VOA Horn of Africa services, jammed on shortwave, now available via Arabsat.

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
nazret.com, 29 Apr 2010: "Voice of America announced Wednesday the start-up of a new satellite transmission of many of its Africa language broadcasts, giving the Horn of Africa broadcasts in Afan Oromo, Amharic and Tigrigna prime evening listening time on the 24-hour schedule. Ethiopians and Eritreans with access to satellite television on Arabsat, the region`s most popular satellite, can now hear the clear and complete broadcast of daily news from our reporters on the ground, and from our international broadcasters in Washington, D.C. This audio transmission of VOA's shortwave air shows will display as VOA Africa 24 in a list of available channels. Listeners can tune into the audio of VOA's regular live Monday-through-Friday broadcasts of Afan Oromo at 8:30 p.m., Amharic at 9 p.m. and Tigrigna at 10 p.m. and the Amharic Breakfast Show at 6 a.m. These evening broadcasts will be repeated immediately following the live broadcasts." See also Badr 4 at Lyngsat. Same transponder as Al-Manar, but users of a satellite receiver remote control probably won't know that. See previous post about same subject.

Senator Coburn: "The BBG is the most worthless organization in the federal government."

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, The Cable, 30 Apr 2010, Josh Rogin: "The Obama administration's eight nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors aren't getting waived through any time soon. Republican senators are seeking to use their appointments as an opportunity to shed light on problems they see at the organization. 'The BBG is the most worthless organization in the federal government,' Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, told The Cable in an interview. 'It's full of people who know nothing about media or foreign policy. All they are doing is spending money and somebody's got to look into it.' ... The board should have eight full time governors, but there are only four at the present time (in addition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who serves in an ex-officio capacity) and the eight new nominees are all being held up by Coburn, who wants to meet with each of them individually before he will allow their nominations to go forward. ... Our sources say that senators like DeMint and Coburn are fed up with the lack of congressional oversight of the BBG and also with the well-established custom of doling out the board's positions to political types like Meehan and Perino, who in Coburn's view don't have the experience or expertise to sit atop an organization crucial to America's international diplomacy." A weekly audience of 171 million is pretty good for "worthless." Meanwhile, there seems to be the usual confusion on the part of decision makers, commentators, and senior fellows about whether US international broadcasting should be broadcasting news or messages in support of US policies. Arguments for the former are in my New York Times op-ed pieces on 4 June 2007 and 16 November 2002. See previous post about same subject.
   The American (American Enterprise Institute), 30 Apr 2010, Danielle Pletka: "[T]he Broadcasting Board of Governors—a board that was created nominally to oversee the various broadcasting arms of the USG, but all too quickly became a perch for political cronies of various presidents and poobahs. Worse still, the cronies (not all, mind you, but too many) seemed to think that rather than maintaining the firewall between State and broadcasters to stop the foreign service bureaucracy from interfering in broadcasting, they were actually there to manage content on a daily basis, boss around the surrogate radios like Radio Free Europe, dictate the balance between Britney and news (more Brit, less news), and ensure that no one listens to the Voice of America (except for those who think the Iranian regime is pretty great, apparently). ... Time to rethink the BBG, methinks." -- I hope shethinks also about USIB without a board to provide a firewall, as discussed in previous post.
   St. Petersburg Times, The Feed, 28 Apr 2010, Eric Deggans: Outgoing CEO of Tampa PBS station WEDU-Ch. 3, Richard Lobo, "is awaiting confirmation for the U.S. Senate for an appointment to lead the International Broadcasting Bureau -- the government department which runs Voice of America and the broadcast outlets aimed at Cuba, Radio and TV Marti. ... Even before his [nomination] by the Obama administration, Lobo had announced his plans to leave WEDU after nearly eight years as CEO. Now age 73, the Ybor City native had come out of retirement to take the reins at WEDU, having spent the first 40 years of his work life at commercial network TV affiliates; when he took over as president in June 2002, the station had implemented $2 million in budget cuts and laid off one-third its staff. Since then, Lobo notched some important achievements -- helping WEDU find new funding sources, create new local shows and completing a $15 million conversion to digital broadcasting. But the station also faced more substantial cuts, shaving $500,000 from its budget in 2008, freezing salaries, instituting some pay cuts and laying off staff." See previous post about Mr. Lobo.

At BBC World Service, new senior executives, and a writer in residence.

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 30 Apr 2010: "Liliane Landor is appointed as Controller of Languages, BBC Global News. ... Craig Oliver is appointed Controller of English, BBC Global News. ... James Montgomery is appointed as Controller of Digital and Technology, BBC Global News. ... The previously announced role of BBC Global News Business Director and Managing Director for BBC World News will now not be filled until the BBC Global Strategy Review has been completed later this year as it is now clear that there is a potential impact on how BBC Global News's commercial news operation is run."
   BBC World Service press release, 30 Apr 2010: "BBC World Service will be marking World Press Freedom Day, which takes place on Monday 3 May, with a range of programming around press freedom, the safety of journalists and impunity."
   BBC World Service press release, 29 Apr 2010: "[C]ritically acclaimed Uzbek novelist and poet Hamid Ismailov [has been appointed] as BBC World Service's Writer in Residence. Over the course of the next two years, Hamid will be writing creatively about the news, issues that have dominated the world's media and, occasionally, about day-to-day life at BBC World Service." While we're on the subject, I've been appointed writer in residence at my residence.
   BBC World Service press release, 27 Apr 2010: "In the run-up to Election Day, BBC World Service's 32 language and regional services have mounted extensive programming, making the connection between the UK's key political event on the one hand and the lives of people around the world on the other."
   Democratic Voice of Burma, 27 Apr 2010, Francis Wade: "With Burma due this year hold its first elections since 1990, and the UK heading to the polls in a week’s time, the BBC Burmese service has said it is 'specifically [targeting] Burma’s young people who have never voted'."
   Metro.co.uk, 28 Apr 2010: "If you've ever wanted the sound of a laughing hippo as your mobile ringtone, you're now in luck. ... The ringtones are available as part of the BBC World Service's Save Our Sounds project - an effort to get people to record and send in 'endangered sounds' so they can be preserved for posterity."

BBC Urdu taken off 24 FM stations in Pakistan.

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Times (Lahore), 29 Apr 2010: "The BBC World Service is disappointed that 24 out of its 34 partner FM stations in Pakistan have been asked by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to cease broadcasting BBC Urdu Service’s news bulletin. The BBC believes that the 24 partner FM stations had completed all the required paperwork for PEMRA last October and called on the Pakistan authorities to allow the stations to resume BBC Urdu Service’s news bulletins so that audiences in Pakistan could have access to the BBC’s impartial and editorially independent news. ... The BBC will monitor the situation closely and continue to support their partner stations in getting BBC programmes back on air."
   International Press Institute, 30 Apr 2010, Barbara Trionfi: "This is not the first time the BBC has faced a ban on its broadcasts in Pakistan. In November 2007, the government of Pervez Musharraf banned broadcast of the BBC Urdu Service news bulletins. The ban was eventually lifted in May 2008 following a Sindh High Court order, after the current coalition government had come to power in February 2008. 'In a country where journalists are being kidnapped and killed, this ban on BBC reports adds insult to injury, emphasizing the government’s lack of appreciation of the importance of a free press,' said IPI Director David Dadge. 'The Pakistani government must lift this ban immediately, in line with the spirit of the 2008 High Court order and democratic principles.'" -- BBC World Service remains audible in Pakistan on shortwave and on 1413 kHz medium wave via Oman. See previous posts on 2 Apr 2010 and 28 Nov 2009.

Ears to Our World distributes shortwave radios to villages beyond the internet's reach.

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
WSJ. Wall Street Journal magazine, 29 Apr 2010, David Goren: "Thomas Witherspoon, 37, founder of Ears to Our World, as he picks up a small portable radio and quickly cranks its handle, producing a high-pitched, wobbly whine. Inside, a dynamo charges the radio’s battery. Witherspoon has taken his love of shortwave radio and filtered it through his experience in the corporate world, devising a strategy to help the most people for the least money. ETOW distributes wind-up radios to isolated villages across Africa and into Belize and Romania, providing listeners with vital information. His radios are also proving to be disaster-relief heroes in earthquake-devastated Haiti. ... Witherspoon says, 'We all know that the Internet can be shut down pretty quickly if someone really wants to. But you can’t take away radios. They can work in a hut, they can work in the open: Radios can work anywhere.'" See also earstourworld.org.

The latest Shortwaveology podcast, and a chance to listen to shortwave all night.

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Big Shed, 15 Apr 2010: The second installment of Shortwaveology, David Goren's "occasional rumination on the crackly sonics, history and cultural influence of shortwave radio" is now available as a podcast. See also Shortwaveology on Facebook. David also writes: "I'm also hosting an overnight listening event called The Shortwave Shindig starting Saturday night May 15th at 10pm, and going until 5 am. It's part of the Megapolis Festival in Baltimore, Md." See also Shortwave Shindig on Facebook.

Nostalgic ex-shortwave listeners might find out you can't go abroad again (updated: still stations to hear on shortwave).

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Atlanta Journal Constitution, 27 Apr 2010, Bill Husted: "Shortwave monitoring is like fishing: You are never sure what you are going to catch. For me, that's part of the magic. And it's a direct pipeline to the news of the day. Stories that seemed distant and a bit unreal over the TV take on a new dimension. You hear the voices, the local take on things -- unfiltered by American sensibilities. The first time I wrote a column about shortwave radio my editors were aghast. No one cares, they told me. It's old tech, not high tech. But each time I do this, I hear from nostalgic readers who want to try it again as well as from folks who almost instinctively understand the magic and want a part of it." -- Nostalgic readers who try shortwave again may be surprised to learn that most of the European stations that were staples though the 1980s have left shortwave. Now the bands are dominated by privately owned US shortwave stations with religious programs, non-mainstream political talk, and vendors of gold and survivalist products. With patience, however, broadcasts from distant countries can still be heard, and the fun is knowing the signal comes directly through the ether from that broadcaster to your radio.
   Update: David Goren writes: "When I'm casually tuning looking for strong armchair quality signals to listen to in the evening Radio Havana Cuba, China Radio International, Radio Romania International, Radio Exterior de España, Voice of Turkey, Radio Bulgaria, and Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran are quite commonly heard, along with R. Amazonas, Brazil on 6185, and 11780. In the morning and early afternoon All India Radio, Polish Radio, CBC Northern Quebec Service, Radio Canada International, Radio Kuwait all put strong signals into my Brooklyn [location]. I won't argue that shortwave is a growth medium, but in those countries I listed shortwave is still part of their communications strategy."
   The Telegraph, 23 Apr 2010, Annie Bennett: "On a coast characterised by rocky coves, Pals beach [Spain] is a stretch of fine golden sand more than two miles long and around 40 yards wide. Although it now has all sorts of facilities, it remained undeveloped for years as the Americans picked this prime spot to install the massive aerials of Radio Liberty during the Cold War, which were used to broadcast propaganda." --RFE/RL has a checkered past, but dismissing its content as "propaganda" is off the beam. An online museum about the RFE/RL Platja de Pals site is at www.radioliberty.org.
   Los Angeles Times, 24 Apr 2010, John M. Glionna: Lim Keon-yeob "volunteered for World Friends Korea, a newly formed South Korean version of the U.S. Peace Corps. Rather than hitting the club scene and eating home-cooked meals, Lim currently works as an athletics coach in a Cambodian village without electricity, at night listening to Korean pop music on his short-wave radio."

American TV networks, by not streaming, "are confining themselves into global irrelevance" (updated and corrected).

Posted: 29 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
GlobalPost, 26 Apr 2010, Justin D. Martin: "I can watch Al-Jazeera live on my iPod Touch anywhere on earth with an internet signal, but I can’t watch CNN. I can view EuroNews in real time from my office computer in Cairo, but not Fox News. I can watch BBC’s Arabic network live in my lap on a Wi-Fi-enabled jet 30,000 feet above the Atlantic, but not NBC. American TV news organizations may claim to embrace the digital age, but this is studio-concocted nonsense. Not a single major cable or broadcast news network in the United States consistently streams their programming in real time. The only U.S.-based news network I’ve found that streams live content is Al-Hurra, the U.S. government’s news channel in the Middle East. ... The New York Times is the world’s global newspaper. The BBC is the world’s largest and most multilingual newsgathering organization. Non-Americans all over the world access NPR for its diverse global coverage. These outlets are industry leaders because they’ve seized the web’s capabilities for mobile content delivery. American TV networks, though, are confining themselves into global irrelevance. As the world’s digital news consumers come calling, American TV networks have barred the door." -- I am not aware of any live stream of BBC World News, and Al Jazeera English is available as a stream on Livestation for five dollars a month.
   Update: David Murphy in Germany writes: "I have livestation here in Germany, I can watch Al Jazeera (English and Arabic) and BBC World News any time I like without paying anything...perhaps they have some kind of regional differentiation." And he sends a screenshot to prove it.
   Justin Martin, author of article cited above: "Al-Jazeera has in iPhone/iPod Touch app that allows users to stream live content for free. I have it on my iPod Touch. Also, you can watch Al-Jazeera English online for free."
   Thanks for the corrections and clarifications. Here, on Livestation, BBC World News is listed as a channel after searching, but I can't make it work. As for Al Jazeera English, I made the mistake of following the "Watch AJE Live" link on the right edge of aljazeera.net to try to watch AJE live. That actually points to the Livestation premium pay version on AJE. I should have clicked on "Video" along the left edge, then clicked on the "Watch the Live Channel," which requires Real Player. Or go to Livestation and find the free version of AJE. In the version, the video quality is rather liquidy. I have the luxury of watching AJE (and NHK World, RT, France 24, and Euronews) locally and terrestrially via MHZ Networks.

The Hill writer writes VOA broadcasts to Iran "to no avail, " but spokespersons cite 30% audience.

Posted: 29 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hill, 28 Apr 2010, Tony Romm: "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a symbolic message to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) on Tuesday, urging its members to support 'Internet censorship circumvention measures' in Iran. ... The measure that won committee approval on Tuesday has no force of law, but it nonetheless petitions the BBG to 'expand international broadcasting in Iran,' while promoting 'means which provide for the dissemination of accurate and independent information... through radio, television, Internet, mobile devices and other forms of connective technology.' ... VOA has long tried to broadcast into Iran, albeit to no avail. Officials in Tehran have recently jammed the station's signal, primarily out of fear that U.S.-based broadcasting would only intensify the standoff between the state government and the election protesters who saw the return of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as illegitimate." See also comment by VOA spokesman David Borgida. -- Radio Farda is already 24 hours a day. VOA PNN is live during seven peak viewing hours, then repeated to fill the rest of the 24 hours. Perhaps USIB should now concentrate on improved quality rather than raw expansion.
The Hill, 28 Apr 2010, Broadcasting Board of Governors spokesperson Tish King: "[O]ur broadcasts to Iran have remarkable success in reaching 30% of the adult audience, even in the face of censorship and signal interference. n June of last year, VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN) covered every aspect of the election crisis in Iran, adding a one-hour morning show to its seven-hour daily TV schedule as well as a one-hour 'special report' in the evening. Iranian citizen journalists sent VOA 300 videos daily, along with thousands of still pictures, e-mails, and telephone calls. PNN used Twitter, blogs, Facebook and YouTube pages to inform Iranians about developments inside their country and website traffic from Iran ballooned by 500 percent in June. It is unfortunate to see the success of that Persian broadcasts of VOA and its sister broadcast Radio Farda of RFE/RL overlooked as broadcasting 'to no avail' as Romm observed."

A mostly positive assessment of VOA Persian News Network and RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 27 Apr 2010, Mehdi Khalaji: Alex "Belida -- who was recently confirmed as director -- succeeded in making [VOA Persian News Network] a more professional news outlet by remodeling its programs, enriching its visuals, shortening interviews and program runtimes, and hiring a younger generation of Iranian editors and broadcasters. ... [RFE/RL's Radio Farda] has succeeded in depoliticizing its content, developing more attractive radio formats, and establishing a platform for new voices in Iran. As a result, more Iranian journalists are willing to work with the network, and more Iranian democrats and human rights activists are looking to contribute to its programs. ... Too often, BBC and Iranian television cover stories long before they appear on PNN. And many PNN stories seem more relevant to American viewers than to Iranians." See previous post about same subject.

Confirmation of the new BBG members: indecision and uncertainty.

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
From sources: At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s business meeting on 27 April, the nominations of Michael Meehan and Dana Perino to the Broadcasting Board of Governors were held over without discussion. The other six members, including desnated chairman Walter Isaacson, were already approved by the committee. No date has been set for what had appeared to be a routine action. The BBG staff has proposed the first meeting for the new BBG members on 24-25 May in Washington, assuming they will be confirmed by the full Senate by then. But to add to the uncertainty...
   State Department, 27 Apr 2010, remarks by Secretary Hillary Clinton: "I’m also very pleased to have here with us Walter Isaacson, well known to all of you and someone who has just recently been confirmed to chair the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which I’m very excited about, and has been enlisted, and willingly so, to co-chair this new venture, Partners for a New Beginning ... [I]t is my pleasure to announce a new partnership between the State Department and the fittingly named Partners for a New Beginning, a group of eminent Americans who have answered the President’s call to join our outreach to Muslim communities around the world, by helping to engage the considerable resources, capabilities, and expertise of the U.S. private sector." -- Is Mr. Isaacson already confirmed as chairman of the BBG? More likely, Secretary Clinton is jumping the gun. Mr. Isaacson is "private sector" in that he will not be a full-time government employee as BBG chairman. Will his work for this administration policy initiative mesh with his firewall function at the BBG?
   National Review The Corner, 27 Apr 2010, Robert Costa: "Remember this? In January, Democrat Michael Meehan, a Martha Coakley aide, shoved The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack into a metal gate. A media firestorm ensued. Then, a few days later, Scott Brown was elected to the Senate. Meehan will be back in the spotlight this afternoon when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers his nomination to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. President Obama nominated Meehan for the post last November." -- As reported above, Meehan's nomination was not considered by the committee on Tuesday.
   New York Times The Caucus blog, 27 Apr 2010, Bernie Becker: "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to consider the nomination of, among others, Dana Perino, a White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, to the Broadcasting Board of Governors." -- But didn't. See previous post about same subject.

No more NBC Nightly News on CNBC Europe, mention of "international distribution changes."

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
followthemedia.com, 27 Apr 2010, Philip M. Stone: "For expatriate Americans and for others staying up late who were into Americana, CNBC Europe had for many years the best daily American hour of TV starting at midnight CET with a half-hour commercial-free Tonight Show with Jay Leno followed by the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on the half-hour live – which did unfortunately mean with all the commercial breaks. Leno’s monologue and NBC’s newscast -- about as diverse but accurate a read on what America is thinking as any you would likely find within an hour on the dial. But suddenly Brian Williams is gone and Leno has taken over the entire midnight hour. ... [W]hat happened to Brian Williams? The best that CNBC Europe Communications Director Hugo Foulds,could tell us is, 'I can confirm that NBC Nightly News will no longer be carried by CNBC in Europe due to international distribution changes made by NBC Universal in the USA.' When pressed for details he said he didn’t know, but he would ask the Nightly News press office to contact us – which it hasn’t – and we tried twice contacting NBC Universal, but as we write this after 72 hours still no response from there, either."

CNN International travels from Georgia to Georgia to understand its wine, folk dancing, toasting, fruit.

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Financial (Tbilisi), 26 Apr 2010, Madona Gasanova: “'Georgia is a place that is different from so many others and is something to be respected,' said Jim Clancy, an anchor on CNN International. Clancy is now in Tbilisi, reporting for CNN’s iList. He visited Georgia twenty years ago. Clancy says so much has changed since that time, that it is really difficult to grasp it all in one visit. 'The biggest change is in the mentality of the people,' he said. 'I always found Georgia fascinating for its history, since I first came here to understand how far back its history goes, how unique this region is, its language, how hospitable the people are, the great wine, the great folk dancing, the toasting, the fruit.'"
   The Georgian Times, 26 Apr 2010, Lizaveta Zhahanina: "Snapshots of Georgia as diverse as an 'inside look' at the state ballet and a tour of 'bustling' Batumi aired on CNN last week as part of its I-List series and dazzled viewers with refreshingly positive coverage of the country. These short feature stories painted an energising image of a developing nation trying to reassert its independence and remind the world of its vibrant cultural heritage. 'It [the programme] does look on the bright side, it does look for the enthusiasm and innovation of people,' said Jim Clancy, the programme’s anchor."
   RFE/RL in the News, 28 Apr 2010: "RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin interviewed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili about the business climate in Georgia in a forum titled 'Poverty Is Not Destiny: A Conversation With Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia'. The event was part of the Milken Institute's Global Conference 2010, an annual international conference of business, political, and intellectual leaders in Los Angeles."

New Arabic news channel to compete with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya?

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg Businessweek, 26 Apr 2010, Glen Carey: "Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal ... said today he may start a regional news channel to compete with the Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera satellite channels. The channel 'is something I will be doing personally' because it 'needs a lot of investments up front,' he said. ... The news channel would borrow from the business model used at Murdoch’s Fox and Sky News channels while broadcasting different content in the Middle East, Alwaleed said."
   Middle East Online, 27 Apr 2010, Iqbal Tamimi: "According to Bloomberg, the new news channel would borrow from the business model used at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Sky News channels while broadcasting different content in the Middle East. This is bad news for the Arab audience, since both channels mentioned are seen as biased and degrading towards Arabs and Muslims since they project the image of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists ignorant savages, guilty until proven innocent while at the same time Murdoch never miss an opportunity without declaring his total support of Israel. How will Alwaleed’s news channel deal with such issues, how will he deal with Saudi related controversial issues of breaches of human rights? Who is going to be in the driving seat? Is he going to be in the front seat while Murdoch is driving from the back by remote control?"

Al Jazeera English recalls the conversation that led to the channel's creation.

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net The Asia Blog, 27 Apr 2010, Stephen Cole: "I had flown here [Almaty] to represent Al Jazeera and chair the Eurasian Media Forum. It’s a forum with special significance for Al Jazeera because it's generally accepted that it was a casual chat at a bar on the sidelines of a previous forum that led indirectly to the formation of Al Jazeera English. Four years on and 180 million viewers later, it had obviously been quite a conversation. Just as Al Jazeera is designed to bring messages from the "South to the North", so this non-political forum is designed to promote East-West understanding through dialogue."
   Channel News Asia, 27 Apr 2010, S Ramesh: "International news agency, Al Jazeera, has been taken to task for not checking its facts in its report on the homeless in Singapore. Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan stressed that homelessness is a complex problem and that the government will continue to enable people to be self-reliant. A video titled 'Government Policies Force Some Onto The Streets' was produced by Al Jazeera. It featured a couple camping on the beach, claiming that they had been homeless for nearly two years as a result of divorce proceedings. The government then made some checks and found a different story." See previous post about same subject.
     Bizasia.co.uk, 26 Apr 2010: "Al Jazeera English has been cleared for showing disturbing and graphic video in a news report. [UK] Media regulator Ofcom reviewed the material concerning recent events in Nigeria."

No more BBC channels up the Zattoo.

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 27 Apr 2010, Julian Clover: "BBC channels have been removed from the online streaming service Zattoo after legal threats from the corporation. Since its UK launch in December 2007 the Swiss-based service has claimed that the retransmission of the BBC and other channels is permissible under the UK Copyright Act. ... A spokesman for Zattoo confirmed to Broadband TV News that the channels, including BBC One, BBC Two and BBC News, had been taken down at the request of the BBC. ... With the BBC removed, Zattoo is still left with ITV, Channel 4, Five, S4C, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg and Deutsche Welle amongst others." -- Zattoo is available Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. Why couldn't (except in the UK) BBC World News be available via Zattoo?

Zimbabwe-Mozambique border radio nurtures musical bond.

Posted: 28 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Zimbabwean, 26 Apr 2010, Tony Saxon: "Another factor that has resulted in a strong musical bond between the [Zimbabwe and Mozambique] is the fact that Zimbabwe’s radio stations can be tuned in by people staying along Zimbabwe’s Forbes Border Post and areas such as Machipanda, Manica and Chimoio. On the other hand, Radio Mozambique, is clearly received in Zimbabwe’s eastern areas of Nyanga, Chipinge, Chimanimani and Mutare through the Short Wave."

CCTV's English-language channel becomes an English-language news channel.

Posted: 27 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"CCTV 9, China Central Television's (CCTV) English-language channel, switched Monday to become an English-language news channel with 19 hours of news broadcasts every day. The new CCTV 9 will broadcast in-depth reports, commentaries and documentaries, as well as news reports, producer Zhang Shilei said. It will increase coverage of international events with a particular emphasis on Asia, Zhang said. ... Launched on September 25, 2000, CCTV 9 has an audience of more than 100 million in 110 countries and regions." Xinhua, 26 Apr 2010. -- CCTV-9 was always CCTV's English-language channel, so apparently the change is to more news programming. If the channel ever identified itself as CCTV-9, is it still doing so? At the main CCTV website, clicking on English brings up China Network Television (CNTV), "a national web-based TV broadcaster." The English video reports available there, however, show CCTV News in the corner of the screen. Watching CCTV-9, or whatever it's called now, might answer the question, but I can't get its internet stream. -- Andy Sennitt writes from the Netherlands:"I just checked CCTV on the Sky platform. It is still shown as CCTV-9 on the EPG, but carries a new logo as CCTV News - and that was also the spoken ID at 1400 UTC. Interestingly, the preceding programme was Culture Express, a feature programme, so I wonder just what has changed, other than the name of the service."

China Radio International on page one, above the fold, of the Washington Post.

Posted: 27 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 25 Apr 2010, John Pomfret: "Sandwiched between a Spanish Christian network and a local sports station, broadcasting at 1540 on your AM dial, is KGBC of Galveston, wholly American-owned and -operated, but with content provided exclusively by a mammoth, state-owned broadcaster from the People's Republic of China. Call it KPRC. Or as the locals quip: Keep Galveston Broadcasting Chinese. The little Texas station may be modest, but it is part of a multibillion-dollar effort by the Chinese government to expand its influence around the world. As China rises as a global force, its leaders think that their country is routinely mischaracterized and misunderstood and that China needs to spread its point of view on everything from economics to art to counter the influence of the West. Beijing's new response is typically massive and ambitious: a $6.6 billion global strategy to create media giants that will challenge agenda-setting Western behemoths such as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., the BBC and CNN. At a time when the Western media are contracting, China is pushing its government-run news services to expand from America to Zimbabwe. The Chinese are creating TV networks, pouring millions into English-language newspapers, leasing radio stations on all continents and broadcasting TV news to a worldwide audience in six languages. The stations don't broadcast outright propaganda, but rather programming with a Chinese focus and flavor, tailored for local audiences. In Galveston, the format mixes China-centric international news, talk shows about the status of China's women and a healthy dose of gangsta rap -- all in English."
     Well, not propaganda by way of adjectives and imperatives. But, yes, propaganda, in the choice of news items, which follows the line of the Party rather than that of genuine journalists. I remember listening to Radio Peking in the 1960s, beginning each broadcast with a quotation of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. Then the "news". Today's China Radio International is much more listenable, and even occasionally reports on negative developments in China.
     Despite its page-one placement, this article incredibly misses a big part of the story. While China Radio International is heard on radio station in an assortment of US cities, China won't allow the placement of VOA or Radio Free Asia on Chinese domestic radio and television stations. The Chinese government's idea of international broadcasting is: we broadcast, you listen.
See previous post about same subject.
   Christian Science Monitor, 27 Apr 2010, John Hughes: "China’s progress has been achieved in spite of communism, not because of it. But great nations and empires flourish on openness and the assimilation of ideas and inventiveness from outside their borders. China’s flow of information should be two-way, not one."

BBG's MW transmitter in Afghanistan in the news. ... What MW transmitter?

Posted: 27 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 25 Apr 2010, Andy Sennitt: "The US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has issued a modification to its contract with Harris Corporation concerning a recently-installed BBG mediumwave transmitter in Afghanistan: 'Harris is the only firm capable of meeting BBG’s requirement to enhance the capabilities of the existing 200 kW shelterized mediumwave (MW) transmitting system in a remote location of Afghanistan to provide for 24-7 operations. The enhancement to existing Harris designed and provided broadcast site includes the design, fabrication, shipment, optional installation, commissioning and testing of one (1) additional Caterpillar C-18 generator capacity and fuel capacity at the recently completed site.'" -- Comments to this post conclude that this transmitter is on 621 kHz. It's listed as a frequency for RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal (click on Waves), its Pashto service for the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The frequency is not listed for VOA's Deewa Radio, to the same region, also in Pashto. Is Deewa not using the frequency, or has it not been posted yet at voanews.com? Refers to FedBizOpps via TradingMarkets.com, 22 Apr 2010.

Prime Minister's program on Thailand's state-owned NBT blocked by "an outside signal."

Posted: 27 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Bangkok Post, 26 Apr 2010: "A virtual attack on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's weekly TV talk show - which abruptly went off air yesterday morning - has prompted the government to adopt better protection for Channel 11's programmes on political affairs. The programme Having Confidence in Thailand with Prime Minister Abhisit vanished yesterday after about five minutes of airtime. Viewers were suddenly cut off from the premier's communication focusing on the prolonged red shirt rally in Bangkok. ... The state-run NBT, which owns Channel 11, yesterday worked with Thaicom, a private company leasing satellite signals to Channel 11, to find out where the signal had come from."
   The Nation (Bangkok), 26 Apr 2010: "PM's Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey, who oversees the state-run station, said the broadcast problem was not caused by the station. He said an outside signal was sent to disrupt the show. NBT techni-cal staff solved the problem by using the station's other channels to broadcast the programme. ... [NBT director Rattana Charoensak] said the station had been the target of similar problems several times but the outside source signal was not strong enough to collapse its signal for a long time. However this time the signal was so powerful it caused a technical snag. Programmes that were targeted previously were news reports relating to political developments and the red-shirt rallies."

New CNN International program will begin with tour of Shanghai led by a wise-cracking Chinese comedian.

Posted: 26 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
asiamediajournal.com, 22 Apr 2010, CNN press release: "CNNGo is a new monthly show featuring a unique take on global destinations, bringing views from genuine insiders on what gives dynamic cities in Asia and beyond their distinctive buzz. Taking its lead from the digital CNNGo.com, whether you’re a local, a business or leisure visitor, or even just a cultural voyeur, CNNGo delivers the best of each city by those who know it best. In the first show from Shanghai, that means hearing from some of the city's most influential and knowledgeable local characters. Beyond the usual tourist hang-outs, wise-cracking Comedian Zhou Libo gives us a tour of one of Shanghai's coolest old teahouses that once served as his training ground." CNN International also has a monthly program about tennis. Will viewers get into the habit of watching a monthly program? Daily, weekday, or weekly maybe, but perhaps not monthly. See also the accompanying cnngo.com website.

CNBC Asia will revamp its morning program line-up.

