Future of Australian international broadcasting is in an ABC-SBS merger, he writes.

Posted: 31 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Crikey, 30 Dec 2010, Richard Laidlaw, first published by The Bali Times: "Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s decision to put Australia Network up for tender next year, when the ABC’s current five-year contract ends, is neither here nor there. Current funding limits Australia Network to grace-and-favour programming, to endless repeats of serial entertainment and drama shows, and to piggy-back screening of major sport. It stands out in news and current affairs, where it can – as it should – put a regional perspective into Australian and world events. Australia Network is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but operates independent of that official source. It is not a propaganda machine, even if from time to time it seems a little too cosy. That’s often a misreading of the situation: regionally there are issues that deserve far greater exposure than an Australian audience would care to bother with. ... A better way forward, therefore, would be a wholesale review and reallocation of public broadcasting resources in Australia. Within a revised framework that drew the ABC and SBS together – something already long overdue in any case – there would be plenty of scope for a real international presence. Radio Australia, while it is occasionally amateur, again a function of under-resourcing, has a long and proud history of international broadcasting. SBS, originally set up to cater for non-English speaking migrants to Australia, now frequently outguns the ABC in terms of programming clout in the very area of deepest interest to Australia Network and its viewers outside Australia." See previous post about same subject.

Celebrate the new year 30 or so times via international internet radio (updated with New Zealand audio).

Posted: 31 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
New Year's Eve Live, a blog by Lou Josephs, "is the new website for the around the world via radio, it will take you to the best stations around the world on new years eve, starting in the south pacific and ending in the same place. Radio station always do live or special programs on holidays and new years eve shows are among the best. The idea started with Kim Andrew Elliott who began using shortwave radio broadcasts. In 1997 I added internet streaming to the mix. This will be the first new site up date in a few years." -- I did new year's specials on my VOA program Communications World, 1995 to 2002, at first relaying on shortwave, gradually moving to internet audio streams. Earliest is Radio New Zealand, UTC+13, 6:00 am EST.

Update: Listen to Radio New Zealand bring in the new year at 1100 UTC (midnight in NZ). Also, Lou's blog has been updated. And mentioned by Providence Journal, Projo Subterranean Homepage News, 30 Dec 2010, Sheila Lennon.

Also worth a listen is Radio Slovakia International. Its last day on shortwave is 31 December, via Slovakia-based transmitters. After last-minute deal, RSI will remain on shortwave via WRMI Miami, per Radio Netherlands Media Network, 30 Dec 2010). RSI also continues "via satellite at www.wrn.org and via internet at www.rsi.sk" and its "website gets a fresh new design."

Elimination of ERA TV from Taiwan cable provides opening for NHK World.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Taipei Times, 30 Dec 2010, Shelley Shan: "ERA TV’s variety channel will be officially pulled from [Taiwan's] cable TV system by midnight tonight, the National Communications Commission said yesterday. ... [T]he commission presented video clips from ERA’s variety channel as evidence of the channel’s repeated failure to distinguish between regular programs and advertisements, one of the reasons stated by the commission for revoking the licence. ... For those with the digital TV cable service, the channel previously occupied by ERA’s variety channel will now be filled by NHK World."

Google sites harder to access in China. New domestic search engine the reason?

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 29 Dec 2010, Ding Xiao and Bi Zimo: "Chinese netizens said they experienced problems with accessing Internet sites linked to the Google domain name. A number of reports were circulating on blogs, forums and microblogging services that users were unable to access Google Maps in Chinese or English. Indeed, any Web addresses containing the Google domain name appeared inaccessible, according to a netizen identified as 'Jason'. ... Others suggested a link between the blocks and the debut of China's homegrown search engine, Goso.cn, launched this week by the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist Party. ... Goso, the first Chinese search engine backed by a state media organization, was launched in order to boost 'China's say on the Internet' and aims to become 'the most influential search engine platform' in the country, according to its website. Baidu had 73 percent of the China search market in the third quarter, while Google's share dwindled to 21.6 percent, data by research firm Analysys International showed."

In Shanghai, foreigners face tenfold increase in satellite TV fees.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Shanghai Daily, 28 Dec 2010, Yang Jian: "Foreign residents in a Shanghai community were shocked to find their satellite TV fee has increased almost tenfold for next year. Householders in Yanlord Town in the Pudong New Area were informed the subscription fee for 2011 is more than 15,000 yuan (US$2,262), compared to the previous year's 1,800 yuan figure. By paying the money to the state-owned China International Television Corp, the sole legal satellite TV operator in China, they can watch eight additional international channels, including the BBC, Discovery and HBO."

Shanghai Daily, 29 Dec 2010, Yang Jian: "Shanghai has cracked down on three illegal satellite TV companies that sent signals via broadband to clients' homes. This appears to be a new way of providing illegal satellite services in Shanghai, a senior official of the city's radio, film and television watchdog said yesterday. The companies linked servers to satellite receivers and provided the service via the Internet to more than 10,000 families across China, said Zhang Wei, an official with the Shanghai Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV. Their clients only needed broadband access, rather than having to install satellite dishes outside apartments, which are easier for law enforcement officers to detect, he said. ... In China, only certain groups can apply to use foreign satellite TV services. These include education, scientific research, journalism and finance institutions that need to watch foreign TV; hotels receiving foreigners; and the communities with many foreign residents. ... Yet despite the fact that illegal users can be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$4,528), the black market in Shanghai is rampant. An insider told Oriental Morning Post that the city has more than 300,000 illegal satellite dishes."

China Radio International trying to "buy frequencies" on India's FM band.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Times of India, 29 Dec 2010, Saibal Dasgupta: "The state-run China Radio International is trying to buy frequencies to launch services in India in a move to widen its influence in the country. It currently broadcasts in four Indian languages - Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Tamil - from Beijing. Seen to be building a web of influence across the neighbourhood, Beijing runs AM and FM stations in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and seven other countries. It has also been building ports across the region and boosting connectivity. 'We've been trying to buy frequencies in India and are talking to some Indian companies who would like to work with us,' CRI's deputy editor-in-chief Weigong Ma told TOI. ... He said FM stations are crucial in expanding listenership in the changing media scenario." -- Perhaps someone finally explained to Weigong Ma that foreigners cannot (so far) "buy frequencies" in India. It might be possible to buy time on private Indian FM stations. Indian FM stations, however, are not allowed to broadcast news, either their own or from international broadcasters.

Hindustan Times, 29 Dec 2010, editorial: "For those looking to catch 40 winks, let us hope that the Chinese provide us with a selection of their famous atonal, somnolent music, guaranteed to put the most chronic insomniac to sleep. Or perhaps, we could educate ourselves on contemporary Chinese history and learn how Chairman Mao was able to inculcate a heartwarming interest in agriculture among the elite in one fell swoop, so much so that they rushed out of their city homes and into the rural hinterland."

China Tibet Online English version is relaunched, will "tell the central government's side of the story."

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 29 Dec 2010, Tom McGregor: "The China Tibet Online team held a press conference on Tuesday at the Makye Ame restaurant (Tibetan-style restaurant) in Beijing to announce the official re-launch of its new English-version website. The event was held with much fanfare as over 30 members of the media could be observed in attendance, including CCTV, Xinhua News Agency, China Daily and China Radio International (CRI). ... Nevertheless, the entire staff at China Tibet Online acknowledges that in order to re-launch its website and work towards conveying a more positive image of the central government's role in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the website must address the tough issues and answer the tough questions that Westerners may have about Tibet. Accordingly, the website launched new 'opinion' and 'editorial' pages to 'tell the central government's side of the story,' as remarked by Liu Yanling when she spoke to CRI two weeks prior to the press conference. In an added twist, the website opened a 'Drolma Online' in which readers can submit questions about Tibet, whether they are positive or negative." -- The URL given in the story, www.eng.tibet.cn, does not work, but eng.tibet.cn (without the www) does. The home page in Chinese is www.tibet.cn. The old site is chinatibet.people.com.cn, with stories still updated as of today. There is also Tibet Online, www.tibet.org, with a rather different perspective. See also China Tibet Online, 29 Dec 2010.

RFE/RL now providing "Belarus Crackdown" web section.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Belarus Crackdown is a special new page of the RFE/RL website. "After a disputed presidential election on December 19 in Belarus, hundreds of protesters still remain in jail. Candidates who ran against the incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka could be jailed for up to 15 years. This page brings you some of the best ongoing reporting on the postelection crisis from RFE/RL's Belarus Service."

With classical music tacet, more BBC World Service on WRKF Baton Rouge (updated).

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Advocate, 17 Dec 2010, Steve Ward: "Beginning Jan 3, WRKF-FM (89.3), Baton Rouge’s National Public Radio affiliate, no longer will play classical music, switching to news and talk programs 24 hours a day. ... BBC World Service will be broadcast weekdays at 9 p.m., and continue through the night, according to [a WRKF press] release. BBC World Service is described in the release as 'the globe’s most comprehensive source for news for 80 years.'" --Classical music will move to the WRKF HD-2 channel, using syndicated Classical 24, per this WRKF announcement.

Update: The Advocate, 30 Dec 2010, editorial: "We’ll miss hearing composers such as Mozart and Beethoven when the new format debuts on Monday, but WRKF’s inclusion of the BBC World service in its new format is a promising consolation prize. The BBC, Britain’s premier broadcast service, has a long tradition of providing news from around the world. At a time when America is fighting a war against terrorism overseas, China is on the rise and North Korea is shaking its fist, coverage of world affairs must continue to be a priority."

France ups ante on Arte.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 29 Dec 2010, citing Wall Street Journal: "The European TV channel Arte will be getting even more French government money next year, which has caused controversy. Created by the French and German governments two decades ago, Arte is funded by both countries and airs simultaneously in French and German. In France, the channel’s audience is falling, leading some to ask whether the Franco-German taxpayers should continue paying €400 million ($524.7 million)."

Journalists' Union and other Tunisian groups criticize Al Jazeera.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Tunisia Online News, 29 Dec 2010: "Tunisia’s Journalists’ Union SNJT said that while defending the freedom of journalism and the right of all the media to a rational and full coverage of news, it condemned the tendency of some television channels, especially 'Al Jazeera', to dramatisation, distortion and editing in its coverage of the social events that happened in Tunisia, which it uses for politic ends in order to sow discord and stir up ill- feeling. In a statement published on Tuesday, the union denounced the resort of Al Jazeera TV channel to the mischievous editing of pictures and data, affirming that this practice is quite against the professional code of ethics." -- Many other Tunisian organizations are making similar protests about Al Jazeera, so this seems to be a coordinated effort.

Business Insider, 28 Dec 2010, Ujala Sehgal: "Arabic news network Al Jazeera's list of the 'Top Ten' stories of 2010 looked a bit different from many of the lists we've seen Stateside. And not in a bad way. For example, it ranked Israel's attack on an aid fleet the #2 biggest story of the year."

Does Hungary's new media law call for the resumption of RFE and/or VOA Hungarian?

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 28 Dec 2010, Anne Applebaum: The Hungarian parliament, controlled by prime minister Viktor Orban, recently "passed a set of laws governing the media. It's hard to say how they will work, given how vaguely they are written, but that is precisely the point: A new, state-run media council, composed entirely of Fidesz appointees, now has the right to impose fines of up to $1 million for journalism it considers 'unbalanced,' whatever that means. The council is also tasked with protecting 'human dignity,' whatever that means. The law seems to aim to control not just Hungarian media but media available to Hungarians on the Internet or anywhere—a task that is impossible, as one watchdog points out, but that will require the creation of a massive system of surveillance and control anyway. There is even a government-mandated cap on 'crime-related news,' which cannot take up more than 20 percent of airtime—though the law does not define 'crime' or state whether it includes government corruption."

DPA, 28 Dec 2010: "A Hungarian public broadcaster interrupted a live radio programme on Tuesday to thwart a protest against the country's controversial new media control law, reports said. Private media outlets critical of the government were the only ones to report the incident involving journalist Sandor Jaszberenyi, a guest on Radio Kossuth's morning show. Before answering a question about plans to open the abandoned Chernobyl reactor site to tourists, the journalist called for a minute's silence in protest at the media law. Presenter Istvan Balint then cut short the interview and the radio station's theme tune was broadcast until the programme resumed, without the studio guest."

Is it time to resume RFE Hungarian? Or VOA Hungarian? Knowing US international broadcasting, it would probably be both. While the Hungarian media council imposes a right-wing tilt on Hungarian media, USIB under the proposed and now more likely National Center for Strategic Communication (see previous post) would impose a right-wing tilt on USIB. Is it time to resume BBC Hungarian?

Will "more neocon-leaning Congress" drop BBG and put USIB under new NCSC?

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
OpEdNews.com, 28 Dec 2010, Wayne Madsen: "In 2008 and 2009, Senator Sam Brownbeck (R-KS) and Representative William 'Mac' Thornberry (R-TX) introduced companion legislation; both titled 'the Strategic Communication Act,' that would have re-create a U.S. Information Agency apparatus. Although no action was taken on the bills, the incoming and more neocon-leaning Congress may seek to push the legislation. Brownback's bill specifically called for the creation of a National Center for Strategic Communication with a director who would answer directly to the president but who would have posted at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world a 'Global Communications Corps' that would serve under a directorate and push U.S. propaganda efforts to local governments, media, and other entities. An Information Operations Directorate would take over all U.S. international broadcasting responsibilities from the Broadcasting Board of Governors. ... During the Cold War, the US Information Agency was strictly forbidden by law from targeting the American people with propaganda. In the world of the neocons, where down is up and wrong is right, there will be no curbs in the new global information order."

Obit: Christopher Cviic, BBC Yugoslav broadcaster.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 28 Dec 2010: "Christopher Cviic, who died on September 11 aged 80, was a distinguished London-based journalist and commentator on south-eastern Europe. ... In 1954 Cviic applied for a job in the BBC World Service’s Yugoslav Section. He was denied permission to leave Yugoslavia until Vladimir Bakaric, head of the Croatian Communist Party, was informed that the alternative candidate was an ex-fascist Serb émigré. Permission was immediately granted. During Cviic’s years at the BBC he was under constant observation by a colleague who reported back on him to the embassy. Then and later, he avoided public expressions of Croatian nationalism, while privately assisting the cause."

No longer PBS affiliated, KCET Los Angeles taps into international programming.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec 2010, Yvonne Villarreal: "When KCET stops broadcasting PBS programming — after four decades as Los Angeles' major PBS outlet — its kid-friendly weekday lineup will include 'Busytown Mysteries,' a Canadian animated series with feline characters... . Although it is losing 'NewsHour,' KCET will still offer news in its weekday lineup. [NHK] 'Newsline,' which has an Asian focus, will air at 6 p.m., followed by 'BBC World News' at 6:30. ... KCET said Tuesday that it also would be making changes in its digital programming lineup Saturday, launching ... MHz Worldview, offering international programming including news, documentaries and cultural specials. ... MHz Worldview will be available on 28.4, Time Warner Cable 238, Cox 105 and Charter 311. Its content is pulled from broadcasters such as Al Jazeera English, Asian News International, Beijing TV, Deutsche Welle, Euronews, France 24, Israel Broadcasting Authority, MAC TV and NHK World TV as well as local and independent producers, global content providers and original MHz Networks productions." See previous post about same subject.

"Ownership of our content is our cornerstone" says CNN International exec.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Indiantelevision.com, 29 Dec 2010, interview with CNN International Managing Editor Asia Pacific Ellana Lee: "Q: How is CNN's coverage different than other international players like BBC? What is your DNA? Lee: Production and ownership of our content is our cornerstone and it has allowed us to expand the depth and breadth of coverage. It is very important for us that CNN provide original news to its audiences and not aggregate third party material which people can get from elsewhere. In 2009, we embarked on the biggest newsgathering expansion in our history, a multi-million dollar investment in staff and resources to bolster our world-class, award-winning journalism as well as give us the power to move swiftly into developing new business models. CNN also continues to evolve to meet the needs of our international audience through platforms including online, broadband, mobile and interactive television. Our strategy is to make use of most of the growing digital technologies and platforms to enhance our reach and be in continuous touch with our audience. That's why we offer multiple touch points for the consumer to access CNN content anytime, anywhere."

"If you can get the CNN International or Bloomberg feed while traveling outside of the US, you won't be embarrassed about your country"

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Sys-Con, 28 Dec 2010, Roger Strukhoff: "As far as US TV media are concerned, the less said the better. It's worth noting that if you can get the CNN International or Bloomberg feed while traveling outside of the US, you won't be embarrassed about your country. If things kick back to the regular CNN feed or any other US network, it's time to find the BBC, Deutsche Welle, or anything else. It's also time to wonder what's happened to America. A new low occurred on Christmas Eve, when two CNN newsreaders couldn't handle the demands of covering Santa's journey (they had trouble placing the Philippines and other countries within, you know, Asia), but did fill a few minutes of airtime with the sort of unintelligible babble that will surely keep any aliens who watched it from visiting Earth, out of fear of being contaminated by stupidity."

Spain is now minus news channel CNN+.

Posted: 30 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 Dec 2010, citing AFP: "Spain’s all news channel CNN+ [ceased broadcasting at 2300 UTC 28 December], said a spokesman for Spanish media group Prisa, which launched the station in 1999 as a joint venture with Turner Broadcasting, a unit of Time Warner. The closure of CNN+ is an indirect consequence of the sale by heavily endebted Prisa of its free-to-air television channel Cuatro to rival broadcaster Telecinco, owned by the Mediaset group of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi."

Typically Spanish, 29 Dec 2010, Howard Brereton: "What is happening in Spain is reflected worldwide; media groups have to consolidate as the audience is ever more fragmented, as the digital explosion and the internet has led to more channels being delivered to an ever growing number of platforms. The particularly sad thing about the closure of CNN+ is that it was beacon of good and generally politically unbiased news reporting on a digital terrestrial dial ever more marked by the right wing commentators and tertulias. There was time for opinion too on CNN+, but always presented as such, and not as news as on some of the other channels. ... It would be nice if one of the Spanish broadcasters considered renting out one of their TDT channels to the BBC for their BBC World. It would be great for the thousands of English speakers in Spain, and Spanish broadcasters could easily see a channel to aspire to." -- US international should take note of what he wrote: "media groups have to consolidate as the audience is ever more fragmented, as the digital explosion and the internet has led to more channels being delivered to an ever growing number of platforms."

New radio platform, using digital television spectrum and handheld receiver, would feature ethnic channels.

Posted: 29 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 28 Dec 2010: "Ludwig Enterprises Inc., a publicly traded company with headquarters in Pompano Beach, Fla., is building a network of affiliates for what it's calling a nationwide world radio network. The company says it has developed and patented a portable handheld radio that receives signals via the digital television ATSC format and features 50 channels of "digital" radio programming. ... It says it is targeting U.S. multicultural, 55+ and youth markets with its content in particular. Ludwig's programming consists of 40 channels of ethnic talk radio such as Filipino, Pakistani, Hebrew, Chinese, Greek and Russian." See also Ludwig Enterprises website.

Review: 2011 World Radio TV Handbook covers international radio, but only if it's via shortwave.

Posted: 29 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 29 Dec 2010, Andy Sennitt, reviewing the 2011 World Radio TV Handbook: "Unfortunately, the WRTH ... seems to be copying one of the less desirable traits of [the discontinued Passport to World Band Radio], namely to eliminate all mention of international broadcasters that have chosen to discontinue shortwave broadcasts. So in the international broadcasting section, you will find no mention of Radio Sweden or Swissinfo, despite these organisations – both key partners of RNW – remaining active. Another station missing is Radio Moldova International, which continues to produce daily 30-minute programmes in five languages including English. Radio Prague and Radio Slovakia International have survived the cull this year, but since both will have left shortwave by the end of January, presumably the intention is to delete them next year, though there have been no cuts to programme production and Radio Slovakia International has announced that it will continue to air its programmes on WRN. ... RNW is among the broadcasters whose activities are not fully represented in WRTH. We produce material in ten languages, but only the four that we currently broadcast on shortwave are mentioned. The other six, carried on the internet and by partner stations, are not mentioned. The casual reader would have no idea that RNW produces material in French, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Papiamento and Sranan Tongo. This policy of listing (or not listing) stations according to transmission platform rather than content is fine for a book aimed at hobbyists – as PWBR was- but a significant proportion of WRTH readers are broadcast professionals who need to be informed about the activities of potential partners and competitors."

The largest section of the WRTH deals with domestic radio, country by country. Farther back is the international radio section, easy to overlook by those not familiar with the book. Even though the WRTH ignores internet-only international radio services, it is a good source of URLs for international radio stations. Way at the back of the WRTH is the comparatively small domestic television section. Available from Universal Radio and Grove Enterprises.

The Ad Council's "Mr. and Mrs. Murderer" 1952-53 campaign for Radio Free Europe.

Posted: 29 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Cold War Radios, 29 Dec 2010, Richard Cummings: "One heavy-hitting Advertising Council newspaper advertisement for fund raising for the Crusade for Freedom, Radio Free Europe and [the old, early 1950s] Radio Free Asia was 'Mr. and Mrs. Murderer' in the 1952-1953 Crusade campaign. The original plan for advertising for Radio Free Europe contained the point: 'To create emotion, personalized – dramatic headlines … will be written in terse simple words that speak directly to the average man.' This ad is a perfect example of not only using emotion to rally Americans behind Radio Free Europe, but also how the American press was used to hide the true sponsorship of the Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia." See also the home page for many other posts about RFE history.

China Radio International, reprinting Global Times, reports frankly about censorship and closure of Chinese blogger's magazine.

Posted: 28 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, China Realtime Report blog, 27 Dec 2010, Loretta Chao with Gao Sen: "The editing team of Party, a magazine started by popular outspoken Chinese blogger, novelist and race car driver Han Han, has been mysteriously dismissed before it could release its second issue. Without providing further information to readers, the magazine’s managing editor Ma Yimu made the announcement on his Sina Weibo microblog. 'Han Han brought wine for the successful release of the second issue, but now it will be sealed up for a few years,' Ma wrote. ... The first issue of Party, which included 128 pages of essays, poetry and commentary from outside contributors and excerpts from one of Han Han’s novels, '1988 I Want to Talk with the World,' was released in July after being delayed over regulatory complications with officials, who strictly oversee all publishing in China. At the time, Mr. Han—known for his outspoken writing on social reform —said on his blog that he had hoped to provide readers with 'a good art publication with more free and wild writing, but it seems the idea is too good to be true,' China Radio International reported."

Did China Radio International really report so frankly about censorship in China? Actually, the story from CRI, 6 July 2010, was taken (with attribution) from Global Times, 5 July 2010, Jiang Wanjuan: "Han said he has been struggling to attain registration because Party's content has not been able to survive censorship. 'I planned to provide readers a good art publication with more free and wild writing, but it seems the idea is too good to be true,' Han wrote in his blog earlier this year. 'The delay of the flight is not due to the plane itself, but the rough weather.'" -- "Global Times" takes a more independent and critical stance than other English-language Chinese websites. See also Global Times, 28 Dec 2010, Yu Miao.

Iranian broadcasting official, citing "recent poll," says BBC Persian is less popular than before.

Posted: 27 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 27 Dec 2010: "According to the most recent poll, the BBC Persian is less popular now among Iranian viewers than it was eight months ago, said Hassan Abedini, managing director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)'s foreign news department. The BBC Persian leaped to fame during the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, Abedini said, adding that its fate would be the same as the Persian service of Voice of America (VOA) when it was first launched. 'The VOA TV's flaws and its biased approach to the developments in Iran caused the broadcaster to lose its credibility among the Iranian audience. This was the case for the BBC Persian, because its credibility soon faded and it lost its audience to below 25 percent since 8 months ago according to the polls', said the IRIB official. ... Meanwhile, the US government also earmarked more than $21 million for VOA's Farsi TV and a further $14.7 million for Radio Farda as part of its so-called 'soft topple' policy against Iran." -- It would have been helpful for Press TV to provide details about the "most recent poll," e.g. who conducted it. Does his statement mean the audience is below 25% of what it was eight months ago? If this is true, perhaps increased satellite jamming (terrestrial, because I haven't heard of any increased jamming of satellites themselves in the past eight months) and satellite dish confiscations are the reason.

The criticism of VOA Persian by the IRIB official on one side, and that of Larry Klayman (previous post) on the other, suggests that VOA Persian must be doing something right.

Azerbaijani television, and now radio, in exile.

Posted: 27 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Eurasianet.org, 27 Dec 2010, Rovshan Ismayilov: "As concerns continue about the Azerbaijani government's tolerance for media criticism, a series of independent television stations have attempted to set up broadcast operations outside Azerbaijani borders. ... To date, Gunaz TV, based in Chicago, is the closest any of these operations have come to being a success story. The satellite television station, started in April 2005 by Chicago businessman Ahmad Obali, an ethnic Azeri from Iran, focuses mostly on human rights issues in Iran; start-up capital came from donations by human rights activists and Iranian Azerbaijanis living in the US and Canada. ... Obali denies what he claims are Iranian propaganda reports that the station is funded by the United States Department of State. The programs are highly critical of the Iranian government and outspoken about discrimination against non-Iranian ethnic groups in Iran. ... 'The US government funds TV and radio channels in Persian that do not address the human rights issues related to minority rights,' Obali said. 'They ignore cases of Azerbaijani political prisoners and never provide news related to the biggest community in Iran. We have to take care of ourselves.'" Also discusses Azazliq TV and Yeni TV. -- Thanks to Kai Ludwig news tip, reporting to DX Listening Digest Yahoo! group, 25 Dec 2010.

Transmitter TDP Yahoo! group, 24 Dec 2010, Ludo Maes: "Starting December 29, 2010, a new radio station will start broadcasting on shortwave. It concerns Gunaz Radio, a new service from Gunaz TV. Gunaz Radio will broadcast daily from 1430-1930 UTC on 7510 kHz in the 41 meter band. For more information, visit www.gunaz.tv."

Belarus officials search Minsk offices of two Warsaw-based broadcasters.

Posted: 27 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 27 Dec 2010, onpassing Belapan news agency, 27 Dec 2010, via BBC Monitoring: "Law enforcement officers raided the Minsk offices of two Warsaw-based broadcast media outlets on 25 December. The raids targeted the offices of European Radio for Belarus and the Belsat television channel. European Radio for Belarus, which has an official bureau in Minsk, said that the search had lasted nearly three hours. 'They took away a total of 43 items, including computers, the server, voice recorders, photo cameras and portable video cameras,' Vital Zyblyuk, deputy chief editor of the radio station, told Belapan." See previous post about same subject.

On the START treaty, did America.gov censor? And was VOA 90% imbalanced?

Posted: 27 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Blogger News Network, 27 Dec 2010, Ted Lipien: "On the day the U.S. Senate voted to approve the new arms reduction treaty with Russia, I found an article on the State Depa[r]tment’s website, America.gov, which gave a long list of the START treaty’s benefits lauded by the Obama administration but failed to note any of the objections from some key Republican lawmakers and other critics. I posted a short comment that a website devoted to public diplomacy, with a name that implies that it represents the views of the entire American government and the American public, should try to present a more balanced perspective and mention some of the difficulties in getting the U.S.-Russian agreement approved by the Senate. Within only a few minutes my comment was removed. After successfully challenging censorship for more than 30 years by bringing balanced news to communist-ruled Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and other countries, I was finally successfully censored by my former employer, the United States government. ...

"I have checked the Voice of America’s recent coverage of the START treaty debate and found that the VOA English Service devoted about 90 percent of its online START news content to views in support of the treaty. While a VOA spokesperson described my claim as incorrect, a text analysis of all recent online VOA English Service stories on this subject can be easily done by anyone using an word count application. By law, the Voice of America, which is funded by American taxpayers to communicate with audiences abroad, is required to offer balanced news coverage. ...

"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which has mismanaged the Voice of America for years, should be abolished and journalistic independence and standards at VOA and other government-funded U.S. international broadcasters significantly strengthened under some type of public monitoring and oversight."

Thanks to Ted for providing a provocative essay in the slow time between Christmas and New Year's Day.

About the first paragraph, perhaps America.gov doesn't use comments from the United States, given Smith-Mundt and all that. Public diplomacy does not represent "the views of the entire American government and the American public." It represents the views of the administration's foreign policy. The "public" is overseas, not our public. "Balanced" is not the job of America.gov, but rather of US international broadcasting, over in a different agency.

About VOA coverage of the START treaty, the most detailed VOA stories about this topic are on 19 December, 21 December, and 22 December, 2010. They seem balanced to me, but read them yourself. (See also RFE/RL, 21 Dec 2010.)

The third paragraph is precisely contradictory. "Public monitoring and oversight" would not strengthen journalistic independence. It would eliminate it. The public broadcasting entities of the world have found only one way to achieve independence, and that is the protection of a multi-partisan board with fixed and staggered terms. Without the BBG, US international broadcasting might continue as bureaucracy and boondoggle, but it would no longer have its independence, and thus no credibility, and thus no audience. It would simply be a waste of money.

Free Media Online, 23 Dec 2010, Ted Lipien: "The Voice of America could have played a major role delivering news and information to Belarus by radio, but it did not have that capability due to bad planning and mismanagement at its parent agency. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, BBG, which manages VOA, terminated VOA Russian FM, shortwave and medium wave radio broadcasts in 2008, just 12 days before the Russian military attack on Georgia. Such radio broadcasts, especially medium wave (AM) from transmitters in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia, which cannot be easily blocked, would have been extremely useful during the emergency in Belarus or any other type of crisis, also in Russia. According to VOA insiders, citizen journalists were able to tell their news to a VOA reporter on the ground, but the Voice of America was unable to deliver the news back to Belarus because it lacked effective program delivery when faced with the blockage of the Internet by the regime in Minsk."

As a VOA stalwart, Ted did not mention archrival RFE/RL's extensive Belarusian Service. It does transmit on shortwave and (via Lithuania) on medium wave. In fact, in response to the post-election crisis, RFE Belarusian shortwave and medium wave transmissions were expanded to provide an all-night service, per a report from Ivo Ivanov to the DX Listening Digest Yahoo! group, 22 Dec 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Memories of shortwave in the 1999 Ivory Coast coup.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Minnesota Public Radio, 25 Dec 2010, Marianne Combs: "It was Christmas Eve, 1999, and I was sitting on the porch of my house in a small village in Ivory Coast, West Africa. I was a Peace Corps volunteer, and I'd decided to introduce some of my young Muslim friends to Santa Claus. It simultaneously served the Peace Corps goal of sharing cultures and gave me an excuse to spoil them a little by filling up their stockings -- or, in this case, draw-string bags made from local fabric. In the spirit of 'decking the halls,' 10-year-old Aboulaye was drawing lions from a guide to African wildlife and I was making a paper chain when, suddenly, the Ivorian national radio station went off the air. Kids passing by from the village store informed us the national TV station was dark, too. I switched my shortwave radio to France Inter, which informed us that Abidjan, the capital city, had been taken in a military coup, and that President Henri Konan Bedie had fled the country with a large share of the national coffers." -- One of my professors also called France's international radio service "France Inter." Actually, France Inter is a domestic channel ("inter" presumably because it covers many subjects). Radio France International broadcasts abroad.

