative Carol M. Swain in a discussion on Barack Obama's first year in Office." Hip Hop Press, 21 January 2010, with URLs of YouTube videos.

BBC World News blocked, selectively, in Vietnam,

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A Vietnamese court Wednesday sentenced four democracy activists to jail for subversion, drawing fire from Western diplomats who called for their release. ... BBC World broadcasts of news about the trial were blocked in Vietnam." John Ruwitch, Reuters, 20 January 2010. How blocked? Is BBC World News on cable television in Vietnam, with a censor bleeping out sensitive news about Vietnam?

BBC Indonesia becomes a "multimedia operation," i.e. more internet, less radio.

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service has re-launched its Indonesian service as a multimedia operation. The redesigned website,, now becomes the key method for delivery of the BBC Indonesia output. ... BBC Indonesia's move to multiplatform broadcasting is led by the launch of its new-look website,, which now offers a range of improved functions and features. ... The launch of the new multimedia service means readjustment of the BBC's services for Indonesia. It will affect the radio schedules, as resources are directed on to other platforms. From Monday 18 January, the radio broadcast at 20.00 WIB (Western Indonesian Time) will be reduced from 30 minutes to five minutes. While there is no change in the duration of the morning broadcasts at 05.00, and evening broadcasts at 18.00 WIB, there will be no radio broadcasts on Saturdays and Sundays." BBC World Service press release, 18 January 2010. VOA has a larger audience than BBC in Indonesia, and most of VOA's audience in Indonesia come from its placement on Indonesian television stations. It's therefore surprising that BBC Indonesia has not ventured into television. Television is expensive, however, and BBC World Service has a smaller budget than that of US international broadcasting. With no increase in budget, an addition of Indonesian television would probably require BBCWS to drop one or more radio language services.

Responding to Google/China dispute, Secretary Clinton calls for "unfettered access" to the internet (updated).

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Thursday for unfettered access to the Internet around the globe after several incidents of online censorship and cyber attacks have presented new questions for the role of technology in diplomacy. ... The issue was highlighted after Google's announcement last week that it might withdraw from China after an alleged cyber attack aimed at gathering information from the e-mail accounts of human rights activists. ... She outlined principles that address technology and diplomacy. She said freedom of speech, over Twitter, Facebook and other applications, was vital for people to gather information and spread information, as seen on the ground in Iran after elections sparked demonstrations. She said the freedom to assemble translates to the ability of people to connect over the Web." Cecilia Kang, Washington Post, 21 January 2010. See also CNET, 21 January 2010.
     "And I also want to acknowledge Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute, recently named to our Broadcasting Board of Governors and, of course, instrumental in supporting the work on internet freedom that the Aspen Institute has been doing." From speech transcript, State Department, 21 January 2010. What does Secretary Clinton mean by "our"?
     "Five United States senators are publicly urging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to move faster to support organizations that are helping people in countries like Iran and China circumvent restrictions on Internet use. In a letter written by Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, and made public on Wednesday, the senators ask Mrs. Clinton to quickly spend $45 million that has been earmarked over the last two years to support Internet freedom but has not been spent." Brad Stone, New York Times, 20 January 2010.
     "The Google/China story has enough legs to qualify as a 'centipede' at this point. ... The immediate aftermath of the announcement was a media feeding frenzy—and that was before the Chinese government's various departments even began reacting to the news. Now that they have, it's clear that Google and China are on a collision course, and that the US government is ready to get involved on Google's side. If you've had difficulty keeping up with the story, have no fear: here's a roundup of the news you need to know. ..." Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, 19 January 2010.
     "Google says it is no longer censoring its search results after finding that hackers had been burrowing into their computers and trying to get into the email accounts of its users in China. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Google is saying that it is holding China responsible for these attacks. Of course Google isn’t saying it in so many words. That’s because these things are very hard to prove. All it will say so far is that it’s not pointing fingers because it doesn’t yet have all the facts. The problem is that when it comes to Internet attacks there are rarely any smoking guns. Only a lot of circumstantial smoke." Jeremy Wagstaff, Jakarta Post, 18 January 2010.
     Update: "Clinton's remarks about the need to go after those who initiate cyber-attacks ... puzzled me. She is probably unaware of the numerous campaigns launched by American hacktivists on the websites of the Iranian government. Will those be persecuted too?" Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy, via National Public Radio, 22 January 2010.

VOA Persian News Network and Radio Farda interview Iranian diplomat who resigned in protest, and other Iran media news.

Posted: 22 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Iran's former Consul General in Norway, who resigned his post to protest his government's treatment of demonstrators, told the Voice of America (VOA) he quit to show his support for his countrymen. 'When I watched what has been happening in Iran … I thought, "I want to join the people of my country, and tell them, inside and outside Iran, that I support them and I am hoping for the same changes they are,"' Mohammed Reza Heydari said in an exclusive interview with VOA's Persian News Network (PNN) in Oslo." VOA press release, 15 January 2010. Cited by UPI, 15 January 2010.
     "A former Iranian diplomat who resigned in protest over the government's crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators in December has told Radio Farda he expects other diplomats to do the same." RFE/RL, 15 January 2010. English transcript of Radio Farda interview: RFE/RL, 15 January 2010.
     "Iran's police chief has warned opposition supporters against using SMS text messages and e-mails to organize antigovernment rallies. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam said spreading word of such demonstrations was a crime that carried a 'heavy penalty.' ... Moghaddam said anyone using SMS or e-mail messages to organize opposition rallies should know their messages were being monitored. He said it was possible to trace both sender and recipient, and he warned that anonymous proxy servers would not protect user identities." RFE/RL, 15 January 2010.
     "Opposition movements succeed through sharing and disseminating information. Broadcasting by the taxpayer-funded Radio Farda and Voice of America satellite TV should be ramped up, and we should encourage the U.K. to do the same with the BBC. We also should vigorously protest attempts by Iran to jam broadcast signals in defiance of international law, back private media—from satellite TV pitched at young people to cell-phone messaging to social networking—and help Iranians get the technology to overcome regime attempts to block and censor." James K. Glassman and Michael Doran, Wall Street Journal, 21 January 2010.
     Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. says the VOICE Act [see previous post] "will help to remove firewalls on Internet imposed by the [Iranian] regime, and will provide Iranian citizens with information and the ability to more easily communicate among themselves. People living in closed societies have a strong desire for information and access to the outside world." WashingtonTV, 20 January 2010.
     "This past week Iranian state television launched a new debate program, which pits leaders from opposite ends of the political spectrum against each other in an effort to bring the discussion about domestic Iranian politics back into the country and off the popular satellite stations, especially BBC Persian and Voice of America." Jason Rezaian, Inside Iran blog, San Francisco Chronicle, 19 January 2010.
     "Seven months after a presidential poll that plunged Iran into a cycle of street protests and arrests, state television is opening the door a crack and giving the opposition precious air time before a nationwide audience. ... 'An important aspect of these televised debates is that they will end the business of (Iranians watching) Persian-language satellite channels such as the BBC and the Voice of America,' [MP Mostafa] Kavakebian told the Mehr news agency. Iranian authorities accuse the BBC and VOA, which have a large audience inside Iran, of inciting post-election protests, and have banned Iranians from speaking to the broadcasters." Siavosh Ghazi, AFP, 18 January 2010.
     "It looks as if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will need to find a new forum if he wants to address an audience of foreign policy experts again in the United States. Three years ago, he accepted an invitation by the Council on Foreign Relations and spoke at a reception hosted by the Council in New York. Now the Council on Foreign Relations has been named one of more than sixty organizations the Iranian government has forbidden Iranians to interact with. ... Contact with international broadcasting outlets like the Voice of America, the BBC, and Radio Zameneh has also been banned." Editorial "reflecting the views of the U.S. Government," Voice of America, 19 January 2010. Refers to Iranian ban announced fourteen days previous to the editorial. See previous post.

Iran: complaints of "dizziness and sickness" associated with satellite jamming.

Posted: 21 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"'Mardomsalari' in an article headlined 'Jamming Signals, the Border between Politics and Health,' has gone into the issue of sending signals to jam certain satellite networks. These signals have negative effect on people’s health. These days, the number of people who visit clinics due to the feelings of dizziness and sickness has risen notably." From press review in Tehran Times, 18 January 2010. This is probably related not to Iran's jamming directed at broadcast satellites, but on-the-ground jamming in cities, bringing noise to receiving dishes to interfere with incoming satellite signals. Iran cannot, from its own soil, uplink a jamming signal to some of the satellites, so on-the-ground jamming is the alternative method, and only feasible in densely populated areas. (As in the shortwave jamming during the old Soviet Union, moving out to country allows better reception.) Health effects have been associated with exposure to microwave radio-frequency energy, which includes the satellite Ku band (about 10 to 20 GHz). High levels of such RF would be needed for ground jamming.
     In Birjand, Iran, "students followed the news on opposition Web sites and via BBC Persian and Voice of America, which, ironically, can be picked up more easily in small cities and the countryside than in Tehran, where the government jams international satellite signals." Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, 15 January 2010.
     Kai Ludwig in Germany writes: "VOA TV Persian is back on Hotbird 8, again as a separate mini mux with Radio Farda, too, on 12.242 GHz., 14 January 2010. The Iran mux on Eutelsat W2M (3.1 deg. East), started in last June, is gone. The new mux on W3A (plus the related feed on Eurobird 3) now contains VOA TV Persian, too, while Simaye-Azadi Iran National TV is no longer on air there., 15 January 2010. Some of this information may already have changed in this fluid cat-and-mouse game of satellite jamming. "Mux" is multiplexer, allowing more than one program on a single satellite channel.

Google China episode revives interest in Global Online Freedom Act.

Posted: 20 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Riding the massive publicity wave generated by Google's current censorship dispute with China, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., Jan. 14 urged his fellow lawmakers to take up his legislation that would make it a crime for U.S. companies to share personal user information with 'Internet-restricting' countries. ... The Global Online Freedom Act (HR 2271) would also create an Office of Global Internet Freedom at the State Department responsible for coordinating Internet freedom efforts and conducting research. Smith originally introduced the legislation in 2007, but it failed to gain traction in the U.S. House of Representatives. Smith reintroduced the bill in 2009." Roy Mark,, 17 January 2010.
     "Google has reversed its position on legislation meant to increase Internet freedom in China, even as it threatens to abandon that country over censorship. Google in 2006 lobbied against the Global Online Freedom Act sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), but is now supporting legislation that would prevent an Internet company from filtering or blocking basic political or religious terms, unless they disclose those terms to the State Department. 'What a 180-degree turn they've made,' said Smith, ranking member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. 'Before, Google wouldn't even answer questions about what they censor. Now they're in our office giving us briefings about their situation.'" Kim Hart, Hillicon Valley blog, The Hill, 15 January 2010.
     "And the bill would prevent U.S. internet companies from jamming U.S. government Web sites, for example VOice of America, or Radio Free Asia." Rep. Chris Smith website, 14 January 2010 (pdf), and related Rep. Smith press releases. See previous post about same subject.

"Changing the narrative" and other Al Jazeera in the news and comments.

Posted: 20 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A visiting professor at Qatar University lauded Qatar-based Al Jazeera for being different on its news coverage to CNN, BBC and the rest calling it an ‘outstanding example of changing the narrative’. Professor Peter Manning was presenting a lecture at Qatar University’s Department of Mass Communication and Information Science on ‘Edward Said, Media and Qatar’, as part of the 6th round of the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) Seminar Series. Manning said Al Jazeera should maintain its difference and resist pressure to tone down its coverage from western viewers." The Peninsula (Doha), 20 January 2010.
     "Despite ... the fact that only an estimated 40 of 2,600 comments on [Al Jazeera English] submitted to the CRTC were negative, Canadian cable networks don’t seem to be racing to include the channel in their cable packages." Travis Lupick, Straight (Vancouver), 14 January 2010.
     State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss "said that the Arabs in Israel are exposed to deliberate anti-Israeli propaganda in Arabic satellite television, especially Al Jazeera and the Hamas and Hezbollah television channels. ... [His] report recommends that ministries desist from foot-dragging delaying improvements to Israeli Arab media services, including those aimed at the larger Arab world, those targeting residents of Gaza and the West Bank, and those aimed at Arabic speakers within Israel." Jack Khoury, Ha'aretz, 15 January 2010.
     "Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular TV network, which has long been extraordinarily sympathetic toward Hamas, took upon itself the mission of depicting the Egyptians as being part of a US-Israeli conspiracy to 'strangle' the Palestinians in theGaza Strip. Al-Jazeera has since dedicated many of its popular programs to live debates about the controversial wall, providing a free platform to almost anyone willing to condemn theEgyptian regime and President Hosni Mubarak." Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, 14 January 2010.
     The Huffington Post "uses biased Arabic 'news' sources – including the jihadist-celebrating al Jazeera (also a past HuffPost advertiser) – as single-sources for its headlines." HuffWatcher, FrontPage Magazine, 14 January 2010.
     "Tareq and Yasser 'Abbas, the sons of PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas, have sued Al-Jazeera TV and two of its employees, Faisal Qassem of the talk show The Opposite Direction and political analyst Yasser Al-Za'atra, for allegedly slandering them during a show that tied them to the postponement of the UN discussion of the Goldstone Report." Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), via MEMRI Blog, 18 January 2010.

First Caucasian TV: a Georgian channel in Russian.

Posted: 20 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"After an initial launch on internet earlier this month, the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Russian-language TV channel, First Caucasian, is now available on satellite. The new TV channel, which in Georgia also goes out on cable, has triggered first reaction from Russia with senior official describing the channel as part of Georgia’s 'anti-Russian propaganda' and an attempt 'to plant ideology of extremism' in North Caucasus." Civil Georgia, 17 January 2010.
     "At the beginning of 2010 State-controlled Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) launched a Russian-language TV channel, First Caucasian, which is viewed by many as a competitor to the Russian TV channels predominantly owned by the Russian State or its affiliates which tend to cover events in Russia and the CIS region with a pro-Kremlin slant. ... The creation of the First Caucasian TV channel can easily be interpreted as an attempt to offer an outlet for pro-Georgia news post the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia. Pro-Georgia news versus pro-Kremlin news therefore, rather than objective and reliable information." Richard Rousseau, The Georgian Times, 18 January 2010.

Non bon marché: seven French channels for $25 a month.

Posted: 20 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The French web TV delivered service LeBouquetTV is set for a mid-February launch for subscribers in the US. The new bouquet will offer seven French language channels for a monthly fee of $24.99 (€17.37). Viewers will have access via the internet to France 5, Eurochannel, Euronews, France 24, France ô, CCTV-F (the French language international channel from China) and the football channel OLTV from the Lyons based club. The new bouquet is an initiative of Christophe Perini, who was tired of paying $15 a month for a single French channel in the US. 'Using internet, you can reach all of the United States. Internet can also offer multiple channels with limited costs,' Perini said to the online newspaper French Morning." Broadband TV News, 18 January 2010. Twenty-five dollars a month does not strike me as especially "limited."

More shortwave stories.

Posted: 19 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"While spending 33 years working overseas at various Embassies, I had to work to follow the game I too love. Often it meant waking in the middle of the night to listen, on my shortwave radio, to an elusive Armed Forces Network frequency that faded in and out. I plainly remember desperately chasing a signal from room to room and even up to the roof to try to hear a game." Dick Kalla, Seattle Post-Intelligencer reader blog, 12 January 2010.
     In 1950s Japan, Rev. Ehrhardt Lang "had glued himself to short-wave radios to listen to Ted Williams lead the Boston Red Sox to fame. He loved the Sox like family." Santa Maria (CA) Times, 17 January 2010.
     "Who buys a radio nowadays? Well, as it turns out, there still is a market for AM radio. I’ve been hooked on radio since childhood, when I built a crystal set to pick up a pirate radio station off the coast of New Zealand. I’ve always had an AM and a shortwave radio close at hand. When local radio station CFUN 1410 dropped its nighttime line up, my sons gave me a Grundig G8, a terrific multiband radio, so that I can listen to my favourite talk shows over KFBK 1530 Sacramento and KGO 810 San Francisco." Peter Vogel, The B.C. (British Columbia) Catholic, 18 January 2010. Thus using the medium wave (AM), not shortwave, band on this multi-band radio.
     "The next message is from one of our regular listeners/readers in Canada who seems to have lost her way to finding our broadcasts. Penny Barrett wrote: 'The last Radio Netherlands Worldwide brochure did not include North America shortwave radio schedule. I am on your mailing list for Halifax Canada. I need more information to tune in.' Penny has since been informed that she can check alternatives and listening information may be found on our homepage, right hand column: 'Listening to RNW', she can tune in through the CBC overnight service, or, as Andy Sennitt has reliably informed Feedback: 'You can't receive short wave there officially, but our broadcast to West Africa on 12080 kHz at 1900-2000 UTC has been reported with good reception in Canada - it is beamed northwest from Meyerton, South Africa.'" Feedback, Radio Netherlands, 19 February 2010.