Posted: 26 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
CNBC press release, 26 Apr 2010: "CNBC ... is revamping its morning programming line-up in Asia Pacific. The new schedule will be launched to coincide with the unveiling of CNBC’s new studio at the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in June 2010. ... CNBC’s new power-packed morning line-up will include: Squawk Box Asia ... The Call ... Cash Flow from Australia ... Capital Connection - A one-hour program broadcast simultaneously from Asia, Europe and the Middle East with Chloe Cho hosting from Singapore. ... Straight Talk with Bernie Lo ... More details on the new programming line-up will be announced in June 2010."
   CNBC press release, 26 Apr 2010: "CNBC ... today announced that CNBC Asia’s Amanda Drury will be joining the network’s U.S. team as an anchor on CNBC’s Business Day programming, effective May 10th, based at the network’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. ... Drury has been a business and financial journalist for more than 10 years and has most recently been an anchor on two of CNBC Asia Pacific’s signature morning business programs: 'Squawk Box' and 'CNBC’s Cash Flow,' based in the CNBC Australia headquarters in Sydney. ... Prior to joining CNBC, Drury was a television and radio anchor for Bloomberg in Tokyo."

Legal update on 2006 murder of RFA GC Robert Wone (updated: 1994 murder of VOA employee also unsolved).

Posted: 26 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Washingtonian.com, 20 Apr 2010, includes a preview of an article by Harry Jaffe in the May issue of Washingtonian magazine about the August 2006 murder of Radio Free Asia general counsel Robert Wone and subsequent legal developments. See also Who Murdered Robert Wone blog, 23 Apr 2010, for details of a status hearing that day. And twitter.com/wonetrial.
   Update: The Examiner (Washington), 26 Apr 2010, Scott McCabe: "D.C. police hope DNA evidence will lead to the killer or killers of a Voice of America employee who 16 years ago disappeared after leaving his job. On Feb. 24, 1994, 35-year-old Lawrence O'Connell, of McLean, signed out of work at Third Street and Independence Avenue SW to go pick up his son from school. He never made it, and his car was left in the parking lot. ... Investigators believe O'Connell may have known one of the people who kidnapped him because the area was busy that afternoon and no one witnessed a violent abduction."

RFE/RL executive editor on why "President Obama must not succeed."

Posted: 26 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2009, John O'Sullivan, executive editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and editor-at-large of National Review, reviewing Steven Hayward, The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980: "Reagan did fail, however—and fail significantly—where Margaret Thatcher succeeded. He failed to convert the opposition party. For a while he seemed to have done so; President Bill Clinton balanced the budget, declared that the era of big government was over, embraced NATO and NAFTA expansion, backed a Republican plan for welfare reform, and sought safety in triangulation. But a series of factors—the Iraq war, George W. Bush's domestic drift leftwards, the political possibilities of the internet, boredom with centrism—pushed the Democrats back towards their statist and wobbly foreign-policy attitudes of 20 years ago. And Barack Obama was elected president on policies that reflected these attitudes. ... What is clear is that if the Reagan era is to be durable, then President Obama must not succeed — either politically because he cannot pass his programs, or substantively because his programs pass but then produce some blend of higher inflation and lower growth, and are subsequently abandoned."

RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin on social media and democracy (updated).

Posted: 25 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
USA Today, 23 Apr 2010, RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin: "[O]ur thinking about social media and democracy movements needs a reset. ... [The Iranian] regime achieved battlefield dominance in the technosphere over the past year. Iranian authorities have used a range of technologies to block, surveil and infiltrate social media. ... Through disinformation, it seems, Iranian intelligence services were able to disband demonstrations before protesters ever arrived on the scene. ... Twitter (or its next variant) will continue to bring protesters to the town hall square. Protesters may even succeed in toppling corrupt, autocratic regimes. But Twitter won't tell the opposition how to govern, how to develop democratic institutions or how to inculcate and defend the values, habits and behaviors that belong to democracy. These things require an immense amount of intellectual, conceptual and political work. And patience. This is especially so in countries that have little or no experience in democracy." The "how to" material is probably best left to NGOs and INGOs, with international broadcasting, in its journalistic function, reporting on "how it is."
   Update: Boston Globe, 25 Apr 2010, Jeff Jacoby: "For all the wonders it makes possible, information technology is only a tool, and like all tools it can be used to promote the cause of freedom, or to oppose it. That was the sobering theme of a conference on cyber-dissidents organized in Dallas last week by the George W. Bush Institute in conjunction with the human-rights organization Freedom House. ... [R]unning through the whole program was the Dickensian sense that today’s dissidents are living in the best of times and the worst of times: The social-media explosion makes it easier for champions of freedom to organize opposition and get information to the outside world, yet the very same online technology arms repressive governments with sophisticated new methods of censorship, surveillance, and disinformation. Far from ushering in a golden age of democracy, remarked the Bush Institute’s James K. Glassman, a former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, the Internet era has coincided with a 'freedom recession.' Interactive Web 2.0 applications have facilitated the rise of 'Authoritarianism 2.0.'"
   RFE/RL Off Mic, 21 Apr 2010: "Daud Khan Khattak, a broadcaster with RFE/RL's Pakistani service, Radio Mashaal, recently released a policy paper for the New America Foundation analyzing the ongoing battle between Taliban militants and Pakistani security forces for control of the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan." With link to the paper. The paper includes discussion of militants' FM radio broadcasts in the region.

Who will take credit for improved views of the United States in BBC World Service poll? (updated)

Posted: 25 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 19 Apr 2010: "Views of the US around the world have improved sharply over the past year, a BBC World Service poll suggests. For the first time since the annual poll began in 2005, America's influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative. The improved scores for the US coincided with Barack Obama becoming president, a BBC correspondent notes. As in 2009, Germany is viewed most favourably while Iran and Pakistan are seen as the most negative influences. Nearly 30,000 people in 28 countries were interviewed for the poll, between November 2009 and February 2010." See also the report in detail (3MB pdf) and links to the right of the article.
Update: Radio France International, 23 Apr 2010: RFI, 24 Apr 2010: "United States President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama are the world's two most popular leaders according to the results of a Radio France International and France 24 'world leaders barometer', published Friday. Obama won 77 per cent backing, in the sixth wave of the survey, which was carried out by Harris Interactive. This is one percentage point higher than in November. The Tibetan spiritual leader came into second place at 75 per cent, followed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at 62 per cent." See also France 24, 23 Apr 2010, with link to complete results. The link to the report in English does not work, but the one to the report in French does. The poll was conducted in France, Germany, Spain, Britain, and Italy. This survey may measure awareness more than popularity.

Report: VOA apologizes for "tampered" interview with Pakistan Hockey Federation official.

Posted: 25 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Dawn (Karachi), 24 Apr 2010: "Voice of America (VoA) Radio expressed their regret for misquoting Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa in an aired interview filed by reporter Sardar Khan. The reporter allegedly quoted Bajwa as saying that Pakistan purposely lost a match against Poland in the World Cup qualifier in Lille (France) to avoid facing hosts France in the final, last November. 'As soon as I read your (Bajwa’s) objections to the report in the Pakistani media saying the reporter twisted your words, my most senior managers and I demanded the full unedited interview and compared it to the dispatch Sardar Khan submitted to us,' said Jennifer Janin, Chief VOA Urdu Broadcasting to Pakistan in a letter addressed to PHF and made available to APP on Friday evening. 'We concluded that Sardar Khan tampered with your comments to twist the meaning. This is completely unethical and irresponsible and in violation of VoA News’ own code of conduct,' Janin said in her letter. ... She said that Sardar, a freelance reporter who had been contributing reports to VoA, had damaged his own and VoA’s credibility. According to her, VoA has banned him from working for the radio. We are issuing a formal apology and retraction of the report which is being posted on our website and will be aired on VoA’s radio shows, she added." See also Associated Press of Pakistan, 24 Apr 2010. See previous post about same subject.

They learned English by listening to VOA.

Posted: 24 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Daily News, 23 Apr 2010, Clem Richardson: Ming Xia, a political science professor at the CUNY College of Staten Island, mastered English "in 1986 while teaching in the Department of International Politics at China's Fudan University by getting up at 6:30 a.m. to listen to the Voice of America radio broadcast."
MetroWest Daily News (Marlborough MA), 22 Apr 2010, Catherine Buday: "Born in Brazil, [Serg deLima] learned English from listening to radio broadcasts from the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Channel."

UK election coverage and other news of the BBC world services.

Posted: 24 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 20 Apr 2010: "On UK election night [6 May], BBC World News will show a live BBC News Special from 20:45 GMT. ... BBC World Service will also broadcast a seven-hour election night special."
BBC World Service press release, 21 Apr 2010: "BBC Russian has announced its plans for coverage of the UK General Election."
BBC World News press release, 23 Apr 2010: "BBC World News today launches Russia Business Report (RBR), its first show dedicated to a largely unexplored business world. From the local cafe owner to the billionaire property developer, every month Russia Business Report will bring the viewer stories of struggle, success and sometimes failure in a dynamic market place." BBC World News press release, 23 Apr 2010: "BBC World News today announces a new advertising partnership with global investment company VTB Capital, as a result of the forthcoming launch of its Russia Business Report series. ... VTB Capital, which has offices in Moscow, London, Singapore and Dubai, will be undertaking a range of advertising and sponsorship activity around the new programme."
The Guardian, 23 Apr 2010, James Robinson: "Working Lunch, which has been a fixture of BBC2's lunchtime schedule since 1994, is being axed in a cost-cutting move that will see it replaced by GMT, a BBC World News Channel current affairs programme anchored by George Alagiah."
The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Apr 2010, James Hibberd: "'Top Gear' is crossing the pond. History is teaming with BBC Worldwide Prods. to launch a U.S. version of the series in the fall. ... 'Gear' premiered in 1977 in the U.K. then relaunched in 2002 as a studio-based format. It is BBC 2's most-watched program, and the brand has spun off a magazine and road tour. NBC came close to doing a U.S. version in 2008."
The Pacific Northwest Inlander, 21 Apr 2010: "It’s not every day — in fact, it’s hardly any day — that the BBC World News service mentions Washington State University in a broadcast, but ... BBC this week extensively quoted Dr. Kenneth Kardong, a WSU professor of zoology, on research that resolved the puzzle of how cobras flare their hoods."
George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication: "Please join us in congratulating the 2010 Climate Change Communicators of the Year: Jason Samenow and the BBC World Service Trust."
London Evening Standard, 22 Apr 2010, Viv Groskop: The career of departing BBC Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer included, in the early 1980s, "BBC World Service ('Then a weird place, very cautious, journalistically second-rate, unambitious')... ."

Turkey's new Arabic channel "will never use the language of propaganda"

Posted: 24 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Qantara.de, 21 Apr 2010, Ayse Karabat interviewing Sefer Turan, coordinator of TRT's new Arabic channel At Turkiyya: "Q: Arab public opinion is suspicious of Arabic broadcasts made outside the Arab world, for example Al Hurra in the US. How will be your broadcasting policy help avoid similar suspicions? Turan: ... While we introduce Turkey, we will never ever use the language of propaganda; that would not be the correct approach. We want to show our country's industry, politics, culture and art, and leave the decision to the audience. Our viewers will not find anything that will disturb them or arouse suspicion. And our viewers love us, because they think of us as being one of them. Q: You also broadcast news. When you take into consideration the fact that democracy is not well developed in many Arab countries, do you think news may create problems? Turan: I don't think we will have any serious problems. We don't have an attitude of taking or representing sides. We will just present the story and leave the decision to the audience." "At Turkiyya" is yet another English spelling of the station's name. Does the channel have a website? By the way: "The Internet portal Qantara.de represents the concerted effort of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Center for Political Education), Deutsche Welle, the Goethe Institut and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) to promote dialogue with the Islamic world. The project is funded by the German Foreign Office." See previous post about same subject.

North Korea steps up efforts to find cell phone users.

Posted: 24 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Korea Times, 23 Apr 2010, Kang Hyun-kyung: "Radio Free North Korea (RFNK) ... reported Wednesday that the authorities had stepped up efforts to find cell phone users. Using cell phones in the North is illegal. Some North Koreans, however, use mobile phones to provide information on what's going on inside the secretive nation to affiliated media outlets based in Seoul. They receive money in return for the high-risk job. ... Several media outlets run by North Korean defectors, including Daily NK and North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, also have secret correspondents in the North." Using cell phones that connect to mobile telephone systems in China or South Korea is illegal in North Korean. There is an authorized North Korean mobile phone system, but it is domestic only.
The Chosun Ilbo, 24 Apr 2010: "Kim Sung-min, the president of Radio Free North Korea, said, 'It has become very difficult to talk with our sources in the North recently.' The North seems to believe that defectors' activities could undermine the regime. Defectors' news media are broadcasting inside news on the North nearly in real time thanks to the spread of mobile phones in the North."

Another story of letters from a shortwave listener to WWII POW families.

Posted: 24 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Apr 2010, Steve Meacham: "It was a scene typical of thousands of homes in wartime Australia. Dishes done after their cooked meal, families stayed in the kitchen, listening to the latest news on short wave radio of how the fortunes of war were fluctuating. Sixteen-year-old Yvonne Jobling had recently left high school in Geelong, where she had learned book-keeping, typing and shorthand. It became her evening ritual to take a shorthand note of the nightly news broadcasts. But that Friday, March 17, 1944, was different. The broadcast came from Radio Tokyo, the Japanese propaganda station designed to further deflate a war-weary enemy. Yvonne cannot remember listening to Radio Tokyo before or since that night. But, as five Australian prisoners of war were put in front of the microphone to relate how they had been captured, Yvonne began copying their words in her notebook. ... Yvonne wrote a letter to each of the addresses the five prisoners had mentioned, with a covering note explaining how she had heard them and taken a verbatim account of what they had said. ... Those letters are now in the Australian War Memorial, which recently accepted them as an eloquent symbol, according to the official note, 'of the kindness of strangers on the home front during the Second World War, and the capacity of such kindness to bring hope to anxious families'."

Radio Australia Khmer celebrates Spring Festival in Siem Reap.

Posted: 24 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"ABC Radio Australia celebrated Khmer New Year with its first outdoor broadcast away from Phnom Penh. Siem Reap was the chosen locale for a two-day live broadcasting stint held on April 15 and 16. ... Seda Douglas, executive producer of Radio Australia’s Khmer service, said, 'Over the past few years we’ve broadcast live from Cambodia at the Water Festival in Phnom Penh and received an overwhelming response from our audiences. So this year we felt it essential to share the important festivities of the Khmer New Year with our audience in Siem Reap and surrounding rural provinces.'" The Phnom Penh Post, 23 Apr 2010.

NATO's Sada and Azadi West Radio competes with RFE/RL's Radio Azadi for the perhaps confused Afghanistan audience.

Posted: 23 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
International Security Assistance Force Afghaistan press release, 22 Apr 2010: "A NATO radio network station began broadcasting from Camp Arena recently, offering public-interest content to help local residents better understand the purpose of ISAF forces in Afghanistan. ... 'Sada and Azadi West Radio [The Voice of Freedom – West] ... relies entirely upon an Afghan journalism staff and offers objective information on Afghanistan to all the citizens of the four western provinces — to city dwellers and those living in more isolated communities.' ... The Task Force Commander, Maj. Renato Rocchetti, directs and manages the new radio station, which is manned by an Italian Air Force NCO and three local journalists. Other staff members will be added soon. The station was developed, with Italian funding, by the men and women of the Regional PSYOPS Support Element, composed by personnel of 28th Regiment 'Pavia', a unit specializing in operating communications equipment." Sada and Azadi West Radio is not to be confused with -- but probably will be confused with -- RFE/RL's Radio Azadi, a.k.a. Radio Free Afghanistan.

His granddaughter tells VOA Duke Ellington's Soviet fans listened to him on "Radio Free America."

Posted: 23 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 21 Apr 2010, transcript of video report: "Mercedes [Ellington] traveled with the band to Russia in the mid 1970's, and got to see her grandfather's popularity first-hand. 'The people were running on the tarmac alongside the plane as we landed, with bouquets of flowers. They had been listening to the music of Duke Ellington through Radio Free America. There were enough Russian people who knew about the music and had secret recordings of the Ellington band. And there was great reception everywhere we went,' she said." The Soviet fans, of course, listened on VOA. There was never a "Radio Free America," other than a couple of talk shows by that name, and a short-lived pirate radio station. (See Wikipedia on this subject.) It's easy to conflate "Voice of America" and the more memorable "Radio Free Europe" -- two stations that broadcast to many of the same countries in many of the same languages during the Cold War years.

Lawsuit alleges cover-up of harassment and retaliation for views at VOA Persian News Network.

Posted: 23 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Politico, 22 Apr 2010, Patrick Gavin: "The law firm of Larry Klayman sent me the following notice: 'The Board of Governors, the Acting General Counsel and managers in the Persian News Network (PNN) of Voice of America (VOA) have been sued in a $150 million USD complaint for covering up rampant and widespread sexual harassment at the network. To make matters worse, the women who were harassed, and in particular, the principal anchor and star of PNN, Ms. Elham Sataki, were then retaliated against by the defendants when they complained of the sexual harassment. As set forth in the complaint, the reason for the workplace retaliation stems from an unhealthy culture of corruption at PNN, where anchors, such as Ms. Sataki, are punished for their personal political views in favor of more aggressive, pro-Iranian freedom news reporting, particularly during this critical period in Iranian history.' ... David Borgida, acting director of VOA Public Relations told POLITICO: 'We have a policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment. We abide by a serious and well regarded process to carefully review any such accusations and, of course, individual personnel actions are not matter for public discussion.' ... Who's Larry Klayman? The founder and former Chairman of Judicial Watch with a long history of filing lawsuits against the Clinton administration." See also Bob Unruh, WorldNetDaily, 23 Apr 2010. "More aggressive, pro-Iranian freedom news" is, of course, not news.

Joint Persian-language channel of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan postponed.

Posted: 23 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 20 Apr 2010, Ebrahim Gilani: "The launch of a Persian language television channel by Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan has been postponed yet again despite an announcement in March that it was imminent. The Iranian ambassador to Tajikistan, Ali-Asghar Sherdoost, told the semi-official Mehr News Agency on March 20 that the first broadcast of the channel would take place that night with the official launch a few days later. A month on, and there is still no announcement about the channel starting up. ... One of the major issues around the launch of the venture is the difference in the broadcasting policies of the three countries since Afghan and Tajik media are open and liberal compared to Iran. ... A former senior official at Radio Television Afghanistan, RTA, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that the main concern for the Afghans is possible Iranian efforts to use the channel to promote their political and ideological views. He questioned the need for joint investment in the project, with the risk of conflict over the content, when Iran already has a number of satellite channels." See previous post about same subject.

New DTH satellite service for South Africa will include international news channels.

Posted: 23 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
SES Astra press release, 19 Apr 2010: "SES ASTRA ... announced today that it has signed a capacity agreement with South African pay-TV operator On Digital Media (ODM) for three transponders on its ASTRA 4A satellite... . ODM will use the capacity on ASTRA 4A to deliver TopTV, a new pay-TV bouquet that will be offered to South African viewers starting in May. ... ASTRA 4A carries six transponders for the African market covering Southern Africa from Nigeria to Cape Town. The contract with ODM brings the total capacity contracted on this satellite to five transponders, with ETV and Globecast previously having signed one transponder each." See also the TopTV channel line-up, including BBC World, Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, and France 24.

New bureaus in China regulate social networks and foreign newsgathering.

Posted: 23 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 16 Apr 2010, Jonathan Ansfeld: "China has quietly formed a new bureau expected to help to police social networking sites and other user-driven forums on the Internet, which are proving harder for the government to monitor and control than ordinary news portals. ... The new agency, officially called the Internet news coordination bureau, is part of this effort to better monitor the communications of Chinese Web users, who total nearly 400 million by official estimates. Chinese officials consider tools like social networking, microblogging and video-sharing sites a major vulnerability. In the past year, they have been forced to block access in China of overseas video and networking giants like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, and suspend several upstart Chinese look-alikes, over information they deem subversive. ... [P]ublic acknowledgment of the addition only came last week, after The New York Times submitted a question about the overhaul. The next day, the Information Office altered a page on its Web site to reflect the new Internet bureau. It also unveiled another new bureau, devoted to regulating foreign news and information outlets that conduct business in China."
Epoch Times, 21 Apr 2010, Yu Shan: "Over the past decade of China’s communist regime filtering the Internet, a handful of anticensorship software called fan qiang (literally meaning 'climb over a wall') has successfully broken through the Internet blockade. The best known of these are the 'Five Knights': FreeGate, UltraSurf, GardenNetwork, GPass and FirePhoenix, which have all been developed by overseas Falun Gong practitioners. Users in China told Sound of Hope Radio (SOH) that the 'Five Knights' have become the essential tools for many in China. They say the firewall becomes almost nonexistent when using the 'Five Knights.'" Well, maybe. Support for organizations that send content into China depends on assurances that the content is actually getting through. I would like to hear from some objective internet experts about this.
Washington Post, Apr 21 2010, Cecilia Kang: Google "disclosed how often it receives requests for private information from government authorities around the globe, as well as demands to censor its applications. The company said it hopes to shed light on the practices of governments and on a growing push to block information on the Web. ... Google showed that Brazil and the United States made the most requests for private user data from July to December of 2009. ... Brazil and Germany topped the list for nations demanding the removal of online material." See also Google press release, 20 Apr 2010.

In Kyrgyzstan, people beam at the mention of Radio Azattyk, he writes.

Posted: 23 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Commentary, 23 Apr 2010, James Kirchick: "[I]t isn't true that the United States government was fully behind Bakiyev, a complaint I often heard on the streets. Last year's State Department Human Rights report strongly criticized Bakiyev's regime for a variety of abuses, including 'restrictions on citizens'right to change their government,' 'arbitrary arrest and detention,' and 'pervasive corruption.' U.S.-government-funded organizations like the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute have long supported democracy-building and civil-society programs. Perhaps most significant of all has been Radio Azattyk, the Kyrgyz-language service of the congressionally funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is the most trusted news outlet in the country thanks to its coverage of corruption, human rights violations, and everyday political developments. Nearly every person I speak to in Kyrgyzstan beams at the mention of its name. Indicative of this popularity is that the morning after Bakiyev escaped to the south, the chief of Azattyk's Bishkek bureau became head of state television."
EurasiaNet, 21 Apr 2010, Sen. John Kerry: "The new leaders of Kyrgyzstan have a responsibility and opportunity to bring stability and prosperity to their country. They will need to take concrete action to help liberalize their political and economic systems. Already, provisional government leaders have taken a bold step by restoring Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty programming, which was taken off national airwaves nearly two years ago for political reasons."
PR-Canada.net, 19 Apr 2010, press release from "Friends and Family of Vugar Khalilov": "Since the beginning of this week, a UK citizen has been held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan without legal representation or access to British consular assistance, in direct contravention of international and local laws. ... Vugar Khalilov worked for more than 20 years as a professional journalist for media outlets like BBC and Radio Liberty, upholding the values of objective and independent journalism, democracy and justice. He has at times risked his own life to determine the truth of a story."

Broadcasting Board of Governors confirmations this week? (updated)

Posted: 22 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 16 Apr 2010, Helle Dale: "[T]he Obama administration has dragged its feet when it came to installing new members of the BBG. For the past year, the board has been functioning at only half capacity, with board members whose three year terms had expired, and without a new chairman. This despite the fact that U.S. international broadcasting has an operating budget of $1.1 billion and is a critically important part of U.S. public diplomacy in many areas of the world. This week most of the new board was finally voted out of committee, under the chairmanship of Walter Isaacson, formerly of Time magazine and CNN. By unanimous vote, the committee voted out Dennis Mulhaupt, Victor H. Ashe, Michael Lynton, S. Enders Wimbush and Sue McCue, the latter being Harry Reid’s former chief of staff. Two nominees are still pending: Democrat Michael Meehan, who made news while working on the campaign of Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley by shoving a reporter from the Weekly Standard, and former White House spokesman Republican Dana Perino, who is being held in a Democrat-Republican tit-for-tat." -- A Senate floor vote on the six BBG members was scheduled for last Thursday, 15 April. Other business interceded, so the vote is postponed to this week. Maybe.
     Update: On 20 April, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) asked unanimous consent to take up and confirm en bloc nominations of 60 Obama nominations to State, DoD, and judicial positions. Among these: six members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Assistant Secretary of State Judith Ann Stewart Stock. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), on behalf of the Republican caucus, objected. (See page from Congressional Record.) Senator Kyl explained his objections: "Some of these nominees are subject to discussion between the two leaders, working out time agreements for their consideration—at least some of the court nominees. ... I would say that I have no secret holds on anyone, so this is not on my own behalf. But in order to preserve the deliberation between the two leaders, on behalf of the minority I would object." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL listener letters from Afghanistan featured on BBCWS "The Strand."

Posted: 22 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL In the News, 19 Apr 2010: "The BBC World Service reports on Voices from Afghanistan, an exhibit at the Library of Congress highlighting the letters RFE/RL's Radio Azadi receives from thousands of listeners across Afghanistan. 'The radio listening culture is very much alive in Afghanistan,' said Radio Azadi Director Akbar Ayazi on the BBC program, The Strand. 'Most of our "fan mail" comes from young listeners, so it shows how this generation is keeping the tradition alive.'" Refers to BBCWS The Strand, 12 Apr 2010.

BBC world services: official broadcaster of air travelers stranded by volcanic ash.

Posted: 22 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Haringey Independent, 20 Apr 2010, Elizabeth Pears, in Frankfurt: "I continue to press on in my makeshift newsroom, comprised of BBC World Service, Skype, and a plate of salami."
The Telegraph, 20 Apr 2010, Oliver Smith, in The Gambia: "But for me, and the majority of other Britons at my beachside resort, we tune into BBC World News each morning selfishly hoping to hear of further disruption and volcanic activity."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 20 Apr 2010, Sally Kalson: Julia Fraser in Instanbul is "mostly staying in her hotel room and working on school essays, checking flight updates and watching BBC world news."
Stockport Express, 19 Apr 2010, Mark Field on Antigua: "BBC World News ... to really know what is happening."
The Sofia Echo, 19 Apr 2010, Nick Iliev: "It is possible that Austria and Italy may decide to lift the ban this afternoon, but, according to the BBC World Service, British airspace will remain closed for the entire day."
The Telegraph, 21 Apr 2010, Judith Woods in Tunisia: "I'm not normally a BBC-basher but I've been incandescent at how it's letting us down in our hour of need. BBC World is so preoccupied with banal infotainment that we're being fed a diet of Roger Federer documentaries and Moscow real estate analyses, when what we need is an update on Spanish ports, French roads and the Channel Tunnel. The sole nod to actual news is a giggly presenter standing in an empty Heathrow and marvelling at how quiet it is."

VOA detractors in the news.

Posted: 21 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Business Standard (New Delhi), 20 Apr 2010, Saubhadra Chatterjee: Bangladeshi singer and member of parliament Kabir Suman: "I stopped singing altogether and started looking for ways. My travel began in the early 70s. I went to Europe and even to the US. I took a job there in Voice of America (VoA) as it was the only way to get a foothold in the US. It’s a wonderful country and I used to say, there are two Americas: the USA and the VoA."
VHeadline.com, 19 Apr 2010, headline: "The Voice of America: the present day alter ego of Radio Moscow broadcasts."

VOA Amharic getting through Ethiopian jamming on some frequencies, adds morning transmission.

Posted: 21 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Nazret.com, 18 Apr 2010: "In addition to our daily shortwave broadcasts, VOA now offers you 'Today From VOA Amharic.' To get this newsletter and links to the top stories of the day visit our newsletter sign-up page enter your e-mail address. If you have friends or family in Ethiopia who cannot hear our Horn broadcasts during the pre-election jamming by the Ethiopian government, you can send the newsletter sign-up page and they can enter their e-mail addresses. Although the Ethiopian government is jamming our Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrigna language broadcasts, we’re still delivering balanced and up-to-date news from Ethiopia. Amharic news airs seven nights a week, Afan Oromo and Tigrigna five nights a week. And now, at 6 a.m. in Ethiopia, Amharic delivers a rebroadcast of election highlights. To learn more check out our frequencies under Radio Program Information."
     The links are not included in this Nazret.com article. The links are in the original promotion from VOA. However, I could not find a way to get to this promotion from the VOA Horn of Africa home page. Only a general search found it.
     The jamming of Afan Oromo and Tigrigna is news to me: previously it was reported that only Amharic was jammed. The new morning Amharic transmission is also a surprise. It is not (yet) listed in the VOA frequency schedule (the schedule that appears when clicking on the "Radio Program Information" link mentioned above).
     Listening via the remote monitoring receiver in Addis Ababa, all three of the frequencies for the new morning transmission (at 0300 UTC on 6055, 7300, and 11790 kHz) are succesfully jammed. I'm surprised higher frequencies, which would have to come from the east, are not used, because they might be more effective against the jamming.
     For the evening transmission at 1800-1900 UTC, now on nine frequencies, I heard two frequencies getting through with at least a fair signal. In this audio file, from 20 April, you can hear 1) 15730 kHz getting through at 1815, but 2) covered by jamming at 1845, 3) 13835 fair at 1816, and 4) still fair at 1846.
     Shortwave jamming can be overcome by transmitting on as many frequencies as possible from as many directions as possible. It could be that propagation favored those two frequencies, but another possible explanation is that Ethiopia simply ran out of transmitters to jam the nine VOA frequencies. Ethiopian listeners with patience can hear VOA Amharic.

     VOA Horn of Africa Service, 20 Apr 2010: "Technology experts in Washington, DC say the recent blocking of Voice of America radio and Internet broadcasts by the Ethiopian government is likely to have a negative long term impact. ... The panelists agreed jamming radio broadcasts by Ethiopian government is 'a severe act of censorship' which can only serve to increase the outrage of people in that country." With links to audio of the discussion in Tigrigna.

CNN Worldwide president says CNN's "overall global business is doing better than fine."

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 19 Apr 2010, Marisa Guthrie: "If executives at CNN are worried about ratings, they’ve wrapped themselves in a mantle of non-partisan boosterism and multi-platform evangelizing. 'What is missed is that CNN is more than one domestic network with a primetime,' says Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, who oversees Turner news division businesses including CNN International, CNN/ U.S., CNN en Español, CNN. com and HLN. 'So, while one part of our business, CNN/U.S. primetime, is having some challenges, the overall global business is doing better than fine.' Walton talks up six consecutive years of profit growth and the networks’ reach—a robust digital operation, presence in more than 200 countries—and notes, as he has before, that primetime ad sales on CNN account for less than 10% of total revenue."
Globacom press release, 20 Apr 2010: "Globacom is now the exclusive sponsor of CNN International’s weekly half-hour magazine programme, ‘African Voices’. ... The sponsorship will ... project Globacom, which is building Africa's biggest and best telecommunications network, to CNN’s business and consumer audiences across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and reach millions of online users globally via CNN.com."
The Georgian Times, 19 Apr 2010: "Following the postponement of CNN International’s planned week of programming from the Republic of Georgia in light of the tragic death of the Polish president in last weekend’s fatal air crash, CNN’s ‘i-List’ series will commence from today. The ‘i-List’ series introduces viewers to countries that are making an impact beyond their borders and to date has profiled France and Bahrain."