Japan may request South Korean radio time for messages to abductees in North Korea.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Kyodo, 26 Dec 2010: "The Japanese government is considering requesting cooperation from South Korean private-sector radio stations in communicating information to Japanese nationals abducted and held by North Korea if a war or similar emergency occurs on the peninsula, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday. By working with the South Korean ratio stations broadcasting to North Korea, Tokyo is hoping to notify the abductees of emergency procedures and keep them informed about ports or other locations arranged for their evacuation, the sources added. ... The Japanese government is also considering using its own shortwave radio station broadcasting to North Korea, while calling on a private group investigating possible abductions by the North to cooperate by providing emergency information through its shortwave service in the event of a contingency, the sources said. South Korea is said to be planning to fly radio receivers to people in the North using balloons. The Japanese government is also planning to collaborate with the South Korean government in providing as many radios as possible to people in the North in the hope that Japanese abductees will get them." -- The only precedent for South Korean radio stations making time available to other countries is VOA Korean via FEBC Seoul, which started in January 2009. It may take some negotiations for Japan to acquire time on these South Korean stations. Meanwhile, some of Japan's own medium wave transmitters should be audible in North Korea.

BBC World News looks to continued growth in India, "complementary" to domestic channels.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
afaqs!, 24 Dec 2010, Anindita Sarkar: "BBC World News, which claims to have witnessed 20 per cent ad revenue growth this year in India, aims to maintain the same impetus for the next fiscal, too. The channel also plans to capitalise on its bbc.com platform in India. ... [A]s far as bbc.com is concerned, the aim is to build further on the 1.7 million unique users in India today, and monetising the platform by targeting other key markets for Indian advertisers. ... So, does the existence of so many domestic news channels pose a threat to BBC World News in India? Vaishali Sharma, head, marcomm, South Asia, BBC Global News Division, says, 'We have always believed that we are complementary to and not competitive with any domestic news channel. BBC World News explains not only what is happening - but why. We bring real global news as it happens. We also believe that all global stories have a local connect, which was what led to our first ever India brand campaign, "What affects the world, affects You", three years ago.'"

As India opens its public diplomacy website, foreign secretary Rao indicates diplomats won't be blogging.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Indian Express, 25 Dec 2010: "Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Friday said that Indian diplomats need not follow their American or British counterparts in blogging and that India will 'find its own way'. Responding to a question on whether Indian diplomats will be allowed to blog on the Ministry of External Affairs’s re-designed website, which was officially launched on Friday, she said: 'We need not exactly follow the US or the British (foreign office). We will find our own way.' The Public Diplomacy (PD) division’s website was also launched, months after it debuted on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media websites." The URL for Indian Public Diplomacy is indiandiplomacy.in. -- It appears to be in English only, althought it offers a link to the Google Translate facility.

President Medvedev discusses media freedom with the heads of Russia's three federal TV channels.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today), 26 Dec 2010: "President Dmitry Medvedev on December 24 spoke live with the heads of three federal TV channels: Konstantin Ernst of Channel One, Oleg Dobrodeev of Rossiya, and Vladimir Kulistikov of NTV. ... V. Kulistikov: 'I, as a journalist, can tell you that I’ve always had my freedom when I worked for the media, both on television and on Radio Liberty although, you know, the Americans are quite strict and you can’t just do whatever you like.' ... O. Dobrodeev: 'Ten years ago, when Euronews came to Russia, and Russia-24 channel was launched, those were direct broadcast channels. Following your decisions, in two to three years Russia will have 20 TV channels. That’s a completely new level of freedom. That’s why I’m saying that freedom corresponds to the time we’re living in.'" With video.

News on News, 23 Dec 2010, onpassing RT press release. "200 million views puts RT far ahead of other global news channels, including famous mainstream names Fox News, ABC News, Sky News, and CNN International. RT YouTube has 13 times more views than Fox News, while CNN International has less than 2 million YouTube views. ... In August, the Russian channel made it to the Top 100 most watched channels among YouTube's 10,000 premium partners, taking the place of US President Barack Obama's channel. RT content has regularly been the most watched video of the day, with up to 7 million views. On several occasions, RT was YouTube’s most watched channel of the day. RT is a regular leader in the News and Politics category, with views increasing by approximately half a million each day." --All those RT stories about UFOs may have something to do with this.

China's CCTV sets up news hubs in Dubai and São Paulo.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 24 Dec 2010, Ben Flanagan: "China Central Television (CCTV) has opened a Middle East bureau in Dubai and says it is weighing the launch of a dedicated channel for the region. The state-owned company's new facility at Dubai Media City will have 14 staff and a studio capable of transmitting live broadcasts. CCTV's Middle East centre will oversee correspondents stationed in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, serving as a news-gathering centre for the region. The bureau will broadcast in several languages; the network has channels in Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. ... In July last year, CCTV launched an Arabic-language international channel, saying at the time that it aimed to maintain stronger links with Arab nations. The channel is broadcast free-to-air via satellite across the Middle East. Wang Tiegang, the bureau chief at CCTV Middle East, said the company was also considering launching a dedicated Middle East channel. 'We have a studio here, so maybe, in the near future, we will establish a channel here … in Arabic, English and Chinese,' Mr Tiegang said."

Macauhub, 23 Dec 2010: "China Central television (CCTV) Tuesday in Sao Paulo opened its base for Latin America, together with Brazil’s Rede Band of the Bandeirantes de Comunicação group, the Brazilian press reported. The choice of Sao Paulo for the headquarters of CCTV in Brazil was intended, according to the Chinese ambassador to Brazil, Qiu Xiaoqi, to be the spearhead for boosting Chinese presence in Latin America. The inauguration of CCTV Latin America was paired with setting up a partnership between the Chinese state TV company and TV Bandeirantes, the only TV station in Brazil with a correspondent in China."

Dallas Blog, 24 Dec 2010, Tom McGregor: "Chen Yan, a rear admiral of the South China Fleet, recently returned to Beijing after a six-month tour of duty in the Gulf of Aden to protect ships from Somali pirates, and apparently he’s a big fan of Lady Gaga and not ashamed to admit it. On December 23, China Radio International (CRI) conducted a live-interview of Rear Admiral Chen on its Chinese language broadcast, which is heard by millions of listeners across the country. Chen pointed out that during a six-month tour of duty; life at sea can be exceptionally boring when not confronted by Somali pirates."

NY Times, AP cite Radio Free Asia re sentencing of Chinese Uighur domestic broadcaster.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 24 Dec 2010, Edward Wong: "An ethnic Uighur journalist working for state radio has been sentenced to life in prison on charges that he spread subversive information around the time of deadly rioting in the western region of Xinjiang last year, a Uighur exile group said Friday. ... [Memetjan] Abdulla, an editor for the Uighur service of China National Radio, is in his early 30s and grew up in the city of Karamay in Xinjiang, [Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress] said. After studying journalism at a university in Beijing, he stayed in the Chinese capital and began working for China National Radio. Outside of work, he helped manage the Salkin Web site, an independent source of information for Uighurs, Mr. Raxit said. An earlier report by Radio Free Asia had more details on the sentencing, citing a letter written by a friend of Mr. Abdulla." RFA also cited by AP, 24 Dec 2010.

Klayman again calls VOA Persian manager "pro-Iranian regime," then compares himself to Jesus.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
WorldNetDaily, 25 Dec 2010, Larry Klayman: "My role in life, as it has come to pass, is to be a provocateur, a revolutionary who will not accept things they way they are. ... I was thinking about ... the plight of one of my clients, Elham Sataki, a television anchor who had been destroyed by a pro-Iranian regime managing editor of the Persian News Network of Voice of America, and the failure of the court and political system to come to her defense. An ultra leftist, pro-Clinton and ethically corrupt federal judge – Colleen Kolar-Kotelly – had just dishonestly denied, without factual or legal bases, my request for Elham to be put back to work at the Los Angeles office of VOA, as she rehabilitated from the harm done to her. ... For a reason that would soon become clear, my thoughts that morning then moved to Jesus, who was the ultimate revolutionary and paid a price much greater than my own or Elham's."

The Daily Star (Dhaka), 25 Dec 2010, Saimum Parvez: "Beside cyber war, USA has started its soft war with another strategic weapon- media. For years, western powers have been trying to infiltrate Iran's local media. It is not an easy task to do as Iran's domestic media is heavily fortified by censorship; even satellite dishes are illegal there. The U.S. government is running two broadcast services from outside Iran: Voice of America's Persian News Network (PNN) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Radio Farda."

Queen's Christmas speech is part of BBC international broadcasting history. Pope on BBC is un-international.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Eastern Daily Press, 24 Dec 2010, Chris Bishop: "As much a part of Christmas Day as turkey and crackers, millions around the world watch the Queen’s Speech. It’s a tradition which began at Sandringham, where the Royal Family spend each Christmas. Silence fell around the world as the voice of King George V boomed out from radio sets, as he took to the airwaves via the new-fangled medium of the wireless, from his family’s country retreat in Norfolk. 'I speak now from my home and my heart to you all,' he began on Christmas Day, in 1923. 'To men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them.' A makeshift studio had been installed at Sandringham, from where the King was to broadcast live at 3pm. Carried by telephone line to the BBC World Service’s transmitters in Northamptonshire, the speech penned by Rudyard Kipling was heard around the empire in Australia, India, Canada and Kenya." -- It was the BBC Empire Service back then. "World Service" was adopted as the name of the BBC's global English service in 1965, and of all BBC external services in 1988.

The Telegraph, 24 Dec 2010: "The original idea was suggested by Sir John Reith, the founding father of the BBC, to inaugurate the Empire Service, now the BBC World Service. The fixed time of 3pm each year was chosen in 1932 because it was considered the best for reaching most of the countries in the British Empire by short wave. ... It was the outbreak of war in 1939 which firmly established the tradition, when George VI sought to reassure people and boost morale. ... The speech is one of the rare occasions when the Queen does not turn to the Government for advice and is able to voice her own views. While the Royal Family gathers together round the TV to watch the broadcast on Christmas Day, the Queen sometimes watches it alone, heading off to another room to scrutinise her message in private." -- The BBC World Service website is unhelpful in finding times for this speech, which seems absent from the schedule for 25 December. Has the Queen been bumped from World Service?

Press Association, 24 Dec 2010: "Enthusiasts camped on an icy pavement to be sure of a place in the congregation for the Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in the chapel at King's College, Cambridge. The annual festival - first staged in 1910 - attracts fans from around the world and is broadcast to millions by the BBC. ... It is broadcast by BBC Radio 4 at 2pm and at other times by the BBC World Service." -- The BBC World Service website (perhaps a bit off its stride this year) informs that it was broadcast "Thu 24 Dec 2009" at 1500 GMT. That's what popped up from the link on the BBCWS home page. Hear the 2010 version again, 25 Dec at 1400 UTC on BBC Radio 3.

DPA, 24 Dec 2010: "In a first for the Vatican and British broadcaster BBC, Pope Benedict XVI Friday was given a radio slot to deliver a Christmas message to the people of Britain. The pope, 83, said he remembered his September visit to Scotland and England with great fondness. 'I want you to know that I keep all of you very much in my prayers during this holy season,' he said. The message was broadcast only in Britain, and not on the BBC's World Service network or TV."

A Voice of Russia Christmas greeting.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 24 Dec 2010, Valentin Zorin: "Shortly before the decision was made on extending the term of the tax benefits for the rich, the Federal Statistical System in Washington made public data whereby every seventh US citizen is living on the edge of poverty or below that edge, in what proved the worst figure for the past 15 years. The Department of Agriculture specifies in a report, unusual of the US authorities, that 17 million US families or 50 million people are short of money to buy the sufficient amount of food. They will have no traditional roast turkey at Christmas to treat their in-laws and other guests to. So, there’s nothing to be happy about at the year-end. Well, it wasn’t quite the way I should have talked with you on the eve of a holiday. But Christmas is a holiday, a holiday of love and hope. A holiday of Hope! Therefore, Merry Christmas, everybody! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you who tune in to the Voice of Russia!"

Mongolian shortwave VOA Christmas memories.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Morgan County Citizen (Madison, GA), 23 Dec 2010, Ramsey Nix, recounting her days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia: "I sought the companionship of my short-wave radio: my Western world trapped somewhere in the ether. Fiddling with the antenna, I flipped through static, Morse code, Russian broadcasts, high-pitched Chinese yodeling, and German cabaret music until I happened upon the Voice of America, from which the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rang out in angelic harmony. I sighed, remembering it was Christmas."

Iraq and its multitude of satellite television channels.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Middle East Online, 23 Dec 2010, Iqbal Tamimi: "It is a well known fact that launching a TV channel costs sacks full of money for the launching process and for the running and maintaining expenses. The emergence of more than forty Iraqi satellites dispersed across influential Shiite political parties, Kurdish parties, Muslim Sunnis, Bathists, and many others, lead us to question the sources financing those stations and their aims. Satellite channels in Iraq such as 'Al-Anwar', 'Al-Fayhaa', 'Al-Furat', 'Bilady', 'Baghdad', 'Al-Babelyah', 'Al-Salam', 'Al-Itijah', 'Kurdistan', 'Zagros', 'Al-Somaria', 'Al-Baghdadia', 'Al-Sharqeeya”, 'Al-Masar', 'Salaheddin', 'Al-Moselyeh', 'Afaq', 'Al-Dyar', 'Al-Rafidain', and” Al-Rashid' are all enjoying an open and lavish funding and support on various levels from different sources and countries including Iran , the Gulf states, Egypt and Syria, while 'Al-Iraqiyah' is claimed to be funded by the Iraqi government and 'Al-Hurra' is funded by USA."

World Service among BBC radio channels bumped from Freeview in Scotland to make way for Gaelic TV.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Today, 22 Dec 2010: "A total of 13 BBC radio services are being replaced by a single television channel in Scotland, after the BBC Trust approved the launch of BBC ALBA on Freeview [digital terrestrial platform]. The Trust said it is the most technically and financially viable way to make the service available, initially between 5pm and midnight. The review decided losing BBC Radios 1,2, 3, 4, 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC 1Xtra, BBC Asian Network, BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 7, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, and BBC World Service would be a better alternative than dropping another television channcel such as BBC Parliment. BBC ALBA is a Gaelic-language service currently available on satellite and BBC iPlayer, with limited distribution on smaller cable providers."

Emboldened by duPont-Columbia University for Haiti reporting, BBC America "sets sights on Fox."

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Dec 2010: This year's Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism include one to "BBC America for a report on BBC World News America that covered the earthquake in Haiti and its aftermath." See also BBC America press release, 22 Dec 2010, with selections of Haiti reporting.

Mediaite, 23 Dec 2010, Mark Joyella: "In 2011, the BBC has bold plans to grab news viewers away from CNN, MSNBC and top-rated Fox News—or, perhaps more accurately—to attract new news viewers who have interests beyond the primetime politics and debates that have driven cable news coverage."

Al Jazeera commentator comments on the use of the term "international community."

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 22 Dec 2010, Imran Garda: "Voice of America reported that 'The international community is increasing pressure on incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo to cede power after the UN Security Council voted Monday to extend the mandate of its 10,000-member peacekeeping force, despite Gbagbo's demand that they leave'. ... From the BBC: 'Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wikileaks' actions undermined US foreign policy efforts and amounted to "an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conventions and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity".'"

Report: UK considered action against Press TV.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 21 Dec 2010, Ian Black: "Britain considered taking punitive action against the London headquarters of Iran's English-language state broadcaster earlier this year after Iran jammed the signals of the BBC's Persian TV service (PTV), according to a US state department document released by WikiLeaks. ... Press TV is an arm of the Iranian state broadcaster, IRIB. Its main foreign bureau is in north-west London." See also Press TV, 22 Dec 2010. And reference to VOA in The Hindu, 20 Dec 2010.

Remembering the parts played by RFE and VOA in Czech-Bavarian history.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
ČTK, 21 Dec 2010: "[T]here are several very positive moments in the modern Czech-Bavarian history. After the 1948 communist coup and also after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, Munich became the most important base of the Czech exile. For several decades it hosted the Czech station of Radio Free Europe, that after 1989 moved from Munich to Prague. The signal of not only the RFE but also the Voice of America was transmitted from Grosser Arber, the highest summit of the Bavarian Forest mountains whose downhill courses are now popular among Czech skiers," Lubos Palata wrote in the daily Lidove Noviny on 20 Dec.

Website change reduces risk that VOA broadcasts will be intercepted by listeners.

Posted: 24 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
DX Listening Digect Yahoo! discussion group, 22 Dec 2010, editor Glenn Hauser: "I was wondering whatever became of VOA`s 'Border Crossings', world music show... . I was wanting to look up all the English frequencies in use during this hour, but the A-Z pages [frequencies for each VOA language in alphabetical order] are gone! Or moved to inaccessibility. Finally found this page, http://www.insidevoa.com/about/frequencies/ which purports to lead to frequencies. Exhaustive lists of programs and times, including B.C. M-F 1505-1600. You have to click again on each program to get to its frequencies, http://www.voanews.com/english/programs/radio/64958237.html which shows: Africa: 4930, 6080, 12020, 15580, 17895 mhz [sic], Middle East & Europe: 13570, 15530 mhz [sic], Asia & Pacific: 7540, 7575, 12150 mhz [sic]. But not including the one I am hearing, 12055! I`m afraid this lineup looks quite out of date."

DXLD Yahoo! discussion group, 23 Dec 2010, Alan Roe: "The A-Z frequency pages are once again available on the VOA website at http://author.voanews.com/english/about/Frequenciesatoz_a.cfm -- NB: Since taken offline.

But there was no way to navigate to that page from the voanews.com home page. Thus isolated, will this schedule be updated? Or will frequencies have to be accessed program by program? (Frequencies are available for Border Crossings, but not yet for other VOA English programs.)

A cynic might be tempted to hypothesize that VOA is operating its shortwave broadcasts the way US private railroads ran their passenger trains in the 1960s: deliberately badly. The railroads wanted their passengers to go away so that they could concentrate on their (potentially) profitable freight business. VOA might want its shortwave listeners to disappear so that it can shift budget and resources to television, internet, social and mobile media.

Withholding schedule information would be an effective way for VOA to disburden itself of its direct radio audience. The shortwave transmission schedule was, in recent years, difficult to find at voanews.com. Now it is impossible to find. Also, in recent years, there has been no "what's on tonight" or "what's on this morning" grid of English programs. Everything at the website is geared for listening on demand.

And, indeed, why listen to VOA on a radio if one has access to the VOA website? One reason is that a person has access to the internet at work, or an internet cafe, but wants to listen to VOA that evening or the next morning at home, where only a radio is available. Or listening to radio via the internet might be inconvenient due to bandwidth issues or per-minute charges.

If VOA does intend to restore schedule information, it should look at RFE/RL's useful How to Listen section. For each language, it provides information about listening on demand, via affiliates, direct via shortwave or medium wave (somewhat cryptically labeled "Waves"), and via satellite.

VOA crowdsourcing and more Belarus post-election media update.

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 22 Dec 2010: "A new breed of citizen journalist has emerged in Belarus, and dramatic first-hand accounts of the government’s post-election crackdown are being seen and heard because of a special Voice of America effort to harness the growing power of social media. Visits to the VOA Russian Service website rose dramatically in the aftermath of Sunday’s controversial election and the government’s suppression of dissent. More than 140,000 visits were recorded at the VOA site, which is posting eyewitness reports on a special 'crowdsourcing map.' The citizen journalist reports, received through email and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, are carefully screened and verified by VOA journalists, who have sifted through thousands since last Friday. ... VOA Russian Service editors say that in addition to an increase in traffic to the website, the use of social media platforms and 'crowdsourcing' has also triggered an unprecedented number of references to VOA Russian content on influential Russian and Belarusian websites."

IsraelNationalNews.com, 21 Dec 2010, Amiel Ungar: "Radio Free Europe has a deserved reputation of fighting for liberty, but it realizes that the West with its internal economic woes is no longer in the Bush days of fighting for democracy and has adopted a policy of 'realism'. It summed up the situation in an election post-mortem: 'Lukashenko is a known quantity and potentially the least bad option at this moment in Belarus's complicated history. In a sense, the man once castigated as Europe's last dictator has simply morphed into something slightly more palatable: the devil you know.'... Stability is now valued more than democracy."

Belarus Digest, 22 Dec 2010, Yaraslau Kryvoi: "It is important to increase broadcasting to Belarus from outside of Belarus and help Belarusians who are in the country to remain active. Access to information is the key to any changes in Belarus. Most people in the country receive information either from TV or from FM radio stations. Although there is already Belsat, an independent TV channel located in Poland, its impact is weak. The channel broadcasts only several hours per day and only available on satellite. Those who take an effort to buy a satellite dish and turn on Belsat already know what the situation in Belarus is like. There is not much point in evangelizing those are already converted. It is more important to reach an average Belarusian by re-broadcasting television programs across the border. Increasing the coverage of Belsat should be the main priority."

Euronews, 20 Dec 2010, President Alexander Lukashenko interviewed by euronews‘ Alexei Doval: "Everything that happened yesterday was recorded by the press - including foreign journalists and including euronews. If you were honest, you would show what happened. These were riots. The organisers and participants should explain themselves. They will do so but not to me — I don’t need to hear it, I’m not bloodthirsty — they will answer before the people of Belarus in accordance with our laws. ... They detained the rioters and the organisers. But it’s not eight or nine candidates being investigated, I’d say it’s between two and three. If euronews was an honest channel, you would show what happened in Belarus, what these people did. ... Euronews journalists should not work in a non-objective manner. Up till now, you have not been neutral in your coverage of what has been happening in Belarus."

RIA Novosti, 21 Dec 2010: "Russia Today TV channel's cameramen Anton Kharchenko and Viktor Filyaev were injured in the clash as well as REN TV and Russian state-run First channel's correspondent and cameraman." See previous post about same subject.

Despite 125-page report, does the BBG know "more than it's letting on"?

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 22 Dec 2010, Alvin Snyder: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency that oversees U.S. government non-military international broadcast and Internet services, probably knows more than it's letting on. The good news is that it has released another in its series of expertly researched documents on viewing and listening habits related to its many language services abroad. But little detailed background is disclosed regarding its competition abroad from other counties. As competition is one factor cited by the BBG for the slight decline in its various audience platforms from last year to this, that would need to be considered a shortcoming of this report. This is meant as no reflection on the BBG related research team, the finest anywhere, public or private. ... But with all the information packed into its pages that more than fulfills its mandate from the U.S. Congress to provide a credible news and information platforms, there's still the nagging feeling that this federal oversight agency knows more than it may be telling us." Refers to the BBG's 125 page 2010 Annual Language Service Review Briefing Book (pdf).

Internet regulation has some Americans shopping for shortwave radios.

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Chattanoogan, 21 Dec 2010, Mitchell Thurmer: "Being that you now are reading my opinion and other 'musings' on the Internet, it should be of upmost importance that the FCC has approved a plan to set up to 'police' the Internet. ... No wonder Glenn Beck has been talking about shortwave radios, which I have had for over three years." See also his blog.

Media Matters for America, 28 Sept 2010: "On his June 18 radio show, Beck warned that the federal government could 'shut down' Fox News, talk radio, and the Internet and claimed that 'once they have control of your way to get the truth, there is no turning back.' He then recommended two things to his listeners: 'calling Washington and your senators' to tell them to 'leave the Internet and man's right to free speech alone,' or 'buy[ing] a short-wave radio.' He concluded: 'You might want to do both.'"

glennbeck.com, 18 June 2010, caller Vasheghan speaking to Glenn Beck on his radio show: "[W]hen I heard you saying buy shortwave radios and, you know, copiers, I said, oh, my God, look at this. Hear what happened. As long as I remember myself living in Soviet Union, before Gorbachev, you know, removed all these, silencing stations, we were addicted to Voice of America because we used to put those, you know, radio, shortwave radios in our balconies and it was very noisy. Sometimes we couldn't hear anything. But sometimes we were lucky and, you know, so we were listening. And my father, being a member of government, he was pulling me aside saying, son, let's go and listen. This is the truth where it's coming from. Don't tell anybody but this is what, we've got to listen. And we were listening to all kinds of programs, medical programs, political programs. And basically we were getting more information, truthful information from Voice of America back then in Russian, of course. It was coming in Russian."

Engineering Radio, 13 Dec 2010, Paul Thurst: "[M]any of the [US] non-VOA HF broadcasters are well received in the US. There is nothing that is preventing a shortwave station on the west coast beaming it’s signal across the North American continent to Europe, or over the poles, etc. These stations’ call signs start with a K or W much the same as FM and AM broadcasting stations. Most of them are religious broadcasters, however, there are a few that offer non-religious programming or a mixture of both. ... The internet is a fragile thing, controlled by a few very large companies. A few keystrokes and a router table is re-written to exclude a site that might have detrimental information. ... All of this is leaving an information void. As the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum. Enter Shortwave Radio. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, there are a lot of strange things that can be heard in the shortwave broadcast band. However, it one can separate the wheat from the chaff, some rewarding entertainment can be had. Most of the non-government shortwave stations in the US are religious broadcasters. There are at least three stations that offer time brokered programs, some religious and some not. WBCQ is always a good bet. WRMI is offering more and more non-religious programming. WWCR also has some general programming. While government broadcasters like the BBC, CBC and others have greatly curtailed their broadcasts to North America, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as other smaller broadcasters can be heard where the giants once roamed."

Etón Corporation, prominent manufacturer of shortwave radios (though getting into other product lines, such as solar powered iPod recharging docks), has redesigned its website. Etón's competition is Sangean.

CNN will combine its international and domestic newsdesks.

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Media Bistro, 22 Dec 2010, Betsy Rothstein: "CNN staffers received an internal memo from [EVP] Ken Jautz this afternoon. In it, Jautz announced that CNN will be combining its international and domestic news desks. Tony Maddox, Executive V.P. and Managing Director of CNN International, will oversee the operation. A new managing editor will come on board in 2011."

From the memo: "Tony Maddox will oversee the combined group, which will service CNN, CNNI, cnn.com and all other editorial units and platforms. This, coupled with the arrival of a new Managing Editor in 2011, will help further elevate our editorial mission across platforms, leverage our global reach more appropriately, and help with communication among all of our shows, networks and services."

"Censorship eats Internet from within."

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Pravda.Ru, 23 Dec 2010, Ivan Tulyakov: "Several countries in the world are considering censorship on the Internet. The measure was proposed in the UN by a representative of Brazil. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has already imposed censorship. So far, the establishment of a supranational authority of censorship is only at the level of a discussion. However, a new wave of leaks that WikiLeaks is threatening with can accelerate this process. ... At the meeting [in] the UN building in New York, the representative of Brazil proposed the establishment of a commission to develop criteria to regulate the Internet. This initiative was immediately supported by representatives of India, South Africa, China and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, such countries as Australia, USA, UK, Belgium and Canada pointed to the risk of creating yet another supranational supervisory authority, which will isolates itself from the user community, industry and the general public through its actions."

Connecticut community radio stations might carry Al Jazeera English news.

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Fairfield County Weekly, 21 Dec 2010, Gregory B. Hladky: "WHUS, the nonprofit community radio station serving the University of Connecticut and surrounding region, and Middletown-based WESU are considering running the Middle East-based news organization’s English-language daily hour-long broadcast in 2011. The UConn station’s board of directors is expected to vote on the idea at its meeting early next month. ... [WHUS general manager John] Murphy isn’t sure when his station can get the Al Jazeera news show on the air, assuming it is approved by the station’s board. Pacifica has yet to make the program available anywhere but at its flagship stations." -- In its press release (see previous post), Pacifica said that that after Al Jazeera news is placed on its own stations, it will "subsequently be made available to Pacifica affiliates."

Media crackdown in Ivory Coast affects international and domestic outlets.

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 21 Dec 2010, Christopher Vourlias: "Nearly 30 protesters were killed last week outside the headquarters of pubcaster Radio-Television Ivoirienne (RTI), after opposition supporters attempted to seize control of the station, which is aligned with incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. ... On Dec. 2, the National Broadcasting Council (CNCA) cracked down on private webs [networks] France24, Africa24 and other foreign news outlets that had declared Ouattara the winner, suspending their transmission and jamming independent radio broadcasts to 'preserve social peace,' which it said had been seriously shaken by the election drama. ... Foreign webs are a vital source of independent news in a country where the state has a stranglehold on broadcast media. [Opposition presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara] expressed his desire to launch his own TV station earlier this year. Last week his supporters began transmitting from a pirate radio station to sidestep the government crackdown." -- "Web" is Variety's old idiosyncratic term for broadcast network. It's somewhat confusing, now that web sites are prevalent.

AP, 19 Dec 2010, Marco Chown Oved: "With foreign media blocked, and opposition papers shuttered, access to information is increasingly limited to state-controlled television. International television is only available by satellite or foreign radio on shortwave - and only a tiny proportion of the population has access to these technologies." -- In Ivory Coast, access to shortwave radios is probably more than "tiny." I'll look it up later today and update this comment. See previous post about same subject.

Ethiopia will add television channels "featuring programs made by non-government broadcasters for the first time."

Posted: 23 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg Businessweek, 22 Dec 2010, William Davison: "Ethiopia will introduce as many as eight new television channels in 2011 featuring programs made by non-government broadcasters for the first time, Communications Minister Bereket Simon said. State-owned Ethiopian Television’s two channels currently offer no private content, so the move is a 'significant change,' Bereket said in a phone interview today from the capital, Addis Ababa. ... State media coverage of Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections in May, which the ruling party won by a landslide, was not 'balanced,' the European Union’s observation mission said in its report on the vote. The government has admitted to jamming the Voice of America’s Amharic-language service and has been accused of blocking opposition-friendly websites and a new Amsterdam-based satellite channel, Ethiopian Satellite Television." -- Will any of these be international channels? Adding eight channels using only domestic resources could be difficult in Ethiopia.

Mediamughals, 21 Dec 2010: "Ethiopian Television (ETV), the country's only s[t]ate run national television broadcaster is set to launch its own sports and entertainment channel in a month's time."

Russia has "two real mass parties, the party of the television and the party of the Internet."

Posted: 22 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Window on Eurasia, 22 Dec 2010, Paul Goble: "Russia currently has only 'two real mass parties, the party of the television and the party of the Internet,' the editors of Gazeta.ru say, and declines in the influence of the former relative to the latter should be a matter of greater concern to Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin than the results of any poll about trust in the tandem. That is because, the editors say, 'it is not a secret for anyone' that the TV party overwhelmingly 'votes for Putin and Medvedev and any United Russia' candidate, while 'the second' has various and often 'diametrically opposed positions' but relates to the powers that be in 'a sharply critical way'. ... According to the Public Opinion Foundation, almost 40 percent of the adult population of Russia now goes online, 'and the number of active users of the Internet,' those who go online at least once a day, 'is increasing still faster' and now amounts to 'about 32 million' Russian residents."