Now Worldspace leaves Africa. Shifting to the "disposable income" of Europe?

Posted: 19 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The latest news is that Worldspace's Africa service is going dark. The official announcement was made by Worldspace Satellite Radio (, which has announced that it will be ceasing all of its operations in the country at the end of January 2010. The termination notifications that were sent out by Worldspace Southern Africa to its subscribers, Liberty Media is never mentioned. The letter merely cites that the 'potential buyer of much of Worldspace's global assets has decided not to buy the assets relating to and supporting Worldspace Southern Africa's subscription business in Africa', which will result in the discontinuation of the Worldspace subscriber business on the continent." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 14 January 2010.
     "With the recently announced closure of Worldspace Inc, operations in India and Africa, it is increasingly likely that Liberty’s intent is to go after the European market, a market with much more disposable income than India or Africa currently possesses. ... There have been claims that the deal for Worldspace assets has been finalized by Liberty, but none from US news sources, and to date, no filings from Worldspace or Liberty can be found regarding the alleged finalized transaction." Steve Garcia, King of All Trades, 15 January 2010.
     "Now with the media fight going global, with Ondas Media, and Worldspace Inc., recently being acquired by Liberty Media, racing to provide satellite radio to the European market, and Liberty purchasing foreign cable companies and assets across the globe, the fight to provide the new age with its media is on." Relmor Demitrius, King of All Trades, 15 January 2010.
     "Kolkata-based Bhawna Rohatgi, who also put up a Facebook status the day WorldSpace announced its closure, says: 'I think we took it for granted. I loved the look on my three-year-old daughter’s face as she intently listened to Charlie Rich’s "A Very Special Love Song". Tell me, which FM channel would play this mid-70s country hit?' She adds nostalgically: 'My husband and I would stop arguing simply by tuning in to Maestro (the channel that aired Western classical music). We would discuss Bach instead,' she smiles." Abhilasha Ojha, Business Standard (New Delhi), 17 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

VOA on multiple (but mostly unspecified) frequencies to Haiti, and other Haiti media news.

Posted: 19 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA) Creole-language broadcasts to earthquake-stricken Haiti are now being heard throughout that country on multiple radio frequencies, many delivered by transmitters aboard a U.S. Defense Department-sponsored aircraft that began flying Saturday. The added service features a five-hour afternoon FM program providing news and disaster relief information for the Haitian people, struggling to cope with that country's worst natural disaster in over 200 years." VOA press release, 17 January 2010. The headline of the press release is "VOA Creole Broadcasts to Haiti Now on Multiple Radio Frequencies," but no frequencies are provided. The VOA frequency schedule still indicates that VOA Creole is Monday through Friday, although I think transmissions were added for the past weekend.
     Glenn Hauser discusses VOA and other stations' transmissions to Haiti, including the paucity of frequency information, on this page reprinted from from his DXLD Yahoo discussion group.
     "The Pennsylvania National Guard deployed a TV and radio station to Haiti in the form of a specially equipped aircraft. All the TV and radio stations in the earthquake-racked nation are reported to be down. About 50 members of the 193rd Special Operations Wing as well as two additional C-130 aircraft departed Middletown, Pa., for Haiti last Thursday and Friday." Television Broadcast, 17 January 2010. "In 1994, Commando Solo was used to broadcast radio and television messages to the citizens and leaders of Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. This is, however, the first humanitarian mission of its type for the wing. The duration of the mission is undetermined at this time." 193rd Special Operations Wing press release, 15 January 2010.
     "The initial quake shut down landlines and a satellite telecommunications system used by the WFP, as well as GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) service, according to a comment posted on an internal WFP message board. The message was posted Thursday morning by Pierre Petry, a senior ICT (Info-Communication Technologies) specialist at the World Food Program, who was working in the northern city of Cap-Haitien when the earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince. 'The Port-au-Prince VSAT (very small aperture terminal) is out of order, the landlines and GSM phone lines are dead. Port-au-Prince Country Office can not be reached anymore even by e-mail or Lotus Notes, as the FoodSat (VSAT satellite unit) is probably damaged,' Petry wrote. Trying to reach the WFP station in the capital, he finally was able to get through using HF (high-frequency) radio. HF radio is similar to shortwave." Stephen Lawson, PC World, 15 January 2010. "Shortwave" is the traditional term for what the engineers call HF, which is 3 to 30 MHz.
     "'There is very little local news. Most of the local news stations are off the air. I heard two all afternoon or evening since the quake. One station continues to work normal and that is radio RFI (Radio France International). Every half hour it gives new reports,' [Gabriel Verret, an economic adviser to Haiti's president] said." PBS Newshour, 13 January 2010.
     "The 7.0-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday, Jan. 12, even as an HCJB Global Voice engineer was in Port-au-Prince to do technical work for partner ministry Radio Lumière. The engineer and three others (two from the U.S.) escaped injury. World Gospel Mission (WGM) is sending Paul Shingledecker to Haiti on Saturday to assess the damage at Radio Lumière, get it back on the air and meet with church and radio leaders to begin building a long-term strategy for assisting Haiti. Shingledecker, who served as a missionary in Haiti for 23 years, will also be checking on radio staff members, some of whom are feared dead. 'The station is still standing,' said Tim Rickel, WGM’s vice president for communication. 'It is structurally sound, although many things have fallen off the shelves. All of the radio towers are also standing.' He said the station has back-up generators to supply electricity, but they are dependent on diesel fuel which is in short supply. ... Another HCJB Global cooperating ministry, radio station 4VEH, operated by One Mission Society (formerly OMS International) in Cap-Haitien, was undamaged." HCJB press release, 15 January 2010.
     "Beginning Thursday evening and continuing indefinitely, TWR arranged with Radio 4VEH ( for their live audio stream to be aired from TWR’s 100,000-watt AM outlet on Bonaire." JudyBlog, TWR, 15 January 2010.
     "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recent foray to 'observe the situation' in earthquake-ravaged Haiti has drawn press outrage. Earlier today, Ban, with a small group of carefully selected and managed journalists, left Newark Liberty International Airport for a one-day whirlwind tour of Port au Prince, the Haitian capital. Just which press went with the U.N. chief and how they were accredited has been kept secret, but the exclusive nature of the jaunt elicited an outcry from several outlets and has proved to be only the latest in a series of controversies over how the United Nations manages its relations with the world media. Ban spokesman Martin Nerisky explained, 'We don't have to tell you anything [on identifying the reporters]. ... This is not like naming a soccer team.' ... The original press list, partially obtained by WND, showed the only U.S. presence on the visit to be The New York Times (a Ban favorite) among 10 spots allocated for journalists. The French were given two seats on the U.N. plane. The exclusion of the Associated Press and Reuters brought howls from the wire services. Late complaints by the wires pressured Nesirky to review his press selections. Eventually, Nesirky relented and added AP, Reuters, CNN and Voice of America to his select group for future coverage." Stewart Stogel, WorldNetDaily, 17 January 2010.
     "A global telethon to assist the aide efforts in Haiti will air, simultaneously, on Jan. 22, on 11 television and cable networks. The Chicago Sun Times reports MTV has announced the event will be hosted by George Clooney in Los Angeles, Anderson Cooper in Haiti and Wyclef Jean in New York. ... The 'Hope for Haiti' telethon will air for two hours. MTV Networks International, CNN International and National Geographic channels across the globe will all have access to the live feed." Digital Journal, 16 January 2010.

International channels to the UK: will viewers recognize the agendas?

Posted: 17 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"[I]n many British homes, the unashamedly pro-Republican Fox News is already available, along with the news channels of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Press TV), the Chinese state (CCTV-9), and the television arm of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti (RT or Russia Today). All these channels, including Fox News UK, are covered by the Ofcom regulations on due impartiality but many critics claim the rules are flouted. ... According to Richard Sambrook, the director of BBC Global News, the existing due impartiality rules have made British broadcast news the best in the world. 'What we are seeing in international broadcasting is more and more players entering the market, partly because it’s cheaper than ever before but also because they want a voice in the debate,' he said. 'I slightly worry that many viewers won’t realise there’s an agenda behind these channels, but if they watch for long they will recognise it.'" Ian Burrell, The Independent, 15 January 2010.

Deutsche Welle will be pleased to know that Americans love to get up at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and listen to the radio.

Posted: 17 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"As [public radio station] WKSU says hello to 2010, the station also welcomes a new program to Saturday morning and new and not so new voices to overnight music. On Saturdays at 6 a.m., hear the latest from across the ocean on Inside Europe. Produced by Deutsche Welle Radio, Inside Europe covers important stories that are often missed by TV news shows. A professional staff of reporters - along with freelance correspondents - adds background, analysis and color that make Inside Europe even more relevant to American listeners." WKSU (Kent, Ohio) website.

Freedom to Create prize widely publicized, including via BBC World Service.

Posted: 17 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Freedom to Create prize was established in 2008 to celebrate artists around the world who use their talent to promote social justice in broken societies and oppressive regimes. Each year, prize money is awarded across three categories; main, youth and imprisoned artist. ... Landmarks throughout the campaigns, such as nominations opening and shortlisted announcements, were used to build and sustain momentum and the team worked with international media including Reuters and the BBC World Service to give the stories a global reach. ... The agency also secured BBC Persian TV to broadcast the ceremony to its audience. In total, the campaign generated more than 150 national, international, print and broadcast pieces in more than 32 countries." Cathy Wallace, PR Week UK, 15 January 2010. How does one "secure" BBC Persian TV?

USIB officials, present and past, in print and on television.

Posted: 17 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"If the United States pursues sanctions, [Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin] Ebadi says, Radio Farda (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian station), along with the Voice of America and the BBC, must help convince ordinary Iranians that sanctions are aimed at the regime, not the people." RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin, Foreign Policy, 11 January 2010. US officials, not the broadcasters, should do the convincing by getting their positions reported by the stations. This should not be difficult to do.
     "Their recent crackdown on the Internet and on dissidents, including the trial and sentencing of rights advocate Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison, don’t reflect the actions of a strong and confident Chinese leadership." Review of Martin Jacques, When China Rules the World, by Radio Free Asia executive editor Dan Southerland, Christian Science Monitor, 11 January 2010.
     "Andrew Walworth, president of the television and distribution company Grace Creek Media, announced today the launch of a new half-hour television series on ideas and their consequences, Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman. Each edition of the new series, to be hosted by veteran journalist, scholar and diplomat Jim Glassman, will present a discussion of trends, conditions, and ideas at the heart of the important issues of the day. ... The series is a co-production of Grace Creek Media and The George W. Bush Institute, the think tank that is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. ... [Glassman] served as chairman of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other taxpayer-funded broadcasting, and as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. In September 2009 he was named the founding Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute, the think tank that is part of the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, which also includes a library and museum." Grace Creek Media press release, 12 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Travails for RFE/RL journalists covering the Armenian election.

Posted: 17 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Shortly after the polls opened on Sunday morning chairman of the election commission in precinct 10/19 Gagik Baghdasarian ordered police and unknown persons to prevent media, including RFE/RL’s reporter, from covering the process, which resulted in a brawl. Unknown persons tried to break the microphone of RFE/RL’s reporter and also hit Gagik Shamshian, a freelance photo reporter contributing to two opposition daily newspapers. ... Also, while on her beat at the candidate’s campaign headquarters on Sunday, RFE/RL’s video journalist Karine Simonian was confronted by a group of young men who denied her access to the premises and prevented her from making the recording. One of them threatened to break the reporter’s video camera and made menacing moves to prove the seriousness of his intention, causing Simonian to stop her work." Anush Martirosian, (RFE/RL Armenian), 10 January 2010.

Tajik police: no arrest of suspect in murder of stringer for RFE/RL, VOA.

Posted: 17 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Regional Tajik police say they know nothing about the reported arrest of a man suspected in the 2007 murder of Kyrgyz journalist Alisher Saipov. Kyrgyz Interior Ministry spokesman Bakyt Seyitov told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that his ministry was told on January 14 about the arrest of a Tajik citizen, Farrukh Sharakhmatullaev, by the Sughd police department. ... Saipov, 26, an ethnic Uzbek and editor in chief of the Osh-based newspaper 'Siyosat' ('Politics'), was shot dead as he left his office in central Osh on October 24, 2007. Saipov had also worked as a correspondent for RFE/RL and the Voice of America." RFE/RL, 16 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal: duplication puts the "torch" to the taxpayers' dollars (updated).

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"On January 15, RFE/RL will begin broadcasting in the local Pashto dialects to Pakistan and the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The new station - called Radio Mashaal ('Torch' in Pashto) - will offer an alternative to the growing number of Islamic extremist radio stations in the region. ... One surprise in store for listeners will be the reappearance of Haroon Bacha, a popular Pashtun singer who fled the region last year amid death threats from the Taliban. The 36-year-old recording artist - whose dozens of albums, music videos and television appearances made him one of the most famous entertainers in the region - will be hosting a cultural affairs show for Radio Mashaal." RFE/RL press release, 14 January 2010. See also AP, 14 January 2010. The schedule is 1100-1300 UTC on 9395, 11605, and 13700 kHz shortwave. The RFE/RL website says 15:30-17:30 "local broadcast time", so they are using Afghanistan (UTC + 4 1/2) rather than Pakistan (UTC + 5) time.
     I'm sure Radio Mashaal will do a good job. But it will do much the same job that VOA's Deewa Radio is already doing, in the same language, to the same target area. Put together the talent from these two stations, and US international broadcasting would be in danger of achieving excellence.
     This was not the idea of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Some senator put some language in some appropriations bill, and Radio Mashaal was created. Such shards of bad legislation have made US international broadcasting an archetype of organizational inefficiency.

     Update: "Radio Mashaal's first broadcast yesterday featured male and female presenters reading a newscast. There was an analysis of the impact of Mr. Holbrooke's visit to the region, a discussion of an article from The Wall Street Journal and messages from tribal leaders from the region. 'It went perfectly,' said Akbar Ayazi, who oversaw the establishment of the new service, which is broadcast by Radio Free Europe out of Prague. 'During the first hour, we received over a hundred voice messages. It was a terrific response,' he said. A team of 25 journalists is based in a bureau in Islamabad, reporting from 'the mountains and villages where the extremists are active,' explained Mr. Ayazi." Sonia Verma, Globe and Mail, 16 January 2010.

Canadian, US broadcasters in Bahamas, transmitting warmth back north.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Millions of potential tourists across Canada and the US will be reached over the next three weeks as Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort turns into 'radio city', hosting a major international broadcasting event. Sandals has created a tented village at its Cable Beach resort for dozens of radio stations, traveling to The Bahamas to broadcast live from Nassau to approximately 10 million people. This week 11 Canadian stations from the Ontario region are the first to give the islands, and the resort, valuable airtime, offering competitions and plugging the beauty of The Bahamas. Over the three-week period 31 stations will host their shows live from Sandals, with broadcasters from Western Canada next, followed by the US and shows from the likes of New York." Scott Armstrong, The Nassau Guardian, 15 January 2010.

Past reporting for RFE/RL still brings "informal talk" with Uzbek prosecutors.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Uzbek authorities today to immediately cease their campaign of intimidation against the handful of independent journalists remaining in the Central Asian country. From January 7-9, at least six journalists were called in for 'an informal talk' at the Tashkent prosecutor’s office, and at least four of them were interrogated about their work. ... At the end of the interrogation, each was asked to write their personal responses to the prosecutor’s questions, according to CPJ interviews. The journalists have contributed in the past to international media outlets such as the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), The Associated Press, and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, as well as to independent regional news Web sites, such as Ferghana, Uznews, and CentrAsia." CPJ, 15 January 2010.

Azerbaijan press happy that documentary is no longer on Euronews website.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A controversial video report on Nagorno-Karabakh has been removed from the Euronews website. Last year representatives of the Euronews TV channel visited the occupied lands of Azerbaijan and made a film, Nagorno Karabakh - Wind of Change, that gave a wrong, one-sided interpretation of the Karabakh conflict. ... This can be seen as a victory for the Azerbaijani community which informed the TV channel of the truth about Nagorno-Karabakh.", 15 January 2010. "European TV giant Euronews has removed the scandalous video report on Nagorno-Karabakh from its Web site following strong protests from Azerbaijan.", 15 January 2010. Perhaps the video just reached its normal expiration date on the site. See previous post about same subject.
     Chairman of the Azerbaijan's National Television and Radio Council Nushiravan Maharramli: "[Euronews representatives] said they will come on January 17. We have expressed our position concerning Euronews. It would be wrong to pass a decision on removing Euronews from the cable network because of this program. If such programs continue, we can pass a decision." Azeri-Press Agency, 14 January 2010.