CNN mobile app to help Chinese speakers learn English.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
CNN International press release, 19 April 2010: CNN, in partnership with LiveABC Interactive Corporation, offers "its first English learning mobile application for Windows phone users. Combining language learning with mobile technology, the new application for Chinese speakers leverages CNN's award-winning content for effective and efficient self-learning to users demanding accessibility and convenience. ... The CNN English learning application features include: • CNN news video: Users watch their video of choice from a portfolio of CNN interviews with iconic personalities in the fields of arts, politics, sports and business... . • Bilingual interchangeable subtitles: Both Chinese and English subtitles are available and can be added or removed whilst watching the video. ... The application is only supported on Windows Mobile 5.0 version or above and is available for US$0.99 from Windows Marketplace ... under the reference category in Taiwan and Hong Kong."

Daughter of Che Guevara headlines "Freedom" themed Al Jazeera film festival.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 19 April 2010: "The 6th Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival will open at the Doha Sheraton today with a strong presence of women filmmakers. This year’s festival is marked by the screening of at least 40 films by women filmmakers. ... Films from the US, China, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Esthonia, Austria, Columbia, Poland, Yemen, Japan, Kuwait, Palestine, Lebanon, UAE, South Africa, Canada, Senegal, Egypt, Mauritania, Argentina, Iran and India, Spain are showcasing their works."
The Peninsula, 17 Apr 2010: "Befitting the theme of 2010 festival - 'Freedom' - the list is led by Dr Aleida Guevara, daughter of revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara, who arrived here yesterday. ... The festival jury is composed of 14 arbitrators from 14 different countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, India, Iran, China, Australia, Cuba and Mexico."
UANews, 18 Apr 2010, Jeff Harrison: "[A]n associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona ... Shahira Fahmy reported in a study published this month in Media, War and Conflict that visitors to the English-language Al-Jazeera website overwhelmingly support the network's decision to run graphic images of war that are important pieces of information missing from Western media."

Australia's Sky News "groundbreaking" deal with China's CCTV might affect bid for Australia Network contract.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Australia's "Sky News has signed a reciprocal programming agreement with China's national broadcaster CCTV, building on its platform of international broadcast deals that could bolster its claims in its pitch for a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade contract that it hopes to nab from the ABC. In a deal to be announced today, Sky News has secured agreement for its programming to be broadcast into China, while English-language programming from CCTV will be broadcast in Australia regularly. There will also be a daily exchange of business and trade reports between the Sky News Business Channel and CCTV. Key to the deal, signed on Friday in Beijing by Australian News Channel chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos, will be the weekly broadcast of the English-language CCTV program Dialogue on Sky's A-PAC channel. ... [This] is sure to be part of the pitch he can be expected to make in Canberra as Sky continues to jostle with the ABC to secure the [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade]-funded Australia Network TV service for international markets. The service is provided for DFAT under a $20 million contract with the ABC that expires next year. Sky News, jointly owned by News Corporation's British pay-TV group BSkyB, PBL Media and the Seven Network, failed in its 2005 bid to operate the channel. ABC chief Mark Scott is determined to hang on to the service and in a November speech [said] 'we are intent on securing the all-important "landing rights" for an expanded Australian Network service in China.'" -- Will all the Sky News content be in English? Only Sky News Mandarin to China would be truly "reciprocal" with CCTV English to Australia. And on what sort of CCTV outlet in China will Sky News be broadcast?
The Hollywood report, 19 Apr 2010, Pip Bulbeck and Jonathan Landreth: "Under the groundbreaking deal, signed in Beijing on Friday, Sky, and CCTV will host each others' news English-language news programs for the first time. Calls to CCTV for comment went unanswered. ... 'This is more than just a gesture between Australian and Chinese media that has occurred in the past. The results of the agreement that Sky News and CCTV have signed will materialize immediately into regular television broadcasts from next week," [Sky News CEO Angelos] Frangopoulos said, according to Xinhua." See also Xinhua, 19 Apr 2010.

RFA and VOA have parts in film about Tibetan refugees in India.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Northwest Asian Weekly, 15 Apr 2010, Andrew Hamlin: "Given the 50 years of tension between the Chinese government and Tibetans, China can’t be expected to support the documentary film, 'The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom.' ... The film partially follows the march of refugees undertaken in March 2008, from India to the Tibetan border. The march was cannily timed to call attention to Tibet when the Olympics kept all eyes on China. 'Sun' comes to life as the cameras follow the marchers over a 2,500-kilometer walk across bridges, ridges, mountain paths, and fields. The party keeps in touch with the global debate over the United States’ Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America’s Tibet service. The film switches between footage of the radio studios to the march taking place far away. This underscores the importance of media in spreading information and opinion on the situation."

BBC uses voice blogging to work around India's prohibition of news on FM.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Mobile Entertainment, 20 Apr 2010, Tim Green: "Bubbly is a voice-blogging phone service that has been adopted by celebs and is now being employed by content owners to connect with mobile audiences. BBC News and BBC sports are among the most enthusiastic adopters of the tech. Indu Shekhar Sinha, India business development manager for BBC World Service, said: ' ... With Bubble Motion our audiences will now have audio access to latest, accurate and credible news.'" -- News is not allowed on the FM band in India, except from the government-owned All India Radio. BBC fare on private Indian FM stations thus consists of "infotainment." Voice blogging becomes a way for BBC to deliver audio hard news inside India -- unless this medium also becomes subject to regulation. See also www.bubblemotion.com.

BBC in Arabic experiments with web-based video drama and putting viewers in the director's seat.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 16 Apr 2010, Keach Hagey: "The BBC is pushing Arabic drama onto the Web -- five frantic minutes at a time. The BBC World Service Trust has put up the coin for Beirut-based Batoota Films to launch the Arab world's first Web-based series, called 'Shankaboot,' about a 15-year-old moped delivery boy (Hassan Akil) who spends his days careening through Beirut's chaotic streets. With its handheld camerawork, stylish production values and sense of humor, the series is a far cry from the melodramatic sudsers that dominate pan-Arab satellite TV. ... A month after its soft launch, the Web-only drama has attracted 5,000 fans to its Facebook page and has received nearly 30,000 page views on its Web page, where the first 10 five-minute episodes are hosted. ... 'We've made it available in as many resolutions as YouTube will allow,' says technical director Simon Channon. 'But we've got fairly restrictive download speeds in Lebanon.' Batoota's [Katia] Saleh, who has previously helmed documentaries for Al-Jazeera English, says funding for the first 50 episodes is now in place, but after the initial push from the BBC, the series is expected to find advertising and sponsors to become self-supporting."
ArabianBusiness.com, 17 Apr 2010, interviewing Hosam El Sokkari, head of BBC Arabic and creator of the 710 Greenwich current affairs talk show: "There have been four generations of interactivity if you like. First the public provided quotes and ideas by SMS. Citizen journalism was then used within programmes. Then visual user generated content was integrated into shows and became an integral part or even the basis of some formats. We are looking to go one step further now. They want to interact and take part. The viewers have the opportunity not just to be reporters or contributors but to actually research and produce the show. We can put them in the director's seat."

After insurgents tell Somali radio stations not to play music, government tells them not to not play music.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 18 Apr 2010, Mohammed Ibrahim: "Radio stations in the capital of this near-anarchical country, still scrambling to comply with an Islamist ultimatum to stop playing music, were jerked in the other direction on Sunday when the government said that all broadcasters who had heeded that ultimatum faced closing. The competing warnings to the radio stations, a broader reflection of the prolonged struggle over who is in charge in Somalia, clearly touched a nerve of exasperation among the handful of independent journalists who have continued to work here despite many years of violence and threats."
International Press Institute, 19 Apr 2010, Nayana Jayarajan: National Union of Somali Journalists "coordinator Mohammed Ibrahim told IPI that the announcement had been made at a press conference for journalists in Mogadishu. According to Ibrahim, at least four of the radio stations are operating in government-controlled parts of the capital. ... In Somalia, where literacy rates remain low, and press and TV broadcasting have been left weakened by years of conflict, radio remains the dominant medium." See previous post about same subject.

Washington Times publishes VOA's response to the newspaper's editorial about VOA Persian News Network.

Posted: 19 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 19 Apr 2010, letter from Danforth W. Austin, Voice of America director: "You cite two recent 'cases in point,' describing broadcasts that, in your view, 'gave preferred treatment to pro-regime messages.' There is no preferred treatment of any messages in VOA PNN programs. Allowing a wide range of voices and opinions underscores VOA's commitment and adherence to a congressionally approved charter that requires programming to be accurate, objective and comprehensive. The two guests you selectively cited represent only a small part of what PNN offered its audience that particular week, and each has appeared on or written articles for a wide variety of media. ... In order to keep its people from seeing PNN content, the Iranian government attempts to block our Web sites and jam our broadcasts. And so we ask, would the government of Iran waste time and money jamming VOA's PNN if it didn't find the content objectionable?" -- Responding to Washington Times editorial on 14 April.
Heritage Foundation, 16 Apr 2010, Helle Dale: "Dealing with the accusations against the VOA[']s Persian News Network should be top on the new [Broadcasting Board of Governors'] list of things to do."
National Iranian American Council, 15 Apr 2010: "The Washington Times ran an editorial Wednesday morning accusing Voice of America’s Persian Service – which is currently jammed by the Iranian authorities – of being biased in favor of the very government that opposes its reporting. As part of the attack against VOA, Washington Times also made false accusations against [the National Iranian American Council]. ... Being unfairly maligned by the editorial team at the Washington Times is nothing new for NIAC."

Alhurra in the news includes its program about women and its Iraqi editor-in-chief.

Posted: 19 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
New American Media, 15 Apr 2010, Jalal Ghazi: "If you are a single mother, or a victim of rape or domestic violence, chances are you will not show up on Arab television. Those topics are taboo even for channels like Al-Jazeera Arabic, except for occasional segments. Perhaps these problems pale in comparison to the war in Iraq or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Or perhaps the media shy away from controversial topics that could show Arab society in a bad light. But now some of the remarkable women who are challenging these taboos have found a new forum. Ironically, it is Alhurra (The Free One), the U.S. Congress-financed television channel that is giving these women a chance to tell their stories on the air in an hour-long weekly program called Musawat (Equality). ... Some Arabs are skeptical of Alhurra, saying it airs 'American propaganda.' But others question whether it is fair to taint everything produced by Alhurra as untrustworthy just because of its funding. Instead it might be instructive to see if other Arab television stations will follow up on Alhurra’s initiative in getting shows like Musawat on the air."
NRC Handelsblad (Rotterdam), 16 Apr 2010, Bram Vermeulen: Fallah al-Dahabi, the Iraqi editor-in-chief of Alhurra TV, "and his station were supposed to become the face of freedom and democracy in the Arab world after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Alhurra, 'the Free One', had to become a station where everything could be said, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without commercial interruptions. The US government set it up in 2004 and has since invested 500 million dollars of taxpayers' money. It hoped to create the Arab equivalent of Radio Free Europe, the anti-communist station that broadcast information across the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. But Alhurra has proved no match for giants like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. Less than 2 percent of viewers watch it occasionally. Most deem it too pro-Western, too biased and unreliable. In Iraq, the channel and its chief editor have become targets for blind hatred." -- A January 2010 performance update for Radio Sawa and Alhurra, available at the BBG website, show a 60% weekly reach for Alhurra in Iraq. This is partly due to Alhurra's access to terrestrial transmitters in Iraq, an asset it does not enjoy in other Arab countries. And there is, at least in Iraq, an Arab equivalent of Radio Free Europe. It's Radio Free Iraq, operated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague.
Qantara.de, 16 Apr 2010, Mona Sarkis: "France 24 is not alone in its [Arabic language] expansion plans. Similar efforts can be seen at the Arabic language stations of the BBC and Deutsche Welle. The Europeans are simply following a trend that began with the American invasion of Iraq. In 2004, the Bush administration launched 'al-Hurra' (The Free), an Arabic-language American television station. Just previous to this, the Iranians financed the start of the Arabic language broadcaster 'al-Alam' (The World). In 2007, the Russians began their own service, followed by the Chinese in 2009."
Reuters, 16 Apr 2010: "'I had wished that the (next) government would be formed on the basis of a political majority, leaving behind the quota-based system, but it seems that idea is still premature,' [Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-] Maliki told the U.S.-funded al-Hurra television network." -- AP, 17 Apr 2010: "Al-Maliki tells the U.S.-funded Alhurra TV station in an interview aired Friday that Allawi's Iraqiya list had the most Sunni support and so must "be partners in forming the government."

Advice for broadcasting to Cuba mentions laptops, smartphones, and international airspace.

Posted: 19 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Miami Herald, 15 Apr 2010, editorial: The Obama administration "has the opportunity to energize Cuba's civil society. And technology, as we all have seen with the rise of bloggers like Yoani Sánchez and cellphones given by foreigners to Cubans on the island, can serve as freedom's portal. Short-wave radios were fine a decade ago for Cubans to get information denied to them by the regime. Today a new generation is poised to speak out and connect with one another with the help of laptops, cellphones and smart phones that can link them to websites and even to the U.S.-funded Radio and TV Martí." -- Are laptops and mobile phones really ready to replace difficult-to-jam shortwave for getting uncensored news into Cuba? We need an informed analysis of this before decisions are made.
Miami Herald, 14 Apr 2010, Frank Calzon: "Increase the power of Radio Martí to overcome Cuban jamming and issue an executive order for aircraft broadcasting TV Martí to fly into international airspace so that Cubans know what is going on." -- Broadcasting from ships on or aircraft over international waters is a specific violation of international radio regulations.

VOA Creole taken off shortwave. A step towards the closure of Greenville?

Posted: 19 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
DX Listening Digest, 15 April 2010, Glenn Hauser: "VOA has cancelled all its SW broadcasts in Haitian Creole. These were greatly expanded from three half-hours per day shortly following the January earthquake. ... On April 7, Radio Martí got another transmitter at Greenville, labeled 'temporary', making four frequencies at once during most of the day rather than three, as I previously reported. This came out of the ex- Kreyol service. That may have been when Kreyol was canceled, if not earlier in the nascent A-10 season. We suspected the extra SW for Martí was to compensate for Marathon 1180 [medium wave] being off the air temporarily, as frequently announced on RM." -- These days, most listening to VOA in Haiti is via local FM partners -- as long as they are on the air. Very few Haitians own radios with shortwave bands.
DX Listening Digest, 8 April 2010: Letter from Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) to reader Glenn Swiderski: "As you know, the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) included a proposal to close the Voice of America station outside Greenville, North Carolina. This is the last U.S. government-owned shortwave broadcasting facility in the continental United States. In my opinion, if the U.S. is going to remain in the business of beaming radio programming into foreign lands as part of our national security strategy, then it makes no sense to do what the BBG has proposed: namely, to close this station and increase our reliance on broadcasting via foreign terrestrial or satellite radio transmission facilities. Such action would be fraught with security issues and could be far more costly to taxpayers over the long term."
Heritage Foundation, 16 Apr 2010, Helle Dale: "Of critical importance [to the new Broadcasting Board of Governors is] formulating a long-term global strategy the preserves valuable short-wave assets of the U.S. government even as AM, FM, Internet and television become more prominent."
Greenville (NC) Reflector, 18 Apr 2010, Ginger Livingston: "The N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program was established in 1935 as an effort to standardize earlier efforts to commemorate people, places and events important to the state’s history, according to www.ncmarkers.com, the program’s Web site. ... [One marker] is about the former Voice of America site west of Greenville which is now occupied by East Carolina University. It’s the only marker in the state that denotes a Cold War era event... ." -- This marks the old Greenville Site C, an administrative center and satellite ground station for shortwave transmitting Site A (closed) and Site B (slated for closure).

Latest Willis Conover anecdote has him introducing British jazz band "as if delivering a sermon from a pulpit."

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 15 Apr 2010, John Fordham: "British jazz bands hardly ever played in the US in the 1950s, and certainly not at that world-famous showcase, the Newport festival. But the late John Dankworth's orchestra was making big enough waves by the end of that decade to get invited over, and this is the band's tight and hard-swinging set from 3 July 1959, prefaced by Voice of America's Willis Conover announcing its arrival as if delivering a sermon from a pulpit."

VOA Khmer serializing play about life under the Khmer Rouge.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 13 April 2010: "'Breaking the Silence,' a dramatic play about the impact of the Khmer Rouge regime on the lives of ordinary Cambodians, will make its radio debut April 18-24 on the Voice of America. The seven scenes of the play will be broadcast by VOA’s Khmer Service on consecutive nights, beginning Sunday April 18 and re-broadcast on weekends in May. ... Each of the radio play’s seven scenes – ranging from 15 to 21 minutes each – reflect true stories that Dutch playwright and stage director Annemarie Prins encountered when meeting survivors in recent years." -- Apparently recorded in Cambodia using Cambodian actors.

Young Indonesian journalists headed to VOA for paid internships.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Antara News, 14 April 2010: "Two young Indonesian journalists will leave for the US in the middle of April 2010 to start an internship as news contributors at the Voice of America (VoA) in Washington DC. During the program, officially called the PPIA-VOA Broadcasting Fellowship 2010, the two journalists -- Nurina Asri Savitri from Metro TV and Febriamy Dame Deborah Hutapea from The Jakarta Globe, will learn to work according to the US` television and radio broadcasting system and also assume the role of young ambassadors by contributing to the enhancement of relations between Indonesia and America. ... The PPIA-Voa Broadcasting Fellowship is a program sponsored by Tantowi Yahya who was PPIA chief in 2008, Cathay Pacific Indonesia, Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and the Indonesia-America Foundation (LIA). During their internship with VoA, the fellowship participants would receive a salary from the US station."
Jakarta Globe, 13 Apr 2010: "In an effort to address the mutual misperceptions held by both Indonesians and Americans, two promising young journalists will head to Washington this month to learn more about the US broadcasting industry and sociocultural issues there. ... Nurina and Febriamy will begin their six-month fellowship at the end of the month, with the possibility of staying on for another six months." -- Oh, to be young again. Oh, to have ever been considered "promising."

Controversy of the month involving VOA's coverage of Pakistani sports.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Press Trust of India, 14 April 2010: "In a startling revelation, Pakistan hockey team's sacked manager Asif Bajwa has claimed that the team deliberately lost its World Cup qualifying league match against Poland to avoid hosts France in the final last year. In an interview to Voice of America (VOA), Bajwa said Pakistan lost the match to ensure smooth qualification to the World Cup which was staged in India last month."
Express Tribune (Karachi), 15 Apr 2010: "Bajwa, however, denied giving the interview to VOA in which the shocking revelation was made — a day after a team member claimed that the secretary had forced the entire team to resign following the World Cup 2010 debacle in order to avoid media and public frenzy."
Dawn (Karachi), 15 Apr 2010, Shazia Hasan: "Referring to the allegations levelled by the Voice of America (VOA) on Wednesday that Pakistan lost their league match with Poland deliberately in order to avoid France in the final, Bajwa said that the news report in the foreign media was a part of a smear campaign launched against him since the World Cup debacle. 'I think I am getting to understand the correspondent’s vendetta against me,' he said while referring to the accusations made by the VOA correspondent who conducted an interview with Bajwa earlier this week. 'I never said we lost the match intentionally,' said Bajwa angrily. 'I only mentioned that our loss against Poland may have been a blessing in disguise as it saved us from facing France in the final. But my words have been twisted by the VOA correspondent who has been distorting my other statements in the past as well.'" -- And this follows a controversy, in March, about VOA's coverage of Pakistani cricket. See previous post.

Having just called it "voice of the mullahs," the Washington Times now has advice for VOA Persian News Network.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 16 Aopr 2010, editorial: "Voice of America's Persian News Network could focus reports on regime misdeeds and spread inspirational accounts of insiders turning against the power structure in hopes that others might join them. Tehran's state-controlled media regularly ignore such stories, so VOA would report, and the Iranian people would decide." -- As a news service, VOA PNN reports on the misdeeds of Iran's regime as they occur. But if VOA PNN should "focus" on them, "the Iranian people would decide" that VOA PNN is a propaganda station. See previous Washington Times editorial about VOA.

Iranian national broadcaster IRIB rejects ITU jamming complaints.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, 15 Apr 2010: "Iran’s national broadcaster, IRIB, has rejected a claim by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that Iran has jammed foreign radio and television broadcasts. IRIB said it was a law abiding member of the ITU, through the Radio Regulating Authority, and had never violated any of its regulations. IRIB’s response was contained in a letter to the ITU Secretary-General, Hamadoun Touré, from Mohammad Hosseini, adviser to the IRIB President and Chairman of its Center for International Affairs. Dr Hosseini said IRIB had itself been the victim of interference to its signals, causing considerable problems to its networks. He detailed instances in June 2009 where interfering signals had been directed at Intelsat, interrupting IRIB’s programmes and in one case knocking its domestic networks off the air. Interfering signals aimed at Arabsat and AsiaSat had caused similar problems, he said. 'Unfortunately your union has not reacted to such violations and refrained from supporting one of its active members.'" -- Of course, it's not typically the country's broadcasting entity that is assigned the task of jamming. On the subject of IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting), it's interesting that the broadcaster has two English websites: english.irib.ir and www.irib.ir/English, performing many of the same tasks. See previous post about same subject.
The Century Foundation, 15 April 2010, press release: "The Century Foundation today released a new report 'Dealing with Iran: Time for A 'Middle Way' Between Confrontation and Conciliation,' which presents insights about present-day Iran that are often missing from public policy discussions. ... Some of the specific measures recommended by the advisory group include: - Increase Iranian public access to the Internet by sanctioning companies that assist the Iranian government in Internet filtering, surveillance, and eavesdropping. - Create a secure e-mail service that can be accessed by activists to use inside Iran. There is no major secure free e-mail in Iran. - Facilitate the provision of high-speed Internet via satellite. - Dedicate a hardened satellite to host Iranian television and radio channels to enable Western news services, such as BBC Persian and Voice of America, to escape the Islamic Republic's routine jamming efforts." Report available at The Century Foundation, 15 April 2010. See previous post about this report.

BBC World Service is again heard on Sri Lanka's SLBC FM.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 15 Apr 2010: "BBC World Service is to reinstate its FM programming on the Sri Lankan national broadcaster SLBC from Thursday 15 April. This will be the first BBC programming on the SLBC FM network for 14 months. The BBC suspended its programmes in the English, Sinhala and Tamil languages on 10 February 2009, following deliberate interference in its broadcasts. During the suspension, the BBC's services in all three languages remained available in Sri Lanka via short wave – on bbc.com/news, bbcsinhala.com and bbctamil.com via the internet – and news bulletins in English via the Sri Lankan commercial broadcaster MBC."

Australia Network mentioned in news of ABC News 24 pilot.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 16 April 2010, Pip Bulbeck: "The Australian Broadcasting Corp. will pilot its new 24-hour free to air news channel next month ahead of a full service launch mid-year, ABC staff were told Friday. The channel, named ABC News 24, will run continuous and commercial-free coverage of breaking news stories from around Australia and around the world, on one of the ABC’s digital channels. It will draw programming from the national broadcaster’s existing news and current affairs operations, as well as developing new programs specifically for the channel, which will focus on world news, national politics and business. ... It is expected that some programming from the new channel will also feed into the ABC-managed pan Asia channel, Australia Network. Management of that network is due to be put to tender by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade some time this year and rival pay-TV news service, Sky News Australia has indicated that its keen to contest the tender."
ABC News, 16 Apr 2010: The ABC has announced that senior journalist Chris Uhlmann is joining its continuous news channel, ABC News 24, as political editor. ... Australia Network's Jim Middleton and ABC Online's chief political writer Annabel Crabb will also be contributing... ."
Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Apr 2010, Julian Lee: "Already one change has been made which could be the template for the future. The Moscow bureau now has a video journalist for a trial period instead of a full-blown correspondent, as it had in Scott Bevan. The ABC's new man in Moscow, Norman Hermant, who had been working for Australia Network, the ABC's free-to-air international satellite television network broadcasting mainly into Asia, landed on the ground days before the train bombings in the capital. The cameraman's position there had been scrapped and it was left to Hermant to document the biggest story to come out of Moscow in recent years equipped with something the size of a small digital video camera - or be forced to take footage from Reuters or Associated Press and do a voiceover."

ABC TV's May 6 broadcast of documentary about Uygher leader could affect Australia Network access in China.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Encore Magazine (Sydney), 16 Apr 2010: "ABC TV has scheduled the television premiere of the controversial documentary about Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer The 10 Conditions of Love for May 6. A media release from DVD distributor Umbrella Entertainment anticipated that 'the ABC’s decision to screen the film is certain to cause renewed controversy with Beijing at at time when ABC’s Australia Network is believed to be seeking permission to broadcast into China'. The public broadcaster’s decision follows last February’s controversy where a newspaper suggested the ABC had cancelled the broadcast due to pressure from China. The claims were dismissed by ABC MD Mark Scott." See previous post about same subject.

Following introduction of the Apple iPad, international broadcasters introduce iPad apps (updated).

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"France 24, one of the first broadcasters to make an application available on the iPhone, has turned its attentions to Apple’s new baby. The international news network’s application for the iPad is now available free from the App Store. iPad users can enjoy live broadcast from France 24’s three language channels, or watch the latest newscast, weather forecast and sports flash on demand. An innovative mapping tool allows users to find news based on their geographical location. The BBC has also released an iPad application, but so far it is only available in the United States, circumventing a BBC Trust investigation into the release of similar applications for the iPhone." Julian Clover, Broadband TV News, 8 April 2010. See also France 24 press release, 7 April 2010.
     Update: More about the France 24 and other iPad apps in The Independent, 15 April 2010.

Crisis tracking Ushahidi is best weblog in Deutsche Welle's The BOBs.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
journalism.co.uk, 16 Apr 2010, Judith Townend: "Ushahidi, the crowd-sourced site for tracking crises, has scooped the top prize for best weblog in this year's Deutsche Welle BOBs. The site, founded by an American and African team in Kenya in 2008, aims to provide information to citizens during traumatic events. ... 'The jury was ultimately won over by Ushahidi's innovative approach to collecting and compiling information from users and the important role it has already played in crisis situations throughout the world,' announced the BOB award organisers." Winners in all other categories at The BOBs website. See also Deutsche Welle, 15 Apr 2010.

France 24 ordered to pay €3000 to singer in privacy lawsuit.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 16 Apr 2010: "A Paris court fined the France 24 news channel on Friday for reporting rumours that first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was having an affair with a French pop singer. Judges ordered the publicly-funded television channel to pay 3,000 euros to the singer in question, Benjamin Biolay, after ruling that the coverage violated his privacy. Biolay had sought 20,000 euros in damages over a 10 March broadcast that referred to speculation about his possible involvement with Bruni-Sarkozy. The judge downsized his compensation, but rejected France 24’s defence that its report was in the public interest. ... France has one of Europe’s toughest privacy laws, which places strict limitations on what information or images journalists can publish about public figures’ private lives." See previous post about same subject.

Perhaps the real reason Al Jazeera English was taken off Singapore's SingTel: only 600 subscribers.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Today (Singapore), 16 Apr 2010, Alicia Wong: "It was a 'mutual' decision between Al Jazeera and SingTel for the broadcaster to drop out of the latter's pay TV service. Its contract with SingTel was coming to an end, and in view of the low number of subscriber households, Al Jazeera saw the need to 'look into other avenues for broader distribution and accessibility in Singapore', the Qatar-based broadcaster - responding to enquiries from MediaCorp - said. There were only 600 subscribers to the service that was made available 'only as an "a-la-carte channel",' said the broadcaster. According to a former subscriber, a monthly subscription had cost $16.20." -- Presumably Singapore dollars, thus about US$11.75 -- still expensive. See previous post about same subject.

The welcome for the new TRT Arabic channel is a result of, among other things, a shared cuisine.

Posted: 18 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Al-Ahram Weekly, 15 April 2010, Amira Howeidy: "Turkey follows Russia, France, Germany, the US and UK, all of which have launched Arabic TV channels to address the Arab world's population of 350 million. Yet the welcome TRT has received here sets it apart from the others. That welcome is a result of a complex interplay of factors, not least a shared history and religious beliefs, and, of course, a shared cuisine. It is no wonder that in the past two years Turkish dramas (dubbed by Syrian actors) have become instant hits across the Arab world. Dozens of Arabic satellite stations -- including Egyptian TV -- have purchased the broadcasting rights of Turkish soap operas to meet popular demand. Since its launch TRT's content has been more drama and entertainment focussed, with an abundance of promotional tourism clips. Its morning show, broadcast from Istanbul, is hosted by an Egyptian female presenter supplemented by co-hosts at TRT's Cairo and Beirut offices. There are plans that it should eventually include air-time from the Palestinian territories. The channel currently broadcasts only one news bulletin in the evening, but according to [channel director Safar] Toran there will be more news in the future." -- This article never refers to the channel by its name, TRT Al-Turkiye. Since its launch, news coverage about TRT Al-Turkiye (at least in English) has gone rather quiet. Also, I can't find a website for the channel. There is trtarabic.com, but it does not seem specific to the television effort. See previous post about same subject.
Foreign Policy, 15 April 2010, Nadia Bilbassy-Charters: "Four-hundred years after a nasty occupation of Arab land by the forefathers of these young Turks, the Arab world is embracing Turkey, opening its living rooms and flocking around their television sets to watch over 140 episodes of second-rate Turkish soap operas that don't even do well in Turkey itself."

Which station for coverage of the UK election? Now which is your second guess?

Posted: 17 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 15 April 2010: "As the British General Election unfolds, and its impact on the UN Security Council and the European Union is anticipated in capital cities around the world, CNN brings a unique and global perspective with the most in-depth coverage of the foreign policy issues facing the next government on Election Day, Thursday 6th May. ... On-line CNN’s British Election homepage www.cnn.com/ukelection is the place for the latest news and reaction as the election campaign unfolds and will have insight from CNN’s correspondents around the world on how the election is being perceived in the capital cities across Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and the Middle East. ... Deborah Rayner, managing editor CNN International Europe and Africa said: ... 'We’re excited to invite and reflect international comment on the leaders, their performance, their promises and ultimately, a knife-edge race of the kind that hasn’t been witnessed here for a generation.'"

Israel invites bids for commercial Arabic-language television channel.

Posted: 17 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Ha'aretz, 16 April 2010, Gili Izikovich: "The Communications Ministry's Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting issued a tender yesterday for an Arabic-language television channel. The last attempt to launch such a channel took place in 2004. The Ananei Tikshoret company, the only one that approached the tender, returned the license it won a year later. In the six years since, Israel had seen the launch of Russian-language and Amharic channels, but the Arab-Israeli community, 1.3 million strong, remained without an independent commercial channel of its own. ... 'The Arab public in Israel was forced to find an alternative on foreign satellite channels and on the Internet.' ... [T]his tender allows for foreign investors, including those from countries that do not maintain diplomatic ties with Israel. The foreign investors may own as much as 40 percent of the channel's shares. The license for the channel will be valid for 10 years. At least half of its broadcast must be in Arabic, and from year three of its operation, the tender holder will be required to broadcast at least one daily newscast in Arabic, of no less than 20 minutes."