Inter-Korean propaganda via fax, Twitter, balloons, and Christmas tree.

Posted: 22 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 21 Dec 2010: "Amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula, South Korea has illuminated a huge steel Christmas tree close to the border - a move that could further strain tensions with North Korea." With slide show of photos.

The Chosunilbo, 22 Dec 2010: "North Korea has faxed propaganda material to a large number of South Korean organizations and businesses, shifting the blame for its artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island to the South Korean and U.S. governments in an attempt to foster conflict between conservatives and progressives here. In the wake of its Nov. 23 artillery attack on the border island of Yeonpyeong, Pyongyang dispatched the propaganda fax from China to some 80 South Korean religious and social organizations and businesses, according to a Unification Ministry official. But only 15 of them, including nine companies with plants in North Korea, reported the fax to the ministry, it added."

TechEye, 22 Dec 2010, Andrea Petrou: "The South Korean government wants to put further internet restrictions in place to stop any websites in favour of its troubled neighbour in the North. The country's Justice Minister has said 2011's plans will include trying to 'block North Korea's propaganda activity through social-networking services, such as Twitter.' ... The South Korean Twitter "rebels" who follow the site could be in hot water. Under existing legislation, it is already illegal for South Koreans to take part in exchanges with North Korea without first getting permission from the South Korean government. Those who fall foul of the law could face three years in prison or fines of up to $8,660 for doing so."

OneNewsNow, 22 Dec 2010, Becky Yeh: "The Voice of the Martyrs is evangelizing in countries that are opposed to Christianity by way of air-dropping parachutes and balloons into hostile areas like Columbia [sic] and North Korea. Todd Nettleton, director of media development for the ministry, says helium-based balloons that contain up to 10,000 plastic gospel tracts are launched over North Korea."

CNN, 22 Dec 2010, Wolf Blitzer on his recent trip to North Korea: "Every time I heard some martial music on North Korean television and radio, I wondered whether the regime was preparing the country for war. ... Covering this story brought back memories of my early overseas assignments in the Middle East in the '70s and '80s: no internet, no cell phone, no Blackberry. I had a hard-line phone in my Pyongyang hotel room and could make outgoing calls to the United States at about $10 a minute. (No credit cards accepted; only cash and only crisp bills.) I could not receive incoming calls from the United States. They would not let us broadcast live via satellite but we took hundreds of still pictures and shot about eight hours of video which we are now going through. Get ready to see the best on CNN and cnn.com. I did get CNN International in my hotel room -- Zain Verjee, Anjali Rao and Richard Quest never looked better -- but no newspapers." See previous post.

Aung San Suu Kyi's "emotional attachment" to her Grundig shortwave radio.

Posted: 22 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Khaleej Times (Dubai), 21 Dec 2010, Suresh Pattali, interviewing Aung San Suu Kyi: "Q: How is your devotion to your good old friend and companion in detention, the short-wave radio? I hear you heard about your winning the Nobel Prize on that radio. Suu Kyi: My devotion is very great but I have to admit I don’t have as much time to listen to it as a month ago and I feel a bit guilty about that! Q: What brand is it? Suu Kyi: Grundig. Should I be advertising it like that (laughs)? OK, Grundig radios are very reliable. (Laughs again) Q: What is your emotional attachment to it? Suu Kyi: My husband got it for me many years ago. It is almost as old as my years of detention."

Newsweek, 21 Dec 2010, Danielle Bernstein interviewing Aung San Suu Kyi: "Q: You spent much of your time under house arrest listening to the radio. What do you like to listen to? Suu Kyi: Listening to political programs was a duty, a job. But cultural programs I enjoy. I listen a lot to the BBC World Service, but for some reason they don’t seem to have very many music programs these days. Maybe they came on at the times I was listening to Burmese-language BBC and Radio Free Asia. I listen at least six hours every day. There were so many shocking bits of news all the time. There seems to be so much violence and natural disasters all over the world, not just here in Burma. Floods, earthquakes, cyclones… ."

Democratic Voice of Burma, 20 Dec 2010, Maung Zarni: "Everyone could hear the collective gasp that filled the auditorium – and no one would forget – the very moment when the first signal transporting Aung San Suu Kyi’s animated face to a large screen in London arrived last week. That is, everyone of the 400 students, faculty and invited guests, including Burmese dissidents exiled in the greater London area, her dialogue partners and an Al Jazeera presenter, and last but least the joint team of event organizers from Al Jazeera English and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), all of whom were gathered inside the School’s Shikh Zayed theatre. We were there to participate in, watch and record the first ever live dialogue with the world’s best known dissident, who has come to personify the Burmese people’s uphill battle for ‘the government of, for and by the people’ – that’s if you don’t want to use such ‘loaded’ terms as ‘democracy or human rights’. ... The LSE-Al Jazeera English event is the first ever for Suu Kyi and the Burmese movement at large, not simply because it was live and interactive – involving the iconic dissident in Rangoon with an audience seated in a theatre in London – but because it was also designed to provide her with a more meaningful and substantive opportunity than most since her release from house arrest a month ago." See also Aljazeera.net, 22 Dec 2010, with video. -- See previous post about VOA and RFA Burmese, which may object to the AJE/LSE description of "first ever live dialogue," given VOA's and RFA's previously launched live Q&A's with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Two RFE journalists beaten in unrest following Belarus election.

Posted: 21 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Journalists in Trouble blog, 20 Dec 2010: "An RFE correspondent was beaten and his camera was broken as he captured this footage of riot police dispersing opposition protests in downtown Minsk Sunday night. An estimated 20,000 people gathered in the city's central October Square to protest widespread voter fraud that they claim ensured President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's victory. One other RFE journalist was beaten and two bloggers were arrested at the Square as a result of the police action. RFE is withholding their names for their protection." More RFE Belarus news coverage.

Charter 97, 20 Dec 2010, Nina Radina: "There is a report that several cameramen from the Russia Today TV Channel Anton Kharchenko and Viktor Filiaev, photographer Andrey Lenkevich are injured."

New York Times, The Lede blog, 20 Dec 2010, Robert Mackey: "Video of a demonstration in the main square of Minsk, the capital, and of police in riot gear attacking protesters there, was quickly posted on YouTube by opposition activists and journalists. This video was uploaded, with many other clips, by reporters for Radio Svaboda, a Radio Free Europe station covering events in Belarus. [link] Radio Svaboda’s live blog coverage of Sunday’s demonstration has more video and photographs of the rally and the force used by the authorities to end it."

Washington Post, 21 Dec 2010, Anne Applebaum: "Lukashenko's true support is thought to be rather lower than 80 percent. Belsat - a Polish-based television station that broadcasts into Belarus - reckons Lukashenko's actual support is closer to 30 percent, based on polls taken over several months. Some other outsiders put the number at 38 percent, but either number explains why reports of electoral fraud are widespread, why observers were not allowed to observe the counting, why the state-run media concentrated 90 percent of its attention on Lukashenko and why Radio Free Europe began to collect reports of discrepancies so early in the day."

The New Republic, 21 Dec 2010, James Kirchick, RFE/RL writer at large: "A column of spetsnaz stormed past me, throwing an elderly man to the ground and beating people—all of them unarmed—mercilessly. Presidential candidate Vital Rymasheuski staggered past me assisted by supporters, his hands covering a bloody gash on his forehead." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL analyst: "Western Media Getting Afghanistan Wrong."

Posted: 21 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
ThinkProgess, 20 Dec 2010, George Zornick: "Voices from Afghanistan are notably absent from the minimal coverage that does exist. ... Elizabeth Rubin, a contributing writer to the New York Times magazine, notes that most foreign correspondents do not speak Afghan languages and have little understanding of local cultures, which hampers their ability to assess the Afghan perspective. One reporter for Radio Free Europe, who does speak Pashto, Urdu, and several other regional languages, writes that there are 'a series of issues where Afghans see Western media covering their country through the lens of their own national interests.'" Refers to...

RFE/RL, 22 Oct 2010, Abubakar Siddique: "Reports about reconciliation talks in Afghanistan are the latest in a series of issues where Afghans see Western media covering their country through the lens of their own national interests. Senior Afghan officials in President Karzai's inner circle say they feel their position is being systematically weakened by stories based on leaks in the Western media. This they say, erodes public support for international efforts in Afghanistan and leads to questions about the legitimacy of their government. They cite a series of stories about Kabul's relationship with Washington as an example of such coverage. The mushrooming Afghan media and international broadcasts into the country often magnify the effect of such stories when they are translated into Afghan languages. Sometimes the original theme is replaced with a more sensational version than found in the original, adding to the anxiety and uncertainty among Afghans. ... With the war in Afghanistan increasingly unpopular among the Western public, it might be time for Western media to rethink their coverage of the country, for only fair and accurate reporting centered on the Afghan actors themselves can paint a realistic picture of what is really happening."

RFE/RL press release, 21 Dec 2010: "RFE's Radio Azadi has completed its distribution of 20,000 solar-powered, hand-cranked radios throughout Afghanistan. The project, which began on September 17, targeted people in rural and remote areas where high illiteracy rates make radio the primary means of receiving information. 'This radio will help me pay closer attention to what's going on in Kabul,' said one elder at a refugee camp. 'All of us will now be able to raise our voices more and participate in national decisions like elections.'" See previous post about same subject.

Smuggled DTH boxes in Pakistan receive "hundreds of Indian and foreign Satellite TV channels."

Posted: 21 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Nation (Lahore), 10 Dec 2010, "Former caretaker Information Minister Javed Jabbar, who was appointed as mediator by the apex court to monitor allocation of frequency to various private TV channels ... observed in the report that a new and portent threat has emerged to the legal framework within which licensed Satellite TV channels and Cable TV operators are functioning in Pakistan. This threat is in the form of the increased and abundant availability in markets of smuggled, illegal DTH (Direct-To-Home) boxes from India which give viewers access to hundreds of Indian and foreign Satellite TV channels, he added and said that these unlicensed channels are rapidly displacing the viewer ship, advertising revenue and stability of the legally operative TV system in Pakistan."

"Qatar invented Al Jazeera into a broadcaster beyond expectations."

Posted: 21 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 19 Dec 2010, Larbi Sadiki is a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter ("views expressed ... are the author's own"): "To talk is both an Arab and Western venerable tradition. That is Al Jazeera’s mission: to parley. Who forgets Churchill's amazing BBC speeches, which used to keep the world's spirits up in the fight against Nazi Germany? Or De Gaulles famous June 18, 1940 BBC broadcast from Britain to resist the Nazis? What are Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty if not tools of foreign policy? Radio Free Europe has distributed thousands of free radios this year in a bid to counter Taliban propaganda. Al-Hurra, which is a waste of US taxpayers' money, was created to further US interests – spreading the 'gospel' of freedom and democracy. The BBC World Service, competent and professional as it may be, serves Britain's foreign policy and cannot be expected to do that impartially. ... Al Jazeera along other sister Arab satellite channels have de-centred the media scene. Al Jazeera, in particular, gives a voice or 'forum' to the voiceless, as its own propaganda puts it. Had Arab states opened up their own media, their own dissidents would have addressed their audiences through the local media. Al Jazeera is blameless in this. Al Jazeera is the gift of Qatar. Qatar invented Al Jazeera into a broadcaster beyond expectations." -- The BBC World Service audience do not share the conclusion that "serves Britain's foreign policy." Otherwise, they wouldn't listen. And dismissing modern-day VOA and RFE/RL as "tools of foreign policy" cannot be done so glibly.

Al-Masry Al-Youm, 20 Dec 2010: "Egyptian authorities have released a reporter for the Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera who was arrested in the run-up to Egypt’s parliamentary elections, security sources said. Mohamed Badr was apprehended on 24 November. Security confiscated an article he was writing and his laptop." See previous post about same subject.

The Weekly Standard blog, 20 Dec 2010, Thomas Joscelyn: "Earlier this month, Al Jazeera broadcast a lengthy interview with Walid Muhammad Hajj, who was detained at Guantanamo for several years until he was transferred to his native Sudan in 2008. ... When Gitmo detainees (both current and former) make up stories about torture and abuse, they usually stick to the script, claiming they were beaten, waterboarded, or had some other malady inflicted upon them. Even if there is no evidence to back these claims up (e.g. no detainee was ever waterboarded at Gitmo), their stories generally gain traction in the fever swamps online and elsewhere. Occasionally, however, a detainee will go off script. And so we get Hajj’s story."

Zimbabweans pay license fee for unreceivable ZBC, then listen to VOA and Rádio Moçambique.

Posted: 21 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Zimbabwean, 19 Dec 2010, Lovejoy Sakala: "Residents here have vowed not to pay radio and television licences to the state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) because they were not getting transmission. Irate residents told The Zimbabwean On Thursday they had gone for many years without television despite ZBC demanding exorbitant license fees. ZBC is demanding an annual radio and television licence of US$50 from residents and US$100 for motorists. 'We have had no ZBC signal transmission for a long time here and we are surprised that they demanding licence fees from us. We rely on foreign stations such as Radio de Mozambique, Studio 7, Voice of America and SW Radio. I don’t even know any presenter on ZBC TV and radio," said Marka Munowenyu, a street vendor. Residents complained they were isolated from the rest of the country and were starved of information. 'Here in Kazozo and Ruwangwe we don’t even access newspapers because the road network is bad. As you can see most people have invested so much in satellite dishes,' said Rodreck Mawoyo, a local teacher." -- Interesting mention of Rádio Moçambique. It has a network of 50 kW medium wave transmitters, so obviously audible in Zimbabwe. Broadcasts are in Portuguese and national languages, rather than English. But Rádio Moçambique probably provides more music than VOA Studio 7 or SW Radio Africa.

Ghanaian is BBC African Footballer of the Year.

Posted: 20 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 17 Dec 2010: "Ghana and Sunderland striker, Asamoah Gyan, has been voted by football fans across the world as 2010. The results were announced live on BBC World Service's flagship sports programme for Africa, Fast Track on Wednesday 17 December. The search for African Footballer of the Year 2010 began on Monday 15 November when fans were given a chance to choose their African football hero from a shortlist selected by experts from across the continent. ... Votes were cast online at bbc.com/africanfootball or via text messages." -- Sports is a huge part of the BBC World Service's competitiveness in Africa.

Revolutionary Guards not having much success shutting down Iran's "electronic underground," he writes.

Posted: 20 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Newsweek, 19 Dec 2010, Maziar Bahari: "The massive demonstrations of 2009 have migrated behind closed doors, unseen by pro-regime Basij thugs, where activists spread the word of resistance via instant message, satellite television, and what authorities fear most: social networking. Their vehicle of choice is Facebook, as evidenced by the Revolutionary Guards–produced cautionary TV program A Monster Called Facebook, in which founder Mark Zuckerberg is depicted as a Zionist spy. In coming months, the Guards are also expected to beef up their new Facebook Infiltration Task Force, which prowls the site hunting for critics of the regime and blocking ordinary Iranians’ access. ...

"The regime is waging a similar fight against bootleg television. Owning a satellite dish is illegal, but that hasn’t stopped millions of households from switching off drab state-produced religious programming and turning instead to outlaw channels run by Iranians living in the West. In recent months, authorities have intensified the battle, jamming transmissions and raiding entire neighborhoods to seize dish antennas from rooftops and impose fines up to $2,000 per dish. But hours after the cops drive off, new antennas begin popping up." -- We need a more scientific assessment of what information is getting through to Iran, and how many Iranians have the know-how to retrieve this information.

PBS Frontline, 19 Dec 2010, Muhammad Sahimi: "Dr. Fariborz Rais Dana, a leftist economist who has criticized the process of eliminating [Iranian] subsidies [on oil, water, gasoline, natural gas, etc.] has been arrested, apparently due to an interview he gave to BBC Persian. In the interview, Rais Dana declared, 'The government knows the cash that it gives to people will evaporate under inflationary pressure. Thus, after a while the cash will have no effect. The government will get rid of the huge expense [of the subsidies] and will spend the money on buying weapons or other things, and people will be on their own.'"

International broadcasting versus establishing local media outlets.

Posted: 20 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
followthemedia.com, 21 Dec 2010, Micahel Hedges: "In the 1990’s wealthy Western governments began pouring money into struggling and post-conflict democracies. Along with safety and security issues, getting information to local populations independent of entrenched actors became a public diplomacy priority. International broadcasting through shortwave services lost favor to establishing local media outlets. Media development NGOs like Fondation Hirondelle and Internews brought specific capacities for bringing local participants up to speed with technologies and best journalistic practices. Another media development legend is Belgrade, Serbia’s B92 radio station. Founded as a voice of opposition to the Yugoslav regime, it has become a model for media development. It is now a dynamic – still independent – multimedia player in the Balkans." -- But VOA and RFE are still broadcasting in Serbian. Afghanistan would be another example of a hyrbid between international broadcasting and establishing local independent media. Setting up local media is, of course, not yet an option in the most important target countries, e.g. China, Iran, Burma, Zimbabwe.

Exhibit in Guam explores propaganda of World War II.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Guam Pacific Daily News, 19 Dec 2010, Erin Thompson: "During the war years, propaganda was a key tool of both the American and Japanese forces. It brought together the top creative talent of artists and advertisers -- on both sides of the Pacific -- who often used racism and fearmongering to help spread their message. As part of yesterday's Curator's Corner, a free exhibition showing off propaganda posters from the War in the Pacific National Historical Park's collection, Oelke presented a host of propagandist images, including a slideshow of anti-Japanese cartoons made by children's author Theodor Seuss Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss. ... The exhibition features dozens of magazines from the era, including a stack of Japanese magazines that feature images of Japanese superiority in all things military. They show everything from school girls firing rifles to smiling Filipinas and children holding Japanese flags. ... At first high-color and glossy in 1937, the magazines slowly fade in color and quality by the end of the war. By 1945, the magazines are slimmer, and black and white, with gritty images and low print quality."

Evidence that North Korean officials "follow" CNN.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
CNN, This Just In blog, 18 Dec 2010, Wolf Blitzer: "Even in the midst of incredible tension on the Korean peninsula, there have been a few lighter moments as I continue covering New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s extraordinary visit here. ... At the start of their meeting, Governor Richardson introduced me to Kim Gye Gwan, and, through a translator, Kim joked that he was very familiar with my work, and that he understood that I was 'as powerful as President Obama.' I started to laugh, as did everyone else in the room. He then said, 'I understand only you and Obama have your own Situation Rooms' to which all of us laughed again. I was impressed that he was following CNN and I mentioned that I’d been watching CNN International at this hotel where we’re staying in Pyongyang. I thanked the nuclear negotiator for allowing CNN to come into Korea for Governor Richardson’s visit, and hoped they would let us come back. This time, he responded in English, saying, 'Why not?'"

Aung San Suu Kyi tells Laura Bush she listened to VOA during house arrest.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
AP, 17 Dec 2010: "Former first lady Laura Bush, a longtime advocate for free elections in Myanmar, spoke for the first time Friday with the isolated Asian country's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released last month after more than seven years of house arrest. ... Bush said Suu Kyi told her that during her house arrest, she listened to the Voice of America on the radio and was aware of how much support she had around the world."

The Guardian, 19 Dec 2010, Mark Brown and Simon Hattenstone "Filming in Oxford is almost complete on an Anglo-French big screen version of the remarkable life of Aung San Suu Kyi with Michelle Yeoh as the Burmese opposition leader and David Thewlis as her university academic husband. ... Aung San Suu Kyi was released from her latest period of house arrest by Burma's generals in November, which meant Yeoh could meet the woman she is playing. Yeoh told the Guardian: 'The first thing we did is hug and I thought you are really skinny, man. One of the first things she said was "why doesn't the BBC world service have more music?"'" See previous post about Aung San Suu Kyi.

Belarus election accompanied by attacks on opposition websites, monitors' phones cut off.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Tangled Web blog, 19 Dec 2010, Luke Allnut: "Belarus is holding a presidential election today (hard-line President Lukashenka is expected to win) and there are reports that a number of the country’s opposition websites have been subjected to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks." -- If the internet is completely shut down, RFE/RL Belarusian is still on shortwave and medium wave (click on Waves).

DPA, 19 Dec 2010: "Election monitors in Sunday's Belarus presidential election claimed their phones had been cut off, as the ex-Soviet state went to the polls in an contest widely expected to see the authoritarian incumbent President Aleksander Lukashenko re-elected for a record fourth term. ... 'Our phones just stopped working after we talked with Voice of America,' said Sergei Kaliakin, a For Fair Elections spokesman."

Reports from RFI, BBC, and VOA will be used as evidence in trial of Central African Republic politician.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo website, 15 Dec 2010, Wakabi Wairagala: "The Prosecution will prove beyond reasonable doubt that Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is criminally responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against civilians of the Central African Republic (CAR) by forces under his effective authority and control between October 2002 and March 2003. ... The international media also heavily reported on the crimes in the CAR. The evidence will show that Radio France International, BBC, Voice of America, for example, extensively broadcasted MLC’s troops abuses, especially rapes and pillaging. Journalists also directly informed the accused of these abuses."

France 24 cameraman arrested, held overnight in Côte d’Ivoire.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 17 Dec 2010: "Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the consequences for journalists of the fight for control of state television and the media in general being waged by the supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and the ones of Alassane Ouattara. ... Alassane Kanaté, a freelance cameraman working for the French 24-hour satellite news channel France 24 was arrested at a military roadblock and taken to police headquarters in the Abidjan district of Plateau, where he was held overnight and mistreated. He was receiving treatment in an Abidjan hospital this morning."

Proposed Venezuelan laws would further restrict opposition television and websites.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 14 Dec 2010, Frank Jack Daniel: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez faced a wave of criticism on Monday over bills lawmakers are readying to tighten rules on the Internet and television, part of a legislative onslaught deepening his leftist revolution. ... Reforms in two bills due to be discussed this week by the outgoing parliament would pile pressure on opposition TV station Globovision and make it easier for the government to pull the plug on websites that criticize public officials. ... The Chavez government says it is the victim of a Washington-backed propaganda war and is simply introducing regulations that are normal elsewhere. ... Last week the government took control of 20 percent of Globovision's shares as part of the liquidation of a bank owned by director Nelson Mezerhane. Under the proposed telecommunications reform. restricting the transmission of national TV networks via cable, Globovision broadcasts would be largely limited to two cities." See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 14 Dec 2010.

China Radio International partners with Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on website for Filipinos abroad. Really.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Manila Bulletin, 18 Dec 2010, Leslie Ann G. Aquino: "The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has thought of a way on how to connect Filipinos all over the world this Christmas season. Through the website called Paskong Pilipino sa Mundo www.cbcpmedia.com/pasko, Filipinos, especially those abroad, are given the opportunity to greet their family and their fellow Filipinos but also share their valuable experiences. ... 'Our main target here is the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) such as the seafarers or those Filipinos working in countries where there is no Christmas,' said [Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III, CBCP Media Office director]. 'If they really cannot go to Mass we encourage them to at least reflect on the significance of the celebration and season,' he added. The website is a joint project of the CBCP Media Office and China Radio International." -- Sure enough, the CRI logo is prominent in the cited website. Perhaps this has something to do with Filipinos living in China. In addition to its overseas transmissions, CRI serves the expat communities inside China.

Pambazuka News, 16 Dec 2010: "[T]he recent Chinese government-sponsored 'top Chinese enterprises in Africa' competition, won by China Road and Bridge Corporation ... was jointly sponsored by the Chinese-African People's Friendship Association, China Radio International and Africa magazine [and] kicked off on 22 October with the launch of a website for online voting."

With new Budapest outlet, China Radio International "now has a total of 51 overseas FM services."

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 16 Dec 2010: "China Radio International has launched an FM service in Budapest, Hungary. With this edition, CRI now has a total of 51 overseas FM services. CRI now broadcasts in Hungarian for 11 hours on 92.1 FM in Budapest, which covers the 2.5-million people living in the capital. All of the programs will be produced in China."

China Radio International, 15 Dec 2010: "Wang Gengnian, a Kínai Nemzetközi Rádió (CRI) elnöke és az általa vezetett delegáció Budapesten részt vett a CRI nemzetközi (európai) cége és a magyar Klasszik Rádió együttmuködési programjának aláírási ünnepségén."

India's foreign secretary does not select the best vehicle for getting message about trade *inside* China.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
India Ministry of External Affairs, 16 Dec 2010, Indian foreign secretary Shrimati Nirupama Rao responding to a question from a China Radio International reporter about trade between China and India: "To your listeners, since you come from China Radio International, I think our Chinese friends must know and should know that there is a big imbalance in trade between our two countries. Now the trade target is going to reach USD 60 billion this year. It is very impressive. It has grown phenomenally. But there is an imbalance in that trade. And in fact the trade deficit for India has been growing. So, we have very legitimate concerns in this regard. We would like more market access. And I hope you report this really. We would like more market access, and we would like our pharmaceuticals, we would like our agro commodities, and we would like our IT services, in all of which we are brand leaders internationally, to come into China. So, please take that message." -- I did not see coverage of that message at the CRI website.

Voice of Russia chides CNN for using wrong video in report about time zone protest.

Posted: 19 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 17 Dec 2010, Vyacheslav Solovyov: "Last weekend saw a CNN broadcast that raised many eyebrows in Russia and beyond. According to CNN, a protest rally on Manezhnaya Square in central Moscow allegedly targeted time zone reforms in Russia that were earlier endorsed by President Dmitry Medvedev. ... Posted on YouTube, the controversial broadcast provoked an international uproar, with many berating CNN for staging 'a provocation' and airing 'a fake report.' ... In an interview with the Voice of Russia aired on Friday, Maxim Tkachenko, head of CNN’s Moscow branch, cited technical troubles that he said led to the confusion. CNN’s December 12 news bulletin included a report on time zone protests on the Kamchatka Peninsula and another report on the Moscow clashes between football fans and police, Tkachenko explains. The trouble was that our editors did not pay enough attention to watching the footage with the news – it is not uncommon on Russian television as well, Tkachenko goes on to say. In any case, it was a CNN crew’s shocking mistake, he admits, lamenting the fact that viewers saw the footage of the Moscow riots accompanied by a report on the time zone protests in Russia’s Far East. It is only to be added that CNN was quick to take the notorious report off the air, supporting the notion that this was no more than a technical defect."

North Korea complains about balloons carrying leaflets and "waste paper" US dollar bills.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Yonhap, 17 Dec 2010: "North Korea lashed out Friday at South Korea for allowing anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets to be sent across their border, as activists vowed to send more from a South Korean island devastated by North Korean shelling last month. The leaflets, often mixed with U.S. dollar bills, DVDs and radios, are sent in giant balloons across the 4-kilometer-wide Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas. The North's official Web site, Uriminzokkiri, said the bills are 'nothing more than waste paper' and that the leaflets do little to undermine the pride of its people in the communist regime."

Yonhap, 18 Dec 2010: "Several activists from North Korean defectors' organizations, including the Seoul-based Fighters for Free North Korea, sent 10 balloons from Yeonpyeong that carried about 200,000 leaflets critical of the North Korean attack and its regime. The balloons also contained 500 CDs that hold the footage of the shelling and, in a bid to encourage North Korean citizens to pick them up, 1,000 U.S. one-dollar bills."

The Dong-a Ilbo, 18 Dec 2010, Kwon Sun-taek: "First-time lawmakers of South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party will have propaganda leaflets dropped on North Korea on major holidays in the North, such as the birthday of heir apparent Jong Un Jan. 8, the birthday of his father and incumbent leader Kim Jong Il Feb. 16, and that of the communist country’s late founder Kim Il Sung April 15. The leaflets are aimed to let North Koreans know the truth about their country. Until now, many South Korean organizations and individuals working to improve human rights in the North have sent flyers, but this is the first time flyers with the names of South Korean lawmakers will be dropped."

Examiner.com, 17 Dec 2010, George Hogan: "North Korea is ripe for an all-out barrage of everything South Korea. South Korean pop music, DVD’s, images, letters, religious texts, news reports, literature and proper history books all need to be dropped en masse by balloons on every corner of the nation. North Koreans need to be given the chance to change their own mind and, by giving them at least one option that is different from their poverty-stricken lives, they can start to see beyond their cold existence. In order for this to work, however, it must be totally run and managed by South Korea alone. The US or Japan can’t have anything to do with it. If China believes that the US or Japan is behind it, they will do the same thing only with a pro-Chinese slant and then we'll find ourselves in the same place we were during the Korean War."

RFE/RL advertises for a Brussels correspondent.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Transitions Online, 15 Dec 2010: "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is looking for a Brussels correspondent to focus on the EU and NATO, with particular attention to how those institutions interact with countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region. The correspondent would also be expected to cover other broader Brussels or Europe-based stories as assigned." -- This will put RFE/RL in a better position to compete with archrival VOA's coverage of Brussels and Europe-based stories.

In 1924, shortwave brings "the glorious strains of the Star Spangled Banner" from the USA to Britain.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
WNYC Archives & Preservation blog, 17 Dec 2010: "1924: Band and organ music from the WNYC studio is heard in England as part of a special international broadcast arranged by Wanamaker's department stores in New York and Philadelphia. An audio feed from WNYC and WOO (Philadelphia) was sent via land line to KDKA in Pittsburgh. From there, it was relayed by short wave to British stations 'using wave lengths similar to those used by American broadcasting stations,' according to the New York Times in a report titled 'London Gets WNYC Music.' A Wanamaker's ad the next day proclaimed: 'In thousands of British homes last night the glorious strains of the Star Spangled Banner from America mingled with the sonorous overtones of historic Big Ben as it re-echoed the midnight hour over all of London!'" See previous post about a WNYC program via shortwave.

Southern Sudan's Bentiu Shortwave Radio and the "promotion of peace."

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Sudan Tribune, 16 Dec 2010: "A two-day conference [in Juba] on cross-border security involving Southern Sudan’s three neighboring states of Lakes, Unity and Warrap ... stressed on promotion of peace through radio stations such as the available Bentiu Short Wave Radio in Unity state that can cover all the three states in local languages." -- I can find no other information about this station.

Al Jazeera will probably not be winning any awards from Boeing.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aerospace News blog, 16 Dec 2010, Aubrey Cohen: "Boeing jeopardized the safety of more than 1,500 737s built between 1996 and 2004 by using ill-fitting parts from California supplier AHF Ducommun, whistleblowers charged in an Al Jazeera [English] documentary Wednesday. ... Responding to the report, Boeing spokeswoman Bev Holland said 'The False Claims Act lawsuit, filed by three former Boeing employees alleging that faulty parts were incorporated into Boeing military and commercial aircraft, is without merit.'"