Euronews Arabic pins hopes on "plurality of its stakeholders."

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Euronews speaks a new language: it is broadcasting today in Arabic, and will soon go Turkish and Persian. Its goal is to become the leading international news TV channel. The main focus is to obtain a privileged place in the Middle East after the great success in Europe. ... [Euronews CEO Philippe] Cayla reiterates that despite the fact that several western channels speak today in Arabic and constitute potential competitors to Euronews Arabic news desk, he is confident of the primacy of Euronews service [because of] the plurality of its stakeholders. He adds: we are independent, our journalists are neutral: this is why we are different. We also hope that both Arab and European viewers be equally satisfied with the quality of our service. But would Euronews’ goal be to please its viewers, or to build a bridge between different points of views and fill the gap that separates different nations? Cayla answers: we do not pretend to have a message to convey to our viewers, even if we stick to the principles prevailing in Europe, namely human rights, independence and professionalism. We are an independent channel, and we endeavor to remain objective as much as possible. It is worth noting that Euronews broadcasts already in 8 languages: French, Spanish, English, German, Russian, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic. Turkish and Persian are next on the agenda, with hopes to be able to go Indian [Hindi?] and Chinese in the future." Amina Khairy,, 14 January 2010.

Was The National's ban of ad for "Is Dubai a bad idea" a bad idea?

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper has refused to run an advertisement by the Doha Debates promoting a controversial session about Dubai, broadcast by BBC World News last Saturday and Sunday. A Doha Debates spokesman said the advertisement had featured a picture of two panellists against a Dubai skyline with the question: 'Is Dubai a bad idea?' Sources close to the newspaper said its staff had been afraid of upsetting Dubai’s rulers, already sensitive over international coverage of their financial crisis. ... Doha Debates chairman Tim Sebastian said the National’s decision represented a serious blow to free speech in the region. 'This was an important debate about Dubai, in the wake of widespread international concern over the Emirate’s finances. Our mainly Arab audience voted 62% against the motion that Dubai was a bad idea.'" Gulf Times (Doha), 13 January 2010.

BBC joins protest against Iran's jamming of satellite broadcasts.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Iran is facing mounting international protests about its jamming of the BBC's Persian TV service (PTV) after the channel – which has millions of viewers and is hugely popular with opposition supporters – was taken off a satellite owned by Europe's leading operator. The BBC said today it was 'actively supporting' a formal complaint to the International Telecommunication Union, a UN-affiliated body, about 'deliberate interference' from Iran. The ITU confirmed it had received representations from regulators in France, home to Eutelsat, owner of the Hotbird 6 satellite, which transmitted PTV until the end of last month. The German state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, said it too would protest about interference with its Persian-language radio broadcasts. Voice of America Persian TV programmes have also been jammed. The BBC said it was telling viewers how to adjust their satellite dishes to receive programmes via two other satellites that are out of range of Iranian jamming. Eutelsat says PTV was removed from Hotbird 6 'in agreement' with the BBC, though sources close to the affair say the operator caved in to commercial and legal pressures from other customers broadcasting on the same transponder." Ian Black, The Guardian, 14 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     Kai Ludwig in Germany writes: "IBB introduced new Eutelsat solutions as well, but using other satellites, Atlantic Bird 4A (7.2° West) and Eurobird 2 (25.5 deg. East). Perhaps this has its background in the circumstance that these satellites are co-positioned with DTH platforms of Nilesat and Arabsat, respectively."

Departing BBC Worldwide exec developed Dancing With The Weakest Link.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide's director of international formats Colin Jarvis will soon step down from his post after nearly 40 years at the corporation. After joining Worldwide in 1977, Jarvis helped establish its international formats unit in 1993, including the first major deal with a US network when NBC acquired The Weakest Link in 2000. He also played an important role in bringing Strictly Come Dancing to the US, under the title Dancing With The Stars on the ABC network. Both shows became hugely successful and profitable for Worldwide. ... There are no indications as yet about who will replace Jarvis to lead Worldwide's international formats operation going forward." Andrew Laughlin, Digital Spy, 13 January 2010.

In a rather Soviet development, BBC Russian covers the Ukraine election.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"As Ukraine gears up for presidential elections on Sunday 17 January, BBC Russian has mounted major multimedia programming, covering opinions and expectations ahead of the poll, the election day itself – and looking at the elections in the context of Russian-Ukrainian relations. ... Head of BBC Russian, Sarah Gibson, says: 'The relations between the two countries are at the top of the news agenda in both Russia and Ukraine, and these elections present a huge interest to regional and international Russian-speaking audiences.'" BBC World Service press release, 13 January 2010.
     The BBC press office perhaps hastened to add: "The website of BBC Ukrainian,, recently re-launched as BBC Mij svit (BBC My World), has added video interviews with presidential candidates to the service's multimedia coverage of the Ukraine presidential election. A gallery of extensive video interviews with almost all contenders for Ukraine's highest office makes the BBC Ukrainian website stand out among other Ukrainian-language online news sites, adding to the BBC's comprehensive multimedia coverage which includes in-depth reports and analysis, comments and opinions, interactive forums and blogs on the presidential race." BBC World Service press release, 15 January 2010. See previous post about BBC Мій світ.

BBC World News claiming success among upscale Asians.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The latest Synovate PAX survey shows that daily viewership for BBC World News in Asia Pacific is up 25% year on year. BBC World News has gained 230,000 viewers per month in Asia Pacific, a far higher growth rate than other international news and business channels in the PAX survey, with some seeing their audiences falling. ... The latest data continues the BBC’s strong showing in the region. Each month BBC World News and BBC websites reach a total of 3.1m upscale users in Asia." BBC World News press release, 15 January 2010.

Of course, if the winds shift, these things could end up in Mongolia.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Activists Tuesday launched thousands of leaflets towards North Korea in a show of support for a US Christian missionary who crossed into the communist state on a one-man human rights crusade. ... Some 6,000-8,000 leaflets were attached to two giant balloons that were released towards the closely guarded border from Imjingak in South Korea. 'Death to (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-Il's regime' the leaflet read." AFP, 12 January 2010.

This international broadcaster expects a sudden decline of shortwave after May 2011.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Growing communities from California to South Africa, from China to Ghana, believe the world will end on May 21st 2011. ... If you’re a follower of Harold Camping, the bible scholar and media owner who’s worked out – through numerology – the exact date for the End of Days, what you mainly do is listen to his radio station. ... At the moment, according to the organisation’s website, Family Radio is searching for people who can help them expand their range of broadcast languages. Included in the proposed new mix are Arabic, Armenian, Creole and Khmer. By far the largest component on the list, though, is African languages – and especially South African languages. If Family Radio is successful, listeners will soon be able to hear about the imminent Second Coming of Christ in Sindebele, Northern Sotho, Sesotho, Shona, SiSwati, Tswana, Xhosa and Zulu. Johan Coetzee, a South African believer based in Nelspruit, started listening to the English broadcasts of Family Radio on shortwave about six years ago." Kevin Bloom, The Daily Maverick, 11 January 2010. In 1973, Harold Camping's WYFR took over the shortwave license originally held by the famous WRUL, later WNYW, or Radio New York Worldwide. WYFR moved the transmitting site from Scituate, Massachusetts, to Okeechobee, Florida.

Religious broadcaster TWR distributes shortwave radios in or into China.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"International broadcasting ministry TWR has equipped more than 100,000 unregistered church leaders in China to date. The broadcaster has been distributing ‘Radio Church Kits’ each containing a Chinese Bible, Christian literature and a portable shortwave radio for recipients to plug in to its teaching programmes. The ongoing campaign, which began in 1994, has seen more than 101,500 kits being distributed to various networks and provinces in the country." The Christian Post, 11 January 2010. Assuming those are low-cost shortwave radios, chances are they were manufactured in China in the first place. TWR was originally Trans World Radio. Presumably now using its initials to reflect its (forgive the use of the word) evolution from radio to multimedia, TWR joins many non-profit and for-profit organizations that have similarly changed their identities.

ABC and Sky prepare to vie for the Australia Network contract.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The federal government is preparing to invite the ABC and Sky News to state their claims to run Australia Network, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's diplomatic broadcast service. As soon as next week Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is expected to ask the ABC and Sky to pitch for the $94.2 million contract to run the network for five years after the present deal expires in August. ... The ABC charter requires it to broadcast programs overseas that 'will encourage awareness of Australia and an international understanding of Australian attitudes on world affairs'. However, Sky News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos has attacked Mr Scott's proposal to use the network to help the national broadcaster compete with the likes of the BBC and CNN by adding news bureaus and satellite services in Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America." James Chessell, The Australian, 16 January 2010.
     "The ABC's plan to launch in the next few months a 24-hour national television news service amounts to a taxpayer-funded declaration of war on commercial media outlets in Australia. It also raises serious questions about the ability of the national broadcaster to support its image as the provider of high quality news and current affairs programming. ... [ABC MD Mark Scott's] plan for continuous news embraces the Australian Network Television, which is currently operated by the ABC under contract from the Department of Foreign Affairs to deliver programming offshore, particularly in the Asian and South Pacific region. He has strenuously opposed any suggestion this service should be run by Sky News, arguing that the national broadcaster was the only suitable vehicle to deliver the federal government's diplomatic message. He says that a substantial boost in investments by countries such as China to upgrade their government-owned propaganda outlets proves that this role should be left exclusively to the national broadcaster. This demonstrated an understanding that diplomatic activities can't be outsourced, he claims. Scott has a close ally in Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, but the future of the Australian Network is something in which our Prime Minister has taken a close personal interest as he develops his image as a middle power diplomatic leader." Malcolm Colless, The Australian, 16 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Will concert on Australia Network and Radio Australia help mend relations with India?

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"AR Rahman, the Indian recording star and Oscar-winning composer of the music for Slumdog Millionaire, is to stage a free concert in Sydney as a gesture of goodwill he hopes will promote harmony between his homeland and Australia in the wake of a series of brutal attacks on Indian students. Canberra could scarcely have hoped for a more powerful celebrity endorsement at a time when sections of the Indian media have portrayed Australia as a deeply racist nation. ... It will be broadcast in Australia and to 44 countries in the region, including India, by the Australia Network, the ABC’s international TV service." Peter Smith, Financial Times, 15 January 2010.
     "The concert will be broadcast live on Radio Australia, Australia Network and ABC2 at 3 pm in India, 5:30 pm in Hong Kong and 9:30 pm in Fiji." Australia Network News, 14 January 2010. Today, Saturday, at 0930 UTC.
     "[P]erhaps the most difficult challenge to the [Australian educational] industry in recent times continues to be the appalling number of attacks on Indian students. ... Not only has there been coverage in Australia and India but all over the world. When the Indian government recently issued travel warnings for Indian students in Australia, the news was immediately broadcast around the world on BBC World Service, BBC News (television) and CNN television news." Dale Down, University World News, 17 January 2010.

Wiesenthal Center urges end to European cooperation (if any) with Egyptian television station.

Posted: 16 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The anti-Semitic content of Egypt's Al-Faraeen television channel prompted the European branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center over the weekend to urge French and German TV stations to cease 'cooperation agreements' with the broadcaster. Dr. Shimon Samuels, Wiesenthal's director for international relations in Europe, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the German Association of Public Broadcasting Corporations (ARD) 'has a responsibility to cancel it, if there is an agreement.' ... Dr. Joachim Görgen, a spokesman for the ARD, told the Post on Tuesday that there is no agreement between the ARD and Al-Faraeen. He denied the contention from AL-Faraeen that there was a cooperation agreement and noted there 'has never been' a partnership between the two television studios. A similar letter was sent to the the French CSA (Higher Audiovisual Council). The Wiesenthal Center had previously convinced the CSA 'to end transmission of Hizbullah Al-Manar TV and Hamas Al-Aksa TV via EUTELSAT.'" Benjamin Weinthal, Jeruslam Post, 11 January 2010.

Haiti media update: old and new technologies.

Posted: 15 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"With cell phone service and landlines down, Haitians around the world are seeking out any means possible to reach their families. Their efforts have shown the importance of both old and new technologies in getting the word out. ... Ronald Cesar, the chief of the [VOA] Creole Service ... says shortwave technology, which dates back to the 1920s, is one of the best ways to reach people in Haiti during a time like this, when most local radio stations are unable to broadcast. VOA and other news outlets are also using pages on Facebook and Twitter to share information, further demonstrating that when it comes to communicating in a disaster, all types of technology are critical." Alex Villarreal, VOA News, 14 January 2010.
     Ears To Our World, a humanitarian organization that supplies shortwave radios to teachers and students in developing countries, is sending "a substantial number of Eton Corporation-donated ETOW radios to individuals in remote and impoverished areas affected by the recent earthquake. ETOW’s wind-up radios, which also have a built-in flashlight, may provide life-saving medical and food/water supply information to families and communities." ETOW, 14 January 2010.
     "Reuters TV, which has been providing coverage for international broadcasters including Al Jazeera, Canal Plus, and ITN, was first with video of the devastation -- about 4 hours after the quake Tuesday night. The service had the first TV facility set up at the airport - before NBC's own dish was set up - Brian Williams, Al Roker, Ann Curry rushed to the Reuters dish so they could do a cross-talk on MSNBC. Williams even thanked Reuters at the beginning of 'Nightly News' last night.' Chris Ariens,, 14 January 2010.
     "With official reports and estimates hard to come by, many newspapers turned to alternative news sources like Twitter and Facebook where Haitians and relief workers posted pictures and updates to contact loved ones. The Miami Herald in particular has offered some of the must comprehensive multimedia coverage in the area. Drawing from Miami's massive Haitian community, the Herald has benefited from its insight in the area, with its staff poring over Haitian-Creole websites to translate more news." Trafton Kenney,, 15 January 2010.
     CNN International EVP Tony Maddox "tells us he has 40-50 people on the ground there now, which requires a lot of quick planning. 'We immediately went into our breaking news mode,' Maddox said referring to when the first word came in about the earthquake." Kevin Allocca,, 14 January 2010.
     "Fresh water is scarce. Cellular and satellite capability is spotty at best. News crews have to bring their own gasoline to power generators to keep their equipment running. Many are sustaining themselves on MREs (meals ready to eat). And sleep is catch as catch can." Marisa Guthrie, Broadcasting & Cable, 14 January 2010.

BBC, RFI add broadcasts for Haiti.

Posted: 15 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service will be broadcasting special lifeline programming for listeners in Haiti in the French, Spanish and English languages from tomorrow, Saturday 16 January. Special programmes about the crisis will be broadcast this weekend between 12.00 and 13.00 GMT on shortwave on 11860 kHz (25 MB) and 9410 kHz (31 MB). The BBC is expecting the programmes will also be available on the local FM network via the BBC's partner station, Radio Lumiere." BBC World Service press release, 15 January 2010. But no Creole.
     "A partir de lundi 18 janvier RFI met en place une émission quotidienne à destination de ses auditeurs haïtiens, en français et en créole, de 8h10 heure locale (13h10 temps universel) à 9h heure locale (14h temps universel)." Radio France International, 15 January 2010. Quelle est la fréquence, Kenneth?

Hey, the meetings of the new BBG could be interesting.

Posted: 15 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A heavy-hitting Democratic operative apologized yesterday for being 'too aggressive' when he roughed up a Weekly Standard reporter trying to pitch questions to Attorney General Martha Coakley after a Washington fund-raiser. ... Michael Meehan, the Coakley campaign aide involved in the D.C. dust-up, told the Herald he did not push McCormack. He said he was escorting Coakley to her car and took his task too seriously. ... Last fall Meehan was appointed [sic] by President Obama to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe." Laura Crimaldi and Hillary Chabot, Boston Herald, 14 January 2010. Meehan has been nominated for a seat on the BBG, but not yet confirmed.
     "Republicans may turn a tussle outside a fundraiser into a federal issue, as Michael Meehan, the aide to Democrat Martha Coakley who tangled with a Weekly Standard reporter, has been nominated to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors. 'This will certainly be an issue if the White House continues to back his nomination,' said an aide to a Republican senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, which has yet to schedule hearings on the nomination to the board, which oversees American broadcasting operations like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 'The BBG works to promote freedom and stop abuse of the press overseas. What kind of message does that send dictators in Iran and Venezuela if the U.S. promotes someone caught on tape assaulting reporters?'" Ben Smith, Politico, 13 January 2010.
     Too bad all BBG meetings are closed. As my career sputters towards its conclusion, I am interested in meetings only for their entertainment value.
     I trust Mr. Meehan, founder of Blue Line Strategic Communications, will show similar zeal when a member of the Administration or of Congress wants US international broadcasting to compromise its journalistic standards and instead be employed for, well, "strategic communications."