Georgia's Russian-language First Caucasian television channel "takes over for Radio Liberty."

Posted: 17 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Caucaz.com (Tbilisi), 14 Apr 2010, Sophie Tournon: "'Pervyi kavkazski' (First Caucasian) began broadcasting on the Internet in January 2010. Then, shortly after the launch of [Eutelsat W7] (via Baikonur), it was available to all the owners of satellite dishes in the Caucasus. Its coverage is wide, because it spans the northern and southern Caucasus, Russia and beyond. The advent of Pervyi kavkazski, also known by its trademark 1K, is part of Georgian State's communication policy, which uses television as a portal through which they project their worldview. ... About Pervyi Kavkazski, [journalist] O. Panfilov said: ... 'Pervyi Kavkazski kind of takes over for Radio Liberty. This television channel must spread liberal ideas in the post-Soviet space.'"
Civil Georgia (Tbilisi), 10 Apr 2010, translating interview with Georgian interior minister Vano Merabishvili as published in the Georgian daily 24 Saati: "Function of the First Caucasian is to show to the Russian-speaking audience reforms ongoing in Georgia, which is a real strength of Georgia. We remember that during the war in Abkhazia [in early 90s], Russia’s propaganda managed to negatively dispose one part of the North Caucasus people towards Georgia. Goal of the First Caucasian is to provide people of the North Caucasus with different, free point of view."

News about Digital Radio Mondiale includes implementations in India and Russia.

Posted: 17 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Digital Radio Mondiale press release, 16 Apr 2010: "Diveemo, the small-scale video service enabling distance learning applications for DRM, was presented as an early preview. During the DRM event on April 11th at the Continental booth, participants could experience a Diveemo video rendering on a modified NewStar/Uniwave DRM receiver in a DRM30 shortwave configuration." Other DRM news from the NAB show in Las Vegas, plus link to DRM April newsletter.
Clear Channel Radio press release, 8 April 2010: "On a global scale, Journaline [text via radio system] is featured on air by many international broadcasters today, particularly over the DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) and DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting, Eureka 147) platforms. In addition, Uniwave recently launched its Di-Wave 100 DRM radio featuring a graphical color screen and Journaline capability and Analog Devices has integrated Journaline into their DAB and DRM receiver reference design platform."
DRM press release, 9 April 2010: "India’s Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure on Thursday 8th April gave its approval to the proposal from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding 11th Plan of Digitalisation where Rs 9.20 billion (approx 200 million USD) have been earmarked for AIR to convert to digital which will cover approx 70 per cent of the country. By converting to digital, AIR will deliver enhanced radio services that offer crystal clear sound, increase user experience with additional functionality such as automatic tuning by station name, interactive user interface through digital screens that offer slide-shows and many other services like EPG, Journaline."
Voice of Russia, 1 April 2010: "Russia's government is shifting to DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) the digital radio system. The Voice of Russia broadcasting company was the first to implement the new digital standard 7 years ago. All industrial countries are to shift to the digital system shortly. The global digital revolution began in 1998, when DRM broadcasting emerged. The consortium features hundreds of radio stations including such media giants as BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale. DRM is the universal, openly standardized, digital radio system for short-wave, medium-wave and long-wave - digital radio with the ability to use existing frequencies and bandwidth across the globe. Another advantage is its high resistance to interference, compared to other standards, which is essential for broadcasting over large territories. The Voice of Russia is a pioneer of digital broadcasting in Russia. After a series of successful experiments within the DRM standard, the company has been broadcasting in the digital format daily since 2003, says Rashel Stavisskaya, VoR consultant: 'Today, VoR features are broadcasted in the digital standard to Europe in Russian, English, German and French. We are also broadcasting to China and India. The new technology opens new horizons. Digital radio has near-CD sound. The VoR plans to broadcast to Arab countries and Latin America'." I would call it near-FM sound, and I have found DRM to be rather vulnerable to interference. In some cases, it does eliminate low-level background interference.
Radio World, 14 Apr 2010, Gabriel Sosa Plata: "HD Radio, the in-band, on-channel system developed by iBiquity Digital Corp., will be chosen as the standard for terrestrial digital radio in Mexico, according to the country’s broadcast regulator, the Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones. ... Eureka-147 DAB, Digital Radio Mondiale and HD Radio have been tested in Mexico, though there have not been public or industry forums involved in the process to date. ... DRM said it hoped that Mexican authorities would give due consideration to all digital radio standards before making any decision."
     DRM30 is a digital system for broadcast frequencies below 30 MHz, including shortwave and medium wave. DRM+ is a digital system for the FM and other broadcast bands above 30 MHz. The only DRM receiver available now is the UniWave Di-Wave 100. More information about DRM at DRM.org.

Head of RFE/RL Kabul bureau recommends a tribal jirga instead of "devastating military operations."

Posted: 17 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 15 April 2010, commentary by Mohammad Amin Mudaqiq, head of the Kabul bureau of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan: "The basic challenge is that the international community in Afghanistan is convinced that its approach is appropriate and correct. It seems reluctant to take into account the centuries-old tribal structure and traditions in Afghanistan, particularly in the region around Kandahar where the insurgency is strongest. Unless there is a genuine effort to understand the roots of the crisis and ultimately solve it in accordance with local tradition and practice, it will be almost impossible to convince the pro-Taliban fighters to lay down their weapons and pledge support for the government. Instead of resorting to such devastating military operations, the international community should encourage Kabul to convene an inclusive regional tribal jirga (council) in Kandahar that would bring together all tribal chiefs from the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Oruzgan, Ghazni, and Farah. The international community should create a neutral mechanism for convening and hosting the Jirga to enable the tribal elders to express their wider concerns freely. Once those concerns are understood and addressed, then a military plan could be prepared to isolate and ultimately knock out the insurgents." ("The views expressed in this commentary are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.")

Draft media decree in Fiji proposes stiff fines, jail for violators (updated).

Posted: 17 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation’s News Director says proposed fines in the draft Media Decree could put most media organisations in the country out of business. The breaching of proposed content regulations could lead to organisations being fined up to half a million Fiji dollars or fines of up to 100,000 Fiji dollars and up to five years in jail for publishers, editors or journalists." Stanley Simpson, Radio New Zealand International, 9 April 2010. See also RNZI, 9 April 2010. Thanks to Barry Hartley for these and the following news tip...
     Update: "Fiji TV has confirmed that its head of news and news editor have been transferred to different departments within the company. ... Fiji Television denies it moved the two senior journalists because they were biased against the interim government and had links to a political party." RNZI, 13 April 2010.
     "Three Pacific journalists and journalism educators debate what constitutes 'responsible journalism' in the Pacific on Radio Australia’s In The Loop programme." Press release via Pacific.Scoop, 14 April 2010.
     International Federation of Journalists' "Sydney-based spokeswoman, Deborah Muir, told Radio Australia that travellers should reconsider visiting Fiji because of the military regime's 'strict censorship and hard line in controlling news reporting'." Mark Juddery, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April 2010.

BBC and RFE/RL websites' coverage of Kyrgyzstan provides a "teachable moment" for the new BBG.

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
World Affairs, 12 Apr 2010, Martha Bayles: "Memo to the new members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (should they ever be confirmed): Last week there was an uprising in Kyrgyzstan, which took most Western governments by surprise. ... But let’s say an English-speaking person wants to know more. Placing myself in that position, I went online to see what was out there. What did I find? Starting with the BBC’s Kyrgyz page, I found several stories—in Kyrgyz. Looking for the English-language version of that page, I found none, which left me clicking all over the site. ... Finally I found it—in a place most Americans wouldn’t think of looking, even though it is paid for by our tax dollars: the Kyrgyz service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. ... The first thing I noticed was that, unlike the BBC, RFE/RL posts an English page for each of its 28 language services. ... As a government-funded entity, RFE/RL can never divorce itself entirely from America’s short-term interest. But at the same time, surrogate broadcasting should not be reduced to state propaganda. ... Here is the lesson from Kyrgyzstan: The best way to serve both the short- and long-term goals of the United States is to provide people in unfree societies a model of what our own free and responsible media used to look like."
     Ms. Bayles apparently did not type Kyrgyzstan in the search function at the top of the BBC World Service or most other BBC web pages. This yields a column of news stories about the country, another column with BBC blog entries, other sections with background information about Kyrgyzstan, and the weather there today. There is even a sports section (though there seems to have been no notable sports news from Kyrgyzstan since 2008).
     Ms. Bayles has, nevertheless, stumbled on an irony of the BBC's web effort: the BBC World Service website is not really the best place to go for world news, at least not in English. For that, go to www.bbcnews.com, or (the same) news.bbc.co.uk. Then search by region: Kyrgyzstan is assigned to Asia-Pacific. Click on the most recent Kyrgyzstan story to find links to other stories about the country. The search function, however, is the best way to get news about the country.
     The RFE/RL site is an excellent and well-sorted-out source of news in English about its target countries. It also has more stories about Kyrgyzstan than does the BBC, though the BBC's volume of output about the country is impressive.
     "America's short-term interest" would be reflected by language choices for RFE/RL and VOA, such as the recent addition of VOA's Deewa Radio in Pashto for the Pakistan/Afghanistan frontier region, and the more recent addition of RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal in Pashto for the Pakistan/Afghanistan frontier region. (Why having two broadcasting services providing much the same news to the same region in the same language is in America's short-term interest is beyond my comprehension. See previous post.) If America's short-term interest is evident in the content of RFE/RL or VOA, even if mixed with straight news, the audience is likely to dismiss the stations as propaganda operations. The advocacy of US short-, middle-, and long-term interests should be left to US public diplomacy, which is the job of another agency, in another building.

Obituary: Arthur Siegel, authored history of Radio Canada International.

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Jewish Tribune, 14 Apr 2010, Atara Beck: "Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at York University, where he taught since 1976 until a month ago, Siegel had been a prolific journalist, working for many years as a writer and commentator for Radio Canada International and contributing to prestigious publications, including Time, Life and Sports Illustrated magazines." Professor Siegel was author of Radio Canada International: History and Development (1996).

President Medvedev's "exclusive" interview to the head of RT (Russia Today).

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Pravda, 14 Apr 2010: "In Washington, Dmitry Medvedev visited the studio of Russia Today TV channel and gave an exclusive interview to the head of the channel, Margarita Simonyan. In the very beginning of the interview Medvedev praised Obama’s efforts to modernize the US healthcare system." -- So Pravda calls it "Russia Today," not "RT."
RT home page (top): "President Medvedev gives interview to RT's editor in chief." Interview: RT, 14 April 2010.

Controversy continues over payment by South African province to CNBC Africa (updated again).

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for a forensic investigation into the annual deal with CNBC Africa and a declaration of the penalties incurred by the Gauteng [province of South Africa] taxpayer for cancelling the contract three years early. Gauteng DA spokesman for economic affairs Gavin Lewis yesterday asked who benefited from a deal that did not appear to be in the interest of the Gauteng taxpayer, calling for the present Gauteng economic development MEC, Firoz Cachalia, to stop avoiding the issue and respond to questions raised about the deal or institute a probe. Lewis, who intends to raise the CNBC Africa matter with the auditor-general, said the deal was 'so one-sided against citizens of Gauteng that it must raise suspicions as to why it was agreed to in the first place'. ... The deal, signed when Paul Mashatile was MEC, with the Gauteng Film Commission allegedly undertook to pay the channel [US$] 3m a year if CNBC Africa was unable to attract sufficient advertising." Chantelle Benjamin, Business Day (Johannesburg), 8 April 2010.
     "CNBC Africa recently released a statement [regarding] the cancelling of an agreement between the business channel and the Gauteng Film Commission: 'CNBC Africa produced a series of programmes called “Business Spotlight” with sponsorship and associated advertising via the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC). This agreement has now ended. The editorial control of all programmes rested with CNBC Africa at all times.'" Bizcommunity.com, 8 April 2010.
     "The US-based CNBC International defended its South African arm this week, with spokesman Brian Steel saying the channel retains a reputation for being 'unbiased everywhere we operate'. CNBC owns no shares in CNBC Africa, but the local business is an 'affiliate' of the US brand. ... [N]either CNBC's US office, nor the South African business, were willing to explain why the organisation initially denied the existence of such a 'guarantee' from Gauteng. In 2007, CNBC's former chief operating officer Trevor Ormerod told Business Day there was no 'soft deal' with Gauteng, or any contract providing a guarantee to pay a shortfall in advertising sales. 'Gauteng said they would like to advertise, and we have supported them with a (normal) advertising deal, that's all,' he said then." Rob Rose, The Times (Johannesburg), 10 April 2010.
     Update: "Moneyweb can reveal that in 2008 CNBC Africa was paid R2.65m by the ANC-led Western Cape government for what was described as an 'advertising agreement'. ... Although CNBCA claims that its editorial policy was never compromised clause 2.1 of the advertising 'agreement' says 'these half an hour features may include content on the six areas of development, tourism, ICT, agriculture, boat building, renewable energy and creative industries, and the final schedule will be decided on by Wesgro [the province's official investment and trade promotion agency]'. ... When the broadcaster first launched, many hoped it would become Africa's premier source of business news, but with its high-staff turnover and its forever changing line up, one wonders if its current form is what it had in mind?" Lindo Xulu, Moneyweb (Johannesburg), 14 April 2010.
     "Evidence is mounting that the Thabo Mbeki administration and those of the previous regimes in Nigeria and Kenya struck deals with the supposedly independent television station CNBC Africa using taxpayers' money to buy themselves a mouthpiece." Moneyweb, 15 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

More television program sales to Asia.

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 13 Apr 2010, Jesse Whittock: "AETN International has licensed programming including History Channel's acclaimed series Life After People into Japan, amid continuing interest in its content in Asia-Pacific. ... In related news, AETN International, whose portfolio of channels includes History, Bio and Crime & Investigation Network, has appointed Joanne Lim as content sales executive for Asia, in a bid to maximise sales on the back of sustained interest in its programmes. It has recently sold more than 450 hours of content into 25 territories across the region." See also AETN International website, including the VOA-Charter-fulfilling (at no cost to the taxpayers) "America: The Story of US."

Ted Koppel: News business is "a disaster."

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Media Bistro, 13 Apr 2010, Alissa Krinsky: "On BBC World News America last night, contributing analyst Ted Koppel had a few choice words about the state of the news industry these days. In response to a question from anchor Katty Kay about a new Pew Research survey — in which 64 percent of broadcast news executives believe the biz is heading in the wrong direction — Koppel said, 'I think it's even worse. I think it's a disaster.' 'I think we're living through the — I hope — the final stages of what I like to call the age of entitlement...We now feel entitled not to have the news that we need but the news that we want. We want to listen to news that comes from those who already sympathize with our particular point of view. We don't want the facts any more." See also BBCWNA, 12 April 2010.

Australian broadcaster comments on Americans and American radio.

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
ABC The Drum, 15 Apr 2010, Red Symons, presenter of "Breakfast" on 774 ABC Melbourne: "It's currently a little run down and full of 'for lease' signs. The homeless lug so much stuff they need two shopping trolleys. The cars are skinny but the people are still fat and all Americans are just Germans who speak good English. ... The cars are now compact despite their passengers being non-compact and possibly German. ... In the end the way to listen to radio, and incidentally the only place I could find satellite radio, is in the car. Cable for your ears. After the first draining 100 miles and 100 spheres of conversation, conservative and progressive and Christian and sports demagoguery had exhausted me I went back to what I know and trust. America's Aunty. National Public Radio. We syndicate it on the ABC. It's more my cup of tea."

But will France 24 get past all those headends?

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
SatNews.com, 13 Apr 2010: "International news broadcaster FRANCE 24 has signed a three-year deal with GlobeCast to expand coverage of its English-language channel in the United States and Canada, using the Galaxy 23 satellite. The satellite will give FRANCE 24 access to thousands of cable headends throughout North America, including up to 90 percent of the American cable market."

China Radio International and CCTV-9 might soon be rebroadcast in Jamaica (updated again).

Posted: 16 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Media Association Jamaica (MAJ) is in the dark about a proposal being considered by the Government to allow Chinese entities to start operating a radio and television station locally. ... 'The Cabinet has given approval for the pursuit of discussions in respect to a proposal received for cooperation between the Govern-ment of Jamaica and the Government of The People's Republic of China to transmit Chinese programmes over free-to-air radio and television stations," [Information Minister Daryl] Vaz told the media briefing. He said discussions were held at a ministerial level with a delegation from China Radio International and China Central Television on the possibility of establishing the stations. '(This is) To promote Jamaica-China relations and to deepen the appreciation and understanding of Chinese culture,' added Vaz.' The Gleaner (Kingston), 6 April 2010. VOA appears no longer to be a player in the English-speaking Caribbean.
     "Information Minister Daryl Vaz says concerns that the proposed introduction of Chinese radio and television stations would lead to competition with existing commercial media entities, are unfounded. ... He said early indications are that they are interested in the rebroadcast of Chinese radio and television programmes in both the English and Chinese languages. Mr. Vaz noted that the proposal from the Chinese offers an opportunity to deepen appreciation for other cultures. He said similar arrangements are already in place with the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Alliance Francaise." Radiojamaica.com, 8 April 2010.
     Update: "The Cabinet has approved talks between Jamaica and China on cooperation on the transmission of Chinese radio and television programmes in Jamaica. However, Minister with Responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Daryl Vaz, says the discussions are in the preliminary stage, and that China is only interested in the rebroadcast of Chinese radio and television programmes in English and Chinese." Jamaica Information Service, 14 April 2010.

The Washington Times hopes Tehran keeps jamming VOA (updated).

Posted: 15 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America is becoming the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Recent programming choices have revealed a creeping bias toward opponents of the pro-democracy movement and de facto supporters of the regime. This ill befits the VOA mission and the purpose of U.S. public diplomacy. ... Cases in point are two recent VOA broadcasts that gave preferred treatment to pro-regime messages. On March 29, VOA-PNN interviewed Hooshang Amir-Ahmadi, an anti-sanctions activist called 'Iran's pseudo U.S. lobbyist' by Iranian democracy groups. ... On April 1, VOA gave airtime to Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which has received millions of dollars in federal funds to promote democracy in Iran. Mr. Parsi expressed various odd positions, such as that Israel prefers to have hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power in Tehran, that members of the Obama administration know sanctions won't work but pursue them only as a bargaining position, and - most strangely - that even if Iran succeeded in establishing a democracy, the United States would nevertheless keep sanctions in place. ... These events should be hot topics when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearings on nominations for new members of the broadcasting board. Meanwhile, if VOA is telling Iranians struggling for freedom that resistance is futile, we hope Tehran keeps jamming it." Editorial, Washington Times, 14 April 2010. Is the Washington Times' news coverage similar to that which it would foist on VOA? If so, this might explain the newspaper's sinking fortunes. The subject of sanctions against any country is subject to debate. If the Washington Times and certain politicians want VOA to interview only those people with whom they agree, the result will be a broadcast service akin to those in many of VOA's target countries.
     Update: "The airing of all voices is a critical component of PNN's programming, which is driven by the news and events of the day. As is the policy at any reputable journalistic entity, PNN does not guarantee regular coverage to any individual or group. This approach is succeeding-PNN programming draws some of the biggest audiences of U.S. international broadcasting and is seen weekly by almost 30% of Iranian television viewers." VOA director Danforth W. Austin, response to the Washington Times, VOA press release, 15 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "A recent report, released without fanfare by the Administration and required by Congress in the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act (VOICE Act, part of Public Law 111-84, otherwise known as the National Defense Authorization Act), shows audiences for PNN and other information properties of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseer of America's non-military broadcasting, continue to grow. Perhaps The Washington Times believes these numbers or false or misleading." Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner.us, 15 April 2010.
     "An April 12 conference held in Washington assessed Iran’s social-networking sphere. ... Hida Fouladvand, who works for VOA Persian News Network TV, explored the importance of international broadcasting for Iranian bloggers, saying that the events of the past year have demonstrated 'when the Iranians want to pursue information, they have ways to do it.' Fouladvand related that there were 22 million visits to the VOA Persian website during the past year, adding that VOA listeners were no longer mostly older people. Instead, 70 percent of those accessing the site in recent months are 30 years old or under. To best address this audience, VOA is using social-networking tools to reach them--including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube--as well as more traditional TV and radio broadcasts." Richard Weitz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Eurasianet, 13 April 2010 See also RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 16 Apr 2010.
     "Iranian Activist: Since much of the formal media is closed to us and has been closed to us for years, much of it even before Ahmadinejad, we have learned how to get our message out through alternative means, like website, social networking sites, emails and email list serves and also through Persian language media based outside the country. ... [P]roxies rarely work in Iran. They have often been difficult but after the elections they have become more problematic. For example, you can open the first page, but then can't go into any of the links on the sites. So now people are using programs such as freegate (which is limited) or ultrasurf or puff. These programs allow you to bypass filters. People also use vpns [virtual private networks], but recently there was a major crackdown on those providing vpns inside Iran and many have been arrested." Interviewed by Iran Davar Ardalan, NewsTilt, 14 April 2010.

Al Jazeera anchor: "terrorism" is "resistance."

Posted: 15 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Interview with Joumana Nammour, Al Jazeera anchor: "Now, you say that Western networks don’t cover under-developed nations. But you certainly all cover major conflicts in the region. How would you contrast Al Jazeera’s coverage of these events from that of CNN, say, or the BBC? Nammour: The wording. We will talk about a resistance, for instance, occurring in Afghanistan – men resisting against an occupier– when other networks will often call them terrorists. Other times we will simply report on things they ignore – like the killing of young children in a small town in Gaza. But we also have our correspondents be from the location they report from. We see this as important. The West calls this bias, but how many Arabs are reporting for CNN in Washington?" Interviewed by Michael Wilner, Forum (Claremont McKenna College), 15 April 2010.
     The Al Jazeera English interview with Texas State Bpard of Education member Don McLeroy "is one of one of the more in-depth and fair I’ve seen on television, hitting the high points without the hysteria and fact errors that has plagued, say, Fox News' coverage. The piece ran some seven minutes — an eternity in TV. And the reporter treated McLeroy quite even-handedly." Brian Thevenot, The Texas Tribune, 15 April 2010.

Why was Al Jazeera English taken off mio TV in Singapore? Will it return via M1? Murkiness.

Posted: 15 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A Singaporean minister confirmed that the Arabic news channel, Al Jazeera, was dropped by SingTel's Mio TV due to low interest among viewers. Ever since Al Jazeera was taken off the air on 1 April, there has been speculation in the market that the channel was taken off air due to the controversial nature of its coverage on Singapore. The channel carried stories on the socio-economic issues in the country including homelessness, prostitution and rising prices." Asiya Bakht, 14 April 2010.
     "The Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera (AJE) was dropped from SingTel's mioTV news service because it generated little interest among viewers in Singapore. At a media round table in Cannes yesterday, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Rear-Admiral (NS) Lui Tuck Yew, shot down spe-culation that the channel was dropped because it had done unflattering stories about Singapore." Straits Times, 14 April 2010.
     "Local teleco M1 today denied a report in the Straits Times that it had 'inked a deal' with Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera to carry its news bulletins and other content. In a press release, M1 said it 'has neither signed an agreement with Al Jazeera nor has any direct dealings with them as we source contents through various content aggregators.' M1 added that it had not, however, finalised the details of its service offerings, including the final programme mix and choice of delivery medium." Channel NewsAsia Singapore, 14 April 2010. See also Today, 15 April 2010.
     "The decision to drop news channel Al Jazeera English from Singtel’s mio TV this month has only served to generate needless negative publicity for Singapore. ... Since its launch in November 2006, AJE has become a major player in the international media, with a viewership of 200 million households spread across more than 100 countries. It is a figure only bettered by the likes of BBC World News and CNN International. Both have been around for about two decades. But neither has provided Singapore-specific coverage of socio-economic issues like AJE has in recent times. ... So I find it hard to understand how AJE does not 'enhance mio TV’s channel offerings', especially when its existing news channels are euronews, Russia Today and CCTV 9. Do they better 'address the demands and requirements' of the customers?" AJE journalist Ng E-Jay, The Online Citizen, 15 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Will more radio to North Korea bring freedom to North Korea?

Posted: 14 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"North Koreans willing to tamper with their government radios or buy a $3 radio smuggled in from China have a wide range of choices. Over a dozen radio stations from the United States, South Korea and Japan currently broadcast to North Korea. Voice of America (VOA), one of the most popular stations, has been broadcasting to the North since 1942, while the equally popular Radio Free Asia (RFA) began its Korean service soon after its establishment by Congress in 1997. VOA focuses on news of the U.S. and the world, while RFA concentrates on North Korea and life for the nearly 20,000 defectors in the South. ... While we must be careful not to draw too many conclusions from samples that are far from random, it is not unreasonable to surmise that there are more than a million surreptitious listeners in a population of 24 million. ... We can do much more to improve broadcasting to North Korea. VOA and RFA only broadcast five hours a day, and the defector stations limp along on shoestring budgets due to widespread public indifference in South Korea." Peter Beck, Wall Street Journal, 14 April 2010.
     If Mr. Beck's description of VOA versus RFA were true, it would mean that North Koreans would have to tune to RFA to get part of the news, and to VOA to get the rest of the news. So instead of an unsatisfactory situation subjecting North Korean listeners to inconvenience, we have an unsatisfactory situation in which two U.S. funded stations duplicate one another's efforts.
     VOA and RFA each broadcast five hours a day, and not concurrently, for a total of ten hours a day. These are the key evening, late-night, and morning listening hours. Additional broadcasts would occur during working hours, yielding diminished returns for the extra expense.
     A million listeners? Maybe, but we can't conclude that based on any of the available surveys of North Korean defectors. We do know the audience size in North Korea is above zero. Some of the Chinese radios are cheap, but I'm not aware of any decent models with a shortwave band costing three dollars.
     It is not only indifference in South Korea, but also policy considerations, which prevents the defector stations transmitting from South Korea (including on medium wave, audible on more North Korean radio sets than shortwave).

     "The Unification Ministry in Seoul has reiterated its call for civic groups to refrain from scattering propaganda leaflets over North Korea, saying the move does nothing to help improve inter-Korean relations. ... Civic groups that support North Korean escapees, including Fighters for Free North Korea, announced earlier that they would send anti-North Korea leaflets via balloons over the border from the Imjingak Pavilion at the western border on Thursday, the birthday of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung." KBS World Radio, 14 April 2010. See previous post about balloons to North Korea.

Radio stations in Mogadishu begin to observe ban on music.

Posted: 14 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"At least 14 radio stations here in the capital stopped airing music Tuesday, heeding an ultimatum by an Islamist insurgent group to stop playing songs or face 'serious consequences.' The threat left radio stations scrambling to scrub even the briefest suggestion of music from their daily programming. 'Bam! Bam! Bam!' — the sound of gunshots that Somalis in Mogadishu have grown accustomed to hearing for decades — was played by Radio Shabelle on its daily news broadcast to replace the music it usually uses to introduce the segment. Similarly odd sounds — like the roar of an engine, a car horn, animal noises and the sound of water flowing — were used to announce programs on some of the other radio stations that stopped playing music. 'We have replaced the music of the early morning program with the sound of the cock, replaced the news music with the sound of the firing bullet and the night program of News Series with the sound of running horses,' said Osman Abdullahi Guure, the director of Radio Shabelle radio and TV, one of the most influential radio stations in Mogadishu. ... Many residents expressed dismay at the new restrictions. “We are really losing of all hope of life,” said Hashi Abdullahi, who listens to music on the radio. The insurgents have 'punished our life with bullets, and today they are punishing us by a ban on all types of music,' he said. ... Still, at least two radio stations remained independent of the ban. The government owned Radio Mogadishu and another station, Radio Bar-Kulan, which is mostly produced in Kenya, continued playing music." Mohammed Ibraham, New York Times, 13 April 2010.
     "Radio Shabelle announcers could be heard speaking on air, backed by the sounds of hooves, ocean waves, gunfire -- even the roars and growls of big cats." CNN, 13 April 2010, with link to audio.
     "'I've listened to three of my regular stations today, and there's no music at all,' said Abdulkadir Khalif, a Mogadishu resident. 'There's not even a jingle.'" Xan Rice, The Guardian, 13 April 2010.
     "Pop music is genuinely popular in Mogadishu and many people resent being told what they can hear on the radio, our reporter says." BBC News, 13 April 2010. This void will be filled by enterprising stations, offshore or trans-border if necessary.
     "[A]l-Shabab has issued a decree banning the BBC from its territory. 'The BBC belongs to the British and carries a voice fulfilling the agenda of the colonizers regarding Muslims,' the decree read. 'The BBC makes war against Muslims and Islam and advocates not having an Islamic state in the country,' the decree continued. 'It is spreading news which is not founded on facts, and exaggerates the ideas of Westerners -- which is confusing to Muslim Somalis.' The decree also accused the BBC of 'making propaganda' on behalf of 'Christian agencies' and the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu that is backed by the U.S., U.N. and African Union. Simultaneous with the decree, al-Shabab officials seized radio transmitters belonging to BBC licensers. The officials also confiscated equipment from stations licensing programming from Voice of America, a news service funded by the U.S. government." David Axe, World Politics Review, 14 Apr 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Zambian politician laments continued unavailability of shortwave to reach rural areas.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting and Information Services chairperson Mwansa Kapeya has expressed concern at the collapse of ZNBC's radio one signal to rural areas like Mpika. In an interview from Mpika, Kapeya, who is PF member of parliament for Mpika and a former broadcaster who worked for ZNBC for 38 years, blamed the government for the corporation's lack of radio spare parts. 'Radio has proved to be the most significant media in disseminating informative and educative programmes to majority of Zambians. For the first time in the history of radio signal delivery in this country, large parts of the Zambian community especially the rural area has been completely cut off from knowing what is happening in and outside Zambia by ZNBC radio. In short, ZNBC radio has completely collapsed," Kapeya said. 'When broadcasting was cared for by previous governments, spare parts for radio transmitters were procured expressly to ensure minimum service outage. The short wave services have been off air since February 1, 2010 and as I speak to you the situation is still the same.' He said the government had neglected rural people who depended on ZNBC radio one." Chibaula Silwamba, The Post (Lusaka), 13 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Australia's first pay TV via internet includes international channels in its offer.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Australian IPTV service FetchTV is set to launch the country’s first pay TV service delivered over the Internet, next month. Fetch TV, unrelated to the U.K. service of the same name, but backed by Malaysia’s Astro All Asia Networks, will include all free-to-air digital channels, international pay TV channels, new-release pay-per-view movies in high definition, interactive and social networking applications, and an advanced personal video recorder. Fetch is wholesaling its service to local Internet service providers with the company confirming Tuesday that the third-ranked ISP in the country, iiNet, is the first to sign up to deliver the FetchTV service to its 520,000 broadband customers. iiNet will run a commercial trial of the service next month with a full launch to follow ‘shortly thereafter.' The FetchTV set-top box will include a PVR, tuners that will give access to all the Freeview digital terrestrial channels, and channels and content from Discovery Networks, National Geographic, MTV Networks, Fox International Channels, E! Entertainment Television, BBC World News, CNBC, ABC, Roadshow Entertainment, Disney Media Distribution, MGM, and Lionsgate." Pip Bulbeck, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 April 2010.
     "We're not talking about watching television on your computer here, we're talking about Foxtel-style pay TV but delivered to a set top box via the internet - the kind of service that should explode once the NBN [National Broadband Network] takes off." Adam Turner, Gadgets on the Go, The Age (Melbourne), 13 April 2010. See also ipTV News, 12 April 2010.