Al Arabiya wins UN global news award for its coverage of the Copenhagen climate summit.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Al Arabiya, 16 Dec 2010, Julin Rakb: "For the second time, Al Arabiya TV won the U.N. Global News Broadcast Gold Award, usually given to the best TV news coverage for the international organization's issues. The large ceremony was held on Wednesday at one of the biggest celebration halls in New York. ... Al Arabiya won this year's Gold Award for its very good coverage of the United Nations' Climate Summit in Copenhagen as well as its wonderful camera shots of the global destructive effects caused by the climate changes that would affect the whole humanity. Japan's NHK channel came the second of the winners and Al Jazira English came the third. The U.S. envoy to the U.N. Susan Rice hailed Al Arabiya and said that it was 'a marvelous night to honor Al Arabiya with the Gold Award on behalf of its fellow media colleagues.'" -- The best journalists are probably the ones who never win awards from the entities they cover.

Can the Vidocq Society solve the 2006 murder of the Radio Free Asia general counsel?

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Examiner, 16 Dec 2010, Harry Jaffe: "Now that Cathy Lanier has a few more years as the city's top cop, perhaps she can find out who murdered Robert Wone -- but she might need some help. The Wone case is perhaps the most odd and mysterious murder in the city's history. Wone, an attorney with Radio Free Asia, was found murdered Aug. 2, 2006. ... 'Cathy Lanier continues to say the Wone case is an active investigation,' says Doug Johnson, one of the editors of the 'Who Murdered Robert Wone' web site. 'The last thing is for murder charges to be brought. That hasn't happened.' ... So Johnson and his three collaborators on the Web site want to bring in the Vidocq Society. Johnson, a journalist with Voice of America, has a point. The Vidocq Society might be able to crack the case. Based in Philadelphia, it has 82 members from 17 states and 11 countries beyond the United States. Its experts include forensic specialists and investigators who would bring fresh eyes to the Wone case."

Washington Post, 8 Dec 2010, Keith L. Alexander: "D.C. Superior Court Judge Brook Hedge rejected three requests Wednesday by the attorneys for the three D.C. roommates in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of Robert E. Wone, the Washington lawyer who was staying the night at the three men's home the evening he was stabbed to death four years ago."

Quasi-international broadcasting news: Asian-American groups support Comcast proposal to control NBC Universal.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Adweek, 15 Dec 2010, Katy Bachman: "Five Asian-American organizations have come out in support of Comcast's proposed deal to control NBC Universal after Comcast agreed to expand Asian-American programming in a 16-page memorandum of understanding. ... These groups—concerned that Comcast had terminated one of the few Asian-American channels—have been working with Comcast since the deal with NBCU was announced. Comcast's commitment to expand Asian-American programming includes increased distribution of an existing channel or launching a new channel, as well as the launch of Cinema Asian America—a new On Demand offering. Comcast has also agreed to invest 'substantial funds' to develop new talent pipelines for Asian-American-themed content."

A1+ and ALM television stations lose bid for licenses in Armenia.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 Dec 2010, citing armenianow.com: "Two TV frequency hopefuls in Armenia are fuming since yesterday, after unsuccessful bids to win a digital broadcast licence in a controversial competition administered by a government-influenced regulatory body. A1+ TV, known for its criticism of the government, lost its license in 2002 and has stayed off the air since, lost to rival ArmNews, an operating television station. And the ALM TV station run by the leader of the People’s Party, Tigran Karapetyan, lost to another operating channel, 'Yerevan'."

Radio Azatutyun (RFE/RL Armenian Service), 16 Dec 2010, Anush Martirosian: "HRAH head Grigor Amalian and six members of the commission gave a zero grade to the A1+ bid. One commission member gave the company two points. In the end, the commission unanimously voted to recognize ArmNews as the winner. Amalian said A1+ had submitted a number of fake financial documents bearing the seal of a British-registered company that stopped operating in 2007. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Meltex director Mesrop Movsesian denied presenting any false documentation." See also Human Rights Watch, 16 Dec 2010. See previous post about same subject.

VOA union president comments on the federal pay freeze.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
American Federation of Government Employees press release, 14 Dec 2010: "Tune in now to AFGE's 'Inside Government' for more reaction to the federal employee pay freeze! The show, which originally aired on Friday, Dec. 10, is now available on demand. ... Tim Shamble, president of AFGE Voice of America Local 1812, then addressed the effects of the pay freeze on members of Local 1812 at Voice of America." With link to audio. -- Does the pay freeze apply to staff of RFE/RL and Radio Free Asia, who are not really federal employees?

"It would be wise not to expect much from The Voice of America."

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Film.com, 14 Dec 2010, Charlie Toft: "Producers Mark Burnett (of Survivor fame) and John DeMol (Big Brother) have acquired the rights to a Dutch singing contest, and are bringing it to NBC this spring with the title The Voice of America (assuming that this is OK with the U.S. government, which runs an international broadcasting service by that name). ... Remember, [Burnett's] the man who believed a reality show about boxing (The Contender) would work on the very same network that refuses to air the sport even during the Olympics. It would be wise not to expect much from The Voice of America."

contactmusic.com, 14 Dec 2010: "Voice Of America Is Not What You Think It Is."

Globe and Mail, 15 Dec 2010, John Doyle: "To those of us of a certain age, the Voice of America means a U.S. propaganda radio station extolling the virtues of the American way of doing things. But never mind." See previous post about same subject.

Japanese scholars study Al Jazeera and its "consistently local perspective."

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Asahi Shimbun, 15 Dec 2010, Kazuya Matsumoto: "In February 2006, Osamu Nishitani, a professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, visited [Al Jazeera in Qatar] with colleagues studying the relationship between war and the media. The information he gleaned from interviewing the staff was subsequently included in a book titled 'Al-Jazeera to Media no Kabe' (Al-Jazeera and the Media Wall). ... It is sometimes said that 'CNN shows images of ammunition being fired. Al-Jazeera shows images of it hitting its target.' Nishitani describes al-Jazeera's importance as follows: 'The world's news is mostly produced and broadcast by British, American and French media outlets. However, al-Jazeera covers the news from a consistently local perspective, and by doing so, it has broken through the wall of "informational unilateralism".' ...

Al Jazeera program editor Mohamed Shokeir "emphasizes that al-Jazeera's reporting is not based in anti-American ideology. He describes its methods along these lines. 'You have documents. You have witnesses. We can verify this is happening. Go ahead. Do (report) it.'" ...

"Takesato Watanabe, 66, a Doshisha University professor who specializes in media theory, visited al-Jazeera's headquarters in March this year. It was his third visit. ... During his March visit, Watanabe asked al-Jazeera staff what regions they intend to concentrate on in future, out of an interest in their international strategy. Consequently, he learned that it is proceeding with preparations to begin broadcasting in Turkish. ... 'There are Turkish speakers throughout Europe,' says Watanabe. 'If al-Jazeera achieves its plan, it will strengthen its influence among them. This is how al-Jazeera is attempting to drive a wedge into the global "information order".' It will be difficult for us to take our eyes off al-Jazeera for quite some time."

Xinhua's CNC World using Eutelsat to reach Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Eutelsat press release, 16 Dec 2010: "CNC World, the English channel of Xinhua News Agency's TV arm CNC, will be able to reach into homes across Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 1 January 2011 following the conclusion of new satellite distribution agreements on the HOT BIRD(TM), EUROBIRD(TM) 1 and W7 satellites operated by Eutelsat Communications. Launched for the Asia-Pacific region and North America 12 months ago, CNC's objective is to develop into a global TV network covering breaking news and major political, economic and cultural news around the globe. Following the conclusion of a three-year agreement signed this month with Eutelsat, CNC World will have privileged access to cable and satellite markets across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa via Eutelsat's HOT BIRD(TM) satellites at 13degrees East whose measured audience continues to expand, now reaching into over 121 million homes. Premium coverage of the UK and Ireland will be ensured via Eutelsat's EUROBIRD(TM) 1 satellite at 28.5degrees East that reaches into over 10 million satellite homes, anchoring it as the flagship neighbourhood for this region. The channel will be available via a digital platform operated on EUROBIRD(TM) 1 by Arqiva. CNC has concluded an additional agreement with MultiChoice Africa for carriage of CNC World from 1 January 2011 on the DStv pay-TV platform, which broadcasts via Eutelsat's W7 satellite in over 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa."

TradingMarkets, 15 Dec 2010, onpassing CNC World(?) press release: "CNC World, the English-language channel of Xinhua News Agency's TV arm, CNC, will reach cable television audiences in Africa from Jan 1, 2011, according to an agreement signed Friday between CNC and South Africa-based MIH Group. The English-language channel of China Xinhua News Network Corporation (CNC) will be available to 4 million African families through MIH's cable network."

Al Jazeera "The Listening Post, 11 Dec 2010: "Why would a country spend $7bn on forming a new news channel that does not even broadcast locally? It seems absurd but when you consider the country in question is China, and the channel's modus operandi is to rehabilitate its image, it makes a little more sense. It is called CNC World and began broadcasting in July. Editors there describe their mission as 'grabbing the megaphone' and aim to neutralise all the negative coverage China gets in the international media. But there is already a steady stream of news output coming from China so is this new initiative nuanced enough to have an impact with a global audience? With channels like the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera consuming so much international airtime, is there enough room for one more? And how receptive will a global audience be to a news channel beaming out of a country that is notorious for controlling the news agenda? All questions The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi tries to answer." With video.

Fifty-four channels, up 85% from 2009, "played out" through GlobeCast facilities.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 15 Dec 2010, Julian Clover: "Newly installed GlobeCast CEO Olivier Barberot has described the last 12 months as a ‘banner year’, highlighting progress in playout services, event coverage, and international content delivery. The number of channels played out through GlobeCast facilities has increased by 85%. New additions include the launch of Russia Today in Spanish to Europe and the Americas, the expansion of France 24 in North America and Fashion One HD in Asia. A total of 54 channels worldwide now use GlobeCast playout. ... Playout centres in London, Paris, Miami, and Singapore were interconnected for the first time and the London facility was upgraded and optimized, increasing the efficiency and capacity of GlobeCast’s playout capabilities."

Transdniester court hands 15-year sentence to journalist, contributor to RFE Moldovan.

Posted: 18 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 17 Dec 2010: "A court in the breakaway region of Transdniester has sentenced Moldovan journalist Ernest Vardanean to 15 years in prison for espionage. The conviction prompted protests by the international community that the charges were unfounded. The 30 year-old journalist was arrested in April in Tiraspol, the de facto capital of the separatist region. He worked for Novyi Region, a Russian news agency critical of Transdniester's authorities. Vardanean was also a contributor to RFE's Moldovan Service, Radio Europa Libera. His arrest came just days before he was scheduled to begin a blog on the station's website." See also RFE/RL's Journalists in Trouble blog, 17 Dec 2010.

Report: Russian forestry company sues RFE/RL journalist.

Posted: 17 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Bellona, 14 Dec 2010, Charles Digges: "A hotly contested motorway will go through the ancient Khimki Forest north of Moscow to St. Petersburg as initially planned, despite environmental outrage over the project and brutal attack on reporters covering the issue, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters in St. Petersburg Tuesday. ... Meanwhile, Teplotekhinik, the company contracted to carry out the clear cutting lodged a civil suit against the leader of the Movement in Defence of the Khimki Forest, Yevgeniya Chirikova, as well as two journalists, one from Radio Liberty and the other from Novaya Gazata, the last of Russia’s fiercely independent national papers. Defenders of Khimki Forest have asserted that Teplotekhnik does not have the necessary permits for the clear cutting. Teplotekhnik in turn has asserted that Chirikova has cost them lost work time. The two journalists who are also being sued were simply rounded up at the site of Khimki Forest." See also RFE/RL, 14 Dec 2010.

Institute for War and Peace Reporting prizes for two RFE/RL journalists.

Posted: 17 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 13 Dec 2010: "Two RFE journalists covering Kazakhstan have been awarded major journalism prizes by the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) for their 'outstanding coverage of human rights issues in Central Asia.' RFE's Almaty-based Dilbegim Mavloniy earned the honor for her series of reports on a group of more than 200 Kazakh Muslims seeking asylum in the Czech Republic, which eventually prompted authorities to stop their forced deportation. And RFE's Zhasulan Kuzhekov was recognized for his reporting on a string of violent prison riots in Kazakhstan earlier this year."

"Mr. Putin, Tear Down This Network," or "another Ronald Reagan" might do it instead, he writes.

Posted: 17 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Big Journalism, 14 Dec 2010, John Sexton: "From the outset it was clear that RT [Russia Today] was a propaganda effort controlled completely by the Kremlin. ...Given its history, I was a bit surprised to see RT doing a segment this weekend on U.S. media propaganda. ... When it’s not doing media criticism, RT seems to spend most of its time attacking the US and capitalism. ... The Cold War was fought between the US and USSR by proxy armies in places like Korea and Afghanistan. The next Cold War is being fought in the landscape of international cable and satellite networks between patriotic outlets like Fox and anti-U.S. media issuing from the Kremlin and elsewhere (Iran’s Press TV comes to mind). It’s still early in the process, but already I have a feeling that somewhere out there is another Ronald Reagan waiting for his moment to shove this latest offshoot of state socialism into the dustbin of media history."

Rapid TV News, 17 Dec 2010: "Days after revealing its inroads into the UK news industry, more good news for Russian English-language news TV channel Russia Today (RT): the channel is now claiming an audience more than 4 times bigger than the aggregate audience of three of its rivals. A survey by Synovate has found that RT’s average daily audience in South Africa is now more than four times bigger than the overall daily audience of Deutche Welle, France 24 and TV5 Monde. The EMS Africa 2010 study is said to be the first large-scale television audience survey in Africa."

Colorado Springs Independent, 16 Dec 2010, Bill Forman: "[I]s anyone really surprised by Vladimir Putin's swaggering performance of Fats Domino’s 'Blueberry Hill,' which has been witnessed by more than a milllon perplexed viewers since Russia Today posted it online last Saturday?" With video.

russia-media.ru, 17 Dec 2010: "Prime Minister Putin's Question Time on TV was the biggest media event of this month. ... The Russia international website Voice of Russia showed the program online with simultaneous interpretation in English."

Developments in Qatar for France 24 and euronews.

Posted: 17 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 16 Dec 2010: "Under the guidance of the Chairman of Qatar Foundation for Information, Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, and direct supervision of its Executive President, Sheikh Jabor bin Yousuf bin Jassim Al Thani, The Oryx Radio Station will start broadcasting its French programmes on December 18, coinciding with the celebration of Qatar’s National Day. ... The preliminary broadcast on 94 FM is scheduled for today. This new broadcasting service is the fruit of cooperation between the Qatar Foundation for Media and Radio France International. ... Oryx will be broadcasting 24 hours a day. The new radio station plans to expand transmission to the region’s countries."

Rapid TV News, 14 Dec 2010, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French-based international news channel euronews has opened a permanent office in Middle-East city of Doha. Reporter Maha Barada has been appointed to cover all Middle-East countries.A former contributor to BBC News, which she has covered Israel-lebanese 2006 war for, she has previously worked in Beirut for channels MBC, Al Arabiya and Al-Ikhbariya."

France 24 adds digital platform in Turkey.

Posted: 17 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 14 Dec 2010, Robert Briel: "France 24 has announced that it has concluded a new distribution agreement with digital cable operator Türksat Teledünya, adding 200,000 households in Turkey. France 24’s French and English channels are now available across the Turkish territory. With this new agreement France 24 is now available on all cable and satellite platforms in Turkey, a potential audience of more than 6 million households."

Why international broadcasting should not be a foreign ministers' significant others' club.

Posted: 17 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 16 Dec 2010, Aurelien Girard: "Christine Ockrent, a well-known French journalist and wife of French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner, has come under accusations of organizing a spy network inside AEF (Audiovisuel extérieur de la France), a government-backed media consortium that includes Radio France International (RFI) radio, France 24 television, and TV5 Monde television, and is intended by the French government to become a French CNN. ... On Dec. 13, nearly 15 top executives of France 24 television announced they would not participate in any meetings organized or joined by Ockrent. And on Dec. 14, one-third of the 200 journalists of the TV station expressed their distrust in a joint letter published in Le Monde newspaper."

AFP, 16 Dec 2010 (translated by BBC Monitoring): "Asked by France Info to comment on a possible resignation following the vote of distrust in her, Mrs Ockrent said: 'I am staying (...) [ellipsis as published] It is up to the relevant ministries to decide on the procedure.'"

See also (in French) AFP, 13 Dec 2010, Le Pointe, 9 Dec 2010, and Le Monde on 15 Dec and 16 Dec 2010. See (in English) previous post about same subject.

Listen to NPR's foreign editor describe VOA as "a bit propagandistic."

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
In the questions following the first panel of International Broadcasting and Public Media: Mission and Innovation in the Digital Environment, an event at the New American Foundation on 8 December (see previous post), Joe Bruns, now of public broadcaster WETA, formerly of VOA, asked if there was potential for a newsgathering partnership between NPR (National Public Radio) and the Voice of America. Panelist Loren Jenkins, foreign editor of NPR, disagreed with the proposition, because "VOA is there to give the American government's message to the rest of the world and, if you'll excuse the labeling, it's a bit propagandistic." Steve Redisch, executive editor of VOA, disagreed about "propagandistic," but was also skeptical about the potential for a partnership. Listen to audio excerpt.

Read this summary of the event by retired VOA deputy director Alan Heil.

Epoch Times, 12 Dec 2010, Andrea Hayley: "Voice of America (VOA), and Radio Free Asia (RFA) are both radio stations broadcasting internationally with very specific mandates under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The two stations’ explicit affiliation with the BBG leaves them susceptible to the perception of being government-controlled. NPR, broadcasting within the United States, is funded in part by the government, but with the majority coming from a combination of foundations, public institutions, individuals, and businesses."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 10 Dec 2010: “'We want to make sure we’re not behind the curve on how people get information', [BBG member Dana] Perino said. 'We’re looking into ways to engage people, and we are trying to be innovative and use the money that we have more effectively.' Perino highlighted the Board’s recently launched strategic review which encompasses all aspects of U.S. international broadcasting. She encouraged participants to provide input during the public comment process."

"Al Hurra was more of an American bad, rather than an American good."

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 15 Dec 2010, Faisal J. Abbas: "[G]iven that [a WikiLeaked US] cable also suggested that Saudis enjoyed watching CBS or ABC news (with translation in Arabic) on an Arab satellite channel, then I suppose the question that one would ask would be 'If American goods are so popular in Saudi Arabia, how come Al Hurra, the government funded Arabic language news channel, was a flop?' The answer is that because Al Hurra was more of an American bad, rather than an American good. You see, a CBS or ABC news reporter would stand his/her ground and challenge his/her own government if needed, they do their job because they believe it is their duty to be advocates of the people, to say the truth and expose failures and corruption. Sadly, Al Hurra had a different mission in mind. When I interviewed the network's former head, Mowafaq Harb, prior to the launch of its Iraqi sister channel, he said that the channel's aim was to 'spread American values and democracy in the Middle East'. A few months later, Abu Ghraib happened! It goes without saying that people in the region must have then lost any belief, if any had existed to start with, in Al Hurra. (of course, the incident which revealed abuse towards Iraqi prisoners by US troops would have had no impact whatsoever on the popularity of American television shows or movies) Now had Abu Ghraib been uncovered by Al Hurra rather than The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, it would have been a different story all together."

It's not realistic to expect Alhurra to rival the audiences of Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya. But if the Broadcasting Board of Governors has data showing how Alhurra is doing vis-a-vis the other Arabic-language channels of non Arab countries (e.g. BBC Arabic, DW-TV Arabic, France 24 Arabic, Euronews Arabic, CCTV Arabic, Rusia Al Yaum, Al Alam, etc.), now would be a good time to share it. The more the BBG delays doing so, the more difficult it will be to justify the continued existence of Alhurra. See previous post about same subject.

Why the BBG spent $50,000 to support a conference near Montreaux.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 14 Dec 2010, Al Kamen: "So you're toiling away in Washington on the budget and taxes? Jealous that you're not in the Swiss Alps, where a few lucky government officials are staying at a beautiful Caux hotel school and conference center, overlooking Lake Geneva, in a week-long discussion gauging media efforts to make things better in war-torn countries? ... [T]he 32 or so media experts have a jampacked day-and-night agenda assessing methods of measuring media impact in "conflict countries." You could get a headache. The event is underwritten by a Swiss journalism organization, the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors and the U.S. Institute of Peace. The sponsors 'priced it very carefully,' BBG spokeswoman Letitia King told us, 'and it turns out it was actually cheaper' for the handful of Americans attending to fly over there. Everyone is staying in student dorms, she added. Apparently there was another obstacle in obtaining U.S. visas for some of the foreign invitees. (The BBG contributed $50,000 - from a research budget of about $12 million - to help with conference costs and travel for those from conflict areas who couldn't afford to pay to get there.)"

Mr. Kamen is referring to this conference: Evaluating the Impact of Media Interventions in Conflict Countries. In the previous post, I explain why successful international broadcasting is a fairly simple process, one that US scholars almost uniformly fail to understand. Describing it as an "intervention" seems to be turning the audience into a social science experiment. This is one reason why I fled academe.

From Heritage Foundation, mistaken impression that VOA was going to drop Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Indonesian.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 13 Dec 20190, Helle Dale: "At Voice of America (VOA), one radio language service after another has been closed down, and in October four major languages narrowly escaped getting the hook. These were not piddling obscure languages with a few hundred listeners but world languages: Spanish, French (to Africa), Mandarin, and Indonesian. ...

"Another reason for cutbacks in radio is an unconscionable amount of duplication within the broadcasting systems. For instance, not until recently did any sharing of journalistic and technical assets take place between VOA’s Latin America Service and Radio and Television Marti broadcasting into Cuba. Even today, the U.S. broadcasting entities directed at the Middle East—Al-Hurra television and the Persian News Networks of VOA, among others—function entirely independent of each other. ...

"Halt any further erosion of the BBG’s radio transmissions and capabilities, even as other media and venues are explored. The technological disparities between different parts of the global audience demand a mixture of media, including medium and shortwave radio alongside television and the Internet. ...

"[A] thorough strategic review and an ensuing comprehensive broadcasting strategy for the 21st century. This ought to include a realignment of assets and, ideally, a new and more effective governing structure. Ultimately, this work should be coordinated with an agency or center for strategic communication within the U.S. government that can clearly define the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and national security goals and its international broadcasting strategy."

Ms. Dale gives the impression that US broadcasts in Spanish, French (to Africa), Mandarin, and Indonesian were to be shut down. Actually the plan was to drop shortwave in Spanish and Indonesian, in favor of other, more successful media, and reduce shortwave in French and Mandarin. See previous post for my comments about the future of shortwave in international broadcasting.

I'm gratified to see her mention of duplication in USIB. This was the subject of my New York Times op-ed, 13 July 2010, and my paper in Foreign Service Journal, October 2010 (pdf). (They weren't listed in her footnotes, though.)

International broadcasting does not really need "strategy." Audiences in some countries have need for news that is more comprehensive and reliable than what they get from their state-controlled, i.e. "coordinated," domestic media. Provide that news through a medium prevalent among the audience, and an audience is achieved. If strategy is a matter of the "agency or center for strategic communication" dictating that US international broadcasting should emphasize this, and discuss less of that, with the expectation that audience opinion will fall into line (and in fact erroneously assuming that there will be an audience), US international broadcasting will fail. If the strategy is limited to determining in what languages US international broadcasting should transmit (such as the Foreign Office does for BBC World Service), success is possible, but there is hardly a need for a separate agency or center to perform this task. (In contrast to the Heritage Foundation, I believe in limiting the size of government.)

Heritage Foundation, 10 Dec 2010: "James L. Buckley, the former U.S. senator and federal judge who for 40 years advanced the conservative cause in all three branches of the federal government, last night received the Clare Boothe Luce Award, which is The Heritage Foundation’s highest honor for contributions to the movement. ... He was president of Radio Free Europe from 1982 to 1985... ."

Chinese Mongolian dissident released after 15-year prison term for VOA interview, etc.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 13 Dec 2010, Andrew Jacobs: "A prominent ethnic Mongolian dissident imprisoned in China on charges of espionage and 'separatism' was released last week when his 15-year term was up, but he remains missing along with his son and wife, according to human rights groups. The dissident, Hada, 55, who like many Mongolians uses a single name, is an influential advocate for Mongolian culture and one of China’s longest serving political prisoners. ... Mr. Hada was arrested in 1995 after organizing a rally in the provincial capital, Hohhot, that drew dozens of people, according to foreign newspaper accounts at the time. ... Mr. Hada’s conviction, announced a year later, was based on his role as a founder of the underground Southern Mongolian Democracy Alliance, a group that seeks independence for the region. The espionage charges stemmed from interviews he gave to Voice of America and overseas news media."

New York Times, 16 Dec 2010, Andrew Jacobs: "[C]onfined to a luxury hotel in Inner Mongolia along with his wife and son."

Slight whiff of synergy: VOA cites RFE/RL analyst re Afghanistan.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 13 Dec 2010, Meredith Buel: "Top U.S. defense officials say the new strategy for the war in Afghanistan announced by President Barack Obama a year ago is working. Some military and intelligence analysts, however, say the fight is far from over. ... Muhammad Tahir is an analyst from Radio Free Europe who has spent considerable time in Afghanistan. During a recent trip to northern Kunduz Province, Tahir said there was significant evidence of Taliban influence there."

Another distribution of self-powered radios for Radio Azadi listening in Afghanistan (updated).

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, 4 Dec 2010, Capt. Robert Leese: "Afghan Air Force, Afghan National Army and NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan advisors distributed 500 solar powered, hand-cranked radios, provided by Radio Azadi/Radio Liberty to two Feyzabad schools and villages on Dec 2. The radios provide information to the community on news and international support to Afghanistan. The distribution also showed them their government and military are providing support and security to their community. Distributing to the school children will ensure the entire family will enjoy the benefits of the radios."

Update: RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 13 Dec 2010, Julian Knapp: "RFE's Radio Azadi has distributed nearly all 20,000 solar-powered, hand-cranked radios to Afghans across the country. The project, which began on September 17, was designed to promote access to news and information, especially in rural and remote areas where illiteracy rates are among the highest in the world and where radio is often the only means for people to receive news. ... A senior Kuchi leader told RFE, 'Most Kuchis are not well-informed about national and international issues. These portable radios will help them better understand what is happening in Afghanistan.' ... The radios themselves, produced by US-based Eton Corporation, are equipped with solar panels and a hand-crank for easy, battery-free charging. Earlier this year, Eton worked with the American Red Cross to distribute similar radios in Haiti following the disastrous earthquake. The radios can also be used to charge mobile phones, which is particularly useful to people living without electricity. As a shepherd from Jawzjan province told a Radio Azadi reporter, 'Now, I will buy a mobile phone because I can charge it with this radio! There is no electricity in the desert where I am stationed with my animals.'" See previous post about same subject.

Richard Holbrooke, CNN International fan.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
CNN, 14 Dec 2010, Richard Roth, senior UN correspondent: The late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke "was a big fan of a program called 'Diplomatic License' I hosted for 12 years. While a staple on CNN International, the program usually ran at 4 a.m. on CNN in the U.S. Holbrooke never lost an opportunity to let me forget that. I didn't mind. There was a small cult following for the show. Even during an interview in August about the floods in Pakistan, I asked at the very end: 'Do you have anything else you would like to say?' Holbrooke replied: 'I wish Diplomatic License was back on the air at 4 a.m. in the morning on Saturdays so I could get up to watch it.'"

CNN iPad app can toggle "between U.S. and international news preferences."

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 14 Dec 2010: "CNN today announced its CNN App for iPad is now available on the App Store. The CNN App is designed to provide users with an immersive and visual news experience that takes full advantage of iPad’s expansive real estate and Multi Touch interface. Simultaneous to this launch, the CNN App for iPhone and iPod touch in the U.S. will be available for free, and a major update to the International version will add live breaking news video. ... Users have the ability to toggle between U.S. and International News Preferences, both of which serve live video of breaking news and select events as they happen. ... Jonathan Davies, executive vice president of CNN International Ad Sales: 'CNN International has a long track record of building ground breaking multi-platform platforms for our advertising partners. We’re very excited about now being able to offer them a superb iPad commercial opportunity as part of our growing portfolio of user and advertiser experiences.'"

CNBC Europe, CNBC Asia, and more CNBC on your Blackberry, for $270/year.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
USA Today, 14 Dec 2010, David Lieberman: "The business news channel Tuesday launched CNBC Pro, a subscription news and data service for traders who want to play in lots of markets — including commodities, exchange traded funds, futures, bonds, real estate and currencies. The introductory price is $24.99 for each of the first six months and an option to pay $269.99 for an annual subscription. ... CNBC Pro initially will work with BlackBerry mobile phones. But service for iPhones, iPads, Android devices and Nokia phones will come early in 2011. ... CNBC Pro also will feature live broadcasts from CNBC, CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia and offer shows and segments that will be available on demand."

International children's television deal includes "Transformers Prime" in Arabic.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 13 Dec 2010, Adam Benzine: "Turner Broadcasting has agreed a deal with Hasbro Studios, the LA-based production and distribution division of the toy giant, to air four kids shows on its channels. The agreement, which covers the UK, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Middle East, will start in summer 2011. Under the deal, Turner Broadcasting in EMEA will carry episodes of Transformers Prime, The Adventures of Chuck and Friends, Pound Puppies and My Little Pony on its Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Cartoonito kids' services. They will also appear on Turner's Cartoon Network Arabic in the Middle East and Boing in Spain."

The 1942 Christmas tree lighting ceremony that was broadcast via shortwave to the "boys and girls overseas."

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
WNYC, 12 Dec 2010: "In December 1942, just three years after the tree lighting spectacular at [New York City's] City Hall when one of Mayor La Guardia's children flipped a switch and instantly lit up 22 trees throughout the boroughs, strict wartime dimout regulations dictated how people in New York, New Jersey and Delaware celebrated the holiday season. ... The WNYC broadcast for this night, which was sent overseas by shortwave, features reporter Joe Fishler, who emphatically denied accusations leveled on the city that it 'has no heart' by recounting, in detail, the traditions and history of the 'Tree of Light' ceremony. Fishler was followed by Master of Ceremonies Edgar Krauss, who spoke from the stage and encouraged the park audience, and those listening at home, to join the Metropolitan Life Insurance Glee Club and Band in singing carols 'for the boys and girls overseas.' Before signing off, Fishler reminded the audience that this ceremony is proof that 'in spite of what you may have heard from our enemy propagandists in Germany ... we here in America still have Christmas trees and will keep on having Christmas trees as long as there is a United States of America.'" With audio.

BBC website, in English, accessible in China after Nobel interruption. BBC Chinese still blocked.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 13 Dec 2010, Michael Bristow: "The BBC's website is accessible once again in China after being blocked for several days. The blackout coincided with the award ceremony for this year's Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. ... In this latest incident the BBC's English-language website was unavailable from the day before last week's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. The BBC's World News channel was also disrupted." -- This story is significantly incomplete, because it does not mention that BBC's Chinese website (as just checked using the IBB web monitoring facility) continues to be blocked.