CBS blog calls VOA government mouthpiece, but concedes that VOA Haiti coverage is "pretty straightforward."

Posted: 14 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America is, of course, not an independent news agency but a mouthpiece for the U.S. federal government. But their correspondent's report on Wednesday evening seems pretty straightforward: 'Our small plane landed in Port-au-Prince shortly before twilight. Getting into Haiti has been extremely difficult because there has been a lot of confusion about whether the airport here in Port-Au-Prince is operational. Several people told us that only planes carrying humanitarian aid, doctors, supplies or journalists were allowed to enter the country. From the air as we approached Port-au-Prince, we could see buildings damaged. Around some blocks of houses we could see large piles of concrete debris which we assume was gathered after the earthquake and set aside.'" WorldWatch Blog, CBS News, 13 January 2010. This item about VOA seems to be missing from later versions of the blog.
     "Frederick County residents can send messages to friends and relatives in Haiti by calling 202-205-9948. Voice of America, a government agency, will broadcast your message, said spokeswoman Joan Mower. 'You could say, "I’m in Frederick, Md. I hope you’re fine,"' Mower said. 'We set up a special number to help Americans communicate,' she said." Frederick (MD) News Post, 14 January 2010. Creole only, presumably. Unless they have been restored for the Haiti emergency, there are no VOA English transmissions to the Americas, except 30 minutes per weekday of Special English.

Special broadcasts to Haiti from VOA Creole (updated).

Posted: 14 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Haitians, cut off from the world by a devastating earthquake, tuned in to special shortwave and satellite radio broadcasts from the Voice of America's (VOA) Creole Service to learn the latest news and information. Hours after Tuesday's earthquake struck near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, VOA broadcast a 90-minute special program to the people of Haiti. ... Ronald Cesar, chief of VOA's Creole Service, said it was difficult for people to get telephone lines out of Haiti. In addition, damage was severe to one of the VOA's FM affiliates, Radio Guinen. 'I talked with the manager and he said his tower was down,' Cesar said. VOA is the leading international broadcaster in Haiti, with a weekly audience reach of 50%." VOA press release, 13 January 2010.
     "As rescue operations accelerated to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti, correspondent Brian Wagner flew into Port-au-Prince Wednesday to begin covering the story for VOA." VOA News, 13 January 2010.
     Update: "Creole Service programming on shortwave and satellite radio has expanded from 1.5 hours daily to 5 hours. Programs now air at 7:30-8:30 am EST (1230-0130 UTC); 12:30-2:30 pm EST (1730-1930 UTC); 5:00-6:00 pm EST (2200-2300 UTC) and 8:00-9:00 pm EST (0100-0200 UTC). The evening programs can also be heard on 1180 AM from a transmitter and tower in Marathon, Florida, pre-empting Radio Marti at those times." VOA press release, 14 January 2010. Schedule below shows AM 1180 kHz during the day, also. Will it reach Haiti during daylight?
Weekday schedule for now...
1230-1330 UTC 9660 adding 6135 1180
1730-1800 UTC 15390 17565 adding 1180
1800-1930 UTC adding 1180 15390 17565
2200-2300 UTC 11905 13725 15390 adding 1180
0100-0200 UTC adding 5960 7465 1180
VOA Creole is normally Monday through Friday, but weekend hours will be added.
     "The Haitian broadcast of the Voice of America went into expanded service, even though its main transmitter in Haiti was destroyed in the quake." PBS Newshour, 13 January 2010. Meaning local FM affiliate.

Worldspace India considers legal action against bankrupt Worldspace.

Posted: 14 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace India was instructed to cease operation on Dec 31st. However, most of the staff are still very much at their desks, and the local operation is briefing lawyers, and is contemplating an action against Worldspace Inc (the Washington parent which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy) and Liberty Media." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 11 January 2010.
     Excerpt of letter from Worldspace India to WorldSpace director Don Frickel: "We have been given to understand that we will not be given our settlement benefits in the absence of a notice period. We have also been told that these liabilities belong to WorldSpace India and our only recourse is to approach the liquidator with our claims. At the level of the individual, this means not only loss of dues we have a right to, but also loss of professional credibility." Rapid TV News, 12 January 2010.
     "Worldspace India was financially self-sufficient until November last year, despite the Indian office being owed $9.8m for unpaid bills by its Washington-based parent. However, December's salaries were paid by Worldspace from Washington because local Indian bank accounts had been frozen.", 12 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Shortwave into and out of Haiti.

Posted: 14 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"At Radio Vision Celeste yesterday, the programming went beyond hard news from Haiti's shattered capital, Port-au-Prince. For the estimated 90,000 Haitian immigrants in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, the station passed on personal appeals from those desperate to learn about their loved ones, using shortwave radio communications with the handful of stations still in operation there. If the person in Haiti could be located, that message was passed back and broadcast from Radio Vision Celeste's studio in Northeast Philadelphia." Michael Matza, Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 January 2010.
     Maryland "Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration is using shortwave radio at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to monitor the situation in Haiti, spokesperson Shaun Adamec told Maryland Morning in an e-mail. Adamec said that Maryland has deployable 'resources and personnel' that could be activated by a U.S. State Department request." Maryland Morning, 13 January 2010.
     The American Radio Relay League asks radio amateurs "to be aware of the emergency operations on the following frequencies: 7.045 and 3.720 MHz (IARU Region 2 nets), 14.265, 7.265 and 3.977 MHz (SATERN nets), and 14.300 MHz (Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net)... . IARU Region 2 Area C Emergency Coordinator, Arnie Coro, CO2KK, [also a Radio Havana English-language broadcaster] is coordinating a multi-national response by hams. There are organized nets on 7.045 and 3.720 MHz; amateurs are asked to monitor the frequencies, but to also keep them clear of non-essential traffic. Amateur Radio operators should also be aware that emergency traffic pertaining to the Haitian earthquake is expected on the SATERN frequencies of 14.265 MHz, 7.265 MHz and 3.977 MHz... ." ARRL, 13 January 2010.

BBC covers reunion of Guantánamo Bay guard and two prisoners, and the former's apology.

Posted: 14 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC's "Newsnight and Five Live have joined forces to broadcast coverage from a reunion between a former Guantanamo Bay guard and two released inmates. Titled Guantanamo Reunited, the unique programme will see former camp guard Brandon Neely come face-to-face with former prisoners Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul, two thirds of the so-called Tipton Three. The three men recently came together at a BBC studio in London, eight years after they first met at the notorious US detention camp in Cuba. ... After the three men re-connected via social networking website Facebook, Neely agreed to travel to the UK for a meeting. The documentary footage will cover Neely's personal apology to Ahmed and Rasul for his involvement in their incarceration, which he now views as a great injustice." Andrew Laughlin, Digital Spy, 12 January 2010. See also BBC Newsnight.
     For more BBC coverage of the United States, see the first and third stories of BBC World Service From Our Own Correspondent, 13 January 2010.

BBC: "No more important story" than the war in Afghanistan.

Posted: 14 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Saturday was a grim day for all of us involved in reporting the war in Afghanistan. Since 2001, 246 British servicemen and women have died there. The death of the Sunday Mirror's Defence correspondent, Rupert Hamer, was the first of a British journalist. ... For the BBC, there is no more important story than the war there - to our audiences in the UK and around the world, particularly those in Afghanistan itself. If we, and other news organisations, are to report it accurately, then doing so from the front line is vital. We try to manage the risk to an acceptable level - but tragically, as we have witnessed this weekend, the danger is real. For reporters in Afghanistan, there are no hiding places." Jon Williams, BBC World News Editor, The Editors blog, BBC, 11 January 2010. See also the comments.

BBC Arabic now syndicated to newspapers.

Posted: 14 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC Arabic has signed a milestone agreement with Al Bawaba to distribute news via Al Bawaba's SyndiGate service, the first time BBC Arabic news services have been available for syndication to newspapers. BBC Arabic news and information will now be available to subscribing newspapers across the Middle East and North Africa for publishing on their respective websites. ... The agreement will see Al Bawaba provide subscribers with the complete BBC Arabic news service, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Subscribers will be able to publish full text BBC Arabic stories on their newspaper websites to complement their staff generated news." Apparent press release via AMEinfo, 11 January 2010.
     "The Public Affairs Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon announced on Tuesday the appointment and arrival of the Press Officer/Spokesperson, Ms. Fatima el Issawi. 'Ms. el Issawi has more than 15 years of work as investigative journalist reporting the Middle East for various international and Arab media organizations including Agence France Presse (AFP) and the BBC World Service', the office says. ... Ms. el Issawi has long experience in the research/advocacy field where she contributed to several projects including a recent study conducted by the Open University about the role played by the BBC Arabic service (World Service) as a platform for cultural and political interaction between Britain and the Arab world." (Beirut), 12 January 2010.

Cyber attacks cause Google to "review the feasibility" of its operations in China.

Posted: 13 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different. First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities. ... These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China." David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google, The Official Google Blog, 12 January 2010. Widely reported by the news media.

Enrollment is up at VOA.

Posted: 13 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"After a year in operation, the Miami University Voice of America Learning Center kicked off its second year Monday, Jan. 11, serving about 200 more students than it did in 2009. Officials from the branch said 374 undergraduates now attend, up from 267 last year. Graduate enrollment grew from 92 to 166." The Oxford (OH) Press, 11 January 2010. Located at the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station, connected to the present-day VOA in name only.

Death of saxophonist Georgy Garanian recalls his VOA jazz education.

Posted: 13 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"George (Georgy) Garanian was born in Moscow on August 14, 1934. He belonged to the 1950s jazz engineers generation a circle of musicians, mostly graduate and postgraduate students at Moscow and Leningrad's technical and engineering universities, with no background in classical music training, but with sheer admiration of the new, post-WWII jazz styles. Their jazz education consisted of endless careful transcriptions of American jazz stars' solos using not the original American records, which were not legally available behind the Iron Curtain, but either taped transmissions from the Voice of America (and its host Willis Conover, whose special English became the source of English education for those enthusiasts,) or the jazz on the bones records the self-made 78s cut on used X-ray film, with somebody's broken ribs in the background. ... In the 1960s, he worked in Moscow Radio's Vadim Lyudvikovski Big Band, where he showed a considerable passion for arranging the music. In 1973, the new Soviet Television and Radio Committee Chairman, Sergey Lapin, who hated Western music, fired the entire Radio Big Band and got rid of all jazz in the Soviet TV and radio programming; Garanian, and a few chosen instrumentalists from the former Lyudvikovski Big Band, formed the core of the new studio band, Melodia, which worked for the U.S.S.R's only record label with the same name." All About Jazz, 11 January 2010.

Recounting the arrests of VOA reporters in Cabinda.

Posted: 13 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The rebel attack late last week that killed at least two Togo soccer officials that had been headed for the tournament in Cabinda underscores the challenges Angolan democracy faces. I had already had an early warning of those challenges a month earlier, when I was briefly detained for photographing the very same stadium the soccer officials were headed for. I had arrived in Cabinda to visit an offshore platform over one of Africa's largest oil reservoirs. Passing by the stadium by chance, I took a photo of it. A half dozen plain-clothed police officers came out of the blue, seizing my camera and taking me and Voice of America journalist José Manuel Gimbi away for questioning. I've reported in a few high-profile hot spots such as Israel and the Palestinian territories but this is the first time I'd been detained for taking a photograph. ... My fellow detainee's predecessor at Voice of America in Cabinda, José Fernando Lelo, was also jailed for two years and convicted 'for crimes against the state' in what Amnesty International called an unfair trial." Benoit Faucon, Wall Street Journal, 11 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Unexpected question from VOA baffles Pakistani journalist, resulting in militant's reprimand.

Posted: 12 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"All too often journalists find themselves in a tight spot. In a talk show a Voice of America host unexpectedly asked a local journalist in Swat as to who was responsible for violating last February’s accord for the implementation of the Sharia in Malakand — the Taliban or the army? The baffled reporter from Express TV reluctantly replied that it was neither the Taliban, nor the army but the people! In this way the reporter tried to escape the wrath of the real violators by putting the responsibility on the victims. Unfortunately for him, this did not do the trick. He soon received a call from a militant who reprimanded him for spouting utter nonsense and for not telling the ‘truth’ that the security forces were responsible." Syed Irfan Ashraf, (Karachi), 11 January 2010.

New China Radio International staff welcomed to Pakistan.

Posted: 12 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The journalists of Pakistan and China have pledged that they would take the Pak-China friendship to new heights through undeterred and solid media endeavors and would join hands to confront every effort to harm the relations of the two nations, locked in bond of love. These pledges were made at a reception, hosted by Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Mail and Chairman of Pak-China Media Friendship Association Mr. Makhdoom Babar ... to welcome ... Ms. Sun Lingli, new Bureau Chief of China Radio International and Ms.Wang Qianting, new Correspondent of China Radio International (CRI) here on Sunday." Sobia Noreen, The Daily Mail (Karachi), 12 January 2010.

VOA Persian, Radio Farda in the news.

Posted: 12 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"One of Iran’s most respected television presenters is resisting official pressure to deny claims her son was deliberately run over by security forces during an opposition protest. ... On Friday Iranian secret police arrested two of the main witnesses. One, a young woman calling herself 'Sadaf' was interviewed by the Voice of America Farsi service and described what happened in front of her." Uzi Mahnaimi, The Sunday Times, 10 January 2010.
     "The son of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi yesterday accused hard-line pro-government militiamen and Revolutionary Guard members of staging an assassination attempt against his father a night earlier. Hossein Karroubi alleged that Revolutionary Guard commanders gathered a raucous crowd of local Basiji militiamen in the city Qazvin 90 miles outside of Tehran and fired two shots at the elder Mr. Karroubi's car, shattering its windows. 'If the car was not armored, there would have been serious injuries to the people inside,' Hossein Karroubi said in an interview with the U.S.-funded Persian-language Voice of America, or VOA, satellite channel." Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, 9 January 2010.
     "American diplomats ... have begun drawing comparisons in public between Iran's current political turmoil and the events that led up to the 1979 overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi. 'In my opinion there are many similarities,' the State Department's chief Iran specialist, John Limbert, told Iran-based listeners this week over U.S. government-run Radio Farda. 'I think it's very hard for the government to decide how to react to the legitimate and lawful demands of the people.'" Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, 9 January 2010.

Send message A to audience B to achieve effect C? Audience B has other ideas.

Posted: 11 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"What specific strategic PSYOP steps might be taken along these lines, in order to 'drive a wedge between the [Syrian] adversary’s leadership and its populace to undermine the adversary leadership’s confidence and effectiveness?' In the realm of 'white products' —so-called because the source is openly identified and the information 'is disseminated without intention to deceive the target audience as to where…originated'. U.S. forces and agencies might consider the following ideas, to start: ●Radio Sawa 60 Arabic broadcasts that report on Syria’s government and draw attention to, quote and interview Sunni clerics in the larger Arab world (Egyptian and Saudi, in particular) who are critical of the Damascus regime’s Alawism? ●Similar radio broadcasts from U.S. PSYOP units in Iraq, aimed into Syria? ●Radio programs, as well as Arabic publications funneled into Syria (via Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon) that discuss the history of the Alawi sect in a seemingly benign but critical fashion (describing, for example, why they were until recently called “Nusayris,” Ibn Taymiyah’s aforementioned fatwa, etc.) Of course, one of the main disadvantages of this genre of PSYOP product is 'the opponent knows who the source is and can therefore easily direct their refutation.The Arab and Muslim street is hypersensitive to—indeed, paranoid about--any hint of American attempts to influence hearts and minds in any sort of religious fashion. Thus, any efforts at undermining the current Syrian ruling regime might better be worked utilizing 'gray products,' in which the source is not identified. Operating in this realm, American anti-Alawi efforts might include: ●Persuading Sunni (Egyptian, Saudi, other) clerics to pen new fatwas denigrating the Islamic nature of the al-Assad family and its supporters. ..." Timothy R. Furnish, History News Network, 11 January 2010 ( (first published in the Perspectives: The Journal of the Psychological Operations Association). The audience for international broadcasting is, collectively, too smart to be taken in by content designed to achieve desired ends. The audience wants the balanced, comprehensive news that they are not getting from their state-controlled media domestic media. They won't stand for anything less.

A shortwave story from Borneo.