International broadcasting via various new media.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A24 Media have struck a landmark partnership with BBC World News to distribute the channel’s Africa Business Report programme. Africa Business Report is a monthly show examining the people, companies and products at the forefront of business, as well as the issues, challenges and opportunities for companies trading in Africa. ... A24 Media offers broadcasters across the world a diverse portfolio of programming covering Africa via its online delivery site www.a24media.com. The distribution of this content is part of the organisation’s drive to revolutionize the African media environment and to service strong demand among international audiences for African content." Apparent press release via Ratio Magazine, 12 April 2010.
     Samsung's new N210 netbook's HyperSpace Instant-on takes you "to a Linux online environment if you can't wait for the time it takes for Windows 7 to boot. ... When it was finally working it was simple enough to invoke - pressing F6 during Startup and the customisable screen appeared complete with weather, BBC World News, Share prices and Twitter feed." David Phelan, Pocket-lint, 12 April 2010.
     "Didier Quillot, CEO of Lagardère Active, and Henrique de Castro, Google and YouTube Vice-President of Global Media and Platforms, today announce the signing of an international strategic partnership between Lagardère Active and YouTube. In the coming months, Lagardère Active will make available to the YouTube community in France an outstanding selection of the French audiovisual library catalogue, including drama, documentaries and animation. The agreement also includes the best of current French drama for international broadcasting to speed up exposure and generate new commercial opportunities." Apparent press release via asiamediajournal.com, 12 April 2010.
     NHK International, Inc., the global footage licensing business of NHK (the Japan Broadcasting Corporation), and Thought Equity Motion, Inc. -- the world leader in digitizing, delivering and monetizing video content -- announced today an agreement that makes NHK programming and news content available for licensing internationally on www.thoughtequity.com and through Thought Equity Motion's global sales network. ... Akihide Mizoguchi, Executive Managing Director of NHK, states, 'We're excited about expanding access to our high-definition content and generating new evolution with Thought Equity Motion's cutting-edge technology platform and licensing expertise. With Thought Equity Motion's advanced tools, the international production community will be able to search, preview, and download NHK's HD content online quickly in a range of formats and languages.'" Press release via Article Ant, 12 April 2010.

After securing deal with Big FM, BBC World Service ends partnerships with little FMs in India.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"FM radio broadcasters in smaller towns had to face repercussions of BBC’s content syndication tie up with Reliance Media World’s Big FM. After Big FM inked deal with BBC World Service to provide entertainment updates for 32 of its FM radio stations, the later severed ties with its partners- Gwalior based Radio Chaska and Orrisa based Radio Choklate. The key reason, cite players, is presence of Big FM in these markets. ... After playing BBC World Service content for two years, Radio Chaska plans to enter into contract with The BBC World Service Trust next month to play their content. Says Radio Chaska executive director Tarun Goyal, 'We would be airing their radio drama - Life Gulmohar Style and also Top Euro Hits comprising top international chartbusters.'" Anita Iyer, Radioanmusic.com, 13 April 2010. What would Top Euro Hits have to do with the mission of BBC World Service Trust?

France 24 says its video contradicts Thai government's description of Saturday's violence.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"French international broadcaster, France 24, has broadcast footage of what it says are Thai forces firing in the direction of crowds during violent clashes that took place on Saturday in which a dozen people lost their lives. France 24 said the footage contradicted the Thai government's position that soldiers only fired live rounds into the air during the clashes." CBS(?) via WFMY-TV (Greensboro, NC), 12 April 2010. See also France 24, 11 April 2010.

Pop singer sues France 24 (updated).

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A French pop singer is suing a television news channel for airing rumours that he was having an affair with first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, according to court papers seen by AFP on Friday. Benjamin Biolay accuses France 24 of violating his right to privacy and is demanding 20,000 euros in damages from the publicly-funded all-news channel that is aimed at a global audience." AFP, 9April 2010. See also contactmusic.com, 10 April 2010.
And France 24, 10 March 2010.
     Update: "The decision in Mr Biolay’s case against France 24 is expected on Friday... " Peter Allen, Daily Mail, 12 April 2010.

NHK and Al Jazeera are co-producing a new children's television series.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"NHK [Japan] and Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) are co-producing a new series, called Discover Science, which will teach kids about science through experiments. Production on the 26x14-minute show is being led by NHK Educational Corporation (NED), an NHK affiliate that produces content for NHK’s educational channel. Discover Science has opted not to use CGI or talking heads—the entire series will focus on conducting actual experiments. The co-production deal builds on an existing relationship between NED and JCC, with the two companies exchanging kids' programs since JCC's launch in 2005." Mansha Daswani, WorldScreen.com, 13 April 2010.

Press TV claims success in Afghanistan -- again.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Press TV is becoming increasingly popular among the Afghan people, who believe the channel provides them with unbiased and comprehensive news coverage. A large number of Afghans including officials and university students watch the Iranian news channel through cable networks and satellite. 'Among all TV channels such as CNN, BBC and Aljazeera, Press TV is the best because it reflects the reality for people especially those in the Middle East,' an Afghan businessman told Press TV's correspondent. Some Afghans, however, believe Press TV does not have enough experience compared to other TV channels. 'I do not watch Press TV because it is younger than other international news channels,' a young Afghan viewer said." Press TV, 12 April 2010. Similar to previous post. All the channels mentioned are in English.

Azerbaijani commentatior revisits the employee lawsuits concerning RFE/RL in Prague.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"To gala reception in Prague Castle that on April 8th crowned the ceremony of signing the new Russian-American strategic arms reduction treaty by presidents Medvedev and Obama, Czech senator Jaromir Stetina was not invited. Maybe the Russians did not want to see there a well-known politician who permanently protests the trampling of human rights in Chechnya. However, quite a different scenario is thinkable too. The Deputy chairman of the Czech Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Defense and Security, a member of the Senate Commission on International Support for Democracy, Senator Stetina in mid-February sharply criticized human rights violations at the Prague-based American RFE/RL. Perhaps he did not quite fit into celebratory crowd that included Hillary Clinton. As the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is a full member of U.S. Federal Agency Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) that serves simultaneously as RFE/RL corporate Board of Directors." Alsou Taheri, News.az, 13 April 2010. ?id=8336

Some history of the old Radio Free Asia, 1951-1953.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"On September 4, 1951, at 6:30 a.m. local time, Radio Free Asia began live broadcasting on a test basis from a rented studio in the commercial radio station KNBC, downtown San Francisco (it was 10:30 p.m. in China). After the sound of a bronze gong being struck three times and music from Mahler’s 'Song of the Earth,' the first broadcast began with these words in Mandarin Chinese, 'This is Radio Free Asia...the voice of free men speaking to the people of Asia.' The initial programs of news and commentary were at first 90 minutes long and divided into three segments in Mandarin, Cantonese and English languages. They programs were broadcast via a leased wire RCA short-wave to Manila, Philippines and from there to China via a directional short wave antenna. John W. Elwood, the first director of Radio Free Asia was quoted by Time magazine on September 17, 1951, as saying 'Because we have no government ties, we can say anything we damn please.' Time told its readers, 'Like its sister organization, Radio Free Europe, R.F.A. was founded by a group of private U.S. citizens who feel that the Voice of America, though effective in its way, is sometimes hampered because of "good & sufficient reasons of national policy."'" Richard Cummings, Historytimes.com, 13 April 2010. Except that it was, because it wasn't really founded private citizens. This Radio Free Asia, which existed from 1951 to 1953, is not connected to the present Radio Free Asia. Indeed, I don't think the people who created and named the present Radio Free Asia were familiar with this earlier Radio Free Asia.
     "50 years ago, Joseph Kovago, deposed mayor of Budapest, told a group of local business leaders about his first-hand experiences with Russian Communism and the importance of Radio Free Europe. Mr. Kovago's appearance at the Hotel Casey [Scranton, PA] was organized by Crusade for Freedom, the fundraising arm of Radio Free Europe." The Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA), 11 April 2010.

US military ad campaign in Afghanistan employs Proctor & Gamble experience.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Outdoor, TV and radio ads starring cuddly babies and folkloric warriors are spreading across Afghanistan, a country that's seen so little advertising that finding a local agency was one of the first hurdles of mounting a campaign. But the U.S.-backed push is using insights into traditional Afghan culture to try to encourage a war-ravaged population to help build a more peaceful nation. The soldier-marketer behind the effort, Lt. Col. Allen McCormick, is deploying the marketing expertise he gained at Procter & Gamble and other U.S. companies to target Afghan citizens. ... The ad campaign has three themes, each backed by radio, TV, print and billboards. The first, called 'Guardians,' is intended to improve the image of the Afghan army by forging an almost romantic connection with the country's long folkloric tradition of warriors who protect their people. ... The second theme is governance, illustrated with images of hands holding objects, from bricks to ballots, to help rebuild Afghanistan with the tagline, 'The future of Afghanistan is in your hands.' The third and final part, which involved a widespread casting call for cute babies, is 'New Afghan, New Afghanistan.'" Laurel Wentz, Advertising Age, 12 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Arrested Tibetan monk "allegedly" had equipment to receive VOA.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"In Machu County, Chinese authorities have arrested a Tibetan monk named Tashi Gyatso of Sarma monastery on April 8, 2010, a Tibetan source with contacts in the area told Phayul. The same source further said that the authorities have allegedly found equipment to receive Tibetan service of Voice of America radio from his quarter at the monastery." Kalsang Rinchen, Phayul.com, 12 April 2010. The equipment to receive VOA (and RFA) Tibetan radio would consist of a Chinese-made shortwave portable radio. For unjammed FM audio quality, a satellite dish and receiver could be used. That could also receive VOA Tibetan television.

RFE/RL Back On the Air in Kyrgyzstan.

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"After nearly two years off the national airwaves, RFE/RL's popular radio and television programs in Kyrgyzstan are once again widely available to listeners and viewers across the country. The move reverses a 2008 decision by UTRK, the national broadcaster, to remove RFE/RL programming due to what it described as 'negative and critical' coverage of the government. ... In the wake of last week's uprising that led to the ouster of Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiev, Radio Azattyk is back on UTRK. It is broadcasting three hours of daily radio programming and two weekly primetime television news shows - 'Inconvenient Questions' and the youth-oriented 'Azattyk Plus.'" RFE/RL press release, 12 April 2010, not yet available at the RFE/RL website, but sent to a select few recipients, one of whom sent it to me. Also reported by VOA correspondent Steve Herman, still tweeting from Bishkek.
     "Reticence marked the immediate US diplomatic response to the April 6-7 upheaval in Kyrgyzstan. Underscoring this cautious approach, Washington has yet to formally recognize the new provisional government, which assumed authority in Bishkek after Bakiyev fled to his native region in southern Kyrgyzstan. Russia, in sharp contrast, quickly acknowledged the provisional government and reached out to its head, Roza Otunbayeva. ... The US government may soon be facing some tough questions from Kyrgyzstan’s new leaders, who say they are intent on reviewing the Defense Department’s contracts concerning Manas due to suspicion about corrupt practices on the part of the Bakiyev administration. In Kyrgyzstan, public opinion is widespread that US diplomacy is preoccupied with the Manas facility’s future, and is not paying sufficient attention to the country’s economic and democratization challenges." Eurasianet.org, 11 April 2010.

AP: "We have more cameras than any broadcaster in the world."

Posted: 13 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The 162-year-old Associated Press news agency, an American icon, has chosen London as the hub of its global television operation. ... 'I would contend that we have more cameras around the world than anybody else operating on a daily basis,' says Nigel Baker, the Englishman who runs the operation having previously worked for ITN and Sky. 'With major stories there's a high chance that the key images on all the major channels will have come from AP." That can include footage screened by the BBC and ITV. And yet, in an era when branding is supposed to be all, many people on the streets of Camden will have no recognition of the AP red lettering on the giant satellite dishes at the Interchange. 'We are not branded on broadcast screens because that's the way the broadcasters like it,' says Baker. 'So the majority of the public don't know that the images come from this organisation.'" Ian Burrell, The Indpendent, 12 April 2010.

BBC, VOA welcome in parts of Somalia not occupied by their detractors.

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Sheikh Abdullahi Abdurahman Abu Yusuf Al-qadi, the spokesman of Ahlu Sunna group in Central Somalia, has said that the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America could establish media centres in the areas controlled by the group. Ahlu Sunna was reacting to a ban imposed on the British and American services by al Shabaab, arguably the strongest anti-government movement in Somalia. Sheikh Abu Yusuf Al-qadi condemned the ban and confiscation of properties belonging to the BBC by al Shabaab. By the same token, the Transitional Federal Government has today condemned the banning of the broadcasting services. Dahir Mohamud Ghelle, the Minister for Information labelled al Shabaab’s act as gross abuse against press freedom. He called the media as entities rendering service to the public. He told the local media to feel free to establish broadcasting units in the parts of Mogadishu controlled by the TFG. 'We welcome the BBC and VOA and other media houses abused by the radical Islamists to set up stations in the parts controlled by the government,' stated Minister Ghelle, the TFG’s Minister for Information in Mogadishu. Through a statement from the information office on Friday, al Shabaab banned the BBC and VOA to broadcast in Somalia (parts controlled by the radical Islamists). The BBC was especially singled out." Abdulkadir Khali, The Nation (Nairobi), 11 April 2010.
     "Somalia’s western-backed government and pro-government sufi group Ahlu-Sunnah wal-Jama has welcomed the BBC to installed its transmitters in the areas that they control. The welcoming note from them may not of help because at least 80% of the control is under the control of Al-Shabaab." Garowe Online, 10 April 2010.
     "The Somali Media, Peace and Development has condemned Al Shabab announcement ... which it banned the radio stations from broadcasting British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA)." Raxanreeb.com, 11 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Television may not be new, mobile, or social, but it can do good.

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"You hear a lot nowadays about how mobile phones are impacting development- enhancing communication, spreading information, facilitating disaster relief, enabling savings and improving livelihoods. You also hear about how social media is beginning used for social ends, with money and awareness being raised and volunteer mobilized through Twitter, and Facebook. A rather less fashionable topic of conversation in development circles is how the chunky old-fashioned television is breaking down undesirable attitudes, encouraging literacy, or even saving lives. ... Organizations like the BBC World Service Trust and UNICEF are big on the concept of using cable TV to disseminate social messages. The BBC World Service Trust teamed up with the National Aids Control Organization (NACO) and Doordarshan to run a detective programme called Jasoos Vijay that aimed to raise awareness and address the stigma related to HIV/AIDS, as well as a reality show called Haath se Haath Milaa focused on the same issues." Saabira Chaudhuri, livemint.com (New Delhi), 12 April 2010.

Report: BBC says BBC World News documentary should not have been broadcast because of its funding.

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A BBC documentary about socialite Robin Birley and his carbon credits business venture in Africa should never have been broadcast, an internal inquiry by the corporation has found. Millions of viewers were misled because the sympathetic documentary shown on BBC World News failed to declare that it was financed by a secretive trust that was linked to Birley. ... Envirotrade, Birley's company, then sells 'carbon credits' to celebrities and businesses wanting to offset their emissions. Customers who used Birley's venture to offset emissions included the agency that handles Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Rockhopper TV, the production company that made the documentary, knew but did not disclose to BBC executives, of links between Envirotrade and the Africa Carbon Livelihood Trust, which funded the making of the documentary. Had it done so, Taking The Credit, the documentary, would never have been shown, the BBC ruled, although it also claimed the programme was balanced." Mark Olden and Michael Gillard, The Observer, 11 April 2010.

Former head of BBC Arabic leaves BBC Arabic (updated).

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Hosam El Sokkari, Head of BBC Arabic, is leaving the BBC. Hosam will be taking a new position as the Head of Yahoo! Channels in the Middle East (currently English, Arabic and French). Hosam has been a distinguished journalist, presenter and leader in BBC Arabic for 15 years. He has been at the leading edge of innovation in journalism for the Arab world. In 1999 he launched the BBC Arabic online site, bbcarabic.com, and played a key role in developing the service's multimedia capability. In 2004 he became the first Arab to head the service since its launch in 1938 and led the service for the launch of BBC Arabic TV, an integral part of a unique multimedia offer to the Arab world." Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC Global News, note to staff, 7 April 2010 (cursor down the the English). In November 2009, Mr. El Sokkari's responsibilities shifted from Head of BBC Arabic to "spearhead work for BBC Arabic on the editorial development of user-generated content and social media initiatives."
     Update: "Hosam el Sokkari, an Egyptian journalist and broadcaster, will take a leadership position at the Middle East unit of Yahoo, which acquired Jordan’s Maktoob Web portal, the region’s largest, for US$164 million (Dh602.3m) last year. ... Prior to its acquisition by Yahoo, Maktoob made considerable investments in creating news content, launching its own news websites and hiring journalists in the region. The site was started as an Arabic-language e-mail service in 2000 and now has more than 15 million users each month." Keach Hagey and Tom Gara, The National (Abu Dhabi), 11 April 2010. See previous post about Hosam El Sokkari.

CNN International is increasing staff, bureaus, and profits.

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"CNN has an image problem in the US. It is haemorrhaging viewers (Larry King just recorded his worst ratings quarter) and is being lampooned as the wishy-washy centrist between the right-leaning Fox News and the left-leaning MSNBC. CNN International doesn't have that problem. And that might just be because its boss, CNNI executive vice-president and managing director Tony Maddox, talks like a Fox News tyro when referring to his competition. 'It's increasingly important that we're being viewed as a distinctive, truly international service,' he tells Media. ... CNNI has largely bucked the trend of media shrinkage in the past two years, adding staff, foreign bureaus and resources, while recording double-digit profit growth for six consecutive years, last year recording its highest profit yet. CNNI's three revenue streams, pay-TV, advertising and content sales, allowed it to ride out the recession. CNNI says it is available in more than 257 million households and hotel rooms in more than 200 countries." Michael Bodey, The Australian, 12 April 2010.
     E-mail to staff from CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton: "CNN/U.S. and each of the CNN networks and businesses will remain essential in moments that matter. We will stay true to our strategy, values and journalistic integrity. We will not be partisan or beholden to any political or ideological agenda. We will do and be just fine." CNN event, announcements for advertisers in New York on 13 April. Chris Ariens, Media Bistro, 12 April 2010. See previous post about CNN.

Former shortwave broadcasting sites in the news.

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"With no park levy to provide financial stability, MetroParks' revenue is subject to the ups and downs of the general economy. ... Its showcase park, the 435-acre Voice of America Park in West Chester Township, has become especially popular in the past few years. Located off Cox Road near Interstate 75, the park features a stocked 35-acre lake encircled by a 1.4-mile paved walking/biking trail, fishing, boating, athletic fields, picnic areas, a dog park, a 65-foot-high sledding hill and the Ronald Reagan Lodge and Boathouse. Although the park has been open for only seven years, the revenue it produces already covers its operating costs." Steve Kemme, Cincinnati Enquirer, 10 April 2010. At the site of the former VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.
     "An estimated 10,000 people visited the Voice of America Park on Saturday and Sunday, April 10-11, to watch kite-flying teams from throughout the Midwest soar their tethered flyers during the sixth annual ... Kitefest ... ." Ed Richter, Middletown (OH) Journal, 12 April 2010.
     "The site, hosting one of Malta's lesser known megalithic temples, and much later used as a British military installation, was later converted to a broadcasting base by Deutsche Welle radio station, but is now defunct. Today the area is undergoing transformation again - this time into a nature park and centre for sustainable living." Anne Zammit, Times of Malta, 11 April 2010.

Voting opens for Deutsche Welle's Best of Blogs (The Bobs).

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Online voting has begun for the Best of the Blogs Awards from Deutsche Welle, one of the most prestigious international blog competitions with nominated blogs in eleven different languages." Diego Casaes, GlobalVoices, 10 April 2010. See also www.thebobs.com, sometimes slow to open, perhaps because of the voter turnout. At the DW home page, there is no banner publicizing Best of the Blogs ("The Bobs"), but there is a tiny link at the bottom of the page.

Turkey's TRT and its international and multilingual broadcasting.

Posted: 12 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, or TRT, has expanded its influence to an audience of hundreds of millions across the Middle East, Asia and Europe with its introduction last year of multilingual international stations. Broadcasting in Arabic, English, Persian, Kurdish and various Turkic dialects is part of a new strategy for TRT, which introduced 24-hour Kurdish broadcasts Jan. 1, 2009, on Turkey’s first multilingual network, TRT 6, as part of the government’s democratic initiative. ... The network primarily targets a Kurdish audience within Turkey and in neighboring countries such as Iraq, Syria and Iran. ... A third international network, TRT Turk, has been on the air since May 8, 2009, and broadcasts joint productions with Turkic Republics. ... 'We are planning to start an English-language broadcast news channel after the Arabic one,' the deputy prime minister said. 'When we complete our work, TRT will be one of the biggest media companies in the world. We are working to represent Turkey and our people globally.' The TRT Arabic broadcasting network launched last week, and officials confirmed that preparations for a Persian broadcasting channel were underway. The Web site www.trt-world.com publishes news in 30 languages." Hürriyet Daily News, 9 April 2010. Unmentioned, but also on shortwave. See previous post about the Arabic-language channel TRT al Turkiye.

CNN (the US version) should be one part BBC World News America, he writes (updated).

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"I believe I am qualified to offer some unsolicited advice to the cable news network that evidently has seen better days. I mean, if CNN is losing me (and it is), it’s time, you might say, for a change. I find myself turning from the network more and more, annoyed by its cheesy anchors, unsatisfied by its guests, frustrated by the lack of attention and detail paid to too many serious stories. ... Turn CNN into an intelligent new blend. One part CBS News’s brilliant Sunday Morning. One part Rome Hartman’s smart BBC World News America. And one part good old-fashioned Jim Lehrer." Andrew Cohen, Vanity Fair, 5 April 2010.
     Update: "CNN is so far gone, and already a pretty niche product, that it would seem to have nothing to lose by mimicking NPR and the BBC. Since CNN International is already pretty much that product, it should be CNN's flagship news outlet. For one thing, if 'everyone' (meaning the folks who watch and comment on teevee news so we don't have to) was watching CNN-I, a lot more interesting and important stories would find their way into the blogospheric conversation than we get by watching, critiquing and commenting on Chris Matthews' eruptions, Hannity's or Olbermann's idiocies, weenie-ass questions on the network Sunday news shows, etc." geoffcgraham comment to Ezra Klein, Washington Post, 9 April 2010.

Pakistan's broadcasting authority orders Al Jazeera, Hallmark, Bloomberg, other international channels off cable systems.

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The notice ... issued to all cable operators by PEMRA [Pakistan broadcasting regulator] on April 6 (Tuesday last) enclosed a list of channels that had landing rights by PEMRA and instructed stoppage of broadcast of all other channels. Previously, PERMA has been issuing similar instructions but they were disregarded by cable operators as a matter of routine. This time, PEMRA officials, insisting that they meant business, raided and visited offices of all cable operators in major cities of the country and ordered them immediate shutdown of these channels. Cable operators were left with no option but to stop airing all these channels. The notable channels among those which were blocked are Al-jazeera, Hallmark, Bloomberg, Toon Disney, Baby TV, Super Sports, OSN Comedy, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment, MTV, MGM, TCM, Super Movie, America Plus, Cinema City. The cable TV viewers got a rude shock when on Tuesday night they found most of the popular channels off the air while initially cable operators cited technical reasons for their closure." Javaid-ur-rahman, The Nation (Lahore), 9 April 2010.

Al Jazeera English will return to Singapore via mobile provider M1.

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Less than two weeks after SingTel's mio TV dropped the English-language news channel Al Jazeera, the latter said its news bulletins and some documentary programmes will be carried by M1. M1 will use a video-on-demand format, the Qatar- based broadcaster Al Jazeera told The Sunday Times." Goh Chin Lian, The Straits Times, 11 April 2010.
     "Controversial Arab channel Al Jazeera English was taken off from SingTel’s MIO TV after screening a sensational documentary on homeless Singaporeans who are made to sleep in the streets due to the PAP’s {People's Action Party] discriminatory policies against locals." The Temasek Review, 8 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Turner International selling CNN, other content to the Asia Pacific market.

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"For the television trade event MipTV, Turner International has announced a slate of new entertainment content available for syndication to meet an increase in buyer demand from across the Asia Pacific region. ... Turner Broadcasting Systems Asia Pacific executive VP Ian Carroll says, 'Since the launch of the Turner Content Solutions syndication business last year, we’ve received a tremendous response to our content and have sold over 500 hours of programming. We have quickly recognised the need to expand the offering to satisfy the needs of our buyers. Turner is renowned for its compelling content, whether it’s from CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim or truTV and we’re pleased that our programming is expanding for the benefit of viewers across Asia Pacific.'" Apparent press release via Indiantelevision.com, 10 April 2010.

NHK's Newsline to American public television via American Public Television.

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"American Public Television (APT) has picked up the U.S. distribution rights to NHK's half-hour international news program Newsline. The English-language series delivers news, in HD, from Asia and around the world, including reports on current affairs, business, sports, science and technology trends, as well as regional weather forecasts, the latest developments in international financial markets and more. It launched on the NHK World TV 24-hour network in February of last year and now reaches more than 120 territories. APT will feed the high-definition broadcasts to U.S. public television stations live twice a day, and will offer one standard-definition feed Monday through Thursday." Mansha Daswani, AmericaScreen.com, 10 April 2010.
     "Our roots extend to the early days of public television, pre-dating the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) by eight years. ... In 1999, we launched APT Worldwide, our international sales division. APT Worldwide has built its program catalog to become a leading source for U.S. public television programming in the international marketplace. APT Worldwide licenses innovative television programming including documentary, lifestyle, science, health, arts, culture and music. We have successfully sold programming to major television outlets, including Discovery Networks, National Geographic Worldwide, NHK in Japan, ITV in Great Britain, RAISAT in Italy and Alliance/Atlantis in Canada." American Public Television website.

An international television channel is a "pipe that can deliver the country's image."

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, NHK World, Arirang TV, RT and CCTV9. These are just some of the major international news networks that have been riding the global airwaves and gaining influence in the political and social arena. ... What is prompting these countries to invest millions of dollars in an around-the-clock English-language channel? (Interview : Kim Eun-mee, Communications Professor Seoul National University) "It is a very practical need to have their countries' own voice and own pipe that can deliver the country's image and information to outside citizens. And also too your citizens become much more sensitive or aware of how they're being portrayed to the outside world and how they see the outside world.'" Jang Ji-yun, Arirang TV (Seoul), 8 April 2010.

North Korea warns South Korea about leaflets and DVDs "showing the decadent bourgeois life."

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"North Korea has harshly criticized what it calls Seoul's propaganda war against Pyongyang and threatened to prevent South Koreans from crossing its border. South Korean activists have floated anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North by balloon over the past few years. The activists now say they have also started sending DVDs disclosing secrets about the private life of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. On Saturday, the North Korean military called the move a 'foolish act' and a 'wanton violation and blatant challenge' to a 2004 agreement to halt all propaganda activities signed by the two countries' armed forces." Kwang-Tae Kim, AP, 10 April 2010.
     "North Korea's military ... denounced the South for 'massively scattering leaflets defiling the DPRK's (North Korea's) ideology and system and videos of indecent property and even DVDs showing the decadent bourgeois life.'" AFP, 10 April 2010.

Media mayhem in Thailand includes assault on Thaicom groundstation.

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Thai protesters claimed victory and vowed to step up their monthlong push for fresh elections after defying an emergency decree and forcing authorities to restore the signal of their satellite television station. About 15 people were injured yesterday as demonstrators pushed past security forces into the compound of Thaicom Pcl, the satellite monopoly that transmits the station’s signal. The government later agreed to let the station resume broadcasting, after shutting it down for inciting hatred." Bloomberg, 10 April 2010.
     "Protesters in Thailand overran a satellite TV station Friday and muscled their anti-government TV channel back on the air in a sign of rising defiance two days after authorities declared a state of emergency in Bangkok, the capital. Thousands of protesters, known as 'Red Shirts,' dodged water cannons and tear gas as they scrambled over barbed wire to open the gates of the secure site. Most troops quickly dropped their bid to defend the Thaicom satellite station, about 35 miles north of Bangkok, allowing the People's Channel to resume transmissions to about 10 million viewers." Patrick Winn, Los Angeles Times, 10 April 2010.
     "After scattered hand to hand scuffles, the troops retreated in disarray, some taking positions inside the main Thaicom building. After talks were held between protest leaders and the authorities, agreement was reached to allow People Channel to resume broadcasting, and protesters and soldiers left the site. But several hours later, more than 4,000 army troops retook the transmission complex and cut off the People Channel's signal again." Grant Peck, AP, 10 April 2010.
     "Some 200 red shirts gathered at the Thaicom station after the government unplugged their mouthpiece People Channel satellite television, taking it go off the air for the first time. Before the screen went static, red-shirt leaders had told viewers: 'If you no longer see us, if your screen goes dark, come to Bangkok and join us immediately.'" The Nation (Bangkok), 9 April 2010.
     "People Channel of red shirts protesters is on-air again on Sunday afternoon, TPBS Channel reported. The broadcast this time is transmitted on a C band transponder of another satellite, not ThaiCom." The Nation, 11 April 2010.
     "Thaicom Plc, the country's sole satellite service provider, said the government's blocking of the red shirts' People Channel television station (PTV) had severely damaged its international reputation. The company said foreign customers using the same transponder as PTV were threatening to sue Thaicom for their losses. An executive expressed concern that interference with the station's signals could damage the satellite's transponder. 'Despite the fact that signal jamming violates our contract and causes severe damage to our reputation, we must follow the order,' the executive said. ... The executive said Thaicom could not directly shut down PTV because the station broadcasts via the Israeli firm's uplink facility. Thaicom could only block the signal being beamed from the Thaicom 5 satellite by jamming the C-band frequency. The signal jamming not only caused PTV to be taken off the air but also interrupted five other channels on the same transponder. The satellite's transponder was also damaged, the source said. The Israeli firm eventually decided to shut down PTV to avoid other channels being affected." Komsan Tortermvasana and Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn, Bangkok Post, 9 April 2010.
     "The Asian Human Rights Commission joins other concerned groups and individuals around the world to condemn the blocking in Thailand of 36 websites. The websites were blocked under a state of emergency that the unelected Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, declared on 7 April 2010 in response to continued protests in Bangkok." Press release via Scoop, 10 April 2010.