Azerbaijanis, at Bush House, protest "Armenian sympathizers" at BBC World Service.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
News.Az, 13 Dec 2010: "Azerbaijanis from different countries held a protest outside BBC World Service Radio's headquarters at Bush House in London on Saturday. Over 100 Azerbaijanis took part in the picket to protest at what they described as inaccurate reporting on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The protesters said that Armenian sympathizers worked at the BBC and did not allow objective reporting on the conflict."

American aficionado of British TV invests in a Roku XD-S.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Anglotopia.net, 12 Dec 2010, Dana: "I’ve been looking for new ways to both downgrade my cable subscription (sorry, but BBC America is not offering enough real Brit programming to justify extended digital service anymore) and to be somewhat lazy and order what I want, when I want as far as TV and movies from the comfort of either couch and my HDTV or from my bedroom TV. After much research, I invested in a Roku XD-S, which provides instant access to Netflix streaming, Amazon On Demand, Hulu Plus, and a host of other services (a full lineup of their offering is here. And it’s completely simple to set up – hook the box (about the size of an adult hand) up with a component cable or an HDMI cable to your TV, plug it in, make sure it’s getting a wifi connection (very important your wifi signal is strong), set up your services and your accounts (Netflix is $7.99 a month and Hulu Plus is about the same) and hook them up to thing like your Amazon account and your Pandora account. Then you’re set to go to town. No monthly fee on the Roku itself, BTW. ... Netflix: Unfortunately, the BBC’s agreement with Netflix for streaming media has just ended, so the selection is probably not as good as it was before. In particular, the last series of Doctor Who is not available streaming, but the last four were. However, there are some real gems in the classics department. At this moment, I’m watching A Bit Of Fry & Laurie – all the series are available. So is Black Adder, Red Dwarf, The IT Crowd (not the latest series, but hopefully soon), Hyperdrive, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Office (UK), Saxondale, Little Britain, and (surprisingly to me) one series of The Mitchell and Webb Look." -- Instead of a standalone media streaming device, our non-cable, non-DTH household uses an Acer Aspire Revo with our HDTV, which also adds general PC capabilities. Some video via Netflix is stop-and-go, remedied by backing up the video thirty seconds or so, until it's choppy again.

Latest example of un-international broadcasting: BBC Radio 3 HD available in the UK only.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC press release, 13 Dec 2010: "Following a successful trial during this year's BBC Proms, listeners will be able to enjoy HD Sound – an extra high-quality audio stream for live online listening – on all BBC Radio 3 programmes from Tuesday 14 December at bbc.co.uk/radio3. ... Initially, the stream will only be available for live programmes (not on demand) for UK listeners only."

"Zimbabwe must liberate the airwaves."

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Standard (Harare), 11 Dec 2010, David Makacha, journalism student: "Currently there are about four radio stations that are broadcasting from outside Zimbabwe. These are SW Radio Africa based in London, Voice of People with its base in Netherlands and Studio 7, an affiliate of Voice of America. Interestingly the majority of these so called pirate radio stations are owned by Zimbabweans whose efforts to establish radio stations in their homeland have been frustrated by a regime that that does not want to liberalise airwaves for its selfish propaganda needs. For instance, Capital radio was banned and had its equipment confiscated by ZANU PF in 2000 although the founders Gerry Jackson and Michael Auret had successfully appealed in the Supreme Court. They were left with no option to express themselves except to broadcast from London as SW Radio Africa. I call upon the government, ZANU PF in particular to liberalise the airwaves rather than wasting tax payers’ money buying equipment that is being used to try and jam pirate radio stations." -- What's the fourth station? The 2010 World Radio TV Handbook "target broadcasts" section lists a Zimbabwe Community Radio transmitting one hour a day on shortwave from a leased relay facility in South Africa. See previous post about same subject.

Reporters sans frontières Media of the Year prize to Somali station Radio Shabelle.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
All Headline News, 10 Dec 2010: "In a ceremony by Reporters Without Borders held Thursday night in Paris, Somali radio station Shabelle Media Network, based in conflict-ridden Mogadishu, was awarded the 2010 Press Freedom Prize. The international press freedom watchdog recognized Shabelle as 'Media of the Year,' according to Ali Abdi, Shabelle’s head of international relations. ... Like other local radio stations in Somalia, Radio Shabelle worked for several years under desperate and frightening conditions. Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have muzzled a number of local radio stations and have banned BBC and Voice of America from operating in areas controlled by the insurgent groups." See also Reporters sans frontières, 10 Dec 2010.

GlobalPost blogger claims VOA and RFE/RL did not cover Iran's Student Day.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
GlobalPost, 8 Dec 2010, niacINsight, "Global Blogger": "Yesterday was the 57th anniversary of Iran’s Student Day and the 2nd student’s day protest since the birth of the Green Movement in June 2009. Unfortunately this didn’t hit mainstream media. This could either be because of Iran’s constant censorship or the media being consumed with other Iran topics, i.e. Wikileaks and P5+1 talks. ... Even those who are often accused by the Iranian Government of carrying out a US Government of 'regime change' have no words on the regime and the students. The Voice of America declined to cover the story. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is silent, apart from a pointer in its Press Review to a Los Angeles Times story."

Press TV, 11 Dec 2010: "Heavy-handed British police have gone violent in dealing with thousands of university students protesting against the government's policy on rising tuition fees. ... Footages from France 24, the BBC and CNN showed security forces using apparent excessive force against the university students as they tried to enter the White Hall buildings."

China Radio International and (abstrusely) VOA mentioned in Pakistan media news.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Associated Press of Pakistan, 15 Dec 2010: Pakistan's federal cabinet "considered and accorded its approval for signing of MOU between China Radio International (CRI) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) for broadcast on FM 93 (Islamabad, Lahore, Multan and Kohat) and the programmes shall be in Urdu & English."

The Express Tribune (Karachi), 10 Dec 2010: "The director general of Radio Pakistan, Murtaza Solangi, was publicly humiliated by the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in what observers describe as an unfortunate incident on Thursday. Solangi, who has been associated earlier with the Voice of America and currently doing work with Radio Pakistan was told by Nisar that he was a stranger to the proceedings of the committee."

Daily Times (Lahore), 15 Dec 2010: "Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer on Tuesday said Mir Shakeelur Rehman, the group [Geo TV's] chief executive and group editor-in-chief of Jang Group, was himself an absconder as he had fled after plundering Voice of America’s money, and his channel was constantly broadcasting false reports of his (Taseer’s) departure to Dubai."

Move over RFA: Aung San Suu Kyi is now taking questions on VOA, too.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 15 Dec 2010: "Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi will take part in a weekly VOA call-in show every Wednesday morning (Burmese time) to answer listeners' questions on a broad range of political, social, and economic issues. ... 'Aung San Suu Kyi’s answers to our listeners' e-mailed questions at the beginning of the program will be followed by calls from listeners throughout Burma,' said VOA Burmese Service Chief Lwin Htun Than. 'This format gives us flexibility to get not only Aung San Suu Kyi’s opinion but also the thoughts of our callers as well.'" -- See previous post about Radio Free Asia's weekly (on Fridays) Q&A series with Aung San Suu Kyi. In US international broadcasting, the opportunities for duplication of effort are seemingly infinite.

Private radio stations targeting North Korea press for medium wave access in South Korea.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily NK, 15 Dec 2010, Mok Yong Jae: "Non-profit radio stations trying to bring information to the North Korean people constantly articulate the dire need for government-sponsored frequencies to be allocated to them, meaning the right to broadcast from within South Korea and massively reduce their costs. Currently, the South Korea government does not sponsor any radio programs aimed at North Korean citizens, with the exception of the military-run 'Voice of Freedom'. Although it runs programs for expats through KBS, the state broadcaster, because this state effort to deliver free, unrestricted information to Koreans abroad is delivered in South Korean dialect, regular North Korean citizens are presumed to have trouble understanding content or idiomatic phrases unique to the South. This situation persists even though the private South Korean radio stations are basically taking on the government’s responsibilities to the North Korean people." ...

President Kim Seung Cheol of North Korea Reform Radio: "Even though the current radio frequency (SW) signal is weak, the programs attract many North Korean listeners. If the stations were able to increase signal strength and clarity through the use of [South Korean] Medium Wave (MW) radio frequencies, the current radio programs would attract a far bigger North Korean audience." ...

"The director of Radio Free Chosun, Kim Sung Jung says he believes that the South Korean government is not supporting the radio stations targeting North Korea because it fears repercussions from the North. As a result, he claims, 'The South Korean government is essentially ignoring the right to freedom of information for the 23 million citizens of North Korea,' adding damningly, 'the lack of support for these radio stations translates into a lack of respect for the dignity of North Koreans.' Kim says that there are actually three main reasons why private-run radio stations are the optimal way of addressing the need for information to get into North Korea. First, North Korea cannot officially accuse the South Korean government of spreading propaganda if the radio stations are private. Second, the content of the radio programs is not influenced by change in the South Korean government, as it has been during the Kim Dae Jung-Roh Moo Hyun-Lee Myung Bak period. Third, non-governmental radio stations are better suited to developing and providing specialized programs to meet audience needs."

What a concept: broadcasting, including international broadcasting, that is independent of the government, even if the government provides the funds. Perhaps the best solution is more autonomy for South Korean public broadcaster KBS. KBS would have the most resources for broadcasting to North Korea and internationally.

There are conflicting reports about KBS's "Korean Network Channel" (also known as the Global Korean Network, or Social Cultural Radio). On powerful medium wave transmitters and some shortwave, this radio network nominally broadcasts to Koreans in neighboring countries, i.e. China, Japan, eastern Russia, and, oh yes, North Korea. According to KBS, the "channel provides accurate and objective information to ethnic Koreans living abroad." Is the Korean Network Channel providing an adequate news service about North Korea to North Koreans?

Daily NK, 16 Dec 2010, Kim Bong Seob: "The four main South Korean NGO broadcasters targeting the North Korean people held a public event in downtown Seoul yesterday evening, 'Now, Messages of Truth to the North Korean People.'" See all The Chosunilbo, 16 Dec 2010.

Daily NK, 16 Dec 2010, Mok Yong Jae: "According to a recent survey of 250 North Korean defectors living either in China or South Korea conducted during the period from late 2009 to early 2010, 68% said they had access to a radio or cassette radio while living in North Korea. Particularly given the fact that one of the findings of the research, 'Media Access inside North Korea' by InterMedia, an international media research organization, showed that 'intellectuals' were the primary listeners to South Korea’s anti-regime radio broadcasts, most experts agree that such broadcasts can have and are having a huge influence on North Korean society at large."

Daily NK, 7 Dec 2010, Mok Yong Jae: "Kim Myung Jin of Open Radio for North Korea demonstrates how North Korea controls the media. In the case of radios, the authorities disassemble the product and completely remove the parts which allow for changing the channel. In the case of analogue televisions, they remove the tuner which can change the channel and then seal it. In the case of digital equipment, they confiscate the remote control and seal the channel in place."

Daily NK, 7 Dec 2010, Shin Joo Hyun: The "National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) passed a recommendation yesterday [6 Dec] urging the National Assembly to enact the North Korean Human Rights Law and guarantee the North Korean people’s right to access external information. The recommendations contain support for the distribution of leaflets inside North Korea and the provision to NGOs of short- and medium-wave frequencies owned by the government." See previous post about medium wave transmitting possibilities to North Korea.

Through various media, North Koreans are increasingly aware of the outside world.

Posted: 16 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 10 Dec 2010, Libby Liu, president of Radio Free Asia: "[M]ounting evidence suggests that there are cracks, through which North Koreans are able to get a glimmer of the world outside their own. Cell phone use has shot up, especially along the Chinese border where wireless signals are stronger. This also is just one of the means by which many relatives of the 20,000 North Korean defectors in the South keep in touch with their family members. Restricted technology such as MP3 and MP4 players, DVDs of South Korean soap operas and films, and even USB memory sticks are increasingly making their way into the hands of many North Koreans who get these goods on the black market. Some of the most sought-after pieces of hardware are shortwave devices to listen to foreign radio. With the rising popularity of Korean-language broadcasters from the South and overseas, many North Koreans depend on them for reliable information and the latest news on events inside North Korea. Drawing on audience media research among North Korean defectors and refugees over the last few years, North Korea expert Peter Beck has speculated that there may be more than a million shortwave listeners in a population of 24 million. ... The fact remains, despite these cracks, that many North Koreans still are less than fully aware of the perilous position their leaders have placed them in during this current crisis. This is why it's essential for international powers to consider ways of working together to keep the North Korean people informed."

It's also essential for the entities of US international broadcasting to consider ways of working together.

Peter Beck's estimate of over a million shortwave listeners in North Korea certainly is speculation. From non-representative surveys of defectors from North Korea (I wrote the first questionnaire for this series of surveys), we know that the audience for international radio is above zero, and that international radio was especially important to those who eventually left the country. Information and entertainment from outside are getting inside.

Daily NK, 15 Dec 2010, Kang Mi Jin: "Releasing an article, 'American Imperialists’ Sneaky Psychological Warfare Misusing Modern Science and Technology,' on the 14th, Rodong Shinmun, the daily publication of the Chosun Workers’ Party declared, 'All types of U.S. propagandist means including VOA (Voice of America) have been constantly releasing information slandering progressive countries’ social systems.' ... The article continued, 'Using the tools of information technology, they produce and circulate films and entertainment programs to preach American values in order to change the anti-Americanism of world peoples,' concluding, 'In some countries, serious problems have arisen such as the waning ideological and mental condition of children and social conflict.'" Via twitter.com/w7voa.

The Korea Herald, 15 Dec 2010, Shin Hae-in: "Although not so explicitly, the communist North Korea appears to be becoming more aware of capitalist cultures and trends, a change the Kim Jong-il regime has feared the most and tried to prevent for decades. Not only the social upper crust, but the majority of the general public has seen popular South Korean TV series through copies that flow in from China and is aware of the financial gap between the two divided states, North Korean defectors said during a recent forum in Seoul. ... 'It is difficult to fend off South Korean products and TV shows from entering the country so as long as China remains to be its main trade partner and financial donor,' said Ju Seong-ha, a North Korean defector who graduated from the North’s top Kim Il-sung University."

Broadcasting Board of Governors December public meeting is Friday at 1600 UTC.

Posted: 15 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 10 Dec 2010: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet on Friday, December 17. The public meeting is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. [1600 UTC]. The BBG will hear a Middle East trip report, a report from the Board’s Budget and Strategy Committee, and a report from the Chairman of the International Broadcasting Bureau Coordinating Committee on distribution/technology. The meeting will be webcast, both live and on-demand, at www.bbg.gov."

"BBG Renews Calls for Press Freedom."

Posted: 15 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 10 Dec 2010: "On the occasion of UN Human Rights Day 2010, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) renews its call for press freedom and freedom of information around the world. 'Advancing press freedom is central to our mission, including our efforts to combat censorship online and on the airwaves' said Walter Isaacson, chairman of the BBG. 'As a model of free press, our journalists around the world endure hardships and take great risks to bring news and information - via everything from SMS text to shortwave radio - that is vital to our audiences, particularly in places in conflict or without a free and vibrant media.'"

For news about W1kiLeaks and international broadcasting, go elsewhere.

Posted: 15 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
According to news reports, the WikiLeaks dump of US diplomatic cables includes occasional mentions of US and other countries' international broadcasting.

As a federal employee during my day job, I am not allowed to facilitate access to these cables, including in this website. In fact, it's questionable whether I should be reading the cables even at home. This is problematic, because during my daily web search for media news, it's difficult to swing a cat without hitting one of The Guardian's verbatim transcripts. (With apologies to our family cat.)

I will report on some of the stories about the cables, but not on the cables themselves. The cable that seems to have gone the most viral in the news media is the one comparing US entertainment programs such as Desperate Housewives and David Letterman with government funded Arabic-language channel Alhurra as tools against violent jihad. See the previous post and Media Bistro, 9 Dec 2010, PRI The World, 9 Dec 2010, Newsbusters, 8 Dec 2010, Realbollywood News, 10 Dec 2010, The Guardian, 10 Dec 2010, among others.

It would be interesting to know if the references in The Guardian, 7 Dec 2010, and subsequent reports, about Alhurra's budget, about it interviewing President George W. Bush, about it allegedly broadcasting "a call to arms against Israel by Hezbollah," were in the original cable, or just part of the Guardian reporter's effusive analysis. I am not in a position to find out. You (if you're not a federal employee) can look it up, but please don't tell me the answer.

Crikey, Pure Poison blog, 13 Dec 2010, Jeremy Sear: "Watch how, in the hands of the shameless, 'Desperate Housewives and [the] Late Show With David Letterman are doing more to persuade Saudi youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars of US government propaganda' becomes 'Fox News – fair, balanced and turning Saudis off jihad like no CNN could' in just three easy steps."

RFE/RL Washington chief editor comments on W1kiLeaks.

Posted: 14 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Review of Books, 7 Dec 2010, Christian Caryl, Washington chief editor for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: "In the old days, journalists would have done what WikiLeaks’s print media partners, like The Guardian and Der Spiegel, are attempting to do now: make judgments about which documents to release and whether or not to redact the names mentioned in them based on the larger public interest and the risk of inflicting damage on innocent bystanders. Yet one cannot escape the feeling that the entire exercise is rendered tragicomically moot by the mountain of raw material looming, equally accessible, in the background. [Raffi Khatchadourian on the New Yorker website] contends that WikiLeaks is evolving into something more like a conventional journalistic organization, one that will make value judgments about what it’s doing rather than simply dumping documents into cyberspace willy-nilly. But the sheer scale of what the group does suggests that this is something of a fool’s errand. Assange says the organization has been releasing the cables at the rate of about 80 a day. (By my back-of-the envelope calculations, that means that we’ve at least another 3,162 days of revelations to go as I write this.)"

Radio Taiwan International begins domestic exhibit "100 Years of Sounds."

Posted: 14 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
CNA, 11 Dec 2010: "An exhibition of sounds currently being held at the National Taiwan Museum will bring some of the Republic of China's most popular, familiar and forgotten sounds from the last 100 years back on center stage, the event's organizer said Saturday. Hosted by Radio Taiwan International (RTI), the country's oldest radio broadcasting company, the exhibition titled '100 years of Sounds -- Listening to ROC History' is a collection of recordings that serve to keep the history alive in the minds of Taiwan's people, RTI Chairperson Sunshine Kuang said at the opening ceremony. ... The sound exhibition will run through Mar. 13, 2011 in Taipei and then tour Tainan, Taichung, Chiayi, and Yilan until Dec. 18, 2011." See also Radio Taiwan International, 11 Dec 2010.

BBC America devoted Saturday to the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton (updated).

Posted: 14 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Celebrity News Service, 3 Dec 2010, Anne Lu: "BBC America is set to [dedicate] a day of programming to the newly engaged royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton. On December 11, the channel has added 'William & Kate: Modern Monarchy' to give viewers a glimpse inside the couple's relationship. The 30-minute special will be hosted by BBC World News America's Katty Kat, and will look at the storied history of William and Kate's relationship – from their start as students at the University of St. Andrews to the future king's proposal in Kenya." See also BBC America undated press release.

Update: New York Post, 10 Dec 2010, Linda Stasi: "[T]he usually terrific BBC America airs an embarrassingly flattering special, 'William & Kate: Modern Monarchy,' hosted by BBC World News America's Katty Kay."

Obit: Anita Davis Avital, Israeli international broadcaster.

Posted: 14 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 12 Dec 2010, Sara Manobla: "Anita Davis Avital, who died last month, was a prominent and engaging figure in Anglo circles in Jerusalem of the 1950s and ’60s. ... The word was out that the Jewish Agency was setting up an English-language radio station, to be broadcast overseas on short wave. The service was headed by Michael Elkins, who later had a stellar career in broadcast journalism. Anita was auditioned and with her acting experience was taken on to read the news. She soon found herself doing everything – interviewing, editing, directing, writing features, presenting music programs. The station was called Kol Zion Lagola, the Voice of Zion to the Diaspora, broadcasting twice daily to Europe and South Africa."

JTA, 14 Dec 2010, Alan D. Abbey: Sara Manobla, writer of the obit above, is "herself a veteran of English-language broadcasting in Israel."

Domestic dissemination? "The Voice of America" is coming to NBC.

Posted: 14 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Unreality Shout, 14 Dec 2010, Jo Curtis: "It seems the NBC are keen to ride on the gravy train that is American Idol and the forthcoming US X Factor by launching their own singing talent show. To premiere in spring next year, ‘The Voice of America’ is being produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) and John de Mol (Big Brother). It’s based on the successful Dutch version of Idol which is entitled, ‘The Voice of Holland’ and will feature four celebrities forming 'teams' of singers who they’ll coach and mentor throughout the competition."

E! Online, 13 Dec 2010, Natalie Finn: "Which, alas, has nothing to do with international broadcaster Voice of America." Andy Sennitt informs me that, according to Dutch media, "The Voice of America" is only a working title.

DCist, 13 Dec 2010, Sriram Gopal: "Though it's only six years old, the DC Jazz Festival is well on its way to becoming a world class event, attracting top-notch talent and an increasingly large audience. Unfortunately, the weak economic climate has taken its toll on the festival, forcing its organizers to scale back on programming for the past two years. But things are looking up: there is a stable board of directors in place, and increased corporate sponsorship will allow the return of marquee events like the Jazz on the Mall concert and the closing performance held at Voice of America, both of which were cancelled in 2010." -- Hmmmm, maybe "The Voice of America" can be broadcast from the Voice of America, which has an auditorium (used for the DC Jazz Festival closing performance and other events) possibly suitable for the task.

Radio France International audio available via new free mobile application.

Posted: 14 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Mobiclip press release, 9 Dec 2010: "Extending its broadcast to new media platforms, RFI launches a multiplatform mobile application enabling people to listen news bulletins and programs from RFI and its subsidiaries Monte Carlo Doualiya, and RFIRomânia, live and on-demand. Powered by Mobiclip™, the service enables users to stay informed all over the world in 13 languages: French, English, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, Persian, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Romanian, Hausa and Kiswahili. The application can be downloaded for free on all connected mobile devices running Apple iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows-Mobile and soon Bada operating systems. RFI and its subsidiaries are now available for almost all smartphone users." -- Interesting that this press release never spells out "Radio France International." Monte Carlo Doualiya, formerly known as Radio Monte Carlo, broadcasts in Arabic from a medium wave transmitter in Cyprus and via FM outlets in several Arab countries. RFIRomânia is RFI's extensive Romanian programming and network of FM affiliates in Romania. So how many people will actually listen by this means?

Al Jazeera office in Kuwait shut down after it airs live video of opposition gathering.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 Dec 2010: "The Kuwaiti Ministry of Information announced today it has shut down Al-Jazeera's office in Kuwait, the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported. The ministry also withdrew press accreditation from all of Al-Jazeera's local staff. The suspension came after the Doha-based pan-Arab news satellite station aired live footage of Kuwaiti police cracking down on an opposition gathering and broadcast an interview with an opposition member of parliament. CPJ calls on Kuwaiti authorities to reopen Al-Jazeera's office immediately and to reinstate all accreditations. ... Hassan Saeed Elmogummer Taha, a news producer with Al-Jazeera, told CPJ that the Ministry of Information called the station's office in Kuwait on Friday and warned that the ministry would close the office if Al-Jazeera interviewed opposition MP Musallam al-Barrak. 'We informed the ministry that we don't take editorial guidelines from governments,' Taha told CPJ. The interview with al-Barrak aired on Sunday." See also Aljazeera.net, 13 Dec 2010, with video.

Without "anti-American" Al Jazeera, Qatar would not have won World Cup bid, he writes.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Weekly Standard, 20 Dec 2010 issue, Lee Smith: "Without the fame and influence of Al Jazeera paving the way, Qatar never would have won the World Cup bid. ... The Saudis’ deterrent was Al Arabiya, the Dubai-based pan-Arab news network. Al Arabiya is known for its relatively pro-American views but that’s largely just a function of its acting to counter Al Jazeera, the world’s most famous anti-American network."

DISH IPTV service brings Arabic channels to Arab Americans, even if they don't have satellite dishes.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Arab American News, 10 Dec 2010: "The DISH Network TV service debuted its new IPTV service this past week, responding to customer requests and complaints from people unable to install satellite dishes at their apartments, condos, and/or homes. ... 'Any customer who could not receive our services through satellite now can receive through broadband,' said Mahmoud El-Danef, a senior marketing manager with DISH. 'We've had high demand for this service especially in Dearborn where many Arab Americans could not install our satellite but now we're making the dream a reality, so regardless of where you live you can get our services without problems.' ... Arabic channels include Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera Sports, New TV, Murr TV, MBN, Al Arabiya and more."

In newly released tapes, President Nixon said propaganda is "one of the reasons we don't allow Voice of America in" the USA.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Orange County Register, 9 Dec 2010, Jessica Terrell and Michael Mello: "[T]he latest cache of Nixon tapes released Thursday provides the public with hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes snapshots of the Nixon presidency. ... [In 1973,] Nixon spoke of his irritation with the newly-formed Public Broadcasting Service and its receiving federal dollars. He wanted journalist William Moyers and shows like "Washington Week" off the air. 'Whether it's (William F.) Buckley on the right or Moyers on the left, the government should not be in the business of propaganda,' the president asserted. 'That's one of the reasons we don't allow Voice of America in this country. That should be the line.' And, he cautioned his staff, 'It must not appear that you're trying to affect the network's news content. That's what you must do, but you must not appear to be doing that. That would be stupid.'"

KCET Los Angeles, dropping PBS, will start evenings with NHK Newsline and BBC World News.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
LA Observed, 10 Dec 2010, Kevin Roderick: Public television station KCET in Los Angeles, which has dropped its affiliation with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), will begin its new prime time schedule with "a news block at 6 p.m. with 'NHK Newsline' and 'BBC World News' at 6:30." See also KCET press release, 9 Dec 2010, which lists some foreign dramas, including "Doc Martin."

Now even Greenland is dropping shortwave; was used to reach remote areas and fishermen.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
RadioActivity, 10 Dec 2010, onpassing story in radionyt.com, translated from Danish by Stig Hartvig Nielsen: "On February 11 2011 at 8 AM local time all medium wave stations carrying KNR (Radio Greenland) - Upernavik (810 kHz), Uummannaq (900 kHz), Qeqertarsuaq (650 kHz), Nuuk (570 kHz) og Simiutaq (720 kHz) - will be switched off for good, and the transmitters will be dismantled. On the same day the relays of KNR newscasts twice daily via Tasiilaq 3815 kHz [shortwave] will also cease. The decision has been taken by the Ministry of Housing, Infrastructure and Transport in the Government of Greenland. After February 11 2011 KNR will only be available via Low Power FM-radio in inhabited areas of Greenland. Thus no coverage of the waste country outside the towns and villages - and KNR will no longer be available for the fishermen at sea nor the Inuit population in Canada. The decision was made because the transmitters were getting old and too costly to maintain. Besides - very few people are using the MW transmissions. ... At a point it was considered replacing the aging MW transmitters with one or two new SW AM-transmitters near Nuuk, but it was estimated that it would cost 4 million DKK (535.000 euro) to establish such a new SW operation. It was also felt that few listeners would invest in a SW receiver and the quality would be 'doubtful' - suffering from 'atmospheric phenomena'." See previous post about Radio Prague and Radio Slovkia plans to drop shortwave.

Indonesia has dropped some, but also keeps some, domestic shortwave broadcasts, according to the Indonesian Radio Stations website maintained by Atsunida Ashori.

Xinhua: Radio France International reporter writes that Chinese "hero" journalist took a bribe.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Xinhua, 10 Dec 2010, via China Radio International: "A Chinese journalist working for a French radio station has told Xinhua he has 'cast-iron evidence' of corruption involving a leading economic newspaper that employed a 'hero' investigative journalist who was hunted by the police earlier this year. Huang Han, 32, using the pen name "Cao Guoxing," said Tuesday on t.sina.com.cn, a Chinese microblogging site affiliated to Sina.com, that the Economic Observer News was involved in corruption. 'I have promised Liu Jian (president of the Economic Observer News) to give the evidence to the newspaper committee,' Huang told Xinhua. 'I already have cast-iron evidence.' Huang, a journalist with Radio France Internationale, made the charge against Qiu Ziming, 28, a reporter in the Shanghai bureau of the Economic Observer News during a heated debate triggered by leading freelance writer Wang Xiaoshan, who suggested naming Qiu 'Journalist of the Year' for his 'fearless spirit' Monday. Qiu Ziming became a media hero after refusing to succumb to an illegal arrest warrant issued by police in Zhejiang Province and later received an apology from the police. He was named as the recipient of a 50,000-yuan (7,463 U.S. dollars) bribe, while deputy chief editor of the Economic Observer News Wang Shengzhong was alleged to have taken 800,000 yuan (119,403 U.S. dollars) in bribes." Qiu Zhiming is mentioned in this RFI story, 11 Oct 2010. See also Xinhua, 10 Dec 2010.

Iranian media office "angry" at France 24 for calling Persian Gulf something else.

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Tehran Times, 13 Dec 2010: "The Iranian Office for Supervising Foreign Correspondents and Media is angry about the distortion of the name of the Persian Gulf in a program on France 24, an international news and current affairs television channel. 'We will seriously pursue the issue,' office director Alireza Shiravi told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Sunday. ... Shiravi said that France 24 has no office in Iran, but the Culture Ministry will admonish the TV channel through the Iranian embassy in France. France 24 repeatedly used a false name for the body of water instead of the correct name of Persian Gulf during a program on the relations between Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, which was broadcast on December 4." -- The Persian Gulf is sometimes, controversially, called the Arabian Gulf. I could not find the France 24 report in question at their English or French websites; perhaps in Arabic?

Al Jazeera English and France 24 approved for broadcast in India, now lining up cable and DTH outlets (updated).

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 7 Dec 2010, Naman Ramachandran: "India's ministry of information and broadcasting has approved the entry of news channels Al-Jazeera and France 24 into the country. Both are expected to launch their English-language feeds in January. Al-Jazeera already has a bureau in New Delhi; now, with a dedicated India feed, it hopes to reach 115 million households in the country. The channel applied for permission to launch in 2006. France 24's approval came on the back of the Indo-France audiovisual agreement signed Monday."

Aljazeera.net, 9 Dec 2010: "'This is an exciting breakthrough that has been in the works for several years, and we are extremely pleased that Al Jazeera English's groundbreaking news and programming will soon be available in India,' Al Anstey, managing director of the channel, said."