Posted: 11 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"It was about that time [the 1960s] that I also discovered the beauty of Western classical music. There was no television then, and our chief source of entertainment was the radio. My late father bought me an old fashioned bulky radio that ran on some kind of valve, because the transistor had not been invented yet. With this humble radio, I was introduced to the wonderful world of short wave broadcast, scouring the world for the most interesting music and programmes. My favourite station was the BBC World Service, when I was exposed for the first time to the musical genius of people like Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky." Hermit Hornbill, Borneo Post, 10 January 2010. blocked in China. Or not, but still trying.

Posted: 11 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Chinese authorities have begun blocking Chinese internet users from reading, according to a report from the Examiner. Internet users from Beijing to Shanghai found the site inaccessible starting Friday, reports Glenn Loveland, the Examiner’s Beijing correspondent. The block adds to a long list of sites that are or have been considered too dangerous for Chinese net users. UPDATE Saturday 19:45 PST [Sunday 0345 UTC]: Reports of’s demise in China may be a bit premature, as readers in several cities in China report being able to read the site. One says that urls that include the words RSS or blog are often blocked, one said we were blocked on a cell phone, while another said was fine now but was blocked for weeks in December. We are glad to learn you all can hear Radio Free in Beijing and Shanghai, but we promise to redouble our efforts to anger political censors around the world." Ryan Singel, Wired, 9 January 2010.
     "China is doing its best to remind us that technology can also be a tool of suppression, with Beijing recommitting to censoring its large corner of the Internet. ... [C]ensoring the Web is hard for any government. But as China is showing, with enough commitment it can be done." Editorial, Wall Street Journal, 11 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

China's FM in Nairobi, building broadcasting bridges.

Posted: 11 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi, interviewed by China Radio International and Kenya Broadcasting Corporation in Nairobi: "I would like to say that when I first came here in 2006 CRI had enthusiastic listeners and I do hope that you will even make greater progress in future and I hope that CRI will serve a more effective bridge between the Chinese and the Kenyan people and I hope that KBC will also be a very good bridge linking our two people together." CRI English, 10 January 2010. CRI has a full-time FM outlet in Nairobi. KBS probably will not have the same in Beijing.

And, so, those who jam Persian-language satellite broadcasts are no gentlemen.

Posted: 10 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"French regulators have asked the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to intervene with the Iranian government to persuade Tehran to stop jamming satellite signals from the BBC World Service’s Persian-language broadcasts into Iran, according to the director of France’s National Frequencies Agency (ANF). ... 'The ITU is really a gentlemen’s club ... It depends on the goodwill of its members. There is no mechanism for forcing an administration into compliance with the rules.' ... The BBC Persian programming carried on the Eutelsat Hot Bird 6 satellite stationed at 13 degrees east was jammed starting last spring during Iran’s elections, and it has continued intermittently ever since, particularly during the broadcaster’s coverage of the death of a reformist Iranian cleric. ... For the BBC, a solution to the problem is likely to involve using replacement capacity on Eutelsat satellites whose beams make it impossible for Iranian authorities to uplink interference to the satellite. ... BBC World Service did not respond to requests for comment about whether the use of other satellites will provide a permanent solution to the problem or whether the broadcast audience will be sharply reduced as viewers need to repoint their rooftop antennas to the new satellites." Peter B. de Selding, Space News, 8 January 2010. Recommended reading. This is one of the first stories I've seen that explains the complexities and consequences of satellite jamming. One temporary remedy would be for BBC Persian TV and VOA Persian News Network TV to put their audio on shortwave, and to remind audiences that the shortwave option exists.
     Kai Ludwig in Germany wrote on 4 January: "It seems that VOA TV Persian has two days ago been taken off Eutelsat Hotbird 8. The 'special mux' on 12.242 GHz is now empty, and the main IBB mux on 12.226 GHz contains only color bars as placeholder for PNN. This as reported at My comment: How does this fit to the BBG statement from Dec 29 in which the private industry has been urged to 'stand united in the face of these authoritarian acts or risk even greater human rights losses'? Why has PNN been removed from the IBB muxes on Hotbird just four days later?" See previous post about same subject.

Sangean still combines old (shortwave) and new (internet) radios.

Posted: 10 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
Reporting from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: "Some companies are combining old and new technology. Taiwan-based Sangean still makes multi-band radios that receive shortwave bands, and rugged worksite radios to pick up local broadcasts. Rico Burgos of Sangean America says high quality HD radios and Internet radios are also big sellers. 'You can listen to 16,000 Internet stations around the world. It's the new thing now. It's the new generation,' he said." Mike O'Sullivan, VOA News, 9 January 2010.
     Among the new crop of internet radios at CES are models by UK company PURE. See other internet radios at C. Crane Co.

Bitcentral product remedies Alhurra's "limited access to news content."

Posted: 10 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Al-Hurra Television, the U.S.-backed Arab language satellite television network available in the Middle East, has installed Bitcentral’s Oasis and Precis systems as part of an initiative to enhance its global news presence and to implement a file-based workflow. Before the installation, Al-Hurra, based in Springfield, Va., had only limited access to news content from off-site facilities. The Bitcentral Oasis media asset management system now allows Al-Hurra users to more effectively manage large amounts of media, including video, audio, text and graphics." Bitcentral press release, 5 January 2010. Sometimes real news can be culled from a press release. Alhurra was trying to compete with the likes of Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and BBC Arabic TV with "only limited access to news content from off-site facilities"?

New platform for Russia Today, CCTV in Czech Republic.

Posted: 10 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Czech Radio and TV Council (RRTV) has awarded new programme distribution licences to both UPC and Media Vision, the operator of the DTH platform CS Link. According to HN, UPC now has the right to distribute the Czech channel R1 and foreign channels Chinese International Channel, English International Channel and Russia Today." Broadband TV News, 8 January 2010. I think "Chinese International Channel" refers to CCTV-4, and "English International Channel" to CCTV-9, though it's difficult to keep track of China's expanding international television activities.

"VOA doesn't even have a Baluchi language service!" (updated)

Posted: 10 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Right now you are playing with the lives of young American boys and girls from the countryside by not talking to us. You are proposing drone attacks but the Voice of America doesn’t even have a Baluchi language service! A simple language service would cost you less than what it costs to maintain a single US soldier in Afghanistan." Pakistani Baluch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, interviewed by Stewart J. Lawrence, CounterPunch, 30 December 2009.
     Update: Activists of the American Friends of Baluchistan call on "Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, ... to launch Voice of America Baluchi language service to effectively communicate with the Baluch masses." Ahmar Mustikhan, NowPublic, 7 January 2010.

Al Jazeera in the news update.

Posted: 09 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven Central Intelligence Agency operatives in Afghanistan last month appeared in a video early Saturday, saying the attack was carried out in revenge for the 2009 killing of the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. ... Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, right, in a video carried by Al Jazeera television. The man beside him was identified as Hakimullah Mehsud, the new leader of the Taliban in Pakistan. ... Al Jazeera’s Web site said that the video was released to the news organization on Saturday, and that it showed Mr. Balawi 'shooting a gun as he describes how the attack would target U.S. and Jordanian intelligence agents.' ... The Pakistani television channel Aaj also broadcast a video, and identified the second man seen in it as Hakimullah Mehsud, the new leader of the Taliban in Pakistan." Stephen Farrell, New York Times, 9 January 2010. "The name of the alleged bomber was first reported by al-Jazeera, which described Balawi as a physician from the Jordanian town of Zarqa... ." Washington Post, 5 January 2009. This Al Jazeera scoop was widely cited by other news organizations.
     Al Jazeera English "Listening Post" on Western media coverage of Yemen. Gregg Carlstrom, The Majlis, 9 January 2010.
     "[E]xcellent news clips done by Al Jazeera English's Clayton Swisher. As I was watching this, I realized that Americans hardly see images form the field and front lines in Afghanistan." Steve Clemons, Huffington Post, 9 January 2010.
     "The controversial television news network Al-Jazeera was at Friday's [Vermont] National Guard deployment ceremony in Essex Junction. The Arabic network is based in Qatar and has a sister channel here in the United States called Al-Jazeera English. The crew at Friday's ceremony is working on a piece about the effects of war on small communities and is using Vermont as the focal point for its story." Keagan Harsha, WCAX TV (Burlington), 8 January 2010.
     "Jordan National TV is increasingly seen less reliable regarding Arab news. According to statistics, during 2009, only 13 per cent of viewers considered it as a trustworthy source, while that number stood at 33 per cent in 2004 and 2003. Concerning international news, many more viewers suspect the credibility of their national TV. Al Jazeera came in line to fill the gap and succeeded in winning the trust of 35 per cent of Jordanian viewers, who look at it as the most credible source of local news, and that figure rises higher with Arab and foreign news. To a lesser degree, Al Arabiya, although it has failed in local news, has reached position ahead of the national television in Arab and international news." The National (Abu Dhanbi), 6 January 2010.
     "Since hitting the airwaves in September 2005, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel has broadcast thousands of hours of animated, talk and game shows in classical Arabic. ... Seven years ago, locally produced programming for children was practically non-existent. Arabic-language children’s television meant dubbed versions of Bugs Bunny and Yu-Gi-Oh! ... Competitors such as Nickelodeon Arabic and MBC-3 have in recent years begun to produce in-house game shows and other edutainment programming much like that seen on JCC." David Lepeska, The National, 8 January 2010.
     "[T]here are others who never fired a bullet, or strapped themselves to a ticking bomb, who nevertheless deserve to be publicly placed on America's terror watch list. They include Al Jazeera's Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, whose online fatwa insists that Palestinian women have the right to attain martyrdom by blowing themselves up amidst Israelis." Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, Washington Times, 8 January 2010.

Defending Al Manar.

Posted: 09 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"To say that there is no justification for the Al Manar TV Channel to be on the US Terrorism is an understatement. That any TV station is on the list is a disgrace and humiliation for fair minded Americans everywhere and makes a mockery of the First Amendment to our Constitution. Al Manar will survive and likely its audience will continue to grow despite being targeted by H.R. 2278 and other efforts to silence its quality programming and to prevent the American public from judging for themselves the worth Al Manar’s programming. Presumably Lebanon’s President and Parliament will make known their views of projects like H.R. 2278 to the White House and Congress... ." Franklin Lamb, Middle East Online, 7 January 2010. Too late for the House of Representatives, which passed H.R. 2278 395-3. The bill has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
     "Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has urged the United States to reverse a decision to ban the Hezbollah television channel, Al-Manar, during talks with US Senator John MCain. ... Sleiman's concerns come after the US House of Representatives passed a bill in December calling for punitive measures against Middle East television networks seen as fuelling anti-American hatred. Arab information ministers are due to meet on January 24 at the Cairo headquarters of the 22-member Arab League to discuss the US bill. ... The networks listed include Al-Aqsa, the television station of the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas, which broadcasts from the Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah's Al-Manar." AFP, 9 January 2010.
     Lebanon's "Speaker Nabih Berri sent a letter to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday criticizing the US Congress for passing a bill on December 8 that imposes sanctions on satellite channels carrying content that could be interpreted as 'hostile to the United States.' According to Berri, the bill breaches the sovereignty of the states broadcasting the penalized satellite content – including Lebanon – and complicates US-Lebanese relations. He added that there is freedom of expression in the Lebanese media. Berri also said that Lebanese law prohibits the broadcasting of media conduct that could 'incite violence' or 'generate hate' between Lebanon and other states." Daily Star (Beirut), 9 January 2010.
     "A report issued by a research center of the U.S. Congress warned that the move to classify the Egyptian satellite television provider NileSat and Saudi Arabian ArabSat as organizations that sponsor terrorism, similar to Hezbollah’s Al Manar television channel, could lead to the deterioration of U.S. relations with both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both of whom invest in the media providers. The report issued by the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the U.S. Congress, said the classification of Nilesat and Arabsat as organizations that sponsor global terrorism, in accordance with House of Representatives law No. 2278, 'could lead to a deterioration in U.S. relations with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.'" Mohamed Abdel Salam, Bikya Masr (Cairo), 31 December 2009. See previous post about H.R. 2278.

Still seeking a pan-African news channel.

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The world is knowledge-based; you are essentially what you know. But even in the information world we are absent. While the Americans have various electronic networks, including the CNN, the Europeans have theirs like EURONEWS and the Asians, their ALJAZEERA, Africans have none. Even the Pan-African News Agency which is supposed to help report our own story is mainly buried in under funding. We simply accept what others tell us." Owei Lakemfa, Vanguard (Lagos), 8 January 2009. Well, there is the obscure Africa 24. And SABC International, which is having its own problems, though still visible, using my rabbit ears, via MHz Networks.

Lawsuit implies China should have purchased US web-filtering software rather than pirating it.

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A California web-filtering company says it is the victim of 'one of the largest cases of software piracy in history.' Lawyers for adult- and violent-content web-filtering company Cybersitter claim in a federal lawsuit that the Chinese government purloined some 3,000 lines of its code from its servers as part of software for a national censorship project –- in which several international computer makers are accused of knowingly distributing throughout China. 'They are heavy allegations. Three thousand lines of code, approximately, were stolen. It was a serious thing that was done,' Elliot Gipson, a lawyer for Santa Barbara-based Cybersitter, said in a telephone interview Thursday. Gipson said about 56 million copies of China’s government censorship software, part of the so-called Green Dam project, were marketed with his client’s code in China last year. ... That Chinese software, in addition to blocking violent and adult content, throttled political and religious websites." David Kravits, Wired, 7 January 2010.
     "The computer makers targeted in the suit -- who are accused of knowing Green Dam was copied but choosing to package it anyway along with products they sold in China -- are Sony, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, ASUSTeK, BenQ and Haier." Forbes, 7 January 2010.
     "In response, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Jiang Yu said to domestic and overseas media agencies January 7, 'We also recently received relevant question lists from some of the media agencies here and have transferred them to China's IT industry regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Please put forth specific follow-up questions to MIIT. What I want to stress is that the Chinese government highly values and fully respects software intellectual property rights.'" People's Daily Online, 8 January 2010.
     "While human-rights activists continue pushing Beijing to ease its restrictions on free-speech rights, foreign governments also need to recognize the protectionist aspects of Chinese Web censorship and respond accordingly. China's online protectionism goes against its obligations under the WTO. When China acceded to the trade body in 2001, it agreed to give unlimited access and equal treatment to foreign-based or foreign-owned businesses in many categories of services, including online services. These services count as imports to which China is supposed to be opening itself, even if they are delivered over a wire instead of in a shipping crate. ... If China does not change its Internet censorship practices, it is likely to soon face another WTO dispute. The online market in China is simply too big for Europe and the U.S. to let trade-distorting regulations pass without action." Fredrik Erixon and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Wall Street Journal, 6 January 2010; see also the comment.
     "For a few hours on Monday the strict controls that China exerts over domestic access to the internet – known as ‘the great firewall’- disappeared. Chinese internet users could twitter, Facebook, read about Tibet - you name it. But was it a harbinger or a glitch? Chinese media expert Rebecca Mackinnon explains the rules and misconceptions that surround China’s internet." On the Media, National Public Radio, 8 January 2010.

"Internet freedom in Yemen going downhill."

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"In March 2009 the [Yemeni] government submitted a legislation concerning the right to access information and to build websites. The draft was misleading and lacked clarity. It included prison sentences, some of which reach six years for anyone 'trying to extract or publish prohibited content,' according to the government's view. The authorities also launched a campaign to block news sites, hack them and delete all content, claiming they stir the public and incite violence and terrorism. ... The Yemen Portal published a list of blocked sites to which it had access. It managed to publish the contents of the blocked sites. As a result, the Yemen Portal itself was blocked. However, its owner managed to create a program to free all blocked sites. He called it Al-Kasser (the breaker). Yemeni authorities deliberately blocked the most popular sites that host blogs to prevent bloggers from publishing their articles and pictures and information exchange." Nadia Al-Sakkaf, Yemen Times, via Zawya, 5 January 2010.

US subcontractor arrested in Cuba for installing satellite equipment?

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Washington has long supplied Cuban dissidents with laptop computers and cell phones. But the Development Alternatives Inc. subcontractor arrested Dec. 5 in Havana worked with sophisticated telecommunications equipment. Analysts say the gear was probably designed to help Cubans talk or surf the web via satellite, circumventing the government network. Critics of U.S. policy say that makes his legal status there murky. 'The detained DAI subcontractor was not working for any intelligence service,' company president and CEO James Boomgard said in a statement Thursday. 'He was working with a peaceful, non-dissident civic group -- a religious and cultural group recognized by the Cuban government -- to improve its ability to communicate with its members across the island and overseas.'
On Wednesday, the Cuban government publicly accused the contractor, whose name has not been released, of working for U.S. intelligence services. In a December speech, Cuban leader Raúl Castro referred to the man's 'sophisticated satellite communications equipment,' and added: 'the enemy is as active as ever.'" Frances Robles, Miami Herald, 8 January 2010.