NBC turns to Al Jazeera for news from Kyrgyzstan.

Posted: 11 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The revolution in Kyrgyzstan is an important foreign story for the US because of the US Air Force base there used to get supplies into Afghanistan and it appears the leaders of the revolution want that base closed. So if you’re NBC News with Brian Williams, the highest rated terrestrial US network newscast, and all you have in Europe these days because of cost cutting is a bureau in London -- not even in Moscow -- how do you get a direct report from the scene? Easy, you get the Al-Jazeera reporter on the scene on the phone for his on-the-spot comments. Now Al Jazeera has a tough time getting onto US cable systems because of perceived bias, but, hey, if it is good enough for NBC News then why not US cable systems? In fact ftm monitors Al Jazeera, CNN International and BBC World on a daily basis and while the US and British networks won’t like this the truth is more often than not it is Qatar-based Al Jazeera offering the most complete fast reporting on breaking news, and it just seems to have more people on the ground. In addition to the Al Jazeera comments, NBC got its Kyrgyzstan video from news agencies and it resorted to foreign affairs specialist Andrea Mitchell in Washington to do the voiceover. Really, is that how America’s leading newscast should be covering such an important international news story?" The Tickle File, followthemedia.com, 11 April 2010.
     "In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Roza Otunbayeva, the self-declared leader of Kyrgyzstan's interim government, called on the country's president to resign." Aljazeera.net, 9 April 2010.

Insurgent groups in Somalia ban BBC, VOA, and music on FM radio stations (updated).

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Harakat Al-Shabab Mujahideen has Friday banned the activities of local FM radio stations of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the Somali capital Mogadishu and all southern Somalia. A press release issued by Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen from its information affairs office said that the administration ad also prohibited formally for listening the BBC news and programs. Press Release: 'Mogadishu, from today, H (24/04/1431) all FM stations of the BBC in the areas under the control of Islamists would be off aired and its devices/instruments would be taken over. ... Ultimately, Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen warns the local FM radios who have contracts and contacts with both BBC and Voice Of America (VOA) not to release their news and programs began from today, on (24/04/1431) Hijria.'" Shabelle Media Network, 9 April 2010.
     "Radio stations broadcasting out of Somalia face a dilemma this month after a powerful Islamist militant group ordered them to stop playing music. Saying that the playing of music was un-Islamic, Hizbul-Islam announced on Saturday that stations had 10 days to take it off air. The punishment for failing to comply was not specified but 11 radio stations based in the capital, Mogadishu, are thought to be directly affected. If they drop music, they stand to lose listeners. If they ignore the warning, they face the wrath of the militants." Patrick Jackson, BBC News, 7 April 2010.
     Update: "The BBC's broadcasts have been taken off the FM bandwidth, but are still available on shortwave and the internet. In response to the statement, the head of BBC Africa, Jerry Timmins, said the organisation spoke to all sides in the conflict, including al-Shabab, adhered to strict standards of impartiality and editorial independence and rejected any suggestion otherwise." BBC News, 9 April 2010.
     "VOA issued a statement Friday afternoon saying, 'VOA regrets this decision. We believe broadcasting news and information on FM stations serves the Somali people.'" Michael Onyiego, VOA News, 9 April 2010.
     Protested by National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), 9 April 2010, the Hayaan Media Development Center, 9 April 2010, and Reporters sans frontières, 9 April 2010.
     "Somalis living in al Shabaab-held territories confirmed that BBC had gone off air on local frequencies but said programming could still be picked up on short wave." Reuters, 9 April 2010.

VOA's Steve Herman is now tweeting from Kyrgyzstan.

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Follow the reports of the VOA South Asia Bureau chief at twitter.com/W7VOA. See also the RFE/RL Kyrgyzstan news page.
     "As unrest grew in Kyrgyzstan over the last several weeks, Russia’s state-owned media outlet Russia Today, which faithfully reflects the politically-correct thinking in Moscow, developed the theme that Kyrgyz citizens were sick and tired of the corruption symbolized by the US presence at Manas, and that the Rigi incident – with its suspicious Manas connection – was the straw that broke the camel’s back." J.E. Dyer, Hot Air, 9 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

CPJ letter to Obama mentions RFE/RL reporters who were attacked in Kazakhstan.

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
From Committee to Protect Journalists' letter to President Obama: "In advance of your April 12 meeting in Washington with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, we'd like to draw your attention to the deteriorating press freedom conditions in Kazakhstan. ... Unchecked violence against independent reporters and politicized arrests of government critics continue to spread fear in the media. In the last 14 months, one journalist was killed and at least four others have been assaulted with impunity in Kazakhstan. All of the attacked reporters work for independent and pro-opposition media outlets, including the U.S. government-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which often criticizes Nazarbayev and his government." CPJ, 8 April 2010. Does RFE/RL criticize Nazarbayev? Or, as a news organization, does it interview and cite people who criticize Nazarbayev?

More about VOA, BBG, NSC, the firewall, and calling Iran's jamming "jamming."

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America has swept aside criticism from Republican senators and members of Congress who asked the radio station to respond to charges that it has toned down its criticism of Iranian censorship on White House orders. Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, wrote to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasting, asking for comment on the reported 'intervention by the National Security Council to discourage, and then tone down,' a VOA statement condemning the jamming of international broadcasts by the government of Iran. ... Congress created the 'firewall' between VOA journalists and U.S. government policymakers 'to protect the integrity and credibility of the Agency’s journalistic product,' the BBG wrote. However, 'We do not believe that the Congress intended to give the BBG (or VOA) the ability to issue statements in its federal capacity that might conflict with or infringe on the foreign policy prerogatives of the President or of other Executive Branch agencies that have primary policy duties in this area. 'Accordingly, the BBG appropriately consulted with the National Security Council and the State Department concerning the content of the proposed joint statement,' the BBG wrote." Ken Timmerman, Newsmax.com, 8 April 2010. VOA reported about Iran's satellite jamming, calling it "jamming," back on 30 December 2009. VOA didn't need White House approval for that news report. It's uncertain if Mr. Timmerman is for or against the firewall, because he chides VOA for having "welcomed onto air pro-Tehran advocates Trita Parsi and Houshang Amirahmadi, who run lobbying organizations that oppose any form of economic sanctions on Iran." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL president writes about corruption and foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"During my recent visit to Afghanistan, I got the chance to meet with military officers, mullahs, and senior government ministers, as well as journalists, NGO activists, parliamentarians, provincial governors, tribal leaders, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai himself. ... Yes, corruption is an issue for Afghans. It damages the credibility of the government in the eyes of its own people. Some argue that it plays into the hands of Taliban leaders who tell people, 'Support us and we'll give what Afghanistan's Western-backed government cannot provide: justice and security.' But there's also concern here that Afghan corruption has become an unhealthy obsession in Western capitals, accompanied by unrealistic expectations that distract from the most immediate concern: defeating the insurgents. ... Given what the country has gone through over the last 30 years, it's a miracle that everyone I've met here still wants foreign troops -- led by the United States and its allies -- to stay." Jeffrey Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Foreign Policy, 8 April 2010.
     "RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai today at the end of a five-day trip to promote media freedom in Afghanistan. 'A country with centuries of history, of cultural complexity, and a downtrodden economy that has been ravaged by war wants to feel respected,' said Karzai, whose anti-Western remarks have made international headlines over the past week. ... 'We need Radio Azadi,' Afghan Deputy Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Yaqub Ahmadzai told Gedmin. 'Some of us even adjust our prayer schedules so we don't miss the news programs.'" RFE/RL press release, 6 April 2010.
     "The Obama administration is making a mistake by sending Afghan President Hamid Karzai the forceful and repeated message that it's not happy with his regime, says analyst Fareed Zakaria. He says the United States has been voicing 'great frustration and discomfort with Karzai. I just think it's the wrong message. It's self-indulgent. Yes there are lots of problems with Karzai, but we don't have any other options.' ... CNN: Some have said that this is reminiscent of the Diem regime in Vietnam. Zakaria: Every situation that the United States is in presents you with that dilemma because, by Jeffersonian standards, none of these guys measure up." CNN International, 9 April 2010.

Alhurra's Al Youm: five bureaus, and so far no blank feeds.

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"What makes [Alhurra news program] Al Youm different from Alhurra’s other programmes is that it’s an in-region television programme. 'Only one of its bureaus is in the US (Washington, DC); the other four bureaus are all from the Middle East. This creates an intimate regional feel to the programme. It’s not a matter of having Springfield, Virginia, staff produce a programme that covers the Middle East from afar. That’s what is important because they know the region and understand its issues,' [executive producer Fran Mires] adds. A point of great pride for Mires is that not once has the live feed gone blank, quite an accomplishment for a live programme with five bureaus." Raziqueh Hussain, Khaleej Times (Dubai), 9 April 2010.

Turkey's Arabic-language television channel TRT al Turkiye will launch Sunday (updated again).

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Turkey's state-run Radio and Television Corporation, or TRT, launched a new Arabic-language channel Sunday, a move that the country's prime minister hailed as a landmark uniting the Turkish and Arab people. 'TRT al Turkiye' will broadcast in Arabic around the clock and is expected to reach 350 million people throughout the Arab world. Most of the programs will be presented by native Arabic speakers. ... 'The Istanbul-based channel will also broadcast live from Cairo, Beirut, Damascus and Ankara.' ... Three satellite companies — Turksat 3A, Arapsat and Nilsat — will provide transmissions for TRT al Turkiye." Anatolia News Agency via Hürriyet Daily News, 5 April 2010.
     "TRT Arabic will feature a morning schedule tailored toward Arabic women as well as children’s programming, documentaries, current affairs and Turkish dramas dubbed into Arabic. The station will look to capitalise on the recent popularity of Turkish soaps screened by MBC such as Nour and Aliye, which have dominated free to air ratings in the region." Digital Production Middle East, 5 April 2010.
     "Every time a foreign satellite channel steps into the crowded world of Arabic television, we are always tempted to overestimate its effects on public opinion in the region. But a new Turkish initiative may finally live up to expectations. It all started in 2004 with the American Al Hurra channel, followed by a spate of foreign Arabic television broadcasts from countries like Iran, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and most recently China. But a few months into operations, they all realised how frustrating it is to make the slightest dent in the deep-running cynicism in the Middle East. ... For Al Turkeya to establish a credible presence in this region, it needs to go beyond emotional appeals to history and faith and demonstrate the highest level of professionalism in its news, cultural and entertainment programming." Muhammad Ayish, The National (Abu Dhabi), 6 April 2010.
     "'Turkey now wants to be an actor in the Middle East. (TRT El Turkiye) is one element of this policy' of re-balancing Turkish diplomacy which for years followed an exclusively Western-oriented path, said Mete Cubukcu, an editor at the NTV news channel and an expert on the Arab world. This drive, coupled with [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's strong criticism of Israel in the Palestinian conflict, gives Turkey 'a lot of prestige' in the Middle East, which could prove useful to the new channel, Cubukcu said. But to find itself a place in the Arab market, TRT El Turkiye should be careful not to become a tool for propaganda, stressed the expert. 'There are already many international channels in Arabic. If this one wants to find its place, it has to offer objective information,' he added." AFP, 7 April 2010.
     Update: "Even the launch of BBC Arabic two years ago seems dull in comparison to the attention received by the launch of the official Turkish channel TRT al Turkiye. This is also despite the fact that the official Turkish channel seems to be the most modest in terms of production and coverage in comparison to the other Arabic-language channels. ... Of course it is very early to evaluate this channel, but it is clear that TRT al Turkiye is not like any other channel, as it is not a news channel, and it only has a limited crew with a small network of correspondents. This is a general channel that will include a mixture of programming, from drama, the arts, news, and the economy. This is a mixture of programming that will allow the Turks to proudly present Erdogan's harsh attitude towards Israel and broadcast their famous drama Noor, and its star Mohanned who is famous throughout the Arab world, rather than through Arab channels, thereby making large political and financial gains. ... Turkey should ... not allow its new alignment with us to blind its media to the major problems that our countries are suffering from." Diana Mukkaled, Asharq Al-Awsat (London), 9 April 2010. Re "financial gains," TRT can monetize Noor and other entertainment products only by selling advertising to accompany those programs. Profit might be more certain by continuing to sell those programs to Arab television stations.

Loss of Worldfocus is gain for Deutsche Welle on US public television.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"WNET chose to shift its production efforts from now on PBS and "Worldfocus" to concentrate on the new Friday night program, 'Need To Know,' which will premiere at 8:30 p.m. on May 7. To strengthen our international news coverage, our Eight World schedule will now include 'Deutsche-Welle's Journal' in place of 'Worldfocus,' and we will add a broadcast of BBC World News to Eight World beginning in May." Nancy Southgate, associate general manager of content for Eight, letter to Arizona Republic, 8 April 2010. Eight is a public television station in Phoenix, Arizona. Its HD channels are Eight HD, Eight Create, and Eight World. The Eight World schedule includes BBC World News Monday through Friday at 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. See previous post about Worldfocus and DW Journal.

FCO to House of Lords: Moving BBCWS from shortwave to other platforms "may result in difficult decisions."

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Response by Chris Bryant, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to the House of Lords Foreign Affairs Committee report "The Work of the BBC World Service 2008-09": "The current financial climate has put a strain on all budgets across the public service. The BBC World Service cannot be exempt from that. We are in close consultation over the forthcoming CSR round. You have identified the challenges of moving from short-wave to other platforms—this may result in difficult decisions having to be made by the BBC World Service in terms of continuing specific services." From BBCWS response: "BBC World Service has recently carried out surveys on viewership and reputational ratings (trust etc) for BBC Arabic Television in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Iraq, the results of which will be made available in Spring 2010 when BBC World Service's total annual audience figure is announced. ... The extension of BBC Persian Television to 24 hours is being considered by BBC World Service as part of its strategic review for the next Spending Review bid." www.parliament.uk, 9 April 2010. See also the report, www.parliament.uk, 5 February 2010.

A little less noise on shortwave as Manassas VA discontinues Broadband over Powerline.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"At a Special Meeting on Monday, April 5, the Manassas [Virginia] City Council -- acting on a recommendation from the Manassas Utilities Commission -- unanimously voted to discontinue Broadband over Powerline (BPL) Internet service as of July 1, 2010 to the approximately 520 residents and businesses who currently subscribe to the service... American Radio Relay League CEO David Sumner said the ARRL's concern was with "the interference to licensed radio services -- and in particular the Amateur Radio Service -- inevitably caused by putting radio frequency energy on unshielded, unbalanced conductors. Manassas was touted as 'the most successful BPL deployment in the nation' when FCC Chairman Michael Powell visited the site with much fanfare -- and, the ARRL maintains, in violation of the FCC's own rules -- on the eve of the FCC's vote to adopt inadequate protection for licensed radio services against interference from BPL systems." ARRL, 8 April 2010.
     "The service is about 10 times as fast as dial-up, while most households today have a service that is 50 times as fast as dial-up, officials with the Manassas utilities department said." Jennifer Buske, Washington Post, 8 April 2010.

International television program sales prospects in East Asia.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Typically staid programming on [Chinese] traditional state-run TV won't draw the newly savvy viewers that advertisers hope to reach, says Steve Chicorel, an international distribution guru who relocated from Hollywood to Taipei, in Taiwan, to be closer to China. 'China used to be a zero on everybody's sales records, but now that it's going digital, it's a wasteland and everybody needs programming,' says Chicorel, who's now helping Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan find international partners for a historical war serial titled 'Yuefei.' Due to strict TV censorship, Chicorel says it's family programming that's needed, not the flesh or flash of U.S. cable. Chinese TV companies that reach the mainstream may also be able to tap its cash." Also discusses Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore. Janine Stein, Hollywood Reporter, 6 April 2010.

Colombia has questions about Telesur's video of FARC hostage release (updated).

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"After 12 years in jungle captivity [Colombian Army] Sgt Pablo Emilio Moncayo was turned over [by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc)] to the Red Cross on Tuesday. ... The release of Sgt Moncayo has also sparked a dispute between the Colombian authorities and the Venezuelan-backed broadcaster Telesur. The Colombians have demanded to know how Telesur had exclusive access to Sgt Moncayo’s handover to the Red Cross, which was supposedly closed to the press. But Telesur, which was set up by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez as a left-wing alternative to CNN, said it was e-mailed the video and that no Telesur personnel had been present at the handover." Tom Hennigan, Irish Times, 2 April 2010.
     "Before the helicopter flew back with Moncayo, the Colombian government's peace commissioner, Frank Pearl, criticized the Caracas-based TV channel Telesur, which is funded in part by Venezuela's government, for releasing photos and videos of Moncayo with Cordoba. Pearl said there had been an agreement the handover would be discreet, and 'the government rejects that a media outlet like Telesur lends itself to do propaganda for a terrorist group.' Telesur said in a statement that the footage was not recorded by any of its journalists and had been sent electronically to the channel as well as other media outlets. The channel called Colombia's reaction 'irresponsible.'" AP, 31 March 2010.
     "The television station denied any wrongdoing, and [Colombian Sen. Piedad] Cordoba said that the humanitarian party had not noticed that the network had someone in the jungle filming." CNN, 31 March 2010.
     Update: "Telesur continental television president, Andres Izarra accuses Colombia of turning his station into a hate and discredit target. ... Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was angry about the video calling Telesur 'Telefarc.' Izarra rejects the charge saying the video was sent to other channels such as Television Espanola, and Ecuavision." Patrick J. O'Donoghue, VHeadline.com, 7 April 2010.

South Africa ANC leader berates BBC and VOA journalists.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A fuming ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has snapped and scolded journalists as being 'sick' and 'obsessed with an individual', himself, because of alleged untruths reported about him during his weekend visit to Zimbabwe. Shortly after this he shouted at BBC journalist Jonah Fisher who made interjections while Malema spoke at the press conference he addressed on his Zimbabwe visit at the ANC’s Luthuli House in Johannesburg, calling him a 'bastard' and a 'bloody agent', saying he should 'get out'. ... He also told journalists not to behave like they were in an 'American' press conference by heckling speakers. 'This is not America, this is Africa,' he said. ... He also insulted a journalist from Voice of America, saying the station operated 'illegally' in Zimbabwe and should follow Zimbabwean laws." Carien du Plessis, Business Report (Johannesburg), 8 April 2010.

BBC World Service content deal with Belarusian web portal.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC Russian is embarking on a new internet distribution partnership with TUT.BY, the most popular online portal in Belarus, bringing its unique multimedia editorial offering to users across the country. A first for BBC Russian in Belarus' rapidly-developing online market, the partnership is part of the BBC's efforts to reach Russian-speaking audiences, wherever they are, with a wide range of content. The site will display daily news stories and embedded video in Russian, directly from bbcrussian.com." BBC World Service press release, 7 April 2010.

When Messerschmidts tried to shoot down RFE content.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"From August 1951 through November 1956, RFE launched millions of balloon carried leaflets into Communist Eastern Europe. They urged Czechs and Slovaks to boycott national elections, and told Poles about corruption scandals in their country. 'The balloons also provoked a degree of official Communist fury never elicited by RFE broadcasts,' writes Arch Puddington in his history of Radio Free Europe. ... 'MiG fighters were ordered to shoot down the balloons; when they proved too fast to get an accurate bead on the targets, slower, propeller-driven Messerschmidts were dispatched, and antiaircraft guns fired at the invaders as they crossed the border.'" Matthew Lasar, Radio Survivor, 7 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Lay Catholic website critical of VOA coverage of abuse scandal.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Wire services continue to rehash charges that Pope Benedict XVI bears responsibility for sexual abuse by clerics, although the evidence supporting those charges has been thoroughly rebutted. ... Voice of America, the broadcast service supported by US taxpayers, says that Pope Benedict's plan for a restoration Christian culture in Europe is now endangered because of 'some media reports, strongly denied by the Vatican, that Pope Benedict may have been responsible for some of the failings of abusive priests.' The Voice of America story cites the 'media reports' without examining their authenticity." CatholicCulture.org, 8 April 2010. Refers to VOA News, 7 April 2010.

Another VOA editorial about the jamming of VOA Amharic.

Posted: 09 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"With national elections in Ethiopia fast approaching, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi appears intent on controlling both the medium and the message. Reports of the harassment of opposition political figures and interfering with international media broadcasts into the country undermine the image of his government, and if the polling is to be credible, it must be an open process. Following the jamming of the Voice of America's radio broadcasts in Ethiopia's dominant Amharic language for the last four weeks, the government there appears to now have turned its attention to VOA's Internet service in the East African nation. Numerous reports have been received that VOA's website is unavailable inside Ethiopia, where individuals both inside and out of Africa often turn when they cannot get a radio signal." Editorial "reflecting the views of the United States government," Voice of America, undated (but Google says 7 April 2010). I think it's the other way around: people turn to the radio if they can't get, or don't have access to, the internet. See previous undated VOA editorial on the subject and previous post about Ethiopian jamming.
"In a recent editorial reflecting the official position of the US government, VOA has declared that silence is not golden in Ethiopia at a time when Meles is muffling America’s voice. 'While a friend and supporter of Ethiopia, the United States nevertheless cannot remain silent on such actions and censorship, which run counter to the country’s constitution. It is watching with great interest and encourages all parties there to act responsibly during the election campaign. An election cannot be run under the guise of democratic process if all candidates cannot participate freely and state their case or if political news is suppressed,' the editorial said. The statement is unprecedented by itself due to the fact that the US has chosen to turn blind eyes and deaf ears for nearly two decades. Mr. Zenawi has been committing gross human rights violations and atrocities without any serious criticisms from Washington and its allies, which are known to be too quick to condemn unfriendly tyrants in countries like Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran and Cuba." Abebe Gellaw, abugudainfo.com, 9 April 2010.

Kyrgyzstan media update.

Posted: 08 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL Senior Central Asia correspondent Bruce Pannier arrives in Bishkek today and is available for media interviews. Yesterday and today, Pannier appeared on Al Jazeera to put the Kyrgyzstan turmoil into perspective." RFE/RL press release, 8 April 2010. So far VOA does not seem to have taken up the opportunity. Does the structure of US international broadcasting allow one US-funded station to provide news to another US-funded station?
     [T]he U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz service remains the most trusted source of news for most Kyrgyz people, despite repeated government attempts to jam it." Owen Matthews, Newsweek, 7 April 2010. I think the Kyrgyz government took RFE/RL off of local FM stations rather than jamming RFE/RL.
     "At the press conference in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Prime Minister also said he had spoken on Tuesday with the Russian ambassador to Kyrgyzstan and urged him to rein in the negative coverage of Kyrgyzstan in the Russian press. Indeed, the shifting attitudes in Russia toward the Kyrgyz leadership were felt weeks ago, when several broadcasters and newspapers in Russia began airing scathing attacks against Bakiev's government. Among them, the state-run radio station Golos Rossii, or Voice of Russia, said the Kyrgyz government had 'shown itself to be totally ineffective' in a report on March 24, apparently timed to the fifth anniversary of the Tulip Revolution." Simon Shuster, Time, 7 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English taken off Singapore's mio TV (updated again: AJE reports on Singapore homelessness).

Posted: 08 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Singtel has officially dropped news channel Al Jazeera English (AJE) from its selection of MioTV options from 1st April. ... No word or reason had been given by Singtel on why they have pulled AJE from the airwaves. A check with the MioTV site does indicate that the dropped Middle East news channel has been replaced with 'newer adequate choices' such as Russia Today, CCTV 9 (China) as well as Euronews. I don’t really need to explain possibly how uninspiring the first two options are as respected news channels, given the state of politics and press freedom in bothRussia and China. Perhaps Al Jazeera has rattled the nerves of the ruling elite with a host of programs scrutinizing the socio-economic problems in Singapore, more so than any other news channel (including the venerable BBC World News). You can be sure CCTV 9, Russia Today and Euronews would almost have minimal, if not tame coverage on anything to do with Singapore." Dexter Lee, Icarus Flew Too High weblog, 3 April 2010. Mio TV is an IPTV service, and AJE is missing from its channel list. This terse announcement from mio TV via Google cache.
     "In a letter to subscribers last month, SingTel said the news channel would be dropped from April 1 as mio TV 'strives to enhance our channel offerings'. Asked why the channel was removed, a SingTel spokeswoman told MediaCorp: 'mio TV constantly streamlines our content offerings in order to address the demands and requirements of our customers.' The pay TV operator did not answer queries about Al Jazeera's viewership figures. But the spokeswoman noted that mio TV has dropped fewer than 10 channels since it launched in July 2007. In the past two months, youth channel Sling and nature documentary channel Equator were discontinued. ... Al Jazeera did not reply to enquiries by press time. Singaporeans can continue to watch Al Jazeera reports on its English website." Ong Dai Lin,
Today (Singapore), 7 April 2010.
     Update: "After barely a year, Al Jazeera has just been taken off the air. Now, it took some two years for the Singapore Government to allow us into the country in the first place. When we were finally given the go-ahead, the channel was confined to the fledgeling MIO network, which has extremely limited distribution. No reason has been given for removing us. Hard as it is to believe, I can't rule out the possibility that MIO management considers Russia Today and China's CCTV9 to be more reputable news sources than Al Jazeera English, and more appealing to their audience. Those stations are still available. But if the decision was a commercial rather than a political one, I wonder whether the Singapore Government will now allow the major cable operator, Starhub, to make its own commercial decision?" Teymoor Nabili, AJE Kuala Lumpur presenter, The Asia Blog, Aljazeera.net, 8 April 2010.
     "Al Jazeera reports on the homelessness issue in Singapore. Singapore is a nation of homeowners, largely thanks to a comprehensive system of government subsidised housing. But despite the system’s overall success, the strict rules also mean that some people fall through the cracks." Aljazeera video report via The Online Citizen (Singapore), 5 April 2010.

How Qatar's Al Jazeera covered Qatar's diplomat who smoked in the United Airlines toilet.

Posted: 08 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A diplomat who sparked a bomb alert on a flight from Washington DC to Denver may have been smoking a cigarette, US security officials have said. ... 'Two US air marshals aboard asked the man when he emerged what he had been doing and depending on which version you hear, he either said something to the effect that he had been trying to light his shoe, which may have been interpreted literally or it was a sarcastic remark,' Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman, reporting from Washington, said. ... US media reports said that the man was Mohammed al-Modadi, the third secretary and vice-consul of the Qatari embassy in Washington. Ali bin Fahad al-Hajri, Qatar's ambassador to Washington, did not identify the diplomat involved in the incident but denied that he carried out any 'threatening activity'. 'The facts will reveal that this was a mistake, and we urge all concerned parties to avoid reckless judgments or speculation,' a statement said. 'We respect the necessity of special security precautions involving air travel, but this diplomat was traveling to Denver on official embassy business on my instructions, and he was certainly not engaged in any threatening activity.'" Aljazeera.net, 8 April 2010.

Former VOA chief of staff pleads guilty to charge related to Abramoff gifts.

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A former official with the Labor Department has pleaded guilty in a corrupt lobbyist case. Horace Cooper, also a one-time aide to former Republican Rep. Dick Armey when he was majority leader of the House, pleaded guilty to falsifying a document when he did not report receiving gifts from lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Neil Volz in 2003. ... The 44-year-old Cooper faces a maximum sentence of a year in prison, but could receive more time because authorities say he tried to stymie investigators by lying to FBI agents. ... The original indictment against Cooper charged he also used his position in a previous job at Voice of America, as well as the Labor position, to advance the interests of Abramoff and his clients." AP, 7 April 2010.
     "The bungling Justice Department Abramoff lobbying prosecution of an ex-Bushie and conservative pundit ended on a startling note today when federal lawyers agreed to drop its five-count felony indictment in exchange for a guilty plea by Horace Cooper to a simple misdemeanor." Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers, US News & World Report, 7 April 2010. See also Department of Justice press release, 7 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     As of today, Cooper was still posting to his Fight for Glenn Beck blog.

Report: South African community television network will "link up" with VOA.

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The running of Bay TV, the Empangeni [KwaZulu-Natal Province], South Africa-based community television network, will now be in the hands of Committed Artists which is the company owned by the well known composer and producer Mbongeni Ngema ... Ngema said the take-over will see a name-change from ‘Bay TV’ to ‘Zulu TV’ as the new station’s envisaged programme content will aim for an approximate 70/30 split in isiZulu and English respectively. ... 'To ensure a degree of international coverage, we will also be linking up with Voice of America and other networks, and we have approached Multichoice to include Zulu TV as part of its DSTV bouquet options.'" Screen Africa, 7 April 2010.

Thirteenth anniversary of South Korea's Arirang international television.

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Fourteen years have passed since the Korea International Broadcasting Foundation was established on April 10th, 1996. One year after that Arirang TV officially launched domestic broadcast services and began expanding worldwide with the mandate of promoting a better understanding of Korea in the global community. Arirang TV now reaches more than 82 million households in 188 countries and presents a wide range of information through various news, cultural, educational and entertainment programs. ... Since 2008 the broadcaster has provided multilingual services in seven languages English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese and Malay-Indonesian. It has also signed cooperation agreements with 53 broadcasters in 37 countries such as China's CCTV, Vietnam's VTV and Brazil's TV Cultura for joint production and the exchange of programs." Arirang, 7 April 2010. Competes with KBS World TV.

Opposition takes over Kyrgyztan state radio and TV; Russian and Kazakh websites blocked.

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"'We can confirm that the national TV and radio broadcasting corporation was captured by the opposition,' told RT an eyewitness, Bektur Iskender, editor-in-chief of www.kloop.kg. 'Several people already told me that…some human rights organizations and opposition have already started broadcasting live talk-shows on this TV channel and also at the LTR, which is the public broadcasting channel. But all the other channels are reportedly not broadcasting.'" RT (Russia Today), 7 April 2010.
     "The situation in Kyrgyzstan has escalated as clashes between the opposition and the government have become fiercer. There are reports about injuries and arrests. ... Access to the Russian and Kazakh Internet sites has been blocked, and moreover, Moscow Echo radio and the Voice of Russia World Service radio have long been taken off the Kyrgyz air." Voice of Russia, 7 April 2010.
          RFE/RL journalist interviewed by Al Jazeera English about situation in Kyrgyzstan. RFE/RL In the News, RFE/RL, 7 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Will internet popularity in Russia lead to internet restrictions in Russia?

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Nearly one Russian in four now goes online on a daily basis, and almost half of those who do use the Internet to get their news, a challenge to the Kremlin’s control of much of the electronic media and a development that is prompting some of the powers that be to look at the way in which Belarus and Turkmenistan are trying to control the web." Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, 6 April 2010. So, despite using their Homeplug network adapters (see preceding post), Russians may find that the news they are getting from the internet is censored. So they bring out their old shortwave radios to hear uncensored news, but can't hear it because of interference from the Homeplug adapters.

Watch shortwave interference on this video.