The Hindu, 8 Dec 2010: "The channel started broadcasting in India at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting gave the final go-ahead to permit the creation of downlinking of Al Jazeera's signals in the country. 'Hundreds' of cable operators had agreed to include the free-to-air channel in their current line-up, according to Mr. Anstey, who refused to reveal any numbers, whether with regard to investment, targeted reach or revenue. All he would say was that the potential market for Al Jazeera English channel was the more than 300 million English speakers in the country. 'We have received letters of intent from cable operators in Kerala, Mumbai; very strong intents from Kolkata and the West Bengal region, so you can see that all parts of the country are represented,' said Anmol Saxena, channel's bureau chief in Delhi. 'We also expect to finish negotiations with DTH operators within the next three or four weeks.'"

Indo-Asian News Service, 8 Dec 2010: "Al Jazeera International moved a formal application to launch its India operations along with the global launch of the channel in 2006. The application was referred to the home ministry, which cited security considerations in denying permission that year. ... For France 24, the downlinking permission coincided with the visit of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, the channel's bureau chief in India Constantin Simon said."

India will now be a key testing ground for the competitiveness of the big three English international news channels: CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera English. DW-TV, Australia Network, RT (Russia Today), Channel News Asia, NHK World, and now France 24 are also available. In addition, CNN is parter with India's CNN-IBN English-language news channel.

Update: Wall Street Journal, Real Time India, 10 Dec 2010, Tripti Lahiri interviewing Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English managing director: "Q: India already has scores of Indian cable news channels reporting on the country 24/7, as well as the BBC, CNN and so on. Where does the 'Voice of the South' fit in and don’t Indian channels already fill that slot? Anstey: The reason why we say we are truly international and that’s one of the things that distinguishes us from our colleagues at the BBC and CNN—and they do a fantastic job—is the way we are seeing the world. We put every country on a level playing field. We’re not seeing the world through a geographic or cultural prism. We’re not seeing the world through western eyes, we’re not seeing the world through American eyes, we’re seeing the world as a series of stories. That means we cover the developing world more than our competitors to some extent. The Indian channels are providing news and information and current affairs predominantly on India for India. What we want to do is cover India for the world and then cover the world for India."

Businessworld (New Delhi), 10 Dec 2010: "India has a small but highly influential audience for international English news; and curiosity about Al Jazeera style of reporting may stand the channel in good stead."

"They bombed al-Jazeera's reporters. Now the US is after our integrity."

Posted: 13 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Comment is Free, 10 Dec 2010, Wadah Khanfar, director general of the Al Jazeera network: "Our bureaus in Kabul and Iraq had previously been bombed by the US in an attempt to stifle the channel's independence; one of our journalists in Iraq was killed. ... This week ... [c]ables from the US embassy in Doha were made accessible by WikiLeaks, alleging that Qatar was using Al-Jazeera as a tool for its foreign policy. While nothing could be further from the truth, US diplomats had the freedom to express their opinions. But interpretation and conjecture cannot take the place of analysis and fact. They focused on the source of our funding rather than our reporting, in an attempt to tarnish our work." See previous post about same subject.

MoroccoBoard.com, 7 Dec 2010: "Al jazeera , the 'pioneering' Arab TV station that claimed to be a lightening rod for freedom of the press in the Middle East and North Africa, turned out to be a crude instrument in the hands the big-ruler-of-Tiny-Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. ... This release from wikileaks basically confirms what many observers have said. Qatar's Aljazeera is using Pan-Arabism and islamism in a sensational manner to attract viewers and position itself as a subversive and populous tool. At the same time, Qatar's Emir was hedging his bet by hosting the largest US base in the Middle in his country." See previous post about Morocco's differences with Al Jazeera.

Amnesty International protests Press TV's "televised confession" of Iranian woman accused of killing her husband.

Posted: 12 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
UPI, 10 Dec 2010: "Organizing a televised confession during the case of an Iranian woman accused of killing her husband is a mockery of justice, Amnesty International complained. Amnesty said a production team from state-funded broadcaster Press TV was sent to retrieve Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and her son Sajjad Qaderzadeh from prison and take them to their home to produce a 'visual recount' of an alleged murder scene for a 'documentary.' ... Amnesty blasted the Press TV production, which is expected to air Friday, as a mockery to the justice system." See also Amnesty International, 10 Dec 2010.

Press TV, 10 Dec 2010: Video report "Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in the spotlight."

Australian Communications and Media Authority finds that Al Manar "breached Australia’s broadcasting codes in regards to racism."

Posted: 12 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, 10 Dec 2010: "The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on Thursday released its latest report into whether Hezbollah-affiliated satellite television station al-Manar has breached Australia’s antiterrorist standards or broadcasting codes. The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has welcomed ACMA’s finding that al-Manar breached Australia’s broadcasting codes in regards to racism. ... AIJAC’s view that al-Manar should be banned in Australia because it is owned and operated by the terrorist organisation Hezbollah has not changed. 'Al-Manar’s raison d’être is to radicalise Muslims around the world - including in Australia - to support Hezbollah’s terrorist methods and goals. ... 'We also hope and expect that, given their common interest in preventing incitement to terrorism and extremism, Australian and Indonesian authorities will be liaising to address the continued import of al-Manar into both countries via Indosat.'"

Australian Communications and Media Authority, 9 Dec 2010: "The ACMA found the broadcast of the current affairs program, With the Viewers, on 15 November 2009, was in breach of clause 1.2 of the codes, as the program was not presented fairly. The ACMA also found the broadcast of the current affairs program, With the Event, on 28 February 2009, was in breach of clause 1.3 of the codes, as the program was likely to gratuitously vilify a group on the basis of ethnicity and religion." With link to Al-Manar TV Final Investigation 2010 (pdf).

On VOA Deewa Radio, guests debate whether WikiLeaks are journalism or espionage.

Posted: 12 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Times (Lahore), 9 Dec 2010, Mohammad Taqi: "Last week, the Voice of America’s Pashto service Deewa Radio conducted a special on WikiLeaks and whether they constituted espionage or journalism. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke recorded this ‘exclusive’ observation for the telecast: 'The WikiLeaks is very unfortunate. This is an appalling breach of security by whoever did it — we think we know who it is — but whoever did it violated his oath of office to the US and committed an act for which he will be charged to the full extent of the law.' The host then asked me and other participants to comment on Holbrooke’s remark. My take was, and remains, that the US does not stand a chance in hell to prosecute Assange under the present US and international laws and that Richard ‘the bulldozer’ Holbrooke was alluding to pulverising sergeant Bradley Manning — the little guy who allegedly disobeyed Big Brother."

RFE/RL, 8 Dec 2010, Ron Synovitz: "A debate is raging about whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange committed a crime under U.S. law by publishing classified U.S. government documents on the Internet."

Development in civil suit related to the murder of the Radio Free Asia GC.

Posted: 12 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Washingtopn Post, 8 Dec 2010, Keith L. Alexander: "D.C. Superior Court Judge Brook Hedge rejected three requests Wednesday by the attorneys for the three D.C. roommates in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of Robert E. Wone, the Washington lawyer who was staying the night at the three men's home the evening he was stabbed to death four years ago. ... Wone, a lawyer who worked as general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was found fatally stabbed in the men's home at 1509 Swann St. NW on Aug. 2, 2006. The roommates said an unknown intruder entered the townhouse and killed Wone. No one has been charged in the slaying." See also Who Murdered Robert Wone website.

Even in Qatar?

Posted: 12 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Gulf Times (Doha), 9 Dec 2010: "Al Jazeera and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) yesterday signed a partnership agreement to promote the value of freedom of expression, access to information and to facilitate the development of professional and ethical standards of journalism."

Al Jazeera reporter in Egypt remains in detention.

Posted: 12 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Zawya, 8 Dec 2010, Marwa Al-A’sar: "The Sixth of October City prosecutor extended on Monday the detention of Al-Jazeera.net correspondent Badr Mohamed Badr for 15 more days pending investigation, Badr's wife Azza Al-Garf told Daily News Egypt Wednesday. 'A police truck carried my husband Badr ... to the prosecution office Monday, and the prosecutor ordered that he [remain] in custody without interrogating him or allowing me to see him,' Al-Garf stated. Badr was not allowed to see his lawyer either, she added. ... On Nov. 24, the authorities arrested Badr at his home and allegedly confiscated his computer over some stories he was planning to publish. Badr has been accused of being a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group, of promoting MB ideologies, and of having MB leaflets in his possession."

Reporters sans frontières, 9 Dec 2010: "Nilesat on 3 December suspended al-Fraen TV for two weeks for 'violation of the media code of ethics and rules of covering elections', based on a decision by the Media Free Zone administration, in Sixth of October City. In the same way, the director of the electoral high commission, Sayed Abdul-Aziz Omar, sent the top prosecutor a complaint from the information minister, Anas al-Fekki, against the channel for violating the principles of election coverage. The information ministry also conveyed a complaint to the electoral high commission against the pan-Arab channel al-Hurra, on the basis of the same allegations. The complaint was also referred to the chief prosecutor, but no suspension was ordered." See previous post about same subject.

China's Blue Ocean Network now available to North America on Galaxy 23 and Asia on AsiaSat 3.

Posted: 12 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Globecast press release, 8 Dec 2010: "GlobeCast, a global content management and delivery company ... has signed on Blue Ocean Network (BON), a new, independent and the first and only English-language news channel delivering North American and Asia-Pacific audiences comprehensive programming produced exclusively from, and about, China. GlobeCast picks up the channel’s signal from GlobeCast’s Hong Kong teleport where it then routes through the GlobeCast Backbone Network for uplink to the AsiaSat 3 and Galaxy-23 satellites for Asian and North American audiences. In addition, GlobeCast has also signed content licensing deals for BON, making the channel available on hotel platforms in Asia."

Apparently BON is positioning itself as distinct from China's other two English-language channels, CCTV9 and CNC World, by being exclusively about China. The BON About Us blurb states:

"Funded by venture capital firm CDH Venture Partners and independent in its editorial control, Blue Ocean Network (BON) is the first and only private English-language Television Network to offer International viewers comprehensive and objective programming produced exclusively from, and about, China. Until now international audiences have had limited access to independent, quality programming from this fascinating country."

Objective? Recent examples would be BON's coverage of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to dissident Liu Xiao Bo and of the hastily contrived Confucius Peace Prize. While not matching CNN's or BBC's treatment of the subjects, BON's coverage was somewhat more evenhanded than that from other Chinese media. See the BON Media Watch programs on 9 October and 10 December 2010. Would BON's own reporting be allowed in Mandarin, and within China?

Aljazeera.net, 11 Dec 2010: "Why would a country spend $7bn on forming a new news channel that does not even broadcast locally? It seems absurd but when you consider the country in question is China, and the channel's modus operandi is to rehabilitate its image, it makes a little more sense. It is called CNC World and began broadcasting in July. Editors there describe their mission as 'grabbing the megaphone' and aim to neutralise all the negative coverage China gets in the international media. But there is already a steady stream of news output coming from China so is this new initiative nuanced enough to have an impact with a global audience? With channels like the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera consuming so much international airtime, is there enough room for one more? And how receptive will a global audience be to a news channel beaming out of a country that is notorious for controlling the news agenda? All questions The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi tries to answer." With link to video of the 10 Dec "Listening Post."

CNN, 10 Dec 2010: "Several foreign news websites -- including CNN and BBC -- were blocked in mainland China Thursday and Friday. Broadcasts of CNN International were blacked out intermittently, when news of the [Nobel] peace prize was reported. CNN reports about China's new Confucius Peace Prize were not blocked." See also CNN, 10 Dec 2010.

The Guardian, News Blog, 10 Dec 2010, Peter Walker, onpassing dispatch from Tania Branigan in Beijing: "On the China Radio International site, an article warns: 'The Nobel peace prize… is attacking China now; tomorrow it may be attacking other developing countries and non-western countries.'"

Armenians donate money to help "critical" A1+ television regain its license.

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Azatutyun (RFE/RL Armenian Service), 6 Dec 2010, Ruzanna Stepanian: "Thousands of Armenians have donated small amounts of money to a fund set up to assist a television company that has been struggling for years to regain its broadcasting license. A group of Armenian scholars and public activists initiated the so-called People’s TV Trust in October with the stated major purpose of helping A1+ TV return to the air, as well as 'creating and broadcasting non-profit television programs of public significance.' ... A1+, a rare television company critical of the government in Armenia, controversially lost its broadcasting license in 2002 and has not been granted another license in any of a dozen contests it has participated in since then. ... [The European Court of Human Rights] fined the Armenian authorities in 2008 over the ... consistent rejection of A1+ applications for a new frequency, which it said constituted a violation of the 'freedom of expression' article of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Farsi1 says its Tehran office wasn't shut down, because it doesn't have a Tehran office.

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 8 Dec 2010: "A television channel partly owned by News Corp on Wednesday rejected Iranian reports that a Tehran office it ran or worked with had been shut down, saying it has no presence in the city and does not contract projects there. The satellite entertainment channel Farsi1, which broadcasts soaps and sitcoms dubbed into Persian, has no office, employees or contractors working in the Iranian capital, chief executive officer Zaid Mohseni said. ... The semi-official Mehr news agency on Tuesday quoted Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi saying that the Tehran office of Farsi1 had been shut down and five employees arrested for 'helping the anti-revolutionary movement'."

Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Dec 2010, Eric Ellis: "Last year, [Moby Media Group founder Saad] Mohseni and [Rupert] Murdoch hooked up after being introduced via the former MTV CEO Tom Freston, who ran a textile business in the hippie-esque Afghanistan of the 1970s and whose wife Kathy is a close friend of Wendi Deng Murdoch. The News and Moby joint venture, Farsi1, is produced out of Dubai and beams light-entertainment offerings by satellite across neighbouring Iran, often programming from Murdoch's Fox dubbed into Iran's official Farsi. A departure from the dreary religious-oriented official fare, Farsi1 has been an instant hit but has prompted fierce condemnation in the Iranian state media." See previous post about Farsi1.

Video now available from New America Foundation's "International Broadcasting and Public Media."

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
New America Foundation website: International Broadcasting and Public Media: Mission and Innovation in the Digital Environment. At the New America Foundation in Washington, Wednesday, 8 December 2010, 1:00-4:15pm. "In an increasingly digital media landscape, people across the globe are relating to their news outlets in new ways. The missions of media producers are changing, as technological innovations reshape news networks into communities. The assumption is that U.S. public media institutions and international broadcasters are also transforming themselves to serve the emerging public interests in media. How should these institutions be changing to meet the needs of audiences that expect to engage in news and information, not just passively receive it? Even amid the explosion of information, there are information gaps. If foreign coverage one of them, how best is it produced and by whom? These are just some of the questions that Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, Rena Golden of CNN International, Dana Perino of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Jason Seiken of PBS, and many others will be addressing in a series of panels sponsored by New America, Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law, and the Communication Department of Georgia State University."

Update: Video of the panels now available at the New America Foundation website.

New America Foundation, 8 Dec 2010, Allie Perez: At an event on 5 October at the New American Foundation, Public Broadcasting Service president Paula Kerger noted "that PBS, in contrast to commercial media outlets in America, is expanding its foreign bureaus and coverage. Perhaps it would be a better use of resources for there to be more cross-over between American public media and the Voice of America; maybe there are opportunities for VOA to collaborate with public media institutions—benefiting American interests abroad and domestic, without breaking the spirit of Smith-Mundt. However, the culture has one problem that will be much tougher to crack: many journalists’ distrust of government in general, so that the idea of government funding is synonymous with government having editorial control."

I suggested a partnership of US international broadcasting and private US broadcast networks in my recent Foreign Service Journal article.

Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority will upgrade performance "in cooperation with Radio Sawa."

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Bahrain News Agency, 8 Dec 2010: "President of the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa today received the University of Tennessee Media and Telecommunications Affairs Director Professor Norman R. Swan. At the meeting, Shaikh Fawaz thanked Professor Swan for holding training sessions for the News Directorate's officials and staff. On his part, Professor Norman Swan expressed his sincere thanks to Shaikh Fawaz for his constant support, lauding the Bahraini cadres' capabilities and keen interest to be updated on the latest technology. Earlier, Professor Norman Swan visited the News Centre and submitted to Shaikh Fawaz a detailed report containing his recommendations on how to improve the centre and upgrade the performance of its staff in cooperation with Radio Sawa." -- See previous post about the visit of BBG member Victor Ashe to the Middle East. Mr. Ashe is former mayor of Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee, which might tie the pieces of this story together. Radio Sawa broadcasts in Bahrain on 89.2 MHz FM.

International Freedom of Expression eXchange, 9 Sept 2010: "The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its deep concern over the authorities' continuing policy of restricting freedom of opinion and expression and the imposition of further restrictions on the manner and means by which information is disseminated. In a recent decision, the Information Affairs Authoritiy suspended the broadcast of audio reports by the daily 'Al Wasat' newspaper on its website. On 16 August, 'Al Wasat' published an story saying that it had received a letter from the Information Affairs Authority asking the newspaper to suspend broadcasting of its audio reports, a modern press service provided by the newspaper to its online readers." See also BCHR, 27 Nov 2010. On the creation of the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority, see AMEinfo, 11 July 2010.

Iranian journalist enters prison for charges including interview on BBC Persian.

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 7 Dec 2010: "On Sunday, veteran journalist and human rights defender Emadeddin Baghi, at left, turned himself in to authorities at Tehran's Evin Prison to begin serving a seven-year prison term, despite serious health complications that occurred during previous stints in custody. ... In 2000 and again in 2007, Baghi was convicted on antistate charges, spending nearly four years in prison, CPJ research shows. Baghi was detained again in December 2009, after the BBC Persian service rebroadcast a two-year old interview he conducted with Ayatollah Montazeri, a prominent cleric who had fallen out of favor with the political leadership. ... Baghi's seven-year term stems from two cases: He was sentenced to one year in connection to his activism in an organization he established, the Society for the Defense of Prisoners Rights, and to six years for the Montazeri interview."

US public diplomacy in Afghanistan funds television drama series (updated again).

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 17 Nov 2010, Maria Abi-Habib: "[T]he fictional police unit of 'Eagle Four' [is] the first of several television shows funded by the U.S. government as part of a strategy to galvanize Afghans behind their security forces. The show's first episodes debuted in recent weeks on Tolo TV, one of Afghanistan's largest stations. Tolo will follow up in the spring with 'Birth of an Army,' a reality show that follows recruits from their first training missions to their battles with insurgents. The U.S.-backed shows are part of a broad allied effort to counter a Taliban propaganda offensive against coalition and Afghan forces, a push that runs parallel to the surge of forces on the ground. TV is seen as an effective way for the U.S. to spread its message to Afghanistan's largely young and illiterate population. ... [M]ost, if not all, of the shows' costs are funded from the U.S. Embassy's public diplomacy budget, a pool that also pays for English-language classes and communications towers that give stations like Tolo a wider reach across Afghanistan. The overall diplomacy budget has grown in the past two years to $114.6 million from $1.2 million. ... Tolo TV is part of the Moby Group, which also operates FARSI1, a joint venture with News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal."

New York Times, 20 Nov 2010, Rod Nordland: "'Eagle Four' is not only a propaganda exercise, but also a training one, its financers say. 'It is a bit of both,' said David Ensor, director of communications for the American Embassy here. 'To help build capacity in the nascent Afghan film and TV industry, and if it sets a standard for police work that is something to aspire to, great.' Officials at Tolo TV’s production unit would not comment on the show’s financing, and Mr. Ensor declined to say how much public diplomacy money the show received. Four weeks into the first, 13-part series, the show has been building a devoted following, and cast members are indeed often stopped on the streets — and sometimes get death threats from the Taliban, who are of course the main antagonists."

Update: Los Angeles Times, 7 Dec 2010, Laura King, reporting from Kabul: "Most viewers are probably unaware that the series is financed at least in part by the public diplomacy arm of the U.S. Embassy, which acknowledged its monetary support while declining to disclose a dollar amount. A team of Australian TV veterans was brought in to mentor the Afghans working on the show. Boosting public respect for the Afghan security forces and drawing higher-quality recruits are crucial to U.S. hopes that the police and army will be ready to assume responsibility for the country's security in three years — a goal some consider way too optimistic."

VOA Special English on "The Story of Radio."

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of America Special English, 7 Dec 2010, Steve Ember and Shirley Griffith: "You may be hearing our broadcast on what is called short wave. These are frequencies between three thousand and thirty thousand kilohertz. They are often called megahertz. One megahertz is the same as one thousand kilohertz. Short wave is good for broadcasting very long distances. The short wave signals bounce off the ionosphere that surrounds the Earth, back to the ground and then back to the ionosphere." See also the comments. -- Not an easy subject to explain with the 1,500 word vocabulary of Special English.

Reporters sans frontières protests confiscation of shortwave radios in Zimbabwe (updated).

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 1 Dec 2010: "Reporters Without Borders has ... learned that the police in rural areas have for some time been confiscating shortwave radio sets from people caught listening to programmes made by Zimbabwean journalists in exile. The press freedom organization firmly condemns the use of such methods to censor information and restrict individual freedom. They must stop at once, and the sets must be returned to their owners. NGOs recently distributed shortwave radio sets to rural residents to enable them to receive alternative radio programmes broadcast from abroad. [Voice of America's] Studio 7, Radio VOP (Voice of the People) and Shortwave Radio Africa – broadcast from Washington, South Africa and London, respectively – have around 1 million listeners. Studio 7 contributed to the distribution of radio sets so that people could listen to something other than the pro-government Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). Five homes in Bikita West, in the province of Masvingo, were raided on 25 November and radio sets were seized. Norbert Chinyike and Charles Mhizha, two supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (the former opposition party currently in a shaky coalition with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF), were arrested after radio sets were found in their possession. They were later released without being charged. Shortly before that, police searched the offices of the NGO Democratic Councils Forum in Gweru and arrested an employee after discovering radio sets that were awaiting distribution in the countryside."

Update: SW Radio Africa, 7 Dec 2010, Alex Bell: "SW Radio Africa’s Bulawayo correspondent, Lionel Saungweme, said on Tuesday that police and officers from the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) have been confiscating shortwave radios from villagers in Lusulu, Binga. Saungweme explained that police are going around asking for receipts for the radios, seizing them under the pretence that they are stolen. Jabuba Ward councilor, Themba Kujulu, meanwhile was arrested when he refused to hand over his radio, saying police had to prove it was stolen if they wanted to seize it. 'Some villagers, mainly MDC activists, are also being told that it is a serious offence to be listening to outside broadcasts, so it’s just an excuse,' Saungweme said. The situation in Binga is the latest in a countrywide police campaign to get rid of radios, used by information starved Zimbabweans to receive broadcasts from exiled radio stations like SW Radio Africa." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin visits Kazakhstan, discusses FM and television distribution.

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 7 Dec 2010: "During a three-day trip to Kazakhstan to discuss media freedom, RFE President Jeffrey Gedmin met Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov, senior members of parliament, local journalists, and NGO leaders. In Astana, Gedmin and Massimov discussed the future of RFE’s local station, Radio Azattyq, including the possible addition of FM broadcasts and joint ventures with public television. ... Currently, RFE programming in Kazakhstan is only available on shortwave radio, satellite, or online."

Foreign Policy, 8 Dec 2010, Jeffrey Gedmin: "Washington needs to move beyond the short-term inside game and develop a serious long-term strategy to support the Kazakh people. This means more robust support, rhetorically and materially, for NGOs, independent media, and Kazakh opposition leaders who can demonstrate that they believe in pluralism and tolerance. It would mean bringing far more pressure to bear on the Kazakh government to release political prisoners, end censorship of Internet content and restrictions on mass media, and decriminalize libel -- a favored method of quelling dissent."

RT (Russia Today) claims ratings success over DW and France 24 in the UK.

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 8 Dec 2010: "Over 2 million people in the UK watch the Russia Today TV Channel each month. This is 5 and a half times more than attracted by the English- language service of Deutsche Welle and one and a half times more than attracted by a similar service of France 24. According to respondents in polls, Russia Today offers a new way of presenting the news."

News on News, 8 Dec 2010: "The survey also showed that 45% of British viewers think that mainstream media, such as BBC News, CNN and Sky News, is biased. However, 69% of RT viewers cited mainstream bias. Viewers also agreed informative news coverage, quality of presenting and credible & trustworthy content were reasons why they chose RT. The Kantar Media survey is based on 10,250 face-to-face interviews conducted during October and November 2010. Kantar Media is a branch of Kantar, one of the world's largest market research and knowledge-based development networks." -- News on News usually reprints other organizations' press releases. I don't see this release (yet) at the RT or Kantar websites.

Freedom House introduces China Media Bulletin (updated).

Posted: 11 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
E-mail from Chris Walker at Freedom House: "Freedom House is pleased to introduce the China Media Bulletin, a news digest and succinct analysis focusing on traditional media and internet freedom issues related to the People’s Republic of China. ... Drawing on both English and Chinese-language sources, each week the China Media Bulletin will include sections that examine relevant broadcast and print media news, as well as new media and technology developments in the PRC. In addition, this weekly review will cover the main media freedom developments in Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan. ... People interested in receiving this weekly update, can send an email to cmb (at) freedomhouse.org to subscribe." Inaugural CMB issue (pdf).

Update: Now available in online (html) as well as pdf versions at the Freedom House website.

President Obama's deficit reduction commission recommended 10% budget cut for US international broadcasting.

Posted: 10 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Government Executive, 6 Dec 2010, Humberto Sanchez: "President Obama's deficit-reduction commission will propose saving $1 billion by eliminating overlap in Homeland Security Department grant programs and $100 million by cutting the budget for obsolete international broadcast operations by 10 percent. ... The 10 percent cut to the Broadcasting Board of Governors' international broadcasting operations account comes after Congress provided $734 million for fiscal year 2010. The Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill would provide $744 million for international broadcasting operations in fiscal year 2011. The House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee called for a total of $757 million in fiscal year 2011 BBG funding. The BBG oversees a host of overseas broadcasting operations, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Martí, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network stations of Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. The commission believes that most of the BBG's programs are worthwhile, but they also believe some are no longer useful - but did not say which. 'While some of these broadcast operations serve to promote democracy and freedom in certain parts of the world, others have outlived their utility,' the commission said."

US international broadcasting does not directly attempt to promote democracy, but provides its audiences with reliable news where such a news service is not available from the domestic media. The languages of USIB have been pared down to those of target countries where there is a need for credible news. As I explained in my New York Times op-ed, 13 July 2010, and in Foreign Service Journal, October 2010, by eliminating duplication and organizational inefficiency, US international broadcasting could continue to transmit in all of its languages, with no diminution -- indeed, probably with an enhancement -- of its news service. (The Fiscal Commission could not garner the 14 votes of its members necessary for immediate Congressional action.)

Shortwave stories from the attack on Pearl Harbor, 69 years ago.

Posted: 09 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (Wasilla, Alaska), 7 Dec 2010, Heather A. Resz: "Alaskan Augie Hiebert "was operating a radio station in Fairbanks for Capt. Lathrop when he heard the first report on the raid on Pearl Harbor. 'He was operating his own short-wave radio [probably amateur radio] when he heard the news,' his daughter said. 'That’s what he did every morning — he got up every morning and got on his shortwave radio.' He called the top military commander in Fairbanks and reported the radio transmission he’d heard, she said. His report was the first word military leaders in Alaska had of the attack on Pearl Harbor."

The Korea Times, 7 Dec 2010, Robert Neff: "When Harold Barlow Quarton, the new American consul general in Seoul, arrived in Korea on Nov. 28, 1941, there was little doubt in his mind that war was in the air. ... [On 8 December] 'I got the report on my shortwave radio, and at 9 a.m. we were handed a "special notice" in Japanese which stated that "the imperial army and navy fell into a state of war with Great Britain and the U.S.A.,"' recalled Quarton in a newspaper interview with Wisconsin State Journal."

Concord (MA) Patch, 7 Dec 2010, Matt Rand: "I was working for the telephone company [at the time]," said [Concord resident Helen] Wilayto, who said the day of the attack one of her friends was getting married and it was between the mass and the reception that they heard the news from a radio report. ... News of the attack was also filtering in from people with shortwave radios as well."

metroWNY, 8 Dec 2010, Robert L. Heichberger: "I remember the events of December 7, 1941 and the days following. As a sixth grader in a small one-room schoolhouse in the Boston hills of western New York state, the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt were heard on Monday, Dec. 8 from the small, static-filled, battery-powered radio in the schoolhouse. At the same time, President Roosevelt’s word were audible via shortwave radio around the world."

Radio Prague follows Radio Slovakia (and others) with plans to drop shortwave.

Posted: 09 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Prague Facebook page, 8 Dec 2010: "Radio Prague will be terminating shortwave broadcasting as of January 31. The station’s financing for next year has been drastically reduced by the Foreign Ministry in line with government austerity measures aimed at cutting the state deficit. The details of the budget are still being discussed. At present, broadcasting will continue in all six languages via the internet, satellite and partner stations." -- Radio Prague was especially famous for its shortwave broadcasts during the 1968 Prague Spring era. Listen to Jonathan Marks's Media Network program about Radio Prague, 18 August 1988.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 1 Dec 2010: "Radio Slovakia International has confirmed that it will stop broadcasting on shortwave on 31 December 2010, due to budget cuts. Explaining that broadcasting on shortwave uses a whopping 60 percent of its budget, the English presenter on Sunday’s listener contact programme said that the station had the choice of closing down completely or continuing on satellite and Internet."

The Hindu, 9 Dec 2010, editorial: "With a curfew imposed, all borders now closed, and foreign FM radio stations shut down, [Côte d'Ivoire] country is virtually at a standstill. Rumours will fuel tensions, and as broadcasters like the BBC and Radio France Internationale have cut back on short-wave global transmissions, Ivorians may be cut off from external sources of news." See previous post about same subject.

Radio World, 9 Dec 2010: Stories about shortwave rank 4, 17, and 25 of the top 25 stories at Radio World website.

Al Jazeera English will be heard on Pacifica radio stations in five US cities.

Posted: 09 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Pacifica Radio press release, 6 Dec 2010: "In keeping with its promise to promote understanding and help reduce the causes of conflict between different peoples, Pacifica Radio has announced that it will now carry news coverage from Al Jazeera English, the award-winning 24-hour international news and current affairs channel. ... The listener-supported community radio network will initially broadcast one hour of news from Al Jazeera English in three markets - at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday starting Monday, December 6th on KPFA in Berkeley; and at 5 a.m. starting Tuesday, December 7th on WBAI in New York and on KPFT in Houston. Starting in January, content from Al Jazeera English will be carried by WPFW in Washington DC and KPFK in Los Angeles, and it will also subsequently be made available to Pacifica affiliates."

Washington Post, 7 Dec 2010, Paul Farhi: "Berkeley-based Pacifica thus becomes the first American radio broadcaster to air programming from AJE, the English-language offshoot of the Arabic-language Al Jazeera network. AJE has struggled to gain distribution in the Unites States, in part because of AJE's association with its Arabic sister network, whose coverage of the early stages of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drew criticism from the Bush administration and some governments in the Middle East."