DISH Network international channels via IPTV, too.

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"DISH Network L.L.C., the U.S. leader in international programming, and NeuLion, Inc., an end-to-end IPTV service provider of live and on-demand international, sports and variety programming delivered via broadband, today announced a multi-year partnership to distribute certain DISH Network international channels using NeuLion's IPTV service. The partnership with NeuLion enhances DISH Network's international programming offering by providing consumers without access to satellite TV the ability to enjoy select DISH Network international channels through IPTV. ... DISH Network offers the most international programming in the nation, with more than 180 international channels in more than 28 languages. The company plans to launch the new IPTV service in early 2010." DISH Network press release, 7 January 2010. This release does not specify which DISH international channels will be distributed by IPTV, but for all the channel possibilities, see the DISH Network international programming page.

Another new medium for international broadcasting: widgets.

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"As the center of people's online lives, Yahoo! Inc. today furthered the company’s Connected TV leadership by globally expanding the availability of the Yahoo! Widget Engine. New partnerships ... will dramatically increase the availability of the Yahoo! Widget Engine, delivering compelling TV Widget experiences to more televisions and other consumer electronic devices which will begin shipping as soon as Q1 2010. ... Yahoo! has also worked with leading video, data and photo aggregators to provide consumers access to their vast libraries of thousands of content sources [including] FrameChannel: Provides consumers with over 1,000 content channels from FrameChannel's collection of leading photosharing, social networking and content partners, including BBC News,, EW Picks, Deutsche Welle... ." Yahoo! press! release! 7 January 2009.

Return of the sunspots?

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"2009 will go down as the sun’s third quietest year on record, under-shone only by 1913 and 2008. ... December has been far more active than the rest of the year. Five regions on the sun were active at once on the 22nd, as seen above. Again assuming the current sunspot holds together until Thursday, there will have been at least one spot on 22 of the month’s 31 days." Alexis Madrigal, Wired Science, 31 December 2009. See also American Radio Relay League, 31 December 2009. For those who are still listening to shortwave broadcasts, the return of the sunspots, which ebb and flow along an 11-year cycle, will allow better reception on a wider range of frequencies. It might even allow the noise from the power line communications device in your house to be heard in Turkey.

New technologies allow people to be well connected and poorly informed (updated).

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The idea is simple: exchange data among computers and other network-ready devices using the existing electrical wiring in your home. The method is known as Powerline and it's one of the solutions to in-home networking being touted by networking equipment makers today. ... HomePlug adapters do have at least one negative side effect: they can disrupt shortwave radio equipment. Although Powerline runs over the power cables, under certain circumstances the signals can radiate out for several metres, disrupting amateur broadcasters in the immediate vicinity. In practice these problems are rare, says [Computerbild magazine's Michael] Link, himself a ham radio operator." DPA, 3 January 2010. The problems are perhaps not so rare. And when certain websites are blocked, and satellites are jammed (as recently in Iran), shortwave is obliterated by broadband over power line schemes.
     Update: "At the 2010 International CES, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance today celebrates the publication of the IEEE 1901 Draft Standard for powerline communications (PLC), a major milestone for the industry. ... 'This will help boost the adoption rate of this technology, and we expect an increasing number of new products and players entering the PLC market in 2010.'" HomePlug Powerline Alliance press release, 6 January 2010.

Senator Lugar: Social networking technologies are a "risk worth taking."

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"[There are several] examples of what is being called '21st-century statecraft,' using the capabilities of modern communications and social networking technologies to win hearts and minds and improve the American image abroad. It represents an important leap forward from traditional U.S. outreach efforts, such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. ... But social networking technologies are more often used to enable individuals across a country, or across the globe, to interact, engage, and become empowered. Although this means that our government will not be able to control the message as well as it might with conventional public diplomacy tools, I believe it is a risk worth taking. Terrorists and other anti-American propagandists have for some time been using the Internet and other techniques to communicate and recruit. America needs to beat them at their own game, especially since we invented most of the technology." Senator Richard G. Lugar, Foreign Policy, 6 January 2010.
     Americans may think of VOA and RFE as "outreach efforts," but their audiences see the stations as a source of news more reliable than they get from their domestic media.
     Decades ago, in the classic period of shortwave broadcasting, audiences generally could hear three big signals: BBC, VOA, and Radio Moscow. Radio Moscow was obviously one-sided, so only BBC and VOA were left as reliable sources of information.
     Now, in the age of social media, BBC and VOA deliver their news via Twitter and Facebook, but they are in the midst of millions of other users, most providing drivel and dreck, but all with an equal "signal." Reliable news is more difficult to find in this massive oversupply of content.

     "Even as Iranians have broadcast their protests over the last seven months--snapping and uploading photos of brutal government repression to Facebook, circulating names via Twitter of innocent Iranians secretly detained in sweeps--and even as US policymakers have called for the Obama Administration to do more to support the Iranian protesters--it has been official US policy to block Iranians from accessing the very software that helped enable them to share their movement with world." Jamal Abdi, Huffington Post, 6 January 2010.

Prague Film School documentary on the dangers faced by RFE/RL journalists.

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"For a quick and powerful look at the dangers faced by RFE/RL's journalists, check out Freed Voices, a short, smartly-edited documentary about RFE/RL by Goran Rokolj and Karin Bleiweiss, two students at the Prague Film School. The documentary focuses on the significant threats, intimidation, and violence endured by many of RFE/RL's journalists. ... Freed Voices was filmed at RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague in October 2009, and was completed in December." Alex Mayer, Off Mic blog, RFE/RL, 7 January 2010, with video.

RFE/RL and Press TV report on Iranian documentary that suggested Neda Agha Soltan's death was staged.

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Iranian state television has made a documentary about the death of Neda Agha Soltan, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead during the June postelection protests in Tehran, suggesting she was an agent of the United States and Britain who staged her own death. ... The state television documentary was featured in a January 5 report broadcast by PressTV, Iran television's international English-language news network. Neda is portrayed in the documentary as a foreign agent who became the victim of a plot orchestrated by foreigners and opposition supporters." Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL, 7 January 2010.
     "The fiance of the iconic slain Iranian protester Neda says her gravestone has been vandalized, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. ... The tombstone, which is engraved with an image of Neda's face, was pockmarked with holes. [Her fiance] suspects the damage was caused by bullets." RFE/RL, 7 January 2010.
     "The mother of a man sentenced to death by the Islamic regime's Revolutionary Court gave a poignant interview to the Voice of America's Newstalk program on Tuesday night, January 5, 2010. Ahmad Karimi, a young carpenter accused of being a ringleader in the post-election unrest in Iran and a member of the Anjomaneh Padeshahi (Monarchist Association), was sentenced to death on December 28, 2009, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency." homylafayette Iran News in English, 6 January 2010, with link to video.

New IBB director of engineering.

Posted: 08 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"André V. Mendes has been named Director of Engineering and Technical Services for the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), effective December 21, 2009. The IBB provides engineering support for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which encompasses the Voice of America , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. ... Mendes most recently served as senior vice president for strategic planning and global CIO for Special Olympics International... . Previously he served as Chief Technology Integration Officer for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)... ." BBG press release, 7 January 2010.

VOA stringer in Puntland is released from jail.

Posted: 07 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) is pleased with the release from jail of Mohamed Yasin Isahaq, a VOA stringer in Somalia who had been held without charges since late December in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. 'Mr. Isahaq is an excellent journalist and we join his colleagues and his family in welcoming his release,' said Gwen Dillard, director of VOA’s Africa Division." VOA press release, 6 January 2010.
     "The Media Association of Puntland (MAP) welcomes the decision by the Puntland Autonomous Government to release from custody Journalist Mohamed Yasin Isak... ." Via Somaliweyn Media Center, 7 January 2009.
     "The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about deteriorating press freedom conditions in Puntland, including detentions, censorship, harassment, and direct attacks by police officers. Many of these disturbing attacks have targeted the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and one of its reporters, although several local reporters say they are seeing an overall pattern of harassment." CPJ, 6 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Death of Ivan Medek, "legendary" VOA Czech/Slovak broadcaster of the 1970s and 1980s.

Posted: 07 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A legendary Czech exile from communism and radio broadcaster has died. Ivan Medek’s voice became a vital link to the outside world after he began broadcasting back to his homeland at the end of the 1970’s. With the collapse of communism, Medek came back to try and recreate a better society. For many Czechs and Slovaks under communism, Medek’s voice and broadcasts were not just a symbol of freedom but also a window on what was really happening in their homeland. So it perhaps is not surprising that the simple front page headline of one of the Czech dailies on Thursday after his death aged 84 was simply: 'Ivan Medek, Voice of America, Vienna.' ... When he returned from exile in 1989 on the overthrow of communism, he contributed to an overhaul of the local media as head of the office for radio and television broadcasting. In 1993, he was appointed to the office of the president, later becoming the head of the office." Chris Johnstone, Radio Prague, 7 January 2010, with link to audio report.

Worldspace India issues statement: "the India team did their best."

Posted: 07 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Nearly two weeks after Worldspace Inc pulled the rug from under its India operations team, the Worldspace India office has put forth an official statement. The statement, that has been issued 'to clarify doubts relating to the credibility of the operations of Worldspace India and its employees' says that Liberty Media [new owner of Worldspace] conducted a detailed Due Diligence of the India operations in September and October 2009, engaging reputed Indian firms. 'Senior officials of Liberty Media were in regular touch with the Worldspace India team and were given to understand that they were keenly interested in the Indian operations. Against all odds in these difficult circumstances, the India team did their best to meet the aspirations of our Indian subscribers and successfully spearheaded Worldspace India to its best ever financial and business performance in the last 12 months. All along, no instructions were issued to Worldspace India to stop the sales of the receivers and subscription packs of Worldspace, Inc., and the service agreement was still in force. The employees in India continued operations in the ordinary course, being led to believe that the operations would be sold alongwith the assets as a going concern,' the statement says.", 5 January 2010.
     "The statement is, at least in part, an attempt to redress some of the stories that have emerged these past weeks alleging incompetence, and worse, amongst some key Worldspace India staffers." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 5 January 2010.
     Three hundred "employees of Worldspace India have, in a letter to prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh sent on Tuesday, urged for immediate government intervention to ensure that the the radio service continues in India; and that the exit of the radio service be allowed only after following the due process applicable to any other media or telecom service in India. The letter written to the PM also urges the government to ensure that the sale of the satellite assets impacting the India operations is duly publicized in India; and a just and equitable solution to the employees, subscribers, distributors, dealers, vendors, customer service support agencies is provided for.", 7 January 2010. This would mean taking control of a satellite whose footprint includes much more than India.
     "The satellite radio uplink facility provided by the WorldSpace Inc to its Indian subsidiary from Singapore was switched off on December 31, leaving over 1.5 lakh of its exclusive subscribers in a lurch, not to mention hundreds of employees and business partners." DNA, 7 January 2010.
     "All the receivers were sourced from the BPL Group. ... A top BPL executive, however told Business Line that WorldSpace does not owe any money to it as the receivers it manufactured were against orders. 'We hardly have any sets (receivers) left with us,' he said. Those left in the lurch are content creators, radio receiver sales personnel and administration staff. The tenancy of two adjacent rented offices of the company is due to expire any time. 'Until then, some of us keep meeting at the idling studios, where we once ideated,' a source there said." The Hindu, 6 January 2010.
     "Walkeshwar's Heena Udeshi said there was no communication from the company about the service shutting down. 'Our wasted subscription money aside, it is a huge setback; we used to enjoy the music so much,' she said." Mid-Day (Mumbai), 5 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Is this Chivas/BBC campaign neat, or on the rocks?

Posted: 07 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Chivas Regal is the official sponsor for the BBC World News’ ‘The Yearbook’ series in Singapore. The one-minute long episodes of The Yearbook follow the recent lives of six real school friends in Singapore. Even when these friends lead separate lives after graduating from school, they still gather and support each other in all occasions to maintain their relationship. The series is airing on BBC World News Asia-Pacific, with a supporting campaign on and BBC Knowledge. The advertisements will end in March. Chivas’ partnership with the BBC is linked to Chivas’ long-running ‘Live with Chivalry’ theme, which centers around the virtues of honour, integrity and passion. It targets 28 to 40 year-old male drinkers and promotes strong bonding between male friends. Xavier Beysecker, vice president of marketing at Pernod Ricard Asia, explained that the BBC had the 'key audiences' Chivas is targeting. 'The fact that we can extend our campaign across a range of channels, including, also means we are communicating across multiple touch-points,' said Beysecker." Media, 6 January 2010, with video. Now this would be a good subject for a graduate student of rhetoric's semester paper, or maybe even a thesis. And, as usual with papers about rhetoric, I will have no idea what conclusions the writer is trying to make. But, then, I have no idea what this Chivas campaign is about. And what part of this, if any, is BBC content, and what part Chivas advertising?

Radio France International unions call for "unlimited" strike beginning Thursday.

Posted: 06 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Les syndicats FO, SNJ, SNJ-CGT et SNRT-CGT de Radio France Internationale (RFI) ont appelé à une grève 'illimitée' à compter d'aujourd'hui , pour demander à la direction d'accepter de faire partir l'ensemble des volontaires au départ dans le cadre du plan social." RFI en action, 6 January 2010.
     "Susan Owensby takes over Club 9516 from David Page on Sunday 3 January 2009 [sic, probably means 2010]. Facebook follower Aspak A Chaudhury is sorry to see David go, as are we all. But cheer up Aspak! Susan has ambitous plans for the programme and would like listeners' feedback on Unions have serve notice of a new strike at RFI, starting on 7 January, amid continuing discontent over the company's redundancies programme." RFI, 5 January 2010.

Iran bans contact with 60 organizations, including (or maybe not) BBC, VOA, Radio Farda.

Posted: 06 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Iran has banned its citizens from having contact with 60 organisations including the BBC, Human Rights Watch and opposition website Rahesabz as well as US-funded broadcasters, state media have reported. The deputy intelligence minister in charge of external affairs said that the 60 blacklisted groups were suspected of being involved in efforts by Western governments to topple the Islamic regime as part of a 'soft war' and that it was an offence to communicate with them. 'Any kind of contact by individuals or legal entities with those groups involved in the soft war is illegal and prohibited,' state media quoted the deputy minister as saying on Monday without giving his name. The blacklisted organisations also included US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Farda as well as US-based pro-monarchist satellite channels, Israeli public radio and the outlawed rebel People's Mujahedeen." AFP, 5 January 2010. Blacklist also includes Radio Zamaneh, based in the Netherlands. RFE/RL, 5 January 2010. Also Kol Israel and at least one of the private Persian television stations based in California, according to reports.
     Actually, BBC, VOA, and Radio Farda are not in this English translation of the list: Laura Rozen, Politico, 5 January 2010, via KD news tip. Maybe the stations were already banned.
     The head of U.S.-funded Voice of America says Iran's government is hoping to intimidate its citizens by banning contact with organizations such as VOA and the BBC. VOA Director Danforth Austin says he hopes Iranians who believe in the right to free speech will continue to communicate with VOA, so other Iranians and people around the world will see what he calls the 'repressive turn of events' in Iran. ... An Iranian legal expert, Mohammad Seyfzadeh, says banning people from talking with foreign broadcasters has no legal basis in Iran's constitution." VOA News, 5 January 2010.
     "Satellite signals transmitting Deutsche Welle television – Germany's foreign broadcaster – have been disrupted by interference originating near Tehran, writes Der Spiegel.", 4 January 2010.
     "The British Broadcasting Corp.’s (BBC) satellite broadcast signals are being blocked by the Iranian government, the BBC announced Jan. 4." Satellite Today, 5 January 2010. Additional jamming since that revealed on 21 December? See previous post.
     "On Monday night in San Francisco an information technology consultant named Austin Heap reported on his blog that the official Web site of Iran’s president,, had been attacked by hackers." Robert Mackey, The Lede blog, New York Times, 5 January 2010.
     "In order to mobilize wider segments of society, the well-known leaders of the Green Movement should keep in mind a number of points when they outline their strategy, slogans, and tactics: ... 4) Khamenei has a monopoly on radio, television, newspapers, and news agencies and he has deprived the Green Movement from access to any media. Even with opposition websites, satellite television, and foreign radio stations, that unlevel playing field has provided the regime with a massive opportunity to control public opinion." Akbar Ganji, Iranian journalist and dissident, commentary, RFE/RL, 6 January 2010. "This is an abridged translation of a longer article he wrote for RFE/RL's Radio Farda. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL."

New 100-channel DTH service for Vietnam.