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Roar LA4AMA has made available a video of the radio pollution generated by Devolo HomePlug powerline adapters. These devices ruin peoples' enjoyment of radio. The YouTube description reads: This is the radio interference noise from Devolo HomePlug powerline adapters (Highspeed starter kit) as it appears on the 9 MHz shortwave broadcast band. The HomePlug units goes in to standby mode 20 seconds into this video, and then most of the radio interference disappears. These units interfere strongly on HF broadcast bands between 4.5 and 22 MHz." Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 6 April 2010, with link to video. See previous post about same subject.

"Taliban hate ... The Offspring, Metallica and Thin Lizzy," and so they are played very loudly.

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"US special forces have a novel weapon in the fight to expel Taliban from a desolate and war-weary farming community in southern Afghanistan -- heavy metal music. When insurgents open fire in Marjah, an armoured vehicle wired up to powerful speakers blasts out country, heavy metal and rock music so loudly it can be heard up to two kilometres (one mile) away. The playlist has been hand-selected to annoy the Taliban, according to one US special forces officer. 'Taliban hate that music,' said the sergeant involved in covert psychological operations, or 'psy ops', in the area in Helmand province. 'Some locals complain but it's a way to push them to choose. It's motivating Marines as well,' he added after one deafening round of several hours including tracks from The Offspring, Metallica and Thin Lizzy. The officer said they also broadcast messages from the Afghan government, as well as threats to the Taliban -- there are no obscenities, 'but we tell them they're gonna die', he smiled. How effective the method is in sending the Taliban running for cover is difficult to tell, but local children certainly don't like it -- many of them cover their ears from the onslaught of loud bass guitars and drums. Lieutenant Colonel Brian Christmas -- the commander of US Marines in northern Marjah -- said he was unaware of the musical psy ops. 'It's inappropriate," he told AFP, mindful that a major part of the counter-insurgency plan is focused on winning over Afghans from the insurgents. 'I'm going to ask this to stop right now.'" Karim Talbi, AFP, 6 April 2010. A lieutenant colonel in the US Marines will ask this to stop?

Deutsche Welle leaves the Astra (19.2° east) satellite.

Posted: 07 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) has terminated the satellite transmission of its TV channel DW-TV in Europe on Astra (19.2° East) in January for financial reasons. 'We have to use our limited resources in an efficient and effective way. The transmission costs alone amounted to three quarters of a million euros,' DW’s general director Erik Bettermann told German trade newsletter proMedia. 'We’d rather put this money into our programmes, for example into a two-channel strategy for Asia,' Bettermann explained. He added that it has to be taken into consideration that Germany’s public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are also available on Astra. ... Since 1 January, DW-TV has only been available in Europe on Hot Bird (13° East). However, the transponder the channel occupies on the Eutelsat satellite has recently been hit by jamming several times. 'Eutelsat has detected that the jamming comes from Iran,' said Bettermann." Jörn Krieger, Rapid TV News, 6 April 2010.

Voice of Russia association joins world's Russian-language broadcasters in "common effort."

Posted: 06 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Dozens of radio stations on all continents have joined the International Association of Russian-Language Broadcasting. This project was put forward and approved in early November of last year at the International Festival of the Russian-Language Radio Stations that was organized by the Voice of Russia Radio Company. The Association of Russian-Language Broadcasting provides for the exchange of information, audio programmes, video footage, and Internet-content, and also for help in various forms, including legal and financial help. For example, numerous programmes of the Voice of Russia (VOR) are posted on the web-site http//ruvr.ru/Partner/ In brief, it is beneficial and useful for each participant of the International Association to take part. .... This is a very meaningful stage in the cause of consolidation of the Russian world abroad, the political observer of the Voice of Russia Professor Valentin Zorin, the initiator of the establishment of the International Association of Russian-Language Broadcasters, says: 'There're radio stations - big and not very big - in different parts of the world, broadcasting in Russian. And many of them are facing problems today, which is not an easy time to live in. Of course, it is much easier to resolve them by common effort.'" Voice of Russia, 6 April 2010.

Al Jazeera English increases its US penetration one half hour on one community TV station at a time.

Posted: 06 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Al Jazeera English News Bulletin will be available on WilliNet, the [Williamsburg, Massachusetts] community access station. ... The half-hour global news report begins its weekday, 9 p.m. regular schedule on Channel 17 on Monday, April 5. The bulletin's broadcast is being sponsored by Williamstown resident Scott Walker. 'I am pleased to sponsor Al Jazeera,' he said. 'We're a connected world and desperately in need of mutual understanding, and Al Jazeera's reasoned, objective, and from-another-place perspective is vitally important to every citizen.'" iBerkshires.com, 5 April 2010.

CNN International finds a new revenue app-ortunity.

Posted: 06 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"CNN has launched the free 'My South Africa Essentials' iPhone app, created by CNN International Advertising Sales exclusively for South Africa Tourism. The app marks a milestone for CNN business as the first app CNN has created for an advertising client - it's also a decisive step by South African Tourism into the interactive mobile app space. The launch of 'My South Africa Essentials' is the next phase of the award-winning 'My South Africa' brand campaign, which CNN launched two years ago to raise the profile of South Africa to business and leisure travellers in the lead up to 2010 FIFA World Cup. ... The CNN iPhone app is created by CNN International Ad Sales in conjunction with Turner Commercial Productions and Creative Spark Interactive, South Africa." Press release via Media Update, 6 April 2010.

VOA pronunciation guide pronounced useful.

Posted: 06 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"If you want to sound sophisticated and worldly — or just not embarrass yourself — when discussing current affairs, take a look at the VOA Pronunciation Guide. It’s a repository of pronunciation keys and audio files (mp3) for people and places in the news from around the world." Shirl Kennedy, Resource Shelf, 5 April 2010.
     "People with uncommon names don't expect perfect pronunciation the first time they meet someone, but they're probably impressed when they encounter it. Get a jump on your next business meeting or speaking opportunity with HearNames.com... For names appearing in the news, a better resource is the Voice of America pronunciation guide, compiled as a resource for the U.S. federal government's radio channel." Kevin Purdy, Lifehacker, 5 April 2010.

China Radio International celebrates 60 years of Indonesian, Burmese, Thai, and Vietnamese, and launches web portal to 8 ASEAN languages.

Posted: 05 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"China Radio International (CRI), the only state international radio broadcaster, celebrated the 60th anniversary of its broadcasting in Indonesian, Myanmese, Thai and Vietnamese languages on Monday. CRI, which started its broadcasts in the four languages of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April 10, 1950, is now introducing China to the world in these languages through shortwave radio, FM radio, the Internet and print media. Addressing the celebration in Chinese, visiting Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhom said she once listened to CRI's programs in Thai as a teenager and could still pick them up now in Thailand. ... At the ceremony, CRI also launched its China-ASEAN website (http://asean.cri.cn), which is a part of CRI Online, a multi-language website of CRI. The China-ASEAN website, using Cambodian, Filipino, Indonesian, Lao, Malaysian, Myanmese, Thai and Vietnamese languages, covers the stories on exchanges and cooperation between China and the ASEAN countries and provides information for the developments in the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA)." Xinhua, 5 April 2010.

News Corporation sells its Russian radio stations to a Russian.

Posted: 05 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"News Corporation and Vitaly Bogdanov today announced they have reached agreement on the sale of Russian radio stations Nashe Radio Moscow, Best FM, Ultra and Nashe Radio St Petersburg. Under the terms of the agreement, Mr Bogdanov will acquire 100 per cent of the four radio stations. Nashe Radio was launched in 1998 and is the number one commercial station in Moscow for 18-34 year olds." News Corp press release, 2 April 2010.
     "A separate thank you to radio hosts for their work on this black Monday [of the Moscow subway bombings]. They did what television should have done. Right on time, the radio broadcast experts, opinions, and conversations, which are always better than silence and uncertainty. Even if they’re just empty responses to the primary questions: who, how, why? But the analysts, comparisons with analogous terrorist attacks, broadcasting information as it became available, interviews with news people – all of this is absolutely normal journalistic work. The radio flexibly reworked itself during the tragic events. It worked in person, live, broadcasting directly. A few radio stations even cut out their commercials." Natalia Gevorkyan, Gazeta.ru, translated by The Other Russia, 2 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "In an essay posted on the Stoletiye.ru portal yesterday, Oleg Pukhnavtsev, having surveyed Moscow television for the last months, concludes that Russians outside of Moscow get coverage only when a Russian leader from Moscow visits or more rarely when there is some particular disaster or violence." Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, 2 April 2010.

DG defends Al Jazeera, while others criticize Al Jazeera.

Posted: 05 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"As US and NATO forces are preparing to launch a major military offensive in the Afghan city of Kandahar this June, we speak with Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of Al Jazeera. 'Bombing and killing will always increase the anger and frustration against the Americans, and it will always be in favor of the Taliban,' says Khanfar. We also look at the US military’s history of targeting Al Jazeera’s reporters, including Sami al-Hajj, who was held at Guantánamo for over six years without charge." Democracy Now!, 31 March 2010. This is a 30-minute interview, with no hardballs. See previous post for another interview with Wadah Khanfar.
     "While Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and Iran's nuclear program won the spotlight at the Arab League Summit, held in Libya over the weekend, Arab leaders endorsed a low profile -- yet dangerous -- document. Proposed by Syrian President Bashar Assad to presumably 'manage Arab differences,' the first article of the document stipulated that Arab regimes 'should not launch any kind of media campaigns, against each other, for [such campaigns] obstruct the management of differences, efforts aimed at compromise, and reinstatement of normalcy [in bilateral relations].' ... Arab satellite channels, such as Qatari Al-Jazeera that claims to be a champion of human rights and scrutinizes every American behavior to propagandize against it, did not make a big deal out of the Syrian censorship document. To understand why the always-agitated Al-Jazeera remained silent on the Syrian Arab censorship document, one should always remember the Syrian perception of how regimes 'should not launch any kind of media campaigns against each other.' The Syrian understanding of media outlets, whether satellite TVs, radios or newspapers, as regime-owned tools perfectly fits Al-Jazeera, which is owned by Qatar's despot. And since Assad and the Qatari autocrat have been allies for some years, Al-Jazeera found nothing wrong with turning a blind eye toward a Syrian initiative that aims at censoring all Arab media." Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Huffington Post, 1 April 2010.
     "Employees of the Islamic website Islamonline strongly deplore and disapprove the occupational bias on Al Jazeera's coverage of the crisis which erupted between the staff in Cairo and the Qatar-based board in Doha. The channel evidently adopted one side revealing details on the crisis proving the blatant bias of Qatar which supports the Qatari management provoking the crisis." Ikhwanweb, 3 April 2010.

Ethiopian government, VOA, and IFJ trade adjectives in jamming controversy.

Posted: 04 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Ethiopia has charged that recent human rights reports and Voice of America broadcasts are aimed at destabilizing the country ahead of the May 23 national elections. Jamming of VOA broadcasts to Ethiopia has been expanded in recent days. Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal ... defended Ethiopia's decision to jam VOA language service broadcasts, alleging that the Amharic Service has a history of sowing seeds of hatred. 'VOA in the past has repeatedly broadcast programs and statements that tend to incite, foment hatred between different ethnic groups,' he said. 'Recently, it has transmitted a program alleging the government of Ethiopia had staged state sponsored genocide in Gambela.' ... VOA Director Danforth W. Austin issued a statement Thursday calling the jamming 'unfortunate,' and strongly denying that the broadcasts are aimed at destabilizing or defaming the government of Ethiopia." Peter Heinlein, VOA News, 2 April 2010.
          "The head of the International Federation of Journalists, Aidan White, on Friday condemned Ethiopia's restrictions on broadcasts by VOA's Amharic language service. White called the government's jamming 'unprofessional' and 'intolerant.'" VOA News, 2 April 2010. See also IFJ, 1 April 2010.
     "We are all accustomed to hearing political figures, especially from authoritarian countries, make outrageous statements. But I think Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi may have uttered the most outrageous statement of all this past month when he compared Voice of America broadcasts to Ethiopia to the broadcasts of Radio Milles Collines, the infamous 'hate radio' blamed for inciting the Rwandan genocide of 1994." Alex Belida, VOA News Blog, 30 March 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Ethiopian Television now available in Washington via MHz Networks.

Posted: 04 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"MHz Networks, an independent non-commercial television broadcaster based in Falls Church, Virginia has began airing state-operated Ethiopian Television (ETV) in the DC area. ETV replaces Nigerian Television broadcaster NTA on Channel 30.8. ETV programming can be viewed over the air in DC metro area by tuning to channel 30.8, channel 278 on Comcast cable, Channel 477 on Cox cable and Channel 454 on Verizon FIOS." Nazret.com, 3 April 2010. I am seeing ETV in Amharic on 30-8. Interesting commercials. The mhznetworks.org website still lists NTA on that channel. The @mhzworldview Twitter account also has not provided any news about this. (It seems more interested in increasing its number of followers from 800 to 1,000.) On 30-6, "The African World" interview program now displaces SABC International for much of the day.

Iran's internet blocking, satellite jamming, and journalist imprisonment in the news.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"News channel France 24 accused Iran on Friday of blocking its website to users there, the latest in a series of international broadcasters to complain of censorship by the Islamic Republic. 'France 24 learned today from various sources that its website france24.com was no longer accessible from Iranian territory,' the French rolling news station said in a statement, describing the move as 'censorship'. ... France 24, which is publicly funded and broadcasts in French, English and Arabic, linked the latest blockage to its online coverage of the opposition movement. 'This censorship comes as all France 24's editorial teams are following day by day the events surrounding the opposition movement ... particularly with the help of (online) social networks and amateur pictures sent by the Internet.'" AFP, 2 April 2010.
     "Hot Bird 8 may be Europe's largest and most powerful television satellite, but it still has little chance when the Iranian regime decides to block its signals. When that happens, the Farsi services of the BBC and Voice of America instantly disappear from television screens -- and not just in Iran, but also throughout the satellite's entire coverage area. ... Indeed, it would seem that it is often surprisingly easy for the regime in Tehran to suppress information from abroad. Although Hot Bird 8 is in geostationary orbit about 36,000 kilometers (22,400 miles) above the Earth, it can be easy to sabotage, something which is also true for many other satellites. The Iranians only need to transmit a strong signal in the satellite's direction using the same frequency with which programs are transmitted from the original ground transmission station. ... In the meantime, the satellite operator has changed how some of its services are distributed. The channels affected thusfar are now transmitted via other satellites that can broadcast to the entire Gulf region, but without being reachable by uplinks from Iran. Not all the channels on Hot Bird 8 have been affected by the electronic sabotage, however. The state broadcaster Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting also transmits its Press TV foreign service from Hot Bird 8. So far, it has not experienced any problems." Christoph Seidler, ABC News, 1 April 2010.
     "During the 49th session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) which ends today in Vienna, the Executive Secretary of the European Telecommunications Satellite Organization EUTELSAT IGO, Mr. Christian Roisse, urged the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease deliberate repeated jamming which has seriously affected frequencies of the international organisation and reception of a number of radio and TV channels broadcast through satellites operated by Eutelsat S.A. in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa." Eutelsat press release, 1 April 2010.
     "The daughters of Badressadat Mofidi, the prominent Iranian journalist and secretary of the banned Iranian Journalists Association, have published a letter describing the appalling conditions in which their mother is being held in prison in Iran. ... Mofidi was arrested on December 29 after discussing the government’s press policies in an interview with the Persian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. No formal charges have been disclosed against her." Committee to Protect Journalists, 1 April 2010.
     "George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication and the Broadcasting Board of Governors are pleased to present a half-day conference entitled 'Iran's Blogosphere and Grassroots Voices: Risks and Rewards of Engagement' on Monday, April 12 at the Jack Morton Auditorium in downtown Washington, D.C. The conference will examine the powerful effect of the new media and social networks in today's Iran, including in linking young Iranians interested in sharing news and information, in promoting change in their society, and in building bridges to the outside world." GWU IPDGC website.

The shortwave numbers stations continue to fascinate (updated).

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The very qualities that made the short wave bands attractive to propaganda stations – the ability to blanket vast areas of the planet with relatively low power signals and the fact that they could be picked-up using ordinary radios – made them even more enticing to intelligence agencies. Tune in to the right frequency at the right time, then and now, and you will hear (though not for your listening pleasure) the strangest radio broadcasts you are ever likely to encounter: tinny strains of repetitive folk tunes followed by monotone voices, often synthesized, reading out five-digit strings of seemingly random numbers. These are the numbers stations." Jason Walsh, forth (Dublin), 20 March 2010.
     Update: "In 'Clandestine,' filmmakers Marcus Rosentrater and Gideon Carson Kennedy chronicle the use of numbers stations from 1940 to 2009 using publicly available archival footage and audio of the actual code broadcasts. ... 'What got me was the idea of communication that’s both open and completely secret at the same time,' Kennedy said. 'It’s fascinating to me that anyone with a short-wave radio can hear these things and no one is going to know what they actually mean, other than the person sending the message and the person receiving it.'" Michael Dumas, Mobile Press-Register, 1 April 2010.
     Russ Powell, "who had a long career with the CBC in Corner Brook, has become a minister since his retirement but is now back in the broadcasting field with Giant 101.9 FM in Sydney, N.S. He associates his high school days, particularly his father’s short-wave radio giving him advance warning of the British Invasion of pop music, with the start of his lifelong interest in music and radio." Gary Kean, The Western Star (Corner Brook, NL), 22 March 2010.
     "Visiting Belgrade in the late Sixties, I recall keeping company with a group of young Serbian drop-outs, one of whom spent hours every day listening to British shortwave and taping Beatles and Rolling Stone songs." David Solway, FrontPage Magazine, 31 March 2010.

The US international broadcasting college corner.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The final event of Asia Week [at St. Mary's College in Maryland] brings Sarah Jackson-Han, Radio Free Asia director [of communications], to Cole Cinema at the Campus Center at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, to talk about 'Scaling the New Great Wall: International Broadcasting to East Asia’s Closed Societies.' How does Radio Free Asia provide accurate and timely news to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to free press?" Southern Maryland Online, 1 April 2010.
     "Join us for the next Celebrating Self luncheon at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts on Wednesday, April 14, 2010. Rod Nimtz will present '...And All That Jazz' ... . Combining history and playing examples (with some audience participation), Rod Nimtz talks about what it is that defines jazz, what links it to classical music, and what sets it apart. Rod is the Director of [Miami University of Ohio's] Voice of America Learning Center in West Chester, and has been playing piano for Miami events for over 30 years." Jodi Fritsch, Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 April 2010.
     "G. Michael Pratt, associate vice president for academic affairs at Heidelberg University, has been named dean of the regional campuses for Miami University, including Hamilton, Middletown and the Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) in West Chester... ." Press release via Media Newswire, 29 March 2010. VOALC is on the site of the former VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.

Australia's ABC will, and Australia Network might, broadcast documentary about Uighur activist.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"[T]he ABC finally set a screening date for the controversial documentary, The 10 Conditions of Love, on the life of Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer. ... The ABC's planned screening on May 6 of the TV documentary about the Uighur leader, Ms Kadeer, is certain to cause renewed controversy with Beijing, which tried to prevent the Melbourne Film Festival showing the documentary last year. ... It is understood the Australia Network, the international television network broadcast into Asia by the ABC on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has also bought the documentary. Australia Network is believed to be seeking permission to broadcast into China." Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 1 April 2010.

CNN International bumped from Dutch analog cable for reasons only a Dutch cable bureaucrat would understand.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Holland’s largest cable operator Ziggo has removed CNN International from the basic analogue tier in a number of cities including Utrecht. The cabler has replaced the US news channel and its own information channel Ziggo TV with TV5 Monde and TVE Internacional, as ordered by the local Programme Council. ... Last year, Ziggo reduced the number of analogue channels across its entire network to 30 in order to make room for more digital TV capacity to accommodate HD and SD channels, as well as to free up capacity for broadband access. At the same time, the cabler harmonised its basic analogue, offer including the best watched channels. A number of local Programme Councils, however, protested as they want to include international channels such as TV5Monde, RAI Uno, TVE Internacional and ERT World (Greek)." Robert Briel, Broadband TV News, 2 April 2010. CNN International is not an international channel?

Britain's switch to digital radio: implications for shortwave?

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The government intends to switch national and regional radio stations over to digital transmission from FM and AM by 2015. But according to an influential committee of peers, there is 'public confusion and industry uncertainty' over the plans. Between 50m and 100m analogue radios will only be able to pick up community stations after the switchover, while car radios will need converters." Comment is Free open thread, The Guardian, 29 March 2010. How will this affect the small proportion of UK residents who listen to shortwave? The typical shortwave portable also receives analog medium wave and analog FM. Will new shortwave portables also offer DAB? And, maybe, also digital DRM shortwave? Digital-only shortwave receivers would not be able to receive many weak signals that make it through via analog but have no chance with the much less forgiving digital technology. With new IC chips, one would hope that radios of the future would be able to receive digital or analog on all bands.

"BBC World News" (the program, not the channel) back on WNET "after a nasty split."

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Nearly two years after a nasty split, 'BBC World News' and WNET.org have made up. The weeknight newscast will return on Monday to WNET, Channel 13 in New York, where it will air at 5:30 p.m., and to its sister station, WLIW, Channel 21, which will broadcast it at 11 p.m. WNET.org, the parent company of the two public stations, announced in April 2008 that it planned to drop the BBC newscast, which WLIW also distributed to public stations nationwide, in favor of an in-house-produced international news program called 'Worldfocus.' At the time Neal Shapiro, the president and chief executive of WNET.org, criticized the BBC program for not presenting enough context for American viewers. But 'Worldfocus,' which had its debut in October 2008, was unable to find enough financing to keep going, despite strong viewer support." Elizabeth Jensen, New York Times, 1 April 2010. See previous post about Worldfocus.

Peabodys for BBC America.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC America was bestowed with a Peabody for its nightly newscast BBC World News America, which was honored for overall excellence. BBC World News America also won a second Peabody for a report on maternal mortality in Afghanistan, 'Where Giving Life is a Death Sentence,' by BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet." Mike Reynolds, Multichannel News, 31 March 2010.
     “'A nightly newscast like none the United States has ever had, it places our actions and concerns in a global context.'” Peabody Awards judges quoted by Steve Krakauer, Mediaite, 2 April 2010.

BBC.com hires new ANZ ad sales director as part of new national but (here is where I get confused) pan-regional focus.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC.com has appointed Scott Hamilton as its Advertising Sales Director, ANZ. Focusing on the exploitation of the BBC.com brand offering in Australia and NZ, Scott will lead BBC.com's Sydney-based advertising sales team from BBC Worldwide's new headquarters in Macquarie Park, NSW. ... The appointment reflects a shift to a national focus for BBC.com. Current Regional Advertising Sales Director John Williams will move to a pan-regional focus over the next 6 months. He will work primarily to build the Asian sales business on behalf of both BBC.com and the BBC's 24 hour news channel BBC World News. ... BBC.com is the number one international online news provider across Australia and NZ with nearly 2.5 million ANZ unique users. It offers advertising opportunities across three platforms: online, mobile and VOD. Globally, the site reaches more than 50 million unique users and attracts more than 600 different advertising partners." BBC Worldwide press release, 29 March 2010. In one sentence, "shift to a national focus." In the next, "move to a pan-regional focus." Must be some sort of advanced marketing strategy.

IMF town hall discussion in Amman will be broadcast live by BBC Arabic TV.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"On Sunday, April 4, in Amman, Jordan, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will hold a town hall discussion with students from eight universities of the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan. The purpose of the event is to exchange views with the next generation of leaders on ways to address policy challenges facing the economies of the region and its youth. The event will be broadcast live by BBC Arabic TV, Radio and Online from 1506 – 1630 GMT as a special edition of its interactive program, Noqtat Hewar (Talking Point), moderated by Samir Farah and engaging the audience of BBC Arabic." IMF press release, 31 March 2010.

Baloch and Sindhi activists protest in front of BBC World Service headquarters.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Baloch and Sindhi activists here have demanded that Pakistan be declared a 'terrorist state'. A large number of people from the two communities converged in front of the BBC World Service office in London to protest and observe Pakistan's illegal occupation of the 'independent state' of Balochistan on March 27, 1948, a day that has since been declared as 'Black Day'." Asian News International, 29 March 2010. Thus apparently not protesting BBC World Service news coverage, but using Bush House as a venue to achieve international publicity.

Robin Lustig will anchor BBC World Service election-night coverage for fourth time.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC presenter Robin Lustig will "preside over the BBC World Service's election-night coverage for the fourth time. 'It's the one occasion when I think people do tune to the World Service to hear British news. We like to boast that we get a bigger audience than all the Dimblebys put together,' he says." Ian Burrell, The Independent, 29 March 2010. Referring to brothers David and Jonathan Dimbleby, presenters on British domestic television, and perhaps also to their father Richard Dimbleby.

Director of BBC World News departing, "got very close to break even."

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Sian Kevill, the director of BBC’s loss-making World News channel, is to leave the corporation after 24 years. Her post is one of several abolished as part of the restructuring of the BBC’s global news division announced earlier this month by Peter Horrocks, director of global news. Kevill was appointed director of BBC World News in December, 2008. In the role she was responsible for the overall editorial direction of the channel and for driving its commercial success. She decided not to apply for a new role, the BBC said today, and instead seek 'new opportunities outside the BBC'." Oliver Luft, PressGazette, 31 March 2010.
     "Kevill, who is leaving immediately, said BBC World News had 'got very close to break even' for the first time since it launched in 1993. The channel will show a small loss for the last year due to currency exchange fluctuations, but has been boosted by a advertising recovery in the past three months. ... BBC World News was launched as a commercial venture in 1993 after the Conservative government refused funds to allow the World Service, which is funded by a direct public subsidy from the Foreign Office, to launch its own TV channel. The channel has an estimated audience reach of 74 million viewers a week, is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and has recently posted strong audience figures in Asia." Maggie Brown, The Guardian, 31 March 2010.

BBC World Service and mobile provider Zain use "partner" as a verb in nine African countries.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service is partnering mobile network operator Zain, in a collaboration that will provide Zain users with quick and easy access to BBC content via mobile internet. Zain has now added BBC World Service banners to nine of its mobile portals across the continent. Users in Nigeria, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Chad, Congo, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Uganda will be able to click through to BBC World Service news and sports coverage via their mobile handsets, direct from the Zain portal homepage." BBC World Service press release, 31 March 2010.

BBC's experiment with machine translation succeeds "for the most part" (updated).

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"By using a specially created website, users from around the world could post and reply to each other's messages, even if they did not share the same language. The experiment was part of the BBC's SuperPower season, a series of programmes, online reports and events designed to examine the extraordinary power of the internet. ... Could a machine really break down language barriers? For the most part, Yes it could. Soon after the experiment kicked off, many users began to express their delight, and surprise, at being able to converse easily using the technology. 'I believe this can work!' wrote Nathana in Brazil." Dave Lee, BBC World Service, 18 March 2010.
     "Other events included live music and a reading of scenes from William Shakespeare’s play 'Romeo and Juliet' in multiple languages." Julie Millins, Reuters, 19 March 2010.
     Update: "Now the BBC reports on how it did: it received 11,711 messages, from 2,078 locations around the world. English, unsurprisingly, still led as the dominant language, with 5626 messages, followed by 2767 in Spanish and 1781 in Portug[u]ese. Less popular were Arabic (208); Persian (146); Chinese (simplified) (126) and Indonesian: (31). BBC World reporter Dave Lee, says that the event was 'perhaps the toughest scrutiny' of Google’s translation software to date." Judith Townend, journalism.co.uk, 30 March 2010. Actually, this just reports on the BBC item from 18 March cited above. But it's a good excuse to note the interesting distribution of languages. See also the other links. See previous post about same subject.

New study examines output of Foreign Broadcast Information Service and BBC Monitoring.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"'The Scope of FBIS and BBC Open Source Media Coverage, 1979–2008,' by Kalev Leetaru. For nearly 70 years, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) monitored the world’s airwaves and other news outlets, transcribing and translating selected contents into English and in the process creating a multi-million page historical archive of the global news media. Yet, FBIS material has not been widely utilized in the academic content analysis community, perhaps because relatively little is known about the scope of the content that is digitally available to researchers in this field. This article, researched and written by a specialist in the field, contains a brief overview of the service — reestablished as the Open Source Center in 2004 — and a statistical examination of the unclassified FBIS material produced from July 1993 through July 2004 — a period during which FBIS produced and distributed CDs of its selected material. Examined are language preferences, distribution of monitored sources, and topical and geographic emphases. The author examines the output of a similar service provided by the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), known as the Summary of World Broadcasts (SWB)." Paper available as pdf file from The INT for Cross-National Academic Research, Central Intelligence Agency, 29 March 2010. FBIS was, and Open Source Center is, part of the CIA. Excuse my lack of intelligence in this matter, but does INT stand for "intelligence team," or just "intelligence," or something else?

New book about public diplomacy omits discussion of international broadcasting. Good.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, The Future of Public Diplomacy: An Uncertain Fate "is a rather comprehensive review of most of the literature directly or indirectly related to public diplomacy. The author covers all the major ideas that have been presented in print on public diplomacy since 9/11, and some older ones... [I]t is surprising that the author presents such a complete survey in so many respects, but without explanation omits international broadcasting (p.9), which is an important part of public diplomacy. It is true than since the Broadcasting Board of Governors took it over completely in 1999 they have managed it without paying attention to other PD tools, so the coordination that existed under USIA, minimal as it was, got lost completely. Nevertheless it is an important function that should be included in any survey. Reviewed by William A. Rugh, AmericanDiplomacy.org, 29 March 2010.
     Congratulations to Professor Fitzpatrick for omitting international broadcasting from a survey of public diplomacy. And to the BBG for resisting "coordination," because news that is sufficiently credible to attract an audience cannot be coordinated with diplomatic objectives. The choice of language services can be subject to consultation with the administration, but not the content itself.
     I think the fate of public diplomacy is certain: most countries will always engage in some form of it. Less certain is my ability to afford the literature on public diplomacy. This book costs $132.
See also the book listing at the Brill publishing website.

The Nieman Journalism Lab thinks "networked journalism" is something new.

Posted: 03 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Is Al Jazeera English a Jeff Jarvis test case? Back in 2006, Jarvis coined a term called 'networked journalism,' an approach to news that combines the work of both professional journalists and amateurs. ... Here’s an example: On Al Jazeera’s beta site, War on Gaza, users in region can submit events, from protests to incidents of violence, using SMS or Twitter. The site is powered using Ushahidi, a tool designed to crowdsource crisis situations. ... Richard Gizbert, host of one of the channel’s most popular shows The Listening Post and featured in the video above, presented the site, calling the work of the public almost indistinguishable from Al Jazeera itself. 'These guys are producers for us, they don’t even know it and we don’t pay them,' Gizbert said." Laura McGann, Nieman Journalism Lab, 29 March 2010.
     Mr. Gizbert's description is not very flattering to Al Jazeera, is it? And, whatever we may think about the events in that part of the world, "War on Gaza" is not the name a news organization interested in credibility would give to one of its websites. I notice that a few of the "incidents" listed in War on Gaza are rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. The great majority are Israeli actions in, or into, Gaza. The Nieman Journalism Lab, a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, might want to look at this project with more critical and less starry eyes.
     I don't know if they innovated as quickly as AJE, but BBC World News and CNN International are also implementing "networked journalism." And networked journalism is not really new. Jonathan Marks, George Wood, I, and other producers of the DX/media programs on shortwave used listener-submitted news (sent via the miracle of international airmail) decades ago. Also, over the decades, all-news radio stations in the United States asked listeners to call their dedicated news-tip telephone numbers, and would put these people on the air for eyewitness accounts.