Houston Chronicle, 6 Dec 2010, David Barron: "'It is programming of a high quality that is underexposed in America, and it certainly falls within our mission to bring in sources of news from different locations to round out media offerings for our listeners, our members and the broader community,' said Duane Bradley, the [Pacifica] Houston station's general manager. 'And I think it will provide an opportunity to dispel some of the myths, perceptions and misconceptions that generally accompany anything that has "Al" as part of its name.'"

Houston Chronicle, 7 Dec 2010, letter from David Parish: "[A]s long as KPFT carries jihadist-supporting Al-Jazeera, I am not listening to them. They have the freedom to decide what to broadcast, and I have the freedom to decide what to support. I'll miss the Sunday blues shows. I guess from now on I have to listen to cable. They can take this as voting with my feet."

CultureMap (Houston), 7 Dec 2010, Sarah Rufca: "Those opposed to its inclusion into the Houston market are welcome to not listen — and with an airtime of 5 a.m., I doubt I'll be listening either. But the idea that Al Jazeera English has no place on American airwaves is at odds with the very American values people are trying to protect."

For English teaching via mobile phone, BBCWS Trust discovers "less is definitely more."

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 7 Dec 2010, Max de Lotbinière: "English language lessons are providing a blueprint for the way that mobile phones can be used to deliver education opportunities to communities in some of the poorest parts of the world. In Bangladesh the BBC Janala service, targeted at rural and urban poor, has delivered over 3.5m three-minute audio English language lessons since its launch in November 2009... . Sara Chamberlain, head of interactive at [BBC World Service Trust, said: ... 'We also quickly moved from using British accents to Bangladeshi English because this is the accent they will need to use to be understood. Bangladesh is increasingly trading with countries around it and the common language is Asian English. We've also reduced the length of lessons, reduced the amount of content taught in lessons and simplified the navigation. Less is definitely more when you are trying to motivate people with low levels of education, who have dropped out of school and aren't confident in their ability to learn.'"

"We cannot afford to run two global news operations," and more notes about BBC World Service.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 5 Dec 2010, Dan Sabbagh: "Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, has told the Guardian he is aiming to make savings of half a billion pounds to ensure the public broadcaster can function within the terms of its recently agreed licence fee settlement. ... The BBC will also cut a quarter from its online spending – currently running at £200m a year – and make unspecified but significant savings by merging the World Service with BBC News in 2014 because 'however well-resourced the BBC is, we cannot afford to run two global news operations'."

The Guardian, 7 Dec 2010, letter from EMO Williams: "The existence of a journalistic team devoted to the special needs of a global and individual foreign country audience is the main factor that has given the World Service its unique authority. The fact the writers of the bulletins worked closely with professionals from the countries to which the news was addressed gave that news authority, flavour, credibility and strength. This is to be abandoned because 'we cannot afford to run two global news operations'. Thompson gives as prime examples of BBC excellence Strictly Come Dancing and Dr Who. These are offered as compensation for what is seen as the most reliable, accurate information on the globe. Perhaps an apt symbol of Britain today.

The Guardian 7 Dec 2010, letter from Philip Foxe: "The notion of BBC impartiality is likewise quite farcical, particularly given that the World Service is funded by the Foreign Office. The point is to present a news service which is much less biased than others so it gains credibility, then present a subtler version of events. Anyone following events in Iraq and Afghanistan on the BBC could be under no illusion about this."

The Guardian 7 Dec 2010, letter from Jonathan Kempster: "Your report (War threatens Ivory Coast as poll result overturned, 4 December) that the incumbent government has closed down the FM radio services of BBC World Service and Radio France International once again illustrates the need for continued investment in shortwave broadcasting. Over recent years, many international broadcasters, the BBC and RFI among them, have disinvested in shortwave. The situation in west Africa shows the short-sightedness of such a policy. When local media outlets can be so easily controlled by governments, shortwave can always get through, often providing the only available source of accurate news and information."

The Guardian, Media Guardian, 6 Dec 2010, letter from GlennOlive: "After the English language itself, the BBC World Service is arguably this country's most effective and worthwhile contribution to world culture. What if, say, the BBC offers World Service supporters the option of a voluntary premium to be paid on top of the licence fee – nothing extravagant, say 20p per week – which will be earmarked exclusively for the World Service?"

journalism.co.uk, 7 Dec 2010, Laura Oliver: "A journalist with the BBC World Service has been awarded a special radio prize by the European Commission for his reports from Guinea. Mark Doyle took the category prize for his work Guinea on the Brink, a programme that focused on an attack by government troops on pro-democracy demonstrators in the country in 2009 and highlighted potential human rights abuses."

Egypt's ruling party website accuses BBC Arabic of "false information" about election (updated).

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Al-Ahram Weekly, 2-8 Dec 2010, Gamal Essam El-Din: Egypt's New Democratic Party Secretary-General Safwat El-El-Sherif "was scathing about foreign media coverage of [Egypt's 28 Nov] election. 'Most foreign TV channels were interested only in manipulating facts and covering one-side of what happened,' said El-Sherif. 'These channels are generally biased. They select interviewees in order to convey a misleading view of the voting process.' All local and foreign media correspondents were allowed free access to the NDP's headquarters, he added. The NDP's website has accused the BBC's Arabic television channel of disseminating 'false information about the vote', claiming the BBC's Arabic coverage 'was biased and refrained from reporting real facts about the voting process'."

Update: Huffington Post, 7 Dec 2010, Magda Abu-Fadil: "[T]he BBC Arabic Service sent a protest letter to Egyptian Information Minister Anas El Fiki decrying harassment of its local and foreign correspondents assigned to cover the [Egyptian elections]. It said filming for one of its programs in Egypt had been halted, that production companies working with the BBC in Egypt had been threatened by a senior official in the state-run media, and that a BBC correspondent had been put under surveillance by Egyptian security." See previous post about same subject.

BBC Worldwide buys NZ's Documentary Channel and licenses Dancing With the Stars to South Korea.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
New Zealand Herald, 9 Dec 2010, John Drinnan: New Zealand's "Documentary Channel has been sold to the British Broadcasting Corporation, which plans to turn it into one of its international brands. ... From March the BBC - whose worldwide arm also owns UKTV and BBC World News - is turning the Documentary Channel into a Kiwi-fied version of its international brand BBC Knowledge - based out of Sydney."

C21Media.net, 6 Dec 2010, Jesse Whittock: "BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) has licensed local rights to its format Dancing With the Stars to South Korea's MBC Plus Media. A local version of the celebrity dance-off format, which began life on UK pubcaster BBC1, will broadcast on Korean cablenet MBC Dramanet in 2011. ... Format licence deals were also struck for the first time this year in Turkey, Albania, Greece, Indonesia and Vietnam."

BBC international iPlayer will be iPad app, requiring paid subscription (updated).

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 1 Dec 2010, Ben Fenton: "The BBC will seek to build on the popularity of its iPlayer by launching an international version of the video-on-demand service as an application for Apple’s iPad. .... Luke Bradley-Jones, managing director of BBC.com, its commercial web operation, said it would be aimed at early adoptors of technology who had an interest in high-quality BBC programmes. He said it was too early to say what the BBC would charge for the Global iPlayer but said it would be a monthly subscription and that the US would be among the first markets to come online."

paidContent:UK, 2 Dec 2010, Robert Andrews: "This is huge. The BBC will launch the long-awaited global version of its iPlayer TV catch-up service on a subscription-only basis, and initially only on iPad. ... BBC.com managing director Luke Bradley-Jones told the Digital TV Summit, according to Broadcast... 'I can announce here that we’re going to be adopting a pure paid subscription model for the global iPlayer for launch – in part to get audiences used to using the service, but more importantly so we can generate additional value from the service in terms of the user data that it gives us. We will also offer advertisers the chance to partner with us on the "free" areas of the service.'" -- Will BBC radio programs on demand be part of the "free" areas? Presently, we outside the UK can use the iPlayer to access BBC radio programs.

The Guardian, 2 Dec 2010, Jason Deans: "Jana Bennett is moving from her job as BBC Vision director to BBC Worldwide, with responsibilities including the global rollout of the international subscription version of the iPlayer video-on-demand service, the corporation confirmed today. ... Bennett will also oversee BBC Worldwide's wholly-owned channels outside the US, including BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC HD... ."

Update: Variety, 6 Dec 2010, Steve Clarke: "'The BBC Global iPlayer has at least three important factors going for it,' said [media commentator Steve] Hewlett. 'It's got the content, and the BBC knows from experience in the U.K. that the technology works and is easy to use. Thirdly, the BBC brand is one that resonates internationally. BBC Worldwide is hardly starting from scratch with the Global iPlayer.' ... 'While there is a market for people who will pay to see British shows online, in any given region it is not likely to be a big market,' said Dan Cryan, head of broadband at analysts Screen Digest. 'But layering very small audiences in multi-platform markets where the competition is less well established could tot up to make a reasonable business provided it is a genuinely global initiative.'"

Reports: US cable suggests Desperate Housewives and Letterman more effective than Alhurra against extremism.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 7 Dec 2010, Robert Booth: "Satellite broadcasts of the US TV shows Desperate Housewives and Late Show With David Letterman are doing more to persuade Saudi youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars of US government propaganda, informants have told the American embassy in Jeddah. Broadcast uncensored and with Arabic subtitles alongside sitcoms such as Friends on Saudi Arabia's MBC 4 channel, the shows are being allowed as part of the kingdom's 'war of ideas' against extremist elements. According to a secret cable titled 'David Letterman: Agent of Influence', they have been proving more effective than Washington's main propaganda tool, the US-funded al-Hurra TV news channel. ... Diplomats said they believed the allure of actors such as Eva Longoria, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer meant commercial TV had a far greater impact than al-Hurra which, according to one report, has cost US taxpayers up to $500m (£316m)."

US television entertainment might serve as a moderating influence by diverting attention to entertainment, business, science, etc, and away from extreme religion and politics. And entertainment almost always draws larger audiences than news.

Alhurra is attracting reasonably large audiences, compared to other Arabic-language news stations from non-Arab nations. For the Arab news audience, it provides a supplement to Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. However, any notion that Alhurra can singly "move the needle" away from extremist behavior is naive.

WikiLeaks reminds old Romanian of an old Romanian joke about US broadcasts.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Kansas City Star, 5 Dec 2010, letter from István Javorek: "WikiLeaks reminds me of the time when I lived in the totalitarian regime of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania. Comrade Ceausescu was informed that every time the Communist Politbureau had a closed door secret meeting, the Voice of America and Free Europe radio stations were already informing the world before their 'manicured' version of the news was published in their Communist media. Therefore he gave orders that no one could leave the room until the meeting was over. It happened that one of the politbureau’s members, comrade Iliescu got an upset stomach, and he could not hold it. A few minutes later, someone was banging on the closed door. It was his wife with clean underwear and a new pair of pants because she heard on Voice of America radio that her husband messed up his clothes. This was the joke, but behind every joke is a truth, and it sounds like a few insiders gave the information to WikiLeaks."

Iran steps up satellite jamming as Student Day approaches.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
National Council of Resistance of Iran, 6 Dec 2010: "As the Student Day (December 7) approaches, the Iranian regime has jammed signals of satellite TV networks covering foreign news agencies on a 24 hour basis, according to the Association of Supporters of Murdered and Jailed Dissidents. The areas hit the hardest have been reported to be in western Tehran. But the Iranian regime is apparently unable to disrupt satellite signals in northern Tehran where foreign embassies are located."

Reports: US cable suggests Qatar uses Al Jazeera as bargaining chip; Al Jazeera says this is "very far from the truth."

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
abs-cbnnews.com, 6 Dec 2010, citing AFP and Al Jazeera English: "Qatar is using the Arabic TV news channel Al Jazeera as a bargaining chip in negotiations with other countries, US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks suggested on Monday. Despite the broadcaster's insistence that it is editorially independent, the channel is 'one of Qatar's most valuable political and diplomatic tools,' according to the cables. ... A US dispatch from November 2009 predicted the station could be used 'as a bargaining tool to repair relationships with other countries, particularly those soured by Al Jazeera's broadcasts, including the United States.' Government control over the channel's reporting appears to US diplomats to be so direct that they said the channel's output had become 'part of our bilateral discussions -- as it has been to favourable effect between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and other countries'."

Aljazeera.net, 6 Dec 2010: "[A] statement released by Al Jazeera on Sunday dismissed the claims. 'This is the US embassy's assessment, and it is very far from the truth. Despite all the pressure Al Jazeera has been subjected to by regional and international governments, it has never changed its bold editorial policies which remain guided by the principles of a free press.'"

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 6 Dec 2010, Mark Seddon: "Throughout my time as a correspondent with al-Jazeera, first at the United Nations in New York and then later in London, I never came across evidence the channel was being 'leaned on' by the Qataris. There were other pressures of course – al-Jazeera journalists became collateral victims during the war in Iraq and, famously, former home secretary David Blunkett urged Tony Blair to blow up the al-Jazeera transmitter." See also The Guardian, 6 Dec 2010, Robert Booth.

Foreign Policy, Wikileaked, 6 Dec 2010, Joshua Keating: "Al Jazeera has been flooding the zone on its WikiLeaks coverage, so it's interesting to see how the network is responding with alarm to its own cameo in the cables."

Radio Free Asia launches Q&A program with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
AFP, 7 Dec 2010, Andrew Gully: "Radio Free Asia has launched a question and answer show with Aung San Suu Kyi, giving the people of military-ruled Myanmar the rarest of opportunities to communicate directly with the democracy icon. The US-funded broadcaster is airing weekly Burmese-language segments on Friday evenings with the 65-year-old opposition leader, who has been under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years and was last released in November. Questions for Suu Kyi come in via email or phone and some have already arrived from people within Myanmar, a Radio Free Asia spokesman told AFP, adding that 20 percent of adults there listen to the program." See also RFA press release, 6 Dec 2010 (pdf), with link to questions (in text) and answers (audio) in English.

International Arabic-language channels will be represented and discussed at Dubai media show.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
TradeArabia, 6 Dec 2010: "The Dubai Press Club said it has partnered with The Media and Marketing Show 2010 (MMS), a premier media and marketing event in the region, which runs from December 13 to 15 in Dubai. ... A major highlight of this year's show will be a round table discussion on ‘Audience reaction to Middle East coverage by international Arabic-language media’ on the sec[o]nd day at Rusiya Al-Yaum’s stand. Rusiya Al-Yaum is the first Russian TV news channel broadcasting in Arabic and is widely recognized as one of the most influential television networks in Russia. Rusiya Al-Yaum was launched in May 2007 and is part of the RT News brand. Top industry personalities including ... Dr Nabil Al Khatib, executive editor at the Al Arabiya channel, Dr Naser Shrouf, head of Distribution Africa/ Middle East at Deutsche Welle Arabic channel and Aydar Aganin, director of Rusiya Al-Yaum will lead the debates and conferences."

Why ABC News 24 and iView are not available internationally (except during Australian elections).

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 6 Dec 2010, Neerav Bhatt: "Why are ABC iView and News 24 streaming Only Viewable in Australia? - same reason of rights issues. eg: ABC News 24 broadcasts a few hours of BBC World TV at night and the BBC would not want that available to the whole world to watch for free when they're trying to sell access to it on Pay TV networks. Another example is the Daily Show and Colbert Report available on iView streaming. The show's owner Comedy Central would not be happy if people outside of Australia were watching their shows on iView. The one exception is that News 24 has been unlocked during Australian state and federal election coverage so Australians overseas can find out who wins."

New hires for Discovery Communications international operations.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 3 Dec 2010, Sean Davidson: "Discovery Communications has put Alyson Jackson atop its efforts to produce more international content, promoting the former BBC exec to VP of international production management. She now reports to Discovery executive VP Lee Bartlett who, in a statement, nodded to the US broadcaster's efforts to broaden its content. 'With Discovery’s growing focus on creating compelling local productions outside the US, it is even more crucial to secure leadership with the talent to drive Discovery’s mission into high-growth international markets,' he said.

WorldScreen.com, 3 Dec 2010, Kristin Brzoznowski: "Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (DNAP) has established a new creative and content group, to focus on shaping the overall vision and direction of its portfolio, with Kevin Dickie to serve as senior VP of the division. The new content group, based in the Singapore regional office, will manage all programming and scheduling, marketing and media planning, communications and creative services."

Voice of Russia seeks to expand its FM radio outlets in India.

Posted: 08 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hindu, 5 Dec 2010, Vladimir Radyuhin: "In an effort to expand its footprint in India, Russia's veteran radio station Voice of Russia is planning to launch FM broadcasts in Chennai, the company's head said. 'We have plans to increase our presence in India and are currently looking for a partner in Chennai to broadcast in the FM band,' Voice of Russia president Andrei Bystritsky told The Hindu. Voice of Russia began broadcasting in the FM space in India earlier this year, partnering with Fever 104 FM. One or two-hour programmes about Russia in Hindi, interlaced with Russian and Indian songs, are at present broadcast in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. In the South, Voice of Russia is already present in Bangalore on 104 FM. The radio network also broadcasts to South Asia in Hindi and Urdu on short and medium waves from its Moscow studios, and in Bengali on the internet. This is a far cry from Soviet times when Voice of Russia used to run programmes in most Indian languages on a daily basis."

Press Trust of India, 7 Dec 2010: "The VOR went on the air in 1929 as Radio Komintern for the Communist propaganda across the world. Since then, it has passed the stage of Radio Moscow. And after the Soviet collapse in 1991 and fall of the 'Iron Curtain', it has been shaping Russia''s image worldwide and introducing Russia to the world and highlighting its opinions on global events."

Private FM stations in Indian are not allowed to broadcast news, either their own or from other sources such as international broadcasters. However: MediaMughals, 7 Dec 2010: "The long debated issue of relay of news content by the private FM radio stations in country seems to be taking a shape as media reports floating these days suggest that the government may allow these players the relay of unchanged news of [government owned] All India Radio under some defined guidelines."

Reversing the UK situation, Radio Netherlands funding will be moved *to* the Foreign Affairs budget.

Posted: 07 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 5 Dec 2010: "RNW’s Rob Kievit writes: Dutch Media Minister Marja van Bijsterveld has written to the Lower House that Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s funding will be moved to the Foreign Affairs budget in 2013. In the coming years the Foreign Ministry will decide what the core tasks of RNW are, and what level of funding is needed for these. The recently appointed rightwing government decided that the move to the Foreign Ministry would be made during the current cabinet, but the exact date was not known until now."

NHK coverage of Nobel Peace Prize disrupted in China.

Posted: 07 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Dec 2010, Gavin J. Blair: "A broadcast of public broadcaster NHK’s international news service covering the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was blacked out mid-transmission by China on Sunday. A program discussing the award – to be presented on Friday in Oslo – was suddenly cut, according to viewers of the Japanese-language NHK World Premium in China. A spokesperson for NHK in Tokyo told The Hollywood Reporter that no explanation for the disruption had been given by China. Although most foreign news broadcasts are available only in residence compounds serving foreigners and in select luxury hotels, China's media monitors regularly block newscasts the one-party leadership finds threatening to its rule, some say on the theory that as China's wealth grows an increasing number of people can afford a satellite dish and are willing to pay for a box to descramble the illegal signals."

Website (apparently) of North Korean news agency KCNA redesigned.

Posted: 07 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 4 Dec 2010, Martyn Williams: "The Korean Central News Agency website that appears to be hosted from inside North Korea has been given a redesign. The new page has a fresher feel and makes much more use of pictures than the previous site, which was first discovered in early October. Also new is the addition of Korean-language articles to the previously-available English and Spanish news." -- The site only offers the most recent day's news. A news archive is till available only at the kcna.co.jp website. See previous post for help finding the archives.

Spain's TVE revamps international (Spanish) programming and website.

Posted: 07 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 4 Dec 2010, citing EBU: "Spanish public broadcaster TVE´s international channel has implemented major changes in the last few months resulting in increased coverage and enhanced quality. The main new features include the introduction of specific production for its channel, an update in the programming grid to make it more similar to that of RTVE, the launch of a signal in Asia and Australia , in addition to the three existing signals (Europe/Africa; America I and America II), and the launch of a new webpage. ... [The new web page includes a] programming grid adapted to the time schedule of each country in the world receiving the TVE signal." -- TVE's international programming is in Spanish. RTVE's Radio Exterior transmits in English, French, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, and Ladino, as well as Spanish.

CBS and local partner launch English-language channel for India.

Posted: 06 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 30 Nov 2010, Michael Sullivan: "CBS and India's Reliance Broadcast Net launched Big CBS Prime on Monday, a joint-venture English-language channel for the sub-continent. Big CBS Prime has distrib deals with Indian cable providers Reliance Big TV, Digicable, Den Networks and Hathway, among others, putting the channel in more than 20 million homes. It will air American skeins including 'NCIS,' 'Survivor,' 'The Good Wife' and 'Late Show With David Letterman' within 24 hours of their U.S. premieres. The Indian Eye will have preferred access to new shows from CBS along with the Sony Pictures and NBC Universal film libraries to beef up content. The net is also in development on a localized format of 'Entertainment Tonight,' looking to sign a leading Indian thesp to host."

CBS press release, 29 Nov 2010: "A key component of BIG CBS Networks' programming strategy is to 'Indianize' international shows for its Indian viewers. There is hardly any localization of international formats in India, considerably limiting the potential of consumer engagement." See previous post about same subject.

BBC World Service staff told not to "solicit comment" on Facebook, Twitter re criticism of BBC after UK's failed World Cup bid.

Posted: 06 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 3 Dec 2010, Josh Halliday and John Plunkett: "The BBC is facing a backlash after England's failed 2018 World Cup bid, with its news website 'inundated by comments' posted at a rate of 'almost one hundred a minute' last night, MediaGuardian.co.uk can reveal. BBC World Service journalists were warned not to 'solicit comment' on Facebook or Twitter as the corporation battened down the hatches last night, less than three hours after the 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia, according to an internal email seen by MediaGuardian.co.uk. After Monday's Panorama [Domestic BBC One television program] investigation into alleged corruption at football's governing body, Fifa, the BBC appears to be being blamed by some for England's dismal failure in Zurich yesterday."

The Guardian, 2 Dec 2010, onpassing BBC memo to World Service staff: "Criticism of the BBC (and to some extent the Sunday Times) is part of that story and we should reflect that. The following form of words referring back to the BBC's allegations has been LEGALLED and must not be changed without referring again to XXXX in Programme Legal Advice. Do not solicit comment on facebook or Twitter. 'And there's plenty of criticism of the BBC, which broadcast an edition of its Panorama programme on Monday alleging that three FIFA officials involved in today's decisions had taken bribes in the 1990s.'"

Leaked US diplomatic cables include observations of "anti-American melodrama" in Canadian television.

Posted: 05 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Macleans, 2 Dec 2010, Jaime Weinman: "One of the most instantly-famous of the Wiki-leaked cables was this analysis of the CBC’s The Border and Little Mosque on the Prairie and more in terms of Canadian 'anti-Americanism.' The breezy tone of the cable kind of suggests someone who was assigned to write about this show but doesn’t exactly take it seriously. At the very least, the writer has a future as a television blogger if he ever wants to go in for that sort of thing, with memorable, pithy descriptions of episodes and characters: 'the arrival of an arrogant, albeit stunningly attractive female DHS officer, sort of a cross between Salma Hayek and CruellaDe Vil.' But what the cable mostly suggests is someone who is using these TV examples to back up the point he really wants to make, which is that the U.S. should be shoveling more money into his department so they can combat the anti-American tide. At the end of the cable it pushes back against people 'who may rate the need for USG public-diplomacy programs as less vital in Canada than in other nations because our societies are so much alike.'"

CBC News, 1 Dec 2010: "Responding for the CBC, Jeff Keay, head of CBC media relations, English services, said the broadcaster 'would respectfully disagree that we're being unfair to the U.S. in our programming. While it's true that we have always taken 'great pains to highlight the distinction between Americans and Canadians in (our) programming,' this is not always at the expense of our closest neighbour.'"

Boston Globe, 2 Dec 2010, editorial: "Then again, these aren’t the least flattering images of the United States to flicker across TV screens in Saskatchewan. Canadian host Rick Mercer famously entertained his countrymen by tricking Americans into revealing their ignorance about Canada. In one clip, he goads Iowa’s then-governor, Tom Vilsack, into praising Canada for adopting a 24-hour day."

Alhurra's interview with Secretary Clinton widely cited by other news outlets.

Posted: 05 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
AFP, 4 Dec 2010, Acil Tabbara: "On Friday [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton told reporters in Manama that Washington is 'working intensively' to break the impasse in Palestinian-Israeli talks. She later said in an interview aired by the US Arabic-language satellite television Al-Hurra that Washington would make announcements next week about the peace process but she declined to give more details." See also Reuters, 3 Dec 2010; Kuwait Times, 5 Dec 2010; Jersusalem Post, 4 Dec 2010; and others. See transcript of the interview, State Department, 3 Dec 2010. -- Good interview -- no "softball" questions -- by Alhurra's Michel Ghandour.

The Guardian, 3 Dec 2010: Alhurra reporting on Yemen mentioned in US Embassy Sanaa cable distributed by Wikileaks.

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 3 Dec 2010: "Alhurra Television’s original documentary, Konoungo: The Darfurian Exile has received top billing at the third Cairo Human Rights Film Festival. ... The hour-long documentary is one of the first Arabic-language programs examining the humanitarian crisis in refugee camps in Eastern Chad."

Some notes on (limited) opportunities for AM-band broadcasting into North Korea.

Posted: 05 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Global Post, 3 Dec 2010, Bradley K. Martin: North Korea's "spontaneously developed market economy ... has made available radio receivers — basically capable of receiving foreign signals after modification even if the authorities have initially soldered their dials to limit listeners to the state propaganda frequency. ... Meanwhile, largely non-governmental broadcasters staffed partly by defectors from the North have developed sources inside the North who tell them what’s going on up there. Thus they can broadcast local news to listeners in the North. ... Such organizations get little or no support from a South Korean government that fears Northern threats of physical retaliation in case psychological warfare efforts are expanded (and that also anticipates pressures to dissolve such efforts in case of any positive breakthrough in relations with the North). A change in the South’s policy could show it means business. ... [M]ore money could be spent fruitfully on helping the NGOs — now often limited to shortwave or even to internet 'radio' broadcasting — put their broadcasts on AM (medium wave) frequencies, which can reach the largest numbers of listeners in the North. In the absence of South Korean policy change, switching to AM can involve finding transmission facilities outside the Korean peninsula, persuading their owners to let those facilities be used despite the certainty that Pyongyang will object and, finally, paying for that privilege — which is prohibitively expensive for small outfits without sufficient financial backing."

It's curious that Mr. Martin makes no mention of VOA and Radio Free Asia broadcasts in Korean to North Korea, a combined ten hours a day. The exile NGO stations are an interesting and commendable phenomenon, but, because of newsgathering capability and transmission facilities, VOA and RFA, along with South Korea's KBS, are the most effective conduits of information into North Korea.

Radios which can receive the AM (medium wave) band, albeit with limited tuning capability, have always been available in North Korea. Its tentative (and mostly black) market has allowed in smuggled Chinese radios with full tuning capability, adding FM and often shortwave to the available bands. Although relatively few North Koreans own these radios, their presence does increase the impact of international and exile stations that are available only on shortwave.

It is very unlikely that governments and radio stations outside the Korean peninsula will provide AM airtime for free. And if transmitter sites can be found, AM frequencies which are unoccupied by other stations in the region, so that a clear signal can be delivered into North Korea, are in short supply.

South Korea, of course, would be the best location for AM-band broadcasting into North Korea. After decades of not allowing VOA to relay from its territory, South Korea finally, in 2009, allowed VOA to lease time on religious station FEBC, whose 100-kilowatt transmitter on AM 1188 kHz is near Seoul, for Korean broadcasts into the North. A further policy change would be needed to allow the exile stations to use the AM band from South Korea.

Japan would be the next best location, but it has been even less willing than South Korea to allow relays of international broadcasts from its soil. AM radio broadcasting is, however, on the wane in Japan just as in most other places. Leasing of time to international and exile broadcasters hoping to reach North Korea could provide new sources of revenue. Furthermore, Radio Japan (part of public broadcaster NHK) could put its own Korean broadcasts on the AM band, and bolster its reporting about North Korea.

Russia has some AM transmitter lease opportunities. One is already being used, with success, by VOA and Radio Free Asia. China is, of course, out of the picture. Mongolia has been tried, but, because of distance and other factors, without success.

A very highly directional antenna array in Taiwan (which already leases shortwave and AM airtime to international broadcasters) might deliver a usable AM signal into North Korea, if a clear frequency can be found. This would involve building several towers, placed in long row. Just our luck this expensive and ambitious project would be completed just as South Korea relents on its own policy about AM relays.

Washington Post, 3 Dec 2010, Michael Gerson: "South Korea, America and Japan, employing their technology and vast wealth, could attempt to undermine the North Korean regime from within. An aggressive, sustained campaign to break the North Korean information embargo, expose the barbarity and corruption of the regime to its own people, promote the work of dissidents and defectors, and encourage disloyalty among North Korean elites may or may not work. But the alternatives are increasingly unattractive." -- Again, no mention of VOA and RFA broadcasts to North Korea.

South Korean loudspeakers can reach even farther than my neighbor's stereo.

Posted: 05 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Yonhap, 3 Dec 2010, Kim Eun-jung: "South Korea's state human rights agency will submit a bill next week to recommend the government resume anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts on the border, officials said Friday, amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula after the North's shelling on a South Korean island. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said a nine-member meeting will discuss the proposal on the resumption of the propaganda broadcasts on Monday and put it to a vote. ... Loudspeakers are designed to send broadcasts up to 24 kilometers into North Korea's interior at night and 10 kilometers during the day. Pyongyang has consistently warned that it will shoot the loudspeakers if they are turned on." -- Twenty-four kilometers? Remember, this is audio, not radio. North Koreans that far in probably won't get much of the nuance in the messages. Not that the messages are likely to contain much nuance.

France 24 adds French and English to its Arabic availability on Arabsat.

Posted: 05 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Satnews Daily, 2 Dec 2010: "France 24 ... has concluded a new distribution agreement with ARABSAT, allowing to broadcast, via satellite BADR-4, its French and English channels throughout the Arab world. Already available in Arabic on BADR-4 since 2007, FRANCE 24’s three channels joined the leading provider of satellite services in the region and become available to a potential audience of 160 million viewers from Morocco to the Persian Gulf."

France 24, "Jacques Chirac's dream," becomes something of a nightmare over spying scandal.