Posted: 06 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Vietnam Multimedia Corporation or Vietnam Television Corporation (VTC), one of the largest multimedia corporation in Vietnam has signed an agreement with Asian satellite operator Asia Satellite Telecommunications (AsiaSat) for capacity on AsiaSat 5 satellite. VTC has signed this agreement on lease and will use multiple Ku-band transponders for the new DTH service in Vietnam on AsiaSat. The DTH service will be distributed up to 30 High Definition and 70 Standard Definition channels with the use of new transponder capacity in the beginning of 2010. And the content of the same would be ranging from entertainment to technology, sports to lifestyles and everything else related to Vietnamese public's life." AsiaSat press release, 4 January 2010 (pdf). Unless Vietnam has 100 full-time channels of its own, there will probably be some international channels in the mix.

China Radio International displaces local content on a Galveston AM station.

Posted: 06 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Unable to dial in enough financial support from advertisers, owners of KGBC radio [Galveston, Texas] have leased all the station’s airtime to one of China’s state-owned media companies, ending a yearlong effort at local programming. The sudden format switch killed local shows and surprised and disappointed loyal listeners and a few advertisers. People who tuned into 1540 AM on Jan. 1 expecting classic rock and local talk instead got Asian music and political forums, along with an array of unfamiliar programming. Principals with Siga Broadcasting, which owns the station, declined to name the group to which it leased the airtime, citing confidentiality agreements as the parties finalize contracts. But on air, China Radio International, an external radio station of the People’s Republic of China, is taking credit for the programming." Laura Elder, The Daily News (Galveston), 5 January 2010. No reciprocity, of course. VOA cannot similarly lease time on a Chinese radio station.

BBC World Service initiatives for a continent that is into both mobile phones and football.

Posted: 06 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"As part of BBC World Service's multimedia strategy, [BBCWS director] Peter Horrocks will, on Tuesday 5 January 2010, unveil five new services for mobile phones via BBC Hausa, BBC Swahili, BBC Somali, BBC Para Africa (BBC Portuguese for Africa) and BBC Great Lakes. The new services will enable users to access up-to-date regional and international news from their mobile phones. ... Peter Horrocks says: 'With mobile subscriptions in Africa forecast to reach nearly 790 million by the end of 2014, and penetration in Africa estimated to be 45% at the end of 2009, increasing to nearly 70% at the end of 2014, these new BBC mobile services offer audiences in Africa increased choice and flexibility about when and where they access BBC news.'" And news of BBCWS African football coverage, including: "Launched at the start of December, BBC World Service's Piers Edwards weekly blog on African football covers the major talking points in the game and the latest news on the African superstars playing in the European leagues." BBC World Service press release, 4 January 2010.

Departing director of BBC world services looks at the future of media.

Posted: 05 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"By 2012 it is predicted there will be another 300m smartphones in the world. The iPhone, I'm told, accounts for half of all global mobile data traffic. So can the networks handle an exponential increase in data demand? Those of us who regularly try using the iPhone in central London have reason to fear the worst. ... Print is booming in Asia and Brazil; India now has 90 news channels. Most of the next billion mobile phone users will come from the global south. But not everything is booming. In 2009, Freedom House estimated a seventh straight year of decline in global media freedom, with particularly worrying trends in East Asia, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and North Africa. While we worry about remits, paywalls, mobiles and metrics, much of the world is still in need of basic, reliable, trustworthy information. That's the media trend I'd most like to reverse." Richard Sambrook, outgoing director of global news at the BBC, The Guardian, 4 January 2010. See previous post about Richard Sambrook, and his SacredFacts blog.

Egyptian official says Al Jazeera Gaza border coverage instigates "civil war."

Posted: 05 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Egypt's minister of legal affairs and parliamentary councils, Mofid Shehab, criticized Al-Jazeera Saturday for instigating 'a Qatari civil war' with its reports on a steel barrier being built on the border with Gaza. 'A number of Arab satellite stations, and this one especially, have placed themselves as responsible for the sovereignty of our country, and as usual have poisoned the public against the state,' Shehab said in an interview with the state-owned Al-Ahram." Roee Nahmias, ynetnews (Tel Aviv), 2 January 2010.

The Big Animal Eats the Little Animal Channel pursues the emerging markets.

Posted: 05 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"American media companies hope that they will be lifted by a rising tide of pay-TV subscribers in emerging markets. It has worked for Discovery Communications, which puts out programmes about wild animals and grizzled men. The firm’s channels (five of them, on average) are available in 174 countries. In the third quarter of 2009 34% of Discovery’s revenues came from pay-TV outside America. Because it ventured abroad early Discovery was able to grab the best channel positions, says David Zaslav, the firm’s boss. A network that is number 11 on a multichannel menu tends to get a lot more viewers than one that is number 211. Discovery is trying to seize a similar first-mover advantage in high-definition television. The path blazed by Discovery is now well-trodden. In the financial year 2008-09 Fox International Channels, part of News Corporation, had turnover of more than $1 billion—up from less than $200m seven years earlier. That does not include wholly owned enterprises like Star, an Asian network, or part-owned ones like Fox Sports Australia. Even public broadcasters are getting in on the act. BBC Worldwide, the public corporation’s commercial arm, has launched 17 channels since March 2008 and now has 46 around the world." The Economist, 30 December 2009.

Postmortems for Worldspace in India rouse the ghosts of VOA Europe.

Posted: 04 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace’s closure in India has undoubtedly muddied the waters as far as any other international supplier is concerned. While an e-mail last week to all Worldspace subscribers blamed the shut down on funding issues, the reality could be that India’s very own restrictions on foreign ownership could be to blame. Worldspace has been operating in India since 2000 on an informal licence pending the authorities issuing a regulated licence to operate. This new licence – still not issued – would have covered terrestrial re-transmission across the whole country via a network of repeaters. Local reports say that Worldspace might re-emerge, refinanced in some fashion and indigenous India businessmen are also said to be interested in the operation. However, given that the Worldspace ‘AfriStar’ and ‘AsiaStar’ satellites also need to be replaced sooner than later anyone taking the operation over would need very deep pockets. Other local reports, and direct communications to us, paint a bleak picture of waste and professional incompetence at Worldspace India, with users citing poor (or non-existent) service and missed opportunities." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 3 January 2010.
     "To be able to receive news broadcasts from foreign stations at World Space was a great feeling after the atrocious quality received on the short or the medium wave stations. But short and medium wave programmes on radio sets, especially the more widely used portable ones, have always been technically poor. Matters have not been helped because Indian-made portable radio sets are not readily available or if they are they are far too expensive compared to the Chinese radio sets that have become ubiquitous but are of vastly inferior quality." Atul Cowshish, Asian Tribune, 2 January 2010.
     "There is good news for those missing WorldSpace as India, for the first time, has its very own round-the-clock music service that would air as many as ten genres of songs. ... Den Networks Ltd would provide uninterrupted music and empower subscribers to hear what they want at a time chosen by them." Press Trust of India, 2 January 2010.
     "In 2010 I would like to see a 24-hour classical music television channel that would play classical music as well as documentary films on creative people. I would like to see this development on the radio too, on the lines of World Space Radio, but based in India, with interviews of artistes, concerts, etc." Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, The Hindu Magazine, 3 January 2010.
     "WorldSpace offered 36 multi-genre channels of non-commercial music for subscribers who 'cared about what they were listening to.' It was a break from the 'uniform, sometimes offensive, soundscape,' of new Bollywood hits and came with Satellite TV subscriptions. It was also a favorite by restaurants and banks wanting to provide commercial-free music to customers. I don’t know what going to happen to satellite radio in India after this. But the overwhelming reaction of Indian subscribers suggests that even in a country famous for its very unique, colorful, and vibrant Bollywood industry hits, stations like Jhankar, Spandana, Farishta, and Voyager—among many others—will surely be missed." Yasmin Sahibzadah, Radio Survivor, 1 January 2010. Voyager! As in Radio Voyager! Which was the the privatized successor of VOA Europe, started in the 1980s when Representative Dante Fascell, then chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that VOA should broadcast to America's friends as well as its enemies. VOA Europe eventually became VOA Express, before becoming the non-VOA Radio Voyager. (For some history, see my VOA Communications World script, 8 May 1999.) Meanwhile, Radio Voyager is still listed among the Worldspace channels, but I have no idea if it's still actually being transmitted on Afristar and Asiastar. For an audio sampling of Radio Voyager, go to this Worldspace page. I can tell more stories about VOA Europe, VOA Express, and Radio Voyager -- a significant experiment in international broadcasting -- if there is interest. See previous post about same subject.

And some people might call it news.

Posted: 04 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Originally from northeast Ohio, David Strawman was recruited by Harris Corporation to Quincy in 1975. One of the projects he became involved with was Voice of America, which produces high frequency shortwave non-military radio and television programming for the U.S. government in 62 languages. It has an audience of approximately 125 million people. 'Some people might call it propaganda,' Strawman says with a smile. He was recruited by the U.S. government and became a foreign service officer with the International Broadcasting Bureau in 1988 under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and is the governing arm of the IBB. The BBG has eight board members appointed by the president of the United States, and in case of a tie, a tiebreaking vote is made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 'We don't report to the State Department, but they have a say in what we do,' Strawman said. Strawman, 61, manages the IBB in the Philippines and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory with a population of about 80,000 people in the western Pacific Ocean. He and his wife, Karen, maintain a home in Quincy (and he actually spent three months of vacation time here this fall), but he has lived overseas for 21 years in Greece, Thailand, Morocco and the Philippines." David Adam, Quincy (IL) Herald-Whig, 2 January 2010. The Secretary of State, with the the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy actually attending the meetings, has one ex officio vote in the BBG, and not just to break ties. That, legally, is the extent of State Department authority over US international broadcasting. VOA broadcasts in 45 languages. The "62 languages" might refer to all of US international broadcasting.

Alhurra spokesperson speaks out for Alhurra.

Posted: 04 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The latest audience surveys, conducted by international research firms such as ACNielsen, show Al Hurra with a weekly reach of more than 27 million viewers. This audience exceeds that of all other Arabic-language international broadcasters (including BBC Arabic) combined. ... Mr Zogby states that instead of funding a dedicated television channel to the Middle East the US would be better off with partnerships between private American and Arab-based media. Certainly such partnerships are a good idea but are no substitute for a dedicated channel having a sustained impact. Only a consistent voice - a 24/7 channel providing objective, accurate and engaging information to the people of the Middle East about the region, the world, and the US - can make a significant impact in the region. Individual programmes, regardless of their quality, are hard for the viewer to find in the crowded satellite television market, and rely on a local partner to provide an attractive time slot and the necessary promotion." Deirdre Kline [Alhurra spokesperson but not identified as such], letter to Gulf Daily News (Manama), 3 January 2010, responding to a commentary James Zogby first published in The National (see previous post). By "all other Arabic-language international broadcasters," apparently Ms. Kline means all other Arabic-language channels from non-Arab countries.
     "Mr Zogby’s statements made me recall the publicity propaganda that preceded the inauguration of the channel, saying that it would be like a shining light in a media market that was largely dominated by excitement. Some Arabs at that time were optimistic and felt enthusiastic about the idea that this TV station could provide a breath of freedom. Others feared that it would be a project of Americanisation. Al Hurra, in fact, disappointed both factions and none of their expectations came true." Mohammed Sadiq Diyab, Al Sharq al Awsat (London), via The National (Abu Dhabi), 2 January 2010. Mr. Diyab's commentary is now available in English: Al Sharq al Awsat (London), 4 January 2010. Despite the space between Al and Hurra in these two items, still spells it Alhurra.

Popular Radio Free Afghanistan.

Posted: 03 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"[O]n Afghanistan's northern border with Tajikistan, the crossing point for an estimated one-fifth of Afghanistan's illicit drug exports, life is simply dangerous. ... A man jailed in Dushanbe recently left this plea for help on the message recorder of Radio Free Afghanistan's popular 'Liberty And Listeners' talk show. He addressed his words to the Afghan Foreign Ministry. 'Here in jail there are people who were just taken at random from the riverside. None of them had anything to do with drugs or criminal activities,' he said." RFE/RL, 3 January 2010.
     "NATO forces in Afghanistan have been awarding cash prizes ranging from $50 to $10,000 on a daily basis to Afghans tipping off the foreign troops as to the whereabouts of hidden weapons. ... But Akbar Ayazi, the director of Radio Free Afghanistan, the most popular radio station in the country, said cash for cache programs are largely unsuccessful. 'Operation Jaeza is not well known, or maybe it's something they do without publicizing it locally,' he told The Media Line. 'More broadly, I don't see these programs as very successful.'" Benjamin Joffe-Walt, The Media Line, 3 January 2010.

In Burma, international shortwave audiences diverted by good reception, entertainment on FM.

Posted: 02 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"FM radio is booming in more ways than one in Burma. The stale government broadcasts of the 80s and 90s have been replaced by popular independent stations all across the country, from Moulmein to Myitkyina. The Ministry of Information renewed licenses in 2009 for eight private radio stations which transmit high-fidelity broadcasts on FM bands. Stations are licensed to broadcast daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and are allowed to solicit revenue from advertising. ... 'Before, we all used to listen to the BBC’s Burmese service, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA),' said Myo Maung, an office worker in Rangoon. 'But it’s boring just listening to political programs all the time. Our lives are a daily struggle, so some light entertainment can be refreshing.' Another Rangoon resident, 50-year-old Kyaw Shwe, said he listens to shortwave news from abroad in the mornings, 'but in the afternoons, I tune into FM and listen to music and celebrity gossip on City FM.' ... 'It is hard to find the BBC or VOA on the radio,” said Myo Than, a trader in Shan State. 'Sometimes we get frustrated and just change the dial to another frequency. The FM broadcasts are loud and clear.'" Ko Htwe, The Irrawaddy Magazine, January 2010.
     This is a problem for international broadcasters in many target countries. The international broadcasters are denied access to FM, but listeners flock to FM for the better sound quality and for the music and entertainment. Possible solutions: 1) Realizing the listening to international radio is a supplemental activity (e.g. Kyaw Shwe above), don't waste the listeners' time. 2) Implement an elite strategy, that recognizes that the audience for international broadcasting will be characterized more by its quality than its quantity. 3) If there are deficiencies (sometimes caused by government restrictions) in the music or entertainment provided by domestic broadcasting in the target country, international broadcasting might be able to exploit this.

US Army Iraq psyop specialists as ad buyers.

Posted: 02 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
Sgt. Sam Harper: "'Rolling through a town blaring Metallica from the speaker? Those days are done in Iraq. We’re kind of moving out of the traditional psyop phase to more of an information dissemination phase.' Harper is one of 16 mobilized reservists working in the psyops section for 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division – the Fort Lewis brigade of some 4,000 soldiers on its second tour of Iraq. ... Today in Iraq, many of the 4th Brigade’s psyops products encourage locals to cooperate with American military or Iraqi security forces. The troops also print materials that in essence are public-service announcements; a recent handbill warned about the symptoms of cholera and how to prevent it. The detachment produces about three or four new products a week. It prints handbills, fliers and posters; pays for advertising space on billboards and in newspapers; and purchases airtime on television and radio. The soldiers have several vehicles with loudspeakers attached to the top, which have proven useful when crowds gather." Scott Fontaine, The News Tribune (Tacoma WA), 2 January 2010.

First, the new BBG must sort out who does what.

Posted: 02 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Though the [Broadcasting Board of Governors] has had some successes, it has in recent years become highly controversial. Established as a nonpartisan entity, it has at times been highly partisan. Not satisfied with mere oversight, it intruded like a collective CEO, shifting budgets and dictating which language services should run and not run. ... [The BBG] must tackle the problem of overlapping broadcasting with other government entities. The State Department is pursuing its own radio programming to counter Taliban inroads in Afghanistan. The much better-financed Department of Defense has a huge 'strategic communication' plan — public diplomacy." Former VOA director John Hughes, Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 30 December 2009.
     An important defect of the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 is that it did not provide for a CEO with authority over all the US international broadcasting entities. And, so, the BBG must be a collective CEO. "Shifting budgets and dictating which language services should run and not run" are among the BBG's most important tasks. Otherwise, duplication within US international broadcasting would be even worse than it is now.
     Mr. Hughes' reference to the State Department doing broadcasting and the Defense Department doing public diplomacy points out the American befuddlement about which agency should do which type of international communication. Here's a schema: The State Department should provide public diplomacy globally (minus the United States). The Defense Department should conduct information operations in its areas of combat, defined restrictively. The BBG should transmit accurate and reliable news to places where the news available domestically is biased or otherwise deficient.

     See also Kim Andrew Elliott, "The New BBG Can Expect Occasional Poor Reception," USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 18 December 2009.

Former journalist calls Radio Farda "opposition" and, via Farda, Obama "most inexperienced president."