Al Jazeera will buy Sarajevo radio and television channel (updated).

Posted: 02 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"International television network Al Jazeera will buy Sarajevo-based broadcaster Studio 99 with a view to establishing a regional center for the Balkans in the Bosnian capital. Al Jazeera will take over the radio and television channel from the Sarajevo city government, which acquired it several months ago under a plan to establish a public broadcaster for the city. ... Studio 99 was established as a private radio station in 1992 and gained recognition for promoting the values of multi ethnicity and multiculturalism during the country’s 1992-95 war. It started television broadcasting in 1994. Over the years it has won support from many international organisations, but after international funding dried up in late 1990s, the channel failed to achieve financial sustainability. It was taken over by the Sarajevo government last year in a move which was widely criticized by Bosnian media, which accused city authorities of wanting to turn the failed broadcaster into their mouthpiece." BalkanInsight.com, 30 March 2010.
     Update: "RFE/RL's Balkan Service has confirmed that talks are under way about the sale of the Sarajevo-based broadcaster to the Al-Jazeera satellite network. City officials involved in those talks say they expect a final agreement to be reached early this month. ... However, the possible sale is complicated by an on-going lawsuit against Adil Kulenovic -- the managing director of Studio 99's parent company, PEP. Al-Jazeera's office in Doha has declined to comment on the lawsuit or the ongoing negotiations. It also would not comment on Sarajevo Mayor Behmen's claim early this week that the acquisition of Studio 99 is part of Al-Jazeera's strategy to establish a regional news center in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Studio 99 was set up in early 1992, just before the start of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, by about a dozen journalists in Sarajevo. A former affiliate of RFE/RL, the station was widely praised during the war for broadcasting content that promoted tolerance and multiculturalism." Dzenana Halimovic, RFE/RL, 2 April 2010. See also RFE/RL, 2 April 2010.

New shortwave broadcast from home for Sri Lankans in Korea.

Posted: 02 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation ceremonially launched a new program to broadcast its services to Korea last Sunday. ... 'We will broadcast our programs to Korea for Sri Lankan expatriates/ Sinhala listeners,' said Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe. This is basically a magazine program which features Sri Lankan songs, Sri Lankan news and currency rates. This program aims at providing entertainment and information to the 75,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers. ... This is a live program done in SLBC premises and is broadcast to Korea via the German Transmitter Station Deutschwelle which belongs to the German Government. According to the agreement the SLBC has with this broadcasting station, (Deutschwelle) will be providing services without charge for one hour. ... By tuning into 15120 shortwave frequency anyone in Sri Lanka and Korea can listen to the program." Ishara Layawardane, Daily News (Colombo), 1 April 2010. Deutsche Welle has a shortwave/medium wave relay facility at Trincomalee. The program for Sri Lankans in (presumably South) Korea will be heard throughout East Asia and beyond, because shortwave transmissions are not surgical in their directionality.

Report: Pakistan regulator tells private radio stations not to rebroadcast foreign news without permission.

Posted: 02 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"On the directive of the federal government, the Pakistan Electronics Regulatory authority (Pemra), has issued a notification to all 130 private radio stations in the country not to air foreign Urdu new service without permission, official sources said yesterday. Chairman of Pemra Malik Mushtaq said the authority has also issued show cause notices to radio stations to immediately halt the foreign bulletins otherwise stern action will be taken against the violators. Non-official sources say that over 30 radio stations are currently airing foreign news bulletins for five minutes after hour via satellite against millions of rupees from their contribution from BBC, Voice of America, etc." Gulf Times (Doha), 1 April 2010. This may affect BBC Urdu more than VOA Urdu (Radio Aap ki Dunyaa), because the latter is on the public, non-private Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation.

New cyberattacks affect "Vietnamese-speaking internet users around the world."

Posted: 02 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Google Inc. accused Vietnam on Wednesday of stifling political dissent with cyberattacks, the latest complaint by the Internet giant against a communist regime following a public dispute with China over online censorship. ... Google apparently stumbled onto a scheme targeting Vietnamese-speaking Internet users around the world while investigating the surveillance of e-mail accounts belonging to Chinese human rights activists, one analyst suggested. The attackers appear to have targeted specific Web sites and duped users into downloading malware programs, said Nart Villeneuve from The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. That may have allowed the infiltration and surveillance of activists, he said." Ben Stocking, AP, 1 April 2010.
     "Michael Sentonas, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee's Asia Pacific Office says his firm discovered the cyber attacks when investigating Google attacks, which occurred several months ago. He has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program the cyber attack is not sophisticated, but appears to be linked either to the Vietnamese government or its supporters." Australia Network News, 1 April 2010.
     "Users running the Vietnamese character software are advised to update their virus definitions to determine if the malware is present on their system." Tom Krazit, CNET News, 31 March 2010.

Google disruption in China, involving the "rfa" initials of Radio Free Asia, was no glitch.

Posted: 02 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Google's temporary search engine outage Tuesday was originally thought to have been the result of an internal glitch, but Google now says it was due to censorship by the Chinese government. The outage affected users in China who attempted to visit Google.com.hk as well as Google.com. Google initially attributed the outage to its usage of the search parameter 'gs_rfai,' the 'rfa' portion of which is linked to Radio Free Asia, which has long been inaccessible in China. Later, Google said that because the 'rfa' parameter was added a week ago, the blockage of search results must have been the result of the so-called 'Great Firewall Of China.' ... Industry analysts believe Beijing would think twice before completely blocking Google from the country for fear of disturbing businesses' access to information, both locally and globally." Yara Souza, ChannelWeb, 31 March 2010.
     "Radio Free Asia President Libby Liu issued the following statement today in response to the news that China’s Great Firewall temporarily blocked all Google searches in China, due to an unintentional association with the long-censored term 'rfa.' ... 'This development is a stark reminder to the world of China’s repressive control of the Internet and free speech for its citizens,' Liu said. 'The sensitivity of China’s Great Firewall to filter any searches with the letters "rfa" shows the extent to which online censors will go to restrict the Internet. It’s time for China to stop exerting draconian control of its cyberspace, and allow accurate and objective information to flow freely within its society.'" RFA press release, 30 March 2010 (pdf).
     "In a further twist, the web giant admitted that its Chinese search traffic has now returned to normal 'even though we have not made any changes at our end'. Google's mobile services in China have been partially blocked for several days, according to the company's service accessibility report." Spencer Dalziel, CRN Australia, 1 April 2010.
     "China generally doesn't tell its people when it is interfering with their Web access, unlike some other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, that give explanatory warning messages when users are denied access to forbidden sites. Instead, China's filtering can look to users like a technical glitch—an error message in a user's browser that makes it seem like his connection to the Internet malfunctioned. Authorities don't discuss the methods or tools they use." Loretta Chao and Jason Dean, Wall Street Journal, 31 March 2010.
     "China’s government allows Internet users to search for controversial topics such as 'Tiananmen Square massacre' and 'Dalai Lama,' while the firewall limits or blocks access to some of the sites that are found by the query. 'From a technical point of view, it’s not that difficult,' Steve Chang, Chairman of Tokyo-based security software company Trend Micro Inc. said in an interview in Taipei yesterday. 'The mystery is in the rules, you never really know exactly what is being blocked.'" Tim Culpan, Bloomberg, 31 March 2010.
     "'The intermittent blocking might be China experimenting with new techniques, or it might be them thinking that the best way to cause Google the most trouble is to cause on-and-off problems that are harder to diagnose.'" Computerworld, 31 March 2010.
     "In a perfect world, you'd see other American businesses with an interest in free speech follow Google's example, including obvious search rivals Yahoo! and Microsoft, but also businesses with a more physical, less virtual presence in the Middle Kingdom such as IBM and Apple. But search competitors seem to take Google's retreat as an opportunity to steal market share, and don't hold your breath if you think that Apple would abandon its Chinese manufacturing base on the eve of the iPad launch. Google's stand is admirably principled, yet blue-eyed and immature. The company really should have seen some fallout coming, and there's no reason to be surprised when the Great Firewall closes Google's Chinese searches down for good. When, not if." Anders Bylund, The Motley Fool, 31 March 2010.
     "There is an irony here, which is that Google says it wants to keep on doing business in China whilst refusing to censor its web service – kind of having their cake and eating it, as it were. ... I get the feeling that Google is in serious danger of being out-flanked by the Chinese government who are playing a long and increasingly canny game in this dispute." Peter Foster, The Telegraph, 31 March 2010.
     "The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said on Friday it had shut its website after a burst of hacker attacks, days after attacks on the Yahoo email accounts of some foreign journalists covering China were discovered." Reuters, 2 April 2010. See previous post about same subject.

China Radio International executive, charged with taking bribes, sentenced to 10 years.

Posted: 02 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"An official in charge of the technology center of China Radio International (CRI) was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday for accepting bribes using his job. The official surnamed Gao took advantage of his job of seeing to company procurements for CRI and had a part in the device purchase of a private technology company. Gao conspired with another CRI official surnamed Li and received bribes from the company of 150,000 yuan from 2006 to 2007. Gao took 75,000 yuan." Guan Xiaomeng, China Daily, 30 March 2010.

South African province's annual payment of $3 million to CNBC Africa creates, unsurprisingly, controversy.

Posted: 02 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"It has emerged in the last week that CNBC Africa, the business channel launched in June 2007 as a local offshoot of the respected CNBC brand – whose owner is the giant US network NBC Universal, one-time home of such journalistic luminaries as Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw – has been receiving US$3-million a year from the Gauteng [province of South Africa] government. ... Why ... were the CNBC payments made? 'That’s a very good question. Nobody has given me an answer to it. It doesn’t make sense, there’s no reason. It certainly doesn’t build an independent film industry.' ... Then there’s the question of CNBC Africa itself. A cloud now hangs over the editorial integrity of the broadcaster, whether it admits to it or not. ... [T]he key interview on CNBC Africa’s launch night in June 2007 was with President Thabo Mbeki. Those were tough months for the former president, his Machiavellian war with Jacob Zuma was approaching the final battle, and he wasn’t saying much to the press – and yet his minions were so pleased with the CNBC Africa appearance that a transcript was posted to the official website of the presidency." Kevin Bloom, The Daily Maverick (Johannesburg), 31 March 2010. Refers to statement of the South African Screen Federation, 27 March 2010.
     "MD of Avusa local business channel Summit, Vernon Matzopoulos, yesterday called for a probe into Gauteng’s 3m annual contract with international business channel CNBC Africa, saying it was 'scandalous that taxpayers have been funding a commercial TV venture'. Avusa is a part-owner of Business Day publisher BDFM." Chantelle Benjamin, Business Day (Johannesburg), 1 April 2010.
     "The Gauteng Economic Development Department said on Wednesday it could not say whether a contract to give business TV channel CNBC R20m a year was illegal. It does say however that it received a legal opinion that the contract was not consistent with the Public Finance Management Act. The province confirmed earlier this week it had stopped the funding three years after making its first payment. CNBC Africa said it would not comment on the issue at this stage." Stephen Grootes, Eyewitness News (Johennesburg), 1 April 2010.
     "In the [Gauteng Film Commission's] 2009 annual report, the following explanation is provided: 'Since the establishment of the studios of CNBC Africa in Johannesburg, a number of benefits have accrued to the Province as a result of the agreement, notably foreign direct investment in the media and broadcast industry, the creation of more than 130 jobs as well as a content partnership which has resulted in significant global exposure given to the Province and the work of the provincial government. In signing the agreement the GFC has provided a guarantee to CNBC Africa, which ensures a minimum annual advertising income in support of the establishment of its studios.' It reads a bit like an agreement between the state and a public broadcaster, which CNBC Africa isn’t." Kevin Bloom, The Daily Maverick, 31 March 2010.
     "Head of the Media and Motion Picture unit of the [Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa] Basil Ford, a big investor in CNBCA, says he isn't aware of any requests for funding from CNBCA. He believes that the channel is sustainable even without the $3m per annum. He explains that if the IDC received a request, they would have to look at it. So for now it looks like CNBCA is still on the air." Chris Blaine, Moneyweb, 30 March 2010.
     "'This was a five-year contract and it guaranteed CNBC Africa revenue of $3m a year in the event that both the GFC and CNBC Africa are unable to attract sufficient advertising revenue agreed upon by the two parties,' said [Gauteng economic development spokesman Mandla] Radebe. He said no amount was paid to CNBC Africa for the cancellation." Sibongakonke Shoba, Business Day, 30 March 2010.

Al Jazeera DG says AJE is "voice for the voiceless."

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al-Jazeera, interviewed on NPR On the Media: "Al-Jazeera English has a philosophy of reporting the voice for the voiceless. Al-Jazeera has the most diverse newsroom in the world; we have 50 nationalities from all backgrounds, religions and races. We are trying to create a great model, whereby the Asians are reporting about Asia, through a broadcasting center in Kuala Lumpur. Europe, we have broadcasting center in London. In Washington, we have a broadcasting center with at least 200 people working in it. So we are a TV station that is truly global, and at the same time trying to enable journalists, regardless of their origin and culture and religion and backgrounds, to practice journalism, based on the principles that the forefathers of this profession created decades ago." Interviewed by Sumner Gladstone, NPR On the Media, 26 March 2010.

New CNN International anchor will continue on Al Arabiya for two months.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"CNN International today announces Rima Maktabi as the new host of its popular ‘Inside the Middle East’ program and a key addition to CNN’s roster of anchor/correspondents covering the Middle East. The appointment of Lebanon-born Maktabi, one of the Middle East's most dynamic and well known prime time presenting talents, signals CNN's deepening commitment to the region and continued investment in its Abu Dhabi production hub. The hiring of Maktabi – a prime time news anchor on Arabic news channel Al Arabiya who brings with her a wealth of experience in the region – follows the recent launch of CNN Abu Dhabi, the debut of the nightly primetime show ‘Prism’, and the decision to fully localise the production staffs of the high profile 'Inside the Middle East' and ’CNN Marketplace Middle East' shows. ... In a unique collaboration with Al Arabiya – for a two month period Maktabi will continue to present her Arabic prime time news show while filming throughout the region for CNN's 'Inside the Middle East'." Inside the Middle East, CNN, 31 March 2010.

Disney Channel granted Russian cable license.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Disney Channel moved closer to a launch Wednesday in Russia when the official federal agency for telecommunications granted the company a five-year cable TV license. Tailored to local family auds net is due to bow later this year, Disney Russia said. ... Disney tried to launch Disney Channel Russia as a terrestrial TV web last year in association with local company Media One Holdings. But the application was rejected by Russian authorities." Nick Holdsworth, Variety, 31 March 2010.

Mobile phones: excellent new medium of international broadcasting -- until your audience burns down the cell towers.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"When asked what inspired him to make 'Full Signal', [Palestinian/American documentarian Talal] Jabari responds, 'my daughter.' He had heard about the dangers of cell phones, and when a cell tower went up on his neighbor's roof, he became more informed and more concerned. 'The day my wife and I went to the hospital [to have our daughter], there was some sort of incident in a Arab town where they had burned down cell towers... perhaps that stuck with me... until I decided to make the film.'" Sarah Harlan, Palestine Note, 26 March 2010.

Against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, text messages to "articulate the U.S. message."

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The State Department ... hopes to take advantage of the growth of new media technologies, such as social networking and cell phones within Pakistan, funding a new mobile messaging system. It paid for the first 24 million messages last year, but ... more than 120 million texts were sent and about 8,000 new people are signing up daily. Although officials dislike the term 'propaganda,' another major component of the U.S. plan involves more efforts to articulate the U.S. message and correct misperceptions and lies about America. That means ensuring more information is accessible to the local audience. While the United States for the most part has relied on the international media to explain the U.S. side of the story, there is a new focus on taking the case directly to local journalists and getting press releases out in local languages." Elise Labott, Afghanistan Crossroads, CNN, 26 March 2010.

Pan-Arab broadcasters losing audience to national sports and movie channels?

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Pan-Arab channels seem to have given up their place as the most viewed TV channels to national (local) channels. In parallel, news channels seem to have lost their former glamor, unable to compete against the ever-increasing number of sports and movie channels. Channels such as Qatar’s Al Jazeera and Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya no longer influence Arab audiences in the way they did until two years ago." Mourad Haroutunian, Arab Media & Society, Spring 2010.
     "(Un)Civil War of Words [2007 book by Mamoun Fandy] attempts to locate the Arab media, particularly the Arabic-language satellite news stations Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, within the region’s broader political, social, and historical context. ... The final two chapters turn to how the United States can best use Arab media to promote its own interests and how Arab media reform might affect reforming Arab society in general, focusing on the American-sponsored Al-Hurra network and its failed (in his estimation) attempt to provide a pro-American counterweight to Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya." Reviewed by Aaron Wenner, Arab Media & Society, Spring 2010.
     "In the Arab region, there are 470 channels peddling fortune-tellers, alternative medicines, Jihadi ideas, titillating bodies, stock-market schemes, and more mainstream news and entertainment'. Yet as Marwan Kraidy and Joe Khalil, US-based academics, point out, English-language coverage of Arab TV is largely fixated on just the one: Al Jazeera. Their book, Arab Television Industries, aims to both broaden and deepen this view by examining the wide range of broadcasts now available to more than 260 million Arab viewers with the means to turn on and tune in." Reviewed by Shereen El Feki, Arab Media & Society, Spring 2010.
     "CNBC has launched a television station in Arabic, CNBC Arabiya, wholly devoted to financial reporting. ... CNN launched a program called Marketplace Middle East, focusing solely on the economies of the region. The Middle East had ceased to become a region that only produces news about wars and conflicts. This time, however, Arab media organizations didn't stand idly by. Al Arabiya, the Dubai-based television owned by Saudi Arabia's MBC Group, launched a daily program called 'The Arab Markets' in 2005, just two years after it went on air. For the program, the station recruited a group of anchorwomen, most of them with MBAs and experience in international banks." Alaa Shahine, Arab Media & Society, Spring 2010.
     "Despite the spectacular success of Arabic musalsalat (soap operas), Arab audiences have always shown great interest in foreign productions. Within this context Turkish soap operas, Noor being the most significant case, have generated a media revolution." Alexandra Buccianti, Arab Media & Society, Spring 2010.
     "[I]t’s no surprise that secular terrestrial and satellite channels in the region, from Dream TV to Future TV, are producing and airing ever more Islamic programs, with viewership figures and subsequent advertiser interest peaking during Ramadan. ... The inspiration for religious programming on mainstream channels can be traced back to the popularity of Islamic channels in the region. The region’s first Islamic satellite channel, Iqra, was launched in 1998 by Jeddah-based Arabic Television and Radio (ART). Although its programs are in Arabic, English subtitles on a show like that of the immensely popular preacher Amr Khaled expanded its reach to non-Arab viewers." Farrukh Naeem, Kippreport, 31 March 2010.

"Fine quality" newscast yields sixth place for Alhurra in Iraqi journalist's poll.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"A poll led by the Iraqi journalist Alaa Makki last week and the results of which were published today on the personal page of the journalist on the social network website Facebook, showed that Alsumaria private TV channel is ahead of the other TV channels because of its impartiality. Al Iraqia which is affiliated to Media Commission of Iraq came second because of the official news it broadcasts since it is close from decision makers. While Al Baghdadia came third and it was chosen for its courage in exposing the complaints of the viewers and for its social programs. Al Sharqia Channel came fourth for its professionalism, Al Faiha’ came fifth for answering viewers’ requests swiftly, while Al Hurra TV channel, financed by the US government, came sixth for the fine quality of its news bulletin. However, the votes for Al Arabia and Al Jazira were canceled because the poll was only about the Iraqi Channels." Al Bayyina via Alsumaria (Baghdad), 25 March 2010. No specifics on methodology, other than "532 people participated in this poll."
     "Al-Iraqiya is currently the most watched station of all domestic and foreign news networks in Iraq. This is partially attributable to the improvement in its reputation, but it largely stems from accessibility. Iraqis do not need a satellite receiver to view Al-Iraqiya, as they do with many local and foreign television stations. ... The Baathist government banned satellite dishes, so initially Al-Iraqiya did not have to compete with the region’s established satellite news networks, such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. But ever since the ban was lifted in 2003, satellite dishes have been spreading rapidly into Iraqi homes and in the near future Al-Iraqiya’s competitors could be equally accessible." David A. Rousu, Arab Media & Society, Spring 2010.

Botswanian diplomat discusses VOA relay, but what does she mean?

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"On the issue of pirate radio stations beaming hate messages into Zimbabwe from Botswana, Ambassador [of Botswana to Zimbabwe Gladys] Kokorwe said: 'If we work on our relationship, these things will stop. If we work on the political situation and things normalise, these things will fall away.' Voice of America’s Studio 7 has vowed to continue the illegal broadcasts into Zimbabwe. When she presented her credentials to President Mugabe in December last year, Ambassador Kokorwe pledged to probe the operations of the pirate radio stations that were using Botswana to relay messages into the country." Tongai Mudiwa, ZimDaily, 25 March 2010. See previous mention of Ambassador Kokorwe. Of the broadcasters that Zimbabwe considers "pirate" stations, only VOA Studio 7 uses a relay in Botswana. She might mean that when the situation normalizes in Zimbabwe, the "pirate" stations (SW Radio Africa and Voice of the People are the others) will lose their raison d'etre.

VOA Special English has a cameo in film satire about North Korea.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Experimental filmmaker Jim Finn's "'The Juche Idea' centers on Yoon (played by Jung Yoon Lee), a South Korean artist who has been invited to — or perhaps detained at — a North Korean artists’ residence. When not performing her farm duties, she makes 'insect-based bio-art' (including what the credits term a 'Kim Jong-il flyface sculpture') and strives to find the politically correct pitch for video pieces like 'The Dentures of Imperialism.' Yoon’s videos — the result of Mr. Finn simultaneously adhering to and parodying juche thought — combine annotated clips from actual North Korean propaganda with what he described as the American equivalent: Voice of America 'slow English' broadcasts valorizing Ronald Reagan." Dennis Lim, New York Times, 26 March 2010. Using this? VOA Special English, 28 July 2007.
     "The information cordon that once encircled North Korea is in tatters. Police in the northern provinces try in vain to crack down on the use of Chinese cellphones; citizens circumvent tracking devices by making brief calls from mountains and forests—sometimes to defectors as far away as the U.S. In provinces along the demilitarized zone, many citizens watch South Korean television. Even in Pyongyang, people listen to BBC or Voice of America radio, or view online news surreptitiously at companies with Internet access." B.R. Myers, Wall Street Journal, 26 March 2010.

Up to two-hour delay in Russian television reports on the Moscow subway bombings.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The news of the subway suicide bombings in Moscow on Monday — Russia's worst terrorist attack in five years — led news broadcasts around the world almost immediately after the event unfolded. But in Russia, viewers who tuned in to the country's three main television networks that morning had little reason to suspect anything was amiss — they were watching shows about cooking and makeovers. The networks, all of which are controlled by the government or state-owned companies, stayed with their regularly scheduled programming as the tragedy unfolded, waiting for up to two hours to provide their first substantive reports on the attacks, which killed at least 39 people. Bloggers and political commentators say the slow response of the networks — Channel One, Rossia 1 and NTV — is indicative of the state of television journalism in Russia today: the major broadcasters have been so cowed by the Kremlin over the past decade, they're incapable of effectively covering events of vital national importance." Carl Schreck, Time, 31 March 2010.
     "Seeking information, people turned in droves to the radio and the Internet, which are largely uncensored." Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, 30 March 2010. Many people tune to international broadcasting when rumors of local crises develop, but local media fail to report the events. A similar situation occurred after the Crenobyl disaster, which led to Galsnost and perhaps even to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After the recent Moscow subway bombings, did Muscovites dust off their old shortwave radios, or seek international media via the internet, or seek domestic Russian social media?
     "Yulia Shapovalova, a presenter for the Russia Today TV station, was at one of the Moscow Metro stations at the time of the explosion. She describes what happened." BBC News, 30 March 2010. Video: Gather, 29 March 2010.
     "The attackers, believed to be Chechen female suicide bombers, struck first at Lubyanka station, located beside FSB headquarters in Moscow, and 45 minutes later at Park Kultury, which is just across the street from a huge complex that houses the Kremlin's news agency RIA-Novosti and the studios of the state-run English-language Russia Today satellite TV network." Fred Weir, Christian Science Monitor, 1 April 2010.
     "'Voice of Russia' listeners throughout the globe have condemned the terrorist acts on the Moscow metro and express solidarity with the people of Russia." Voice of Russia, 31 March 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Russia will expedite Digital Radio Mondiale, already used by Voice of Russia.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Russian government has approved the expediency of introducing the European digital radio system, DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale], in Russia and will draw up national standards for it within two years. The Voice of Russia has been broadcasting to Europe in the DRM format since April 2003. The DRM is used by the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio France International." Voice of Russia, 1 April 2010. Via Alokesh Gupta, RadioActivity, 1 April 2010. Does this include the DRM+ system on the FM band?
     "The Voice of Russia is a pioneer of digital broadcasting in Russia. After a series of successful experiments within the DRM standard, the company has been broadcasting in the digital format daily since 2003, says Rashel Stavisskaya, VoR consultant: 'Today, VoR features are broadcasted in the digital standard to Europe in Russian, English, German and French. We are also broadcasting to China and India. The new technology opens new horizons. Digital radio has near-CD sound. The VoR plans to broadcast to Arab countries and Latin America'. Radio experts believe DRM to be the future of broadcasting. Its main advantage is a high quality of sound, the same as mp-3 players have. Thus, the VoR features in more than 30 languages can be listened to in a high quality sound anywhere in the world soon. The DRM system is also ideal for transmitting signals not only abroad but also within countries which have a large territory. Thus, it was a natural choice for Russia." Voice of Russia, 1 April 2010. Whether DRM shortwave is the "same as mp3," or as good as a good analog signal, is in the ear of the beholder.

Indian commentator has migrated from conventional to online radio.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"One day—I do not recall which year—I stopped listening to radio on [my Sony world band radio]. I do not remember if it happened suddenly or over a period, but I know the reason: I had discovered online radio. There were hundreds of stations to choose from. Now I listen to BBC Radio 5 and World Service, and to All Things Considered and All Songs Considered on the National Public Radio (NPR). ... In Delhi, I don’t know anyone who listens to radio except in cars. Perhaps listening to radio at home is no longer cool. A couple of years ago, while holidaying in a friend’s house in the hills of Dehradun, I heard the sound of BBC news floating in from the garden. There was a crackle in the audio and I knew it had to be a radio. I walked towards the sound and saw a man, a foreigner, on a bench with an old-fashioned radio—the kind I once had—by his side. It was [former chief of the BBC New Delhi bureau] Mark Tully. That was the last time I saw someone using a radio set." Shekhar Bhatia, livemint.com, 30 March 2010. Refers to this 2010 report on US radio listening by the Pew Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Voice of Russia's unbranded infotainment on Indian FM stations.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Veteran radio broadcaster Voice of Russia has entered into the Indian commercial FM space through a partnership with national player- HT Media’s Fever 104 FM and Siliguri based Radio High 92.7 FM. These two FM channels are currently broadcasting a daily two hour infotainment program titled 'With love from Russia' between 0000-0200 hours IST without mentioning 'Voice of Russia.' Industry sources say the Voice of Russia has inked a partnership deal, wherein the stations stand to earn around Rs one million per frequency per month for airing the two hour content. Fever 104 FM national marketing head Neeraj Chaturvedi says, 'It is part of Russia’s initiative to promote tourism across the globe. ... Voice of Russia has been broadcasting from AM and MW mode but is now looking at FM radio. As youngsters have moved away from AM and MW to FM, it makes sense to move to a contemporary medium to reach out to this target segment.'" Anita Iyer, Radioandmusic.com, 31 March 2010. News is not allowed on non-AIR Indian FM stations, so BBC World Service and now Voice of Russia settle for "infortainment" when placing content on these stations. Voice of Russia is the post-Soviet successor to Radio Moscow.

International channels to Taiwan on Portico bouquet via Chunghwa MOD.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"Seven U.S. and European channels will become part of a TV service offered by Taiwan's largest telecom company on April 8, a local distributor said yesterday. Portico Media's WOWtv will offer CNBC, Sci Fi, Hallmark, Universal, KidsCo, Euronews and DW-TV Asia+ on Chunghwa Telecom Co.'s MOD (multimedia on demand) service. Chunghwa Telecom launched MOD service in 2004, and it currently has more than 700,000 subscribers. ... Portico Media said it plans to launch more channels soon." The China Post (Taipei), 27 March 2010. See also the snazzy www.portico.com website.

Deutsche Welle plans call for further reductions in shortwave.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Kai Ludwig informs us that Deutsche Welle has released its latest planning and evaluation documents at the DW website, 29 March 2010 (with links to pdf documents). They are in German, but Kai provides this summary in English.
     "Deutsche Welle has signed three new partners in Asia. TMnet in Malaysia, the WOWtv bouquet in Taiwan and Indovision in Indonesia will all distribute DW-TV Asia+. This is Deutsche Welle’s dedicated feed for the region with 18 hours of English programming per day, offering a mix of European lifestyle, culture and the arts as well as in-depth reports from business and politics." Robert Briel, Broadband TV News, 29 March 2010.
     "'The Media Situation in Russia: Between State Control and Commercialization' is the topic of the first Deutsche Welle Media Dialogue on 21 April 2010. The focus of this specialist media seminar is on economic and legal aspects of the media situation in Russia and their effects on the Russian media market." DW press release, 26 March 2010.

US public television newscast Worldfocus will end; DW Journal steps in.

Posted: 01 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"WNET announced this month that Worldfocus will end April 2. 'We were unable to cover the costs,' says Stephen Segaller, the station’s national production chief. 'It launched one week after the collapse of Lehman Brothers into an impossible financial environment.' The station sent the newscast out 17 months ago to do battle with a U.S.-tailored product of the BBC World Service. (Germany’s equivalent of the BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, will step in April 5 with a competing nightly Journal that also succeeds Worldfocus on the PBS World channel.)" Steve Behrens, Current.org, 22 March 2010.
     Re Deutsche Welle Journal: "The half-hour newscast is also available without charge to public TV stations at 4 p.m., live from Berlin, and is carried in about 40 markets, says Greg Fitzgerald, DW programming coordinator for the United States. In some cities, it's carried by the largest pubTV station in the market, such as San Francisco's KQED and Philadephia's WHYY, but in many it's on a less-watched station. The German service, like other overseas broadcasters, was already contributing English-language reports to the financially squeezed Worldfocus, especially in recent months." Current.org, 24 March 2010. Thanks to Joe Durso for these news tips.