Posted: 05 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 2 Dec 2010, Angelique Chrisafis: "It was Jacques Chirac's dream: a French rolling-news channel to challenge the BBC and CNN, beaming Paris's global view into the living rooms of the world. But the beleaguered France 24 channel has instead become a showcase for the back-stabbing, bullying and bravado that some say dominate French workplace relations. After months of squabbling, walkouts and fears of a feud in the upper echelons, France 24's boardroom drama has taken a turn for the worse after police were called in to investigate accusations of spying and computer-hacking in the organisation. ... The alleged spying operation appears to have targeted the highest reaches of Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France (AEF), the holding group created by President Nicolas Sarkozy to merge France 24 with the country's other global state media, the respected Radio France Internationale and part of the French-language channel TV5 Monde. ... Christine Ockrent, the station's number two and partner of the former foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, today categorically denied she had anything to do with the incident after it was reported that 2.5m files were found on the computer of Candice Marchal, described in French media as her righthand woman."

Le Figaro, 2 Dec 2010, Paule Gonzales: The Cultural Committee of the French National Assembly might set up an information board to examine French external broadcasting. See also AFP, 4 Dec 2010.

Activists want to buy and move satellite to provide internet to underserved area.

Posted: 04 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 3 Dec 2010, Chris Arsenault: "[A]n international group of internet activists are trying to raise $150,000 in the hope of eventually purchasing the Terrestar-1 satellite to provide free internet connections to people in the developing world. 'The satellite is as big as a school bus,' said Kosta Grammatis, a visiting researcher at MIT Media Labs and a founder of the internet accessibility programme ahumanright.org. 'We want to raise $150,000 then we can bring in experts, finalise the business plan and start chasing after the big bucks,' which will amount to millions of dollars, he added. ... A country like Papua New Guinea, with six million people and an internet penetration rate of just 2.1 per cent, would be an ideal candidate for the project because there is a desire for increased connectivity and an orbital slot above the island where a satellite could be parked, Grammatis said. ... The owners of Terrestar-1, an American communications satellite blasted into space in 2009, are facing bankruptcy."

US Army Information Operations students visit US radio broadcasting and marketing companies.

Posted: 04 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Fort Leavenworth Lamp, 2 Dec 2010, Melanie L. Marcec: "Officers designated to be Army Information Operations practitioners graduated from the 12-week Functional Area 30 Qualification Course in a ceremony at [Fort Leavenworth's] Lewis and Clark Center Nov. 19. ... In the FA 30 Qualification Course students studied the integration of information capabilities to achieve a variety of desired effects in support of the commander and unit. Some lessons included the similarities between IO and civilian marketing theories and practices. To illustrate these similarities, course participants paid visits to Barkley, a Kansas City, Mo., marketing firm, and a regional manufacturer/distributor headquartered in the Kansas City area to discuss their marketing efforts throughout 21 states. Students also went to Entercom Communications Corporation’s radio stations in Mission, Kan., to take a close look at message formulation and delivery via one of Afghanistan’s most efficient media."

Still a "yawning news gap" in Burma.

Posted: 04 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
PBS MediaShift, 1 Dec 2010, Simon Roughneen: "Any hope that the release of Suu Kyi signals even a tentative loosening-up appear to be misplaced. ... Shawn Crispin, southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told me there is a 'yawning news gap' caused by heavy censorship and intimidation inside Burma. Burmese exiles try to fill the void, operating mainly from India and Thailand. Clandestine reporters inside the country take great risks to funnel information to editors in Chiang Mai, New Delhi and beyond. Late in 2009, Hla Hla Win, a reporter for the Norway-headquartered Democratic Voice of Burma, was sentenced to a total of 27 years in jail for violating the Electronics Act, another draconian lever used by the junta to stop information from getting around the country or to the outside." -- No mention of the BBC, VOA, or RFA Burmese services in this piece.

British pirate radio of the 1960s subject of BBCWS news feature, Economist book review.

Posted: 04 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 2 Dec 2010: "The BBC World Service recently broadcast an item on pirate (free) radio which is now available on YouTube." With link to the video, actually audio, part of a BBCWS news program on 28 Nov.

The Economist, 18 Nov 2010: Review of the new book Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age, by Adrian Johns. It begins with "the 1966 shooting of Reg Calvert, a pirate-radio operator, by Oliver Smedley, an ex-army man and commercial rival. ... Unlike many of the other pirate-radio operators, who were in it mostly for money or adventure, Smedley saw his broadcasts as part of a wider moral crusade. Decorated in the second world war, he was a shady serial entrepreneur sympathetic to the views of an Austrian economist, Friedrich Hayek, and a group of liberal, free-marketeering economists that coalesced around him at the London School of Economics."

International radio and TV suspended in Ivory Coast, though details are murky.

Posted: 04 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 3 Dec 2010: "Reporters Without Borders is astonished that the National Broadcasting Council (CNCA) has suspended local retransmission of all international radio and TV news stations amid continuing turmoil over the result of last weekend’s presidential election. In a communiqué signed by its president, Franck Anderson Kouassi, and read on national radio and television last night by its secretary-general, Félix Nanihio, the CNCA announced 'the immediate suspension of the signals of all international radio and TV news stations carried by the Canal+ Horizon satellite service' in order to 'preserve social peace, which has been seriously shaken.' ... According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, all of the international and pan-African television news stations including TF1, France 24, Africa 24 and Vox Africa have been suspended. FM retransmission of Radio France Internationale has also been suspended. But the non-specialist TV stations and sport and entertainment stations are still being received without a problem. The Canal+ signal has not been suspended either." -- I assume it is relays of international radio stations on FM, and satellite television channels relayed via cable in Ivory Coast, that have been suspended. Can direct reception of satellite channels, such as via DStv, be stopped? Perhaps by changing the code going into a set-top box? Of course, shortwave is available, for those who still have and know how to use their shortwave radios. See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 Dec 2010.

AP, 3 Dec 2010, Marco Chown Oved: "The news [of Ouattara's apparent victory] spread by SMS, telephone calls and Twitter to tens of thousands of Ouattara backers, who began celebrating in the streets. By Friday, text messaging had been cut off, deepening the media blackout. In an ominous sign, state TV ran an extended segment lambasting French channel France 24 for having carried the election commission's announcement of Ouattara's victory."

VOA News, 2 Dec 2010, Scott Stearns: "Cable news channels France24 and Africa24 are off the air, but the CNN signal continues."

Man who targeted commentator for VOA Persian misses Los Angeles court date.

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
AP, 3 Dec 2010: "A purported Iranian government agent who pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hitman to kill a broadcaster critical of the Iranian regime is a fugitive from justice after missing a Los Angeles court date. Mohammad Reza Sadeghnia, 43, was granted permission to travel to his native Iran earlier this fall to visit his ailing father and apparently never returned. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear at Tuesday's hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court, deputy district attorney Ron Goudy said. Sadeghnia's name appears among the trove of U.S. government documents recently posted by the WikiLeaks website. A confidential Jan. 21 diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in London says Sadeghnia admitted being an Iranian agent and conducting surveillance on two anti-Iranian government broadcasters — London-based Voice of America commentator Reza Nourizadeh and Jamshid Sharmahd, who runs Los Angeles-based radio programming for opposition group Tondar." See previous post about same subject.

VOA Persian's "Parazit": like the Daily Show, but the focus is Iran.

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Public Radio International, The World, 2 Dec 2010, Mitra Taj: "Fati Zarei is one of about a million people who go online every week to watch Parazit. It's an Iranian news satire show that some are calling a Persian version of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Like the Daily Show, Parazit delivers the more bizarre moments of political news with big doses of straight-talk, outrage, and satire. But the focus is Iran. So instead of shots of Sarah Palin, there's a montage of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeatedly warning of the foreign enemy. ... And instead of Comedy Central footing the bill, it's the Voice of America, the official broadcasting service of the U.S. government. It's among the few foreign-based news outlets that offer alternatives to Iran's state-controlled media. The show's name means 'static' -- a reference to what happens when the Iranian government blocks the satellite airwaves that illegally broadcast the program into Iranian homes. ... Hamid Dabishi, a professor at Columbia University ... [says] Iranians, like him who dismiss Voice of America as propaganda, have become online fans of Parazit. 'I don't watch Voice of America,' he says. 'Nobody watches Voice of America. Voice of America is the Voice of United States Congress. But I watch Parazit very regularly. The fact that it comes from the VOA is almost irrelevant.'" -- Why not include Sarah Palin, and her American opposition, in the satire? It would balance and thus bolster the credibility of the satire aimed at Iranian officials. And make a statement about America on what is supposed to be the Voice of America. See previous post, including discussion of the Radio Sweden Saturday Show. See also another previous post about Parazit.

Euronews Persian was suggested by Austrian ambassador to Iran because VOA "biased."

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 2 Dec 2010, Andy Sennitt, citing Wikileaks: "The recent introduction of a Farsi-language service of Euronews was first suggested by the former Austrian Ambassador to Iran, Michael Postl, when he debriefed US officials in Vienna on his final calls on Iranian officials as he left post in December 2009: 'Postl reiterated his message that Iranian citizens see the Voice of America (VOA) as biased and asked that we not underestimate their frustration. If they see a pervasive media outlet as biased, this presents the US in a negative light and works against US messaging. He said that Iranians currently are faced with two biased choices: VOA and Iranian Broadcasting (IRIB). In response to a MsnOff question about how BBC Persian is perceived, he noted that it is seen as more neutral, but has the stigma of being associated with the UK. Postl floated the idea of US support to Euronews to start broadcasting in Farsi.'" -- The ambassador's information notwithstanding, nine million Iranian adults are watching or listening to VOA Persian News Network each week. See previous post.

Al Jazeera largely absent in its "moment of truth" re Wikileaks (updated again).

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy blog, 29 Nov 2010, Marc Lynch: "[T]hus far, most of the mainstream Arab media seems to be either ignoring the Wikileaks revelations or else reporting it in generalities, i.e. reporting that it's happening but not the details in the cables. I imagine there are some pretty tense scenes in Arab newsrooms right now, as they try to figure out how to cover the news within their political constraints. Al-Jazeera may feel the heat the most, since not covering it (presumably to protect the Qatari royal family) could shatter its reputation for being independent and in tune with the 'Arab street'." -- A search at aljazeera.net does indeed show thin coverage of the latest Wikileaks dump. Most stories are about reaction to the publication of the US cables. One story, on 30 Nov, mentions Beijing's views about North Korea. This will not help AJE in its competition with CNN International and BBC World News.

Update: New American Media, 1 Dec 2010, Jalal Ghazi: "In October, Al Jazeera played a leading role in examining a huge trove of classified American documents released through WikiLeaks. It brought to light important revelations on a wide range of topics, including the killings of hundreds of civilians at coalition roadblocks and the U.S role in Iraqi state torture. This time, however, as WikiLeaks released more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables extending from the mid-1960s to the present day, Al Jazeera has opted for the back seat."

Columbia Journalism Review, The Kicker, 30 Nov 2010, Liz Cox Barrett: Aljazeera.net publishes "an op-ed pondering, 'What will Arab public think?'"

Infoganda: Washington Post website and print include paid supplements from China and Russia.

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Nieman Journalism Lab, 1 Dec 2010, Laura McGann: "The Washington Post hosts a 'paid supplement' section called China Watch on its domain (chinawatch.washingtonpost.com). On the right-hand side of the China Watch logo appears the tagline 'a Paid Supplement to The Washington Post.' But beyond that line, there are few visual clues that the stories aren’t written or edited by the Post. (China Daily has run large display ads on the Post homepage directing readers to the section.) ... The Post has [also] been hosting a section called Russia Now since 2007. Like the China Watch section, Russia Now’s logo includes the line 'a paid supplement to the Washington Post.' ... Regardless of whether China or Russia are winning over American readers, the content-as-advertisement strategy is an example of a trend that was around long before the web came along, but that’s been amplified by the financial realities of the digital world: the blurring of lines between advertising and editorial." -- China Watch and Russia Now are also print supplements to the Washington Post and some other newspapers.

BBG member Victor Ashe visits Middle East "to discuss the role of US international broadcasting in the region."

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Metro Pulse (Knoxville), 1 Dec 2010: "Former Ambassador and former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe was in Cairo to observe Egyptian elections this past weekend. The peripatetic former mayor is on a fact-finding tour of the Middle East and racking up frequent flier miles as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the corporate board of the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Network which operates the Alhurra TV network and Radio Sawa. Ashe was appointed to the post by President Obama after his stint as ambassador to Poland. In Egypt Ashe met with Egyptian journalists and the leadership of Alhurra, and attended a lunch hosted by American Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey, a University of Tennessee graduate. ... The purpose of the trip is to assess the effectiveness of American broadcasting in Middle East and what changes might assist its reach."

BBG Highlights, 1 Dec 2010: "Broadcasting Board of Governors Governor Victor Ashe and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) President Brian Conniff have embarked on a four country trip to the Middle East. While in Cairo, Ashe and Conniff met with bloggers and members of the local media to discuss the role of U.S. international broadcasting in the region."

Knoxville News Sentinel, 30 Nov 3010: Amb. Ashe criticizes Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cable.

Report: Czech court rules against RFE/RL in suit by dismissed Armenian employee.

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
AZG Armenain Daily, 30 Nov 2010, citing Information Centre ICCEE: "Use of American labor laws violates the rights of foreign employees working for American Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in the Czech Republic, ruled November 30th, 2010, District Court for Prague-1. The landmark decision was taken in a lawsuit of Armenian citizen Anna Karapetian, whose employment was terminated four years ago on the basis of self-formulated by RFE/RL internal Policies used in the Czech Republic. Anna Karapetian is reinstated in her position in RFE/RL Armenian Service. The termination declared wrongful. According to RFE/RL Policies, its non-Czech employees can be fired at any time for any reason or without any stated reason, without preliminary warning or corrective disciplinary measures, without usual contractual compensation for the years of service unless the terminated employee agrees with such termination in writing and, also in writing, gives up the right of appeal to the court. ... RFE/RL has the right to appeal it to the Prague City Court within 15 days after obtaining the written text. According to information obtained by ICCEE, court ruling in Karapetian’s lawsuit is already reported to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where another former RFE/RL employee, Croatian citizen Snjezana Pelivan, has charged the Czech Republic, host country to American RFE/RL, with tolerating the discrimination of foreigners on its territory."

Radio Martí adds telephone call-in program that "centers on women's issues."

Posted: 03 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 1 Dec 2010: "Radio Marti opened its microphones to the Cuban public to join its newly formatted program Con Voz Propia (With Your Own Voice). It is part of a fresh 360-degree approach to news and information that encourages audience participation and interactive exchange of ideas across Marti's radio, TV and online platforms. 'We want our audience to know that they are valued contributors to our programming and the exchange of ideas and information is central to our broadcasts,' said Carlos A. García-Pérez, Director of Radio and TV Marti. 'At the same time, we recognize our audience takes considerable risk in calling the Martís given that it is illegal to listen or watch them inside Cuba.' This daily radio show is a conversational program hosted by four women and centers on women's issues." -- The Radio Martí schedule lists the program Monday through Friday at "9:00 AM (EDT) 01:00 PM (GMT)." EDT ended in October, and 9:00 am EST is 1400 UTC, not 1300 UTC/GMT (expressed in the non-standard format "01:00 PM".

Miami Herald, 2 Dec 2010, Frances Robles: "Two weeks ago, about 35 bicycle taxi drivers in Puerto Padre stopped working, because they were not allowed to pick up passengers in areas where tourists walk, said former dissident Magdelivia Hidalgo. ... Hidalgo, now a reporter for U.S.-funded Radio Martí, founded a women's group in Cuba that stages protests at cafeterias: the women eat and refuse to pay in the dollar-based currency known as 'cucs.'"

News from a VOA shortwave transmitting site that never was.

Posted: 02 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Sequim (Washington) Gazette, 30 Nov 2010, Amanda Winters: "Two miles of new trails, expanded campgrounds and an entry station are all part of the recently approved Dungeness Recreation Area Master Plan. Detailed visions for easy-access recreation, safe bike lanes and group facilities also are included in the master plan, which was unanimously approved by the Clallam County commissioners on Nov. 23. ... To improve circulation within the recreation area, Voice of America Road facilities will be realigned and an entry contact station will be added where a parking lot is now. ... Voice of America Road will be moved at least 200 feet away from the bluff." -- About a planned VOA shortwave transmitting site in Washington State that was planned in the 1950s, but never built. See previous post about same subject.

South Korea's KBS providing VOD with English, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese subtitles for foreign workers.

Posted: 02 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 30 Nov 2010, Andy Sennitt, citing KBS: "The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) has launched video-on-demand (VOD) services that provide subtitles in English, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese for foreign workers and multicultural families in Korea. A total of 2,900 TV shows, spanning from entertainment to information programmes, will have the embedded subtitles. The multilingual service provided by KBS has two-way functions, as the viewers can select the subtitle language before viewing and also switch languages while running the programmes. KBS will provide devices that enable this service free of charge to the some one hundred multicultural centres in the nation to allow multicultural families and foreign workers that lack Internet to access the services at all times."

BBC World News series on the murder of Lebanese PM Hariri "postponed indefinitely" (updated).

Posted: 02 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 18 Nov 2010, Richard Spencer: "The three-part series, Murder in Beirut, was due to begin showing on BBC World [News] on Saturday, but was postponed indefinitely as its compliance with 'editorial guidelines' was investigated, the corporation said. It recounted events surrounding the murder in 2005 of Rafiq Hariri, Lebanon's Sunni Muslim prime minister who was backed by the West. Syria was blamed initially but there are reports that a United Nations tribunal of inquiry is about to indict members of Hizbollah, the Shia militant organisation backed by Iran. Christopher Mitchell, whose independent film production company ORTV made the documentary, said the trigger for the decision by the BBC seemed to have been a front-page article in Al Akhbar, a pro-Hizbollah newspaper, attacking the film for blaming the organisation. The organisation had already said that any such finding would 'ignite the wick of an explosion'."

The Guardian, 17 Nov 2010, Ian Black: "The series was made by ORTV, a British-Saudi production company, and originally commissioned by al-Arabiyya TV, the Saudi-owned satellite channel. The first version was completed last summer but never broadcast as Saudi Arabia sought to improve relations with Syria. BBC World [News] then commissioned a re-edited version. ... The producer, Christopher Mitchell, told the Guardian: '... I am assured by the BBC that the series hasn't been dropped. Stories about the Middle East are … highly sensitive and go through a lengthy period of fact-checking and approval. I hope it will appear in the near future.'"

The Daily Star (Beirut), 19 Nov 2010, Patrick Galey: "Sharif Nashashibi, chairman and co-founder of London-based Arab Media Watch, said the BBC’s decision to delay broadcast was curiously timed. 'It was suspicious, not least because the BBC said it hadn’t complied with its editorial guidelines. Given the suspension of the program so soon before its broadcast, I’m not sure how valid that is,' he told The Daily Star. ... 'Everyone knows the situation in Lebanon is very volatile. They may think [airing the program] would make the situation worse.'"

Update: The Daily Star (Beirut), 1 Dec 2010, Michael Glackin: "Among the laughable aspects of the BBC’s actions in this affair is that the publicity surrounding the decision to pull the program prompted CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] to bring forward the transmission of its own documentary, enabling it to scoop the BBC. But it doesn’t stop there. A version of ORTV’s program was shown last week by German broadcaster WDR. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: To be scooped once might be regarded as a misfortune, but to be scooped twice looks like carelessness. Or spinelessness. ... [B]y pulling 'Murder in Beirut' in the manner that it did, the BBC once again raised the issue of how it reports on the Middle East amid a continuing onslaught of accusations that its coverage is biased and inaccurate."

BBC World Service Trust might conduct their next climate change research in the USA.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service, "The Climate Connection," 30 Nov 2010: "Earlier this year research by the BBC World Service Trust revealed just how poorly understood the concept of climate change is in many African countries, through a project called Africa Talks Climate. ... [P]eople tend to view year-on-year warming or unpredictable rains as a localised effect rather than a global phenomenon. But the now over-familiar truth is that those nations least responsible for climate change are set to suffer most from it - and Africa and its people will need to adapt."

BBC World News, probably seeing revenue opportunity, is partner in FutureBrand Country Brand Index.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
TheMoveChannel, 29 Nov 2010, Catherine Deshayes: "According to New York-based brand consultancy FutureBrand, which compiles an annual country brand index, Canada has bypassed Australia to take the title of world's best brand. In order to put together the FutureBrand 2010 Country Brand Index - which is presented in partnership with BBC World News - more than 110 countries are ranked in terms of tourism appeal, quality of life and values, with opinions coming from thousands of travellers and focus groups carried out all over the world. ... FutureBrand says the US's triumph last year was largely due to the 'Obama effect', which has this year had the opposite effect, as it has been blamed for the country's slump to number four." -- One way that countries promote their "brand" is advertising on prominent international channels. This might explain why BBC World News is a partner in this project. If the news part of BBC World News pays undue attention to the FutureBrand Index, this could be a problem.

FutureBrand website, 12 Nov 2010: "It should come as no surprise that the leading country brands have a healthy mixture of public and commercial broadcast networks with multiple stations, some international reach and a relatively free press. They also have excellent communications infrastructure with high levels of Internet and mobile phone penetration. In a world defined by user-generated content, borderless communication through social networks and unprecedented access to news, information and rich media, a country brand is now partly built by aggregated sentiments and content arising from peoples’ personal experience. Therefore it isn’t a co-incidence that digital openness is a common feature of the strongest country brands."

China's English-language CCTV9 now on US $5-per-month web TV service.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Fierce Online Video, 30 Nov 2010, Jim O'Neill: "Ivi TV, which in September launched its $5 a month platform that streams live broadcasts from some 28 network television broadcasters and affiliates in the Seattle and New York markets ... also streams a variety of international channels in its lineup, including Intereconomia Business TV, sports programming from Sport Italia, Orange Sport and English language news from China on CCTV9, among many others." -- Actually, not very many others. See channel list. Also, you can watch CCTV9 for free (though maybe at less resolution) at www.cctv-9.com. See also ivi TV press release, 30 Nov 2010.

Cuban punk rock singer questioned by authorities about his Radio Martí interview, etc.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Freemuse, 1 Dec 2010: "Cuban punk-rock singer Gorki Águila and the members of his band Porno Para Ricardo were arrested on 26 November 2010, and released ten hours later, reported the group’s manager, Laura García Freyre, in a press rel[e]ase which was published on Facebook. ... On 27 November, Gorki Águila was requested to appear at an immigration office for questioning about his music, the concert in Punta Brava and an interview he recently gave to Radio Martí. The questioning was allegedly intended to intimidate Gorki Águila with refusing to allow him to leave the country. The group is in the midst of the process of arranging their attendance to a cultural event in Los Angeles, USA, which will be attended by Polish trade union organiser Lech Walesa and American singer Patty Smith, among others." See also Radio/TV Martí, 28 Nov 2010.

Rock music through the Iron Curtain via US international broadcasting -- a bit overstated.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
History News Network, 29 Nov 2010, Larry Schweikart, co-producer of the film "Rockin’ the Wall": "Rock music was blasted to through the Iron Curtain through government-subsidized Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, and we interviewed the legal counsel for VOA who described the debates inside the Reagan administration about the appropriateness of sending 'degenerate' rock music eastward. But even the advisory boards came to understand that it was the structure of rock, as much as the lyrics, that counted. Yet that raised another interesting argument about the freedom inherent in rock music: until it reached VOA, rock was entirely unsubsidized and unregulated. It was a music that grew up from the people, not government. Fortunately, in America there was no Ministry of Rock to turn gems of rock genius into manure of mediocrity." -- In the 1960s and 1970s, VOA was anachronistically transmitting more jazz than rock to Europe. VOA Europe came along in the 1980s, but was intended for Western rather than Eastern Europe. VOA did not provide much of a 'subsidy' to US rock music: it just paid (and pays) ASCAP and BMI fees, just as other radio stations did (and do). Radio Luxembourg, on its powerful medium wave channel, plus shortwave, probably had the greatest penetration of rock music into Eastern Europe. See previous post about same subject.

Ethiopia's ETV returns to Washington via MHz Networks. MHZ Worldview quits Galaxy 19.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
nazret.com, 27 Nov 2010: "Ethiopian state-run ETV television will return to MHZ Networks in Washington DC metro area beginning December 1, the network announced in a statement. ETV was broadcasting in DC area last April but was later replaced by RT Spanish of Russia Today." On channel 30.6 of the MHz digital terrestrial bouquet in Washington, from 4:00 pm to midnight. See also MHz Networks press release, 24 Nov 2010.

MHz Networks press release, 29 Nov 2010: "As of December 1, MHz Worldview will no longer be available on Galaxy 19 satellite throughout the U.S. MHz Networks primarily utilized G-19 to distribute MHz Worldview to its 30 broadcast and cable affiliates nationwide. A new vendor, LTN, was selected this fall and launches as the business distribution service of the channel through IP services on December 1."

Content exchange agreement between China's CCTV and Kenya's KBC.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 24 Nov 2010, Asha Khamis: "The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation will soon sign a memorandum of understanding with China Cable Television-CCTV, to exchange video news clips and programmes. Addressing CCTV officials at the KBC boardroom managing director Waithaka Waihenya said the two media stations have had a long working relationship which will be cemented by the expected launch of CCTV Africa Bureau. Waihenya said that CCTV has enormous resources and a wide network which will serve as one of KBC's international news source."

World War II shortwave story.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
TCPalm, 27 Nov 2010, John Fenwick, 85: We were waiting aboard our troop ship for invasion casualties after the battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in late 1944. All the Navy gunners and merchant ship crew were practically shell-shocked from the guns firing at enemy bombers, for several days and nights. To relax a bit, my steam turbine and boiler crew worked on an old, damaged short-wave radio. Finally, after a few static squawks we heard a tear-jerking, pleading message: 'Please send help. We are completely snowed under in Altoona, Pa.'"

Mandarin-language channels join international package on Australian IPTV FetchTV.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Xinhua, 29 Nov 2010: "A package of mandarin TV channels were delivered to Australian audience via broadband Monday, as [FetchTV], an emerging Internet Service Provider(ISP) launched the Great Wall TV Package(GWTV) from China. ... In Australia, subscribers will be able to receive 16 mandarin channels provided by GWTV. FetchTV is available via Australian ISPs and is delivered to customers via a standard broadband connection and a FetchTV set top box(STB)."

ipTV News, 29 Nov 2010: FetchTV's "World Channels package to its service, which includes fifteen Mandarin channels, twelve Singaporean and Taiwanese Mandarin channels, twelve Hindi channels and eleven Pakistani channels. The World Package is priced at AUD 19.95 (US$ 19.3) per month, on top of the basic AUD 29.95 per month subscription package, which includes linear channels such as CNBC Australia, BBC World News... "

Something new for the preschool international broadcasting audience.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 29 Nov 2010: "ABC in Australia has taken rights to local prodco Galaxy Pop's preschool series Rock It for broadcast across its international feed in the Asia-Pacific region. Rock It, which has been on air in Australia through Network Ten since 2006, will join the line-up on ABC's Australia Network from December 6, taking the series to audiences in 45 countries across Asia, the Pacific and the Indian sub-continent." See also Rock It! website.

France 24 "planning ... cooperation with four Russian commercial TV channels."

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 30 Nov 2010: "The France 24 international television news channel is planning to expand its presence in Russia through cooperation with four Russian commercial TV channels, France 24 CEO Alain de Pouzilhac told reporters on Tuesday. 'We see Russia as an important country and Moscow as an important capital and would like to develop relations with Russian partners', he said. France 24 is a subsidiary of the public-funded Audiovisuel Extreieur de la France broadcasting company." -- I couldn't find any details about this in a search of the French-language press. France 24 does not have a Russian service, but its sister station, Radio France International, does. Note that VOA Russian had a large audience in Russia by way of its placement on Russian television stations. That ended in 2006 when the Russian government forced VOA, RFE/RL, and BBC content off of most Russian stations. Is France 24 finding a way back in to Russia?

Rapid TV News, 30 Nov 2010, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French international news channel France 24 has signed up a distribution agreement with Spanish cable operator ONO. The channel will begin transmission from 1 December 1st, and will be accessible, in English to 720,000 subscribers on channel 138. France 24 is already available in Spain in French, English and Arabic languages through dish platform Digital+; in French and English on IPTV services from Orange and Telefonica (Movistar Imagenio). This deal with Ono makes France 24 now accessible over all of the country’s pay-TV platforms."

Obit: Soviet poet heard in the USSR on VOA and Radio Liberty.

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Moscow News, 30 Nov 2010: "Russian and Soviet poet Bella Akhmadulina has died aged 73 in her home in Peredelkino near Moscow after a long illness. ... Along with her lyrical poetry she also found international fame – and domestic notoriety – as a political activist. Her vocal backing for persecuted Soviet intellectuals appeared in the New York Times and on Voice of America and Radio Free Europe."

Russia Beyond the Headlines, 30 Nov 2010: "Her vindicatory statements were published in The New York Times and were many times read on Radio Liberty and the Voice of America."

Media freedom issues reported and unreported by Russia Today (RT).

Posted: 01 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
The Moscow Times, 29 Nov 2010, Victor Davidoff: In his acceptance speech after receiving the first Vladislav Listyev prize, television journalist Leonid Parfyonov diagnosed "with cold medical precision the malaise of the national TV channels: 'National television information services have become part of the government. Journalistic topics, like all life, have been irrevocably divided into those that can be shown on TV and those that cannot.' ... The event wasn’t covered at all by the channel that was supposedly created to inform foreigners about events in Russia: the English-language Russia Today. This strange hybrid of Soviet agitprop and the National Enquirer may have been too busy covering the story of its reporter and crew in Columbus, Georgia, who were arrested during a demonstration at Fort Benning. They were fined for partaking in an illegal protest and disobeying the orders of law enforcement officers. RT has been milking this 'attack on freedom of the press in the U.S.' for all it’s worth. It turns out that there are two types of Russian journalists: independent journalists supporting glasnost in Russia and Kremlin-financed journalists supporting glasnost in the United States." See previous post about the RT Fort Benning incident. See also Hürriyet Daily News, 29 Nov 2010.

followthemedia.com, 29 Nov 2010, Michael Hedges: "Concern within Russian leadership over message control has taken an almost comical tone when presented internationally. During the Soviet days Radio Moscow became a parody of itself. Everybody understood the spin. The latest incarnation, international television channel Russia Today, is different but then again not. Russia Today, launched by then Russian President Putin, was one of many international, government funded television news channels designed to counter dominant Western news channels, such as CNN, BBC World and the upstart Al-Jazerra. RT, the new brand name, would be for Russia what France 24 would be for France and Press TV would be for Iran, 'presenting an unbiased view,' said chief editor Margarita Simonyan. In five years Russia Today has grown to about 2,000 employees, studios in Washington DC, Tel Aviv, New York, Paris, Delhi and London, cable and satellite coverage in more than 100 countries and ad campaigns to boot. RT presents news from Russia in the rose-colored-glasses vain similar to the bias of other international TV news channels. The feature material is well-produced – recall Posner’s introductory comment about form versus content."