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"I was asked by Iran’s main opposition, pro-democracy website — Radio Farda, which claims 8 million listeners daily in Iran, as well as a strong online presence — to outline the three most important global political events of 2009. ... These were my choices, in their original English. (They appear on the website and were read out on air on Radio Farda in Persian.) ... (2) The inauguration of Barack Obama: Not for the reason others may give (i.e., that he is the first African-American president), but because he is the most inexperienced president America has had for a long while — and it shows, especially in foreign policy. Obama has already mishandled Russia, Eastern Europe, China, the Arab world, Israel and Japan to name only some. I am a believer in a strong America that supports democracies and doesn’t coddle up to dictators, so let us hope Obama changes course in 2010." Tom Gross, Media Blog, National Review Online, 31 December 2009. As a provider of news, Radio Farda should take umbrage at being called "opposition, pro-democracy," as noble as those attributes may be.

RFA executive editor is upbeat about Mongolia.

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Mongolia, a formerly communist nation sandwiched between two autocratic and powerful neighbors, once seemed an unlikely candidate for democratic reform. But while its mighty neighbors China and Russia are allowing authoritarian tendencies to diminish rule of law, impoverished Mongolia has persisted in building a more accountable government. In one of the most underreported stories of 2009, Mongolia is forging ahead with reforms aimed at making its society more open and less subject to the endemic corruption that has plagued many former communist states." Dan Southerland, executive editor of Radio Free Asia, Christian Science Monitor, 31 December 2009. I remember, as a boy, seeing Mongolia on my globe and wondering, if it's between those two major communist countries, is it communist? Probably, I concluded. But, then, I asked myself, is it under the influence of the USSR or China? Some research, which in those pre-internet days took several days (and our family encyclopedia was too ancient to be useful), determined that it was the former.

As China further tightens web controls, will the censors ultimately win?

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Several hundred thousand Web sites in China have been blocked as Chinese officials quietly carry out a new Internet censorship program, according to industry insiders. There have been no public announcements regarding the shutdowns. A so-called 'white list' has been created. It is a list of Web sites that have been registered and certified to have no undesirable content. Web sites that are not on the white list can no longer be viewed by Web surfers in China. ... A web master, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that the public can still break through the regime's Internet blockade through the use of software such as Wujie, Freegate, Garden Network, etc. Furthermore, he wonders, what is the point of the authorities going through all of this trouble to control Internet access? In reality, though a lot of resources have been used, it is impractical from a technical perspective." Gu Yunyin, Epoch Times, 29 December 2009. That's easy for a webmaster to say. Casual internet users may be boxed in by the white list. See also RFA, 24 December 2009.
     "Foreign sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, blocked by censors in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1, remain inaccessible to most Chinese users. Several prominent critics of the state who used the Internet to spread their message have been detained or imprisoned. Yet this list of casualties obscures a larger truth: The censors are losing. ... [F]or each critic the authorities stop, more rise. 'There are simply too many people,' says Xiao Qiang, a scholar who studies the Chinese Internet at the University of California at Berkeley. 'They can do that to a very small group … but the approach certainly is not good enough to intimidate all the voices online.'" Loretta Chao and Jason Dean, Wall Street Journal, 31 December 2009.
          "Nearly six months after sinking into a communications blackout ordered by Beijing to control deadly race riots, residents of China's western reaches on Tuesday once again got a glimpse of two Communist party-controlled news websites – but little else." Christian Science Monitor, 30 December 2009.

Tanzania will use its proximity to the 2010 World Cup to market itself.

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Some 7bn/- has been set aside to support a special drive that will ensure Tanzania reap from the World Cup to be staged in South Africa, mid next year. The Chairman of the Presidential Committee tasked to use the 2010 Fifa World Cup as a launching pad to brand and develop the country as a preferred tourism and investment destination, Shukuru Kawambwa, said today that the prospect was high that Tanzania will benefit from the global soccer event. ... He said the cash will be used, among other things, to market the country through various global top media, such as SuperSport, BBC, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle. 'We have already initiated efforts to market Tanzania across the globe, as an ideal country for teams to camp ahead of the World Cup.'" Tanzania Daily News, 30 December 2009. If that is seven billion Tanzanian shillings, it would be about five million U.S. dollars. The article does not refer specifically to advertising purchases, but VOA does not carry ads, nor does, I believe, DW-TV.

Radio Netherlands partially resumes operation at its Madagascar shortwave relay.

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"A team of ten people are employed to repair two of the four damaged Radio Netherlands transmitters. Broadcasts through these transmitters may be resumed later today. It is hoped the other two transmitters will be repaired by the end of this week. Experts are still examining the origin of the fire which broke out in the transmission station of Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) on Madagascar last week. In the night of December 24 to 25 the fire broke out in the high voltage area of the station. Fire fighters from the capital Antananarivo managed to bring the blaze under control within hours. In the days after the blaze large parts of Africa and Southeast Asia were unable to receive RNW shortwave broadcasts. Halfway the week most of the broadcasts were aired through other stations. Not only Radio Netherlands was affected by the fire. Eleven other broadcasters were unable to air their programmes, amongst which Zimbabwean radio station Voice of the People. Broadcasts via satellite and internet, however, have been available." Radio Netherlands, 30 November 2009. Looking at the accompanying photo, it's amazing the station can retrun to the air so quickly.
     "Radio Netherlands Worldwide's broadcasting installation in Madagascar will resume operations from tomorrow. Two transmitters will be back in action, with two more to follow in the coming weeks. This means RNW's shortwave radio broadcasts to Africa and Southeast Asia will soon be back to normal. ... It proved possible to broadcast over half of the shortwave programming with the help of partner stations, but problems with prime-time availability and poor reception remained." Radio Netherlands, 31 December 2009.
     "On 30 December, our Station Manager in Madagascar reported that the two Philips transmitters are in working order, and have been tested using generator power. Technicians are still working on restoring the mains supply and will finish on 31 December. A temporary schedule (as below) will then be put into effect on 1 January using these two Philips transmitters." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 31 December 2009, with more photos and schedules. See previous post about same subject.

"Who's afraid of amateur radio?" (in Sri Lanka), and old Japanese shortwave radio ad.

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Five years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, amateur radio helped revive emergency communications with some of the worst affected locations. ... 'We went in because the District Secretaries office only had a satellite phone and communications was difficult,' recalled Victor Goonetilleke, then President of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL). The service was discontinued when other disrupted communications networks resumed. As he later summed up: 'When all else is dead, short wave is alive.' ... Now, fast forward five years to the present. Notwithstanding their celebrated role after the tsunami, radio hams have been sidelined in Sri Lanka. Their very hobby is being frowned upon by the state on the grounds of … national security." Nalaka Gunawardene, groundviews, 31 December 2009.
     See 1970s era Japanese ad for the National Panasonic RF-1150 from PHPMotion, 19 December 2009, cited by Nagoya DX Club.

"Lachs of people" miss Worldspace after its closure in India.

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace India is shutting down its service from today onwards (i.e. on December 31st) and while we wait for the new owner to revisit their India strategy, lets look at Worldspace story in India. [Eight] years, 35 Channels, 4.5 Lakh [450,000] (paying) subscribers, but are they enough? [Fifty percent] of Worldspace subscribers came via Airtel DTH partnership – so that makes the first few years (or rather first 6 years) a market creation effort and essentially an unsuccessful stint." Ashish Sinha, Plugged.IN, 31 December 2009.
     "After nine long years, this station which had become a favourite of lakhs of people is going off the air. No longer will you hear soothing Carnatic ragas on its Shruti channel, melodious Sandalwood tracks on Sparsha, western jazz on its Riff channel and the mellifluous notes of western classical on Maestro channel." Bangalore Mirror, 30 December 2009.
     "For nearly 20 years, I was fed up struggling to listen to the British Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America, Radio Australia, Radio Ceylon and many other stations on my shortwave radio, with continuous disturbance. There was no television then. Worldspace was godsent. I immediately purchased a Hitachi receiver online, after borrowing a colleague's credit card. It was pretty costly, but I knew it would be worth it. ... I was in heaven. News, pop, rock, love songs, Christmas carols, country music, Hindi music... I had it all. Of course, intermittently, there were the bumps. The antennae on the building terrace had to be adjusted each summer and winter... satellite problems... ." Anthony D'Costa, DNA, 1 January 2010.
     "Seetal Iyer, Group Programme Director, WorldSpace, who sounded calm, was resolute though about the radio team looking at avenues to be together. 'Why people loved our fare was because of the package that we offered as a team.' ... 'I am a Bangalore-Chennai weekend traveller and I used to take the Kolar route only because my one-hour break at Woodys was an aural treat as the restaurant beams WorldSpace!' says S. Ranga Rao, chartered accountant. Small pleasures indeed, but that's the kind of passionate outburst one hears about WorldSpace going off the air." Ranjani Govind, The Hindu, 1 January 2010.
     "Airtel direct to home (DTH) that offers WorldSpace radio services to subscribers in India said that from 1st January, it will replace WorldSpace with 10 radio channels of All India Radio (AIR). ... India accounts for over 95% of WorldSpace’s worldwide subscriber base with over 450,000 subscribers, more than 50% through the Airtel DTH pay-TV package. However, WorldSpace India was not earning enough cash from its deal with Airtel DTH. ... [T]he emergence of FM channels throughout the country, especially in the metros, proved to be a major hindrance to WorldSpace's growth. There were a few factors that worked in favour of FM channels. The major factor was the ease of listening to FM channels while travelling across the city. Due to licensing limits, WorldSpace was not able to offer the same." Yogesh Sapkale with Amritha Pillay, moneylife, 30 December 2009.
     "Airtel digital TV customers would now be able to enjoy listening to the following 10 All India Radio channels – FM Gold, FM Rainbow, AIR Punjabi, FM Rainbow-Bangalore, AIR Tamil, AIR Ragam, AIR Telugu, AIR Bengali, AIR Gujarati and AIR Urdu." Bharti Airtel press release, 31 December 2009.
     "As we bid adios to WorldSpace, we have to fine tune our WiFi powered Internet radio that catches the best of New York Philharmonic, BBC, Moscow Radio and even our Vividh Bharati." Serish Nanisetti, The Hindu, 30 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Iran's Press TV reports about Iran's new Sahar-2 TV, which will compete with Press TV.

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has launched a satellite channel to respond to the subliminal psychological programming of western media. The international channel Sahar Universal Network 2, which was launched on Thursday, December 31, 2009, aims to show Iranian society as it really is, and effectively combat western manipulation of media which distorts events, censoring and misrepresenting them. It aspires to confront the influence of non-Islamic culture in the Muslim world and reveal the hegemonic policies of the great powers, which wish to dominate the peoples and nations of the world. Sahar Universal Network 2 seeks to introduce the rich culture of Islam, as well as political, cultural, social and economic advances made by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Tehran-based general television network is now broadcasting its programs on Hot bird 8: frequency 12437 MHz, horizontal polarization." Press TV, 1 January 2010. BBC Monitoring cites a Fars News Agency item that states "Sahar-2 TV network will broadcast 19 hours of programmes in three languages, English, Kurdish and Urdu, and Sahar-1 airs programmes in French, Azari [Azeri], and Bosnian." See previous post about Sahar TV.

VOA's new web application for Iran, and a doubter.

Posted: 01 Jan 2010   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA) has unveiled a new Web application that will allow users in Iran to download and send content to VOA’s Persian News Network with their iPhones. ... The application will enable users of Apple iPhones and Android phones to get the latest news from PNN and, with a single click, to send links to VOA stories via Facebook and Twitter pages and email accounts. The application will be available shortly in Apple’s online store, PNN’s Web site ( and on PNN’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. The application, designed by the Washington-based company Intridea, also gives Iran’s 'citizen journalists' the opportunity to use their iPhones and Android phones to send video and still pictures taken on their devices to a secure Web site where VOA’s PNN editors can download the images and review them for possible broadcast use and Web posting." VOA press release, 31 December 2009.
     "I'm sure that this initiative was begun with the best of intentions. However, there's only one problem -- oh, who am I kidding, there are a whole slew of problems. To begin with, a normal iPhone won't work in Iran: AT&T, the only carrier for the iPhone, doesn't provide service in the country. The very wealthy have been able to get their hands on 'unlocked' iPhones, which can be used with any carrier in Iran. However, the number of these phones in Iran are few and far between. But even for those with unlocked iPhones, there is no data network in Iran that would allow them to connect to the Internet. Our intrepid Iranian friend, therefore, would also have to be in an area where he could pick up a wireless connection with his iPhone. At that point, of course, he could also send his video and pictures using more old-fashioned technology -- for example, a laptop." David Kenner, Passport blog, Foreign Policy, 31 December 2009 -- see also the comments.
     I'd like to weigh in on this, but I'm a rotary-dial landline telephone guy, and rarely even at that. Perhaps readers more experienced with mobile devices can assess this assessment. For one thing, if iPhones don't work in Iran, would the Android devices (unmentioned by Mr. Kenner)?
     I did ask my friend and platform expert Jonathan Marks, who writes:
"I don’t think the VOA app for the iPhone is stupid at all. As the first respondent [to Kenner's post] points out, although it won’t work on the 3g network, it may well work via wifi, and its infinitely more easy to use than lugging a laptop about. Al Jazeera made an app that works on the Nokia 95 and gives it to correspondents and special (public) reporters. It is called Viz Reporter and is made in Norway. They have 600 licences."
     Kai Ludwig in Germany adds: "Re. 'AT&T, the only carrier for the iPhone': Here of course the mistake has been made to conclude from the USA on the rest of the world. As an example, here in Germany Deutsche Telekom has been choosen by Apple as the monopoly partner. AT&T? Never heard of such a company here, but lots of iPhone hype. ... Anyway a further assessment would need a deeper knowledge of the telcom infrastructure and offerings in Iran. In general things there are considerably more complex than one would tend to believe."

China Xinhua News Network launches in Chinese, with English slated for July.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"China Xinhua News Network Corporation (CNC), a TV news network owned by Xinhua News Agency, will broadcast in the Asia-Pacific region and some European countries, starting from Jan. 1, 2010. ... The newly launched CNC World News channel will broadcast TV programs in Chinese around the clock, including news events and special news bulletins. The CNC Finance and Business channel will be launched simultaneously. ... The CNC World News also plans to broadcast English programs from July, 2010. News pieces in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian will also be broadcast in the future. ... Xinhua will work closely with world-class media, such as CNN and BBC, and draw on their experiences. But 'CNC is not CNN.'" Xinhua, 31 December 2009.
     "Observers also doubt CNC wants to become China’s second CCTV. CCTV, as the country’s dominant state television station, has had its programs broadcast in almost every Chinese family, and has also built up extensive overseas networks, but its programming is often called predictable and rigid. ... Both Xinhua and CCTV have faced questions from overseas about their independency and objectiveness in news reporting given that they have to follow the government’s guidance. The Chinese government has limited access to Western TV channels such as CNN for domestic viewers. These restrictions have greatly helped strengthen the state-run agencies’ dominance. Of course, overseas these restrictions don’t apply." China Realtime Report, Wall Street Journal, 31 December 2009.

In New Year's address via CRI, Hu Jintao invokes Deng Xiaoping Theory.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
2010 New Year address delivered by Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China: "Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends: The New Year's bell is about to ring, and 2010 is soon to begin. At this beautiful moment of bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new, and via China Radio International, China National Radio and China Central Television, I'm delighted to extend New Year wishes to Chinese of all ethnic groups, to compatriots in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, to overseas Chinese and to friends all over the world! ... In the upcoming new year, we will unswervingly uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, further implement the Scientific Outlook on Development under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents... ." China Radio International, 31 December 2009.

Techno-utopianism presupposes an abundance of news junkies.

Posted: 31 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"Techno-utopianism is usually rooted in rigid and obsolete views about the relationship between authoritarianism and information. Most techno-utopians interpret the fact that authoritarian governments resort to censorship as a sign of their weakness. Hence, whenever authoritarian governments cede control over information, they are believed to become weaker. Thus, every time Chinese bloggers use proxy servers to access banned content, they are slowly eroding the Great Firewall of China. And where the firewalls fall, dictators soon follow. This view is fatally flawed, as it understates the sophistication and flexibility of modern authoritarian states and overstates the democratic aspirations of their citizens. Western leaders have an unhealthy tendency to imagine politics in authoritarian states as being more hyperactive and participatory than the politics in their own countries. They implicitly view all Chinese, Russians and Iranians as hard-core news junkies and seasoned political dissidents. Authoritarian states are thus seen to be one step away from full-blown revolution – and waiting for the West to nudge them, whether via the Voice of America, BBC World, or judicious retweets." Evgeny Morozov, The National (Abu Dhabi), 31 December 2009.